Tag Archives: Gospel of John

Hanukkah – the Miraculous Oil of Joy for the poor in spirit

“I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.'”  (Isaiah 49:9)
On Saturday night, the eight-day “Festival of Dedication,” HANUKKAH begins.
This wonderful holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple by the Hasmoneans, also known as the Maccabee family, and the miraculous single-day supply of oil lasting a full eight days in the process of that re-dedication.
The first Hanukkah on the 25th of Kislev in 164 BC heralded freedom from Greek rule, the purification of Jerusalem from pagan influence, and the restoration of God’s House—the Temple in Jerusalem.
With the Temple recaptured from the Greeks and newly restored, the family of Judah Maccabee reestablished the seven-day autumn festival of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) and the extra day of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah, which concludes the annual cycle of Parashiot).
The Greek ruler Antiochus IV had forbidden its observance earlier in the year, so when the Temple was recaptured in December, they celebrated this eight-day festival.
And so the keeping of Torah once again freely commenced.  Hanukkah, therefore, represents the renewed ability to study the Torah, which is compared to light.
Darkness Descends on Israel
“Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.”  (Micah 7:8)
The Greek Empire had risen to power under Alexander the Great after Judah had served as a vassal state to Persia for two centuries.  After Alexander’s death, the state of Judah was wrested back and forth by two of Alexander’s generals seven times.
All the while, clashing starkly with the unique holiness of the Hebrew religion, the pagan culture of the Greeks was wildly offensive: naked wrestling, immodest dress and a preference for homosexuality, writes Richard Hooker in The Hebrews: A Learning Module.
However, while the Greeks influenced the language and culture of Jerusalem and the state of Judah (Judea), “they allowed the Jews to run their own country, declared that the law of Judah was the Torah, and attempted to preserve Jewish religion,” writes Hooker.  Such was the case, at first.
Two Greek monarchs, Ptolemy and Seleucus, battled for Judea until 198 BC, at which time Antiochus III, a Seleucid Greek, won the prize.  He allowed the Jews autonomy until “a stinging defeat at the hands of the Romans began a program of Hellenization that threatened to force the Jews to abandon their monotheism for the Greeks’ paganism,” writes Mitchell G. Bard in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East Conflict.
After Antiochus III raised idols in the Jewish Temple, the Jews rebelled, forcing back the Greeks.  However, Antiochus IV took the throne in 176 BC and did not accommodate Jewish customs as his father had.  The son outlawed the keeping of Shabbat as well as the circumcision covenant, and carried out a cruel campaign against the people of God.
Antiochus IV gave himself the last name “Epiphanes” (meaning “the visible god”) and destroyed every copy of the Scriptures he could find, selling thousands of Jewish families into slavery and murdering anyone who had a Scripture scroll in their possession.
Antiochus IV defiled the Jewish Temple by offering a pig on its altar, erected an altar to Jupiter, and prohibited the Jews from Temple worship.
But the reach of that defilement was wider than the Temple.
“Women who insisted that their sons be circumcised were killed along with their babies.  Brides were forced to sleep with Greek officers before they could be with their husbands.  Jews were required to eat pork and sacrifice pigs to the Greek gods.  The teaching of Torah became a capital crime,” writes Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf.
Although a great darkness had come over Judah and Jerusalem, “most Jews did anything and everything to remain Jewish,” Apisdorf adds, including studying Scripture and getting married in secret.
The Rise of Righteousness
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.”  (Ephesians 6:14)
The Hasmoneans were a Jewish family with a seemingly impossible calling: to stand up for righteousness under the weight of an oppressor trying to eradicate their identity as well as empty the Temple of its holy purpose — and of its eternal light.
The head of the family, Mattisyahu (Mattathias), was serving as a priest in God’s Temple in 167 BC when a Greek official tried to force him to sacrifice to a pagan god.  Mattisyahu resisted and killed the official, which triggered reprisals by Antiochus IV against the Jews.
Nevertheless, Mattisyahu — and after his death, Judah, one of his five sons — took charge of the fight against the pagan Greeks and earned the name “Maccabee” (possibly from “hammer” in Hebrew) because of their hammer-like blows against their enemies.
Three years after the Maccabee uprising, in 164 BC, the Hasmoneans had taken back Jerusalem and purified the Temple.
It took another 20 years before the Hasmoneans pushed the Seleucid Greeks out of the Land of Israel with the defeat of the Acra citadel, a stronghold uncovered in 2015 (after a decade of excavations) just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls.
That the many were defeated by the few is heralded as the main miracle of Hanukkah: Judah and the Hasmoneans succeeded in defeating the pagan Greeks who had so offensively defiled the Temple of God, the Holy City of Jerusalem, and the Holy Land given to Israel.
The Maccabees served as a light that pushed back the darkness; by faith, their”weakness was turned to strength; and [they] became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”  (Hebrews 11:34)
While the Greeks devastated the Jewish community at the time, they would not succeed in destroying the Hasmonean conviction to worship the God of Israel alone.
And while the Greeks defiled the Jewish Temple, they would not succeed in eradicating its means for purification—oil.
Despite the pagan altars within her and impure animals that were offered to idols on the Temple’s holy ground, a day’s worth of purified oil remained concealed on the Temple grounds with its seal intact.
This jar of oil, sanctified to the God of Israel, would help push back the spiritual darkness that had overcome the Temple.
And while it was only enough for a single day, it miraculously burned for a full eight days.  By the last day, the Jews had prepared enough sanctified oil to keep the light shining perpetually.
Let Your Light So Shine
“Open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”  (Acts 26:18)
During the years of His ministry, Yeshua (Jesus) walked the Temple Courts during Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication, and told those gathered around him: “The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me.” (John 10:25)
Yeshua pointed to His own deeds, which were all good, as a testimony of His identity and of His Father’s character.
In the context of the Festival of Lights, another name for Hanukkah, Yeshua may have had in mind His Sermon on the Mount, where he said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)
The term “good works” is idiomatic for the commandments of Torah.
Yeshua told His disciples that if they kept the commandments of Torah according to His teaching, they would retain their saltiness and their light would shine before men and bring honor to God.
The half brother of Yeshua, Yaacov (James), elaborated on this point, saying that”faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  (James 2:17)
Good deeds done by those faithful to God allow His Spirit to shine from within them, illustrating “the light of the world” and giving glory to Adonai’s Name.
For the Festival of Lights, this image of God’s light shining through His people is emphasized further by noting the basic components of fire — a spark and a source of fuel — as well as by contemplating that God Himself provides both our Spiritual Light and Oil.
A Jewish woman serves traditional sufganiot (donuts) at a Hanukkah party.  It is traditional to eat foods fried in oil during this holiday in honor of the one-day supply of oil lasting eight days.

A Jewish woman serves traditional sufganiot (donuts) at a Hanukkah party. It is traditional to eat foods fried in oil during this holiday in honor of the one-day supply of oil lasting eight days.

Oil is understood to be a symbol of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).  It has had an important role in Jewish life for millennia as a means of anointing.  In Judaism, anointing was performed for kingship, for the priesthood, for prophets, for the healing of the sick, and for purification.

Where the anointing sanctified the priests and treated the sick, “anointment conferred upon the king ‘the Spirit of the Lord,’ [that is to say], His support (1 Samuel 16:13–14), strength (Psalm 89:21–25) and wisdom (Isaiah 11:1–4),” states the Encyclopedia Judaica.
Of the Messiah (Anointed One) to come, the prophet Isaiah announced, “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord.”  (Isaiah 11:1–2)
Messiah Yeshua announced His anointing in a synagogue in Nazareth when he read from the scroll of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Luke 4:18–19; see also Isaiah 61:1–2)
The Messiah’s light shone throughout His life and continued to burn brightly even when confronted with the darkness of death.  Death could not hold Him and extinguish His light. 
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  (John 1:4–5)
With the oil of Adonai’s Ruach upon and within Him, the Messiah is an Eternal Light.  By living out His anointing He brought “a crown of beauty,” “the oil of joy” and “a garment of praise” to the mourners of Zion.
As Isaiah prophesied, the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners in darkness, the mourners, and the grievers of Zion — having received the freedom and favor of the Lord—”will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated.”  (Isaiah 61:1–4)
Just as promised, through the Messiah those covered in ashes and a spirit of despair would receive the oil of joy and “be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.”  (Isaiah 61:3)
Through Adonai’s life-giving work, the once-devastated children of God would be re-activated to rebuild the ancient ruins and renew the ruined cities; His people would stand as oaks of righteousness for “the display of His splendor,” a calling that radiates light.
Miraculous Oil for the Poor in Spirit
Having come “to bring good news to the poor,” Yeshua said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
“Being poor in spirit is admitting that, because of your sin, you are completely destitute spiritually and can do nothing to deliver yourself from your dire situation,” writes Got Questions, led by S. Michael Houdmann. “Jesus is saying that, no matter your status in life, you must recognize your spiritual poverty before you can come to God in faith to receive the salvation He offers.”
This spiritual poverty is reflected in the single flask of oil found in the recaptured Temple.  While enduring the unspeakable darkness of Greek oppression, that flask did not hold enough oil to fulfill its purpose in the House of God to keep the Menorah lit while more oil was made.
Only with a miracle could this oil be multiplied, and it took the intervention of God Himself.
A Jewish girl admires the lights on the menorah.

A Jewish girl admires the lights on the menorah.

In the Temple, the Almighty intervened to make the flask of oil last for eight full days—as if adding the oil of His Spirit to sanctify and renew the devastated Temple.

Likewise, when we are poor in spirit, humbly acknowledging our reliance upon God, we can praise Him for sanctifying and renewing our spirit with His, as David did when He wrote, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”  (Psalm 23:5)
From all of our ministry family…
May you be filled with oil of joy this Hanukkah and clothed with the garments of praise during this Holiday Season!
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)


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Some Have Said God Created Evil

Evil is what is morally wrong, sinful, or wicked. Evil is the result of bad actions stemming from a bad character. Biblically, evil is anything that contradicts the Holy nature of God (see Psalm 51:4). Evil behavior can be thought of as falling into two categories: evil committed against yourself or other people (murder, theft, adultery) and evil committed against God (unbelief, idolatry, blasphemy). From the disobedience in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9) to the wickedness of Babylon the Great (Revelation 18:2), the Bible speaks of the existence of evil.

For many centuries Christians have struggled with both the existence and the nature of evil. Most people would acknowledge that evil is real and has always had devastating effects on our world. From the sexual abuse of children to the horrific terrorist attacks on 9/11, evil continues to rear its ugly head in our own time. Many people are left wondering what exactly is evil and why does it exist.

The existence of evil has been used as a weapon by opponents of theism and Christian theism in particular for some time. The so-called “problem of evil” has been the subject of various arguments by atheists in an attempt to demonstrate that a God who is good simply cannot exist. By implying that God must be the creator of evil, God’s holy character has been called into question. There have been many arguments used to indict God as the cause of evil. Here is one of them:

1) God is the creator of everything that exists.
2) Evil exists.
3) Therefore, God is the creator of evil.

The logic of this syllogism is sound. The conclusion follows logically from the premises. But does this syllogism demonstrate that God is the creator of evil? The problem with this argument is its second premise, that evil is something. For evil is not a thing; it is a lack or privation of a good thing that God made. As Christian philosopher J. P. Moreland has noted, “Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled. You can have good without evil, but you cannot have evil without good.”

Evil-whatshotnGoodness has existed as an attribute of God from all eternity. While God is perfectly Holy and just, He is also perfectly good. Just as God has always existed, so too has goodness as it is a facet of God’s holy character. The same cannot be said for evil. Evil came into being with the rebellion of Satan and subsequently entered the physical universe with the fall of Adam. As Christian apologist Greg Koukl has said, “Human freedom was used in such a way as to diminish goodness in the world, and that diminution, that lack of goodness, that is what we call evil.” When God created Adam, He created him good, and He also created him free.

However, in creating Adam free, God indirectly created the possibility of evil, while not creating evil itself. When Adam chose to disobey God, he made this possibility a reality. The same scenario had previously played out when Satan fell by failing to serve and obey God. So it turns out that evil is not a direct creation of God; rather, evil is the result of persons (both angelic and human) exercising their freedom wrongly.

While evil is certainly real, it is important to recognize that evil does not have existence in and of itself. Rather, it only exists as a privation (or a parasite) on the good. It exists in the same way that a wound exists on an arm or as rust exists on a car. The rust cannot exist on its own any more than cold can exist without the existence of heat or darkness can exist without the existence of light.

Despite the horrible effects of evil on our world, the Christian believer can take comfort in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ recorded for us in the Gospel of John, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). More importantly, we look forward with great anticipation to our home in heaven where the ultimate evil, death, will finally be destroyed along with the “mourning, crying and pain” which it inevitably produces (Revelation 21:4).

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Christian celebrate Hanukkah (Christmaskah)

Chanukkah (or Hanukkah) is the Jewish Festival/Feast of Dedication, also known as the “Festival of Lights.” It is an eight-day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which typically falls in November or December on our calendar. Although this Jewish festival in not mentioned in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), it is referenced in the Talmud: “On the 25th of Kislev are the days of Chanukkah, which are eight… these were appointed a Festival with Hallel [prayers of praise] and thanksgiving” (Shabbat 21b, Babylonian Talmud).

Chanukkah is probably one of the best-known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. Because of this, it is ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion and people, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on the Jewish calendar.

The holiday of Chanukkah celebrates the events which took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea, which is now Israel. It begins in the reign of Alexander the Great, who conquered Syria, Egypt, and Israel, but allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy. Under this relatively benevolent rule, many Jews assimilated much of Hellenistic culture, adopting the language, the customs, and the dress of the Greeks, in much the same way that Jews in America today blend into the secular American society.

More than 100 years after Alexander, Antiochus IV rose to power in the region. He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the altar. One of the groups which opposed Antiochus was led by Mattathias (Matitiyahu) the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee (“The Hammer”).

This small band of pious Jews led guerrilla warfare against the Syrian army. Antiochus sent thousands of well-armed troops to crush the rebellion, but the Maccabees succeeded in driving the foreigners from their land. According to historical accounts, Jewish fighters entered Jerusalem in December 164 BC. The Holy Temple, the Jewish religious center, was in shambles, defiled and desecrated by foreign soldiers.

The Maccabees cleansed the Temple and re-dedicated it on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. When it came time to re-light the Menorah (the multi-branched lampstand), they searched the entire Temple, but only one small jar of oil bearing the pure seal of the High Priest could be found. Miraculously, the small jar of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply of oil could be brought. From then on, Jews everywhere have observed a holiday for eight days in honor of this historic victory and the miracle of the oil. The observance of Chanukah features the lighting of a special Chanukkah menorah with eight branches (plus a helper candle), adding one new candle each night.

In the Brit Chadasha (The New Covenant), in the Gospel of John, we learn that Jesus the Jewish Messiah was at the Holy Temple during the “feast of dedication” or Chanukkah: “At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon” (John 10:22-23).

During this great season of remembering miracles, Jesus pointed out to His listeners that the miracles He had done authenticated His claim that He was, indeed, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah (see John 10:37-38). His works and His true character clearly demonstrated who He was.

Star of David and the CrossJesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). The Lord Jesus gives all of us, Jew and Gentile, the “light of life.” And He commanded us to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Should Christians celebrate Chanukkah today? First, be mindful of the fact that we are under no obligation or “law” to celebrate any of the Jewish festivals given to Israel in the Torah (Law of Moses). But to all true Believers in Jesus Christ, especially those who have a profound appreciation for the Hebraic roots of our Christian faith, celebrating the “true light” of this world only seeks to glorify our wonderful Lord and Savior.

As Christians, we can celebrate the “Festival of Lights” as we rededicate our lives to Christ and acknowledge Him as the perfect and true light of this world. As believers, when we celebrate Chanukkah it reminds us of God’s wonderful miracles on our behalf. It reminds us of God’s protection throughout our lives. It reminds us to remain true to God even when the world around us tries to force us into assimilation.

Jesus told us that whoever follows Him will not have darkness, but the Light of Life. What a wonderful time of the year to remember and commemorate the great miracle that God has done for us, by giving us new light and new life.


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3 John 1

3 John 1

This brief epistle is attributed to the apostle John, though he does not give his name. He called himself “the elder” which seems to have been John’s self-designation in the final years of his ministry. The same stylistic and theological similarities apparent in the fourth gospel, 1 John and 2 John are a distinct feature of 2 John as well. The letter is addressed to Gaius, a common name that can not be identified as a specific person. John commends and exhorts Gaius for his steadfastness and for his care of Christian missionaries, and he uses Diotrephes as an example of how not to live as a Christian. John’s words are meant to encourage Gaius until John can see him personally.

3 John 1

1:1-4 Salutation

1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

1:5-8 Service to the brethren

5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; 6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on

3 John 1

3 John 1

their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: 7 Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.

1:9-10 Rebuke to Diotrephes

9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth [them] out of the church.

1:11-12 A good testimony

11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
12 Demetrius hath good report of all [men], and of the truth itself: yea, and we [also] bear record; and ye know that our record is true.

1:13-14 Conclusion

13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: 14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace [be] to thee. [Our] friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name. (3 John 1:1-14 AV)

This is the End of 3 John

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What is in the Bible?

What is in the Bible?

Welcome Church,
I continue the series of messages on Authorship of the Bible. Today I will discuss, What is in the Bible?

It is no secret that American culture is becoming increasingly post-Christian.
Recent research reveals that only 23% of Millennials believe that Scripture is truly the Word of God. Another 26% have adopted a liberal interpretation of Scripture by believing that it may contain some of the Word of God but should not be taken literally. In short, less than half of the next generation have any respect for the text of Scripture, and only a small minority of that group believe that it is authoritative.
Consider this data in light of William Edgar’s observation that “…Christians have grown so used to their own language, terms, and culture that they have become isolated from those who surround them” (Reasons of the Heart, 12).
There is a two-fold problem at hand:
1. In our proclamation, we have assumed a Christian worldview on the part of our listeners, and this is a false assumption.
2. As we are communicating poorly, our audience isn’t even listening.

For instance, when speaking of the gospel picture housed in the relationship between a husband and his wife, we must preach (even briefly) an apologetic for God’s definition of marriage. The marriage covenant is one of the clearest pictures of the gospel, and it has practical applications for Christian living. However, it is under assault. So, when preaching on marriage or the picture of the gospel it provides, we must include apologetic elements.

A skeptic in London, in speaking of the Bible, said that it was quite impossible in these days to believe in any book whose authorship is unknown. A Christian asked if the compiler of the multiplication table was known. “No!” he answered. “Then, of course, you do not believe in it.” “Oh yes,” was the skeptic’s reply “I believe in it because it works well.” “So does the Bible,” was the rejoinder. The skeptic had no answer to that.

The late Dr. R. G. Lee, former pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis TN expressed the value of God’s Word in this way:

“The Bible is a book beyond all books as a river is above and beyond a rivulet. The Bible is a book beyond all books as the sun is above and beyond a candle in brightness. The Bible is a book beyond all books as the wings of an eagle is above and beyond the wings of a sparrow. It is supernatural in origin, eternal in duration, inexpressible in value, immeasurable in influence, infinite in scope, divine in authorship, human in penmanship, regenerative in power, infallible in authority, universal in interest, personal in application, and inspired in totality. This is the Book that has walked more paths, travelled more highways, knocked at more doors and spoken to more people in their mother tongue than in other book this world has ever known or will know.”

2 Peter 1:20-21
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation, for the prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Before we look closer to this passage, we must first make sure that we fully understand what “prophecy of the Scripture” means. The reason I say this is because the word prophecy is used today almost always for speaking about things of the future. However, this is not the only Biblical usage of this word. Biblically speaking, “to prophesy” means to speak things that come directly from the spiritual ground . Whether what is spoken is about the future or not is not relevant.

Having clarified what prophecy means, we can easily understand what “prophecy of the Scripture” means: it simply means the Bible as a whole, as the sum of the separate prophecies that compose it. Thus, what 2 Peter tells us is that no part of the Bible (“no prophecy of the Scripture”), came by the will of man. This means that it wasn’t Paul for example, who one day decided to sit down and write a letter to Ephesians. If it happened like this, Ephesians would be written by the will of man which the Bible rules out. To find how Paul and the others made their contributions to the Bible we do not have but to continue reading in the same passage. The answer is in the latter part of verse 21 where we are told that the prophecy of the Scripture i.e. the Bible was written by holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, who wrote the Bible? Holy men of God. How did they write it? As they were moved by God, Who is the Holy Spirit. So yes Paul, John and the others were the writers of the Bible. But they were not the authors. The author of the Bible is God, who moved people, like Paul, Peter and John to write down what He wanted, what He authored. And if you ask how did God move them, Galatians gives us the answer for the case of Paul which is also the same for all the others: Galatians 1:11-12 “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I RECEIVED IT BY REVELATION…”

The way that God moved those people was not by possession, for God never possesses anybody (I Corinthians 14:32-33). Instead, it was by revelation. In other words, God told Paul what to write and Paul sat down and wrote it. Who therefore wrote Galatians? Paul. Whose ideas, signature and authorship Galatians bears? God’s. Hence, who is the author? God is the author. What were men like Paul and the others that contributed to the Bible? They were the writers that wrote down what the author, God, told them. That’s why the Bible, though it was written by many, has one and the same author: GOD. It is like the director and the secretary. The secretary writes down what the director tells her. Who does the writing? The secretary. Whose ideas it contains? The director’s who thus is the author. And as a director can have many writers, so also God had many writers to write down what He wanted.

All the Bible or Scripture is God-breathed, has God as the author, and it was written by people as they were moved by God i.e. by revelation.

The way that the “stories” of the Bible are different from the stories in your average bookstore. Though the stories are entertaining, they are not given for our entertainment. It might surprise you that I would speak of the Bible as entertaining. Whatever type of literature that you like to read, you will find some of it in the Bible. If you like romance, check out Ruth and the Song of Solomon. If you like stories of war, go into 1 & 2 Kings. If you like intrigue and treachery, examine the book of Judges. If you like adventure, look at Acts, Genesis, Exodus and many other books. If you like philosophy, study the Gospel of John, Ecclesiastes and the letters to the New Testament churches. You will find some entertainment from these books. But they have a different purpose. (1 Cor 10:11 NIV) These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. The purpose for the recording of these events was so that we might learn from the successes and failures of those who have gone before us. They were recorded so that we might get a picture of God and His goodness, and that we might get a picture of ourselves and our sinfulness. They were written that we might understand through the lives and experiences of others that every time man refuses to do things God’s way, man makes a mess of His world. And they were written that we might see that God can be trusted, and that He loves us in spite of ourselves.

The Bible is not a history book. It does not attempt to give us every detail of human history. (John 21:25 NIV) Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. If John had written everything that Jesus said and did, we would have a hard time carrying our Bibles with us to church every Sunday. But what John and the other biblical writers did record is historically accurate and given for one single purpose. (1 John 5:13 NIV) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. Every story of the Bible can be summed up in this one statement: God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. That may be the hardest thing of all to believe. But God said it, and so I believe it. You can expect the promises in the Bible to be fulfilled.

One of the first promises that God ever made was to a man named Abraham. In Gen. 12, God promised him that He would give him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. He promised him that He would make him into a great nation. He promised him that He would make his name great. He promised him that in him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Abraham believed God’s promise, but he had to wait a long time before that promise was fulfilled. Not until Abraham was 100 years old, and his wife Sarah was 99 years old did they hold a son in their arms. Abraham’s descendants through that son became the nation of Israel. Simeon too was an old man. God had made a promise to him that he would see the Savior of Israel and all mankind before he died. Simeon was one of the first to hold Jesus in his arms. God made a promise to Mary. He promised her that even though she was a virgin, she would give birth to God’s own Son. Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable. When God says that He is going to do something, you can be sure that it will happen.

What are some of the promises that God has made to you?

You can be a child of God (John 1:12 NIV) Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

You will never be alone (Heb. 13:8) . . . God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

You will be forgiven (1 John 1:9 NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

You can have peace (Phil 4:7 NIV) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

You have a home (John 14:2 NIV) In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

You will have success (Josh 1:8 NIV) Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Everything will work out for good (Rom 8:28 NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
This is just a small sampling of the promises that God has made. I hope that you noticed something about these promises as I listed them off for you. Some of the promises that God makes will happen regardless of what we do. But most of them have a requirement that we have to fulfill before we can take advantage of the promise. In order to have forgiveness of sins, we must confess our sins. In order to have peace, we must think about the things that God tells us to think about. In order to be a child of God, we must believe on Jesus and accept Him as the Lord of our lives.

Some of you may be sitting there thinking that God let you down on some promise that He made to you at some point in your life. And because of that supposed failure, you have turned your back on God, or you have refused to trust Him with your life. When you are evaluating God’s performance record on how well He fulfills His promises, you need to ask yourself three questions. One, where did I get the idea that God promised that thing to me? Is it specifically recorded in the Bible? Or is it a feeling that I have – a wish that God would do something special for me?

Second, have I fulfilled the requirements that must happen before this promise can be realized in my life? Have I done what is required of me? If not, then I have no right to expect God to do what He said that He would do. Third, am I giving God the right to fulfill His promise in His own timing? God makes promises, and He will fulfill them, but He will do so when He is ready. Abraham experienced that, and we are experiencing it today. One promise that God made is that His son Jesus is coming back to earth one day. (Acts 1:11 NIV) “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” This is one promise that will happen regardless of what we do or fail to do, but it will happen in God’s own timing. (2 Pet 3:4,8-10 NIV) They will say, “Where is this ’coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come . . .

God has filled the Bible with promises to us, but the only way for us to know what those promises are, take advantage of them in our own lives, and receive the peace that they provide is by getting into the Bible and discovering them for ourselves.

Bill was a young man from a wealthy family, and he was getting ready to graduate from high school. Bill lived on the nice side of town where the custom was that graduating seniors received a new car for their graduation gift. Bill and his father had spent months looking at cars trying to pick just the right one. Then, the week before graduation, they found it – the perfect car. Bill could hardly sit still during the graduation ceremonies. He knew what would be waiting for him when he got home. His dad had promised. When Bill got home, he was a little surprised to see that there was no new car in the driveway. But he figured that maybe they had it parked at a neighbor’s house – you know, to make the surprise a little better. You can imagine Bill’s disappointment when his dad handed him a new Bible and told him that was his graduation gift. In anger, Bill threw the Bible down, walked out the door and never again saw his dad alive. Not until his dad’s death did he come back home. After the funeral, Bill was going through his dad’s stuff when he found the Bible that his dad had tried to give him so many years ago. Something was sticking out of it, so he opened it. To his amazement, he discovered a cashier’s check dated on the night of his graduation and made out for the exact amount that he would have needed to purchase that brand new car. Because he refused the Bible, Bill lost out on the promised car and on the relationship that he had with his Dad.

The Bible records all the promises that God has ever made to you. But if you never open the book, you will never be able to take advantage of the promises. What’s worse is that you will never get to enjoy a relationship with the one who made those promises. Especially if you let your intelect get in the way, and try to have the Bible conform to your reasoning! You can expect the promises in the Bible to be fulfilled because God is the one who made the promises.

You can trust the wisdom of the Bible to give you direction. There’s something about being a man that causes us to refuse to ask for directions when there is any possibility that we might be lost. One commercial that I’ve seen recently on TV is of a young guy who is in the car with his girlfriend. They are obviously lost. For the love of the girl, the guy finally agrees to stop at a gas station to ask for directions. He walks into the station and slowly makes his way up to another guy at the counter where he, in a soft, timid voice says, “Can you give me directions? I’m lost.” The guy behind the counter stares at him for a second, dumbfounded that he would admit being lost, and then snickers. When the guy gets back to the car, he’s holding a map and says, “Supposedly these things are supposed to show you where to go.”

God has already given us wisdom in His Word to give us direction. But it’s not direction about how to put a train set together or how to get around town. It’s direction about how to live our lives in such a way that we will receive the most satisfaction and fulfillment from them. (Psa 119:105 NIV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psa 119:130 NIV) The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. (Prov 6:23 NIV) For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life, (2 Pet 1:19 NIV) And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. God’s Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. It tells me where I need to go and what I need to do when I get there.

For several weeks this summer and early fall, we spent time going through the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. Proverbs is a book recorded by the wisest man who ever lived – Solomon. Solomon observed life and people, and then he took his observations and drew conclusions about what people are like, how foolishly they behave sometimes, and what the proper way for them to deal with the situations they face in life is. Solomon recorded wisdom about the proper way to deal with finances, how to make friends and keep them, how to achieve success, what the real meaning of beauty is, the importance of telling the truth, and the significance of having God as the center of your life.

Sometimes, the reason that we do not follow wise directions is because those directions are not clear. A man called his neighbor to help him move a couch that had become stuck in the doorway. They pushed and pulled until they were exhausted, but the couch wouldn’t budge. “Forget it,” the man finally said. “We’ll never get this in.” The neighbor looked at him quizzically and said, “In?” God’s wisdom is not like that. The directions that He gives are very clear. When he says in Eph 5, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and sacrificed Himself for her”, that’s pretty clear. And when He says in that same passage, “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” & “Children, obey your parents”, that’s pretty clear. But you may say, “There’s a lot in the Bible that I do not understand. There’s a lot of it that is not clear to me.” Join the club. There’s a lot of the Bible that is not clear to me either. But as Mark Twain said, “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that trouble me; it’s the parts of the Bible that I do understand.” I have a suspicion that if we spent all of our time doing our best to be obedient to the parts of the Bible that we do understand, that at the end of our lives when we stand before God, we would find that we had done a pretty good job of obeying the parts that we didn’t understand too.

Our problem is not a lack of understanding; it is a lack of obedience. A man and his wife were traveling through town to get to some friends’ house for dinner. They had never been to this particular city, so they had gone to the internet where they found street-by-street directions. Everything went well until they got into the city. [begin to give excuses of why they chose not to turn down certain streets “bad part of town”, “steep hill and it’s starting to snow”, “dirty street – just had the car cleaned”, “saw a billboard ahead that I wanted to get a look at”] The problem was not in the one who gave the directions. The directions were good. The failure was in the ones who had received the directions. They didn’t like what the directions said, so they picked out their own pathway. Those people who refuse to follow the directions that they are given wind up getting very, very lost and are never able to enjoy the relationship with the friends who were waiting for them at the end of their journey.
You can trust the wisdom of the Bible to give you direction because the wisdom comes from God.

You must obey the commands of the Bible to receive God’s blessing.
– Noah and the ark
– Peter and the great catch of fish Luke 5:5 “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and

What is in the Bible?

What is in the Bible?

haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” The result: “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”
– Us – “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.” “Love your enemies, & pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44) “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:2)
You must obey the commands recorded in the Bible for you. They come from God.

You must heed the warnings of the Bible to escape God’s wrath.
– Adam and Eve
– Achan and the Israelites
– Unsaved church members (Mt. 7:21-23) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’”
– Revelation is a warning

One day, a little girl picked up a book of poems. They were dry as dust. They meant nothing to her, so she put the book down. Later, she was introduced to a man. She began to become quite interested in him. She learned that he was a poet. Furthermore, she learned that he had written the book of poetry that she had looked at. She went back and picked up that same book of poems, only now she found them very interesting. The difference was that now she knew the author.
Do you know the Author of this Book?

Let’s pray.

Search me O God and know my heart
Test me and know my anxious thoughts
See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

Forgive us for not making you real.
Forgive us for not studying your word as we ought so we mat find you.

Make us real. With a Circumsized and a heart after you!
In Jesus Precious name, Amen.

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How is the Christian religion different from all the other world religions? by Genesis to Revelation

How is the Christian religion different from all the other world religions?:

Part 1:

Lets study some reasons why the Christian religion is better than non Christian religions, why observing the teachings of Jesus Christ is better than not observing them:

Religion is the practice of faith; that is, religion is the external or ceremonial observance of a set of beliefs. Technically, there is a diff
erence between faith (the internal attitude) and religion (the external works), but, we will define “Christian religion” broadly as “the faithful observance of the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles.”

James 1:27 says that religion that is “pure and faultless” before God is “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” In other words, care for the needy and personal virtue are externals which are present when one has a true love for God. And, since James specifies that he is speaking of “pure and faultless” religion, there must exist an “unclean and imperfect” type of religion as well, a religion not based on love for God.

Christian religion – Jesus Christ is the Way to God.The Christian religion is better than other religions because that which leads to God is better than that which leads away from God. We have sinfully wandered away from God (Isaiah 53:6: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.), and we need a Guide to lead us back. Jesus is that Way (John 14:6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.), the One to seek the lost (Luke 19:10: For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.). Jesus claims not to be one of many ways, but the one-and-only Way to God. He is, in fact, God Himself in human flesh (John 20:28: And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.), so to find Jesus is to find God. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” He said (John 14:9: Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?). The Christian religion is unique in that it offers a close, intimate relationship with the personal God of the universe. That Jesus IS God and that He is the only way to Heaven.

How is the Christian religion different from all the other world religions?: Part 2:

Christian religion – Jesus Christ is the Truth.The Christian religion is better than other religions because things that are true are better than things that are false. Jesus is “the Truth” (John 14:6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.). He is
the embodiment of truth, the revelation of God to humanity (Colossians 2:9: For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.), and the conveyor of God’s words (John 17:8: For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.). The Christian religion is grounded in truth, being based on a historical Person whose acts were verified by eyewitnesses and recorded by four different biographers. Parodies of Christianity often spring up through the work of “false prophets” (1 John 4:1: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.), but only Jesus is true. In following Christ, Christians have the utmost regard for truth, as opposed to hollow externals and the hypocrisy of false appearances. The Christian religion is unique in that it forces us to face the truth about ourselves and speak the truth with others.

How is the Christian religion different from all the other world religions?: Part 4:

Christian religion – Jesus Christ transforms mankind.The Christian religion is better than other religions because righteousness is better than wickedness. Other religions may impose conformity to a certain code of behaviour, but they have no power to change the heart. Christianity teaches that the believer is “
dead to sin” and now lives “in newness of life” (Romans 6:2,4: Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.). The authenticating mark of a Christian is his transformation from practicing sin to having a zeal for good works (Titus 2:14;2: who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.) (2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.). The Christian’s zeal for doing good has resulted in the founding of countless orphanages, hospitals, clinics, schools, homeless shelters, and emergency relief agencies, all in the name of Christ. The Christian religion is unique in that it does not force change from without but revolutionizes lives from within.

How is the Christian religion different from all the other world religions?: Part 5:

Christian religion – Jesus Christ is loving.The Christian religion is better than other religions because love is better than the absence of love. God is love (1 John 4:8, 16: He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love: And
we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.). Love is the greatest of His gifts to us (1 Corinthians 13:13: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.) not the fickle, so called love of the world, but the selfless, unconditional love which always seeks to benefit the one loved. God showed His love for us in sending His one-and-only Son (John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.) – (1 John 4:10: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.). Jesus showed His love for us in providing for our salvation by dying on the cross (John 15:13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.). Jesus gave His followers a new command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.). Love, not duty or debt, is what motivates the believer and impels him to greater humility and greater service for the kingdom of heaven. Christianity is unique in that it is not a system of rules but a celebration of unselfish love. “Love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10: Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.).

Man, in his creativity, has invented innumerable religions in his attempt to reach God. God, in His love, has given us the truth: the one religion, Christianity, in which God attempts to reach man.


Filed under Christianity and World Religions: Sermon Series, House of the Nazarene's Posts