Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

Jeremiah 31. 33Reading Plans
Bible Order: Psalms 119:73–176
Chronological Order: 2 Kings 15, 2 Chronicles 26
Old Testament Only: Ezra 1–2
New Testament Only: Acts 9:23–10:8

Daily Verse: Jeremiah 31:33

 

Bible Study

Don’t Miss The Point

Passage: John 5:30-38

We continue today in John 5. Jesus is still speaking to the Pharisees and scribes. He is still trying to get through their thick sculls that He is the Messiah. It is not important for Jesus’ wellbeing that He convince them of His true identity; it is important for the wellbeing of His audience. Let’s take a look at just verses 30-38.

John 5:30-38 ESV
[30] “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. [31] If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. [32] There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. [33] You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. [34] Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. [35] He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. [36] But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. [37] And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, [38] and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.

Jesus just finished talking about the dead coming out of their tombs to face either the resurrection of life or the resurrection of judgment. He has made it clear that He has power over life and authority to execute judgment. Here in verse 30 He comes back again to explain that He can do nothing on His own. The power that He has is from God and He cannot exercise that power apart from God’s will. In other words, there is no division between Him and God. He goes on to say that He judges and His judgment is just because He does not judge from human self-centeredness but from the perspective of God. Even though God is seen here in Jesus, in human form, Jesus still maintains His unity with God, and as such what He has to say, His testimony, is true.

In verse 31 Jesus begins to say basically “but you don’t have to take just my word for it”. His is not the only extant testimony about Him. John the Baptist bore witness about Him. Having said this, Jesus immediately points out that He does not receive His testimony from man, meaning that His testimony comes from God. He is just pointing out that for a time John the Baptist had credibility with them and so his testimony about Jesus should carry some weight with them. Of course there is even greater testimony than that of John concerning who Jesus is. Everything He does brings glory to God. Every miracle He performs proves who He is. Healing, casting out demons, manipulating the physical world to change water into wine, instantaneously wither a fig tree, or call Lazarus from the dead, all prove His divinity. These men have been privy to a great deal of testimony as to who He is.

In the midst of verse 34 Jesus explains exactly why He is being so direct with them about who He is and the evidence that supports His claim. He says these things so that they may be saved. They think their self-righteous observance of Mosaic Law will save them but it won’t. If Jesus can’t get through to them they will find themselves in Hell after a life time of falsely believing they were in right relationship with God.

Of course God Himself testified about His Son, but they did not hear Him. They have never heard His voice or seen His form and they do not have His Word abiding within them. Because of this they do not believe the testimony of Jesus the Messiah. You know even the Old Testament told us that God would eventually write His Word upon the hearts of His Children. The Mosaic Law was intended to get our attention. It was meant to help us understand that we cannot do enough good to be made right with a Holy God. Instead of learning that lesson, many Jews twisted God’s Word into a pliable mass that they could contort into practices to which they felt they could conform. They missed the whole point!

Several moments in Scripture come to mind where Jesus took the Pharisees to task for focusing on the wrong things. He at one point told them that they strain at a gnat while swallowing a camel. They’ve got the whole business upside down. It is the condition of one’s heart that God cares about. If you attempt to obey all of the Mosaic Law to earn your spot in Heaven your heart is in the wrong place. What is required is not a prideful heart but a broken heart; a heart that has come face to face with the fact that Heaven can’t be earned but Hell has been.

These men missed the Messiah because He didn’t conform to their deformed take on Scripture. They were prideful not repentant, and, unless they heard and responded to Jesus, they would find eternity an extremely uncomfortable place. What about you? What is the condition of your heart? The answer will determine your eternal destiny.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Psalms 113–118
Chronological Order: 2 Kings 14, 2 Chronicles 25
Old Testament Only: 2 Chronicles 33–34
New Testament Only: Acts 8:26–40

Daily Verse: Galatians 3:8   Galatians 3. 8

 

 

Bible Study

God Will Do His Job; You Do Yours

Passage: John 5:25-29

Okay so you are probably tired of me hanging out on John 5:25-29 but these verses raise some interesting and important questions. As I read these verses about the dead coming out of their tombs unto either a resurrection of life or a resurrection of judgment, a question I have been asked by many people over the years came to mind. What about everyone who died before Jesus died on the cross? If salvation can only be had through His blood how can people before that have anything but Hell for all of eternity?

Good question and there is a good answer. The advent of the Messiah is foretold throughout the Old Testament. From the beginning, the requirement for salvation is faith, with the object of that faith being God Himself. Do you remember back in our study of Genesis when Abraham believed God and that was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6)? Even earlier, in Genesis 3:15, God promised Adam that the Seed of woman would defeat Satan. Here, at the Fall of Man, God promised a redeemer. It is those who trust in God’s promise of redemption through the Messiah that find eternal life. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, explains that we who belong to Christ receive righteousness that comes through faith in Him.

Philippians 3:9 ESV
“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”

“Christ” is not Jesus’ last name. The word Christ is Greek for “Messiah”. From the time of Adam and Eve God has pointed mankind toward salvation through the Messiah. Those who came before the Messiah was born are saved through their faith that the Messiah would save them. They too trusted in Jesus even when they did not know His name. We Christians trust in Jesus; Messiah. We have faith that He will save us. We may know who Messiah is, we may know Him spiritually, but like those who died before He was born, we do not know Him physically. He died before we were born. We have the Bible that tells us that He lived, but on some level we still have to take it on faith that He can save us. (We’ll have to address what it means to have “faith” in a later post.)

Whether you lived before Jesus, with Jesus, or after Jesus, salvation is found in faith that He is the deliverer, the redeemer. Jesus is the Messiah. Do you acknowledge God as God? Do you acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of a Savior? Do you repent of your sin? Have you expressed faith that Messiah can save you by submitting your life to His authority; by accepting Him as the Lord of your life? Do you then live your life in faith that He is God and will save you? Then you are saved.

I find it odd that many people who doubt the claim that Jesus is the Messiah base their objection to Him on the question of what happens to those who died before He came or have not heard of Him. What business is it of yours what happened to those who died before Christ lived? None. Do they belong to you or to God? They belong to God. What business is it of yours that some people alive today will die without ever hearing of Jesus? Wait a minute. That is your business. If people today die without hearing the Gospel it is because Christians like you and I failed to go make disciples of all nations.

God identified, before the foundation of the world, who would be saved and who would not. Who are we to disagree with His choices? Who God chose is none of our business. What is our business is telling others about the Gospel. Let us stay focused on our own job and stop trying to do God’s job.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Psalms 108–112
Chronological Order: 2 Kings 12-13, 2 Chronicles 24
Old Testament Only: 2 Chronicles 30–32
New Testament Only: Acts 8:9–25

Daily Verse: Galatians 3:11

 

Galatians 3. 11

 

 

Bible Study

Not Good Enough

Passage: John 5:25-29

This past Friday we looked at John 5:25-29, and in that post I told you that we would hold off on addressing verse 29 and the resurrection until the next day, Saturday. Saturday was the 4th of July and I felt compelled to write something in light of that holiday. Sunday was our “day of rest” so I’m afraid instead of addressing verse 29 when I promised, we are going to do so today. I’m sorry if you felt misled or disappointed but get over it – you’ll live. That just wasn’t very sympathetic was it? Well, I am still a work in progress.

So, to recap, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees after having healed a lame man on the Sabbath. He deliberately poked them in their dogmatic and astigmatic eyes by clearly saying to them that He was equal with God. He made it clear He was the Messiah. He told them He had the power of life and Judgment, saying that at one point even the dead would hear His voice and come out of the grave. Let’s look again at John 5:25-29.

John 5:25-29 ESV
[25] “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. [26] For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. [27] And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. [28] Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice [29] and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

If a person is limited in their knowledge and understanding of scripture, verse 29 may seem to suggest that a person can be saved, can have eternal life in Heaven, if they have done “good”. If you read this verse and feel that it does indeed support such a conclusion I’m afraid you are not very familiar with the rest of Scripture, and Jesus’ teaching in particular. He Himself taught that no one could get to Heaven unless they accepted His sacrificial death on the cross. Scripture is consistent in proclaiming that no one is righteous, which means that all have sinned, or done “evil”. Let me give you a few verses to support that.

Psalm 14:3 ESV
“They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”

Psalm 53:1 ESV
“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.”

Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”

1 Kings 8:46 ESV
“If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near”

Romans 3:12 ESV
“All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Romans 3:23 ESV
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

The Bible is very clear, all have done “evil”. Jesus may not have specifically said these words Himself, but He put His stamp of approval on them when He said:

Matthew 5:17-18 ESV
[17] “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. [18] For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Jesus says that the Mosaic Law is not invalidated by His coming; it will simply be written on the hearts of those who belong to God through the sacrifice of His blood upon the cross. In fact, Jesus teaches that He holds us to an even higher standard than the Law when He says that one who is angry has committed murder in his heart and one who lusts after a woman has committed adultery in his heart. The overall point I’m trying to make is that, absent submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, everyone falls into the category of those who have done evil and will experience the resurrection of Judgment. And lest you think I haven’t made my case, let me quote Jesus once more.

Matthew 5:20 ES
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The Pharisees and scribes were as aggressively obedient to every single Mosaic Law as a person could possibly be. He was saying that even they, who believe there is no one who does more “good” than they, will not get into Heaven. He was saying you have to be even better than the best, nicest, most wonderful, most “godly” person you can think of to get into Heaven. Can you be that good? The point is no one can.

This issue is very dear to my heart because in my experience of speaking with the Lost, and asking them how they think someone can get to Heaven, most Lost people, and even some who claim to be Christians, believe they will get into Heaven if they have done more good than bad. Scripture is very clear on this point. You cannot do enough good to get into Heaven, and as the verses above say, all of us have done evil in the eyes of God. I say all of this because, like God, I want as many people as possible to go to Heaven, but you won’t get in playing by your own rules. If you want in to God’s Heaven you’ll have to play by His rules.

From Jesus’ perspective, doing good is submitting one’s life to His Lordship. That is the only good deed that matters; anything short of that is insufficient to cross the great divide between you and Heaven. That is the only good you can do that will lead to the resurrection of life, rather than the resurrection of judgment that you have already earned.

All have sinned, including you, and fall short of the glory of God. All of us have chosen Hell over Heaven by doing evil in God’s eyes. We are dead in our sins and judgment has already been passed. We are guilty and headed for Hell. There is, however, still time on the game clock. Unfortunately none of us knows how much time is left. Before the Judge says “time’s up” we can accept Him as Lord and Savior and reverse our course toward Hell. This is your hope. This is the Gospel; the “Good News”. Please respond before the time does run out.

I’m afraid I still have a topic we need to address connected to these verses so we will return to them once again tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Psalms 106–107
Chronological Order: 2 Kings 9-11
Old Testament Only: 2 Chronicles 28–29
New Testament Only: Acts 7:54–8:8

Daily Verse: Proverbs 8:17   Proverbs 8. 17

 

 

Day of Rest

Saturdays are a day of rest for me in my blog writing. I write the blog a day ahead so this means it is a day of rest from my commentary for you on Sundays. Enjoy your day of worship!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Psalms 104–105
Chronological Order: 2 Kings 5-8
Old Testament Only: 2 Chronicles 25–27
New Testament Only: Acts 7:24–53

Daily Verse: Acts 9:31  Acts 9. 31

 

 

Bible Study

A Safe, Secure, And Unchanging Home

Passage: Mark 3:22-27

Happy 4th of July! You know, I have dual citizenship. I was born a citizen of American, and I was re-born a citizen of Heaven. I remember the day after the Supreme Court ruled that Gay marriage was a right, that the local paper, the Tennessean, had a big font headline “Today is the first day I feel like an American”. How hyperbolic and pathetic! Well, as empowering as such an arbitrary and illegal ruling may be for some, it is as demoralizing for me. This was once a great nation but what made it great is being thrown overboard as fast as the pirates can chuck it.

I feel several good things have come out of this. As pastor Jim Cross said from the pulpit the Sunday following the ruling, “the light shines brighter when it gets darker”. America is headed into much darker days but this is an opportunity for the people of God to be used to His great and glorious purpose of saving all who will chose eternal life. My heart bleeds for those who practice a homosexual lifestyle. They are miserable, and marriage won’t make it better. Doubling down on what ails you won’t make you better. Perhaps some, no longer tilting at windmills, will come to understand that what bothers them isn’t external but internal.

You and I, as Children of the Living God, should have compassion, and a true love, for those who are hurting. What they need is the love of Jesus Christ, so brother do nothing that would push the Lost away from Jesus and Salvation. That does not mean that we compromise on the truth. They need the truth. Compromising the truth would simply deny them what they need. But we should refrain from hateful expressions of anger and indignity. God does not need us to stand up for Him. He needs us to show His love by sharing the Gospel.

The other thing this ruling has done for me is make my citizenship in America less important to me. By right I am an American citizen. I was born here as were my ancestors on both sides of my family for a couple hundred years. I will not willingly give that up. But this ruling serves to remind me that the institutions of man are self-centered, and self-destructive; they are temporary. America prospered when it was one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Today it is one nation under self-centeredness, Balkanized, with liberty and justice for the politically correct. As Lincoln said so long ago quoting the Bible, a house divided against its self cannot stand. That quote was actually from Jesus which was given in response to the Pharisees’ claim that His casting out demons proved He was possessed by Beelzebul – Satan. Jesus asked them “How can Satan cast out Satan?” He explained that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand just as a house divided against itself cannot stand. He said that if Satan opposed himself, he was divided; his end had come. You can read of this in Mark 3:22-26, but Mark 3:27 is perhaps the most pertinent to the subject at hand.

Mark 3:27 ESV
But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

Today, America, the strongest of nations on the world stage, has been bound up by the self-serving, reckless, and immoral policies of our liberal politicians and judges. With God barred from the public square, with God’s Word rejected, with all that made America strong restrained, the pirates plunder the nation. By the way, I don’t consider myself a Republican or a Democrat. As I explain to any who care to listen, I don’t vote for Republicans, I vote against Democrats. Both parties are taking us to the same place; one is simply taking us there faster than the other.

Bottom line, this “kingdom” is divided and so, it cannot stand. The days of America are numbered. In human terms it may have another couple of hundred years to go, but in terms of nations it will die in but a blink of the eye. Frankly I fear what will come after us. Like the fall of Rome, dark ages will follow. My hope is that it will be the last Dark Age, the time when Armageddon ends it all and Christ returns. We get what we choose and this nation has chosen Hell. So be it.

Now all of this may sound like I’m dejected and forlorn but nothing could be further from the truth. I feel liberated. I better understand the supremacy of my Heavenly Citizenship. The things of this world are but a vapor in the wind, but Heaven is eternal. Foolish men and women will not bring about the ruin of Heaven as they do the ruin of America. I am free from worry of where America is headed. It is headed where all nations are headed – to the trash heap of history. Only Heaven will endure and I am a full-fledged citizen of that wonderful place.

You and I are freer as citizens of Heaven than as citizens of the United States of America. It is time for us to focus not on the politics of the day but on the saving of souls. You know, if you truly want to turn America back to a better time, the only way to do it is to share the Gospel. When a true majority of American citizens are also citizens of Heaven, God’s grace will once again be shed on her.

Brother, do not fret the ridiculous and craven Supreme Court rulings. Five, six, or even nine human beings declaring that something is moral or immoral does not make it so. Only God decides what is right and wrong. Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God and also in Jesus the Christ. Share His love, His grace, and His mercy with anyone who is willing to hear, and rejoice that your home, Heaven, is safe, secure, and unchanging.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Psalms 101–103
Chronological Order: 2 Kings 1-4
Old Testament Only: 2 Chronicles 22–24
New Testament Only: Acts 7:1–23

Daily Verse: Luke 10:20   Luke 10. 20

Bible Study

Your Daily, Life Giving, Wake-Me-Up

Passage: John 5:25-29

Let’s continue our wandering through John 5 shall we? Picking up where we left off, with Jesus forcing the Pharisees to deal with His claim of being equal to God, let us keep in mind that the most vital issue a person must face in their life time is the identity of Jesus. Is He God? Is He insane? Is He evil? If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll understand the “God, insane, evil” questions. Jesus, facing those who want to kill Him for what they believe is blasphemy, does not shrink from telling the Pharisees that He is God, that He has authority over eternal life and death, and that He and God are One. One might think this only inspires His haters to greater fury and desire to see Him dead. That may well be, but it also just might cause some who are lost to respond to the truth and be saved; and frankly, that is the whole reason He came to begin with.

Let’s look at today’s verses.

John 5:25-29 ESV
[25] “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. [26] For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. [27] And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. [28] Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice [29] and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

I find verse 25 intriguing. What does Jesus mean by “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God”? I have to go off track here for a moment. Years ago I was participating with an outreach event at my church where we were teaming up and going door to door to share the Gospel. One man answered the door holding a bowl of chips which he continued to enjoy while we spoke. I know I was interrupting some game he had been watching and yet he was polite enough to continue to speak with me. He told me he was Catholic but that he didn’t attend church or “mass”. He said that he thought Jesus was just a nice moral teacher but that He wasn’t the Son of God. In fact, he said, Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man, which was proof that Jesus did not claim to be the Son of God.

I explained to the man that the phrase “Son of Man” was understood back in Jesus’ day, as it is today, to be a reference to a messianic prophecy from the book of Daniel where Daniel saw “one like a son of man” (Daniel 7:13). Whenever someone back then said “Son of Man” everyone who heard it knew they were talking about the Messiah. When Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of Man” He was saying “I am the Messiah”.

Unfortunately I did not remember the verses that we are looking at today when I discussed all of this with that man. I’ll never know if our conversation ever made a difference to his life. He believed he was a Christian because he was baptized in the Catholic Church, even though he did not attend and did not believe the most basic tenant of Christianity, that Jesus is God. I’m afraid there is a great multitude of people who hold to the same kind of mistaken notion, regardless of the denomination. But, to end my side bar, Jesus makes it clear here in John 5:25-27 that He is both the “Son of God” and the “Son of Man”.

Now, let’s get back to the issue of the dead hearing the voice of Jesus. Was Jesus referring to the spiritually dead or the physically dead? Frankly I think He is talking about both, the spiritually dead and the physically dead, but verse 28 makes it clear that He is at the very least speaking about the physically dead. He said that “an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out.” I’m running out of space here so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to look at verse 29 which addresses the issue of resurrection.

Let me take you back to verse 25 in which Jesus said that not only is the hour coming when the dead will hear His voice, but “is now here”. If “is now here” was referring to the physically dead, it would mean that right there and then the physically dead would hear his voice and live. That would mean people were getting up out of their graves and walking about would it not? (Granted, this did happen at the moment He died upon the cross but let’s not get side tracked again.) I believe the “is now here” is a reference to the spiritually dead.

My pastor, Jim Cross, likes to say that there are only two types of people in the world today, those who are alive in Christ, and those who are dead in their sins; in other words, zombies. You are either alive in Christ or you are a decomposing dead man walking around in a macabre impersonation of life. The zombies only approximate life. They have a desperate thirst that they just can’t seem to quench. They crave, and gorge themselves on, blood, but they will remain zombies until they accept the only blood that can give them life. I think this is why the Lost attack Christians. They see we have something they don’t and it makes them full of rage. They seek our blood when only the blood of Christ can do them any good.

If those zombies, the spiritually dead, will hear the voice of Christ they too can come to life. Understand that hearing the voice of Christ is more than simply hearing the words. It’s kind of like me telling my daughter she doesn’t listen to me. I know she hears my words but she sometimes doesn’t do what I’ve told her to do. This “hearing” of Christ’s voice implies the acceptance of His death upon the cross and submitting to His Lordship over your life.

When Christ first came to Earth, He came as the Lamb of God. When Christ comes again He will come as the Lion of God. He will execute judgment; which is to say that He will announce the end of the game. Those who submitted their life to Him will be given a pass into Heaven and the rest will continue on the journey they chose to take to Hell.

Jesus has the power to bring the physically dead back to life. He has the power to bring the spiritually dead back to life. He has the power to grant eternal life. I want to make sure you understand that while the verses above say He will execute “judgment”, this does not mean He sits there and says “because you were a bad person I send you to Hell”. He could say that and it would be His right, but Jesus is not about condemnation. All of humanity is already damned. We have damned ourselves. We are dead in our sins. He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Judgment is simply the moment when those who have chosen to go to Hell, receive what they pursued.

What have you pursued? Are you still a zombie, or have you been raised from spiritual death into newness of life in Christ? Jesus has the power to give you life, if only you will choose life. What do you choose? If you are already in Christ, brother, remember that He said we must take up our cross every day. Every day we must die to ourselves and rededicate our lives to Him. The only true life is life in Him. You have it, and it is new every day. Jesus is the best part of waking up! He is better for your life than that first cup of coffee, so make Him your daily “wake-me-up”.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!