The Kingdom

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying,
‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.’ ”  Mark 1:14-15 (KJB)

John the Baptist preached the message too;  preparing the way for the Messiah. I have thought for years on the topic of “the kingdom”, “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven” and wondered, “What is the difference?” or even, “Is there any difference.

I have finally come to a conclusion of the matter of the kingdom. The terms are synonymous referring to the same thought. If you disagree that is fine. We can still be brothers in Christ and disagree.

We must realize that the people of God – Israel – had for years turned their back upon God. They were “Looking for the kingdom of God” but completely missing it; especially the religious leaders; and then, along comes the prophet John, and he is preaching, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” Matthew 3:2. It is not that the kingdom had suddenly appeared, but that it had always been present and at hand.

With the coming of Jesus and His message He says the same thing as John. Now that Jesus is here the kingdom has took on Personhood, and He is the Son of God, God the Son; the God-Man and praise God He Himself is here.

Just some things for musing; The gospels of Mark, Luke and John call it the “Kingdom of God”. Matthew is the only gospel which calls it “The kingdom of heaven”.

What is the kingdom, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God?

The kingdom or kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God is referring to all that is under the sovereign, superintending hand of Almighty God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. So, we must conclude that even evil, evil deeds, and evil people are also superintended by His mighty hands and Omniscient mind. He does not do evil; neither does He approve it; He does set its limits and says to it when it reaches its limit “This far and no farther”. Think of where God cut off the evil acts of the Pharaoh during the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. According to John Baptist and Jesus the kingdom is at hand.

There is however, the Kingdom coming with Jesus Christ ruling and reigning over the world sitting on His throne in the City of Jerusalem; and His kingdom and rule will be forever.

You can be with Him in that kingdom by submitting to Him, His cross confessing your sins, that He died for you, was buried, and He rose again.  Repent – turn your back to sin. Call on His name. He will hear and He will save you to be with Him through all eternity.

 

Words Of Jesus; Son Of God, God The Son – 072720

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him.
Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.’
While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said,
‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.’
And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said,
‘Arise, and be not afraid.’
And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying,
‘Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of Man be risen again from the dead.’
And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?’ And Jesus answered and said unto them,
‘Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them.’
Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist. ” Matthew 17:1-13

Jesus on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

“Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” Luke 16:18 (KJB)

Most Christians know the words of Jesus on marriage, divorce, and remarriage, so I am not going to spend a lot of time explaining or demolishing what He said. We Christians of the United States of America have done that quite well.

I would like to remind you though, that John the Baptist went to prison for confronting the wicked Herod for marrying his brother Philip’s wife (Matthew 14:3-6; Luke 3:19). He eventually was beheaded because the adulterous wife called for it. Who am I, or who are we to question the word of Jesus concerning marriage?

Let me end this thought, and the truth of Jesus with the verse previous to this one –

“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” Luke 16:17

The People in Expectation

“And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.’
And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.”   Luke 3:15-18  (KJB)

In the days preceding the days of the appearance of the Christ there was a longing, a strong desire and passion for the coming of Messiah.  The prophet John the Baptist was to be the last of the Old Testament prophets.

A new Man was coming on the scene.  People and things were about to change.

I do not know about you, but I can almost see and hear these words the people said, and asked.  Maybe some were direct and asked, “John, are you the Messiah?”  There was much chatter.  There were probably many questions.

The prophet John, like the prophets before him were preachers, forth tellers of the word of God.  They said what God put in their hearts and minds to say, by the power of the Spirit of God.  They spoke without fear or favor of men.  Like those prophets he spoke of another mightier than himself.

The people were in expectation.  They were looking for hope, for deliverance, for salvation from the Roman conquerors, their accusers and abusers.  That is not unlike people of 2019.

Many of us are looking again for the reappearing of our Lord and Savior. He is the One whom John preached about.  He is the One whom John said,

“…One mightier than I comes, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.”

John spoke of Jesus, the Christ.  He was about to appear.  We as Christians today are to be proclaiming the coming of our Lord.  We are to watch and pray and preach; preach Jesus.  Preach the death of Jesus on the cross to redeem us from our sins.  Preach that He was buried and carried our sins away, leaving them in the depths of the earth never to be held captive by them again; and that He rose again from death and the grave; and that He is alive.

He is coming.  He said He would (John 14:1-3).

Take It By Force

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12 (KJB)

I am going to let the exposition of John Gill give you an explanation of the above verse.

From John Gills Exposition of the Bible…
And from the days of John the Baptist until now,…. From the time that he began to preach, to the then present time,
the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel, and the ministry of it, first by John, then by Christ and his apostles,
suffereth violence; or “comes with force”, and power upon the souls of men: it was attended with the demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; as appeared by its being the means of quickening persons that were dead in trespasses and sins; enlightening the blind; causing the deaf to hear; melting and softening hearts of stone; making, of enemies, friends to God and Christ; turning men from the power of Satan unto God; setting at liberty such as were slaves and vassals to their own corruptions; and, in a word, in being the power of God unto salvation, to many souls: and which was further seen, in the manner it did all this; suddenly, secretly, powerfully, and effectually, and yet not against the wills of men; and by such instruments as the apostles were, poor, sinful, mortal men; despised by the world, and attended with opposition and persecution: or “suffers violence”; which may be understood, either of the vast numbers, that pressed and crowded to hear the Gospel preached: great numbers followed John, when he first began to preach, and baptize: still a greater number followed Christ, some to hear his doctrine, others to see his miracles, others to behold his person, others out of selfish ends; and some behaved rudely and indecently: or of the ardour and fervency of spirit, which appeared in some, to the ministry of John and Christ, and in their desires and expectations of the kingdom of the Messiah: or of the Gospel’s suffering violence by the persecutions of its enemies opposing and contradicting it, reproaching it, intimidating the professors of it, and seeking to take away the life of Christ, the great subject of it:
and the violent take it by force; meaning either publicans, and harlots, and Gentile sinners; who might be thought to be a sort of intruders: or rather the same persons, as being powerfully wrought upon under the ministry of the Gospel; who were under violent apprehensions of wrath and vengeance, of their lost and undone state and condition by nature; were violently in love with Christ, and eagerly desirous of salvation by him, and communion with him; and had their affections set upon the things of another world: these having the Gospel preached to them, which is a declaration of God’s love to sinners, a proclamation of peace and pardon, and a publication of righteousness and life by Christ, they greedily catched at it, and embraced it.

Saved by grace, through faith, that works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

W4CL – Righteousness

“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, ‘Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he suffered Him.”  Matthew 3:13-15 (KJV)

Coming to John the Baptist for baptism;  these are the first words of Jesus spoken in the Gospel of Matthew.  The baptism of Jesus was for the purpose of fulfilling the righteousness of God.  Jesus certainly did not need to be baptized; except for that purpose.  John recognized it and baptized Him.

Since the first words of Jesus recorded in Matthew were concerning righteousness; I would believe that righteousness is a very important part of Christian living.

Righteousness is doing the godly thing.  The right thing.  Thinking and acting Biblically in a corrupt world.  If you are living like the world; you are not living righteously.

Observations From John – 032611

We begin reading through the gospel of John in today’s reading.  Chapters 1 – 3.

John’s gospel is clearly showing forth the deity of Jesus Christ.  The Son of God comes in the flesh; in the likeness of sinful flesh, yet without sin.  It is clear from reading verses 1-5 of chapter one that the WORD is God, and God is the WORD.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”  John 1:1-5 (KJV)

To remind you of the four evangelists who were inspired by God to write this “God-breathed” Scripture, Matthew appears to write of the King and His kingdom; Mark writes of His service; Luke writes of Jesus as the Son of Man – His humanity; and John shows Him as Deity – even as being the Creator of all that is – “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.”

“As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.”  Ezekiel 1:10

and the apostle John writes in the Revelation of Jesus Christ…

“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.  And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”  Revelation 4:6-7

Of course you will notice that Ezekiel calls one animal an “Ox” while John refers to that animal as a “Calf”.  These are from the Bovine created animal. The picture is still clear.  Jesus came to serve us and to give His life a ransom for all who will believe in Him.  Notice too that John writes of the “Flying eagle”; certainly declaring the All Present, All Knowing, All Powerful, and never changing character of GOD.

John also declares to us…

“And the WORD was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” 1:14

He is also declared by John the Baptist as being the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (1:29).

The only way to eternal life is through Jesus Christ, Son of the Living GOD.  John writes…

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” 3:36

That is the Observations from John for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Luke – 031811

The gospel of Matthew deals with Jesus as King; the gospel of Mark shows Him as servant; in the gospel of Luke we see Him as a man, but more than a man, the God-Man; Son of God and Son of Man.

Someone once said,  “The Son of God became the Son of Man, that the sons of men might become the sons of God.”  O, the grace, mercy, love and power of God; how marvelous He truly is.

Looking at the genealogies of Matthew and then, of Luke we see a difference in the way they are reported.  Matthew begins with Jesus Christ Himself and ends with Joseph.  Luke begins the Joseph and goes backward to God Himself.  Joseph is declared by Luke to be “son of Heli” who is believed to be Joseph’s father in law, thus being Mary’s genealogy.

There are some,  who would tell us that the reports of the two gospel accounts, being so different means they are opposed to one another, thus contradict.  There is another alternative to that.  God never contradicts, this is God’s Word.  It is correct, God is correct.  Matthew gives us the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke gives us the genealogy of Mary.

Who is John the Baptist?

“And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;   John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.  And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.”  Luke 3:15-18 (KJV)

He was the promised son of elderly parents, Zacharias, and Elisabeth.  They had been unable to have children for all the years they had been married, and then, one day while Zacharias is ministering within the temple an angel comes to him and tells him that he and Elisabeth will have a son.  They are to name him John.  He is to be the messenger of the Messiah, preparing the way before Him.

The Baptist gives glory to the Christ of God, and takes none for himself.  He is a man who lived in the wilderness, dressed in camel’s hair, and ate honey and locusts (Matthew 3:4).  He preached the message of repentance, calling the people to be rid of sin in their hearts and lives, the Christ is coming.

Many were seeing the Baptist as though he might be that Christ.  He, however, tells them that he is not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoes.  That One is “mightier than I”.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  John the Baptist points the people to the Messiah/Christ of Israel; who is the Savior of the world.

That One, the Messiah has come to die for the sins of the world.  He is set to come again, to rid the world of sin.  He will come.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew 030411

Beginning today reading Matthew 1 – 4.

We have been reading the books of Moses, and now we turn to the first four Gospels of the New Testament.  In doing this we will keep a better focus on Whom the whole of the Bible is about.

Matthew is one of four of the gospel presentations and written by Matthew who was at the time of Jesus’s calling a tax collector (9:9).  He was doing his work, Jesus comes along and calls him to follow, and he leaves all and follows Jesus.

When we look at Matthew this gospel is related to the King of israel, and His Kingdom.  In chapter one is the geneaology of the King; in chapters 5 – 7 we have what could be called His Kingdom Manifesto; chapter 13 are parables – stories which all relate to His Kingdom on earth;  chapter eighteen deals with those who would enter His Kingdom having the heart of a child; and chapters 24 – 25 deal with when He sets up His Kingdom on the new earth.

For today let’s look at the following verses,

“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And He saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.  And going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.  And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.”  Matthew 4:18-22 (KJV)

Jesus has been to John the Baptist, been baptized by him; and the gospel of John at this point says that the Baptist saw Him coming and says, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  John was no stranger to Jesus; after all they were cousins according in order of family births.  In the beginning of chapter 4 following His baptism Jesus has been “Led of the Spirit into the wilderness” to be tested by the devil.  Jesus passes the test with power and authority of the Spirit and the Word of God.

The Word of God was the means by which Jesus rebuked and rejected the lies of the devil.  The Word of God is important to Matthew as he writes this gospel account of Jesus.  In the first two chapters alone there are at least 17 Old Testament prophecies of  the Christ or Messiah, and Matthew relates them to Jesus alone.

Following His temptation in the wilderness Jesus sets out to fulfill His task.  His ultimate task as we look at the gospels will be set toward Jerusalem and the cross.  While walking by the sea of Galilee on this particular day Jesus sees Peter and Andrew fishing with nets, and calls them to follow Him.  They follow.  Now this was their way of living, it was Peter’s and Andrew’s business; they caught fish and sold them at the fish market.  It wasn’t a lucrative job, but it was an income.  Leaving these nets required an act of faith in the One they were going to follow.

Jesus’ s promise was to make them fishers of men.  To be a fisher of men is to call others to follow Jesus.

There were two others who were also called “Sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) and their names were James and John.  These four would become close to Jesus, particularly Peter, James and John.

Jesus is still calling people; men, women, boys and girls to follow Him.  Have heard that call?  Follow Him, and begin a wonderful journey of life, living and eternal life with Him.

We will be in the New Testament through the gospel of John, then return to the Old Testament.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Chapter Eight

Mark 8:1-38

From J. C. Ryle, for verses 1 – 13, “Let us observe in this passage how great is the kindness and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  “Let us observe, in the second place, from this passage, that with Christ nothing is impossible.”  “Let us observe, in the last place, how much sorrow unbelief occasions to our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.” Mark 8:1-9 (KJV)

There are some who want us to believe that the feeding of the “five thousand” and the feeding of the “four thousand” are actually the same feeding “Miracle”.  If they were they would not be mentioned back to back with one another.  Mark 6:34-43 contains the miracle of the feeding of the “five thousand”, and then Matthew 14:15-21 does as well.  Then, we have the feeding of the “four thousand” here in chapter 8 of Mark with the feeding of the “four thousand” also mentioned in Matthew 15:32-38.  The questions of the legitimacy of Scriptures only come from those who do not want to believe it.  I am not talking of “honest” questions which are for information and not for placing doubt.

We see that Jesus had “Compassion” on the people who were following.  His heart was moved with sympathy and called for them to be fed.  The question came up again, “How are we going to feed them?”  “How many loaves have we?” was the question Jesus asked.  Their answer was “seven”.

As I sit and study this passage I find myself wondering why these disciples were wondering how these people were going to be fed.  Then, I stop to think about how many times I have seen the wonder of the power of God in Christ and I wonder no more at the “doubts” of the disciples.  It is “hardness of heart”.  Why is it we can witness the power of God and His intervention in our lives one day, and then, just a few days later we are in doubt again and wondering, “Where is God in all of this?”

We must note  that in Matthew’s Gospel of this account he writes in verse 38, “Now those who ate were 4,000 men, besides women and children.  Matt 15:38 (HCSB)”.  Seeing how there were four thousand men it would be quite reasonalble to assume there could have been 12,000 – 15,000 or more there to eat of the bread and fish of the Creator.  That would only be a wife and one child for every man who was present.

The compassion of Jesus is wonderful, and it is sure that nothing is impossible for Him.

“And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. 11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”  Mark 8:10-12 (KJV)

The unbelieving will not believe even though they see a sign.  If they will not believe “Moses and the Prophets” they will not believe though one has risen from the dead.  Jesus made a similar statement in Luke 16:31.

Jesus had done many mighty works and the Pharisees were witnesses to many of them.  Their problem was jealousy.  Jesus had a following and they did not.  Jesus was doing mighty works, and they could not.  Jesus lived a life without fault, and they did not.  Jesus lived a life without sin, and they did not.  Jesus was the Son of God, and they were the children of Satan.

In Matthew 12:38-40 Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matt 12:39-40 (KJV)”.  When these religious leaders were not even believing the Scriptures (Moses and the Prophets), why would they believe even though they had the Son of God standing before them doing miracles.  They “Could not see the forest for the trees”.  As we saw in the last chapter (chapter 7) they added their tradition to their laws, thus, in effect cancelling out the Scriptures – at least for themselves.  Because of that the Word of God had no effect on their lives, and it would not have any effect on others as they looked at the Pharisees.  The sign of the prophet Jonah was that he had been three days and nights in the “Fish’s belly”, and Jesus would be three days and nights in the “Heart of the earth”.

Jesus rose from the grave after three days, and rather than believe it they tried to make it into a lie, by telling lies, and bribing officials to tell lies.  They were blind, so they could not see.  They were deaf, so they could not hear.

Seeing miracles does not give faith.  They may assure it, but faith comes by hearing the word of the Lord (Rom. 10:17).  Faith stands when there is no miracle.  Faith grows without a miracle, and by the word of the Lord.

“And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. 17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? 19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. 21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?”  Mark 8:13-21 (KJV)

(SEE Matthew 16:12).

As we saw in the last chapter the Pharisees made themselves “loopholes” in order to escape the clear teachings of the law.  Only the religious leaders knew these “loopholes”, thus the people knew nothing of them.

The “Leaders” had a Sabbath law of a “Sabbath days journey”.  By this they limited the distance a person could travel on the Sabbath.  They exempted themselves by interpreting that law to mean from your property, so they could take a chair, stool, saddle, sandal, piece of clothing out a normal “Sabbath days journey”, then take another piece of personal property another “Sabbath days journey”, and place another item, and could go on and on.  These actions were, thus, a form of “False doctrine” and “False living”.  They were condemning themselves by their very lies and the lives they lived.

J. C. Ryle on verses 14-21,  1)

“Let us notice the solemn warning which our Lord gives to His disciples at the beginning of this passage.”  2) “Let us notice the dull understanding of the disciples, when our Lord gave the warning of this passage.”

 

“And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. 26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”  Mark 8:22-26 (KJV)

J. C. Ryle gives us four thoughts concerning these verses,

1) “it is well to remember, in reading passages of this kind, that the Lord is not tied to the use of any one means.”;   2) “One thing in the passage demands our special observation. That thing is the gradual nature of the cure which our Lord performed on this blind man. He did not deliver him from his blindness at once, but by degrees.”;   3) “Let us see then in this gradual restoration to sight, a vivid illustration of the manner in which the Spirit frequently works in the conversion of souls. We are all naturally blind and ignorant in the matters which concern our souls. Conversion is an illumination, a change from darkness to light, from blindness to seeing the kingdom of God.”;   4) “Finally, let us see in the gradual cure of this blind man, a striking picture of the present position of Christ’s believing people in the world, compared with that which is to come. We see in part and know in part in the present dispensation. We are like those that travel by night. We know not the meaning of much that is passing around us.”

 

“And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? 28 And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. 29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. 31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”  Mark 8:27-33 (KJV)

Things J. C. Ryle writes that we as Christians need to observe,

1) “Let us observe the variety of opinions about Christ, which prevailed among the Jews. Some said that He was John the Baptist–some Elijah–and others one of the prophets. In short every kind of opinion appears to have been current, excepting that one which was true.”;   2) “Let us observe the good confession of faith which the apostle Peter witnessed.”;   3) “Let us observe the full declaration which our Lord makes of His own coming death and resurrection. We read that “He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”;   4) “Finally, let us observe in this passage the strange mixture of grace and infirmity which may be found in the heart of a true Christian. We see that very Peter who had just witnessed so noble a confession, presuming to rebuke his Master because He spoke of suffering and dying.”

 

“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  Mark 8:34-38 (KJV)

J. C. Ryle’s commentary on these verses,

1) “We learn, for one thing, from these verses, the absolute necessity of self-denial, if we would be Christ’s disciples, and be saved. What says our Lord? “Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”;   2) “Let us often ask ourselves whether our Christianity costs us anything? Does it entail any sacrifice? Has it the true stamp of heaven? Does it carry with it any cross? If not, we may well tremble and be afraid. We have everything to learn. A religion which costs nothing, is worth nothing. It will do us no good in the life that now is. It will lead to no salvation in the life to come.”;   3) “We learn, for another thing, from these verses, the unspeakable value of the soul. What says our Lord? “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” These words were meant to stir us up to exertion and self-denial. They ought to ring in our ears like a trumpet, every morning when we rise from our beds, and every night when we lie down. May they be deeply engraved in our memories, and never effaced by the devil and the world!”;   4)  “We learn, in the last place, from these verses, the great danger of being ashamed of Christ. What says our Lord? “Whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.'”

 

-Tim A. Blankenship quoting much from J.C. Ryle

Jesus, God-Man, Servant

The gospels have been identified as being written identifying Christ from four different perspectives.  First, Matthew shows Jesus as the King of the Jews;  Mark shows Him as a servant – there is no genealogy showing His  heritage in birth;  Luke shows him as man – in fact the God-man;  and John shows Him as deity – fully God and fully man, and makes quite clear (to all who can see and understand) that He is Deity.

This picture is even seen in the book of Ezekiel 1:4-14, and verse 10 shows us the faces of the gospel.  The lion would represent royalty – the King;  the ox face would represent service – the Servant;  the man’s face would represent the man – the God-man;  and the eagle represents majesty/deity – the God who became flesh and dwelt among us.  In the Revelation 4:7 the Apostle John even list them in the same order as the gospels are in.

“And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” Revelation 4:7 (KJV)

Study of Mark 1:1-20:

VV. 1 – 8  —   THE COMING OF THE ONE WHO CARES PROCLAIMED BY THE PROPHET.

The dignity of Jesus is full proclaimed by the messenger who was His fore runner preparing the way for Him – basically preparing the hearts of men to receive Him.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ was a fulfillment of prophecy – a fulfillment of Scripture.

The ministry of John the Baptist produced, for a time, a great effect upon the Jewish nation.

John’s doctrine of Christ was clear and characterized his own preaching – John knows that the one who is coming is mightier than he.  The One coming will not baptize you with water, but with fire.  He will change your life; cleanse you and make you whole.

VV. 9 – 20  —   THE COMMITMENT AND AUTHENTICATION OF JESUS AND HIS MINISTRY.

Jesus, being totally committed to His Father’s direction and plan for His life shows the commitment by following the ordinance of the law, and identifying Himself with mankind in baptism.  The Father confirmed Him by speaking from Heaven as an authentication of who He genuinely was/is.

Jesus was then placed under temptation without sinning to show Himself without sin to man, and as proof of His power to conquer sin and death.

The nature of our Lord’s preaching is similar to John’s in that He was calling sinners to repentance, and different in that He called for obedience to the gospel.  Now; just what is the gospel?  It is a word which means, “Good News”.

Jesus calls two men as He is walking on the sea shore – Simon and Andrew – and calls them to follow Him, and He will make them “Fishers of men”.  They would no longer be fishing for fish, but they would be “fishing” for the souls of men.   According to John’s Gospel chapter 1 and verses 40 – 42 Andrew is one who brought Simon [Peter] to Christ.

“One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.  And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.”John 1:40-42 (KJV)

That is an amazing thing for a brother to do.  There is no contradiction here only further clarification.  When you put the four gospels together you have a full story, not complete, but the story as the writers witnessed it.

These men were called to the office of a preacher.  Not everyone considers the office a great one, but Jesus was a Preacher – a Preacher of preachers – if you will.  Jesus was committed to the work which He came to do.  In the beginning of His ministry it was to preach, and glorify His Father;

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”Luke 4:18-19 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Descending The Mount

A few hours had been spent on the “Mount of Transfiguration” – the name for which the place has been called – and now they were descending.  Having taken place with the glory of Jesus being revealed to Peter, James and John; and they seeing Moses and Elijah with Jesus in His glory.

When Moses and Elijah depart; in verse 8; we have the words: “…they saw no man, save Jesus only”.  That implies clearly that the law and the prophets declare, reveal, and glorify the Lord Jesus.  It goes along with what the apostle John wrote in the Revelation 19:10 “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  The law and the prophets cannot make man righteous before God; only Jesus can.

Now, we come to the descent from the mount of Jesus with His disciples:

“And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.  And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.  But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.  Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.”  Matthew 17:9-13 (KJV)

What the three disciples had witnessed was not to be told until the resurrection of Jesus had taken place.  It is almost certain that these three did not yet understand what He was even talking about – Resurrection – “Yeah!  Sure!”  Their thoughts were still on the idea of Jesus being their reigning King in a few days; and not crucifixion.  God forbid that their King hang on a tree.

They are probably thinking of the prophet’s writing,

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”  Malachi 4:5-6 (KJV)

Their thinking is needing to be set in order.  They are thinking of a different day than what is going to happen.  “The great and dreadful day of the LORD…” is when the Lord comes and pours His wrath out on an unbelieving and godless world.  At this time God is going to pour His wrath out upon His Son for the atonement of the sins of mankind.

The disciples had partially discerned rightly concerning the prophecy of Scripture; however, it was not until Jesus gave the word, that they realized that John the Baptist was a fulfillment of the prophecy, but unrecognized by the religious leaders, and “royalty”, and they put John to death.  John the Baptist came in the Spirit and power of Elijah.  There is no idea of “reincarnation” given here.  John the Baptist is John the Baptist, not reincarnated Elijah.

John Baptist came having the same type ministry of Elijah.  A bold and fiery message of repentance; calling the people of God to prepare their hearts for the coming of the LORD.

Jesus also informed the three that the “Son of man” would suffer by the hands of those same people.

It would do the disciples of Jesus Christ in the world of 2009 to hear the message of God’s servants; preachers who preach the inerrant, infallible, literal, and living word of God;  Sunday School teachers who present the word without favor or fear; Deacons who honor the word of God with their lives in witness, work and service.  We dishonor our Lord when we fail to listen to God through His servants who proclaim the Word and “diminish not a word” of it.

Do we really understand the impact of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the word proclaimed and taught without “shunning to declare the whole counsel of God”?  Are we prepared, willing and able to give our lives for the preaching of the Word of God to a world who hates God?  It is time to think about this and ponder it in our prayer life; and all of life.

When we are descending  our “Mount” of joy, encouragement, let not forget that it is Jesus who remains with us.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Faithful Until The Light

References – Amos 3:7;  Revelation 22:6

OUTLINE OF LUKE 1:5-25

I.  THE FAITHFUL IN A TIME OF DARKNESS (v. 5).

II.  FAVORED BY GOD – DISFAVOR AMONG MENT (vv. 6-7).

III.  THROUGH DIVINE APPOINTMENT THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE FAITHFUL HEART AND LIFE (vv. 8-17).

IV.  FROM SILENCE TO JUBILATION (vv. 18-25 referencing vv.  57-80).

At the time of Zachariah and Elisabeth it had been about 400 years since God had spoken through a prophet.  There had been no prophet for God’s people.  It was a time of darkness; and there were praying and desparate souls longing/desiring for the presence of the glory of the LORD.

There was a Temple [Herod’s Temple- not yet finished], but no “Ark of the covenant”.  It had not been recovered, and returned to the place – the Most Holy Place.

There was a favored couple – favored by God; probably viewed by the people as being disfavored by God due to having not been blessed with a child.  Zachariah and Elisabeth had both been declared “Righteous” by God.  This was “Favor”.  When God declares one “Righteous” then, that one is “Righteous” indeed.

Zachariah had his once in a lifetime duty to fulfill.  The MacArthur Study Bible note states:

“Because of the large number of priests, most would never be chosen for such a duty, and no one was permitted to serve in this capacity twice.”

In this of course we would see a Divine appointment.  Does God not direct the fall of the “Lot”?  Thus God gives a message to Zachariah that a messenger – foretold in Malachi 4:5-6 – is about to be conceived and born to he and Elisabeth.

This “incense altar” was to be kept burning perpetually.  Morning and evening that one priest had privilege of tending the altar making sure the special fiery fragrance ascended to the throne of God.  The  The couple had been praying/longing/desiring a son, and as Zachariah goes about his duties he receives the answer.

It is interesting to note that the name Zachariah means “Jah has remembered” or “YHWH has remembered”.  Through 400 years of silence God was working, and never forgot His people.

FAITHFUL IN A TIME OF DARKNESS (v. 5).  As Zachariah and Elisabeth were faithful, they have been declared “Righteous” by God; so too are all who are in Christ Jesus.  When we see wickedness abounding we have a word from God that “grace much more abounds” (Romans 5:20).

We must understand that our works, words, deeds, are worthy of righteousness.  The righteousness of God is from God alone, declared by God alone.  Righteousness comes as a gift from God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Even when God seems silent; be faithful; believing light is on the way.  For many years Zachariah and Elisabeth kept on believing.  Do we believe in God only for what He can give us?  Do we believe in God only because of the good things He does?  Do we believe in God only because of His power, His might, and awe-inspiring displays in creation?  If we only believe during these things and only when they are visible to us; we will not be likely to stand faithful like Zachariah and Elisabeth during those dark times of life.  Always trust the Lord, believing that there is a greater Light

FAVORED BY GOD – SEEN AS DISFAVORED BY GOD (vv. 6-7).  Despite the seeming rejection by God, Zachariah and Elisabeth continue faithfully.  Though others could not see it; most likely; they were counted by God as “Righteous”.  Many people probably viewed them as cursed by God, and because of their faithfulness some may have wanted them to be cursed by God.  Read Psalm 3:1-3.

They continued throught he many years looking/praying/desiring/waiting for a child.  We must see, and remember that there is nothing that tells us that God had ever promised them a child.

The believer in Christ must continue looking/praying/desiring/waiting for the the promised return of our Savior.  We live for our God who has pronounced us “Righteous”.

THROUGH DIVINE APPOINTMENT THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE FAITHFUL HEART AND LIFE (vv. 8-17).  Have you ever started thinking, “It will never happen”?  Maybe it was a desire, longing, or prayer you had prayed; you have kept asking, but deep in the recesses of your mind your thoughts were “It’s not going to happen.”

You may at this moment be praying for help with your income situation; your housing situation; matters of education; a health problem that is causing real worries or fear.  Do you believe in God appointments?  “God appointments” or “Divine appointments” are those things that to some will seem like ‘conincidences’, but to the child of God we know who ordains them.  RIGHT?  RIGHT.

God has a way of teaching us faith; growing, abiding faith, and that training never stops; until we see Jesus face to face.  Then, I could not tell you for sure, but what we may also learn throughout all eternity.

Zachariah having waited many years to serve in the Temple, had also waited for a child with Elisabeth.  It is sad to see so many people who are impatient, and cannot wait for anything.  Far too many times I have grown impatient in matters of waiting.  Who enjoys waiting at a traffic light, or even for a train to pass when you need to get over the tracks to the other side?

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “Is God delaying me for a purpose?”  We may never know on this side of glory, but that delayed traffic may just be a Divine appointment for our safety somewhere down the road, beginning at the light we are sitting at.

Christians must learn the godliness of waiting.  The Bible speaks much about waiting, and very little on “Hurry”.

The priest hears God speak through the angel Gabriel, and the message is good news of a son to the couple who had waited for many years.  Now, this is God’s timing.  It could not have been at a better time.  The conception and birth of this son was going to bring such joy into their home, their lives, and their neighbor’s lives as well.  Everyone was going to rejoice with Zachariah and Elisabeth.

The conception and birth of this son was going to be a fulfillment of prophecy (Malachi 4:-5-6).  They would probably not be alive at the time of this prophet’s ministry.  Zachariah is told to name his son “John”.  A very specific message, with a very specific name.

This prophet would be a preparer of the way of the LORD, and the Lord’s name is Jesus.

FROM SILENCE TO JUBILATION (vv. 18-25 referencing vv. 57-80).  While Zachariah is in the Temple fulfilling his duties, receiving the message, but not believing it he is stricken with dumbness (both mute and deaf – see v. 62).  He comes out of the Temple, and cannot speak, and the people having seen him being so long in the Temple perceive that he must have received a vision from God (v. 22).  Yet he could not speak.

Can you imagine being in your place of worship, conducting your duties in the church, and Gabriel comes to you with the message, “You will receive what you have been asking for.”  You don’t believe this messenger, so he tells you that you are not going to be able to speak, because you have not believed.  You cannot tell others of the blessing that is on the way.  You must contain yourself, and only write on a piece of paper.  You may now want to shout, but because of not believing in the first place you can’t.

Oh, how difficult we make things for ourselves at times because of our unbelief, or doubts.

John the prophet of God was born to Zachariah and Elisabeth in their old age.  There was much joy and rejoicing.  There was, in fact, much jubilation.  When Zachariah admitted to the name John his mouth was open, his hearing returned and there was jubilation.  When the Word of God is believed, and practiced in our lives others will hear and believe.

John would be the herald; the messenger of God proclaiming the coming of the Holy One of God, calling for repentance, and for the people to get right with God.

There is a day coming when Jesus will come again.  We are the heralds of His coming today.  We can be the means of others finding peace with God through Jesus Christ.  We look forward to that day when we will stand with Jesus, worshipping Him, giving Him glory; and there will be great jubilation.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Beheading a Prophet

“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.” Matthew 14:1-13 (KJV)

The third sermon given by Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew has just been delivered by our Master. After the parables of chapter 13 Jesus returns to His home town, and they will not receive Him for who He is. They are too familiar with Him as a child who grew up in the area. This does not mean that He was known as an “honery or mean and vicious, rude or trouble maker child”, but that they are familiar with the family, and that they saw nothing special about Him in His youth and childhood. Part of this may have been due to their own blindness, because after all Mary was a mother before the wedding celebration.

The fame of Jesus had grown though. Herod had heard of Him. This is not Herod the Great who is responsible for killing the male children 2 years and under after the birth of Jesus. This is Herod the Tetrarch.

Mat 14:1 – At that time Herod the tetrarch,…. Not Herod the Great, in whose reign Christ was born, and who slew the infants of Bethlehem, but his son; this was, as the Jewish chronologer rightly observes, ‘Herod Antipater, whom they call טיתרקי, “the tetrarch”; the son of Herod the First, and brother of Archelaus, and the third king of the family of Herod.’” From John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, e-Sword edition.

Herod has already put John the Baptist to death, and then, we are given more of the details of the matter. He supposed that Jesus was John risen from the dead. He sure wasn’t with the news of the day, or that would not have even crossed his mind. Herod is most likely overcome with guilt for his murderous action of beheading the prophet. John had directly proclaimed to Herod that to take his brother Philip’s wife was an act of adultery; and because of this had him imprisoned. He was fearful to have him put to death, because he feared the people; they thought John was a prophet, which he was.

What he would not do because of fear of a crowd he was able to do through the lust of his heart. The power of the lust of the heart fueled and fed by the dance of the daughter of the wife he had gotten by adultery, which the prophet had warned him of was also bringing on guilt. As it should.

The terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, like other daring offenders, could not shake off, are proofs and warnings of a future judgment, and of future misery to them. But there may be the terror of convictions, where there is not the truth of conversion. When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility; but the most powerful enemies can go no further than the Lord sees good to permit. Herod feared that the putting of John to death might raise a rebellion among the people, which it did not; but he never feared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which it did. Men fear being hanged for what they do not fear being damned for. And times of carnal mirth and jollity are convenient times for carrying on bad designs against God’s people. Herod would profusely reward a worthless dance, while imprisonment and death were the recompence of the man of God who sought the salvation of his soul. But there was real malice to John beneath his consent, or else Herod would have found ways to get clear of his promise. When the under shepherds are smitten, the sheep need not be scattered while they have the Great Shepherd to go to. And it is better to be drawn to Christ by want and loss, than not to come to him at all.

—Matthew Henry Concise

Parties, especially those which are known for having liquor, drugs, and dance will be parties where the debaucherous activities go unbridled, and due to mind altering “spirits” will end in the changing and/or ending of lives. You can almost be certain that this party was laden with an unlimited supply of liquor; either wine or strong drink [hard liquor]. The party which Herod orchestrated would end in the ending of the prophet’s physical life, and a life ridden with guilt and fear for Herod, and maybe for all those who had a hand in the death of the man who warned them of their sin. This adulterous wife of Herod knew the heart of her “husband”; that is was filled and fueled by unbridled lust. She too hated John the Baptist. She hated the prophet for his message of adultery against them both. She wanted him dead and would get it by any means possible; even to the lusty use of her own teenage daughter. (There is nothing which tells us the age of her daughter, but still being under the care of her mother one would assume that she is still at home and at least in her teen years.)

John the Baptist had become outraged by the flagrant sin of a leader of the nation of Israel. There was first of all a very incestuous problem within the family with girls marrying their father’s brother, etc. This was the case with Herodias. Philip was her uncle – her father’s brother – and that being the case Herod Tetrarch would have also been her uncle. This thing was being done openly and no one was challenging it or crying out against it; but John did, and was imprisoned and later lost his life because of it.

Where is the courage for our day Christian pastor, preacher of the Gospel? There are people in many of our churches who are committing the act of adultery by unlimited divorce, and remarriage. For no legitimate reason they leave one to go to another. Where are the cries of adultery. One pastor I know and who was my pastor for a while, about six years, once said, and I am not sure this is verbatim, “I was reading this about John the Baptist, realized he lost his head for calling it adultery, therefore I have no business performing marriages of people who have been divorced”. As far as I know he has stuck to that, and I have taken that as my stand as well. Not too long ago I was having a conversation with an older pastor concerning divorce and remarriage. I told him my stand and that I had held to that since near the beginning of my preaching. He told me, “If one of your daughters or sons get a divorce and want to remarry, and they come to you to do the ceremony, you will change your thinking.” I told him “No I won’t, because my kids have more respect for me than to ask, and even if they did my answer would be NO!” My oldest son told me, “I would be too ashamed to come and ask.” When you take stands like that you will lose favor with family, relatives, and friends. Whom are we called to please, God or man, God or family when it comes to morality, and right and wrong? It grieves my heart to tell them that I cannot, or will not, but it is a conviction that I have and will continue to hold. It grieves me even more that someone who knows me, and my conviction would bother to ask.

The Baptist chose God and His Word, even at the expense of imprisonment and his life. We, if we are to be the people of God can choose no lesser way.

The news of the death of the prophet got to Jesus, and it grieved His heart, and He went away to a deserted place for Himself and the disciples. This departure seems to come after the disciples had spent several days out preaching the gospel of the kingdom; by reading this in its context, and following, Mark 6:30-31, and Luke 9:1-10 the departure to a “deserted place” was a different time than for the beheading. Remember John the Baptist was the one who came before Jesus to prepare the way. Are we preparing the way for Christ’s return as He has called us to do so? He is coming back. What condition will the hearts and lives of those to whom we have preached be in? What is the condition of our own heart and life toward God?

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Fruit of the Lips

The Fruit of the Lips

“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 (KJV).

Jesus is still speaking to and of the Pharisees. The hearts of the Pharisees are corrupt and their fruit is corrupt. A thorn tree cannot help bearing anything other than thorns. The fruit of their lips comes from their hearts, because their hearts are evil. Their hearts are evil because they know the Scriptures, but do not know the Truth when He stands in their midst. Their hearts are evil, because they are “full of dead men’s bones”, dead and profess to know God, but know Him not. They are evil because they lead blind men into the ditch with themselves. They are evil because they praise the godless and condemn sinners who seek a Savior.

Jesus uses imagery similar to that of John the Baptist, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” 3:7 (KJV). Slithering, sneaky, slothful serpents whose only mission is to lead people to destruction. It is almost an insult to the serpents. Because of the evil of their hearts they cannot produce good fruit. They cannot speak good and fruitful words. They condemn themselves. The only hope for these religious leaders is to deny themselves, their corrupt fruit, corrupt lips, and believe in Jesus.

People do not often think this way, but words often reveal the content of the heart. If, for instance, the first word to come to you lips and tongue when you smash a finger is a swear word, then you really do have a heart problem. The one whose heart is right when they smash a finger might be something along the line, “Lord help me”, but not to take His name in vain, or swear vehemently against Him. That comes from evil in the heart. By our words we will either be justified or condemned. Good words are spoken of our Savior and His work from the heart of those whom He has changed.

Guard your words, for they reveal the content and state of your heart.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Doing The Word of God

Knowing the Mission and Purpose of the King

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto Him, Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” Matthew 11:1-6 (KJV)

In chapter ten Jesus has sent His disciples out to minister the Word of God and declare the message of the King. In the first verse of this chapter we find Jesus preaching and ministering alone. He has given commandment and sends the twelve out. In the first verse we are told, “He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. “Their cities” would be speaking of the cities of those He had just sent, of course.

John the Baptist, a prophet truly in the Old Testament sense, would know the message of the prophets. He knows, especially the ones of the coming Messiah. He, being a man, and a sinner like the rest of us would have had some preconceived notions concerning the Messiah; somewhat like his Jewish teachers. For instance he must have believed that the Messiah was going to come and free the nation of Israel from Roman rule. These preconceived notions would cause him to doubt. Preconceived notions of Scripture will cause doubt.

The Baptist has been imprisoned for his faithfulness to God’s call. He preached telling Herod he should not have his brothers wife (Matthew 4:12; 14:3-12). John’s notion was most likely that Jesus as the King of the Jews would set up His kingdom. His assumption was correct, however, his timing was millenniums away; ie., His earthly kingdom.

Since John was imprisoned he was unable to question Jesus personally and sends his disciples. He is showing faith by sending his disciples, and by seeking confirmation. An understanding of Jesus’s mission and ministry would end the doubt and the confusion for John.

To know our own mission and ministry for Christ will give us peace of mind. Every individual believer, every church needs a mission and purpose for being, and we find that in Jesus Christ, and His Word.

John’s question is one we could probably ask at times. “Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” Can we truly understand John’s dilemma? I think so. When he has been believing that he was preaching the way of the Messiah, then, he winds up in lock up, because he preached against Herod’s adultery, he is surely wondering, “Have I been preaching the right stuff? Is this man whom I have proclaimed really the One?” By his faith, he sends his disciples to ask Him. He did not send them to ask the religious leaders. He knew the answer he would get there. He believed Jesus would be the only one who would have the correct answer. He must have trusted, by what he had seen and heard, that Jesus was truthful, and that His word could be trusted. Jesus would not lie about His own identity. Sometimes doubt is a sign of growth, if you are really seeking the truth. Was this man, Jesus, the Messiah; the long awaited One by the Jews?

The question asked by John, which was born of doubt is answered by Jesus. To answer, Jesus had only to use the Old Testament Scripture. When Jesus gave them the words of Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:4-6; 61:1-2a John would be satisfied with the answer, and the doubt was resolved. Being a prophet he would have been very acquainted with these verses, which are prophecies of the Messiah. He would trust the Scriptures in the identity of Jesus, and the evidence that He gave as well. The evidence was what Scriptures said the Messiah would do, and Jesus was doing it.

The mission of Jesus was to help the afflicted. Those who were afflicted physically, economically and spiritually were aided and blessed by the touch of Jesus. The works He performed were evidence of who He is/was. We must keep in mind that the works we perform are a testimony of who we are. The power Christians have over man made religion is a living Savior who overcame the power of sin. Man made religion binds men to man made laws. Christians are not bound to law, but to the One who fulfilled the law, thus, able to live His life.

John knowing the Prophets and their prophecies recognized the mission of Jesus when it was told to him. Jesus’s ministry was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). His ministry was one of offense. He touched the unclean and the defiled. He ministered to “Tax collectors and sinners”, and that offended the religious leaders. He rebuked the religious establishment and their self-righteousness.

The King’s mission was to die, that all who repent and believe could be saved. The ultimate goal of King Jesus was/is to fulfill all the Word of God.

-by Tim A. Blankenship