Grace in Dispute

“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, ‘Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.  And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.  Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.'” Acts 15:6-11  (KJB)

Scripture and the Resurrection

“For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” John 20:9  (KJB)

How well do I know Scripture?  How well do I think I know Scripture?  Those are two very different questions.  I am pretty confident that I do not know Scripture as well as I ought to know them.  I think sometimes that I am pretty intelligent concerning the Bible.

It is not, however, until a trial of faith or a real life situation comes along that I understand the value of things I have learned from God and His word.

The events leading to the verse above was the death, burial, and then the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  These were not ignorant of the Scriptures teaching of the resurrection, but now all those times Jesus had spoken of His death and resurrection they had that “OH YEAH!” moment.  Peter and John entered the empty tomb, and saw it was empty – the body of Jesus was gone.

At the crucifixion Scripture was fulfilled.  In the burial Scripture was fulfilled.  In the resurrection of Jesus Scripture was fulfilled.

Read the Scriptures.  Hear them, know them, and understand.

You, Follow Me

“Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on His breast at supper, and said, ‘Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?’ Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what shall this man do?’
Jesus saith unto him, ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.’
Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, ‘He shall not die;’ but, ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?'” John 21:20-23  (KJB)

Remember, if you will, that at the trial of Jesus, and Peter standing with the crowd outside denied our Lord three times.  I am positive that Peter grieved over that when he heard that rooster crow, and it hit him like a rock, and he remembered what the Lord said.

Jesus is giving Peter some assurance, and reassurance in much of this chapter.  Giving him renewed faith, and strength.

The Lord has revealed to Peter what his life is going to be like for Him; and so he asked the Lord the question concerning John, “What shall this man do?” He receives the Lord’s answer, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.

Peter was not given words concerning John’s life, his calling, or his last day on earth. Peter was given Peter’s life.

The same is true of all Christians.  We are not to be anxious about another’s life, their calling, neither their last day or days.  Not that we do not care for them; but that we are not using them to excuse our own weaknesses, sins, and faults.

Jesus’s answer to Peter could be said to be “You, follow Me”.  That is what the Lord’s answer to me is; and so for all who call Him Lord and Savior.

When Things are Tough and You Sit Down With the Crowd

“And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, ‘This man was also with Him.’ And he denied Him, saying, ‘Woman, I know Him not.’ And after a little while another saw him, and said, ‘Thou art also of them.’ And Peter said, ‘Man, I am not.’ And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, ‘Of a truth this fellow also was with Him: for he is a Galilaean.’ And Peter said, ‘Man, I know not what thou sayest.’ And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, ‘Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice.’ And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”  Luke 22:55-62 (KJB)

Peter had said to the Lord, “I will not deny You.”  Jesus had confirmed that Peter would; Peter did (Matthew 26:31-35).  Is there any way Peter could have avoided this tragedy of denying the Lord?

The first thing Peter did wrong was doubt the Lord’s words when He spoke it concerning his denial.  The second thing is at Jesus’s trial at the house of the high priest; he sits with the crowd who is wanting Him crucified.

If we desire to walk with the Lord and to be faithful to Him when we sit with the crowd in times of trial, and trouble we will cave to the pressure of the crowd.

O, Lord, give me strength to always stand and to be faithful to  You.  Amen.

…The Hand of the Lord was with Them…

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” Acts 11:19-21 (KJV)

There was a problem with the salvation of the Gentiles, of which we read in chapter 10.  Peter’s defense is read in 11:1-18.  The Jewish apostles, and brethren had that problem.  There was no Biblical difficulty, if they were willing to see it, because God intended that all the nations know “He is the LORD” (a theme mentioned throughout the Old Testament).

Due to the persecution of the Church at Jerusalem the Christian community was spread to other countries, and areas on the map.  It was how the Spirit of God was moving.

Those being persecuted did not cease preaching the gospel; rather they kept on preaching, but only to the Jews, in synagogues as God allowed it.  The gospel was given first to the Jew and also to the Greek [Gentiles] (Romans 1:16; 2:10). The “Grecians” would be the “the Greek speaking non-Jews” MacArthur Study Bible.  That would mean Gentiles.  They too were hearing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ; which God has meant for all to hear.

When “The hand of the Lord was with them” they prospered and grew in great number.  We must be sure when we are seeing a growth that it is of God.  That there are truly regenerated  people coming into our congregations, and not just an entertainment seeking, soft skinned, self made gods, but truly turning to the One who saves us from sin, and gives us eternal life.

Turn to the Lord, and live.  Reject Him and perish.  You reject Him by refusing to believe what He has said.

 

God is no Respecter of Persons

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed Him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:34-43 (KJV)

This chapter begins by telling us of a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the “Italian band” (v. 1), a devout man who feared God, but did not know the Savior.  God does marvelous things to get His Chosen to Himself.

The verses we look at today are the words of Peter which he spoke after leaving Simon the tanners house, going to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea, and now he shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with the household, from the Old Testament – it was the only Testament they had at the time.  Something we must not forget.

Note Peter’s words given by the Spirit of God;

  • He exalts the Father and the Christ above all things or anyone;
  • Peter tells us of the work and ministry ob Jesus Christ;
  • Peter declares the work of salvation which Jesus performed
  1. His work of the cross;
  2. His burial;
  3. and His resurrection.

It was the Spirit of God who caused all the Old Testament prophets to speak of the Christ, and it is the Spirit of God who leads us to Him for the remission [forgiveness] of sins.

Many of Cornelius’s household were born again that day.  They also who believed were baptized in the name of the Lord.

As Christians we need not look too far to see the work of God.  We need only look into our own lives, and see Him at work.  We can look into our families, our community, our State, our Nation and the world to see the Spirit of God is moving, working.  It is only the blind who cannot see.

…Purchased with money

“But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.” Acts 8:20-25 (KJV)

There are two men of God in this chapter.  Philip seems to be the one who was preaching when Simon the sorcerer makes a decision, and speaks, “This man is the great power of God” (v. 10).

Sorcery has always been rejected by God because it distracts from God, His power and authority and Spirit.  In the case of this sorcerer it appears to mean “Magical arts” or the “work of a magician”.  For Simon it was used to deceive people purposely for his own personal gain.  In our day we might call him a “Scam artist”.  He did, however, recognize Philip as a man of God.

The words of the verses above were spoken by the apostle Peter.  He had spoken and laid hands on some of the believers of Samaria, and they received the Holy Spirit.  For clarity the Holy Spirit comes into, is given by God to an individual when receive the gift of God in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Simon saw this laying on the hands, as a “Power” which could be bought with money; and Peter rebukes him, even heavily condemns him for believing such a thing.

The gift of the Spirit of God has no price.  He is given by the grace of God upon one’s salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, His burial and His resurrection.  He is given as “Christ in you,” empowering us to live by the Spirit, and when we live in the Spirit we walk with God in full agreement with Him.

I do not know the outcome of Simon.  He did ask for prayer “…That none of these things which you have spoken come upon me..”   I do know that God is gracious and merciful, and if this Simon truly was born again through faith in Christ Jesus he is forgiven, and walking with Jesus in glory today.

No matter what you have done know today that God loved you so much that He gave His only begotten Son that if you will believe in Him you will never perish, but have eternal life with Him.

The Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the Man of God

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” Acts 4:13-14 (KJV)

I use the word “Man” above in a generic sense; so I pray none of you feminist ladies get up in arms about it.  Smile.

These verses are a continuation of chapter three, and the healing of the lame man at the temple gate.  Peter and John were taken by the Sadducees, and “Put them in hold…” (4:1-3), because they were preaching the resurrection of Jesus; and the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, or anything spiritual.

People were believing as a result of Peter’s message – “About five thousand” men came to faith in Jesus the Christ.

If you go back through chapter three you will see that the message Peter preached was the Scripture the Word of God.  Throughout the book of Acts when there is a move of the Spirit of God it is due to the preaching of the Word of God, and the influence of the Word of God through the Spirit of God; never without it.

Peter and John were tried by these unbelievers, and the unbelievers were put on trial as well, by the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the men of God.

Peter and John, not being educated in the education system of that day were ignorant of the things of the religious elite, but they had a far greater Person in their hearts and lives; and He is the All wise One; the All Knowing One.  When the Word of God is put to the test; it will stand.  When the Spirit of God is put to the test; He too will stand.  When the man of God, who is in the Word of God, filled with the Spirit of God is tested; he too will stand, and he will not fall at that point in his testing.

This is the testimony of the Spirit of God, and the Word of God —  “…And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”  Let that be my testimony.  Let that be your testimony.

The Power of the Spirit of God

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4 (KJV)

As we enter the book of Acts via chapter one, and looking at Luke’s Gospel, we find the disciples hiding away,  uncertain of what to do.  Nothing is going on in their lives.  At least that is the way it appears.  Forty days after His resurrection Jesus ascends into heaven in their sight, and for their witness of it.

On the day of Pentecost, about 10 days later, an amazing thing happens.  We must remember Jesus’s own promise “I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you.” (John 14:18).

What takes place on the day of Pentecost was a day of the fulfillment of that promise, and power; the power of God descending upon all who were following Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.

Many have made a big to do, about the tongues, but it is not about “tongues” it is about Christ Jesus and His promises.  He keeps His word.  The tongues is more in the hearing – when you read the verses following those above.

“Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.” verse 6

Peter who had been quiet for these fifty days was suddenly given the power, authority of the Spirit of God, and his discourse is heard, and people are changed by that same Spirit of God.  It is that same Spirit of God that dwelt in Jesus Christ, and raised Him to life, and brought Him forth from the grave.

On this day there were three thousand souls added to the Kingdom of Christ (v. 41), and their lives were changed forever.

The real “Miracle” is not the tongues but the thousands of changed lives.  Jesus Christ the Son of God and God the Son is still changing lives today; because He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.  That same Jesus is getting ready to return and that could happen any moment now.

Christian live for Christ in the power of that Spirit of Christ.

Day Three Hundred and Eight

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to have the boldness of Peter and John as they entered the Temple in Acts 3; and for my life to be lived that others will notice that I have been with Jesus.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled.  And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”  Acts 4:13 (NKJV)

Christian Persecution

There are a few people I know who have jail, and prison ministries. They do it because they believe God has called them to go to the places where men and women are incarcerated for crimes against God and humanity. Yet, these minister to the men and women who are willing to listen to the message of Christ; the hope for all mankind; even the murderers and rapist and child molesters.

The event from Acts which we read today is not of criminals who have violated God’s laws, but violators of men’s laws which are against God. The apostles had preached when they were ordered not to preach in that name of “Jesus”; yet, they did. Hear what they said:

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand, a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” Acts 5:29-32 (KJV)

This takes place following their arrest, and imprisonment. An “Angel of the Lord” has come to them in the “common prison” and opened the doors, and sent them to preach in the temple. They went, and that is where they are found the next morning. Doing as they had been told by God.

When men’s laws are against God’s law, then Christian men and women are to continue their practices of being Christian; obeying God’s Word, His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments. I do not think we Christians should be surprised by persecution in a dark world. We ought rather, be surprised that we are not; because the apostle Paul has written, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV). Now, I do not want to be persecuted, but really, if I am not; am I really living a godly life? The apostles were.

As Peter stated above; “We ought to obey God rather than men”. That begins through our faith; trusting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; obeying Him in our lives; being His witness.

One thing this passage of Scripture teaches is that the freedom of speech is from God, not men; therefore men cannot take it away. Let our speech be always with words that glorify our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amazed by the Power of God

We ought always be amazed by the power of God. We ought always realize that God is working, moving, accomplishing His purposes in the world around us and in our own lives.

Previous to the verses we look at today Jesus had been on the Mount called “Transfiguration”, and He was speaking with Moses and Elijah. A wonderful experience for Peter, James and John, and where they heard the Father say, “This is My Beloved Son: hear Him”.

Coming down from the mountain they encounter a man who has a son possessed of a demon, and is tormented by the evil one; tearing, tossing, torturing him with great pain, and grief to the father of the son. The other nine disciples have been powerless to cast out the demon. Jesus has come and speaks to the “unclean spirit”, and the demon leaves, the son is healed, and is delivered to his father (Luke 9:28-42)

Jesus knew the time of His death was near. He had spoken to the disciples of His death on previous occasions, but they did not yet understand.

“And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, He said unto His disciples, Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask Him of that saying.” Luke 9:43-45 (KJV)

In verses 51 and 53 we can note that Jesus had His “face set to go to Jerusalem”, and that means all the way to the cross, and to death for our sins.

In the words of the text above Jesus wanted the disciples to know and to understand; but it just had not happened yet.

In the Gospel account of Matthew Peter attempts to rebuke Jesus after Jesus has spoken of His coming death (Matthew 16:21-23). A disciple rebuking his Master? I almost laugh at the thought; but Jesus rebukes Peter, and even tells Satan “Get behind me Satan”. For man, or the whole human race to think that they can thwart the power, plan, and purposes of God is even more laughable. See Psalm 2:4.

For the Christian today we can understand what has taken place; yet we must have the heart, mind and soul for hearing it, hiding His Word in our hearts, and obeying it. We can pray for understanding and wisdom in the Word; but if we never read it, and study it, there will not be any of wisdom or understanding. There will also be no growing faith in Him.

O Christian; hear Him. Do His word. Let these sayings sink down into your ears; and your heart. Jesus has been delivered into the hands of men. He died, was buried, and bodily arose and came out of that grave, and He ever lives.

Save Me

“Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.” Psalm 69:1 (KJV)

As Peter stepped out of the boat, in a storm, to walk on the water to Jesus; he began to sink.  His words as he was going down were “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30).  Have you ever cried out to Him, “Lord, save me”?

I never make a secret of the fact that I enjoy reading the preachers of old.  Many of them like Spurgeon, Edwards, Gill, Henry, and Wesley are ones that I am blessed in reading.  Most of the time I post the commentary of Spurgeon; and I do so today from The Treasury of David.

“Save me, O God.” “He saved others, himself he cannot save.” With strong cryings and tears he offered up prayers and supplications unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared (Heb_5:7). Thus David had prayed, and here his Son and Lord utters the same cry. This is the second Psalm which begins with a “Save me, O God,” and the former (Psa_54:1-7) is but a short summary of this more lengthened complaint. It is remarkable that such a scene of woe should be presented to us immediately after the jubilant ascension hymn of the last Psalm, but this only shows how interwoven are the glories and the sorrows of our ever-blessed Redeemer. The head which now is crowned with glory is the same which wore the thorns; he to whom we pray, “Save us, O God,” is the selfsame person who cried, “Save me, O God.” “For the waters are come in unto my soul.” Sorrows, deep, abounding, deadly, had penetrated his inner nature. Bodily anguish is not his first complaint; he begins not with the gall which embittered his lips, but with the mighty griefs which broke into his heart. All the sea outside a vessel is less to be feared than that which finds its way into the hold. A wounded spirit who can bear. Our Lord in this verse is seen before us as a Jonah, crying, “The waters compassed me about, even to the soul.” He was doing business for us on the great waters, at his Father’s command; the stormy wind was lifting up the waves thereof, and he went down to the depths till his soul was melted because of trouble. In all this he has sympathy with us, and is able to succour us when we, like Peter, beginning to sink, cry to him, “Lord, save, or we perish.”
from THE TREASURY OF DAVID

Jesus is our salvation.  When have you cried to Him for eternal salvation?  If you have not, then, do so now.

Walking on Water

“And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone.  But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a spirit;’ and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.’  And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.’  And He said, ‘Come.’  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, ‘Lord, save me.’  And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, ‘O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’  And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.  Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.'” Matthew 14:22-33 (KJV)

 

Pigs in the Pigpen

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Jude 3-4 (KJV)

Now when it comes to pigs, no one sees a thing wrong with pigs being in the pigpen.  That is pretty natural and normal; especially for the hog farmer.  He pens them to work, to raise them and get them fat ready for sale, or the market.  In the pigpen it gets pretty downright disgusting to see.  Mud and waste product, mingled with wasted feed, from the fights among the pigs for their feed.  It is pretty normal for pigs to be that way, live that way.

What does the pigpen have to do with Jude’s writing?  Notice it says that “Pigs have crept in unawares”.  NO!  It does not say that exactly; but that is what they are.  These that have “crept in” have taken the grace of God and turned it into a license to sin.  Just a few days ago on Peter’s epistle it was written,

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”

When we have these “Pigs” in the church we have chaos, unbelief, malicious conduct, selfishness, greed, lust, and all kinds of evil.  Is it any wonder the world wants to accuse us of hate; especially when they see it among us toward one another.  The pigpen is not natural or normal for the sheep.

Why is this happening?  Many of the one’s who profess Christ, and to be ministers of the Gospel are profaning the Gospel, denying the Scriptures, and living like the world.  Sir!  If you do not believe God and His Word get out of the Church, and back where you belong; and take the pigpen with you.

-T.A.

Day 74 – The Crucified, Buried, and Resurrected Lord

From Day 1 of my 90 days of reading through the Bible I have endeavored to stress in this post the message of Jesus.  In the first 14 chapters of Genesis we  can see Jesus and through all the first five books of the Bible.  The books of History we see Jesus.  In the books of Poetry (Job, Psalms, etc.) we see Jesus.  In the Prophets we see Jesus; and we see Him coming the first time to suffer, to be buried and to die, and be bodily raised to life again.

We recently began reading the part of the Bible that is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and that is the New Testament and beginning in Matthew we have gotten to the last of the gospels which entail the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all give us accounts of the life of Jesus.  None contradict the other.  They complement one another.  Together they give us the complete account of the humanity, deity, power, purity, holiness, love, mercy, and grace of the Incarnate God.

My reading today was John 17  through Acts 5.  That is right only ten chapters.  Just to let the reader know.  I did some calculations of the numbers of chapters remaining, along with the numbers of days, and in order to give myself some reading through all 90 days; I will now be reading a minimum of 10 chapters with an eleventh every three days or so.

The reading today began with our Lord’s Prayer.  It is the one I call the Lord’s Prayer.  The one that has the title “The Lord’s Prayer” is actually a model prayer which He used to teach His disciples how to pray.  John 17 is the Lord Himself praying to the Father.  He is praying for the glory of the Father to be done.  He is also praying for His followers to be one, as the Father and Son are one (vv. 11, 22-23). I have written more thoroughly on the Lord’s Prayer at this link.

In the final chapters of the gospel of John, just as in the other gospels, we read of the trial, conviction, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus; with some differences in each account.  Some who seem to have an agenda on disproving the Scriptures and that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, and God the Son try to tell us that these differences are contradictions; but that is not so.  When there is an automotive accident on a street corner, and there are witnesses – let’s say there are four witnesses, one at each corner; each witness will have a different view of the accident, and will have a different way of telling their eye witness account of the accident.  When there is a difference in their testimony is someone lying?  Not necessarily.  When you put all the testimony together you will come to the full account of the story.  The same is true with the gospel of Jesus Christ; only the best part about the four Gospels is that they are inspired by the Spirit of God.  Thus, completely without error.

We get into the Acts of the Holy Spirit, often called The Acts of the Apostles, and we see by the hand of Luke that Jesus is ascending into the presence of the Father.

“And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11 (KJV)

In the Acts we also see Peter with a new found boldness, and courage, that can only be explained by the evidence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  He has witnessed the resurrected Christ; his life has been changed, and that is true of any one who ever meets the resurrected Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.  Your life is changed.  You were a sinner, and you are now Just in the eyes of God, and declared by Him to be “Saint”.

The apostles, as well as Jesus, had only one set of Scriptures to read; and that was the Old Testament.  When someone tells you, “I believe only the New Testament” or “I live only by the New Testament”; then, they are telling you really that they have a problem of faith.  Hear what Peter declares concerning Moses and the Prophets,

“For Moses truly said unto the fathers, ‘A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.  And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.  Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.  Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, ‘And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.  Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”  Acts 3:22-26

That is right.  The only Bible Jesus and the apostles, and the early church had to read was the writings of Moses, or the Law, the Prophets, the History, and the Poetry of Scripture.  We are blessed to have the continued Scripture of the New Testament – the revealing or unveiling of the Old Testament.

Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ today, and be saved from your sins, death, hell and the grave.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 69 – Discourse Unto Death

Christians the world wide celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ yesterday.  We often fail to remember that Jesus was more than a martyr though.  He was more than a man dying for a cause.  He was the Man sent to fulfill all the law and the prophets.  He was the God/Man sent and set to fulfill the Scriptures.

There is many a time in Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus where we read something like, “That the Scriptures might be fulfilled”, even up to His death on the cross and His resurrection.

Matthew records several discourses which Jesus spoke.  The first one was the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7).  The second was in chapter 13 and was short messages dealing with the kingdom.  One had to do with Him sending forth His disciples with the message of the kingdom (chapter 18).  The final one is called the Olivet Discourse, and deals with the last days, and His return following His death.

My reading this morning took me from Matthew 15 through 28.  Today’s reading took me a little more than an hour, and I struggled with the length, and time spent;  however, I was blessed in reading the Scriptures; especially since they were spoken by my Saviour and Lord.

In chapter 17 of Matthew we have an event that is also recorded in Mark 9 and Luke 9; and that is the event of Jesus’s  Transfiguration.  It is a meeting that takes place between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  We read,

“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.” Matthew 17:1-8 (KJV)

In the appearance of Moses we have the representative of the Law.  In the appearance of Elijah we have the representative of the Prophets.  Jesus Himself is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, thus the voice out of the cloud which spoke was that of the Father, declaring that His Son holds all authority of the Law and the Prophets.  He says,  “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.”

At this transfiguration the three disciples; Peter, James and John saw Jesus in His glorified state.  This event of itself, then with the testimony of His Father gives the disciples assurance, that this truly is the God/Man, Son of God and King of kings.  They would need to learn to trust that now was not the time for His reign, but the time of His sacrifice.

With these several discourses of Jesus He went to the cross,  presenting Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the people; laying His own life down on the cross, forsaken by the Father, buried in a borrowed tomb, rising again victoriously from that grave.  After His resurrection He gives another short discourse,

“All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”  Matthew 28:18-20

The life of Jesus the King of kings was to give His life.  In His life we have many teachings on how to live, have faith, trust, and pray.  He did not come at this time to rule, but to serve us and to die for our sins.  He did, and He rose again.  He is coming again.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Friday Baptist 071511

The following are the closing paragraphs of a message by W. A. Criswell titled “The Ableness of God” from Ephesians 3:14-21 from October 25, 1970.

The ableness of God; we never exhaust it.  It’s never beyond what He can do for us—above all we ask or think.  Lord, who would ever have thought the little shepherd boy David would be the king of Israel?  Who would ever have thought Amos the sycamore gatherer would be God’s first great writing prophet?  Who would ever have thought Cephas, the fisherman of such a volatile spirit, would have been Peter at Pentecost?  Who would ever have thought that Saul of Tarsus, persecuting the church, would have been the apostle who kneels down here in prayer.  Who would ever have thought it? Oh, the whole gamut of God’s world is like that.  Who would ever have thought these prison doors open of themselves in the twelfth chapter of Acts?  Who would ever have thought the lions’ mouths would have been stopped or the three would have been delivered out of the fiery furnace?

“Above all that we ask for;” be encouraged, my brethren.  Let’s lift up our spirits and our hearts.  Let’s roll up our sleeves.  Let’s ask God for great things for Jesus.  Let’s ask Him for these families, these homes, these children; these teenagers; these young marrieds.  Let’s ask Him. Let’s ask in faith that God’ll give us their souls, their lives, their children, and then, having found answered prayer, let’s teach them the Word of God.  Let’s just place in their very souls the riches of that glorious revelation. Let’s just spend our days around here praising Jesus, loving God.  I’ve got to quit.  Man, we could just love the Lord forever, couldn’t we?  Just talking about what God can do for us and how we’re going to, in His love and grace, attempt great things for Him.

W. A. Criswell, 1970

-posted by T.A.

Resurrection – Unbelief and Hardness of Heart; Mark 16:9-14

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
14 Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.”  Mark 16:9-14 (KJV)

By the testimony of verse 9 the resurrected Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.  Who is this Mary?  She is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke,

“And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils” (Luke 8:2).

This Mary had been terribly bound, and was probably involved in great evil.  The Lord Jesus had freed her and cast the demons from her.  By His great glory He appeared to her first and gave her  the privilege of telling the sceptical disciples of the resurrection.  When she came to the disciples and told them they did not believe her report.

According to verse 10 the disciples were in mourning and were weeping.  They were quite sorrowful over the death of Jesus.  Why, O why, would they not believe Mary?  Would not her countenance be aglow with joy?  Would not her words have been filled with excitement?  Saying,  “Our Lord’s grave is empty, He is alive.  I have seen Him.  He has spoken to me.”  I think I would have at least been curious.  This would have, of course, been after Mary has been to the tomb, found it empty, went to Peter and John, they run to see it empty, and then return, as John writes,

” Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.”  (John 20:10).

They were not even curious enough to begin a search, they “…went away again to themselves”.

After appearing to Mary Magdalene Jesus appears to two who are walking together.  Luke tells us is was to Emmaeus.  Luke gives us more details of this appearance by Jesus.  These two did not recognize Him.  He shared with them the words of the Prophets concerning Himself, and only when He had broken bread at their table did they recognize Him.   When He first appeared to Mary, she did not recognize Him.  She thought Him to be the gardner.  Maybe due to the sadness, mourning, and tears His identity was covered to them, and maybe due to spiritual influence from Him.  They had been blind to the words Jesus had spoken concerning His rising from the dead, and now they were blind to its reality.  Only by the power of God did they know Him.  Only by the “Drawing” of the Father, and His will can anyone know Him.  These two told the disciples that Jesus was risen, and still they do not believe.  By this time Peter and John had probably already seen Jesus alive due to the words of Luke in chapter 24 verse 34,

“Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”

When they came to those who had not yet seen Jesus alive the remainder would not believe.  We sometimes jump all over Thomas because he would not believe unless he witnessed the resurrected Jesus personally, but all of the disciples had the same attitude.  Blessed are those who have believed though they have not seen.

Why did Jesus rebuke them for their unbelief?  He had spoken to them many times of His death and resurrection, but they had not heard.  They had had a wrong attitude toward Him.  He was their source of deliverance from captivity of Rome.  He was their hope for amounting to something in “His kingdom”.  Judas was not the only one following Him for the wrong reason(s).  They found it hard to believe that their “Messiah” would even die.  If He was not going to die there was no need for a resurrection.  So in their mind all the problems of the Hebrews were over; then He died.

Jesus rebuked them, because they had not believed His Word.  “Destroy this temple, and in three day I will raise it again”.  You can imagine that now that He has appeared to all of the disciples, they now believe.  Would I have been any different?  Knowing what I know of myself, and having grown up in Missouri [the Show-Me State], I doubt it.  Knowing what I now know, by the testimony of so many witnesses and the testimony of God’s Word, Yes I believe He is risen.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Matthew – 030811

Matthew 14 – 16 is our reading for today.

The text we look at today is from the 16th chapter following Peter’s great confession that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God.

Who do men say that Jesus is?  The disciple’s answers were that He was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other of the Old Testament prophets; giving answer to some comments people had made as to who He was.  The all important question asked by Jesus at this point was, “Whom say ye that I am?”  That is the clincher for the actual answer.  Peter’s answer, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, and that is the answer by all who will have eternal life.

Following this confession of Peter, however, it seems that the devil himself confuses Peter, and is rebuked for his speech;

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.  Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.’  But He turned, and said unto Peter, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.'” Matthew 16:21-23 (KJV)

From the time of the confession of Peter Jesus begins to teach them that His destiny is to go to Jerusalem and die.  This is what the disciples were hearing, and that is the reason for Peter’s words of denial in the above passage of Scripture.  Jesus didn’t leave the matter without hope; He did speak of His resurrection of being “raised the third day”, yet Peter’s response comes from the dark recesses of his being.

We must think about this for an instant.  Peter loved Jesus, and to hear him speak of His coming death was a shock to his ears and heart.  That, nevertheless, does not excuse his mind being opened for the devil’s use.  Peter has been called “The disciple with the foot shaped mouth”, slow to think, quick to speak.

Can you just see Peter taking Jesus aside and rebuking Him.  Peter, do you know what you are doing?  He is thinking from the way of men, not the way of God, God’s Word and God’s will.  Many a time I have heard said that Jesus is calling Peter “Satan” in His words.  Not so.  Jesus recognizes who the infiltrator is, though there is a two fold action here.

Jesus first directs His rebuke to Satan who has tempted Jesus before (Matthew 4:1-11); and then to Peter telling him that his heart is not on the things of God, but those of men.  It is my conviction that the devil never wanted Jesus to go to the cross and die; he tried to misdirect our Savior from His atoning work; thus the temptations of chapter 4; the temptations from the masses to be king, and so forth; and now through Peter the devil attempts it again.

We must give our hearts to God, His Word and His will for our lives.  We, like Peter, may not always be able to understand what is going on, in fact, we may never understand; we are called to trust, believe and be faithful in what God says.  Jesus was faithful unto death.  That is our calling as well.

-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

Gethsemane: “Thy Will Be Done”

“And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and He saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. 33 And He taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; 34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. 35 And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. 37 And He cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? 38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. 39 And again He went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. 40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer Him. 41 And He cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth Me is at hand.”  Mark14:32-42 (KJV)

This is the place called, “Gethsemane” which means “Oil press”.  It must have been the place where the harvested olives were pressed for the oil.  There probably can be no better representation of the “Press” Jesus Himself must have been in at this moment in time.  Of course, Jesus’s press was a spiritual one; affecting Him physically; which was pressing on Him to fulfill the will and work of God in His life, and that was His will and choice as well.  He came to do His Father’s will.

Jesus tells the disciples to sit in a certain place while He goes to pray.  He takes with Him Peter, James, and John to stay a little closer with Him and to pray while He goes to be alone with the Father.  The weight, agony, passion weighs heavily upon Jesus as this is being done, and he commands the three with Him to “Watch”; that is “Be vigilant”, “Be watchful” (v. 34).

At least from the time of the beginning of His ministry at the age of thirty the heart and mind of Jesus was on the cross; dying there for the sins of mankind.  As the only blood atonement for all our sin.  That was, afterall, the plan of the Father.  That was His plan too.  Having that as His heart and mind; is the old idea we have heard the right one, or could it be that He thought He could possibly die before He reached the cross due to His physically weakened condition; due to His grief and sorrow – His agony?

Could He truly have been praying that this time of passion “Might pass from Him”? If indeed that had been His heart and mind for many years? If so it would not be that He was questioning the Father’s will, it was the agony of His coming separation from the Father that was causing Him so much pain and agony.  He is the Son of God in flesh, never away from the presence of God, and to take away the sin of the world would require separtion to provide justification, cleansing, and in the end our glorification.  His death for sin was the only means by which a holy God could save mankind from their sins, and still remain just and holy.  Jesus knew that, and thus prayed, “…Not what I will, but what Thou wilt” (v. 36).

Remember Jesus had told Peter, James, and John to be vigilant, watchful and pray, but He finds them sleeping.  In the time of His own personal crisis His disciples – the three closest to Him at that – seem unaware at what is happening to Jesus.  It may also be that they are so troubled that they are overwhelmed, and they are emotionally exhausted.  It was a very trying time for them, but especially for their Master.  That was the time for them to pray, not to sleep.

He went back to pray and returned again only to find them sleeping again.  It happened again a third time and this time He tells them, “Sleep on”.  The time of His betrayal was at hand.  There was nothing more that they could do.  Judas was coming with the mob to take Him and lead Him to trial for His murder.

One thing we can learn from this event is that we need to be diligent, alert, and aware in our praying.  Sadly, there are far too many Christians asleep at spiritual living; especially in prayer.  At the darkest points of our lives we must be praying.  Maybe we are not even aware of those “darkest points”.  We need to be.  When we see the dark points of friends and family; we need to pray diligently.  Lord help us to pray as we ought.

Lord,  When we are in Gethsemane [the press] help us to pray, “Thy will be done”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Lamb Of God Celebrating Passover

“And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, His disciples said unto Him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?  13 And He sendeth forth two of His disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. 14 And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with My disciples? 15 And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. 16 And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. 17 And in the evening He cometh with the twelve. 18 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with Me shall betray Me. 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto Him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? 20 And He answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with Me in the dish. 21 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. 22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is My body. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And He said unto them, This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. 26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.  27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.  28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. 29 But Peter said unto Him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. 30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice. 31 But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”  Mark 14:12-31 (KJV)

Because it is drawing near to the evening of the Passover and feast of unleavened bread Jesus gives direction to two of His disciples on how to search for that place.  Whether the Lord had prearranged the event or not is not the question, though I personally do not believe that Jesus had it prearranged except through the Father.

Everything worked out just as Jesus had said.  Now we have the True Passover Lamb being prepared and preparing His disciples for the hours which lie ahead.  Ever since the deliverance of Israel from Egypt following the night of the Passover this event was prophetic of the True Lamb who would one day come to deliver mankind from sins bondage.  Just as the Passover lamb in Egypt died to deliver Israel from death, so too, the Son of God the Perfect Lamb, must die to deliver us from our sins.  It is quite fitting that it would be on the evening of the annual event remembering the deliverance from the land of bondage.

At this Passover meal Jesus tells His disciples that one of them will betray Him, and they will all flee from Him.  At the Passover meal they wonder, “Who is it?”  They even ask “Is it I?’  Even Judas to cover himself asked the question.  It seems to me that it would be proper to say that Judas was not present when the Lord instituted the “Lord’s Supper”.  According to John’s Gospel there is a place where Jesus said, “What you do do quickly…” and “…having received the sop went immediately out:…” (Read John 13:27-30).  The “Sop” would have been a piece of the unleavened bread from the “Passover meal” not that of what was the “Lord’s Supper”; that came shortly after Judas went to do his devious act of betrayal.

All we know of Judas is what we find of him in the Gospels.  He was the “Treasurer” for Jesus and His disciples (John 12:6).  We know he had equal access to the presence of Jesus as the other disciples.  He could have sought forgiveness for his treachery of betrayal, but instead he went out and hanged himself.  He could have taken part in the Lord’s Supper, but chose rather to go and betray his Master.  He slid into Hell from a church pew.  He did these things on one of the most holy weeks of the year for the Hebrew people.  He chose to betray and kill the only One who gave them hope.  By the death of the Lamb of God there was cleansing, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, and restoration, justification, sanctification, and there will be glorification.

As Jesus and the eleven disciples were on the Mount of Olives he tells them they will all be offended and flee.  Peter says,  “Though all may be offended, yet, I will not be.”  Because of his brash denial of Jesus’s words to all of them Jesus warns Peter that he will deny Him three times.  All of these events happened on Passover evening.  The true Lamb of God [Jesus] is about to be put to the slaughter.

During the time of the Passover meal Jesus prepares His disciples for the hours ahead.  They are yet about unaware of what is to come.

In verse 25 we have Jesus’ promise that He will see the disciples in His Kingdom; showing us that there is a coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  It is a great promise.  Jesus also says, “…After that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee”.  That of course saying that He will not only meet them there, because He would see them before they see Him in Galilee, but He would reveal Himself to a far greater  populace of people, “He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once…” (1 Corinthians 15:6).  We also have His assurace that wherever we go for His glory He will go before us in leading.  If He is not leading the way will not be open.

In having the Passover meal with His disciples Jesus was forming a bond and strength in them to help them through what lay ahead.  Peter would realize that His Lord did not make empty promises or vile statements.  He would learn to keep his mouth shut at His Lord’s word.  Peter would also learn of the Lord’s great forgiveness, and would bow at the Lord’s resurrected feet.

As the first Passover lamb was killed to provide blood for the doorposts and lintels of every home of the Hebrews and deliver them from the “Death angel”, the blood of Jesus Christ delivers all who are under His blood.  Life is in the blood.  The shed blood of Jesus gives life to all who are dead in sin, if they will but look to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Temporary Temple

Temporary Temple

1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! 2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? Mark 13:1-4 (KJV)

This was the last time that Jesus would be in the temple.  He had just applauded the widow as she gave all she possessed, and chided the religious leaders because they had only given according to their riches.  What matters to God is the attitude of one’s heart not the amount one gives or their prestige, or position.

There was nothing in all the world like this temple in its grandeur.  It had beautiful marble stones with gold ornamentation which reached a height of 100 feet, there were colonaded walkways, courtyards, and stairways that filled 20 acres of the most prominent landscape in Jerusalem.  From our human perspective it is no wonder the disciples made such a statement.

“These buildings”  were those of the temple and probably surrounding area which were marvelous architectural wonders.  They would not be able to endure the “wrath” that would come showing God’s disapproval of the Hebrew’s rejection of their Messiah.  When the temple would fall their sacrifices would cease, and they [the Hebrews] would be scattered to the “ends of the earth”.

When looking at this time and the situation they were in we must ask ourselves, “What is important in life?”  Is it buildings and lands?  Is it money and finances?  Maybe it is science and technology?  Wilfred Hahn a global portfolio manager has dubbed these as MOFI and SCITE.  There is a third one called GLOBO, which is a growing desire for global unity and tying of all nations to one another in the above things.  To explain these names are an acronyn for MOFI = Money/Finance; SCITE = Science/Technology; GLOBO = Global orgainization and unity.

The Jewish leaders; religious and otherwise; would learn in the years to come that what they held so dear would not stand.  What about us?  Can we learn from their foolishness?  I pray so.

-Tim A. Blankenship

King Jesus And Greatness

Ever since Cain and Abel there has been a struggle over greatness and who is the greatest.  Cassius Clay alias Mohammed Ali considered himself the greatest, and now is the shell of what he was.  If that.  I don’t say this to mock or ridicule a well know personality and  sports figure from the past but to make a point.

The point being all who have ever though themselves to be great, greater, or the greatest soon find themselves humbled even to death.

“Who is the greatest?” is a question asked the King by His disciples;

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  Matthew 18:1 (KJV)

The question of taxes had been asked previously by the temple tax people, and Jesus answered it by sending Peter to retrieve a fish with a coin in its mouth from waters. It was enough for the disciple and for Jesus’s taxes. Now the question is “Who then is greatest”, and by considering the matter of “Strangers” and “sons” listed previously we can see that the children are to live so as not to offend needlessly.

The message of Jesus Christ; His death, burial and resurrection – the cross in particular will offend many.  We need to be humble in Christ Jesus, respect others, and treat them, and their beliefs with respect while proclaiming the cross of Christ as the only means of salvation by the grace of God.

We should not be so concerned about greatness as we are about living for the One who is truly the Greatest.  He is the One who created all that is; seen and unseen.  He is the One who gave His life to pay our sin debt, was buried; carrying the guilt, burden, and death of sin far, far away; then rose from death, and is alive forever more; coming again in all His glory.  H

He is the King of kings, and Lord of lords.  His name is Jesus.  No one is greater than Jesus “…the fulness of the godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

When you get too full of yourself, remember Jesus. Empty yourself of you and ask Jesus Christ to come in.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

Look only to the One who is greatest.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Chapter Nine

Mark 9:1-50

“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. 11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.”  Mark 9:1-13 (KJV)

THE GLORY OF JESUS IS SEEN BY A FEW WHILE JESUS SPEAKS TO ELIJAH AND MOSES ABOUT HIS DEATH (Luke 9:31).

In verse 1 Jesus is most likely speaking of those who would see His “Transfiguration” which is about to happen, and it happened only before the three disciples – Peter, James, and John.  In Luke’s account of this glory the three disciples had fallen asleep.  There are times to sleep and times to fight going to sleep, and this seems like it was one of those times to fight sleep.  They almost missed it.

The two to whom Jesus was speaking were considered dead and gone.  Moses died and Elijah had just “gone” by the power of a “chariot of fire”.  Moses represents the “Law” of God, and Elijah represents the “Prophets” of God.  It is important for us to catch the message which the “Voice from Heaven” speaks.  “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.”  Those words tell us that the most important thing we can hear is Jesus.  The “Law” and the “Prophets” speak of Jesus.  John the apostle wrote in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (REV. 19:10).

According to Luke 9:31 Jesus was speaking to Moses and Elijah of His coming death.  No other of the gospel writers mention this.  It tells us clearly that was the direction Jesus was headed – to Jerusalem to die, and make atonement for the sin of mankind.

In Matthew and Luke the text tells us it was “Moses and Elijah”.  Mark is the only one who writes “Elijah and Moses”.  It is important for us to remember the history of these two men.  Moses died and was buried by God, and no one knew where he was buried (DEUT. 34:5-6); and Elijah never died.  He was carried to Heaven by a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11), and Elisha, his pupil in the prophetic ministry, received a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit.  There is quite a picture given here to us.  That is that at the future coming of Jesus Christ in His glory all that know Jesus, the living and the dead, will be raised to share in that eternal glory with Him.

“And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”  Mark 9:14-29 (KJV)

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO THEM THAT BELIEVE.

It is apparent by our text that the young man of whom it is speaking was afflicted by an “evil spirit”.  He has been afflicted for several years, even from early childhood.  We can see from this that children are not exempt from evil or even the devil or his demons.  Children can be susceptible to Satan from a very early age, but then, all are born into sin, and none are without sin.

This boy had often been thrown into the fire, and into the waters.  This demon hated this boy, and that is something we all need to remember that the devil and his hordes hates mankind, and will do whatever it takes to destroy the human race.

Notice, Jesus’ rebuke of the “Faithless generation”.  He is probably referring to “scribes” who are there in argument with the disciples, accusing and excusing their own actions and accusing the disciples of not having power to help this boy.

When Jesus calls for the boy and they bring him to Him the boys goes into a “fit”; falling on the ground and foaming at the mouth.  You will notice the father is not only asking Jesus to help his son, but also himself; he says, “Have compassion on us, and help us.”  The father later says, “I believe; help thou mine unbelief”.  This father new to whom to bring his son, but he had not witnessed the power of Jesus before, but he was about to.  He had the faith to bring his son to Jesus, and that was a good starting point.

There are many psychologists who probably would reckon this boy to have epilepsy, or some neurological disorder, but not demon possessed.  Notice though why it must be demon possession;  1) this personality recognized Jesus because he did not want to come before him, thus causing the boy to throw himself on the ground and foam at the mouth;  2) Jesus spoke to the spirit and commanded him to come out, and to stay out;  3) the spirit cried out through the boy and wreaked havoc on him one last time, evidently fighting for his “territory” but could not fight against his creator and win.

Note Jesus’ final words on this matter, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. Mark 9:29 (KJV)”.  The matter of this boy’s well being hinged on the battle of two worlds, and who was to overcome.  There is a spiritual warfare we must wage everyday.  It is not an easy fight.  We must commit ourselves to prayer, and at times we must give ourselves to it diligently even to the point of forsaking our food and nourishment for the day or a period of time.  We cannot win spiritual battles if we are weak in the Spirit of God.  That was the problem with the disciples, and why they could not help this man or his son.  It is a battle we wage to keep the souls of men from eternal torment.  We must pray for them to have opened eyes to see the death of Christ on the cross, his resurrection; and that they will have an open heart to receive the glorious salvation of God through Jesus Christ.

It is an imperative  that we remember the words of Jesus, “All things are possible to him/[her] that believeth”.  It is not just believing in the event as history, but in the person of Jesus Himself.

“And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. 38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part.”  Mark 9:30-40 (KJV)

A GRASPING FOR POWER BRINGS A REBUKE FROM JESUS, AND AN ANSWER TO THEIR PROBLEM.

Jesus is teaching a valuable lesson in these verses about service and “Greatness” or power and position.  He says He is going to die and then He will be glorified by resurrection.  He will die for our sins, and then by resurrection be given all that was His from the beginning.  By His death Jesus was serving the human race by providing our eternal salvation.

There are many people today looking for a longevity to life; they look for power and prestige, and position; but they look to themselves, when all that is needed is to bow at the feet of Jesus and call Him Lord, and wash the feet of our fellow man by service.  What great privilege it is to serve the Lord and bless our fellow man.

Jesus does enlist a small child as an illustration of humility and service.  A child will subject themselves to an older person, and most of the time trust in their care.  We are to come to Christ as little children, and we are to always receive our fellow man as if they were “little children”.  In receiving the “child” we receive Jesus and the One who sent Him.  And that is the Father.

When we see others working in the name of the Lord do we grow jealous, protective of our own work, or do we say, “Great!  Someone else is working in His vineyard.”  The latter should be our attitude and we should be an encouragement to all who are serving the Lord, and living for His glory.  This is not to be a blanket statement that approves of all who claim to be working in the name of Jesus, but to those who are Biblically sound, and those who are truly in Christ Jesus.

“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”  Mark 9:41-50 (KJV)

THE HORRENDOUS, ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES OF SIN.

What is the price of sin?  “Sin will take you farther than you want to go; slowly but wholly taking control;  sin will leave you longer than you want to stay;  sin will cost you far more than you can ever pay.”  ANON.  It is something that Jesus took quite serious.  He took it so seriously that He went all the way to the cross and died, taking all our sin on Himself, paying the price that was mine and yours to pay.

How seriously does Jesus take sin?  Let us look at these verses.  Do not offend a “little one” for it would be better that a millstone were tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea.  “If your hand offends you, cut it off”;  “If your eye offends you pluck it out”.  It seems to me like Jesus takes sin quite seriously.  He was willing to pay the price for our sin that we might have eternal life in His eternal presence.  Jesus is not advocating the torture, or destruction of our bodies, but He is showing us the degradation of sin and its costliness and the price we should pay.  Simply cutting off a hand will not keep you from sinning.  Plucking out an eye will not keep you from the sin of lusting.   We saw in chapter seven that it is in the heart of man where we must deal with sin.  How much are you willing to pay to rid your life of sin?  Jesus was willing to give His life.

Jesus uses here the illustration of Gehenna – the garbage, trash, waste dump of the city of Jerusalem – that burned continually and the fire was never out.  There is an eternal fire that burns, where no desires are ever met, and there is nothing but pain, sorrow, hatred, vileness, hostility, and war.  Is that the place you want to be?  Is that the place where you want your friends and neighbors to spend eternity?  It is the place Jesus described as “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:46 (KJV)”.  He mentions this twice.  Is there a Heaven?  If Jesus said He was preparing a place for us, and that He was coming to take us to that place; then, yes there is a Heaven.  Is there a place called Hell?  Jesus mentions more about Hell than He does about Heaven.  He spent a whole story of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus to tell us of the reality of Hell.  He describes it as a place of flames, torment, and a place you would not want to be.  This is in Luke chapter sixteen.

Hell is the place we all deserve to be.  We do not deserve Heaven, but because of the gift of Jesus’ death on the cross and by the power of His resurrection we can go to Heaven for all eternity, but not without Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

In the beginning of this chapter we see Jesus in His glory and speaking with Elijah and Moses.  In between this picture of the glory of Jesus and this warning of Hell we find a child being tormented by a demon, disciples arguing about who is the greatest will be the greatest among them, and one disciple wondering about a man who is doing the work of Jesus who is not a part of their group.  These are the things that happen between Heaven and Hell.  As a matter of fact when Jesus died on the cross His head was toward Heaven and His feet were toward Hell, and His arms were outstretched to the world in invitation to come to Him.

What a Servant.  What a Savior.  For His arms are still outstretched to all so we may come to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Rejected and Proven

“And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”  Mark 6:1-6 (KJV)

We look at the life of Jesus in red, white and black and can believe and know that He is a great man, a great teacher, a great prophet – even greater than John the Baptist, a great preacher, but even so much more.  We learn from these letters that He is the very Son of God, and in fact is the very God incarnate – God come to us in flesh.  He is the Savior of the world.
Those who grew up around Him and those who saw Him growing up put no stock in Him.  They were witnesses of His life, but it was not important to them that He had never done anything wrong, had never sinned, never spoken back to his “parents”.  He in fact had never caused those who were raising Him any grief whatsoever, unless it was the things which Mary “pondered in her heart”.  To the people of Nazareth Jesus was nothing more than a carpenter, and did not deserve any credit as a teacher.
Here is what J. C. Ryle had to say of this matter.  1)  “We see, in the first place, how apt men are to undervalue things with which they are familiar.”  2)  “We see, in the second place, how humble was the rank of life which our Lord condescended to occupy before He began His public ministry.”  3)  “We see, in the last place, how exceedingly sinful is the sin of unbelief.”  Unbelief is still sin.  It is actually the very first sin that was committed.  Eve did not believe God when He had said “The day you eat of this tree you will surely die”, and she believed a lie.  It is because of the sin of “unbelief” that Jesus could do no mighty work in Nazareth.  Even Jesus was surprised “amazed” by their unbelief.

“And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: 9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. 10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. 11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. 12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.”  Mark 6:7-13 (KJV)

Mark notes that Jesus sent them out “two and two”.  It is important that we remember that, because their is strength in twos.  When one is discouraged the other can be a source of encouragement.  They can learn from one another.  They sharpen one another, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Prov 27:17 (KJV)”.  One is there to keep the other from falling, and if one does fall the other can pick him up.
Jesus told them they were to take nothing with them, except their staff, and the clothing on their backs.  It was to be a journey and ministry of faith.  (The word “scrip” could be seen as what we would call a “backpack”.)  When people heard their words, and saw their works they would support and care for their needs.  When they entered a city  or village they were to stay in one home, and not be moving from home to home.  If they were not received they were to leave shaking the dust from their feet, “as a testimony against them”.  They would have rejected God’s messengers, thus God’s message, so judgment could be coming their way.  The shaking of the dust from the feet is almost as to say, “Since you will not listen and hear the Word of God you have no hope”, thus it is time to move on to other people and places.

“And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. 21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; 22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. 23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. 24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. 25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. 26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. 29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.”  Mark 6:14-29 (KJV)

“For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.  Luke 7:28 (KJV)”
Herod hears of the great and mighty works of Jesus, and begins questioning the identity of Jesus.  “Who is this Jesus?”  “Is he John the Baptist come back from the dead?”;   “…John reincarnated?”.  You can tell by this that Herod was a troubled man.  He had been troubled in his heart by the preaching of the prophet.
Mark goes into some details to tell us why he is troubled about John.  The Baptist had warned Herod that  “It Is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”  Herodias was her name.  Herod’s brother was Philip known as “Herod Philip II”.  Herodias was a nephew to Herod Antipas (the Herod of our text).  John the Baptist,  prophet of  God hated to see sin even in a Gentile ruler, and he told him so.  John got thrown into the dungeon for it, but yet Herod would not harm him, because the words rang true.
One of the main things a minister of God ought to do is rebuke sin wherever he sees it.  When it is seen in the ungodly it should be rebuked.  When it is seen in the redeemed it should be rebuked.  Sin is the  problem that infects and causes problems in every society.  For a man to take his brother’s wife is adultery, and that is the charge that John brought against Herod.  It matters not if it is a king, or the man in the gutter, sin must be rebuked.
What was the charge leveled against John?  It was for proclaiming the Word of God and rebuking the sin of the lands governor.
We see in Herod, “The amazing power of truth over the conscience”.  He has heard the words John preached and he is haunted by them, even after he has killed the man.  We can also see “How far people may go in religion, and yet miss salvation by yielding to one master – sin”.  In John we see, “How boldly a faithful minister of God ought to rebuke sin.  We see finally, “How bitterly people hate a reprover, when they are determined to keep their sins”.
When the Word of God is proclaimed it will accomplish that which God pleases.  It caused Herod to be very troubled.  For someone to even think that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead, or “reincarnated” is on the border of lunacy.

“And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. 34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: 36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. 37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? 38  He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. 41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42 And they did all eat, and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. 44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.”  Mark 6:30-44 (KJV)

Jesus knowing the disciples needed some rest and food led them to leave to go to a deserted place, and get some rest.  There was so much ministry activity that they had not even had time to eat.
The disciples and Jesus leave by “boat” to go someplace quiet but then are overwhelmed by a great multitude of people.  The disciples have not yet learned what Jesus can do.  Evening [“the day was now far spent”] was coming on them quickly now, and there was no food, and there were thousands and thousands of people to feed.  It must have been going through the disciples minds, “There is no way these people can be fed; we need to send them home”.  Jesus had another idea, though.  He with the Shepherd’s heart had compassion on them and taught them.  When evening had come and the disciples were doubting and scheming on how to get rid of these people Jesus just said, “Let’s feed them”.
According to the Gospel of John there was a boy who had his “lunch” with him.  Would he share it with the multitude?  Here is what John says,

“One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said* to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” John 6:8-9 (NASB)”.

Stand back and see what Jesus can do.  When it seems like the chips are down, and there are too many people to feed, and the world is against you, just let Jesus move in and take over.
Jesus as the Shepherd that He was and is  commands the people to sit down in the “green grass”.  In the twenty third Psalm it says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures”, an assurance of plenty for “sheep” to eat.  It would not surprise me to find out that there was a still, calm body of water near by also.  Mark’s Gospel is the only one of the gospels which tell us that Jesus “With  compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd” (v. 34).  That is Mark’s way of declaring Jesus as the Shepherd of God’s sheep and He will tend and care for those who are His.
The number of men is all that is given.  The word “men” in verse 44 is not a generic term for all humanity; it is specifically refering to the male gender.  If these men came with their wives and children which most probably did with a few exceptions, then this number could range from 15,000 to 20,000 or more.  This was of Divine origin.  If anyone doubts the origin of the earth and all created things, then they will doubt the miracles of Jesus.  If God can create from nothing, then He can easily perform a “miracle” – that is what we call it – because during “miracle” the laws of nature are suspended; God overrules.   He has the power to take the molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, etc. – all those unseen elements which He created, and turn them into more bread, and more fish, and He did it to feed thousands of people.

WOW!  Do not doubt, but be believing what God can do, and what He has done, and what He is going to do.
There are some who profess Christ as Savior who want to dismiss all the miracles with human understanding, by saying things like, “Jesus already had the food hidden away in a nearby cave”, or “The little boys generosity inspired all the others to bring out what they had, and so all were fed”.  None of that explains the “twelve basketfuls” that were left over.  Now, you talk about the Lord providing for His disciples.  Now they each had a basket of bread and fish to take home with them.  Remember they had not eaten, so they must have been hungry.
There did not have to be five loaves and two fish, there could have been nothing, or stones.  Remember when Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness for forty days.  The first temptation was to fill His need for sustenance.  “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread”, but Jesus did not yield to the temptation.  He said instead, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God”.  For Jesus to turn the stones to bread would have been to yield to the devil, and now, as then, He is yielding to the leadership of the Father.  He is acting as a Shepherd toward His caring for the sheep.
JESUS CARES FOR YOU.

“And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. 51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. 52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. 53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. 54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, 55 And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. 56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.”  Mark 6:45-56 (KJV)

Jesus sent the disciples away by boat while He sent the people on their way.  After that had been accomplished he departed to a “Mountain to pray”.  There is a lesson here for all of us who are His;  there is a time to be alone with God and Him alone.  Jesus, in human flesh, needed to recoup and spend time with His Father.  So do we.  Where Jesus could communicate with the Father face to face we must rely on the written Word, so it is wise to communicate with God while you have His Word at hand, and open before you.
As the disciples were rowing across the Sea of Galilee a boisterous wind came up, and it was a head wind which caused them to fight against it and evidently not gain much if anything in distance.  Jesus saw them rowing and struggling against the wind and went out to help them, and what a way He travelled to help.  It was sometime after midnight when Jesus came to them walking on the water.
This passage of Scripture even tells us that He “Would have passed by them”.   He came “Along side” of them to check their faith.  Would they recognize Him in His supernatural power and walking on the water?  They thought He was a ghost.  They still were dealing with a lot of personal superstition, if they were believing in ghosts.
Jesus recognizes their fear and assures them it is Himself, and He went up into the boat and it tells us that the wind ceased.
Jesus comes to us in the midst of our storms, but do we recognize Him or do we depend on our own methods and strength?   How would we react, even this day and age, if we were on the water in a boat and someone came walking in the midst of the night on the surface of the water, across a deep hole?
Many times, we as human beings, fear what we do not understand.  Seeing Jesus, and not knowing who it was is only a thing which is innate in every human being – fear of the unseen, unknown beyond.  Which is only evidence that God put in each of us the desire for that which is eternal.
In verse 52 Mark reminds us of the miracle of the loaves and fish, “For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. Mark 6:52 (KJV)”.  Had they really understood about the miracle of the loaves and the fish they would not have been “amazed” about Jesus’ ability to walk on water.  Both actually show His power and authority over nature [as we call it], and that He was and is the Creator of all that is.
When Jesus and the disciples arrive at Gennesaret [the other side] the people there knew who Jesus was and they began to bring the sick, and they thinking, “I only need to touch the hem of His garment”, and all who touched Him were healed.  This faith they showed was very similar the lady in chapter 5 who had had the bleeding for 12 years.  Jesus and the disciples minister to them, and great things are done

-Tim A. Blankenship

He Goes Before You…

“…Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you” Mark 16:7

Have you ever done something wrong, and you felt ashamed about it?  I really believe the answer to that question is, that all of us have.  We feel there is no way of recovering that friendship that was lost.  There is no way of restoring the personal credibility which was thrown away because of a word that was spoken; or words that were spoken.  There is no way they will ever trust me again.

You know?  Those thoughts are all lies.  Especially when it comes to the Lord Jesus.  You see Jesus had warned the disciples that they would flee from Him (Mark 14:27-28), but Peter had said, “If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise.” (Mark 14:29, 31).

When it had happened; just as Jesus had said (Mark 14:66-72), Peter went and, “he wept” (v. 72).  He was grieved for his denying  His Savior.  He probably felt as though there was no going back, there was no hope.  However, when Jesus has risen from the grave, the angel says, “Go… tell His disciples and Peter…”.  Jesus was still including Peter in the group.  He will with you and I as well.

Isn’t it wonderful and marvelous to know that even when we have fallen, Jesus is there to pick us up and set us back in His way.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Preach The Word

“And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.  And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,  And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:  And Simon he surnamed Peter;  And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:  And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,  And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.”  Mark 3:13-19 (KJV)

Jesus called these twelve men “Apostles” and gave them authority to heal the sick, cast out demons, and to preach the Word of the kingdom.  The twelve men are mentioned by name even to the one who would ultimately betray Jesus, and point Him out to be crucified.  Simon [called Peter] would also deny Him and would be very grievous concerning the denial.

The authority Jesus gave to the apostles is given to the church today.  The signs and wonders given to the apostles were necessary to give evidence and proof that these men were speaking the truth of God.  We do not need the proof.  The written Word of God is all the evidence and proof that we need.  We only need to read it, study it, apply it, and hide it in our hearts to show the world that Jesus Christ does make a difference.  Because He lives.

Called out, set apart for the purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ, and bringing all who will hear to the place of joyfully bowing before Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

All Wise Savior

“To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” Jude 25 (NKJV).

In this closing statement by Jude he clearly declares the deity of the One we call Savior. “To God our Savior”. Anyone, person or religious organization who would deny the deity of Jesus Christ; or decrees deity to all who could or would achieve the “christ-spirit” or whatever they would call it; denies the very heart of Christ Jesus; therefore they do not know Him. They are in fact worshipping a different “Jesus”; a demon.

The Jesus whom Jude, Peter, James, John; and Matthew, Mark and Luke write of is Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, who is God made flesh, and “dwelt among us”. He alone is the One who died for the sins of the whole world, was buried in a dead human body; and rose victoriously over sin, death and hell in a glorified human body. If you don’t know the Jesus who died as the incarnate God, was buried as the incarnate God, and rose again as the bodily form of God, then you know not my Jesus.

Jude gives Jesus as the One “who alone is wise”. We can read the eighth and ninth chapters of Proverbs, and you see the Personification of wisdom, and that Person is none other than Jesus the Christ. Solomon is often given credit as being “the wisest man who ever lived”, but then, there is Jesus; the One who gave Him His wisdom. Jesus was wise to follow the guidance and direction of His heavenly Father. He desired to always do those things which pleased His Father, even to the death on the cross.

The glory of Jesus is in the fact that He did the Father’s will. We have all sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus came, as like sinful men, yet without sin, and Himself was the glory of God on earth. He fulfilled the task which the first Adam failed to fulfill. As followers of Jesus Christ, and by imputation – the reckoning of God – we fulfill the glory of God. When we see Jesus we will see Him in all His glory and majesty. A couple of things we have which are symbols of majesty on earth are the eagle in the sky, and the lion. These pale in comparison to the majesty of Jesus.

With Jesus is all power, and He rules in the hearts of rulers, and will ultimately have His way in this world. One day the Lord Jesus will return to this earth, will overthrow the kingdoms of this world, and its rulers, and He Himself will rule, and sin will no more have rule and dominion in the hearts and minds of men or women. These qualities which Jude ascribes to Jesus are given to Him also by the angels, and the saints in heaven according to Revelation 4:10, 11; 5:12-14.

Give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father by believing in Jesus, and the work He has done on the cross, becoming sin for us, receiving the wrath of God that was ours, taking our sins away in His burial, then, rising victoriously over it all. Proving once and for all that He is all that He said He is. Proving that there is life after death, and that eternal life is found solely through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

“To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

The King’s Glory Before The Cross

 

Just six days before Jesus spoke unto His disciples of some seeing Him coming in His kingdom before they died (16:28). If someone chooses to believe that the Bible contradicts itself, they could assume that there is a contradiction between Luke’s account and of this account by Matthew, and Mark’s account. Matthew and Mark both declare six days, but Luke says eight days. If we would consider that Matthew and Mark are probably not counting the day of Peter’s confession and the day of transfiguration, and that Luke does we have no contradiction; just a difference of accounting for the days.

“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.” Matthew 17:1-8 (KJV)

Peter, James, and his brother John were the “…some standing here, which shall not taste of death till…” whom Jesus speaks of in 16:28. Matthew’s intent seems to be to direct this story to this point to bring the last words of Jesus in chapter 16 into account with this event in Jesus’s and the disciples lives. The three of them and Jesus went to a mountain without the other disciples, and were about to witness the most glorious event of their lives.

Matthew was not at the event, so this has been told him by those who were present; and recounted by the Spirit of the Lord as well. This is a trustworthy accounting. There were three witnesses to the event; and that is one more than necessary for something to be certifiably true; and the fourth witness would have been Jesus, and a fifth for recounting later was the Holy Spirit. Peter is referring to this event when he writes;

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” 2 Peter 1:16-18 (KJV)

Jesus “was transfigured before them…”; often called His transfiguration, and the place as the “Mount of Transfiguration”. What is meant by “Transfiguration”? It comes from the Greek word – “metamorphoo”, and a word, with which many people today are somewhat familiar is “metamorphosis” comes from that word. The word “Metamorphosis” means “a change of physical form, structure, or substance, esp. by supernatural means;…” THE MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY. The Greek word “metamorphoo” means – “to transform (literally, or figuratively): change, transfigure, transform.” STRONGS (e-Sword edition).

What these blessed and trusted disciples witnessed, therefore, was a pre-death and pre-resurrection appearance of the resurrected glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. This fulfilled Jesus’s words in 16:28, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” They witnessed Jesus in His glory. This was the glory which He had with the Father, before He became flesh, and the glory He would have with the Father after his physical death, and His bodily/physical resurrection.

There were two men speaking with Jesus. One was Moses, and one was Elijah. It appears that the disciples identified them without Jesus telling them who they were. They had never seen the physical Moses of Elijah, yet they recognize them. The Law and the Prophets is represented here, along with the one is the Law Giver. Moses represents the Law, and Elijah the Prophets. These men are unique in this appearance. Moses died and his body was buried by God (Deuteronomy 34:5-8); and Elijah never died, but was carried away in a whirlwind chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:9-12); and they were speaking to the One who would die, yet rise again from the grave in His own power.

The following are notes from The Scofield Study Bible –

The transfiguration scene contains, in miniature, all the elements of the future kingdom in manifestation:

(1) the Lord, not in humiliation, but in glory. (Matthew 17:2).

(2) Moses, glorified, representative of the redeemed who have passed through death into the kingdom. (Matthew 13:43); (Luke 9:30-31).

(3) Elijah, glorified, representative of the redeemed who have entered the kingdom by translation. (1 Cor 15:50-53); (1 Thes. 4:14-17).

(4) Peter, James, and John, not glorified, representatives (for the moment) of Israel in the flesh in the future kingdom (Ezekiel 37:21-27).

(5) The multitude at the foot of the mountain (Matthew 17:2); representative of the nations who are to be brought into the kingdom after it is established over Israel (Isaiah 11:10-12); etc.

It also seems that Peter, James and John were sleepy and had fallen asleep, and were awakened; according to Luke’s account of the event. Jesus had brought the three up to the mountain to witness His glory, and the appearance of Moses and Elijah, and they were about to sleep through it. It sounds kind of like many today. Asleep when we should be awake, and awake when we should be sleeping; and we miss those God-opportunities. Upon witnessing the appearances Peter; the one who always opens his mouth; spoke saying what seems to be the obvious thing for the human race, in the event of something wonderfully unique; powerfully spiritual; and maybe historical: “…Let us make here three tabernacles…”. Let us do something really spiritual to mark this event. Humanity has built shrines and monuments for everything; and in the end move toward worship of it.

Peter is quickly rebuked by a voice from heaven, “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.” It wasn’t that they were not to hear the written words of Moses and Elijah; after all they were inspired by God Himself; it was that monuments or “tabernacles” are of the flesh and will perish. The Word of God, written and Living will never perish.

When you hear the words of Moses; the Law, the songs he wrote, etc; and you hear the words of Elijah and the prophets; you hear the words of Jesus. When you hear the words of Jesus and do them, you are hearing the word of the Law and the prophets. Remember Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29 (KJV)

Upon hearing the voice of the Father from heaven they were struck with fear, and fell face down on the ground. That is a great response for all who will fear God. Jesus then came and touched them, and when they looked up the only One they saw was the One whom they had seen glorified before their eyes, and speaking with Moses and Elijah. The Law and the prophets is the Word of God, still worthy of hearing, doing, and bringing to light the light of Christ in a dark world.

In a time when we are pressured to do what we know is Biblically wrong we have Scripture as a sure footing to stand on for the encouragement of making that right decision. In order to make Biblical/Scriptural decisions you must know the Bible, and be filled with the Spirit of God, or you will fall.

How can we know that Jesus is coming in His glory? By the evidence that He revealed His glory previous to His death, burial, and bodily resurrection. His bodily resurrection was witnessed  by His disciples and over 500 brethren (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

In verse 8 of chapter 17 Matthew we have one of the Bible’s “Be not afraid(s)”. I just imagine that at that moment those three men needed that “Fear not” from the lips of our Savior. They are always good to hear.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Peter’s Other Confession

So I don’t forget to do it let me make a short comment about verse twenty. Verse twenty reads:

“Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” Matthew 16:20 (KJV)

This confession of Peter’s was something that at this time the populace did not yet need to know. Some already believed it to be true; those to whom the Father had chosen to reveal it. It was not God’s plan to have the populace of people know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. The plan was the cross. In this we see that the freewill of men, and the sovereign hand of God work in complementary fashion together, accomplishing the will of God. Now on to Peter’s Other Confession.

Following Peter’s confession, and Jesus giving him the keys of the kingdom; to open and to shut; to bind and to loose; then we find Jesus teaching His disciples of the cross, and that He must go to Jerusalem. We learn here that Jesus knew all along that His destination was the cross, to die for the sins of mankind. It is certain that the disciples knew that the leaders of the temple and of Jerusalem were not friendly toward Jesus, nor His followers.

Jesus was going to show to His disciples that He is going to Jerusalem, and will suffer at the hands of the scribes, priests, and then would die a horrible death.

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matthew 16:21-23 (KJV)

In the fourth chapter of Matthew the devil tempted Jesus with shortcuts around the cross. He did not need to prove to the devil or Himself that He was/is indeed the Son of God by any of the deeds that He could have done. The devil knew He was the Son of God and so did Jesus. They were attempts to get Jesus around the destination which He and His Father had set down from eternity, and Jesus was not about to be sidetracked from that eternal destination which was for the sin debt of mankind.

Peter’s confession of verses 13-20 was a great confession. When Jesus, however, begins telling them that He must die at the hands of the elders, chief priests and the scribes, though, that is more than Peter can keep quite about. He rebukes Jesus for saying such a thing. Who is Peter to think that he can rebuke the incarnate Son of God? Has he suddenly received new revelation? Has he suddenly became deity himself? Not so! He is not seeing the destination of Jesus, has his own preconceived ideas, and is greatly influenced by Satan himself.

Jesus issues to Peter the harshest statement He has probably ever uttered to a man; especially to one of His disciples; “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me…” Jesus tells him too, that he is only thinking from men’s viewpoint and not God’s. We must understand that the cross though, conducted, carried out by evil men was the design of God Himself. Those who placed Jesus on the cross were not condemned for their act, they are condemned already; that is why they unjustly will charge Him, bring Him to trial, and then unjustly hang Him on a cruel wooden cross to die.

Peter went from a godly confession to a satanic confession. He was honored for the confession “Thou art the Christ; Son of the living God”. He was rebuked for not seeing that the cross was by God’s design. His death was in God’s plans. It was necessary to make atonement for the sins of mankind.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Who Is Jesus???

The question, the title of this article  is still one that is often asked; even in this modern, or post-modern society.  Does it really matter who Jesus is?  Some think so, and that includes myself.

There is plenty of historical evidence that a man named Jesus lived during the time of the one named in the New Testament.  Was he just a man who was different from all men, and inspired great hope in others; or was He something more?

Many of the world religions believe Jesus lived, but to Mohammed he was only a prophet.  The god [Allah] of Mohammed has no son.  The followers of Mohammed need no one to die in their place.  To many other religions of the world they seem to all place Jesus in the realm of a “great teacher” or a “great prophet”, but Son of God, or God incarnate?  NO!

The question has even came up in talk shows concerning the matter of Jesus.  There are well known people, celebrities who tell things such as “We can all become our own savior, our own god, by becoming a christ spirit, or allowing the christ spirit to inhabit us”.  In my mind it is a mixture of demonism, and self worship; which when it really comes down to the truth is demon worship.

Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?”  The following is the full question and the session where Jesus asked the question:

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” Matthew 16:13-20 (KJV)

You will notice that when Jesus had asked the question there were various answers.  “Some say you are John the Baptist; some that you are Elijah; others say you are Jeremiah or one of the other prophets” .  It seems that people may have believed in some form of reincarnation or something.

Let’s think about that question for a moment.  “Who do men say that I [Jesus] am?”  To some he is a good teacher, or a good prophet, or a good example to follow.  Does that really answer who Jesus is?  I really don’t think so.

Jesus’s question includes the term “Son of man”.  For Jesus and His work this was a term of respect, and only used of on other man in history, and that was the prophet Ezekiel.  For Ezekiel it meant that he was a prophet of the Deity.  For Jesus it means much more.

As we look further into this dialogue Jesus asked the great question which all people need to answer.  “Who do you say that I am?”  Who is Jesus to you?  Your answer to this question will determine your destiny for eternity.  There is only one answer which God blesses.

Peter, the hasty one, answered very quickly, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  “Christ” is the annointed one.  This would mean the Messiah of Israel the Annointed One of God.  The Messiah is the Son of God and the Son of man.  God became flesh and dwelt among us.  He is Immanuel meaning “God with us”.    Where did Peters answer; his confession come from?  How did he know this answer?  Listen to the words of Jesus.

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. “

Jesus blesses Peter for his answer telling him that this did not come from his own mind or flesh, but by revelation from God.  His [Peter’s] answer was more than just an intellectual knowledge, it was heavenly knowledge given him by God the Father.  No one can, in or of themselves, just decide one day that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.  It comes by revelation from God.  When it comes by revelation from God, that is when that becomes a strong conviction one will die for, and it is one worth living for to die for.  Peter would later give his life for the cause of Jesus Christ.

The blessing the Lord gave to Peter was more than just words.  The confession of Peter becomes the bedrock, the foundation upon which the Church [the Body of Christ] is built.  No one comes into Christ apart from this confession.  No one comes without the faith announcement, heart conviction, life changing event, of acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Jesus was not saying that Peter was the rock upon which the Church is built.  The Rock is Christ, and our confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Jesus tells  Peter that He gives to him the “Keys to the kingdom”.  Keys represent authority.  With keys we can shut up a building to prevent entry by unauthorized personel.  With keys we secure a car, a truck, a building.  That is what gives us power over what we own, or are given from an approved authority.

The following is from The MacArthur Study Bible on the matter of the “Keys of the kingdom of heaven” –

 

16:19 the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  These represent authority, and here Christ gives  Peter (and by extension all other believers) authority to declare what was bound or loosed in heaven.  This echoed the promise of John 20:23, where Christ gave the disciples authority to forgive or retain the sins of people.  All this must be understood in the context of 18:15-17, where Christ laid out specific, instructions for dealing with sin in the church.”

The MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV, p. 1423

This includes the power that we have in prayer, the leadership in our churches, and our power with God in heaven.

The question remains, “Who is Jesus?”  It does not really matter who others say He is; when it gets down to where the rubber hits the road; then what really matters is who Jesus is to you.

If you do not see Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, then you are not in a right relationship with God, you are lost, condemned, yet in your sins.  Jesus said to Philip, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9-11).

God, and Father, open the eyes of all who may read this that they may see the truth of who Jesus is, and save them for YOUR own glory.  Amen.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Guard Against Filthy Dreamers

“Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.” Jude 8 (NKJV).

We must look backwards in the text to see the meaning of the “Likewise”. The apostates who lived in unbelief, rebellion, and immoral conduct were also “filthy” (KJV) dreamers. They had no regard for the Word of God. They reject all authority, and spoke evil of those who had leadership.

In rejecting leadership this most likely means that of God’s Word, His leaders, and spoke evil of angels as well – the angels of God especially; probably assigning themselves power over angels. Giving dreams, and visions as much authority as the Word of God. Any messenger of God would have been evil spoken of.

The ones of whom Jude writes were probably saying they had a message from God, when all along their message was opposed to God.

Hear what Peter said of this very act:

“…Especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries…“ 2 Peter 2:10 (NKJV).

These that speak evil of dignitaries are those who have no love for Jesus, nor much care for truth. They are given to whatever makes them feel fulfilled. “If it feels good that must be the right thing”. Could this also be dealing with those who have authority over us in government positions? “They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries…

With spirituality on the rise we as Christians must continue to guard our hearts and minds against the teachings of many who profess to know Christ, but do not, and teach in a manner which cries for the temporal fulfillment of the here and now; with not desire for the eternal, and living for Christ Jesus now.

Beware of those who pretend to know Christ, but deny the cross of Christ, deny His deity, deny His resurrection, and His coming again. These also will deny the full, completed revelation of the written Word of God. The truth of Jesus Christ is that He died on the cross for our sins, and the victory was won on the cross, He was buried carrying our sins away, and He arose from that grave bodily to show forth the victory over sin, death, hell and the grave.

Trust in the power and the authority of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Quickly Perishing

When I look at our society today I see so many who are quickly perishing, and are completely unaware of it. Why do I say they are unaware of it? They live as though there was no end. They live as though there is no God. They live as though they will answer to no one.

We are all fickle at times. We can so easily be led astray, be deceived and deluded. There is something we all must realize and that is, that, there is more to life, than “Me”. “Me” will one day end, and then what. Hear what the apostle Peter has written,

“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1:24-25 (KJV).

It is a terrible thing for man who is quickly perishing to give so much confidence and power to things which we cannot take with us. I heard the story of a woman who was married to a wealthy man, on his death bed, who wasn’t leaving anything to her, and wanted it all cashed out before he died and, then, put into his coffin with him at his burial. She went and cashed everything out, and the day of the funeral put a box in the coffin before they closed the lid. A friend who was with her asked, “What was in the box?”, and she proceeded to tell her of her deceased husband’s request, and that she had placed it in the box. She went on to say, “I deposited the money in my checking account, and wrote him a check. Now he can cash it any time he chooses.”

Any one with any sense knows when you die, that, silver, gold, or paper money will be of no service to you. It too will rot, rust, decay, and one day blow away in the wind with the rest of the dust.

There is only the “word of the Lord” that endures for ever, and that will be in the lives of those who put their faith and trust in Him through His Son Jesus Christ, and His death, burial and resurrection. “Forever, O LORD, Thy word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89). Those who will come to God the Father through God the Son will have an eternity with Him in glory. Call on His name today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Born Twice

Someone has said, “If you are born once; you die twice.  If you are born twice; you will die once.”

The title is a term which has been heard and used by many in various ways. If a man falls down a steep cliff and lives he says, “It is like I have been born again.”, but there is no change in the way he lives his life. One former President of the USA, made the term known, or better known by using it in his campaign in the seventies.

Peter the apostle writes:

“…Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,…” 1 Peter 1:23 (NKJV).

He previously wrote of having purified souls, which are connected with obeying the truth of God’s Word. There can be no true love for God or others except by the Spirit of God and His Word.

We are enabled, empowered to love and obey because we have been “Born again”. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again”. This is a spiritual birth. When we are physically born into this world we are spiritually dead, and separated from God. Our eternal destination is not God’s plan for us. He made us eternal beings to spend eternity with Him, but that was shattered by sin. There would be found no place for fallen man (Revelation 20:11).

The new birth comes about by the supernatural power of God. It is not by the will of the flesh; for John has written, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13).

The seed of man is corrupt by sin. The seed of God is incorruptible, and by the Word of God the seed of God comes and quickens the spirit of man, giving New Birth. The Word of God is alive and lives forever. The Psalmist has written, “Forever, O LORD, Thy word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89). When the word is forever settled in heaven it is forever sure in the heart made alive by the Spirit of God.

There may be trials and tribulations in this life, but those made alive by the Spirit of God, and His living Word are overcomers, and have the assurance of glory in God, and living forever in His presence. Trials? Tribulations? In this world? Yes! Jesus said, “But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Going Beyond

We hear much about love. Love for your wife, or your husband. Love for your child or children. Love for a friend. What is meant by the word “L.O.V.E.”? Real love goes beyond the ordinary. That kind of love is more than feeling; it is a decision. It is not driven by being loved by an individual; it is driven by the love of God, and it is displayed by a decisive act of mercy, grace and goodness; even toward one who has wronged you. Maybe I could or should say, “…especially toward one who has wronged you”.

Well no one can do that you might say. God and His Word teaches us to do just that thing. Hear the Word of the Lord:

“Since you have purified yours souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…” 1 Peter 1:22 (NKJV).

This verse is directed toward loving the brethren, ie., our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is a “Going Beyond” type of love. We are to love when we are not loved by others. We are to love when it may not be convenient to do so. This is not just a speaking of words but an act of love.

This is the kind of love that responds to a command – the command to love. It is the kind of love which will take you to a neighbors yard to mow it when they need help, even though this neighbor has caused you many heartaches, and much grief. All Christians have this “Going Beyond” love.

It comes from a purified soul. You receive a purified soul by “obeying the truth through the Spirit” of God. This “Going Beyond” love is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, and His bodily resurrection. This kind of love meets others at their point of need. This is the love of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Our Conduct In The Fire

In this first chapter of First Peter we looked last at being holy. It is God’s command that His people, even Christians, and maybe should say, especially Christians be holy. We are called apart, set apart, so we are to be apart from the wiles, wickedness, and ways of worldliness.

Looking now at verses seventeen through twenty one we see what is required of us to be holy:

“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” 1 Peter 1:17-21 (NKJV).

To be holy is to be set apart from the society in which we live. Not as monks, or as though in a world of our own, but apart in the sense of not participating in the world system of greed, debauchery, lust, uniformity, etc..

Being holy, and since we as Christians call on the Father on a quite regular basis we also know that He is One who judges us justly, and fairly according to our works, and knowing that we will conduct ourselves with the utmost respect of Him who holds our hearts and each breath we breath in His hands. We will live with the fear, knowing that the time of our lives is in His hand.

Knowing the Father as we do; we also know that we have not been redeemed with material things. Our redemption is not founded on how much gold or silver we possess, or how much we give away. It is not based on any form of material wealth. It is not gifts given for the fulfillment of the traditions of men. Our redemption is not dependent upon someone else paying our way out of a fictitious purgatory. The price of our redemption was paid to God our Father by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Our sin debt was owed to God.

Jesus Christ, the precious lamb of God, paid our sin debt to the Father for us. The price of our redemption was His life. He laid it down, and no man took it from Him. As a matter of fact; the Father took His life (Read Isaiah 53:4). Jesus was that sacrificial Lamb who was without spot, and without blemish. There was no sin in the life of Jesus Christ, but He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and the wrath of Almighty God was poured out to the max upon Him.

This was “foreordained” even before the foundations of the earth were laid, and it was fulfilled in that day when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. It is only because of this wondrous gift than anyone can call on the name of the Father, and He will hear us, save us, and give us life eternal. No one can come to God except it be given of the Father, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus from death He has been restored to the glory He had with the Father from the beginning. His glory renewed we can now have faith and hope in God. Without this there would not be much of a point in our brothers and sisters; or any  in Christ suffering for His name. Because He lives we live. Because He died for us, we can die for His name’s sake, and give Him the glory.

May God bless our brothers and sisters who are suffering for the name of Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship