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Jewish- Gentile- 2-11

[2-11 posts] Messianic, Jewish, Gentile stuff.

[1588] THE JEWISH CONTRIBUTION TO MODERNITY- Before I jump too far ahead in our study of Modernity- let me try and do a few posts on the contribution that Jewish thinkers added to the conversation. Obviously the influence from Christian thinkers [or those who came from a Christian background] played the majority role in forming the boundaries of philosophical and theological thinking in the Modern period- yet there were a few notable Jewish thinkers who also made some good contributions. Moses Mendelssohn interpreted Judaism thru a rational/modern lens and played the role of liberal theologian- much like the liberal Christian scholars who were attempting to emphasize the universality of religion and focusing less on the idea of exclusiveness. The 19th- 20th century thinker- Hermann Cohen- saw Judaism in terms of a universal ethical humanism- later on he returned to a more particularistic view- stressing the concepts of sin and salvation and how universal ethics by themselves were not able to address these issues apart from a particular religious revelation. Certain schools of theologians view the return of the Jews- spoken about in the Old Testament- to their homeland in the 6th century B.C. as the true beginning of Jewish history and thought- they hold to the liberal view that the Torah was written at this time [as opposed to around 1100 B.C. by Moses] and that this era marked the phase of 2nd temple Judaism. I too view the period from the return from captivity in the 6th century B.C. as a sort of ‘2nd temple Judaism’ yet I reject the idea that the Torah was written at that time- I hold to the conservative view that Moses wrote most of the first 5 books of the Old Testament. Having said that- after the Jews returned to their homeland [6th century B.C.] they would reinstitute temple worship and eventually Herod [Roman ruler] would rebuild the temple and the 1st century Jews would regulate their lives round the temple and it’s rituals- Priests played a major role in religious/political life. In 66 A.D. the Jews rebelled against Roman dominance- and in A.D. 70 Rome destroyed the temple under Titus [the military commander] and the Jews would lose the central religious location that structured their lives for centuries. Eventually Rabbi’s-the interpreters of the law- would play the major role in shaping the religious thought of the Jewish people. As time progressed, society eventually asked the question- which came to be known as ‘the Jewish question’- how should Jewish people be seen? Those living in France and Germany- were they to be accepted as Jews- with a distinct ethnic/religious culture- or should they be seen as German- French citizens? Recently- a famous female journalist [Helen Thomas] made headlines when a u-tube video came out- she was commenting on the ‘Jewish question’ and said the Jews ‘need to get the hell out of Palestine and return to their home countries’ when asked ‘what home countries’ she said Germany and France- obviously the Jewish question still lives in the minds of certain people. In the 17th century you had the development of a Jewish form of Pietism- called Hasidism. And in the 19th century Judaism would split into 3 distinct groups- Conservative, Reform and Orthodox. In the late 19th century you would have the rise of Zionism [the homeland question once again] and eventually the American Evangelical community would take up the cause of Zionism and it would become a major plank in the Dispensational theology of the American Protestant church. Though Zionism [the right of the Jews to once again posses their homeland] started as a purely political concern- over time it became ‘Christianized’ and would become the cause célèbre for many T.V. evangelists of the current day [John Hagee- just to name one].

[1579] Okay- I wasn’t going to post today- but figured I’ll go ahead and finish these brief thoughts on the doctrine of Justification by Faith [by the way- Justification is a legal term that means the judge declares you righteous- just- there are lots of technical terms that apply to what Christians mean when they say ‘saved’ and to be honest- many Christians fight over these various differences- but for this short overview I can’t get into the whole debate]. Those of you who have read the studies I’ve posted at the end of these posts- I do get into some of the debate- and I want to be honest about the ‘official’ differences between Catholic and Protestant [Reformed] views. But first- the bible clearly teaches the doctrine [teaching] that those who believe in Jesus are saved- so you might have some Christians who say ‘I don’t care what the official teaching of my church is- I believe it because the bible says it’ that’s fine- I have no problem with that- accept- to be honest- the Protestant world is plagued with preachers, televangelists, radio preachers [yes I’m in this camp] and book writers who mean well- but they for the most part are teaching snippets of truth [sometimes outright falsehoods] and most of them use the ‘I believe it because the bible says it’ line- so even though it’s good for all of us to read and believe the bible- it’s also important to not be ‘seeing stuff’ that no one else has ‘seen’ for 2 thousand years of church history! [by the way- comments like this don’t get me in good standing with most other Protestants] The main point I want you guys to see is as I have shared with you this teaching- I’ve also shown you that yes- this teaching is not something that you find in a single obscure verse taken out of context- but it is a major theme of the apostle Paul- who just happens to be the most prolific writer of the New Testament [his letters make up the majority of the New Testament]. Now- during the official schism between Catholics and Protestants in the 1500’s, the Protestant position became the classic doctrine of Justification by Faith- that is the Protestant church [mainly what today is called Reformed theology- ever since the 16th century schism there are so many divisions of Protestants it is impossible to say what ‘Protestants believe’ in the broad sense] said the mechanism- actual way- people become justified by God is when they believe- have faith in Christ. The Catholic position said a person becomes legally justified in Gods sight at Baptism- Baptism is seen as the actual act a person does in order to become justified. Now- wars have been fought over this- Protestants call other Protestants heretics over this- there are many groups of Protestants who also teach that a person ‘becomes saved’ at baptism- and the strong ‘anti baptism’ crowd often refers to the ‘we get saved at baptism’ crowd as cults! This is pretty sad in my view- I can go thru all the verses that each side uses to ‘justify’ their belief- and suffice it to say that there are enough ‘you get saved at baptism’ verses to not see that belief as heresy. So I personally have no problem with Catholic Christians- or Church of Christ believers- or the multitude of other Pentecostals, Baptists [certain sects] who see their ‘I got saved’ day as the day they were baptized. I don’t want to get into the whole debate on infant baptism- I’ve written about it under my Statement of faith section- and once again the churches that practice it have their reasons- it’s not as ‘crazy’ as many Protestants portray it- there are many fine Christians who were baptized as babies. But what I want to end this brief study with is this- the basic teaching of the New Testament is that we are accepted with God because of what his Son did for us- Jesus- the Son of God- God in the flesh- died for all mankind’s sins, he was buried and rose again according to the scriptures [1st Corinthians 15]. The mindset that thinks ‘if I go to church- do my best to keep the 10 commandments- and try and avoid killing somebody thru out my life- heck who knows- maybe I’ll make it thru the pearly gates?’ Well that’s the mindset I want to challenge- lots of good, well meaning Christians walk thru life thinking this way- and it’s to those brothers/sisters that I have been talking too- even though the Catholics and Protestants have differences- yet we all teach that we are saved by Grace- not by keeping the 10 commandments or ‘going to church’ yes- this is clearly taught in the bible- and the Christian churches all teach it- even if this truth never ‘trickled down’ to the people in the pews. So as I post the last study in this short series of posts [Romans] if you can- read the whole study- I did it a while ago- by the way- all these studies and books on the blog are written by me- so what you read in the studies is a longer version of these short posts- but if you can, read the whole study- if not then try and read chapters 2-5- these chapters cover the heart of what we have been talking about- and to all my readers- Jews, Hindu’s, Atheists, Muslims- whoever- these promises are given to all of us- if we would only believe. John

[1577] Okay- how bout this- before I get into politics I promise to do a teaching thing. The other day I wrote a short, simple [basic] post on the teaching in the New Testament about believing in Jesus, and on the promises in the bible that say ‘if you believe in Jesus, you have eternal life’. Now- for all you preachers/Christians who read the site, yes this is basic stuff- but for many Christians who are nominal church attendee’s, maybe they have grown up in a good Christian church- but never really got into reading the bible, or seriously studying the faith- for these Christians I want to cover some more of the basics. Okay- why is the doctrine of ‘believing in Jesus and being saved’ such an important thing? I mean don’t all Christians know this John? In a way yes- and in a way- no. That is the teaching is not just a simple ‘believe in God’ thing- it is one of the foundational teachings in the bible- and the apostle Paul was the New Testament apostle who shook up the first century religious community by brilliantly writing his ‘thesis’ on the subject. The apostle was a former teacher of the Jewish religion [Pharisee of the Pharisees- top scholar] and after he got knocked off his high horse [literally! Acts 9 ?] he came to this revelation of seeing how God all along had ‘a plan’ to redeem men [save them] by faith- and not by trying their ‘darndest’ [I get too many rebukes for cursing!] to keep the law and do good. This doctrine [justification by faith] is the major theme of Paul in his letter’s to the Romans [often considered the best scholarly work of the apostle] and the Galatians. Paul does a brilliant job at explaining the Old Testament stories of Abraham and the patriarchs- the well beloved Jewish king- David- and the promise of God to send the Messiah to the Jewish nation [and ultimately all nations] for their deliverance. Paul explains why God chose to save people by faith as opposed to trying to obey the law- he explains why God gave us the 10 commandments [to reveal to man that he is sinful] and he shows us that the reason faith is the mechanism for salvation- is because salvation is a free gift that was earned for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. Faith- in itself does not save- it’s simply the mechanism that is the simplest way to get the gift of eternal life to people thru Jesus [Jesus is the actual person doing the saving!]. Thru the ages the church always had this doctrine contained within her bible- but like everything else- the bureaucracy eventually got in the way- and Christians lost the simple reality of the free gift. Now [okay- this is getting long- probably won’t do politics too- I know your sad about that ] during the 16th century [1500’s] we had what is commonly referred to as the Protestant Reformation- as a student of history I probably have studied this period more than any other- there were many church leaders leading up to the 16th century that voiced concerns over what they saw as abuses within the institutional church- many influential teachers and intellectuals who were gaining new influence thru the development of the university system that occurred alongside the rise of the nation states- these universities and their top scholars now had the ability to challenge the institutional church [in Rome] to a much greater degree than previous reformers. So without getting into all the technical reasons why the 16th century reformation took place [The initial challenge was the abuse of the priest, Tetzel, selling indulgences to raise money for the refurbishing of the church at Rome- yes a building fund project was the actual cause of the greatest church split in the history of the world!] what became the rallying cry of the reformation was the restoration of the classic doctrine of Justification by Faith [and the reformers would add the words ‘alone’]. The 3 Sola’s [alones] of the Reformation were -faith, scripture, and grace. But it is interesting to see that the main emphasis that eventually came from the Protestant Reformation was the restoration of the lost doctrine of justification by faith- or to put it simply- being saved by believing in Jesus- and not by trying to do your best to keep the 10 commandments. I believe it was possible for the church to have not split over the doctrine- there were obviously tempers flaring on both sides [Rome and her Papal representatives and Luther and those on his side] they freely referred to one another as ‘the anti Christ’ you know- not the best expression of Christian brotherly love- but I do believe it was possible for the historic Catholic church to have assimilated much of what Luther was saying back into official church doctrine- and as a student of the period, and having read the actual letters and writings that were written by both sides- I do believe the Catholic church had some good scriptural concerns that some might miss read what Luther was saying- and think that Christians could go out and kill- rape- and do whatever they felt like doing- because they were now saved ‘by faith’ and not by keeping the law. The apostle Paul actually dealt with this very accusation in the letters I mentioned above- and he too saw the danger in people misreading what he was saying. Okay- enough for now- I guess I’ll go ahead and post the study I did on the doctrine of Justification by Faith here at the end- for those of you on the various sites that don’t see it- it’s because some sites that I post on daily- they don’t have enough space for the whole post- so you will have to go to the blog and read it [corpuschristioutreachministries]. John

[1576] CHRIS MATTHEWS, ED SHULTZ AND THE HOMELESS- Spent the day yesterday on the streets with my homeless buddies- it was cold! I was on foot. Ran into Henry, one of the brothers who really knows his stuff. Henry is originally from Massachusetts and he always has great discussions about the bible- he’s sort of one of those undiscovered genius types- a ‘rain man’ type guy when it comes to the bible. We came back to the house for the afternoon- made a little lunch/dinner type thing. A few months back another one of my buddies, John David [I wrote about John a while back- he was strung out on cocaine for years- has been clean for a while] came by- he started a drug rehab- told me the location and showed me the story they ran on him in the news [it made it to CNN!] I was excited- the next day I wrote a 50 dollar check- stuck it in my wallet and figured the next time I run into him I’ll give it to him as a gift. Never ran into him since- so I gave the check to Henry- he will get with brother Ray- a street preacher who is also struggling with finances right now- and they will split it. Henry would never be able to cash it by himself- or else I would have just given him the 50. I Heard Roger might have died in jail- about a year ago he threatened to kill a cop [he’s all talk- never would have done it] and they charged him with a terroristic threat- sent him away for a year. Roger was a good friend- hope he didn’t die. Around 4 o’clock Henry was heading out to go down the road to brother Rays place [lives a mile or 2 away] I gave Henry a bunch of bible studies that some ministry sends me every month- I don’t have time to read them- hate to throw them away- so I save them for Henry, he loves them. The preacher is from New Jersey- a Messianic Jew- I sent him some stuff once and just said hi- he has been sending me the studies ever since. As Henry was walking out- he had the check- a little doggie bag I whipped up for him with some stuff- the studies and all- he told me ‘John- this has been the best day I have had in a long time’ I knew it wasn’t the check- or food- Henry sees me as one of his best friends- and he really gets into the fellowship time- I usually share some ‘scholarly’ stuff I’ve been reading- the trends going on in theology and all- he eats that stuff up- loves learning- but doesn’t always have up to date info on the recent developments in the field of theology- so he just likes learning.

Okay- though I hate to do this- let me make a few more political/news comments. After Henry left I caught the news for a few hours- Chris Matthews has chosen to use the deaths of the innocent victims in Arizona for political gain. He went on a rampage of saying because of this Sarah Palin needs to come out and apologize for using political targets to target Democratic districts- he said she will forever be associated with the deaths- that you will be able to Google Palin and crosshairs and she will be marked for life with the deaths of these people- and he said she will be ‘ERASED’ [no lie] if she doesn’t apologize. This man is more dangerous than Glenn Beck- most people see Beck for what he is- Matthews is not seen as a ‘nut job’ it is very possible to take his words to mean he is calling for the assassination of Sarah Palin- so very sad. Then Ed Shultz [another guy I do like] did his show defending his segment ‘psycho talk’ I missed the beginning of the show- but you got the drift that some on the conservative side have shot back at the liberals and said ‘look- you lib’s use radical talk too’ so Ed was defending his segment- than- to my shock- he transitions to a segment called RAPI- FIRE [God- please help us all] and as he asks the 2 democratic guests their views on the irresponsibility of Palin and the right using images of guns and crosshairs and targets- the 2 guests seem embarrassed that the name of this segment is called RAPID- FIRE with the words ‘rapid fire’ blazed in red and blinking on the bottom of the screen- I mean Shultz comes on MSNBC right after Matthews- who just called for Palin to be ‘ERASED’. I couldn’t believe the stupidity of these men- to put it bluntly. At this point it looks like the shooter was just a mentally disturbed young man who had no consistent political views- yes- in the beginning it seemed like he might have been a right wing nut job- a Tim McVeigh type personality- but the evidence just does not show that. Of course what he did is still horrendous- it just doesn’t seem to have been instigated by right wing ideology. It just seems hypocritical- of course the right wingers are going to show you all the examples of the left doing the same things that they are outraged over- so another ‘target’ was revealed- it was made by the Democrats- and it had exactly the same rifle/scope targets over the districts of Republicans- then they of course showed you the clips of Obama saying ‘when they bring a knife [political opponents] we bring a gun’ and I even caught this one my self- when the president made the end of the year deal with the republicans- the lame duck congress- he had to defend himself against the liberals who were mad- so he innocently says ‘You know- I didn’t agree with everything in the deal- but when HOSTAGE TAKERS are threatening to hurt the hostages- than you make the deal’ now- we all know the president did not mean to send a message to the real hostage takers of the world- telling them ‘yes- I will deal with you if you start killing off the hostages’ and I heard no conservative voice accuse him of this [someone might have- I did not hear anyone so far] – it would be irresponsible to take the political speech of the president [we’ll bring a gun- hostage takers- etc.] and use that as a political tool to shame the man- yet that’s exactly what some on the left are doing- I agree with those on the right and the left who are calling for a step down on the rhetoric- from both sides- but those who are publicly saying that the rhetoric from one side is what caused these peoples deaths- that’s being irresponsible to the max.

[1568] ALEXANDRIA- EGYPT. Last night I was watching the news coverage of the demonstators in the streets of Egypt- they were protesting the government’s response [or lack] to the bombing of the church in Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt [around 4 million people live in the city]. As I watched the sad story- in my mind I recalled all the times I have run across Alexandria in my studies of history. The city was founded by Alexander the great in the 4th century b.c.e. It had the largest library of the ancient world and was Egypt’s capitol for around 900 years. When the Muslims took over in the 7th century Cairo became the new capitol [under another name at the time]. Alexandria was one of the great centers of Christian learning during the first few centuries of the 1st millennium of Christianity. I remember reading about the great church father Origen- he lived in the 3rd century and eventually would head up the school out of Alexandria- one of the first Christian schools of the day. The famous philosopher Plotinus also had a lot of influence in the city. It was sad to see the destruction on the news- so many years later. This morning I read Revelation chapter 13. The apostle John writes about the persecution of ‘the beast’ against the Christians- the apostle says he makes war against Gods people and overcomes them. We often neglect to see this aspect of scripture- I mean how many songs have you heard that say ‘the beast overcame us and killed us’. We like to sing stuff like ‘we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb’ [another verse from Revelation]. Yet the apostle foresees a time of persecution of the church that will include the deaths of many believers. Those who think the book of Revelation was written early [before a.d. 70] see Nero as the one who bares the mark of the beast- yes the popular 666 is in this chapter. Others who date the book later [around a.d. 90] see the emperor Domitian as the beast- either way John was speaking about a future ruler who would severely persecute the saints [and of course the most popular view today among evangelicals is the anti Christ is yet to come]. In verse 10 of the chapter John says those who kill with the sword, must die the same way- this is the patience of the saints. John is communicating to the 7 churches that he is writing to that they should not retaliate against their oppressors- they should patiently endure- knowing that the persecutors will eventually ‘hang themselves’ with their own rope. Of course the great empire of Rome would finally fall- and for those who see Nero as the 666 guy [my view] he eventually dies a shameful death as well [he killed himself].

As I watch the various responses from Muslims and Christians [and Jews] to these types of events- we all have a tendency to view things most favorably to our own particular viewpoint. While some Muslims are of course outraged over the church bombing- yet the Christian community is more enraged. When the recent peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down- many Christians in the west couldn’t care less- many of them view the entire conflict thru the lens of end time dispensationalism [an end time view that sees Gods plan being played out by the displacement of Palestinians from the land]. I grew up in New Jersey [yes- the state of the great governor Christie!]. As a good old Italian boy- I had lots of ethnic friends- Germans, Dutch, Spanish- etc. Many of these families were immigrants to the U.S. whose families had a history of living in the country for a hundred years or more [some less]. Now- if I were to come to your neighborhood, and tell you ‘look, the governments of the world made a deal [league of nations- later called the U.N.] and you have to leave this area and another group is going to move in’ how what this make you feel? Put aside your view of the bible and how you see ‘Gods plan’ being carried out- I mean just as a human being- how would you feel? You would feel terrible- you would think ‘geez- my father and his father settled here a hundred years ago- I’m not an alien!’ Yet the Palestinians were living in their land for 2 thousand years! Okay- just see the other point of view. Some of the Palestinians are Christians [small %- 2-5]. How do you think they feel when they have been praying for justice- many lost their homes and family estates during the displacement- and then they see the parade of American Christians trod thru the land like their on some Holy Land adventure- taking the kids to Disney world type thing- and yet in the real world lives are being lost on both sides of the conflict.

Most American Christians who hold to these end time scenarios that play into the geopolitical situation on the ground- they don’t realize that many Jews- and even many in the Israeli govt. do not completely embrace their enthusiasm for Israel. The Israeli leaders also know that most of these scenarios see a bloody conflict that will take place in the Holy Land [does Armageddon ring a bell?] and that many Jews will be slain- only a small remnant will escape [does the number 144,000 ring another one?]. The Israeli security forces in the city of Jerusalem actually have a specific profile for a group/persons that they see as dangerous to the city. Do you know who these ‘dangerous persons’ are? They are the tourists that enter the city every so often- and they have this wild look in their eyes- they are there to await the return of Jesus and they believe that they will be a part of the end time army that will spill much blood and defeat the forces of the enemy- yes- these types are deemed dangerous to the Israeli’s.

Lets pray for the peace of all people- let’s do our best to reject all forms of violence as being totally unacceptable- whether it be the bombing of a church in Egypt- the destruction of the Buddha statues by the Taliban in Afghanistan [they destroyed these ancient pieces of art when they rose to power in the early years]. Even the bombing of abortion clinics- or the shooting of doctors- we need to see what the apostle John saw- those who take up the sword must in this manner be killed. I think too many of us have signed our own death warrant.

[1562] POPE’S BOOK- FINAL COMMENTS- Let me try and make my last comments on the Pope’s book [almost done with it- a few pages left] which I have been reading on and off for about a month [I’m in the middle of a study on the Western intellectual tradition- making radio programs- and have been too scattered to do a complete book review]. Let me hit a few high points of the last few chapters that I felt were really insightful. Benedict gives an overview of a Rabbi’s perspective on Jesus [a book the Pope read from the Rabbi]. The Rabbi does not accept Jesus as the Messiah- but is respectful in his approach and the Pope shares the common reason why the Jewish nation rejected Jesus as their Messiah in the 1st century. Being faithful to a theme that runs throughout the book- Benedict shows how Jesus presented himself as the fulfillment of the prophecy about Moses/Jesus ‘that God would raise up a prophet like Moses’- Benedict shows that Jesus presented himself as the ‘New Moses’ and took the position of God himself in the statements he was making concerning his authority. In the Rabbi’s book- that the Pope is explaining- the rabbi covers the sayings of Jesus and comes to the conclusion that faithful Jews could not/ did not receive Jesus as their Messiah because his call to them was for Israel to accept his authority over and above what they knew to be true- their attachment to the Torah [the first 5 books of the bible- the law] and for Israel- as a nation- to accept Jesus- they would be saying ‘we accept a new Moses- and place his authority and words over and above the very foundation of our existence’. Now- these insights are deep- they are coming from a Jewish rabbi who has come to the conclusion that Jesus was presenting himself ‘as God’ to the nation of Israel- and Benedict says he learned a lot from reading this perspective from the Rabbi. I just felt that this section of the book was real valuable. The Pope goes on to explain that Jesus was not repudiating the law- but fulfilling it- and in his explanation he also does a very good job [secretly!] at putting out a hand to the Protestant churches and attempting to reconcile the teachings of Paul on justification by faith [and Paul’s neglect of the law] and the biblical view of Jesus fulfilling the law. Benedict even shares very good insights into the apostolic calling of Peter- and the separate calling of the apostle Paul- his insights are excellent and you can see that he is really making an attempt to bridge the theological gap between Protestants and Catholics. Overall this book [Jesus of Nazareth] is the most Cross/Christ centered book I have read in the past 5 years! [We call this Christology- for those of you who want to learn the terms]. Over these last few years I have made an attempt to read some of the top Protestant writers of the day [Men like N.T. Wright- former Bishop of the church of Durham- England. Not talking about the top best sellers that are basically filled with pop psychology and void of any real learning] and I must confess that no other book has come close to the insights that the Pope has on the Cross and the necessity of believers to identify with Jesus in his death and resurrection- the Pope has done an excellent job at presenting Jesus and the Cross in their proper light. For all you theologians/preachers- the Pope also comes down on the conservative side of historical criticism. That is he certainly is familiar with the whole debate over Liberal/Conservative approaches to scripture [not talking politics here!] and he does another excellent job at dissecting the critics [Bultmann] and challenging many of the false assumptions that the higher critics made while rejecting the historical content of the gospels. The church went thru a century or so debating how reliably accurate the gospels were- many challenged their accuracy in a way that was not fair- that is they began holding the bible up to critical methods of historicity that no other documents were ever held to. These critics came up with methods- called historical criticism- that were quite frankly ‘loony’. And then they used this new criterion to say that the Historical Jesus was a different person than the Jesus from the bible. The Pope does a thoroughly scholarly ‘dissection’ of these faulty approaches- and quite frankly takes them apart in a ‘nice’ way. Yet Benedict also respects the historical studies of the church and handles very well the ‘contradictions’ that some find in the gospels. Many critics have shown how the various gospel writers [especially John’s gospel compared to the 3 others] do show differing accounts on certain aspects of Jesus and his life. To be honest- some of these differences can be problematic- many preachers/believers are generally not aware of some of these differences. The Pope knows them well- and deals with them well. So he does not simply reject the ‘higher critics’ by saying they are wrong, but he shows his familiarity with the subject, and makes a scholarly attempt at representing the ‘conservative’ side of the argument; which basically says ‘the gospels contained in the new testament do very much present to us the historical Jesus’. Needless to say- I agree. So anyway as you can see the book is chock full of excellent insights that would benefit all Christians- I recommend everyone pick up a copy and read it.

[1560] BUT THOU BETHLEHEM, THOUGH THOU BE LITTLE AMONG THE THOUSANDS OF JUDAH- YET OUT OF THEE SHALL HE COME FORTH UNTO ME THAT IS TO BE RULER IN ISRAEL. Micah 5:2. In the gospel of Luke we read the story of Jesus being born in a real place- at a real time. Chapter 2 says that Caesar put out a decree that ‘all the world should be taxed’ that is they did a kind of census where you had to go to your native town and register. It just so happned that Mary, Jesus mother, was living in Nazareth [Galilee] at the time and Joseph- Jesus’ step dad- was from the lineage of Judah [King David’s tribe]. So at this very inconvenient time- at the hour of child birth- they make the trek to Bethlehem of Judea- just in time for the census- and for the baby! Hundreds of years before this event there was this obscure Jewish prophet named Micah- he blurted out one day ‘out of you Bethlehem- the least of all places- shall one come forth- a great ruler of all men’ [my paraphrase]. The Jewish nation was waiting for centuries for this ‘sent one’ this messiah who would come to them in the midst of their oppression- and he would fulfill the promise that God made to father Abraham millennia before ‘we will serve him without fear and in holiness all the days of our lives’. As a matter of fact- jump back to Luke chapter 1 and you can read this promise being uttered from the lips of John the Baptist’s father when he praises God over the pregnancy of his wife Elisabeth- you see John the Baptist was also spoken about centuries before his birth- he would come on the scene as a forerunner- a precursor to the messiah. Yes, John’s father had reason to rejoice. And when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary- he told how that she was chosen for this great task- possibly the greatest task that any human was ever given- she would give birth to this promised messiah. She asks the angel ‘how can this be- I know not a man’ he tells her the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will conceive a child from God- none before could claim the title ‘the only begotten of God’. Read Mary’s prayer in chapter 1- it too is a cry for social justice ‘the high and mighty will be brought low- the poor will be lifted up’ we call her prayer ‘The Magnificat’. Both Zacharias and Mary spoke/prophesied of social justice- that thru these seemingly strange miracles- God put in place a plan that would bring justice to all those who were being oppressed. So the day came for Mary to bear the child- but he was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem- so God preordained that the great Caesar Augustus would make a decree that ‘all the world would be taxed’. Caesar came from the beginning line of Rome’s great Caesars. Octavian- Rome’s first- would be a devastating military leader who would strike fear into the hearts of Rome’s enemies- the kingdom [Roman Empire] would take her initial form under his rule. Of course most of us our familiar with Julius Caesar- he’s made it into the Hollywood hall of fame- and Augustus- he would be the third in a line of 12 Caesars who would rule Rome. He ruled at a time when Rome was the center of the world- all roads truly did lead to Rome- the great eternal city. Rome had her religious adherents- Rome practiced a type of pluralism- when they conquered an enemy- they would allow the people to continue to have some form of self rule- believe in whatever religion suits you- but you were still under Roman rule. The Pantheon [a sort of pedestal for the various god’s of the day] represented this religious openness of Rome. Yet the Jews had a different type of belief- they held to what we describe as Monotheism- a belief that there was only one true God. Her prophets spoke the words ‘hear O Israel the Lord our God is one’ and they held to their peculiar belief while Rome overlooked it. In the midst of all these developments, Caesar makes the decree ‘everyone go back to your towns for the census’ and Mary and Joseph hit the road. Sure enough the time came for her to deliver the child- he was born in a stable- laid in a manger and the world would receive her king. 2 Thousand years have passed- where are the great Caesars? Have you ever even heard of the name Octavian before today? Yet all over the world- in every nation- on the radio- over the internet- being shouted from the speakers at the mall- yes, all over the world we sing that Jesus Christ is king- the one born in Bethlehem of Judea- the one for whom the whole world was a stage- even the mighty Caesars of the day bowed the knee unto this eternal purpose of God- they would be puppets in the hand of God- used of God to make decrees that would fulfill the obscure prophecy of some Jewish prophet named Micah- yes- the Virgin had it right ‘God brought down the mighty- used them for his purposes- and exalted those who were struggling’. Rejoice- for in this day- 2 thousand years ago- was born a great ruler- a ruler of all men- his hometown is now famous because of this birth.

[1549] THEY WILL LEARN WAR NO MORE- Isaiah the prophet. This verse comes from the book of Isaiah- he also speaks of the nature of Christ’s kingdom by saying ‘the wolf will lay down with the lamb’. Isaiah has more prophecies about Jesus [Messianic prophecies] than any other Old Testament prophet. To all my ‘bible students- preachers’ most of us our aware of the various ways teachers interpret these passages; we see the dual nature of the messianic prophecies [that is many prophecies speak of Jesus first coming and second coming in one verse- you don’t see the time lapse between the 1st and 2nd coming]. At the same time we often overlook the fact that the nature of God’s kingdom is one of peace- not war. Yes ‘Make love- not war’ actually has biblical backing! Now when Jesus arrived on the scene in the 1st century, he came at a time when the nation of Israel was under ‘occupation’. Rome was the controlling authority- and the Jews knew it. Israel had different views among her people on how to deal with the Roman occupation- some wanted a violent overthrow of the Roman govt., these were called Zealots- others took a more moderate stance. Out of Jesus 12 disciples, 2 were Zealots- Simon and Judas. They thought they were getting in on a strong Messianic movement that would be violent in nature. Yet Jesus would teach them that those who live by the sword will die by it. He showed them a better way- when he said ‘greater love has no man than this that he would die for his friends’. He wasn’t saying ‘that he would risk his life in battle- while trying to kill others- and maybe die in the process’. No, he was speaking about non violent protest- even to the point of laying down one’s life. He taught them ‘war no more’. I understand that my position on these wars has upset people, and I do not see our brave men and women as ‘the enemy’. But I feel the leadership- especially in the church, has not rightly understood these things- the nature of Christ’s kingdom is one of peace- not war. When some of the most popular TV evangelists, and ‘end times’ books promote an idea that seems to pit natural Israel against Muslim/Arab nations- and they give scenarios that seem to ‘encourage’ one side fighting- and killing the other side- then in these ways we are teaching ‘war’ that is we are presenting Christ’s kingdom in a way that seems to say ‘yes, God is in this violent thing- and when he comes back he will personally wipe out the other side’. We have not done right in the church- we have not taught ‘war no more’.

[1543] HAPPY THANSGIVING! ‘In Jesus Christ, God has revealed himself in descending- we ascend to God by accompanying him on this descending path- as we witness the abuse of economic power, as we witness the cruelties of capitalism that degrades man to the level of merchandise, we have also realized the perils of wealth- the man destroying divinity- Mammon- which grips large parts of the world in a cruel stranglehold.’ Pope Benedict.
‘What has been the greatest sin on earth so far? Surely the words of the man who said ‘Woe to those who laugh now’” Friedrich Nietzsche.
In Matthews gospel we read that Jesus came from ‘Galilee, of the Gentiles’- strange. Matthew was writing for a Jewish audience, Luke’s gospel was targeting the Gentiles. Yet Matthew describes Jesus home turf in terms that would offend his target audience- the Jews of Jesus day honored Jerusalem, Judea- but Galilee? Right from the start Jesus entered the scene in a way and style that offended the religious mind of his day. The prophet Isaiah says Jesus was this Rod- this branch that would grow from the ‘root’ of Jesse. Jesus came from the lineage of Jesse, King David’s forefather- royal blood indeed. Yet the prophet says he will be set up as a sign- an ‘ensign’ that the people will look to- they will see things they never saw before. In the gospels we see Jesus as a highly unusual preacher/teacher- he simply does not fit the mold. Isaiah also says he will judge the poor of the earth with equity- he will defend them in anger! The prophets tell us ‘The zeal of thine house has eaten me up’. This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus entered the temple courts and saw the merchandisers selling their stuff- he had it- in a rage he grabbed the tables and turned them upside down ‘My father’s house was supposed to be a place of prayer- look what you have done to it! You’ve made it a Den of Thieves’. Yes, anger was a part of his persona- at times it would eat him up- in a sense. Yet as he flustered the religious aristocracy- he was a breath of fresh air to the out casts, to those who society drew the ‘black line’ on. Dylan’s son would sing ‘the same black line that was drawn on you was drawn on me’ surely Jesus would ‘allow’ the black line to be drawn on him too. The common people heard him gladly. Again- Isaiah says ‘blessed are the women who are barren, who have not been able to have kids- for more are the children of the desolate than of the married wife’. In the Old Testament [and Jesus day] not being able to have kids was seen as a mark ‘the black line’ if you will. The poor wife would be stigmatized, looked at as someone who didn’t have what it took to fulfill her ‘womanhood’. Again, in a sense an outcast. Yet Jesus said ‘blessed are those who mourn now, who cry- who are empty’ for theirs is the kingdom. In the above quote, that’s what Nietzsche was decrying- he saw the words of the Master as contrary to mans inner greatness- his humanistic abilities to achieve- to fulfill all of his desires- to live for the full! Much like the gospel of our day. Yet Jesus emptied himself, he was ‘a man of sorrow- constant grief’ [Isaiah]. The apostle Paul tells us that Jesus emptied himself, he did not see his divinity as something to be used for self gain- some type of quest to reach this stage of religious Nirvana- no he emptied himself- he too became ‘barren’. Yes Jesus was quite a character, he simply was not what the people expected- he seemed to break the rules. Yet at the end of the day- this unorthodox preacher- this man from Galilee- yes he would change the world.

[1518] DIVINE ABSENCE- ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem- you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you; how often did I try and gather you as a mother hen her chicks, but you resisted. Truly I say unto you, you will not see me again until the time comes when you say ‘blessed is he who comes in Gods name’ Jesus- Luke 13. Jesus foretold a period of time when the people he wanted to reach the most would reject him, but after a long absence they would receive him. There is a contested verse in our New Testaments that many end time teachers grapple with; it’s the statement of Jesus when he is talking about end time things. He gives a long teaching on the end of the world [age] and the second coming; and then he says ‘some of you who are standing here right now will not die until all these things come to pass’ or ‘this generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled’. I really don’t want to get into the whole debate on exactly what ‘this generation’ is referring to, but we should say that in every other instance this term appears in our Greek New Testament, it is speaking of the actual group of people who are living at the time of the statement. Some conclude from this that Jesus was telling the Jews of his day that in some way many of them would live long enough to see the judgment of God and Jesus coming in judgment on Jerusalem. It’s also interesting to note that the most common interpretation for ‘this generation’ is a 40 year time span. In a.d. 70 [right at around 40 years after Jesus made the statement] the Roman general Titus destroyed the city of Jerusalem and laid it bare to the ground. They lost their temple and it has been gone ever since. The sacrificial system of the law was abolished [end of that age/dispensation] and it has yet to make a comeback [I believe it never will- but that’s a whole other story]. The main point is some of the people who had no time to listen to Jesus, these same people perished in the destruction of the city; others who listened to him remembered that Jesus said ‘when you see the armies surrounding the city, flee’ these who believed Jesus fled; they were spared. It wasn’t a light thing to not hear the words of Christ; it made the difference between life and death for the first century Jews. I want to exhort you today, has God been speaking to you in some way over the years? Have you gone thru a period of ‘divine absence’ that is you haven’t been confronted by the Lord in a while? It’s never too late to make a change, to examine where you are at today and listen to what the Lord has said to you in the past; to some it made the difference between life and death.

[1511] Jesus said when people hear the ‘word of the kingdom’ and don’t understand it; that the devil comes and takes the word out of their hearts. Right now in our country there is a rise in anger over the Muslim versus Christian traditions; many have made a ‘cause célèbre’ over the mosque being built close to the 911 tragedy. Over the years as I have studied the various faiths and the history of Christianity, I have come to see that many sincere people of various faiths have been a victim of the ‘devil stealing the word of the kingdom’ from their hearts. That is many sincere people have never truly understood or grasped the real kingdom message of Jesus. As the Christian church progressed thru the centuries, many have come to define the faith as a strict orthodox interpretation of the Trinity, the 2 natures of Jesus, and other historic declarations of orthodox Christianity. While I fully agree and hold to these historic creedal truths, what has happened is the other 2 major world religions- Islam and Judaism- have come to define the historic faith by these statements. They have never really understood the main Christian message of God reconciling man thru Christ. They see Christianity thru the lens of ‘that religion is the religion of western civilization’ and they have never been able to grasp the ‘full world’ nature of the kingdom. A few years ago I had a chance encounter with a Muslim. As we talked I asked him if he knew the history of Abraham and the story of Isaac and Ishmael; to my surprise he was not aware of the story found in the Old Testament. I then did about a 20 minute ‘bible study’ and explained to him how God always had a purpose and destiny for the Arab world- many trace the lineage of the Arabs to Ishmael, the step brother of Isaac. It’s a little too much to do right now, but I tried to break down the cultural barrier of viewing Christianity as an ethnic/western mans religion, and presented the ‘kingdom’ in a way that he could understand and see the main message of reconciliation of all races of people thru Christ. Too many people define the Christian message as a political agenda- or they see the very technical orthodox interpretations of the various doctrines of the faith- and they never really hear what the kingdom is all about. Jesus said this was a strategy of the enemy to prevent people from coming to the faith. As we are entering into a time of increased tension over Islam, let’s be good stewards of the faith and present a non ethnic/cultural message of acceptance and reconciliation of all nations thru Christ. I am not saying all people will automatically believe in the gospel, but I fear that many of them have never really heard it.

[1510] THE MOSQUE AT GROUND ZERO- The great reformer, Martin Luther, said that if we teach and preach about Jesus and the bible, yet overlook the issues of controversy that rage at the time; then we are not faithfully preaching Christ. Over the last 6 months or so a controversy has arisen over an Islamic center that is to be built close to the area where the world trade towers went down. As I have listened to the debate [thru talk radio, the main stream and cable news] I have tried to keep an open mind. As I heard a few snippets of audio from the Imam [leader] of the future mosque, I began to wonder whether we were getting the whole story. As of today let me share my view; it seems as if many well meaning people have been told that the first building to be rebuilt after the 2001 attacks is going to be this mosque. Many believe that this building will be a sort of huge Muslim statement that will overlook the entire area and be saying ‘look, we [radical Islam] have conquered’. First of all, the site in question is actually a couple of blocks away from the actual site where the towers went down; though the community center/mosque will be 13 stories high, yet this is really not big compared to the other buildings in the area. The Muslim community actually purchased the property before 9-11 happened, and the Imam is considered to be one of the moderate voices coming from the Islamic community. All in all, it’s not really a ‘stick it in your face’ type statement that the Muslims are trying to make. Number 2- is it unreasonable for people to ask ‘hey, even though you have the right to build the mosque, as a courtesy to the victims who perished at the site, build it somewhere else’. No, this is an honest concern that good people do have- I think it’s not too much to ask the Muslim community to consider moving the location. The governor, David Patterson, kindly offered them free state land if they wanted to move it to another spot. Most of all, I think it does more harm than good to label this Imam as a radical Islamist, all the facts seem to say otherwise. Has he made statements that honest people have problems with? Yes. But overall he is not one of the more extreme type leaders of Islam. I realize that at this time this stand is very unpopular, and it’s too easy to simply jump on the bandwagon and condemn this man, but we want to do our best at being honest about these types of situations. I grew up very close to this area, right across the Hudson river on the Jersey side- there are many Muslims, Christians, Jews and other faiths that make up the melting pot of the area; if we begin singling out the moderate voices, and targeting them as radicals, when they are not, then this will do harm than good in the long run. As believers we should stand strong for our belief that Jesus is the answer, yes even for the Muslim/Arab community, Jesus is the answer. Yet at the same time it does no good to purposefully alienate the more moderate branch of Islam.

[1484] ‘This is why I Paul am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so called. I take it that you are familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody… none of our ancestors understood this, only in our time has it been made clear thru God’s Spirit… this is my life work, helping people understand and respond to God’s message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details’ Ephesians 3, message bible. As I said earlier in this study, the ‘mystery’ that God revealed to Paul was the reality that thru Christ all ethnic groups would be on the same footing with God. This specifically related to the religious belief of the day that the ethnic nation of Israel were the only ones with special access to God. For Paul to have been preaching this message in his day would be like us teaching that God’s plan for all people today- Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Iranians, etc., it would be like saying Gods purpose for our day is to accept all of these ethnic groups as one group thru Christ. To be frank about it, I believe many evangelicals today are not fully seeing the reality of the Cross when they exalt the natural heritage of Israel as Gods special people. Though I realize many of these teachings mean well [end time scenarios and stuff] yet in practice they deny the equal footing that all people have in Christ. Paul was preaching the great news that your ethnic/cultural background no longer made any difference- thru Christ we are all Gods special people. This does not mean that we are all accepted whether or not we believe in Christ, a sort of religious syncretism, but it does mean that the offer of Jesus is available to all.

(1451) CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM BELIEFS- As I did the study on Justification by faith I hit a few verses that I felt were vital for our day; things that said Gods kingdom is not based on ethnic/racial lines, but it is based on faith in Jesus Christ. One of the major divisions between Christians and Muslims is Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet from God, but they reject his deity. They claim that the Christian church fell into apostasy and over the centuries heresy was introduced thru the councils and creeds of the church. They believe that in the 7th century God restored true monotheism [belief in one God] thru the prophet Muhammad and that Jesus [Isa] agreed with this. In the 19th century you had the rise of religious liberalism and many theologians espoused a belief that ran along these same lines; many taught that the early message of Jesus became distorted thru the over intellectualizing of the faith, and that Greek philosophy and Latin legal minds [Tertullian] ‘extended’ the faith to parameters that went far beyond the teachings of Christ. The Muslim scholars saw this as proof that they were right all along, after all these Christian scholars were basically saying the same thing! And then within the past 30 years or so you had the rise of historical Jesus studies, and men like John Dominic Crossan [Jesus seminar] would basically deny much of the gospels. They used a skewed method of determining what was real or fake, and when all was said and done you basically had a few verses from Johns gospel that were deemed true as well as a host of other ‘questionable’ sayings of Jesus from the other gospels. Why was this an important development for the rejecters of Christ’s deity? John’s gospel is the strongest teaching in the New Testament on the deity of Christ. We call this ‘Logos Christology’ John’s gospel teaches us that in the beginning was the word [Logos in Greek] and the word was with God and the word was God. So you have a distinction between the word [Jesus] and God, and at the same time the word is described as God. So to be fair about it, the deity of Jesus was not a latter development that was spawned out of the Greek/Latin mind, but was a part of Christianity right from the start. Grant it that the later creeds and councils [4th century Nicene, 5th century Chalcedon] did use some technical language to distinguish between the nature of God and Jesus, but the teaching of Christ’s deity is found within the body of the New Testament. Islam teaches that Jesus was born from a virgin, and that he was a prophet sent from God- isn’t that enough? No, they also teach that at the Cross another person died in Jesus place and that Jesus never died and rose again, this my friends can never be accepted by true Christianity. I believe we as believers should respect Muslim people, we should not denigrate them or their religion- but to have an honest conversation we need to tell the truth. Jesus was given for the sins of the whole world, he was God in the flesh dwelling among man- he died, was buried and rose from the grave. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

(1450) BUT NOW WE ARE DELIVERED FROM THE LAW, THAT BEING DEAD WHEREIN WE WERE HELD; THAT WE SHOULD SERVE IN NEWNESS OF SPIRIT, AND NOT IN THE OLDNESS OF THE LETTER. Romans 7:6 I think this will be a good chapter to end our series on justification by faith. Paul uses one of my favorite analogies to describe the new relationship we have in Christ; he says a woman, as long as her husband is alive, is bound by the law to her husband. If she goes out and sleeps with another man, she is convicted by the law and is committing adultery. But if the husband dies, then the same act of being with another man [in marriage] is no longer called adultery, by virtue of the death of the husband she has become free from the law that condemned her. Now Paul teaches that we too have become dead to the law thru the death of Christ, so that we should be married to another; even to him who died and rose again! I have often said it’s sad that believers in our day know all the catch phrases, they are familiar with the pop Christian culture verses and all, but these very important themes are often overlooked. Would to God that all believers were familiar with this scripture, walking around in life quoting ‘we have become dead to the old law thru Christ, we are now alive with him and are married to him who rose from the grave’. Thru out this chapter Paul once again shows that the law is holy and good, but its purpose was to arouse in us our sinful nature in order to reveal to us the need for a savior. The old way of life for Paul was one of condemnation and never being able to do enough to appease his sinful conscience, when he saw the realities of the new covenant he was delivered from that old mindset and began to see a new way to approach God, a free liberating walk with God, apart from the daily grind of trying in his own power to become righteous. Many good believers struggle with this for years, and there really is no trick or gimmick to the spirit filled life. Paul will go on and teach the need for self discipline; he said he ‘beat his body to bring in into subjection’ he obviously was not espousing a Christian walk that never had struggles again. But he was telling us that there is a fundamental difference between approaching the Christian life thru a legalistic mindset, or thru the freedom that comes from Christ. In conclusion we have learned that right from the early days of Abraham God had revealed to us that there was coming a day when men would approach God upon the grounds of faith, and not by works; that God included this great promise in the bible since the beginning; it was not an afterthought! Paul showed us that this new way of life was ordained of God before the law was given; it just took a couple of thousand years to get to the promised ‘seed’. Paul showed us that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised child, and now that he has come we are no longer under the schoolmaster [law] but we have been freed from the old law thru the death of Christ, we are now married to another, even to him who rose from the grave- AMEN!

(1449) ‘What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein’? Romans 6:1 Being we are just hitting on the theme of justification by faith, and because I already did an entire study on Romans, I will skip over chapter 4; but I want to mention that chapter 4 covers a lot of important material about Abraham and the fact that God justified him prior to his circumcision, Paul uses this illustration to show us that being accepted with God transcends ethnic/racial lines. Many of the Jewish people of Paul’s day [including Paul’s former life!] saw acceptance with God along the lines of ethnic/cultural relations; if you were part of the Jewish nation and partook of all the rights and privileges of ethnic Israel, then you were seen as being accepted with God. But Paul’s message of justification by faith applies to ‘all the seed’ [offspring] not just to those who have become circumcised and have joined into ethnic Israel. So these points are important to understand. But now let’s get to the above verse. Paul will emphatically teach that the message of free grace does not mean we have a license to sin; he teaches this in ALL of his letters. It’s easy to focus in on the justification by faith themes [which we are doing in this study] and overlook the moral teachings of the apostle. Paul will teach ethics, not from a legal/law grounding [obey the 10 commandments] but from a new resurrection reality. He states that those of us who have been joined [baptized] into Christ have identified with him in death; the old man [sinful nature] has died along with Jesus and has been buried. Now that we are alive with him we live a new life unto God. Paul will say ‘shall we sin because we are now under grace and not under law’ and notice, he does not appeal to the law, instead he says ‘no, because whoever you serve [sin or righteousness] you become a slave to it, and if you are a slave to sin you will die’. Paul appeals to the reality of sin and death as still being a real price to be paid by those who reject Jesus. It’s important to see this theme from Paul, it backs up his teaching that believers are not under the law. In the next day or so I will wrap up this study; if I had the time and space I could go thru all the moral mandates we find in Paul’s letters, and it would be an important thing to emphasize. It’s just this is not the purpose of this study. But I would be remiss if I did not at least hit a few key scriptures from the apostle himself that show us that he certainly was not teaching lawlessness; he himself stressed the need for believers living a holy life. Its just the grace to live it comes from the power of the Cross, not from the law.

(1444) AND HE TOOK HIM OUTSIDE AND SHOWED HIM THE STARS AND SAID ‘LOOK AT THEM, CAN YOU NUMBER THEM’ AND THE LORD SAID ‘SO SHALL YOUR OFFSPRING BE’ AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED IN GOD AND HE CREDITED IT TO HIS ACCOUNT AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Genesis 15:5-6 [my paraphrase] As we journeyed from chapter 12, where God made the initial promise to Abraham, a few things occurred; God separated Abraham from his nephew Lot. The kings attacked Sodom and took Lot captive, Abraham took his men and went and freed Lot. The king of Sodom tries to reimburse Abraham for his good deed, Abraham turns him down. Abraham also went into Egypt and lied about Sarah his wife, out of fear he told the Egyptians she was his sister [so they wouldn’t kill him to get his wife] and the king takes her and later rebukes Abraham for lying. So he returns to the special place named Bethel [house of God] and regroups. Now in chapter 15 Abraham has some doubts, God gave Abraham this great promise of many children; but he has no kids yet! Abraham is getting up in years [around 75] and so is Sarah his wife; Abraham asks the Lord to consider counting his servant as his heir, this was done in those days. The Lord turns him down and says ‘no, one born from you will be the heir’ and this is just one stop of many along the path of Abraham’s doubts. Yes, he comes up with another winner down the road [like having a kid with the maid!] But this promise in chapter 15, and Abraham’s response by faith, is the actual text Paul uses in Galatians and Romans to show that being justified comes by faith, and not by keeping the law. I want to stress, this example from Abrahams life was real, he really was justified in Gods eyes by believing in the future promise of having a great dynasty; like I said in the last post, he was believing in Jesus when he believed in the promise. In the next few days I will try and cover some key verses in Galatians and Romans, but most of all I want you to see how God forgives people, makes them legally just in his sight, not because of what they have done- trying to do good, be a church goer, trying hard to keep the 10 commandments; all of these things are noble efforts, but they don’t earn God’s forgiveness, but God’s forgiveness is based on the grounds that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. All who believe in this promise are described as ‘the children of God, by faith in Jesus Christ’. Many of the Jewish people looked to Abraham as a great hero of the faith, Paul shows them thru these examples that all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile, become the ‘children of Abraham’ by faith, it’s not an ethnic/cultural thing anymore. If only the Muslims, Arabs and all other groups heard this message from the church; how liberating would this be! But we too often present an ethnic message based upon Old Testament verses that call certain Middle Eastern states ‘the enemies of Israel/God’. These views, not being rightfully filtered thru the message of the Cross, make it very difficult to evangelize the Arab world, after all would you want to embrace a religion whose book said ‘thus saith the Lord, all you white Europeans are a stench in my nostrils’! But because of our unwillingness to present a gospel based solely on faith, and not the ethnic backgrounds of individuals, we have reduced the message of the Cross from the wide net that the apostles used when presenting the message of Jesus- Lets declare with certainty ‘yes, we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’ Amen.

(1443) NOW THE LORD HAD SAID UNTO ABRAM, GET THEE OUT OF THY COUNTRY AND FROM THY KINDRED AND FROM THY FATHERS HOUSE, UNTO A LAND THAT I WILL SHOW THEE. AND I WILL MAKE OF THEE A GREAT NATION AND I WILL BLESS THEE AND MAKE THY NAME GREAT AND YOU WILL BE A BLESSING- Gen 12:1-2. I think for the next few days I will try and cover some key verses in both the old and new testaments that deal with the doctrine of justification by faith. I covered this subject in my Romans, Galatians, Hebrews [chapter 11] studies; and of course the doctrine of believing in Jesus and ‘being saved’ is found in the gospel of John study and the Acts study. But for the most part the main verses on the subject are these few in Genesis and the key chapters from Romans [3-4] and Galatians [2-4]. The doctrine simply means that God has chosen to justify [declare legally righteous] all those who have faith in Christ. There are many varied ways that Christian communions deal with the whole process of salvation, some churches are what you would call Sacramental [they believe in the process of God using the sacraments to administer grace to the soul of the believer, and that thru these sacraments, mixed with faith, believers become justified] and others hold more closely to the Pauline idea of faith being the actual mechanism that God uses to justify [which is my personal view]. Many modern Protestants who strongly disagree with the sacramental churches [Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican] fail to see that most of the reformers embraced some form of sacramentalism along with their belief in justification by faith. Luther being the strongest example; his embracing of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist [body, blood, soul and divinity] caused him to split from the great Swiss reformer, Ulrich Zwingli, and Luther believed Zwingli to be damned because he rejected the body of Christ! So for today’s ‘neo-reformed’ [the resurgence among Calvinism in our day] to be so quick to condemn many other types of Christians [Like those who follow Tom Wright] these are not ‘being fair’ to the broad system of belief that many of the great reformers held to. Okay, the above verse begins the journey between God and Abraham, thru a series of events thru out Abraham’s life God will reveal himself to Abraham, and at those times Abraham has a choice to either believe the promises of God to him- or reject them. These promises center around God telling Abraham that he will have a future dynasty of children that will bless the whole earth. In this dynasty there will be a special son that comes out of the tribe of Judah [Jesus] and he will be the promised seed to whom the promises were made [Galatians 3,4]. Paul the apostle will use the great father of the faith, Abraham, to convince the Jewish people that God justifies people by faith, and not by the works of the law. Paul goes to these past historic events [Gen 12, 15] and shows his fellow Jews that God did indeed justify Abraham [count him righteous] when he believed in the promise made to him by God [Gen 15]. Paul says ‘see, God justified Abraham before he was circumcised, therefore justification [being legally made right with God] is by faith and not by the keeping of the law’. This argument from Paul is simple, yet masterful. His Jewish audience knew these stories well, they just never ‘saw’ what Paul was seeing; once he broke thru ‘the veil’ [Corinthians] that blinded their hearts from the truth, then they could not escape the reality of what he taught them- these cultural stories of father Abraham would never be the same again. As I progress over the next few days I want to note that when we get to the book of James, we will be looking at a different type of justification than what Paul focused on. James will use the great event from Abraham’s life, the offering up of his son Isaac on the altar [Gen 22] as the event to define justification from his view. Many reformed do not fully see what James is saying, in my view. This type of ‘bible study’ [the type where we try and make everything fit our view] is common among many good men, but it fails to see that the scriptures come to us more in the sense of a portable library of books that cover the various perspectives of the time. Now, I am not advocating the view that the scriptures err, or that the bible has ‘competing theologies’ what I am saying is James use of the word ‘justification’ is actually a different use than what Paul means when he uses the Genesis 15 example to explain justification. Instead of trying to reconcile James with Paul by saying ‘all James means is the faith that saves has works’, which is limited indeed, we should leave room for seeing how James is coming to the table from a different point of view. James being one of the lead apostles at the Jerusalem council from Acts 15, and his defense of the importance of works from the strong Jewish background. I think Hebrews 11 actually deals with this subject [go read my commentary on the chapter to see where I’m coming from]. Okay, let’s leave off for now- go read the studies I just mentioned, familiarize yourself with the key chapters and will do some more tomorrow.

(1424) AVOIDING THE ECHO CHAMBER- A week or so ago the president was asked his opinion about the cable news shows and the talk radio community; he wisely answered that he felt there was a sort of dynamic like an echo chamber with these shows, that people need to be careful that they are not simply spending all their time and effort bouncing their own ideas off of the walls of others who only think in the same framework. In Christianity this is a problem that we all regularly deal with. I remember listening to a tape by an ‘organic church’ brother one time, he was trying to explain where the idea of elders arose in the writings of the apostle Paul. Now he was speaking from/to a community of people that at the time were writing and teaching against the New Testament idea of leadership, many felt like leaders in the New Testament were forbidden based on verses like ‘the gentiles exercise lordship over each other, it will not be like this with you’ and other verses that speak of servant leadership. The well meaning brother went on to espouse his theory that when the Jewish Diaspora took place in the first century, many were sent to the Christian churches and they told the leaders of the churches ‘here are our people, who are your elders that they need to report to’ and that in response Paul and the others said ‘Oh yeah, here they are’ sort of like they were ad libbing just to appease the Jewish converts. Now, this idea is interesting, but there is no foundation for it to rest on. The New Testament had elders, leaders, etc. for this brother to have thought this deeply about the matter was simply a symptom of living in the echo chamber of others who also rejected elders/leaders as a normative role of the New Testament churches. But many of these brothers have brought out the fact that none of the churches in the New Testament had the singular office of ‘the pastor’ that functioned as the weekly speaking office that the believers would gather around and hear, week after week, month after month, year after year. The development of this office [often referred to as the pastor] took place over time; some ascribe its development to 4th century pagan sources, others see it as arising out of the synagogue to church model [it should be noted that in the synagogues you had a person overseeing the meeting, but anyone could take the scrolls and read as the lord led- that’s why Jesus could read from the scrolls, even thought the Pharisees did not think he was ‘ordained’ by God]. The point being we all have blind spots that we need to be aware of. Most bible schools, universities teach courses on ‘pastoral counseling, finances, budgets, speaking, etc.’ and to be honest they too usually are approaching things from the echo chamber of ‘church’ as the corporate model, the actual meeting place of believers, as opposed to a community of people. Many of these courses never really question the validity of this singular role that we define as pastor, they just teach around it as a given office that existed in this way. The other night I was watching the Huckabee show on Fox news, they had on the actor Jon Voight. I liked Voight in the movie The Deliverance and of course George from Seinfeld was elated when he thought he bought Jon’s used car [though Jerry doubted it was authentic, being the name was spelled differently] as Voight was being interviewed he read a prepared letter that he had brought with him. Voight expressed many of the key talking points of Beck, Rush and Hannity; he mentioned the Olinsky method, hit a few more ideas on Obama being a socialist, you know the whole deal. When he was thru Huckabee graciously defended Obama in saying that he disagreed with his policies, but felt like the president means well. Voight is a victim of the echo chamber, seeing and hearing things on a regular basis, without a regular inflow of contrary data. As believers we need to be willing to hear both sides of the issues, maybe the critics are right about one thing, and wrong about another. That’s fine, just be willing to hear. Living in the echo chamber can be deafening at times.

(1419) ARE WE STILL UNDER THE LAW? I am a little of course this week; one of my favorite theologians who I hear just about every day on the radio is doing a series on how the believer is still under the law. He is a great reformed theologian, but in this area I have so small dissent. Just to be clear, I consider this a major error that strikes at the foundation of the gospel of grace. Many good men have held to this idea, they are confusing the gospel of grace when they do this. In reformed theology you have the majority of believers holding to ‘covenant theology’ versus ‘dispensational’. I agree 100 % with the dispensational view of the reformed [that is they reject it] but their understanding of the covenants also has some problems with it. They see the old covenant and the New Testament as 2 covenants [true] that have an overriding covenant of grace that works independently between them both. Again, another major error in my view. The idea is that in the old covenant people believed in the coming Messiah and as they looked forward to his future coming they were ‘saved’. There is some truth to this, Paul does use this example from the life of Abraham to prove this very point, but to than develop an idea that all the old testament saints sort of had this working knowledge of looking forward to Jesus and understanding that they were all saved by faith, well this goes too far in my view. First, Paul in the New Testament clearly lumps all the law together [ceremonial, sacrificial, moral] when saying Jesus nailed the written law to his Cross and freed us from it. You can’t read Romans and Galatians and not see this [Colossians too] the New Covenant in Jesus Blood is exactly that, a new covenant! [it did not exist before!] To carry the idea that people generally knew they were saved by grace under the old covenant seems to miss this truth. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth thru Jesus. While I agree that this reality does not mean we have the right to break Gods moral law, yet we are clearly not under it in an Old Testament sense. I can’t stress enough how much I think this doctrine is a major error in the understanding of many reformed theologians, it is often presented in a way that says this is the very reason why there is so much sin in the church, because Gods people don’t realize they are still under the law. Big, big mistake in my view. I still like much of reformed theology; it’s just in these areas I have major disagreements, to say the least.

(1407) THESE THINGS DOES THE LORD HATE…HE THAT SOWS DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN. HE DEVISETH MISCHIEF CONTINUALLY, HE SOWETH DISCORD. Proverbs 6. Okay, the health care package passed, many are upset and some have crossed the line in their language. Even though statements like ‘reload’ [Palin] ‘he’ll be a dead man’ [Boehner] and others are talking political speech, yet in this atmosphere we all need to avoid using words that can be taken the wrong way by unstable people. Recently here in Texas we had the famous school board controversy over what to include in the schoolbooks, I have written about it a few posts ago. One of the school board people is from my home town of Corpus; she is a Hispanic woman who is involved in politics a lot. Now, I’m sure she means well, but our paper had a picture of her sitting at her office desk with a bunch of anti white slogans all over her desk. I’m sure she does not mean to be racist, I’m sure she views her opinion thru the light of standing up for minorities, but the fact is you can’t have any ethnic representative openly advocate for their own race, and to use wording that publicly says things that imply ‘whitey is the enemy’ [she has regularly used the term ‘white wash’ in describing the white board members resistance to including more Hispanic people into the history books]. Now I’m going to be honest about South Texas politics, I have been living here for 30 years, many of the prejudices against minorities have been expressed by the majority Hispanic democratic leaders [I am not saying all Hispanics are racist!] The reality is the Black minorities have been discriminated against in the political system. Some have actually said ‘when they were in power they didn’t help us, now it’s their turn’ [a prominent Hispanic politician about not supporting president Obama]. So the facts on the ground are different than what many people think. I believe we should include prominent Hispanic and Black leaders into the history books, men like Cesar Chavez are truly great examples, but when any representative publicly says her goal is to advance her ethnic groups cause, and that the ‘white washers’ are the enemy- this is unacceptable speech too. Who has opened the door for this type of stuff? Gods people. One of the most prominent themes of American preaching is a theme that is shot thru with racist overtones. The popular prophecy preaching of the day teaches that Gods end time events are triggered by a special role that ethnic Israel plays in God’s plan. This system [dispensationalism] teaches that God most certainly prefers one ethnic race over another. It is in contradiction to the ethos of the New Testament which teaches that in Christ there is ‘neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free- we are all one in Christ Jesus’. The people of God are the plumb line of society, the world around us will never display a higher level of morality than the church- when we as Gods people rise above these ethnic divisions, we will be like leaven in society that effects the whole lump. When we continually sow discord we displease God.

(1397) IN MY FATHERS HOUSE ARE MANY MANSIONS- Yesterday I read an article by an Arab believer who grew up in a Muslim country. He shared how over the years he has learned how to dialogue respectively with Muslims and how important it was to share the Christian faith with respect, I really liked the tone. Jesus said ‘I have other sheep which are not of this fold, I must gather them too’. In context he is telling Israel that he too will gather Gentiles into the kingdom. I also read a verse [?] the other day that spoke to me about leaving the door open when dialoging with various groups. One of things that has surprised me since I started blogging is the Arab brothers [Christians] who have contacted me over the years and have been excited about our site. Many of them are pastors and are really laying their lives on the line to bring the gospel to Muslims. I do realize that my stance on natural Israel as well as how the western world should treat Muslims/Arabs is part of the reason why fellow Arab believers have been drawn to our site. For the most part I believe the church should put the gospel of Jesus above all ethnic/political concerns- when preaching the gospel we need to avoid getting into geopolitical wars or wars in general! Many believers in Palestine who are Arab face persecution from fellow countrymen who are Muslim, as well as persecution from Israel. These believers generally do not get support from believers from the U.S., instead when American believers go over there to interact, we usually are there to support natural Israel and to see how well the future ‘temple’ plans are going, and stuff like that. The Arab believers feel neglected by this attitude, some have actually said ‘why don’t you care for us, don’t you understand that we have been persecuted at times by Israel’? They feel confused and rejected when they read in the bible how Christians should love and care for one another, and then they see western believers taking sides in natural conflicts. Jesus said his house had many rooms, the people of God [Gods house] are diverse and come from many varied backgrounds. I do not hold to the thinking that says ‘all religions are Gods children’ in a pluralistic sense of all monotheistic faiths have the same faith. But when dealing with other fellow believers in the world [whether Arab, Jewish, etc.] we should defend our brothers and sisters and side with them in times of conflict, by ‘siding with them’ I mean we need to speak out in support of them and call for justice and help when they are in trouble. I do not advocate ‘siding with people’ when talking about actual warfare- believers should not be in the business of siding with any conflict when it includes killing other people [the sides you take as a citizen of a country are a different matter, I am speaking here as a citizen of Gods kingdom]. I am grateful for all my Arab friends and pastors who have been in touch with me over these past few years, I pray for them regularly and have embraced them as sort of part of the fellowship of brothers that I regularly reach out to. I do realize that they also enjoy the level of teaching we do [not that we are that great, but we do share from a broad range of teaching that many individual pastors might not be able to access on their own]. I thank God that ‘his house’ has many mansions, that Jesus calls sheep from ‘other folds’ that we might not be familiar with, let’s be open to those from other ethnic backgrounds that share the same faith in Jesus Christ- they are all our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

(1392) CAN A DEVIL OPEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND? In John 10 Jesus defends his deity in sort of a strange way; he says ‘if those to whom the word of God came are called “gods” how much more shall it be said of him whom the father hath sent and sanctified, that he is called the Son of God’. Jesus is quoting Psalms 82, as far as I can tell this is the only attempt that Jesus makes to justify his deity thru scripture. He has said things like ‘before Abraham was, I AM’ and ‘how could David call the Messiah his Lord, if he is the Son of David’ all statements that speak of his deity, but this quote from Psalms 82 seems to be a direct reference to him claiming deity [Son ship] based on a verse that calls us ‘gods’. Over the years this verse has been used by certain camps to teach dominion theology, but I think they missed the point. The Psalm itself is a rebuttal to the religious leaders of Jesus day, it argues for the defense of the poor, the doing of justice- it is the ministry of Jesus in a nutshell, a strong reproof against those who refused to do justice and defend the poor and needy. I mean Jesus healed the crippled guy and all they could do was critique him for violating their view of the Sabbath. In this chapter they say ‘can a devil open the eyes of the blind’? Jesus purposely healed these people on the Sabbath, I mean there really were 6 other days to do these healings, why keep doing it on the Sabbath? I think he was sticking it in their faces, causing them to have to rethink their religious views. He was showing them the reality behind the law ‘the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ the rebuke of psalms 82 ‘do justice and quit using the law as some religious measurement of class and status’. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus didn’t heal every sick person he met- I know the bible says ‘he healed them all- he went around healing all who were oppressed of the devil’ but this does not mean every person on the planet. I mean at the pool of Bethesda he healed only one, I mean that pool was like a hospice, people who were ready to die were showing up for one last miracle, yet Jesus healed only one. But these outstanding cases were proofs that just wouldn’t go away. The religious leaders kept going back to those events in their minds ‘can a devil do this’? The father testified of the authenticity of the Son by doing these miracles, Jesus even says ‘look, if you don’t believe me because you think my doctrine and claims are wrong, then at least believe for the actual works that I’ve done’ no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t deny the reality of those few outstanding miracles-‘can a devil really do this’? No.

(1390) THE EXCLUSIVITY OF JESUS CHRIST- John chapter 8 begins with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus refuses to judge her but also tells her to go and sin no more. Then we launch into a conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders. Basically they claim belief in God and tell Jesus that he is their father. Jesus replies that if they do not believe that he is the Messiah, then in reality they do not have God as their father- he flat out tells them that satan is the father of those who claim belief in God while not accepting and honoring the Son. This chapter is important for the pluralistic society we live in today. How should believers approach other faiths that claim belief in God, but do not accept Jesus as the Messiah? First, we should respect the various beliefs/religions of others people groups. Now when I say ‘respect’ I mean we should give people room to form their own beliefs while at the same time challenging them with the truth claims of Christianity. We should not leave the impression ‘well, we all believe in the same God, so what’s the difference whether or not you believe in Christ’ well frankly the difference is between heaven or hell! The point being Jesus is ‘exclusive’ in the sense that you can’t really have God as your father without having Jesus as your savior. He can’t just be ‘one of the prophets in a long line of prophets’ no, he alone is the God man! God became flesh and dwelt among us thru the Son, Jesus said if you don’t hear his words, believe that he is the one sent from the father, then you don’t have God as your father. Jesus is ‘inclusive’ in the sense that he even accepted the woman taken in adultery, something the so called ‘God believers’ would not do. The religious acceptance of belief in God, absent the reality of Jesus, treats women and others with disdain [wearing veils, etc.] those who ‘have God’ and the Son, are truly the liberators of society. The world might accuse the church of being arrogant and believing in exceptionalism, but in the end we have the only answer to the human sin problem, that which G.K. Chesterton called the only Christian doctrine that has 100% empirical evidence of being true! Truly Jesus is the answer to fallen man, let’s not be ashamed of that fact.

(1375) SOCIAL EVOLUTION- As I have been doing some blogging on other sites over the science of evolution, I thought it would be good to do a little on the philosophical ideas that spawned from it. Many sincere people do not realize the bias that comes along with a full embrace of a purely materialistic approach to life. There once was a woman named Margaret Sanger, she was a strong believer in Evolution and its sister science, Eugenics. Eugenics was an idea espoused by a relative of Darwin that taught that if you ‘quickened’ evolution by eliminating the so called ‘inferior races’ by human action, that this would advance the purer races faster and man would arrive at his Utopian state quicker. Darwin himself used the Black Aborigines tribes as an example of the inferiority of the ‘lesser races’. He looked at them as an in between race of people who were not fully human [like the white race] but were sort of a mix between man and ape. Anyway Sanger developed this idea to the point we she set up an organization that would assist the inferior races in the rush to eliminating their offspring; less child bearing, the quicker the more noble whites would advance. She received praise from another man who believed in the same principle, Adolph Hitler. After WW2 it became quite unpopular to continue to associate her organization with a megalomaniac who also carried out the same plan with the Jews, so she renamed her organization- today we know it as Planned Parenthood. Now as hard as this is to believe, the facts on this have been out there for many years. This is also why many advocates for minorities are upset that the planned parenthood clinics are located in poor minority areas, they see this as an attempt to get rid of minorities. The point today is the social construct of evolutionary theory has had disastrous effects; from biblical theology [documentary theory advanced by Wellhausen- he taught that the bible followed the ‘evolutionary model’ of mans advance from primitive religions to Monotheism, an idea espoused by the philosopher Hegel] to the public school systems embrace of evolution as the answer to all things from biology to cosmology. When Christians advocate a progressive-theistic evolutionary model, and when they do a worldwide ‘Darwin week’ [like we just did!] we need to also recognize the social effects of Darwinism as well as the scientific advances that some believe have been made thru the theory.

(1343) One of the other themes that spoke to me from Galatians was the idea that Israel and the world were under a ‘schoolmaster phase’ until the fullness of times arrived. This phase was the whole economy of Old Testament law and rule. I felt like the Lord was saying that many of us have been led, and actually have arrived, at places and purposes the hard way; i.e. – the ‘tutor’ phase. That is God allowed the process of trial and error and discipline to work in us until we arrived at the purpose and goal. Isaiah says that ‘I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction’ yes, this way of ‘arriving’ is much more painful, but it still gets you there. Now the entire discipline phase for the world was the time period before the Cross. The law and the Old Covenant were the only way to ‘get there’ so to speak. If people wanted to have a relationship with God, they were either born Jews, or converted to Judaism. Today of course we have access thru the Cross. One of the earliest ‘cults’ of Christianity was a sect call ‘Gnosticism’ these early adherents mixed Greek dualism [material world bad, spirit world good type of a thing] in with Christianity, they taught that the God of the Old Testament was the evil God who created the material world, and that thru Jesus we can come to know the true God of the New Testament, the God who gives us salvation by delivering us from the material world. Though it seems like there are verses in the New Testament that teach that the ‘world’ is evil and that God wants to ‘deliver us from this present evil world’ [Galatians] yet in these contexts ‘the world’ is simply speaking of the lost system of man and the ‘way of the world’. In Christian theology matter is not inherently evil. The Apostle John would deal with the Gnostics in his first epistle by saying ‘whoever denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is not of God- they are anti-Christ’. Because the Gnostics believed all matter to be evil they would reject the humanity of Jesus, John was targeting them in his letter. As I mentioned before the controversy over the Trinity was settled at the council of Nicaea [a.d.325] but the church still battled with the nature of Jesus. Nicaea said ‘God is one essence/substance and 3 persons’. But this did not fully deal with the nature of Jesus, various ideas rose up [Monarchianism, Dynamic Monarchianism] that challenged the nature of Christ. In 451 a.d. the church settled on the language that ‘Jesus is one person with 2 substances/essences [natures]’, though to some this looks like a contradiction to the earlier language of Nicaea, this council in 451 [Chalcedon] was simply saying Jesus was ‘fully God and fully man’ so anyway we were all under the discipline phase until the ‘fullness of times’. I am believing God to get us to the destination with less ‘tutoring’ if you will, less trial and error. Sure, we will never fully get to the point of not making a few mistakes and stumbling along the way, but as we get older hopefully we will ‘stumble less’.

(1335) GALATIANS 5- Paul’s main theme is if we possess the Spirit as believers [being indwelt by God’s Spirit] then let us also walk in/by the Spirit, as opposed to trying to please God by the law and being circumcised. Paul will use the somewhat controversial term ‘ye are fallen from grace’ which simply means that these Gentile believers started by faith and went back to the old Jewish system, much like the themes in the book of Hebrews. Paul says when you go back to the law you have left grace. Christ has ‘become of no effect to you, you who are justified by the law’. This is a good example of how words and certain phrases can develop over the centuries of church history and develop a different meaning over time. In essence the bible does teach that a person can ‘fall from grace’ but this does not describe what the modern reader might think. The first church father who attempted to formulate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was a man named Tertullian, he lived in the second century and was what theologians refer to as one of the Latin fathers [as opposed to the Greek ones- Origen, etc.] Tertullian was famous for the sayings ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’ and ‘I believe because it is absurd’ he was resisting the influence of Greek philosophy on the church, he felt that Greek wisdom was influencing the church too much. He was trained in law before becoming a theologian [like Luther and Calvin of 16th century Reformation fame] and he used the words ‘God is one substance/essence and also three persons’ later church councils would agree with this language. But the word ‘person’ at Tertullian’s time was the Latin word ‘personi’ which was taken from the theater and meant a person/actor who would put on different masks during the play; the word had a little different meaning then what we think of today as ‘person’. Later centuries would come to condemn certain Christian groups who seem to have formulated language on the Trinity that expresses the same thing as what the original developer of the doctrine meant to say, but because words and their meanings change over time we get ourselves into disputes that might be getting us off track. Paul also tells the Galatians that if they become circumcised that they are obligating themselves to keep all the law. Of course the medical procedure that many have done in our day is not what he is speaking about, but in Paul’s day getting circumcised was the religious rite that placed you into the religion of Judaism, and this is what Paul is refuting among the Galatians, he tells them not to go down that road. This chapter has lots of good ‘memory verses’, the famous lists of the works of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit are found here, and it seems pretty clear to me that Paul identified circumcision with the moral law of the 10 commandments, that is he saw being circumcised as an act that obligated you to ‘keep all the law’ some theologians are discussing whether or not Paul meant the law of Moses when speaking about going ‘back under the law’ some think Paul was speaking only of the ceremonial law and the system of animal sacrifices when he was telling the gentiles that they should not go under the law, I believe if you read Paul in context both in this letter and the book of Romans, that he is speaking of the moral law too, not just the ceremonial law. All in all Paul exhorts these believers to fight for their right to be free from the past restraints of religion and bondage, he tells them to not desire to go back under a system of bondage, that Christ has made us free from that legalistic way of life and he has liberated us by giving us the Holy Spirit- if we ‘walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, for the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these two are contrary one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you would’ amen to that.

(1331) GALATIANS 4- Paul says there was a time period before the promise would be fulfilled thru Christ; that time has come to an end [the law] and we are now in ‘the fullness of times’. When we were under the law we were no different than servants, but now in grace we are mature sons, people able to inherit the promise. Paul says why do you desire to go back under the ‘restraint’ phase, the time of discipline and legalism, we are now in a fullness stage thru the New Covenant and we don’t need the old mentality anymore. Once again Paul really ‘spiritualizes’ the Old Testament in his teaching, he says that the law [Old Testament] taught this difference between law and grace. He uses the story of Abraham having 2 sons [Ishmael, Isaac] and he says ‘cant you hear what the law is saying’? One son was born by promise [Isaac] the other thru the works of the flesh [law]. And just like it was back then, the one born after the flesh persecuted the one born after the Spirit, so today [1st century] those after the flesh/law are persecuting those born after the Spirit. It’s important to see that Paul DOES NOT use this analogy to describe Jewish/Muslim [Arab] relations; he actually refers to natural Israel as ‘Ishmael’! He says the Judaisers [Jews zealous of the law] were fulfilling the type/symbol by persecuting Gentile believers. We need to keep these distinctions in our minds, because when we don’t rightfully discern the truth we do damage to the non ethnic testimony of the gospel. Paul says the law relates to natural Israel/Jerusalem who is under bondage with her children, but the ‘New Jerusalem’ which is above is the mother of us all, and this Jerusalem relates to the church. The New Jerusalem is not referring to a physical city that will ‘hover over the earth during the millennium rule’ [EEK!] But it refers to the new community people of God, the church. I have written on this before and these references in the New Testament [Revelation, Hebrews- us being the new Zion, etc.] are speaking of the church, the people of God. Paul once again speaks of ‘natural Jerusalem’ in a negative light, in the sense that he teaches those who are under the law are not walking in the fullness of the promises of God as come in the Messiah. The New Testament spends no time engaging in the glorying of any ethnic group [whether it be Israel, Gentile, etc.] It’s not that the apostles were being anti Semitic, it’s just the emphasis is on the new kingdom of God and the new people of God [the church made up of both Jew and Gentile]. Its striking to compare the writings of the first Jewish believers to the current trends amongst many evangelical preachers, the two don’t mesh well.

(1329) GALATIANS 2- Paul recounts his meeting with the apostles at Jerusalem; some feel he is talking about his first visit [Acts 11- before AD 50] others think he is discussing his Acts 15 meeting [right at around AD 50] I’m in the latter camp. Paul is basically telling the churches of Galatia that he already went thru this whole discussion with the main apostles at Jerusalem [Peter, James and John] and that they had already agreed that the Gentile believers did not need to get circumcised and come under the law in order to be saved. I do find it interesting that out of the 4 decrees that were made [read Acts 15] that the only one Paul recounts here is ‘to remember the poor’. The only decree worthy enough for Paul to recount is the one on charitable giving; those of you who have followed this blog for a while know how much I emphasize this point. If the early church was teaching tithing to the Gentile churches, surely it would have come up at the Jerusalem meeting, but it didn’t. This chapter has some important verses that all believers should commit to memory ‘if righteousness come by the law, then Christ died in vain’ ‘the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me’ etc. I really want all my Catholic/Protestant readers to pay attention to the verse’s that I just quoted; the bible clearly teaches that if men could ‘be saved’ by keeping Gods law, then Christ died in vain. Paul will go on to teach [chapter 3] that if there had been a law given that could have given men eternal life, then ‘being saved’ would come that way; but he then goes on to say that there never was a law given that men could keep in order to be saved. Paul always gives the caveat ‘does this mean we go out and break the 10 commandments’? And his answer is always a big NO! The point of this chapter is we as believers are saved because Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin; the proof that the penalty was completely paid is in the fact that Jesus rose again [Romans 5]. All who believe in this reality are now the children of God, indeed ‘we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’.

(1319) Isaiah 65:1-10 Isaiah says that the Lord was ‘found’ by those who were not looking for him, and that those who were looking for him [thru religious actions] were not finding him. He rebukes his people Israel because they developed a religious mentality that took the true revelation of God and exchanged it ‘for a lie’. But the lord says he still saw a remnant of value within her; she was like a cluster of grapes that went bad but had a few ‘good apples’ left. When Jesus appeared to Israel in the 1st century they were waiting for Gods promise to them to be fulfilled. They were ‘waiting for the kingdom’. If you were to encapsulate any singular idea in the preaching of Jesus that was the most prominent, it would be his declaration of the Kingdom of God being now present as he preached. Israel saw the kingdom thru natural eyes, they believed that the restored temple played a major role in Gods coming kingdom. Understand that the restoring of the temple by Herod [the one before the Herod of Jesus day] was a spectacular event; the temple was grand and the Jewish people regulated their life around its rituals. It was only reasonable for Israel to believe that the next step would be the restoring of her national sovereignty by a coming Messiah. They had their temple restored first and were waiting for the national independence to follow- a reverse of what many modern dispensationalists believe. But instead Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms that their understanding of the kingdom is wrong, that the kingdom will not come by observing outward events, but it was already present thru his appearing. In Jesus parables he speaks of the values of this kingdom, forgiveness, laying down your rights for others; he is talking about a spiritual kingdom. When the disciples show him the temple and its grandeur, he states flatly ‘there will not be left one stone upon another when all is said and done’ huh? So Jesus without a doubt challenged their understanding of the kingdom and how it would outwardly manifest in society- it’s not about temples and homelands! He gathers a ‘few grapes’ from the cluster [The 12 disciples] and uses them as the foundation stones of a new kingdom and temple. These apostles would launch the great new movement/kingdom of God thru the proclamation of the gospel. They would write some harsh things about the temple and old law economy of Israel as a nation. The disciple John would refer to the synagogue as ‘the synagogues of satan’ ouch! [Revelation] Paul would say those are not Jews who are Jews ‘outwardly’ [it wasn’t an ethnic thing anymore] but those who had the ‘circumcised heart’ would be counted as the true Israel of God [Romans/Galatians]. And the overall language of the 12 Jewish apostles was not one that would fit in with a scenario of a restored Jewish temple with restored sacrifices and a national homeland. I mean you can’t get much more clearer than this! And yet in our day you have many well meaning believers looking for all these outward signs of ‘when the kingdom will come’. We bypass the main writings of the New Testament [like the things I just quoted] and we go hunting in Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation- we find all types of prophetic words that seem to support our obsession with some outward restoration of these things in order to justify our system, we basically have fallen into the same error of first century Israel, we are looking for the kingdom in all the wrong places. I understand that many believers who hold to these beliefs are sincere and well meaning, many of them have a genuine love for the Jewish people and this is commendable. But we need to heed the words of ‘the few good grapes in the cluster’ they did not exalt Israel’s natural status nor did they see the kingdom of God thru the lens of restored temples and homelands, they believed that all who would receive the Messiah were presently being built into a temple made without human hands, the ‘true Israel of God- the heavenly New Jerusalem that is coming down from God out of heaven’.

(1313) GOD WANTS TO MARRY YOU! Isaiah 62- This chapter uses a lot of marriage imagery, the bridegroom rejoicing over his new bride and ‘all your sons being joined to you’. In the New Testament Jesus himself uses this imagery when speaking about Gods people and the relationship God had with Israel. Now, it’s important to see that the New Testament [especially Paul] uses the imagery of the bride and bridegroom when speaking of the church; Paul will teach that both Jew and Gentile are making up this bride that the Lord ‘is married to’. Some dispensationalists [end time beliefs] make a distinction between the language used concerning Israel [Gods wife] and the language used concerning the church [bride] but if you see the mystery that Paul is speaking about you see that the fulfillment of this bride [both Jew and Gentile] being joined unto Jesus includes both people groups. What I’m saying is the New Testament teaches us that all these Old Testament promises of God rejoicing over his bride are being fulfilled thru the ‘eternal purpose’ spoken of by Paul in the letter to the Ephesians. God has his bride! This chapter also speaks of the sons coming to this new land [the church-people of God] and being joined to her as a bridegroom is joined to his bride. Recently I have had some good brothers express a desire to ‘join up-team up-partner with us’ in some way thru the ‘ministry’. These are Pastors from Pakistan and are doing a great work reaching out to Muslims. They are doing a very dangerous work, pray for them [they just got out of jail; they were thrown in jail for preaching the gospel]. Anyway somehow they found this site and really like it, that’s great. But I gave them the same response that I give to everybody who contacts us with the well meaning intent to ‘join up’ with us; I simply told them that there is nothing to join, no money to ‘partner up with us’ we are simply a voluntary group of Christ followers who are trying to spread the kingdom by doing what the Lord tells us. In essence if you are blessed by the teachings, just do your best to follow our example and let the work grow on its own, no need for me to come and preach, take offerings, or anything along those lines- just take the word of God and run with it! The point is sometimes ‘our friends/sons’ [those we are reaching out to] are so excited about the stuff they are learning that they want to be joined to us. It’s our job [and yours] to lead them in a way that they are joined to Christ and find their identity in him. God promised his people that he would ‘marry them’ Jesus spoke about the great marriage supper of the Lamb. These are intimate images; Paul said this was a great mystery when speaking of marriage and how it was a sign of our union with Christ [Ephesians] we need to remind ourselves that we are joined unto the Lord- not to men and their well meaning organizations.

(1311) FOR YOUR SHAME YE SHALL HAVE DOUBLE [PORTION/BLESSING] AND FOR YOUR CONFUSION THEY SHALL REJOICE IN THEIR PORTION, THEY TOO WILL HAVE A DOUBLE PORTION IN THEIR LAND – Isaiah 61:7 In the book of Acts Peter says God has highly exalted Jesus and he has received the promise of the father [Spirit] and because of this he has poured out ‘this which you see and hear’. I like that, God gave 2 types of testimonies; things you see and things you hear. That spoke to me because I do both radio [hear] and blog [see]. I was watching a prophecy brother the other day, he’s a good man, comes from the strong Dispensational school. As he was reading the declaration of the angel in the book of Luke- that Jesus will sit on the throne of his father David, the wife said ‘gee, I never saw that before, Jesus has never yet sat on David’s throne’. And the husband said ‘see, your theological training is kicking in’. If you actually read all of Peter’s sermons in the book of Acts, you will see that the apostolic witness sees Jesus as presently ruling on the throne from the exalted right hand of God. They do not see an idea that the promise from the angel about Jesus has yet to be fulfilled. I am familiar with the distinctions that dispensationalist’s make, I just think they go too far in postponing the ‘actual/literal’ rule of Jesus to some future date. The apostle’s language includes the fulfillment of the Davidic rule with the present ruling position of Jesus at Gods right hand. I do not totally discount the reality that at the Second Coming there will be literal future aspects to that rule, but scripture already ‘sees’ Jesus ruling in Gods kingdom. Well anyway Jesus received this high position because of the shame and confusion [agony] he went thru. He now has the right to pour out things both ‘seen and heard’. He poured out the promise of the Father on his people and they became this great kingdom of Priests and Kings unto God and his father [Revelation and Isaiah]. In this present kingdom we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Jesus is the Lamb as it were slain sitting on the throne- he’s not waiting for some future date to receive the throne, he’s already there!

(1285) Yesterday I had some time to read my latest issue of Christianity Today, was kinda surprised that they had a few articles on the Prosperity Gospel. It’s really been a while since I dealt with it myself, but I always felt that the effect of the more extreme teachings from the movement had more bad influence on many good believers than the average pastor/preacher understood. To have entire groups/generations of Christians thinking that Jesus and his men were rich and that those who rejected extreme wealth were ‘old traditionalists’ these major distortions have had a terrible effect on biblical Christianity. But it usually takes a generation or 2 before people can really see the mistakes and grow in their understanding, most times people will defend to the death their positions with proof texts that ‘prove I’m right’ and that the other guy is wrong. Well anyway I thought it interesting that they covered the subject. I mailed off a package of tapes/materials to my friend who converted to Islam, I included the latest posts I wrote on the Ft. Hood tragedy. It really is a sad situation, I don’t mean to sound like I am defending the actions of the Major who committed the crime; we just need to realize that these radical ideas exist on the internet sites and they do have an effect on unstable people. Many Christians hold to violent militaristic views of the Old Testament in a way that they view the fulfilling of prophecy thru the lens of killing non Jews. These believers think that it is the purpose of God to involve himself on the side of the military of Israel and that current successful missions are a testimony to God’s grace. These views can be just as off base as those embraced by the Muslim extremists; they view God and his kingdom thru violent means that has one side killing the other and thinking that this is God’s will. Christians and religious people as a whole need to reject all types of killing scenarios as being from God. Yes nations and countries will fight and war, I am not advocating national pacifism, but when we mix in the wars of nations with the kingdom of God we err. Well anyway I felt like I should share these few thoughts today, it’s a rainy Sunday morning and I had a good early prayer time and got a little wet. But I like quoting the verses ‘let your doctrine drop down like rain and your speech distill like dew’ when praying in the rain, it ads texture to the prayer. Hopefully will do another chapter of 2nd kings tomorrow, I plan on doing Galatians after that. I will do both radio and blog when teaching Galatians, I haven’t done a new radio teaching in over a year! Just running old studies that have never aired yet. Try and read up on Galatians in the next few weeks and familiarize yourself with the text before I teach it, I will probably ‘correct’ some off balanced prosperity teaching on the ‘blessing of Abraham’ and some stuff like that. Okay that’s it for now, God bless for today and try and remember to pray weekly for us- check out the prayer request section on the blog and pray thru it weekly, it helps.

(1283) TRAGEDY AT FORT HOOD- A few days ago as I was praying the regular routine of praying over areas of Texas I sensed a really strong leading from God to extend my prayer region to include highway 35 from San Antonio up thru the Dallas Fort Worth area. For years I have prayed over the area of 35 that extends from San Antonio to Austin, but I always stop at Austin. But the leading of the Lord to ‘pray further north’ was so strong, that I added some changes to my prayer maps in my office and even ‘staked out’ a new spot in my yard while praying in the early mornings. Yesterday we had the worst mass killing in US history that took place on a military base, it was FORT HOOD. Fort Hood is located directly off of highway 35 between San Antonio and Dallas, just a little past Austin. The tragedy is the reality that both Muslim Americans and military people will be hurt thru this event. That there are certain elements in radical Islam [not all Muslims!] that see the present situation thru ethnic/religious eyes. It’s also tragic that there are Fundamentalist Christians that see it the same way. I do not see this Army Major as an evil man who set out in life to hurt Americans, he is an American himself. Born and raised in the U.S. But the various ideologies of the wars and the disagreements between Islam and Christianity play a role in the way people’s ideas are formed, then these ideas can lead to violence on either side. The other day I received another email from some Pastors in Pakistan, they read the site and appreciate our teachings. If you look under the sections ‘Trinity, Christian, Muslim stuff’ and ‘Gentile, Jewish, Christian’ you will read many entries that stand against the popular American preachers ideas about Muslims and Christians. In a way I defend Muslims/Arabs to a degree. I also totally reject all acts of violence on either side, I do not support our current war in Afghanistan and want our troops out. I guess it’s because of this progressive/liberal stance that I have both Arab Christians and Muslims who read our site, great! I simply want to exhort all Muslims, Christians and other faiths; no matter how sincere we are in our beliefs, no matter how much we think certain views are right and others are wrong, we need to outright reject violence as a means of winning our points. We need to have the freedom of our beliefs and there expressions, the freedom to say ‘I believe Jesus is the way’ while at the same time respecting other cultures and religious beliefs. This entire incident is so tragic, it will drive a wedge between Muslim Americans and right wing radicals. It will play into the stereotypes that the radical Muslim fundamentalists want for recruiting purposes. It will justify the un Christian mentality of ‘let’s just blow them away’ that has been expressed by the religious right. A tragedy indeed. To all my Muslim readers, please reject these extreme views, they do no good for honest and peace loving Muslims. To all my Christian readers, do not view these events thru a ‘Christian lens’ that sees these events as justification for the killing of Muslims in other countries. We all need to pray for our country at this time and we need leaders from all religions to take public stands against this type of violence. May God help us all.

(1260) 2ND KINGS 10:11-36 Jehu heads to Samaria to clean house, he already wiped out the sons of Ahab and will now deal with the false prophets that Jezebel installed. He tells the people in Samaria ‘Let’s worship Baal’ and he sends his men out to gather all the priests and prophets of Baal, he says ‘make sure you get all the Baal worshipers, this is going to be a really big sacrifice to Baal’ ouch! So they get all those who were worshiping at the altar of a false god and they pack Baal’s temple out. Jehu tells his men ‘make sure we got them all- go in and give all the Baal worshipers these special robes- and make sure no one who worships the true God is in there’. So the men carry out the task and Jehu and his men ‘sacrifice’ the whole denomination in one shot. This chapter tells us that Jehu had ‘zeal for God’ and he purged Israel from false Baal worship, but it also says that Jehu did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam who made Israel sin. Jeroboam was the first king of the northern tribes when Israel broke up under the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. At the time Jeroboam made these 2 golden calves and placed one in the city of Dan and the other at Bethel. The purpose was strategic, Jeroboam feared that if the northern tribes went to Jerusalem every year to keep the religious feasts that eventually they would ‘long for the good old days’ and return to the leadership of the kings of Judah. Now Jehu is a noble warrior, he understood the idolatrous nature of Baal worship, why did he not deal with these 2 calves? Jehu was also a practical ‘patriot’ he wanted to maintain Israel’s identity as a separated people, he thought Jeroboams idea actually worked, so at the ‘altar of national unity’ he permitted a degree of idolatry to exist. Now we get into the tuff stuff; Jesus kingdom message calls people to a higher patriotism; he tells his followers that they are to be ‘patriots’ in a new way. Though their national alliances [the countries we live in] are to be respected and honored, yet when the rubber meets the road we owe our allegiance to ‘the Cross’. Jehu was willing to sacrifice total dedication to God for the sake of national cohesion, ouch again! Karl Marx [the 19th century socialist] once said ‘the economists are like the theologians, they believe every one else’s religion is a man made distortion, but that their own is an emanation from God’ it is obvious that religious divisions effected the way he thought, he saw the futility of manmade religion but made the mistake of rejecting God. He saw religion as a threat to true national pride and cohesion and tried to eject God from the national psyche, he failed. When believers of any nation hold the ideals of the nation higher than the ideals of Christ’s kingdom, then they have in a sense ‘left the calves of Jeroboam in place’.

(1255) 2ND KINGS 8:7-29 Elisha goes to Damascus and the king of Syria hears about it, he sends his servant to inquire ‘of the prophet’ whether or not he will get well from some sickness. The servant goes and finds Elisha and Elisha says ‘yes, he would recover. But instead he will die’. What ? Elisha sees that the sickness would not be fatal, but that the king will be assassinated! The servant in front of him will be the killer. So Hazael goes back to the king and says ‘he said you would get well’ true enough, but he left out the part where he was going to kill him! So the next day he does the deed and becomes the king. A few things, I find it interesting that the Syrian king had no problem receiving Gods prophet. They believed in prophets! Now, they did not have a ‘Christian/Judeo’ culture, but they had a religious background that accepted ‘messengers from God’. In today’s world the church needs to take advantage of the willingness of other world religions to listen to prophets. We need to appeal as much as possible to the Muslim world and use any agreement on religious things as a tool to share the gospel. Right after the 16th century reformation the world would embark on a couple hundred year age of exploration and colonization. The Protestants were good at exploring the seas and impacting Europe, but they failed at reaching the Far East. Instead the Catholic Church had great success thru the Jesuits at impacting the Far East. They would make inroads into Japan and China and eventually take the gospel to the influential city of Peking. The problem arose when the Dominicans and Franciscans [Catholic orders] came in after them. They felt that the Jesuits were too accommodating in mixing in the religious beliefs of the east along with Christianity. Many Chinese believers were still practicing a form of worshipping dead ancestors and stuff like that. The Jesuits justified this by seeing these things as cultural beliefs and felt like allowing them to ‘keep their culture’ along with the faith was okay, the Dominicans and Franciscans disagreed and took the argument to Rome. Eventually this disagreement would leave a bad taste with the leaders in China and all Catholic expressions of the faith would be banned. This is called Syncretism, the mixing of religious beliefs. Now, why get into this? Christians should appeal to the willingness of Muslims and other world religions to hear religious voices. Both Jews and Muslims believe in Jesus, now they don’t believe the way Christians believe, but we should take advantage of this basic belief when appealing to them. Muslims reject the doctrine of the Trinity, but a careful study of history shows us that the actual Trinity they are rejecting is not the Christian understanding. Muhammad was actually rejecting a skewed view of the Trinity that saw Jesus and God and Mary as the Trinity. Obviously a pretty big mistake. So we as believers should be willing to correct and give a word to the ‘Muslim messengers’ when they come looking for answers. We should give them credit where credit is due, like their development of apologetical arguments in the Middle Ages [the Kalaam cosmological argument] but at the same time present the uncompromising gospel of Jesus Christ to them. I side with the Franciscans and Dominicans on this one.

(1240) 2nd KINGS 1- The king of Israel is on his roof in Samaria and falls thru. He sends his men to inquire from a pagan god whether or not he will get healed. On the way Elijah meets them and tells them because he sought information from a forbidden source, he will die. They go back and the king realizes it was Elijah. So he sends 50 men to tell Elijah to come and see the king; Elijah calls down fire from heaven and they get ‘sacrificed’. This happens with the second group of 50 as well. The third group comes and says ‘please, we don’t want to die like the rest, just come and see the king for heavens sake’. Elijah goes. He tells the king that he will die because he sought foreign gods and rejected the true God. In Luke 9 the disciples ask Jesus ‘do you want us to call down fire from heaven and burn them up, like Elijah did’? They treated the story as literal. Why did the disciples ask this? Jesus was going to Jerusalem and he sent two men to Samaria, the same city where the king of Israel was associating himself with. The people did not welcome him because he had his mind already set on Jerusalem. The whole history of Israel and Judah [northern and southern tribes] involved a debate over where true worship occurred. Samaria was considered a low class place; the people had little respect in the eyes of the pure Jew. Jesus disciples saw nothing wrong with the death of these Samaritans. Jesus told them that his kingdom was not about getting rid of the ‘heretics’ but redeeming them. It seems strange that the disciples would even contemplate the death of these ‘illegals’, after all Jesus is going around healing and helping people who are considered low class. He is trying to instill this mindset into his men, but yet somehow on the road to the Kingdom they see no contradiction in thinking that part of the process would include the destruction of a whole society of people. Many sincere Christians/preachers seem to make this same mistake in their treatment of Muslims/Arabs. No matter how theologically wrong a certain class of people are, yet their destruction is not part of the plan. Let me also mention the error that many well meaning Catholics have fallen into in my part of the world. Over the years I have had the privilege of working with lots of brothers who have come from strong Mexican/Catholic backgrounds. Often times they would see nothing wrong with going to a ‘Catholic fortune teller’ or hiring someone to place a curse on an enemy. The Catholic Church expressly teaches against this. There are many differences between Catholics and Protestants; one of them is the teaching of asking the saints who have died to intercede for us. The Catholic Church does not teach ‘praying to the saints’ in the sense of praying to God for prayer to be answered. Many Catholics and Protestants are confused about this, many do think that praying to the saints is like asking God to answer a prayer. The official Catholic doctrine is you can ‘pray’ in the sense that you are asking a believer who has died to ‘pray for you’. In essence the doctrine teaches you can ask a believer who has died to pray for you, because in reality they are still alive. Okay, I personally don’t go for this, but I get the difference. Here close to Mexico there is a superstitious mixing of saints with actual occult practices [Santeria]. Many Catholics have a misguided understanding of seeking these practices and thinking they are Catholic in nature. They are not. So in this chapter we see that seeking wisdom from a pagan/occult source brought death upon the king. I want to warn all of our readers [both Catholic and Protestant] that the official teaching of both churches condemns doing this, don’t do it!

(1214) YOU WILL NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HELL, OR ALLOW ME TO DECAY- Psalm 16:10 [my quick version of it!] This verse is quoted in Acts 2 and 13; it speaks of the Fathers promise of resurrection to the Son. Being I am reading Wright’s book on the resurrection at this time, I thought it good to talk a little. Wright lays out a good historical argument for the resurrection of Jesus. He shows how the liberal belief that the disciples ‘felt a real spiritual change after Jesus died’ wouldn’t cut it in a society that had other messianic figures rise and later be killed. The fact that these others stayed dead was a sure sign of their failure. Wright goes and gives a little parable on how the followers of past dead messiahs would have never gotten away with ‘let’s claim victory for our movement, even though our leaders died’. Good point, but the skeptics could point to Muhammad in the 7th century to refute this. But I get the point. Also, when I say ‘liberal theologians’ on this blog, I am speaking of historical liberalism, not the truncated view that certain fundamentalists hold to; you know, those who view liberalism thru the lens of what bible version a person uses, or whether or not you hold to certain end time scenarios. These views are not what I mean when speaking of liberals. Classic historical liberalism is a tag that gets put on those who begin denying the physical resurrection of Jesus and other fundamental truths of Christianity. So both Catholic and Protestant groups are not considered liberal, unless they deny the basic fundamentals [i.e.; you are not liberal, in the classic sense, just because you embrace the sacraments or other disagreements between Protestants and Catholics]. Now some liberals have done some good. The 19th century liberal scholars- Van Harnack and Albert Reitschal [I know these names are spelled wrong, but no spell check can fix stuff like this] challenged the development of historic theology by promoting the view that because the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek, that the early councils and systematic theologians lost the feel for story/narrative because they allowed Greek philosophy to influence their creeds and councils. They would point to the fact that much of the language used to ‘dissect’ the three persons of the Trinity was borrowed from the Greek philosophers and stuff like that. They argued that the church should return to her Jewish roots as seen in the Hebrew culture and begin ‘telling the story’ once again, as opposed to getting into the technical aspects of Greek language and thought. Now, were they right? Partially, in my view. But the problem with their view is it did not fully appreciate the fact that the New Testament did come to us thru the medium of the Greek language. So just because the Hebrew language is short on detail and long on story, this does not mean that the church also needs to be ‘short on detail’, because our New Testaments are in Greek. But they did make some good points. So anyway God promised Jesus [and us] that he would not leave us ‘in hell’ or allow us to corrupt/decay. The early church most certainly believed in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the grave, though the liberals have some good things to add to the conversation, some of their ideas are down right lethal.

(1196) WE STILL KILL THE PROPHETS- At the end of Luke 19 Jesus rebukes Jerusalem for not knowing the time of her visitation. He says there were things that were presently part of her peace, but because of a wrong ‘timing’ issue, she couldn’t see them. In Revelation 21 we read of the New Jerusalem, God’s holy city. The chapter says she is the Bride, the Lambs wife. She is ‘coming down from God out of heaven’ this city truly is a product of God. Jesus sits at the right hand of the father as its head, a ‘present’ [not future!] reality. In the New Testament the church is described as ‘The Israel of God’ ‘The New Jerusalem’ ‘The Bride of Christ’ ‘The City of God’ it’s not hard to see that John is speaking of the church. He also says there was no temple in the new city, but the lamb is the light of this city and God dwells [tabernacles] directly in this city with his people. The gates of the city bear the names of the 12 tribes of Israel and the ‘foundation’ has the names of the 12 Apostles, this being a symbol for the church being comprised of both Jew and Gentile people [though the Apostles are also Jewish, they represent the new Gentile church, and the 12 tribes show that natural Israel would still play a part, but only as she is connected with the church]. In the New Testament [and Revelation] natural Jerusalem and natural Israel are described in strikingly bad terms, John calls her ‘spiritual Sodom, the place where our Lord was crucified’. The writer of Hebrews says those who continue in the sacrificial system and law, after the Cross, are treading the Blood of Jesus under foot. The basic theme of the New Testament is that thru this New Covenant in Jesus Blood, all nations and people groups [including Israel] can partake of this new City that comes down from God out of heaven. The temple and its sacrifices are associated with ‘old Jerusalem’ and the coming judgment [that came in A.D. 70]. John’s description of the new city having no temple was theologically significant; he was saying the old law system had no part in her. Truly the book of Revelation is a wonderful prophetic book given to the ‘new Jerusalem’ and Jesus himself said the things that John wrote about were realities that would ‘happen soon’ [soon even to the 1st century readers of the letters!] Johns prophetic vision [actually Jesus’] is a wonderful prophecy that belongs to us, it is ‘part of our peace’ if you will, but because we know not the ‘time of our visitation’ many of the things written in it are hidden from our eyes.

(1189) In Luke 17 the Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God is going to come, Jesus tells them that the kingdom does not come by observing things; it’s not about geopolitical events if you will, but it is ‘within you’. He then says some will come and say ‘see here’ or ‘look there’ and Jesus says ‘go not after them, don’t follow them’. What were the Pharisees asking Jesus? To the first century Jewish mind, their expectation of the kingdom entailed the setting up of the messianic rule thru the messiah. They were looking for an outward, physical kingdom that would be set up at the capital city of Jerusalem and throw off the dominion of Roman rule. They in essence were looking for the same exact thing that the modern prophecy teachers have popularized over the last 50 years or so, they wanted Jesus on the throne and openly fighting off Israel’s physical enemies. Jesus clearly told them this was not the way the kingdom would come, or be expressed. He also warned of those who would be obsessed with ‘looking there’ or ‘seeing here’ those who would be scanning the geopolitical landscape with the goal of finding specific signs that would ‘hasten the kingdom’. Over the years I have observed various strains of belief that exist within the Christian church, I have always been uneasy about the proliferation of end time books that espouse a very limited view of end time events. Many of these scenarios are a compilation of prophetic portions of scripture from all over the bible, but they seem to ‘paste’ them together as one divine master plan that will all culminate in our day. They take Daniel, Ezekiel, Thessalonians, the Gospels and Revelation and seem to find a pattern that has all these various references speaking of one specific period of time, namely the late 20th [or early 21st] century. These passages speak of ‘the beast’ ‘the anti christ’ ‘the prince that will come’ and other descriptions of wicked men and rulers, but they apply all these verses to one man who is yet to appear on the scene. This is not the proper way to do ‘bible study’. Some of these passages might refer to the same person, but some have had their fulfillment centuries [or millennia] ago. Let’s just hit one scenario for today. In Daniel we read of a prince that will come and in the middle of the last week [7 year period] will cause the sacrifice to cease. Most commentators teach this in a way that has a future ruler who is yet to establish a peace treaty with Israel and in the middle of a 7 year period he breaks the covenant and stops the sacrifices that are taking place in a restored Jewish temple based out of Jerusalem. Now, the prophecies of the Old Testament do have remarkable accuracy. You find the appearing of Jesus prophesied to the tee from the 490 year prophecy of the ‘70 weeks’ of years. You can actually trace the years of the prophecy and they do bring you right up until the time of Christ’s appearing to Israel in the first century. But what about the last 7 [or 3.5] years? Does the prophecy about ‘the prince causing the sacrifice to cease’ mean that we have to postpone the last 7 year period for at least 2 thousand years? Right after Jesus appeared to Israel he entered into a 3 and a half year period of ministry, he in essence was with them for the first part of the last week. What happened in the middle of the week? He dies on a Cross and becomes the final sacrifice that God will ever accept for the sins of man. He in effect was the prince that caused the sacrifice to cease in the middle of the last week. But what about the other 3 and a half years? And the abomination that makes desolate that Jesus himself talked about? Let’s see, you have the nation of Israel rejecting the messiah for a 40 year testing period. They continue to practice animal sacrifices and this practice itself is called an abomination in the book of Hebrews. God was telling the 1st century Jewish community that they had so much time to accept or reject their messiah. 40 years has always been a time of probation for Israel. But they continued to reject the final sacrifice of Jesus right up until the destruction of their city and temple in A.D. 70. When Rome sacked the city under the military leader Titus, they actually besieged it for 3 and a half years. This time period was considered one of the most terrible times of trials for the nation. It was reported that women actually reverted to eating their own babies! There were also a few candidates for the ‘abomination that makes desolate, standing in the holy place’ you had the zealots [radical group] who actually desecrated the holy of holies on purpose to bring a quick uprising, you had various periods of time where certain Roman emperors attempted to set up an image of themselves in the sacred court [Caligula]. You had times where swine were purposefully sacrificed on the altar of God [Antiochus Epiphanies in the days of the Maccabees] and of course you had the actual sacrificing of animals, which the New Testament describes as an ‘abomination’ taking place in the city of Jerusalem. The point is we have a whole bunch of historic events that we can look at and see if they play any role in the various scattered prophecies in scripture. I am not saying that this view is the only valid view, but we have a type of ‘prophecy teaching’ that takes place in the U.S. that seems to discount all these other options. It is a view that is obsessed with outward signs and telling the average Christian ‘look over here, see this sign’ it is a view that Jesus rebuked when he was confronting the Pharisees. They, of all people, had every right to believe that Gods kingdom was about an actual setting up of a military type rule that would throw off Israel’s enemies, Jesus flatly told them that this was not what the kingdom was about. If the Jews of the first century were told not to look at the kingdom thru this lens, how much more should the American church re evaluate her view on end time things?

(1182) I JUST GOT MARRIED AND AM NOT ALLOWED TO COME- Ouch! In Luke 14 Jesus gives the parable of the great supper; he says a man makes this great feast and sends out his servant to tell the intended guests ‘all things are ready NOW, it’s supper time’ [not breakfast time! Supper time is a time of completion, Galatians says the fullness of the times were already present in the 1st century]. So the servant goes and tells the people ‘come’. But the people make excuses, one says ‘I have bought some land and need to go see it’ [his lucrative real estate business was too important] another said ‘I have bought some ox and need to go try them out’ and the last guy said ‘I just got married, I can’t come’. It’s been said in the annals of famous repeated jokes from previous Pastors/Teachers that this was the only brother who had a legitimate excuse [sorry about this]. So the servant comes back to the man and says ‘I invited all the intended guests [1st century Israel] and they couldn’t come’ and the master gets mad and sends the servant back out to gather all the poor and lame and outcasts of society, and they come. But the original guests are left out. This parable, like all the others, must be seen in context. Obviously Jesus is speaking to the nation of Israel and telling them that as a nation their time has come, he is their Messiah and the supper is ready. In New Testament thought [as opposed to the multitude of various theologies that people espouse] the appearing of the Messiah in the first century was the defining moment in all of human history. The national rejection of Jesus by Israel did not postpone Gods intended Kingdom work. The other guests that came to the table were all the Gentile nations who benefited by the rejection of Israel [book of Romans]. The supper time indicates that Jesus initial presenting of himself to Israel was not a sort of evangelistic call to get saved [though that was a small part of it] but it was Gods plan for the ages being fulfilled, it was a passing away of a former age [law- Old Testament economy] and a bringing into existence of a new way, the Blood of Jesus and his New Covenant. This new way was presented as ‘a full course meal’ so to speak. It was there in its fullness and would be inaugurated by the Messiah, whether Israel wanted it or not. So when we read the epistles in the New Testament we read a story of God bringing in many Gentile nations, the non Jews are now considered citizens of God’s kingdom and fellow partakers of all the Divine blessings that were restricted to Israel under the first covenant [Ephesians]. When we read the New Testament it is important to read it thru the proper lens [this being one of the pairs of glasses!] when you do it this way it allows you to see the truth of many other things. It puts the proper perspective on things. We as Christians are not waiting for a Kingdom that has been postponed for 2 thousand years, but we are already partaking of the benefits of ‘the supper’. Sure, there will be a great future day when the King returns, that’s true. But we are already living in the Kingdom at this time. In essence we are the eternal generation that Jesus spoke about when he said ‘some of you will not die until all these things are fulfilled’. If you see this ‘some of you’ as the church age, the people of God from day 1 until now. Then truly some of our brothers and sisters have gone on to be with the Lord, but there are still some of us hanging out on the planet; but whether we are alive or not when Jesus returns, I know for sure that ‘this generation’ [the church] will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled [note- I am not saying this is the only way to read these verses, but I think there is much truth to some of the way I just taught it]

(1178) Jesus is in the synagogue, the religious leaders are watching, sure enough he does it again. He heals a woman who had a sickness for 18 years. The ruler of the synagogue stands up and in a non direct way says ‘well, we have 6 other days to come and get healed, if you need to be healed get it in those days, not on the Sabbath’. Now this brother is the God ordained leader of this group, I mean Jesus himself said to obey those who ‘sit in Moses seat’ [basically the pulpit of the synagogue]. So how does Jesus respond? Does he simply think praising God and speaking only ‘nice’ words will get the job done? Jesus responds ‘you hypocrite! Don’t you rescue your own beast on the Sabbath if it falls into some ditch?’ Jesus minced no words, he let him have it. Paul does stuff like this as well, he says some teachers mouths needed to be shut, and Paul was on a mission to shut them! The point being we don’t take this approach with every one we disagree with, but there are times when leaders get in this mode of survival, they want to be happy and wealthy. They want that for their people, and any perceived intrusion by the Kingdom of God into their little world is seen as a threat, in these cases truth trumps personal doctrine and security. Sure Jesus was tough on the brother, but he showed him an error in his thinking, he showed him how he wasn’t allowing the same grace and mercy for human beings as he was for animals! He showed them how their ideas of Gods law [Sabbath keeping] were way off track, he then let the chips fall. The people in the room were obviously in shock, Jesus by passed Pastoral etiquette and rebuked this man to his face [Like Paul did with Peter] I know one thing, this was a lesson that he [they] would never forget.

(1176) In Luke 13 the people ask Jesus about a current event, there were these people who Pilate executed and mingled their blood with their sacrifices. Jesus says ‘do you think these sinners were the worst? No, but unless you repent you too will perish’ and then Jesus volunteers another news story ‘and what about the 18 people that died when the tower of Siloam fell, do you think they were worse than the common man? No, but you all need to repent’. Recently there was a story in the news about a nurse who worked for an abortion doctor, she testified to the fact that there were times when the babies were born alive, and you simply left them to die. She explained that on one occasion the doctor placed the tiny baby in a disposal basin and put it in a closet. She went back into the room and heard the poor mutilated baby crying its brains out. She finally took the baby out and held it until it passed away, the baby lived for 45 minutes. We as a society have a tendency to look back at the past injustices of man; we see the horror of slavery or the holocaust. We often think ‘how could people have been so blind to have allowed these atrocities to happen’ and yet we allow for things that are worse. Jesus rebuked the people of his day for thinking that other people must have been worse because of their fate, he said not so, you too allow for evil things. Picture a white doctor dismembering a baby, the arm is cut off. But by some accident the baby comes out alive and screaming. Let’s say the baby is Black, then let’s say he stuck it in a disposal box and left it to die while screaming in a closet. Can you honestly tell me that this act is not as horrendous as the poor Black slaves that were killed on the ships from Africa to America? Or the innocent Jews who were gassed under Hitler? One of the things that disturbs me about our current president is when he was in the Illinois senate he was one of the few [if only?] senators who voted against a bill that would have protected the live birth abortions. They tried to make it illegal to not administer treatment to a child that came out alive. I know the politicians lie and say ‘well, we voted against it because it would have opened the door to the pro life groups’. I don’t care what your reasoning is, if you cant protect the life of an innocent living baby, you have no right to be in office. We are talking about the babies who popped out alive for heavens sake! Jesus told us to beware of the tendency to look at the abuses of others while not seeing that we are just as bad. I can think of no greater application than this.

(1169) let’s finish up Luke 11. Jesus is invited to dinner again at a Pharisees house, you think the brothers would have learned not to do this by now! So as Jesus eats he doesn’t wash his hands first, the Pharisee ‘thinks within himself’ wow, this is the proof I was looking for, he’s not the one! Of course Jesus knows his heart and rebukes him for being more concerned with outward religion/cleansing than the heart. Jesus tells him ‘did not he that made the outer things [material world] also make the heart/soul of a man’? He was rebuking him for having a sense of ceremonial cleanness, a view of ‘being clean’ that was legalistic, but Jesus said God was more concerned about our inner actions and thoughts. Now, he does connect the ‘right heart’ with a particular act of worship. He says ‘give alms [do charity] with all that you have and this is what cleanness is about’. The same rebuke the prophet Isaiah gave to Israel of old, he said ‘this is not the type of fast God wants, to do outward acts of casting yourself down and rending your garments, but God wants you to loose the chains of those who are suffering, to set the oppressed free’ the same type of idea that is expressed when Jesus quotes Isaiah in the synagogue and says ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has anointed me for opening blind eyes, preaching the gospel to the poor’ the anointing of Jesus, God’s religious way of ordaining people, was to do justice and show mercy. Jesus rebuked this Pharisee because he lost the original intent of Gods law and digressed into this religious mindset that was looking to find fault, that was obsessed with outward standards of holiness [they washed their hands obsessively! It wasn’t just a one time deal before a meal, this ‘washing’ became a religious obsession with them, this is the mindset Jesus is rebuking]. Jesus corrected this mistaken view and showed him what was really important, to do charity, justice, mercy and good deeds, this is the new testament sacrifice of the believer [along with praise- Peter] and Jesus said when you do charity, this is what makes you ‘ceremonially clean’ in the eyes of God.

(1159) Just read the story where the prostitute pours expensive perfume on Jesus. A Pharisee named Simon invites Jesus to dinner, the woman comes and does this act of worship, she wipes his feet with her hair, she cries and worships him. The Pharisee thinks to himself ‘wow, if he were a prophet he would have known what type of woman this is’. The problem? He did know. Simon simply assumed that a true prophet would not receive a wicked woman. So Jesus does one of those things where he tells a simple story that even a child could understand, he says ‘Simon, there were these 2 guys that owed money to a lender, one owed much more than the other. The lender forgave them both, which one do you think would be more grateful’? Simon, not realizing that he’s on the hook, says ‘O, I don’t know, I guess the one who owed more’. Caught ya! Jesus says that’s why this woman is so extravagant towards Jesus, she was forgiven more than Simon. A few things, it is becoming popular today to teach that all religions mean well, they want to worship ‘the God of Abraham’ and we should be open and accepting of them. First, this woman worshipped Jesus. She was accepted because of her willingness to love and know him. Paul told the religious folk at Mars hill ‘I will reveal to you the unknown God that you have this altar set up for’ [Acts 17]. In all of our pluralism, we need to bring people to the Cross! Two, Simon simply misjudged Jesus. He figured if a prophet was really a prophet, he would act a certain way. Simon was simply wrong. If you look at this woman’s conversion, most evangelicals would say ‘she didn’t get saved’. I mean Jesus does put some liberal spin on it. The woman loved much, so she is forgiven much. What! Where are all the steps that end in a sinner’s prayer! You know according to that standard none of the apostles made it either [you find none of them asking Jesus into their hearts!] The point being we want people to come to Jesus, to know him and accept him as the messiah. Too often Christians can be a little technical in all the aspects of conversion while overlooking the main thing. The apostle John will write ‘those that do good are of God, and those that do evil are not’ Wow. Of course John also taught that those who deny that Jesus has come in the flesh are antichrist. So the basic belief in Jesus as Gods Son, the deity of Christ, is a foundation of the faith. But John’s test is not what type of conversion prayer you prayed, but a changed life. Simon invited Jesus to dinner, he was a Pharisee who was willing to give Jesus a chance. But he was too quick to come to a judgment about him. Over the years I have had friends who might get challenged in some area of reformation, something that God is doing to change things. Often they will say ‘O, I know about that belief. I have had friends try and tell me that before’ but they respond in a way that says ‘Yes, I have heard it and judged it and rejected it’. Too quick to think that God can’t be in it. Yes, John also told us to test the spirits, because every thing out there is not from God. But make sure you are not rejecting a prophet because you think he’s hanging out with the wrong crowd!

(1133) Nehemiah 10- Because of the reading of the law, the people reform. They were ignorant of many of Gods commands, after they had their minds renewed to the Word, they made adjustments. The scripture says they separated themselves and walked according to God’s wisdom. Let’s talk a little. What does it mean to be ‘separated’ from the world? I have mentioned in the past that right after becoming a believer I attended a Fundamental Baptist Church for a few years. The church and the Pastor/people were and are great people. After leaving the church [and while attending as well] I came to see that certain groups practice a form of ‘separation’ that can be legalistic. This view sees current dress standards, watching movies [or TV] and other cultural trends as being worldly. Now, there is no doubt that movies and the media bombard the Christian with images and ideas that are contrary to Gods Word! But my view is these things [forms of media themselves, or changing dress codes] are not the heart of the matter. But there is a ‘worldly’ mentality that people can embrace. The current debate on abortion has the pro abortion groups lobbying for changes to the law on who has to provide abortions. President Obama is changing the standards that have been in place for years. There is currently a loophole for Christian doctors to abstain from this procedure because of conscience sake. Obama is trying to change that. They want to make it where if there are no other providers around, that the Christian doctor must ‘kill your kid’. Think of this for a moment; some people are so influenced by the culture of death that they would see it as a great victory to make a Christian doctor dismember their baby! The world’s mindset can be deadly. Now as the people in Nehemiah’s day repent, they restore the practice of the Sabbath year forgiving of debts. Israel had both a 7 year ‘bankruptcy’ type thing, where after 7 years the books are cleared. They also had a 50 year Jubilee, at the end of 50 years the title deeds to properties went back to the original owner. Once again, lets examine our mindsets; what would you say if Obama tried something like this? Would you rant and rave about socialism? Would Rush and Hannity fall over dead? Yet Gods ways are not ours, he is neither a Republican, Democrat, Socialist or any thing else. His kingdom is a Divine monarchy for heavens sake! He is the King and what he says goes, that’s it. By the way, this principle of letting things go back in the 50th year engrained in the community that they really didn’t own stuff. They were just stewards of Gods stuff. The biblical picture of land and homes and farms was that people simply were taking care of these things, God was the true land owner. That’s why Jesus and his men ‘picked the corn [grain]’ and ate it. God had already instilled this command in the law. Though the farms and fields were ‘owned’ by the land owner, yet ultimately everything belonged to God. How do we live our lives? Have we become affected by the culture to such a degree that the U.S. constitution takes precedence over Gods Word? Do you get upset [or enraged!] when some politician questions your right to own a gun? Jesus said someday the guns will be beaten into farming tools! I don’t want to debate the whole gun thing, I just wanted to give you a little test to see whose standard you are being effected by, we all need to re-tool our thinking to a biblical worldview, it is often mistaken with human world views.

(1120) Was reading the parables of the ten virgins and 5 talents [money]. The key to all the parables is reading them in the historical context in which Jesus gave them; The Jews are a nation that were entrusted with great riches [oil, talents] and they will be held responsible for how well they ‘spread the wealth’ so to speak [ spiritual truth, not money!] I also saw some practical stuff as well, all ten virgins had lamps [the capability to communicate, shine] but only the wise ones made preparation for the long haul, they ‘stored up’ oil in their vessels, the others were just winging it. We too often approach ministry with the mindset of ‘Lord, give me a pulpit and auditorium [church building] to speak, and I’ll be faithful’ the problem with this mindset is it is very limited in its capacity to ‘store oil’. Usually the well meaning weekly speaker [Pastor] shows up on Sunday with his lamp and does his best to tell you what he felt like God was saying in the past week; well meaning, but very limited. The wise virgins told them ‘go buy some oil from those who have it for sale’. Over the years I have ‘bought oil’ tons of books and teaching aids that allowed me to store up some stuff. Thru writing and radio I have had the privilege to share a storehouse of stuff that has been accumulated over many years, I am not simply trying to come up with ‘a message’. The Lord also gave 5 pieces of money to one guy, 2 to another and 1 to the last. As he reckons with them some turned out a profit, the last one buried the money in the ground. Those who put their gifts to work and gained more were rewarded, those who didn’t suffered punishment. Wisdom allows you to put the gifts and abilities God has given you to work. Establish systems that are not dependant on you actually having to be there all the time! I know we think ‘the weekly pulpit’ is Gods ordained way, after all we read how God uses the ‘preaching of the Cross to save the lost’ or ‘how can they hear without a preacher’ [Corinthians, Romans] yet we forget that we are READING these things! Paul had enough discipline to pen this stuff down and circulate the letters to the early communities of believers. Paul understood that it was necessary to write in order to have long lasting influence. We live in a day where it is much easier to write and communicate to the whole world [like this blog!] yet we don’t usually use the tool effectively. Many church web sites are simply ways to advertise their meetings. If I had the cure for cancer, I mean I knew exactly what you needed to do to get cured; and then I started a website that could reach the world with the cure, and if you went to my site and read ‘please show up Sunday at such and such location and I will personally tell you what the cure is’ you would think I was nuts! For heavens sake, if you have something worth saying, then say it! God has given us ‘lamps and talents’ to complete the mission, only the wise ones utilized what God gave them to the full potential, are you a wise one?

(1118) In Matthew 24 Jesus speaks about the end times, some day I will try and fit everything into what I believe is the proper perspective. I basically hold to the classical view of end time events. I realize there are varying ‘classical’ views, but I mean I reject the late development of dispensationalism. One thing I will note is in this chapter Jesus warns the Jews that a time is coming when the temple and city will be utterly wiped out, most teachers rightfully see this as the destruction of the temple in a.d. 70 under Titus, but Jesus says ‘when you see the abomination that makes desolate stand in the holy place’ and then the writer says ‘[let him who reads understand]’. My bible has this in red letters, meaning these are Jesus spoken words. They might be the words of the writer of this gospel. In the last few years Christian teachers have come to understand more fully the oral nature of first century Judaism. Many things were passed on by word of mouth, some feel the writer of Matthew [or Jesus?] might have been saying ‘when this is read someday, make sure “he that readeth” understands what in the heck they are saying’! Get it? This insert might be a warning to the future lecturer. They were warning of the possibility of people misunderstanding this part of the teaching. Most modern prophecy teachers read this ‘abomination of desolation’ as a future political figure who will enter into a restored Jewish temple and claim to be God. Others view this thru an historical lens and see the invasion of the Roman soldiers with the marks of pagan gods on their shields as the desecration of ‘the holy place’. In Jewish thought, the room of the temple that contained the box that held the 10 commandments was super holy; the fact that Roman pagan soldiers went in and defiled it could be what the abomination of desolation is speaking about. It is an historical fact that many Jews who believed that Jesus was a true prophet took his warning literally, when they saw their city compassed with the Roman armies they ‘fled to the hills’ and did escape destruction. This was somewhat of a testimony to the accuracy of Jesus prophecy at the time. The whole point today is we need to be aware of various ways to read these prophetic portions of scripture, the original writer of Matthew said ‘let him who is reading this stuff understand for heavens sake!’ I think we need to ‘understand’ a little bit more.

(1114) Jesus makes his entry into Jerusalem and the Pharisees are mad, the people and children are praising him. He overturns the prosperity preacher’s tables and whips them! He rebukes the Pharisees ‘the whores and tax collectors are entering the kingdom ahead of you!’ WOW, talk about rough speech! He tells them that the sinners listened to John the Baptist, they came to hear what he had to say and changed their lifestyles, but the religious leaders were too hung up on their own agendas. And after they saw the results of John’s ministry, they responded out of jealousy and still didn’t re-think their views. Who were the Pharisees, how did thy come to represent hypocrisy and religious vanity? A few hundred years before Christ you had the nation of Israel taken captive and living under foreign occupation [like Rome was doing during Jesus day] it was in this environment that the Synagogues were established, they were meeting places where the Jews could gather and practice their religion while in exile. This was when the Pharisees and Sadducees were introduced. They regulated the religious worship of Israel while in exile. The Sadducees were less of a religious order than the Pharisees. The Sadducees were more of a political class that traced their natural bloodline to the priest Zadok [sort of like a Holy Grail thing, the DaVinci code type stuff]. Eventually the Pharisees turned into a class of professional ‘pains’. They knew all the rules and traditions surrounding their religious office and often laid these rules as burdens upon the people, rules that went against Gods commands. It is real important not to underestimate the common themes found in synagogue worship and the ‘church service’. I have written much on what the New Testament church is and how she should function; I have also traced the modern day practice of church to Constantine and the 4th century. But I have also taught that it is very possible that much of modern-day ‘church practice’ might also have come from the practice of Jewish synagogue worship. They bear a striking resemblance to say the least! It is a common mistake to think that Jewish-Christian worship ceased as a distinct practice after the destruction of the temple in a.d. 70 under Titus, but the synagogue made it all the way into the 2nd century, I believe it was the Roman emperor Hadrian who finally put an end to it. Some historians will tell you that there remained a Jewish church all the way up to the 5th century! If so, then it would be a major historical mistake to discount the possible role that the synagogue played in the ideas of Christian worship. Well anyway, these are the same religious leaders that Jesus rebuked in his day, they had their own ideas of what true worship meant, and they would not receive correction! Jesus said the whores and tax collectors had more spiritual discernment than them, sad thing.

(1113) just read the parable of the vineyard owner who goes out and hires workers at different times of the day. The ones he hires early in the day agree to a ‘penny’ a day. Thru out the day he brings more workers in and agrees to pay them the same. When time comes to pay them, he calls the workers who only worked a few hours and pays them the Penney. Now the guys who worked all day are thinking ‘Geez, he probably will pay us more than the original agreement, surely he wouldn’t pay these guys the same as us, we worked all day for heavens sake!’ But when it was their turn he paid them the same. Now, these guys got mad, why? Simply out of their own view of ‘fairness’ they were mad that the land owner made these other ‘less worthy’ workers equal to them. The guys who worked all day were not cheated, they got what the boss told them they would get, they were simply mad that the boss treated the less worthy guys the same. This story speaks to the mindset of the first century Jew with regards to their offence at Jesus acceptance of the Gentile nations. What offended the Jew was they felt like Jesus should not have been so willing and accepting of those who came in ‘at the last hour’ so to speak. The Jews went thru hell for many years, suffered as Gods people, stuck up for Gods name and honor. They were waiting for the day that God was going to teach these pagan nations a thing or two! Instead God treats them as equal partners! This offence would cause them to reject their Messiah, Paul speaks about this in Romans. God will work thru the jealousy that the Jews are feeling over his receiving of the Gentiles and this will eventually bring the Jews in, God ways are higher than ours. When I first read the story earlier I felt like it spoke to my situation as well. After I moved to Corpus from Kingsville, I had some of our old buddies feel bad ‘hey, John is now spending all his time with these homeless bums!’ They wouldn’t say it like that, but they did say things like ‘don’t forget about us!’ One of my buddies from Kingsville was the son of one of the heroin addicts that was part of the first-generation of guys I worked with [not the same family I mentioned the other day, we had a few families of addicts/convicts that made up the core ‘membership’ of our church] But it was funny, I would go and pick up the son [he was only a couple of years younger than me, I was in about the same age group as the sons, though the fathers were my friends] and the aunt would tell me ‘Emits in the back room brother John, go get him for church’ the whole family would come to our meetings. I would knock on the door and tell Emit ‘brother Emit lets go. I hope you guys are not in their smoking pot!’ [I was just kidding, or prophesying?] Years later Emit would tell me he was in their with his buddies getting high, and they would be in shock ‘who the hell is banging on the door!’ and ditch the pot! I would loved to have seen their faces! Emits dad would raid my fridge when he came to our garage meetings. We rented a building at first [an old hospital- just a conference room area] but eventually moved the meetings to my garage, I fixed it up nice, it looked good. As soon as Emit senior would arrive, he’d go into the house and raid the fridge! I eventually would hide the good stuff before church. These are the brothers that have expressed to me the feelings of ‘hey, we were with you from the beginning, these Corpus guys came in at the end, why are you making them equal to us’? Because they never raided my fridge! KIDDING! People go thru various stages in life, in the past I have struggled with letting go of some of the old ministry patterns, still wanting to travel to the old towns and help. I had to recognize that certain things were meant for only a season, they will hopefully bear fruit for a long time, but my active involvement was only for a season. They said to the vineyard owner ‘you are making these others equal with us’ and it offended them, but Jesus wasn’t dismissing his first group [Jews] he was simply helping others get in on it while there was still time left.

(1111) was reading where the disciples ask Jesus ‘who is the greatest among us’? And Jesus takes a little child and says ‘unless you become like this, you wont even see the things that I am doing’ [Gods kingdom]. Yesterday I was reading up on the Orthodox church, how in the 9th century the two great missionaries Cyril and Methodius evangelized the Slavic peoples of Moravia, the Latin rite churches were already there [Catholic/western] but these brothers knew Greek and had the ability to hold the Mass in the common language, the Catholic brothers were doing it in Latin. Eventually this drew more Slavs to the Greek Church than the Latin one. Well this caused some friction with the Bishop of the area and they sent them packing to the Pope, at this time the eastern rite churches [Orthodox] were still submitting to Papal authority to a degree. After making their case the Pope sent them back to continue their work [well one of them passed away while at Rome, but the other made it back]. True servants of God who gave their lives for the gospel, as opposed to living the comfortable life. In the 10th century, the story goes, the Russian prince Vladimir sent his men out to examine the various religions. They said the Muslims were okay, but they lacked joy. The Catholics seemed dedicated, but you can’t understand the Mass! It’s Latin. But when they visited the great Orthodox Church at Constantinople, they said you couldn’t tell if you were in heaven or on earth! The Divine Liturgy floored them. How true these stories are [this one comes from a 12th century telling] we don’t really know, but we do know that in their own way these churches have impacted entire regions of the earth with the gospel, long before we Evangelicals even existed! What am I saying here? In today’s world we measure ourselves ‘amongst ourselves’ to see who is the greatest in the kingdom, half the times we are not even aware of the history of the kingdom! There have been, and will continue to be many people whom the Lord will use to bring his truth to various people groups, these ‘little children’ will spend no time trying to gain a name for themselves, or to make it into the history books. Little children have no time for that sort of stuff, all they want to do is go outside and play with their friends. They don’t really get all uptight about their little Jewish buddies, the Protestant kid down the block. The little black kid who might be Baptist, they simply see them all as friends. Do you want to be great in Gods kingdom? Then start playing like a kid.

(1088) still jumping around in the prophets, was surprised to see how many verses I quote during prayer that come from Micah. Just read the famous prophecy about Jesus ‘out of thee Bethlehem, the least of all places, shall come forth one that will rule, have great authority’. The strange thing about the calling and destiny of Jesus was he grew up and spent his whole ministry in a sort of backwoods region of the ancient world. His spoken language [Aramaic] was considered underclass. You see two very distinct types of living in our New Testament; Rome was a strong civic center, an upper-class place where knowledge and politics ruled the day. These outlying areas that Rome conquered and placed leaders over them, these areas were low class places. You see this play out in the gospels, a sort of fishing/agrarian lifestyle, as opposed to Rome and her obvious ruling aura. Paul going thru all these legal loopholes as he defends himself. Appearing before these puppet kings and rulers, going up against the quasi religious authorities that Rome allowed some freedom for the sake of stability in their realm. That’s why you see the religious authorities appealing to Pontius Pilate, he, as Rome’s representative, had the power to execute Jesus, the religious authorities did not. So anyway Jesus starts his ministry in these territories that are basically low class. He gathers around him a hapless bunch of followers, and starts his little ‘movement’. That’s fine, let him humor himself; after all he isn’t the first to claim some type of Messianic title and to think he will challenge society. He does seem to have somewhat of an aura that compels people to listen to him, this irks the religious class ‘why are you listening to him!’ They figure if they ignore him he will go away. His family actually thinks he is becoming unhinged, the type that would need one of those interventions ‘Now Jesus, we love you, we know your into this religious thing and all, that’s fine. But we are now getting a little worried, you seem to think you are on this special mission from God, that you must complete it at all costs’ They feared he was losing his mind! But hey, there is only so much you can offer a person, if they don’t get the help, it is their choice. So Jesus continues riling up the authorities, his silly movement consists of him spending all his time with these low life’s of society. I mean, can’t he see their pulling him down! He has these whole nights where he prays to God, and then these underclass are pulling at him, always needing help! Geez, they are in their circumstances because of their own sins, just let them reap what they sowed. Well don’t worry about it, he will soon fade. He is causing somewhat of a stir with the Roman authorities, they really are not up on all the religious questions that seem to be causing the problems between him and the Jewish religious figures, but the territories are experiencing disharmony, Rome does not like this! So settle it quickly before things get out of hand, these Jews might seem harmless, but they have a history of rebelling against other nations who bring them under tribute, so we need to quell the uprising. So Jesus continues on this somewhat destructive course, I mean even Peter tells him ‘there is no way we are going to let you go to Jerusalem and be killed! Now this thing is getting out of hand, listen to some sense man’ Jesus responds ‘get behind me satan, you are more concerned with the things of men than of God’. Jesus really believed he was on this divine mission, nothing we say to the guy can dissuade him! But really, how much ultimate effect can he have, he is from this low class area, what an ignorant bunch of hopeless slobs! Well the day has come, enough is enough, for some reason the Jewish leaders won’t leave it alone, now they managed to frame him with some trumped up charges and get him before the Roman court. Pilate has a lot on his plate, the leaders at Rome want him to settle this thing, quickly! So he does a brief reading of the charges and sees that this Jesus is accused of claiming to be Gods Son, this sent one from eternity past into this time and place of human history. How could this be, what type of god would predetermine his own Son to arrive in these low class areas, this cant be. Pilate asks the man himself ‘do you really think you are Gods Son? Brother, you better start speaking up for yourself, you don’t realize we are not playing games here, you managed to stir your people up to the point where they are pressuring me to execute you’. Jesus is somewhat different than all the other criminals, he seems to be in control, saying his only crime was speaking the truth. He claimed to be Gods Son, the promised messiah spoken about in the Old Testament prophets. How does he know this, how can he be so sure that this destiny he seems to be fulfilling is really from God? Maybe he’s just misreading the whole thing, sure Micah says Gods predestined one who will come from this area, but how does he know it’s him? Pilate has a tuff decision to make, as he mulls it over his wife tells him ‘don’t have anything to do with this man, I dreamed a dream, this man is just!’ Wow, my wife never told me anything like this before! I know, I will give the Jews what they want, convict him of the crime and pass the death sentence on him, but this is this tradition they have, during this special religious season [Passover] they have a custom of pardoning one who is going to face death. Surely they will pardon Jesus, the only other guy scheduled for execution is Barrabas, everybody knows he deserves it! The day arrives, Pilate goes thru with the plan and the people holler ‘crucify Jesus, let Barrabas go!’ What! He has really done nothing wrong, I wouldn’t have even passed the sentence if I knew you would actually go thru with the whole thing. He is mad, the Jews tricked him ‘I know, I’ll put this accusation over the cross- THE KING OF THE JEWS, this will stick in their craw!’ he does it, they are infuriated ‘don’t say he is our king! Say he claimed to be our king’ Pilate says ‘what I have written, I have written’. Well this isn’t the end of our story, but I have gone on too long for now. Who would have ever thought this simple carpenter from such an insignificant town could have stirred up so many emotions, man he is carrying this destiny of his thru the lives of many people, he took it all the way to the leaders of the empire for heavens sake! Oh well, we tried to help the poor guy, we tried to talk him into dropping this whole purpose and destiny thing. We tried to tell him ‘good, we are happy you are healing and helping people, you managed to get this little following of unlearned men’ [not illiterate, but no higher learning in the whole group, not even Jesus!] but he took the thing too far, he wouldn’t back down. He got way too many people mad, the ruckus made it back to Rome and they did what they thought they needed to do to settle things down, just make it go away. Boy were they wrong.

(1070) 1st KING 19- Ahab tells his wife, Jezebel, about Elijah’s victory, she sends word to the prophet ‘so help me God if I don’t do the same to you as you did to my prophets’. Understand, Elijah did not simply ‘rebuke’ false doctrine here, he actually dismantled an entire ‘religious system’ that was contrary to the purposes of God. It is very difficult to uproot all that you have put in place for the sake of reformation. I find this to be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when seeking God for true change in the church. Christians too often associate their relationship with God along with the systems of religion that they were brought up with. Now Elijah flees for his life, God will appear to him at Horeb; he is not in the wind, earthquake or fire, but in the ‘still, small voice’. Elijah is told to anoint a king of Syria, also anoint Jehu as king of Israel and go get your protégée Elisha. Elijah is also told by God there are seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. We see the danger of prophetic ministry; God vindicated Elijah and truly did miraculous stuff with him. It was easy for Elijah to fall into the trap of ‘I am the only one who sees this stuff’. God reassured him he wasn’t alone. These last few years I have been surprised by the number of Christians who have corresponded with me thru our blog, it seems as if the present challenges to ‘church/clergy’ are becoming commonplace to the believers at large. It is no longer a secret. But it is also disheartening to see many of my friends who have served the Lord for years; they seem to be oblivious to the same truths that the church worldwide is seeing. So with Elijah you did have false prophets who were all wrong at the same time. Yes, just because there were so many who held on to the same view of religion [Baal worship] this did not mean they were right. But at the same time it was obvious to at least seven thousand others that the popular religious system was actually wrong! James says that Elijah was a man ‘subject to the same weaknesses as all men’ yet the Lord used him mightily. All Gods servants have feet of clay, many of the greatest reformers of church history also made big mistakes. Luther was a tremendous force for change, but his anti semitic writings would later be used as a justification for Jewish oppression. As we strive for truth and justice in the days ahead, let us all remember that some of Gods greatest voices are ‘compassed about with the same infirmities as us all’ God does use clean vessels, but even clean vessels sometimes have cracks.

(1059) 1ST KINGS 11- THE SIN OF SOLOMON- Now we get to the part where Solomon blows it. As I read these stories of the great men who failed, I continually fall into the trap of rooting for them, even though I know the end of the story! The trap being that failure in a sense was built into the story. How could God fulfill his purpose thru the coming Messiah if one of the sons of David actually lived up to the standard? Solomon, in a sense, was destined to fail. So what happened? This chapter says Solomon loved many women [1,000 to be exact!] and IN HIS OLD AGE began worshipping their gods. He set up altars for sacrifice and allowed the pagan gods to affect Gods people. I find this interesting, it wasn’t the actual act of having all those other women, but the sin of being too accommodating to the other ‘world religions’. I’m presently reading a book written by what you would call a liberal scholar, you know, the brothers who challenge the authenticity of just about everything. But I also have some good scholars that I read from. To be honest, at times you still might read something that makes you a little uneasy; they too at times have been affected by higher learning. But the difference between the ‘good and the bad’ ones is the fact that the good ones remain true to the historic gospel. N.T. Wright is a great scholar, he sits in the middle category, between the conservatives and the liberals [in my view]. The prolific Bishop of Durham [Church of England] has written excellent stuff on the resurrection and the kingdom of God. The liberal scholars view him as ‘behind the times’ why? Because he actually defends the historic resurrection of Christ! Yet you can read some higher criticism in Wrights stuff, not real bad stuff, just things that the average fundamentalist might be uncomfortable with. So getting back to Solomon, he became way too accommodating to the religions of his day. Sort of like calling Islam, Christianity and Judaism the ‘great Abrahamic faiths’. Now, I love Muslims/Arabs, I have written in their defense! I also think some Muslim apologetic arguments for the existence of God are good, but I would not describe Islam as one of the great Abrahamic faiths. Just like I would not call Mormonism one of the great ‘restorationist faiths’. A while back a bunch of believers had an ecumenical meeting with Muslims and Jews. Noble efforts to tone down world violence in an attempt to all get along, I think stuff like this is good. But some Christians defended Allah as being the same God as the Christians, just a different name. In my view they went too far. So Solomon became too pluralistic in his old age. Beware of the trend to abandon central elements of the faith as you mature in your thinking. There is a real temptation to want to look ‘enlightened’ to try and put distance between your intellectual faith and those ‘silly fundamentalists’, because if your not careful you might just end up with a bunch of pagan altars at your doorstep. [Ben Witherington and R.C. Sproul are other favorite scholars of mine; one is Arminian and the other Calvinistic, it’s good to read scholars from various points of view].

(1014) JAMES ‘with our tongues we bless God the father and we curse men, who are made after his image and likeness’ [my paraphrase] In keeping with the recent theme of James and Revelation [end time views] I want to talk a little about our view of human kind. We often read the words of Jesus in Johns gospel ‘ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you do’ [8:44] and we use this understanding to devalue humanity. The liberal movement spoke of ‘the brotherhood of men and the fatherhood of God’ sort of like we are all brothers, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and all other religions, we are all just on different paths to the same God. Is this true? No. Jesus is the only path to God. But does this lesson the value of our fellow man? James isn’t saying ‘only Christians are made in Gods image’ he is saying all humans have special value, they are made in Gods likeness. When we grasp on to belief systems that devalue human rights and dignity, then we are speaking and acting with a forked tongue! Jesus rebuked the religious leaders and told them they were going the way of satan by rejecting him as the true Messiah, the religious leaders were choosing to say no to Christ. Spiritually they were following satan as their father. But yet James says all human beings originated from God and therefore people have much more value than land [even the holy land!], animals, temples and all other images that can be found on the planet. When we ‘bless God’ and claim to be speaking for him from the evangelical pulpits and media outlets, then we must be careful to not ‘curse men’ or to give an idea that these ‘Muslims’ or any other ethnic/religious grouping of people are not valuable. A distinction should be made between the value and rights of all people, and the various religions and false ideas that people have embraced. The world should not be hearing a message from us that says ‘by golly, Jesus is gonna come back and wipe the ground with the blood of these Muslim nations who are attacking Israel. Their blood will drip from his clothes! Bless be to God!’ Don’t you see how these images are ‘blessing God’ and at the same time ‘cursing men’ who are made in his likeness? [I realize some of these images are found in scripture, but we need to correctly interpret them. All these symbols need to be seen thru spiritual eyes, understanding the true meaning of the verses and interpreting them thru the overriding view of the gospel].

(1009)A PALESTINIAN PASTOR- Let me share a little about our Christian brothers who live in Palestine. The purpose of sharing this is so we as American believers could have a different way of viewing the Middle East situation. Not for defending terrorism or embracing anti Semitism, but a whole ‘other worldly’ view. I recently read a story from a Lutheran Palestinian pastor. He is part of a small percentage of Christians living in the land. Around 3% of the population are believers. Some of these groups date back to the early centuries of the Christian church, others to the Reformation period. The point being a historic church actually exists amongst the Palestinian people. The Pastor was looking forward to his son’s graduation day, they were going to travel to the ‘Holy city’ for the special occasion and it was considered the big graduation day for the whole family. The Pastor made sure he had all the paperwork together for the trip. The big night of the graduation celebration they were stopped at a border checkpoint by an Israeli soldier and were denied entry. The Pastor humbled himself and showed the soldier that his paperwork was in order, that he was a Christian minister who meant no harm. He went out of his way this night to show the soldier that he and his family were really no threat at all. After much pleading the fine Pastor and his family turned around and had their celebration back at home. Now, I do not know what the situation was on the ground that night, maybe there was a threat in the area. The point is too many American believers view the whole situation in the middle east from some type of ancient old testament story in which the Israelis are possessing their promised land while driving out the ‘Canaanites’. This ‘lens’ is not in keeping with the Christian gospel. The Palestinian Christians were asked how they felt about having true fellowship with Christians from the outside. They said they were often viewed as ‘cultural Christians’ only. Sort of like in name only, they were not seen as truly being ‘born again’. They were excited at times when Christian groups did interact with them as fellow believers in the faith. But the majority of contact from the outside Christian world were the various ‘prophetic/evangelical’ type Christians who were visiting the holy land as tourists. For the most part these American believers were there to see ‘the holy sites’ to view the restored Jewish state. To see how work was going among the various orthodox groups who were re making the utensils that were to be used in a future rebuilt temple. But for the most part the American believers viewed these brothers in the faith as something less valuable than the actual land that they were visiting. These mindsets show us that we have a long way to go to regain a pure biblical view of the gospel and how it relates to society today. The gospel puts tremendous value on the people for whom Christ died [both Jews and non Jews]. When Jesus spoke of ‘the restoration of the temple’ he was speaking about his own Body, not Herod’s building. When American evangelicals place a greater emphasis on the natural land and the hope of a restored temple with renewed animal sacrifices, than on the actual living Body of Christ on earth [believers of every ethnic background] then we have shown a tremendous lack of discernment equal to those who mistook Jesus words as applying to the natural temple of his day.

(995)IS MODERN ISRAEL THE SAME AS ANCIENT ISRAEL? Why bring this up now? At the time of this entry [1-09] we have another one of those endless wars in the Middle East. Israel has been bombed over the past few years on a regular basis from Hamas. Hamas are the rogue ruling authority in the Gaza strip. Israel made a deal with the Palestinians to give them the strip of land, in return Palestine promised not to use the land against Israel. What happened? After the Palestinians took the land, they elected Hamas to be their ruling authority! Hamas are terrorists, make no mistake about it. So after a few years of regular bombings from the Gaza strip into Israel, Israel said ‘that’s enough’ and started a military campaign to up root Hamas. To be honest, they are using the exact same justification as the U.S. action against terrorism. Now, Israel as a modern state is quite a miracle. Or are they? After the destruction of their temple and the loss of their national identity in A.D. 70 they have been without a homeland for 2 thousand years. In the 20th century [1949] Israel once again became a state with a homeland for the first time in nearly 2 thousand years. Most evangelical Christians in the U.S. equate modern Israel with the promises made to Abraham by God in the Old Testament. God promised Abraham that he would give the land to him and his seed. In Deuteronomy 28 we see that the promise of Israel keeping the land was contingent on their obedience to his covenant. The history of Israel in the Old Testament shows them violating Gods laws at various times and God allowing them to be taken captive and losing their land. So the promise of inheritance was based in part on their obedience to God. Now, after W.W.1 the League of Nations made an agreement with modern Israel to give them a homeland. This promise was not carried out until after W.W.2. The United Nations agreed to give them the land and the British carved out a portion of the land and Israel became a nation once again. Let me make myself clear, as a nation Israel has a right to exist. After the initial taking of the land, the neighbors had various wars with Israel and in every case Israel won and took some more land. How Christians view the present status of the modern nation state is important. Most believers look at every modern conflict thru the promise of God made to Abraham thousands of years ago. The normal reaction by the fundamentalist/evangelical preacher is ‘God promised them the land, and by golly if Israel has to kill some poor Arabs to keep it, then that’s Gods will’! This is where we need to be careful. As an ally of the U.S. Israel is a small lone Democracy in a tough region of the world [there are other democracies, but they don’t border Israel]. Our country does have a responsibility to back up our allies. Israel does rule herself in a modern way with a rule of law and a humane judicial system that are rare for the region. So all in all they are a good ally who has a right to exist. But should believers equate this right with some biblical promise made to Abraham by God? Remember, God himself said that the promise of them dwelling in the land had to do with their obedience to him. Modern Israel is a religious nation. But they are also cultural. Many Jews presently living in the land do not practice Judaism, they simply see themselves as ethnic Jews. Those who do practice their faith practice a form of Judaism that can be called ‘Rabbinic Judaism’. This form of Judaism is what the Pharisees practiced during Jesus day. They elevate the traditions of the elders to a degree equal to [or greater than] the Old Testament law. If you remember Jesus rebuked this religious mindset when he told the Pharisees ‘by your tradition [the tradition of the elders] you make void the commandments of God’. So first of all, modern Israel is not in good standing with Jesus! [At least on covenantal grounds]. Second, did you ever wonder if the modern religious defense of Israel coincides with the actual Promised Land mentioned in scripture? If you go back and read the actual borders that God promised Abraham, you have a region extending to parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and a few other spots. In essence, many of the defenders of Israel’s right to the land, are not even talking about the actual borders mentioned in the bible! What does this mean? If God conditioned the obtaining of the land on the obedience of natural Israel to his law, is modern Rabbinic Judaism fulfilling it? If the promise of the land by God to Israel are what most evangelicals are fighting over, are they using scriptural borders to define ‘the land’ or are they using a 20th century land agreement made by human nations after the world wars? I believe Christians should stand for the right and freedom of all people [including modern Israel!] to exist and practice their religion freely. I believe modern Israel has as much right to the land they inhabit as any other nation who dwells on territory that used to belong to other people groups. That is if any nation engages with other nations in an aggression, if the nation who attacked you loses, you bet your gonna lose some land. That’s the way the ball bounces. The point of this entry is to simply call the American church to rethink the attachment she places on Gods promises to Abraham when making these arguments. A case could be made that modern Rabbinic Judaism is in fact still rejecting the law of God and does not fulfill the requirement, given by God himself, to ‘dwell in the land’. We as believers need to be careful when we simply jump headlong into these world affairs in a way that says to the world ‘God is on this nation’s side, and anyone who challenges their borders is in the wrong’. Understand, the ‘borders’ in these scenarios were carved out by human nations coming to certain land agreements. Be careful when you equate modern borders with Gods covenantal promise to Israel. We all need to pray for peace, we need to act justly in the world. We need to be against all racism, even anti Semitism! But we also need to stand true to the New Testament Ethos of all ethnic barriers being destroyed in Christ. We don’t want the world to think that King Jesus is going to return and physically war to protect a border made-up by the United Nations! This type of end times teaching can get us into real trouble.

(982)WILL JESUS RULE FROM A REAL ‘ALTAR’ SOME DAY? Watched an interesting show last night. The brother was sharing on the ‘Davidic kingdom’ and all the scriptures associated with it. I am familiar with the man, I used to get a Christian paper from him years ago. It’s obvious that he has a tremendous storehouse of ‘knowledge’ he can take you all over the bible and quote all types of stuff. He comes at you from the fundamentalist/dispensationalist viewpoint. He laid out the case that all the promises of God to David have to be literally fulfilled thru David. He even espoused that David himself might actually be the one reigning from the Millennial throne! [most see Jesus in this role- but to be fair, those who see Jesus do spiritualize the promises to David [Solomon] and apply them to Christ, which is what they despise doing!] Any way the brother espouses the idea that Jesus might actually be sitting on the Mercy Seat during his millennial reign. I have taught you guys what this seat is in the past. It was the actual lid to the box [Ark] that held the tablets of the Ten Commandments. It was a place [altar] where the blood of the yearly sacrifice [Day of Atonement] was placed. If you will it was the ultimate picture of sacrifice and altar that could be found in the Old Testament economy. This example will show you the danger of not being able to rightly understand and interpret scripture. Right now, as I write, there is another all out war going on between Israel and Palestine [Hammas]. Truly bad stuff. Of course I condemn all terrorism, make no mistake about it, Hammas are terrorists! I also see the right of a nation to defend itself against terrorism. But the overall viewpoint of the believer should be ‘we are not of this world, we represent Jesus, the prince of peace. He offers salvation to all mankind [Jew, Arab] and we do not advocate a view of Jesus that has him coming in a militaristic way, in a way that says ‘he will return and lead the Israeli military to victory and actually kill your women and kids’! [a view that does more harm to true evangelism than any other thing! How would you feel if I was trying to convert you to be a follower of some king who was going to come back and kill your natural family?]. Now, first of all we need to know the underlying intent of all the sacrifices and ‘altars’ in scripture. They all point to Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for man on The Cross. They are SYMBOLIC! That is Hebrews teaches that they have all been fulfilled thru Jesus and any future idea of a restoration of animal sacrifices or altars would be considered blasphemous! This is one of the reasons protestantism does not celebrate the catholic mass, they feel the catholic teaching is a ‘re-doing’ of the sacrifice [the catholic theologians deny this]. Either way any idea that there would be a restoration of the altar system is anathema! Now, for you to see Jesus actually sitting on the ‘mercy seat’ while literally ruling from a restored Temple with renewed animal sacrifices, this has to be one of the most heretical ideas you could ever espouse. The New Testament teaches that any return to a sacrificial system, after the Cross, is doing ‘despite unto the Spirit of grace, treading the Blood of the Covenant [Jesus blood] under foot’. The language used to warn against a return to the animal sacrifice system is very strong. The dispensationalists belief says ‘God will put a ‘hold’ on the church age and return to a ‘kingdom age’ in which he deals with Israel again as a natural nation’ they see Jesus violating his own teaching that ‘my kingdom is not from this world’. This view places Christ back into a law system, in which Jesus will oversee a restoration of a literal temple [another violation of the symbols in scripture] and from this literal system, he physically wars against, and kills Arabs and Muslims as he directs their military. Now, can you see how destructive this view can be? Can you see what a violation it is to the spiritual kingdom of Christ who is the final sacrifice for man? When revelation says ‘a Lamb is sitting on the throne’ don’t you see it as a symbol of Jesus in a position of authority? Hebrews says Jesus entered into the true Holy Place [heaven- Gods presence] and presented his Blood to the Father on our behalf. Any view of him returning and reinstituting a literal reign from an earthly ‘holy of holies’ while actually sitting on a physical altar is blasphemous! I believe in a literal second coming. The church historically has had differing views on the millennial rule. But wherever you come down on these issues, you must not present Jesus future reign in a way that violates the fundamental truths of reconciliation and salvation [i.e.; him sitting on an altar from a physical holy of holies!] the types and pictures in scripture that have been fulfilled are not to ‘make a comeback’. The New Covenant and Kingdom of God thru Christ are one of where all men are offered forgiveness and peace thru Christ. Whether or not there ever will be a restored temple and sacrificial system in Jerusalem is questionable. But no matter what your view on this is, be assured that Jesus is not going to come back and rule while being seated on some sacrificial altar! This would violate one of the most fundamental teachings of the New Testament. [Note- it is possible that natural Israel will rebuild and reinstitute a sacrificial system, but this would only be a sign of condemnation. A result of their denial of the one sacrifice of Christ. Any return of Jesus would not be to vindicate their restored system, but a judgment on them for rejecting the one and only sacrifice and returning to the law!]

(972)1ST CORINTHIANS 10:1-4 it’s actually Christmas morning, 2008, as I write. Paul says ‘all of our forefathers were under the cloud, they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and sea’. Note- 2 baptisms ‘Cloud’ [Spirit] ‘Sea’ [water]. Let’s do a little thinking here. How can Paul refer to the Jewish fathers as the Corinthians forefathers? Is he expecting a large Jewish group to read this letter? [Like Romans- both Jews and Gentiles were in mind]. Is he addressing them like the author of Hebrews, who is speaking directly to a nation in transition? While it’s possible for a few Jewish believers to have read/heard the reading of this letter. Yet I think Paul is simply being consistent with his letters to the Galatians and Romans, where he taught that all who would believe were the ‘children of Abraham by faith’ Abraham is ‘the father of many nations’. Now, I like the way Paul ‘spiritualizes’ here. Moses was the prophet who typified Jesus. The people were baptized [joined] to him both thru the good times and the bad. There was quite a rough history between Moses and the rebels! Times where they wanted to change leadership. Times where God even said ‘I have had it with this bunch, let’s just wipe them out and start over’. They had history. Also Paul says ‘they all ate of the same spiritual meat and drank from the same spiritual rock. Christ’. Again, Paul seems to teach the symbolic, as opposed to literal, view of ‘eating/drinking Christ’. Israel did have some physical ordinances in the wilderness. The Passover and the bread from heaven [Manna] already happened. But Jesus himself [John 6] would say ‘Moses didn’t give you the real bread, I am the real bread!’. So Paul’s use of the ‘Rock’ is purely symbolic. The story relates to the time where God gave the children of Israel water from an actual rock in the wilderness. Moses spoke to/struck the rock and water came out. Paul sees this as a symbolic picture. He is saying ‘this foreshadowed Christ, the true rock who would be the ‘Rock of ages’ who would be struck on the Cross and water would flow from his side’. Once again, this leaves us some context to interpret the Lords supper in a symbolic way. Was Paul teaching the Corinthians to go out in the fields and actually drink real water from a rock? No. He was simply saying these physical symbols would be fulfilled at a future time, and that time was now! All who believe in Christ are partaking [spiritually] of the water of life, the Holy Spirit. Tomorrow we will get into the examples that were left to us from these stories. I just want to mention that the Apostle Paul freely uses the Old Testament [his only bible at the time!] and applies these stories to both Gentile believers and 1st century Israel. The writer of Hebrews [who I think was Paul] says ‘just like the forefathers missed out on the promise by unbelief- entering the promised land- so too there is a danger that you, 1st century Israel, might miss out on eternal life by not receiving the Messiah by faith’. In this context, Israel of the Old Testament represents Israel in the first century. But when addressing a gentile church [Corinth] it is also okay for Paul to say ‘just like Israel faced physical death by being disobedient, so you too have had premature physical deaths in your community by rebelling against God’. In this comparison Israel [Old Testament] is simply being used as an example of God judging his covenant people for their disobedience. I feel these distinctions are important, they help us to keep the New Testament in context.

(962)1ST CORINTHIANS 7:16-24 ‘Were you circumcised when you were called into the Christian life? Then don’t become uncircumcised’ [that would be quite a feat!] ‘Were you uncircumcised when called? Don’t get circumcised’. What’s Paul saying? Basically he is keeping the decrees that were made at the Jerusalem council [Acts 15]. He is stressing the importance of Christ’s spiritual kingdom. To the Jew, he is not saying ‘keep trying to become justified by the law and sacrifices’ but he is saying ‘I am not trying to wipe out your culture and heritage, I am trying to bring you into the fullness of what the Prophets have foretold’. This is Paul’s ongoing defense in the book of Acts ‘I stand condemned because I believe that what the prophets said would happen, did!’. Paul says the thing that matters is ‘the doing of Gods commandments’. When we studied Romans I showed how Paul did say ‘the hearers of the law are not justified, but the doers shall be’. Here again Paul stresses the importance of the Christian life being one of true conversion. Those who believe are changed and become doers of Gods law by nature. The mechanism of conversion is Faith, the outworking of that conversion is obedience. So even though Paul is not putting the law on the gentile converts, yet he does teach that they will by nature keep the law [Romans again]. Now he says ‘were you a slave when called? Seek not to become free. Were you free? Don’t become a slave’ and ‘be not the servants/slaves of men’. We actually have hit on this a few times in recent months. Once again Paul says ‘don’t see this new faith as an opportunity to mount a civil disobedience campaign’ but at the same time he makes it clear ‘don’t put yourself under servitude either!’ The New Testament does not justify the institution of slavery or racism! The basic ethos of this new kingdom is freedom from bondage, it was only a matter of time before this new movement would shake the foundations of society and uproot this evil. Make no mistake about it, the anti-slavery movement was instigated by the people of God [William Wilberforce, Charles Finney and many others].

(944)1ST CORINTHIANS 1:18-31 Paul declares the actual preaching of the Cross to be the power of God. The Jews sought for a sign [remember the sign of Jonas?] and the Greeks prided themselves in wisdom. Paul declares that Jesus IS the wisdom and power of God. In Christ is contained all the wisdom and power [signs] in the universe! Paul says God destroyed the wisdom of unregenerate man and that Gods foolishness is wiser than men’s greatest achievements apart from God. Wow, what an indictment on enlightenment philosophy. Man goes thru stages of learning and knowledge [renaissance, enlightenment. Industrial, scientific revolution] these are not bad achievements in and of themselves. Many of the greatest scientists and scientific discoveries were made by men of faith [Newton, Pascal, Faraday, etc] the problem arises when men think that sheer humanistic reasoning, apart from God, is the answer. Right now there is a movement [11-08] going on where some atheists bought ad space on the sides of buses that say ‘why believe in a god? Do good for goodness sake’. So they had both sides [Christian /Atheist] debate it. The simple fact is, sheer humanism cannot even define ‘what good is’. ‘Good’ becomes a matter of what serves me best at the time of my decision. Without God and special revelation [scripture-10 commandments] good can be defined by Hitler’s regime as exterminating one class of society for the benefit of the whole. Only Christian [or Deist, Jewish, Muslim] beliefs place special value and dignity on human life. It is a common misconception to think that all the enlightenment philosophers were atheists; this was not the case at all. Locke, Hume and others simply believed that thru human logic and reason people could arrive at a sort of naturalistic belief in God. This would form the basis of Deism, the system of belief in God but a rejection of classic Christian theology. Benjamin Franklin and other founding fathers of our country were influenced by this style of belief. Now, getting back to the Greeks. Paul says ‘God destroyed the wisdom of this world’. What wisdom is Paul talking about? The enlightenment philosophers of the 18th century had nothing on the Greek philosophers going all the way back to a few centuries B.C. Plato, the Greek wrestler turned philosopher, had one of the most famous schools of Greek philosophy. At the entrance of the school the words were written ‘let non but geometers enter here’. Kind of strange. Geometry simply meant ‘form’ in this use. Most of the great theoretical physicists were also great mathematicians [Einstein]. The Greek philosophers were seeking a sort of ‘unified theory’ that would explain all other theories and bring all learning together under one intellectual ‘roof’. Sort of like Einstein’s last great obsession. The Greeks actually referred to this great unknown future ‘unifier’ as ‘the Logos’. Now, some atheists will use this truth to undercut the New Testament. They will take the common use of these words ‘The Logos’ and say that Johns writings [Gospel, letters] were simply stolen ideas from Greek philosophy. This is why believers need to have a better understanding of the inspiration of scripture. John’s writings were no doubt inspired, he of course calls Jesus the ‘Logos’ [word] of God. But he was simply saying to the Greek/Gnostic mind ‘look, you guys have been waiting for centuries for the one special ‘Word/Logos’ that would be the answer to all learning, I declare unto you that Jesus is this Logos’! So eventually you would have ‘the wisdom of the world’ [both Greek and enlightenment and all other types] falling short of the ultimate answer. They could only go so far in their journey for truth, and ultimately they either wind up at the foot of the Cross [the wisdom of God] or the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. God said this ‘tree’ [sources of wisdom and knowledge apart from God] would ultimately lead to death if not submitted to ‘the tree of life’ [the Cross]. You would have some of the enlightenment philosophers eat from this tree all the way to the ‘death of God’ movement. Man in his wisdom would come to the conclusion that ‘God is dead’. If this is true, then the slaughter of millions of Jews is no moral dilemma. If God is dead then man is not created in his image, he is just this piece of flesh that you can dispose of at will. To all you intellectual types, it’s Okay to have a mind, but you must love God with it. If all your doing is feeding from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will surely die.

(941)2ND SAMUEL 24- David numbers the people. Joab and his men tell David not to do it. Why? Well to be honest we really don’t know for sure, but let me give you my spin on it. The nation of Israel were very religious and sticklers for specific things. You see this development years later with the religious Pharisees, a tendency to focus in on specific instructions and these ideas becoming obsessive in their minds. All Israel knew the original promise that God made to Abraham. God told him that his ‘seed would be like the stars for multitude and the sand by the shore’ [Genesis 15] included in this famous promise were the words ‘go, see if you can count them’? It was understood that God was saying to Abraham ‘go, if you want to test me, try and count them’ [the stars]. It’s possible that the counting of the people was considered a taboo for this reason. Now David does count them and his ‘seer/prophet’ Gad tells him ‘you messed up, you have 3 choices of judgment that will come on you’. David picks the 3 day judgment under Gods hand and 70,000 Israelites die. The census David took showed that Israel had 800 thousand people, Judah 500 thousand [1.3 million total] without counting the women and children! So you can multiply this number by at least 3 to figure the actual size of the nation. God stops the judgment short and David builds an altar at the place where he saw the destroying angel. David also pleads with the Lord ‘why kill the people, let the judgment be on me and my family instead’. David shows the heart of Moses here. Also David had a ‘seer/prophet’ that was part of his ‘ministry team’. In the prophetic churches it is common to have real prophetic people [not flakes!] who are stable in the word, and also give good advice to the leadership. There are real life prophets/seers who function in the church and can play a key role in the future of the church. We end Samuel with David overseeing a large kingdom. The people were the prophetic fulfillment of Gods purpose in the earth at that time. The letter of Peter says we are Gods holy nation today. The Father promised the Son that he would give him ‘the heathen for his inheritance and the ends of the earth for his possession’. Just like David, the anointed king/priest of Israel, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and sees the great multitude of people on the earth [and in heaven] that are the fulfillment of the promise of God to him. We are living proof of the faithfulness of God to his Son.

(936)2ND SAMUEL 19- David sends word to the elders of Judah ‘why are you guys so late in receiving me back to Jerusalem as your king? I am your own kin for heavens sake!’ After the death of the rogue king Absalom, Israel came to her senses and began saying ‘you know, when David was our king things weren’t all that bad, now that Absalom is dead, what are we waiting for, lets call David back’. So David sends word back that he is reuniting with the people again. He also makes some strategic moves; he tells Amasa ‘when I get back, you get Joab’s job’ Ouch! David finally dealt with the talented, yet self willed commander of his men. On the way back one of the first guys that greets him is the same brother that cursed him and threw stones at him earlier. David lived to see the day of Gods vindication. The brother repents and David forgives him. Also the son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, greets David with great joy. The first thing David says is ‘why didn’t you leave with me at the beginning?’ The earlier slander of Ziba stuck in David’s mind. Mephibosheth swares that Ziba tricked him. David forgives him and says ‘enough! You split the inheritance with Ziba’. Mephibosheth replies ‘Let him keep it, I don’t need the material wealth. I am just glad to be with you again’. The church does not see the reality of this test contained in scripture. There are times where ‘David’ does offer opportunities of self advancement that are simply a test to see what our motives are. In this case David rightfully gave material stuff to Mephibosheth, it was the maturity and character of Mephibosheth to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’. The scripture contains many examples of Christ followers forsaking things for his cause. Just because the bible ‘offers opportunities for wealth’ does not mean Gods best is for you to ‘go for the wealth’. Now that David’s back in Jerusalem, the divided tribes [Israel-10 tribes, and Judah] have a squabble. Israel says ‘Judah, who do you think you are in being the first ones to escort the king back, he is our king too’! And Judah replies ‘yeah, but he is our blood kin, David is from our tribe. We hold a ‘special’ relationship with him because of natural heritage’. It’s funny, these guys were on Absalom’s side a few days ago, now they are fighting over him! I kinda see Jesus and natural Israel in this story. The nation of Israel became offended over the fact that they were ‘blood heirs’ of the Jewish Messiah. They held to this ethnic pride that would be destroyed thru the Cross. It offended the natural mind to see this ethnic figure [in the historic mind of Judaism] to be accepted by ‘all the tribes’. They wanted him solely for their own purposes. So here we see Judah and Israel fighting over David, he will unite them both under his rule [Ephesians ‘the 2 are made one, Jew and Gentile, and God hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us] and Jerusalem will once again be called ‘the city of the great king’ [we are the ‘city that comes down from God out of heaven’ the bride, the Lambs wife!]

[I liked the tone of this statement. I realize that many believers are leery of the W.C.C., but I have read things over the years put out by them, and I do not see them as part of ‘a one world church set up by the anti-christ’]

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Theologians and church leaders convened Wednesday in the Swiss capital of Bern for the first day of an international conference to “re-frame the religious dimensions” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The 65 Christians attending the four-day theological conference will focus on the issue of “Promised Land” and what position Christians should take in the bitter dispute between Israelis and Palestinians over the land both claim is theirs.
Those caught in the conflict see their positions as having “a divine mandate and polarized as wholly good versus wholly evil,” pointed out the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, during the opening ceremony.
However, Christians “must challenge and dismantle ideological attempts to attribute specific political projects and systems to God’s will,” he said.
Kobia emphasized that churches “are seriously divided on this issue” as Christians have different interpretations of the Bible. But “those differences must not be an obstacle for common action for a just peace,” he contended.
Traditionally, Christians, especially evangelicals, are seen as staunch supporters of Israel, which they view as their biblical ancestral homeland that must be protected. But recently, an increasing number of Christians, including prominent evangelical leaders, are calling for just peace and supporting a Palestinian state carved out of Israel land.
Currently, the White House is brokering a deal between Israeli and Palestinian officials to form a Palestinian state.
With the apparent need for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation in the peace process, this week’s conference seeks to first work out the Christian perspective on the issue, Kobia said.
“The churches have a key role in the resolution of this long and bloody tragedy of suffering and struggle,” said Kobia, who compared the conflict to “another apartheid situation.” They are called “to heal and to bring all sides to reconciliation rooted in the ethical and theological imperative for a just peace.”
Among the goals of the conference is to start the process of developing a handbook for congregations to guide them in their understanding of issues like the Promised Land, the Church and Israel, and justice and peace.
I read this article on the Christian Post, I did not quote it in it’s entirety to avoid copyright conflicts.
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(873)ROMANS 15: 15-20 Paul appeals to his apostolic authority as ‘the apostle to the Gentiles’ in defense of his strong letter. He also says ‘I dare not use any thing that Christ has not wrought by me to make the Gentiles obedient’. Was Paul saying he would not speak about his past testimony and struggles with sin? I don’t think so. He already spoke of these struggles in this letter [chapter 7]. If you keep reading he says ‘thru mighty signs and wonders, by the power of Gods Spirit’. If you read Galatians, Paul says ‘how did you receive the Spirit, by the works of the law or the hearing of faith’ [P.S. for those still stuck on chapter 10 of Romans, see here how Paul saw the passive hearing as the only outward sign of receiving the Spirit- not calling!] here Paul appeals to the Galatians and says they received the Spirit and God wrought miracles among them [mighty signs and wonders] thru faith. In Acts we saw how the primary purpose of the charismatic signs and wonders was for the proclaiming of the gospel. The signs testify of Jesus being the Messiah. So here in Romans I think Paul is simply saying ‘I will not resort to the preaching of the law’, the main tool used by the Judaizers to try and gain ‘obedience’ among the Gentiles in order to make the Gentiles obedient [these are the things that Christ has not wrought by him. They represented Paul’s past experience in Judaism]. But instead he will declare the gospel of God’s grace. He will lean on the Cross of Christ as the functional tool to ‘bring obedience to the Gentiles’.

(872)ROMANS 15: 8-14 Paul freely quotes from Psalms and Isaiah [the 2 most quoted Old Testament books in the New Testament] and shows how God always had a future plan to include the Gentiles. In the first century mindset, ‘salvation’ was seen more in a nationalistic sense than an individual ‘me and Jesus’ type thing. The messianic promises were for the ‘commonwealth’ of Israel. As the gospel would expand into the Gentile nations, Peter would call us ‘a holy nation’. Still couching the purposes of God and his kingdom in a nationalistic way [not human ‘nations’ but Gods people]. So for Paul it is significant to show how King David [the greatest king Israel ever had] actually prophesied [Psalms] of the future inclusion of the Gentiles into the corporate ‘nation of God’. Also Paul says ‘you are able to admonish one another’. A theme in Paul’s writings is the ability of the ‘local believers/church’ to have within them a corporate ability for self edification. He teaches an idea that says ‘you are all able members of Christ’s Body, therefore build each other up’. Notice how Paul is not speaking into the modern day concept of ‘the Pastor’ who is usually seen as the main ‘builder’. In all of Paul’s letters he addresses the entire body to carry out the function of the church. He tells the Corinthians ‘when you are all gathered together, commit the unrepentant believer over to satan for the destruction of the flesh’. He gave this very heavy charge to the church. He did not see it as something that was to be carried out by a singular office [Bishop or Pastor]. So here we see Paul admonish the local believers to build each other up.

(862)ROMANS 11- let me make a note on the previous entry. Over the last few years, as well as many years of experience with ‘ministry/church’, I have seen how easy it is to fall into the well meaning mindset of ‘I am going into the ministry, this is my career choice. My responsibility is to do ‘Christian stuff’ and the people’s role is to support me’[ I am not taking a shot at well meaning Pastors, I am basically speaking of the many friends I have met over the years who seemed to think ministry was a way to get financial support]. In the previous entry I mentioned how Paul seemed to have a mode of operation that said ‘when I am residing with a community of believers, I refuse to allow them to support me. I will work with my own hands to give them an example, not only to the general saints, but also to the elders. I am showing you that leadership is not a means to get gain’. It does seem ‘strange’ for us to see this. Of course we know Paul also taught the churches that it was proper and right to support those who ‘labor among you’. I have taught all this in the past and I don’t want to ‘re-teach’ it all again. The point I want to make is we ‘in ministry’ really need to rethink what we do. How many web-sites have I gone to that actually have icons that say ‘pay me here’. The average person going to these sites must think ‘pay you for what’? Paul did not teach the mindset of ‘pay me here, now’. Also in this letter to the Romans we are reading Paul’s correspondence to the believers at Rome. He often used this mode of ‘authority’ [writing letters] to exercise his apostolic office. Of course he also traveled to these areas [Acts] and spent time with them. And as I just showed you he supported himself on purpose when he was with the saints. Basically Paul is carrying out the single most effective apostolic ministry of all time [except for Jesus] and he is doing it without all the modern techniques of getting paid. He actually is doing all this writing and laboring at his own expense. He told the Corinthians ‘the fathers [apostles] spend for the children, not the children for the fathers’. So in today’s talk on ‘apostles’ being restored. God ‘bringing back into alignment apostolic government’ we need to tone down all the quoting of verses [even the things Paul said!] that seem to say to the average saint ‘how do you expect us to reach the world if you do not ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse’! When we put this guilt trip on the people of God we are violating very fundamental principles of scripture. Now, let’s try and finish up chapter 11. Paul is basically telling Israel and the Gentiles that God’s dealings are beyond our understanding [last few verses]. God is using the ‘unbelief’ of Israel as an open door to the Gentiles. He is also using the mercy that he is showing to the Gentiles as an ‘open door’ to Israel! He will ‘provoke them to jealousy’. There are a few difficult verses that would be unfair for me to skip over. ‘All Israel shall be saved’. Paul uses this to show that God’s dealings with natural Israel as a nation are not finished. Who are ‘all Israel’? Some say ‘the Israel of God’ [the church]. I don’t think this fits the text. Some say ‘all Israel that will be alive at the second coming’ I think this is closer. To be honest I think this can simply mean ‘all Israel’ all those who are alive and also raised at the return of the Lord. Now, this would be a form of universalism [all people eventually being saved]. I am not a Universalist, but I don’t want any ‘preconceived’ mindset [even my own!] to taint the text. I think God has the ability to reveal himself to the whole nation of Israel in such a way that ‘they all will be saved’. If I were a Jewish person I wouldn’t wait for this to happen! Just like the Calvinists argument of ‘why witness’? Because God commands it. So even though you can make an argument here for a type of universal redemption at Christ’s revealing of himself to Israel at the second coming [which is in keeping with this chapter, as well as other areas in scripture; ‘they will look upon him whom they have pierced’ ‘God will pour out the spirit of mourning and supplication on Israel at his appearing’. Which by the way would fit in with ‘whoever calls on the Lord will be saved’ which I taught in chapter 10. This is a futurist text implying a time of future judgment and wrath’]. So God’s dealings with Israel are not finished. Paul also warns the Gentiles ‘don’t boast, if God cut out the true branches [Israel] to graft you in. He can just as quickly cut you out too’! It would be dishonest for me [a Calvinist] to simply not comment on this. You certainly can take this verse in an Arminian way. Or you can see Paul speaking in a ‘nationalistic sense’. Sort of like saying ‘if Germany walks away from the faith, they will be ‘cut out’. [France would have been a better example! Speaking of the so called ‘enlightenment’ and the French Revolution]. In essence ‘you Gentiles, don’t think “wow, look at us. God left Israel and we are now special!”’ Paul is saying ‘you Gentiles [as a whole group] stand by faith. God could just as quickly ‘cut you out’ and replace you with another group’. I also think the Arminians could use this type of argument for the previous predestination chapter [9]. But to be honest I needed to give you my view. One more thing, Paul quotes Elijah ‘lord, I am the only one left’. He uses this in context of God having a remnant from Israel who remained faithful to the true God. God told Elijah ‘there are 7 thousand that have not bowed the knee to baal’. Paul uses this to show that even in his day there were a remnant Of Jews [himself included] who received the Messiah. An interesting side note. The prophetic ministry [Elijah] seems to function at a ‘popular level’. Now, I don’t mean ‘fame’, but Elijah was giving voice to a large undercurrent that was running thru the nation. If you read the story of Elijah you would have never known that there were ‘7 thousand’ who never bowed the knee! Often times God will use prophetic people to ‘give voice’ or popularize a general truth that is presently existing in the ‘underground church’ at large. Sort of like if Elijah had a web site, the 7 thousand would have been secretly reading it and saying ‘right on brother, that’s exactly what we believe too’!

(855)ROMANS 10:14-21 [Just a note for the previous entry. In the conversions recorded in scripture [Acts] do you know how many times there is a reference to ‘calling upon the Lord’ during the conversion? Surprisingly one time. The conversion of Saul [Paul]! During one of the ‘re-tellings’ of his own story he says ‘I was told to arise, and be baptized. Washing away my sins while calling upon the Lord’. Wow, could we have arguments over this one! Do you identify the ‘washing away of sins’ with baptism or the ‘prayer’? I actually previously taught [somewhere on this long blog!] how in the 1st century Jewish mindset ‘washing from uncleanness’ and water were related. I taught it in a way that did not teach ‘baptismal regeneration’ but more along the lines of ‘discipleship’ you might find the entry under ‘my statement of faith’. The point I want to make here is Paul spent 3 days after the Lord appeared to him before he actually got baptized and made an open confession of faith. Paul’s reputation was so bad [he killed Christians!] that his conversion and confession needed to have all the weight possible. Others needed to know that he now ‘confessed Christ’. Most commentators will look to the appearance of Jesus to Paul on the Damascus road as his conversion. The point I want to make is in the book of Acts, the main ‘altar call’ was actually baptism. This was the normal means to identify with the believing community. We also see the fact that once people believed, they then were baptized. The same distinction can be made with ‘confessing’. Neither can take place until one believes. I would assume that Paul said something like this at his baptism ‘O Jesus, please forgive me for what I have done. I killed your people and have committed a terrible crime’. There obviously were some serious things he needed to confess! But the overall view of conversion in Acts does not show a ‘sinner’s prayer’ type conversion.] Paul indicts Israel ‘The word did come to you, you didn’t believe’. He also quotes Moses ‘God said he would provoke you to jealousy by a nation who were “no people”’. We are beginning a portion of Romans where Paul will try and explain the dynamic of Gods purpose for Israel, and his ‘use’ of the Gentile nations to ‘make them jealous’. When we studied the parables we saw this dynamic at work. Israel was offended that God [Messiah] was offering equal access to the promises of Israel thru Jesus. Israel was jealous of this free grace. Paul shows them that Moses prophesied that this day would come. You also see this in Stephens sermon in Acts chapter 7 ‘Moses said the Lord would raise up a prophet like me [Jesus!]’ and then Stephen shows how Israel also did not recognize that Moses was the intended deliverer of the people. So likewise 1st century Israel also did not recognize their Messiah [the first time around!]. God’s acceptance of the Gentiles was difficult for Israel to embrace. It took a divine vision for Peter, and he still ‘fell back’ into a caste system mentality. God is not finished with these dealings [Paul will say in the next few chapters] and he will make every effort to show both Jews and Gentiles that they are both important pieces to this ‘divine puzzle’. He will even warn the Gentiles ‘don’t get proud, if God cut off the true branches to graft you in, watch out! He might do the same with you.’ Paul is striving for both Jew and Gentile to live in harmony as much as possible, he did not want to come off as a defender of the Gentiles only. He was ‘defending the gospel’.

(848)ROMANS 9: 1-8 Paul returns to an earlier theme ‘Christ came, as pertaining to the flesh, in response to the covenants that God made with Israel’ [my paraphrase!] Paul says that natural Israel played a very important role in the coming of Messiah. He was [is] the fulfillment of the prophecies that came as a result of Gods interaction with ‘the commonwealth of Israel’. Now Paul again says ‘they are not all Israel, which are of Israel, but “in Isaac shall thy seed be called’”. Understand something here, Paul is not teaching ‘another’ natural lineage to Christ. The mistake of the worldwide church of God [Herbert Armstrong] which teaches British Israelism, trying to trace the natural lineage of Europeans and saying ‘these are the lost tribes’. Paul is simply saying ‘those who are of the Law, the natural tribe of Israel [Jews] are not automatically counted as ‘the seed’ [children] but those who ‘are of promise’. Paul also uses this in Galatians 3 and 4. ‘Of promise’ is simply saying ‘those who have been born of Gods Spirit [Jew or Gentile] are the children that God promised to Abraham’ he is the father of ‘many nations’. All who would believe. These themes are building upon Paul’s earlier theology in this letter. This letter [Romans] has a little more ‘weight’ than say a pastoral epistle [Timothy, Titus]. Now, I am not saying it is ‘more inspired’ but I want you to see that even in the book of Acts you see Paul place special emphasis on ‘I must make it to Rome’! Paul fully realizes that this letter will be read among the believers and Jews at Rome. Rome is the capitol city of the Empire. He wants the early believers to understand the role and purpose of God for Israel. Paul’s efforts are being seen by some Jewish believers [Jerusalem] as antagonistic. Paul wants to make it clear that he was not trying to start some type of movement that rejected natural Israel. At the same time he wants natural Israel ‘my kinsman according to the flesh’ to receive their Messiah! So in this context Romans is a theological treatise saying ‘God wants to bring both Jew and Gentile together as one new man in Christ [Ephesians]’. When he argues ‘they that are the children of the flesh ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF GOD[verse 8] but the children of the promise are counted for the seed’ he is simply saying ‘all people, both Jews and Gentiles [which includes all races that are ‘non Jews’ even Arabs!] can partake of this free gift by grace’. The promise is to all who ‘will believe’.

(828)ROMANS 4:15-25 ‘For the law worketh wrath, for where there is no law there is no transgression’. I simply want to touch on the concept of ‘wrath’ being a very real part of judgment. One of the ways the gospel ‘saves us’ is by promising a future [and present!] deliverance from wrath. While death ‘reigned’ before the law was given, it wasn’t until the law where you had a clear picture of transgression and atonement. We will deal with this later in Romans. Now Paul once again hits on the theme of Abraham being the ‘spiritual father’ of many nations [all who believe] and how the promises of God to Abraham were to be fulfilled thru this ‘new race of people’ [the church]. Paul is careful to not demean Israel; he couches his terms in a way that says ‘God will fulfill these things thru the circumcision who believes [Jews] and the un-circumcision who believe’ [Gentiles]. I want to stress the very plain language Paul uses to show us that we should not be seeing Gods ‘covenant promises’ thru a natural lens. Christians need to be careful when they support [exalt!] natural Israel in a way that the New Testament doesn’t do. ‘To the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is the faith of Abraham’. Now Paul tells us that when God made promises to Abraham that Abraham believed against hope. When all things looked really bad, he still believed. When he was 100 years old and Sarah around 90, he held to the promise [read my commentaries on Genesis 15-18 and Hebrews 11] and therefore God imputed righteousness to him. How closely are you paying attention to Paul’s free use of Abraham and Genesis? If you carefully read this chapter you see Paul ‘intermingle’ the story of Abraham being ‘made righteous upon initial belief’ [Gen. 15] and the later story of Sarah having Isaac [Gen. 17]. I think Paul was simply using the description of Abrahams faith, as seen in the Gen. 17 [and 22!] accounts of his life, to show the type of faith he initially ‘exercised’ [I don’t like using this term to be honest. God actually imputes faith to the believer at the initial act of regeneration]. The important chapters from Genesis that we all need to have a ‘working knowledge’ of are Chapters 12 [the initial promise], 15 [the oft mentioned ‘imputed righteousness’ verse], 17 [the receiving of the promised seed- Isaac], and 22 [the ultimate act of obedience that Abraham showed in offering up Isaac. This will be described in James epistle as ‘righteousness being fulfilled’. James, who is concerned about ‘works’, will say that when Abraham offered Isaac he was fulfilling the ‘imputed righteousness’ that God gave him earlier. James actually describes this as ‘being justified by works’{James 2:21} and James says ‘the scripture was fulfilled that saith Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him for righteousness’…’see how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only’. The classic view taken by many confuses the ‘justified’ part with the initial act of justification that Paul centers on. James uses ‘see how he was justified by works’ in a future ‘judicial decree’ sense; that is God having the ongoing ‘freedom’ to continually say ‘good job son, you did well’. The word justification is used in a fluid sense much like salvation. Christians need to be more ‘secure’ in their own assurance to be able to see these truths. When we approach all these seemingly ‘difficult passages’ in a defensive mode, then we never arrive at the actual meaning]. When we see the overall work of God in Abraham’s life we see the purpose of God in ‘declaring people just’ [initially ‘getting saved’]. The purpose is for them to eventually ‘act just’ [obey!] ‘Jesus was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification’ thank God that this process is dependant on the work of the Cross!

(826) ROMANS 4: 1-12 Now, Paul will use one of his most frequent arguments to prove that all men, both Jews and Gentiles, need to be justified by faith and not ‘by works’. The most famous singular figure that natural Israel looked to as the ‘identifier’ of them being a special people was ‘Father Abraham’. Paul does a masterful job at showing how Abraham was indeed justified by faith and not by works. The ‘work’ of circumcision came before the law. It would later become synonymous with law keeping [Ten Commandments] and Paul can certainly use it here as implying ‘the whole law’. But to be accurate this work of circumcision was a national identifying factor that Israel looked to as saying ‘we are better than you [Gentiles]’. Paul is showing Israel that God in fact ‘made Abraham righteous’ before he circumcised him! [Gen. 15] And the sign of this righteousness was circumcision. This meaning that Abrahams faith in Gods promise [a purely ‘passive’ act! This is very important to see. Later on as we deal with the famous ‘conversion texts’ we need to keep this in mind] justified him without respect to the law. God simply took Abraham outside and said ‘look at the stars, your children will be this abundant’ and Abraham simply believed this promise to be true. Much like the passive belief of Cornelius house at their conversion [Acts 10]. The simple belief in the promise of Jesus justifies the sinner! Now this fact of Abraham believing and being made righteous, before being circumcised, is proof [according to Paul] that Abraham is the father of ‘many nations’ not just natural Israel. All ethnic groups who HAVE THE SAME FAITH AS ABRAHAM are qualified to be ‘sons of Abraham/ heirs of God’. The fact that Abraham carried this justification along with him as he became circumcised, shows that all Jewish people as well can partake of this ‘righteousness by faith’ if they have the same faith as Abraham had. Jesus did say ‘Abraham rejoiced to see my day’[ John’s gospel]. In Gods promise to Abraham of a future dynasty of children, this included the promised Messiah. So indirectly Abraham’s belief in the promise of being the father of ‘many nations’ included belief in the coming Messiah. So according to Paul, all ethnic groups who have faith in Jesus are justified/made righteous. The very example Israel used to justify ‘ethnic/national pride’ [Father Abraham] was taught in a way that showed the truth of the gospel and how God is no respecter of persons.

(824)ROMANS 2:14- 3:18- Paul says ‘you are called a Jew and are confident that you are a teacher and an instructor of the law’. Read my Hebrews commentary, chapters 5 and 6. It is interesting that Paul understood the teaching role that the Jewish nation was to play among the Gentile nations. In Jesus parables he also hits on these themes. Hebrews says ‘when the time has come [the appointed time of Messiah- Galatians 4] that you ought to be teachers, you have need to be taught the first principles again’. Here Paul tells them they are proud to be the ‘possessors’ of the Old Testament, yet thru their disobedience to it the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles [ouch!] Paul fully acknowledges the privileged role that Israel had, he himself was brought up with this ‘elitist/intellectual’ mindset. But here Paul rebukes them for not fully living up to the law. ‘Well brother, how could they live up to it? Paul himself says that this is impossible.’ If they carried thru with the receiving of Messiah, which their law spoke and testified of, then truly they would have been fulfilling the law as new creatures in Christ. In essence their indictment is ‘you never fully followed thru with your own law’! Now Paul will flatly say that circumcision and being the guardians of the law profit nothing. That the ‘circumcision of the heart’ is what matters. He says if the gentiles, who have no historical attachment to the law, if they do by nature the things in the law then they are ‘spiritually circumcised’ [set apart unto God]. But if the circumcised do not obey the law and character of God [thru the new birth] then it profits nothing. I want to note the strong disconnect between the way Paul speaks about natural Israel and her heritage, and how some in the American church present her. Paul, who himself is a Jew, makes it very clear that Israel is in a state of ‘danger’ by not receiving Messiah. Though he will admit their special place and role in history, yet he refuses to exalt her in her natural ‘state’ [of being]. Now Israel’s response to Paul [which by the way Paul interjects himself. I want to make a note here. Paul will give ‘both sides’ of the argument in his letters. He will say things like ‘and you will say to me such and such’. He actually try’s to add both sides of the conversation in his letters. Recently there has been some discussion on whether or not we can really understand the New Testament without fully knowing all the background and history of the letters. Some have said just knowing the letters are like hearing only one side of a phone conversation. To be honest this isn’t really true. The writers of the letters and the gospels lived in an ‘oral culture’. This is why Paul himself gives instructions on his letters being read- as opposed to saying ‘pass the letters around for everyone to personally read’. The point is we can understand a whole bunch of scripture just by reading it!] Now Israel asks ‘what good is the whole thing, why even have Jews or circumcision or any history with God at all’? Paul realizes that his whole argument for law and circumcision meaning nothing without a changed heart, that some would respond back like this. He in turn says ‘the law and all the history of Israel with God were very important! It was Gods way of getting his prophetic word [oracles] to man’. In essence God chose to ‘start a conversation’ with Abraham and extend it forward to his children. Over a long history of God interacting with Israel, God would speak thru prophets and ‘wise men’ and these prophetic words were being recorded [meticulously by the way!]. God would reveal himself and his purpose of Messiah thru these writings that came from this relationship [though rocky!] that he had with Israel. Now Paul will say ‘does their unbelief negate Gods promise’? No! Let God be true and every man be a liar. The fact that Israel as a nation were ‘not believing’ in their Messiah, didn’t effect the actual power of the Messiah to be believed on among the Gentile nations. A couple of things here; dispensational theology teaches that the Kingdom of God has been postponed until Christ’s return. I think this contradicts Paul’s argument. Paul said Israel’s unbelief could not negate the full purpose of God. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead and is presently seated at God’s right hand proves this. Also Paul will teach later in this letter that the actual reason why salvation has gone out to the gentiles is because Israel rejected Messiah. In essence Israel’s unbelief could not negate what God purposed to do all along.

(811)HE SPENT HIS MONEY ON PROSTITUTES AND GOD THREW HIM A PARTY! In Luke 15 we have the famous parable of the Prodigal Son. The chapter begins with the religious leaders becoming offended that Jesus was receiving sinners. This is the backdrop to why Jesus gives the story. He starts with 2 other brief parables of lost sheep and coins. The themes of these are ‘just like a man rejoices over finding something that was lost, so likewise God rejoices ‘throws a party’ when a sinner comes home’. This begins the story. Jesus says a man had 2 sons [Jew/Gentile] and one son said ‘Father, give me the inheritance that is rightfully mine’ [the immature son learned the truth of ‘requesting his inheritance’ –money, and getting it rightfully. This did not mean that he was mature or correct in doing what he did. Even though the father had prepared it for him, the son was preoccupied with getting it NOW!] The father divides the inheritance to both boys. The young son goes off and lives it up. He spends all his money and ends up eating pig food. He comes to his senses and says ‘I will return home, my father has servants living better than this! I will request a job from dad’. As the boy nears the house the father runs and grabs the boy. He tells his servants ‘go, kill the calf and let’s have a party!’ He puts a robe on him and gives him a ring. Now the older son [Israel- she has been struggling for centuries to try and please God. Sure she has failed, but heck these other nations weren’t even trying!] hears the uproar and says ‘what’s going on?’ They tell him ‘your brother returned and your father has thrown him a party’. He sulks in his room. The father asks what’s wrong and the older son says ‘I have tried my best to live up to your standards [Law] and yet my younger brother spent all his money rebelling against you. Where was he when things got rough? I was here to give you a hand, not him! And as soon as he shows up you are overjoyed about it. What about me?’ Remember, Jesus is giving this story in response to the offence that the Jewish leaders had at the beginning of this chapter. The father says ‘son, you have always been with me [God made his covenant available to Israel for many years. Just because he was opening it up to the ‘sinning nations’ didn’t mean that he cared less about them]. The father tells the son ‘you have always had access to my covenant, this other son [gentile nations] went astray for many years. Don’t take it wrong that I am happy over his return. He was lost and now he’s home’. Jesus challenged the mindset of Israel in this parable. It was only natural for the nation of Israel to have been offended. Jesus even taught ‘offenses must happen’. But they were going to reject their Messiah because of this offense. They couldn’t believe how Jesus treated the outcasts ‘they wasted your money on harlots’! was the corporate cry of Israel. ‘How could you even think of eating with them’. Often times we get offended because God is merciful. Jesus gives other parables along these lines. The hired workers who worked all day felt like they got cheated when the master paid them all the same. In that parable Jesus has the master saying ‘are you mad because I did what I wanted with what was mine? I didn’t cheat you , I gave you what I agreed to pay you’ once again they were offended that Jesus was offering equal access to those who were deemed ‘less worthy’. Jesus did tell the older son ‘all that I have ever had has been made available, don’t let your offense keep you from enjoying the party’.

(795)JUDGES 20- The nation of Israel gather together as ‘one man’ to figure out what is going on. They all received the body pieces of the concubine as a sign of judgment. Remember, the law [Levite] can not give life to that which is ‘dead in trespasses and sin’ [the dead wife!] but the law can only reveal sin and call for justice. So the tribes are gathered to meet out judgment! They decide to get an army together, 400,000 men. They go to the town of Gibeah, where Benjamin [the tribe] lives. They tell the people ‘you have done wickedly, give to us the men who have infected this whole tribe [denomination/whole groups of believers who have been affected in a wrong way by certain teachers who have ‘crept in unawares’]. Benjamin says no! There is a strange dynamic that takes place in the Body of Christ. Whenever the Lord moves in a big way to correct or reform wrong doctrine, very rarely do the victims of the wrong doctrine want to admit that they were wrongly influenced. The sin of pride says ‘are you telling me that I was duped’? Benjamin actually goes into this protection mode and defends the wicked doers in their midst! So Israel encamps against Benjamin and they fight. Sure enough Benjamin wins! Wow, they must have thought ‘see, we were correct in refusing to deal with the wrong stuff in our community’ [whole groups of believers who harbor false things]. Israel is distraught, were they wrong in going against Benjamin? You honestly have to ask yourself this question at times. God might really have raised you up to deal with some stuff. You might actually lose a battle or two! The Lord tells them ‘No, you weren’t wrong in dealing with the false stuff in the tribe of Benjamin, go back and give it another shot’. The next day Israel attacks again, and again they lose! They ask the Lord about it and he says keep trying. On day three they adjust their procedure; they set an ambush and eventually overthrow Benjamin. Now, this is no great victory, God actually called the rest of the people of God to deal with an aberrant tribe. The church goes thru reformation seasons where she needs to deal with wrong stuff on a global scale. The history of Christianity shows us the great ecumenical councils of the church. Times where the whole Body of Christ had to agree that certain things were right or wrong. It is only natural for those being rebuked to fight back and not admit their fault. This process is very difficult. Paul wrote the Galatians and told them if a brother is in a fault, that the more mature [spiritual] ones should correct it in love. Over the years I have been involved with trying to explain to sincere believers, some of them who hold positions of leadership, how we can’t keep teaching things that have been shown to be blatantly wrong. Often times the ‘tribes’ [groups] will fight back, and win a war or two! Understand, Benjamin was running their tribe as an efficient unit to a degree. Even though they had ‘bad seed’ in their group, yet the fact that they did exist as a functioning unit allowed them to successfully resist a few previous challenges to their tribe [belief system]. But ultimately there came a challenge that was too hard to resist, the rest of the nation joined as ‘one man’ to say ‘enough is enough, we love you as a brother tribe, but this stuff has gone on way too long’. It was the radical act of the Levite that brought the attention to the rest of the tribes of what was going on. It was the responsibility of the nation as a whole to deal with the ‘lost tribe’.

(794)JUDGES 19- We have another strange story. There is this Levite who has a concubine [servant-wife]. She plays ‘the harlot’ on him and goes back home to Judah. The Levite goes to get her. He shows up at her dad’s house and the father welcomes him [Judah- Israel loved the law- Levite]. The Levite informs him that he came to take back his wife and the dad won’t let him go! He keeps holding on and for a few days convinces him to ‘just stay for one more night’ [Israel’s mindset in the first century. They tried to hold on to the law past it’s time]. The Levite leaves and on his way back to Ephraim they need a place to spend the night. They show up at Gibeah, where the Benjamites dwell. As they are on the street all day, no one offers to take them in. This younger generation forgot all the ‘elementary’ teachings of the Law of Moses [Hebrews 5]. An old man who was from Ephraim was living there. He sees the Levite and his wife and servants on the street. He asks what’s up and the old man offers to take the Levite in. He says ‘don’t worry about the cost, I will cover it’ [The Good Samaritan]. At night the men of the city knock on the old mans door and want the Levite to come out ‘and play’ [The sin of Sodom!] the old man offers the men the women instead of the man. They take the wife of the Levite and abuse her all night long. She shows up at the door in the morning and is dead. The Levite takes her dead body home and cuts it into 12 pieces and sends them to Israel as a witness. This drastic symbol shocks the nation. There are lots of spiritual points that could be made. The law [Levite] was welcomed for a time [Galatians 4] but when it’s time t let it go don’t keep holding on. The old man in Gibeah practiced the art of hospitality to strangers/aliens that was contained in the original precepts from Moses. The younger generation forgot the true principles of their law. Paul will argue over and over again from the law to persuade Israel to come to Messiah. They forgot the basic truths of their own law and this made it harder to show them that Jesus was the fulfillment of their law. Of course the old man taking in the Levite is like the story of the Good Samaritan who took care of his neighbor at his own expense. Paul told the Corinthians that he would ‘spend and be spent’ for them. And the drastic act of the Levite cutting up the wife and sending her body parts to Israel shows the utter terror of the law. The law ultimately demands justice, it shows no mercy. Israel might have had an affinity for the law, but if you keep it around too long it can really ruin the party! [The New Covenant is one of joy and peace in the Spirit. We are at Jesus ‘wedding party’ if you will].

(765)ACT 25- Festus hears the Jews at Jerusalem, they want him to bring Paul to Jerusalem. Festus goes back to Caesarea and asks Paul ‘why don’t you go back with me’? Paul appeals to Caesar! Of course going to Rome was part of the plan. Now King Agrippa [another one of the many ruling authorities that Rome had over the people!] comes to Caesarea and Festus tells him about Paul. Agrippa will get a strong word in the next chapter. Also the Jews come down from Jerusalem and accuse Paul of many things. I want to make a note here. In the area of apologetics, which we do a lot of, you need to be careful that you don’t jump on the bandwagon of unfounded accusations. There are and have been real doctrinal heresies that needed to be dealt with, but some of the apologists really get personal. Even calling family members degrading names! In Paul’s case he had accusations that were not true. He does defend himself against the false ones, but also admitted that he believes in Christ’s resurrection and that this is considered heresy among certain Jews. Paul’s main message was Christ and the resurrection! As we get ready to close our study in a few more days, I want to recap the importance of seeing Jesus and his fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets as the main message of the Apostles. This early teaching by the Apostles needs to be the ‘tradition’ if you will, once again. We [believers] have a tendency to delve deeply into all sorts of stuff. Paul will warn his spiritual sons ‘don’t get lost in endless genealogies and debates about the law’ and Hebrews says ‘it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace, not with meats [legalistic doctrines] which have been unprofitable to those who have gone that route’. Now, you guys know I believe in correct doctrine, and Paul wasn’t advocating ‘no doctrine’. But it is easy to get lost in endless debates that lead to nowhere. Ultimately our goal is to present every man perfect in Christ. Paul will stick with this message all the way to Rome!

(774) JUDGES 5-6 Deborah sings a victors song in chapter 5. I only want to mention one verse, she says ‘the mountains melted before you, even Sinai’. In the beginning of Judges I skipped the part where Judah defeats Jerusalem. This wording sounds strange in a way! Jerusalem of course was inhabited by the Jebusites and Judah took it. Sinai represents the law and Moses, grace and truth come from Jesus. I simply felt these ideas to be prophetic, speaking of a time in the future [Now, the New Covenant] where these natural identities will bow before the King! ‘The law came thru Moses [Sinai] but grace and truth came from Jesus Christ’.
In chapter 6 we see one of the famous stories of a judge, Gideon. At this time in Israel’s history the Midianites were coming up every year during the harvest and wiping them out. It’s not that Israel wasn’t sowing [planting] it’s just they weren’t enjoying the harvest! The enemy left them enough freedom to plant and work the fields, it was just at harvest time when he gave them a hard time. Now Gideon is threshing wheat at ‘the winepress’ which is basically a hole in the ground. You can’t really thresh wheat in a cave! You need a ‘thresingfloor’, an open area where you can throw the wheat in the air and let the wind blow the chaff away. But all the children of Israel were doing this in secret spots to hide from the Midianites. So once again the people call out to God and he does it a little different this time. He sends them a Prophet first who says to them ‘God delivered you from Egypt and bondage, yet you feared the enemy and served false gods’. They were living in fear and permitted idolatry to become part of their worship [covetousness is the New Testament equivalent to idolatry]. Then the Lord sends an angel to Gideon and he tells him ‘you mighty man of valor, God is calling you to lead the people’. Gideon says ‘I come from poverty, I am the least in my family. How can I be the one’? The Lord doesn’t say ‘don’t worry, I will make you rich’ he simply tells Gideon ‘I will go with you’. Jesus used a rag tag team of disciples to turn the world up side down. They would ask ‘how can we feed this multitude, we don’t have the cash’ Jesus was with them! Gideon does this prophetic act and destroys the altar of Baal that was in his city. At night [because he was afraid] he takes 10 guys and they tear it down and erect an altar to God right in the city square. In the morning the men of the city say ‘who in the heck did this’? They are infuriated that someone would disturb the system that they became comfortable with [ouch!] They find out it was Gideon and they go to his house and want to kill him. The dad says ‘hey, if Baal is so offended, then let him do something about it’. Gideon’s dad had a little bit of the Elijah thing going on. Elijah tells the false prophets of Baal ‘where’s Baal? How come he can’t come and consume all this wood? Maybe he’s busy with some other stuff?’ One translation actually says ‘maybe he is on the potty’ these idol destroyers seemed to have no respect for the scared cows of the day. So Baal leaves Gideon alone and Gideon blows the trumpet and sends word to the various tribes. God is raising up Gideon to ‘come upon the enemy as one man’. We will later see the enemy have a dream of Gideon and the people rolling into the enemy’s camp as a Barley loaf. These are prophetic images of the Body of Christ. We are ‘one bread’ so to speak. Notice how the people became accustomed to the altar of Baal in their midst. They were irate that someone came along and shook the apple cart. At first they wanted to kill the guy, but then they recognized [grudgingly!] that Gideon was right. Sometimes the Lord will speak a word into the church that at first seems unbelievable. ‘Who does so and so think he is?’ But if the word is from the Lord, the people will eventually get on board with it and even partake of the benefits from the word. Gideon didn’t turn the troops on the men from his city who wanted to kill him. He simply fulfilled his prophetic destiny and attacked the enemy, not his fellow citizens! He allowed them time to get on the bandwagon, they eventually did.

(766)ACTS 26- Paul makes his case before Agrippa. Paul says that he is being accused of the hope that all the Jews are waiting for and serving God day and night to receive! It’s funny how all the religious requirements of the law and temple, the whole culture of Judaism. All the symbols that made up their heritage. All the times they would quote Moses or Abraham ‘we have Abraham as our father’ ‘we know God spoke to Moses’ all of these things were for THE SOLE PURPOSE of coming to a point in Jewish history where the Jews would receive their Messiah. Paul states ‘this actual hope and reason for our existence as a Jewish nation is the cause of contention that the Jewish leaders have against me’. What an amazing thing! Now once again Paul will state the basic Christian doctrine of Jesus and his resurrection ‘king Agrippa, why would it be so hard to believe that God can raise the dead’? Did you ever ponder this question? A few years ago you didn’t exist [30-50-70?] since you were born you have been taught that you exist because of certain natural means. You learned the process of birth, and some of you have actually had kids yourselves. During you life you have heard and learned about the universe, planets, the history of man. We have lived thru an industrial and technological revolution. We put men on the moon, we splice genes, we take men’s hearts out of their bodies and put pumps in there place! Plus all these things came from a point in time where there was no thing! Hebrews says God made every thing from nothing! Science actually does agree with this [read my section on Evolution] and after all this experience and knowledge you have attained in your very short life, yet if God were to say ‘I will raise the dead’ people say ‘now, how can you expect me to believe that?’ We do have pea brains at times! Paul also retells his conversion and says how Jesus told him he would be a witness of the historical events of Christ and his resurrection, but Jesus also said ‘and you will testify of the things I will reveal to you in the future’. Now we have to do some stuff. What were the things that Jesus was going to reveal to Paul in the future? We read these things in Paul’s letters. Basically the great reality of our sharing in the divine nature [actually this is Peter] our sonship. The great mystery of God making one new man out of Jew and Gentile. Truths concerning the ascension and the heavenly realities of redemption [Hebrews]. The point is the ‘future revelation’ of Jesus to Paul was not some knowledge outside of the boundaries already laid down in the gospels. The doctrine of the Apostles was already being taught thru out the book of Acts. God simply gave Paul greater insight and revelation into the truths that already existed. The Gnostics [early second century cult of Christianity- the word comes from the Greek term ‘Gnosis’- knowledge]. They taught a type of special knowledge that said the basic Christian who only has the historical truths of Jesus are at a lower level. Once you become a Gnostic, you then have special revelation that can’t be learned thru normal means. A popular Christian teaching comes close to this ‘revelation knowledge’. Many years ago I was a student of E.W. Kenyon and the word of faith movement. Brother Kenyon taught a type of mystical teaching that said God can reveal things to people outside of the 5 senses, and this is ‘revelation knowledge’. Can God do this? To a degree, yes. We actually read how Agabus gave Paul a prophecy about being bound at Jerusalem. Or Paul dreaming about a man in Macedonia asking for help. I see the reality of God being able to reveal things to us supernaturally as a gift of the prophetic. We are born of Gods Spirit and we do receive understanding from God as his Spiritual children. But yet Paul will write ‘study to show yourself approved’. So Jesus told Paul he was going to show him stuff in the future. Paul based his apostolic authority on this fact [Galatians 1-2]. He would say ‘the gospel I preach was not given to me by men, but God revealed it to me’ what gospel is Paul talking about? The gospel [good news] of the grace of God. Jesus revealed the more important stuff to Paul as time went on, Paul was seeing more and more grace!

(761) ACTS 24- Paul’s accusers come down from Jerusalem. They hired a lawyer [orator] to accuse him! Tertullus gives a speech to the Governor that could be defined as the classic political ‘suck up’ speech of all time. Paul defends himself and says ‘I am not guilty of these so called accusations. But I am guilty of believing the law and the prophets. I believe that what they spoke of [the shadows] have happened! I believe in the resurrection. Jesus has fulfilled the promises of the prophets!’ I had a discussion with a good friend the other day. We have a mutual friend who is really into Messianic stuff. He has espoused the idea that the feasts and images of Israel are EXACT PICTURES that give us a detailed road map to Christ’s return. Basically the friend believes that all the shadows and images are exact descriptions of all future events. I shared with my friend that I too believe that the feasts of Israel are prophetic signs of things. Surely Passover and Pentecost have had great meaning for the people of God. Paul says ‘Christ our Passover died for us’. Some see the end time feast of the latter harvest as having future fulfillment in the ingathering of the nations to Christ. I have taught some of this on the radio before. The problem with this other stuff is it takes the feasts and shadows and tries to ‘detail’ every little thing. Paul understood the prophets and law having been fulfilled thru the present work of Christ and his resurrection. I can’t stress enough how the apostolic witness in Acts sees Jesus as the fulfillment of these things. They do not preach a heavily nationalistic [Jewish] message, though they are all Jews! [The Apostles] As Paul defends himself, the governor listens and trembles! Paul spoke of judgment and temperance and the reality of a future resurrection of the just and unjust. The basic apostolic message as seen in the classic creeds of the church. Paul will sit under house arrest for 2 years until another person takes over Felix’s position. The guy’s name is ‘Porcius festus’ [I think I would prefer the name Judas over Porcius!] We end the chapter with Paul waiting to give another witness of Jesus before another ruler. The legal problems of Paul were Gods providence to give Paul opportunity to speak the gospel all the way up the chain. The chain ends at Rome.

(733) GENESIS 45- Joseph could not restrain himself any longer and reveals himself to his brothers. His brothers are absolutely shocked. They are hearing him in his own voice [my sheep hear my voice- Jesus] for the first time, they are beginning to see the actual image of their lost brother in the face of this sovereign person who they have been coming to and bowing to and submitting to. They came late to the table, the entire gentile nation [Egypt and the surrounding nations] have already been submitting to him for a while [Christ and the church made up of gentile nations] but Israel has been slow to respond. And since they have been responding they had no idea of the actual identity of this great ruler. Sure, these gentile nations knew his name was Joseph and they heard all the great stories about his rise to power. But the brothers of Joseph were simply submitting to this governor out of necessity. They actually were learning the ropes of how to come to this sovereign and to bow before him with requests [The Jews sure know how to pray to Jehovah, they have the Wailing Wall!] but to hear this ruler say ‘I am your brother Joseph, who you betrayed’ is almost unbelievable to accept! Now Joseph sees the look on their faces. He tells them ‘come here, I am Joseph your brother’ he has to explain the enormity of this revelation. They can’t connect the ruler with their former knowledge of their own flesh! Israel [the nation] has stumbled over the reality of their home town boy actually being their Messiah. Scripture says Jesus is the actual image of the invisible God, we see God and who he is thru Christ. For the brothers to be looking at the actual lord of the land, someone who they have been ‘submitting to’ already [Jehovah] and then to hear ‘I am Joseph’ [Jesus] out of the actual lips of the ruling authority himself, is very hard to grasp. The nation of Israel has been waiting and believing for the Messiah for 2 thousand years. They pray to Jehovah. The stumbling block is in their inability to actually see the face of Jesus in their God! He truly is the image of the invisible God. Now Joseph reassures them that everything that happened to him was truly a sovereign act of God to preserve life. He holds no grudges! [Father forgive them, for they know not what they do]. Pharaoh hears about this great reunion and tells him to go get the rest of his family and bring them back [to Goshen]. Jacob hears the news of his son’s authority and is shocked. He learns that his son is alive, and Lord of the land, all in one day [Scripture says a nation will be born in a day. Referring to Israel’s national repentance and acceptance of Messiah at the second coming- Romans]. So they make preparations to come to Egypt and for all the family to settle down together. I want to stress the importance of seeing the reaction of Egypt [gentile nations] when they hear that Josephs blood relatives are coming to benefit from the lordship of Joseph. The gentile nations are happy and glad to see the reunion! Much like the reaction that Paul writes about in Romans ‘if their falling away [The Jews rejection of Messiah] was for the benefit of all the gentiles [just like Josephs rejection by his brothers was for the benefit of saving Egypt and the surrounding countries] so how much greater will it be when they are reunited with Christ’. Scripture teaches us that it was for the gentile’s salvation that the nation of Israel rejected Christ’s Lordship. So when Israel returns home to their true Messiah, the gentile church will rejoice! I also want to make a note here, you will notice that Jacob had to relocate from the promised land and move over into the region [church- made up of gentile nations] in order to benefit from Josephs rule. Make no mistake about it, at the time of Israel’s conversion she will see that her clinging on to the old culture of law and sacrifice will have to be left behind in order to benefit from the bread that Jesus [Joseph] will provide. Jacob and the boys will carry some degree of national identity with them, after all they are still ‘Israel’, but the relocation from their land speaks of the willingness to uproot and journey towards the messiah.

(722) GENESIS 35- As Jacob fears what will happen to him after his boys killed Hamor and ransacked his city, God tells him ‘calm down, return to Bethel. We need to get some things settled once and for all’. Bethel is the original spot where Jacob made God his Lord. He vowed earlier in his life that if God would be his provider then he would commit his life to him. God wants Jacob to settle down [spiritually!] renew his entire purpose and get his priorities right. As Jacob and the boys leave the area scripture says ‘no one dared touch them, the terror of the Lord was upon all the surrounding people’. I could just see one of the raiding tribes saying ‘hey, look at this group. They have lots of wealth and stuff. How come no one is raiding them? Lets get them!’ and one of the other tribal families says ‘That’s the family who tricked the entire city into mutilating themselves’ Oh yeah, I never heard the story. Tell me more. Where did they cut themselves? He tells them where ‘WHAT IN THE HECK!’ He continues ‘and then 3 days later 2 of the boys with swords show up in the city and announce ‘everybody up. The cuttings not over yet!’ and they killed all the men. Took the women and children and spoiled the place. The raiding group thinks ‘you know what guys, lets pass on this family’. The terror of God was upon them for good reason! At Bethel the Lord reminds Jacob of his calling ‘you are Israel, not Jacob. Don’t forget this, you are a prince and have power with God and men’! It was hard for Jacob to act like a prince. After the Lord instructs him and reminds him of the original destiny, Jacob once again builds a ‘pillar of stone’ and anoints it with oil. I sort of see a prophetic thing here. The first pillar did represent the church, the people of God. I think this ‘second pillar’ can also speak of Gods future purpose to bring ‘another flock’ [Gospel of John] into the fold. In essence this is a type of the church also. The ‘second pillar’ to go with the ‘second covenant’. God is showing Israel his intent to gather together a future community and to ‘re anoint’ [Israel were the first people to have the Spirit. Read Hebrews and Romans] this new people at Pentecost. Also in this chapter we see the birth of Benjamin and the death of Rachel, Jacobs ‘favorite’ wife. It then says ‘Rueben slept with his father’s concubine’ and in the very next verse ‘Rueben was the firstborn from Leah’. I see something here. Why did Rueben purposefully disgrace his dad? It came right after Rachel’s death. Ruben was conceived in a situation where his father was tricked into it. You remember the story of Leah. Now how many times over the years did Rueben witness the favoritism that his father showed towards Rachel’s son Joseph? How long was Rueben waiting for things to turn around? Maybe when Joseph gets older dad will pay more attention to me as the firstborn? Maybe this favoritism is a stage that dad is going thru? Well he hears of the death of Rachel, and also of another new born son! Oh my, will Jacob spend another 25 years pampering this other boy from his favorite wife? Ruben saw the writing on the wall. It was time to let dad know how he felt about this whole situation. He did.

(717) GENESIS 30- I forgot to mention that in the last chapter Leah gives Jacob 4 sons. Now Rachel is barren. Notice how all these mothers of the faith are barren. What’s up with this? Sarah, Rebecca and now Rachel. Paul will quote Isaiah in the book of Galatians ‘more are the children of the desolate, than of the married wife’. Paul quotes this in context of saying ‘the spiritual Israel [church] will actually have more ‘children’ than the natural Israel’. He quotes it in a way to teach the reality of God bringing forth the promises thru the promised seed as opposed to the natural law. I hope you’re following me. It is consistent with everything I showed you when we covered Isaac as the promised seed. Now here we see a theme of the promised mothers as barren. And then God miraculously giving the mothers birth [remember Sarah was past the time of having kids?] So God is doing the same here, Rachel feels hopeless as each year passes and she is barren. Especially because Leah has given Jacob kids! So in this chapter the race is on! It’s actually quite funny. Rachel says ‘Jacob, sleep with my maid’ [A Hagar type thing] and sure enough Rachel starts the competition. Leah is also popping out more kids and is trying to keep up. Then Leah stops getting pregnant and enlists her maid. Sure enough the race continues. Then Leah starts getting pregnant again and names the kid ‘Gad’ which means ‘a troop is coming’ OUCH! Old brother Jacob must have been thinking ‘am I personally going to fulfill grandpa’s dream of populating the earth?’ Then Rachel gets pregnant for the first time. She has Joseph, thru him we will see the prophetic lineage carry on. He will have future dreams and fulfill great destiny. His role will be crucial to the survival of his whole family. Now Jacob tells Laban he wants to move away. Laban wants to work out a deal to keep him as his main worker. Jacob is an excellent employee! So Jacob does a famous scheme. This chapter is one of those stories that people use to try and discredit scripture. The reason is Jacob will take all the sheep with spots and stripes and remove them from the herd. He than tells Laban ‘now, I have removed the spotted sheep. All that is left are plain ones. From now on all the new sheep will be divided like this; those born with spots/stripes are mine. Those born plain are yours’. And scripture says Jacob peeled stripes in Poplar tree branches and placed them at the watering trough. When the sheep conceived while looking at the striped branches they had striped kids! Some have had a hard time trying to explain this story. Does science teach stuff like this? Not really. Some have come up with various excuses. Let me give you my explanation. In this whole story it does say ‘when the sheep mated in front of the branches they gave birth to striped sheep’ and when the weaker sheep were there mating without the branches that they gave birth to plain ones. The scripture doesn’t actually say it was because of the branches! Its obvious Jacob thought it was because of the branches, but if you read it carefully the guy might have been fooling himself! It’s sort of like these mafia guys from New Jersey. Lots of them ran construction crews or Pizza Parlors. They actually made great Pizza! They could have made it legitimately if they wanted. But they wanted their hands in the cookie jar. It’s possible that God was simply giving Jacob favor when the stronger sheep bred! God has been known to favor his kids. But old scheming Jacob needed some angle, like the mafia guys. He very well might have thought ‘look, my scheme is working’ scripture does say ‘when the stronger sheep mated in front of the sticks, they gave birth to spotted babies’. But the lord might have been making those babies spotted regardless of the sticks! It just said the sticks were there! So without being too dogmatic on this, lets say Jacob was the type of ‘supplanter’ [this is what his name means] that was always looking for an angle. He never could fully trust God to simply meet his needs without his own devising. Jacob struggled with ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding’ he was a lot like us.

(711) GENESIS 25- Isaac and Rebecca are married for around 20 years and still have no children. Isaac prays for kids and Rebecca is pregnant with twins! The first one out is Esau and then comes Jacob. Scripture says ‘the older will serve the younger’. Paul will quote this in Romans 9 to explain Predestination. The doctrine of God saving you based on total grace. He chose you before you were born! Now, I have said before that Christians have fought wars over this stuff. After all the studying I have done over the years, I fall down on the side of Calvinism [or Augustine or Paul!]. The critics of this doctrine have good reasons to be critical, there are some difficult questions that come with this teaching. For the most part you see Paul defending it in Romans 9 by using this story. He says God chose Jacob before the boys were even born, they had done nothing to earn Gods choosing. Now those who reject Predestination will say ‘God saw ahead of time the future decisions that the boys were to make’. Fine. But Paul still defends the doctrine from the point of view that ‘before the boys did right or wrong God chose Jacob’. Paul then says ‘you will then say to me, how can God find fault? People are just doing what they were predestined to do’. If God was just choosing Jacob based on his foreknowledge of their future choices, then Paul would have said ‘easy, God is being fair because he based this decision on his future knowledge of what the boys would do’. But Paul doesn’t say this. He answers the critics of predestination by saying ‘who are you to question God? Can the thing that God created question the creator’? Paul will go on in the rest of the chapter and defend classic Calvinism using this defense. I believe there are some real answers to be found thru out Romans that might be a little too ‘heavy’ for us to get into. Most believers who have argued over these 2 Christian views [Calvinism versus Arminianism] have argued over the seeming unfairness of the doctrine. There are things that we don’t fully understand or grasp as humans. When we try to ‘adjust’ scripture to make it fit our rational minds we err. I believe we should rejoice over the mercy of God, teach all people that Jesus loves them and Christ died for them. And thank God that you and I are in this thing because of Gods sovereign choice, it had nothing to do with what we did [or would do!].
We also see Esau sell his birthright to Jacob. Paul uses this in Hebrews 12 to warn Jewish people not to despise the privileged position of ‘being first’. The gospel came first to the Jews. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah! The fact that they rejected Jesus has caused there to be a ‘despising’ of that which was originally theirs! Many Jewish people have fallen into the error of Esau. They have rejected something that was designed for their benefit. And while others have benefited from this rejection, they actually despise hearing about their rightful place in Messiah! Many Jewish families see it as heresy for a family member to convert to Christianity. Esau sold what was really his, and he hated Jacob because of it.

(707) GENESIS 21- God gives Abraham a child thru Sarah in their old age. Sarah was ‘beyond the time to have kids’ and it was truly a miracle. The child grows and Abraham’s son from Hagar, Ishmael, mocks Isaac. The scripture says ‘cast out the bondwoman’s son, he shall not be heir with Isaac’. This thing grieves Abraham but God says ‘listen to Sarah’ and he sends Ishmael and Hagar out. Once again in Galatians 4 Paul says ‘these things are an allegory’ [wow, talk about presumptuously spiritualizing the word! Many preachers believe doing this is wrong. They seem to not see the heavy amount of ‘spiritualizing’ that Paul does!] Paul says these are examples of how the legalistic Jews would persecute those born of the Spirit. Paul clearly says ‘just like Ishmael made fun of Isaac, so today [the New covenant] those who are born of the Spirit are being persecuted by those born ‘after the flesh’. There simply is no other way to see this. Paul flatly applies this story to law versus grace. Not Jew versus Arab [Muslim]. Paul will even call ‘natural Jerusalem’ Ishmael, who is under bondage with her children. And call those who are born of the Spirit children of ‘the heavenly Jerusalem’ who are born from God. For a first century Jewish former Pharisee to absolutely reject any glorifying of natural Israel, and to call her ‘in bondage with her children’ shows you the strong disconnect that the modern fundamental evangelist makes with scripture when he applies such honor to natural Jerusalem! Abraham circumcises his son and himself the same day. Paul will also teach that this shows Abraham to be the father of ‘many nations’. The fact that Abraham was declared righteous before he was circumcised shows you that Abraham is not only ‘the father of Jewish heritage’ but of ‘all who believe, even those who are not circumcised’. This might not mean as much to you today, but in 1st century Rome the Jews considered the uncircumcised as ‘dogs’. For Paul to say Abraham is the father of all who believe, even the uncircumcised, was a major break with ethnic tradition! Sort of like what I just showed you about the ‘natural’ versus ‘spiritual’ Jerusalem. It challenges the strong ethnic ties that believers hold to when they do not rightly interpret scripture. Paul was hated for this type of theology! So we see the Lord finally fulfill his promise to Abraham. The child has arrived! Boy is he gonna be surprised when God says ‘now, go and offer him as a sacrifice’!

(703) GENESIS 17- Once again God appears to Abraham to reassure him of the original promise. What did God promise him again? He will be the father of many nations [Paul will refer this to Abraham being the father, spiritually, of all believers. Not just natural Israel!] God told him he would be a blessing to the whole world thru his offspring [Both Jesus individually, all men being justified and receiving the Spirit by faith. And also thru the ‘corporate Christ’. The whole body of Christ, including Jew and gentile believers] and Abraham would ‘inherit all this land thru his offspring’. If you go back and look at the actual borders that God spoke of, it is much more than what you see on a map of Israel today! We are going to deal with the mistaken idea of the Protestant American Evangelist and his preaching on so called ‘replacement theology’. Now The Lord will reaffirm this basic promise and tell Abraham ‘walk before me and be perfect’. I get the sense that the Lord was waiting until Abraham’s faith was ‘perfect’ enough to fulfill the promise [read my commentary on Hebrews 11 on this site!] It’s like the Lord was saying ‘walk right son, I am waiting to give you all the stuff I spoke of!’ Abraham is 99 and Sarah is 90. God says ‘Sarah will be the mother of many nations’. It seems like Abraham all ready gave up on his future son Isaac and had all his hopes on Ishmael. Abraham will say this in response to the promised Isaac. ‘O that Ishmael would live before thee’ in essence ‘just do the promise thru Ishmael, I’m all right with it’. God says no, he will do it thru the promised child! Now, let’s get into it. Read Galatians 3-4 and Romans 3-4. Paul will take all these promises and say ‘the promise that God made to Abraham that he would inherit the world was not to Abraham or his kids thru the law, but by faith. So at the end [fulfillment] the promise might apply to all the kids, not just to natural Jews who are living by the law’. Paul absolutely is a REPLACEMENT THEOLOGIAN! He is really not guilty of what this so called accusation means. Some preachers will say those who ‘spiritualize’ the promise of God to Israel and apply them to the church are ‘replacement theologians’. But the fact is Paul is doing this! Read Romans 4: 13-14. Paul interprets these passages to refer to the church. Both Jew and non Jew who believe. ‘Why brother, how can the church fulfill the promise of God to Abraham that his seed [kids] would inherit the holy land’? Easy, the New Testament clearly states that we are joint heirs with Christ. We basically own the planet. There are believers right now in every part of the Holy land and all Palestine and Iraq and Egypt and as a matter of fact all over the world! Did you notice Paul will expand the ‘land promise’ from the holy land to the world! Jesus is actually seated at Gods right hand in heaven ruling from a universal throne [which includes Israel!] and is expanding his actual earthly presence thru the church. The fact that right now Abraham has spiritual children inhabiting the whole planet, including Israel. Shows that the promise to Abraham is being fulfilled thru ALL THE SEED, not just those who are ‘of the law’ [natural Israel]. Well in a nutshell, Paul was a ‘replacement theologian’ but I prefer to see it more as a ‘full world theologian’ a type of interpretation that sees all of Gods kids possessing all of Gods world thru the ‘promise of the Spirit’. NOTE; It is vital for believers to see this truth. It will keep us from getting involved in ‘holy wars’ between Israel and Palestine and advocating actual murder as a fulfillment of Gods word!

(702) GENESIS 16- Abraham is around 85 years old. He’s been waiting around 10 years for God to fulfill the promise and give him a child. In the last chapter he suggested for the Lord to count his servant from his household as the heir. Now Sarah says ‘take my maid Hagar and have a son with her’. Of course the sons name is Ishmael. For all you preachers who read this site, well you know the story. But for all my buddies let me explain. Ishmael is usually looked upon as ‘the flesh’. That is Abraham went out in his own strength and tries to make Gods promise happen. True. But Paul will use this story in Galatians 4 and teach the difference between law and grace. Though Ishmael is the father of the Arab nations [Muslim people for the most part]. Yet Paul does not compare Ishmael to ‘natural Arab descent’. He compares Ishmael to JEWISH PEOPLE WHO ARE LAW KEEPERS AND WHO PERSECUTE TRUE BELIEVERS! Now, I don’t want to go anti Semitic. I want you to see this very important distinction. Today we should see this whole story thru the eyes of law versus grace. Not thru the eyes of Jew versus Muslim! When you preach it the ethnic way [Jew versus Muslim] you do harm to the purpose of God. Paul will use the illustration to show how all those who are under grace are free and don’t have to be under a legalistic mindset. He will compare Ishmael to those who are NATURAL JERUSALEM [not Arab people!] and say ‘you must be free from trying to please God thru the law, and come to the Cross!’ [Hebrews, Romans, Galatians, etc.] Preaching it like this is consistent with the New Testament. Preaching it like the American Fundamentalists causes strife in the world! So read this chapter along with Galatians 3 and 4. Think about what I just told you as you read, and see if it falls down on the side of grace versus ethnic division. God loves all people. He is calling all nations to himself thru Christ. Let’s keep this in mind as we ‘preach the bible’. Many times we do damage to the purpose of God because we think ‘preach the bible’ means spewing out hatred to Muslim people. Here we have shown you that this is not the will of God!

(622) [In the next few entries I cover the controversy over John Hagee in the release of his book ‘in defense of Israel’. Since the controversy erupted, John has made successive statements in trying to correct the record. The problem is he has actually said ‘Jesus is not the Messiah to Israel’ in some of these defenses. Then a later defense will say ‘I meant Jesus was the ‘suffering Messiah’ as opposed to the ‘reigning Messiah’. To put it simply, I think John messed up big time in his wording, and has progressively tried to get closer to truth in his words. So if he continues to ‘progress’ in his future statements, then good. But he has said so much already on the subject that I felt it needed to be dealt with]
I want to do something that I usually don’t do. I need to mention the name of John Hagee, the Pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. The reason I am saying Johns name is because it would be hard to deal with the controversy without saying it. Most of the entries I have written on ‘defending Israel’ and the wrong exalting of Israel’s heritage have actually been reproving John anonymously. The reason I didn’t use his name is because we broadcast and advertise in the San Antonio paper, and I don’t want to really undercut a brother in this way. John just put out a book [11-07] that has gotten a lot of criticism. The book ‘in defense of Israel’ is sort of the stuff I reprove. Christians going to great lengths to exalt natural heritage. John went a step further, he taught that Jesus was not the Messiah [a huge NO NO!] and never claimed to be. At first blush it seemed to be a mistake, but as you get into the book, sure enough he has espoused this heretical idea. Many scholars have come out and rejected it completely. I want to try my best to give John the benefit of the doubt. It seems like what he was trying to say was Jesus never intended to rule as an earthly Messiah over Israel. That he came as ‘savior’ only. Therefore the Jews really can’t be responsible for rejecting him as Messiah, because he didn’t claim it. Now, first of all, this is simply flat out wrong. John seems to not see the most basic stuff. The word ‘Christ’ means ‘Anointed one’ or ‘Messiah’. This is theology 101. In the Apostle John’s letter he says ‘whoever doesn’t believe that Jesus is Messiah [Christ] is anti Christ’. You can’t say stuff like this! I am not going to call Cornerstone church a cult. But in the recent arguing over this, Hagee has responded to his critics in a way that seems to defend his belief that Jesus never claimed to be Messiah. Or that he outright rejected this title. Of course Peter says to Jesus ‘thou art the Christ, the Son of the Most High’ which means ‘Messiah’. Jesus doesn’t rebuke Peter, but says ‘blessed are you Simon Barjona, flesh and blood hath not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven’. I really can go on with this, but most believers know this stuff. What happened with Hagee? I believe John is a good man, I disagree with him on lots of stuff. In a way if you read all the entries that I have written on John’s belief, they are very prophetic in a way. The entries on ‘seeing a verse about Christ and thinking it is anti christ’ were entries on Hagee. They sure seem very prophetic now! I think the problem with a ministry like Cornerstone church, is it’s very possible to become isolated from the broader Christian community when your whole life revolves around the well meaning ‘limited’ perspective of an old time preacher. A good man, just God never intended you to live your Christian experience being pummeled week after week with a very limited perspective. I have heard Hagee make some obvious mistakes in the past. I have corrected them, but never used his name [on radio]. They were really bad mistakes, not just my disagreement with him on his exalting of Israel. Well, let me say it. He once taught that Jesus wasn’t really forsaken at the Cross when he said ‘Why have you forsaken me’ he said Jesus felt forsaken, but God didn’t forsake him. A major mistake! I corrected it at the time. I give John the benefit of the doubt, but he must reject this recent view of Jesus not being the Messiah of Israel. The scriptures make it very plain that Israel rejected Jesus as Messiah [Christ] and that this rejection was the fundamental hinge point of the Cross. John has developed this belief while trying to hold to the well meaning intention of fighting anti Semitism. But no matter how hard you fight anti Semitism, you can’t say Jesus was not the Messiah of Israel! He really needs to correct this major flaw in his thinking. This is the first time I have used his name, but I felt like this really needed to be said for the sake of our ‘San Antonio’ ecclesia! In Trying to be fair, this is one of John Hagees statements trying to defend his position. I actaully have problems with this defense!
Many Christians have constructed a catch 22 concerning Jesus as Messiah. The catch 22 is this:
“Jesus came to be Messiah but because the Jews rejected Him as Messiah He had to go to the cross, hence the Jews are the Christ Killers.”
Fact: According to Webster’s Dictionary the word “Messiah” means “the expected king who delivers from oppressors.” A Messiah is one who rules and reigns over a given people.
Fact: The God of the Bible is absolutely sovereign! That means He is in control of everything in heaven and on earth all the time. If God is not sovereign; He can’t be God.
Question: What was God’s Sovereign will for Jesus Christ from the foundations of the earth?
Revelation 13:8 reads that Jesus Christ was the “Lamb of God slain from the foundations of the world.” This verse says it was God’s Sovereign plan for Jesus to die as Savior before the world was created in Genesis 1:1.
Most people confuse the role of “Messiah” and “Savior.” To be Messiah you must live. To rule and reign you must live. Jesus came to die and be the Savior of every person on earth.
THERE IS NO DUAL COVENANT! The Bible says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus Himself stated in Mark 14:8, Luke 24:46 and Mark 10:33-34 that He had come to die for the sins of the world as Savior. Again, you must live to be Messiah. You cannot be both Messiah and Savior!
John the Baptist introduced Jesus as the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The only thing a lamb can do is to be slaughtered as a sin offering.
Fact: Jesus claimed to be Savior several times in the Bible. He never claimed to be Messiah to the Jewish people. In John 4 Jesus told the woman at the well, a Gentile, who He was, knowing the Jews and Samaritans had nothing to do with each other. I go into this in great detail in my latest book, “In Defense of Israel.”
Fact: Jesus repeatedly in His ministry told His Disciples and followers to “tell no one” about His supernatural accomplishments. If Jesus wanted to be Messiah by popular demand, He would have wanted His supernatural exploits to be told by everyone to spread His popularity.
Sixty-four times in the four Gospels Jesus instructed those who were excited about His being the Messiah to “tell no one.” He refused the role. He never promised to be Messiah. The Jews did not reject Jesus as Messiah; it was Jesus who refused to be the reigning Messiah because it was God’s Sovereign will for Him to die on the cross.
Fact: Bible proof that Jesus did not come to be Messiah is found in Matthew 26:26-30 where Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi, was celebrating Passover with His 12 Disciples in what Christians call “The Lord’s Supper.”
In the Passover there are five cups of wine that Jesus and His Disciples would drink together. These five cups have been and still are celebrated by observant Jews who keep the Passover.
The fifth cup is the Messiah’s Cup. Luke 26:28, Jesus claims to be the Savior of the world by saying, “For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sin.”
In the next verse, Luke 26:29, Jesus rejects the Messiah’s Cup saying, “But I say unto you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”
Jesus rejected the Messiah’s Cup because He knew He was about to die. He promised His Disciples that He would drink the Messiah’s Cup when He returns to earth the second time as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Fact: If an Almighty and Sovereign God sent His Son into the world the first time to be Messiah…God failed! The truth is, God cannot fail…never.
Jesus was sent to the earth the first time to die as the Lamb of God.
I trust this simple explanation will clarify any concerns you might have concerning Jesus the Messiah and Jesus the Savior. Let us prepare for the soon coming of King Jesus, our Deliverer and Lord of Lords. It will be very soon!

(623) In the last entry we showed how it can be dangerous for independent churches, no matter how big or influential they are, to really get off track doctrinally. In Hagee’s view, he grasps the doctrine that Jesus was not the Messiah to Israel. Others also embrace a dual covenant idea [see note at bottom] they see the scriptures in Romans about a remnant of Jews who are still with God, and see that as saying there are Jewish people who are still in covenant with God outside of the New Covenant [a view by the way that Charles Taze Russell embraced, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses]. Most theologians view the remnant as those who have embraced Jesus as Messiah. Like the writer of Romans and all the original Apostles. Even John who would later say ‘he that denies Jesus as Messiah is anti christ’. So the fundamental flaw is this view sees the remnant as being outside of Messiah, while scripture shows them to be in Messiah. Over the years I have seen believers who would start their walk with the Lord and then after a while be introduced to the broader Christian community. Like myself I see all the traditions of Christianity as a real part of this mystical Body of Christ that we call ‘the church’. Some are so excited to find the hidden treasures contained in the study of church history that they eventually become Orthodox or Catholic. They see all the great stuff of the past and join the great traditions. I personally don’t go that far. While I do see merit to this argument, I feel the 1st century church as seen in scripture was a much more organic form than the later development of traditional church. I don’t see the later development as ‘devil worshippers’ as many Protestants do, I see them as true Fathers of the faith with many good things to contribute to the community. I want to espouse the idea that from the development of the Lords supper we can see in microcosm the trend that the Orthodox/Catholic church took as she moved away from Organic church. When Jesus instituted the ordinance of the Eucharist, he told the disciples that from now on when you do this [do what?] that you show his death till he comes. You can almost take it like he was saying ‘as often as you get together [organic community] and eat the fellowship meal, you will be a symbol of the spiritual reality of the truth of all believers feeding and living off of the actual life that is in me’. Not so much a liturgical thing, but more of a spiritual thing. Sort of like saying ‘no more Passover meal, but instead a true sharing of my life as seen in community’. Now, if you read 1st Corinthians 11 you will see this play out. Paul tells the church at Corinth that when they were getting together for these meals [which are actually called ‘love feasts’] that some were eating and getting full and drunk while others were not even getting any food. A far cry from the liturgical thing! This section of scripture also is important to understand the mistaken idea of church at ‘the church building’. Our English bibles say ‘when you come together in the church [ouch!]’ it is easy to read ‘in the church’ as ‘in the building’! Actually ‘in the church’ means in the corporate get together. When believers meet corporately they ‘are the church’. So right off the bat you can go down the later road as seeing the ‘church’ and the ‘Eucharist’ as liturgical, while it is not! As you read the chapter you see Paul saying ‘as you come together [church!] you are disrespecting the great reality of Jesus being the bread and us being the ‘eaters’ or receivers of his life’. He is the bread of life! [John’s gospel]. Now, the reproof is ‘you are disrespecting Christ’s Body [the other believers in the assembly!] by doing what you are doing!’ He reproves them in the context of community. He is not speaking into the later development of liturgical Eucharist! So, as you read the New Testament you see this truth all thru out its pages. Paul referring to all the believers as ‘church’. Never once addressing the ‘Pastor of the church’, but instead all the brothers in the city! He actually tells the church at Corinth ‘you have a brother in open sin, when you all come together [as a communal group] deliver him over to satan for the destruction of the flesh’ he isn’t addressing a Priest or Pastor or Bishop. He is telling ‘the church’ to do this. So as time goes by you have the early development of church and offices and liturgy as a sincere reaction to the fear that the church would apostasize if she didn’t have a strong ‘magisterium’, a teaching authority that could say ‘this is true, this is false’. The well meaning development of strong liturgy was a natural out growth of seeing church this way. At the reformation the Protestant church dealt with important issues, but really didn’t change the way we ‘do church’. The Protestants just replaced ‘the Priest’ with ‘the Pastor’. All good people on both sides, just not what God originally intended. So today you are seeing the idea of church as the strong liturgical communion being challenged by many ‘communal/organic’ ideas of church. A return to the original model [some think ‘model’ is too strong of a word]. But in this whole debate, you also find good men, who have ‘discovered’ the church fathers and all the great wisdom of the Mystics [Christian spirituality] and they cling to liturgy as a welcomed communion as opposed to the truncated independent rebels! These ‘ex Protestants’ are doing a service by re introducing the themes and practices of the early church. But the ‘real early church’ as seen in the New Testament was not liturgical! The above example from the Lords table shows you this. So as we continue to either ‘reform’ or ‘restore’ [those who see a return to the early practices of organic church can be seen as restorationist as opposed to ‘reformists’] we want to embrace and understand the ancient practices of the church, like popular writer Tony Jones speaks about [One of the key leaders in the Emergent church movement] but we also want to use the actual New testament as the most pure form of ‘early church’ [John has clarified his belief on the dual covenant, he has stated that he does not believe in dual covenant. But he seems to have not rejected the idea that Jesus is not the Messiah to Israel- as of 5-08].

(627) JOHN 18 (radio # 601) Jesus is betrayed in the garden. John follows Jesus all the way to the judgment, Peter stops short at the door. Why does John record this? Is he being self serving? He is the only gospel writer that tells you this [If I remember?] I think there is a purpose. Jesus already taught the principle of ‘whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but he that is wiling to give it up will save it’. All the others fled out of self preservation. John stayed. All the others will eventually die martyrs deaths, except for John! He will wind up on some island in his old age writing this tremendous prophetic vision [Revelation]. Truly he that was willing to give his life up outlasted them all! Actually if you read the last chapter of John this becomes an issue. Jesus tells Peter ‘if I will that John lives until I come, what is that to thee’? Then a rumor gets started over John not dieing until the 2nd coming! Hey, I wonder what they thought as they were all getting martyred one by one. Each time another disciple dies, they must have been thinking ‘hey, Johns still here, maybe he will live till Jesus comes’? The high priest asks Jesus of his doctrine AND disciples. Both Paul and Jesus had ‘doctrine and disciples’. Paul was a theologian on the run! Getting let down in baskets from city walls. Being stoned and put in prison. Paul was writing theology under crisis. Jesus and Paul weren’t some ivory tower theologians speculating on the latest fad in theology. They were ‘doing the stuff’. I want to challenge all my preacher friends, do you have doctrine and disciples? Let’s end this chapter in a little controversy. In verse 31 it says ‘the Jews’. Verses 35 ‘thine own nation AND the chief priests’. Verses 36 ‘delivered to the Jews’. Verses 38 ‘unto the Jews’. I want you to see how the scripture makes it clear that BOTH the leaders and the Nation of Israel rejected Messiah! Jesus in this chapter says he IS THE KING OF THE JEWS! Peter’s sermons in the book of Acts accuse the Jews as a whole group of rejecting Jesus, not just a ‘conspiracy of the leaders and Rome’ [as John Hagee is teaching]. I don’t want to be anti Semitic, some have actually accused John’s gospel of being anti Semitic. Hey, John himself was a Jew! The point is God has great plans for Israel as a Nation. Read Romans. But it is also a fact that ‘the Jews’ as a people group missed their Messiah. This chapter makes it pretty clear! Also when Peter cuts off the guys ear, Jesus says ‘stop, we are not here to fight. Shall I not drink the cup which my father gave me’? Paul will later teach that his own sufferings were ‘filling up the sufferings of Christ’s Body’ this would be heretical if it weren’t in the bible! Paul and the other early believers understood the calling to suffer along with the ‘being full’ part. I have heard the ‘being full’ verse used out of context a lot! Paul does says ‘I have learned to be content in any condition [state] both having a lot and a little’. I have heard preachers say ‘see, Paul knew how to be rich as well as broke’ no he didn’t! He was never rich. He knew how to have all his needs met [full] and to lack [times of suffering and imprisonment where he couldn’t get the basic stuff to do what he needed to do to carry on the mission]. Jesus says to Peter ‘shall I avoid the cup’? I think the modern American church has answered ‘yes’. I was reading the voice of the martyrs magazine yesterday. How so many believers are suffering and dieing for the faith. In Revelation it says it was the prayers of the martyrs that carried the day. Boy will we be embarrassed at the judgment when we find out it was the prayers of our martyred brothers and sisters who died in our day who really were changing things. And at the same time we were confessing money verses all the way to the bank!

(629) MEGA CHURCH- I want to speak a little on the trend of ‘mega church’. Those of you who have read all my stuff know the way I view ‘church’. Not so much the ‘church I go to on Sunday’ but more of ‘the group of believers residing in my city’. Now, I am not against mega church. Recently a mega church in Texas taught some stuff that was in the class of real heresy. They denied that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel. This got us to discus how stuff like this can happen. In the idea of church as being ‘to get as many people to attend the Sunday meeting as possible’ this environment often breeds a corporate mindset that sees the ‘filling of the building’ as the goal. Along with this comes the ‘meeting of the budget at all expense’. When we first started reproving the doctrine of Jesus being a millionaire, the disciples having a huge budget, Jesus owning an expensive house and all the other stuff that went along with this distorted view of Jesus. It was hard to ‘correct’ the average Pastor who would hear a ‘proof text’ like Jesus wearing an expensive coat and then falling headlong into the money camp. It really upset me that average Pastors could be so easily ‘moved from the gospel of Christ’. I then began to see that in the context of these men’s lives, the major pressure was to ‘fill the building and meet the budget’. All well meaning guys, just distracted from the real goal [the developing of the character and image of Christ in the people groups [oikos] you relate to over your life]. Now, in this environment [the fill the building one!] you grasp hold of any teaching that helps with the accomplishing of the mission. So good Pastors, wanting to meet the budget, hear something from the prosperity group and take it in hook, line and sinker. Any reproof is seen as ‘these rebels don’t see the truth of money and its major role in the Christian life’. While in reality money is dealt with in scripture, but the overall view can be summed up in Paul’s statement ‘using the things of this world while not abusing them’. An overall balance of finances without falling into the trap that Paul warned about in 1st Timothy 6. But in the highly individualistic style of a Pastor overseeing thousands of people [like the San Antonio mega church- 18,000 members] you can become isolated thru viewing everything thru the lens of million dollar budgets and having people come and listen. The safety mechanism that Jesus put in the ‘church’ [corporate body of people] was when all the believers are together, they share and correct and keep each other in balance. The ‘big church’ model can be in danger of losing this ‘safety mechanism’. Some see this and encourage home groups, that’s a good thing. But some mega churches have Pastors who don’t participate. So these brothers are on a course to accomplish huge goals and then when they get off track doctrinally it is next to impossible to correct them. The members are so enamored with the strong preaching of the leader [in the more authoritative situations, I don’t see this in Corpus Christi] that they fall into the category of hearers only and would never confront the leader. Even if he starts to deny that Jesus is the Christ! [Messiah]. So in all of the varied expressions of church, let’s stay balanced and be open to receive from all the Christian communions that are out there. Don’t go down the road of viewing other Christian churches as ‘those deceived traditionalists’. I find it disturbing that when talking with Jehovah witnesses they espouse the same feelings towards the Catholic Church as many Baptists do. While not defending all the teachings of the Catholic Church, this mindset is inherently unhealthy. When a strong mega church is ‘ruled’ by an authoritarian Pastor, this whole dynamic is absent from the New Testament. There was NEVER a situation, NOT ONE TIME EVER where you would have 18,000 believers under the weekly preaching of any single person who was called ‘the Pastor’. Now you can see why the way you view your function as a Christian can be limited if your whole experience in Christianity is one of sitting in a pew and passively hearing bible words being preached. This perspective is not what you find taught in the New Testament assemblies of believers.

(634) JOHN 20 (radio # 603) THE GREAT VICTORY OF THE SON OF GOD. In this chapter we finalize the witness of Jesus from his father. All along he claimed to be the Messiah, here it is truly proven! The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave is an historical fact! If you were to try and disprove this fact [many have] you would find more historical evidence backing up the reality of the Son of God than any other person. If you believe in Lincoln, Clinton, Washington or any other historical figure, than for sure you must believe in the Christ! He has so much more proof than all the others. John will say at the end of this chapter ‘Jesus did more signs than these, but these are recorded that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you might have life thru his name’. John tells us that the miracles [signs] that Jesus did were proof of his Messiahship. I hate to have to bring this up again, but being we are reading this during the controversy [12-07] let me say it. In John Hagee’s book ‘in defense of Israel’ John teaches that Jesus was not the Messiah to Israel because God didn’t give him the power to do signs like Moses did. That Jesus told them ‘no sign will be given to you but the sign of the prophet Jonah’. Then in an unbelievable fashion John will teach that because of this, Jesus was not the Messiah. It is almost unbelievable to hear him teach this. Many Messianic groups have come out and openly rebuked Hagee for this. These are the same Jewish groups that you would think would be on his side. They also see the danger of preaching a doctrine that says ‘Jesus was not the Messiah because he refused to do signs’. Peter in Acts will actually preach sermons that say ‘God approved of his Son by giving him the Holy Spirit to do miraculous signs in front of you’. The ‘sign of the prophet Jonah’ was not Jesus telling Israel ‘you will get no signs from me’, like Hagee teaches. He said ‘the sign of Jonah’ was that Jonah went to the gentiles [Nineveh] to preach and not to Israel. Therefore the sign was Jesus telling Israel ‘I am not your Messiah, I am going to the gentiles.’ This is not what the ‘sign of Jonah’ means. The sign of Jonah was ‘as Jonah was in the belly of the whale 3 days and 3 nights, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth [buried] for 3 days and nights’. The sign of Jonah was the death and resurrection of Jesus! Jesus was saying to Israel ‘I have been doing many signs already [raising the dead, opening blind eyes. All the signs that they were rejecting!] And in the ‘sign of Jonah’ statement Jesus was saying ‘this will be the ultimate sign, until you believe in this sign [the resurrection] your eyes will be blinded to all the other signs’. Hagee actually says ‘if God wanted Jesus to be the Messiah to Israel, why didn’t God give Jesus the ability to do signs like Moses’. He did! Moses even says ‘the Lord your God will raise up a prophet LIKE UNTO ME, whoever doesn’t hear him will be destroyed’. Peter says God did signs among you [Israel] to testify that he was the Messiah. The writer of this gospel [John] says ‘these signs have been recorded SO YOU WOULD BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE MESSIAH [CHRIST]’. John [the Apostle] will later write in his letter ‘who is anti Christ? He that denies that Jesus is the Messiah [Christ] is anti Christ’. So here we see that Jesus was proven to be the messiah by the miracles he did. The greatest one being his resurrection from the dead!

(635) Yesterday morning I got up early and prayed a weekly prayer that includes the nations. Part of this time goes like this ‘Lord I pray for all religions outside of the covenant of your Son. All Jewish people, that they would see Jesus their messiah. All Muslim people, that you would give them signs and prophetic visions and dreams to show them Jesus is the way’. Then this morning I had a dream that family members were converting to Islam. That they were being ‘attacked’ or influenced by the ‘spirit of Islam’. In the dream I felt helpless against this force. We went to sleep [in the dream!] and I awoke [still dreaming this] with a radical spirit of intercession. I began praying and breaking the power of Islam off of the family members that just a few hours earlier seemed to be fully lost to Islam. I felt this dream spoke to the effectiveness we have been having recently with Muslims. These last few weeks have given opportunity to share with a homeless Muslim Iraq war veteran. Good friend. Then a Muslim friend from England started conversing with me and asking how to become Christian. He is reading this site! It never dawned on me that these were fruits from the prayer time! Like I said before, I can be dense at times. Let me cover some church history. I have had someone argue with me about the history of Islam. Not a Muslim, but a Christian who was saying ‘why do you say Islam started in the 7th century, it started around the 11th’. My answer was ‘Muhammad lived in the 7th century’. Not to hard to see this. So I thought I should cover some history. During the time of the rise of Islam, the Christian church was already dividing from east and west. After Constantine [4th century Roman emperor] consolidated the Roman Empire in the 4th century he set up the capital city of the eastern empire, Constantinople [named after him]. As time progressed the western church would take on the form of Roman Catholicism, the eastern [Constantinople area. Modern day Turkey-Istanbul] would be known as ‘Orthodox’. Though the official split of eastern and western [Catholic-Rome!] churches occurred in 1054 AD, yet the division started years before. The official split is called ‘the great schism’ of the 11th century; it would not be until 500 years later that the church would have her ‘reformation’. The official reason for this split was over a rather silly thing. For centuries the Catholic church had an expression that said ‘the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father’ than they included ‘he proceeds from the father and the Son’. Well the eastern brothers didn’t like Rome telling them what to believe and used this as the official reason to ‘have the schism’. To be honest the divisions were coming for years. After the Roman Empire consolidated under Constantine, he tried to strengthen the eastern territories of his empire and for centuries you had the struggle for which region would be the most influential. At first you had 5 major areas that were divided under 5 main Bishops. As time went on the argument would be ‘which bishop has the most say so’ and it was really a power struggle. Finally Rome said ‘the bishop of Rome is the FIRST AMONG EQUALS [a term that many in the Protestant strain of the discipling movement would later embrace] he holds Peters seat’ and this is really where the divisions started. Eventually Muhammad would rise and Islam would take control of the eastern capital. This later became the reason for the crusades. The Catholic church wanted to regain the territories that she lost in the east. The eastern churches are very much Catholic in many ways. They also hold to a view of Christianity that sees man being ‘joined’ with God and becoming pleasing to God thru Christ’s grace uniting with us and making us like him. A perfectly scriptural view, but a different emphasis from the strong intellectual power that you read about from the western fathers of the church. The Catholic church is noted for her social action in ways that the eastern church is not. So both of these communions have good things to bring to the table. The Orthodox [eastern] churches would not be affected by the major social and political upheavals that took place in the west. The Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment had major impacts on western Christianity, while not affecting the eastern church in the same way. During the 13th century you would have ‘pre reformers’ rise up in the western church. John Wycliffe, the great Catholic Priest who was at the center of learning in France would become known for his translating the scriptures into the common language. Then you have John Huss and John Knox [3 Johns, scripture says 3 fold cords are not easily broken!] who would have their own influence in western Christianity. At this time you had whole movements of believers who would be seen as neither ‘western or eastern’ but restorationist [the restoring of the early practices and beliefs of the church] Peter Waldo would be the Father of the Waldensians and in the 12th century you would have the Albigenses in the south of France. These groups would be looked upon as ‘cults’ [though the term was not used yet] by the traditional church. So you can see how the church has been growing and reforming ever since the first century. Even though we see many divisions that exist till this day, there are strides being made for unity. The eastern and western church are very close to ‘re uniting’ once again. While I do not personally hold to the doctrine of the Pope being the occupier of Peter’s seat, I also see him as a Christian man who is striving for unity in Christ’s church. Some believe the whole attempt for outward unity is futile. The more ardent Protestants see it as ‘the one world church of the anti christ’ I reject that language out of hand. Well I hope you got something out of this short overview of world history [real short!].

(612) I got with some homeless friends yesterday. An older brother showed up. He is a friend of mine, I had met him a few years back. He is very strong on Jewish stuff. I actually refer to him as a ‘Messianic Gentile’. A Gentile Christian who is enamored with natural Israel. When we first met I let him know my feelings on this. Those of you who have read this site know what I mean. I am against the exalting of any natural heritage. But this brother has become a reader of my site and has told a mutual friend that he thinks I am ‘very deep’ in Christian understanding. To be honest I don’t see how prosperity guys and ‘Messianic Gentiles’ could even put up with me. But somehow they see things from our teaching that they like. That’s great! During the conversation my friend was telling everyone how Jesus birthday was today [the first day of Hanukah] and my other friend kinda told me he was announcing this to everyone. I told my friend that most Christians think Jesus wasn’t born in winter. You can look at the surroundings of the birth of Jesus in the gospels and it would seem like it wasn’t in winter. I am not dogmatic at all, I celebrate Christmas with a tree and all. I tried to avoid my Messianic friend. So he and another conservative right winger came and sat at my table [outdoor picnic tables] and started their talk. The conservative guy was also Messianic. He was telling the other guy how he went to the local Jewish meeting last night to light the candlestick and all. Then they started talking about some Christian/Jewish prophet who has this world wide ministry. Moved his family to Israel, looks like a true full blown rabbi and all. I really felt like puking up at this point, but I held it in. The conservative guy would actually ask a question and say ‘I am throwing this out on the table for anyone’s in put’ and as soon as I gave some in put, he would cut me off and say ‘lets stay on track here’. I realized I shouldn’t even get into it with these guys. I tried to ignore the whole deal, but hey they came to my table. After a while I spoke up, didn’t let the guy cut me off. Gave them about a ten minute reproof on some stuff. Quoted lots of scripture and all. Reproved the conservative guys teaching on ‘we create things with prophecy’ sort of a mixture of word of faith elements that he was espousing. I taught the biblical view of Old and New Testament prophecy. Also the ‘extra biblical view’ of Christians being little gods who have the power to create with words just like the ‘Big God’. I explained the reality of prophecy and also the reality of decreeing things as believers. But shot down the ‘we create things with our words like God does’ doctrine. Somehow the conservative Jewish guy had this understanding also. Well I rebuked them for a few minutes, didn’t mean to be mean. But you can only swallow so much of this stuff at one sitting. I have noticed I am becoming a little more known around this mission, kinda uncomfortable with it. A few guys have become avid readers of my stuff. Sometimes people will ask ‘oh, you run the radio ministry for ‘Corpus Outreach’ do you help the main speaker?’ They think someone else is doing the talking on the show. I tell them it’s me, they can’t believe some radio guy would be hanging out with homeless guys. I really like the anonymity, but I figured sooner or later people would become more familiar with what I do. I don’t hide the ministry stuff, I need for friends to listen to the show and read our stuff, I just try to avoid the persona of being ‘a preacher’. There are a few times where the persona comes in handy, like when I rebuked the brothers at the table! Did it in full biblical fashion, quoting scripture and all. Man, all you preachers would have liked me at that point!

(423) I want all my evangelical friends to listen closely. There are many radical and unpopular things I teach on this site. Everything we teach has to be seen thru the Cross. I am listening to a radio message. I stopped to do this. Often times Evangelicals go to great lengths in their defense of natural Israel. The things that I have said on this site concerning Israel has made us deadly enemies in certain camps. The message on the radio is dealing with Esther and how God will go to great lengths in order to preserve Israel. Many of these types of sermons speak against people like myself, who teach that Israel’s only hope is to find her identity in Christ. This type of message that I am hearing is OK. They simply need to understand that God HAS gone to GREAT LENGTHS to preserve Israel. He gave his Son for this purpose. The only way any nation [Jew, Muslim, ‘Christian’] can ever be preserved is in Christ. The promise of everlasting preservation is in Him. Those who defend natural Israel to the point of teaching that God has a covenant with Israel APART from Christ are doing harm to her preservation. Scripture says ‘he that doeth the will of God shall abide forever’ [1st John] it also says ‘this is the will of God, that you would believe on him that God has sent’ [the gospel of John]. John [the disciple/not the Baptist] was a Jew. He knew Israel and her customs well. John knew that the only way to preserve her was thru her Messiah. All the other Apostles died for this belief. John was the only one to escape martyrdom. He lived to around 90 years old. He got stuck on some island called ‘Patmos’. They tried to kill the guy by boiling him in oil [so the story goes]. As an old man he gets one last chance to speak to Israel. He writes this tremendous prophecy [Revelation] and he presents Jesus as the Lamb who is sitting on the throne. John knew the truth.

(496) I have been interceding for a while this morning. I have been praying for 22 Korean Christian hostages who were taken by the Taliban in Afghanistan for a few days. Today is 7-30-07, I don’t know what has happened to them yet. The other day they killed the 42 year old Pastor of the group. They are South Korean Christians who were there doing charity work. I also was watching a big Christian meeting who gathered conservative Christians from all over to ‘unite for Israel’ these brothers have interviews and meetings with Israeli leaders. They glory in her as a natural nation. They call for more financial support of her military. There is always a danger in supporting any natural nation to the degree where you side with her and almost justify military action to the point of killing other people. Does Israel have a right to defend herself as a Nation? Yes. Do all nations have this right? Yes. Have there ever been scenarios where Christians on the other side [Palestinian or whatever] found themselves stuck in the nation that was on the opposite side? Yes. Is it possible that there might be 10 righteous Christians in the other nation who we are advocating violence against? Yes. So John what’s the answer? Well it certainly isn’t starting some Christian movement where you actually advocate for the build up of Israel’s defenses and you seem to be approaching end time scenarios with this bloodlust to attack other nations. I don’t care what your eschatology is, pray for the peace of Jerusalem and pray for the peace of the ‘Jerusalem of God’ as well. Paul defined this Jerusalem as all Christians. Even those who might be huddled in some corner of a Palestinian home waiting to get the hell bombed out of them from the others side. I just hope they weren’t watching the Christian conference [from San Antonio] who were glorying in a nation’s natural heritage right before they get bombed to death!

(503) Isaiah 59- ‘Gods hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear dull that it cannot hear. But our sins have separated us from God acting on our behalf’ one of the themes we will see in this chapter is God wanting us to speak truth and to stand for justice. He will reprove the times we lie and don’t really speak and walk in truth. There are so many issues with the American church at this season. I saw Benny Hinn speaking to a meeting of Pastors. I have sent Benny my books and stuff. I was encouraged to hear him reprove those who teach that Job [in the bible] was making a bad confession and God recorded his words, but didn’t justify Jobs confession. Those of you in the ‘know’ remember how it was [and still is!] taught that Job went thru trials because of a bad confession, and in essence God doesn’t want us reading Job and believing Jobs confession. You just read Job to see what not to do! I have dealt with this error before. But I was glad to see Benny hit on it in such a public way. This is an example of God telling us ‘Church, I love you guys. I have given you time to overcome this. You can’t keep speaking ‘lies’ and think I am going to move in your country [The U.S.]’ So God is dealing with us in mercy, but he is telling all of us ‘I really want to move on your behalf, you must humble yourselves and repent. I want justice, I want truth. You need mercy and love, but they cannot trump my desire for truth and righteous justice’. ‘None calleth for justice, none speak truth. They trust in vanity and speak lies’ There has been a stubbornness on certain parts of the American church that have consistently ‘trusted fake things, and continue to speak fake things’ we are all guilty of this, Gods agenda is for us to seek him and return to a pure biblical gospel. I am so excited about this younger generation. I have been watching the ‘call’ or the ‘cause’. Basically a group of young people on fire for Jesus. The I.H.O.P. meetings with Mike Bickle. The ‘merchant band’ all of these radical kids seeking the face of God. They put me to shame. And in the midst of this there exists an older generation who insist on ‘speaking lies, trusting in vanity’ the older generation needs to listen to these ‘babes’, out of their mouths God is speaking. They sing things like ‘don’t sell out for the stuff of this world’. ‘They hatch eggs, whoever eats their eggs dies. They will not continue to cover themselves with their teachings’ when we steer off course of Christ’s main message, the things we produce [books, blogs, tapes, etc.] only hurt others. We can’t keep ‘feeding rotten eggs’ to Gods kids. These movements who have veered away from the gospel will not continue to ‘cover themselves’ [hide within their groups] because God is calling for repentance and justice. ‘They have made crooked paths, those who go in them will not have peace’ when teachers establish wrong doctrines and teachings in the church, they become ‘crooked paths’ paths that many will go down. It is very hard to undo this. Jesus actually said ‘let them go down these paths. They will all fall into a ditch’ sometimes God allows the wrong paths to exist until both the leaders and followers see the error of their way. I remember reading how Jim Bakker saw how wrong he was. He started reading the gospels while in prison and couldn’t believe that he was a money preacher who taught that Jesus was rich. After reading the gospels he saw how wrong he was. God is going to take those who have made ‘crooked paths’ and he will use them to go straight again.
NOTE: Let me interject a reminder here. All Christians, especially those who feel the Lord has called them to the prophetic ministry, are required to confront [in love] obvious abuses and error in the church. One of the most difficult things about this calling is the majority of people you are called to speak into will reject you at the start. The gift brings with it an ‘inner mechanism’ that causes the messenger to be rejected initially. Why? Be cause to confront and undo mindsets that have existed in certain areas of the people of God is ‘tumultuous’. You go thru a season where you ‘pluck up, root out, tear down’ and then you get to the place where you ‘build and strengthen’ again. I look at these contractors who buy nice homes on prime lots of real estate. They go in and begin to dismantle the house! Even though it is an ‘OK’ structure, it has provided shelter for many years. Lots of kids grew up in that house. Man, what are you doing coming against all my memories! Well the contractor realizes that it served a purpose, but the time has come to realize that the structure is insufficient for the next level of community growth. So I see the temptation for those whom the Lord has called to prophetic things, to go thru this type of rejection. And when these people go thru difficulty it is own natural to say ‘Physician, heal thyself’ those whom the message is directed will have a tendency to say ‘see, that Isaiah fellow, he thought he was such a voice for God, look at him now’ [or Jeremiah or any of the other prophets]. So as we continue thru Isaiah we will eventually get to the ‘building up process’ but first God has to make sure all the debris is truly removed before the next structure can go up. Remember what I said about the prophecy given to the Virgin Mary ‘a sword shall pierce thru your own heart also, that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed’ God allows prophetic people to be ‘pierced’ so he can see the response of those around them. Note; I have found myself at times thinking ‘If I could just overcome this obstacle, if I didn’t have to deal with these difficulties at this time, I would be so much more effective’ I have to remind myself that ‘when I am weak, then God can be glorified thru me’ natural thinking says ‘why the Cross?’ then you learn to say ‘nevertheless not my will, but yours be done’ amen!
‘Therefore we behold obscurity’ I have found one of the worst judgments in my own life is when I ‘behold obscurity’. When I am in sin in some area of my life, Gods mercy is always there, but there is a real sense of the absence of Gods presence. Jesus said ‘the pure in heart see God’ when our hearts are not pure, we ‘see obscurity’. ‘We roar like bears, and mourn like doves’ Have you ever experienced extreme highs and lows. Days where you were ‘roaring like a bear’ and the next day ‘crying like a dove’. When our hearts are not right, these ups and downs are inevitable. Sometimes we even experience this when our hearts are right, but in this context sin is the main reason for it. ‘our transgressions are with us and our iniquities, we know them’ transgressions are the actual breaking of Gods law, the ‘act of sin’ if you will. The ‘iniquity’ is that tendency in us to gravitate towards certain sins. That ‘bent’ that keeps turning us in the wrong direction. You say ‘why brother, I have no idea what you are talking about’. You’re lying! Here God says ‘we know them’. ‘Truth faileth and he that departs from error makes himself a target’ I find it interesting, when people repent from ‘wrong paths’ they then become the target of those who are still on the path! Why? Because if you can do it, make the change, go to the next level. Then there is no more excuse for those who are not changing. This is at the heart of murder and hatred. The bible says ‘for this reason Cain slew Able, because his own works were wicked and his brothers righteous’ Envy and pride are horrible things. They cause us to want the failure of others who are succeeding. We really don’t want ‘that other church to succeed’ in our hearts. If they get 6 thousand people to attend, then all my excuses of why I only have so many attend my church are no longer valid. Those who start going on the better paths than we have been on become a target! ‘And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, those that turn away from transgression in Jacob’ God will come to those who ‘turn away from sin in Jacob’ like Paul says in the New Testament, it is not natural birth that counts. To simply be ‘Jacob’ [Israel] doesn’t cut it. You need to have ‘turned away from sin’ and accepted Gods sacrifice, Jesus! To those [Jew or Gentile] that ‘turn away from transgression’ [this means the actual act of disobedience!] God will reveal himself. ‘This is my promise to you, the word that I have put in your mouth shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seeds seed, from this time forth and forever more’ Yesterday we had a good home meeting in Kingsville. One of the ‘sons’ of the fathers I used to preach to years ago in jail. The son is the ‘seed’ [offspring] of the original person from this family that I preached to. His son [the grandson] lives in Corpus and also is a part of what the Lord is doing. God promises that if you speak his words, they will remain in the mouths of ‘the children’s children’ God is always thinking generationaly /dynastically. Man thinks short term.

(504) I was watching a preacher the other day teaching on end time things. He is very dogmatic in his view. The Rapture and all. I thought it funny, because as he got to the part where he was teaching on the ‘4 horseman of Revelation’ he flatly says ‘the rider on the white horse is the anti-christ’. I know this view fairly well. I was taught it as a new Christian. The last few times I have read Revelation I lean more towards this rider being Christ who is conquering against the forces of evil. Some say ‘well, we know this isn’t Christ, because after him come the other 3 horses which represent death and destruction and bad stuff’. The point I will make is in Revelation your are seeing ‘the wrath of God’ it is Gods judgment on the unbelieving world. It would seem fitting for Christ to appear at the beginning of these judgments, after all ‘all judgment has been committed to the Son’. I really have no idea why I am even getting into this, I haven’t read Revelation in a while. I just thought it funny, how someone can be so sure of his end time scenario, where he might actually be calling a reference to Christ ‘the anti-christ’.[a bit prophetic, don’t you think? Revelation is about the story of the Son of God triumphing over the forces of evil, but those who hold to the strong antichrist view, it just seems fitting for them to mistake ‘Christ’ for ‘antichrist’, if this is all you see when you read the book, then that’s what you will SEE!] NOTE; Let me overview a little bit more. The above interpretation of the rider on the white horse being ‘antichrist’ grows out of an entire ‘scheme’ of end time events that was developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. These were good men [John Nelson Darby] who came to embrace certain views of end time things [Rapture]. To these brothers they see the Church [believers] ‘taken away’ in the first few chapters of Revelation. They say ‘Jesus is speaking to the churches by his Spirit, then you have no more ‘churches’ being spoken to’. God tells John to ‘come up here’ [heaven] and they see this as the ‘secret Rapture’ where the church is taken away. The reason they see it like this is in Revelation you see Gods wrath on those that ‘dwell on the earth’ and therefore believers can’t be here! Even though you will find actual references of the Devil fighting the Saints. Making war against those who ‘keep the Word of God’ and all sorts of references of the enemy fighting believers thru out the book. The ‘Rapture’ brothers will say ‘these groups are those who got saved after the church left’ well, if they are saved, they are ‘in the church’ technically speaking. So it is possible [very likely too me!] that ‘Christians’ are on the planet when these hard times take place. They also will say ‘these references to those who keep the Word of God’ are to certain Jews who are converted [again all new testament language to ‘the Israel of God’ and things like this are speaking of those who have come to know God by faith, even Jews] so the fact that thru out the rest of the book you find language like this, tells me the ‘church’ didn’t get secretly taken away. And then most importantly, you find CLEAR verses actually speaking of Jesus coming, in PLAIN LANGUAGE, and these verses are looked at as ‘the final stage of the second coming’ or other verses referencing Christ [like the rider on the white horse] being called ‘anit christ’. To me all these brothers ‘suffer from’ a mistake that they warn others about making. That is ‘interpret the plain meaning of scripture first, before going to lengths to develop doctrines from that which isn’t plainly in the text’. If God has ANY PEOPLE ON THE EARTH WHO ARE CALLED ‘SAINTS’ THOSE WHO KEEP THE WORD OF GOD and any other references like this, then plainly these references show that Christians are on the planet during this time. The Rapture guys will so much as accept this, but then they come up with all sorts of different categories for these ‘converts’ who are ‘saved’ during the tribulation. My argument would simply be ‘so if you admit there are actual converts in this tribulation time, then it very much is possible, even thru your own interpretation, to have believers on the earth during this time’. So how then does God ‘spare them from his wrath’ while they are going thru all these difficulties? He does it by divine power. You see the believers thru out history going thru many times of ‘great tribulation’. You also see the lost world going thru many periods of ‘Gods wrath’. To the casual observer, these might look like the same thing. But to those going thru it, they know the difference. The simple fact that God has the ability to ‘keep those’ in Christ from his wrath is the answer. You don’t have to come up with all types of belief systems that say ‘Jesus secretly appeared between chapters 3 and 4 and the reason we know this is ….’ Why do stuff like this? There are very real and plain references to Jesus coming again in the book of Revelation. Don’t go and find some doctrine that comes from ‘silence’. That is ‘since the Spirit is no longer speaking directly to the churches after chapter 3, therefore Jesus came and took them all away’. Jesus is no longer speaking ‘to the churches’ because the main issue after chapter 3 is the outpoured wrath of God on an unbelieving world. We know he didn’t come and take all the believers away, because there are many verses dealing with his people being here, as well as very plain and open verses that say when he comes. So lets stick with the plain meaning first, and then you can try and ‘figure out who the 144,000 are’. Another note; I am really ‘delving’ into it for those who were taught his. At the end of the book of Revelation you do see ‘Jesus coming back with his saints’ and in the book of Thessalonians it says ‘don’t worry about those who have died, when Christ comes back, he will bring them also’. There was a very real 1st century fear that the loved ones who have died were gone. Paul deals with this in Thessalonians as well as Corinthians chapter 15. I know to us it seems silly for believers to have held to this fear, but the fact is it was something the Apostle Paul dealt with. So you see the New Testament speaking of ‘Christ coming back with the Saints’ as a hope of the resurrection. That is Jesus brings back [at the 2nd coming] the ‘spirits’ if you will, of all who have been with him for thousands of years. These will ‘reunite’ with their bodies at the Resurrection. Those who are living at this point will be instantly glorified [1st Thessalonians 4] so to read a verse that says ‘Jesus comes back with his saints’ shouldn’t cause you to think ‘well, how did all the saints get there? He must have secretly come back and taken them, there you have it’ well they got there BY DIEING! Jesus brings them back with him as was taught thru out the whole New Testament. Don’t go and develop some doctrine that believers didn’t ‘know about’ for 1800 years to explain this stuff. It’s simple if you just read and believe scripture as it is written. Also there is a real event at the second coming that ‘raptures’ believers into the air to meet with Christ. This event does happen. It happens at the second coming. So we too who are alive will be ‘caught up together with the Lord’. The return of Jesus back to earth takes place with all of the saints at the ‘touch down’ of Jesus feet on the planet. Truly he ‘comes back with all his saints’. Don’t go and develop a secret ‘second coming’ [rapture] that took every one away at another time. The ‘rapture’ takes place at the ‘second coming’ it is the event of us going up to meet him in the air at the moment of resurrection! NOTE; this also brings us back to the verses in Isaiah ‘not speaking your own words’. Many of the brothers who teach these things are well meaning gospel preachers. Good churches who lead people to Christ. Most of them are taught this stuff at bible school, or from well meaning ‘fathers of the faith’ that they looked up to. During these formative years they are told ‘this is what the Rapture is’ along with all sorts of other learning. They don’t have time to spend years ‘un learning’ this stuff. They mean well. Often times they only question it as they leave the learning environment of college and become long term students of the bible and history. A lot of times when we put ‘preachers out into the work’ they come with these pre conceived ideas that they learned along the way. The problem is if people are teaching things that ‘are the words of men’ [to put it nicely!] then they are ‘speaking their own words’. While every teacher is susceptible to this, we do it at an alarming rate in today’s media world. It’s so easy to catch a preacher teaching this on TV, or to read a Tim Lahaye book on the end times. I see some of this as a result of the Protestant churches ‘coming out from all historical truth, the fathers of the ancient church’ and going with the ‘bible only’. Now going with the ‘bible only’ is a good thing. I have used the bible to show you in this whole entry why the Rapture as taught today holds no ground. But the strong independent protestants truncate themselves from the heritage of all the saints [All the great church fathers, down thru the present time] and leave themselves open to having too much influence from a small part of the Christian church. In my experience I found it ‘amusing’ how the Fundamental Baptists were so much like the Assembly of God in all of these doctrines, and yet the fundamental Baptists viewed them as heretics over the gift of tongues. They couldn’t see that they had so much in common, even the wrong stuff on the Rapture! So it would do us all good to sit back, read the writings of church history, study the bible, pray, DO EVANGELISM [the great commission was to go and make disciples, not even get into all this stuff!] and over time allow the Spirit of God to lead you. You will find that you as a believer can disagree on these end time issues and still work together for the cause Of Christ in your community.

(514) I am praying one of my ‘intercessory’ prayers where I go thru a long list of things that I feel are important. I just prayed for the church worldwide, the Korean hostages in Afghanistan and a bunch of other stuff. Even by name for the people who have emailed me and asked for prayer! I told them I would regularly pray for them by name! The reason I stopped is not to ‘brag about my praying’ but I just prayed for all the unbelievers in the world. I don’t generalize it too much; I try to pray for specific people groups. I say ‘Father, I pray for every group outside of the Covenant of your Son. For all Muslims, for all Israel and for every one else outside of Christ. Father reveal your Son to them. Send laborers into the harvest’ When scripture says ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ it doesn’t mean for her military success. It doesn’t mean for her ‘standing’ in the geopolitical world ‘more money for defense’. When you ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ or any other people group, you pray that God would open their eyes to the Prince of Peace!

(528) Isaiah 61 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me BECAUSE the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound’ Jesus read this verse in the gospel and said it was being fulfilled thru him. God anoints Jesus and us for set purposes. I find it interesting how this coincides with chapter 58 and deals with the hand of God to free people. To actually minister to real needs. In chapter 58 God rebukes Israel for thinking the anointing [Spirit] is for ritualistic religion, he tells them to do justice and reach out to the hurting. Jesus exemplifies this. He ‘proclaims’ liberty to captives. It’s like if someone were in a jail cell and the governor sent a message that said ‘you are already pardoned’. The message of the gospel is ‘you are free, God is not holding your sins against you. Only believe!’ We often preach ‘you must do so and so to get free’ Jesus said ‘you already are’. ‘To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, the day of vengeance of our God’ we must make it clear that a day of judgment is coming. The reality is God does forgive you, but you must come thru the Cross. It must be plain that all who reject Christ face a sure and certain judgment. A few years ago a very famous Charismatic preacher became a ‘universalist’ [someone who believes that everyone goes to heaven, or in this case that hell and judgment do not exist] He shared how when he stopped preaching ‘hell’ that it just made everyone feel better. It might make you feel better, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real! God wants us to tell people about this ‘acceptable time of the Lord’ but also warn them that if they refuse Gods grace, judgment is coming down the road. ‘To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ Now we are going to see a theme thru out the rest of the chapter. God wants to bring you out of mourning and into full restoration. I said in the previous chapters that rebuke and correction lead up to restoration. It is vital that we enter into joy! God wants us to come out of places of ‘heaviness’ [depression] and bring us to places of joy and peace ‘that we might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, and they shall build up the waste places, repair waste cities’ Who will do these things ? Those who have truly entered into praise! This is why it’s vital to make the transition into joy. It is the restoration process that enables us to move on to the next level. God says ‘you will have a scar, but no open wound’ There will be reminders of the desert you were in, that’s good. God says I want you to remember how awful it really was, never forget the ‘pit that I took you out of’ now that you are out, go and do my works! I have claimed these verses for over 20 years concerning building up waste cities and God doing it thru your seed. Yesterday we had a good outreach day in Kingsville. We got with some brothers and met at a park. I have a friend who is a musician, but he only knows the old classics ‘amazing grace’ and stuff. Fine with me, we sang and praised in that park. I felt the Lord said that he was going to restore joy to ‘our mourners’ and it will be thru this restored joy that he will ‘build the old waste places’. ‘You shall be named the Priests of the Lord, the ministers of our God’ this is all of us! No special class here, no ‘clergy’. This is you and me. ‘For your shame ye shall have double, and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion, they shall posses double, everlasting joy shall be with them’ In Hebrews it says of Jesus ‘he despised the shame, looking ahead to the reward’. Here it says God will reward you by giving you many converts and blessing these converts exponentially based on the shame and confusion you experience. Don’t try to get out of the shame/difficulty/persecution, but see it as part of the cost. Know that as you suffer, God is promising to reward you thru your seed. ‘I the Lord love judgment, I HATE ROBBERY FOR BURNT OFFERINGS’ now I want you to pay attention here. In the New Testament Jesus teaches the way people ‘rob God’ is by not meeting the needs of people. He rebuked the Pharisees for tithing to the temple and using this as an excuse to not meet the needs of their parents. Jesus said when you didn’t meet the needs of the destitute that you were NOT MEETING HIS NEEDS, Jesus is God! John says ‘how can you say you love God who you don’t see, when you don’t meet the needs [love demonstrated] of the brother that you do see’. It is common today to use Malachi and teach ‘robbing God’ in the context of ‘not tithing’. Because the New Testament temple are made up of people, the New Testament teaches ‘robbing God’ is done by not ‘giving’ to this temple, which are people! I have taught all this before, but I want to change your thinking in this area. You must see the people as the temple in order to not ROB GOD. ‘I WILL GREATLY REJOICE IN THE LORD, MY SOUL SHALL BE JOYFUL IN MY GOD’ I want to end on this high note, even though the last verse of this chapter is also good [go read it!] I personally believe this to be a key ingredient at this time for us. The joy of the Lord is our strength. ‘But brother, you ‘rebuke’ so much in your writings, you teach correction a lot. How can you have joy when there is so much difficulty and trials and stuff?’ Our joy is not dependant on our situation, it is fixed in God. Read the Psalms, David understood this principle. Paul said his contentment was not based on outward circumstances. Let’s grasp hold of the great reality of what God has done for us; we are going to live forever! Don’t lose sight of the great things God has done. Be joyful in God at all times. I know he is going to do great things for all of us, let’s rejoice in the Lord, and again I say REJOICE! NOTE; ‘for confusion and shame your children shall posses a double portion in the land’ [my paraphrase] this past year my 2 oldest daughters [19-21] both purchased their own homes. They ‘possessed’ double of what I own. I see God doing things in the natural first, then the spiritual. A couple of our friends from the early years have just begun doing home groups in their cities, they have been serving the Lord, but it’s been a while since we really established anything consistent with these guys. I felt like the Lord was saying ‘our seed [yours too!] will begin possessing the Land this year’.

(532) Isaiah 62 ‘For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and salvation like a lamp that burns’ This is intercession based on natural Israel’s spiritual conversion. He is praying ‘open up Israel’s eyes to true salvation and righteousness’. ‘And gentiles shall see thy righteousness [Christ] and all kings thy glory, and thou shall be called by a new name [the Body of Christ! Spiritual Israel, a ‘new name’ that no one knows but he who gave it] which the mouth of the Lord shall name’. ‘Thou shall no longer be called forsaken or desolate, thy land shall be married’ The great ‘marriage supper of the Lamb’ a day when Israel will no longer be ‘separated/divorced’ from God, but will be part of the ‘bride of Christ’ and thru this holy union be ‘married’ back to God! ‘As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride [this is actually an intimate term ‘rejoiceth over’ God will actually be intimate with us and we with him!] so shall God rejoice over thee’. ‘I have set watchman on thy walls oh Jerusalem, they shall never be quiet day or night, give him no rest till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth’ Pray over Israel/Jerusalem until he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth, this will be at the appearing of her Messiah. NOTE; some theologians today are called ‘New Perspective’ they are giving a new perspective on Paul’s theology. There are some good points they bring out. One area is they are showing how the New Testament offer of ‘faith’ to the gentiles was ‘come and believe and you too will be part of the commonwealth of Israel’ they emphasize that faith allowed gentiles to partake of the community that God already had with Israel. There is some truth to this. The extreme says ‘Israel really is in line with God now, gentiles just need to get in on what she has’ this view doesn’t see that in Christ the TWO are made INTO ONE NEW MAN. God is actually creating one new man [not asking gentiles to come into an old man] and this happens thru Christ! ‘The Lord hath sworn by his right hand, surely I will no longer give thy corn to be food for thy enemies, and the son of the stranger shall not drink thy wine for which you have worked, but they that have earned it shall eat it and praise the Lord’ One of the curses for being disobedient is the wages and things you earn count for nothing. There are different types of judgment on sin, one is you have no power to posses wealth. The other is you have no power to keep it! Here God is saying when people are in judgment they lose the stuff they earned. One of the greatest financial wreckers in society today is divorce. Some high wage people have lived in difficulty because of this. They might earn 10 thousand a month and still be broke! This is common. God is telling his people if we get right with him, not only will he give us great opportunities to earn wealth, but we also get to keep it! [That is use it for right things, not horde it!] ‘go thru, go thru the gates, prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway, gather out the stones, lift up a standard for the people’ A few years ago [2004] I felt the Lord tell me to start driving to work in Kingsville thru a longer route that would take me thru regional cities. During this time they also built all these new overpasses that allowed you to ‘drive on the walls of the cities’ and pray over them from a ‘high place’. This was for 3 years until I would retire [which I am in the process of doing]. I felt the lord gave me 3 intense years of prayer and intercession over a region that we have long prayed for. When I read these verses ‘go thru the gates/highway and take out the stones and prepare a way for the people’ as well as God saying ‘I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the land’ I felt things like this were signifying how God wants us to lay the groundwork thru prayer first. As I drove thru the land and ‘prophesied’ and prayed, God was ‘breaking up the fallow ground’. God has ‘land’ for you, you will begin possessing it as you are faithful to ‘go thru the land’ but also ‘gather out the stones’ this speaks of a willingness to both reprove [in love] and remove the ‘stones’ that are hindering the highway. When a road is filled with obstacles, you can still drive it, but very slow. I felt like the Lord was speaking of ‘acceleration’ a ‘suddenly’ when he acts quickly on our behalf. If we want to ‘advance rapidly thru out the land’ then we must get the stones out of the road! NOTE; I have told you guys in the past that sometimes my ‘spell check’ is prophetic. When I wrote ‘reprove’ it spelt ‘repave’.

(536) Isaiah 64 ‘Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou would come down, that the mountains might flow at thy presence’ There are pivotal times in our lives where we have done all the planning we could imagine. We have prayed, read the Word and done all the things that we thought were necessary to see God move. It is often at the end of all of our efforts that we get to a place where we see the futility of it all, apart from God! In the end, like Paul said, some water, some plant, but only God can cause it to grow! Have you seen the need for God to come down and move on your behalf? You’ve done everything else, might as well call on God and believe that he alone can do it. ‘As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causes the waters to boil’ WOW! Jesus said ‘I am come to set fire to the earth, how I wish it were already burning’ [my translation]. We will read in this chapter ‘God is a consuming fire’. Jesus understood the role he was to play. He knew it would end in violence and resurrection. He knew it would be revolutionary in nature. How can you expect to come to a group of people who truly believe in God, and then show them that they have fallen away from the true intent of God and then say ‘God sent me to tell you this’. The role of a Prophet is revolutionary by its very nature. It will ‘burn’ things, things that need to be burnt. Jesus knew the course he was on, he knew he was going to start a fire that would consume everything in its path, he said he wished it were already burning. ‘For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what you have prepared for those who wait for you’ Paul quotes this to the Corinthians. This is not really talking about the great ministries and things that we think, it can include that. But this is speaking of the unbelievable mystery of redemption thru Christ. The things that Angels desire to look into. The story of mans redemption and how God preplanned it before the world began is a tremendous mystery that no man can see unless God reveals it to him. Paul says ‘no man can say Jesus is Lord but by Gods Spirit’ Paul was not saying no one could ‘mouth’ it, he was saying no human understanding can grasp it apart from the revelation of God. ‘Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways’ God instituted things so his people would ‘remember him’. The Passover, the Lords Supper. Often time’s people remember him in these rituals, but forget him in ‘their ways’. This is the main rebuke Isaiah gives to Israel in this book. When religion digresses to a point of ritual, apart from righteous action [justice] then we are not remembering God in his ways. Because his ways are justice and mercy and caring for the downtrodden and oppressed. It is too easy today to associate Christianity with ‘conservatism’. I am neither liberal or conservative, but you will find I hold to beliefs in both of these camps. The danger of aligning Christiantiy with a political cause is then you begin to think the ‘cause’ is Christian. You can fight against the illegal alien, or be against ‘welfare’ and the people on it, and if taken to the extreme you begin to see Christianity thru a lens that says ‘we are moral preachers to a fallen society’ to a point where we no longer practice charity or justice for the oppressed. God says he wants us to remember him in ‘ritual’ as long as we also remember him in deed. ‘But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our good deeds are as filthy rags’ This verse has been a key verse in many of the revivalist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. They focused on mans inability to please God and be good. Later on the ‘Word of Faith/Prosperity movement’ brought out good points when they emphasized that we are now made the righteousness of God in Christ. The balance here is apart from God, we are absolutely unrighteous and unable to please God. In Christ we are ‘acceptable to God’. God sees us as totally righteous. The caveat is Paul will still refer to himself at times as ‘the worst of sinners’ even after his conversion. I see the balance like this; In God we are accepted and God sees his Sons righteousness as being imputed to us by faith. During our journey we are progressively being made actually righteous. We are being sanctified. There are obvious times in this walk where we totally fail God. We then confess and repent and continue the journey. The closer we get to God, the further we see how far we really are. So Paul [and us] can at times see how ‘we are the worst of sinners’ and at the same time thank God that he doesn’t view us that way! ‘Our iniquities like the wind have taken us away’ Jesus says in John 3 ‘those that are born of the Spirit are like the wind’ Paul also teaches that as we once were controlled by sin, now we are to be controlled by righteousness. The ‘wind’ can describe how either we are led by sin or by God. It is an unseen force that cause’s things to turn in a certain direction. You can look at the wind blowing a tree and say ‘wow, that tree is being bent severely’ and yet you know it is a result of the wind. Often times I have seen [and experienced!] the lifestyle of going down paths that you seem to have no control over, friends who are at the stage of being in the street, robbing everything they can get their hands on for the next fix, and then going off to prison. At these stages they are allowing sin to bend them like the wind. I have also seen these same guys later be controlled by the Spirit and serving God. Paul said the way to ‘not walk in the flesh’ is to ‘walk in the Spirit’. Religion tells people ‘don’t do this or that’ while Gods recovery program is ‘do what the Spirit is saying’. The secret to deliverance is for a person to actively give them selves over to God and to do his works. If you ‘walk in the Spirit, then you will not do the works of the flesh’. ‘Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts will be established’ we need a breakthrough in obedience, in getting out and fulfilling Gods will. Most Christians who are running around from deliverance conference to deliverance conference are not yet ‘delivered’ because they haven’t yet fully given themselves into the active service of the Lord! ‘There is none that calls upon thy name, that stirs himself up to take hold of thee’ Why? Because our sins have separated us from God! In Hebrews it says ‘let us come boldly before the throne with a clear conscience’ it says this in context of the work of Christ in redemption. Because legally God refuses to hold our sins against us, therefore we have confidence. One of the most devastating things about sin is it separates us from God. It keeps us from coming to him. We feel guilty and unworthy and we can’t seem to get thru in prayer. God says ‘come’ and he will heal and forgive and restore. ‘But you are our father, we are the clay, you are the potter, we are the work of your hand. Don’t be really mad, don’t remember our sins, we are your people’ Isaiah uses the same ‘strategy’ as Moses ‘we are yours, we bare your name. For this reason please come and help us. It won’t look good on your record if your people don’t make it!’ We are asking God to help us because all we are is from him. He chose us and fashioned us with a specific destiny in mind. Tell God ‘you made me to do your will, move on my behalf Father, help me at this time. I have come to do thy will O God’ he often will ‘take away the first that he might establish the second’ [Hebrews]. Look for God to allow the first works of ministry to ‘dissolve’ as he transitions you into new things. Sometimes we hold onto our Ishmael’s because we truly have an affinity for them, yet God says ‘let go of Ishmael, I will still bless him, but the promise will be fulfilled in Isaac’. ‘Our holy and our beautiful house is burned up with fire’ interesting, we just read how ‘God is a consuming fire’ and how Jesus said ‘I have come to start a fire’. In the New Testament God transitioned his ‘holy place’ from the natural temple to the spiritual temple [the church/Body of Christ]. Thru out Israel’s history the destruction of the temple always represented Gods judgment. That was the significance of Jesus saying ‘destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up’ this was offensive to the Jewish mind. It was like desecrating the flag [even though Jesus was speaking of his body, the Jews were offended because they took it to mean their temple]. The fact that Israel, as a nation, would not make the full transition into the New Covenant left them with their temple and sacrifices that God already said were an abomination to him [Hebrews]. Ultimately this would lead to the temples final destruction in A.D. 70 under Titus. The destruction of the temple again was Gods way of saying ‘I no longer dwell in temples made with hands, I no longer will accept animal sacrifices. I will dwell in those who accept the sacrifice of my son, and I will receive their sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, this is the temple I will build, the temple of the Body of Christ’.

(539) Isaiah 66 ‘Thus saith the lord, the heaven is my throne and the earth my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest’ Here we begin to see the transition that will take place in 1st century Rome. These descriptions from Isaiah are prophetic of Gods offer to Israel. Isaiah is saying ‘where is the temple that you can build for me to dwell in’? I do not want a man made temple any more. I am done with all animal sacrifices [we read that next!] God will end the prophetic message of Isaiah with his intent to transfer from an earthly natural temple, to a heavenly spiritual one, the Body of Christ! God will show his displeasure with all animal sacrifices, not just certain ones. For Isaiah to claim to be speaking for God, and to say these things seems blasphemous to Israel at this time. You must see that Isaiah is coming against all the ceremony and system that God instituted. To say these things was to put himself in the same category of Paul who the Jews will accuse of trying to destroy the law and Temple worship. But Paul was saying this post Christ, Isaiah was saying it before the Cross. How could Isaiah get away with this while the law was still in effect? The Spirit of prophecy sees and functions in future realities. When God opens up the future to a prophet, he simply speaks what he is seeing. It is Gods prerogative to proclaim his disapproval of the old system in anticipation of the new one that was to come. ‘For all those things hath mine hand made, but to this man will I look, to him that is of a poor and contrite spirit’ God says ‘I will not dwell in the temples of men, but in those who are humble and contrite’. Jesus said unless we humble ourselves and become as little children, we will not enter Gods kingdom. Here we see the ‘stones’ that the new temple will be made of, humble contrite people. ‘He that killeth an ox is like he slew a man, he that sacraficeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dogs neck, he that offers an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood [and you guys think I am harsh!] and he that burneth incense as if he blessed an idol’ In essence Isaiah is saying the same as the book of Hebrews. You must see that in the mind of God, all animal sacrifice, after the Cross[which Isaiah is seeing thru prophecy, he is speaking ‘post Cross prophetically’] is an insult and an abomination. I am going to start a commentary on Hebrews as soon as I finish Isaiah, I want to put the book in proper perspective. When the writer of Hebrews says ‘those who continue to sin after they were enlightened, that God will not allow them to renew their repentance’ it is not speaking of believers, as commonly taught. But it is telling Israel ‘if you reject Messiah, and think you can keep bringing me all these sacrifices of repentance, I won’t accept them anymore. You cant be ‘renewed again unto repentance, you have done despite to the Spirit of Grace and have trampled under foot the sacrifice of God’ The reason the language is so strong here, is because God is saying when you continue to sacrifice animals after the once and for all sacrifice of my Son, then you are doing disgrace to Grace. For Isaiah to being saying this, pre Cross, is amazing! ‘Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out FOR MY NAMES SAKE said, let the Lord be glorified, but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed’ the brethren of Jesus cast him out for what they thought was Gods will. The rejection of Messiah was seen to be an act of Israel’s orthodox belief. They truly thought they were doing the will of God. Jesus even said a time was coming when people would kill believers thinking they were doing Gods service. But in the end God appeared to Jesus joy and they were ashamed. ‘A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple’ Gods ‘city’ and ‘temple’ are the people of God. God has a voice that comes forth out of the temple. Rivers flow from this temple. Jesus said he who believes, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. God speaks thru his church. Some have attempted to ‘de gender’ God. They will say that God is both male and female. This is not so. God is definitively male. Then where is the feminine voice? It comes from what the Spirit is saying thru the bride, the Lambs wife. God has purposed to speak this way. So you have both the male and female sides seen. Paul said that the Jerusalem which is above is the mother of us all. The ‘Jerusalem from above’ is the church, the city of God. Scripture says listen to the voice of your mother and your father. We are to hear what God says [Father] and our mother, the corporate voice of the Spirit that has spoken thru the church, the mother of us all. ‘Before she travailed she brought forth, before her pain came she was delivered of a man child, who hath heard such a thing? For as soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth?’ God is saying there is a process to the things he wants to birth from you. Part of the process is travailing, it is the severe pain experienced at the end of pregnancy. We often equate that pain the wrong way. We think ‘well, things are so hard here at the end, I want to quit and go home’ God is saying don’t quit, you are about to give birth. Don’t misread the labor pains; it is a culmination of the long months of waiting. I determined to bring you to this point of extreme pain, it is my process. Don’t abort! ‘Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, be glad all ye that love her’ It is vital for us to enter into joy. Jesus said after the woman gives birth, she forgets all the pain she went thru, because of the joy of bringing forth the child. Begin rejoicing in God, he will do great things. Scripture says ‘when the Lord turned the captivity of Zion, it was like a dream’ God is going to so move on your behalf that you will think it is too good to be true! ‘I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the gentiles like a flowing stream’ Jesus said ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you, let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid’ You have the inner ability to ‘not let your heart be troubled’ the world runs to doctors and drugs, we run to God. ‘As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem’ God comforts us ‘in Jerusalem’. In the book of Galatians the Body of Christ is called ‘the New Jerusalem, the Church, the mother of us all’ in the book of Revelation John says ‘the city that comes down from God out of heaven, the New Jerusalem, is the bride, the Lambs wife’ God says we are comforted in community. John also says [in 1st John] ‘when WE walk in the light, WE have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses US from all sin’ God works in community, as well as with individuals. Some times we as believers go to one extreme or another. Soren Kierkegaard, the great 19th century Philosopher/Theologian wrote as a Prophet against what he saw as the abuses of the institutional church. The Danish state church had a lot of formality and ‘spectator’ Christianity. Kierkegaard emphasized Gods desire to reveal himself to people individually, outside of ‘the church’. He would say things like ‘the congregations are totally useless, there is nothing good to be found there’ and then he would say you can only truly serve God outside of ‘the church’. Well God does see all of us ‘as the church’ and he works thru individuals as well as ‘groups of people’. God wants to ‘attach’ you to people for his purpose and destiny. You need to ‘walk in the light’ with other believers, so God can ‘comfort you in Jerusalem’ the corporate city of God. ‘For I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations… to the Isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither seen my glory, and they shall declare my name among the gentiles’ sound familiar? This sounds just like the day of Pentecost, in Acts. God gathered all types of people groups to Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Spirit, and these nations/people groups went back to their own areas and spread the gospel. God sends those ‘who escape’, out to be evangelists. Many times you will ‘go thru hell’ and barley escape with your life, but the reason God let you escape was for the purpose of sending you out to other places and people. Don’t make bargains with God and not keep them! How many times have people said ‘God, if you get me out of this one I sware to do this or that’ are you out? Then do what you said! [note: in the New testament Jesus and James taught to not even make these types of vows, so I am not advocating doing this, but the point is many of us have, so if you did do it, now fulfill what you promised God you would do!] ‘For as the new heavens and the new earth shall remain before me, so shall your seed and name remain… and all flesh shall come to worship me.. and they shall go forth and look upon the bodies of those who transgressed against me, for their worm dieth not, neither shall the fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh’ I want to end our study of these last 15 or so chapters of Isaiah with a brief overview. God tells us ‘I am going to make all things new’ God has a real future eternal hope for all those who are in Christ. We need to reaffirm the truth that heaven is real! As well as a ‘new earth’ that he will make new some day. God also affirms thru the Prophet that hell is real! Theologians, even good ones, have differing views on hell. I like R.C. Sproul, he is one of my favorite theologians, he believes the references to ‘hell fire’ are symbolic, but he states ‘the real punishment will be worse than real fire’ the reason I wanted to add the above verses on ‘the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched’ is because Jesus himself uses this terminology when describing eternal punishment, the ‘worm dieth not’ indicates that there will be a real physical judgment that lasts forever! God doesn’t want ANYBODY to go there. How many will go? I don’t know, but this I do know, we as believers have the only hope in the world to keep people from going there, his name is Jesus Christ. I exhort all of you to begin doing all you can to reap in a huge harvest of souls for God, we can’t bring our cars and houses and money and stocks and all these other things with us, but we can bring people! Gather up as many of them as you can, so you will have some friends and family when you get to the other side.

NOTE; I added lots of entries from my Isaiah study. I could do the same with our Hebrews commentary, but instead will just refer you to that study on this site. It fits in well with this topic.

(18) [C] One day while shopping at Wal Mart I picked up a rose bush for the yard. Later on I read the tag and found out the name of this bush is ‘Coat of many colors’ after the story of Joseph. I can’t remember exactly but within a day or so the Lord spoke to me about Josephs coat. Josephs ‘coat’ [made from skins] represents ‘flesh’ or ‘body’. The diversity of colors represents Gods house [body] being comprised from every ethnos. God favored Joseph above every other ‘ethnic’ tribe that comprised natural Israel. This showing Gods favor resting on the Church [comprised of both Jew and Gentile] as opposed to any natural ethnicity. All the colors of this coat were worn by one man that had great favor with both man and God. In Jesus all ethnic groups are brought together as his ‘flesh’ [skin/ covering] and the fathers favor rests on us as ‘one new man’!

(42) I just saw an interview with Mel Gibson that reminded me to share some stuff. This past year Mel has been in the news because of an incident of being stopped by the cops while driving drunk and making anti Semitic remarks. In the recent interview on CNN Wolf Blitzer asked Mel about the fact that a highly influential Jewish leader refuses to forgive Gibson no matter how many times he confesses [I think Jesus told Peter if your offended 70 times 7 to forgive!]. Well this particular Jewish leader also believes it is his responsibility to destroy Gibson’s career and boycott him into ruin. All of this is being done under the banner of ‘Jewish ancestry’ and a feeling of wanting to destroy those who would in any way denigrate their race. Well its obvious that Mel was wrong in what he said, but the reaction from this Jewish leader shows the danger of seeing any natural heritage as ‘the ethnic group’ that must be defended at all costs. The New Testament teaches a balance in dealing with natural Israel outside of the Church. Paul says as far as the Gospel is concerned they are ‘enemies’ [strong words!] but as far as Gods purpose for them in history God still has great plans for Israel. The mistake the evangelical Church is making is they are not ‘rightly dividing’ these two lines. I recently heard a preacher in Israel teach a message [on TV] that spent a whole hour going back to the Old Testament promises to Abraham and arguing the fact that the New Covenant does not ‘supercede’ the Abrahamic one. This was all taught under the guise of exposing the false view of ‘replacement theology’. The underlying mistake that this minister was making was he left the impression to the Jewish people who were there that God is still dealing with them apart from the Christian gospel. While there is some element of truth to this [as God deals with all nations, even those that are not Christian] the basic flaw to this type of thinking is we give the impression that God still favors people based on natural ethnicity, which is fundamentally wrong. Gods favor today rests on the ‘new man’ made up of both Jew and Gentile [and any other race who believes!]. God said the day was coming when he would institute a ‘new covenant’ not according to the old ways. I know some are teaching that this is Moses Law [the old ways] and therefore the abrahamic covenant still exists, but the fundamental shift from law to grace is a ‘new thing’. God deals with all mankind based on there answer to the question ‘what will you do with this man’ [Christ]. Those who do not believe remain under wrath and judgment, and those who believe enter into peace. The fine line between anti Semitism and the wrongful exalting of Israel’s natural heritage must be understood. I read an article from a protestant minister who named all his kids after Israel [Abraham, Isaac, etc.] and during the interview referred to himself and other Christians as simply being saved sinners, whereas Israel were truly Gods special people. What do you think this view does for evangelism? How does natural Israel see herself when we do this? They must think that if all these Christians view her in this way, then why even think about accepting Messiah! Another view I recently heard was because all the apostles and Jesus were Jewish, therefore ‘Jewish ness’ is just as important as faith in Christ. This view doesn’t seem to understand that these Jewish apostles made statements like calling natural Jerusalem ‘Sodom and Egypt’ [referring to Israel’s rejection of Christ]. The New Testament speaks of ‘the synagogues of satan’, was this some 1st century satanic cult? This was speaking of religions emptiness apart from Christ [all the synagogues that tried to carry on religion without Christ!]. I know that this type of language is strong for the Church today. My intent is not to be anti Semitic! It is simply to be Christian. All peoples and nations will be judged on what they do with Christ. God said the days were coming when he would deal with Israel under a ‘new’ covenant, not some ‘re-vamped’ old one. Those days are fast approaching [theologically there already here!] when all Israel will ‘see him’. Israel [the holy land] has become the ‘Disney world’ for much of modern evangelicalism. We need to see her as Jesus did, when he wept over her and said ‘if you only knew the things that belong to your peace, but they are hid from your eyes’. May God open the eyes of all races so the prophecies of all nations flowing into Gods nation may be fulfilled. For we [The Church] are truly one nation under God.

(108) Let me also say that the current popular ‘end times’ teaching that you see and hear in much of American Evangelicalism sprouted thru the fundamentalist reaction to higher criticism. In the 1800’s there were certain Christian groups in England [the Brethren and others] that took hold of ‘Dispensationalism’. The ‘Rapture’ doctrine and other scenarios of bible interpretation sprung up out of these movements. When the American fundamentalists used the ‘Bible Conference’ as a tool to counteract the higher criticism being taught in the universities, Dispensationalism sort of tagged along. It became common to think ‘defending the historic faith’ meant defending ‘Dispensational theology’. This was a major mistake. The ‘Historic faith’ did not teach certain elements of dispensationalism [Rapture]. So today you find many American Christians who are all too willing to embrace certain end time scenarios [Tim Lahye stuff!] thinking there ‘defending the bible’ not realizing that some of the things there defending are not in the bible! [At least not in the way that they see it]. When you fail to read scripture thru an historical paradigm you fall into the danger of trying to fit current geopolitical events into certain Old Testament prophets, and this is dangerous. You would never want to do world politics with a view of Israel and other nations [Russia- Gog and Magog] as a type of ‘newspaper prophecy’ that speaks to every current world scenario. One of the fears of certain believers is the fact that President Bush [current President as of this writing] holds to a view like this. I remember certain ‘end time preachers’ disclosing the fact that the Bush administration contacted them early on about certain end time things. I am real uncomfortable about this. Many of these end time preachers do not realize that many of these scenarios concerning Israel and other nations have played out time and again over the last few thousand years. To take these Old Testament prophets and think that they are all speaking about current affairs is misguided!

(304) I had a couple of thoughts that ran thru my mind. Jesus was being praised by the people at one time in the gospels. The religious leaders were jealous and said ‘tell them to stop’ Jesus responded ‘if I stop them, the rocks themselves would cry out’. This response was primarily to the 1st century religious Jew. Their whole destiny was at a critical point in history. They were created for the sole purpose of revealing God [and ultimately Messiah] to all the ‘rock’ nations around them. Scripture uses images like ‘precious stone’ ‘wood, hay, stubble’ and things like this to denote value and worth. The religious Jew of the 1st century saw themselves as ‘precious stones’ they derived this from their Old testament books [Isaiah, etc.] The prophets referred to Israel as ‘special and precious’. Jesus response to them by saying ‘if these don’t praise me, the rocks will cry out’ was a prophetic image. He was in essence saying ‘Israel, if you withhold the rightful praise due me as the true Messiah, there will rise up another Temple made of all these gentile stones, they will give to me the honor that I deserve’. Also I was thinking of the judgment verse where Jesus says ‘when you didn’t feed me, clothe me, visit me, etc’ and the people said ‘when did we not treat you well’ and Jesus responds ‘when you didn’t do it to the least of these, you didn’t do it to me, depart from me, I never knew you’. We often read that to mean Jesus is in heaven, we are here on earth and these outcasts of society are number 3 on the list. When Jesus says ‘I never had a friendship/relationship with you’ he is saying this to those who ‘prophesied’ and did many wonderful religious works. He is speaking to those whose experience of God is truncated from social justice issues. Those who ‘see’ God and their Christian responsibility as a separate culture that is to be enjoyed ‘outside’ of society. Jesus response wasn’t saying ‘I didn’t know you because you didn’t help others’ he is saying ‘the only way you could have truly known me was THRU these people; I was represented in society in these outcasts. You had a whole lifetime to have in some way reached out and gotten to know me, you never did, therefore I NEVER KNEW YOU’. This should change our mindset of church and ministry, it should compel us to come out of our safe cultural environments and touch the world, for in doing this you touch God.

(346) I am up early right now, there is this tremendous wind/lightning storm going on in my area. Usually I have to get wet when this happens. Being outside praying during a thunderstorm is surreal. This time the rain is limited to the gulf, so I can walk without getting wet. The view of the lightning is great. I am typing this without power right now. Working on batteries because the storm knocked out power. I have a lot to say so I hope I get power back soon. We should have our blog posted in the Dallas Morning News this Saturday. At first I had no intention of ‘biting off more than I could chew’ but I felt the Lord gave me some signs to go to Dallas. This area houses a lot of worldwide ministries. Some of the leaders are seeing the things we speak on. There actually is a type of spiritual warfare going on in the ‘intellectual community’ of charismatic/evangelical ministries. I put ‘intellectual’ in quotes because I hesitate to use this word. The normal level of study and thinking among these ministries is really shallow. All the obvious things we have dealt with could have been avoided if key leaders simply new how to read and interpret scripture. A few years ago I spoke to a national ‘level’ prophet. He actually had opportunity to personally witness to Saddam Hussein before the war. I share this not to brag, but to show that God wants the prophets and the church to see and think on a level that we are not at yet. Most American ministries are simply Christian businesses that are set up to teach their peculiar view/style of Christianity to a passive audience. The intent of the prophetic voice of the church is to speak into society at large and influence it with the reality of God. Some of the silly end time scenarios you see espoused on Christian TV are not only wrong, but also dangerous. All the governments of men [even Israel] that operate outside of Christ’s rule are simply the governments of the world. While God has great plans for Israel, this does not supercede what I just told you. The fact that we have well known evangelists siding to the point of military action from one side towards another is blurring the lines. While I in no way support the Hammas groups of Palestine, to actually advocate military violence towards any group is wrong. I recognize the right of all nations to defend themselves against terrorism, yet Gods Kingdom operates on a different level. These end time preachers really think you can open up the books of Daniel and Revelation and read the newspaper as commentary. This level of ‘thought’ is not only shallow, but deadly. The Christian preacher should never place him self on the side of any human govt. against another group of people that actually has Christians living in the country. If you advocate violence thru the reading of these prophetic books, you don’t realize that you might have joined sides with a govt., no matter how ‘good’, that rejects Christ and actually kills Christians as collateral damage. Now am I saying we should have no voice in world affairs? NO! But the churches voice loses credibility when it does not see these distinctions. The former Soviet Union was an oppressive form of govt. the people were ‘robots’ that functioned as tools of a greater purpose. The problem was no one developed into independent people/thinkers under this model. Though the original designs were noble to a degree, the fact is this type of govt. was repressive. The church in general has functioned this way for generations. Most modern forms of church tell people that their job is to be an audience and be passive and bring your money and GOD FORBID THAT YOU WOULD THINK ON YOUR OWN. Then you have the radicals like me who challenge the system and at times have succeeded in a small way. But the people, just like the Russians, were co dependant for so long that they cant really function well when true liberty is given them. Many had high hopes for the former Soviet Union [The Beatles actually wanted to get back to the USSR, you don’t know how lucky you are] the reality is the people could not function well in a Capitalistic form of govt. because they were ‘held captive’ for so long. God wants the prophetic voice to bring his people to an ‘Exodus’ from limited mindsets and practices. The problem seems to be that they have been ‘held captive’ for so long, they really don’t know how to deal with it. NOTE; the simple fact that the transition from natural land [Israel] to spiritual land [the church] as one of the major ‘shifts’ in the minds of the first century JEWISH APOSTLES should cause us to question the strong GENTILE EVANGELISTS emphasis on natural Israel. This development of end time views revolves around specific scripture. The disciples asked Jesus one time ‘are you going to restore the Kingdom to Israel now’ and Jesus says ‘it is not for you to know the times and seasons that the Father has put in his hand’. The future return of Jesus and the fact that scripture speaks of Christ’s return to this land [natural Israel] is significant. You cant ‘spiritualize’ everything about natural Israel. The fact also is that Gods chief concern and purpose for humanity is located in ‘the true Israel of God’ this is a Bible reference from the Apostle Paul speaking about the Christian Church. Paul made a division between Gods natural purpose for natural Israel and Gods eternal purpose for spiritual Israel. Paul also spoke of a day when all Israel will fall down in repentance and acknowledgement of Christ [book of Romans]. The Old Testament prophets speak of a day of great humiliation when Israel will ‘look upon him who they have pierced’ they will say ‘how did you get these wounds’ and he will answer ‘in the house of my friends’. The biblical characterization of Christ appearing to natural Israel is not one of militaristic vindication. It is one of national ‘rebirth’. At this time in the future when this happens, it will not be a vindicating of Israel over the church. It will be a humiliation and repentance as she is added unto the church. At this moment in history she will at one time have fulfilled her long awaited destiny, which was to present Messiah to humanity. She will be fulfilling this event as spiritual Israel, not natural! This level of understanding is not common today; we need to attain to these things long before Christ’s return. He will not return in a way that would seem to justify the American evangelists repression of other believers thru their distorted view of natural Israel. To put it bluntly [as I have been known to do] it would rock these American end time preachers for Jesus to come back and blow away the image and mindset that they have espoused. To a degree some of them have unknowingly sided with the kingdoms of men against the Kingdom of God. All natural govts, outside of Christ, are the Kingdoms of men. All believers on the planet are in the Kingdom of God. Some of these evangelists have given voice, thru their interpretation of scripture, to the kingdom of man coming against the Kingdom of God. It would be devastating to some of these preachers to think that Jesus is coming back to lead a military campaign in the natural, only to realize that they have sided with a human govt that has actually killed a fellow believer [possibly Palestinian] and in so doing have fulfilled the verse that says ‘I have received these wounds in the house of my friends’. Many evangelists don’t realize that the actual killing of another believer is the worst ‘wounding’ you can inflict upon Christ’s Body. To have done this thru a distorted view of scripture would be too much to handle for these guys. God in his mercy is not returning just yet. NOTE; scripture says a time is coming when those who kill Christians will think that they are doing Gods service, most don’t realize how true this can be!

(347) Let me deal with certain things that inevitably come up when you discus these things. Jesus said in the gospel ‘destroy this Temple and in 3 days I will raise it up’. The mistake that caused the hearers to later accuse him [the Body of Christ] was thinking that he was speaking about/ concerned with the natural Temple. The leaders would later bring this up at his unjust trial. The fact that they were unable to discern between Gods purpose for the spiritual temple [the Church/Body of Christ] with the natural temple was one of the ‘hinges’ that would cause them to side with human govt. [Rome] against Gods govt. [the govt. shall be upon his shoulders]. Today we make the same mistake when we view the natural temple [yet to be built] as the ‘hinge’ of end time events. I have heard the most elaborate scenarios of things that will happen and the temple being the key factor. The key factor for Christ’s return is the condition of the spiritual temple, not the natural one. Scripture clearly says that Christ will return for a glorious temple without spot or wrinkle. This is speaking of us, the true Body of Christ. Those who have focused on the natural temple have unwittingly missed the key element of Christ’s return, which of course is the condition of the spiritual Body of Christ. When Christian leadership in the church is able to ‘rightfully divide’ the word of truth, then we will have come a lot further towards the return of Christ. God loves all nations. Muslim ones, Jewish ones, Gentile ones, etc. His chief concern since the Cross is to bring all tribes of humanity into this one new nation called ‘the Church’. His kingdom is not of this world, or else we would be fighting and crusading against the ‘infidels’. But because his kingdoms boundaries are spiritual, we fight with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We ‘take dominion’ and inherit the earth thru acts of love and charity. These radical Muslim nations who want to kill us, see us feeding their children at the risk of our lives, while we bomb the hell out of them from the air. Which strategy fits in more with Christ? These Palestinians and Israelis see our charity workers risking their lives on the field while our American evangelists are advocating violence and expound on ‘smart bombs and patriot missiles’, which do you think is representing Christ’s concerns? We have not done justice to our King who said ‘if my Kingdom were of this world my servants would fight’ If you look at the mindset of ‘his servants’ it makes you wonder. NOTE; I am not a pacifist. I do believe in the historic Christian doctrine of ‘just war’. There are times where it is noble for human govts to war against other govts for the purpose of justice [WW2]. The point I am making is the ‘line’ between the Church and the ‘warring nations’ should be clearly seen. The tremendous damage that is done when a radical Islamic Nation is able to portray their terroristic advances as ‘Muslim against Christian’ is helped when American evangelists don’t rightfully distinguish between the two. It also doesn’t help when the American President actually uses the word ‘crusade’ when describing what we are doing!

(351) The rise of the Islamic religion came as a direct result of the Christian churches idolatry. 1400 years ago the prophet Muhammad saw the actual idolatry of the church in having statues and Christians actually bowing down in front of them during ‘church’ services. Muhammad led an iconoclastic revolt [image smashing] and felt that God was using him to judge idolatry in the church. In essence ‘radical Islam’ is sort of a type of ‘Babylonian’ judgment that God allows to come against the church when she becomes idolatrous/materialistic. Today radical Islam looks at all the TV and entertainment that is being produced from ‘western’ Christianity, and sees herself once again as an instrument in Gods hand to ‘judge’ idolatry/materialism. The western church doesn’t yet realize the significance of not being materialistic. Many of the mindsets say ‘this is what Christianity is all about, God is a good God [true] and therefore we are all bout ‘accumulating stuff’ [false]. This ‘idolatry’ of things has once again opened a ‘spiritual portal’ that allows ‘pagan’ nations to judge Gods people. In essence God uses wicked govt. and religions to come in and attack the ‘secure’ feeling of those who find security in ‘things’. The significance of the worlds 3 great religions [Christianity/Islam/Jew] at this time in world history is at a critical point. The reason why ‘spiritual Israel’ [all believers] will be the ‘body of people’ that Christ will return to and vindicate is because these have been the servants of all these other nations during these conflicts. Jesus said the last will be first. These humble believers who have been risking their lives reaching out to all these communities and trying to feed and help these nations are the ones that Christ returns to and ‘shows’ himself. In essence the humble church do inherit the earth. Natural Israel could not do this. The Israel of today is a govt. built and established on Old Testament truths. They still have embedded in their minds the concept of ‘animal sacrifice’ and obedience to law as the nationalistic ‘glue’ that holds the fabric of their society together. The return of Jesus will be an event where all nations will see and fall down and confess Jesus as Lord. It will be humbling to realize that at this moment God is not vindicating the thoughts or religions of men, but instead he will be vindicating the Lamb and his followers. Judgment will be given over to the Lamb and the humble ones who have been following him for 2 thousand years. The world will be relieved to see judgment in the hands of those who truly loved and gave themselves for them. Paul said we shall judge the world. Jesus said whosever’s sins you forgive will be forgiven. There is an aspect to the final judgment that is given to the Saints. This will not be an arrogant thing. Jesus is waiting for the saints to be mature enough to return and entrust this to them. You wouldn’t give your car to your 10 year old. But when they are mature enough you will entrust it to them. So a major aspect of Christ’s return is for his people to be mature enough to not want to judge and condemn, but who will be willing to ‘suffer these other nations to come unto him’. After all redemption was his purpose from the start. [I am not advocating universalism, I am showing you that at Christ’s return he wants his people to be able to handle in grace and mercy the role we will play in the judgment of the nations].

(360) I was up praying early. I was actually saying to myself ‘you can go so low in the pit to retrieve treasures, that it becomes dangerous’. I had a sense of a Hollywood schema that would have the ‘hero’ saying ‘I will go and risk my life to save the damsel [or some other corny thing]’ and the others standing by and pleading with him not to take the risk. Sort of like Peter telling Jesus ‘don’t go to the Cross’. As I was actually ‘muttering’ the words about ‘a very low pit’ I heard on the radio the days verse ‘he reached down and took me out of the most horrible pit’ it was a contemporary version from Psalms. Lets share some treasures that were just mined from a low place. On this blog I discuss a lot of controversial things. One is the end times. I don’t hold to a lot of the popular end time scenarios. For instance I recently showed you why Christ’s return will not vindicate natural Israel. The answer was Jesus could not ‘vindicate’ any system outside of the true gospel. So the ‘key’ to seeing this is actually the Cross! You will find this to be the key to everything. All truths must ‘filter’ thru the Cross. You will not rightly divide scripture until you master this. One of the controversial ideas I have espoused is Nero being the ‘beast’ of Revelation. Many evangelicals disagree. Lets open a door using the ‘key’. One of the New Testament books that Paul wrote speaks of Jesus ‘destroying the antichrist’ at his coming. With a total destruction. Some who believe Nero was the beast say this ‘coming of Jesus to destroy’ was a ‘coming’ in judgment in AD 70. They ‘spiritualize’ the 2nd coming to make it fit. The modern evangelical who holds to the Tim Lahaye stuff sees this as an excuse to prove a point. They say ‘see, if Jesus totally destroys antichrist at the 2nd coming, then obviously Nero wasn’t him!’ I do want to note that early historians will tell you that one of the ‘nick names’ for Nero was ‘the beast’. Here’s a ‘key’. In Revelation you see many things happening at different times. You also see many spiritual truths that are concurrent [remember what I showed you the other day]. There are images that show the beast and the antichrist being bound for a period of time. I also showed you on this blog that Hebrews says ‘Jesus destroyed him that had the power of death thru dieing himself’. This ‘key’ of Christ’s death teaches us that the devil is already destroyed by the Cross. It’s not ‘really’ a future event. The 2nd coming is a ‘culmination’ and ‘crowning’ of the Cross’s work. So the image in Revelation of the antichrist being ‘bound’ might very well be speaking of what happened at the Cross. In all the generations of man, since the Cross there has been more light and freedom than at any other time. The enemy, as well as the antichrist, can very well be described as ‘bound’. Now you also have images in Revelation that show this ‘binding’ as being a ‘waiting stage’ for ultimate destruction. The ‘contents’ of death and hell are finally ‘poured’ into the lake of fire. Peter in the New Testament gives images of rebellious angels being ‘held in chains’ until the final ‘destruction’. So with all this in mind, here’s a key. Nero is being ‘held’ right now, with Hitler and every other wicked despot that has ever lived. They are waiting for the 2nd coming. At the real 2nd coming [not AD 70!] he will really be ‘destroyed with total destruction by the presence of the Lord’. This my friends is the key, Jesus and his Cross.

(367) Isaiah 49- ‘The Lord called me from birth, he made mention of my name from my mothers womb. He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me’ God combines ‘hiding’ with authority. Elijah not only had a strong prophetic ministry, he also had the ability to go in hiding for 3.5 years. ‘Then said I, I have labored in vain’ in context this is speaking of Israel’s national re birth at the 2nd coming. She says ‘I labored in vain’ in the context of ‘laboring under law’. At the appearing of Christ she will realize she spent thousands of years trying to legalistically gain Gods approval when all the ‘work/labor’ had already been done. ‘Your warfare is accomplished and sin forgiven’ [we will read this later on in Isaiah]. ‘Thus saith the Lord to him whom men despise, nations hate and a servant to rulers. Kings [leaders] shall see new things and rise. Princes also shall worship’ I see this as a type of God giving authority to those who have felt rejection. If you want authority to influence ‘kings’ then you will experience rejection on a large scale. ‘I will contend with him who contends with thee and save your children’ the fact that you are being ‘contended with’ is a sure sign that you are ‘birthing children’ winning people to the true cause of Christ.

(668) I am really going to jump around today. Those of you who read this section in order have realized that I still have to finish our study on John’s gospel! I sidetracked and read Proverbs and wound up teaching highlights as an ‘aside’. So yesterday I woke up and felt the Lord wanted me to read Revelation 11. I have been praying for a few years now with a ‘rod’ [stick] in my hand as I walk in many yard [it’s dark so I don’t look too insane]. Let’s read Revelation 11 [by the way it IS NOT SPEAKING ABOUT ME!] ‘And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar and them that worship therein’. This last week I once again had a discussion with a brother who assumed all the language in the New Testament about the Temple was speaking of a future rebuilt one. Some language MIGHT possibly refer to one. But some referred to the ones in the past; some refer to the people of God as the holy Temple [Ephesians]. So God might be telling John that he will wield authority in ‘judging’ the church. That thru John’s prophetic ministry [the actual writing of this vision called ‘the book of Revelation’] he will wield a rod of purging and chastening. ‘But the court that is without the temple leave out’ John’s prophetic vision is specifically designed to ‘line up’ the people of God. The ‘court’ can represent all the gentile nations whom represent those outside of the church. In essence ‘prophesy into the church John, don’t judge the world! I have not come to condemn them; I have come to save them’. The church has gone thru this ‘moral outrage’ stage and has railed against lost man. People who feel they have no hope, who have tried to overcome their addictions and have failed. They then tried to justify them. Why? Because they want to be accepted, they want society to say ‘we affirm you’. Am I saying we should affirm them? No. But we have used the ‘rod’ to condemn them and God is saying ‘leave those in the courtyard alone’. ‘These will tread the holy city [people of God] 42 months’ God was revealing to John that there would be a set time where the world would ‘tread’ on the church. John is actually living at the beginning of the rule of a bunch of demonic Roman rulers who will ‘destroy the people of God’ for a season. We have also seen a season of mocking and outright laughter at the American church. Some of it was deserved. We have allowed our ‘immature’ spokesman to broadcast their images to society as a whole [thru Christian TV] and some of them truly don’t realize how silly they look. I know they don’t mean to look silly, but they have grasped hold of a temptation that Jesus warned against. He told us leadership in the church was not designed to function like ‘gentile leadership’ seeking fame and position. So the American church fell into it and the ‘gentile’s tread us under foot 42 months’. ‘And I will give power unto my 2 witnesses and they will prophesy’ many cults and well meaning believers have erred terribly in thinking their Pastor/Prophet was one of these guys! I have taken this 2 ways in the past. I have seen it as either Israel and the church [2 witnesses in society] or the 2 offices of Apostle and Prophet. The point is after the humiliation and defeat [both in Johns day under the emperors and in every other day] God restores a prophetic voice back into the church. Be assured this voice will not be seen or heard thru many of the mediums being used today to broadcast Christian stuff. ‘Clothed in sackcloth’ part of the price of prophetic ministry includes ‘being clothed in sackcloth’. There just seems to be a principle you find in the Prophets of scripture that at the same time they are prophesying, they are going thru hell! ‘If any man hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours them’ there is this funny dynamic wit prophetic ministry. There critics wind up getting ‘corrected’ by the words of the prophets! ‘And when they finish their testimony the beast makes war against them and kills them’ the reality is/was that there was a real price to pay for their prophetic ministry. I recently wrote on Martin Luther King, there is a real question on whether or not his ‘ministry’ would have took hold in the minds of the public if he were not killed for the cause. John will write thru out this book on the power of the blood of the saints being spilled! Their prayers are like incense to God! ‘And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of THE GREAT CITY WHICH SPIRITUALY IS CALLED SODOM AND EGYPT, WHERE ALSO OUR LORD WAS CRUCIFIED’ Wow, I wonder how well this would have gone over if John preached this at one of those ‘Christians defending Israel’ conventions! All kidding aside, John refused to exalt natural heritage at the expense of the Cross. It is important to see this language in a book that many American preachers use to exalt natural Israel. They will confuse all the imagery of the Ark and the Temple and stuff like this with natural Israel. They truly don’t see what I just showed you! The imagery in a prophetic book like Revelation is IMAGERY! Don’t accuse people of ‘not literally believing the book’ because they interpret this book the way it was meant to be seen. Even the ‘literalists’ will concede that the ‘sword proceeding out of Jesus mouth’ is the word of God. That the ‘lamb on the throne’ is not a real lamb. The one I like is ‘God puts his mark/name on his servants’ and you never see movies being made about Christians getting computer implants in their heads! [Or hands]. ‘And all the nations SAW their dead bodies and refused to bury them [public humiliation] and were so excited over the fall of the believers that they sent gifts to each other’ cant you just see this mindset in the church today. How the late night comedians mock us. They are overjoyed when the church falls openly. They don’t want to ‘bury the mistakes’. They still use Jimmy Swaggart as an example. Even though many of them have secretly been just as guilty as swaggart! ‘After 3 and a half days the Spirit of God entered into them and THEY STOOD ON THEIR FEET and fear fell on them who dwelt on the earth’. God will recover his testimony in the earth. An interesting thing is happening right now with our American political scene. The New York Times announced how the ‘religious right is dieing in influence’. But they don’t seem to realize that Christ’s testimony is not limited to the ‘religious right’. You see the Tony Campolo’s and the Jim Wallis’s are just as much ‘filled with Christ’s Spirit’ as the Chuck Colson’s. The secret to Jesus kingdom is it starts like leaven. It eventually invades all areas of society. Wont the Times be surprised when they see ‘the Spirit of life enter into them’ from both sides of the aisle! ‘And a great voice said to the 2 witnesses, come up hither’. Funny thing here. This is the exact wording that the rapture guys use in chapter 4 to say ‘Jesus took all the believers off the planet’. Well here God says to 2 prophets ‘come up hither’. According to this reasoning more believers left on this flight! ‘The Kingdoms of the world are become the Kingdom of our God and his Christ’ John is preparing the church for a few centuries of real persecution. He is reassuring them that they will ultimately win! ‘And the nations were angry, and the time of the dead to be judged. And rewards given to the prophets and to those who fear your name’ you have multiple times in Johns Revelation where he sums things up. One of the problems with popular interpretations of this book is they try to teach everything in a ‘Line’. Here John is simply summing up the judgment and nature of all that is to come. Man has been and will continue to be angry at God. The more proof rebellious man sees of the reality of God causes him to hate even more. The church is here to do her best to glorify God and bring people into his Kingdom. But make no mistake about it, the world and her rulers have at times done all they could do to fight against God. John is reminding the early church that the rulers who are setting them on fire and hanging their bodies like lamps along the road have their day coming! ‘And the temple of God was opened in heaven [not a man made Temple! God’s people are ‘the Temple/dwelling place of God’. Heaven is also called ‘the sanctuary’ in Hebrews!] And there was seen in his temple the Ark of his testament [The box with the commandments in them. Not Noah’s Ark- this is for the critics of my theory in entry # 662. Those who say ‘get the boat off the planet’! You will have to read the entry!] and there were lightnings and thunder and earthquakes and hail’. Johns Revelation is a great prophetic encouragement for the church in every generation. When John describes a ruler called ‘the beast’ and the number ‘666’. It is only natural for the early church to have seen this figure as Nero. His nickname was actually ‘the beast’. And one of the numerical spellings of his name and title came to ‘666’. Is it heresy to apply modern interpretations to these figures? No. But it is also ‘immature’ to read a prophetic vision like revelation without a basic understanding of how the church read it for 1900 years! This book has tremendous spiritual significance for all believers. To see it as an exact literal translation of geopolitical events of our time is not being ‘mature in our thinking’. NOTE; I wrote this entry yesterday morning. Later in the day I watched the world news with Katie Couric [to all my conservative friends, forgive me for committing the unpardonable sin!] Katie quoted, to the WORLD! ‘Jesus said, lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth’ and then did and expose on Kenneth Copeland ministries. To update you guys. I prophesied on this site that ‘no mountain will be able to stand against what God is doing. Not even Eagle mountain’. Eagle Mountain church is the name of the church Copeland founded. Then a few months back the U.S. Senate began investigating 6 Prosperity ministries. And last night the ‘world/secular’ media quotes Jesus words in rebuking the money gospel. I do not always agree with the ‘exposes’ of the media. I consider Kenneth Copeland a brother in the Lord. I believe he has been a victim of the enemy’s strategy to sidetrack the purpose of Christ’s Kingdom. The Lord only allows public humiliation/chastening [the bodies were lying in the street 3 and a half days! The above reference from Revelation] for his purpose. Don’t take lightly when the secular media quotes Jesus IN CONTEXT while critiquing a minister!

(470) I just went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee [decaf now!] and caught an interview with a well known Christian leader. He was asked ‘what is your favorite city in all the world’ [they were in Jerusalem] and he said ‘of course Jerusalem, isn’t that the favorite city of all Christians?’ Let me show you how I would have answered; ‘my favorite city is what Paul described in Galatians as the ‘New Jerusalem’ John also calls her ‘the City that comes down from God out of heaven’ [Revelation] he then says this city is ‘the Bride, the lambs wife’. John also records in the gospel he wrote, chapter 3 ‘He that is born from above’. All this imagery speaks of the Body of Christ being Gods favorite city. This includes all nationalities who believe. Jews, Palestinians, Arabs [I didn’t say Muslims] and every other ethnic group on the face of the earth. For a Christian leader to pick any human city [govt.] and to make that the ‘all time favorite city’ is being ‘unequal’. Does natural Jerusalem ever kill Christians? All natural govts have executed people falsely, whether they meant it or not. Does natural Jerusalem ever persecute innocent people? All human govts, no matter how well intended have done this. Than brother, who is righteous in your eyes? The city that comes down from God out of heaven, she is the FAVORITE city, the apple of Gods eye.

(547) I woke up yesterday and wrote down ‘subscribe to a few Christian magazines’. I have subscribed to some years ago, but it’s been a while. When I went to my P.O. Box later in the day, I saw that Charisma magazine sent me a free subscription! The issue [Oct/sept 2007] dealt with so much of what I have been teaching this last year. I wonder if Lee Grady reads my blog? [I have sent him my books over the years] I liked the article he wrote. It was a warning against exalting natural Israel to a point where we undermine the need for Jews to be saved thru the blood of Christ. It was a lot like the themes I have spoken on this year. Then when you went thru the rest of the magazine it was filled with articles and ad’s for all types of Jewish stuff! ‘Buy this Hebrew prayer shawl’ and things like that. It was a little funny to be honest with you. I have subscribed to charisma before, to be honest they are way to ‘shallow’ to truly learn from. Now I am not saying I am too good for them, I think the abundance of articles from well meaning women preachers [I am not against women!] on ‘you can have what you say’ or ‘you can achieve some goal’ is not cutting it in preparing believers to live in society. I was at the homeless shelter a few years back and just hanging out with some homeless friends. I wasn’t preaching or anything. Some brothers were talking about the Lord and a new guy but in. He said he was at one time a professor from Berkeley [the liberal university in California] and that he had taught an entire course on how Greek wisdom and writings contained all types of Christian thought before Christ. Things like the story of Hercules and myths on ‘a son of the gods who would come and save the world’. He explained in true atheistic fashion that all of these sources contained much of what you find in scripture, therefore scripture and the story of Jesus are fake imitations of Greek wisdom. Now I usually do not get into these debates with homeless guys, and to be honest this guy probably thought I was homeless! The long hair and scraggly clothes fit in well with this bunch. But I had to correct this ‘professors’ attack on the faith. I explained to him that I was familiar with this teaching, and that the way I usually answer it is to tell the person [which I was about to do!] that before you had ‘Greek thought’ you had ‘Jewish though’ [the Old testament Prophets and stuff] and that in ‘Jewish thought’ are contained all the hidden shadows of a future Messiah and all other types of ‘pre Christian’ ideas. Therefore any overflow of this ‘thought’ into ‘Greek thought’ was simply a Greek copy of the true! So therefore all of this ‘professors’ refutation of Christianity is now refuted! Touché. He seemed a little depressed over this. It was like he never heard his false ideas challenged before. I did do it in love. But he should have just kept his mouth shut and not have tried to use his ‘Berkeley wisdom’ on some red neck town deep in the heart of Texas [Kidding a little here!] What’s the point? The point is if we keep feeding the church messages on how to get wealthy and to have a successful career, then we are not truly equipping them for society. I thank Charisma for sending me the free magazine, but like I said in the past, the only good stuff in it seems to be the short introduction from Lee Grady.

(580) I picked up a book at the bookstore a few weeks ago, I didn’t get it at the Christian bookstore, but at a regular bookstore. It was written by a Catholic theologian and it’s defending Paul’s writings in the New Testament against his critics. A hobby among people today is to say that Paul ‘hijacked’ the real message of Jesus and preached this anti gay, women hating, anti Semitic message. These critics will tell you how Jesus never said anything against homosexuality, but the homophobia you see in the church is a result of Paul. Well needless to say I disagree. Even though the author is trying to defend Paul, he is one of those higher critics who questions the authenticity of some of Paul’s letters. In his defense of Paul he falls into the category of ‘New Perspective Theology’ that just looks at Paul’s statements on Gentiles being brought in to the community of fellowship that Israel already had with God, sort of like focusing only on the verses of us sharing in the fellowship with God that Israel had. This truth, apart from the other verses on how Israel too must accept Messiah, leaves the perception that Israel is just fine in her current state [of being!]. Well in our study of John we read the Jews respond to Jesus ‘God is our Father’ and Jesus says ‘if you don’t honor me, you can’t have the Father’ though Israel ‘believes’ in the true God, yet she doesn’t know him, according to Jesus. So anyway the book wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. A few weeks back I read ‘My new kind of normal’ [I think that’s the title, it’s by Carol Kent] it was real good. She tells the story of how her son joined the military and married a nice girl who had some children from a previous marriage. The son winds up shooting and killing the ex-husband to protect his step daughters. The story is very real, that which is lacking in Christian books today. We have famous Christian celebrity authors writing things that don’t really matter, this book matters. I also just got a book in the mail from Amazon Books on the ‘Children of God’ group. I have studied this movement before, they are a cult. And I have another book coming in a few days on the story of the conversion of Jeffrey Dahmer, he was the serial killer who ‘ate’ his victims. He did accept the lord in prison and I have been wanting to read his story for a while. Have you read any good books lately [or at all]? NOTE; when I went back to spell check this entry it sounds like all I am reading is on cults and killers, trust me I read other good stuff too!

(611) JOHN 14- Jesus says he is going away to prepare a place for us. He tells the disciples they know where he is going and how to get there. Thomas says ‘we have no idea where you are going, how can we know the way’. Jesus wasn’t talking ‘location’ as much as communion with the Trinity. He was saying I am going to THE FATHER and you now know the Father, because I have revealed him to you. You have seen me, you have seen him. Also, the way to the father is thru the Son, so you not only know where I am going [Father] but the way [Son]. Now I get it! You can take this 2 ways [not three!] you can look at it as Jesus speaking of the sending of the Spirit as his ‘coming again’, in verse 18 he does say this. He says ‘I will come to you’ and he is speaking of the Spirits coming. Thru this chapter the comforter is one just like him. Also you can read this as the literal second coming. We believe Jesus will come again! Some have said this chapter is speaking of something else besides these 2 options, they think this ‘coming’ is the rapture. A separate event from the 2nd coming. I don’t see how you can believe it this way. Also in this chapter Jesus is showing the intent of redemption. He didn’t just come to take us to heaven. In chapter 17 we will read that he prays to the father for us not to be taken out of the world, but to keep us from the evil in it. Thomas seems to be thinking ‘location and how to get there’ when he says ‘we have no idea where you are going, how can you think we know how to get there’? But Jesus is really speaking the language of fellowship in the Trinity/Unity that he has with the father and the Spirit. He is telling Thomas ‘my purpose is to bring you into this oneness that I have with the father, to invite you to partake in this fellowship’ in essence ‘I am not talking about getting you to a location [heaven] in as much as bringing you into a state of being with me and my father’ true ‘HOLY COMMUNION’! You do see this concept thru out the chapter. The disciples seem to be struggling ‘how will you come back and reveal yourself to us and not to the world’ Jesus says ‘if a man loves me he will keep my words, the Spirit will then come and indwell him and we will all have community together’ [Father, Son, Spirit and all believers]. They are grappling with these ideas. They were like us, always thinking in terms of being saved to go to heaven when we die. Now, I thank God for this benefit. I am very happy that I am not going to Hell! Don’t underestimate this blessing. But Jesus is speaking on a much higher plane. He even says ‘the words I am speaking are not mine, but the Fathers’. A few practical things. Jesus says when I leave you will do greater works because I am leaving and the Spirit will come and indwell you. The ‘non Charismatics’ say this is evangelism. Jesus will give us the Spirit and we will evangelize on a mass scale, greater works. The Charismatics say this is doing more miracles, raising the dead and healing the sick and casting out devils. Who is right? Take them all! Just be sure and bring people into the Kingdom. The gifts are not for you to get famous or gain a following, they are for the purpose of evangelism and expanding the Kingdom. In this chapter we see Jesus great promises of peace and his dwelling with us forever. The promise of the Spirit showing us the things of the father. We are invited into this wonderful communion with him. Let’s allow the work of the Spirit to use us to bring others into this community. The 2 great commandments Jesus gives us is to love God and others. The ‘others’ speaks of his desire to bring people into this community. NOTE; on the radio when I spoke on this entry I mentioned some stuff on the historic creeds and the language that the early church used to define the Trinity. In the world today the 3 main religions are Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Islam and Judaism claim to be Monotheistic. Christians also claim this, but Islam and Judaism don’t agree. The reason for this is in the way the historic church came to define the Trinity. There have been Jewish converts to Christianity who accept Jesus as Messiah but do not accept the classic language of the Trinity. The verse that says ‘the Lord our God is one’ is a main text for both Muslims and Jews in their understanding of Gods oneness. Some of the Trinitarian language has been an obstacle to Muslims and Jews converting. Now, like I said before, I do believe in the Trinity. But if you notice the language that Jesus will use in our study in John, it seems more in line with ‘Unity’ then ‘Trinity’. The truth of the Trinity is there, but the explanations that Jesus gives sound better than the way the creeds say it. One of the creeds says Jesus was begotten eternally. That there was never a time where he was begotten. He was always ‘begotten’. They came to this language by trying to defend Christ’s deity. The problem is scripture teaches us that there was a definite point in time when Jesus ‘was begotten’. The fact that Jesus existed always with the father is different from saying ‘he was always born as a man’ which is what begotten refers to. So to be honest about it, the language in this creed is an obstacle. In my recent conversations with my Muslim friend I stood strong for the deity of Christ and God becoming man thru the incarnation, but I also tried to use the actual language of scripture when explaining it. This is going to be important for the future of the church as she tries to bring both Muslims and Jews into the church. We don’t want to compromise on the historic truths of Christianity, but we also want to express our belief in Monotheism in ways that are in keeping with scripture. Also when I say ‘into the church’ I mean bringing them to God thru Christ, not into some ‘culture of Christianity’ that the world sees as ‘church’. NOTE; I also spoke on the second coming and Preterism. Preterism is a way of interpreting the Second coming as having happened in A.D. 70. This belief arose out of a well intentioned answer to the critics of Christianity. Some critics have brought out the idea that the early church were all expecting an imminent return of Jesus, that they took the obvious scriptures that speak of Jesus coming quickly and stuff like that and were let down when Jesus did not come for the first few centuries. So some scholars developed the idea that Jesus did come in ‘judgment’ and fulfilled all the verses of the second coming in A.D. 70. Others have taught how the early church had to later adjust it’s theology around the ‘obvious’ mistaken teachings of Jesus. Some of these guys are believers, but they fall into the liberal camp. My belief is Jesus will literally come again. A Protestant scholar actually made an argument for the ‘literalness’ of Jesus return thru the Catholic teaching on Transubstantiation. He defended our Catholic brother’s ideas on the Real Presence in the Eucharist. He said the church has been faithful to the literal return of Jesus and his immediate presence by the reality of Jesus being present in Communion. Good effort, but a little too much spiritualizing for me. I believe the best argument that can be made, if you were going to go down this road, would be this chapter. Jesus says he will come again and also says the comforter will be the fulfillment of this coming. Now, I also believe in the future literal return of Jesus, because later on in the New testament you see Paul teaching a future return after the initial outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. I was watching an end time teacher using the verse where Jesus spoke on the destruction of the Temple and he was applying it to a future Temple. He was wrong. I also believe the Preterists are wrong. I believe the rapture as a separate event from the second coming is ‘extra biblical’. But in all of our seeking for truth, I don’t throw out the historic belief of Christ’s return. I believe the best way to explain the supposed delay of his return is to look at the character of God. The New Testament says the longsuffering of God is because he wants to bring as many people into the church as possible. That which seems to be a delay is really mercy. No need to try and find ways to explain this to the critics, Jesus is delaying his return for their benefit!

(304) I had a couple of thoughts that ran thru my mind. Jesus was being praised by the people at one time in the gospels. The religious leaders were jealous and said ‘tell them to stop’ Jesus responded ‘if I stop them, the rocks themselves would cry out’. This response was primarily to the 1st century religious Jew. Their whole destiny was at a critical point in history. They were created for the sole purpose of revealing God [and ultimately Messiah] to all the ‘rock’ nations around them. Scripture uses images like ‘precious stone’ ‘wood, hay, stubble’ and things like this to denote value and worth. The religious Jew of the 1st century saw themselves as ‘precious stones’ they derived this from their Old testament books [Isaiah, etc.] The prophets referred to Israel as ‘special and precious’. Jesus response to them by saying ‘if these don’t praise me, the rocks will cry out’ was a prophetic image. He was in essence saying ‘Israel, if you withhold the rightful praise due me as the true Messiah, there will rise up another Temple made of all these gentile stones, they will give to me the honor that I deserve’. Also I was thinking of the judgment verse where Jesus says ‘when you didn’t feed me, clothe me, visit me, etc’ and the people said ‘when did we not treat you well’ and Jesus responds ‘when you didn’t do it to the least of these, you didn’t do it to me, depart from me, I never knew you’. We often read that to mean Jesus is in heaven, we are here on earth and these outcasts of society are number 3 on the list. When Jesus says ‘I never had a friendship/relationship with you’ he is saying this to those who ‘prophesied’ and did many wonderful religious works. He is speaking to those whose experience of God is truncated from social justice issues. Those who ‘see’ God and their Christian responsibility as a separate culture that is to be enjoyed ‘outside’ of society. Jesus response wasn’t saying ‘I didn’t know you because you didn’t help others’ he is saying ‘the only way you could have truly known me was THRU these people; I was represented in society in these outcasts. You had a whole lifetime to have in some way reached out and gotten to know me, you never did, therefore I NEVER KNEW YOU’. This should change our mindset of church and ministry, it should compel us to come out of our safe cultural environments and touch the world, for in doing this you touch God.

About ccoutreach87

my sites- www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com- ccoutreach87.wordpress.com- facebook.com/john.chiarello.5

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