Tychicus

Thursday, March 31, 2016

All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here (Colossians 4:7-9 KJV).

Exactly who was “Tychicus?”

Tychicus (“fortunate”) was a Christian man from “Asia” (“Asia Minor,” present-day Turkey) who accompanied Paul into that region on his third apostolic journey (Acts 20:4—Tychicus’ first appearance in Scripture). While we do not know very much about Tychicus’ origin, we understand that he was a very helpful brother in Christ during the latter half of Paul’s ministry.

Paul called Tychicus “a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:21) and “a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord” (today’s Scripture). Ephesians 6:21,22 say of Tychicus, “[he] shall make known to you all things, Whom I have sent for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts” (cf. today’s Scripture).

According to the Bible, Tychicus, with Onesimus, was a courier by whom Paul sent his epistle to the Colossians. Tychicus personally carried Paul’s epistle of Ephesians to Ephesus. While Paul was in prison in Rome, Tychicus was his messenger to the Colossians and Ephesians, and he relayed information to and from the Apostle. Just as good news cheers our hearts, so any good news from Paul to his Gentile converts or good news to the Apostle from his Gentile converts, would have certainly been a source of comfort. Indeed, Tychicus’ ministry was vital to Paul’s—especially in a day when long-distance communication was so limited and slow.

It is unknown if Paul sent Tychicus to commune with Titus on the island of Crete (Titus 3:12 was a possibility, not a fact). The last we hear of Tychicus is in Paul’s farewell epistle, where the Apostle, before being executed, had sent him to Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:12). Whatever became of our brother, Tychicus, we know not!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?

Questions to Avoid

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes” (2 Timothy 2:23 KJV).

Bible questions are okay, provided they are neither “foolish” nor “unlearned.”

Sadly, in so many religious circles, Bible questions are largely forbidden. For instance, read this: “When I contacted ____ he was very nasty to me and said I was wasting his time with my questions.” Someone wrote this to me a few years ago, after a so-called “grace” Bible teacher rudely discouraged Bible questions that his teachings generated. Why was that teacher so uninterested in questions that I was glad to answer for the dear man? Call me crazy, but I think that teacher refused to be “cross-examined,” or, frankly, “challenged.”

Many years ago, a seminarian training to be a priest was curious about his church’s true teachings. Well, as he put it, “The more questions I asked, the cleaner the seminary became!” His professors, unwilling to “suffer” “tough” questions (they had no answers for him), gave him “work-detail.” He had 32 hours straight of cleaning the seminary, including scrubbing floors with toothbrushes, before having to return to class hungry and tired. Oh, I forgot. With 152 acres of trees located behind the seminary, each student was also given an acre of leaves to rake. A truck would then carry the leaves over to the same place. After the leaves were re-spread, they had to be re-raked! (With this cycle of repetitious duties, there would be no time for “wandering minds” and “silly questions” to challenge the religious institution.)

Oh, but you see, dear friends, the Bible never discouraged questions. Today’s Scripture prohibits foolish and unlearned questions.” Questions help us to learn; God wants us to learn His Word. The Bible never says, “But questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.” It says “foolish [moros, as in ‘moron’] and unlearned questions.” These are pointless, absurd questions that cause people to bicker, with more time arguing than answering. Spiritual maturity allows you to “rate” questions asked of you. You spend your time doing it long enough, and you can you most definitely identify the “foolish and unlearned questions.” Avoid them, but, by all means, use the Bible to answer the rest! 🙂

Vain Worship

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

“He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esais prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6,7 KJV).

Friend, do you worship the God of the Bible “in vain?”

The reason you should ask yourself this pointed question is because many people have no idea what is true worship of the triune God. For example, consider the nation Israel’s condition in today’s Scripture. Or, better yet, travel back to Isaiah’s day, 700 B.C., and see the original quote: “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13).

Over 2,700 years ago, empty, worthless religion had already crept into Israel. The Jews, the sole custodians of the Word of JEHOVAH God, traded it for the silly religious tenets of their heathen neighbors. Yea, they traded gold for “fool’s gold!” Oh, it was such a shame, and yet, they were too senseless to recognize the difference. They said, “How we love Adonai! Look, we keep His laws, we observe His feasts, we have His Temple, we have His priesthood,” on and on. But, there was no heart faith in what they were doing. They began to worship the religion than the God who had given them that religion! Furthermore, they had watered down that religion with the Talmud, rabbinical writings, manmade ideas passed off as “God’s Word.” (Sound familiar?!)

Recently, I talked with a church-going Christian who believed she was “worshipping God” while preforming a certain religious action. When I told her Scripture said nothing about that activity—that it was not “of faith” and thus vain (empty)—she was flabbergasted. Are we shocked? Nay! Millions worldwide have no clue what the Bible says. They are so busy in “vain worship,” just going through the motions with no genuine faith. Friend, I hope you are not one of these people. Back to Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, or onward to more vain worship!

The Bible’s Season of New Life

Monday, March 28, 2016

“God that made the world and all things therein… he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24,25 KJV).

May we never forget the true meaning of Eastertime!

Satan is the master counterfeiter: from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal how the devil schemes to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Whatever God does, Satan defiles that work by introducing false doctrine, distracts mankind from God’s truth by mimicking His actions, discourages God’s people from His ministry by using incorrect thinking patterns, and so on. Why? Satan wants the worship that God alone deserves (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Consider Christmastime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping the birth of the sun god in early winter—near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) took upon human flesh in the virgin Mary’s womb! Now, consider Eastertime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping fertility deities and new life in early spring, near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) died for our sins and resurrected victoriously over sin, death, hell, and Satan to give us new life! (To Satan’s delight, today’s average church member is not mindful of relevant sound Bible doctrine during Christmastime and Eastertime—the devil’s distractions have never lost their efficacy!)

The God of the Bible instituted in Israel a festival, Passover (the killing of a spotless lamb and its bloodshed in early spring), while they were still in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12)—Passover’s annual observance reminded them of JEHOVAH delivering them from Egyptian slavery unto new life. Israel did not understand its meaning until 1,500 years later. The true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ, died and shed His sinless blood during that annual Passover feast (early spring), and He resurrected in new life to give them spiritual life and liberty.

Yes, the pagans may have “hijacked” this time of year for the devil’s glory, but we can disregard their ignorance: spring is God’s season for new life. We can still use this season to bring the God of the Bible glory by remembering that He has given us physical life (today’s Scripture), and He offers us new life (that is, spiritual life) through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Whose ‘faith’ is in Romans 3:25?

Our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians celebrate Easter?

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, March 27, 2016

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #2

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Jesus knew Bible prophecy had to be fulfilled: He had to suffer in accordance with the Old Testament prophets. Even when He spoke seven times from the cross, He quoted various Old Testament verses. The Old Testament prophets also gave Him comfort: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (today’s Scripture).

For instance, He remembered that Jonah’s prophecy had to be fulfilled: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). On the third day, He would live again, and be reunited with His heavenly Father!

He knew that His Father would resurrect Him. His spiritual torment and physical death were only temporarily, as David quoted Jesus 1000 B.C., “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:24-31).

Our Lord thought of reigning over that glorious kingdom that His Heavenly Father would give Him after His resurrection. As the psalmist wrote centuries before Calvary’s crosswork, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:6-8). “Begotten” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, not His nativity in Bethlehem (Acts 13:33,34).

Jesus Christ, during His torturous crucifixion, thought about and rejoiced in the promises in the Scriptures that applied to Him. Likewise, we, during difficult circumstances, can remember and joy in God’s promises to us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

We too can share Messiah’s joy amidst grief! 🙂

Our archived Bible Q&A: “Where was Jesus during the three days between His death and resurrection?

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #1

Friday, March 25, 2016

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Psalm 22:1-21 provides us with a glimpse of Jesus’ thoughts as He endured that awful crucifixion: He is greatly tormented physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Various verses in Psalm 69 provide additional insight, especially as death begins to close in on His soul. Written about 1000 B.C., these and other “Messianic psalms” graphically describe assorted events in our Lord’s earthly life (in this case, His crucifixion)… centuries before they occurred!

What Jesus Christ thought about while suspended on Calvary’s cross was the Holy Scriptures. He had faith in the Old Testament passages that applied to Him. No matter what happened to Him, He knew it was His Father’s will, and His Father would be glorified. As He stated earlier, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup [of Thy wrath; Revelation 14:10] from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt (Mark 14:36). “…The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:29bc).

Do you realize what today’s Scripture is saying? Jesus Christ felt immense physiological and spiritual pain, but He thought about the overall view: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (cf. Psalm 16:8-11). Yes, the Old Testament spoke of His suffering, and those Scriptures must be fulfilled, but it also testified of His glorious kingdom that would follow, and those Scriptures also were to be fulfilled in due time! “…The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). While it did not diminish the extent of His distress and suffering, Jesus Christ kept in memory the glory His Father would give Him once He had endured the crucifixion (Philippians 2:8-11). It gave Him such joy. He felt grief unspeakable, but He also had joy unfathomable!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is ‘divine right of kings’ a Scriptural teaching?