The Wise Masterbuilder #3

Sunday, January 7, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

Two decades prior to today’s Scripture, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saul of Tarsus in Acts chapter 9 to end his satanic ministry. Saul—an unbelieving, hateful, Hell-bound, Israeli religious leader—had not thought twice about torturing and executing his fellow Jews who had believed in Jesus as Messiah/Christ (Son of God and King of Israel). However, once God directly intervened and met Saul face-to-face, Saul was truly a changed man. There, on that road to Damascus, Saul came to see and trust that Jesus Christ, whom he and his nation had bitterly opposed and murdered, had actually died for his sins, had been buried, and had been raised again for his justification (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)!

After saving him, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ commissioned Saul. Many years later, now known as Paul, he spoke of his conversion. Acts chapter 26 reports: “[15] And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. [16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send [apostello] thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

The Holy Spirit thus caused Paul to write in Romans 11:13: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle [“sent-one”] of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Since God sent Paul to the Gentiles, He sent Paul to Corinth….

No Room for the Messiah

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is a shameful reality—Israel has “no room” for her Messiah.

Every Jew knew the Messianic promise of Isaiah 7:14: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Each Jew had heard its parallel verse: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). They knew Micah 5:2: “Bethlehem Ephratah… yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

For nearly seven centuries, Jews read the above verses. They knew that God would one day send their Messiah, who would establish His kingdom in the earth. However, when Joseph brought Mary, who was heavy with child, to Bethlehem of Judaea, precious few took notice. Their hearts were so hardened by sin, much of the nation Israel could not care less. Here was a pregnant virgin, living in Bethlehem, within the time frame of the Messiah’s arrival as prophesied by Daniel 9:25-26, and there was the Messiah’s star of Numbers 24:17 appearing to signify His coming (Matthew 2:2). It was so obvious that Mary’s Baby was Israel’s long-promised Messiah-King! Alas, sinful Israel would not have Him!

How Israel “received” Jesus Christ as a Baby typified what they would do to Him later for the rest of His earthly life. They had no room for Him in the inn, so they invited Him—the Lord of glory—to lie in a lowly trough out of which livestock eat (today’s Scripture)! When He offered Himself to Israel 33 years later, Israel argued, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). God was not surprised, for He had preplanned what He would do at that point….

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “What was the ‘Star of Bethlehem?’

Bethlehem of Judaea

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, 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; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2 KJV).

Today’s Scripture, written about 700 B.C., prophesies the exact birthplace of Israel’s Messiah.

Notice the Bible is very specific: “Bethlehem Ephratah pinpoints the Bethlehem in southern Israel (there was another Bethlehem, in Galilee, northern Israel). Bethlehem of Judaea, as today’s Scripture teaches, is “little among the thousands of Judah” (a little-known village).

The Bible tells us that Bethlehem Ephratah was the birthplace of King David (1 Samuel 16:1-18). John 7:42 reads: “Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” Jesus Christ will inherit His father David’s throne, and David is a type/preview/shadow of Christ (Isaiah 9:6,7; Luke 1:31-33). Thus, they share Bethlehem Ephratah as their birthplace (cf. Luke 2:4).

“Bethlehem” is an interesting term. Jesus Christ likened Himself to the manna of the Old Testament. He claimed, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world…. I am that bread of life: I am the bread which came down from heaven…. I am that bread of life” (John 6:33,35,41,48). Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1,5,6): “Bethlehem” is Hebrew for “house of bread.” Thus, the “Bread of Life,” Jesus Christ, was born in the “House of Bread,” Bethlehem. Fascinating!

Furthermore, Joseph (Jesus’ legal father) lived in Nazareth. When Roman emperor Caesar Augustus sent out a decree for taxing the people of the empire (conducting a census), Joseph had to leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem of Judaea, taking pregnant Mary with him (Luke 2:1-5). Christ was born there in Bethlehem. Some 700 years beforehand, the Bible knew Joseph and Mary would not be in Nazareth for Christ’s birth, but in Bethlehem, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of today’s Scripture. Amazing!

These are evidences that the Bible is a supernatural Book—indeed, it is God’s Book.

What Child Is This? #4

Saturday, December 2, 2017

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:1,2 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

As the shepherds and angels gathered around Baby Jesus’ manger, we can only wonder what immense joy filled their hearts. In that world of old—plagued by the same basic problems of our modern world—He was a Beacon in the dark and a Solace in the misery. They undoubtedly sang right in the midst of all those farm animals! They were so thrilled to see God working in their presence. They were now standing before His baby crib!

Sinners today are greatly encouraged—yea, urged—to come by faith to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, right this moment. They are not to come by faith to His crib, for He is no longer a Baby. Rather, they are to come by faith to His cross, where He gave up that life for us! “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). What we need to do is rely exclusively on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, His shed sinless blood and His resurrection, as sufficient payment for our sins.

As with Jesus’ birth, for those who do not want to see anything, they do not see anything. Those who see are people who want to see. It has nothing to do with God hiding anything from anyone. What did Jesus tell the Jews? “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

Although Jesus Christ is not physically here today, we can still haste to bring Him laud. We can praise Him highly in a public context. First, we can believe on Him and His finished crosswork. Then, we can tell others how they too can be saved through Calvary!

What Child Is This? #3

Friday, December 1, 2017

“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20,21 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

While commonly assumed the wise men came to visit Baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem, a careful study of Matthew chapter 2 shows us that they met Jesus in Joseph’s house in Nazareth, when He was as much as two years old (verse 16). The Bible never specifies “three” wise men or three “kings,” either. Regardless of their number, these wise men, Gentiles from the East, came to Jerusalem looking for Israel’s King. Upon hearing the wise men, King Herod and all of Jerusalem were “troubled” (verse 3). Israel should be ready to receive her Messiah-King, but she is not. Gentiles are seeking Israel’s King, and they, the Gentiles, are ready! How odd!

The wise men learn that Israel’s Messiah was born in Bethlehem-Judah (verses 4-6), but a “star” (angel) leads them to Nazareth (verses 7-10). Verse 11: “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Jesus is a King, so the wise men have brought gold to Him. They have brought Him frankincense because He is a Priest. Myrrh has been brought to Him because He is a Prophet. Gentiles treat Israel’s King with more respect than Israel does!

Nothing has changed today. Some reject Jesus Christ while others accept Him. The songwriter, as does this author, urges people to accept Him!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does it mean to ‘mind earthly things?’

Rejected (Thrice)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

“But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple” (Matthew 12:6 KJV).

Christ Jesus uttered three “greater” statements in this chapter. Why?

Today’s Scripture is the first occurrence. The reference to the Temple actually implies the priest serving in the Temple. There is a “greater priest.”

Next, verse 41: “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” There is a “greater prophet” than Jonah. Finally, verse 42: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” There is a “greater king” than Solomon.

The “Old Testament” predicted Messiah would hold three offices—Prophet, Priest, and King. Deuteronomy 18:18: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him” (cf. Acts 3:22,23). Jeremiah 23:5: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” Zechariah 6:12: “Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” These three Messianic roles correspond to the three gifts the wise men brought to young Jesus in Matthew 2:11—gold (king), frankincense (priest), and myrrh (suffering prophet).

Today’s Scripture is approximately halfway through Christ’s earthly ministry. In verse 14, we read of the first conspiracy to take His life. Israel’s religious leaders hate Him and His Heavenly Father for what they have taught Israel from the beginning. Israel’s national leadership refuses the Lord Jesus as King (ruler), Prophet (preacher), and Priest (intercessor). He gradually withdraws from public ministry. In the next chapter, He switches to parables to hide the truth from those unbelievers.

Not Mixed With Faith

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2 KJV).

We can read and memorize all the verses we want, but, if we are not approaching Bible verses in faith, we will not gain the profit God put in them.

I had a recent phone conversation with a brother in Christ who is in the ministry. He is dealing with an individual who jumps from religious group to religious group (five or six current affiliations). This man, whether saved or not I am unsure, constantly asks the brother various Bible questions. How sad it is that people can ask so many questions and still be so ill equipped, unable to distinguish truth from error. Yea, treating the Bible like some “intellectual gym class” will severely harm rather than greatly help!

Take, for example, the nation Israel in the wilderness (Hebrews chapter 3— previous to today’s Scripture). They heard the voice of God thundering from Mount Sinai. They saw the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them. Unlike the pagan nations around them, Israel had access to the one true God (Deuteronomy chapter 4 in its entirety). Alas, Israel did not believe a word God said (today’s Scripture)! They heard, heard, heard… but they did not believe, believe, believe! Hearing the Word of God does not benefit you if you do not believe it! Paul said this of unbelieving Jews in Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Israel had heard the Word of God for centuries, and yet was still in rank unbelief during his Acts ministry!

The writer of the Book of Hebrews, speaking to Israel during the future time after our Dispensation of Grace, urges the Jews to believe the kingdom doctrines Jesus Christ taught during His earthly ministry. They are to believe on Him as their Messiah, the Son of God, their Redeemer; they must wait for Him to return at His Second Coming to establish that earthly kingdom of God. That wonderful news cannot profit them if “not mixed with faith!”