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!”

The “Triumphal” Entry

Friday, April 21, 2017

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 16, 2017

“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 #1

Friday, April 14, 2017

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

Clueless

Saturday, February 4, 2017

“And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:9-11 KJV).

Whether 2,000 years ago or today—some people are utterly clueless!

A reporter interviewed people on the sidewalks of an American city. While holding portraits of famous United States politicians, he asked passersby if they could identify those faces. These pedestrians were utterly clueless. In complete sincerity, they threw out random names, far from the truth. How comical! Doubtless, sadly, such oblivious people exist in all nations. Strangely, in this world of constant communication (smartphones, email, social media, and so on), some people still fail to stay abreast with current events and prominent characters. This was exactly where Israel was in today’s Scripture.

Indeed, some Jews recognized Jesus as Messiah when He came. As He fulfilled prophecy after prophecy, they became increasingly certain that He was the God-Man their ancestors had expected for many centuries. Yet, most remained in spiritual darkness. While their King rode on a donkey into their capital city, the so-called “triumphal entry,” Jerusalem’s citizens asked, “Who is this?” There are hints of sarcasm or scorn here. “If He is so important, so worthy of such adoration, why is He on a modest, baby donkey? He is no one special!” Friends, sin had so blinded them. They could not even see that Jesus was riding that donkey to fulfill yet another prophecy—Zechariah 9:9. Even today, the average Jewish person still rejects Jesus as Messiah.

The multitude replied, “This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” While this was true, they were also lacking spiritual insight. He was not just some “prophet;” He was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)! (Notice the “clueless” people there in verses 13 and 14.) Friends, there are minor consequences if we fail to recognize key people in our world today. However, let us not fail to recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s Son and the payment for our sins—such ignorance will have eternal consequences!

No Room for the Messiah

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

“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 20, 2016

“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.