Without Blemish and Without Spot #3

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:…” (1 Peter 1:19 KJV).

How was Israel to see Jesus Christ was “without blemish and without spot?”

Passover/Calvary is two days away (Matthew 26:1,2). Israel’s chief priests, scribes, and elders connive to deceitfully arrest and murder Jesus. At Simon the leper’s house in nearby Bethany, Mary pours ointment on Jesus’ head (unknowingly preparing Him for burial). Judas Iscariot schemes with the chief priests to betray Christ for 30 silver pieces (verses 14-16). Jesus eats an early Passover with His 12 Apostles (verses 17ff.). On the Mount of Olives, He prays, before being betrayed and apprehended. His unjust, nighttime trial concludes late the next morning. Sentenced to death (!), He is crucified at 9 A.M.; He lets Himself die by 3 P.M. (Mark 15:25-38).

Israel could have verified Jesus as Messiah-Redeemer during those four days between Palm Sunday and Calvary. Rather than wrongdoing, He cleansed the defiled Temple, demonstrated God’s power, preached the truth, upheld the pure Mosaic Law, defended and expounded the Hebrew Bible, and exposed Israel’s perverted religious leaders. Scripture testifies of Christ Jesus during His last days: “the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4), “just [righteous]” (Matthew 27:19), “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4), “I… have found no fault in this man… No, nor yet Herod…” (Luke 23:14,15), “I have found no cause of death in him” (Luke 23:22), “this man hath done nothing amiss [no wrong]” (Luke 23:41), “I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:38), “I find no fault in him” (John 19:4). (Cf. Matthew 27:23; Mark 15:14; Luke 23:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; cf. today’s Scripture)

Matthew 27:24,25: “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the [Jewish] people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.Israel knew Pilate was correct; however, they could not care less that Jesus was innocent. Like all other sinful (deceived) children of Adam, they refused God’s sinless Son as their King: they demanded He be crucified as an imposter (John 19:15)!

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What is a ‘wen?’” and “What is ‘scurvy?’

Without Blemish and Without Spot #2

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:…” (1 Peter 1:19 KJV).

How was Israel to see Jesus Christ was “without blemish and without spot?”

Christ rides the donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-11). (Passover, His death, is about four days away [cf. John 12:1,12-16].) Entering the Temple, He cleanses it of the thieves who had been utilizing “God’s religion” to deceive and rob His people; there, He heals the blind and lame (Matthew 21:12-14). Israel’s religious leaders grow envious when children praise Him (verses 15,16).

Sleeping in nearby Bethany for the night, Jesus returns to Jerusalem in the morning to curse the barren fig tree (verses 17-22). God will never reinstitute the Mosaic Law, for it has produced no spiritual fruit in Israel. In the Temple, Israel’s religious leaders demand of Christ where He received His authority, and slyly dodge His subsequent question about John the Baptist (verses 23-27). He then issues three stinging parables: they do not follow God as they claim (verses 28-32), they willfully reject and scheme to murder His Christ—yes, He knows!! (verses 33-46), and they further refuse to believe on Him (22:1-14).

The Pharisees collaborate to get Jesus to say something incriminating before the Temple crowds (verse 15): they send delegates to ask Him about paying taxes (verses 16-22). The Sadducees then attempt to trick Him with a resurrection riddle (verses 23-33). A lawyer of the Pharisees finally asks Him about the great Law commandment (verses 34-40). Christ answers all three issues wisely! He asks them a question now, which they cannot answer; they are silenced (verses 41-46). Matthew chapter 23 follows—His severest censure of these false religious leaders (cf. John chapter 8)! He finally curses unbelieving Jerusalem, declaring that God’s house has become her house. Exiting the Temple, He walks to the Mount of Olives; in Matthew chapters 24 and 25, He delivers His magnificent end-time “Olivet Discourse.” Calvary is soon!

Indeed, when Israel was appraising the Passover lamb for slaughtering, sinless Jesus entered Jerusalem. He was the true Passover lamb, “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (today’s Scripture), to be sacrificed for us sinners (1 Corinthians 5:7). Would Israel sacrifice Him in faith? Or, in unbelief? Let us see….

Grieved

Saturday, October 8, 2016

“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:1,2 KJV).

Why were Israel’s religious leaders “grieved” that Apostles Peter and John were teaching the people?

The word “grieved” here carries the idea of worry or irritation. It was used to describe the Apostle Paul’s attitude toward the devil possessing the girl who incessantly harassed his party in Philippi. Luke reports in Acts chapter 16: “[16] And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: [17] The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. [18] And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

Today’s Scripture says Israel’s religious leaders were “grieved that [Peter and John] taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Part of that group was Sadducees, religious leaders who denied the Scriptural doctrine of resurrection (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Acts 23:8). Remember, Peter and John were “preaching through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” They were contradicting religious tradition, and they had to be silenced! (Sound familiar?) After all, Peter had preached to Israel in the previous chapter: “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14,15). No wonder those Sadducees were so disturbed!

Israel’s religious leaders knew they were losing their long-held influence over God’s people, and they were not about to let it happen. They knew the 12 Apostles were drawing people away from their vain religious system. What happened to Peter and John here? Read Acts chapter 4 to find out!

When We Deceive Ourselves

Friday, May 6, 2016

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10 KJV).

Do you claim to be sinless?

Years ago, I spoke with a religious family member about the Gospel of the Grace of God. Nearly 90 years old, she had been instructed in her denomination for many decades. When I asked her about her sins, she said, “I have never done anything wrong in all my life!” Just think, friends, about how many times we have sinned in our decades alive. Consider how many times we have sinned today. Now, think about a woman living 90 years, and then saying most seriously, “I have been sinless all my life!” Talk about delusional. But, the people spoken of in today’s Scripture were equally mistaken.

Instead of realizing “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20), most Israelites from Christ’s earthly ministry thought they were “pretty good” before God. Note how John the Baptist corrected such erroneous thinking in Matthew 3:9. Paraphrased, “Just because Abraham is your ancestor does not automatically make you sinless!” This was directed to the Pharisees and Sadducees, Israel’s religious leaders who thought they were sinless. As the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 prayed, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican [tax collector]!”

Today’s Scripture, while often misunderstood as something for believers to practice today, was actually written to correct this unbelieving, so-called “sinless crowd,” in Israel. In order to be saved into God’s family, they had to confess their national sin of breaking God’s Law Covenant. They had to quit trying to establish their own righteousness and come to understand God’s righteousness manifested in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:1-13). Many today need to learn this lesson. They too hide behind their religion. God is not fooled. Until they realize they are lost and going to hell, they have no chance of being saved and going to heaven!

Ye Do Err!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29 KJV).

If Jesus spoke audibly today, He would say this not only to much of the world, but also to 99 percent of “Christian” church members and leaders!

Today, Christianity has more books than ever before—millions and millions of books, millions upon millions upon millions of copies of those books. You would assume that, because of all these “Christian” books, today’s churches would abound with the most Biblically-literate people to ever walk the planet. Alas, this is not so—quite the opposite, actually. They know books, but not the Book! Not long ago a dear, elderly friend in the ministry bemoaned, “The average lost person fifty years ago knew more about the Bible than the average preacher does today!”

For example, a friend and I were recently researching a local church that touts its thousand-plus weekly attendance. When I found their statement of faith online, I discovered that it cited 12 basic Bible verses and one familiar 15-verse-long passage. Yea, it was a very doctrinally-shallow document—one verse supporting almost every tenet.

More recently, I skimmed a “Christian” handbook for teens, published less than a decade ago. The “Bible-believing” author, with denominational approval, wrote: “So when the creation story of Genesis describes the earth as flat, is that true in the sense of factual? Of course not. Did creation take six days as we know them? Not likely.”

While much could be said about his faulty theology (and horrific grammar!), I can only wonder what “creation story of Genesis” (?) he was reading when he claimed God’s Word indicated that the earth was “flat!” Like many today in religion, the author just fabricated an idea (denominationalism), he pretended it was “Scripture” (the average reader would never check the Bible for himself anyway!), and then he demeaned the very God and Book he claimed to adore (“I only believe the Bible verses my church supports literally!”)! As Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures!”

Beloved, be on guard against these “wolves in sheep’s clothing!”

Eye Service

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

“But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (Matthew 23:5-7 KJV).

Jesus Christ rebukes apostate Christendom with these same words even today.

Religion (Christendom) teems with people performing ceremonies, rites, and rituals to gain God’s attention and acceptance. However, Christianity focuses not on what we do for Jesus Christ, but what Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary, and what He will do in and through us if we, by faith, allow Him.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus condemned the religion of His day. Judaism was once the pure religion that JEHOVAH gave to Israel through Moses. In the 1,500 years since Moses, Israel’s religious leaders had polluted that God-given religion. Israel’s clergy were generally divided between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, although the Pharisees dominated (according to verse 2, Jesus is speaking mainly of them in today’s Scripture). Law-keeping was not about honoring JEHOVAH God who gave it, but rather rule-keeping for rules’ sakes. In fact, they added to the 600-plus laws God had given!! They largely preferred man-made rules, “the commandments of men” (Mark 7:1-13; cf. Colossians 2:8). Israel was burdened by and buried in laws (Matthew 23:4; Acts 15:10; cf. Galatians 4:9)!!!

The Apostle Paul admonished Christian servants (employees) not to work with “eyeservice” (Colossians 3:22-25). It was not to be showy, put-on, eye-catching work done diligently just for the sake of praise; it was to be honest, genuine labor from the heart, whether someone was watching or not.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus exposed how the watered-down Jews’ religion” (Galatians 1:14) enabled Israel’s religious leaders to brag about their “broad phylacteries” (large boxes that held many scraps of “paper” with Old Testament verses on them, worn on the forehead or wrist). They loved to wear special clothing (long robes with large fringes; Luke 20:46), to be seen and praised of men because of their long prayer” (Matthew 23:14), to be commended for their “pious” appearance and dedication.

Beloved, avoid those who make such “a fair shew in the flesh” (Galatians 6:12)!