Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


WWW As My World Turns

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Final Thoughts on Resurrection Day 2013

On these final thoughts for Resurrection Day, I want to share my favorite rendition of this song from the original Ernie Haase and Signature Sound group! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

This week Christians everywhere acknowledge a pivotal point in history that literally affects EVERYONE! That event is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"He is not here, but He is risen" (verse 6) are words that matter eternally. If they are a lie, humanity has no hope after this life. If they are the truth, rejecting the Risen Lord Jesus Christ has eternal consequences. "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" (I John 5:12).

Paul said (I Corinthians 15:14) "and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain."

Many things we believe and do daily matter little. But the Resurrection is eternally important.

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. Everything else that was said or done by Christ and the Apostles, no matter how great or marvelous, is secondary to the Resurrection in importance. If the Resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.

Death is man’s greatest enemy, and it has conquered all men but Christ. No matter how brilliant or rich or strong he may be, no man is wise enough to outwit death or wealthy enough to purchase freedom from death or strong enough to vanquish death. The grave always wins the victory, and man sooner or later returns to the dust.

In fact, the inexorable triumph of death applies not only to man, but to all things. Animals die and plants die, and even whole species atrophy and become extinct. Cities and nations, like people, are born and grow for a season, and then fade away. Homes and automobiles and clothes wear out and must eventually go back to the dust, just as do their owners. Even the universe itself is running down and heading toward an ultimate “heat death.”

This universal reign of decay and death is called in the Bible the “bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21). In science it has come to be recognized as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Also known as the Law of Increasing Entropy, this Second Law is now recognized as a universal law in science, with no known exception ever observed. It says, quite simply, that every system tends to become disordered, to run down and eventually die. Its entropy, which is a measure of disorder, always tends to increase.

The universality of the reign of decay and death is the measure of the absolute uniqueness of the resurrection of Christ. All other men, even the greatest men and the holiest men, have died. Buddha, Mohammed, Zoroaster, Confucius, Caesar, Marx—men who made a profound impact on the world in one way or another—are all dead.

But Jesus Christ is alive!

It is true that He died and was buried, in common with all other men, but unlike other men He returned from Hades, resurrected His own dead body, made it henceforth immortal, and emerged from the tomb, alive forevermore! This was the greatest of all miracles, and could have been accomplished only if Jesus indeed is God, as He had claimed to be.

If all this is somehow a delusion and if Jesus of Nazareth did not really rise from the dead, then He is no different from other great men who are also dead. He is worse than they, in fact, because He is thereby branded as either a charlatan or a madman, since He staked all His claims to absolute deity on His promise to return from the dead.

On the other hand, if the Resurrection is really a demonstrable fact of history, then not only are His claims vindicated, but so are His promises. Death is not, after all, the great victor but is a defeated foe. He has “caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, … so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20, 22), as the “firstborn of the dead . . . and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:5, 18).*

Dead in our sins, we have only one hope for new life: by trusting in Jesus Christ and relying on His death and resurrection for our salvation. No other spiritual leader has ever conquered death; Jesus is the unique Son of God. He is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and “whoever believes in [Him], though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

What difference does the Resurrection make in your life today?

Happy Resurrection Day!

What Proof Is There Of the Resurrection?

Before I get into this final principle for Resurrection Sunday, I want to post one more video from Sandi Patty, entitled, "Was it a Morning Like This?" Was it a morning like this one when Mary Magdalene and Peter and John found the tomb empty? Found that Jesus had risen from the dead, defeating death and hell itself, ensuring our victory over death and the power of hell if we are believers in Jesus as not only the Son of God but God Himself?


The resurrection is central to the Christian faith. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, then Christian beliefs don't amount to much, since Jesus Himself said that He would be raised from the dead on the third day. On the other hand, if Jesus did rise from the dead, all His claims are true and we can know for sure that there is life after death.

A large volume of evidence exists to support the resurrection claims. In fact, there is more legal-historic evidence (the kind used in courtrooms) for the resurrection than there is for Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo or proof that Julius Caesar ever lived. There are several reasons why those who have studied the resurrection are convinced beyond a doubt that it is true.

Jesus Himself foretold His death and resurrection, and these events came about exactly as He had predicted.

John 2:19-21 "Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.' The Jews replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?' But the temple he had spoken of was his body."

John 10:17 "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again."

John 16:16-22 "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.' Some of his disciples said to one another, 'What does he mean by saying, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'?' They kept asking, 'What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying.' Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, 'Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me'? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy..."

Matthew 12:40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

Matthew 16:21 "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."

Luke 18:31-33 "Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, 'We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again."

The event is well-documented by numerous reliable, historical sources.

Historians such as Josephus (c.37-110 AD), Ignatius (c.50-115 AD), Justin Martyr (c.100-165 AD) and Tertullian (c.160-220 AD) were convinced of the authenticity of the resurrection. Their writings validate the accounts of the Gospel writers, who, according to leading biblical scholarship, recorded the event as soon as 37 AD and no later than 64 AD.

In addition, other first and second century historians including Cornelius Tacitus, Suetonius, Plinius Secundus, and Lucian of Samosata acknowledged the impact this incredible event had on the people of the time.

The resurrection is the only plausible explanation for the empty grave.

Roman soldiers closely guarded the tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Moreover, the grave's entrance was sealed by an enormous boulder. The Roman guard, which was usually composed of 16 members, would have made it impossible for the disciples--who, by the way, were cowering in fear for their own lives--to steal the body. If, as some have claimed, Jesus was not dead, but only weakened, the guards and the stone would have stopped his escape. After being beaten and flagellated, hung on a cross for six hours, pierced by the spear of His executioners to ascertain His death, and wrapped, as was the custom, in 100 pounds of linen and spices, Jesus would have been in no shape to roll a two-ton stone uphill, outwit 16 Roman soldiers and then appear radiantly to His disciples.

The Jewish leaders of the day could easily have refuted all claims of the resurrection by simply producing a body, but they were unable to do so because there was no body.

There are numerous eyewitnesses to the resurrection.

After He rose from the dead, Jesus appeared at least ten times to those who had known Him and to as many as 500 people at one time. These appearances were not hallucinations; Jesus ate and talked with His followers and they touched His resurrected body. Their experiences were not delusions.

Luke 24:36-39 "While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.'"

John 20:26-29 "A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.' Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, the Apostle Paul wrote, "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."

The resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the beginning of the Christian movement.

The Christian church was born in the very city where Jesus was publicly killed and buried. The belief in a resurrected Jesus had to be authentic to take root in Jerusalem and grow to encompass the whole world. The Christian church is now the largest institution that exists or has ever existed in the history of humanity. Clearly, this would have been impossible if the resurrection was a fabricated story.

The resurrection is the only logical explanation for the transformed lives of the disciples.

They deserted and even denied Jesus before His public trial; after His death they were discouraged and fearful. They did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead. Yet, after His resurrection and their experience at Pentecost, these same discouraged, disappointed men and women were transformed by the mighty power of the risen Christ. In His name, they turned the world upside down. Many lost their lives for their faith; others were terribly persecuted. Their courageous behavior does not make sense apart from their conviction that Jesus Christ was truly raised from the dead--a fact worth dying for.

Throughout the centuries, most great scholars who have considered the proofs of the resurrection have believed, and still believe, that Jesus is alive.

After examining the evidence for the resurrection given by the Gospel writers, the late Simon Greenleaf, an authority on legal issues at Harvard Law School, concluded: "It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact." Mr. Greenleaf was a Jewish professor who became a believer in Jesus the Messiah after studying the facts for himself.

Is Jesus still interested in us? What does it mean to have a personal relationship with Christ, and in what way does it impact our lives? And how does someone go about making that kind of commitment?

Those are good questions, and typical of someone who understands the significance of Jesus. Here is some information to help answer these and other questions you may have about Jesus.

Because of Jesus' resurrection, His followers do not honor a dead founder

They have a vital, personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ lives today and faithfully enriches the lives of all those who trust and obey Him. Throughout the centuries, multitudes have acknowledged the worthiness of Jesus Christ, including many who have greatly influenced the world. French physicist and philosopher Blaise Pascal spoke of people's need for Jesus when he said, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, which only God can fill through his Son Jesus Christ."

So, in light of the God-shaped vacuum that might be inside of you right now, how can you know Jesus more personally?

Because of God's deep love for you, He has already made all the necessary arrangements. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you can enjoy a personal relationship. Jesus made it possible to bridge the chasm which separates us from God. The following four principles will help you discover how to know Jesus personally and experience the abundant life he promised.

God LOVES you and created you to know Him personally

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

John 17:3 "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."

What prevents us from knowing God personally?


Man is SINFUL and SEPARATED from God, so we cannot know Him personally or experience His love

Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death" [spiritual separation from God].
Romans 8:6-8 "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God."

A great gulf separates man from God. Man is continually trying to reach God and establish a personal relationship with Him through human efforts, such as living a good life, philosophy, or religion. But he inevitably fails.

The third principle explains the only way to bridge this gulf...


Jesus Christ is God's ONLY provision for man's sin. Through him alone we can know God personally and experience God's love

Romans 5:8 "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

1 Corinthians 15:3-6 "Christ died for our sins... he was buried... he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures... he appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred..."

John 14:6 "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

God has bridged the gulf that separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

But it is not enough just to know these truths...


We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; then we can know God personally and experience His love

John 1:12 "As many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name."

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith. This does not depend on anything you have achieved, it is the free gift of God; and because it is not earned no one can boast about it."

Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (a spirit of repentance) and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive us of our sins and make us what he wants us to be. Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he died on the cross for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of our will.

Jesus Christ is waiting for an invitation to come in to your life. In fact, he says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20).

Perhaps you can sense Christ knocking at the door of your heart. You can invite him in by faith right now. God knows your heart so it doesn't matter exactly what words you use. Here's a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

If this prayer expresses the desire of your heart, pray it right now and Jesus Christ will come into your life just as he has promised. Once you invite Christ into your life, he promises to never leave you. You can never be alone if you have God in your life.

Hebrews 13:5 "God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"

To know God personally is the greatest decision you will ever make.

If you just prayed that prayer, then you need to tell someone that you trust about your decision. If you don’t have anyone that you trust to tell, then ask God for guidance to bring someone in your life that you can trust.

Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me
And talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
Salvation to impart.
You ask me how I KNOW HE LIVES?


Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

So, what happened on Saturday?

There is so much talk of Good Friday and Resurrection (Easter) Sunday, but very few people actually talk about Saturday and what happened in between the two. I wonder why that is? Saturday is the pivot point. The day before the single greatest event in history. The day before death and hell were conquered! It’s the day of uncertainty and worry and sorrow.

Put yourself in the Apostle’s shoes for a moment.

You have just seen all your hopes and dreams shattered by the Roman executioners. Not only that, but you aren't that proud of yourself, either. For three years, you followed the Master. You personally witnessed His miracles, from walking on water to feeding multiplied thousands with a young boy's lunch to healing the sick and raising the dead.

You heard His wisdom; you felt His Power, witnessed His Transfiguration . . . and when the chips were down and it was time to take a stand, you folded up like a Wal Mart lawn chair.

You ran and hid like a coward, not daring to show your face for fear you'd share His fate.

(And you once had the nerve to ask Him if you could sit at His right Hand!)

He faced His enemies alone, without a friend to speak up for Him -- including you, who promised NEVER to forsake Him.

On Good Friday, 1980 years ago, the last thing on any of their minds was writing a detailed record of their own failures. They just wanted to put the entire sordid experience behind them and move on.

He had forsaken everything to teach and prepare them, and when the time came, they not only betrayed Him by deserting Him, they never had a chance to beg His forgiveness afterwards.

How would you be feeling at this point if you were them? Ashamed? Afraid? Numb with grief? Confused? Here you expected Jesus to rule over all as King. Instead He has been tortured in a way that the Bible says no man has ever suffered more and then was crucified and now lay in a sealed and guarded tomb. Your hope is gone. What do you have to look forward to now?

And what about Mary, the mother of Jesus? Being the mother of a precious little boy, myself, I can’t imagine what she went through. Seeing Jesus beaten, tortured, ridiculed, spat upon and crucified like a common criminal – knowing He was innocent. Did she replay in her mind as Jesus stumbled under the weight of the cross, the other times He stumbled in His childhood…and, yet, knowing that this time she was unable to pick Him up and hold Him in her arms, kiss the boo-boo and assure Him that everything was going to be ok?

Being a mother, that, to me, is the most difficult position to try and put myself in. I can’t. Honestly, I don’t want to. It hurts my heart too much to even try to imagine being in her place.


What we know now, and what the disciples and Mary didn’t know then, was that Sunday was coming…

Just one day away…

And that would be the day when EVERYTHING changed!


Friday, March 29, 2013

WHY Did Jesus Have to Die and What's So "GOOD" About Good Friday?

Before I get into that topic, which is, quite frankly, fascinating . . . In honor of Good Friday I am loading two of my all time favorite songs from Sandi Patty called "The Via Dolorosa" and "The Day He Wore My Crown". I have had Via Dolorosa memorized for going on 25 years now, including the Spanish verse, and I sing it year round. There is no other voice that tells either of these stories so well as Sandi's voice.

Isaiah 53
1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by Him, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth;
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so He did not open His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in His death,
though He had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes His soul an offering for sin,
He will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11 After the suffering of His soul,
He will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by His knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great,
and He will divide the spoils with the strong,
because He poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53 was written many centuries before Jesus was born, and yet, it tells of His death on the cross for our sins. And He willingly did it, so great was His love for us. So desirous of us to have eternal life with Him that He shed His blood, took the sins of the entire world, past, present and future, of ALL mankind, for all the sinners, us as well as the murderers, the liars, the cheaters, the adulterers, the thieves, and on and on. While we may view sin on a "sliding scale", God doesn't. We ALL are sinners. The only person who was ever perfect and able to be that sacrifice on our behalf was the Son of God, who left His realm of glory in heaven and humbled himself to become like us, as a son of man, in order to fulfill the Covenant that God made with Abraham so many years ago.

In this post will explain the Abrahamic Covenant and what it means for us and why Jesus was the fulfillment of that Covenant, who He was and, most importantly, why He had to die.

This information comes from my friend Jack Kinsella and the Omega Letter. (His powerful explanation is just one reason why he is missed so much)

Why Did Jesus Have To Die and What's so "GOOD" About Good Friday?

Yesterday as we were coming home from church, my grandson Bailey chirped, "Gwandad!! Jesus died for you!" There was a pause and he said, "He died on a Cross because bad men put him there. He was covered with boo-boos!" (Being three, Bailey is not up on all the latest medical terms, but he knew what he was talking about) "An' He died for Mummy and for Gwandma and because He loves us."

I was absorbing all this as I drove when Bailey asked me the next logical question. "Gwanddad!" "Yes, Bailey." "Why did He have to die?"

When we got home, I tried to explain to a three-year old something that many adult Christians have difficulty explaining. Yet it is one of the first questions posed by the skeptic.

Why, indeed, if Jesus was God, did He have to die? To the skeptic, the whole Cross, Blood and death thing doesn't make any sense. I know many Christians to whom the answer is simply, "So He could be resurrected on the third day."

That was never a satisfactory answer when I was a skeptic, either.

According to Christian tradition, the Friday before Easter is called "Good Friday" because it is the day that Jesus Christ was crucified. GOOD Friday?

The Crucifixion most probably did not actually take place on a Friday, anyway. The Scriptures make reference only to the 'Sabbath' and there were two Sabbath days during that particular Passover week.

But it is on Friday that the world remembers, whether it wants to or not, that a Man was crucified on a hill called Golgotha outside the walls of Jerusalem for the sins of mankind.

If the world wants to remember it as a Friday, at least it is taking note of the event. Arguing about whether or not it actually took place on Wednesday or Thursday seems irrelevant to the central point.

Particularly in light of the way it remembers that day, as "Good" Friday. But what is so good about it?

I can recall as a kid growing up in a Catholic school thinking it more than a little strange that all those nuns said they loved Jesus, but celebrated the day of His execution as a "Good" day.

Indeed, as a kid, I thought the designation "Good Friday" was evidence that they really didn't LIKE Him very much, despite their protestations of love. My mother had passed away when I was only ten. I didn't think that the day that she died was a 'good' day for me.

There are lots of possible reasons why the day of Jesus' Crucifixion is designated "Good" in English. One is that the word 'good' was derived from the word "God".

Our word 'goodbye' came from the phrase "God be with you," so, according to that line of thinking, "Good Friday" would have originated from the phrase "God's Friday."

But I think it is less a case of the metamorphosis of language than it is an apt description of the Event that took place on that day just before the Passover two thousand years ago.

The execution of Jesus Christ was an event of incredible evil. He was guilty of no infraction, violated no laws, either Mosaic or Roman civil, and His betrayal was orchestrated, the Bible says, by Satan himself.

"And after the sop Satan entered into him [Judas]. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly." (John 13:27)

But while the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was an act of unspeakable evil, it was a necessary part of God's Plan for the redemption of our sin debt.

And the manner in which He accomplished was a demonstration of His Power over good and evil, using pure evil to bring about pure good.

"Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1st Corinthians 2:8)

But why was Good Friday necessary? We've gone over this before, but not in several years. Good Friday is the perfect day to revisit the topic. Why did Jesus have to die?

The Scripture says God's Justice demands a sacrifice, but for most Christians contending with the skeptic, that answer is unsatisfactory.

The explanation that only a sinless man was qualified to take on the sins of the world makes sense, but it doesn't answer the nuts-and-bolts question of why He had to die. Not fully.

The answer to the nuts-and-bolts legalities is found, not in the New Testament, but rather in the Old.  I thought it might be good if we were ALL equipped to give a reason for the hope that is in us.

In Genesis Chapter 15, we find Abram questioning God's promise that his seed will be numbered as the stars of heaven and that they would inherit the land to which God had led him.

Genesis 15:6 says "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." But Abram wanted a guarantee, nonetheless.

"And he [Abram] said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?" (15:8)

It was then that God proposed a blood covenant after the manner of the Chaldeans. "And he [God] said unto him, [Abram] Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon."

Abram knew what to do next, since this was something he was familiar with. "And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not."

The blood covenant worked this way. The animals were slaughtered and cut up. The pieces were intermingled and then carefully arranged to form a kind of aisle through which the two parties to the covenant would walk together, hands joined.

The principle of a blood covenant, and the symbolism of the rended animal parts was clearly understood to Abram. Whoever broke the covenant would end up like those piles of animals.

A blood covenant was, by common custom, a joining of 2 or more persons, families, clans, tribes, or nations, where the participants agree to do or refrain from doing certain acts. More specifically, God had proposed a patriarchal covenant.

The patriarchal form of covenant is a self-imposed obligation of a superior party, to the benefit of an inferior party. In this form, the terms the parties use to refer to each other are: father and son.

God's proposal included not only Abram, but extended to Abram's seed forever.

(Galatians 3:29 makes plain that Christians are also "Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.")

Are you still with me? Here's where we are so far. Abram has just prepared a blood covenant between himself and God in which his seed would forever be bound to God as heirs. To be an heir, under the implied terms of the covenant, also required being faithful to the Father.

Abram understood those terms and waited for God to appear. Consider the picture. Abram waited, driving away the carrion eaters from his grisly creation, waiting for God Himself to come down, join hands with Abram and together, they would swear a blood oath. God would be the Father of Abram and his descendents, who would then be required behave as sons to keep that covenant.

Genesis 15:12 records that as Abram waited for God, a deep sleep fell upon him. During that deep sleep, "it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:" (Genesis 15:17-18)

And there's the key! While the covenant was between Abram and God, by passing through the aisle alone, God signed the contract -- alone -- for both sides, binding Himself to keeping both parts.

We know that Abram's seed did NOT remain faithful to the covenant. And violating the blood covenant demanded that somebody had to die. That was what justice required.

The Apostle Paul was, before his conversion on the road to Damascus, a Pharisee, or a religous lawyer, one well qualified to explain the law of covenant oaths.

As Paul explains, "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:9) Further. that “they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." (3:9)

And also, "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith." (3:11)

Of the covenant that God signed on behalf of Abraham, Paul explains "Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto." (3:15)

The covenant could only be confirmed when the price demanded for its violation was paid in full.

When the Law was given to Moses four centuries later, it was assumed by the Jews that to break it was to break the Abrahamic Covenant, for which the penalty was death. Remember, somebody had to die. But God signed on behalf of Abraham, and Paul pointed out the blood penalty required of the covenant was paid in full.

"And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect."

Why did Jesus have to die? Because the covenant demanded satisfactory payment for its violation, and no one who had broken that covenant was qualified to stand in payment except those who signed it.

And God signed on behalf of Abram and his seed.

It is for that reason that God stepped out of eternity and into space and time. To keep the provisions of the original covenant and be a true Son, as it demanded.

And having kept its terms on behalf of sinful humanity, it was incumbent upon Him to make payment, as justice demanded, for its violation by those on whose behalf the covenant was signed.

To be torn and rended like the animals that formed the corridor through which God alone passed.

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Isaiah (53:3)

To make restitution on behalf of the seed of Abraham. You. Me. And everyone who ever broke its provision of faithfulness. All of us.

Jesus made that payment on our behalf. On the Cross, as He gave up the ghost, Jesus cried with a loud voice 'it is finished' (Tetelestai!) meaning, "paid in full."

The terms of the violated Covenant were met, its price was paid by its Signer. God's justice was fulfilled. That is why Jesus took on a human form and allowed Himself to be crucified by His own creation. That is the reason the Blood of Christ is so precious. Why nothing less would do.

Because justice demanded it.

And because justice was satisfied, a lost sinner need only accept the Pardon obtained at the Cross as full payment for his sins to obtain eternal life. Because of Good Friday, "Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord SHALL be saved." (Romans 10:13)

Our sin debt was paid in full on Good Friday. The only thing now separating God from man is human pride. Accepting by faith the pardon obtained for us at the Cross is a humbling experience.

We've noted in the past that God's way is not our way, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Indeed, God's way is usually the exact opposite of human thinking. Christians obtain victory by surrendering. We obtain eternal life through the Death of Christ, but to achieve eternal life one has to first die.

"Good" Friday is the day that commemorates the greatest evil ever perpetrated in the history of mankind. But as it turned out, it was the worst day possible for the forces of evil. It marked the first introduction of pure good to this old world since the Fall of Man.

"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes WE ARE HEALED." (Isaiah 53:5)

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

And, just like every Good Friday, after evening services, we will come home and watch The Passion of the Christ, as has been our tradition ever since it came out. It is a serious movie that causes us to really take note of the suffering Jesus went through on the Cross for us. We remember the sacrifice, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus every day, but watching this incredible rendition of it really continues to drive it home and takes the meaning of Easter season even deeper. So from the Boedeker household to yours...blessings to you on this GOOD Friday... ><>

Thursday, March 28, 2013

WHO is Jesus anyway?

In honor of Holy Week, and with tonight being the commonly accepted night of The Last Supper, I think it appropriate to discuss the topic of just WHO Jesus IS. Not "was", because He lives! He is alive today. So, for the scholarly mind, today we will delve into just WHO He is. Bear with me as there is a lot of information contained here, but there has to be in order to understand the awesomeness of Jesus and God's plan for mankind!

Most people believe that Jesus existed but there are differing answers as to just who they think He was. Most people say that He was just a good man, a teacher or a prophet, instead of actually being the Son of God. Some dismiss him as a liar or even a madman. Millions hail him as Savior and Lord. Whatever people think of him, nobody can deny that he stands at the very crux of human history. There is no doubt that He is the most influential person who ever lived. In this post we are going to explore the probability that Jesus was who He said He was.

The Biblical record of his life shows that Jesus was born to a virgin, lived a sinless life, taught throughout the Palestinian region for about three years, was crucified and then rose back to life three days after his death. The Bible claims that more than 500 people saw him alive after this miraculous event. How could a mere man have lived such a life? The miracles Jesus performed, his death on the cross, his resurrection, his ascent to heaven--all point to the fact that he was no ordinary leader.

Hundreds of years before Jesus' birth, prophets predicted his coming. The Old Testament, written by many people over a period of 1,500 years, contains more than 300 such prophecies, 456 to be exact. All of these details came true, including his miraculous birth, his sinless life, his many miracles, his death and his resurrection.

The reason why prophecy is an indication of the divine authorship of the Scriptures, and hence a testimony to the trustworthiness of the Message of the Scriptures, is because of the minute probability of fulfillment.

Anyone can make predictions. Having those prophecies fulfilled is vastly different. In fact, the more statements made about the future, and the more the detail, then the less likely the precise fulfillment will be.

For example, what's the likelihood of a person predicting today the exact city in which the birth of a future leader would take place, well into the 21st century? This is indeed what the prophet Micah did 700 years before the Messiah. Further, what is the likelihood of predicting the precise manner of death that a new, unknown religious leader would experience, a thousand years from now - a manner of death presently unknown, and to remain unknown for hundreds of years? Yet, this is what David did in 1000 B.C.

Again, what is the likelihood of predicting the specific date of the appearance of some great future leader, hundreds of years in advance? This is what Daniel did, 530 years before Christ.

If one were to conceive 50 specific prophecies about a person in the future, whom one would never meet, just what's the likelihood that this person will fulfill all 50 of the predictions? How much less would this likelihood be if 25 of these predictions were about what other people would do to him, and were completely beyond his control?

For example, how does someone "arrange" to be born in a specific family?

How does one "arrange" to be born in a specified city, in which their parents don't actually live? How does one "arrange" their own death - and specifically by crucifixion, with two others, and then "arrange" to have their executioners gamble for His clothing (John 16:19; Psalms 22:18)? How does one "arrange" to be betrayed in advance? How does one "arrange" to have the executioners carry out the regular practice of breaking the legs of the two victims on either side, but not their own? Finally, how does one "arrange" to be God? How does one escape from a grave and appear to people after having been killed?

Indeed, it may be possible for someone to fake one or two of the Messianic prophecies, but it would be impossible for any one person to arrange and fulfill all of these prophecies.

John Ankerberg relates the true story of how governments use prearranged identification signs to identify correct agents:

David Greenglass was a World War II traitor. He gave atomic secrets to the Russians and then fled to Mexico after the war. His conspirators arranged to help him by planning a meeting with the secretary of the Russian ambassador in Mexico City. Proper identification for both parties became vital. Greenglass was to identify himself with six prearranged signs. These instructions had been given to both the secretary and Greenglass so there would be no possibility of making a mistake. They were: (1) once in Mexico City, Greenglass was to write a note to the secretary, signing his name as "I. JACKSON"; (2) after three days he was to go to the Plaza de Colon in Mexico City and (3) stand before the statue of Columbus, (4) with his middle finger placed in a guide book. In addition, (5) when he was approached, he was to say it was a magnificent statue and that he was from Oklahoma. (6) The secretary was to then give him a passport.

These six prearranged signs worked. Why? With six identifying characteristics it was impossible for the secretary not to identify Greenglass as the proper contact (John Ankerberg, John Weldon and Walter Kaiser, "The Case for Jesus The Messiah", Melbourne: Pacific College Study Series, 1994, 17-18).

How true, then, it must be that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, if he had 456 identifying characteristics well in advance, and fulfilled them all! In fact, what does the science of probability make of this?

The science of probability attempts to determine the chance that a given event will occur. The value and accuracy of the science of probability has been well established beyond doubt - for example, insurance rates are fixed according to statistical probabilities.

Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, Peter Stoner, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes representing some 600 university students.

The students carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various circumstances which might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there was finally unanimous agreement even among the most skeptical students.

However Professor Stoner then took their estimates, and made them even more conservative. He also encouraged other skeptics or scientists to make their own estimates to see if his conclusions were more than fair. Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a committee of the American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented (Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969, 4).

For example, concerning Micah 5:2, where it states the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah, Stoner and his students determined the average population of BETHLEHEM from the time of Micah to the present; then they divided it by the average population of the earth during the same period.

They concluded that the chance of one man being born in Bethlehem was one in 300,000, (or one in 2.8 x 10^5 - rounded),

After examining only eight different prophecies (Idem, 106), they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 10^17.

To illustrate how large the number 10^17 IS (a figure with 17 zeros), Stoner gave this illustration :

If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten. Suppose that we take 10^17 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They'll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would've had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom (Idem, 106-107).

In financial terms, is there anyone who would not invest in a financial venture if the chance of failure were only one in 10^17? This is the kind of sure investment we're offered by God for faith in His Messiah.

From these figures, Professor Stoner, concludes the fulfillment of these eight prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of the prophecies (Idem, 107) - the likelihood of mere chance is only one in 10^17!

Another way of saying this is that any person who minimizes or ignores the significance of the biblical identifying signs concerning the Messiah would be foolish.

But, of course, there are many more than eight prophecies. In another calculation, Stoner used 48 prophecies (Idem, 109) (even though he could have used Edersheim's 456), and arrived at the extremely conservative estimate that the probability of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is the incredible number 10^157. In fact, if anybody can find someone, living or dead, other than Jesus, who can fulfill only half of the predictions concerning the Messiah given in the book "Messiah in Both Testaments" by Fred J. Meldau, the Christian Victory Publishing Company is ready to give a ONE thousand dollar reward! As apologist Josh McDowell says, "There are a lot of men in the universities that could use some extra cash!" (Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, California: Campus Crusade for Christ, 175).

How large is the number one in 10^157? 10^157 contains 157 zeros! Stoner gives an illustration of this number using electrons. Electrons are very small objects. They're smaller than atoms. It would take 2.5 TIMES 10^15 of them, laid side by side, to make one inch. Even if we counted 250 of these electrons each minute, and counted day and night, it would still take 19 million years just to count a line of electrons one-inch long (Stoner, op. cit, 109).

With this introduction, let's go back to our chance of one in 10^157. Let's suppose that we're taking this number of electrons, marking one, and thoroughly stirring it into the whole mass, then blindfolding a man and letting him try to find the right one. What chance has he of finding the right one? What kind of a pile will this number of electrons make? They make an inconceivably large volume.

This is the result from considering a mere 48 prophecies. Obviously, the probability that 456 prophecies would be fulfilled in one man by chance is vastly smaller. According to Emile Borel, once one goes past one chance in 10^50, the probabilities are so small that it is impossible to think that they will ever occur (Ankerberg et. al., op. cit., 21).

As Stoner concludes, 'Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact, proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world (Stoner, op. cit., 112).'

God so thoroughly vindicated Jesus Christ that even mathematicians and statisticians, who were without faith, had to acknowledge that it is scientifically impossible to deny that Jesus is the Christ.

By his own account, Jesus claimed he had the power to forgive sins, to cast out demons, and to determine people's eternal destiny. He even declared he himself was God!

In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this statement, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg--or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."

Jesus could only have been one of four things: a legend, a liar, a lunatic--or Lord and God. There is so much historical and archeological evidence to support his existence that every reputable historian agrees he was not just a legend. If he were a liar, why would he die for his claim, when he could easily have avoided such a cruel death with a few choice words? And, if he were a lunatic, how did he engage in intelligent debates with his opponents or handle the stress of his betrayal and crucifixion while continuing to show a deep love for his antagonists? He said he was Lord and God. The evidence supports that claim.

As you ponder this coming Good Friday, remember that He died for YOU. His death was our gift. The Gift of Salvation for all who believe and accept it. There are no strings attached. It's a gift freely given to one who will freely receive. Can you imagine anyone else who would give that kind of a gift for you?

John 3:16: For God SO LOVED the world (you, me, your friends and loved ones, your neighbors, strangers in foreign countries and, yes, even your enemies), that He gave His ONLY Son (to be the sacrifice for our sins in order to live in Eternity with Him), that whosoever believes in Him (as the Son of God and accepts Jesus as their Savior) shall not perish but have EVERLASTING LIFE (even though our bodies may die, our souls live on and it is YOUR choice where you end up for Eternity – do you choose Eternal Life or Eternal Death and Torment?).

Thursday: The Last Supper: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is my body, given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper He took the cup of wine, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."  

Some Debates Aren't Worth Winning

Earlier this evening I had admired a lovely friend's repost of a quote by Francis Chan. It contained a scripture  verse that she had not put in, but that used the NIV translation of the Bible. 

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." ~Matthew 28:19

Someone chimed in and state that the scripture was wrong and that wasn't how it went. They were talking about how it wasn't the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible and to use any other translation of the Bible was wrong and that basically by using another translation of the Bible aside from the KJV earned you a place right out of heaven, according to Revelation 22:9.

That statement starts to smell like "onlyism"...that the KJV is the ONLY acceptable version, which in turn is almost akin to Bible idolatry  I posted last week about where you should place your faith so that you don't lose it. Faith is not to be placed in a particular translation of the Bible, but rather in the Author of the Bible.

Here's the thing though...and I'm going to give you a brief history of the "translation" of the KJV Bible...

The Old Testament was written almost entirely in classical Hebrew in the dialect scholars believed flourished around the 6th century BC during the Babylonian Exile.  Almost entirely. 

By the time the Babylonian Captivity had ended seventy years later, the first language of most of the Babylonian captives and their descendants had become the language of their captors, Aramaic. 

The Books of Daniel and Ezra were originally inspired and composed in Aramaic. Alexander the Great outlawed the languages of the peoples he conquered and compelled them to learn and use Greek in all their dealings. But by then, Hebrew was largely extinct as spoken language, replaced by Aramaic and later by Greek. 

The New Testament was inspired and composed in both Aramaic and Greek. Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Greek. 

His words were translated from Aramaic into Greek, with certain Aramaic words being specifically identified as translations. Interestingly, those parts of the Old Testament not inspired and composed in Hebrew were inspired and composed in Greek. 

And the Septuagint is the Hebrew Old Testament as translated by the rabbis into Koine Greek in the 3rd century BC. 

So by the time the Apostles were writing the New Testament Epistles, much the Old Testament was already a translation of a translation.  

By the middle of the second century, the major writings of the canon of Scripture were accepted by almost all Christian authorities. St Jerome translated them all into Latin in the 3rd century. 
So by the fourth century, the Old Testament was a translation of a translation of a translation and the New Testament was merely a translation of a translation. 

Twelve hundred years later, Wycliffe, Hus, Linacre, Colet and Erasmus were all busily engaged in translating the various translations of translations into their own translations of English. 
One hundred years after John Hus was burned at the stake kindled with pages from Wycliffe’s Bible translation, King James of England ordered his translators to come up with a new English translation using the existing Greek and Hebrew translations, themselves recopied translations of Aramaic and Latin and classical Hebrew. 

The oldest existing Textus Receptus manuscript used by the translators of the King James 1611 Bible dated to the 12th century.  In the book of Revelation, a missing page had to be translated from the Latin Vulgate back into Greek so it could be translated back into English.

To be blunt here, nobody is saved according to which version of the Bible they study from.  Nobody is saved by a Bible.  They are saved by the Gospel message, a message so simple it can be conveyed without a Bible being present.

A child can lead another child to Christ on a playground. A drunk can lead another drunk to Christ on a barstool.  

I do not know much about the actual translators of the KJV. Or much about the translation process.  I can’t read the original languages. And if I could, I don’t have the original manuscripts used by the translators.  

And if I did, I wouldn’t know if they were 1st century Greek or if they were later Greek translations of the Latin translations of the Greek translations of the original Aramaic. 

Would you?

The quickest way I can think of to shake somebody’s confidence in their salvation is to attack their preferred Bible version.  The Bible that leads you to Christ takes on a very special, personal meaning.  If you came to Christ via the NIV, then the NIV is the Word of God whereby you were saved. The same applies to all the other versions, including the KJV.

Ever wonder why there are so many Christians that don’t go to church?  It is because there are two kinds of Christianity in this world.  There is the theoretical kind and there is the living kind. 

In the theoretical kind, everybody is the same at church as they are at home when nobody is looking.  Saved people always act saved and always looked saved.  Saved people never have doubts – that would be faithlessness.  And when somebody falls, it is because they probably were never really saved in the first place.

In the living kind, people are different at church than they are at home when nobody is looking.   Saved people don’t always act like it.  Some don’t ever go to church.  Everybody has doubts. And it is only when others fall that we question if they were really saved. 

When a person is young in the Lord, he is somewhere between the theoretical and reality – all he has is his Bible.  And along comes some grizzled old veteran Christian who, preaching theoretical Christianity convinces the new Christian that he can’t trust his Bible.

No matter which position you take on the Bible translations issue, what happens if you prevail in the debate? Assuming your opponent is already saved, he can't get more saved by agreeing with you.

If you have won the debate, then he has lost. Now let’s return to the topic under discussion.  “Can you trust your Bible?”  And his answer is “no.”

Some debates aren’t worth winning.

Do we have the Word of God?  Of course we do.  What about when there are conflicts between versions? God only wrote ONE Bible – but He didn’t write it in English.

He wrote it in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.  

So how do you know that the version that you use, whether KJV, NIV, NASB, etc, is really the Word of God?  Did you get saved from it?  Is that an enemy action?  

How do you know that is the one God wants you to use?  I don’t know.   But you do. It is because that is the version God speaks to you from.

Or you would be looking for the version that does.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Logic of the Cross

Keeping up with Holy Week, here is an EXCELLENT piece on the LOGIC of the Cross. This is logic that it is really quite hard to argue with. Again, my thanks to my very dear and recently departed friend, Jack Kinsella, for providing this, and the other in-depth pieces on the Cross and Resurrection this week. This is just one of many reasons why I miss my friend, because he had the incredible ability to explain perfectly what he was wanting to convey...on any topic. But I do not grieve for him for he will be celebrating the Resurrection this year with the ONE who was Resurrected! AMEN!

The Logic of the Cross

Roughly one thousand, nine hundred and eighty years ago, a Jewish itinerant preacher was tried, convicted and executed by Roman decree, on charges of sedition against the state.

When He was arrested by the Roman authorities, His friends, fearing arrest themselves, left Him to face the music alone. One of His closest and most loyal friends denied knowing Him on three separate occasions. Once followed by thronging crowds, only His mother and a couple of friends stood by Him to the end.

And thus ends the story of Jesus of Nazareth, just another victim of Roman 'justice' like the thousands of other unnamed and forgotten Jewish rebels that shared a similar fate.

Or, at least, that is where is SHOULD have ended.

Historically speaking, at the time of His Death, Jesus Christ was just another rebel in a land teeming with rebels. When He preached of the Kingdom of Heaven, his followers didn't understand the term the way that we do.

The sages understood the time of the Judges, when Israel was ruled by Heaven through God's appointed judges, as the Kingdom of Heaven He promised to restore.

Even His disciples didn't understand what He was talking about until after they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

"When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6)

They, like the rest, expected an earthly Jewish kingdom ruled by Jews, restored to the glory it had at its peak under King David.

When their dreams of a restored Kingdom of Israel died on a Roman cross, the event was too insignificant to merit the attention of the historians of the time. Only a few, like Tertius or Flavius Josephus mention it, and then, only in passing.

Crucifixion was common enough, but it was a grisly business, difficult to discuss without repulsing the reader. Although Imperial Rome imposed it on hundreds of thousands during its reign, historians recorded few details of the process itself.

By either chance or design, death by crucifixion served to erase the condemned from memory. It wasn't talked about, so neither were its victims.

On Good Friday, 1980 years ago, it looked like Jesus Christ was on the fast track to historical irrelevance, just another voice of one crying out from the wilderness.

A voice seemingly silenced forever -- by a death too gruesome to discuss in polite company.


Now, imagine you are one of His chosen disciples. You have just seen all your hopes and dreams shattered by the Roman executioners. Not only that, but you aren't that proud of yourself, either.

For three years, you followed the Master. You personally witnessed His miracles, from walking on water to feeding multiplied thousands with a young boy's lunch to healing the sick and raising the dead.

You heard His wisdom; you felt His Power, witnessed His Transfiguration . . . and when the chips were down and it was time to take a stand, you folded up like a Wal Mart lawn chair.

You ran and hid like a coward, not daring to show your face for fear you'd share His fate.

(And you once had the nerve to ask Him if you could sit at His right Hand!)

He faced His enemies alone, without a friend to speak up for Him -- including you, who promised NEVER to forsake Him.

On Good Friday, 1980 years ago, the last thing on any of their minds was writing a detailed record of their own failures. They just wanted to put the entire sordid experience behind them and move on.

He had forsaken everything to teach and prepare them, and when the time came, they not only betrayed Him by deserting Him, they never had a chance to beg His forgiveness afterwards.

To those who loved Him best, Good Friday, 1980 years ago, was anything BUT 'good'.

And it was the LAST story in the world they wanted to spread throughout the land.

"He made big promises, we made big promises, then He died and we all ran away and hid."

If you were hiding somewhere in Jerusalem on Good Friday, 1980 years ago, that was your story. Not a very inspiring story, if that was where it ended.

Every Easter, we are bombarded by secular apologists telling us that is where the story really DID end.

Jesus was dead; His followers were all in hiding, but while they were in hiding for their lives (and after seeing what happened to Jesus,) instead of fading quietly into the countryside, they entered into a conspiracy to perpetuate the same 'myth' that put Jesus on the Cross in the first place.

They made up the whole Resurrection story to keep the movement alive, and then legend took over, the argument goes.

If the story really DID end at Golgotha, would YOU want to face the same risk that you had just abandoned your best Friend to His Death in order to avoid? Well, would you?

Would anybody?

IF it ended at Golgotha, then what changed every single one of the cowards who fled Jesus on that day to later face death unflinchingly rather than deny Him a second time?

Moreover, what made these guys, who were so self-centered they used to argue over who would sit at His right Hand in some misty, undefined future kingdom, choose to disclose the details of their greatest moment of personal failure, weaving those unflattering self-revelatory details into the fabric of what they already KNEW a monstrous lie?

Since most of it was a lie anyway, why be so brutally hard on themselves?

The Archbishop of Canterbury is on record as doubting the Resurrection as an actual historical event. This defies logic. If the Resurrection wasn't an historical event, then it ended at Golgotha -- and the Apostles knew it.

Every single event from the Cross forward was a lie, and the New Testament record of their zeal to propagate that lie is equally unreliable. THIS is the argument put forth every Easter by the secularists as the epitome of 'rational thought.'

No logical alternative explanation for why the Apostles chose death over denial of what they KNEW, by definition, was a myth. To plug THAT hole, critics say the story was 'harmonized' later as the Bible was being assembled by the Nicean Council.

But nobody ever goes back to Good Friday, 1980 years ago, where they claim it all ended, to explain with any degree of credibility, why it didn't. Because if Jesus was not raised on the first day of the week, where He subsequently appeared to more than five hundred witnesses (1st Corinthians 15:6) then it SHOULD have.

Christianity SHOULD have died with Jesus, and on Good Friday 1980 years ago, to all intents and purposes, it did.

And it would have STAYED dead, but Christianity was raised with Jesus Christ on the third day, and today, it is real enough to have the secularists jumping through logical hoops every Easter season trying to prove its all a myth.

For those who demand empirical evidence of the Resurrection, the existence of the question is all the evidence logic demands.

Had it really ended on Good Friday, 1980 years ago at the Cross, nobody would be asking the question in the first place.

When Jesus appeared to John on the Island of Patmos, He identified himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning AND the end.

The logic of Christianity is that it began where it ended -- without the Cross, there could be no Resurrection. And without the Resurrection, there is no reason to remember the Cross.

To the secularist, this is an unacceptable conundrum, despite the fact his best alternative explanation leaves him with no reason for Christianity to exist for him to question.

It is a logical circle from which he can't escape, because he can't see he's inside the circle.

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1st Corinthians 2:14)

As foolish as his argument is, he can't see it for the foolishness of his own wisdom.

"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (1st Corinthians 3:19)

So every year, the annual bombardment of articles questioning the 'truth' of the Resurrection continues without their ever seeing the answer is contained inside the very question they are so focused on.

It is as baffling to the natural mind as is the reason we Christians call this upcoming Friday, "Good Friday".

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (1st Corinthians 1:18)

People are watching...

A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy street. Suddenly, the light turned yellow just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk. The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming as she missed her chance to get through the intersection.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a police officer. He took her to the police station where she placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, the policeman opened the cell door and said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do?' bumper sticker, the 'Follow Me to Sunday School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car!"
As Believers, we are always being watched. Remember that. We are often the only Bible that people will read, and as they say, actions speak louder than words.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What is BLACK and WHITE and RED all over?

There is a saying that goes, "If you cut the bible it bleeds". Ok, so I know it doesn't really bleed, but I do understand what that means; if you cut out the parts you don't like it to try and make you feel comfortable in your sin, the Bible no longer has any life to it and we're seeing that now in the world. Sadly, so many people out there believe that a gray church and a gray doctrine is perfectly fine, when instead, gray is the color of a shroud...the color of death. Even many pastors these days, often of MEGA churches are preaching a different Gospel and a different Jesus than the one actually IN the Bible...in order to not offend anyone.

Let me tell you an honest to goodness story. Truth because it happened to two very good friends of mine, who were walking in error at the time.

About 3 years ago, my trusted friend and his now wife, also my trusted friend, were living together, had a child together, were engaged...and were asked to be part of the church ministry at the church they attended. To minister others in the Christian life – when they, themselves, were not living it.

Their business and spiritual mentor, who is also a business mentor of mine and a pastor in the Dallas area, visited them for a meeting and as my friend was driving him to the airport the next morning, he asked my friend, “What are you doing to your family?” My friend was confused as asked what he meant. The mentor proceeded to tell him how his lifestyle was not only dishonoring to God, but how he was removing blessings from his family’s life by not going by what the Word of God had to say about living together without being married, etc. My friend was so offended by that!

After he dropped his mentor off he went to the church and said to the PASTOR, “Do you know what I was just told?!” And proceeded to tell the pastor everything that he had been confronted with by someone who saw in black and white, and NOT shades of gray. How he was not living a Godly life, how he was taking blessings away from his family, by living as he was, and he asked the pastor about serving in the church ministry.

To my shock, as my friend was telling this, he said that the pastor looked at him and said, “Well, that’s ok. God knows your heart. He knows that the two of you are planning to get married. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ...” and stopped right there. It made my friend feel superficially good, but that confrontation really disturbed him and God completely grabbed hold of him, and his fiancée. Moreso her than him at first though and she studied on it and researched it and encouraged him to do the same.

After really delving into what the Word said, “offensive” and all, he realized that they were indeed living an ungodly life and it angered him because he realized that the pastor was leaving out some of the most important parts of Romans 8 and doing my friend and his family a great disservice spiritually by cutting out the “offensive” parts.

What he didn’t say to my friend are the verses that continue on to say:

Romans 3c-17
[c]And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

To hear my friend tell his story is a powerful and emotional thing. A room full of men and women and it’s the men sniffling, because to many of them this hit home. He gets angry. He gets emotional. And he is upset that the person who should have told him, “that guy is right, you are not living as you should and, as such, you and she should not be counseling others until you come right with God and change your ways, according to what God says in His Word”...didn’t. Fell short. Taught the gray shades, instead of the BLACK and WHITE truth. Tried stealing his and his family's destiny in Christ. Complacency is a wonderful tool of the enemy and is colored in gray.

The Blood shed for you, me, everyone was RED. The Truth of God is BLACK and WHITE. There are no shades of gray. Preachers need to STOP worrying about tickling ears and growing attendance numbers and instead need to be more concerned with winning souls and speaking the BLACK and WHITE and RED Truth. And there is your answer contained in the title...TRUTH, more specifically, GOD'S TRUTH is BLACK and WHITE and RED all over.

My pastor, whom I love dearly and have known for going on 25 years now, put it best when he talked about going to the church conferences. He said that it is one of the saddest things that he goes to because the first question out of almost every other pastor’s mouth at these things is, “So, how many people attend your church?”, when instead it should be, “How many souls have you saved?” Probably why our church IS fairly large in Austin, without compromising or ear tickling, is because it is one of the churches left here in liberal Austin that preaches and lives out the “offensive” Gospel. No shades of gray. Just BLACK and WHITE and RED TRUTH full of life because the pastor does not cut out parts of the Bible to suit the fickle ear ticklers! He preaches LIFE, not death.

RED is the color of the Blood that was shed. Blood is LIFE. If you cut the Bible, it bleeds...it bleeds out and the message contained within dies.