Month: December 2015

Jesus is God in the Flesh: Forgiveness

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

source

If you profess faith in the Christian message, yet lack this belief about Jesus’ identity, you expose a complete lack of understanding of the very Bible wherein you find the figure of Jesus in the first place. The Gospel narratives leave no possibility to reject the deity of Jesus. Rather, they appreciate, rely on,  and believe in the message that he spoke.

We can better understand this vital truth about Jesus with these four points concerning Jesus and his teaching.

  1. The man of “The Name”
  2. The man of Authority
  3. The man of Unity
  4. The man of Forgiveness

For the next several weeks, we’re going to reflect on these indicators that support the divinity of Christ Jesus.

The Man of “Forgiveness”

Although the Crucifixion testifies to the divine nature of Jesus, one can find enough support for the divinity of Jesus Christ prior to his sacrificial death upon Golgotha. Throughout his ministry, Jesus became popular for a number of reasons. While the number of people who believed in him as the Messiah and as God grew, the number of people simply hungry for miracles tended to occupy the daily majority. Just as people in today’s world are hungry for entertainment, so were the first-century people in Palestine.

Repeatedly in the Gospel narratives, we find people who are much more interested in the healing power of Jesus rather than his identity or greater mission to save the world and redeem all people from their sin. But Jesus always makes forgiveness of sin paramount over the physical healing alone. According to Jesus, there was a deeper sickness, a deeper problem and a deeper need for his power than any physical ailment present in a person’s life.

Repeatedly Jesus forgives a person’s sin, in response to someone asking for the healing of his or her body.

But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”  Luke 5:19-20

Jesus saw the deepest problem was sin, so he thrust himself into the center of all sins as the focal point from which forgiveness was to be given. All sins go much deeper and further than the person being sinned against, because ultimately, all sins are against God. Therefore, only God has the right and authority to forgive anyone their sins. In the context of human sin and the transformative healing power that Jesus also exhibited, the only reasonable person in human history that could make a case for having the power to forgive sin and thus be God in human form is Jesus Christ.

Tuesday Devotional: Jude 3-16

bibleRead Jude 3-16

In the world today we are taught that there is no such thing as “evil.” The world claims that to erect walls separating “good” from “evil” is insensitive, counterproductive to the well-being of society.  It is now a flaw to see flaws.  It is a sin to identify sin.  In this cultural and social climate it is increasingly difficult for Christians to contend for the gospel; if, that is, the Christians are attempting to fend off this cultural attack without the aid of Jesus Christ.  A Christian’s attempt to stand up against the tidal wave of cultural and social sensitivity that allows no room for the gospel truths will result in failure.  This is not a fight that can be won by a single person or a group of people. It can only be fought by the Lord, and by realizing this gospel truth, we will discover that this fight has already been fought and won by Christ himself.

Along with Jesus Christ’s completed mission to redeem this world, a Christian must cling to another truth in order to stand in faith.  This truth is that, although increasingly unacceptable to the world, there is a very real and definable line between “good” and “evil”, and that sin exists in the world today.  Taking a passive or naïve position toward these issues does not spread the gospel and therefore will not result in the greater healing of the world.  By erasing the lines of “good” and “evil” we allow for no standards at all.  Without a standard of righteousness, man is left to his own devices. Human history proves that man alone, with the world at his mercy, is a destructive force more terrifying than any other being or species on the face of the earth.  We are dangerous.  We are destructive.  We have the potential for great beauty but alongside this exists a great evil that lurks and waits for an opportunity to be set free.  The Church and every Christian must acknowledge the standard of the gospel of Christ if there is any hope for the life, death and resurrection of Christ to heal the sick and free the captives of this world.  Dismissing the righteous standards of God dismisses his work, and dismisses him entirely.  Ignoring the standards of Christ removes any commonality between a Christian and Christ, and along with it, any meaning or power in bearing his name as a Christian.  Holding tightly to standards that acknowledge “good” and reject “evil” resists the current of the cultural and social flow of this world and follows the spirit of God from the beginning and through to the end.

Jesus is God in the Flesh: The Unity

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

source

If you profess faith in the Christian message, yet lack this belief about Jesus’ identity, you expose a complete lack of understanding of the very Bible wherein you find the figure of Jesus in the first place. The Gospel narratives leave no possibility to reject the deity of Jesus. Rather, they appreciate, rely on,  and believe in the message that he spoke.

We can better understand this vital truth about Jesus with these four points concerning Jesus and his teaching.

  1. The man of “The Name”
  2. The man of Authority
  3. The man of Unity
  4. The man of Forgiveness

For the next several weeks, we’re going to reflect on these indicators that support the divinity of Christ Jesus.

The Man of Unity

While many cling to the belief that Jesus was not one with God in personal identity, some will profess that Jesus was one with God in a way that emphasizes the “with” while excluding the “one.” To do this is to completely reject the words of Jesus since he himself spoke of his nature as being, “one with the Father.”

Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
“But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:54-59

Despite this testimony, many persist in the viewpoint that Jesus was simply a gifted teacher endowed with Godly abilities to teach and to heal, but only to the extent that his teaching ultimately lead those to God and not to himself. This opinion places Jesus in the realm of Prophet and not Messiah. However, Jesus did possess qualities resembling those of the Old Testament Prophets. Jesus healed; so did Elisha. Jesus spoke the words of God connecting past, present and future seamlessly, directed by the Father himself; so did all the prophets.

Yet at a certain point, the unique qualities of Jesus separate him from the line of Prophets. His characteristics become the characteristics only seen in the Father himself, which not only aligns Jesus with the Father but makes them one. Most famously in the Gospel of John, Jesus openly declares to his disciples that he is “one with” the Father in Heaven.

“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” John 14:11

This oneness was not only on display throughout the ministry of Jesus in miraculous healings and resurrections, things only God could do. This oneness was not only on display in the form of his claims about himself, directly professing things that only God could profess. This oneness was not only on display by the way that Jesus fulfilled every prophecy about the coming Messiah as truly “Emmanuel” or “God with us.” This oneness was most powerfully on display when Jesus conquered death through the victory of the cross. That display of Godhead set in motion the transformation of the entire world, one person and one country at a time, through the dwelling of his heavenly Spirit in all those professing faith in the oneness of Jesus Christ and the Father as God in the Flesh, sacrificed for sin on the cross, resurrected on the third day and presently alive and awaiting the day of Judgment when all things will be made new, just as they were when he created in the beginning.

Tuesday Devotional: 3 John

Read 3 Johnbible

There is a powerful unity among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ.  Followers of Jesus find a home in knowing that each and every person is walking on the same path that starts at the cross and ends in his kingdom.  However, at the cross we do not just find a team, but the life of Jesus Christ alone sacrificed for the entire world. We find a Lord and Savior who unites his church through faith in him, but we are also given the power and commandment to take his Holy Spirit out into the world so that they too can find him.  At the foot of the cross we do find a family of believers and a body to become a part of.  However, this family ought never confine or prevent us from reaching into the world of those yet to be grafted in.  Our mission is to find our home with Christ through the fellowship of believers, yet be fully aware of our necessity to go forth into the world in order to bring others back home.  Each and every person must be brought into this faith in Jesus Christ.

Regardless of the point in a person’s life at which they met the Lord and submitted to the work of the cross, in each testimony is a point where they did not have faith in Jesus Christ.  Therefore, the one thing that all of us share is that at one point we were all strangers to Christ, even though he knew us from the beginning.  Every testimony begins with our separation from Christ as a result of our sin.  Thus, as we come into faith in Jesus Christ, we can never adopt a tone of the privileged preaching to the under-privileged.  At the foot of the cross we all receive grace, we all receive mercy and we all receive forgiveness.

This is the gospel that must be taken to the furthest corners of the world and unleashed in healing.  For those overwhelmed and transformed by that experience at the cross there is only one truth. Jesus Christ is the Lord.  Our place in his presence is leveled at the foot of the cross upon which he gave his life for us.  In his presence there are only two groups: reunited children and children yet to be reunited.  Either way, both groups consist of children of the same heavenly Father who desires all of them be brought back home.  In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we find our family, only family because we share a common Father.  In this Father we find our new life, our new way and the new brothers and sisters, unified because we have all been lost but are now found.

Jesus is God in the Flesh: the Authority

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

source

If you profess faith in the Christian message, yet lack this belief about Jesus’ identity, you expose a complete lack of understanding of the very Bible wherein you find the figure of Jesus in the first place. The Gospel narratives leave no possibility to reject the deity of Jesus. Rather, they appreciate, rely on,  and believe in the message that he spoke.

We can better understand this vital truth about Jesus with these four points concerning Jesus and his teaching.

  1. The man of “The Name”
  2. The man of Authority
  3. The man of Unity
  4. The man of Forgiveness

For the next several weeks, we’re going to reflect on these indicators that support the divinity of Christ Jesus.

The Man of Authority

We find in the Gospels that Jesus was not just careful with the words he chose, he was precise and deliberate. His words are not the categorical babble of the megalomaniac. They wield the same power, precision, and beauty of a sword. Realizing this, we become even more dumbfounded by his claims.

Aside from his words of authority concerning sickness, death and sin, Jesus claims the authority of certain knowledge that only God could possess. He recounts the falling of Satan in Luke 10:17-20. He recounts his personal use of prophets, calling them into service in order to preach his truths to Israel and the world in Matthew 23:34. He professes his longing to shelter all Israel as a hen shelters her baby chicks in Luke 13:34. Jesus even goes so far as to openly assert that he existed before the Patriarch Abraham in John 8:58.

These claims tend to get lost in between the longer sermons and parables, but not because they are unimportant. Rather, they may be overlooked by some because of the apparently casual manner in which Jesus says them. Jesus speaks these words in the same way we would recount our day at work or our meal at lunchtime. To him, his identity was so obvious that to say such things needed no ceremonious delivery. He spoke these words to anyone, anywhere, because it was his very nature and identity. Not who he claimed to be or who his followers believed him to be. To disbelieve these claims, or to insist that Christ made such claims falsely or mistakenly, is to celebrate a complete maniac that has no grasp on reality whatsoever. This man would never be worthy of a person’s faith or worship.

Tuesday Devotional: 2 John

bibleRead 2 John

God never desires partial healing.  The healing of the Lord is complete and all encompassing.  There is sickness in this world, and Jesus Christ came to overcome and conquer it.  Jesus Christ did not come to redirect or guide the world into a better way of living; he came to completely restructure the world into a new way of living.  When the healing power of the Holy Spirit enters into this world there is no remnant of the passed life with him.  What remains are faint and distant memories of a former way of life that hold no place in the present.  This healing power is so unprecedented that the only natural instinct upon receiving it is to share it with anyone and everyone you come into contact with.  Upon receiving healing from the Holy Spirit there is no “I have to” share the gospel out of duty or obligation.  There is only “I have to” share the gospel because the world needs this power and healing I have also graciously received. 

However, one must constantly be aware of what is actually being shared.  All we can share is Jesus Christ alone.  He is the power.  He is the healing.  In nothing else is there the power for transformation and change that is in the name of Jesus Christ.  If the gospel is shared in power and in truth there is an unequalled healing in store for the entire world.  The gospel shared in power and truth will change lives completely and will unmistakably yield good fruit.  However, if the gospel is misrepresented, healing will be overpowered by suffering and pain.  Good cannot win because the good news was not preached.  The gospel cannot and will not be effective if it is not received as it was established, in truth.  Anything short of the truth in the gospel is dangerous and will not result in healing.

As one seeks to share the gospel out of a desire to heal, one also learns to avoid those who share a gospel of lies that will only prove to destroy and prevent healing.  Christ is all and is in all, and when sharing the gospel there is no message other than exactly what has been lived and shared before. The reason for the stable and consistent nature of the gospel’s integrity over the years is that it is only in the natural state of the gospel that the world has experienced its healing effects on the suffering of this world.  After experiencing the healing truth of the word, the choice to dilute or weaken the gospel for any reason whatsoever becomes completely ridiculous. The gospel of Jesus Christ is truth and the healing it promises is real.  Clinging to his truth will result in the truth of complete healing, whereas being distracted or overcome by falsity will only result in progressive sickness and pain.

Jesus is God in the Flesh: the Name

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

source

If you profess faith in the Christian message, yet lack this belief about Jesus’ identity, you expose a complete lack of understanding of the very Bible wherein you find the figure of Jesus in the first place. The Gospel narratives leave no possibility to reject the deity of Jesus. Rather, they appreciate, rely on,  and believe in the message that he spoke.

We can better understand this vital truth about Jesus with these four points concerning Jesus and his teaching.

  1. The man of “The Name”
  2. The man of Authority
  3. The man of Unity
  4. The man of Forgiveness

For the next several weeks, we’re going to reflect on these indicators that support the divinity of Christ Jesus.

The Man of “The Name”

As we have discussed in previous reflections, the question concerning the historical existence of Jesus is a question that at the present has more or less been answered by believers and non-believers alike. Such is our hard-heartedness to the Word of God that the moment one question is answered we seek protection behind yet another wall of objection. Thus, with history proving the existence of Jesus with the passing of time, the more common debate over Jesus more or less concerns his identity. Was he just a good teacher? Was he a prophet? Was he simply a rabbi? Did he view himself as anything more than any of these things? The fact that the Christian church survived, grew and continues to flourish is a testimony to the deity of Jesus and his oneness with the Father that we will soon discuss in further detail. However, since the current debate concerning Jesus not only calls into question who Jesus was to his followers, but who Jesus himself professed to be, the best source for His words is in the Gospels themselves.

What we find is that there are many times that Jesus clearly refers to himself as God. No words of his are more conclusive in this matter than the two words he uses frequently throughout the Gospel of John in settling any doubt as to who he knew he was. The two words are “I am.”

The words “I am” when translated reference the Hebrew name that God applied to himself, by himself, for himself in Exodus 6:11-15:

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”

In Hebrew, the name is “Yahweh,” which translates into English simply as, “I am.” While the translation in English fails to capture the weight behind such a name, upon a closer look at the origins of the name in Jewish history and the Hebrew language, it is complete madness that Jesus chose to use the name the way he did and that his followers chose to include this detail in the Gospels.

According to the Jewish people, the name of God was so holy that it was illegal to say in public. So holy that scribes writing out the scriptures were required to cleanse themselves and destroy their writing utensils after writing the name due to its divine holiness. This was a Word that if uttered in public was punishable by death. In Israel, no one spoke this name aloud. Yet, the Gospel writers openly include the historical fact that Jesus chose to use this name not once, but many times, in public, to those he conversed with.

I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” John 6:35

I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” John 10:11

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” John 11:25

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1

This behavior was unprecedented before Jesus. Jesus took it upon himself to use this illegal, holy name for one reason and one reason alone. He used it because it belonged to him.

Tuesday Devotional: 1 John 5

Read 1 John 5:1-12bible

If we desire change, we must introduce something that has the power to create change.  If we desire a radical change, we must introduce something that has radical power.  We face extreme troubles with insufficient resources, and we desire a change in our limited ability to ultimately overcome and find success. In order to create a change in our limited human ability to overcome the daily trials of this world, we must introduce something so radically powerful and real to give us any hope that the change is possible.  This new agent for change must be more extreme than the obstacles we face if success is possible.

To commit to this process and to hope in this change requires great trust and confidence.  Jesus Christ claims the power to produce the change necessary for overcoming the challenges of this world and providing us with a hope beyond them.  If we approach these promises with anything less than complete submission to their power and reality, we should not be surprised when our progress in this life remains limited by what we try to overcome.  There is no complete healing without complete submission to the healing agent.  If we cannot or will not take the promises of Jesus seriously then we must not seriously hope that we can ultimately be healed.  If we cannot submit to the reality of Jesus Christ’s life on Earth and continued presence in the form of the Holy Spirit, then we must submit to the fact that our problems will remain.

Faith in Jesus Christ is all encompassing.  There is no halfway.  There is no 50 percent.  Faith in Jesus Christ establishes truths that must be foundational, never decorative or supplemental.  These truths include complete submission to his life and death on the cross, complete submission to his resurrection and life in our present age through the Holy Spirit, complete submission to the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit to transform us from sin and self-indulgence to righteous passion and service in the likeness of Jesus Christ.  These truths must be held if the obstacles they promise to overcome shall be in fact overcome. Pretending to take medicine will only result in pretending to be healed.

Reflection: The Virgin Birth

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. 

Support for belief in the Virgin Birth can be traced backwards through five important events in the history of the Christian Faith:

  1. The Ascension
  2. The Resurrection/The Crucifixion
  3. The Gospel
  4. The Virgin Birth

In our final week reflecting on the virgin birth of Christ, let’s consider what that event means for faith in Jesus.

 

After tracing the story backwards from the Ascension, to the Resurrection and Crucifixion, to the ministry of Jesus in the Gospels, we find ourselves at the place where the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus can be believed, where the Gospels and the writers of Gospels begin in the flesh.  Whereas Matthew and Luke both include the story of the Virgin Birth in their narratives of Jesus Christ, the prophecies that the Messiah would born to a Virgin in the specific town and from the exact line that God had guided and blessed since the first man of Eden no longer seem historically unbelievable. The impossible becomes not only possible but plausible, and the life of Jesus Christ stands as the one and only Savior of the world, born to direct us to the hand of God at work in the world we live in. “With God all things are possible,” as the angel Gabriel told Mary, and as one traces these landmark events in the Christian faith back, including the virgin birth, one finds that God does not require belief purely on blind-faith in the impossible, but rather we discover a greater faith in the impossible becoming possible through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Virgin Birth: the Gospel

The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. 

Support for belief in the Virgin Birth can be traced backwards through five important events in the history of the Christian Faith:

  1. The Ascension
  2. The Resurrection/The Crucifixion
  3. The Gospel
  4. The Virgin Birth

This week, let’s consider how the Gospel and ministry of Jesus support our faith in the Virgin Birth.

For years the Gospels were viewed by many critics and unbelievers as works of fiction compiled by believers desperate to create a story worth believing, hell-bent on forcing others to believe in it. As history has come to validate the life and death of the man named Jesus, history has done the Gospels equal justice. The years in which the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were estimated to have been written have slowly worked their way closer and closer to the actual time of Jesus’ passing in roughly 33 C.E. In the presence of more research and study of the Palestine area, the information in the Gospel of Luke has slowly been legitimized piece by piece as fact, as opposed to fabrication or amateur scholarship. The Gospels as we find them now, of a man who clearly died and must have resurrected in order for the discussion of the virgin birth to be happening in the first place, are not only more evidence of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but included within them are incidences of divine power unparalleled by any prophet, teacher or spiritual leader. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only time in history where the Creator God literally entered into human existence in order to display his unlimited power over creation in the man of Jesus Christ. The Gospels document these moments by those who witnessed the divine power firsthand, as John recounts:

 1 John 1-4:  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

Thus we find ourselves in a place where the Ascension, Resurrection and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ have been given solid footing in historical fact. Now we find ourselves in a place where the Gospels and the writers of them have been given historical validation as being the source of a life lived by the man Jesus Christ from a place of eyewitness testimony.