The Perfect Diet

II Timothy 3:16.17 (Amplified):

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given

by His inspiration) and profitable for

instruction, for reproof and conviction

of sin, for correction of error and

discipline in obedience, and for training

in righteousness (in holy living, in

conformity to God’s will in thought,

purpose, and action),

So that the man of God may be complete

and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly

equipped for every good work.

New Living Translation:

All Scripture is inspired by God and is

useful to teach us what is true and to

make us realize what is wrong in our

lives. It corrects us when we are wrong

and teaches us to do what is right.

God uses it to prepare and equip his

people to do every good work.

New Jerusalem Bible:

All scripture is inspired by God and

useful for refuting error, for guiding

people’s lives and teaching them to be

upright.

This is how someone who is dedicated

to God becomes fully equipped and

ready for any good work.

God breathed His heart and His life into every word of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is a perfect reflection of God’s heart and contains His purposes, His will, His designs, and His plans. The Bible contains the thoughts of God, the desires of God, the warnings of God, the righteousness of God, the love of God, the judgment of God, the wisdom of God, the salvation of God, and the light of God. The Bible is the very life of God and is a living book that will abide and live forever. The Bible is a perfect revelation of the goodness of God. The Bible is the words of the Living God and the perfect expression and communication of God in writing. The Bible is the truth of God  that brings life, light, wisdom, discernment, peace, wholeness, guidance, and understanding. It is the master blueprint for life and contains every principal of truth that a person would ever need to live life in every category to its fullest. The Bible is the divine instruction book that teaches us how to live His way in power, joy, peace, and love.

The Bible is a complete revelation of our wonderful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ and sets forth the plan of redemption available for the entire human race. The Bible contains the only hope for mankind of the deliverance from sin and death-the promise of everlasting life, and the future hope of living with God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ forever in paradise. The Bible is the voice of God to all peoples on the earth and is constantly knocking at the door of the human heart, imploring all to come back to Him and learn of His great heart, His great goodness, His great love, and His great faithfulness. The Bible is a revelation of the personality and characteristics of God  and paints a true picture of His loving heart. The Bible is a wonderful divine book and guidepost of the truth that God gives to his children to be their training manual for life physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually. No other book in all the libraries of the world can make these claims, for God is the author of His Word and has breathed everything He is into every word of Scripture.

Psalm 19:7-12 (Message Bible):

The revelation of God is whole and pulls

our lives together. The signposts of God

are clear and point out the right road.

The life-maps of God are right, showing

the way to joy. The directions of God are

plain and easy on the eyes.

God’s reputation is twenty-four carat gold,

with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions

of God are accurate down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond,

better than a diamond set between emeralds.

You like it better than strawberries in spring,

better than red, ripe strawberries.

There’s more: God’s Word warns us

danger and directs us to hidden treasure.

Otherwise how will we find our way? Or

know when we play the fool?

God’s Word is the revelation of God, the signposts of God, the life-maps of God, the directions of God, the will of God, and the decisions of God. No material possession, no earthly experience, and no worldly philosophy can even compare to the greatness of the Word of God  revealed in the Bible. Without the Word of God as a compass in life, we will lose our direction, become hopelessly lost, and fall into snares of danger, distraction, and disillusionment. People are to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, and the Bible is the written embodiment of the life and essence of God in words of power and spiritual life.

The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8). The Word of God cannot be broken, overcome, or defeated. God magnified His Word above all of His name (Psalm 138:2), and He has freely given us His Word so that we may know Him and learn and walk in His ways. God did not hide his Word in some mysterious cave or bury it in some underground grave, but has publicly heralded His Word to all generations.

Isaiah 45:18b,19 (New Living Translation):

“I am the Lord,” he says, “and there is no

other.

I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not

whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I

would have not told the people of Israel to

seek me if I could not be found. I, the Lord,

speak only what is true and declare only

what is right.

The Bible contains bold promises and declares what is right and true. God would not have given us His Word if we could not understand and believe it. I have heard so many people say that they don’t read or study the Bible because they do not understand it. God will enlighten your heart and give you more and more understanding of the Scriptures, but you must first open the book. The Creator of the heavens and earth has authored an amazing book of absolute truth that reveals His wonderful heart of goodness and His purposes for our lives. He has authored a book that shines as a brilliant light in the darkness of this world and shows us the proper path to live our lives. Shouldn’t we want to study it, read it, meditate upon it, think about it, and follow it?

God has given the Church amazing teachers of the Word and wonderful writers who expound and open our understanding to the truths of the Bible. God will open your heart and fill it with a great appreciation and understanding of His Word when you seek His Word, crave His Word, study His Word, read His Word, and earnestly desire to know His Word. God would not have given us the Bible if it would have remained a closed, mysterious, confusing, and misunderstood mumbo jumbo of words. I have given over 37 years of my life to study the Word of God, and my heart still thrills at the incredible depth and meaning of the Bible and its magnificent message of truth to the world. There are vast treasures of wisdom and knowledge contained in the Bible that are awaiting our seeking and digging them out like one who diligently searches the earth for hidden treasure. The Word of God changes and transforms lives when its truths live in the hearts of men and women. Jesus Christ promised that if we continue and abide in the Word, that we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free in mind, heart, and soul  from every worry, fear, and obstacle that has ever held us back from giving our utmost to Him and living in the midst of His peace and joy.

E.W. Bullinger, in How to Enjoy the Bible, states:

Attention to diet  is becoming more and

more recognized as essential to nutrition

and growth. A low condition of bodily

health is produced by inattention to the

laws of nature as to suitable diet….A low

condition of spiritual health is produced

by improper feeding or neglect of

necessary food, which is the Word of

God…The root of all evils which abound

in the spiritual sphere at the present day

lies in the fact that the Word and the

words of God are not fed upon, digested

or assimilated, as they ought to be…Thus

the way of discovery still lies open to us in

Divine things if we have only the moral

courage to go to the fountain-head of truth…

It is not at all incredible that a book that

has been so long in the possession of

mankind should contain many truths as yet

undiscovered…Like Ezra of old, our desire

is to “Open the Book” and let it speak for

itself, with the full conviction if this can be

done it can speak more loudly and  more

effectively for itself, than any man can

speak on its behalf.

We live in a diet crazy society, where every conceivable diet is available to help people lose weight and be healthy. Our physical diet is important, but what about our spiritual diet? How much of the Word of God are we feeding upon, digesting, and assimilating into our heart and soul? If we ever want to be spiritually strong and excel in our gifting before the Lord, we cannot neglect the spiritual food of the Bible. If we want to be strong in our service for the Lord and abound in good works for His glory, we must spend time in the Word. We don’t have to be a biblical scholar or go to seminary school, but it must be a top priority in our lives to read, study, and think about the Bible and its words in our daily living.

I promise you that if you set sometime aside everyday to read and meditate upon the Scriptures, your life will be energized and transformed by the mighty power of His Word. There is life in the Word, and it will change the heart to become more like Him. There is light in the Word, and it will extinguish the darkness of everything that may hold us in bondage. There is comfort in the Word, and it will overcome the worries and fears of this age. There is wisdom in the Word, and it will guide our paths into the right way and help us avoid the obstacles set up to distract us and make us fall. There is healing in the Word, and it will restore our mind and body in complete wholeness. We need to open the book and let it speak to our heart. Pray that God enlightens your understanding and directs you to the words that you need to hear and believe. Just be faithful with being in the Word, as you will begin to realize that the more time you spend in the Word, you will begin to crave, desire, and cherish the time that it is just you and God in the Word. We cannot stand effectively for God without it. If we spend two minutes a week in the Word and twenty hours in front of the television, our spiritual lives will be out of balance.  We will be anemic and weak spiritually, as our hearts will be receiving little nourishment from the words of God.  It is like trying to put your life together without the training manual of life provided by your Heavenly Father.

I remember buying a propane grill and in my excitement to use it, I ignored the manual of instructions and just tried to put it together myself. “I don’t need these instructions,” I thought. Well, when I was done, there were a few pieces left over, and  the grill did not work. We cannot ignore the Bible, our heavenly instruction book, as our lives will not work in the glorious and wonderful way that God intended. We cannot leave the Bible on our bookshelf at home as just another dust covered book, as its wisdom, its life, its correction, its enlightenment, and its power are to great too ignore and neglect. We can never accomplish our destiny for God unless we become strong in the Word. We cannot fully accomplish the good works He has called us to, unless this Word of God dwells in us richly. The Scriptures are to become a part of us, a testimony of who we are and what lives in our hearts. The book of James tell us that the Word of God is to become engrafted into our very beings where it is closer than our breath, and a living reality in our lives.

People go through the journey of life looking for something that is useful, profitable, or advantageous for their life. They diligently search for principles of life that will help them accomplish their goals and make their life worth living. Nothing they could ever find is more useful, beneficial, and profitable for life than the God-breathed

Scriptures. This Word of God boldly proclaims that every word contain in Scripture is profitable, and in the Greek this word means: useful, profitable, serviceable, helpful, beneficial, and refers to that which yields advantageous returns or results. It provides something that someone needs to attain a certain goal. God has set a wonderful purpose for us in our generation, and the Word of God is the vital tool that equips us to accomplish it. The benefit and usefulness of the Bible is fathomless and is so great that it cannot even be measured by human means. It is the purpose of the Bible to make the Christian, who is dedicated to live and speak for God, complete, proficient, well-fitted, and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

There are two interesting words used in II Timothy 3:17 that describe the relationship between the Word of God and good works for the Christian believer. The first word in the Greek is artios, which means: “complete in all parts or proportions; qualified for a function; complete to where all the parts work together to accomplish their destined purpose; completely qualified and proficient to the end they can meet all demands and perform all functions, and special aptitude for given uses and equipped for a delegated task.  In Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament artios is said to mean “complete…but the idea is rather that of a mutual, symmetrical adjustment of all that goes to make the man: harmonious combination of different qualities and powers.”

Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, says,

If we ask ourselves under what special

aspects completeness is contemplated in

artios, it would be safe to answer that it

is not in the presence only of all the parts

which are necessary for that completeness,

but involves further the adaptation and

aptitude of these parts for the ends they

were designed to serve. The man (or

woman) of God, St. Paul would say…

should be furnished and accomplished

with all that is necessary for the carrying

out of the work to which he is appointed.

Bullinger, in Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, explains:

The adjective artios is from the Ancient

Aryan root AR, which means to fit. In the

Greek it implies perfect adaptation and

suitability. The Greeks used it of time, as

denoting the exact or right moment: and

of numbers as denoting a perfect or even

number as opposed to an odd number.

God has prepared an awesome purpose and work for us as Christians that is unique to each individual born again believer.  The Bible allows the one who speaks for God and is dedicated to God to be perfectly adapted and suited to meet all the demands of our calling in Christ. The Word of God gives us all the necessary parts that perfectly work together to qualify us and equip us to accomplish our God-given destiny. We have a perfect rule and guide for life in the Bible, and it gives us the knowledge, the reproof, the correction, and the instruction we need to fully complete all the good works that are to make up our way of life as Christians. With the Word of God, we are ready for every emergency, equipped for every contingency, prepared for every difficulty, and provided for in every hardship. The wisdom from the Bible is never late, and it will provide exactly what we need at the right moment in any circumstance, in any problem, and in any crisis.

The Bible is the fundamental rulebook and instruction manual for the Christian to perform and successfully accomplish all the delegated tasks, special uses, and divine gifting that God has given each of us as a special member of the Body of Christ. Without the Bible, we cannot completely accomplish the wonderful good purpose that God has called us to do. The Word of God brings together in harmony with the will of God a person’s thoughts, desires, passions, and heart and gives them the knowledge that enables them to pour their heart and soul into the service of Christ. In our ministry of good works, the Bible will motivate, inspire, comfort, direct, warn, settle, instruct, correct, train, enlighten, and empower. The Word of God living in our heart brings us closer to our Heavenly Father in word, thought, and action and gives us the understanding to enjoy our relationship with Him and appreciate all of His magnificent works. The Word of God gives us hope in the midst of a hopeless world and a purpose and passion for living. The Word of God is our divine food that nourishes us and helps us grow spiritually strong and mature. The Word of God gives us a marvelous picture of the heart of God and shows us how to serve Him with all our heart. The Bible contains everything we need to know about life and godliness and shows us the right path to live and the principles for a holy life while living upon the earth. The Word of God has the answer for every challenge we will ever face, for it is breathed from the very mouth of God Almighty.

If we ever want to be victorious in the spiritual contest that we are engaged in with the god of this world and his forces of evil, then we must take up the sword of the Spirit and use it on a daily basis. The Word of God allows us to stand against the onslaughts of our spiritual enemy as Jesus Christ knew all too well as he stood against the devil by saying, “It is written,” and holding the living Word of God in his heart. No one is wiser than God, no one is smarter than God, no one sees more than God, no one knows good like God, no one sees the spiritual battle that is raging like God, and no one understands like God.  Don’t you think it behooves us to read, study, and hide in our hearts His words that He has so lovingly given us as the guide to live our lives in righteousness?

Artios was also used in early Greek writing to describe how a ball and socket joint in the human body is fitted together. A joint is where the bones of your body fit together and allow for a very specific type of movement. It allows precision, accuracy, and freedom of movement so the human body can perform certain tasks. There is greater freedom of movement in a ball and socket joint than in any other joint in the human body. The ball and socket joint allows for movement in any direction. The ball and socket joint is a perfect fit in the human body, allowing the bones to adapt to the desired task or movement.

The Bible is perfectly fitted for our lives and gives us the ability to move freely with spiritual precision and accuracy in carrying out God’s plan for our lives. The Word of God gives us the strength to move freely without fear, worry, or any other type of bondage and travel in the direction where God is leading us. The Word of God allows us to adapt to any mental, physical, or spiritual challenge that we may face and shows us how to remain steadfast to the will of God.

The second word used in II Timothy 3:17 to describe the relationship of the Word of God to the good works that God has called us to do is the Greek word exartizo. This Greek word is from the same root as artios and means “to completely outfit, to be put in perfect readiness, to fully furnish, and to fully equip or supply.”

E.W. Bullinger, in Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, further elaborates on the meaning of this Greek word:

The verb exartizo means to fit out; and is

used of furnishing a house, making full

preparation for war, or especially of fitting

out a vessel at sea, in doing which every

emergency must be provided for-heat and

cold, calm and storm, peace and war, fire

and accident. Hence, he who studies God’s

word, will be a “man of God,” fitted out

and provided for all the circumstances and

emergencies of life.

Think of a huge, majestic ship that is perfectly outfitted with every single supply and resource it needs for a long voyage at sea. Nothing is spared in making the ship ready to face the long journey ahead.  Think of a mighty army that is ready to go into a fierce battle over many days and is outfitted with ammunition, protective gear, equipment, weapons, and vehicles to wage war against the enemy. Each unit of soldiers is perfectly outfitted with everything they need to defeat the enemy. This includes the tough physical and mental conditioning that is necessary to engage in battle and come out victorious. It is absolutely critical that these brave men who are putting their lives on the line have everything they need to fight their enemies on the battlefield. Think of a beautiful mansion that is perfectly furnished in every room with the best furniture and a kitchen with every modern appliance and convenience, a recreation room with every type of equipment and games, a beautiful garden, with gorgeous flowers and all types of vegetables. Nothing is missing in the house, as it is perfectly furnished for its owners to live life in great comfort and enjoyment.

The Word of God perfectly equips us with everything we need to sail on the voyage of life. The Word of God perfectly outfits us with all things that are necessary to excel in every good work that God has called us to do with great love and compassion. We have everything we need on God’s ship to be victorious in life and help restore others to their God-given destiny. No matter how long the journey, no matter how rough the seas, and no matter how dark the night, the Word of God is our eternal compass and our guiding lighthouse for a successful voyage.

The Word of God also perfectly outfits us for the battlefield of life, giving us the weapons, strategies, and strength to wage war against our spiritual enemy and all his forces of evil. The Bible gives us a perfect battle plan and the wisdom to carry it out in victory. No one knows and understands the schemes of the devil more than God Almighty, and He has given us His Word to perfectly outfit us in His spiritual armor so that we can stand against any onslaught of the devil.

The Word of God perfectly furnishes our life so that no matter what room or part of life’s house we maybe in, we have everything we need to enjoy life and do His will in our words and actions. The Word of God is the equipment and furnishings the Christian believer needs to excel in every good work. The Word of God is flawless, perfect, faithful, and pure. The Word of God is God speaking straight from His heart to His people so they can obey Him, love Him, serve Him, and praise Him. We cannot neglect and push the Bible aside and ever expect that we will fulfill our purpose that God has called us to and His plan of good works that He has ordained for our lives as Christians.

II Samuel 22:31(a) (NIV):

As for God, his way is perfect, the Word

of the Lord is flawless.

Psalm 119:7,9-16 (The Message Bible):

I thank you for speaking straight from your

heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.

How can a young person live a clean life?

By carefully reading the map of your Word.

I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t

let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.

I’ve banked your promises in the vault of

my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.

Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of

wise living.

I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that

comes from your mouth;

I delight far more in what you tell me about

living than in gathering a pile of riches.

I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,

I attentively watch how you have done it.

I relish everything you have told me about life,

I won’t forget a word of it.

You are good, and the source of good; train me

in your goodness.

Your truth never goes out of fashion; its as up-

to-date as the earth when the sun comes up.

Your word and truth are as dependable as ever;

that’s what you ordered-you set the earth going.

If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so, I would

have given up when the hard times came.

But I never forget the advice you gave me; you

saved my life with those wise words.

I see the limits to everything human, but the

horizons cannot contain your commands.

Every word you give me is a miracle word-how

can I help but obey?

Break open your words, let the light shine out,

let ordinary people see the meaning.

Mouth open and panting, I want your commands

more than anything.

I cry rivers of tears because nobody’s living by

your book!

Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth.

Your righteous decisions are eternal.

My soul guards and keeps all your instructions-

oh, how much I love them!

My, how we should love the Word of God as Christians! How magnificent is the Word of God! We love our physical food, and rightly so, and often get excited about the joy of eating our favorite foods. Shouldn’t we have even greater joy to eat our spiritual food? Shouldn’t we be just as excited to feast on the words of God contained in the Bible?

You don’t have to lock yourself in a room and study the Bible twenty hours a day to serve God. I am not saying to not watch television, or to not read other books. But let’s get some balance in our lives, and open the book and begin reading it. Be faithful about your time in the Word; pray about your time in the Word; think about what you are reading; ask God for wisdom to understand His Word. Mediate upon His Word throughout the day. You can start out a little at a time, but try to increase your time in the Word more and more. Get up a half an hour earlier and read your Bible. You will be amazed at the comfort the Scriptures give you; the hope the Scriptures give you; the insight the Scriptures give you; the motivation the Scriptures give you; the passion the Scriptures give you, and the peace the Scriptures give you. Don’t you want to know God’s heart? Don’t you want to know God’s will? Don’t you want to know the truth? Don’t you want to be set free?

Excerpt from: The Magnificent Goodness of God and How it Will Transform Your Life  Purchase on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Magnificent-Goodness-Will-Transform-Your-ebook/dp/B004S3OR9K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+magnificent+goodness+of+god&qid=1555158102&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Embraced by God’s Goodness, Part 1

There is an amazing truth set forth in the Word of God concerning the circle of goodness for the Christian believer. It begins before the ages in the heart of God with His glorious plan of love for you. It continues through the great realities of redemption and salvation for the believer and every good thing He has made you in Christ. His circle of goodness then continues in the everyday working of God’s mighty power in every detail of your life as Christ is formed in you and with His power and love you abound in every good work shining as a light in the darkness of the world. It continues to the good hope of Christ’s return, the extraordinary day when Christ comes back for you. You will be changed, meet the Lord in the air, and live forever with your Lord and Savior, enjoying His goodness throughout all eternity.

The Christian life is a celebration of God’s goodness. Only in the complete working of the love and grace of God through Christ rests the full manifestation of God’s goodness. Christianity needs to focus once again on the goodness of God. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted and hardened in our hearts to the goodness of God. We must not substitute the goodness of God for tradition and legalism that focuses on the works of man, or our own inadequacies and shortcomings, rather than on God Almighty. Everything that proceeds from the heart of God is good; He will surround and embrace us with His unmatchable goodness forever. Once you begin to understand this circle of goodness for the Christian believer, you will be humbled and inspired by the magnificent privilege of the call of God on your life. These wonderful sections of Scripture will expand your vision of the goodness of God and transform your thinking about the immense importance of your life to God.

Ephesians 1:5,6 (New Revised Standard Version):

He destined us for adoption as his children through

Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his

will.

To the praise of his glorious grace that he freely

bestowed upon us in the Beloved.

New Jerusalem Bible:

Marking us out for himself beforehand, to be adopted

sons, through Jesus Christ. Such was his purpose and

good pleasure.

To the praise of the glory of his grace, his free gift to

us in the Beloved.

Wuest Expanded Translation of the New Testament:

In love having previously marked us out to be placed

as adult sons through the intermediated agency of Jesus

Christ for himself according to that which seem good in

his heart’s desire,

Resulting in praise of the glory of His grace which he

freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved.

It was the good pleasure of God’s will to mark us out to be adopted children to Himself through Jesus Christ. Long before the first rays of sun broke upon the earth, God had destined you to be His child. This is the beginning of God’s good design and purpose for your life. The Greek word for “will” in verse five means: a strong desire that proceeds from one’s heart and emotions; it is an expression of pleasure towards that which is treasured and that which pleases and brings joy.  The Greek word for “good pleasure” means: being well-pleased, including the idea of a free and willing purpose with a good design, emphasizing the resolve, willingness, and freedom in marking the design as something good. It means a good will, delight, and satisfaction; to take pleasure in; to think, determine, and choose what is good to one, with the included idea of kindness accompanying the decision. It is a feeling of strong emotion in favor of something and has the sense of delighting in something to the end that you long and intensely desire it.”

Out of the heart of God’s intense love for you came a strong desire and delight to bring you into the family of God by the new birth as a precious son or daughter. God took great pleasure and satisfaction in planning before the ages this good design and blueprint for your life so that He could make you His honored child. Nothing gave Him more joy than preparing to bring you into His heavenly household and to bestow on you all the glorious rights and privileges of sonship. God longed for ages to wrap his loving arms around you and say, “Welcome home my child; I have waited for this moment before all time.”

This is the most awesome plan of all the ages that originates out of the intense, everlasting longing of God to call you His very own beloved child. This is where the circle of goodness for your life begins. We can never earn this goodness or be worthy enough for it. This plan did not originate in our good works or accomplishments. It is what God wants, it is what God desires, and it is what God longs for. Above all else, He desires to have children and to have a family that He can adore, love, nurture, protect, cherish, and fellowship with as a loving Heavenly Father.

The Greek word “destined or predestined” in verse 5 means: to mark out the boundary or limits of a place or thing and when used of persons it means to bring them into a sphere of a certain destiny. All of us set boundaries for our lives at times as to what we do, or with whom we associate, or where we go. God has set a perfect boundary, a perfect sphere for your life that will accomplish His good purposes. This sphere or boundary is uniquely designed for you to bring you the best God has to offer. God does not force you into this sphere and erect the Berlin wall so you can’t get out. You have complete freedom of will to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and enter these perfect boundaries, where the glory of God’s goodness will overflow.

God’s invitation to you is to come and let Him be the designer of your life. God is the ultimate designer, and there is no more prestigious mark in the universe than to be marked out as God’s very own and allow Him to stamp your life with His design. People pay thousands of dollars to wear and display the mark of Gucci, Prada, Dolce Gabbana, or Versace. God is much more of an awesome designer than any earthly label, and how much more should we be proud to display His mark of sonship, declaring to the world that we are His son or daughter? You cannot get any cooler; you cannot get any better; you cannot get anymore distinguished then to be declared own God’s child with Him as the architect and designer of your good and abundant life.

In order for you to enter the circle of goodness that God has planned for your life, you must first become a son or daughter of God by way of the new birth. Many people say that simply being born of earthly parents means you are a child of God. Unfortunately this is not true, as every person born in this world inherits the nature of Adam and is dead spiritually and in bondage to their inherent sin nature.

People need a savior, a mediator, a redeemer who can pay the price for Adam’s fall and all its consequences. A man or woman needs a new nature-a spiritual birth, whereby God infuses spiritual life into the depths of a person, reconciles them to Himself, and gives them the full legal standing as a son or daughter. This is regeneration, a new birth, paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ. This is an emancipation, a complete deliverance of every bondage known to man, and a complete union with everything that Christ accomplished in his death, burial, and resurrection.

This new birth is rooted in God’s marvelous grace and can never be earned or sprouted from our Adamic nature. It takes an act of our loving God to bring us into this wonderful circle of goodness. Jesus Christ alone paid the ultimate price for your redemption. He gave his life so you could be called his brethren, and you would have the honor of becoming a child of God and receiving the gift of eternal life.

The Greek word for “adoption of sons” in Ephesians 1:5 means: to place someone as an adult son with full legal rights and privileges in the family. It is a legal term for a father’s declaration that His natural born child was officially a son or daughter with all the rights and privileges that included. It is to receive someone as a son.  “Adoption” is an unfortunate translation of the Greek word, as “sonship” would be a more accurate translation; it is not an adoption as we define the term today. Rather this is a new birth into God’s spiritual family through the finished work of Jesus Christ where you become a new creation with a new nature. God justifies you (frees you from the penalty of sin), sanctifies you (sets you apart from the world as His beloved child), makes you righteous (puts you in a right relationship with Him whereby you can stand in the presence of God as a son or daughter without condemnation), fills you with His gift of holy spirit, and gives you to full access to the throne of His grace, where you can boldly come as a child of God at anytime for help, comfort, fellowship, and guidance. This is sonship, and what a glorious privilege it is to be a son or daughter of God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! You have full legal standing as a son or daughter with absolute heavenly legal rights declared by the court of heaven, and no earthly or satanic power can diminish, take away, or extinguish. You cannot forfeit these legal rights; they are innate, given to you as a born again child of God. These rights are part of your inheritance as a child of God, which God has decreed with all the authority of His inalterable Word as they are firmly rooted in God’s love, pleasure, purpose, and declaration for you.

What are some of these legal rights and privileges of sonship? You have a legal right to eternal life and a home in heaven. You have a legal right to victory over the devil and his authority on the earth. You have a legal right to freedom from the bondage of sin and all its consequences. You have a legal right of deliverance from fear, worry, anxiety, and doubt. You have a legal right to the Father’s protection and care. You have a legal right to use the name of Jesus Christ in prayer, invoking its authority and power. You have a legal right to be more than a conqueror in any situation. You have a legal right to overflowing joy in all of life’s circumstances. You have a legal right to the peace of God ruling in your heart, no matter how intense the problem or trouble. You have a legal right to the wisdom of God. You have a legal right to confidence and boldness. You have the legal right to have all of your needs met according to God’s riches in glory by Christ Jesus. You have a legal right to do all things and be ready and equal to anything through Christ who strengthens you. You have a legal right to salvation and wholeness in every area of your life. You have a legal right to perfect health and deliverance from all forms of sickness and disease. You have a legal right to prosperity and overflowing abundance in your life. You have a legal right to be completely free from every form of depression, condemnation, guilt, misery, despair, and any other type of mental bondage. You have a legal right to live and walk in the revolutionary and life changing love of God that proceeds from the heart of God. You have a legal right to be changed at the return of Christ and receive a new body unlimited in scope and dimension. You have a legal right to all the blessings of your inheritance in the family of God. You have a legal right to the goodness of God abounding in every area of your life. You must know your legal rights in Christ and boldly and fearlessly walk in them all the days of your Christian life.

I have practiced law for over 35 years and have seen many legal documents and the respect and authority that they command. People honor these legal documents, and give them great respect, and attempt to follow all of their precepts. Courts at all levels uphold these legal documents with all the power of the state and enforce the rights and privileges contained in them. People cry out for their legal constitutional rights and boldly go to court to have their rights recognized and enforced.

If we place such honor and importance on our earthly legal rights, how much more should we value, honor, respect, and claim our heavenly legal rights in Christ contained in the greatest legal document of all times, the Bible? Why do we believe in our legal rights as citizens in our countries, yet we doubt and disbelieve our legal rights freely given to us by God as citizens of heaven and sealed forever by the sacrifice and blood of Christ? Our legal rights in Christ are part of the new covenant that God Almighty promises and guarantees for every Christian believer. The circle of God’s goodness for your life is not only becoming a son or daughter of God, but also includes all the legal rights, authority, and power that come with that calling.

Romans 8:15-17a (Amplified):

For [the Spirit which] you have now received is not

a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage

to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption

[the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which

we cry Abba (Father)! Father!

The Spirit Himself thus testifies together with our own

spirit that we are the children of God.

And if we are His children, then we are His heirs also:

heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His

inheritance with Him].

Galatians 4:4-7 (Amplified):

But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His

Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations

of] the Law.

To purchase the freedom of {to ransom, to redeem, to

atone for} those who were to subject to the Law, that

we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon

us {and be recognized as God’s sons}.

And because you really are His sons, God has sent the

Holy Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba

(Father)! Father!

Therefore, you are no longer a slave (bond servant) but

a son; and if a son, then (it follows that you are) an heir

by the aid of God through Christ.

The Aramaic word “abba” is an intimate family expression that denotes the tender address of a child to its father. It could be translated “dear father”, or “father, father” and in today’s modern vocabulary would mean “daddy” or “papa.” “Abba” signifies the deepest bond of love and affection and the intimate, close relationship of a father and child.  The Greek word “cry” means: a loud cry expressing deep emotion and confidence. God sent His Son to purchase our freedom and bring us into a deep intimate relationship with the Father as His cherished son or daughter. Any moment you pray, converse, talk or fellowship with your Heavenly Father, you can express the deepest emotions of love and adoration and call Him abba, dearest father, daddy or papa. Only Jesus Christ makes this type of intimacy available with the Father, and God desires above all else that your relationship with Him is this close, this personal, this warm, and this intimate every second of the day.

Oh, how many Christians have missed this great truth, as we have often perceived God to be in some distant place, barely giving the slightest attention to us as He is just too busy with more important things. We think God says, “Just take a number and I will get to you when I can.” God wants intimacy with you! He wants your relationship with Him to be so deep, so loving and so close, that it far exceeds the most intimate human bond ever know in the history of mankind. Each day He wants your relationship with Him to grow in richness and deepen in the fathomless depths of His love.

As sons and daughters of God we no longer have to be in bondage to fear of anyone, anything, or any circumstance. The Greek word for “bondage” means: slavery, servitude, and a state where a person is prevented from freely possessing and enjoying his life. It is the exact opposite of liberty or freedom. It is to shrink in fear and be enslaved in body, mind, or soul. Christianity is a declaration of freedom. God never leads you into bondage or enslaves you in fear for, “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17).

We no longer have to be in bondage to sin, as God has shattered the power of our old sin nature, whereby it is no longer the motivating energy of our life, and brought us into a vital union with Christ. God has created in us a new divine nature by our identification with Christ, and we have been completely infused with the life and power of God. We are new men and women, sons and daughters of liberty, as the power and bondage of our old Adamic nature has been crushed and rendered powerless by the finished work of Jesus Christ. Satan has no authority or power over us, as Christ defeated and delivered us from his dominion. We now can walk, live, and breathe in newness of life that glorifies God as we enjoy all the sweet freedom of our new life in Christ. Absolutely nothing has the power to enslave you. Stand fast and firm in the liberty where Christ has made you free, and never allow yourself to become entangled or held down by any form of bondage or oppression (Galatians 5:1). This absolute complete freedom from bondage is a part of the goodness of God that comes with your new birth into God’s family.

Excerpt from: The Magnificent Goodness of God and How it Will Transform Your Life.

Purchase on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Magnificent-Goodness-Will-Transform-Your-ebook/dp/B004S3OR9K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+magnificent+goodness+of+god&qid=1555158102&s=gateway&sr=8-1

 

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go and Gather the Empty

A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried unto Elisha, saying, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves’” (2 Kings 4:1–2).

This woman had once been surrounded by the Word of God—where there was power and provision, a hope and a future. Yet, for some reason, the Word of the Lord had been taken from her household. She eventually found herself alone, and one day, an evil man—for only an evil man would do what he was about to do—arrived at the door and said, “Your children belong to me from this day forward. You do not have the resources or the power to stop me from taking them.”

We have a similar situation in our generation. The Bible tells us that “the wicked prowl on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men” (Psalm 12:8). Who can rationally deny that vileness has raised itself up to be the standard of behavior in our modern-day society—by killing children in the womb; causing gender confusion in our young children in grade school; lying about the existence of God; forbidding our sons and daughters to pray in high school; radicalizing our young people against both God and their country in our colleges? Vileness is being exalted as righteousness, and what is good, holy and true is being cast down as evil and bigoted.

And so we ask ourselves today: How do we meet this challenge? Let’s start by taking a look at what happened to the widow in our opening passage. When the creditor was coming, she did what I suppose any mother would do: she shared her distress with the prophet Elisha—the only person of God left in the nation, to her knowledge.

“So Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house’” (2 Kings 4:2). Now Elisha had the power to do a lot of things, including the power of God to raise the dead. Yet he responded by turning to her and asking what she had in her house. “And she said, ‘Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a of oil’” (2 Kings 4:2).

The widow answered him by saying, “All I have is a jar of oil.” In other words, she was unaware of the power available to her if she would be willing to use what she had. Instead, she was totally focused on her distress, as is the case with many people today. “Lord, the wicked have come and are demanding our children.” We may become so focused on the distress of this dark hour that we are in danger of forgetting what God has already put into our hands.

Just as this widow said, “I have only a jar of oil,” we might say, “Oh, God, I have only my own salvation. I have only a little bit of strength left, yet this powerful force is coming to take away our hope and our future. It is taking the presence and sense of God out of the nation, and I do not know what to do. I feel like a widow.

It has been so long, as a nation, since we have heard the piercing word of God. Where has the conscience of America gone? What hope do we have left? How do we stop this creditor from taking our sons and daughters and making them slaves to unrighteousness?” Just as the widow had barely any oil left, we might have only a little bit of power left in our lives as a church age.

Nevertheless, we must not forget that we are the Body of Christ. We have access to the One who has all power and all knowledge and all authority

THE PLAN OF GOD

Elisha then said to the widow, “‘Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.’ So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her, and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’…Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest’” (2 Kings 4:3–7).

The oil just kept coming! She thought she had just a small amount, but she did not realize she was connected to a supply that never runs dry! That is what a spiritual awakening looks like! When we simply believe God, even when we have only little bit of oil, we can start pouring into others around us.

In fact, I believe the plan of God for our day is to gather every empty person you know and begin to pour into them. Gather your empty friends; gather your empty neighbors; and even send your children out to gather them in. Perhaps you are a single mother with two children who have you worried. Tell them to get all those friends they are hanging out with and bring them to your home. Then tell your children to say to their friends, “I’m going to lay hands on you, and we are going to pray. We are going to believe that God will fill you with the Holy Spirit!”

The promise and the hope for our generation is God saying, “As you take the little bit that you have and pour it into the empty places, you will discover that I am a river of life flowing from inside of you.” After all, Jesus Himself promised, “Come to Me, and out of your belly, out of your inward parts, will flow this river of living water” (see John 7:37–38).

When Pastor Teresa and I first got saved, we did not know any better so we started laying hands on people, and many were filled with the Holy Spirit. One time Pastor Teresa had a Tupperware party in our home and a lady brought her husband, who was hostile to the gospel. Neither he nor I wanted to be around the party, so we went upstairs. As we conversed, I simply started talking to him about what God had done for me, and suddenly he said, “I want that in my life!” So I laid my hands on him and started to pray. The next thing I knew, he was lying on the floor speaking in tongues! All I did was reach out with the little life that I had, and that man is still walking with the Lord today.

Thank God for the simplicity of faith. No wonder Jesus told the Church of Ephesus, “You have your theology down and are testing and proving those  who say they are apostles. You have discernment and are doing a lot of good works—even more than at the beginning—but I have something against you: You have lost your first love. You have lost the simplicity of walking with God, the joy of just being a vessel through whom God can pour His life into others. If you do not get back to that, you will lose your ‘candlestick’” (see Revelation 2:1–5).

In other words, if you do not use the oil you have, you will lose it. You will lose the light. Yes, you will still have your salvation and end up at the throne of God one day, but what the Lord could have done through your life to impact those around you will not happen.

GOD’S VESSELS

In the Book of Acts, we read of a hundred and twenty people gathered in the temple—people who were emptied of self, essentially possessing only the oil of their own salvation. You might say they were empty vessels—empty of all sense of strength, empty of all the promises they had made to God—yet aware that their generation was about to be taken captive by the godlessness of that moment. After all, it does not get any more godless than killing the Son of God. Nevertheless, knowing their own limitations and fears, they began to pray in the temple. I can picture God the Father talking to His Son regarding those who were seeking more of Him. God said to Jesus, “May I borrow these empty vessels that have gathered in Your Name? May I borrow them and do something astounding through them?” And the Son answered, “Father, You are more than welcome to them.” And right away, oil was pouring down into these hundred and twenty who had no strength in themselves.

They left the Temple, walked out into the marketplace, and began pouring that oil out—and soon there were about five thousand new believers in Christ (see Acts 4:4). Think about it—the hundred and twenty did not have the New Testament; they were the New Testament! God’s Spirit was in them, and they were simply being used as vessels to pour into empty people. They learned that it was not in their strength but in their weakness that God’s power would be made known.

And so now you can either sit at home and stare at your little jar of oil and try to survive, hoping nobody will captivate your children, or you can do what God says—go and gather your neighbors. Find them on the street corners. Start pouring into the empty places. Pour unreservedly, for you have more resources than you know. You do not have to wait for some divine moment. You do not have to wait until you feel like you are on top of the world or you have a million dollars in the bank. You can start on the street today; you can pray for somebody, somewhere, right now.

This is the hope now for our nation. You will be shocked at how hungry people are today. Remember, you do not have to sit there and debate theology with them. You can simply say, “Let me pray for you, and let God pour His Holy Spirit into your life.” Begin to gather and pour, believe and pray, and watch what God will do in this generation!

Carter Conlon ©2019 Times Square Church

This is an edited version of “Go and Gather the Empty,” a sermon given on October 21, 2018 in the sanctuary of Times Square Church in New York City. Other sermons are available by visiting our website at tsc.nyc.

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cry Out! Help is On the Way!

Hebrews 2:18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

Jesus comes running to the cry of His brethren which is beautifully pictured by a parent who responds without hesitation to the cry of their child crying out in distress!

Come to the aid (997) (boetheo [word study] from boé = at a shout or cry as for aid or help [only NT use = Jas 5:4=”outcry”, the cry of the oppressed] + théo = to run) means literally to run on hearing a cry from one (in need or danger) to give help, relief, aid and/or assistance to someone. To hurry or hasten to the help of someone who is oppressed or in need of assistance. To bring or furnish aid. To assist by supplying what is needed.

TDNT – Boetheo “is often used of the physician…and cf. also the healings of Jesus (Mk. 9:2224Mt. 15:25). Similarly in Ac. 16:9Rev. 12:16. Of God as the One who helps it is used only at 2 Cor. 6:2, quoting Isa. 49:8. It is used of help in religious need at Mk. 9:24Heb. 2:18. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament – Volume I)

Gary Hill’s discussion gives us a good feeling for the meaning of this great Greek verb –   boēthéō (from 995 boē, “intense exclamation” and theō, “run”) – properly, run to meet an urgent distress-call (cry for help); deliver help by quickly responding to an urgent need (intense distress). boētheō (“supply urgently needed help”) means to give immediate aid – in time for a pressing need, i.e. “to run, on a call to help” (TDNT, 1:628). Boētheō was originally a military word, responding to a critical, urgent need (MM).  Boētheō is also used in Homeric Greek (800-900 BC) for responding to a war-cry. (ED: A GREAT DESCRIPTION FOR BELOVED WE ARE DAILY IN AN ONGOING SPIRITUAL WAR WHETHER WE KNOW IT OR NOT!) (The Discovery Bible) (Bold added)

THOUGHT – Dr Hill’s description begs the question – What is my response when I am tempted (and we are always being tempted to one degree or another – cf 1 Peter 2:11 where “wage war” is present tense = continuously, James 1:14) Which direction do I go when I tempted? Do I run toward the temptation? Do I flee from the temptation (cf 1 Cor 6:18)? Do I cry out for urgent help from Jesus Who was tempted in the same way and yet did not sin and Who is ever able to run to my aid when I am tempted? May God grant us the desire and the power to cry out to Jesus when we are sorely tempted to sin against our Father (cf Ge 39:9). Amen. But remember even though we “cry out” our part is not just passive and to “let go, let God,” but more like “Let God and let’s go (flee from the temptation)!” And remember that with the temptation comes the way of escape, but we must (energized by the Spirit) choose to run through the way of escape.

Hendriksen – The word “help” is very meaningful and touching. In the original it consists of two smaller words: a cry and run. In any context in which this word is used it is an earnest and moving request that the Lord, or whoever the potential helper happens to be, may rush toward the person who is in need, and may help him. (New Testament Commentary Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark )

Mills writes that boethéo “denotes a loud, ringing cry for help, thus emphasizing the desperate, helpless state of the supplicant.” (The Acts of the Apostles. 3E Ministries)

Moulton and Milligan have identified the noun help (boetheia) and the verb to help (boetheo) repeatedly recurring at the end of petitions in Greek secular writings (papyri)

SPIRITUAL HELP FROM
THE GREAT PHYSICIAN!

Secular Greek often used boetheo in the description of a physician according to Kittel (TDNT). It is interesting that the Gospels uses of boetheo in situations where individuals address Jesus (the Great Physician) in a sense “interceding” with Him to come to the aid of loved ones who are demon possessed. Thus the sense in those passages is to provide spiritual help and healing. In Paul’s vision of the man of Macedonia, the man appealed to him “Come over to Macedonia and help (aorist imperative) us” clearly a call to bring the soul healing/saving Gospel to Europe! Jesus sent help in this case in the form of a His man on the scene, the Apostle Paul! Paul also alludes to the saving help of the Gospel in 2Cor 6:2. In short, we see that most of the NT uses boetheo are in the context of individuals in need of spiritual help, even as is true of Hebrews 2:18.

Boethéo means to relieve – the verb relieve in English means to free, wholly or partially, from pain, grief, want, anxiety, care, toil, trouble, burden, oppression or any thing that is considered to be an evil; to ease of any thing that pains the body or distresses the mind.

JESUS THE SAVIOR
SUCCORS SUFFERING SAINTS

Jesus became a Man of SORROW
that He might become
The One Who able to SUCCOR

Boetheo means to succor (KJV reads “He is able to succor them that are tempted”) which is a word you may not be too familiar with, but which means literally to run to or run to support hence, to help or relieve when in difficulty, want or distress; to assist and deliver from suffering; as, to succor a besieged city; to succor prisoners. (succor is derived from Latin succurrere = to run up, run to help, from sub– = up + currere to run). (See below for more discussion of this aspect of Jesus’ help to the helpless)

Boetheo – 8x in 8v and rendered (NAS) as – come to the aid, 1; come to…aid, 1; help, 4; helped, 2. Boetheo is used 78 times in the Septuagint translation – e.g., in Ps 121:1 “where does my help come from?” and Ps 124:8 “Our help is in the Name of the LORD.” See also 1Sa 7:12Ps 28:737:4040:1344:2646:554:470:579:986:1794:17109:26119:86175.

Matthew 15:25 But she came and began to bow down (proskuneo = verb translated “worship” in Mt 15:25KJV!) before (Jesus), saying, “Lord, help (present imperative in context signifying a petition not a demand) me!”

Wuest: And having come, she fell upon her knees and touched her forehead to the ground in profound reverence before Him, saying, Sir, be helping (Ed: picking up on the present tense) me.

Comment: The Canaanite woman pleaded with Jesus to help her demon-possessed daughter, and in so doing we see her desperation, her persistence and faith (Read context = Mt 15:21-28, especially Mt 15:28), her humility, her submission (her posture of worship), her dependence and her bold confidence(help is in the imperative mood – where the imperative expresses a petition, not a command) in Jesus.

THOUGHT – Would it be that more of God’s children had this Gentile woman’s desperate, dependent attitude and like her we would not hesitate to cry out for Jesus to come to our aid when we find ourselves drowning in the dire straits of temptation and in great need of His assistance! Do you really believe Jesus will come running to your aid and has the power to overcome your temptations? Do you cry out when you are being tempted ( Caveat : I am assuming you have not gone somewhere, done something or looked at something that has aroused the flesh and the fires of temptation and that is the pathogenesis of your current strong temptation!)

Mark 9:22 “It (the demon) has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity (verb form splagchnizomai derived from splagchnon) on us and help (aorist imperative) us!”

Comment: Do not miss the association – His great pity for us precedes His matchless help for us! The aorist imperative is a petition that seeks instant help! “Now not later please” is the idea!

Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help(present imperative) my unbelief.”

Hendriksen comments on “help” in present imperative: “Continue moment by moment and day by day to come to my aid, so that I may overcome my unbelief.”

Acts 16:9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help (aorist imperative) us.”

Comment: The man of Macedonia in using the plural for himself speaks for Europe, and his cry for help Europe’s need of Christ. Paul recognized a divine summons in the vision.

Kent Hughes helps us understand the picture of the verb boethéo remarking that: This was one of the great turning points of history, and we should thank God for it, for as a result the gospel has come to us in the West. Nothing makes a person strong like hearing someone cry for help! You can be walking down the street completely fatigued so that you would like to lie down on the curb and go to sleep, but then you hear a crysomeone is in trouble!and you completely forget your weariness. Paul and his associates moved forward in the power of Christ’s strength. (Hughes, R. K.. Acts: The Church Afire. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books) (Bolding added)

Acts 21:28 (Context = Acts 21:27-29) Unbelieving Jews from Asia who were in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost “upon seeing (Paul) in the temple (of Herod), began to stir up all the multitude and laid hands on him, (then they began continually) crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid (see boetheo below)(present imperative)!

Comment – (boethéo – Acting as though Paul had committed an act of blasphemy, they called for help in dealing with it – a vivid picture of the meaning of running to the aid of one who cries out for aid!). This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people, and the Law, and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place. For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. -29)

2 Corinthians 6:2 for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” (“I ran to your cry and brought you aid” = Wuest) Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (now is a propitious, favorably disposed, epochal season),” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION “–

Comment: Paul is addressing the Corinthians, saved (who were not living in grace) and/or unsaved (who had never received grace) warning them not to receive the grace of God in vain. He quotes the Septuagint (Greek of the Hebrew OT) of Isa 49:8.

Revelation 12:16note But the earth helped the woman (Metaphor for Israel), and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.

The cognate (related) noun boetheia is used in Hebrews in the exhortation

Let us therefore (based on the truth of Heb 4:14noteHeb 4:15note) draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16note)

Comment on “time of need”: Greek adjective eukairos (eu = well, good + kairos = opportunity) = seasonable, timely, opportune, at the right time, well-timed, in season, timely. Mk 6:21 = only other NT use. BDAG = “in our lit. only pert. to time that is considered a favorable occasion for some event or circumstance, well-timed, suitable.” A T Robertson = well-timed help, help in the nick of time, before too late.

Vincent on “time of need”: Lit. for seasonable help, or help in good time; before it is too late; while there is still time to seek God’s rest. Others, however, explain, when it is needed; or, before temptation leads to sin.

Ryrie comments: His grace comes when we come in our time of need, and not until. (Ryrie Study Bible)

The cognate adjective boethos is used in Hebrews 13:6note where we read

The Lord is my Helper [boethos – the One Who responds to my call for help], I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?

Comment: This is the only NT uses of Boēthós which is common (45 uses) in the Septuagint (Lxx), the first use describing the wife as a man’s helper (Ge 2:18). The writer of Hebrews uses boethos to describe the Lord as poised and ready to run to the relief of His tempted/afflicted children. When? When they cry out for His assistance. Crying out reflects humility, a sense of dependence, a laying aside of self-reliance, that dangerous tendency we all “run to”. One has to make a choice to cry out to Jesus! Are you too proud or too self sufficient to cry out?

HELP FROM ANGELS
VERSUS
HELP FROM JESUS

Warren Wiersbe makes a distinction between the help angels give and the help given by our merciful and faithful High Priest, Who “stands ready to help us! He was tempted when He was on earth, but no temptation ever conquered Him. Because He has defeated every enemy, He is able to give us the grace that we need to overcome temptation. The word “succour” (boethéo “Come to the aid”) literally means “to run to the cry of a child.” It means “to bring help when it is needed.” Angels are able to serve us (Heb 1:14note), but they are not able to succor us in our times of temptation. Only Jesus Christ can do that, and He can do it because He became a man and suffered and died. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor) (Bolding added)

Kenneth Wuest commenting on Hebrews 2:18 says “How precious to know that when we are being tempted, the Lord Jesus always stands ready, eager to run to our cry and bring us aid.’

Philip Hughes – The help that he brings is twofold: in the first place, forgiveness of sins, the annulment of past defeats, and, in the second place, the power (his power) to fight and overcome temptation. His own conquest of temptation means for the Christian that the dominion of sin over him has been broken (Ro 6:14note). These two realities, forgiveness and power, are present in the passage before us. (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews – Philip Edgbumbe Hughes)

A W Pink adds that we need to “Remember Who He is. Remember the experiences through which He passed! He, too, has been in the place of trial: He, too, was tempted—to distrust, to despondency, to destroy Himself. Yes, He was tempted “in all points like as we are, sin excepted.” Remember His present position, sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high! How blessed then to know that He is “able” both to enter, sympathetically, into our sufferings and sorrows, and that He has power to “succor.” (Pink, A W: An Exposition of Hebrews)

As Man, a man of sorrows,
Thou hast suffered every woe,
And though enthroned in glory now,
Canst pity all Thy saints below.

KJV Study Bible – How much easier it is to help someone when we ourselves have gone through similar trials! Christ as Man has fully suffered the greatest of trials and so can ably comfort. These suffering Jews needed to hear that Christ had suffered as they were suffering.” (Bolding added. King James Version Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

As Paul reminds us

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” (2 Co 1:3-5)

MacArthur – Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows where we hurt, where we are weak, and where we are tempted. He is the God we can go to not only for salvation but for sympathy.” (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word Pub)

Wiersbe – Now He is a merciful and faithful High Priest; we can depend on Him! He is able to succor us when we come to Him for aid. The word succor means “to run when called for” and was used of physicians. Christ runs to our aid when we call Him! (Wiersbe, W. W. Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)

Matthew Poole – This is the most powerful preservative against despair, and the firmest ground of hope and comfort, that ever believing, penitent sinners could desire or have.”

Adam Clarke – “There are three things,” says Dr. Owen, “of which tempted believers do stand in need: 1. Strength to withstand their temptations; 2. Consolations to support their spirits under them; 3. Seasonable deliverance from them. Unto these is the succour afforded by our High Priest suited; and it is variously administered to them: 1. By his word or promises; 2. By his Spirit; (and, that, 1. By communicating to them supplies of grace or spiritual strength; 2. Strong consolation; 3. By rebuking their tempters and temptations; ) and 3. By his providence disposing of all things to their good and advantage in the issue.” Those who are peculiarly tempted and severely tried, have an especial interest in, and claim upon Christ. They, particularly, may go with boldness to the throne of grace, where they shall assuredly obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Were the rest of the Scripture silent on this subject, this verse might be an ample support for every tempted soul.”

Although the word boetheo is not used, Matthew gives us a blessed illustration of Jesus’ succoring or coming to the aid of one in need recording the story of Peter walking on the water

“but seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt 14:3031)

Comment: Jesus’ response is a vivid picture of what He will do for us beloved. And what was the condition? He cried out and so too must we. It is a humbling thing to cry out in need to another but God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. If a man or woman is willing to humble themselves in the presence of the Lord, he will lift them up!

JESUS IS ABLE TO SUCCOR
THOSE WHO ARE BEING TEMPTED

E. A. Thomson has this quote in regarding the succor provided by our Savior Who has suffered slings similar to His saints…

If ever I fall into a surgeon’s hands with broken bones, give me one whose own bones have been broken.” How can those who have never known what illness is, enter with the tenderness of a perfect fellowship into the chambers of the sick? or how can those who have never known a want understand with a matter-of-fact experience the anxieties of the poor and needy? (The Biblical Illustrator)

The writer’s point is this – Jesus is the Great Physician Who knows! He is able. He is ready to come to your cry for aid. Cry out beloved. His is the same One today Who yesterday said…

Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke, I make the rivers a wilderness… (Isa 50:2)

Later in Isaiah He answers declaring

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save. Neither is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. (Isa 59:1)

In a similar statement W. Gouge writes that

It is found by experience that childbearing women are more pitiful (Ed: mercy filled) to others in their travails than such women as are barren. The like may be said of such as are afflicted with any painful malady. (EdPoint? Jesus is mercy filled [Heb 2:17noteHeb 4:16note], because His cup of trials and temptations suffered was filled to the brim beloved!) (The Biblical Illustrator)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes concerning “JESUS SUCCORING.

He is able to succor them that are tempted. In this we note His pity (mercy), that He should give Himself up to this business of succoring them that are tempted. He lays Himself out to succor them that are tempted, and therefore He does not hide Himself from them, nor pass them by on the other side. What an example is this for us! He devotes Himself to this Divine business of comforting all such as mourn. He is Lord of all, yet makes Himself the servant of the weakest. Whatever He may do with the strongest, He succors “them that are tempted.” He does not throw up the business in disgust; He does not grow cross or angry with them because they are so foolish as to give way to idle fears.” (The Biblical Illustrator)

Spurgeon goes on to discuss Jesus’ “methods of succoring them that are tempted” listing out four areas as follows

(1) Usually by giving a sense of His sympathy.

(2) Sometimes by suggesting precious truths, which are the sweet antidote for the poison of sorrow.

(3) Sometimes He succors His people by inwardly strengthening them. (Ed: Cp Eph 3:16 where the Spirit of Christ is the One through Whom Christ strengthens.)

(4) I have known the Lord bless His people by making them very weak. The next best thing to being strong in the Lord is to be extremely weak in yourself. They go together, but sometimes they are divided in experience. It is grand to feel, “I will not struggle any more; I will give all up, and lie passive in the Lord’s hand.” Spurgeon then draws his discussion to a conclusion asking two questions “Where else can you go?. Where better can you go?” (The Biblical Illustrator)

Jeremy Irons asks

Now shall I tell you how our Lord “is able to succor” you? It is just simply by revealing Himself. “I am thy salvation”; “It is I; be not afraid.” It comforts, it cheers, it upholds. Just observe what encouragement here is for faith to the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having Himself “suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.” He has the fulness of grace; “all power is given to Him in heaven and in earth” (Mt 28:18); it is in His own hands, and He is “full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14) “He is able to succor them that are tempted.” “Well,” say you,” is He willing?” Suppose I reverse the question: Are you willing that He should? or are you looking somewhere else for succor? Are you willing that He should do it in His own way?” (The Biblical Illustrator)

G. Lawson writes regarding our Savior’s ability to succor His brethren that

The saying is, “None so merciful as those who have been miserable”; and they who have not only known misery, bat felt it, are most powerfully inclined, not only to inward compassion, but to the real relieving of others miserable. And this was a contrivance of the profound wisdom of that God, who is infinitely knowing and merciful, to find a way how to feel misery and be merciful another way. This was by His Word assuming flesh, that in that flesh He might be tempted violently and suffer most grievously; and all this that He might be more merciful and effectually succor sinful man.” (The Biblical Illustrator)

W. F. Adeney writes that Christ is able to succor

By His knowledge and sympathy He can give just such grace as is needed. Pathology must precede therapeutics. The diagnosis of disease is the first duty of the physician, and it is the most difficult; when that is successfully accomplished, the prescription follows almost as a matter of course. (The Biblical Illustrator)

W. A. Bridge asks

HOW DOTH HE SUCCOR those that are tempted in the day and time of their temptation?

1. Christ succors tempted souls before the temptation comes sometimes, by a special manifestation of Himself, His love and fulness, to them. Again, He succors before the temptation by filling the heart with the Holy Ghost. When the vessel is filled with one liquor, it keeps out another.

2. He succors also under temptation by opening the eyes of him that is tempted to see that it is but a temptation. A temptation is half-cured when a man knows that it is but a temptation: when a man’s eyes are open to see the tempter and the temptation. Therefore men are so hardly cured, because they are hardly persuaded that it is a temptation. When they see that, then they say, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Christ opens their eyes. Again, He succors under temptation, by letting fall some glimpse of His love, some love-look upon a tempted soul. And so, when Peter was in the high priest’s hall, Christ looks upon him, and he went out and wept bitterly.

3. After temptation He succors: by filling the heart with joy unspeakable and full of glory; by sending the angels to minister: as when the devil left Christ, had tempted Him and left Him, then came the angels and ministered to Him. Every way — before temptation, and in temptation, and after temptation — the Lord Jesus Christ is a succoring Christ to tempted souls. He was a Man of Sorrows that He might be a God of succors; His heart is full of succors.” (The Biblical Illustrator)

DOES YOUR FRAME
NEED FRAPPING?

Unger has an interesting note on ancient ships…

The imperfection of the build, and the tendency to strain the seams, led to taking on board “helps” (Gk. boetheia), cables or chains (apparatus for securing a leaking vessel), that in case of necessity could be passed around the hull, at right angles to its length and made tight—a process called frapping in the English navy.

Luke uses the noun boetheia in his description of the storm tossed ship in (Acts 27:17), writing that

after they had hoisted (the lifeboat) up, they used supporting cables (boetheia) in undergirding the ship and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the sea anchor, and so let themselves be driven along.”

Comment: In Acts 27:17 “boetheia” refers specifically a rope or chain for frapping a vessel to keep the beams from separating. Frapping (derived from Mid French [fraper] to draw tight as with ropes or cables) means a lashing binding a thing tightly or binding things together.

In nautical terms, this procedure of passing ropes under the ship to hold it together is termed frappingFrap is a nautical term that means to draw tight, to lash down or together. So in the midst of the storm in Acts 27 the sailors wrapped cables around the ship’s hull and winched them tight. Thus supported, the ship would be better able to withstand the severe pounding of wind and sea.

THOUGHT – Beloved, do you see the word picture inherent in the Biblical use of (verb – boethéo, noun – boetheia) in other verses? From time to time all saints encounter unexpected storms with potentially destructive wind and waves and find themselves in desperate need of our great Captain, Jesus, to batten down the hatches, sending His help that we might be able to endure the stormy trial or temptation, emerging on the other side of the “storm” intact, even unscathed! That’s supernatural! That’s what happens when we cry out for the Savior’s succoring!

Beloved Jesus is able to run to your aid
when He hears your cry for His help.

Perhaps right now you need to take a moment and like the Canaanite woman above (click), bow down in worship (even singing the hymn below), reminding yourself that your Helper Jesus is truly ready, able and willing to run to your assistance no matter the “size or shape” of your test or temptation.

WHAT A FRIEND
WE HAVE IN JESUS

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there

Courtesy of https://preceptaustin.wordpress.com/2019/02/27/3533/

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abraham Believed God

“For what saith the Scripture? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness’” (Romans 4:3).

In these words we have the essence of the Gospel of God, and of His Grace. That Gospel is explained in Romans 1:1 to be the “Gospel of God.” God’s Good News; and faith cometh by hearing it. This is the Gospel that Abraham believed; he believed God; believed what God said. The patriarch’s feet were firmly planted on God’s ground; his eyes were fixed on God Himself. He had no shadow of doubt as to his possessing, in due time, all that God had promised. He did not hope it, still less did he doubt it, or go on asking for what God said He had given. 
Oh! how few comparatively among the children of God really believe God, and without any reserve take this blessed ground of having died with Christ, of being risen with Christ, of being forgiven all sins, accepted in the Beloved, and sealed by the Holy Spirit! At times they hope it; when all goes smoothly with them they can venture to speak hopefully, but when things go against them, they feel the working of the old nature, and at once they begin to reason about themselves, and to question whether after all they are in reality the children of God. From such reasonings the passage to despondency and despair is an easy one.

All this is destructive to peace, because it is dishonouring to God. It is impossible to make progress in this condition. How can one run a race if he is not sure whether he has started? How can one erect a building if he has not laid the foundation? How can any one grow in grace if he is in doubt whether he has life, or has been “planted“? But some may ask, “How can I be sure about this? How may I know that I am saved?” The answer is, How do you know that you are a sinner and need saving? Is it because you feel you are one ? Possibly so, but feeling is not a ground of faith; faith that is based on feeling is not a Divine faith at all. “Faith cometh by hearing.” Faith must have respect to a promise not to a feeling. True faith rests on the testimony of God’s Word. No doubt it is by the gracious energy of the Holy Spirit that any one can exercise this living faith, but we are speaking now of the true ground of faith, the authority for faith, the basis on which alone it can rest, and that surely is the Word of God, which is able to make wise unto salvation without any human intervention whatsoever.

Religion versus Christianity

There is scarcely a point on which Religion is more opposed to Christianity. Religion makes the word of God of none effect by its tradition and its superstition, and is thus in direct hostility to the truth of God. Religion has to do with the flesh; it admits that there is a Divine revelation; but it denies that anyone can understand it save by the interpretation of man; or, in other words, the Word of God is not sufficient without man’s authority. God has spoken, but I am told I cannot hear His voice or understand His Word without; human intervention. This is Religion!

Infidelity, on the other hand, boldly denies a Revelation; it does not believe in such a thing. Infidels can write books, they can tell us their mind, but (so they say) God cannot! But where is the difference between denying that God has spoken, and maintaining that He cannot make us understand what He says? Both are alike dishonouring to God. Both deprive man of the priceless treasure of His Word. Both exalt the creature and blaspheme the Creator. Both alike shut out God, and rob the soul of the foundation of its faith.

This has ever been the device of the enemy, to quench the light of inspiration, to plunge the soul into the darkness of infidelity and superstition, to set aside the authority of the Word of God by any means in his power. He cares not by what agency he gains this end. Witness how he brought about the Fall by casting doubt on the Word of God. “Yea, hath God said?” It is therefore very important for us to seize this great fact which is brought out in our text, “Abraham believed God.” Here was Divine faith. It was not a question of feeling or Religion. Indeed, if Abraham had been influenced by his feelings he would have been a doubter instead of a believer. For what had he in himself to build his faith on? “His own body now dead” (verse 19)? A poor ground surely on which to base a faith in the promise of an innumerable posterity. But we are told that “he considered not his own body now dead.” What then did he consider? The Word of the living God, and on that he rested. This is faith.

Written for our sake

Mark what the Holy Spirit says of him. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief… therefore it was imputed unto him for righteousness” (verses 20-22). Ah, but the anxious one may say, “What has all this to do with my case? I am not Abraham! I cannot expect a special revelation from God. How am I to know that God has spoken to me? How can I possess this precious faith?” Mark the answer to these questions in the Spirit’s further words in verse 23. “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but for us also. if…” If what? If we feel it? If we realise it? If we experience anything in ourselves? Nay! But “if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

Oh! what solid comfort is here, what rich consolation! It assures the anxious one that he has the self-same ground and authority to rest upon that Abraham had, with much more light than Abraham had. For Abraham was called to believe God’s Word as to what He promised, whereas we are privileged to believe in a fact which God has accomplished. He was called to look forward to something yet to be done; we look back at something that has been done, even an accomplished redemption attested by the fact of a risen and glorified Saviour, seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

But as to the ground or authority on which this faith is to be based, it is the same in our case as in that of Abraham — the Word of God. So it is written, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” There is no other foundation for faith but this; and the faith that rests on any other foundation is not true faith at all. A faith resting on human tradition, or on the authority of a Church, is not Divine faith; it is a mere superstition, it is a faith which stands in the wisdom of men, and not in the power of God (I Corinthians 2:5). It is impossible for us to overstate the value and the importance of this grand principle, the ground of a living faith. This is the Divine antidote to all the errors, evils, and hostile influences of the present day. There is a tremendous shaking going on around us, and it will grow worse. Minds are agitated; disturbing forces are abroad; foundations are being loosened; institutions are tottering; souls which found shelter in them are being dislodged and know not whither to turn. Confusion and judgment is written on all things ecclesiastical and political.

What do we need?

What is the one thing that we need? Simply this. A living faith in the living God! This is what is needed for all who are disturbed by what they see without, or feel within. Our unfailing resource is this, trust in a living God, and in His Son Jesus Christ, revealed by the Eternal Spirit in the Scriptures of Truth .

Here is the resting-place for faith. Here we solemnly exhort you to stay your whole souls. Here we have authority for all that we need to know, to believe, and to do. Is it a question of anxiety about your safety? Hear the Divine words, “Wherefore also it is contained in the Scriptures: Behold I lay in Zion a Chief Corner Stone, elect, precious, and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded” (I Peter 2:6). What solid comfort is here, what deep, settled repose! God has laid the foundation, and that foundation is nothing less than His own Eternal, co-equal Son. This foundation is sufficient to sustain all the counsels of God, to meet all the needs of the soul. Christ is God’s own precious, tried, Chief Corner Stone. That blessed One who went down into death’s dark waters; bore the heavy judgment and wrath of God against sin, and robbed death of its sting, and, having done this, was raised from the dead, was received up into Glory, and is now seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the Heavens. Such is God’s foundation to which He graciously calls the attention of every one who really feels the need of something divinely solid on which to build, in view of the hollow and shadowy scenes of the world, and in prospect of the stern realities of the future.

God has spoken!

Dear reader, if this is your position, if you have come to this point, be assured that it is for you as positively and as distinctively as though you heard a voice from Heaven speaking to your own very self. In spite of sin in all its forms, and in all its consequences, in spite of Satan’s power and Satan’s malice, God has spoken! He has caused His voice to be heard in this dark and sinful world, and what has He said? “Behold, I lay in Zion… a foundation!” This is something entirely new! It is as though our blessed, loving and ever-gracious God had said to us, “Here I have begun anew, I have laid a foundation, and I pledge My word that whosoever commits himself to My foundation, whosoever rests in Mine Anointed, i.e., in My Christ, whosoever is satisfied with My precious, tried, Chief Corner Stone, shall never, no never, no never, be confounded, never be put to shame, never be disappointed, never perish, world without end!” Oh, how blessed, how safe, how secure! If there were any question raised, any condition imposed, any barrier erected, you might well hesitate. If it were made a question of feeling, or experience, or of anything else that you could do, feel, be or produce, then you might justly pause, but there is absolutely nothing of the sort. There is the Christ of God, there is the Word of God, and what then? “He that believeth shall not he confounded.”

In short, it is no more and no less than believing what God says, because He says it! It is committing your self to the word of Him that cannot lie. It is doing exactly what Abraham did. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” It does not say Abraham understood God, because he did not; nor that Abraham believed something about God, but Abraham believed God, i.e., what He said. Thus he lived in peace with God, and died in the hope of Resurrection, of a Heavenly City, of a Heavenly Home. It is resting on the immovable rock of Holy Scripture, and thus proving the Divine and saving virtue of that which never failed any who trusted to it, never did, and never will, and never can. Oh! the unspeakable blessedness of having such a foundation in a world like this, where death and decay and change are stamped upon all, where friendship’s fondest ties are snapped in a moment by death’s rude hand, where all that seems (to nature’s view) most stable is liable to be swept away in a moment by a popular Revolution, where there is absolutely nothing on which the heart can lean and say, “Now I have found permanent repose.” Oh! what a mercy in such a scene to have a living faith in the living Word and in the written Word of the living God.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake

By E.W. Bullinger

This page Copyright © 1999 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nothing the World Offers Compares to Biblical Peace

Webster defines PEACE as a “state (not an attitude but a condition of one’s heart) of stillness and serenity, of freedom from disquieting, agitating, anxious thoughts and a condition of harmony in relationships.” The Greek word for PEACE is EIRENE from the verb EIRO which means to join or bind together that which has been broken, divided or separated! Eirene is the root of our English word “serene” (free of storms or disturbance, marked by utter calm). EIRENE literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which has been separated, the result being that the separated parts are set at one again. Our common English expression “having it all together” speaks of everything in place and as it ought to be, a good description of BIBLICAL PEACE. When things (or people) are disjointed, there is lack of harmony and absence of an inner sense of well-being. When things (or people) are joined together, there is a sense of harmony, well-being and freedom from inner turmoil. PEACE can also describe cessation of war – “war” describes the state of all mankind in Adam (Ro 5:12note) because before salvation we were enemies of God (Ro 5:10-note) and our peace with Him was broken. When we believed in Jesus by grace thru faith we were transferred from our old position in Adam to our new, eternal position of peace with God in Christ (1Cor 15:22-sermon). As Paul explained “having been justified by faith, we have PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro 5:1note)

Matthew Henry once asked “What peace can they have who are not at peace with God?” answering that “Peace is such a precious jewel, that I would give anything for it but truth.” Amen!

ONE HEART!

One of the best illustrations of BIBLICAL PEACE I have ever encountered is from missionary Jim Walton who was translating the New Testament for the Muinane people of La Sabana in the jungles of Colombia. However, Jim was having trouble translating the word PEACE. About this same time (don’t you love the PROVIDENCE of God!), Fernando, the village chief, was promised a 20-minute plane ride to a location that would have taken him 3 days to travel by walking. The plane was delayed in arriving at La Sabana, so Fernando departed on foot. When the plane finally came, a runner took off to bring Fernando back. But by the time he had returned, the plane had left. Fernando was furious (loss of peace) because of the mix-up. He went to Jim and launched into an angry tirade. Fortunately, Walton taped the chief’s diatribe and later when he translated it, he discovered that the chief kept repeating the phrase, “I don’t have ONE HEART.” Jim asked other villagers what having “ONE HEART” meant, and he found that it was like saying, “There is nothing between you and the other person.” Walton realized that God had just given him the picture he needed to translate the word PEACE into their language! To have peace with God means that there is nothing–no sin, no guilt, no condemnation–that separates us from God, PEACE possible only through Christ, Paul writing “having been justified (declared eternally in right standing before God) by faith, we have PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ro 5:1note).

Do you have “ONE HEART” with God today?

Outside of Christ there is no peace.

Only those in Christ know peace!

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India wrote, “Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace…If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you know what His will is.”

Indeed as Thomas Watson said “The seeming PEACE a sinner has is not from the knowledge of his happiness but the ignorance of his danger.” D L Moody adds that “A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it.”

BIBLICAL PEACE describes that state of inner repose and quietness, even (especially) in adverse circumstances, which indicates that this peace is not natural but must be a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, a truth that Paul affirms writing that “the fruit of the Spirit is…PEACE” (Gal 5:22-note) It follows that we can possess “ONE HEART” because God is able to give us His peace even when our lives seem to be “falling to pieces.” Have you experienced His supernatural peace that surpasses all human understanding (Php 4:7note)? How can we experience this glorious peace? We experience this peace by learning to surrender to the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

As Kenneth Wuest explains this blessed “state of untroubled, undisturbed tranquility and well being is produced in the heart of the yielded saint by the Holy Spirit. We have this peace to the extent that we are yielded to the Spirit and are intelligently conscious of and dependent upon His ministry for us.” (Wuest, K. S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)

Alexander Maclaren adds that this “PEACE comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of” Christ.

Jesus promised His fearful little flock

PEACE I leave with you. MY PEACE (“the imperturbable, inviolable peace of Jesus imparted to us in every detail of our lives”-Oswald Chambers) I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Note that Jesus is saying that His peace is the “divine balm” for a troubled and fearful heart!) (John 14:27)

Comment: See 3 Spurgeon sermons on this passage – Spiritual PeaceThe Best of MastersThe Cause and Effect of Heart Trouble

As Amy Carmichael (who lived in the midst of troubling circumstances as a woman missionary in India) testified, “The PEACE of Jesus stood every sort of test, every strain, and it never broke. It is this, His very own PEACE, which He says ‘I give.’” And so we see that the peace that Jesus gives is not a guarantee of the absence of trouble, but instead is the promise that He is there with us in and thru the storm (Cf “The waves were breaking over the boat…and HE HIMSELF was in the stern”-Mk 4:37-38-sermon). While sometimes Jesus chooses to calm the storm as when He declared “PEACE, BE STILL” (Mk 4:39KJV), at other times He lets the storm rage and calms His child by giving His peace that transcends human understanding. Regardless, as Oswald Chambers says “No matter how complicated the circumstances may be, one moment of contact with Jesus and the fuss is gone, the panic is gone, all the shallow emptiness is gone, and His PEACE is put in, absolute tranquility, because of what He says—“All power is given unto Me.”

Jesus again repeated the truth about His peace to His fearful disciples declaring “These things (John 13-16) I have spoken to you, that IN ME you may have PEACE. In the world you have tribulation (affliction, trouble), but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33-Spurgeon sermon) Observe the phrase “IN ME” which signifies that Jesus’ peace is not just His PROMISE (which it is) but even better, PEACE is the PERSON of Christ Himself! (cf Eph 2:14-noteMicah 5:5-note)

Now may the LORD OF PEACE HIMSELF continually grant you PEACE in EVERY (Greek means “all” w/o exception!) circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” (2Th 3:16Spurgeon sermon). Indeed “Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace.” Pause and meditate a few moments on God’s perfect peace in Christ as you sing this great hymn to Him…

Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.
Francis Havergal

When we keep our MIND fixed (stayed) on the LORD OF PEACE, He gives us His PEACE OF MIND for as a man or woman thinks in their heart so they are (Pr 23:7a).

Great GOD OF PEACE by Your Spirit cause our hearts to BE STILL, and grant us Your grace to understand BIBLICAL PEACE so that we might know the blessedness of this peace by personal possession and practice, in the Name of Christ Jesus our Peace, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6sermon) and the God of Peace Who will soon crush Satan under His feet. (Ro 16:20note) Amen

Dearly beloved, is your SOUL troubled (lacking His peace)? After you have meditated on the truth about God’s Peace, take a moment to sing prayerfully to your SOUL (cf similar exhortation in Ps 42:5-note) the beautiful Selah hymn medley

Be Still” and “What a Friend we Have in Jesus

BE STILL, MY SOUL: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
BE STILL, MY SOUL: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
BE STILL MY SOUL the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below
Oh what PEACE we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
BE STILL MY SOUL.

BIBLICAL PEACE
Part 2

PEACE (eirene from eiro = to join together) is not just the absence of hostility and strife (which it is!) but also describes the situation where two are brought together and there is no long anything between them to cause friction or create a barrier. As missionary Jim Walton discovered, BIBLICAL PEACE was beautifully described by the natives as a person who possessed “ONE HEART” (see above). When things (people, God and man) are “disjointed,” there is lack of harmony (a DIVIDED HEART) and a loss of a sense of well-being, but when they are joined together, there is ONE HEART that can supernaturally sing

“IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!”

PEACE WITH GOD should be distinguished from PEACE OF GOD. The former is forever, equates with justification and is the position (standing, possession) of every believer, while the latter is associated with sanctification (daily growth in Christlikeness), is experiential and manifest by inward tranquility (freedom from agitation, disturbance, turmoil) of one’s soul but sadly an experience that can be “stolen” from our heart, especially by the “thieves” named fear, anxiety and worry.

I Will Be Still and Know You Are God
Don Moen

Hide me now, under Your wings,
Cover me, within Your mighty hand.
When oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will soar with You above the storm.
Father, You are King over the flood,
And I will be still and know
You are God.

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone.
Know His pow’r
In quietness and trust.

PEACE WITH GOD: Paul writes that “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1Cor 15:22-Spurgeon sermon) And so when we were in Adam “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1-note, cf Ro 5:12-note) we were not at PEACE WITH GOD for we were “alienated and hostile in mind (“hostile toward God” Ro 8:7-note), engaged in evil deeds” (Col 1:21-note). BUT JESUS “made PEACE (WITH GOD) thru the blood of the Cross” (Col 1:20-note), so that now “having been justified (declared legally in right standing before God) by faith, we (forever) have PEACE WITH (“face to face” before) GOD thru our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ro 5:1-note). Indeed, even while “We were enemies, we were RECONCILED (taken from a state of enmity to a state of peace which restored our relationship) to God thru the death of His Son” (Ro 5:10-note) Who thereby made us God’s “children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Ro 8:17-note), yea, even eternal heirs of the precious prize of PEACE WITH GOD.

As Spurgeon explains that “There is no quarrel now between God and those who are in Christ Jesus. PEACE is made between them. The middle wall that stood between them is taken away (for “now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ, for He Himself is our peace, Who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.” Eph 2:13-14-note). Christ, by His “one sacrifice for sins for all time,” (Heb 10:12), has made peace for all His people, and has effectually established a union (oneness in Christ) that will never be broken.” Amen! Hallelujah!

PEACE OF GOD: As noted this “genre” of divine peace can rise and fall proportionate to disturbances from fear, anxiety or worry. Little wonder that these thieves can steal our peace, for ANXIOUS is derived from the Latin angere meaning to strangle while WORRY is related to German wurgen which also means to strangle! Is this not what anxiety and worry do to disturb the PEACE OF GOD in our heart and mind? But God has not left us without “the way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13-note) when we encounter these “peace breakers.” Under the inspiration of the Spirit, Paul writes

BE ANXIOUS (command – present imperative with negative = stop doing this or don’t begin!) for NOTHING(Paul’s circumstances? An “anxiety producing” prison cell!), but in EVERYTHING (not just the “big things” – nothing too small to bring to God) by PRAYER (includes the ideas of adoration and worship of God) and SUPPLICATION (sincere, earnest sharing of our needs and problems) with THANKSGIVING (A Spirit enabled God aligned attitude of gratitude. cf 1 Thessalonians 5:18note) let your requests BE MADE KNOWN to God (Of course He knows them, but this is an act of humbling ourselves before Him, knowing He is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6-note). And the PEACE OF GOD, which SURPASSES ALL COMPREHENSION (Why? In short, it is supernatural in nature and origin, a gift of grace from the God of peace and a gift that “keeps on giving” in spite of adverse circumstances or people, which is simply incomprehensible to non-believers and even mysterious to believers who are surprised at the presence of peace and lack of anxiety even though they are in trials or tribulations!), shall GUARD (God’s “supernatural soldier” standing on guard duty over) your HEARTS and your MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS (Don’t miss this last phrase –in Christ Jesus– we are safe in Him Who is Peace Personified) (See study of phrases in Christ and in Christ Jesus).” (Php 4:6notePhil 4:7note)

So what is the divine “antidote” for peace stealers? It is a command to stop worrying and start praying with thankful hearts. “Careful for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything!” (Moody) Warren Wiersbe helps us understand this command noting that “It is not enough for us to tell ourselves to “quit worrying” because that will never capture the thief (worry the greatest thief). Worry is an “inside job,” and it takes more than good intentions to get the victory.” The only way to obey this command is by jettisoning self reliance and self effort and casing ourselves wholly on the Spirit of Christ to give us the desire and the power (see Php 2:13note)

Spurgeon adds we must supplement

No care with all prayer….Carry our desires to the Lord of our life, the guardian of our soul. Go to Him with two portions of prayer and one of fragrant praise. Do not pray doubtfully but thankfully. Consider that you have your petitions, and, therefore, thank God for His grace.

Remember that the Greek word for PEACE is eirene which describes the joining together of that which has been separated while ANXIETY is the polar opposite the Greek word describing a mind which is pulled apart or drawn in different directions! As Wiersbe says

Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears pull us the opposite direction; and we are pulled apart!

The ANTIDOTE for this “ANTITHESIS” is grateful prayer leading to God’s PEACE which counters all ANXIETY!Indeed, care (anxiety) and prayer are as mutually opposed as fire and water so by turning our CARES into PRAYERS we throw them upon Him Who gives us in return His peace, the PEACE OF GOD that GUARDS us like a soldier over the two areas that create anxiety, our heart (wrong feelings) and our mind (wrong thinking) while the GOD OF PEACE GUIDES us step by step (Php 4:9note)!

Spurgeon adds that the PEACE OF GOD is

God’s Own peace. You shall not be able to understand the peace which you shall enjoy. It will enfold you in its infinite embrace. Heart and mind through Christ Jesus shall be steeped in a sea of rest. Come life or death, poverty, pain, slander, you shall dwell in Jesus above every ruffling wind or darkening cloud. Will you not obey this dear command? Yes, Lord, I do believe thee; BUT, I beseech thee, HELP MINE UNBELIEF.

John MacArthur adds that “The real challenge of the Christian life is not to eliminate EVERY unpleasant circumstance; it is to TRUST in the good purpose of our infinite, holy, sovereign, powerful God in EVERY difficulty. Those who honor Him by trusting Him will experience the blessings of His perfect peace. (MacArthur, J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press)

When circumstances arise that try to pull our hearts away from God and His SURPASSING PEACE, the psalmist offers us a great prayer

Teach me Your way O LORD and I will walk in Your truth. GIVE ME AN UNDIVIDED HEART, (Give me “ONE HEART” ~ PEACE) that I may fear Your Name.” (Ps 86:11NIV-note) Amen.

Spurgeon agrees noting that “Our minds are apt to be DIVIDED between a variety of objects, like trickling streamlets which waste their force in a hundred runnels; our great desire should be to have all our life floods poured into one channel and to have that channel directed towards the Lord alone. A man of DIVIDED heart is weak, the man of one object is the man. God Who created the bands of our nature can draw them together, tighten, strengthen, and fasten them, and so braced and inwardly knit by His uniting grace, we shall be powerful for good, but not otherwise. To fear God is both the beginning, the growth, and the maturity of wisdom, therefore should we be UNDIVIDEDLY given up to it, heart, and soul.”

Now the GOD OF PEACE, (cf Ro 15:33Ro 16:201Co 14:332Co 13:11Php 4:91Th 5:23) Who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, EQUIP you (Greek = mend what is broken, restoring to former useful condition, making us whole and what we ought to be) in every good thing TO DO His will (our responsibility), (enabled supernaturally by His Spirit Who is continually) working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, thru Jesus Christ, to Whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21-note)

The PEACE OF GOD comes when the Spirit of Christ controls our internal being whatever our external circumstances. The worst ocean storm never goes more than fifty feet deep. Gales rip across the Atlantic and cause waves a hundred feet high, but far below the water is calm as a pond on a sunny day in June. In the same way the PEACE OF GOD which surpasses all understanding keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus in the midst of all storms and perils.

Horatio Spafford understood this metaphor, for his only son died of scarlet fever in 1870, his investment in real estate in 1871 burned to the ground that same year in the great Chicago fire, and then in 1873 he was devastated by the news that all 4 of his daughters had died in a shipwreck in the Atlantic. Later, as he was in route to Europe to meet his wife who had survived, he was shown the spot in the mid-Atlantic where his daughters had perished, and was suddenly overwhelmed by an inrush of SUPERNATURAL PEACE (the PEACE OF GOD). With tears streaming down his face, Spafford picked up a pen to record his feelings and from his heart filled with the  Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18noteGalatians 5:22noteIsaiah 28:3) and His gracious gift of a deep inner peace peace of God prompting the timeless words “It is well with my soul”.

Play and pray this great Hillsong hymn medley

When PEACE like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say,
‘IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL’

Courtesy of https://www.preceptaustin.org/biblical_peace#Peace

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Insights into the Birth of Jesus

An old and familiar part of the Christmas story goes like this: Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem shortly before the birth of Jesus. [1] The night they arrived in Bethlehem there were no rooms available in the local inns, and so Joseph and Mary had to make a place for themselves in a local stable, where Mary gave birth to Jesus and then laid him in a manger, a feeding trough for the animals.

The picture painted by the above part of the Christmas story is not a pretty one. It paints a cold and selfish picture of the people of Bethlehem. Most people of every age and culture go out of their way to help women in need, but somehow the people of Bethlehem closed their doors to this young woman about to give birth. Is that really the picture of the birth of Christ that the Word of God paints for us? We will see that there is a joyful picture of giving in the Christmas story that has been hidden from the eyes of many Christians, but which shows the true heart of Christmas: giving to others from a joyful heart.

The modern Christian understanding of the birth of Jesus comes largely from extra-biblical works and traditions imported into the Gospels, rather than the biblical record itself. Much misinformation came from a document that was widely circulated in the early centuries of the Christian era. It is referred to by scholars as the Protevangelium of James, and was likely written in the third century A.D. [2] The Protevangelium is the first document scholars are aware of that refers to Jesus being born close to Mary’s arrival in Bethlehem, though it says Jesus was born in a cave before Joseph and Mary even reached Bethlehem. Sadly, in ancient times as well as today, people seem to pay more attention to what people say about the Bible than what the Bible itself says.

We do not know how large a part the Protevangelium played in developing the tradition that Mary gave birth to Jesus the night she and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem. However, we do know that the traditional belief became easier to sustain as the center of Christian culture moved to Europe, where day-to-day life was quite different from life in Palestine.

Arrival in Bethlehem

When we read the Bible carefully, even in most English versions, we see that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem for an unspecified number of days before Mary gave birth.

Luke 2:6 (KJV)
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

It is clear from Luke 2:6 that Joseph and Mary did not arrive in Bethlehem the night she gave birth, but days earlier. Mary gave birth “while they [she and Joseph] were there [in Bethlehem],” and the verse specifically says “days.” When the word “days” is used in the plural in the New Testament, it always refers to “days” literally or a period of time. Had Joseph and Mary arrived the day Mary gave birth, the text would have used “day” or “hours,” not the plural “days.” New Testament scholars know this. For example, R. C. H. Lenski writes: “This [the day Jesus was born] was not the day of Joseph’s and Mary’s arrival….” [3] Nevertheless, as usual, scholarship does not often have the power to overturn tradition, with its well-entrenched stories, songs, and paintings.

If Joseph and Mary had been staying in Bethlehem before Jesus was born, how is it that they had not found adequate lodging? Why give birth in a stable and lay Jesus in a manger? Oops, the Bible never says the birth was in a stable—that is tradition. If for some reason Bethlehem was so totally filled with guests and visitors that no one would open their homes to Joseph and Mary, their relatives Zechariah and Elizabeth lived only a short distance away, in the hill country of Judah (Luke 1:39 – NASB) [4], and Joseph and Mary could have gone there with only a little effort. In fact, Mary had visited Elizabeth early in her pregnancy (Luke 1:40). So Joseph and Mary could have found adequate housing and care if they needed it.

Getting the Story Straight

The story of the night of Christ’s birth needs to be retaught and relearned in Christian circles, not only because truth matters and what actually happened is important, but because it shows the love and sacrifice that people make to help each other, and the true joy of giving so that others may be blessed. That is a much more redemptive rendition of the Christmas story than townspeople closing their hearts and shutting their doors to a pregnant woman in need.

In order to see what really happened around the season of the birth of Christ we will need to glean facts from both the Greek text and the culture of the ancient Near East (which, by the way, existed in many parts there until quite recently). Too often the Greek text alone has been used to try to reveal biblical truth. The Greek text alone is not enough to rebuild the truth of the biblical events for a very simple reason: when something in a culture is usual, well known, normal, or “standard operating procedure,” it is not written about in detail. For example, if I write a letter to a friend about my months of being with my son as he recovered from being wounded in battle, I might say, “I drove to the hospital every day.” I would never write: “I went to the hospital in my car, which is a large metal and plastic mobility device on wheels, with a gasoline engine that starts when an ignition key is turned, and I made it move by pedals on the floor, (etc).” It would be ridiculous to write that. Why? Because everyone in today’s culture knows exactly what I mean when I say, “I drove to the hospital.” Perhaps 2000 years from now, if culture has changed so much that only a few historians know what a car is, they might wish we described our driving in more detail, but that is not necessary today. In the same way, things that were part of the everyday culture of the Bible times were not described in detail in their writings. We have to learn about the ordinary things of ancient life by piecing together details from many texts and writings, by using archaeology to study the material a culture left to us, and by studying any cultures that still live the same way.

What we will see as we examine the biblical record from both the Greek text and the culture of the times is that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem some time before she gave birth and were taken into the home of a local resident, likely a relative who was also of the family of David, in whose home Mary gave birth. Although most English versions have the phrase, “there was no room for them in the inn,” we will see that phrase has been both mistranslated and misinterpreted.

Welcomed into a Private Home

Before we look at the mistranslations of “room” and “inn,” however, let us look at some reasons Joseph and Mary could have found a place to stay. [5] First, Joseph was returning to his town of origin. Historical memories are long in the Middle East, and family support is very strong. For example, Paul knew he was a descendant of Benjamin (Phil. 3:5), even though Benjamin lived more than 1500 years earlier than he did. Given the long family memories in Hebrew culture, once Joseph told people that both he and Mary were descendants of families from Bethlehem, many homes would be open to them. In fact, it is likely that Joseph and Mary already knew of relatives in Bethlehem and may well have gone to those homes first to find lodging. As we see the true story of Christ’s birth develop, that seems like a very strong possibility.

Second, not just one, but both Joseph and Mary were “royals,” because they were both from the royal line of David. David is so famous in Bethlehem that it is called, “the city of David” (Luke 2:4 – KJV). Being from that famous family would have meant that most homes would open their doors to them if only for that fact alone. Being able to host a couple that was direct descendants of David would have been an honor and privilege.

Third, in every culture women about to give birth are given special help, and the village of Bethlehem would be no different. The New Testament scholar Kenneth Bailey, who has spent his life living in the East and teaching in Universities in Egypt and Lebanon, properly understands the heart of village life in Palestine and points out that Joseph and Mary would never have been turned away in their hour of need. He says:

“Was there no sense of honor in Bethlehem? Surely the community would have sensed its responsibility to help Joseph find adequate shelter for Mary and provide the care she needed. To turn away a descendent of David in the city of David would be an unspeakable shame to the entire village.” [6]

Fourth, and very importantly, the shepherds who came to see Jesus shortly after his birth knew that he was the promised Messiah and their Savior. The angel had made that very clear to them. When they found Joseph, Mary, and their Savior, and if they in any way felt that he was not being treated well, they would have been scandalized and outraged, and immediately taken them home to their own houses. The fact that they did no such thing, but left the new family where they were and went to tell the good news to the whole area, indicates they felt Joseph, Mary, and the baby were being well cared for.

It is important that we properly understand the record of the birth of Christ. The night that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem they were not rejected by a local hotel that had its “No Vacancy” sign turned on. Instead, they were taken into the private home of a caring family, who let them stay in the family living quarters. This type of giving and joy of service demonstrates the true meaning of Christmas.

There was No Space in the Guestroom

Let’s read, properly translate, and correctly understand what happened when Jesus was born.

Luke 2:7
and she [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The phrase “no room in the inn” is a mistranslation that continues to support the misunderstanding about the birth of Christ. Two words we must understand to properly interpret the biblical account are topos, which most versions translate as “room,” and kataluma, which most versions translate as “inn.” The word topos occurs more than ninety times in the New Testament. It does not refer to “a room,” like we think of a hotel room, or a bedroom, but simply to a place, or a space in a given area. The text is not saying there was no “room” for Joseph and Mary as in the sense of a hotel room, but rather that there was no “space” for them. Space where? Not in the “inn,” but in the kataluma. What is a kataluma? In the Gospel record it is a “lodging place” or “guest room,” not a commercial lodge, or inn. There was no space for Joseph and Mary in the guest room because it was already full. It is noteworthy that even Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon notes that if Luke 2:7 had meant to say “inn” in the sense of a hotel, there is a better Greek word that is used elsewhere in Luke. [7]

The normal Greek word for “inn” is pandocheion, and it refers to a public house for the reception of strangers (caravansarykhan, inn; we would say hotel or motel). The word pandocheion was used not only by the Greeks, but also as a loan-word for “inn” or a commercial lodging place in Hebrew, Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, and Turkish. Luke uses the word pandocheion in the parable of the Good Samaritan when the Samaritan took the man who was mugged to a public inn (Luke 10:34).

In contrast to the public inn (pandocheion), both Mark and Luke use kataluma in their Gospels as a “guest room” in someone’s house (Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11). When finding a place to eat the Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus tells them to say to the owner of the house, “…The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room [kataluma], where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” (Luke 22:11). So in both Mark and Luke, the kataluma is a guest room in a house, not an inn or hotel.

The gospel of Luke also uses the verb form of kataluma, which is kataluo, “to find rest or lodging.” When Zacchaeus the tax collector brings Jesus home for a meal, the Bible says that Jesus goes “to be the guest” [kataluo] at Zacchaeus’ house (Luke 19:7). So Luke uses both the noun kataluma and the verb kataluo to refer to a room in someone’s house. [8] The fact that pandocheion is a better word for “inn” than kataluma, along with the fact that Luke used pandocheionfor an “inn” and kataluma for a guest room, is very solid evidence that Luke is telling us the family who took in Joseph and Mary had “no space” in their “guest room.” Thus the Bible should not be translated to say there was no room for them in the inn, but rather there was “no space for them in the guest room.” It is noteworthy that Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, done by Robert Young, the same man who produced Young’s Concordance to the Bible, translates Luke 2:7 as follows: “…there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.”

One thing that is left out of the biblical record is why the guest room was full. Although we will never know for sure, there are a couple of possibilities. First, if Jesus was born when we of Spirit & Truth Fellowship think he was, the first day of Tishri, it is possible that Jerusalem and the surrounding region was already experiencing a large influx of people for the season of the year, because it had the largest number of sacred days and feasts. The month of Tishri (usually around our September) had the Feast of Trumpets (Tishri 1), the Day of Atonement (Tishri 10), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Tishri 15-22), and anyone who was traveling a very long distance to be at Jerusalem for any of them might have wanted to be there for the entire festival season. Also, Luke tells us the reason that Joseph traveled to Bethlehem was due to the Caesar’s tax registration (Luke 2:1-4), and it is possible that other family members besides Joseph had decided to travel to Bethlehem at that time, when they could both register for the tax and be part of the celebrations in Jerusalem. [9]

Common Features of an Eastern Life

There are a few things about ordinary houses and ordinary life in first century Palestine that we must know in order to understand the birth of Jesus. One is that it was quite common for houses in the Middle East to have a guest room where guests, and even strangers, could stay. Showing hospitality to strangers has always been a huge part of Eastern life, and is written about in the Bible and in many books on the customs of the Bible. Several biblical records show strangers being given hospitality, including the record of Lot (Gen. 19:1-4), the man in Gibeah (Judg. 19:19-21), and the Shunamite woman, who showed hospitality to Elisha by building a guest room just for him (2 Kings 4:10). Giving hospitality is a command for Christian leaders as well (1 Tim. 3:2).

Even poor people could have a guest room because it did not have to be furnished or have an adjoining bathroom and shower. People did not generally sleep on beds, but traveled with their own blankets that they slept on at night, so sleeping arrangements were no problem. Tables and chairs were not used in the common homes of first century Palestinians, and the bathroom was a pot, or a place outside. So the average guest room was simply a small, empty room, offering shelter and a place of safety. The guest room provided privacy for the guests as well as the family, because one-room homes were common. Our modern houses with many rooms were simply not the norm in a village of the first century. Quite often a family lived in a one-room house, in which all family activities occurred. They pulled their bedrolls out at night and slept on the floor, and simply rolled them up again in the morning. Of course, the Bible does not specify that Joseph and Mary were taken into a one-room house, but even if it were a larger, two-room house Jesus would still have been born in the family room of the house. Single room dwellings were so common, however, that when Jesus taught that a lighted oil lamp (sometimes mistranslated as “candle”) was lit and put on a stand, it would give light “to everyone in the house” (Matt. 5:15).

Another thing we must understand about houses in the East is that it was common for people to bring their animals, such as the family donkey, a couple of milk goats, or a cow or two, into the home at night. Such animals were very valuable, and the people brought them in at night to keep them from being stolen and to protect them from harm. Also, the animals added heat to the house, which would be very welcome on chilly nights. The woman in Endor who King Saul visited at night had her calf in the house with her: “And the woman had a fat calf in the house” (1 Sam. 28:24, KJV). [10] Of course, if the family were shepherds or herdsmen, they would not bring the whole flock or herd into the house, but would have a family member or hired guard watch them in the field, just as the shepherds were in the field on the night Jesus was born.

It was a common practice to raise the floor of the part of the house where the family lived, and keep the animals in an area that was a little lower. [11] Knowing this helps us understand Luke 2:6 and also where that idea that Jesus was born in a stable came from. Jesus was laid in a manger, which is an open trough, box, or bin, where the animal food was placed so the animals could feed easily. In Western society, mangers are in barns or stables, so if Jesus was laid in a manger it made sense he was born in a stable. However, in Eastern society, where the animals grazed outside during the day and were brought into the house at night, the manger was in the house. Having the manger in the house kept the animals calm and contented in the tighter quarters of the house, just as many modern farm animals have a feeding trough in their stall stay calm and content.

Everyone knew the manger was in the house, so when the Bible says that Jesus was laid in a manger “because” there was no space in the guest room, any Easterner would understand perfectly that the guest room was full so Jesus was born in the main part of the house where the family and animals stayed. Sometime after his birth he was safely placed in the manger, which would have been filled with clean hay or straw and would have been the perfect size for him. This was not to demean him in any way, but to care for him. The protective walls of the manger kept him safely guarded and away from busy feet and a bustling household, as well as warm and protected from any drafts or cold air in the home.

Another thing that helps us understand the Christmas story is understanding Eastern hospitality. In the East, guests were given special treatment of all kinds, including behavior that seems very extreme to us. For example, in the record of Lot and the two strangers, Lot would have handed over his own daughters to the mob before surrendering his guests (Gen. 19:8). Similarly, the people with whom Joseph and Mary stayed would never displace their guests from the guest room, but instead would inconvenience themselves, graciously bringing the couple into their living space.

Another thing we need to know is that Mary and Joseph would not have been alone when Jesus was born. Actually, Joseph would not have been there at all, while the women of the household, along with the women of the family staying in the guest room, most likely the village midwife, and perhaps even wise and experienced women from the neighborhood, would have been present. They would have shooed Joseph and the rest of the men out of the house some time during Mary’s labor (actually, the men would have graciously left on their own, which was also standard procedure in that culture). This is all completely normal for birth in a village in Israel.

Someone with a modern Western mindset may say, “Well, the Bible does not say those women were there.” Of course not. We remind the reader that if something was normal for the culture, it was written about only rarely, if ever. The details of a woman giving birth are never given in the Bible. Is someone going to insist that none of the women in the Bible who are mentioned giving birth (and there are dozens of them) had other women to help them just because those helpers are not specifically mentioned? That would be absurd. No details of the birth would be given in the Bible because births were a “normal” part of life, and no first-century reader in Palestine would expect anything different than what usually happens with a village birth. In fact, if the women of the household had not been there to help, that would have been so unusual (and seemingly coldhearted) that it would probably be written about in the Bible.

While Mary was in labor and giving birth in the house, the man who owned the house, along with his sons and Joseph, would have been outside or perhaps in the home of a neighbor, giving Mary the privacy she needed during the birth of Jesus. [12] Once Jesus was born, a woman would announce that a baby boy had been born, and there would be shouting, music, and joyful partying. Of course the men would be allowed back in the house after there had been adequate time after the birth to get things back in proper order and make sure Jesus and Mary were comfortable. Thus baby Jesus would have been born in normal circumstances, with Mary being helped and cared for by the women around her while the men waited outside to hear the news of the birth.

The Christmas Story

So we see that the way the birth of Jesus actually happened is considerably different than what is commonly taught. It is not that Bethlehem was full of cold-hearted townspeople who would not take special care of a young woman about to have her first child.

Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem at least a few days before Mary gave birth, and were taken in by one of the local homes, most likely that of a relative. The host family already had guests in the kataluma, the guest room, so there was no space (topos) for them there. Therefore, the homeowners graciously made room for Joseph and Mary in their own living quarters, treating them like family. When Mary went into labor, the men left their own home to give her privacy, and the women of the household, likely along with the village midwife, came to Mary’s side for help and support. When Mary gave birth to our Lord and Savior late in the evening (after sunset) or at night, Joseph and the men would have been told the news, and there would have been much jubilation and revelry, which was always a traditional part of the birth of a baby boy, particularly if it was a first child. [13] Sometime later the men would have been called back into the house to see the new baby boy.

Not too long after Jesus was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes, dedicated to God, and placed in a perfect spot, the manger in the family home, which would have been cleaned and made up with fresh hay or straw. No doubt the news soon spread around the village that a baby boy had been born (the music and shouting would have helped that happen), and that both the mother and baby were doing well, but this kind of news was common in village life. However, soon there was news that was anything but common. Shepherds showed up from a nearby field to see the newborn child, and after seeing him, went out and told the village that a great light had shined around them, that they had seen an army of angels on the hillsides, and that an angel had told them that this baby was no ordinary baby, but the Messiah, the Savior. Their report caused great wonder all over the region, and resulted in glory and praise to God.

The story of the birth of Christ reveals what we today consider to be the true spirit of Christmas. Not people closing their hearts and homes to a couple in need, but rather people opening both their hearts and their homes, and joyfully giving to others in need and helping where they can. It is wonderful that the Christ, who gave so much to so many, was born in circumstances in which people were so giving to him.

Endnotes

[1] I use “Christmas story” in this article because of its familiarly in our culture, but it is important to know that Jesus was born in the Fall of the year, likely September, and not in December
[2] Wilhelm Schneemelcher, editor, New Testament Apocrypha (The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1963), “The Protevangelium of James,” pp. 370-388. It is possible, but not likely, that it dates as early as 150 A.D.
[3] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, (Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, MN, 1946), p. 126.
[4] Some versions, such as the NASB say Judah, while some say “Judea.” The correct translation is Judah, and it refers to the ancient tribal area of Judah, not the Roman province of Judea. The Greek is iouda, which Luke uses for Judah, usually the name of a man and here the tribal area named after the man, Judah, the son of Jacob. If Luke had meant Roman Judea, he would have used ioudaia as he did 10 places in Luke and 12 in Acts. Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
[5] These reasons are given in Kenneth Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, (IVP Academic, Downers Grove, IL, 2008), pp. 25-37, and credit must go to him for enlightening me to the basic truth in this article and for making many of the points I have covered; that Jesus was born in the home of a loving family in Bethlehem, who opened their home to Joseph and Mary.
[6] Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, p. 26.
[7] Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon says of kataluma: “lodging place. The sense inn is possible in Lk 2:7, but in 10:34 Luke uses pandocheion, the more specific term for innKataluma is therefore best understood here as lodging or guest-room.”
[8] In the New Testament, the only other use of the verb kataluo is also in Luke, and occurs in Luke 9:12 in the record of the feeding of the 5,000. The disciples wanted Jesus to send away the multitude so they could “find lodging” and get something to eat. Although the disciples spoke in a general sense, in the culture of the East, where showing hospitality was an important part of family life, they would have had in mind that these 5000 would find lodging with other people, and not that they would find local hotels to stay in. Public inns have been around a long time, and much could be written about them. In the first place, there were not many of them. Certainly not enough for 5000 men and their families to stay. Beyond that, however, both those inns that were modeled after the inns of the Greco-Roman culture and those with roots in the Eastern culture were not wonderful places to stay, like the hotels we have today. They were loud and dirty places, and often filled with riff-raff and ruffians. They were centers of prostitution and drunken parties (often the inn provided food for sale and prostitutes for rent), and the rooms were not rented privately, as in our modern hotels. Instead, guests rented a space on the floor to sleep (there were no beds), and it was anyone’s guess who might be in the room with you, renting the space on the floor next to you (and anyone’s guess if they would actually sleep or stay up all night engaged in activities with friends or prostitutes). In contrast to staying in a public inn, taking in travelers for the night was a long established biblical custom, going back to Genesis (cp. Gen. 19:1-3), and that is what the disciples would have thought about when they knew Jesus’ audience needed to find a place to stay.
[9] Caesar wanted everyone to be registered for taxation, so some versions read “enrolled,” some “registered,” some “taxed,” some refer to a “census,” etc. It was a registration, or enrollment, for taxation.
[10] The translation “in the house” is correct, and is used in the more literal translations such as the KJV, ESV, NASB, etc.
[11] Fred Wight, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands (Moody Press, Chicago, 1953), p. 34; Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, pp. 28-33. The New Testament scholar John Nolland also mentions the area for animals being somewhat lower than where the people ate and slept: “…it is best to think of an overcrowded Palestinian peasant home: a single-roomed home with an animal stall under the same roof (frequently to be distinguished from the family living quarters by the raised platform floor of the latter). John Nolland, Word Biblical Commentary (Nelson Reference and Electronic, Colombia, 1989), p. 105.
[12] We know Jesus’ birth was late in the evening, after sunset, or at night, because the shepherds were in the fields at night when the angel appeared to them (Luke 2:8 – KJV), and told them the Christ was born “this day.” Since “this day” started at sunset, as all Jewish days do, then the Messiah was born after sunset.
[13] We Westerners are used to thinking of Mary’s birth night as being silent and peaceful (note the song, “Silent Night”), but the birth of a boy is always the time for a party in village life.

Courtesy of https://www.truthortradition.com/articles/retelling-the-christmas-story

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment