Bible Studies Online International
www.biblestudiesonline.org.uk 1COR 15:22 FOR AS IN ADAM ALL DIE, EVEN SO IN CHRIST SHALL ALL BE MADE ALIVE ©Photos above Marafilm CoverDanilo Ascione photo Back cover Peter Saharov
In this month’s issue: 2.
The Frightful Ruins
His Yoke is Easy
Does God Have a Plan for My Life (2)? Daniel Kolenda (CfaN)
Reader’s Articles I. Mwagi, Lewis Armstrong, S. Ogutu (Kenya, USA)
Prophet of the Broken Heart (2)
Mathew Bartlett (UK)
The Message of Mark (6)
Mathew Bartlett (UK)
Take and Use Home Bible Study
Mathew Bartlett (UK)
The Book of Esther (7)
A Summary of Truth
In Depth Study – 1 Corinthians 1 (2)
Mathew Bartlett (UK)
Jesus Before Pilate
Mathew Bartlett (UK)
Edwin & Lillian Harvey (USA) Ken Legg (Australia)
Derek Williams (UK) Ramon Hunston (Canada)
©Photos above © Photoquest. Cover: © Photowitch Left © from top: Michael Rhea, Stoupa, SteveHeap, Sebastian Grecu, and David Asch. Facing page: Stoup, Back Cover: Michael Rhea
IN THIS ISSUE
The Frightful Ruins An extract from “Royal Insignia” by Edwin & Lillian Harvey
OUT NOW ON KINDLE! Price $4.22 (FREE to Amazon Prime Members!) Reproduced by kind permission of Harvey Publishers. www.harveycp.com
Take away her battlements; for they are not the Lord’s (Jer. 5:10). MADAM Guyon, a devout, French Catholic woman of noble birth, attained great spiritual wisdom, through many revelations from the Holy Spirit. Her light was far in advance of most of her contemporaries, and God was enabled to use her mightily in the salvation of nuns, priests, and even much higher dignitaries within the Roman Catholic Church. For this she suffered banishment again and again, was denounced by her own church, and finally imprisoned within the Bastille. When asked to write her autobiography, she placed foremost in the book the most important truth she had gleaned throughout her varied history. She has left us these classic words: “You will not attain sanctification save by much trouble and labour, and by a road which will appear to you quite contrary to your expectation. You will not, however, be surprised at it if you are convinced that God does not establish His great works except upon ‘the nothing.’ It seems that He destroys in order to build. He does it so in order that this temple He destines for Himself, built even with much pomp and majesty, but built nonetheless by the hand of man, should be previously so destroyed, that there remains not one stone upon another. “It is these frightful ruins which will be used by the Holy Spirit to construct a temple which will not be built by the
hand of men, but by His power alone. God chooses for carrying out His works either converted sinners whose past iniquity serves as counterpoise to the exaltation, or else persons in whom He destroys and overthrows that ‘own’ righteousness, and that temple built by the hand of men, so built upon quicksand, which is the resting on the created, and in these same works, in place of being founded on the living stone, Jesus Christ. All that He has come to establish, by entering the world, is effected by the overthrow and destruction of the same thing He wished to build. He established His Church in a manner that seemed to destroy it. Oh, if men knew how opposed is the ‘own’ righteousness to the designs of God, we should have an eternal subject of humiliation and distrust of what at present constitutes our sole support.” My bleak flagpole was stripped bare until my Master ran His colours up. — Rachel Rice. Failure, the breaking down of men’s confidences, the going to pieces of men’s plans—failure means many things. One of the things which it means is this: that God will not let the soul hide behind any protection which He knows is insecure. His whole love binds Him to let the soul know its blunder be- fore it is too late. . . . If you have known any such experience as that, you have been taken into one of the richest rooms of God’s schoolhouse, one of the rooms in which He makes His ripest and completest scholars. 2
Oh, if our souls today could mount to the height of some such prayer as this: “Lord, if I am building around the prosperity of my life any battlements which are not Thine, any defences of deceit or injustice or selfishness, break down those battlements whatever pain it brings, how- ever it may seem to leave my hopes exposed.” —Phillips Brooks. Charles Spurgeon, the preacher who constantly depended upon the prayers of his people, always had a full house to which to preach. The secret of his usefulness might be discovered in his own words: “It seems that Jehovah’s way is to lower those whom He means to raise and to strip those whom He intends to clothe. If it is His way, it is the wisest and best way. If I am now enduring the bringing low, I may well rejoice, because I see in it the preface to the lifting up. The more we are humbled by grace, the more we shall be exalted in glory. That impoverishment which will be overruled for our enrichment is to be welcomed. “Oh, Lord, Thou hast taken me down of late, and made me feel my insignificance and sin. It is not a pleasant experience, but I pray Thee make it a profitable one to me. Oh, that Thou wouldst thus fit me to bear a greater weight of delight and of usefulness, and when I am ready for it, then grant it to me, for Christ’s sake! Amen.”—Unknown.
His Yoke is Easy by Ken Legg Image: © Steveheap
Have you noticed that everyone is busy, but they still have time to tell you how busy they are! We wear stress like a badge of honour. The busier we are the more important we feel. So often you hear people say they are ‘stressed out’. Stress is a fact of life. All living involves some stress. The only stress-free zone is the grave. Stress is simply the response your body makes to any demand you place upon it. In that sense stress is unavoidable. Not all stress is bad. In fact, a certain amount of stress is necessary for renewal and growth. Also, many of us work better under stress. Efficiency often increases as stress increases. The problem is that when stress is prolonged it becomes harmful. The same adrenaline that prepares the body for action is also a toxin and may lead to such things as sickness, insomnia, hypertension and even premature ageing. When this happens, stress becomes distress. Whilst ‘stress’ is not mentioned in the Bible, ‘distress’ is. A popular theory is that stress is almost exclusive to this age because of the incredible lifestyle we live, due to modern technology, etc. But stress is not peculiar to
this generation. Even in His day, Jesus exhorted His disciples not to worry. Then He gave this beautiful invitation: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt.11:28-30). What did Jesus mean when He said His yoke is easy and His burden is light? The Yoke – Passing the Strain A yoke makes an animal’s load easier by enabling the weight to be distributed. A young bullock may be yoked to an ox in order to be trained, but in reality it is the ox that bears the load. In a similar way the yoke of Christ is easy. The word ‘easy’ is a translation of the Greek word chrestos meaning better, easy, serviceable, good and pleasant. The point is that the yoke of Christ is tailor-made for our lives. We were meant to live Christdependent lives; learning to pass the strain to Him, just as a young bullock does to an older ox. To illustrate this for us Jesus 3
encouraged us to observe His life. He said, “Learn from Me.” How did Jesus live? He experienced enormous stress on numerous occasions; but none more so than the stress He endured just prior to the cross. How did He cope? Jesus was yoked to His Father and leaned upon Him. For example: On the eve of His crucifixion He said, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (Jn. 12:27-28) Later He said to the disciples, “The hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered. Each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (Jn.16:32) In Gethsemane, the stress for Him was so intense that blood was forced through the pores of His skin. We read, again, that He was only able to endure this because He prayed to His Father. And the Father responded by sending an angel to strengthen Him. As Jesus passed the strain to His Father, so we are to learn to cast all our cares upon Him. As we do this we, too, will experience grace in our times of need.
The Burden – Checking The Load Christ’s burden is light. If we are stressed because of the load we are carrying we must ask, “Who’s burden am I carrying?” Sometimes we carry a load that has been imposed upon us by others. We must learn to say, ‘No’ to the burdens that others would place us under. If we try to serve everyone we will not be free to serve the ones God wants us to serve. Then, at times, we place ourselves under self-imposed burdens. These burdens are self-appointed goals. They are usually unrealistic because they depend on conditions and people outside of our control for their fulfilment. When we live this way, in order to fulfil our self-imposed goals we try to manipulate or control people. When they do not comply with our plans and block our goals we get angry or become miserable. I once attended a church growth conference where pastors were encouraged to set numerical growth goals for their churches. This meant, for example, believing that my local church would grow by, say, 10% over the next year.
Yet, by setting growth goals based on attendance I had taken responsibility for things God had never asked of me. I was not carrying His burden, but one that was self-inflicted.
Are you exhausted trying to live the Christian life, and wonder about that ‘easy yoke’ and ‘light burden’ Jesus spoke of? Grace Roots will take you on a 40 day journey, designed to give you a legalism-detox and soak you in the grace of God. You will learn:
I later discovered that Christ is responsible for the growth of the church. He said, “I will build My church” (Matt.16:18). He never told me to. Instead, He has called me to preach, teach, pray, counsel, lead and make disciples of those He brings to me. These are things I can do, by His grace. No one and nothing can block a godly goal for my life, except me.
What God is really like and how to destroy false, ‘religious’ images of Him
Who is defining you right now – your critic or Christ
Why you wouldn’t want to be anyone other than you!
What it means to experience present-tense grace
Some of the myths about grace, and how to refute them
How to enjoy the blessings of the righteous
What faith is and what it is not
Why God uses ordinary people – just like you!
How to have an effective ministry
What is the goal of all true ministry
How secure you are in Christ – both for time and eternity
And much more...
When we replace our goals with those things God has called us to do, stress becomes manageable. Dear friend, do you feel distressed at times? First, understand that the life God has called you to, is a life under the yoke with His Son. Learn to pass the strain to Him. Stop trying to live for Him; and let Him live through you. Then check whether the load you are carrying is selfimposed or has been inflicted upon you by others. Remember, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (This article is an excerpt from Ken's new book Grace Roots)
I set goals for our church and had a graph on the wall to track the growth. When the graph went up I was ecstatic. But when it went down through low attendance I became depressed. The problem is that by becoming responsible for things God had never made me responsible for, I had lost control of my life. I had no power over whether people would attend church or not. Some may have been unable to attend due to things like illness, holidays, having visitors, etc. I had no way of influencing these circumstances.
Order your copy online The pdf version is just $9 Australian Dollars Print version $19 ($22 outside Australia) 4
Does God Really Have a Plan for My Life? A Bible Study by Daniel Kolenda (CfaN) Photo: © Sebastian Grecu Part 2: God - The Master Artist In the winepress we find a trembling, perspiring coward hiding for his life when the Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and calls him a “mighty man of [fearless] courage.” At first those words almost sound like cruel sarcasm, but there was no smirk on the angel’s face. God was not mocking Gideon, nor did He have Gideon confused with someone else. God saw something in Gideon that no one else saw, including Gideon himself. How comforting it is to know that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Oh, my friend, when you understand what God sees when He looks at you, it will change your life. Let me explain. In the early 1500s a twenty-fiveyear-old artist and sculptor labored tirelessly with hammer and chisel over a colossal block of cold marble. Other artists had rejected the stone because it had defects, so it sat untouched for several decades before this young sculptor saw something beautiful in it. He worked night and day with obsessive dedication. When someone asked him why he was working so hard on that old stone, he replied, “Because there is an
angel in that rock that wants to come out.” Nearly three years after starting his work, the young artist, Michelangelo, unveiled his enduring masterpiece: a seventeen-foot-tall sculpture that is known the world over as David. Anyone who is an artisan will acknowledge that before a masterpiece is ever crafted, it exists in the mind of its creator. Before a brush strokes the canvas, before a chisel touches the stone, before the clay is placed on the potter’s wheel, before the artist creates a painting, sculpture, or piece of pottery, before the artist has anything tangible to display, he first and foremost has a dream. In the artist’s mind he already sees what he will create before it exists in the physical world. Michelangelo saw something in that block of stone long before anyone else did. Other artists saw impossible defects and imperfections, but Michelangelo saw a masterpiece trapped in that rejected rock, and he worked diligently to set it free. Our God is the master artist! Consider the unfathomable wonder of creation, which even in its fallen condition gives us a fleeting glimpse into the genius of its Creator who, in His eternal 5
mind, saw every detail down to the smallest particle while there was still nothing. Just think about this: the architect of the universe spoke the worlds into existence, but He crafted Adam with His own hands and breathed into him with His own mouth! God has crowned His creation with a masterpiece, which is distinguished because it is “handmade” by the great Creator! And God continues to fashion mankind with His own hands. Psalm 139:13 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb” (nas). The Master of the universe, the eternal, immortal, invisible, allwise God, made you with His own hands! But before He began to weave you together in your mother’s womb, He saw you in His eternal mind, down to the smallest detail. And before you were ever born, He had a dream for your life. Perhaps as He was weaving you together in your mother’s womb, He said, “I’m going to make this boy into a mighty man of fearless courage!” Or, “I’m going to make this little girl into a mighty prophetess to her generation!” Whatever His dream for your life might be, one thing is for sure: His will for your life is beyond what you could ask or think!
Christ’s Compassion in Matthew’s Gospel by Lewis A. Armstrong (USA) Reproduced with kind permission Christ for all Nations.
Matt. 9:35 What did the compassion of Jesus lead to? Matt. 9:36 What does it mean for Christ to show compassion? Matt. 14:14 What moved Christ to show compassion? Matt. 15:32 What moved Christ to compassion on this occasion? Matt. 18:27 What can be the result of Christ’s compassion for us?
An extract from Daniel’s new book- Live before you die. £9.99 BUY NOW. Consider making a donation to CfaN by following this link: donate to CfaN
Matt. 20:34 What resulted because of the compassion of Jesus? Matt. 25:37-40 In what ways should we show compassion?
This is a brief abstract from an overview of compassion through the whole Bible. To read this article in full click here
Exercise your Faith! By Pastor Samuel Ogutu
Issac Mwagi (Kenya) God makes away where there seems to be away. He opens a door where doors seem to be shut. May we ask God to increase of faith so that we can learn fully to trust in our God. Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel… I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; (Isa. 43:14-16)
At one point in my life I did not believe I would have a family filled with love and a call of God on my life that would take me around the world. That was before I exercised FAITH. When you walk in faith, everything changes because you enter a realm of life without limits! All the blessings of God and the ability to transform seemingly impossible circumstances become real in the realm of faith. Hebrews 11:6 tells us “. . . without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” I want to share the rewards of faith with you today—you are blessed beyond measure, and you have unlimited access to God’s amazing resources. (The doors of Heaven are open today! Amen?) Jesus said faith makes anything possible. Look at what He was trying to teach us in Mark 11:23–24 (KJV) . . .“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass . . . What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them”. When I understood God saying through His Word, “You can do it, believe in 6 Me and believe that I AM a rewarder!”—that day radically changed me.
Prophet of the Broken Heart: The Cry of Hosea
Extract from our new book: not yet released! Chapter 3 God’s Love for the Undeserving 3:1-2 The LORD said to me, "Go, show love to your wife again, even though she loves another man and continually commits adultery. Likewise, the LORD loves the Israelites although they turn to other gods and love to offer raisin cakes to idols." So I paid fifteen shekels of silver and about seven bushels of barley to purchase her.
After revealing in chapter two that His will and purpose for Israel was ultimately to restore her to himself, God directs Hosea on a course of action which would illustrates that purpose and demonstrate His love for Israel. In spite of all their backsliding, God still loved and would redeem His undeserving people. His instruction to Hosea signified this, where God speaks of Israel, not as His "wife", but as "a woman"; she no longer deserved the title of "wife", and yet she was still loved as a wife.
At this time Hosea's wife Gomer was living with one of her lovers. In order to demonstrate God's love for his unfaithful people, Hosea was instructed to go and bring Gomer back to his home. No doubt Hosea had loved Gomer when he married her; and in spite of her adulteries, it is clear that he loved her still. It cost Hosea to get her back, for she had fallen so low that she had become the slave of the man she lived with. Hence Hosea had to pay the price of the slave, 30 shekels of silver, to redeem her; half of which he paid in cash and half in kind. (Exodus 21:32). Hosea’s action illustrates God's love not only for Israel, but also for the whole world. In spite of our sin, God continues to love all humankind (John 3:16). Although we had left God behind us in order to pursue our own way (Isa. 53:6), God came to earth looking for wayward humanity in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. It was His purpose to redeem us and bring us home again to God. Christ demonstrated God's love for the undeserving and the unlovely (Rom. 5:8). Just like Gomer we had become slaves to sin and Satan (John 8:34); but Christ has redeemed us, his own death being the price paid to buy us back for God (Eph. 1:7). Whenever a Jewish slave was redeemed, he did not then become the slave to his redeemer; instead he served for wages as a free man. So too Jesus Christ sets us free from slavery to sin, not that we might serve him under compulsion as His slave, but that we might 7
serve Him willingly, because of our love for Him. We love Him because He first loved us and redeemed us for God by His blood. Yet we must remember that since Christ has bought us we truly belong to Him (1 Cor. 6:20). Even so, belonging to the Lord and living for Him is liberty, not slavery. F. Tatford points out that the law required that "a divorced wife who had lived with another man could not return to her former husband” (Deut. 24:4). This was confirmed many years later by Jeremiah (Jer. 3:1). But Tatford also says, "As for Israel, so for Gomer, grace was greater than law, and mercy went further than legal requirements." So, thankfully, it is in our case too. Christ has satisfied the demands of the law so that he can give us what the law never could. We have received God's grace through righteousness, in order that we might be made righteous (Rom. 5:21; John 1:14). 3:3 Then I told her, "You must live with me many days; you must not commit adultery or have sexual intercourse with another man, and I also will wait for you."
To bring Gomer home was one thing, but to cure her of her unfaithful propensity was quite another. Guided by God, Hosea imposed a period of strict discipline to correct his erring wife. He placed her under a kind of house arrest. She was not to go out and mix with other people (Deut. 21:13) and she was charged not to have sexual intercourse with any other man. Hosea in turn promised
that he would not sleep with any other woman, nor would he resume conjugal relations with his wife until the period of discipline was over. The aim was to redirect Gomer's affections and desires back to her husband alone. It must be stressed that this period of discipline was only for a time, until Hosea was satisfied that his wife would remain faithful to him. It is obviously not the normal state of any marriage, nor should it be. The aim was for the couple to be reconciled. The problems of Hosea's marriage are not unique. Almost all married couples experience problems of one sort or another during their married lives. Whilst the "marriage guidance counsellor" or the minister may be able to give advice, at the end of the day, only if the couple in question are both prepared to resolve their differences and only if each is willing to give ground to the other, can progress be made to save a marriage in trouble. The passage of Hosea shows us that God's purpose is always directed toward reconciliation and for the mending of broken relationships. Discipline and Restoration for the Erring Nation 3:4 For the Israelites must live many days without a king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred fertility pillar, without ephod or idols.
Like Hosea with Gomer, God would impose a period of chastisement and discipline on the nation of Israel, after which Israel would return to him. They would experience a time of seclusion,
away from their lovers, so that they might think on their ways and return to the Lord. The "many days" spoken of were subsequent to the Assyrian invasion, where the land and people were largely destroyed and when those who remained were taken into slavery in a foreign land. They would have no rulers, no kings or princes to lead them. They would have no religious form left to them, neither the sacrifices nor worship proscribed in the law, nor the idolatrous religion they had adopted in Canaan. None of this would be available to them, and they would have no one but God left to turn to. It was God's purpose that during this time the people might think about their sin, turn in their hearts to seek God and let their affections and desires be directed to him alone. 3:5 Afterward, the Israelites will turn and seek the LORD their God and their Davidic king. Then they will submit to the LORD in fear and receive his blessings in the future.
At the end of this period of chastisement, God said that the nation of Israel would return and seek the Lord their God. It appears that this promise is yet to be completely fulfilled. For although in days gone by the people of Israel did return to their land and rebuild their temple, they still failed to recognise or accept Christ when He came. Their temple was destroyed and their nation scattered again for an even longer period. Even up to the present time, although Israel has once again returned to the land, there has been no nation8
wide revival, no general acceptance of Christ as Saviour. But a day is coming when the King here mentioned; a descendant of David; will come to take his throne, and the nation will accept him as their rightful king. From the days of the Assyrian invasion until now, Israel has not had a king. Their king did come to them - He came in humility, bringing salvation and riding on a donkey (Zech. 9:9) - but His people failed to recognise him. Together with their rulers they rejected and crucified him. Above his cross the title was written, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". This Jesus, a descendant of David will one day return to claim his throne (2 Tim. 2:8; Luke 1:32-33). This will happen in the latter days - at the end time - when the nation of Israel will receive Christ as Saviour, and so be born again. With renewed hearts they shall fear the Lord and his goodness to them; goodness like that which Joseph showed his estranged brothers. Even though at first they tried to kill him and sold him into slavery, yet later when he revealed himself to them as ruler of all Egypt, he forgave and provided for them. So will the coming King of Israel receive His repentant nation. Both Jewish and Gentile Christians already know the Lord Jesus Christ and have experienced his salvation, and the new nature which we have received from Him delights in the fear of the Lord. That is why we too will share in His glory and will reign with Him upon the earth (Rev. 5:10).
The Message of Mark
An Introduction to St. Mark’s Gospel
Chapter Six The Love of Jesus (Mark 14:1-16:20) Against a backdrop of the plot to kill Jesus, (14:1-2 and 14:1011) Mark paints a vivid picture of the love of Christ who gave himself for us. He shows us that: The Love of Jesus is:
A Personal Love (14:12-26) It was the last supper, Jesus’ final night in this world, as He tells His disciples that “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). On the night before his crucifixion, where else would Christ wish to be but with his disciples, who through His death and resurrection were to become His brothers and friends? Jesus was not ashamed of His love for the disciples, but was prepared to show it. John tells us that “Having loved his own who were in the world he loved them unto the end (fully)” (John 13:1). As they eat a meal together Jesus washes the feet of each one, an act of humility which reveals His genuine and personal love. Then they sing a psalm of praise together before heading out into the night. It was at the last supper that Christ instituted the communion service, a simple act in memory of Him - His body was about to be broken and His blood shed for them. It is at the communion that we remember Christ’s personal love for us. As Paul says, He is, “the Son of God who loved ME and gave himself for ME” (Gal 2: 20).
It is a Perfect Love (14:2-31 and 14:66-72) As they walk to the garden Jesus begins to reveal to the disciples that they will all desert him and flee. Peter’s protests of undying love fail to convince Jesus, who knows all things. He knew that Peter would deny Him at the very time when He needed him most. 9
Yet this does not affect the Lord’s love for Peter. Peter’s failure would forever remind him that it was because Jesus loved Him that he was saved, and not because he loved Jesus. Peter’s love was imperfect, but Christ’s was perfect. Peter claimed a love that would die; the Lord was about to demonstrate His love by dying for Peter. If Peter thought after his failure that the Lord would cast him off, then he had failed to understand the greatness of Christ’s love for him. John later describes Christ’s love as “Perfect love which casts out all fear” of rejection 1 John 4:18. In Luke we read that as Jesus was sentenced to death, Peter was calling down God’s curses on Himself to deny that he was a follower of Christ. Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter, with such a look of love and concern that broke Peter’s heart. That look said, “Ah, but you are mine, I do this for you, and I will not let you go.” Peter went outside and wept bitterly. Peter did not yet understand the love that Jesus had for him, but after the resurrection, by the sea of Galilee, Peter would be restored and re-commissioned as a messenger of the Lord, whose absolute love requires the response of absolute commitment (John 21:15-19). “Oh love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee: I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be.” George Matheson
It is a Purposeful Love (14:3242) As Christ approaches the garden of Gethsemane, He begins to enter His agony, an agony only He could face. The sorrow He felt was in itself sufficient to kill him (14:34). Asking His disciples, some further off and some nearby, to pray with Him, He falls on His face to intercede with God for the last time as a man, asking that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. Was it possible? Certainly, Christ did not have to suffer and die for the sin of the world. But there was no other way for lost sinners to be redeemed for God. This was the purpose for which he had come into the world (1 Tim. 1:15). This was God’s purpose in sending him (John 3:16). Realising this, in the agony of the moment, Christ purposes to go through with it - not for His own sake, but for ours. “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” (v36) An angel appears to strengthen him, lest the sorrow be too much for his humanity (Luke 22:43). (14:43-52 and 14:53-65) Having purposed that He will give his life (soul) an offering for sin (Isa. 53:10), and allow the smiters to smite him (Isa. 50:6); Christ approaches the arresting soldiers, led by Judas, to deliver himself up. At all times, as John emphasises, the Lord Jesus Christ was in control as he offered himself to God for our sins (John 10:17-18). Similarly, before the Sanhedrin, Christ allows himself to be mocked,
blasphemed and misjudged. For the first time in his life, Christ is struck. (14:65) He that allowed those blows to fall, and endured them for our sake, as part of the plan of our redemption. Heb. 12:3 Being led away to Pilate, Jesus Christ (15:1-15) witnesses a good confession (1 Tim. 6:13). The charge brought against him in this instance was true. He was born King of the Jews. Even then, Christ could have saved himself, but he did not, for he had purposed to die that he might save us.
It is a Propitiatory Love (15:1639) After the Chief Priests had got what they wanted from Pilate, Christ was led out to die on a wooden cross. The soldiers were used to this business. There were always ready for a bit of fun to break up the boredom. There is nothing new about the abuse of prisoners by soldiers. But there was greater venom in their treatment of Christ than any of those present would have admitted. It seems that every demon in hell, headed by Satan himself, had gathered to see off the Son of God. Remember that it was Satan who inspired Judas to betray Jesus (Luke 22:3), and it was Satan who sought to destroy Christ on the cross (1 Cor. 2:8). Today we see what they could not see. Hate’s worst crime is loves’ ultimate victory. For while it was Satan’s plan to destroy Christ on the cross, it was God’s plan that Christ might die to defeat death, 10
hell and Satan, and bring men from darkness to light, rescuing them from Satan’s power (Acts 26:18).
Was it the nails O Saviour, That bound thee to the tree? Nay, twas thine everlasting love, Thy love for me, for me.” K. Kelly Though Christ was baited to come down from the cross, it was His love for us that kept Him on the cross (John 15:13 and Rom. 5:8). Mark records that Jesus cried with a loud voice - but Luke tells us what He cried - “It is finished!” Before bowing his head, and dismissing his spirit. Christ’s death is propitiatory, for He offered His life as a sacrifice to appease God’s wrath. Our sin merited divine punishment (Rom. 6:23). Christ took the punishment for sin that we deserved and died in our place (Heb. 2:9 and 1 John 2:2).
It is a Productive Love (14:1-11 and 15:40-16:20) Christ’s love produces love in others Mark shows us how Jesus love was productive. We see Mary anointing his feet with perfume as
an act of loving devotion prior to his crucifixion (14:1-11). (15:42-47) We see Joseph and Nicodemus (John 19:38-39 - not mentioned by Mark) coming to devoutly bury Christ’s body in Joseph’s own tomb (Isaiah 53:9) his expensive gift being a sign of the esteem in which he held Jesus. We see the other women, who had been present at his death, following them to the tomb, purposing to again anoint his body. (15:40-41, 15:47, and 16:1). It is not that this anointing would be necessary after all that Nicodemus and Joseph had done (John 19:3940). It was rather that the women wanted to do something to demonstrate their love and devotion to a dead friend. Christ’s Life Produces Life in Others The women never did get to anoint the body of Jesus (16:1-8). For coming to the tomb they found it empty and if the testimony of angels was not sufficient to convince the apostles, the personal manifestation of Christ was. They would never show their love to him in quite the same way again. John spoke of the word of life which they had “seen, heard, and handled” (1 John 1:1). But from now on there would be a different relationship with the Lord. Once he had lived among them, now he would live within them.
20:17). From now on there would a spiritual not physical relationship. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer (2 Cor. 5:16). Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
Conclusion Having been received up to the highest place in heaven, Jesus Christ the Son of God is able to be present everywhere at the same time. The proof of this is that He is with every believer. As the risen Christ commissioned His disciples to go into the entire world and preach the gospel to every creature, so He commissions us today. His promise is that he will accompany us by the power of His Spirit and confirm His word with miraculous signs. The reason Mark wrote his gospel is that we, by knowing what Jesus did and taught, might believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. As we make this gospel known, our prayer is that it will produce the love and life of Christ in others, as it has in us.
This was the significance of Christ's words to Mary, the first to see the risen Lord. “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended” (John 11
The Message of Mark is an easy to follow Bible guide, introducing the gospel of Mark. The Message of Mark Paperback Now available also on Kindle: The Message of Mark KINDLE
The Love This home Bible study is to be used with ‘The Message of Mark” Part 6 featured in this month’s magazine. Read Mark Chapter 14 v1 to end. Against a backdrop of the plot to kill Jesus, Mark paints a vivid picture of the love of Christ who gave himself for us. Read each of the following sections. What does each section tell you about the love of Jesus? (14:12-26) _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ (14:27-31; 66-72) _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ (14:32-42) _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ (15:16-39) _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Read 14.1-11; 15.40 – end. What effect did the love of Christ have on Mary and on Joseph of Aramathea. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Read 16.1 Why do you think the women wanted to anoint Jesus body? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Read 16:1-8. The women never did get to anoint the body of Jesus. Describe the events of that resurrection Sunday as recorded by Mark. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ What great task has Jesus entrusted to his disciples until he comes again? ______________________________________________________________________ Why do you think Mark wrote his gospel? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 12
The Book of Esther
Chapter Seven: A brief Bible study by Derek Williams. Photo: ÂŠ Dreamstime Agency
Esther Makes Request Known
7.1. So the king and Haman came to dine with Queen Esther. At Queen Estherâ€™s request King Ahasuerus and Haman came and dine with her. 7.2. On the second day of the banquet of wine the king asked Esther, "What is your request, Queen Esther? It shall be granted to you. And what is your petition? Ask up to half the kingdom, and it shall be done!" It was not until the second day of the feast that the king asked Esther what her request was. For the third time he gives her the assurance that it would be granted to her up to half of his kingdom. The fact that the king had not changed his mind regarding his promise to
Esther gave her the confidence to make her request known to him. The children of God can have a greater confidence in God than what Esther had in the promises of the king for His promises are yes and Amen in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:20, 1 John 5:14). 7.3. Queen Esther replied, "If I have met with your approval, O king, and if the king is so inclined, grant me my life as my request, and my people as my petition. Therefore, with boldness she makes her request known acknowledging that the king has been gracious to her and asks that her life be spared and that of her people the Jews. It is because of Godâ€™s grace that every believer can come with boldness before the throne of God and make known their requests (Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 10:19). 13
7.4. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king's loss." Having asked for her life and that of her people she tells the king why their lives have been endangered by using some of the words that were in the decree recorded in chapter 3:13. They had been sold because those who killed, annihilated the Jews could take their possessions as their own. Also Haman had told the king that he would pay him 10,000 talents of silver to fulfil the decree. If they had been sold as slaves she would not have bothered the king although the loss to him of their service could never be compensated for by the enemy.
7.5. Then King Ahasuerus responded to Queen Esther, "Who is this individual? Where is this person to be found who is presumptuous enough to act in this way?" The king had obviously put out of his mind the decree that he had given his consent to, so asks Queen Esther who had dared to do this thing against him and his queen; where is he? 7.6. Esther replied, "The oppressor and enemy is this evil Haman!" Then Haman became terrified in the presence of the king and queen. Esther revealed that the enemy and adversary were none other than this wicked Haman. Having been exposed Haman became terrified before the king and queen.
Haman’s Downfall 7:710 7.7. In rage the king arose from the banquet of wine and withdrew to the palace garden. Meanwhile, Haman stood to beg Queen Esther for his life; for he realized that the king had now determined a catastrophic end for him. In his rage the king arose from the table and stormed out into the palace garden. In the meantime Haman stood before the Queen begging for his life; for he knew that the king had determined to have his life.
7.8. When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet of wine, Haman was throwing himself down on the couch where Esther was lying. The king exclaimed, "Will he also attempt to rape the queen while I am still in the building!" As these words left the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face. When the king returned from the garden he saw that Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Queen Esther was reclining. This further enraged the king for in appearance it looked as if Haman was attempting to rape the queen in his presence in his own palace! Even as the words left the king’s mouth the servants covered Haman’s face so that he could not 14
look upon the king’s face anymore, the death sentence. When a criminal was condemned by a Roman judge, he was delivered into the hands of the sergeant with these words: “Go, sergeant; cover his head, and hang him on the accursed tree.” 7.9. Harbona, one of the king's eunuchs, said, "Indeed, there is the gallows that Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke out in the king's behalf. It stands near Haman's home and is seventy-five feet high." The king said, "Hang him on it!" Harbona, who was one of the seven eunuchs who had previously been sent by the king to summon Queen Vashti to his banquet, informed the king that Haman had already built a gallows to hang Mordecai on and that it was near Haman’s house standing seventyfive feet high. “Hang him on it!” the king ordered. 7.10. So they hanged Haman on the very gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. The king's rage then abated. So the man who had dared to raise his hand against God’s people was taken and hanged upon the very gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Such will be the end of all those who oppose God and his purposes in the world – they will fail in their evil schemes; for if God be for us, who can be against us? After the execution of Haman, the king’s raged subsided.
INTRODUCTION: Internal evidence suggests that the book of Hebrews was written by Paul. It was written before the fall of Jerusalem (A.D.70) and after the death of James. Timothy was with Paul at the time (13:23). It was written to encourage Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and to prepare them for the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion of the nation. The first three verses set the theme of exalting Jesus Christ. He is superior in His person, for He is the “express image’ of God. He is superior in His work, for He is the creator. And He is superior in His glory, for He is our Prophet, Priest and King. This is the summary of why Christ has given us a superior covenant: “This is the sum....” (v.1)
Testament, for the priests’ work was never finished. Old Testament High Priests had to continually offer sacrifices first for their own sins then for the sins of the people. But Christ offered one sin offering for all time.
Christ’s enthronement. Christ is not just seated - but is at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1). No High Priest sat in the sanctuary, and no High Priest would ever sit on a throne except by the inauguration of a new priesthood. For no priest could ever be both priest and king, but Jesus, born of the kingly tribe of Judah, and made by God a High Priest according to ‘the order of Melchizadec’ (i.e. by virtue of his endless life) is our priest and king.
Christ’s supreme exaltation. “In the heavens” Christ ministers in a heavenly and eternal sanctuary.
A SUPERIOR HIGH PRIEST 8:1-2
A Summary of Truth A Sermon Outline from Hebrews Chapters 8 - 10 by Ramon Hunston
Photo: © Sedmak
Jesus gave to His disciples a new testament (covenant) with this basis:-
Christ’s moral adequacy. (v.1) Christ is morally perfect, yet identified with our needs. “...such a High Priest became us (was fitting for us)...”
Christ’s finished work. Christ is seated because He has finished the work of our redemption. There was no seat in the sanctuary in the Old 15
A SUPERIOR TEMPLE 8:3-5 Background... there was a Temple in Jerusalem, this could be seen and experienced; but how can we know that Christ is really ministering in heaven?
The logical answer. Since Christ is the Great High Priest, He must minister in a sanctuary. Since He is in heaven that is where the sanctuary is.
“Somewhat to offer.... “(v.3) Christ offered Himself on the Cross once and for all. Now He is our “living sacrifice” in heaven.
The genealogical answer. (v.4) Christ could not serve as a priest on earth, since He was of the tribe of Judah. Christ could only serve in heaven as King and Priest, for on earth the priests are of Levi.
The typological answer. (v.5) Moses was commanded by God to make the Tabernacle “according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” In Revelation there are parallels with the 0ld Testament Tabernacle in Heaven ‘The temple of God” (11:19) “Brazen Altar” (6:9-11) “Altar of Incense” (8:3-5) “Sea of glass” (layer 4:6) “Seven lamps of fire” (Candlestick 4:5) There will be no Temple in the eternal state because the entire city will be the Temple (21:22), the New Jerusalem, which is the church, the Lamb’s wife. Scripture says to believers that ‘Your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit”
SUPERIOR PROMISES 8:613 God had promised a better covenant. (JEREMIAH 31:31-33)
Jesus is the “mediator of the new covenant.” (HEBREWS 9:15; 12:24)
The promise of God’s grace. Although a New Covenant was promised, there was no fault with the Law (ROMANS 7:12) but only with man’s sinfulness. The new covenant is ratified entirely by grace. “What the Law could not do....”
The promise of a changed heart. (v.10) The Law stated God’s standards but could not provide the means for humankind to achieve those standards. The means are provided by the new covenant. cf. EZEKIEL 36:26-27
The promise of forgiveness for all. (v. 11 -13)
“Let us draw near” This is our responsibility of approach, “With a true heart” ....A sincere desire to meet with God. “Full assurance of faith". That by our faith in Jesus Christ we have the certainty of an entrance Recognition of personal holiness....Priests had to be clean, and so do we.
The need to continue in faith serving the Lord. (10:23) Our personal stated in v.26.
The need of consistency in faith. The need (encourage) (10:24)
“Let us consider one another.” The Law did not promise forgiveness for sins but merely a covering (ROMANS 3:20 HEBREWS 10:1-3; 8).
Consider one another in corporate worship, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.
The new covenant brings the forgiveness of sins and the personal knowledge of God directly to the individual.
Consider one another in mutual encouragement, using whatever gifts we have received to help one another in the faith.
Since we are a priesthood in Christ, so we are required to perform the functions of priests (Heb. 10:1921).
The need to communicate with God. (10:22) 16
Consider one another in love, compassion and practical demonstrations of hospitality and help. (v.34)
CONCLUSION Fulfilling these requirements is great reward (Heb. 10:35-37).
Our In Depth Study. 1 Corinthians 2 By Mathew Bartlett. Photo © Godfer Scripture taken from the NET Bible®.
Chapter 2 The Work of the Spirit The Gospel Preached in the Power of the Spirit 2:1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God. Paul's preaching demonstrated that the apparently foolish message of the cross was the power of God for salvation, for when he came to Corinth he did not make fine speeches in order to gain the admiration of his hearers. He did not have the type of erudite wisdom which typically appealed to his Greek hearers. Instead Paul saw himself as a herald, proclaiming what God had done for man's salvation through Christ. He preached the gospel simply and plainly, without style or sophistication; yet it was by so doing that he gained many converts for Christ. Prior says, Paul relied on… a demonstration of the power of the Spirit (4). That decision ensured the consequent results in the lives of transformed Corinthians rested securely, not… in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (5) 2:2 For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Paul had no need to show off his knowledge, or try to persuade men of the facts about God’s kingdom by means of intellectual argument; for he knew that the only power adequate to save men was contained in the message of the cross. Paul would much rather win a soul for Christ that win an argument and so he concentrated all his thoughts on
Jesus Christ. As a result of this, his only message was of the anointed Saviour who was crucified, but who lives again, and is able to save men and women utterly from their sins. The word crucified is the perfect participle, and so does not denote the historical Christ, but the ever-living Christ in His character as the crucified one. Whenever a person is taken up with such a glorious theme, he or she becomes too full of Christ to be full of self. 2:3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling. Paul had experienced a great deal of opposition to his gospel before arriving in Corinth (as may be seen from Luke’s record, this stage of this particular missionary journey being covered in Acts 15:40-18:1), and so he was understandably disheartened. As he entered Corinth he may have thought ‘who will pay any attention to my message in this rich, idolatrous, and morally corrupt city?’ He could not hope to impress the Corinthians by his appearance, or overwhelm them with a display of self-confidence. Yet despite his fears and feelings of inadequacy, Paul was still willing to speak for Christ, a fact which displays the great courage which had been given to him by the Holy Spirit. The Lord understood that Paul felt intimidated by the crowds of this large pagan city, so He gave him this word of encouragement through a vision: Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent, because I am with you, and no one will assault you to harm you, because I have many people in this city (Acts 18:9-10). 17
Some commentators have alleged that mighty apostle’s fear was not so much a fear of men, but of God. Morris accepts Kay’s view that Paul’s fear was in the light of ‘an anxious desire to fulfil his duty’. But if this were the case then the words of Christ in Acts 18:9-10 would seem inappropriate and unnecessary. Paul’s aim in sharing this with the Corinthians is to present himself more accurately – he is not a ‘great and mighty’ apostle, but a simple, ordinary and weak apostle. 2:4 My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Neither the content nor the method of Paul’s preaching was convincing or remarkable by human standards. Paul preferred to depend on the Spirit of God than employ the methods of men. The term demonstration signifies a most rigorous proof. ‘Some proofs indicate no more than that a conclusion follows from the premises’, but in the case of this demonstration, ‘the premises are known to be true and therefore the conclusion is not only logical, but certainly true’. There were no ifs, buts, or maybes in Paul's preaching; and so his words carried a sense of sincerity and conviction produced by the Spirit of God. 2:5 So that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God. God has chosen to make His gospel known through feeble human vessels so that the hearers' faith might be in the God who gave the message rather than
in the messengers who deliver it. It is through the gospel that we are called to put our faith in God. We may hear this message from other people, but when we believe, we believe in God (1 Thess. 2:13).
God's Purposes through the Spirit
2:6 Now we do speak wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing. The gospel of Christ does not correspond to this world’s sort of wisdom for it is the wisdom of God and not of men. Yet among those who knew the Lord and were established in the faith, the apostles' preaching made plain the substance of God's all wise plan, as it has been revealed in Christ (Eph. 3:4). Paul never burdened his young converts with too much teaching too soon. Knowing their limitations, he instructed them bit by bit. None of us can grasp all the implications of our faith when we first believe. We are like infants who must be fed a small quantity at a time so that we can grow. God has provided His Word so that we can develop and become mature in our spiritual understanding. By making here a distinction between mature and immature believers, Paul does not imply that there are two classes of Christians. He simply recognises that all Christians are at different stages of growth. Maturity is not for the privileged few, but for all. Our aim should always be to grow in the Lord (2 Pet. 3:18). None of the rulers of this age were able to comprehend God's wisdom. It is uncertain whether Paul is referring to human rulers of the world or to the invisible satanic powers which manipulate them, but in any case the source of the wisdom which Paul preaches is so much higher than that of either men or demons (whose rule over this earth will come to a permanent end) that it remains incomprehensible to them all.
2:7 Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. God's wisdom is totally different to the wisdom of the present era. It was God's plan before the beginning of time to rescue sinful men and women from their sin and to reconcile them to Himself through the death of Jesus Christ. It was not for Himself, but for us, so as to bring us to eternal blessing and glory, that God sent His Only Son. Paul pronounces this to be a mystery - not a riddle needing to be solved, but a truth that can only be accepted by revelation. It was hidden until the time that Christ came, but it has now been revealed through Jesus Christ. Even so, those who are outside of Christ are still in the dark about it, for only in Christ is the veil of ignorance taken away (2 Cor. 3:14). 2:8 None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Since God makes His wisdom known through Christ, those outside of Christ cannot understand it; which is why Jesus said of His executioners they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). Paul reasons that if they had understood who Jesus really was and what the consequences of rejecting Him would be, they would never have carried out the crucifixion (Acts 3:17). Some affirm that it is the demonic rulers and satanic forces which inspire and control earthly rulers which are in Paul's thoughts here; this seems unlikely, but if we assume that such were the case then it would be quite reasonable to argue that if they had known the hidden wisdom of God (that the death of Christ would disarm them and become the means of deliverance for lost souls) then they would not have inspired men to kill Christ. 2:9 But just as it is written, "Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him." Paul quotes Isaiah to show that nothing we have seen, heard, or dreamed of 18
could ever come near being equal with the wonderful things which God has planned for those who love him. The words ‘has prepared’ support the theme of 1 Corinthians 2:7 - that God is working out a deliberate plan. Believers do not share in eternal glory by chance, but in accordance with God's eternal purpose (Rom. 8:28). 2:10 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. Whilst we cannot imagine the glory to come, God has given us a foretaste of it by the Holy Spirit, who reveals eternal things to us (John 16:13). No one can boast in their knowledge of eternal things, for no amount of study or effort can uncover what the Spirit of the Lord has chosen to reveal to us (Matt. 11:25). When Paul says the Spirit searches the deep things of God, he does not mean that He searches in order to find out; but that the Spirit fully understands the deep things of God. The Spirit knows all that God is, has and does. God is absolutely immeasurable (Rom 11:33); yet the Spirit comprehends all things and knows the deepest thoughts and wishes of God's heart intimately. 2:11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man's spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. None of us know what is going on inside another person's mind, for only they can know that. No one else can know the hidden fears, aches, or longings of another individual's heart (Prov. 14:10). In the same way, only the Spirit who is God can understand the heart and mind of God, for the Spirit knows God completely. Morris correctly points out that this passage attributes the full deity of God to the Holy Spirit. It likewise affirms the gospel to be genuine; for since the Spirit who reveals truth of the gospel is God, the gospel itself must be the truth of God. 2:12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from
God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. Another privilege which believers have (which those outside of Christ cannot hope to attain) is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God has given His Spirit to us so that we might apprehend the things which God has freely given to us. The Spirit brings us the assurance that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16) and teaches us all things relating to God (John 16.13-15). Genuine knowledge belongs only to believers; since we have been given the source of all truth: the Holy Spirit. 2:13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. God reveals His truth to individual believers for the benefit of the whole church and of all mankind. We must pass on to others what we have received from God. Whether we are preaching God's Word to believers or witnessing to the unconverted, we are conveying something which we have personally received from the Holy Spirit. That is why it is fresh and alive! Prior claims that it is not only with general ideas but with specific language that the preacher is inspired: ‘Paul here maintains that his teaching, in its language as well as in its substance, is supplied by the Holy Spirit’. Good preaching is a bringing together of sacred words to convey spiritual meaning. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible, which contains a full and accurate revelation of the whole counsel of God. Sadly, many contemporary preachers have discarded Biblical expressions and illustrations, supposing that by doing so they will appeal to a wider or younger audience. Is there any wonder that the church and the world are left starving for want of spiritual nourishment? Only God breathed words can convey spiritual truth. Those of us who are preachers and pastors should bear in mind that the Bible is our all sufficient spiritual tool kit. Many if not all of the spiritual problems which we observe today amongst God’s
people can be resolved by the systematic preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
Spiritual Discernment Endowment of the Spirit
2:14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. Those outside of Christ are incapable of receiving revelation from the Spirit of God. They only know what they see, hear, smell, touch or taste. They reject the things of God as foolish, for they have no capacity to comprehend them. It is quite impossible to appreciate what is spiritual unless we are born again. As Jesus said no man can see [perceive or understand] the kingdom of God [spiritual things] unless he is born again (John 3:3). However, there is one revelation which God would have all unconverted men and women to receive. Through the message of the gospel, God the Holy Spirit reveals to an unbeliever his or her sinful state and urges him or her to trust Christ as Saviour. When he or she does so, the Spirit performs the inner work of regeneration and the person is born of God. 2:15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. A spiritual person is not a person endowed with great spiritual gifts or understanding; it is a reference to the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration. All those who are born of the Spirit are in this sense spiritual. When the Holy Spirit works within somebody’s life to form Christ in them, everything is changed (2 Cor. 5:17). It is not that their mental faculties are enhanced or that they become more intelligent, but that they are made to share in the divine nature, (2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:2) and so are now able to appreciate the things of God. He that is spiritual is judged by no one (1 Cor. 2:15 NKJVTM). Paul does not mean 19
that those who are born of the spirit cannot be held accountable for their actions. In this very letter, Paul repeatedly holds Christians to account. His argument is that the spiritual person cannot be understood by the natural person and so has no empathy with him or her. We are a mystery to the unbelieving, they just can't make us out. A Christian friend once told me of a psychology student who admitted ‘I am unable to psycho analyse you!’ The believer has the Spirit of God but since the unbeliever does not he is at a disadvantage. Because they cannot understand what motivates us, they cannot fathom us out; they may well think we are mad, or at least a bit odd! 2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ. This quote is taken from Isaiah 40:13. How can an unsaved person understand a Christian? The unsaved person cannot understand the experience of salvation which we have had, for a person can only appreciate an experience once they have had it! Believers share the mind of Christ, and since we know God we can easily identify with others who know God. This is the reason why barriers of race and language ought to be more easily overcome in Christian communities than outside them; for the bonds that unite us are far stronger than the differences which might otherwise divide us. Having the mind of Christ does not mean that we can understand all the thoughts of Christ, but that God's indwelling Spirit reveals Christ to us and in us. We no longer see things from the world's point of view, but from Christ’s, being controlled and motivated by Christ Himself.
An abstract (without footnotes) from The Pentecostal Bible Commentary: 1 Corinthians by Mathew £6.99)
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Jesus Before Pilate by Mathew Bartlett Image © Dplphoto
can ever escape this question, for to put it quite simply, “He who believes on the Son has everlasting life, he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” John 3.36 God sent his only begotten Son into the world to be the Saviour of men. The one Pilate saw standing before him is the One who came into the world to save sinners. He is none other than the God who created the world, and sustains it by his power. Pilate was wrong to suppose that he had power to dispose of Jesus - but he was right to recognize that he could not avoid this question, neither can you or I, for: Jesus has the Foremost Place in History “What shall I do then with Jesus?” (Matthew 27:22). Some have been foolish enough to question the actual existence of a man named Jesus of Nazareth. But when Pilate asked this question, Jesus himself was standing in front of him; he could neither ignore nor avoid him.
An Inescapable Question Introduction The name of Pontius Pilate will always be associated with the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. He was Roman governor in Judea at that time. He was a capable man of shrewd intelligence, trained in law and in the giving of judgment. Like Pilate, when Jesus Christ stands in the judgment hall of our mind, heart and will, we must all face:
“What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22). As the Lord Jesus Christ was brought before Pontius Pilate, Pilate was faced with an inescapable question. It is this very same question that every man must answer. God we see to it that at some time in your life you will be confronted with this question, and your answer to this question will affect your whole eternity. No one 20
In the same way, Jesus is an unavoidable figure in history. Let me illustrate. What year is it? It is 2013 A.D. (Anno Domini or year of our Lord), meaning it is 2013 years, approximately, since our Lord Jesus Christ was born. Prior to that, dates are given as years B.C. (before Christ). We cannot look at any event in history without encountering Christ in the date. We cannot look at art or literature through the ages without realizing how profoundly Christ has influenced artistic and literary history. Just look at the vast statue of Christ the redeemer towering over Rio de Janeiro, or at Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper. Consider classic books written about him such as Paradise Lost and Regained by Milton, Ben
Hur, a Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace or even Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, in which the man cast away on a desert island is converted to Christ. We cannot consider the history of civilization, without noticing His stamp on culture and custom. For example, Wales has been mainly Christian, not pagan, since the time of the Celts. St. David lived in the 6th century, when Christianity was already well established. In fact that faith in Christ remained a predominant feature in Celtic life can be seen by the Celtic crosses such as those at Margam and Penally which are over 1200 years old. We could go on and on, but wherever you look there is no escaping Christ, for he has the foremost place in history. Jesus has the Foremost Place in Eternity “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22). Whether or not Pilate understood the full meaning of the title “Christ” is not clear; but Jesus endorsed His divine claims when He told the governor that His “Kingdom was not from this world.” (Matthew 27:11). Jesus is not of this world. He had ever lived with God His Father in heaven. When God sent his son into the world, he put on flesh, becoming a man like you and I, yet without sin. Even in this state of voluntary humiliation, one could not help but notice that everywhere Jesus went, he was King. Not merely King of the Jews, but the king of eternity; king of kings and Lord of Lords. The one standing under the judgment of Pilate that day was the one who will One day appear to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10.42). God has exalted His Son and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow, of things in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Since Jesus has the foremost place in eternity, we must be careful how we answer the question “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ.” Did Pilate truly know who it was who was standing before him? There is some evidence which suggests that Pilate knew more than is generally supposed. Alexander Whyte in his history of Bible Characters claims that in one of his reports to Caesar Tiberius, Pilate had written: “Jesus the Christ, as He is called, is worth more to my administration than any legion of my armed men. He is the most peaceable and inoffensive of men…I shall not lift a single finger against this ‘King of the Jews,’ as His disciples call Him, till I am commanded by Caesar so to do”
An Important Question “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22). Since Jesus Christ is the most important person in time and eternity, this is the most important question you will ever face, Pilate realized that he had never stood before anyone like Jesus before. If we read just briefly the account of his interview with Christ, we get a feeling for the perplexity Pilate faced. Even though he claimed the power to release or crucify Jesus, He ends up as he stands before the Saviour, trembling from head to foot. Consider: The Witness Analysed "You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him;” Luke 23:14 21
It was not the witness of His disciples; or of those who followed Him; or of the many who had been healed during his ministry that Pilate heard, but the witness of those who were hounding Him to death. Pilate, having analysed their evidence, had to say, “I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:38). Pilate was saying, in effect, that every claim that Jesus Christ had made, for which they were accusing Him of blasphemy, was absolutely true. He was faultless. Christ had claimed to be the son of God, and even Pilate found no reason to refute him. Have you ever faced the fact that the One who will stand to judge your life is not merely a man of history, not some obscure Jew in a far-off land, but God Himself, the Saviour of the world, the King of kings, the Judge of all? This is the most important issue you will ever face. The Warning Verbalized Even as Pilate sat on the judgment seat, weighing up the whole situation, a message came to him from his wife, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19). We do not know the contents of her dream, but one thing is certain: it was God-sent, because it upheld the absolute innocence of God’s Son—“that righteous man.” I wonder if the heavens were opened and she saw a throne, and one sat on it who looked like a son of man, from whose face the whole earth fled away. Could it be that she recognized this figure to be Jesus of Nazareth, who was now standing before her husband? Did she hear the wails and cries of those who called for the mountains and rocks to fall on them, and hide them from the wrath of this Lamb of God which
was about to fall on an unbelieving world? We read in the light of Christ’s coming in judgment that, the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! Rev 6:15-16 As Pilate stood before Christ, he faced his most important decision. This is the most important decision you will ever face too, “What will you do with Jesus which is called Christ?” The decision cannot be put off forever, for “Today is the day of salvation.” None of us knows if we have tomorrow. It is a decision which will determine our whole eternity. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, (Heb. 2:3)
An Individual Question “What shall I do…?” (Matthew 27:22). You may be in a crowd, but Jesus and you stand alone at this moment, as Jesus and Pilate did on the memorable day. Yet tragically his attitude was marked by: Carelessness With indifference he looks out on the mob and says, “Take ye him, and judge him according to your law” (Matthew 18:31). He thought he could rid himself of Jesus with a snap of his fingers and a shrug of his shoulders, but it didn’t work. It won’t work for you either. You cannot ignore the claims of Jesus. Your future meeting with him is inevitable - you could be called away to stand before him at any moment. How will you stand then?
“As soon as he knew that was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod” (Luke 23:7). Pilate sends the pure and perfect Son of God to Herod, a man totally unrestrained in his sinful indulgence; a man to whom Jesus never spoke, but whom he called “that fox” (Luke 13:32). But Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate, and Pilate, has to face Jesus again. Trying to avoid this important issue did not get Pilate off the hook, and it won’t get you off the hook either. We must face up to our solemn responsibility. Christ's call is still repent and believe the gospel.
So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck Him with their hands. Pilate then went out again, and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him." (John 19:1-4)
Cleverness "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" They said, "Barabbas!" (Mat 27:21) Knowing that at the time of the Passover it was the custom to release a prisoner to the people, he reasons, “If I put Barabbas, the robber, against Jesus, they will certainly release Jesus. They would not want to do less than stone Barabbas to death.” But such is the condition of the human heart that they lift their voices and call for Jesus to be crucified. So Pilate’s cleverness fails. We cannot get out of this decision by any amount of cleverness. Bring out all the arguments you can against Christianity. Convince yourself if you like, that there is no God, or that evolutionary chance created the world, but you will never avoid your destiny. Let me show it to you: And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (Rev 20:12) 22
Pilate stepped out on Gabbatha to declare the absolute innocence of Jesus Christ and then turns around and orders that He should be scourged! Then taking the bleeding Christ of God, he sets Him forth as a spectacle of innocent suffering, thinking that this would satisfy their thirst for blood; but the people cry out for His crucifixion. So Pilate finds that carelessness, cowardice, cleverness and compromise have not worked. You cannot escape from Jesus. You may hide in your room but Jesus, will look down upon you. You may throw yourself into your work, but Jesus will be there. You may drink yourself stupid, but when you wake up with a thick head you will still hear those words, “What will you do with Jesus?” And when you plunge into the river of death you will emerge to meet Him—no longer as Saviour, but as Judge. What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be. Someday your heart will be asking, “What will He do with me?” (Albert B. Simpson) What, then, will you do with Jesus? The issue is important, individual and inescapable. You must either crucify Him or crown Him. Ask Him to come into your life as Saviour, Lord and King.
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