Foundations 18: What Are Disciples? 2 Timothy 2:1-4

II Timothy 2:1-2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 

Background:

Paul was imprisoned in Rome around 63 AD. A year later fires destroyed much of Rome and Nero blamed the Christians.  Later Paul was back in Rome and executed about 67 or 68 AD.  

This letter  was written awaiting martyrdom.

Paul had invested much of his life into Timothy, a young man he met while preaching the Gospel.  Timothy decided to come with Paul to be trained and used of God in the ministry.  Everything Timothy learned about the gospel was in the context of this “discipleship” relationship with Paul.

Now Paul is awaiting to die and is writing to Timothy for the last time.  We can expect to hear what is considered the most important things on Paul’s heart as one might expect to hear from someone preparing to die.

2. What Can we Observe about God?

God wants the discipleship relationship to transform lives.

Paul and Timothy were not biological father and son, however this was pattern the New Testament left for Christians to follow.  This was relationship in which Timothy learned the Bible, theology, and Gospel work.  Paul was like a father willing to share his life as well as his knowledge.

“1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Verse 1

As traveling companions, they would have spent night and day together.  Meals, lodging, and idle time were in each other’s company.  Timothy would have watch Paul live out his faith in public and private.

Timothy made a radical decision to leave his home, work, and comfort zone to be with Paul (see Acts 16:1-3).  This kind of radical decision was met with Paul’s full attention and care for his spiritual son.

The purpose of discipleship is to transform people into loyal servants for Christ and to be the primary method of Christian reproduction.

“2 And the things that thou hast heard of meamong many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Verses 2-3

Paul directs Timothy to do for others what he has done for Timothy.  The end result is disciples of Jesus who are able to reproduce more disciples.

Paul tells Timothy to make a choice of whom he should commit to, and that his choice should be based on one primary attribute, faithfulness.

Jesus also was choosy whom He would commit himself to:

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.  But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men.

John 2:23-24

He knew that mere professions of faith was not worthy of His time, but He would choose those whom were faithful. Now, Paul is instructing Timothy to choose wisely who to invest his time in. 

This discipleship lifestyle would transform believers as they pursued Christ and His vision together.  The goal of the mentor and the disciple was to carry out the Gospel mandate.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

Matthew 28:19-20

At the time 2 Timothy was written, Christians were being crucified and lit on fire in Rome.  To be baptized publicly during this time meant to have a death sentence as people confessed Jesus as Lord instead of Caesar.  So Paul encourage Timothy to prepare himself for the hardness ahead: 

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Verse 3

Like soldiers, disciples need to be trained and equipped to endure hardness.  Their faith needs to grow and their live needs to be changed.  This discipleship relationship was the means God chose to work in people’s lives.  

This is not the same things as only attending church.  People attend church but their lives don’t change.  People have a pastor, but they don’t have a mentor.  Sometimes the Pastor is failing his duty by not making disciples.  Much of the time people do not display the kind of basic faithfulness to begin the discipleship relationship.

Discipleship is what all Christians are commanded to do, but very few will ever obey.  It is a radical decision to not be entangled with the affairs of this world in order devote oneself to Christ and His misison. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

The sacrifices of the Christian soldier are not begrudging choices but willing sacrifices to please the Master.  While this kind of life looks fanatical to the world, it is only reasonable in the kingdom of God.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

Every Christian is called to be discipled and disciple others.  There is no education requirement to begin studying and emulating Jesus. Making a disciple or training a person doesn’t mean that they will be preachers, pastors, or missionaries. It doesn’t mean that they have to be trained by a pastor or missionary.  

Though our passage refers to a father and son like relationship, discipleship is for women also. The mature women were to teach the younger women

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Titus 2:3-5

3. How does our passage point to Jesus and the the Gospel?


The gospel is the transforming power of God brought to the world through discipleship.

Paul was instructing his spiritual son, Timothy, to do for others what Christ did for His own disciples. Mark 3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

 People are saved when they believe the Gospel message.   The Gospel message continues to nurture a person’s transformation after they are saved. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

But discipleship is what facilitates maturity.  Imagine tomato plants growing and in the early stages, the producer may add a trellis to encourage its growth.  The trellis does not add nutrients to the plant.  Only the Gospel and the Holy Spirit can do that.  But God gave us mentors help us grow and produce fruit more efficiently.   Good discipleship will always point the student to Christ and search the cross for answers and growth. II Timothy 2:1-2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

4. Application:

Take action in your own discipleship. If Jesus is important to you, make time to be discipled.  Get with  your pastor or mentor every week. Go with him or her to do daily tasks.  Ask questions, learn, and join the vision of the church to get the Gospel to people.

There are seven serving groups our churches use, do you know what they are?  Do you officially have a role in your church?  If you are serving in our church, then you are almost certainly being trained and discipled. 

If something must be sacrificed to make time for discipleship,  start with hobbies or work.  God promises to meet the needs of those who put Him first.  (Matthew 6:33)

Foundations 52+ Christian Friendship 1 Samuel 23

1 Sam. 23:14-18

  1. Background

David is a fugitive from Saul’s jealously.  Ever since David came back victoriously from war, Saul has been trying to kill David (see Samuel 18:6-9).

And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said,

Saul hath slain his thousands,

And David his ten thousands.

And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?  And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

1 Samuel 18:6-9

By chapter 23, David has fled to the wilderness to live in the mountains and caves with men who remain loyal to him.  But God was with David and has chosen him to be king in stead of Saul.

And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.

Verse 14

Even with God’s blessing and protection, David is still living in suffering and discomfort.  David is a man of discipline, he has learned encourage himself in the Lord.  The psalms he wrote let us see into his private though while he was on the run:

Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble;

Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Psalm 32:7

Even though David has great trust in God, he still deals with contradicting thoughts.  “If God is with me then why do I flee?  Why am I suffering like this?  Why am I being defeated?”  Psalms 11 lets us see in the battle raging in his heart:

In the Lord put I my trust:

How say ye to my soul,

Flee as a bird to your mountain?

For, lo, the wicked bend their bow,

They make ready their arrow upon the string,

That they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.

If the foundations be destroyed,

What can the righteous do?

Psalm 11:1-3

The oppression is so overwhelming, what can the righteous do?  If David, God’s chosen, can feel this way, then people today who love God and perform His call can expect to deal with the same circumstances.  Being a witness for Christ in a world engulfed in darkness is not an easy life.  Even though we go with God’s power, still, obedience to great commission will mean suffering and times of discouragement.  

2. What Can we Learn about God?

God’s loves us with promises, sacrifice, and personal risk to Himself.

It’s at this point in David’s life where discouragement as set in where Jonathan, Saul’s son, comes out to comfort him.

And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

Verse 16-18

Consider the cost to Jonathan to be David’s friend.  Jonathan was willing to give up his claim to the throne (v17). By being David’s friend, he was risking his own life by the hands of his father Saul (see 20:32-33).

And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? What hath he done? And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.

1 Samuel 20:32-33

Jonathan put the life of his friend before his own.  It didn’t matter if Jonathan would lost his rights.  It didn’t matter if Jonathan wouldn’t be the most important person in the kingdom.  Jonathan was willing to put his friend first and sweat to his own hurt. What a friend!

Jonathan’s encouragement went far beyond just a simple pat on the back or a few idle words like “hang in there.”  It does not cost you anything to simply wish someone good luck and leave them to their misery.  Like verse 16 says, Jonathan strengthened him in God.  Jonathan must knew what God had promised David, that he would be king, and so Jonathan came to remind David of those promises. Following this, Jonathan adds his own promise to put David before himself v18.  This covenant they made was before the Lord, meaning, Jonathan would do all he can to help David according to the plans God has already put in place.

And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

Verse 18

What makes Jonathan’s encouragement so powerful is a combination of these elements we see:  

  • Jonathan’s risk to injury to meet with David.
  • Jonathan’s sacrifice to comfort and push David forward.
  • Jonathan’s use of God’s promises to encourage David.
  • Jonathan’s own promise to put David first in the Lord.

If you can learn to be a friend like Jonathan, you can make disciples.  Thought the scope of this lesson is to learn Christian friendship, the principle of friendship also applies to making disciples.  Discipleship making is not a discipline that must be learned in seminary, but rather a more basic call to love others and put them first, encouraging them in the Lord.

As we see a story like this in the Bible, we must remember that these stories are not stories about the glory of Jonathan, David, or any other Bible hero.  But rather, they reveal to us who God is and help us understand how we can trust and believe Him.

In the background portion of this lesson we considered the contradiction raging in David’s heart. “If I am God’s chosen, then why am I suffering this way?”  Though it may feel like God had distanced Himself from our suffering, His word assures us He has not.  God’s promises to sinners like Abraham, David, you and I guarantees only that He will suffer along side us before there will be a resolution to our suffering and struggle with sin.

3. How does this passage point to Jesus and the Gospel?

All passages of the Bible point to the gospel at least in three ways, themes, roles, and rituals.

The Role of Jonathan and the theme of friendship:

Jesus’ faithful friendship secures our hope in the Gospel.

Jesus’ selflessly sacrificed His life on the cross not only cleansed our sin and gave us eternal life, but also elevated our status in His eyes from servants to become friends.

There was a moment in Jonathan and David’s friendship where Jonathan symbolically gave David his own royal robe, bow, and sword. 


“Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.  And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.”

1 Samuel 18:3-4

It was clear that Prince Jonathan did not merely see David as a servant even though it was in his power to treat him as such.  Because of their friendship, Jonathan elevated David’s status greatly and shared his royal table with him.  Whatever Jonathan heard from his father or any pertinent news from court, he shared it with David.

On the eve of Jesus final sacrifice for His disciple He tells them, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:15)”

Jesus paid with His blood to make friendship with us.  In order to pay for sins of His friends, His blood was shed.  This was a “risk” that He willingly accepted, knowing from the beginning that the mission was always the cross.

The comfort He would give us as His friends goes far beyond a list of religious sounding words of wisdom.  But we are comforted by His personal appearance and salvation He secured for us on the cross.  His love was coupled with His suffering for our sake, a decision He was not forced to make, but made it anyway out of love for us.

Like Jonathan was able to portray on a smaller scale, Jesus also laid aside His royal crown to serve us.  He wore instead a crown of thorns as symbol of His service and suffering for our sake.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

Finally, Jesus friendship and encouragement towards us is based on the promises of God.  This act of friendship toward us was promised before the world began.  Jesus on the last night with His disciple made His own covenant with them, all according to the word His Father had already proclaimed.

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Luke 22:19-20

Finally, Jesus gave us more than just His royal robes, but He gave us His own flesh and blood on the cross.  Its through His provision of His flesh we are able to approach God as the friends of Christ with our sins forgiven and welcomed to the courts of God.

4. Application:

It is clear from Philippians 2:5 and John 15 we apply these promise first by believing then and then imitating them.  Our freedom from sin comes when we believe and accept the offer of friendship Jesus is giving through His body.

But then as His friends we are called to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  Our behavior towards others should be and imitation of Christ as already done for us.

Jesus commands us to continue in His love, the love He love us with:

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love,; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love…This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

John 15:9-10; 12

What did it cost to purchase your soul from sin and hell?  It cost God the most precious thing in His possession.  It cost Jesus His life.  If we are going to rescue souls from hell, we must be prepared to pay with our lives.  We give our lives in His service, we sacrifice, we share,  we open ourselves to strangers, we come under attack, we are hated for His name sake.  

We are His friends willing to do His willing as He was willing to give all He had for us.

Foundations 11 Judgment Genesis 6-9

Genesis 6:5-8, 11-14, 17-19

Genesis 7:9-16, 22-24

Genesis 8:13-19

Genesis 9:20-27 cf. Rev 22:11

Revelation 20:11-15

1. Background

Since humanity was forced from the garden, they have continued their spiral of corruption to the point where all the “thoughts of man were evil continually”.  When Adam and Eve first sinned in the garden, God did not immediately judge their sin, but temporary sent them away from His presence and covered their nakedness with a sacrifice.  But now, “the end” of what God is going to tolerate has come.

2. What Can We Observe about God?

God’s patience has an end.

Even though God is kind and patient, God has said that He will not always tolerate man’s rebellion.

“And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” V3

God could see in man’s heart and see all the corruption that was there. 

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” V5

So because of their sin, God made the decision to destroy what He had created.

“And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” V7

Someone reading this for the first might ask, “What gives God the right to destroy human and animal life?”

Perhaps people then thought that their evil was considered normal.  Everyone did the same things. People learned to do evil just by participating in their own community.  But God has always been a present observer.  He is not alien to the world He created.    His voice created it and His power sustains it, therefore His opinion becomes the standard by which the world is judged. While the world’s actions may be considered normal in our eyes, but according to God’s standard, the earth had become corrupt before Him.

“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” V11

God’s judgement does not come without grieving. 

We must not think that God enjoys destroying the work of His own hands. Judgment comes as a necessary response to inciting His wrath.  His name is being dragged through the mud of corruption.  The people whom He has made in His own image have despised and rejected His word.  And even after God’s long patience with them, they have continued in their corruption without turning toward Him. So God moves to judge with grief in His heart.

“And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” V6

Other scriptures also communicate this about God’s judgement:

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?  Ezekiel 33:11

So even though God does bring judgment, He would rather humanity turn Him in repentance.  Bringing judgment on His own creation grieves Him at His heart.

But another reason exist why God would rather have forgiveness than judgment.  Judgment does not remove sin from the sinner.  It is apparent after flood destroyed all living things, sin still persisted in humanity as it does today.  

“And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.”  Verse 9:22

It also can equally be said that mere mercy also does not remove sin.  If there is going to be a change in humanity, there must be something more powerful than judgment and death to complete the change.

3. How Does This Passage Point to the Gospel?

Modern people have no need to fear again a global flood.  God promised that the world would continue in relative consistent order.

“And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:21-22

“While the earth remaineth” implies however that the earth will not continue forever.  There will be a time when a final judgment comes, and the life we know now will cease.  So while, modern people do not have a need to fear a global flood, we have reason to take heed of a coming final judgment.

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Rev 20:11-15

The apostle John was given a vision of the final judgement.  The wicked dead were resurrected for judgment and brought before God.  The books of their life were open and everyone man was judged according to all they have done.  If their name was not found in the book of life, they were cast into the of fire.  This is their second death. The first death was their physical death, but the second is judgment in the lake of fire.

So the question is, how does someone have their name recorded in the book of life?

John 3:36 tell us, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

When a person believes on Jesus Christ, God accepts Christ punishment in the place of our coming judgment. God knows who belongs to Him and “saves” them from the Lake of Fire.  The New Testament we read is the legal contract that guarantees our forgiveness and removal of sin.

But anyone who chooses to reject Christ, their sin will remain on them until the final day of judgment comes.

4. Application:

Avoid the second death.  God recorded these things so to avoid the second death.  Everyone who does not place their faith in Christ will meet before God at the white throne judgement. 

Prepare for judgment before it arrives.  The Bible never told us a time when judgment will come. It might come later, it might come later this evening. But God wants us to accept Christ before judgment comes. The reason God had delayed judgment for this long is in order to give us a chance to believe and escape judgment. 

We have a job to do.  Our church is here to complete the mission Christ gave us to do.  We have already believed God and received His salvation from death.  How can we not continue to tell others the Gospel that they might escape also?

Foundations 10 Christ’s Resurrection

Mark 16

1. Background:

On the last night with His disciples, Jesus prepares them for His betrayal and crucifixion. Once it happens, He says they will forsake Him, God will bring them together again. He quotes a prophecy that spoke of the day when He would be killed and humiliated.  

“And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.”

Mark 14:27-28

Peter being confident in himself assures Jesus that he would never deny or forsake Him.

“But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.”

Mark 14:29

Shortly after Jesus is arrested and all the disciples flee from Him.

“‘And they all forsook him, and fled.”

Mark 14:50

Before the night is over Peter denied Him three times.

“And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.”

Mark 14:66-72

Next Jesus is crucified and it appears that Jesus’ mission is a total failure.  All His disciples have fled from Him, seemingly given up any hope.  Their hope was for Him to be alive and reign as king, but not that is all seemingly lost. 

On the third day since Jesus has been in the tomb, the women brought spices to anoint His body.  They wonder who will roll the heavy stone away for them. But their surprised to see it has already been opened.

They’re greeted by an angel that tells them Jesus is alive.

“And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” 

Verse 6

Then the angel reminds them what Jesus said before He was crucified: “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”

Verse 7

2. What Can We Observe About God?

God gives us the resurrection of Christ to be our ultimate hope even after all our failures.

By the time Jesus has been crucified, the disciples had completely given up on Jesus.  They had abandoned Him during His trial.  No one came to His defense. Even Peter was ashamed to be numbered with Him that he denied knowing Him three times.  The men that Jesus chose to be His apostle all failed Him, breaking their promises of faithfulness.

31 But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”

Mark 14:31

Their complete failure was their unbelief and their unfaithfulness.  They failed to understand who Jesus is and why He came.  They didn’t understand the purpose of His death and they failed to believe when rose from the dead.   It is clear if the disciples are going to live in victory, it won’t be because of their efforts!  They have totally been defeated and have given up on Jesus!

But then Jesus rose from the dead and that changes everything.  His resurrection proves that death cannot stop Him.  His resurrection proves the religious leaders were wrong about Him.  They had accused Him for blasphemy when He said He is the Christ, and He is God.

“And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Mark 15:62

His resurrection proves He is God in human flesh, the Son of God.  He is worthy to be worshipped as God.  Once the disciples saw He was alive and could not refute it, they worshipped Him—something Jews would not do unless they were convinced He is God!

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.”

Matthew 28:16-17

Even then there were people unwilling to trust Him.  His resurrection forces everyone to concede He is who He says He is.  He is God in the flesh and is worthy to be worshipped and obeyed. 

His response to His disciples who fled reveal His goodness and patience to us.  The resurrection only benefits us.  God doesn’t gain anything by convincing us to obey Him.  He died to pay for our sin save us from hell.  All along the way, man has failed Him and continues to struggle trusting Him.  But the resurrection will always be there to provide hope after all the failure.  Even after the disciples fall and flee away, He still meets with them and proves to them He has come to save sinners. Jesus is Lord and He is alive.

3. How does this passage point to Jesus and the Gospel.

Placing our faith in the resurrection of Christ is our only hope of forgiveness and eternal life.

Record of the Gospel leaves no other Savior whereby we can trust.  Can you put your trust in the religious leaders who crucified the Son of God?  Can you put your trust in Peter who denied the Lord three times?  Can you put your trust in either government that took part in condemning Jesus to the cross?  We can only reasonable trust the only One in the book that rose from the dead and defeated the grave.  He is able to give us life because He has life in Himself.  The grave cannot hold Him.  If we cannot deny that Jesus rose from the dead, then what reason do we have to not believe His word?

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Verse 16

4. Application:

He gave us a job to do.  We must tell the world that Jesus is alive the grave and that cannot be ignored. People can be saved from sin and avoid the coming judgment altogether in Christ!

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Verse 15 

Foundations 7 What is the Price of Sin? Genesis 3:1-24

Genesis 3:1-24

1. Background:

When God created the world, He made it without sin or death.  He also gave man the responsibility to keep the garden He made for them.  Along with this responsibility was one commandment to not eat of the tree of good and evil.

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Genesis 2:17

The serpent (Satan) convinces Eve that God is hiding something from them.  She ponders for a moment that God must not be as good as it seems.  She takes the fruit as an act of rebellion against God and gives it to Adam.  Adam obediently takes the fruit from his wife and together attempt to rid themselves of God’s authority.

What results will tell us the outcome of sin for all of us.

2. What Can We Observe About God?

God is patient but will finally judge our sin.

God did not immediately enact judgment of death on them. (3:21)  Even though in his previous prohibition there would be death, still God stalled judgement for a period of time.  Instead of death, they were expelled from His presence, but they go with hope of reconciliation. (3:15)  The hope they were given to return to God one day is what we call the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The final judgment of sin is death and separation from God.

God removes sin and corruption from His presence.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

Genesis 3:24

The garden is where their relationship with God was.  They enjoyed His presence there and He took care of them.  Their abundant life was there and they had no lack of anything.  But when they sinned against God, He removed them from His presence.  They were banished with no way back to the innocence they once had.

The banishment Adam and Eve received explains the life sinners now have.  Born into this world, we are already separated from God. Our natural inclination is to sin. If we die in our sin, then we will be eternally separated from God.

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Matthew 25:41

Depart from God for eternity?

When man was driven away from the garden, he was also driven away from the only inheritance he really had.  The garden was his resting place, his home, and his connection with God.  The inheritance God gave us was our our created purpose. Losing God also meant losing our inheritance God gave us.  To eternally separated from God is to lose everything that is good.

Separation from God means consumed by sin and evil. Being removed from God’s presence means being filled with corruption and evil.  

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Romans 1:28-32

This is a description of what an everlasting hell is like.  It is the complete absence of anything good and full of sin and evil.

Separation from God means eternal torment.  What follows is logical. If one is separated from God then one is separated from life and everything that is good.  The only thing left is misery and torment.

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 

Revelation 14:11

3. How Does this Passage Point to Jesus and Gospel?

God’s desires to save Sinners from this destruction.

God’s stalled judgment to call sinners to repentance.  Let’s go back to Genesis 3:21 when God temporary covered their shame.  Instead of enacting judgment right away, God had mercy. Why? Because God does not have pleasure in judging sinners.

 “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?”

Ezekiel 18:23

It would be hard to trust a God who enjoys punishing sinners, but this is not the case.  The picture of God the Bible gives us is a God who is heartbroken over our sin.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

Matthew 23:37

As we travel through the Bible, we see God making several attempts to call His people to repentance. But after a few generations the people repeat again the same rebellion and the same sin.

But there are individuals in the crowds of people who will respond to God’s call.  God sent them His Son to save them from sin.  These are the people who desire in their heart to return to God and enjoy life with Him.   

 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 

Romans 10:13

The salvation through Jesus Christ restores life and our inheritance:

“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

Ephesians 1:10

The life we enjoy is the life He gives us and the inheritance we will enjoy is His own inheritance.

4.  Application:

Sinners can escape hell and separation from God by submitting themselves to Him.  Jesus died for sin so that you can be forgiven.  God promises forgiveness of sin to all who come to Him!

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper.”

Proverbs 18:13

But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

As Christians we serve our King who loved us and died for us.  Every day is a new day to serve Him.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

We recognize the life we life is not ours, but the one Christ gave us.  So we use it to serve Him.  Through Christ we have escaped hell and sin.  Can we not serve Him by telling others the good news in Christ?

Foundations 9 Jesus Is Our Propitiation — Romans 3

Romans 3:19-28

1. Background:

Paul is convincing Jewish Christians within the church there is not difference between them and gentiles.  All are sinners before God and all are saved through Jesus Christ through faith.  Paul is concluding in these verses that all are saved through faith and not by earning favor by obeying the law.  

2. What can we observe about God?

God wants our focus to be on His goodness and not our own.

What means do we have to prove our own goodness?  Do we do good things in front of other people to show others and prove to ourselves how good we are?  Sometimes when we think or feel something we know is wrong, we may go looking for something nice to do to prove to ourselves once again we’re not really bad people.  So what shall we do to prove our niceness? 

The religions of the world  can prescribe a number of good deeds that can make you feel better about yourself.  But we have a problem when someone comes to the Bible.  That is because rather than trying to make us feel better about ourselves, the Bible accuses us of guilt.

Imagine you are standing in a courtroom and before you have had the chance to say anything, the judge reads off what you are accused of and the court intends to find you guilty. What might you say?  Before you even begin to speak, the judge begins reading a record of everything thought, attitude, and action that was impure, wrong, or inappropriate. The records details records every embarrassing moment you thought know one else could possible know about. 

“How does the judge know I was thinking that about someone else’s wife?”  “Am I really that selfish?”  “I completely forgot that I said those things”.

Usually when we are accused, our first reaction is defend ourselves.  Even when there is truth in the accusation, we still try to say something to lessen the guilt of the accusation.  

“Yes, I may have did that, but I only did it because they did something first.”  The defensive posture will not do.  If we are going to have God’s blessing, we must give up our excuses and defensive attitude.

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. “

Verse 19

God wants to do something good in your life, but if you want God, you must first humbly agree to His terms.  That means we cannot earn His favor by keeping the law or doing nice things.  The reason God gave us the law is for us to recognize and admit our sin before Him.

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Verse 20

Why does God insist we give up our own goodness?  Why won’t God accept any of our excuses?  Doesn’t He know we aren’t perfect? 

When obey and admit our own unrighteousness, then He will show us His righteousness that comes without the law.

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.”

Verse 21

God’s remedy is to replace our unrighteousness with His righteousness. God will only do this when we admit to Him our righteousness needs to be replaced. Many will be unwilling to do that simply because they want keep the idea of their own goodness.  God wants us to focus on His goodness, not our own.

3. How does this point to the Gospel and Jesus?

God’s goodness towards us is in Jesus Chris.

Many people in many religions attempt to build their own goodness and righteousness, but God gave the law to stand in their way.  The Law became a wall their goodness could not climb over or overcome.  So God give us righteousness without the law:

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.”

Verses 21-22

The righteousness God wants to give us isn’t our own but it is the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Without Jesus Christ, we are all condemned sinners.  But in Jesus Christ we have redemption from sin.

” For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Verses 23-24

Jesus Christ is our propitiation.

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”

Verse 25

Even though God wants to give us His righteousness, our sin still had to be forgiven.  Just like crime in society, so our sin carries a punishment, separation from God.  He will not ignore sin that we commit, and like a judge, He will require punishment.  But because God is good, He is willing be punished for us.  Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross is punishment enough for all your sin.  His blood is a propitiation to forgive your sin.

The law and the judge has to be satisfied before a criminal can be set free.  This is what Jesus did for sinners on the cross. So now justly God can release you from your sin through Jesus Christ.

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Verse 26

4. Application:

You can be free from guilt and punishment of sin. Agree with God and admit your sin before Him.  Trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness.  Jesus is proof of God’s love for you.  The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is enough to forgive you of sin and give you new life that is unblemished by sin.  Focus and praise God’s goodness.  We could do nothing to save ourselves or anyone else.  Lets boast in His goodness everyday!

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:10

Foundations 15 — Repentance Joel 2

Background: 

 At the time of Joel’s writing, the land suffering from a great famine caused by a devastating plague of locust that devoured the vegetation. The cloud of locusts was so vast that it would block out the light from the sun as they swarmed from place to place. Joel used the occasion to foreshadow a greater judgment the locust could symbolize.

What Can We Observe About God?

Because of God’s compassion, sinners have an opportunity to repent and be restored.

The day of the Lord is more than a plague of locust, but something far greater that will shadow over all humanity. 

“For the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand”

Verse 1b

Like the plague and like a well-disciplined army, the coming judgment is unstoppable.

“They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; And they shall march every one on his ways, And they shall not break their ranks”

Verse 7

This judgment is not something out of the Lord’s control; rather He is the Commander of the army, giving the orders.

“And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: For his camp is very great: For he is strong that executeth his word: For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible;And who can abide it?” (V11)

But the same Commander who is at the head of this army also gives an opportunity to reconcile through repentance.

“Therefore also now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, And with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning”

Verse 12

God wants a heart-rending, not just a show of fake humility. Those who rend their hearts are expressing a desire to be reconciled and restore the relationship. They turn towards God and away from the things that cause His anger.

“And rend your heart, and not your garments, And turn unto the Lord your God: For he is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness, And repenteth him of the evil.”

Verse 13

Repentance is an opportunity He gives. Doing it does not make God change His mind or force Him to reward good behavior. He is not forced to respond either way outside of what He is willing to do. This is shown by the expression, “Who knoweth” in verse fourteen.

“Who knoweth if he will return and repent, And leave a blessing behind him.”

Verse 14

Other places in Scripture coincide with this. The Hebrews “repented” when God disallowed them to enter the promised land. They presumptuously attacked the Canaanites supposing God would deliver them. They were defeated and turned back toward the wilderness. Repentance is not a “work” that must be rewarded by God. It is an opportunity given by His compassion. His decision to reverse judgment when someone repents is His own decision and not at all manipulated by our behavior.

” And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised: for we have sinned. And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord? but it shall not prosper. Go not up, for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you. But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.” 

Number 14:40-45

We often think of repentance as the behavior of individuals only. But repentance has its place in the congregation as a whole—unified behind the notion of desiring God above all else. It takes precedence above all situations. Are weddings important? Are mothers who are still breastfeeding encumbered? Does a call to repentance inconvenience anyone? Let them find a way to come and repent before God. We need God!

“Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, Gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: Let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.”

Verse 16

Leaders need to take charge in corporate repentance. They may have other duties to attend to, such as the priests, but nothing is more important than our hearts having the proper posture before God.

“Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar”

Verse 17

As verse 14 suggests, nothing in repentance forces God to comply to supplication. Ritually wearing sackcloth or throwing dust on our heads cannot manipulate God into withholding judgment. But God’s grace takes another step further by using His word of promise to guaranteeing our acceptance. He will forgive and bless because of His promise.

“Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, And pity his people.”

Verse 18

People don’t win prizes for good behavior and sincere repentance, but God promises to renew them based on His compassion and grace. Temporary judgments like the plague of locust will have destroyed much. Because of sin, many years of people’s lives will have been turned to vanity. But because of God’s compassion, through repentance, God will restore those useless years with meaning and productivity. 

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, The cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, My great army which I sent among you.”

Verse 25

This promise of renewal and cause for rejoicing cannot be earned or divine through magical incantations. Instead, it’s God’s free choice to bestow when His people repent and rend their hearts.

3. How does this passage point to Jesus and the Gospel?

The cross and empty tomb is proof of God compassion and promise to forgive the repentant.

It should be obvious to the reader by now, Joel is not describing one instance of a plague but a future “Day of the Lord.” For many, the Day of the Lord is darkness and judgment. But for those who will repent, it is a reason for rejoicing and gladness.

Even though the following few verses do not explicitly describe the cross or the Lord Jesus, the effects of His accomplishment on Calvary is described. After the Lord ascended, Peter and the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost as the Lord had said. Peter attributed that day to this prophecy seen here in verse 28:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, That I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.”

Verse 28

The coming age where God’s people will be indwelled with the Holy Spirit happened on the other side of the cross. The cross became the means by which sinners could confidently repent and know they will be accepted. The mercy of God is the motive behind it all, but ultimately, we have the empty tomb to give us assurance of all these things—God’s goodness, His blessings, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and a promise of restoration.

God’s kindness and promise of restoration is given beyond the scope of Jerusalem only, but to anyone who humbles themselves in repentance before God and His Christ.

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.”

Verse 32

4. Application:

Let no one attempt to separate belief that saves and repentance that turns one towards God. Some may turn to quote Romans 10:13 to say, “All that is require is to call! No repentance necessary”. But they would do well to note the verse in Roman’s is a quote from Joel 2, a chapter unmistakenly centered on repentance.

Rejoice in God! Not because repentance is a work that He will reward, but because of His compassion, He has given us a way to escape the Day of the Lord, freely by His grace.

Foundations 16 Repentance 1 Samuel 4 “Ichabod”

1 Samuel 4:19-22

19 And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. 21 And she named the child I-chabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. 22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

  1. Background:

This was a sad time in Israel where God glory or His presence departed from them.  The background story in Chapter three tells us God is angry with the corruption of Eli’s family.  The sinful things they did are recorded in chapter two.  Their sin had affected all of Israel to abhor the offerings given to God, something that has certainly affected the people’s heart towards God and cause them to sin even greater.  So when God’s judgement falls, it does not only fall on Eli and his sons only.

2. What Can we Observe About God?

God desires above all else the heart and soul of His people.

The sins of Israel’s leadership has affected the entire people.  Like yeast in bread, it brought corruption to many.  This corruption manifested itself when the people suffered a military loss, so they fetched the Ark of God as if it were a lucky charm.    This wasn’t the decision of some bad leadership, but apparently the multitude of the people also thought this way of God.

God had once told their ancestors that the greatest importance for them in this relationship was to keep their heart genuine before Him.

And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 

Deuteronomy 10:12

But in our passage, God had been reduced to a box they could pull out of the tabernacle whenever they wanted something.  This is what sinful men do with God and much of religion attempts to reduce God to magic superstition and incantations passed off as prayer.  The result of the battle ended in Israel’s defeat and the Ark of God was taken captive.  Also the judgement the judgement God pronounced on Eli’s sons was executed.

And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

Verses 10-11

The glory of God departed from Eli, his sons, and Israel. Eli’s daughter in law gives birth and names her son “Ichabod” (the glory is gone). How does this apply to our church, to our Gospel ministry, and our personal lives?  

Our churches can become diseased in the heart.  Our leadership needs to keep their hearts right with God.  That’s why the requirements of the pastor all pertain to his personal life over his preaching ability.  The failure of the leadership will cause others to sin and fail.  We needs God’s presence among us, not rituals and useless meetings.  Sometimes it’s necessary to forget the schedule and get on our faces before God.

Like Israel, Christ’ body are God’s people.  The body of Christ have His promises and access to God.   But for some reason that lies in the heart, they are not enjoying His blessings and power.  We never want to be a church where God isn’t working.  There are dead churches everywhere. God does not owe us anything just because we have a sign, a cross on the wall, and a weekly schedule.

If we continue on in the battle without God’s power, we’re doomed.  We will be ineffective and waste our time.

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

2 Timothy 3:5

If we let our heart and love for Jesus diminish, we will turn into a powerless religion. Jesus warned churches that God will remove His glory from them like He did the Israelites.  

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Revelation 2:4-5

All these things that happen to churches as a body can happen to us individually.  A father’s lukewarm heart can effect his home and children.  We must becareful to not develop a form of godliness.  Keep your love for God hot.  Don’t let other things compete for time with God.

3. How Does this Passage point to Jesus

The Israelite people were destroyed.  But God did a work changed their hearts.  He fought the battle and the ark came back to them. 

And they of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.

1 Samuel 6:13

Over a period of 20 years, God did a work in their hearts and they repented.

 And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjath-jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.  And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.

2 Samuel 7:2-3

The Philistines came out to battle them again in the same place where the Ark was first taken.

And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 

1 Samuel 7:7

But now their hearts were right with God and God fought for them.

 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Beth-car. Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

2 Samuel 7:10-13

Jesus has come to do what God did for them.

 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:10

We are command in the way to repent and seek God with our whole heart.  Our way to God is through Jesus Christ. 

 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:  Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.  And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Acts 3:19-23

4. Application:

Apply the same principle Samuel told the Israelites:

If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only…

1 Samuel 7:3

Put your faith in Christ alone and be reconcile to God though Jesus Christ.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Roman 10:9

Foundations 3: God’s Revelation–Hebrews 1

 Hebrews 1:1-3

  1. Historical Background:

Hebrews was written to prepare the Jews for the destruction of the temple and animal sacrificial system. Many Jews in Palestine after believing in Christ still zealously worshipped at the temple and continued sacrifices.  So they need to hear that Christ completed that system and there is no longer a need for it.  This came by revelation of God.

2. Theological Observations:

God wants a relationship without a need for a middle man.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Verse 1-2

At one point in time, all people had was God’s messengers.  They were able to communicate some thing about God.  But God wanted a direct relationship with man.  So God had a plan to send His Son.  The relationship we have through His Son is a direct line of communication with Him.

As long as there is a middle man in the relationship, there will never a be any intimacy.

When young people meet and possibly would like to begin dating, in the beginning they may fear rejection.  So they ask a friend to speak as a middle man.  As long as there is a middle-man, this shows they haven’t achieved the intimacy they would like because the fear of rejection still exists.

When a married couple comes into conflict, they may feel there is too much distrust to be able to have intimate communication.  Perhaps before they are divorce they may communicate through children or even a divorce lawyer.  The presence of a middleman in this situation shows they’ve lost the ability to have an intimate relationship.

God wants to do away with the middleman in the relationship because He desires intimacy with us.  He desires our trust in Him that only exists in intimate relationship.

When God sent His Son in the world, it was the ultimate proof that He loves us.  So when we speak of His “revelation” we are not only talking about how or when He revealed Himself to us, but also His motivation.   By removing the middleman and becoming a human being, He demonstrates the kind of relation He wants with us—the kind of relationship we were created to have!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

John 3:16

There is other scripture that talks about Jesus being God in human flesh. But to stay with our passage in Hebrew’s, it tells us that Jesus is the true image of God. V3 “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person”

Being the express image of God means to represent the Godhead with 100% accuracy. Even though we speak of Jesus being representative, we also speak of Him as being God Himself. When we know Jesus we know God in the flesh.  When Jesus was about to leave His disciples, Philip asked to see the Father (God).  Jesus response shows that knowing Jesus means personally knowing God who made the universe!

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father.

John 14:9

 It is apparent that His love for us is as infinite as His power that made and sustains the worlds! Our passage repeats what other Scriptures have been saying about Jesus, He is the Creator! 

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Verse 2

Perhaps someone here objects and says, in our belief system there is an ultimate God above all the gods.  How can it be that Jesus is this ultimate God and not others that we heard of?

 We have a rare opportunity to invest age Jesus claims.  Many other have claimed to be God but have ridiculously failed by providing any proof.  If the ultimate God who is all-powerful and all knowing, wouldn’t He be able to provide some sort of proof against that claim?

Verse 2 says, that the Almighty God has chosen His Son to be the final revelation of who He is.  We can begin putting Jesus to the test.    Is there any reason to doubt Jesus’ word and miracles?  Is there any inconsistency anywhere in the Bible that speaks of Christ and His plan.  If there is any discrepancy at all, this would prove that Jesus could not the Almighty God, or at least He is not worth believing in.

The final test however must be His resurrection from the dead.  What kind of Ultimate God could be held by death?  If death is more powerful than the Almighty God, then wouldn’t the ultimate God be death instead?  But we believe the eye-witness accounts that Jesus is alive and is now sitting on the right hand of God’s throne.

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Verse 3

If Jesus passes all the tests, then what does that imply regarding our response to His commandment?

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Acts 17:29-30

Is the one commanding you to repent just a trickster fooling the world, or is He the one who created you in His image?  What will God finally do with those who refuse His commandment?  So many people from all types of cultures have made the decision to listen to Jesus’ claims and make a decision, will you?

3. How Does this Passage Point to Christ and the Gospel?

Someone else says, “I already have a god in my home.  It gives me good feelings and I feel satisfied with it. I don’t need something else.”

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Can your god deliver from death and sin?  Verse three says God chose Jesus to cleanse from sin and give eternal life.  You may have good feelings about something you’ve seen everyday, but when death comes upon you, will your idol save you?  Is there any reason to reject God’s revelation about death and judgement?  

If God is true, then He will be one you meet when you die and not another.  Would you want to stand before Him in rejection of His Son?

Human hearts can lead us wrong very easily.  Do want to trust your eternity to the feelings of your heart?  Or would you like to investigate the truth in God’s claims?  God have given us all the necessary revelation in Jesus Christ to be sure about death and eternal life.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Verses 1-3

God’s motivation in all this is to save you from death and give you life.  He desires to invite you into a real relationship with Him.  He has revealed to the world in in Word that He is God and there is no other.  You can be saved today. 

4. Application:

Rubio’s Testimony:

I grew up in a Taoist home. My parents taught me about Daoism and showed me idols they placed on the shelf.  Everyday they would teach us to worship them and ask for peace, health, and money.  Afterwards, I felt that this religion wasn’t enough. If the gods in our home weren’t powerful enough to guarantee health and money, then I would go looking for a more powerful god somewhere that could. 

When I reached the age of thirty, I began to have a real fear of death, knowing that half of my life was already complete. I didn’t find anything in temples or in Taoism that could give any peace. They’re answer was always keep doing good deeds and worship more and more gods for help. Still no peace.

I was invited to church where I heard the Bible.  I was taught that the Bible is God’s word, not a teaching from people.  The Bible wasn’t anything like what my parents taught me or what friends could show me.  The Bible claims of truth had to be from God and be without fault, otherwise it wasn’t truth at all.  The Bible talks about death with God’s authority doesn’t rely on human traditions or my parents opinions.  

After that, through God’s word, I realized that death is more than just death of my body, but also the death of my soul in hell.  This only added to my fear of death.  Even though my fears grew, but I understand that reincarnation could be true if the Bible is true.  But soon after, I heard the Gospel message.  Once I grasped its meaning, it completely rid my hear of fear.  

The Gospel message promises through the blood of Christ we have salvation from death.   There was nothing in the Daoist world that could deliver from death like this.  The Gospel did not require me to burn paper, give money, or do a lot of good deeds.  All I needed to do was trust what God said in His word.  His promise of eternal life gave me peace about my future.  I have no need to fear death knowing that there is eternal life in Christ.

Foundations 8 : Who is Jesus? John 1

  1. Background:

John, the apostle tells us more of what Jesus said in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Apostle John was the disciple of Jesus who witnessed all He said and did. His version of the Gospel was the last to be written. The other Gospels focus much on what Jesus did.  

As John presents the Gospel to his readers, he wants us to know that Jesus is God that came in human flesh. A person must know and believe this to be saved.

Nearly all cults that I know of all attack this doctrine by denying that Jesus is Jehovah of the Old Testament.  

Let’s listen to God’s word and let it change us and our hearts. John tells us why he wrote this book:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

John 20:31

2. What Can we observe about God?

God’s Word is Jesus Christ, and He existed before God created anything.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.

Verses 1-2

No one created Jesus. In Genesis 1:1, when God created the universe, “The Word,” or Jesus Christ, was already there with God. Verse two emphasizes that Jesus already enjoyed a relationship with God from eternity.

Later, John heard Jesus praying one day, and this is what he recorded:

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

John 17:5

The Word, Jesus Christ, is God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Verse 1

An illustration might be able to help some understand the relationship with Jesus to God.  

  • Jesus is God.  
  • The Father is God. 
  • But Jesus is not the Father.  
  • The Father is not Jesus.  

Before God created the world, Jesus was with the Father eternally. But we do not speak of Jesus and the Father as two separate Gods.  

  • The Father is His own separate “person.”
  • Jesus is His own separate “person.”
  • God is one being, not multiple gods together.

This concept would undoubtedly raise other questions. But John does answer them right away. John will answer much as his readers continue through the Gospel. But first, John would have us consider more about Jesus Christ.

Jesus Created all things.

“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

Verse 3

This verse means Jesus Christ performed all the creating acts we read in Genesis one. What did God use to create the worlds? He used His “Word.” And that must be why John is referring to Jesus as the “Word” of God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Verse 1

Jesus is the source of all life.

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”

Verse 4

Jesus’ own life is not dependent on something greater than He. His own life was not created, but he created all the life we see. Jesus is life.

Jesus is Truth.

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. “

Verses 4-5

How do you respond to the truth? The truth Jesus brings to us is not merely facts you can read in a textbook. The truth shows the darkness in our lives. Many times what we think is good isn’t good at all. Because says we live in darkness, so sometimes we are utterly ignorant of what is right and wrong. John uses the term “light ” to refer to the truth that Jesus brings to our lives. His light shines and exposes the darkness.

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What happens when we die?
  • Who should decide what is right and wrong?

Jesus answers all these questions. He is the light we need to see in the darkness and see ourselves.  

  • He created us.  
  • He is all-powerful.  
  • He is all-knowing.  

His Word is the reason why we are here. We need to know what He says. But what will most people do when they hear it? (v5) Most will reject the truth because they think it is offensive, or they will simply refuse to understand it.

People do not like to admit we have pervasive moral corruption. Most of us do not want people to know what we do in private because people would know about our sin. We would not be willing to let others know what goes on in our hearts and minds because it would be embarrassing if people found out.  

But Jesus is the light of men. To be near Him means to be exposed. So most people rejected or avoided Him. It is like turning on the light in a room full of cockroaches. Because the light is uncomfortable, they scatter and hide.

“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

Verse 10

Jesus came to the world and revealed our sin and corruption. People did not recognize their Creator, and even His covenant people rejected Him. Even Jesus’ disciples struggled to believe who He is and why He came. After spending three years together, Philip still did not understand who Jesus was: 

“Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” 

john 14:8-9

But when people could no longer avoid Him, they crucified Him in an attempt to rid themselves of Him. After Jesus was crucified, many of the disciples went fishing. When some of the disciples saw Jesus’ resurrection body, Thomas doubted and would not believe:

“The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 

john 20:25

How Does this Passage Point to the Gospel?

But some do receive Him, His truth, and His salvation. Here is how you can receive Him:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Verses 12-13

The Bible doesn’t ask people if they want to go to heaven. No one goes to heaven only by wanting to go there. The Bible asks you if you’re going to receive Him, Jesus Christ.  

  • Will you receive the truth in Jesus Christ?
  • Will you believe He is God?
  • Will you believe He created you?
  • Will you believe He is the source of life?
  • Will you believe He will use the truth to judge all men?
  • Will you receive Him as your Lord and Savior?

If you believe on His name, He will give you the authority to become the sons and daughters of God. No one can earn that identity. Jesus has to give it to you. If you are going to be His child, it is something He must do for you. (v13).

  • You cannot become a Christian because of your parents.
  • You aren’t a Christian just because you say you are and everyone thinks you are.
  • You can’t become a Christian because you were baptized.

Salvation is from God alone; it is born of Him, not man. 

  • We are the sinners.  
  • He is the Savior.  
  • We believe His Word as Truth.
  • We are helpless without Him.
  • We believe on Him, and He saves us through His power.
  • We see His power through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • There are Christians all over the world today because that happened.

If you not a believer, then you must believe on the name of Jesus Christ. You do not need to go to seminary or understand the entire Bible to be saved. Just believe you are what He says you are, and believe He is who He says He is.