Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 27:11-56

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 26:30-27:10.

Last week’s look at the remainder of Matthew 26 flowed into the beginning of 27 so that we could close the loop on Judas. His life ended in a repentance that only led him back to the murderous, unbelieving chief priests and elders who paid Judas to betray the Christ. Judas then took his own life in condemnation. The witness of the Gospel accounts confirms Judas, the betrayer, did not truly repent and indeed died in his unbelief.

Matthew 27:11-56 (ESV)

As we continue working through Matthew 27, we see Jesus standing before Pilate. There were legal limits imposed upon the Jews as a result of the Roman occupation. Crucifixion was a Roman form of execution, not a Jewish one, so these chief priests and elders sought the most destructive, painful, and disgraceful form of execution in the known world, and they needed Rome to do it.

Matthew 27:11-14 (ESV) | Jesus Before Pilate

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Jesus was innocent of every charge. His silence was a necessary part of His obedience to God the Father unto death. The fact of the matter is this: Jesus couldn’t be guilty of blasphemy because He is, in truth, God the Son. Jesus is the pure and spotless Lamb of God.

Matthew 27:15-23 (ESV) | The Crowd Chooses Barabbas

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Your flesh chooses sin, it doesn’t choose Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God. It is corrupted by sin and drawn to itself rather than to God. Here, the chief priests and the elders have led Israel to destroy the Son of Man. Unjustly. Praise be to God for His Grace and Mercy in allowing this to happen, so that by His stripes, we are healed from our death and sealed with the promise of new life in the Resurrection. I know, I’m getting ahead of myself, but I can’t help it.

Matthew 27:24-26 (ESV) | Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

I wonder if Pilate modeled the ceremonial hand washing of which the chief priests chastised Jesus and His disciples for skipping before eating (Mark 7:1-8). The Tradition of the Elders had invented ways of washing off the uncleanliness that may have been transferred onto them from those in the market place, so that they would not be made unclean in eating with unclean hands. None of it is Scripture, it’s from the so-called Oral Tradition (Pharisaical). Interesting how even in being dead in sins and trespasses, we have an inkling of an understanding that we need to have our sins and transgressions (Baptism) but this is a work that God must do for us, not one that we can do for ourselves. Pilate is no more innocent of blood for having washed his hands than the elders who seek His crucifixion. It is eerie to see the people declare boldly, “His blood be on us and on our children!” No doubt this pierced the hearts of all who listened on the day of Pentecost when Peter declared the following:

Acts 2:22-23 (ESV) “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Peter points out that the Jews crucified Jesus by the hands of lawless men (the Romans who are not under the Mosaic Law). Yet, God in His Mercy and Grace to His creation… made this the very means by which our sins and transgressions are washed away… by the Blood of Jesus… shed on the Cross.

Matthew 27:27-31 (ESV) | Jesus Is Mocked

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

Matthew 27:32-44 (ESV) | The Crucifixion

32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Matthew 27:45-56 (ESV) | The Death of Jesus

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.”48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Truly this is the Son of God! The detail of the curtain of the temple is vitally important. The significance of this is something the Jewish readers of Matthew’s account would have recognized immediately. Being a Gentile, I’m very grateful for the writer of Hebrews expounding on this for us so beautifully. If you wish to understand the covenants, read through Hebrews as a single document. In the interest of time, we’ll read through portions pertaining to the curtain of the temple and the significance of its rending at Christ’s death on the cross.

God’s Promise to Abraham

As Christians we are made sons of Abraham by faith, into the Promise that God made to Abraham after he did not withhold his son, his only son Isaac.

Genesis 22:14-18 (ESV) So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

We’ll be revisiting this passage as a foreshadowing of Christ in the Old Testament in the weeks following our closing of the Gospel According to Matthew. But this is the backdrop for what we will  now read in Hebrews.

Hebrews 6:13-20 (ESV) | The Certainty of God’s Promise

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

The writer of Hebrews is delineating the Mosaic Covenant from the New Covenant of Christ’s Blood, so in this next portion where he writes “the first covenant” he’s referring to that of Moses.

Hebrews 9:1-10 (ESV) | The Earthly Holy Place

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 10:1-4 (ESV) | Christ’s Sacrifice Oncefor All

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Hebrews 10:12-14 (ESV) But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV) | The Full Assurance of Faith

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Amen. The rending of that curtain isn’t just about showing God’s power, but about the end of the first covenant… because it was now superseded by the Blood of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through the remainder of the Gospel According to Matthew. I do hope you join us for that. In the meantime, spend some time in the Word and in fellowship with the Body of Christ. Love God, Love Neighbor, repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,

Abraham and Isaac | Pointing to the Cross

??????????Today, I wanted to share a wonderful look at Genesis 22, where God tests Abraham. Those of you who attend a foundational, bible-teaching, church should already have been presented with this view of the story. However, as society and the evangelical community drifts further and further away from bible teaching, I think we should take some time to check it out now.

Genesis 22 (ESV)

1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

His only son Isaac? Why is God ignoring the fact that Abram had already fathered Ishmael by Hagar? Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah 13 years later. God’s covenant with Abraham (circumcision) was established when he was 99 years old. At the time of their circumcision, Ishmael is referred to as Abraham’s son. So is this a contradiction? Absolutely not. Let’s look at what God said of Ishmael specifically regarding God’s covenant with Abraham for all of mankind, His Promise of the Messiah.

Genesis 17:15-21 (ESV) 15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

God was very clear about Isaac being the son of Promise, the son with whom God will keep His covenant with Abraham. Yes, He heard Abraham’s request for Ishmael to be blessed, and Ishmael was blessed (while still being a wild donkey of a man…). But Sarah was upset when she witnessed Ishmael laughing at Isaac, and implored Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away.

Genesis 21:10-13 (ESV) 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.”

God does make a nation of Ishmael. However, God’s promise to Abraham, for his namesake, for the lineage of the Messiah, is through Isaac, not Ishmael. Therefore, with respect to God’s promise to Abraham, God’s covenant with Abraham, there is only one son, Isaac. There is no “back-up”… plan B was rejected before plan A was even implemented. No turning back. Therefore, when God told Abraham to sacrifice “his only son”, He wasn’t miss counting offspring, He was letting Abraham know that He was fully aware that Isaac was the sole bearer of Abraham’s namesake, the only son by which God declared His promise to Abraham. This is significant, because what follows next points directly at the cross.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Praise the Lord. Next, let’s take a look at where God send Abraham for the sacrifice, to the land of Moriah, to a mountain He will show Abraham. Now, this is long before the captivity in Egypt, the Exodus, and the Law of Moses. Before Israel is lead into the Promised Land. Before King David and King Solomon. But notice the location of where King Solomon built the Temple of the Lord:

2 Chronicles 3:1 (ESV) 1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

How cool is that? Even more interesting, is that if you’ll remember your history, when the Second Temple was built (after the Babylonian exile), the Temple remained in the same place, and maintained its same dimensions, but Herod wanted to make it more grand in nature, so he widened the temple mount… essentially creating a plateau of the hills around Mount Moriah, so that the Temple Mount was extended around the Temple. Jesus was crucified outside the city, on a hill of Moriah… where Abraham was lead to sacrifice “his only son” as a burnt offering to the Lord God. Let us continue on with the story.

Genesis 22:33 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

Isaac carried the wood for the burnt offering, the sacrifice. We read in  John 19:16b-17 (ESV) “So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.” Praise the Lord.

Genesis 22:9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Now here, we have the provision of God. God provides the sacrifice. Yes, Jesus was born of a virgin, and was fully man, the offspring of Abraham provided by God. God intervened so that mankind might by saved, spared from the judgement. Have you ever wondered about the crown of thorns they placed on Jesus head? Notice the ram provided by God as a substitutionary sacrifice on man’s behalf, is caught in a thicket by his horns.

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

We see here that God is again letting Abraham know that the Messiah is coming from his offspring because he obeyed the voice of the Lord God. Praise be to our Lord and Savior. In closing, I’d like to borrow from the Apostle Paul’s closing of his letter to the Romans:

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) 16 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
In Him,


Escape…Do not look back…lest you be swept away

This week my personal schedule got completely derailed and I allowed my Bible study time to suffer. It has been a mess. I thank God for His Mercy and Grace in giving me a loving, godly wife who reads me well and knows when to rebuke and when to encourage me.  Today, I’d like to share what has been rolling in my mind regarding the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and what I think this points to for our understanding of repentance and the high cost of following Jesus Christ, or what it means to “be a Christian”.

Genesis 19:15-29 (ESV) 15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. 19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. 22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. 29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.

The Bible does not go into great detail on the particulars of Lot’s wife turning into salt, anymore than it does on why she turned. The point of this passage isn’t Lot’s wife, it is about God’s wrath and about His salvation, for God spared Lot because He remembered Abraham, with whom He made His covenant. Jewish tradition (outside of the Bible) generally holds to the notion that Lot’s wife saw God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and that is how she was turned into a pillar of salt, because no one can see God and live. Possible, but not worth spending a great deal of time on here because it isn’t explained fully in Scripture. In 2 Peter 2, the Apostle links the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Flood during Noah’s time as examples of what is going to happen to the ungodly. Similarly, I believe the unique punishment of Lot’s wife also stands as an example. But of what? At face value, what we know is that all of them were commanded not to look back in their flight. I think there is a problem of unbelief or possibly a problem of unrepentance. Lot’s daughters were betrothed, but their would-be husbands thought Lot was joking, so they perished with the city. Lot was a righteous man (as attested to by the Apostle Peter), but his daughters would later conspire to do evil in the sight of God, thus becoming the mothers of the Moabites and the Ammonites. So, whether she doubted the word of the Lord regarding the destruction, and looked back out of disbelief, or she looked back because she couldn’t fully repent of that world, we don’t know. In researching another topic in the book of Luke, I came across another passage that always gave me pause to reflect:

Luke 9:57-62 (ESV) 57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus[a] said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Now, lets look at the greater context of Luke 9 and what happens next in Luke 10. Jesus has been prepping His disciples for His upcoming death, the need to take up their crosses and follow Him, and He was also transfigured before Peter, James, and John who heard the voice of God the Father in Heaven. These are troubling times, and the disciples aren’t really getting it yet. People are still wanting to follow Jesus, but they each are being held back by the cares of this life.  In the next portion of Scripture, Luke 10, we see Jesus sending out the 72 disciples, pronouncing woe to unrepentant cities, and wrapping up the chapter we see Jesus give a gentle rebuke to Martha over being distracted from the important things.

First, let us address the primary lesson of repentance. The call to repentance, is to turn away from sin. In Genesis 19, this was quite literal. They were to flee, run, and not to look back lest they get swept away in the destruction. Today, we face a destruction that is every bit as real, and impending as what Lot’s family faced, only it is more subtle. The wages of sin is death, and the Holiness and Justice of the Lord God is not superseded by His Love, it is reinforced by it. We are born dead in sin and trespasses (Eph 2) and looking back toward the world of sin from which we are told to flee is sin. Repenting of this sin, means turning away from looking back. The Israelites whom the Lord God delivered out of Egypt frequently committed this sin of turning back toward Egypt, even inviting the bondage of slavery so that they might save their own lives.

Numbers 14:1-4 (ESV) 1 Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Thankfully, Jesus Christ presented Himself as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of mankind. His blood paid the debt of sin, so that in Him we might be made free from the bondage of sin. There is forgiveness for sin, and we must die to our flesh daily, take up our cross, and follow Him without looking back.

A secondary lesson here is that you can’t plow a straight line by looking back. You can’t follow Jesus if you keep looking back toward the world, toward Sodom and Gomorrah. You can’t follow Jesus and try to manage all of the cares of this life on your own. We aren’t likely to face being literally turned into a pillar of salt, but if we are not careful we can become just as ineffective and distracted. Keep your eyes on Christ. Keep Him in your focus. This goes for the members of the Church, the Body of Christ, and for the Elders/Deacons/Pastors. Preach the Word of God. Keep Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, as the central figure and focus of all of Scripture.

In closing, I’d like to take a moment to visit Matthew 6, at the promise we have from God that He will meet our needs and that He cares for us.

Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV) 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The Apostle Paul gave this instruction to the church at Philip

Philippians 3:12-16 (ESV) 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Amen. May the Lord bless you and keep you,
In Him,

Jacob and Esau

??????????The story of Jacob and Esau has always bothered me. Now, I understand that the Old Testament is history more than prescription, and the point of the Old Testament isn’t man, but God and His promise to send the Messiah. Still, the story of Jacob “stealing his brother’s blessing” has always bothered me. Thanks to an episode of Fighting for the Faith (F4F), I no longer have a problem with this passage. F4F is usually a 2 hour program, so I don’t expect you to take time to listen to the whole broadcast for this point, so I thought I’d take some time to share the major points I got from the program, but I will also be exploring some additional Biblical research.

First of all, the story of Jacob tricking his father Isaac into blessing him rather than Esau is found in Genesis 27. However, rightly understanding what is taking place in Chapter 27 needs to begin in Chapter 25.

Genesis 25:19-28 (ESV)
19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”

24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Remember that we’ve spent a great amount of time looking at God’s promise to Abraham, the promise of his Descendent (Jesus Christ) that would be a blessing to all nations. The biggest problem with the Jacob and Esau story is that if you only read chapter 27, you might walk away with a twisted notion that in some instances God might bless acts of deception. But that is a lie of the enemy. Notice above, that when Rebekah inquired of the Lord, He told her that the older shall serve the younger. God had already clearly chosen Jacob for the lineage of the Messiah, not Esau. He chose Jacob before the twins were born. Now, scripture does not say how Rebekah inquired of the Lord. She could have gone to Melchizedek or someone of his order (this predates the Tabernacle and the Law of Moses, and the tribe of Levi), or she could have asked Isaac to seek counsel on her behalf, or it could have been direct communication… we just don’t know, because it isn’t written. Any attempt to explain this gap is conjecture. But that she received this answer from the Lord would have been made known to Isaac. It would not have remained a secret between God and Rebekah, because we are talking about the covenant of Abraham and the line of his descendents. That the Lord God would choose the younger over the older would have been a largely significant decree and extremely unorthodox. I don’t know if they would have shared this prophecy with their children. But what we do know is that despite the Word of the Lord, Isaac loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Isaac favored Esau.

Genesis 25:29-34 (ESV) 29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Okay, so there is room to surmise from this passage that in her love for Jacob, Rebekah probably shared with Jacob the Word of the Lord concerning them. We don’t know if this was the first time Jacob went after the birthright, or if it was the first time Esau accepted an unreasonable deal for a bowl of food, we simply know that in this instance, Esau despised his birthright. This isn’t a mere mention of a simple mistake, nor of an honest man being duped by a con artist… this speaks to a character problem with Esau. In normal cases of the day, the first born son grew to take over all of his father’s possessions and lands, as ruler over the household. Over all of the livestock, the tents, the women, children, slaves, everything. That is his birthright. Additionally, Esau was third generation from Abraham. God’s promise to Abraham, His intervention in sparing the life of Isaac as a sacrifice, all recent history and part of Esau’s birthright. And he traded it all to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew and some bread. I highlighted “Edom” as a reminder for you whenever you read later about the Edomites, that you would remember they are of Esau.

Now, interestingly enough chapter 26 for the most part makes no mention of Jacob, and only a single comment about Esau. So what is the focus of the chapter? God reminds Isaac of His promise to Abraham and subsequently to Isaac, but also we see God’s mighty hand on Isaac such that the Philistines envy and fear him and ask him to make an oath with them to do them no harm. That’s huge… and it is all part of the birthright that Esau despised earlier. Has Esau’s character improved? Well, lets look at the closing comment of the chapter…

Genesis 26:34-35 (ESV) When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

Esau marries 2 Hittites and they make life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. Skipping ahead briefly we see Rebekah expand on the bitterness brought by these women:

Genesis 27:46 (ESV) 46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women.[a] If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”

[a] Genesis 27:46 Hebrew daughters of Heth

Who are the Hittites? Normally, I exclude the footnotes in the ESV in these posts, but this footnote is relevant for this post. Searching for Hittites alone doesn’t give a full picture of what is at play here.

Genesis 15:18-21 (ESV) 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

God promised Abraham that his descendents would endure captivity for 400 years in a foreign land, but be delivered and given these lands. But why these lands? For that, we need to look at the name “Heth”.

Genesis 10:1 (ESV) These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood.
Genesis 10:6 (ESV) The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan.
Genesis 10:15-20 (ESV) 15 Canaan fathered Sidon his firstborn and Heth, 16 and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the clans of the Canaanites dispersed. 19 And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon in the direction of Gerar as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.

Quite the list of tribes. Recognize these names? Let’s go back one more chapter to see Noah’s response to the sin of Ham..

Genesis 9:24-27 (ESV) 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,

 “Cursed be Canaan;
a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”

26 He also said,

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem;
and let Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth,
and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
and let Canaan be his servant.”

This has been a bit of an aside, but all of this is important to understand in light of the Promise of God to Abraham. Esau had no business taking wives from the daughters of Heth/Canaan/Ham. So, Esau’s character issues have worsened. Let us continue now to Chapter 27:

Genesis 27 (ESV) 1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”

Despite having sold his birthright, married two daughters of Heth, made the lives of Isaac and Rebekah bitter, and most importantly despite the Word of the Lord God to Rebekah that the older shall serve the younger, Isaac was determined to give Esau his blessing. We are not talking about a “bless you” you give when someone sneezes (odd that we do that, by the way) because Isaac is clearly connecting this even to the fact that he is growing old and might die soon. Therefore, Isaac wants to give his blessing (inheritance) before he dies. But Isaac is planning to give his blessing to the wrong son. Wrong not by custom, but according to the Word of the Lord.

Genesis 27:5-13 (ESV) 5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.”

Okay, so Rebekah overheard Isaac speaking to Esau. She heard that Isaac was about to bless Esau contrary to the Word of the Lord regarding Jacob and Esau. Does she act honorably? No, she engage in deception. The historical passages of the Old Testament are not always prescription for how we are to live our lives, they are to show God’s Greatness and that He keeps His Word. Forgive me a bit of armchair quarterbacking, but reminding Isaac of the Word of the Lord, or that Esau had already sold his birthright or both might have been better routes. However, the perfection in the Old Testament is God, not man. The biggest point here is that God doesn’t honor the blessing on Jacob because of this deception; rather, God had already chosen Jacob before he was born. The deception does not go unpunished… Jacob has to flee the wrath of Esau, and Rebekah has to deal with the pain of her sin of deception. Jacob has a long road ahead of him to grow into maturity.

It is my sincere prayer that if you’ve ever struggled with this story of Jacob and Esau and the blessing of Isaac, that perhaps this has shed some light on the subject. Even if you’ve never had an issue with the story, I hope that this has at least been an interesting look at how we strive to allow the Scriptures to define and explain Scriptures.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you,
In Him,

Discipleship: Calling, Apprenticeship, & Ministry III


Repro. of painting by Emile Adan, copyrighted by Braun & Co., N.Y.

To switch things up a bit in this series, I’d like to take a look at one of the Apostles. Today, Let’s take a look at the Calling, Apprenticeship, & Ministry of the Apostle Paul.You might be thinking, “woah, that’s a huge jump from Gideon to Paul”. It is, but I believe that once we’ve finished going through this study, you’ll realize that ultimately, it doesn’t matter whose life we study, what we see is God at work in and through these men of faith. I’m so excited to get into this, because the Apostle Paul went to great lengths to provide us with what we need to know about God’s redemptive work first in Paul and then through him, but all of the work was done by Him.

Paul (formerly Saul)

Our first introduction to Saul comes in Acts 7. But I don’t want to dive right in without some context first. In the first 5 chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, we see the Apostles launch in the Ministry of the Gospel, the Great Commission. We will study this time in the near future, but for now let me just say that these sermons are powerful. The Spirit of God works mightily in His Church. The Church grew so large that the Apostles could no longer see to every detail of the needs of the brethren while also devoting sufficient time to prayer and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in Acts 6, the Apostles promote seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, to be promoted as deacons, so that the Apostles could devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. We will also take a closer look at the New Testament model for Church structure. So many projects in the queue, Praise the Lord! But I digress, one of the chosen men was Stephen. Men of various synagogues tried to trip Stephen up but couldn’t, due to the work of the Holy Spirit, so they got false witnesses to testify against him in front of the Sanhedrin. When it is finally Stephen’s turn to respond to the accusations against him… he launches into an astounding sermon beginning in Acts 7:2. How he ends the speech, and what happens next always brings a tear to my eye…

Acts 7:51-60 (ESV) 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” 54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 8:1-3 (ESV) 1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Now take a second look at what is happening to the church in Jerusalem. Had the church done something wrong? No. Is this punishment from God? No. This punishment is from men. The church scattered, the apostles remained. Emotionally, this is a devastating blow to go from the victory, boldness, and blessing that seemed to be the norm in the first 6 chapters of Acts. For they made great lamentations over him [Stephen]. Make no mistake, God is still in control. We would do well to remember these times in Jerusalem when our ears are being tickled with prosperity doctrine that ignores the reality of the Gospel, or when we are encouraged to anchor our faith to our emotions. Our faith needs but One Anchor, and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us continue…

Acts 9:1-9 (ESV) 1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

We are pausing here, to note that as yet we do not have the Call of God upon Saul’s life. Only that Jesus saw fit to stop Saul from sinning against Him. Jesus stepped in. Jesus intervened. He made Himself known to Saul, in a powerful, and divine way. Saul needed to repent, as do all who are born in sin. I think it is worth noting that Saul’s response realizing he was woefully in the wrong and persecuting the Son of God. He neither ate nor drank for 3 days (and I think he’d have gone longer had God not sent someone to him). Let’s continue reading…

Acts 9:10-20 (ESV) 10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

So many things going on in this passage.  Very clearly, we see the Calling that God has placed on Saul in v15… and just as quickly we see that this would be an extremely heavy burden to bear, where it not for the fact that God is the one who completes the works He has started. Now, remember at the start of this series that I said that these “phases” I’m using to break down the Call, Apprenticeship, and Ministry might not always be distinct phases. Paul wasn’t without training. It’s not like he was all zeal and no substance. His zeal was anchored in his understanding of the scriptures. He was dead wrong because he was dead in sin. Let’s look at how he describes himself later:

Philippians 3:3-6 (ESV) 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Galatians 1:11-24 (ESV) 11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His Grace, 16 was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

Paul makes it abundantly clear, time and time again, that he was dead in his sin and it was but by the Grace of God that He chose to reveal His Son Jesus to Paul. Paul needed no further teaching because he had already studied and memorized the Law and the Prophets (as to the Law, a Pharisee) and everything he was doing while dead in his sin he did in accordance with the Law (as to righteousness under the law, blameless) to punish the blasphemy. For you see, there is no middle ground with respect to the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Either He is the Son of God, being equal to God, and having been with God since the beginning, or He is a liar and a blasphemer. There is NO OTHER OPTION. What Paul (then Saul) lacked, was the revelation that Jesus was not a man making empty claims of deity, Jesus is in-fact the Son of God. Once that revelation was given to him by the Grace of God, Paul was then able to accept who Jesus really is. As Jesus spoke identifying Himself as the Bread of Life there is a comment He makes that I feel is reflected in the story of Paul’s conversion, John 6:43-44 (ESV) Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…”

Paul was immediately ready to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And all who heard of Paul’s conversion, glorified God. God uses Paul mightily as His Apostle to the Gentiles. God inspires Paul to write 15 epistles to the churches, two of which contain such marvelous examples of seeing the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Old Testament (Hebrews and Romans). He was not alone in this, for when we look at Stephen’s final sermon, and look at Peter’s sermons, we’ll see that truly all of the Apostles had their understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ grounded in the Law and the Prophets. In closing, I’d like to share a wonderful quote from Graeme Goldsworthy… that I put into a graphic for a different purpose, but I think it works well here, too.


May the Lord bless and keep you always,
In Him,