Gospel Wednesday | Mark 11

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 10, where we saw Jesus clearly teach regarding marriage and divorce by reaching back all the way to Genesis 2. We are again reminded that Jesus came to die for our sin and then be raised up for our salvation.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 11 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 11:1-11 (ESV) | The Triumphal Entry

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

In the future I’d like to get these devotional posts better lined up with the church year, but this one landed fairly closely. If you attend a liturgical church that moves through a lectionary, you probably read through this account or one of its parallels last week or the week prior. While this may seem an oddly specific request from Jesus, Matthew and John give us the reference to the following Prophecy:

Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) | The Coming King of Zion
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

It is so cool to see how completely Jesus fulfilled these prophecies and how once you see they are fulfilled in Him it becomes clear that these couldn’t possibly be about anyone else. Praise the LORD!

Mark 11:12-14 (ESV) | Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

When we worked through the parallel texts in Matthew, we spent a great deal of time pointing out how this encounter with the fig tree was prophetic, and it pointed to the religious leaders, the chief priests of Israel. They had a form of godliness (the leaves) but were not bearing fruit (faith in Christ Jesus). They were the fig tree that bore no fruit. This text is often used by unbelievers who seek to deny the Deity of Christ (Muslim and Atheist apologists and heretics who deny the Trinity) by accusing Jesus of being mistaken and not knowing it wasn’t the season for figs. Jesus knew, and this wasn’t about wanting figs nor was it about a prophet having a tantrum. Mark isn’t writing about the false teaching of the Pharisees here, he’s writing about the Authority of Jesus and his inclusion of the encounter with the fig tree is being used to build up to that moment.

Mark 11 (ESV) | Jesus Cleanses the Temple

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.

Here, the fruitless tree seeks a way to destroy Jesus, for they feared Him.

Mark 11:15-19 (ESV) | The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Notice here that the object of faith isn’t faith itself, it is God. Don’t allow others to mix this teaching with the mustard seed reference where the end result is a focus on whether or not you have “enough faith” as if it were gasoline in a fuel tank. Jesus isn’t telling them they will somehow grow into a power of their own, He tells them to have faith in God. What is the fruit that was lacking in the fig tree? Faith. What are we asking for in prayer? Forgiveness by the Blood of Jesus. Don’t look inwardly for a sense of forgiveness or some emotional experience confirming what the Scriptures say… when you hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaim you forgiven and set free, trust in His Word. And when you speak these words of forgiveness to your neighbor, trust in God’s Forgiveness for your neighbor as you do in your own forgiveness. Jesus is not merely teaching about signs and wonders to impress the kingdoms of this world, He’s preaching the Kingdom of Heaven.

Mark 11:20-33 (ESV) | The Authority of Jesus Challenged

And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

In refusing to confess Him as the Christ, they suppressed the truth in their own unrighteousness (Romans 1). Jesus’ authority came from Heaven, for He is God the Son. He came to set the captives free, not to rule over them in this temporal life, for His Kingdom is not of this world.

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) | Christ’s Example of Humility
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus didn’t need to verbally proclaim His Authority at this time, for God had already testified of Him as did the signs and wonders and teaching of Jesus. Those who had an ear to hear did hear, and eyes to see did see. His sheep heard His voice and believed. We are still doing so today, for as long as the LORD tarries.

Conclusion

Consider the cross this week, consider your sin, consider the humble sacrifice Jesus, God the son, made on our behalf, that we might be called Children of the Most High God. Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

What the Bible says about Sex

marriageThere is a lot going on in the news these days regarding sexual immorality. The LGBTQ agenda has made huge strides against the Church in America. Sadly, there is a great falling away from Sound Doctrine in many so-called evangelical churches and denominations caving in to the world’s pressure to redefine sex, sexuality, identity and sin. I had planned a different topic for this week’s Bible Study, but I think we will spend our time looking at what the Bible has to say about sex. Many anti-christians start by attacking the Mosaic laws first, but I’d like to begin with something Jesus said as recorded in Matthew 19.

Matthew 19:1-9 (ESV) 1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

The heading in my Bible for this passage is “Teaching About Divorce”. Why did I choose to start here? Because I first wanted to point out that sex and marriage are linked and instituted by God when He created Adam and Eve.

Genesis 2:20-25 (ESV) 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

The union of man and woman is part of the design, part of our creation. God didn’t form men and women separately and then allow them to unite their flesh; He created them with this purpose in mind. Eve was formed out of Adam, and since then all men and women have been formed from the joining of one man and one woman. Sin has since perverted that, and we’ll get to that in a bit, but for now, know that in dealing with a legal matter, a test or question regarding the Law of Moses… Jesus went all the way back to creation and defined clearly the purpose of His creation. Remember our introduction to the book of John.

John 1:1-5;14 (ESV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Okay, so Jesus is the final authority on the purpose of Creation. He is the Word of God. But we also have the written Word of God as inspired by God the Holy Spirit; therefore, every word in the Bible is authoritative. My goal here is to point you to the words Jesus spoke while He walked the Earth for those who place undue emphasis on the “red letters” (all of the letters should be red). Getting back to the passage in Matthew 19, look at what happens next as Jesus speaks with his disciples:

Matthew 19:10-12 (ESV) 10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

The disciples got the message loudly and clearly. You see, even in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, divorce had become an acceptable course of action. There was much more ritual involved then that what we have now, but the end result remains unchanged, it is sin. The breaking of God’s design. The disciples were correct in their assertion that since divorce was not a part of God’s design for man and woman, that if anyone might be considering the possibility of relying on divorce down the road, that it would be better for that man NOT to marry at all. However, Jesus makes it clear that not everyone can take that road. Why is that? Because the sin of divorce is not the only sin. Sexual immorality is a powerful sin that works evil within our flesh, and in-fact is part of our flesh from our birth as a result of the original sin. When Jesus mentions that some are “eunuchs from birth”, he is referring to those whose struggle is not of a sexual nature. I’m sure you’ve met people who just don’t seem to have that “sexual drive” that you have… and at times you’ve envied them or maybe thought ill of them. That is not to say they are “immune” to sexual sin, but that the drive isn’t there. In today’s sexualized culture, these folks are most often labeled “weird” or maliciously labeled queer/questioning, or now the world has developed a new attack called “gender confusion”. Regardless, my point being here that Jesus made it very clear that some are called and equipped to NOT marry. The Church has done a very poor job on teaching this truth from God’s word, for too long we’ve focused on Marriage and procreation as a Holy Sacrament. While it is the ONLY allowable context for sex, marriage in and of itself is not a prerequisite for serving God. We’ll explore this truth more. The next option (Jesus truly did cover all of the bases), is that some men are made eunuchs by the hands of men, and finally some choose to make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Some do so by choice. They choose, not necessarily to castrate themselves physically, but to forgo marriage (and sex) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

Remember, however, that the very context of this conversation is under “teaching about divorce”. Once you’ve married, you are joined with your spouse in the flesh until death. So, Jesus is clearly saying if God has given you the gift and calling to go your entire life single without falling into sexual sin so that you can devote yourself fully to the kingdom of heaven, do it. Otherwise, understand that in choosing to marry, that decision is to be made permanent in keeping with God’s design for marriage… one man with one woman. Paul also teaches on the call to ministry and being a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom.

1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (ESV)  7 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Here, the issue of marriage is presented as both a binding covenant, and a remedy for sexual temptation. That’s right, in the same light that Jesus taught His disciples, Paul is exhorting the believers who are single, if you lack self-control, better to be married (so that sexual intimacy can be enjoyed in its proper context without sin) than to fall into sexual immorality. Notice also that marriage is not an automatic remedy for sexual temptation. Paul first exhorts married believers not to deprive one another of intimacy so that Satan cannot take advantage of a lack of self-control. For if burning with passion as a single person weren’t bad enough, allowing sexual immorality to take place within the context of marriage burns up both spouses, for neither of them owns their flesh, but the 2 are made one flesh in marriage.

Paul is not anti-marriage. He is instructing the church, a persecuted church, on how to fulfill the great commission (Matt 28:16-20). I don’t understand why it is that we preach the Great Commission in our churches when the topic of “how to live a Godly life” is concerned, but regarding sex and marriage we reach back to Genesis 1:28 (ESV), “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth”? The earth is filled with sinners, slaves to darkness, and a world that hates God. The Great Commission is our commission, our duty, not just “the pastor’s”. Paul is simply being practical in his encouragement and instruction for believers. He explains himself perfectly in the following passage:

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (ESV) 32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

So we’ve established the connection between sex and marriage as being integral in the very design of mankind at Creation. I also hope to have reduced the “necessity” of sex and procreation in light of the Great Commission and working for the kingdom of heaven. Sex is still a gift for those of us who lack self-control, but that gift is very specific and has very specific boundaries. There is only ONE context for sex that is acceptable in God’s sight and that is within marriage. The institution of marriage was set at creation, when God made them male and female.

So what about the notion of homosexual marriage? Unbiblical. God’s design for marriage, from the beginning and throughout scripture is for a man and a woman to become one flesh. The world does what it does, and it will be judged (again and finally). There is no room for the church to accept homosexual marriage. The world will sometimes try to make it about “love” rather than the sex. Irrelevant for 2 reasons. The first, as we’ve established, sex and marriage are inseparable. The second, because God is love. He defines love. Therefore, anything God declares to be sin cannot be called love, for God is also Holy and Just. I mentioned earlier that the LGBTQ lobby has developed this new concept of “gender identity”. It is merely an extension of the claim “God made me gay”. This new approach is to circumvent what the Bible says about homosexuality by making about “identity”. The logic follows that a person might have been born in the wrong body (God’s fault) therefore their sexual orientation shouldn’t be labeled based on their biology but how they self-identify. Clearly this tactic isn’t embraced by the LGB folks, but the QT folks are growing in number. These are all lies of the enemy.

Romans 1:16-32 (ESV) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Yes, there are laws in the Mosaic covenant that we are no longer bound to for Jesus Christ fulfilled those laws on our behalf. The laws regarding sexual immorality remain, for they are nature’s laws, and God created them. The definition of sin has not changed. What was sin is still sin… in fact, under the new covenant, we now know just how inescapable our sin nature truly is, and just how much we need a Savior to atone for our sins that we might be made right with God.

Mark 7:20-23 (ESV) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Pornography & Sexual Fantasy = Adultery=Sin. There is simply no room for any church or any person to redefine sexual immorality. We dare not call evil, good. The Law remains to convict us of our sin, so that we might remain in the Grace of God, Jesus Christ. Let me be clear, unrepentant homosexuality is no more acceptable within the church than murder, incest, adultery, polygamy, or idolatry.  There is forgiveness at the foot of the Cross for all who repent. If we preach Gospel without the Law, we minimize the Gospel. We must preach both Law and Gospel so that the Holy Spirit can perform His sanctifying work on the Body of Christ by the seed of God’s Word being planted in our hearts.

1 Timothy 1:8-17 (ESV) 8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

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

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable

Currently, here in the US, there has been a great deal of buzz over social media and the News media regarding the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. This post is not about the politics, conspiracies, nor the alleged federal police brutality. I’m only interested in the Biblical perspective. I believe the Bundy family is Mormon, so this isn’t for them so much as it is for my fellow Christians who engage in politics, particularly the “conservatives”.

Our text for this post comes from 1 Peter 2:

1 Peter 2:11-25 (ESV)
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to Him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

This is tough teaching. Remember the time frame in which this letter was written. These men suffered persecution unto death. Peter most likely died under the persecution of Nero (ref: The Deaths of the 12 Apostles). With that understanding, notice Peter’s specific instruction to Honor the emperor. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Great Commission do not require the support of any nation of men. For we are the Temple of God the Holy Spirit, and in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:22-31).

My heart goes out to this rancher for the loss of his livelihood (his cattle) and the apparent end of an era of ancestral claims to the land. However, notice verse 20, “for what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure“… he hasn’t paid federal gracing fees for over 30 years. The time to fight an unjust law is when the unjust law is in effect, not simply when the due punishment for ignoring the unjust law is at your doorstep. If you wait until your punishment, then the virtue of fighting the unjust law has lost its credibility, for you are now only fighting to justify your own action (or inaction). My heart breaks at the waning of a once-great nation of freedom. There is only one Nation of God, and that is the Kingdom of Heaven, of which we who have been grafted in by the Blood of Jesus Christ are a part. It is tempting to elevate the US to status of a “Christian nation”, though it was never truly a Nation under God. It was a well-established nation, founded on good principles of freedom and limited government, and its Constitution was clearly a masterfully written document. Were it a Christian Nation, its laws would have been drafted to honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is not to say it was built an evil nation, or to argue that it wasn’t established to be a free nation. Many of the founding fathers were Deists and Humanists whose desire was to create a system where all religions were protected and no religion would be “established” by Law. That is not a bad thing as far as a government, but let us not confuse it with a Biblical thing. The Bible does not leave room for any other gospel, for Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, obey the Word of God. Wherever possible and where ever practicable, participate in local politics wisely, but do not confuse the politics of a lost world with the role of the Church. They are completely separate. The world HATES Jesus, and it will hate us because of Him. In closing, I’d like to share a reminder of what Jesus said to His disciples regarding persecution when He sent them out:

Matthew 10:16-23 (ESV)16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

I pray that you will continue to grow in the Word and walk in the Spirit of God. Pray for our leaders, pray for boldness, and pray for peace; however, know that persecution will come and that we serve an Just and Loving God who will carry us through to the end.

In Him,
Jorge

 

Delegation of Authority: The Holy Spirit

dove

…the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove…
(Luke Chapter 3)

When we last spoke about how Authority had been delegated to Adam, and that God did not take it back immediately when Adam sinned, I couldn’t leave it alone without pointing out that one of the many awesome truths of the purpose that Jesus came to fulfill was in taking the Authority that man forfeited. We looked at how Jesus had to be born a man, but not from man’s seed (to inherit sin), so the virgin birth was required so that Jesus (the Word Made Flesh) could come and lay down His life:

John 10:11-18 (ESV) 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Praise the Lord! Notice here, that Jesus clearly states His purpose, His Authority, and that He received it from God the Father. Now, remember that our charge is given to us in the Great Commission, but let’s look at it again in Matthew:

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Notice the “therefore”. A cute little saying I heard growing up in Sunday School regarding taking the time to understand the context of scriptures was, What’s the ‘therefore’ there for? Here, it is telling us that our charge to Go and make disciples of all nations… is based in the fact that All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus… who is then giving us the charge to Go…

Now, let’s talk about the Holy Spirit. In the book of John, we see Jesus making several attempts at preparing the disciples for what was about to take place (crucifixion, resurrection, & ascension). In hindsight, we can see that Jesus was speaking quite plainly. But He knew (and said as much) that they just wouldn’t understand what He was telling them. Let’s take a look at the promise of Jesus to send a Helper:

John 15:18-27 (ESV) 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16:1-15(ESV) 1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The Holy Spirit is called our Helper, (the Greek word here is Paracletos, one called alongside to help; or Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor) and the Spirit of Truth. But Jesus doesn’t just identify Whom He will send, but for what purpose, to bear witness about Jesus. But here is something very cool (at least, I thought so)… this was already the role of the Holy Spirit. Only before, He took His marching orders from God the Father.

Luke 3:21-22 (ESV) 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Praise the Lord. What is different now, is that before Christ, God sent His Spirit to speak the Word of the Lord through Prophets, Priests, and Judges over Israel. The Spirit of God was only available to whom God had called for His purpose. Now Jesus is sending the Holy Spirit to all who hear and place their faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, being baptized in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

Remember, that God keeps His promises. In Acts 2, the promise of Jesus Christ to send the Holy Spirit takes place on the day of Pentecost. It is a momentous event. Peter’s first sermon is amazing, and I strongly recommend studying it closely. But for this blog, we are going to key in on how the crowd responds to the conclusion of the sermon, and Peter’s response to the question:

Acts 2:36-41 (ESV) 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Praise the Lord! This promise is for us, we who are far off, those of us whom the Lord Our God has called to Himself through His Word! I want to turn quickly to one more passage of scripture before we close this out. Now, remember that role for which Jesus said He was going to send the Holy Spirit. Bearing that in mind, let us look to 1 John 4:

1 John 4:1-6 (ESV) 4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

It is not a sign of doubt, unbelief, or insubordination to test the spirits to see whether they are from God. We are told to do so. Don’t let anyone silence you out of fear of being labeled a “critical person” or worse, for having a “spirit of criticism” simply because you aren’t yielding to the move of every spirit. For the role of the Holy Spirit is not to bring glory to Himself… but to Jesus Christ. Do we rely on our emotions? No. Remember that Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14), so knowing the Word of God is critical to identifying rightly the Spirit of Truth from the many spirits of error. I hope to dive into 1 Corinthians 12-14 sometime, but I will say that spiritual discernment is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the body of believers (the Church), but knowledge of the Word of God is still necessary to properly operate in the Gifts of the Spirit.

I pray you have a wonderful weekend, and that you’ve found some blessing in these bible studies. May the Lord bless you and keep you in His Will,
In Him,
Jorge

Delegation of Authority: Adam

We’ve been spending a great deal of time looking into the Authority of God and His Word, particularly at the Authority of Bible. The Bible declares God as the Sovereign ruler and creator of everything… by His Word. We’ve established that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, and that He was with God in the beginning, and apart from Him nothing that has come into being has come into being (John 1, NASB), I love that wording! So, in the beginning there was God, His Word, and His Spirit… and all things were created by Him. As Creator, He is undoubtedly Sovereign in His dominion.

the Hands by Michelangelo

the Hands by Michelangelo

Genesis 1:26-31 (NASB) 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Here we have the first instance of delegated authority. Man, having been formed from the very dust of the Earth, was now delegated authority over the Earth. Man is set to “rule over” everything on earth and in the sky above the earth and in the sea. In the next chapter, we get some specifics on that authority and how that played out for mankind.

Genesis 2:15-17 (NASB) 15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

I have always been fascinated with the garden of Eden. Particularly with the way it is introduced and how the Adam gets placed into it after he is created… and then booted out of it later on as a result of the fall of man. But for now, let us look at the authority and responsibility (the two concepts are inextricably linked, by the way) given to Adam. He was placed into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. Adam was given a task, and the authority to perform the task was delegated to him. How interesting to see that in the very next verse, we have the first instance of something in all of creation being “not good”. Continue on with me

Genesis 2:18-24(NASB) 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said,

 “This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

It was not good for the man to be alone. He needed a helper. However, nothing that was formed from the ground was a suitable helper for Adam (sorry, guys… the notion of “man’s best friend” being a dog…simply isn’t biblical 😉 ).  All joking aside, there are some key points I believe being made here.

The first one being that man was already created, and delegated authority and rule over all created things AND he’s been put to work while he was still alone. In his solitude, God saw that it was not good for him to be alone, so He decided man needed a helper. God had a plan the entire time, so the trotting out of all of the created beings before Adam was NOT an exercise of trial-and-error for God. It was for Adam’s benefit that God wanted to demonstrate to him that none of the other created beings were worthy of serving as helper to man. Why is that? Because man was of a different kind from the rest of creation, and man was to be set as ruler over all created beings in the sea, on the earth, and in the sky. For man to fulfill his charge, and execute his authority in ruling over the earth and filling the earth, he needed a helper of his own kind. Therefore, The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. Adam recognized the significance of what the Lord God had done here, which is why God saw fit that we maintain the quote from Adam. Now Adam was no longer alone, and in being joined with his wife, they shall become one flesh, and now they were given the ability to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, after their own kind (mankind).

The second point I’d like to make, is that there is no realignment of authority once the woman is created. Adam was already placed in charge, and given the task and its singular parameter (not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good an evil, v17) to obey. The authority and responsibility to keep the law was placed upon Adam, before woman was created. Once Adam was given his helper, his wife, the order is not re-given to them. Adam is responsible and it will be Adam who will ultimately be held responsible. That is the nature of authority. So, mankind was created equal, male and female both equal because no other alternative was suitable for Adam. However, within that equality, there is still authority. Woman was created as a helper for man, enabling him to fulfill God’s commandment to man. Woman is equal to man, having been pulled out of his rib and formed to be joined with him. But it is Adam that was given authority.

Even was tempted by the serpent (Gen 3), and was apparently not properly instructed (v3) in the commandment of the Lord God, given to Adam (which was Adam’s responsibility) and she ate the fruit. She then handed it to Adam, and he joined her in her sin. So now what? Who’s in charge now? Remember that we serve an all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present God. So God knows exactly what happened, and who was at fault for each act. So, again, the investigation that takes place after the sin is not for God’s sake, but ours. God questions the Adam first, because it was to Adam that He gave the instruction, authority, and responsibility. Having failed to do what is right in the sight of God, Adam sought to escape judgement by assigning blame, interestingly he goes about it cleverly (though foolishly) in trying to get the Lord God to accept blame for having given the woman to Adam. Following the example set before her, she blames the serpent. Notice, none of them lied about what happened, but they both tried to avoid blame. This doesn’t go their way, and we have judgement issued from the bottom up, first the serpent, then the woman, and finally Adam.

Genesis 3:14-15 (NASB) 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat All the days of your life;
15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

The Lord God has a plan. God was not caught off-guard, nor was He caught unaware. He knows everything, and here, we see the Lord God declaring that the seed of woman would bruise (or crush) satan’s head, though satan will bruise him on the heel. Why her seed? because it has to be a human, but cannot come from Adam’s seed because it is now dead to sin. This is why the virgin birth is absolutely essential to the Gospel. The broken authority of mankind rests in man, not woman. It was by Adam’s sin that all of mankind fell into darkness, why we are born dead in sin (Romans 5:12-14) in need of a Savior,  Jesus Christ.

Genesis 3:16-18 (NASB) 16 To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

I do not wish to spend a great deal of time on this point, but here we have God’s judgment on woman for her sin. My wife and I are strong believers in natural childbirth, and we believe that God has a plan for every aspect of our lives, including childbirth. Throughout the scriptures, God uses birth pains as an illustration of what is taking place on Earth. We’ve been blessed with 2 beautiful children by natural means. God is good, and He provides,  Hallelujah! Notice the last portion… God is reiterating the roles of authority. Adam and Eve are still equal and when they are joined they are one flesh. But it is the husband who has authority over her. This is important to understanding much of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the fullness of what He came to redeem, and for what He said He will return.

Genesis 3:17-19 (NASB) 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
19 By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”

As Paul wrote in Romans 5, and really as the entirety of the Scriptures points out, the state of man is now complete separation from God. But our God is merciful and continually works to redeem His people and to gather all nations unto Him. But you see here that the very ground was cursed by Adam’s sin. What was Adam’s task in the Garden? To cultivate the garden and keep it. Now that very task is marred.  This leads to another issue, that when you are given authority and responsibility over something, you are held accountable for it… and your failures/successes don’t just affect you, but to that over which you are responsible.

God will redeem His creation, but He cannot do it through Adam’s seed, it must be through the seed of the woman, where the Word of God will be made flesh, so that He can redeem His people.  Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Jesus, having lived, died on the cross, and resurrected…has secured all authority in Heaven and Earth. Having paid the ultimate penalty for the sin of mankind, bearing within Himself the death that was required by Adam’s sin, He now is the authority over Heaven and Earth, at the Right Hand of God the Father. Jesus has perfected the relationship between man and Creator and through Him is made the only Way to God.

A common error in modern-day Christianity is to forget that Jesus is still fully man in addition to being fully God. He didn’t lose his perfected body when ascended into Heaven, He still has his perfected body… and He will return for His bride, the Church. I make this point to set up the next: Paul makes it very clear that Jesus Christ maintains absolute authority over the His people. The declaration takes various forms in the New Testament, so let’s look at some of them:

Colossians 1:18 (NASB) 18 [Jesus Christ] is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

1 Corinthians 11:3 (NASB) 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NASB) 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Revelation 19:11-16 (NASB) 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine-press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

I urge you, not to get caught so up modern feminism or misogyny that you miss out on the great picture of Jesus Christ, and the profound depth of God’s love and perfect planning in making for us a way of escape from our own sin. Jesus now fulfills every role of authority that man has messed up: man (second Adam), husband (to His bride, the church), judge, priest, and King. All authority. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about so much more than just granting you a “get out of hell free” card… It’s about the Greatness of our Lord God. Praise be to God and His son, Jesus.

In Him,
FS