Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Does God Allow Suffering?

Revelation 2:10 says, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Jesus is telling this Church of Smyrna that they are about to suffer persecution. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."

I guess the question should be, “Is it in God’s plan that Christians suffer?” The answer is, “Yes.” That cannot be denied. I often hear Christians say "Satan, we bind you in the name of Jesus!" But we must understand something. Just because you want to bind him does not automatically mean that God wants to bind him. Sometimes God does allow Satan to do things out of his sovereignty that we cannot stop. Jesus told the Church of Smyrna to be faithful unto death!

The Example of Job
First, I think of the story of Job in the Old Testament. In Job 1:6-12 it says, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them…And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?...And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” Did God allow Job to suffer? Yes.

The Example of Peter
Second, I think of Peter in the New Testament. Jesus said to Peter in Luke 22:31-32, “…Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." Notice that Jesus did not pray that Peter would be delivered from the “sifting” that was to come, but that his faith would not fail him when it was over.

The Example of Paul
Third, I also think of Paul the apostle said in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, "…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Wouldn't it have been great if Job, Peter, and Paul could have all just have bound Satan and averted their suffering? Job would have never had such a horrible time by losing everything he owned, his children, and his bodily suffering. Peter could have avoided his three denials. Paul could have escaped the thorn in his flesh. But that was not in God’s plan for their lives.

James said in James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (various trials); Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” God used their suffering to perfect them. Maturity in the faith comes with the realization that God often allows Satan to buffet us for His divine purposes.

Finally, notice that the Christians in Smyrna were promised that if they were faithful in their testing and persevered unto death that they would receive the crown of life. The Bible speaks of five crowns that can be received based upon their faithfulness in this life. The Imperishable Crown spoken of in 1 Corinthians 9:25, Crown of Rejoicing spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 2:19, Crown of Righteousness spoken of in 2 Timothy 4:8, Crown of Life spoken of here in Revelation 2:10 and in James 1:12, and the fifth crown is the Crown of Glory that is given to pastors spoken of in 1 Peter 5:4.

And what will we do with them when we get them? Rev 4:4, 10-11  And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Matthew - Blessed are the Persecuted

In today's study from Matthew 5:10, we take a look at when the Old Testament ended and when the New Testament began and also are reminded that those who live Godly in Christ will be persecuted.

Blessed are the Persecuted
vv.10-12 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Jesus was persecuted from the time of his birth to the time of his death. He promised the same for those who would follow him! Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-39Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

We see others in the Bible who were also persecuted for believing in Jesus such as the Blind Man in Joh 9:33-34 when he told the religious leaders after his healing that if this man were not of God, he could do nothing. Their response sadly was that he was born altogether in sins, who was he to try to teach them, and he was promptly thrown out of the synagogue. The promise is that those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake would indeed receive the kingdom of heaven. Jesus even went as far as to tell them that they are rejoice in the face of persecution (cf. Luke 6:27-36).

Christian Application
Christians are also asked in Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? The answer is, none of these things.

Also in 2 Tim 3:12 we are told that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. If you are living a Godly life, you will indeed suffer for it. No way around it.

Hast thou no scar?  No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?  I hear thee sung as mighty in the land, I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star, Hast thou no scar?  Hast thou no wound?  Yet I was wounded by the archers, spend, Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent, By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned: Hast thou no wound?  No wound, no scar?  Yet, as the Master shall the servant be, And, pierced are the feet that follow Me; But thine are whole: can he have followed far Who has no wounds nor scar?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Matthew - Blessed are the Peacemakers

In today’s study from Matthew 5:9, we see that we all have been called to be peacemakers.

Blessed are the Peacemakers
v.9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. A peacemaker is one who tries to make peace, especially by reconciling parties who disagree, quarrel, or fight. Jesus clearly taught that his were to do this. Jesus said in Matt 5:39-42 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Christian Application
To the Christian, blessed are the peacemakers is referring to those who work for peace. Albert Barnes says that these are those who strive to prevent contention, strife, and war; who use their influence to reconcile opposing parties. Paul said in Romams 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. The writer of Hebrews said, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

Telemachus was a monk who lived in the 4th century. He felt God saying to him, "Go to Rome." He was in a cloistered monastery. He put his possessions in a sack and set out for Rome. When he arrived in the city, people were thronging in the streets. He asked why all the excitement and was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting and killing each other in the coliseum, the day of the games, the circus.  He thought to himself, "Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other, for enjoyment?" He ran to the coliseum and heard the gladiators saying, "Hail to Ceasar, we die for Ceasar" and he thought, "this isn't right." He jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, held up his hands and said "In the name of Christ, forbear." The crowd protested and began to shout, "Run him through, Run him through." A gladiator came over and hit him in the stomach with the back of his sword. It sent him sprawling in the sand. He got up and ran back and again said, "In the name of Christ, forbear." The crowd continued to chant, "Run him through." One gladiator came over and plunged his sword through the little monk's stomach and he fell into the sand, which began to turn crimson with his blood. One last time he gasped out, "In the name of Christ forbear." A hush came over the 80,000 people in the coliseum. Soon a man stood and left, then another and more, and within minutes all 80,000 had emptied out of the arena. It was the last known gladiatorial contest in the history of Rome.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Matthew - Blessed are the Merciful and Pure

In today's study, we continue to look at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:7-8.

Blessed are the Merciful
v.7 Mercy by definition is compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power. Psalm 18:25 “With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.” Cf. James 2:12-13

The law of mercy in the kingdom of heaven is simple. You grant mercy and you receive mercy. You withhold mercy and you get judgment. The blessed were merciful and, thus, they received mercy. I believe that Grace is not getting what you deserve and Mercy is getting more than you deserve.

Christian Application
To the Christian, blessed are the merciful means to show mercy (cf. Romans 12:8).

Blessed are the Pure in Heart
v.8 To be pure means to be free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind (cf. Psalm 24:3-4).

Christian Application
To a Christian, blessed are the pure in heart means to keep pure while we await our Savior (cf. 1 John 3: 1-3).

Friday, February 23, 2018

Hast Thou No Scar?

Hast thou no scar?  No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?  I hear thee sung as mighty in the land, I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star, Hast thou no scar?  Hast thou no wound?  Yet I was wounded by the archers, spend, Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent, By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned: Hast thou no wound?  No wound, no scar?  Yet, as the Master shall the servant be, And, pierced are the feet that follow Me; But thine are whole: can he have followed far Who has no wounds nor scar?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Matthew - Blessed Are Those

In today's study from Matthew 5:2-6, we take a closer look at the Law of the Kingdom to see what it means to the Jew and how it applies to the Church.

Just as a Reminder
These Laws here in Matthew 5 were given to the Jews and not the church. They will not be fully implemented until the Millennial Reign of Christ or the full establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. However, God does expect us as Christians to follow these principles. So, let’s look at the Jewish application and the Christian application. By the way, the word “blessed” mean happy.

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit
vv.2-3 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,  (3)  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. The word poor in our way of thinking is to have no money, goods, or other means of support. However, that is not what the word means here. It is referring not to physical poverty, but spiritual poverty.

Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Contrite means remorseful. In this verse, it means to be remorseful for one’s poverty.

Is 66:2 “For all those things hath mine hand made, and those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” The Jews that Jesus were speaking to directly were those who were contrite and brokenhearted because of the authority of the Romans and the Pharisees. Both were placing tremendous burdens on the people: the Romans through taxes and the Pharisees through legalism (cf. Matthew 23:2-4).

Christian Application
To the Christian, blessed are the poor in spirit means blessed is the one who recognizes their need for God (spiritual poverty). Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
v.4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are those who mourn. To mourn is to feel or express sorrow or grief.

Is 57:18 “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.”

Is 61:2-3 “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
The Jews that mourned for their King were promised comfort when their king does come. Of course, that King was Jesus and they failed to see him.

Christian Application
To the Christian, blessed are those who mourn is referring to those who mourn over their sin (cf. James 4:7-10). 

Blessed Are the Meek
v.5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are the meek. Meek be definition is the act of being humbly patient or docile when under provocation from others.

Zeph 2:3 “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger.”

A Jew who was truly meek would place himself under the authority of God’s word and would seek the Lord. As a result, he would inherit the earth.

Ps 37:11 “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

Christian Application
To the Christian, blessed are the meek is referring to those who submit to divine authority.

1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:”

Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst
v.6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (cf. John 6:35).

These Jews knew that they didn’t have righteousness and they wanted it so badly, they could taste it. Unlike the Pharisees who felt that they were righteous already.

Christian Application
To the Christian, blessed are those who hunger and thirst is referring to those who desire  justice or righteousness. Micah 6:8 “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Matthew - Our Lord and the Law

In today's study from Matthew 5:1 we continue looking at the Law as it pertains to our Lord, the Jew, and the church.

The Law of the Kingdom
v.1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: Some today have wrongly called this section of Scripture, “The Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes.”  They are neither. It is no sermon at all; instead it is a giving of the law by the new King. It should be called “The Law of the Kingdom”. In chapters 5-7, Jesus is giving the Law of his kingdom. If you study the Old Testament, all kings were defined, good or bad, by their relationship to the Law. A good king, kept the Law of his own Kingdom (cf. Deut. 17:14-20).

The First King
Speaking of kings, “Who was Israel’s first king?” Deuteronomy 33:1-5 says that it was Moses. So, just as Moses gave the Law, and every king thereafter reiterated that Law, so Jesus is doing the same. However, Jesus is going a little further and expanding upon it a little bit.

Just as an Aside
Just as a side note, the Pharisees did not attack Jesus for abandoning the Law but for running counter to their interpretation of the Law (cf. 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44, etc…). Jesus referred to it as the Traditions of the Elders (cf. Mark 7:5, 8-13).

Jesus had no problem with the Law; only the interpretation of the Law as given by the Pharisees. Sometimes, we ourselves can be guilt of dismissing the law to our own interpretation. The Law still stands until it is completely fulfilled, especially as it pertains to the House of Israel (cf. Matt. 5:17-18).

Internal vs. External
Jesus’ problem with the leadership of his day was their focus on the external and not the internal. The Jews felt that the law could be kept to the tee and bring about ultimate justification. However, we know that it’s impossible. Why?  External vs. Internal (cf. Matt 19:16-20; 5:21-22, 27-28).

Law Never Meant to Bring About Salvation
We must understand that the Law was never meant to bring about salvation. Paul said in Galatians 4:1-2 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Paul is comparing the heir to someone who is under the Law because the heir is really no different than a slave in that he really has no rights to speak of as a child. He has no control over the estate. Thus, he may be “lord of all” one day, but not until he has come of age. Until that day comes, he is in the same condition as a servant.

In Galatians 4:3 he says that even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. The point is that under the Law, the Jew primarily, but us secondarily were in infancy. Not yet mature like the heir.

In Galatians 4:4-5 he says but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. In God’s timing He sent Jesus to redeem us from the Law. The phrase, “made under the law”, means that Jesus was raised under the Mosaic Law.

In Galatians 4:6 he says, And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. The proof that Jesus has redeemed us from the Law is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit within us is proof of our salvation. Ephesians 1:13-14 says, In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

However, it is also proof that we are no longer servants under the Law, but sons under Grace. Through Jesus and his fulfilling the requirement for us, we have come of age! Jesus said in John 15:15, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” He goes on to say in Galatians 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. We are no more a servant because we have matured. We are no longer infants under the Law.

Paul said in Romans 8:17, And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” In other words, we are going to share in Christ’s inheritance. Revelation 3:21 says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

Paul goes on to tell the Galatians in 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” In other words, don’t be tempted to go back under the Law. Let me ask you this at this time, “Why does Paul spend so much time talking about the Law? - Because we have a tendency to place ourselves back under it!

With that in mind, he warned the Galatians 4:2-6 “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” In other words, if you are keeping the Law to find your justification, you’re trusting in the wrong thing. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Matthew - The Law of the Kingdom

Today, we pick up our study in Matthew 4:23- 5:1 and see how Jesus did not come to fulfill the Law and how that he was following a precedent that all kings of Israel were commanded to follow.

The Gospel of the Kingdom
vv.23-25 Some make a distinction between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God. Initially, Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven while he was in Galilee. When he was rejected, he began to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven concerns this physical life and the reestablishment of the Davidic throne upon which the Messiah will sit. The gospel of the Kingdom of God concerns the spiritual life and the righteousness through faith in the risen Savior who will return to Earth someday and set up the Kingdom of Heaven. John the Baptist and Jesus initially came teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven in hopes that Christ would be received as the Messiah.

When this message was rejected, the Kingdom of Heaven was no longer taught, but the Kingdom of God. Luke 19:42 “Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” Others will argue that the words are merely interchangeable in the context and there is no difference between the two.

The Healing Ministry of Jesus
We also see in these verses that Jesus had already begun his healing ministry. We need to understand that the purpose of the healings was certainly that he loved the people, but it also served to confirm that he was indeed their long awaited Messiah. John 5:36 “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.” Jesus, and the later the apostles, also used the gift of healings as a means of not only proofing that they were indeed sent from God, but also as a means to draw a crowd for the deliverance of the gospel.

The Law of the Kingdom
Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: Some today have wrongly called this section of Scripture, “The Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes.”  They are neither. It is no sermon at all; instead it is a giving of the law by the new King. It should be called “The Law of the Kingdom”. In chapters 5-7, Jesus is giving the Law of his kingdom. If you study the Old Testament, all kings were defined, good or bad, by their relationship to the Law. A good king, kept the Law of his own Kingdom (cf. Deut 17:14-20).

The First King

Speaking of kings, “Who was Israel’s first king” (cf. Deut 33:1-5)? So, just as Moses gave the Law, and every king thereafter reiterated that Law, so Jesus is doing the same. However, Jesus is going a little further and expanding upon it a little bit.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Matthew - A Call to Discipleship

Today we are going to be looking at Matthew 4:17-22 and speaking on the subject of what it means to become a true disciple

In this passage, we find some of the basic aspects of discipleship. A disciple is a follower who has learned to believe in the truth of the teaching of another. Therefore, in discipleship, we should expect to find a similarity in teaching between the teacher and the student and see a similarity in their lives. I want to look at four things pertaining to discipleship:

            1. The Teaching of Discipleship
            2. The Following of Discipleship
            3. The Levels of Discipleship
            4. The Benefits of Discipleship

1. The Teaching of Discipleship (Matthew 4:17)
Although Jesus wasn’t literally a disciple of John the Baptist, he did let John baptize him before entering the ministry. Consequently, you would expect the gospel that Jesus preached to be the same as John preached. And that’s true. Jesus preached, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." That was also John the Baptist’s message as well as we see in Matthew 3:2.

This identical preaching marks one of the basic principles of discipleship. The disciple is going to follow the teaching of the fellow that trained him. Other examples include that Paul only taught what Jesus had taught him (Gal. 1:11-12) and Paul in turn taught Timothy what he had learned from Jesus. He said to Timothy in 1 Tim 1:2-3 “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.  As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,” And that doctrine came right out of the scripture, which we have today (2 Tim 3:14-17). Paul told Timothy, in 2 Tim 2:2, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."

Therefore, to this day, we still follow the Pauline epistles, and we preach and teach the things that Paul taught his disciples. We haven’t had to come up with new doctrines in order to be effective disciples of Jesus Christ. Trust me, there are no new doctrines and if you hear one, run (Acts 2:42-43)!

2. The Following of Discipleship
When Jesus found Peter and Andrew and James and John, they were mending nets. Matthew 4:19 “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” He wanted to make them fishers of men. But for that to happen, they had to follow him. There is a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, "Are you a leader?" Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower." If you want to be a disciple, you must learn to be a follower first.

3. The Levels of Discipleship
If you look closely, you can see in the Bible a a progression in the lives of these disciples (primarily Peter, James, and John) that sets up a pattern for us. We see them bringing souls to Jesus in John 1:40-42. We see them forsaking something and following Jesus in Matthew 4:18-22. We see them forsaking ALL and following Jesus in Luke 5:2-11.

4. The Benefits of Discipleship
G.C. Morgan once wrote concerning Peter, James, and John: "There can be no doubt that these men, Peter, James, and John, were the most remarkable in the apostolate. Peter loved Him; John He loved; and James was the first to seal his testimony with his own blood.  Even in their blunders they proved their strength.  They were the men of enterprise; men who wanted thrones and places of power...mistaken ideas, all of them… and yet they all three had the proving capacity for holding the keys and occupying the throne.  What men from among that first group reign today as these men?”

The First Benefit
The first benefit of discipleship is being a part of something special. On four special occasions, Jesus admitted them and them alone, to unheard of experiences. 1. They witnessed God’s power at the Raising of Jairus’ Daughter (Mark 5:35-42). 2. They witnessed the glory of God on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-9). 3. They received the teaching of God’s Word on the Mount of Olives when Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse (Mark 13:3-8). 4. They enjoyed fellowship with Jesus and got a glimpse of the suffering that He was about to go through for their salvation in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark. 14:33-36). 5. They each had to opportunity to contribute to the writing of the New Testament. In the end, the disciple who forsakes all will be rewarded in not only this life, but the next (Matthew 19:27-30).

Second Benefit
The second benefit of being a disciple is entering into the Lord’s suffering. The closer a disciple follows, the more his life will conform to that of his teacher in life and death. James was killed by Herod (Acts 12:1-2). Peter glorified God by being crucified upside down (Jn 21:19). John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos after being boiled in oil (Rev 1:9). 1 Peter 2:19-21 “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:”

Someone once observed: "I went into church and sat on the velvet pew. I watched as the sun came shining through the stained glass windows. The minister dressed in a velvet robe opened the golden gilded Bible, marked it with a silk bookmark and said, "If any man will be my disciple, said Jesus, let him deny himself, take up his cross, sell what he has, give it to the poor, and follow me."  And yet Paul said in Philippians 3:10-11 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Something tells me that the vast majority of the church hasn’t figured this aspect of discipleship out yet!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Matthew - Our Lord's Public Ministry

Today we take a look at Matthew 4:12-16 and the beginning of the ministry of our Lord after the temptation and discuss the prophetical significance.

Jesus Moves to Capernaum
Remember when I introduced the book that I mentioned that the first three gospels have been labeled as the Synoptic Gospels. Synoptic means “seeing together". There is a structure found among Matthew, Mark, and Luke in their presentations of the ministry of Jesus. They all have what is called a “geographic sequence” in that they all focus on our Lord’s ministry in Galilee, his withdrawal to the North, his ministry in Judea on his way back to Jerusalem and final ministry there. This sequence is not found at all in the John (e.g., the sending out of the twelve, the transfiguration, the Olivet Discourse and the Last Supper are not found in John either). Now we see the retreat north.

This passage appears to be a simple prophecy concerning Jesus’ change of address after entering his earthly ministry. However, there is more to this prophecy than that. 

There are four things that I want you to notice today. 

First, Prophecy Fulfilled
There are 48 prophecies relating to the first coming of Jesus that was fulfilled when he was here. They ranged from his virgin birth in Bethlehem, he would be from the tribe of Judah, in the line of David, betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, and crucified between thieves. There are even prophecies of his burial, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation.

Their Significance
The significance of these fulfilled prophecies is immense as that they prove that the Bible is not just a book written by men. It is a divine book. 2 Tim 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: The Bible is the only religious book in the world that contains prophecy!

According to the “The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy” by J. Barton Payne, there are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament for a total of 1,817. These prophecies are contained in 8,352 of the Bible’s verses. Since there are 31,124 verses in the Bible, the 8,352 verses that contain prophecy constitute 26.8 percent of the Bible’s volume. The Bible is a book of prophecy.

Second, the Salvation of the Gentiles
Second, this particular prophecy reveals that, although the earthly ministry of Jesus was aimed at Israel (Matt. 15:24 “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”), Gentiles were ultimately going to be saved, as well (v.15).

Paul, when writing to the Romans, quoted several Old Testament passages dealing with the salvation of Gentiles (Romans 15:8-12).

Third, the Marvelous Light
Third, this prophecy has a great spiritual application for us. Verse 16 says, "The people which sat in darkness saw great light." When Jesus came to the world, he was the light of men that shined in the darkness of this world (John 1:4-5). John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. 

Paul told the Ephesians that they wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph 6:12).

When we came to Jesus, we came out of that darkness and into his marvelous light and now we are the children of light. 1 Pet. 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Th 5:4-5). 

Fourth, Application to Israel
Fourth, this prophecy has application to Israel during the tribulation period. They will literally be in the shadow of death before the second coming of Jesus. I say this because Matthew quotes this passage from Isa 9:1-7 which in context is in dealing with Israel during the Tribulation Period.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Matthew - The Lust of the Eyes

For those of you who do follow along quite regularly, you will notice that I am not including an audio version of this study. What I have found is that I get far more listens when the study is in a video format than I do if it were only in an audio format. As a matter of fact, the numbers are drastically different. So, going forward, all studies will be in video format, plus there is no cost for data storage on my part.

In today's study from Matthew 4:5-7, we are going to look at the final temptation of our Lord. 

The Third Temptation 
The devil took Jesus to a mountain to view all of the kingdoms of the world and their glory at the same time. The devil offered all of these kingdoms to Jesus in exchange for his worship. Again, the devil was working from a scriptural standpoint. He knew that Jesus would rule over all of the kingdoms of the world following his second coming. Revelation 11:15 says, “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” The devil was simply offering him a "shortcut" to bypass the cross.

Lust of the Eyes
This temptation appealed to the lust of the eyes mentioned in 1 John 2:16. This is the third area of temptation common to man. This is the same way that the devil tempted Eve. We see this in Genesis 3:6 when Eve saw that the fruit was “pleasant to the eyes."

Quoting Scripture
Again, Jesus quoted Scripture from Deuteronomy 10:20 which says, “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.” When Jesus quoted that verse, the devil left him.

Practical Lesson
Someone once said that the lust of the flesh is the consuming desire to do, the lust of the eyes is a compelling urge to have, and the pride of life is a constant thrust to be. Sadly, when the temptation does come, even though God will lower the gate of warning, sound the bell, flash the red light, but He will not keep you from crossing the tracks!”

Temptation is Common to Man
We also need to understand that all of us are tempted in the same way. Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 10:1 that “there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

Solution Comes By Submission
If we want to be victories over our temptations we must heed the counsel of James when he said, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:7-10).

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Matthew - The Pride of Life

In today's study from Matthew 4:5-7, we take a closer look at the second temptation of our Lord in regards to the pride of life as mentioned in 1 John 2:16. 

The Second Temptation
Jesus was tempted to jump off the pinnacle of the temple so the angels could catch him. Again, the Devil was questioning His deity. He also misquoted Psalm 91:11-12 “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.  They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." He left out “to keep thee in all thy ways”. The angles were already there protecting him (Matt. 4:11) as long as He stayed in God’s will (Romans 8:28).

Pride of Life
This temptation appealed to the pride of life mentioned in 1 Jn 2:16. This is the second major area of temptation. This is the same way that the devil tempted Eve when she saw that the tree desirable to make one wise in Genesis 3:6. 

Quoting Scripture
Jesus again quoted Scripture back to the Devil. Deut 6:16 “Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God…”