Sunday, 27 March 2016

Resurrection Sunday ~ Rabqa

As to day is Resurrection Sunday we are looking at "Jesus, Resurrection

Easter, or as the world calls it, is so much more then lollies & chocolate Easter eggs, & even though we like that stuff a lot (well speaking for my self I just love chocolate) It is a holiday founded on the resurrection of Jesus. Think about that for a moment; that is a serious miracle.

We don't see too much of it happening today, why you may ask, the answer is simple our faith isn't up to it. But Jesus was full of power & faith, He had no problem with raising anybody from the dead.

Have you ever wondered how Jesus could be so sure that He would rise again, how was He so certain that He would be able to walk of of His tomb? Think about that no one had laid hands on Him, No one had prayed & commanded life back into His body. He was dead as a doornail, wrapped in the traditional burial way, lying in a large tomb with a huge stone rolled over the door, & yet He came out of the grave!

The more we think about Jesus' faith in His Father & Himself to be raised, the more we start to realise something pretty simple, before Jesus was raised He had some practice, like the widow's son in Luke 7, Jairus' daughter in Luke 8 & of course the most famous one, Lazarus, in John 11.

Jesus never for once doubted that He would come out of the grave. Even that big stone rolled up in front of the tomb didn't seem to be a problem. Again the answer is simple He had faith in His Father & also Himself. He knew that He was more than able to be raised from the dead, without human intervention or help. That is the power of the Lord at work. The power of the mighty God we serve.

Lazarus had two sisters Mary & Martha, these people loved Jesus & enjoyed His ministry, they did all they could to His message out. They supported His work financially, gave Him a room to rest when He came into their town to preach, & prayed for His ministry. They were all close friends.

When Lazarus became sick, it was Martha that sent for Jesus to come & lay hands on her brother. Now Jesus didn't do what Martha asked Him to do. The Bible tells us that He stayed a further two days in the place where He was before leaving for their home.

When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick He said This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God maybe glorified through it. Jn 11:4 This is an example of divine sovereignty amid human suffering, & demonstrating God's purposes & grace through Jesus' response. Verse 6 says So when He heard that he was sick He stayed two more days in the place where He was.

Jesus delay for two days underscores what He had taught consistently, namely, that His marching orders came exclusively from His Father. Neither the need of His closest friends nor the fury of His enemies determined His actions.

Now when Jesus decided to go, His disciples warned him that He would be stoned if He went back to Judea (Jn 11:8) But Jesus wasn't deterred in Jn 11:11 He said...Our friend Lazarus sleeps but I go that I may wake him up.

The word friend in the Greek is philos compare philosophy, philharmonic, & philology. An adjective used as a noun means a loved one, beloved,& affectionate friend. The verb phileo which describes a love of emotion & friendship. Philos has a congeniality about it.

When Jesus told the disciples that Lazarus was only sleeping they misunderstood Him & said Lord, if he sleeps he will get well. However Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought He was speaking about taking a rest in sleep. Then Jesus said plainly Lazarus is dead. Jn 11:12-14
You see Jesus knew by the Spirit of God that Lazarus had already died. Next Jesus said something very strange to His disciples & I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe nevertheless let us go to Him.

You are probably wondering why Jesus would say that He was glad that He wasn't there because a greater miracle was going to happen because of it. The disciples were going to start to really believe-& to Jesus that was a greater miracle then healing Lazarus.

You see, this was about more than Lazarus, even though Christ loved him very much. It was about bringing glory to God & teaching His disciples a lesson as well. Jesus wanted His followers to recognise that God could to anything; He wanted them to know that His power was beyond merely healing the sick; it was also about raising the dead.

Christ wanted the disciples to see this type of amazing miracle practised on others so that they would believe in a greater miracle-the resurrection of Jesus Christ Himself.

Now this part of the story of Lazarus is often overlooked Jn 11:16 Then Thomas who is called the twin, said to his fellow disciples, let us also go so we may die with Him.

We always think of Thomas as doubting Thomas because of a moment of weakness after Christ died & rose from the dead. Although he witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus, he wanted to touch Christ's wound before believing that He had risen. But this man wasn't a doubter his entire life! He was a man of faith. Think about it. The rest of the disciples were warning Jesus that He might be stoned to death if He returned to Judea, but Thomas said & I am paraphrasing, "If He is going to die, we are going to die with Him"! In other words I am with You Jesus.

Thomas demonstrated fearless faith when the other disciples wanted to run the other way.

Martha had some faith & she really believed in Jesus. When she heard that He was coming she ran to meet Him & the words that came out of her mouth were faith words for she said Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died Jn 11:21. In other words she believed that Jesus had the ability to heal the sick, but maybe not the ability to raise one from the dead.

There are different levels of faith. Some people have faith to heal the sick, but there aren't to many that have the faith to rise the dead. Then you can see Martha's thinking shift in verse 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.

Perhaps you are wondering why Martha thought that God would do anything that Christ asked. Maybe it's because she heard Jesus say so! Martha knew that prayer wasn't a gamble with Christ but an assurance.
Jesus told Martha with five simple words Your brother will rise again Jn 11:23 Now you would think that she would have been hopeful at these words, but no she wasn't sure, it wasn't a common occurrence that folk were raised from the dead, so when Jesus spoke these words to her she put on a religious mindset, putting a limit on God saying I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day (Jn 11:24)

You see what happened here, Martha changed from faith to religion because of what Jesus had said was extreme. Remember the first thing she told Jesus was that if He had been there earlier He could have healed her brother. Then her faith kicked up a notch & she said that the Father would do what ever Jesus asked. But when confronted with a radical miracle, she changed back to limiting God's power by saying she knew her brother would rise again at the last day at the end of time when everybody would be resurrected.

She believed that Christ could heal her brother, but raising him from the dead was too much. Notice Jesus didn't flinch in the face of Martha's doubt. Jesus said to her I am the resurrection, & the life; he who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. (Jn 11:25).

Martha expected a future resurrection, but Jesus surprised her with a present resurrection in Himself. Jesus didn't flinch because He knew who He was & He knew the God He served...The
Great I Am. Christ didn't say "I believe I am", He didn't say "I think I am", He said "I am the Resurrection", notice there is a comma after the word Resurrection that means pause & think about it! Then there is a colon after Life again you should pause & think about but a while longer! Jesus IS the resurrection power. Jesus IS the life Jn 11:26 & whosoever lives & believes in Me shall never die...

You see that is the rule of faith if you don't believe, it is not going to happen for you. Christ already has the faith to believe in Himself, He knows what He can do because of the very power of creation is within Him. It's your faith added to His power that brings about miracles.
Christ is the founder of Christianity, the only man capable of making an appointment beyond the grave & turning up to keep it. Jesus told His disciples, After I have risen I will go before you to Galilee (Matt 26:32) If you visit the graves of those who founded the religions of the world you will find that they are still occupied. But If you visit the grave where they laid Jesus you find it empty & the angels word still echo, "He's not here but is risen"! Those words should turn every Christian burial into a celebration.

Jesus promised "because I live, you also will live". Eventually you will die of something; the question is how can you die right? There are two correct answers:
1. By preparing in advance, it was a truly human tombstone that bore the inscription "I expected this but not yet." Here is how you prepare for death. That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Rom 10:9

The Greek word for believe is pisteuo. The verb form of pistis, is faith it means to trust in to have faith in, be fully convinced of, acknowledge, rely on. Pisteuo is more then credence in church doctrines or articles of faith. It expresses reliance upon a personal trust that produces obedience. It includes submission & a positive confession of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
 2. By fulfilling your life's assignment. Jesus said in Jn 17:4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. The petition of Jesus for Himself is not selfish, since His desire is to glorify His Father. To glorify Him is to make Him known. Jesus would soon be manifested as the Saviour of the world through His atoning death. Believers in Him will know God & so possess eternal life. In the final audit God will ask you as you stand before Him, "What did you do with the gifts i gave you? Did you fulfil your assignment on earth? In that moment nothing will be more important on how you answer that question.

The Greek word for resurrection is anastasis meaning standing up again, restoration to life, rising from the dead. A compound of ana,"again" & histemi "to stand" The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the first fruits or prototype of the future resurrection of all that are in the grave. Anastasis is the coming resurrection that occurs at the Judgement Day. Another usage of anastasis is a moral recovery of spiritual truth. Most religions teach the concept of immorality, only the Christian faith teaches bodily resurrection, We see this truth in Job 19:22-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! 

This is one of the Old Testaments greatest prophetic affirmations of an anticipated Redeemer/ Saviour who will bring hope of a literal, physical resurrection to redeem mankind. c/f 1 Cor 15:35-49. But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory. It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. Jesus went to the cross for you, for each & every person, so that you might live eternally with Him, but whilst you are in this world He wants you to get ahead & the only way to that is to put His Word first in your life.

You see the Bible is not just a text book, a storybook, or a history book. It's a handbook for living. It's the wisdom of Almighty God written down so that you can apply it to your everyday circumstances. God says that wisdom is the principal thing.(prov 4:7). Principal means "first importance". That means the Word of God needs to occupy the highest place of importance in your activities. You will find that as you give God first place in your life you will accomplish more than you would otherwise. You will be amazed what happens in your life too, if you give God's Word priority. Don't wait till you think you have time, satan will see to it that you never do, putting His Word first is habit forming. Begin that addiction today. That may seem odd to you especially if you don't have much interest in the Word right now. Believe me, it's possible. I've done it myself, & have seen others to it time & again, All you have to do is make that decision to give yourself to it, the more you give yourself to it, the more your desire will grow. eventually it will consume your thinking. 

Surprised? You shouldn't be. That happens with everything you give yourself to. It happens for example with people who give themselves to pornography. as the focus their attention on it, the spirit behind it moves in on their consciousness & eventually draws them from mental activity to physical activity. Finally, they come to the place where they can't be satisfied. They can't get enough. That same principal works on the positive side when you begin to give yourself to God's Word. You can give yourself to it to the point where it totally consumes your mental & physical life. The more of it you get, the more of it you want. The Spirit behind the Word, that is the Holy Spirit, will draw you & lead you closer to Jesus than you ever imagined possible.

 I have never met anybody yet that is walking in faith & power who at some time hasn't developed that kind of addiction by giving themselves totally to the Word. I don't mean just a few minutes but some serious time. Determine to do that, Determine to become a Word addict. once you do you'll never be willing to do without it again. I Cor 16:15 says I urge you, brethern-you know the household of Stephanas, that is the first fruits of Achaia,& that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.

Stephanas & his household were among the first converts in Southern Greece & were also among the first to be baptised by Paul. He & his family were engaged in a loving ministry to others & deserved the church's loyalty.

To make God's Word your final authority means that you believe absolutely what He says instead of believing what people say. It means believing what He says instead of what satan says. It means believing what He says instead of what circumstances say.

Determine in your heart to do that today. Make up your mind to live by faith, not by sight. Fearlessly commit yourself to the authority of God's Word & there wont be anything in this unstable world that can steal your security from you.

Do you know what Jesus did on that cross at Calvary? He unlocked the prison doors of guilt that have kept you captive. It doesn't matter who you are or what you have been. It doesn’t matter if you have a prostitute, a murderer, a thief, a drug dealer, or someone who has gone to church all your life but have never made Jesus Christ the Lord of your Life the Bible says that now is the day of salvation. 2Cor 6:2
A new life is only a prayer away.

Many years ago I read in the Bible That not even a sparrow falls without God's knowledge. Matt 12;29)
I thought if God knows & cares about the sparrows falling He must know what a terrible mess my life is in right now. & if He cares maybe He can do something with it.

Now I didn't know anything about the Bible & didn't know for sure that God would let me start over. But when I asked Him to take over my life, something supernatural happened on the inside. I was born again.
You may worry about your past. You may say "I feel so guilty about it".
When you have been born again & made a new creature in Christ-that past doesn’t belong to you any more. & it would be ridiculous to walk around feeling guilty about someone else's past wouldn't it?
What would you think if I took a little baby in my arms, a pretty little girl, just a few months old, & said "she is so very precious, but oh what about her past"?

You would think that I was crazy. "What past"? you'd say, she doesn't have one"!

It is just the same with you once you have been born again. You don't have any past. Your life begins again the day you make Jesus the Lord of your life. Then when satan comes around trying to remind you of what you were before, just tell him he's knocking on the wrong door.
You've been kicked around long enough. There is no need to wait any longer. The prison door is open. Walk through to Jesus & let your life begin today.

Acknowledgement Jesse Duplantis.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Why a Seder? A Good Friday Tradition.

"But we're not Jews!"  I have lost count of the Christians who have said this to me when I tell them we do not do bunnies & eggs for *Easter* ~ a term I dislike but which is more readily understood by the world, Christian & secular alike ~ we do a seder instead.

There are several reasons why.  The first & the most important is The Holy Spirit directed me this way. He convicted me that there was something in the old rituals that was for Christians as well as Jews & I needed to investigate that.

Jesus Himself said "
Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Matt 13:52

Romans says 11:17/18 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.…
The church has been grafted into Israel, not the other way round.  There is a richness in the root that helps feed & sustain the church.  As Christians we have much freedom in how we practice our belief but one of the deciding factors was I wanted to see Jesus.  I do not see Him in the pagan practices that have attached themselves to Christianity.  The seder is different.  Everything in the seder speaks to me of Jesus.

Firstly just knowing that every year of His life on earth Jesus took part in this ritual connects the believer with Him.  When He was the only child in the house the 4 Questions were questions He asked.  It was Jesus who would run & look for the Afikomen. He would remember Israel's exit from Egypt & eat the bitter herbs. He would sing the Hallel, those psalms of praise to God.  Every year. At Passover. It was probably the Great Hallel he sang before he walked through Jerusalem to pray in the garden.

 Too often we forget Jesus was a Torah observant Jew & a good many of the things He said that got the Pharisees so riled were said in the context of the festivals.  No wonder they thought Him both mad & blasphemous!

The Passover was both literal & prophetic so everything foretold Christ's death & resurrection.  Egypt= slavery to sin. The bitter herbs= the bitterness of our bondage. The lamb shank= Christ, our Passover lamb. The haroset=the sweetness of our salvation. The egg, Christ, the temple. The candles= Christ, the Light of the World. I could go on & on but you get the idea.

Now I am very aware there is an argument that says the Last Supper was not a Passover meal.  It is based on the Greek word for bread:artos. Artos is the word for  bread; azumos means unleavened. When 1 Cor 11:23 says Jesus took bread the word artos is used.  The problem with this is that absolutely no Jewish house would have had leaven in it that close to Passover.  Everything with leaven in it is gathered up prior, taken outside & burned. Indeed, for the week prior to Passover only unleavened bread was to be eaten because leaven is a symbol for sin.

The New Testament Greek Lexicon defines artos as “food composed of flour mixed with water and baked,”  ie it has no leaven. Artos is also the Greek term for the shewbread in the temple & that was definitely unleavened. Thus I believe the bread was unleavened bread.

Math is not my thing but you don't need to be a mathematical genius to see that for Jesus to be in the grave for 3 days & 3 nights He absolutely could not have died on a Friday. There were so many people in Jerusalem for Passover & so many Passover lambs to be slain that Passover began on the Wednesday & each day of the Festival was a sabbath. 

I do believe Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples.  He understood it was the last one under the old covenant. This Passover was the point of transition.  The old is about to be replaced with the new.  Jesus goes to the cross as our Passover Lamb: He rises as our High Priest!

God does not change.  He is the same yesterday, today & forever.  If we believe that to be true there is no severance between the old & new testaments but a fluid, continuous whole. His moed [special, appointed times to come apart to be with our God] are still His moed.

A seder brings the scriptures vividly alive.  I will never forget the first one we celebrated with our children, children who had been in church & Sunday school all their lives, children who thought they knew the Pashe story. I never knew all that! They said.  Is it really in the bible?  Yes it is, & it is part of the rich inheritance bequeathed to us.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Problem of Suffering: 1st Peter ~ Ganeida

One of the most vexed questions believers & non~believers alike have to wrestle with is: if God is good why does He allow….? We have all wrestled with why is this person healed but not that one?  Why does a cyclone devastate one house while the house next door is completely untouched? Why is this family, who desperately want children, unable to conceive while this one aborts their unwanted child?

There is a gross misunderstanding that being a Christian somehow exempts you from all pain & suffering in this world but Jesus is very clear:  I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” 

The word for trials in the Greek is thlipsis. It means pressure, affliction, distressing circumstances, distress of mind.

In the 2nd half of Peter’s  1st letter he addresses the problem of suffering. He uses a number of different Greek words.  There is peirasmos [4:12]: putting to the proof; paschō: to endure evil [V3:14/18 4:1/2] pathēma:[4:13] affliction; oneidizō [4:14]: reproach, revile. All of these will, & do, cause us trouble & distress.

In 3:7 Peter says it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong.  Our minds argue that it is not right to suffer for doing good.  That is because we’ve forgotten the beginning.

 Genesis 1:31 Then God looked at all He had made & He saw that it was very good. The Hebrew word translated good is tov. Tov would be better rendered functional, operating perfectly in the manner in which it was intended. Men & women, plants & animals ~ everything was functioning exactly as it was intended to function.

We read how God set man in the garden & made him its custodian but man traded his glory for satan’s lies & was cast out of the garden. He traded what was functional & perfect for that which is broken & dysfunctional & so this world’s brokenness should not surprise us. The world is broken ~ & so are people.

Thus when Christ entered the world He entered a broken world & because the world is broken He too suffered [3:18]

Matthew 10:24 says "Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master” John 15:20 takes this to its logical conclusion in Jesus own words: Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you.” 

Paul calls this the *fellowship of His suffering* by which we are conformed to His death, dying to those things in this life that control us.

Paul is even blunter when he writes to his protégée, Timothy: Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2Tim3:12

A Believer is meant to be a disciple of Christ’s.  A disciple in biblical times was tied to his Rabbi by a rope & followed so closely the Rabbi’s dust covered him. By the time His training was complete he was meant to be a perfect replica of his master. This is the picture Peter has in mind [4:1] when he says we are to have the same attitude to suffering that Christ had.  We are to have the mind of Christ in all things. 

We like it when we think of the blessings being in Christ brings us: His authority, His provision, His healing, yet we bulk at suffering with Him. However Peter points out there is a blessing in our suffering.

 Pauō 1 Peter 4:1 rendered finished means to desist or refrain. It is true.  When some great trouble assails us we are not tempted to engage in terrible sin unless we are desperately wicked.  Instead we are focused on the important things: the love of family & friends; our eternal destination; God’s faithfulness in our trouble. Other things, temporal things, fall away. It is a great reality check & causes us to be more anxious to do the will of God.

Now I want to be very clear about the will of God.  God is good.  He does not tempt & cannot Himself be tempted.  However it is the will of God that we should obey Him & inevitably in a broken & dysfunctional world this will create conflict.  We will be offered choices between taking the wide & easy path to destruction or following Christ through the narrow gate of obedience that leads to Life. God would rather we choose to suffer for righteousness’ sake than to follow satan, who is the god of this world, just to escape persecution.

Peter makes it very clear that we are not to be surprised if persecution happens.[4:12]  It is not something foreign or strange.  Our attitude makes a difference. Our sufferings, when they are not brought about by our own sin or foolishness, make us partners with Christ & proof of the Spirit of Christ being with us. We are to watch ourselves & take care that we don’t bring justified suffering upon ourselves by the way we live. Rather suffering for Christ is a privilege & eventually everyone will stand before God & give an account of themselves & their deeds. God will never fail His people!

Lastly, in chapter 5, Peter’s final words revert to proper authority so that there is order amongst God’s people. Leaders are to lead by example & servanthood.  Younger people are to respect the leaders. 

He points out that Asia Minor’s suffering is not unique; Christians all over the world are suffering the same things so they are not being especially persecuted. This is as true today as it was then. We are at war. Our adversary is raging like a lion.  This world is still controlled by satan until the moment Christ returns as Lord & King.

This is part of God’s grace for us, Peter says.  Do you find that strange?  Yet think.  We will be judged, not we ourselves for we are redeemed by the blood of Christ, but our works.  We will be rewarded.  There are crowns for those who overcome.  What sort of things do we overcome?  Sin.  Suffering.  Persecution. The ordinary & mundane ~ in other words we do our very best to excel in our Christian walk. We overcome the things that come against us whether they are of the flesh or of the soul or of the spirit.

 And for those that overcome: There is a crown of righteousness [2 Tim 4:8], a crown of boasting [1Thess 2:19], The crown of life [James 1:12] , one of Glory [1 Peter 5:4] & an incorruptible crown [1Cor 9:25].This is the challenge of every Christian in every age: to so abide in Christ that we willingly allow the Holy Spirit to change us into His likeness ~ whatever the cost!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Christ Mark Knew ~ Rabqa

The opening title of Mark's work. The beginning of the gospel of
Jesus Christ, Son of God (1:1). The word for Gospel in the Greek is euangelion, compare evangel, evangelise, evangelistic. In ancient Greece euangelion points to the reward given for bringing the good news. Later it came to mean the good news itself. In the New Testament the word includes both the promise of salvation & its fulfilment, by the life, death, resurrection & ascension of Jesus Christ. Euangelion also designates the written narratives of Matthew Mark Luke & John.

Mark provides His central thesis concerning the identity of Jesus as the Son of God. Both in His Baptism & the Transfiguration which testify to His son-ship
(1:11; 9:70).

 V 11 Then a voice came from heaven, You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. This verse shows the inner bond between "the Son of God & the Father. The heavenly voices speaks the combined words of Ps 2:7 in which God addresses the anointed King as His Son & also in Isa 42:1, In which God address His Servant in whom He delights in &
upon whom He has put His Spirit, so the Son of God will perform the ministry of the servant of God by the power of His Spirit.

On two occasions evil spirits confess Him to be the Son of God (3:11; 5;7 1:24,34) 3;11And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.

”Only those who have experienced God's grace can sincerely testify concerning the person & work of Christ. 5:7 And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” We see here that the demon fears being thrown into the abyss before the day of judgement. 1:24 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!

They had knowledge about Jesus but not faith in Him. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him. 1:34 The word many in this verse does not imply that there were some that Jesus could not heal, but simply that those He did heal were numerous.

The parable of the wicked vine dressers alludes to Jesus divine Son ship (12:6) Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, They will respect my son.’ The owner of the vineyard is God; the vineyard itself is Israel. This vineyard was given every equipment, there was a wall to mark out it's boundaries, to keep out robbers & to defend it from the assaults of the wild boars.

 Finally, the narrative of the Crucifixion concludes with the centurion's confession, who was a hard Roman soldier, he was the equivalent of a regimental sergeant major. He had fought in many battles & had seen many men die. But had never seen a man die like this & He was sure that Jesus was the Son of God. & said (15:39) Truly this Man was the Son of God!” Before Jesus uttered these words the sky was unnaturally darkened. There were two things which Jesus said first, "My God, My God why have you forsaken Me" To paint the picture He had been an obedient Son, He had done the work of the Father & faced temptations & borne our trails. He suffered all that life could bring.

 He knew the failure of friends, the hatred & malice of enemies. He had know the most searing pain imaginable. Up to that moment Jesus had gone through every experience of life, except one-He had never known sin. Now there is only one thing that can separate us from God & that is SIN, it was because He had taken all the sins of the world on to Himself it separated Him from God—His Father. You see before this time He had been without sin. Jesus now knew what it was like to be a sinner. & this experience must have been agonising for Him, because He never knew what it was like to be separated from His Father. Because of this He understands our situation so well, so we never have to fear to go to Him when sin separates us from God, because Jesus has gone through it & He can help others who are going through it. There is no experience He has not known.

 The other words He uttered are found in Jn 19:30 It is finished The Greek tense indicates that the work of the redemption has been completed once & for all, & it results are abiding continuously. The title Jesus most frequently used for Himself, a total of fourteen times in Mark, is "Son of Man."

As a designation for the Messiah, this term seen in Dan7:13 was not as popular among the Jews as they preferred the highly nationalistic title "Son of David." Jesus chose the title "Son of Man" both to reveal & to conceal His Messiah ship & to relate to Himself as both God & man. Mark with his eye upon disciple ship, suggests that Jesus' disciples must possess a penetrating insight into the mystery of His identity. Even though many people misunderstand His person & mission, While demons confess His divine Son ship, Jesus' disciples must see through to His mission, take up their crosses & follow Him.

The second coming of the vindicated Son of Man will fully unveil His power & glory. Now we look at the Holy Spirit at work in this Gospel. Along with all the other writers. Mark records the prophecy of John the baptist that Jesus Will baptise you with the Holy Spirit (1:8) John's baptism with water was symbolic; only Jesus can baptise...with the holy Spirit, & only after His exaltation following the Ascension. Jesus connected John's prophecy with Pentecost. Believers would be just as thoroughly immersed in the Holy Spirit as John's candidates were in the waters of the Jordan River. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at His baptism

1:10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. The Holy Spirit empowers Jesus for His ministry. The dove not only suggests gentleness & purity, but was also used as a sacrificial offering. The scene presents a picture of the character & manner of Jesus' redemptive ministry in fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy (Isa 42:1; 48:16; 61:1&2) 42:1 Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles 48:16 Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me

The Spirit of the Lord gives the king his skills to rule a truth clearly seen in Christ's ministry. The holy spirit is mentioned by Isaiah more then any other prophet. This attributes of the Spirit's anointing here suggests the names of the miracle Child. 61:1&2 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn Jesus quoted V1 & part of V 2 in the synagogue at Nazareth (Lk 4:17-20). He affirmed that it depicts the essence of His ministry. It also describes the basic ministry He passed on to His Church In V 2 "The day of vengeance belongs to Christ's second coming. The account of the subsequent ministry of Christ bears witness to the fact that His miracles & teaching resulted from the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Mark graphically states that The Spirit drove Him into the wilderness 1:12

The Word drove does not imply reluctance on the part of Jesus, but rather emphasises the conviction the Spirit gave Him of the necessity of the experience. To be tempted suggests the urgency of the Meeting & defeating satan's attempts to defile him before He embarked on a mission of breaking the enemy's power in others.

The sin set against the Holy spirit is set in contrast to all sins (3.28 &29) Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation. The unpardonable sin is not so much an act as it is a state of sin, a settled attitude that regards good as evil & evil as good. The Scribes had repeatedly witnessed the deeds & heard the teaching of Jesus, but their wilful blindness to the truth had resulted in such spiritual insensibility that they could no longer recognise the truth & were immune to its convicting power.

The concept of unpardonable sin has been the source of difficulty for many because it seems to go against the Bible's teaching about grace. We understand that God's grace forgives every sin, but our Lord mentioned one sin that cannot be forgiven. The religious leaders had come to hear Him, but they opposed virtually everything He said. He was casting out demons, they accused Him of doing this by satanic means.
Those people were so blind spiritually that they were attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to satan. Furthermore they were rejecting the holy Spirit's work in their own lives. In essence, the Holy Spirit was saying about Jesus, that He is the Son of God. This is God," & they were saying "He is not God! He is satan's agent. It was then when Jesus said "Every sin & blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven."

 Obviously unpardonable sin is not merely saying an unkind thing about the Holy spirit. The religious leaders involved had turned totally against the revelation of God. They were so far into their own wickedness that rejected not only Jesus Christ, but also the Holy Spirit. They were saying that good was evil & evil was good. They called the Spirit of God satan! Once they had rejected Jesus, the one source of forgiveness, there was now no forgiveness.

A person who turns away from Jesus Christ can receive no forgiveness, & that is what these had done. If you want to obey God but are concerned that you have committed the unpardonable sin, you have not committed it. If anyone today commits this sin it would be one who is hard hearted, who
has turned against Jesus, reviled Him & become so depraved that he claims that God's Spirit is satan. The religious were so prejudiced in their vision made them incapable of true discernment.

 Marks explanation confirms that's why Jesus makes a very severe pronouncement in 3:29. Jesus also refers to the Holy Spirit's inspiration of the Old Testament 12.36 (O. T 2 Sam23:2; Ps 110:1) For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool The term "My Lord" means the Lord of the universe (Yahweh) told David to rejoice. Many New Testament writers quote this verse. The Lord said is a unique word which refers to inspired prophetic utterances. This is of particular encouragement to Christians facing the hostility of unjust authorities it is the Lords assurance that the Holy spirit will speak through you when you testify of Christ 13:11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit

In addition to explicit references to the Holy Spirit, Mark employs words associated with the gift of the Spirit, such as power, authority, prophet, healing, laying on of hands, Messiah & kingdom. In 16: 15-18 We have the great commission to understand this in Mark, we must capture the Spirit of Mark's focus on Jesus as Servant. Messianic prophecies such as Isa 42;1-21, 49:1-7,50:4-11 & 53:12, which forecast Jesus' servant character would do a specific work & act with unqualified & unsullied obedience.

Marks shows Christ's servant-character by omitting His genealogy—which we saw at the beginning of Marks Gospel a couple or three weeks ago. (By which other Gospels establish His identity), Showing that as servants of Christ, we too might learn servant-spirit attitude which is essential to fulfilling the great Commission.

Mark wrote this concluding section because he obviously believed that the church had certain tasks committed to them by Jesus. Christ seeks those who will serve without seeking recognition, selflessly & obediently seeking to exalt Christ & make Him known. Such servants establish their person hood & ministries By their devotion & obedience to Jesus, their disposition to serve unselfishly—their only exercise of power is to extend the love of God—ministering His life to the lost, the sick, & those in bondage. The sole avenue of salvation is the call to take the gospel to the nations is founded in two basic assumptions: 1. That humankind without Christ is lost, whether the entire race or the individual is concerned. 2. That there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved; That is no other authority, no other personality, no other system, or philosophy can effect the rescue of the human sole. They do so wherever & however God sovereignly directs, whether it be through their giving, going or their prayerful intercession. While some propose possibilities for human hope other then that of personal trust in Jesus Christ, God's Word pre-empts such propositions. We see in 2 Cor 5:17 "To be in Christ is the only way to enter the new creation of God's present
promise & His eternal salvation. The Servant Jesus & obedience compel His servants to loyal & unreserved service.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Why Holiness Matters ~ Ganeida

                                                                         Benedict Olorunnisomo:The                                                                                                          Last Supper

Everyone say hagiasmos with me. Now say holiness.
Hebrews 12:14 tells us for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Holiness is important. Without it not only will we not see God ~ we cannot!

I have told you again & again holiness is not some imprecise, woolly word that doesn’t mean 
anything much.  In fact it has a very precise meaning.  It means to separate or consecrate for a particular use.  For us it means we separate ourselves unto God for his special use & purpose for us.

For us Jesus is not only Saviour, He is also Lord. When He is Lord He is the Master & we obey Him.  If He is only saviour we treat obedience as an optional extra if we feel like it.

We are not talking about salvation here Romans 4: 5 is very clear:  But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.

There are two parts to holiness.  Firstly there is our position in Christ.
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Eph 1:4
This is part of the free gift of salvation, the righteousness of Christ imparted to us. There is absolutely nothing we can do to earn this gift.  It is freely given because He loved us from before the foundation of the world.

However there is a 2nd aspect of holiness.
1 Peter 1:14~17 says  So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.  But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.  For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

We must not confuse the righteousness of Christ with self~righteousness.  When we are self~righteous we rely on our works rather than on the finished work of Christ & our works will not save us.  However according to scripture our works will be judged.

There is an aspect of holiness that involves our works, what we do.  Last week, we spoke about authority & submission. We talked about lining up under the Holy Spirit’s authority with Christ as our Dux Bellorum, or War Leader. Like good soldiers we do what we are commanded without question. Our obedience demonstrates our love.

Some people think they have to work very, very hard at being *good.*  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Jesus said Abide in me.  When we abide in Christ, & He in us,  obedience flows naturally & spontaneously out of a heart overflowing with love.

If our salvation is not dependent on our obedience then why pursue holiness?

Hebrews 12:14 says pursue holiness [diōkō] ~ meaning to enforce, to put in rapid motion because without holiness no~one shall see God. The clue is in the Greek word see: horaō. Now horaō can simply mean to see as in to see this table, this chair, this person.  It can also mean to perceive spiritual truths.

This is a communion Sunday.  It is especially at this time we are to remember Jesus for Luke 20:19~20 says And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

We are meant to see Jesus in communionThere are spiritual truths we are meant to perceive in communion.  Anyone can look & see that there is matzo, juice, water.  If that is all we see we have missed the point. 

Jesus said This is my body, broken for you. Do you see the cross?  Do you see the Lord hanging there for you & for me? Do you see the stripes for our healing? The crown of thorns for the redemption of the land from the effects of sin? Do you see his blood for the new covenant?

From the moment God revealed Himself as *I Am*, Everlasting to Everlasting, He has been revealing more & more of Himself to mankind: Healer, redeemer, saviour, provider, Our Banner, Our shield, Our Protector until He finally revealed Himself in Jesus Christ.

Paul goes on to say in 2 Corinthians 3:18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

The pursuit of holiness changes us into the likeness of Christ. The more Christlike we become the more clearly we see Him for who He is.  The more clearly we see Him the more we strive after holiness. The holier we become the more clearly we see.

We do not love holiness as we ought.  Our flesh still craves the things of the flesh.  What is born of the flesh will perish.  Only that which is birthed of the Spirit brings life. We do not walk as we should because we do not see clearly.

Obedience is not an optional extra, not if we love the Lord.  We obey because He first loved us & gave His life for us.  Here is bread, here is wine. These are the first things but no~one can out give the Lord. As we continue to walk in obedience, as we pursue holiness the Lord will manifest Himself to us & in us. 

This promise is not to all believers.  It is only to those who walk in obedience.  We are saved already.  Nothing can be added to or taken away from that. What we shall be no man can imagine.

So as we come to communion I encourage you to look for Jesus, to ask for a greater revelation of His love, a deeper awareness of His presence.

Acknowledgements: John Bevere.