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Jesus’ Burial and Sealed Tomb

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Buried & Sealed: Jesus in the Tomb

From:  Rick Renner   CBN.com – Excerpt from the book Paid in Full .

John’s Gospel tells us that near the crucifixion site was a garden. The Greek word for “garden” is kepos, and it refers to any garden with trees and spices. It can also be translated as an orchard. The same word is used in John 18:1 to describe the Garden of Gethsemane, which was an olive tree orchard.

All four Gospels suggest that this tomb was near the place where Jesus was crucified, but John 19:42 says, “…The sepulchre was nigh at hand.” The word “nigh” is the Greek word aggus, meaning nearby. Most crucifixions were performed along a roadside. Evidently this garden was located in an orchard-like place, just down the road from where Jesus was crucified.

John 19:41 tells us that in the garden was “…a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.” The word “new” is the Greek word kainos, meaning fresh or unused. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the tomb had recently been made but that it was a tomb that had never been used — thus, the reason John writes, “…Wherein was never man yet laid.”

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record that this tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, suggesting that it was the tomb he had prepared for his own burial. The fact that it was a tomb “hewn out in the rock” (Matthew 27:60Mark 15:46Luke 23:53) confirms the personal wealth of Joseph of Arimathea. Only royalty or wealthy individuals could afford to have their tombs carved out of a wall of stone or in the side of a mountain. Poorer men were buried in simple graves.

The word “hewn” in Matthew, Mark, and Luke comes from the Greek word laxeuo, meaning not only to cut out, but to polish. It implies that it was a special tomba highly developed tomba refined tomb, or a tomb that was splendid and expensiveIsaiah 53:9 had prophesied that the Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s tomb, and the word laxeuo strongly suggests that this was indeed the expensive tomb of a very rich man.

John 19:42 says, “There laid they Jesus….” The word “laid” comes from the word tithimi, which means to setto layto placeto deposit, or to set in place. As used here, it portrays the careful and thoughtful placing of Jesus’ body in its resting place inside the tomb. Luke 23:55 tells us that after Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb, the women who came with Him from Galilee “…beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.” The word “beheld” in Greek is theaomai, from which we get the word theater. The word theaomai means to gaze uponto fully see, or to look at intently. This is very important, for it proves the women inspected the tomb, gazing upon the dead body of Jesus to see that it had been honorably laid in place.

Mark 15:47 identifies these women as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses and says that these women “…beheld where he was laid” at the tomb. The imperfect tense is used in Mark’s account, alerting us to the fact that these women took their time in making sure Jesus was properly laid there. It could be translated, “they carefully contemplated where he was laid.” If Jesus had still been alive, those who buried Him would have known it, for they spent substantial time preparing His body for burial. Then after His dead body was deposited into the tomb, they lingered there, checking once again to see that the body was treated with the greatest love and attention.

Once they were certain everything was done correctly, Joseph of Arimathea “…rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed” (Matthew 27:60Mark 15:46). It was rare to find a stone entrance to a Jewish tomb in biblical times; most Jewish tombs had doors with certain types of hinges. A large stone rolled before the tomb would be much more difficult to move, making the burial site more permanent.

However, the chief priests and Pharisees weren’t so sure that the site was secure. Fearing that Jesus’ disciples would come to steal the body and claim that Jesus had been resurrected, the Jewish leaders came to Pilate and said, “…Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first” (Matthew 27:63,64).

When the chief priests and Pharisees asked that “…the sepulchre be made sure…,” the Greek word sphragidzo is used. This word described a legal seal that was placed on documents, letters, possessions, or, in this case, a tomb. Its purpose was to authenticate that the sealed item had been properly inspected before sealing and that all the contents were in order. Aslong as the seal remained unbroken, it guaranteed that the contents inside were safe and sound. In this case, the word sphragidzo is used to signify the sealing of the tomb. In all probability, it was a string that was stretched across the stone at the entrance of the tomb, which was then sealed on both sides by Pilate’s legal authorities.

Before sealing the tomb, however, these authorities were first required to inspect the inside of the tomb to see that the body of Jesus was in its place. After guaranteeing that the corpse was where it was supposed to be, they rolled the stone back in place and then sealed it with the official seal of the governor of Rome.

After hearing the suspicions of the chief priests and Pharisees, “Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can” (Matthew 27:65). The word “watch” is the Greek word coustodia, from which we get the word custodian. This was a group of four Roman soldiers whose shift changed every three hours. The changing shifts assured that the tomb would be guarded 24 hours a day by soldiers who were awake, attentive, and fully alert. When Pilate said, “Ye have a watch…,” a better rendering would be, “Here — I’m giving you a set of soldiers; take them and guard the tomb.”

Matthew 27:66 says, “So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.” Wasting no time, the chief priests and elders hastened to the tomb with their government-issued soldiers and the special officers assigned to inspect the tomb before placing Pilate’s seal upon it. After a full inspection had been made, the stone was put back in place, and the soldiers stood guard to protect the tomb from anyone who would attempt to touch it or remove its contents. Every three hours, new guards arrived to replace the old ones. These armed soldiers guarded the entrance to Jesus’ tomb so firmly that no one would have been able to come near it.

The purpose of the seal was to authenticate that Jesus was dead; therefore, we can know that His body was thoroughly inspected again for proof of death. There is no doubt that Jesus was dead, for He was examined again and again, even as He lay in the tomb. Some critics have claimed that only Jesus’ own disciples inspected His body and that they could have lied about His being dead. However, an officer from Pilate’s court also examined the body of Jesus. We can also be fairly certain that the chief priests and elders who accompanied the soldiers to the burial site demanded the right to view His dead body as well so they could verify that He was truly dead.

When Jesus came out of that grave several days later, it was no hoax or fabricated story. In addition to all the people who saw Him die on the Cross, the following individuals and groups verified that His dead body was in the tomb before the stone was permanently sealed by an officer from the Roman court of law:

  • Joseph of Arimathea carefully laid Him inside the tomb.
  • Nicodemus provided the embalming solutions, assisted in embalming Him, and helped Joseph of Arimathea lay Him in His place in the tomb.
  • Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, lovingly examined His body and carefully contemplated every aspect of the burial site to ensure everything was done properly and respectfully.
  • Rome’s official officer ordered the stone rolled back. Then he went into the tomb and examined the body of Jesus to verify that it was Jesus and that He was really dead.
  • The chief priests and elders entered the tomb with Rome’s official officer so they could look upon Jesus’ dead body and put an end to their worries that He had somehow survived.
  • Roman guards checked the contents of the tomb because they wanted to know for sure a body was there. They didn’t want to be guarding an empty tomb that would later be used as a claim of resurrection, while they got blamed for the disappearance of Jesus’ body.
  • After all of these inspections were complete, Rome’s official officer ordered the stone rolled back in its place. While the chief priests, elders, and Roman guards watched, he secured the site and sealed it shut with the seal of the governor of Rome.

Regardless of all these efforts to secure the site and to keep Jesus inside the grave, it was impossible for death to hold Him. When preaching on the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed to the people of Jerusalem, “…Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain [Jesus]: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:23,24).

Today the tomb in Jerusalem is empty because Jesus arose on the third day! Now He is seated on His throne at the right hand of the Father on High, where He ever lives to make intercession for you and for me (Hebrews 7:25). That means we never have to struggle alone. At any time of the day or night, we can come boldly before the throne of grace and ask for divine assistance (Hebrews 4:16).

There is no mountain in your life God cannot move. So make your requests known to Him, confidently expecting Him to move on your behalf. As you do, you will receive supernatural grace to help in time of need.

Think About It

  • The purpose of the seal on Jesus’ tomb was to authenticate that He was indeed dead and to secure the site. Pilate’s soldiers, as well as the chief priests and elders, inspected Jesus’ body to verify He was truly dead.
  • Notice the ignorance and arrogance that led men to believe they had controlled and contained the Son of God. Are there any areas of your life that you have kept sealed and secure in an attempt to prevent God from stirring you to change?
  • The religious leaders recalled that Jesus said He would rise from the dead. They heard the truth but did not comprehend its significance.
  • Think about all that Jesus declared about Himself during His walk on this earth, and consider all He has spoken to you personally. Do you truly believe Jesus? Have you taken the time to meditate on the significance of His words?
  • Jesus was the Father’s promise of hope for mankind. When He died and was then buried, creation was shocked and His disciples were devastated. But God raised Jesus to new life. What seemed to be the end was actually only the beginning.

Flip through the pages of your own life’s story. What promise from God to you seems now incapable of coming to pass? What hope or dream in your life have you buried? Consider the power of the One who raised Jesus from the dead. Then, like Jesus, commit yourself into the hands of the One who makes all things new. He is faithful. Will you trust Him?

First John 3:16 (NKJV) states, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren….” What are some ways you can lay down your life for others?

Jesus paid the price for your salvation, for your liberation, for your physical healing, and for your complete restoration. When the price for your forgiveness was complete, Jesus bowed His head and died. God’s justice had been fulfilled. The Old Covenant had ended, and the New Covenant had begun. It was the fulfillment of one and the beginning of another.

Think of the price Jesus paid and what His death accomplished for you. Doesn’t it make you want to stop for a few minutes to thank Him for what He has done for you? Where would you be today if Jesus had not died on the Cross for you? Why don’t you take a little time right now to express your heartfelt thanksgiving to Jesus for paying the debt you never could have paid!

 

The Burial of Jesus

From: the Jesus story.net

John 19
(Isaiah 53:9-12Matthew 27:57-61Mark 15:42-47Luke 23:50-56)

38  Afterward, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus (but secretly for fear of the Jews), asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission, so he came and removed His body. 39  Nicodemus, who had previously come to Jesus at night, also brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.d 40  So they took the body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.

41  Now there was a garden in the place where Jesus was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42  And because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Jesus’ body is placed in the tomb


The gospels tell us that Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus and placed it in a tomb. Why? To show that Pontius Pilate, an independent witness, knew that Jesus was truly dead, and that the Galilean women could verify the location of the tomb.

Drawing showing reconstruction of a 1st century underground tomb

Drawing showing reconstruction of a 1st century underground tomb

The request to bury Jesus

Why is this part of Jesus’ story important? It proves that Jesus had really died, and that he was buried by not one but two influential, respected men who could testify to the fact – an important point when you remember that the first Christians were accused of concocting the story of the Resurrection. Here was certain evidence, from reputable witnesses, that Jesus really died.

The fact of his death could also be verified by the Galilean women who prepared Jesus’ body for burial; they were well-known and trusted by the Galilean disciples.

Interior of a 1st century tomb showing stone shelves to hold the bodiesWho were the men who buried Jesus?

  • Joseph, probably born in a city in Judea call Ramathaim; he was a rich, influential man, a member of the Sanhedrin. He is described as ‘looking for the Kingdom of God’, and perhaps believed he had found it in Jesus. He may have been absent from the hastily-summoned council that condemned Jesus, or his objection to the sentence of death may have been over-ridden. Or he may even have lacked the courage to speak up in Jesus’ defence – Mark’s gospel says Joseph had to ‘gather up his courage’ to ask for Jesus’ body. It was risky for him to defend or protect Jesus; it could have serious consequences for advancement in his social, religious and political life.
  • Nicodemus brought spices for the burial, powdered myrrh and aloes, about 70lbs in modern weight, a phenomenal amount. There is no explanation as to why he gave so much. But John tells us Nicodemus came to hear Jesus under cover of darkness, as if he were afraid; perhaps he was now trying to make up for this fearfulness.

Here were two highly placed men of authentic Jewish faith who were able to respond to Jesus’ teaching.

The task of burying Jesus, in the two-three hours of daylight remaining before the beginning of the Sabbath, could not have been carried out by just two men. Jesus’ dead body would not have been easy to carry, and the stone at the entrance of the tomb required several men to move it. Joseph and Nicodemus were both rich men who would have had a number of servants at their disposal.

The choice of these men is a subtle criticism of the Galilean disciples. They openly followed Jesus and loudly proclaimed their loyalty, but when it came to the crunch they deserted him.

Instead, two secret disciples who had nothing to gain and everything to lose stepped forward and arranged the burial.

Pilate, the chief priests and Pharisees

Why was Pilate surprised when he was asked about Jesus’ body? He had not expected Jesus to die so quickly. Victims of crucifixion usually lasted several cruel days before they died. But Jesus had suffered a terrible beating, no doubt causing critical internal injuries; and he had been nailed, rather than tied, to the cross, suffering debilitating blood loss.

The Centurion, woodcut by Cyril Edward Power, c1929To make sure of the facts, Pilate questioned the centurion who had been in charge of executing Jesus, and was reassured that Jesus was indeed dead. He then released the corpse for burial.

What did the chief priests and Pharisees fear?

  • That Jesus had been taken down from the cross while he was still alive, stolen away by his disciples and then resuscitated
  • or that Jesus’ friends might steal his body and later claim that he was risen from the dead, as he had predicted.

Either option would make it possible for Jesus or his disciples to claim that Jesus had made good on his promise to rise again after three days. Pilate had to be sure this would not happen.

The Repentant Thief Forgiven

Luke 23:39-43

39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was [a]hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the [b]Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving [c]what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come [d]in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

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Today You Will Be with Me in Paradise

From: John Piper, desiringgod.org

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Two Ways to Respond to Suffering

There are two kinds of responses to our own personal suffering: 1) We can rail against God and say, “If you are such a great and powerful and loving God, why am I in this hellish mess?” 2) Or we can acknowledge that we are sinners and don’t deserve any good thing, and cry out for mercy and help in our time of desperation. The world is full of those who rail against God in their self-righteousness and presume that the creator of the universe is obliged to make their life smooth. But there are only a few who own up to the fact that God owes us nothing, and that any good to come our way will be due to his mercy, not our merit.

I think Luke records this text for us about the two thieves to teach us that there is great reward for responding to suffering like the first sort of person. The two thieves represent these two ways of responding to suffering and relating to Christ in suffering.

Notice first how similar they are. Both are suffering the pain of crucifixion. Both are guilty of crime (“We are receiving the due reward of our deeds,” v. 41). Both see Jesus, the sign over his head (“King of the Jews,” v. 38); they hear the words from his mouth (“Father forgive them,” v. 34). And both of these thieves want desperately to be saved from death.

Most of us have all these things in common with these two thieves: there has been, is, or will be suffering in our lives. And none of us will be able to say: “I do not deserve this.” Most of us have seen Jesus on the cross and have heard his claim to kingship and his gracious words of forgiveness. And all of us want to be saved from death one way or the other.

The First Thief

But then the ways divide between these two thieves and between two categories of people. The first thief says, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” What a picture of a spiritually destitute, worldly man. It is a matter of total indifference to him that he is suffering “the due reward of his deeds.” To him right and wrong, praise and blame, good and bad are of no interest: his one objective is to save his earthly skin. He might even believe Jesus is the Messiah, the King of the Jews. But, it’s only a matter of convenience to him: he’ll take anybody as king who can get him off the cross. Just another patsy to serve his own worldly purposes.

That’s the way one whole segment of humans relates to God in suffering. Suffering interrupts their private, worldly goals and pleasures. So why not try God? “If you are king, then get me out of this mess.” It’s the old car-jack theology. A car-jack is a dirty, useless thing to be kept out of sight in the trunk until you have a flat tire (a little suffering). Then you get it out, let it do the dirty work, and put it away again. “If you’re such a good jack, jack me down off this cross, Jesus.” “If you’re such a good jack, jack me up out of this sickness, out of this financial mess, out of this lousy job, out of this crummy marriage.”

The thief had no spirit of brokenness, or guilt, or penitence, or humility. He could only see Jesus as a possible power by which to escape the cross. He did not see him as a king to be followed. It never entered his mind that he should say he was sorry and should change.

The Second Thief

But notice the other thief: this one is the one Luke wants us to be like. First, he is not sucked in by the other fellow’s railing. And if we are to follow his example, we will have to stand our ground and not be sucked in by the people all around us who say, “If your God is so great and loving, then why the 20 kids shot in Atlanta?” “Why sixteen miners buried in a cave?” “Why a village slaughtered in El Salvador?” “Why doesn’t he come down off his helpless perch on the cross and do something?” The first thing the repentant thief does is not get deceived by all this talk.

“But he rebuked him saying, ‘Do you not fear God?”‘ This is the second thing about this penitent thief: he feared God. God was real to him. God was his creator, and he knew that a pot can’t take up arms against the potter and come away victorious. It is fitting that creatures bow in submission before their creator and subject all their life to his wisdom. It is even more fitting that sinful creatures bow before God in holy fear, instead of railing against God as if a rebel ant should kick against the foothills of Mt. Everest and demand that it flatten out so the ant can walk across.

Third, the penitent thief admitted that he had done wrong: “We are receiving the due reward of our deeds” (v. 41). He had no desire to save face any more; he had no more will to assert himself. He was here and laid open before the God he feared and there was no way to hide his guilt. I know people right now who are in trouble. But instead of laying down their self-righteous defenses, they are devising every means to finagle and distort so as to appear innocent and cool. The penitent thief gave it up. It’s a hopeless tack, anyway, before an all-knowing God!

Fourth, not only did he admit to wrong and guilt, he accepted his punishment as deserved. “We are under the sentence of condemnation justly.” This is the real test of humility before God. Many will mouth the confession of sin: “God be merciful to us miserable sinners,” but when some trouble comes, they get angry at him. And this anger reveals that they do not really feel undeserving before God. They still feel, deep down, that they have some rights before God. There are not many people like Job, who, when he lost everything, said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return; the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” But this penitent thief did become like Job in the last minutes of his life—he took his suffering without complaint, and feared God.

Fifth, the thief acknowledged Jesus’ righteousness: “This man had done nothing wrong.” It didn’t make any difference to the first thief if Jesus was right or wrong. If he could drive the get-away car—that’s all that mattered. But it matters a lot to Jesus if we think his life was good or bad. Jesus does not want to drive a get-away car; he wants to be followed because we admire him. We must say with the thief: “This man has done nothing wrong.” This man only does what is good. This man only speaks the truth. This man is worthy of our faith and allegiance and imitation.

And then, sixth, the thief goes a step further and acknowledges that indeed, Jesus is a king. “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Even though he is suffering now, Jesus has the mark of a king. For those who have eyes to see, he has a power here on the cross—a power of love that makes him king over all his tormentors. He is not only good, he is powerful, and one day he will vindicate his great name, and every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord—to the glory of God, the Father.

And finally, the penitent thief does one more thing. He fears God, admits wrong, accepts justice, acknowledges the goodness and power of Jesus. Now he pleads for help. “Jesus, remember when you come into your kingdom.” Both thieves wanted to be saved from death. But O how differently they sought their salvation: 1) “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 2) “Jesus, remember when you come into your kingdom!” There is an infinite qualitative difference between “Save me!” and “Save me!”

Why Should I Repent?

Now what motive does Jesus give us to follow in the steps of the penitent thief? There is a fearful silence toward the railing thief: not a word recorded of Jesus to him. Perhaps a final pitying glance. But no promise. No hope.

But to the penitent Jesus says: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” This was almost too good. There would not even be a delay. Today the Spirit of Jesus and the renewed spirit of the thief would be in union in Paradise. The promise would be without delay.

What is this paradise? The word is found in two other places in the New Testament. First, in 2 Corinthians 12:3 Paul says, “I know a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise—whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows—and he heard things which cannot be told, which man may not utter.”

Thus, Paradise is the heavenly abode of God where there are found things prepared by God for those who love him, which are utterly indescribable (1 Corinthians 2:9). The second place the word “Paradise” is found is in Revelation 2:7. Here Jesus says to the church at Ephesus, “To him who conquers, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.” And if we look at the end of the book of Revelation we find that the tree of life is in the heavenly city of God. In Revelation 22:1 John said, “Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

But in all this, the one thing that Jesus chose to mention to the repentant thief on the cross (if you can only say one thing, what do you say?): “You will be with me today.” You have to love and admire Jesus a lot for that to be a solace when you leave this life behind. It reminds me of that great spiritual, “When I come to die, give me Jesus . . . You can have all this world, give me Jesus.”

 

The Believing Thief

By: Charles Spurgeon, answering genesis.org

And he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, ‘Today you shall be with me in Paradise.’ ”{Lu 23:42,43}

1. Some time ago I preached on the whole story of the dying thief. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1881, “The Dying Thief in a New Light” 1882} I do not propose to do the same today, but only to look at it from one particular point of view. The story of the salvation of the dying thief is an outstanding example of the power of Christ to save, and of his abundant willingness to receive all who come to him, in whatever plight they may be. I cannot regard this act of grace as a solitary case, any more than the salvation of Zacchaeus, the restoration of Peter, or the call of Saul, the persecutor. Every conversion is, in a sense, unique: no two are exactly alike, and yet any one conversion is a type of others. The case of the dying thief is much more similar to our conversion than it is dissimilar; in point of fact, his case may be regarded as typical, rather than as an extraordinary incident. So I shall use it at this time. May the Holy Spirit speak through it to the encouragement of those who are ready to despair!

2. Remember, beloved friends, that our Lord Jesus, at the time he saved this malefactor, was at his lowest. His glory had been ebbing out in Gethsemane, and before Caiaphas, and Herod, and Pilate; but it had now reached the utmost low watermark. Stripped of his garments, and nailed to the cross, our Lord was mocked by a ribald crowd, and was dying in agony: then he was “numbered with the transgressors,” and made as the offscouring of all things. Yet, while in that condition, he achieved this marvellous deed of grace. Behold the wonder accomplished by the Saviour when emptied of all his glory, and hung up as a spectacle of shame upon the brink of death! How certain it is that he can do great wonders of mercy now, since that he has returned to his glory, and sits upon the throne of light! “He is able to save those to the uttermost who come to God by him, since he lives for ever to make intercession for them.” If a dying Saviour saved the thief, my argument is, that he can do even more now that he lives and reigns. All power is given to him in heaven and in earth; can anything at this present time surpass the power of his grace?

3. It is not only the weakness of our Lord which makes the salvation of the penitent thief memorable; it is the fact that the dying malefactor saw it before his very eyes. Can you put yourself into his place, and suppose yourself to be looking upon one who hangs in agony upon a cross? Could you readily believe him to be the Lord of glory, who would soon come to his kingdom? That was no insignificant faith which, at such a moment, could believe in Jesus as Lord and King. If the apostle Paul were here, and wanted to add a New Testament chapter to the eleventh of Hebrews, he might certainly begin his examples of remarkable faith with this thief, who believed in a crucified, derided, and dying Christ, and cried to him as to one whose kingdom would surely come. The thief’s faith was all the more remarkable because he was himself in great pain, and bound to die. It is not easy to exercise confidence when you are tortured with deadly anguish. Our own rest of mind has at times been greatly hindered by pain of body. When we are the subjects of acute suffering it is not easy to exhibit that faith which we imagine we possess at other times. This man, suffering as he did, and seeing the Saviour in so sad a state, nevertheless believed to eternal life. Herein was such faith as is seldom seen.

Jesus Said, “It Is Finished”

John 19:28-30

It Is Finished

28 After this, Jesus, [a]knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

 

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Holy Week Devotional: It is Finished – John 19:28-20

Holy Week

This week you’re likely to see a purple draped cross displayed outside many churches and often in the sanctuary.  Frequently seen during Lent and the weeks preceding Easter Sunday, the purple drape has significance.The Color Purple

Along with blue, scarlet, and crimson, the color purple is used to describe hangings and fine materials. Long ago, the dye needed for this color was extracted from a particularly scarce family of shellfish which made it quite valuable.  Purple, then, became a symbol of royalty and riches due to the scarcity of its dye.

The Carpenter’s Cloth

During Jesus’ time there was one way a carpenter let the contractor know a job was finished. A signature, so to speak.

Imagine a hot afternoon in Galilee. Jesus has completed the final pieces of a job he has worked on for several days. The hair of his strong forearms is matted with sawdust and sweat.  His face is shiny with heat. He takes a final – and welcome – drink of cool water from a leather bag.

Then, standing to the side of his work, he pours water over his face and chest, splashing it over his arms to clean himself before his journey home. With a nearby towel, he pats his face and arms dry.

Finally, Jesus folds the towel neatly in half, and then folds it in half again. He sets it on the finished work and walks away. Later, whoever arrives to inspect the work will see the towel and understand its simple message. The work is finished.

Christ’s disciples, of course, knew this carpenter’s tradition. On a Sunday of sorrow, three years after Jesus had set aside his carpenter tools, Peter will crouch to look into an empty tomb and see only the linens that the risen Lord has left behind.

A smile will cross Peter’s face as his sorrow is replaced by hope, for he will see the wrap that had covered Jesus’ face. It has been folded in half, then folded in half again and left neatly on the floor of the tomb. Peter understands. The carpenter has left behind a simple message with this cloth. It is finished. (This section is an excerpt from the book, The Carpenter’s Cloth, Sigmund Brouwer.)

As you reflect on your faith this week and what Jesus did over 2000 years ago, be reminded that the reason you can be free of the chains of sin is because Jesus finished what he came to earth to do on the cross.

Related Scriptures

After this, Jesus,knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” John 19:28-20

It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joseph, saw where he was laid.”  Mark 15:42-47

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”  So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.”  John 20:1-8

 

It Is Finished I Daily Walk Devotion

The sixth statement Jesus said on the cross is “It is Finished.” These powerful words completed the work of our salvation. Everything that Jesus needed to accomplish on the cross was done. All that was left was his resurrection from the grave. The atoning work of the cross makes us one with God again. Sin has been defeated; we have victory over death.

John 19:28-30

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Payment In Full

The Greek word for “It is Finished” is Tetelelstai. It means payment made in full. When Jesus said these words, he was speaking to the world the debt of our sin had been paid in full by his work on the cross. Forgiveness of our sin was offered and the wrath of God had been satisfied. Jesus had made the payment with his body and God was pleased with that as a payment. It is finished.

Full Access

When Jesus said those words the curtain in the temple that surrounded the Ark of the Covenant was torn in two. This area made up the Holy of Holies and was only accessed by the High Priest once a year. The curtain being split in two symbolized that we had full access to God. We no longer need a priest to go and offer sacrifices for us; we go can directly to God with our prayers. Jesus’ finishing work on the cross bridged the gap between us and God.

A Free Gift

When Christ uttered “It is finished” he also got rid of the need for us to earn our forgiveness. Salvation is only offered as a free gift. If we blow it, we don’t need to make it up to Jesus. We just need to ask for forgiveness, and we are forgiven. All the guilt and shame of our sin will be taken away and completely forgotten. There is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ. We are his children, and he finds great delight in us.

It Is Finished!

Come to Me and listen!

Attune yourself to My voice, and receive My richest blessings. Marvel at the wonder of communing with the Creator of the universe while sitting in the comfort of your home. Kings who reign on earth tend to make themselves inaccessible; ordinary people almost never gain an audience with them. Even dignitaries must plow through red tape and protocol in order to speak with royalty.

Though I am King of the universe, I am totally accessible to you. I am with you wherever you are. Nothing can separate you from My Presence! When I cried out from the cross,

It is finished!

the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. This opened the way for you to meet Me face-to-Face, with no need of protocol or priests. I, the King of kings, am your constant Companion.

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. — Isaiah 50:4

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of far. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. — Isaiah 55:2-3

When He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. — John 19:30

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. — Matthew 27:50-51

Trusting God Through The Valley Of Death

A psalm of David.

23rd  Psalm

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod  and your staff, they comfort me. 
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the  house of the LORD forever.
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Trusting God Through the Valleys: When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

By: Amy Marie

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One thing I envy from biblical times was the ability to hear the audible voice of God, often in dreams, saying very clearly, “Go this way” or “Don’t go this way.” We have been entrusted with the Holy Spirit who now speaks to our hearts and guides us through many ways — reading of scripture, heart impressions, circumstances, and words from others. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t speak directly through visions or prophesy or audibly. This does happen too, but more often than not, we’re being led by the Spirit and we need to be seeking God and adopt willing and open hearts to listen in order to hear.

Jesus was born in Israel, Bethlehem of Judea to be precise. Shortly after his birth his Father, Joseph was instructed to move the family and flee to Egypt as refugees and remain there, some speculated for only a few months, until King Herod died. Once that occurred an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream directing them to move to back Israel. However, it wasn’t specified which region. Of course I speculate that Joseph assumed he would be returning to his former region. But, on their way, he was warned in yet another dream to take a detour and stay in the district of Galilee, to a city called Nazareth. This, of course, fulfills prophecy, but wouldn’t be the place of choice or make the most sense for a born King. Nazareth was a place generally held in low esteem, a feeling of contempt seemed to be shown toward it. John 1:46 says, “Can any good come out of Nazareth?” Being (mostly) from Southern California, I envision Nazareth to possibly feel like San Bernadino. Not particularly bad, like maybe Compton, but someone from Pasadena might turn their nose up to.

I’m not sure why the first angel didn’t just instruct them to go directly to Nazareth. Why were the directives divulged only one step at a time? Is it possible that maybe Joseph would have dragged his feet with the instructions for Nazareth to be his family’s new home? Maybe he had to undergo the long journey back and to feel the current danger as he passed through his home town, in order to be content in such a non-destination point, such as Nazareth.

Isaiah 55:8–9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”

There are times in our lives which just don’t make sense to our logical, calculating brains. God’s plans are so much higher than what what we can even comprehend in our finite minds. He has deeper and meaningful purposes behind what may feel like inconvenience, unnecessary risk, or illogical. Sometimes we won’t ever understand. Often times, we see purpose as we look back.

I see this in my life, as I’ve just experienced a difficult year of grief and intense stress. This past year included humiliating heartbreak, the grief of turning 40 with a life undetermined, a job layoff and off and on unemployment for over a year. This resulted in selling everything I owned and moving 5 states away for a humbling stay with my parents, working physical labor, low income jobs to make ends meet, not knowing what to do next, and having my body retaliate by pumping out constant stress hormones causing me to battle debilitating anxiety throughout the entire process.

Throughout it all, I see God breaking down idols that I were strongly erecting in my heart, I see Him freeing me from caring about the world’s standards of material wealth and success, I see him taking everything away so I could finally have nothing but Him to turn to as my stubborn heart continued to rebel, I saw him guiding me to a new place that I would have never chosen to go to without having my current world crash around me. I saw Him breaking chains that have bound me for my entire life, that of needing affirmation in order to love and needing the approval of others to feel my worth. I saw Him using my brokenness to bring healing and care to those around me.

If God said directly to me, “You are going to move from LA, a place you love, and I’m moving you to a random town with a weird name that you’ve never even heard of, Chattanooga, TN,” if I went at all, it would have been feet dragging with heart downtrodden. But God orchestrated a healing journey of restoration that prepared me for what was next. I found that through the hardest year of my life, God was allowing what circumstantially didn’t make sense to the world, to guide me to something entirely new.

Even though we cannot hear God’s voice audibly, we can hear the closed doors and be thankful for them, we can hear the crack of a window opening, and we can hear the swinging of a wide-open door and we can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit within it all. I’ve learned that not every open door is the one to walk through, the right ones, although they may not be absent of fear, they are filled with peace.As we walk through the unknown and sometimes scary pathways of life, let us rest in knowing that through every twist and turn, every up and down, even throughout our mistakes and failures, God is moving behind the scenes. He’s preparing us, molding us, sanctifying us, growing us, and using us.

Some of this feels good, some of it doesn’t, but if we can release our need to control, understand, and explain, and instead trust in, not only his unfailing love, but in His absolute delight in us, we can find joy in the valleys, knowing He will never leave or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Our life journeys are full of valleys and mountaintops. As I’m moving to a smaller mountain town, I’m hoping that this will be the part of my journey that hikes up and out of this current valley. But whether what’s next is mountain or valley, we can always trust that there’s a purpose behind it and new directives will be coming.

“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19

 

Trusting God in The Valley

 

The last few years have been quite difficult for my family and me. First, I was forced to resign from my pastorate to prevent a church split. This led us to move to another state with our three young children. Shortly after that, I was able to find a local maintenance job, but it didn’t pay enough for my family to get by without food stamps or Medicaid.

 Also, in the last year our family has been struck by some strong tragedies. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with uterine cancer. My grandfather died after a long struggle with multiple health issues. And a month after my grandfather’s death my cousin was electrocuted in a work-place accident, leaving a wife and five year old son.

Given all of this, it would seem to be easy to despair and turn away from God.  After all, where was God when this was happening to me? Yet, we have not turned away from God. My wife and I have actually grown closer to Him through this. How, then, do we stay faithful, stay close?

First, understand that you are not alone.

 When walking through the valleys of life it is tempting to feel like you are all alone, like you are the only one to go through this. Well, you aren’t that special! You are not alone in your valley. Others have trod these paths long before you. Job lost all his wealth, his family, and his health. Jesus was a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). The early church was persecuted throughout the Roman world. Paul suffered greatly for the cause of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:21-33). Yet he rejoiced in his sufferings (Philippians 3:8-11).

Not only is your situation not exceptional, but you are not abandoned. God is there with you, shepherding you (Psalm 23). Jesus has not abandoned you, he sent a comforter, the Holy Spirit, to be with you (John 14). Jesus promises His people to be with them always (Matthew 28:20). You see, God was with you when all of your sufferings happened. He is there in the valley. He has not abandoned you.

Secondly, pursue spiritual disciplines.

I know it may seem harsh to say, but in the valley you need to be disciplined. You need to keep up your spiritual disciplines, especially when God seems to be far off.

Pray. A constant attitude of prayer is necessary in the valley. (1 Thessalonians 5:16,17) Even in the dark places, rejoicing in prayer for the love of God lavished upon us in the death of his son is vital. Rejoice when you want to cry or shake your fist at God. Pray for your needs. Share with Him your sorrows and fears. Confess your sins. Confess your need of Him.

Read your Bible. Daily faithful Bible study reminds you of the faithfulness of God. His character is shown in the scriptures better than anywhere else. Cling to his promises.

Listen to godly men proclaim the word of God. For me, listening to the preaching of John MacArthur, Charles Swindoll, and Alistair Begg helped me greatly. Godly preaching grounded me, and told me the things I did not want to think in my pain. God is good, all the time. God is sovereign, and He is orchestrating these events for my sanctification. Godly preaching pierces the darkness with God’s light.

Thank God. God is blessing you in the valley. When Paul was in prison, the Philippians sent him a gift of money, but he had learned that God gives him all he needs (Philippians 4:10-13). Paul encouraged them to be thankful for all God has given them. I thank God for His provision in my need. He had not left us homeless, or orphans in this world. He gives us what we need.

This is what has sustained my family and me in our valley. Our valley has been long. We are still in it. We do not know when we will begin to climb the hills again. But we do know our God. He is faithful. I only hope and pray that this helps someone else who is walking through the valley.

Jesus Is The Lamb of God

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Revelation 14:4

These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.

Revelation 13:8

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

John 1:29

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Revelation 17:14

“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”

Lamb Of God

From: allaboutjesuschrist.org

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Lamb of God – The Messiah
The Messiah is called the “Lamb of God” throughout the Bible’s New Testament. This may seem a peculiar label to those who aren’t familiar with biblical idioms, but to those who know their Bible, it is a cherished title for the beloved Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God – Biblical Roots
Prophetic pictures and references to the coming Lamb of God are scattered throughout the Bible’s Old Testament. Indeed, many Bible scholars believe that the entire Bible (66 books written by 40 authors over a period of approximately 1,600 years) tells the story of Jesus Christ. Every story, every genealogy, every number, every page, every detail speaks of our Lord and Savior. In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we find one of the better-known prophecies of the coming Lamb of God. In Genesis 22; God commands Abraham to offer his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice. God is not endorsing child sacrifice among men — He is foretelling His Child sacrifice for men. Abraham is obedient to God, not willing to keep anything from God, even his beloved son. This was a test for Abraham and a testimony to the world. On the way to the altar, Isaac asks his dad, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” In response, Abraham prophesied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:7-8).

When they arrive at the place of sacrifice, Abraham prepares to offer Isaac to the Lord, but before Abraham could slay his child, God stops him. We read, “Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me'” (Genesis 22:10-12). Before they leave the mountain top where Abraham was to offer Isaac, Abraham again prophesies the coming of the Lamb of God, “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen'” (Genesis 22:14). Approximately 2,000 years later, upon that very same mountain just outside of Jerusalem, God offered His only Son, the Lamb of God, as a sin offering to reconcile fallen man to the Holy Living God Almighty.

Lamb of God – The Passover Lamb
The Lamb of God is dramatically revealed in Exodus 12 and 13, with the Jewish Feast of the Passover. This is perhaps the most compelling foreshadow of the coming Lamb of God, the Messiah. The Passover Feast occurs each year on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan. It is eaten in remembrance of the Lord “passing over” the houses of those who had sacrificed the Passover Lamb and sprinkled its blood on their wooden doorposts and mantles, while the angel of death visited those who had not sprinkled the blood of the lamb. The angel of death was the final of ten plagues sent by God to redeem His people from slavery in Egypt, the land of their bondage. Approximately 1,500 years later, on the 14th day of Nisan, the Passover Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, was sacrificed upon a wooden cross for the sins of all mankind. When the Day of the Lord comes, those who have covered themselves in the blood of the Lamb by accepting Christ will be kept safe while the world pays for their rebellion against God.

Lamb of God – “Who Takes Away the Sin of the World!”
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” This was John the Baptist’s declaration in John 1:29 upon seeing Jesus for the first time. John the Baptist was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight'” (Isaiah 40:3Matthew 3:3). He warned the world to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). The Apostles “went out and preached that people should repent” (Mark 6:12), and Jesus declared, “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:35). “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19). God Almighty has given this testimony to a fallen world: “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, repent of your sins and accept the Lord your God who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

 

THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD

From: itsmidnight.org

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JOHN 1:29

LOVE AND UNCOMPROMISED WORD OF Jesus Christ

The prophetic spirit in Terrye Goldblum Seedman is viewed as a refiner’s fire of greatest mercy for those who are passionately in love with their Redeemer and long to be separated unto Him. The 100 day devotions that follow are a small gleaning from the many messages that were spoken through her, in utmost obedience, by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) over her years of ministry. They uplift and magnify the glistening sword of His uncompromised word and the cleansing power of His atoning blood. These messages with their warnings are preparations, for judgment will come upon all unrighteousness. His beloved will have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying as they continually count the cost to come outside the camp (the world) to willingly suffer for Messiah’s sake. They will not shrink back, but with obedience and wholehearted devotion they will follow Him wherever He leads.

“Come and taste and see how good YAHveh is as He equips you to overcome in faith, prayer, and holiness!

Come and taste and see how good He is as He equips and feeds you from His pure banqueting table! His messages have the power to shake everything from you that needs to be shaken and cast aside, that you might run the race that is set before you. Your life is to be lived, making the most of every opportunity, for the glory and honor of YAHshua (Jesus) alone. If you struggle with worldly perspectives, preoccupations, desires and ambitions, His hand of delivering mercy will break the chains that bind you as you pray the Spirit-led prayers filled with His spotlight of truth. You will also find that many of the Scripture passages are repeated and magnified—may their truths be etched in your heart, setting you free.

Glory is to be given to the Righteous One who will guide and lead your heart to godly repentance as He helps you recognize sin. He will humbly teach you to trim back your wicks, fill your lamps with the oil of His Spirit, and be found prepared and eagerly waiting for His glorious return (referencing Matthew 25:7). His redeemed remnant will have the privilege to bear colossal fruit that will eternally remain for their Father’s glory! Throughout this devotional, YAHshua’s (Jesus’s) Spirit will be the One drawing you ever upward as He continually teaches you to live, breathe, and have your being completely in Him and Him alone.

God Fulfills His Promises

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How Christ Fulfilled and Ended the Old Testament Regime

From: desiringgod.org, John Piper

The glory of Jesus Christ shines more clearly when we see him in his proper relation to the Old Testament. He has a magnificent relation to all that was written. It is not surprising that this is the case, because he is called the Word of God incarnate (John 1:14). Would not the Word of God incarnate be the sum and consummation of the word of God written? Consider these summary statements and the texts that support them.

1. All the Scriptures bear witness to Christ. Moses wrote about Christ.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me. . . . If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” (John 5:3946)

2. All the Scriptures are about Jesus Christ, even where there is no explicit prediction. That is, there is a fullness of implication in all the Scriptures that points to Christ and is satisfied only when he has come and done his work. “The meaning of all the Scriptures is unlocked by the death and resurrection of Jesus” (Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, 54).

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)

3. Jesus came to fulfill all that was written in the Law and the Prophets. All of it was pointing to him, even where it is not explicitly prophetic. He accomplishes what the Law required.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17–18)

4. All the promises of God in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. That is, when you have Christ, sooner or later you will have both Christ himself and all else that God promised through Christ.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. (2 Corinthians 1:20)

5. The law was kept perfectly by Christ. And all its penalties against God’s sinful people were poured out on Christ. Therefore, the law is now manifestly not the path to righteousness; Christ is. The ultimate goal of the law is that we would look to Christ, not law-keeping, for our righteousness.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

“When you have Christ, you also have everything God promised through him.”

Therefore, with the coming of Christ, virtually everything has changed:

1. The blood sacrifices ceased because Christ fulfilled all that they were pointing toward. He was the final, unrepeatable sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 9:12, “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

2. The priesthood that stood between worshiper and God has ceased.Hebrews 7:23–24, “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.”

3. The physical temple has ceased to be the geographic center of worship. Now, Christ himself is the center of worship. He is the “place,” the “tent,” and the “temple” where we meet God. Therefore, Christianity has no geographic center, no Mecca, no Jerusalem. John 4:2123, “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. . . . But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.’” John 2:1921, “‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ . . . He [Jesus] was speaking about the temple of his body.” Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my [Jesus’s] name, there am I among them.”

4. The food laws that set Israel apart from the nations have been fulfilled and ended in Christ. Mark 7:18–19, “[Jesus] said to them, . . . ‘Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him?’ . . . (Thus he declared all foods clean.)”

5. The establishment of civil law on the basis of an ethnically rooted people, who are ruled directly by God, has ceased. The people of God are no longer a unified political body or an ethnic group or a nation-state, but are exiles and sojourners among all ethnic groups and all states. Therefore, God’s will for states is not taken directly from the Old Testament theocratic order, but should now be re-established from place to place and from time to time by means that correspond to God’s sovereign rule over all peoples, and that correspond to the fact that genuine obedience, rooted as it is in faith in Christ, cannot be coerced by law. The state is therefore grounded in God, but not expressive of God’s immediate rule. Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” John 18:36, “My [Jesus’s] kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.”

Let us worship the wonder of Christ, who unleashed these massive changes in the world.

 

Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s Long-Awaited Promise

From: The NiV Bible

 

When Gabriel announced to Mary that she would have a son, the angel invoked a promise that had echoed throughout the Old Testament. Her son would be called the Son of the Most High and would reign on the throne of his father, David. Those familiar with the Law and the Prophets, including Mary herself, would have quickly begun to connect the prophetic dots.

God had picked David, a young shepherd boy, from among an entire family of brothers and made him the ruler over Israel. God promised to make David’s name great. In addition, God promised that after David died, God would raise up one of his offspring to establish the throne of his kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:8–16).

During his life, as David faced enemies and conspiracy, he sang songs of praise to God for protecting him as God’s anointed (Psalm 2:1–12) and for establishing his line for as long as the heavens endure (Psalm 89:19–29). David intoned a psalm of praise that contained a phrase that Jesus later quoted to confound his critics: “The LORD says to my lord . . .” (Psalm 110:1Matthew 22:44). Another psalm affirmed that God, in his promise to David about the duration of his throne, had sworn an oath that could not be revoked (Psalm 132:11–12).

The prophet Isaiah continued to prophesy the fulfillment of God’s promise to David. He wrote that to his people a child would be born, a son would be given and the government would be on his shoulders (Isaiah 9:6–7). Isaiah also affirmed that a shoot would come up from the stump of Jesse, David’s father, and from its roots a Branch (referring to Jesus) would bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1–15).

In time, God’s plan became clear: he would fulfill this promise through his Son, Jesus. When the angel appeared to Mary, God provided the ultimate update on God’s plan to keep his promise.

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail. Luke 1:31–37

The baby in Mary’s womb, conceived by the Holy Spirit though Mary was a virgin, is God’s Son who would reign eternally. As a capstone to the astounding declaration, the angel reminded Mary that no word from God would ever fail (verse 37).

The intricate history of God’s initial promise realized so fully at Jesus’ first coming increases confidence that the rest of God’s promises will be fulfilled at Jesus’ second coming and after that, into eternity.

Jesus Suffered Much For Our Sins

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8 Ways Jesus Suffered for You

From: Charismamag.com

In the churches I grew up in, all the crosses I saw were plain and empty—and usually painted white. We celebrated the fact that Jesus came off the cross and was raised from the dead on Resurrection Sunday. So I always considered the Catholic cross very odd because Jesus was still hanging there in bloody agony. Some people I knew even suggested that crucifixes should be avoided because they leave Jesus in perpetual death.

I’m not lobbying for anyone to wear a crucifix. But I do think we Protestants have at times been so fearful of Catholic doctrines that we minimized Jesus’ painful suffering. In the Gospels, plenty of time is spent describing the torture that led to Calvary and the pain Jesus suffered while nailed to a piece of wood. We should ponder what Jesus suffered if we ever hope to fathom the price He paid for our salvation.

Here are eight things we should think about during the days leading up to Easter:

1. He was betrayed by His disciple Judas. Jesus’ pain was not just physical. Can you imagine the sorrow He felt when one of His own trusted friends became the ultimate traitor? We aren’t exactly sure how to calculate the modern value of 30 pieces of silver, but many scholars suggest about $950. All the pain Jesus endured on Good Friday began the night before, when Judas took blood money to have his Master arrested.

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Think about it: There’s a bit of Judas in all of us, and we all betrayed Jesus to get our own way. Yet He chose to forgive us!

2. He was abandoned by His other followers. We often focus on Peter’s denial of Jesus. But the Scriptures remind us that all of Jesus’ disciples “left Him and fled” after His arrest (Mark 14:50, NASB). Jesus had to suffer alone. All the men He had taught and invested in for three and a half years abandoned Him in His hour of need.

Think about it: Jesus paid it all. He accomplished His work of redemption without our help. But He forgave us for our denials!

3. He carried the burden of the sins of the world. Jesus’ greatest agony didn’t start on the cross. It began at Gethsemane, where God laid on His Son the sins of the world. Jesus agonized so intensely in those moments that He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Scholars say He probably developed a condition known as hematidrosis, in which blood is emitted through the sweat glands because of intense stress.

Think about it: Your sin was transferred to Jesus’ account, and He bore the punishment you deserved!

4. He was falsely accused and rejected by Jewish leaders. Can you imagine the heartache Jesus experienced when the very people He was sent to save spat in His face, blindfolded Him, cursed Him and accused Him of blasphemy? The Sanhedrin set up a kangaroo court and sentenced the Son of God to death.

Think about it: Jesus did not open His mouth in self-defense when He was falsely accused. Now, when Satan accuses you, Jesus argues your case and declares you not guilty!

5. He was mocked and abused by Roman guards. After Pilate caved into pressure from the Jews, Roman soldiers flogged Jesus with a whip, drove a crown of thorns into His scalp, beat His head with sticks and mockingly pretended to worship Him. The flogging alone—which would have involved leather cords with pieces of lead or bone attached—would have drained much of Jesus’ blood.

Think about it: Jesus could have called on angels to stop His torture—but He chose to endure the pain because He loved us!

6. He was crucified between two thieves. We cannot even fathom the pain of crucifixion. Metal spikes were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet, and He had to slide His mangled body up against the wood of the cross in order to catch His breath. And because it was the habit of Romans to crucify criminals naked, Jesus endured the ultimate shame. What’s more, He hung on that crude cross next to two men who had been convicted of crimes—while He was completely innocent.

Think about it: We should have been on death row, not Jesus. But He took our place!

7. His body was pierced with a spear. Even after Jesus took His last breath, a soldier jabbed a spear up through the chest cavity—most likely to make sure Jesus was dead. John tells us that blood and water spilled out (John 19:34), evidence that the spear pierced the pericardium, the sac around the heart. Jesus’ heart was literally broken for us.

Think about it: Just as Adam’s side was opened to bring forth the first woman, Jesus’ side was opened to bring forth the church. His piercing produced a fountain of life for us!

8. He tasted death for all. This is the most horrible reality of the cross. Christ did not die metaphorically or symbolically. He died literally. The Son of God, who had never sinned—and who was least deserving of death—died so we could have life. His heart stopped beating, He stopped breathing and His spirit left Him. First Peter 3:18 says: “For Christ also died for sins once and for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.”

Think about it: Because Jesus died in our place, we no longer have to die. Eternal life is His free gift to us!

This Easter season, ponder the steps the Savior took from Gethsemane to Golgotha. Look at His nail-pierced hands and feet. Take a careful survey of His wondrous cross, and thank Him for hanging there six hours for you.

 

Suffering Through Storms

From: CBN, Jon Cash

Remember when the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee and a storm struck? (Read Matthew 14.) The wind and waves began in the evening and continued all night long.

Meanwhile, Jesus was on a mountaintop praying, far away from the impending disaster. I’m convinced the disciples were praying for the storm to stop, or at least to be able to make it to the other side of the Sea and find safety on dry land. Jesus didn’t answer those prayers. Instead, He met them out on the Sea, walking on the water. Why?

This age-old question has kept millions at an arms-length away from their Creator. Why does human suffering occur and why does God not stop it? When we are going through trials and tribulations, we can hang our hats on this truth: God has a divine purpose in the pain. Our job is to trust Him through it and wait to see the spiritual fruit that accompanies it in the future.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

God has not promised us an easy life. Far from it! He has promised His children that he will be with us through those trials. Jesus meets us in the middle of the storm to build our faith and to teach us to worship Him in truth and spirit.

Suffering produces a reliance on God in the heart of the faithful. Suffering pushes others further from the Lord when their souls are unfaithful and bitter. In essence, tough times separate the wheat from the chaff. As we grow spiritually, God begins to show us His power and comfort as we go through the curve balls in life.

The comfort we receive from Him can be used to bring people into the Kingdom of God. When non-believers experience trouble, it’s the perfect opportunity for the believer to comfort them, love them, and understand them. When we show others God’s love through our lives, they will be prodded to consider Jesus as their own Lord and Savior.

We live on a fallen planet where sin and suffering is the natural order of things. Suffering will continue until sin disappears; and that will not happen until the Second Coming of our Lord.

Notice some key words in the verse 5: abundantly and abounds. The word abounds comes from the Latin word abundāre, meaning to overflow. Imagine a river after a rainstorm. The water overflows its banks because it cannot be contained. There’s too much water! In the same way, God provides a mechanism through the power of the Holy Spirit to bring an overflowing amount of comfort when times turn difficult.

That comfort is available in very large quantities when we humble ourselves before the Lord. This builds our faith and helps us shine a brighter light into a darkened world. One of the greatest evangelism tools we have is our testimony. Every powerful testimony contains copious examples of God’s grace and comfort when the wind threatens to tear us down. Seek God’s comfort today. You will not only be helping yourself, but you will also be providing a wonderful weapon for your Lord to use to see others come into His glorious kingdom.

 

 

God Heals The Brokenhearted

Psalms 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 

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Shattered and Scattered

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Have you dropped a glass and watched it shatter and scatter across the floor? There was nothing you could do but sweep it up and throw it away. You might remind yourself not to go barefoot any time soon since splinters of glass sometimes linger.

Can you relate this scenario to a broken heart? It may have felt like it shattered into a million pieces. You probably felt it would never mend. The hurt was just too deep; too painful.

“Time heals all wounds,” but at the moment of the shattering, it is impossible to believe. You look for brighter days, but your view is through a soul that sees only gray. You are numb.

Painful events generate broken hearts: a relationship gone wrong, the death of a loved one, a child gone astray, or perhaps someone you love has moved away. In any event, you do not feel like you can go another moment, let alone another day. You may ask yourself, “Am I depressed, oppressed, or just one big mess?”

Only God can mend your brokenness. He is the Potter and His specialty is molding us and shaping us. We need to remain on the Potter’s wheel to be restored, but often we run to others. It is wonderful to get support from a godly friend or prayer with your Pastor, but this should be in addition to, not a substitute for time alone with the Lord.

I have had relationships go wrong and when I gave them to Jesus, He restored them.

My only sister died and eventually, her family moved away. I thought my heart was broken beyond repair. My two little great-grandchildren were only 4 hours away, but it felt as if it were a million miles. My heart felt like it was shattered. I asked for prayer, but every little thing reminded me of those children. To forget the pain, I stayed excessively busy. That only served to exhaust me.

I was trying to deal with the pain on my own and instead, generated more distress. Finally, I gave it to the Lord and prayed if it was His will that He would show them to come home.

Two months later they were home, but my heart had already been put back together because I had placed myself up on the Potter’s wheel and said, “Lord you have to fix me. I can’t do it myself.”

Only Jesus can mend a broken heart, so don’t delay if you find yourself in need of repair.

But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall. Malachi 4:2 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

 

Worshiping with a Broken Hear

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Article by

Guest Contributor

I looked across the table at my boyfriend and replayed his words in my mind. “I just don’t enjoy spending time with you.”

I never knew a heart could break so suddenly, so rudely — in only one sentence. I was desperately grasping for anything to help soften the sharpness of those eight words. I could muster only three: “Take me home.” As we drove, my thoughts were as blurry as the trees going by. How can a three-year relationship end in three minutes?

The term “broken heart” is so widely used in our society that it often sounds romantic. In those moments, I learned just how terribly unromantic it is — the kind of tearing, ripping brokenness that demands your full attention, the kind of pain that won’t let up.

A broken heart might be a woman who gets the call from her doctor that she has miscarried. It’s the child who learns that his father has cancer. It’s broken relationships, debilitating depression, dreams dying and crumbling in our hands.

I walked into church the day after my heart broke. Broken, aching hearts fill the pews in each of our churches every Sunday. Although surrounded by community, the pain still felt intensely personal. “The heart knows its own bitterness” (Proverbs 14:10). The deep ache can feel as isolating as a prison cell. The Enemy wants nothing more than to lock believers in that cell of pain, and keep us trapped in isolation. But God wants the opposite. Here are three things to remember when you are tempted to stay home on Sunday morning with a broken heart.

Broken Hearts Are Open Hearts

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“There are many sorts of broken hearts, and Christ is good at healing them all.” —Charles Spurgeon\

“God is the only Physician who can fully heal a broken heart, and he has never failed in his ability to heal.”

Imagine your heart is failing and you require a very risky open-heart surgery. At the hospital, there are several doctors who claim to be proficient at this surgery, but only one has a spotless record — nothing has ever gone wrong with his procedures. Everything he does is perfect.

Would you then choose a doctor with lesser experience, or a poorer record? Not if you value your life.

God is the only Physician who can fully heal a broken heart, and he has never failed in his ability to heal. Sarai, David, and Hosea all suffered broken hearts for different reasons — a barren womb, a shameful trail of sin, unrequited love — and God healed them all. A broken heart is an open heart, and an open heart is vulnerable. In this time of vulnerability, let him be your refuge. Let him fill you with healing through the singing, praying, and teaching of your church family.

Pain Is Personal, Healing Is Corporate

Have you ever had a close friend going through a great deal of pain, and they didn’t tell you? It’s painful when you finally learn about it. It’s painful for at least two reasons: (1) it hurts you that they are in pain, and (2) it hurts that you were not trusted to carry their burdens alongside of them.

As believers, we are called to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). No one would argue that one man can lift more than ten men lifting together. So, why do we often ignore the hands extended to help us carry our burdens, and try to bear the weight on our own? We may always bear the heaviest portion, but encouragement and support from brothers and sisters will significantly lighten the load. Battle hurt with heartfelt singing, loneliness with community, and discouragement with the ministry of God’s word.

Surround yourself with God’s people, and you will see that healing does take a village — and that the village is stronger for it. We must combat resounding pain with resolute worship to the Father, alongside brothers and sisters who can pray with us and for us.

Worship Creates Perspective

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Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.

“Worship puts our pain in its rightful place — under the reign of an already victorious Father.”

Though suffering is never a small thing, God is always greater. Worship refocuses our minds on God’s greatness, and puts our pain in its rightful place — under the reign of an already victorious Father.

As strange as it may feel in the moment, lift your hands in praise and remember that the victory has been won. Remember that the God who holds your life in the palm of his capable hand is leading the victory march. “He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Standing at the top of the mountain of adoration, we are suddenly aware of our smallness. And it’s not offensive to us at all. We find joy in knowing that Christ is glorious beyond our imaginations and gloriously in control of all things, including every inch or second of our heartache. Nothing can touch you except that which has been carefully filtered through his loving fingers.

Let heartfelt praise remind you of his great love and absolute sovereignty, and let these reminders bring healing to your broken heart. Worship is a balm for even the deepest of wounds.

Pressing Through the Pain

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FEBRUARY 23, 2017

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a (NKJV)

Does it ever feel like the heartbreak in your life is trying to break you?

I understand. I really, really do. I’ve been in that place where the pain of heartbreak hits with such sudden and sharp force that it feels like it cuts through skin and bone. It’s the kind of pain that leaves us wondering if we’ll ever be able to function like a normal person again.

But God has been tenderly reminding me that pain itself is not the enemy. Pain is the indicator that brokenness exists.

Pain is the reminder that the real enemy is trying to take us out and bring us down by keeping us stuck in broken places. Pain is the gift that motivates us to fight with brave tenacity and fierce determination, knowing there’s healing on the other side.

And in the in-between? In that desperate place where we aren’t quite on the other side of it all yet, and our heart still feels quite raw?

Pain is the invitation for God to move in and replace our faltering strength with His. I’m not writing that to throw out spiritual platitudes that sound good; I write it from the depth of a heart that knows it’s the only way.

We must invite God into our pain to help us survive the desperate in-between.

The only other choice is to run from the pain by using some method of numbing. But numbing the pain — with food, achievements, drugs, alcohol or sex — never goes to the source of the real issue to make us healthier. It only silences our screaming need for help.

We think we are freeing ourselves from the pain when, in reality, what numbs us imprisons us. If we avoid the hurt, the hurt creates a void in us. It slowly kills the potential for our hearts to fully feel, fully connect, fully love again. It even steals the best in our relationship with God.

Pain is the sensation that indicates a transformation is needed. There is a weakness where new strength needs to enter in. And we must choose to pursue long-term strength rather than temporary relief.

So how do we get this new strength? How do we stop ourselves from chasing what will numb us when the deepest parts of us scream for some relief? How do we stop the piercing pain of this minute, this hour?

We invite God’s closeness.

For me, this means praying. No matter how vast our pit, prayer is big enough to fill us with the realization of His presence like nothing else.

Our key verse (James 4:8a) reminds us that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. When we invite Him close, He always accepts our invitation.

And on the days when my heart feels hurt and my words feel quite flat, I let Scripture guide my prayers — recording His Word in my journal, and then adding my own personal thoughts.

One of my personal favorites to turn to is Psalm 91. I would love to share this verse with you today, as an example for when you prayerfully invite God into your own pain.

Verse: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1, NIV)

We Have Access To God Through Christ

Ephesians 2:18

for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

 

Ephesians 3:12

in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

 

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,

 

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ACCESS

(We now have greater access to God through the Lord’s resurrection).

From: AbideinChrist.com

Believers have “access” to God the Father through the Holy Spirit because of the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

“Access” (prosagoge) comes from two words ago meaning, “to go,” and the preposition prosmeaning “toward, facing.” It is a leading or bringing into the presence of another person, and denotes “access.” The idea is to have freedom to enter through the assistance or favor of another.

The word is used in Romans 5:2Ephesians 2:183:12. The apostle Paul used the word to picture God’s grace as a place of safety for the Christian. The believer has a permanent safe refuge in which we now live in the rich experience of God’s saving grace (Rom. 5:2). “We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.”

We have obtained as a permanent possession our introduction by faith into the grace in which we stand and exult in glory.

The verb proago means “approach” or “a drawing near.” The apostle Paul writes we both have our access in one Spirit through Christ to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). All three persons of the Trinity share in the work of the redemption. It is “through Him [Christ] . . . in one Spirit to the Father.”

It is God’s eternal purpose in Jesus Christ our Lord that “we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him” (3:12).

The Holy Spirit leads or brings us into the presence of God. We have freedom to enter through the assistance or favor of another. The word was used to introduce a person into the presence of the king, the place where a ship docks or “landing stage” in a safe haven or harbor. The ship would have access into and rest in a safe haven. We have entered through the atoning death of Jesus Christ into the permanent unlimited favor of the haven of God’s infinite grace.

The apostle Peter used the root verb prosago, meaning “approach, drawing near” when he wrote “in order that He might bring us to God.” He said, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).  

We now have an entree into the presence of a holy God on the basis of the saving work of Christ. Jesus declared that He alone is our access to God. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7). “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). The apostle Peter issued an invitation to all a the end of a sermons saying, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  

Abiding Principles and Practical Applications

1. Because of God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ we are acceptable to Him and have assurance that He is favorably disposed toward us. The sole basis of our acceptance with God is the death of Jesus Christ for our sins.

2. Because Jesus came and died as our substitute and by means of that death for our sins and His resurrection He literally became the Door by which sinful people can come into the presence of God and abide with Him. It is the “new and living way” (Heb. 10:20), and it is “through Him we . . . have access . . . to the Father” (Eph. 2:183:12).

3. If we are believers we have the right to enter God’s presence in prayer, and worship with confidence that He will receive us and answer us.

 

John 10

 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to 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 authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

 

Resurrection: He Is Risen, Indeed!

By: Laura Bagby, CBN

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Easter Sunday. To many it means the Easter bunny, a day of food and celebration. For some it is an obligatory church-attending holiday, after which life goes on as usual.

How sad that we have so quickly forgotten the true meaning of Easter. Our God reigns! Jesus Christ died, yes. But even more importantly, He rose again and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, as we say in the Lord’s Prayer.

Jesus Christ literally defied death. But He did more than just a Houdini move. We “ooo” and “ahhh” over the narrow escapes by magicians like David Copperfield and others, but eventually even those daredevils will face death. Their power is limited.

But Jesus Christ was greater — He defied death FOREVER. Jesus Christ lives and reigns for eternity, whether you or I believe that fact or not.

And He has reclaimed life for all those who believe in Him. This is the second miracle of Easter. Through God’s work on the cross, we have access to eternal life as well:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘ The righteous will live by faith’ (Romans 1:16-17).

If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).

Whosoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33).

Please consider today the wonder of God’s power and His love for you. He knows you. He knows what you have done. He knows what you are going to do. But He is waiting for your response, my friend. God doesn’t need your praise or your service to Him; He desires it. It is not what we do for God that gets us into heaven and gives us a right relationship with God. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ. Look at these Scriptures:

Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified (Galatians 2:16).

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works

Lead People To God For Salvation

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John 15

The Vine and the Branches

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

 Created to Bear Fruit – John 15

I. The vineyard belongs to God

John chapter 4

34   Jesus explained, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work. 35   Do you not say, ‘There are still four months until the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ripe for harvest.

36   Already the reaper draws his wages and gathers a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may rejoice together. 37   For in this case the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38   I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the hard work, and now you have taken up their labor.”

There is no mistaking this principle. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” … At the very beginning of the passage, he says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” My Father is the vine dresser. He is the owner of the vineyard.

Illustration

It seems all of us are born with selfish instincts. It doesn’t take long for a toddler to learn a couple of powerful, one-word sentences.

“NO!” “MINE!”

Have you been amazed at the feelings of ownership a toddler can have? If he gets his grubby little hands on an empty, plastic butter dish, it won’t matter what Mom intended for the dish. “MINE!!!” screams the selfish little man, and the battle is on. It wouldn’t matter if the object were a piece of trash, or a priceless work of art. Once his hands are on it, it’s “MINE!”

How ridiculous. Little children can’t comprehend the value of things, or that someone worked hard to buy a work of art. Children can’t understand responsibility, time, earnings, or value. But they immediately understand the concept of possessions.

We don’t grow out of it just because we have a third birthday. By the time a person is 30, or 50, or 70, he has usually had a chance to look up to the heavens, curl his grubby little fingers into a tiny fist, and say, “But God, it was MINE!”

“But God, that was my good health. It was mine. I want it back. I don’t want the disease. I’m tired of the way I feel. I’m scared of the surgery. I’m sick of the treatments. It’s not fair that it costs this much. God it was my health … it was MINE!”

“But God, I earned that money … why did the stock market have to do that, now? That was my retirement … It was MINE!”

“But God,” says the man by the fresh grave … “she was mine.”

“But God,” says the mother staring at the empty room of her 18-year-old son. “He was just a little boy, and I liked him that way … he was mine.”

“But God,” says the young adult, “this was my future. I planned it. I worked for it. I went to school for it. I’ve made the promotions. This was all mine. I don’t want to change in midstream.”

“But God,” says the church member, “I gave years of my time to that church. I gave thousands of dollars, and more sweat than I could count. Now it’s changing. It’s not what it was. God, this was my church, and I want it back.”

“No,” says God to the 2-year-old in all of us, “it wasn’t yours at all. She wasn’t. He wasn’t. The church wasn’t yours. You’re not even yours! It all belongs to me, for I am God.”

From the moment God issued the first of his Ten Commandments, he told us that he was a jealous God, that he would tolerate no other gods, that he would never relinquish his right to be God. In the vineyard, we find another opportunity to realize that God is in control, God is in charge, and we are not. We cannot find our purpose without realizing our place.

Obviously, in a garden, the branch doesn’t tell the vine what to do. On a farm, the plants don’t tell the farmer how to get the job done. Can you imagine a plant telling the gardener, “NO! I’ll do it my way!” No, the gardener knows best for the plants, and cultivates, works, cuts, removes, fertilizes, waters, covers, sprays … for very good reasons. And a good plant simply trusts the gardener.

There may be no harder principle to put into practice for many believers than this first one. We all tend to be control freaks. We feel better if we’re in control. If four adults are in the car, usually at least three people are thinking: “I should be driving.”

When it comes to this spiritual notion of bearing fruit, the bad news is that the Lord demands that you release control. There is no option. You and I have no more right to tell God how to do His business than a plant has a right to give us instructions. It just doesn’t work that way. So that’s the bad news. You have to give up control.

The good news? That means you don’t have to carry the weight of being in control! You don’t have to carry the weight of the branch! Your only job is to bear fruit.

II. God wants as much fruit as possible from your life

Image result for pictures of souls as fruitImage result for pictures of souls as fruit

 

It’s impossible to miss. Your job is to “bear fruit.”

Of the major application points in the lesson Jesus was giving, this one is overwhelmingly simple. Your purpose is to “bear fruit,” and the mission of your life is to discover how you’re to go about that process.

This sermon is an excellent opportunity to ask the question: “God, why was I born?” This is the season to look hard at the question, to find the answer – if you’ve not already found it – and to do exactly what Jesus asked. Bear fruit!

III. Bearing fruit is a life-long effort

Image result for pictures of souls as fruitImage result for pictures of souls as fruit

 

Though we may have assumed “bearing fruit” relates only to evangelism, this idea is not reserved only for the single individual who might hear a person pray a prayer of salvation, or the single person who might have the privilege of baptizing a new convert. Everyone in a church plays a role in “bearing fruit,” with each person exercising his or her God-given gifts.

People with the gift of evangelism must be about their work of bearing evangelistic fruit. But what about the teachers of Christians, or those with the gift of hospitality? What about those gifted to work with small children, who are too young to “accept Christ” right now, or those who are Christian senior adults, who accepted Christ long ago? Do they get no credit for “bearing fruit?” what about those with the gift of prophecy, who have a way of counseling that is blunt, biblical, and wonderfully healthy?

Bring Forth Fruit

Scripture Lesson: John 15:16
16  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Meditation
As Jesus continues talking with His disciples, He points out that He has chosen them.  They did not chose Him as they think they did.  What were they chosen to do?  They were chosen to bear fruit, fruit that would remain.  As you read further down in the chapter, Jesus explains He chose them out of the world.  As a result, the world would hate them just as the world hated Him.

However, they were called to bring forth fruit.  Even in an environment that did not like them and in an environment that wanted to see them fail, they were still called to bring forth fruit.  What type of fruit were they to produce?

Many people connect this verse with the fruit of the Spirit that is listed in Galatians 5:22-23.  It is very important that those 9 attributes listed in that scripture is apparent in our lives.  When we walk in the Spirit our lives should exhibit love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  However, this is not the fruit that Jesus spoke of here since the disciples would not have been familiar with the fruit of the Spirit.  Jesus explains the fruit that He is speaking of in the same verse.  Let’s read it again.

16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

The fruit that Jesus speaks of here in verse 16 is the same as He spoke in verse 7.  That fruit is the power of answered prayer.  Whatsoever we ask of the Father in His name, He (the Father) may give it to us.  This is repeated in verse 7 where He says “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

Our promise for today is the fruit that Jesus wants us to bear.  God is not glorified by a bunch of empty words or unanswered prayers.  He wants us to be fruitful and to experience manifestations to our prayers.

Affirmations
God has chosen me.  He has chosen me to be fruitful.  He has ordained me to be fruitful.  I rejoice and I am grateful for the promise that whatsoever I ask of the Father in Jesus name, the Father will give it to me.