Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control – 2nd Timothy 1:1-7

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God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control – 2nd Timothy 1:1-7 – 03/04/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2nd Timothy 1:1 (ESV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You 3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the first chapter of Second Timothy.

V1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

Paul starts with a typical Pauline greeting calling himself and apostle of Christ Jesus and I doubt there would be many who would argue this fact, but what he said next is what makes the declaration interesting, he states that he is an apostle “by the will of God” and not according to self-ambition or some man declaring that he should take that position. God placed Paul in that ambassador role in order to eventually reach the Gentile world. The mere fact that you are reading this webpage is a continued fruit of that work.

Remember John 3:16? God so loved…the world! Paul was the guy who was going to be the missionary to take the gospel of Jesus beyond the traditional borders of the Jews. He as a Roman citizen had license to travel anywhere within the Roman Empire and this facilitated travel in a way that could not have been possible if that Empire was not still at large.

What are you doing “…by the will of God” What is your role? Are you a worship leader? Chair stacker? Prayer warrior? Encourager? Counselor? Regardless of how grand our servantlike you view your place in the kingdom of God we all have callings and a position that we need to play in the field and much like a team sport, if you are not in your position you will not take part in a victory that is assured for you.

Paul writes about the “promise of life” and this more extraordinary considering that Paul is imprisoned in Rome at this time and this time he is facing a sentence of execution and this letter is written after his re-arrest in Rome. So he is writing from a prison cell in the most desolate of conditions, imprisoned by an empire that is not known for their humanity for criminals and he is still writing letters of hope? How mind blowing is that for anyone else? This is the equivalent of a guy on death row who has become a Christian sending out letters to exhort those who still have liberty to believe.

V2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You

Paul addresses this letter to Timothy who he describes as his beloved child, in our articles we did on First Timothy we examined the close relationship that Paul had with Timothy and Timothy was really like a relation to Paul and Timothy was very much a student of Paul. The words “grace, mercy and peace” are also used in the other pastoral letters 1st Timothy and Titus and this is a good reminder that these three things are required for leaders just as much and if not more than churches do. Pastors/leaders are men like the rest of us who have struggles like we do and require all three in greater portion. Spurgeon states the following…

“Did you ever notice this one thing about Christian ministers, that they need even more mercy than other people? Although everybody needs mercy, ministers need it more than anybody else; and so we do, for if we are not faithful, we shall be greater sinners even than our hearers, and it needs much grace for us always to be faithful, and much mercy will be required to cover our shortcomings. So I shall take those three things to myself: ‘Grace, mercy, and peace.’ You may have the two, ‘Grace and peace,’ but I need mercy more than any of you; so I take it from my Lord’s loving hand, and I will trust, and not be afraid, despite all my shortcomings, and feebleness, and blunders, and mistakes, in the course of my whole ministry.”

V3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

Paul harks back to a time where his ancestors served God with a clear conscience and a clear heart when they approached God in the correct repentant manner, it certainly makes me think if I am more like the Old Testament Jewish believers who had a genuine fear of God and wanted to atone for their sins or have I come into the realms of the Pharisee who makes their worship to God a show and do it for their own selfish ends in order to seem holy?

Quite a question to ponder huh? Paul backs up this thought by stating his own spiritual integrity by stating that he remembered him constantly in his prayers both day and night and yes I do understand that Paul was in prison so there was precious little to do in there, however we in our own human nature will find ways of distracting ourselves if we allow our flesh to take over. Paul shows the volume and quantity of his prayers and that is to be admired. I would commend this to be a model in our own prayer lives, how about when you drive round your neighborhood, why not pray for the streets and houses as you pass them? How can you increase your prayer life?

V4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.

Paul remarks that their parting was tearful, not in a bad way as Paul writes with such favor however it is clear that these men missed the company of one another and that seeing Timothy would make him filed with joy. We have to ask at this part what makes Paul happy. He answers below.

V5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Paul is happy when he is reminded of a sincere faith that Timothy had and it made Paul happy to see the will of God unfold in young men like Timothy and if we are teachers we must also have that goal, to invest in the Timothy’s that God places in our way, to assist the students who want to do his will, to mentor those who are younger in the faith and start them mentoring others to.

Paul references the strong belief of women who were pivotal to Timothy’s faith, we cannot underestimate the place that we have in our children’s lives in showing them whether our faith is genuine or not, in the book of Acts we learn the following…

Acts 16:1 (ESV) Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

So Timothy had a less than ideal home situation, the head of the home was not a believer and he was taught the faith by the female in the home. He was also well thought of by the folks who shared the same common faith he did and that is important, in those days it wasn’t like today where you may see your fellow church members once a week. In those days they lived together, they saw each other often and they were involved in each other’s lives, so if he had a good report then that meant that he was the real deal, people saw the faith was genuine from the fruits of the walk of the individual in person.

This is why Paul is sure that it dwells in him also, it is not enough to say “well my descendants had faith, I will be okay” I cannot get into heaven based on my father’s faith or my grandfathers, in the same way my daughter has to choose for herself also. As much as I would wish to be saved for her, she has to reason for herself that this faith is real. It is my job to be the real deal to her and show her that this is real. Paul reminds Timothy more in verse six…

V6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,

Paul exhorts Timothy to use the gifts that God has blessed him with and be bold for Jesus Christ, we learn this in the first epistles to Timothy and Paul starts this epistle the same way and as leaders we have to be bold, be willing to stand in the way of contentious issues and I totally understand because I am also like Timothy that I am not in favor of being confrontational so I understand any angst that Timothy may have in a real and primary fashion.

Paul is encouraging him to not do this as sometimes the leader has to stand in conflict and resolve falsehoods that come into the church, challenge immoral behaviors and apply tough truths from scripture in love. Paul urges Timothy to stir up those gifting’s and be effective for use in his kingdom. We are not robots or zombies, God does gift us but allows us to use the gifts according to our talents but use them according to our willingness or drive. I know gifted pastors who would have a much better ministry if they were more driven or stirred up.

Paul said this should be through the laying of hands and that is something we should not neglect and we should use this common way even today in the commission of our people and asking them to either grant gifts, confirm gifts or commission them for the work of the ministry.

V7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

God has supplied all the tools that Timothy needed in order to fulfil his calling that God has given, he has also given us a spirit which is not of fear and that the fear he faces is not from the Lord, his timidity is his own character but through prayer and supplications he will be strengthened in the Lord. I guess I am so passionate about this because I know that it is true and I know from personal experience that God does strengthen when I need it.

God has also given us a spirit of power, love and self-control; let’s look at these separately…

  • Power – We are empowered by God when we are doing his will and we have the creator of all things backing us up as we are the tool being used for his glory.
  • Love – This power is not a controlling power, it is a power of love, we love, we serve, we are different to this world and we pray for others that persecute us.
  • Self-Control – We are calm, not in a state of emergency or panic, we are not swayed by the rigors of this world. We are in contrast to that spirit of fear.

Don’t you agree that that spirit of fear is such a poor substitute for the riches that God wants to do for us? We are all different and are at different stages with the Lord however God wants us to be bold in the things we are called into. We have to get up, stop being lazy (me included) and get to what God has planned for our lives, for some that will be harder than others and for some it will be a step of faith. If we do indeed step out in God’s will, he will use us far more exceedingly than we could ever dream of.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we look at verses eight through fourteen when Paul encourages Timothy and continues to strengthen Timothy by these exhorting words. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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Instructions for the church family

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Instructions for the church family

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the fifth chapter of First Timothy.

Instructions for the Church 

1st Timothy 5:1 (ESV) Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. 3 Honor widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

I have heard people question if this is a contradiction in the bible that Timothy is told to command the congregation and lead by example and here we read that he is not to rebuke an elder. The two commands are one and the same. Paul is telling Timothy that he has to have a respect and reverence for those who are elder.
 
Dealing with Elder men

Really, like so much else it is about the heart that you approach it in. A young leader may wish to show his dominance by making a mark on the older generation but that is not wise in the slightest. If these men are aged and more aged in the faith than you are, then they are a valuable resource. A young leader can learn from their mistakes, their experience and have access to a valuable resource.

If the elder man is a new believer and in error then he must be dealt with as any other man in error, with love and respect. Not with berating and dishonor. The word is also translated “to strike out or strike at” and is similar to the English term, “to lash out” and this is not an effective form of correction. Let’s face it we all are knuckleheads and get things wrong, that is us being human, but we are not to berate or tear down in our exhortations.

Paul states that Timothy should “encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers” and that is what we have stated above, it should be done in love and in a relational status. We have to be gentle in our rebukes, yes Titus does state to “rebuke without fear” but you will have to use wisdom as to what approach to use. If you are approaching a brother for the first time about his sin it would not be good practice to go in all guns blazing. (If that would be an effective practice at all)

Dealing with Elder ladies

Paul also deals with the relationships between Timothy and the women when he states “older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” and although this may seem obvious to the experienced Christian, Paul sets the bar for dealing with women in the church. I find it amusing when critics of the church advise that it is a “male orientated religion” and that “women are 2nd class citizens” and Paul is keen for that to be established.

Like the older men, Paul states that the older women had to be treated with reverence and respect, they should be treated as mothers in the faith. They must be honored and treated with the respect that they are due as elder women in the faith. I have seen in my experience that they have ministered to their husbands and their husbands have ministered to church leadership so all in all I see a valuable role for these ladies (much as Paul did)

These ladies also have an invaluable role in counselling and guiding the younger women in the faith. Much like the older men they have a wealth of experience and they can pass on lots of valuable things to the current generation of the church. They have much value and are a valuable resource to be used for Gods work.

Dealing with younger ladies 

The younger are to be treated as sisters, Paul is much like any godly man and has younger ladies in his fellowship that he sees as younger sisters and wanted the men of the fellowship to treat them as such.  Much as the standards for overseers states that he has to be above reproach and keep his conduct “above board”.

That is to say that he should not engage with any conduct that would compromise himself, the young lady or either ministry for the LORD. They have to be accountable and often times if I am messaging a sister in the LORD I will copy in my wife (or perhaps speak to that lady and their husband) as too not have any doubt that anything that would be regarded as impropriety has occurred. It is not for my reputation that I am concerned with, but the reputation of the other party or the witness or ministry that we are doing in the LORD’s name as to not cause an affront. You can’t be too careful and these are sensible precautions to take.

We have to use the three standards when dealing with younger ladies…

Not flirtatious or provocativeBe above reproach in actions and wordsHave clean conduct with a pure heart. 

Honor the widows

V3 Honor widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives

Paul talks about what we would call today “social assistance” and in those days the old were not really cared for in the way they are now with things such as a Government pension and other things that can help with retirement. In fact there were no retirement plans and if you were not a rich person, once you were past working age it was very uncomfortable for you in your old age.

The widows with families

If she has family to help her, then it is both honorable and right to let her be helped by them first. Not only is this a good stewardship but it creates a certain responsibility and ownership of families to look after their own people if they are unable to provide for themselves. Paul uses the term allowing the children to “make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God” which is true, these people raised the children and now it is their turn to be helped.

Of course these days we have such things as retirements and people save for those “golden years” in which they will no longer be working, but you have to remember that this was quite the burden on the churches at that time. In the Ten Commandments we are commanded to “honor our mother and father” and how honorable would it be to let them not have the basics. This is basic theology at the most basic level.

Really when the man of the house has gone, the widow should be taken care of by the son (usually the eldest son) but if it is too much of a burden for one child to bear then it should be taken on by them all in a cooperative fashion. We are commanded to “love one another” and how could anyone who professes this and leaves their mother destitute be one and the same?

The widows with no families

V5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.

Paul is talking about these people, the ones who are truly widows, and the ones that have no-one to help them. Paul is essentially stating that the church should provide for “the least of these”. Paul is fully aware of the heart of man and knows that people will try to get something for nothing so in the next few verses he makes recommendations to test if they really need help from the church.

The word honor is similar to the word sustain or provide and this is a literal meaning in this case. These people are still people at the end of the day and should be treated with no less honor than the less affluent, (See the book of James on that one!) but these circumstances are difficult for those who genuinely need help and these people still need a little respect. Yes the church should help and they should be gracious (not lord over the one who needs help) but at the same time be conservative and be careful and be a good steward of the LORDs money.

I have been in this situation where I have had more month than money as the saying goes. I have had people helping me and it is humbling when the people of God get together and help one another. The ones who truly need it and are truly in a bind are the ones who follow up with you, and the ones who thank you.

I say being conservative with Gods money because, let’s face it, people are not always honest. To quote the great fictional doctor “Gregory House M.D.” Everybody lies and it would be naive to believe that even in the church we would see that. Don’t discount this as a notion as the church is filled with people much like you and me, imperfect sinners some of whom have found their savior and some have yet to make that choice. Paul mentions this possibility in the verse below…

V6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.

And herein lies the danger and this can only be judged by the recipient and God, they could bring a very good story and seem very holy and ask as if they are asking in the right way and for the right things but are asking without a genuine need or asking in order to use her money not for the essentials of life but to use them for self-indulgence or frivolous things.

We have to be wise and help people but we also have to have wisdom as to not enable people in their bad choices. If someone is spending money like Congress and seeking help from the church, that is not going to fly for too long. There has to be growth on a personal level and assistance has to help.

This does not mean also that the church will also help, if a church is for example supplying all the groceries to a house that uses their grocery money to buy drugs or alcohol and there is no move in the direction to provide the basics for their family after a period of time, it would be appropriate for the church to back away and no longer enable them to make bad choices.

I have heard of a situation before when a family requested help and when the Pastor visited on an unrelated matter he realized that the family had an expensive hobby and could have easily have provided for their family by selling some of the more expensive pieces they used for that hobby. They could have made what I make in six months had they been willing to live within their means. The Pastor used wisdom in that situation by advising them accordingly.

Worse than an unbeliever

V7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Strong words from Paul at the end up here! Much as stated before he who does not provide for his relatives, Paul opens it up to the whole family first and then for members of his own household has denied the faith. So Timothy has to teach these things, that we should be working hard to provide for our own and if we don’t we are worse than the unbeliever.

Paul sets the minimum standards that should be expected from the Christian men, to provide for his family. It is God’s will that we do this. If someone in the assembly is on low pay or has no work, then we should be helping that man (if he is able and willing) to find better ways of providing for his family. 

Then and only then if he is too lazy to do this then he is denying the faith.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

The Mystery of Godliness

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse fourteen of the third chapter of First Timothy.

The Mystery of Godliness

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Paul has just finished (in the last two articles) giving Timothy the criteria for the people who were to serve in leadership with him. (I am careful to make sure that you are aware that serving in leadership is serving, not an opportunity to shirk responsibility or delegate opportunities to serve to suit selfish ambitions)

Another level

Some see Pastors, overseers, deacons, bishops or whoever is in leadership as “another level”, yes they are worthy of respect and worthy to be listened to, but they are just like you and me in many ways, they will disappoint, they are human, they won’t always get it right.

I remember visiting a church and hearing a Pastor who has recently gone to be with the LORD! And he stated (at the foundation of a new church, church was maybe about a year old at that point) that in that fledgling church if he was able to please people about 80% of the time he would be doing better than he himself thought he would.

You see, people assume because someone has taken a calling to be a pastor or a deacon that they are somehow enamored with this new ability to not error or make mistake. They are not sinless guys (There was only one of them and he is our Savior Jesus Christ) They will tick you off, they will hurt your feelings and in many cases will not make it good because many folks will not let them know.

I say this because people are leaving churches in droves, most are not meeting with the pastor, some are letting them know by text, email or even a phone call, which dependent on the pastor may be okay, but it is always best to meet with the person and love them enough to share what is going on.

Some of this is good and some of this is not as good as discussing today’s passage. Paul hopes to see Timothy soon, but Paul is fully aware that we are not guaranteed tomorrow (especially someone with as many people who hated him and wanted to see him wiped out as Paul) so he wrote this letter to Timothy, the church in Ephesus and now for us.

How to behave in the household of God

Paul writes to give these guidelines for Timothy so that “you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” Paul wanted the church to be singular; regardless of the city the church was planted in he wanted some things to be constant. Paul gives guidelines to Timothy in order to know how he should set the church up, start it on the right foot and how things should run.

Paul reminds Timothy that it is not Paul’s house, not Timothy’s house; they are merely custodians of the house of God. This is a sobering reminder as I am guilty as anyone at admiring men with awesome ministries and seeing what God has accomplished through them. (As if they had done it themselves) But as Paul states, they are simply custodians, on a temp job if you will – This is God’s house!

Not only is it God’s house, but they are called together under the same purpose to be a “pillar and buttress of the truth” both the buttress (ground, foundation, what the place is built upon) and the pillars (what holds the building up and stops the roof crashing in) is truth. There are some churches that need to revisit this because if we are not giving the full counsel of the gospel, we are not serving our believers well.

The truth and the whole truth

Also, anyone who comes looking for truth, if the church is not giving the whole truth then people may miss out on the salvation message of their Savior Jesus Christ. The church is where the truth should be exalted, held up and defended; if the church is not doing so then there will be no truth as we cannot trust the world to give an accurate account of the gospel.

V16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

And here is the truth! Let us look at the mystery of godliness…

1) Manifested in the flesh – This is the beautiful part of the Immaculate Conception when Jesus was born of a virgin in the City of David, in Bethlehem and became man in order to begin his mission here on earth to atone for our sins. He was no less God, no less the Son in the Trinity, no less due all the honor and glory that his deity demands, but now was manifest in the flesh in the same way all of us were, born of a woman.

2) Vindicated by the Spirit – Jesus was not like the rest of us, as in justified after he had sinned by the Holy Spirit. Jesus never sinned and was he was who he was always supposed to be, completely justified and vindicated by the spirit and in constant communion with the Father God. (Matthew 3:16; 1st Peter 3:18; Acts 2:32-33)

3) Seen by angels – If we look at passages in Matthew Mark and Luke we see that Jesus had contact with angels, they ministered to him and they escorted him home to heaven. (Matthew 28:2-7, Mark 1:13, Luke 22:41-43)

4) Proclaimed among nations – Paul himself did this as did the other apostles (and Timothy also) where they would preach to the Jew first and then once they were unable to do this then they preached to the Gentile, bringing the nations to repentance. If we were not converted from Judaism then we are part of this ongoing process and I thank the LORD for the faithfulness of the apostle Paul.

5) Believed on in the world – As a result of this preaching, men believed having their hearts convicted by the Holy Spirit; we are not here to replace the Jews but to encourage the Jews into faith in their messiah Jesus Christ.

6) Taken up in glory – Jesus when he had completed his mission ascended to heaven (Luke 24:51) He prays and intercedes for us still on behalf of the Father (1 John 2:1) His last words before he died on the cross were “It is finished” which meant he had done what the father had sent him to do.

Jesus = literal fulfillment

Jesus fulfilled this and more and his witnesses when he was resurrected showed the world that this was not just some common criminal who died a common criminal death, but he was who he stated he was. Death could not hold him and he is alive today at the right hand of the father. He is the only one who can save you from your sins. Do you know where you are going if you were to pass away tonight?

Paul gives these six reasons why it is beyond all controversy, even within two generations of Christ’s crucifixion there were still heretics and naysayers stating that the historical fact did not happen. Even today people set out to drive a hole in an infallible bible and inerrant truth. Paul does 1st century apologetics in order to give a reasonable defense for what was believed. Praise God that he did!

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty Four – December 24th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty Four – December 24th

Thank you for reading our twenty fourth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Today we look at the prophecy that the messiah would be seated at Gods right hand. We read this is the book of Psalms chapter sixty eight and one hundred and ten which both are awesome pieces of prophetic scripture…

Psalm 68:18 (ESV) You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there. 19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah 20 Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.

Like so many of these prophesies, David writes about his individual situation before and after this piece of messianic prophecy. When I read this piece of scripture I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church in chapter four verse eight where Paul quotes this as referring to the messiah Jesus of Nazareth. (The Christ) I have attached the first 10 verses for context of the full manner of scripture:

Ephesians 4:1 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

From this piece of scripture we see fundamental basic Christian doctrines, there is One of the following.

1) One body
2) One spirit
3) One LORD
4) One faith
5) One baptism
6) One God and Father

Paul confirms that Christ ascended but also writes that “he led a host of captives” which would be the Old Testament saints into the glory of heaven. The sacrificial system that came before Jesus was good, but it only temporarily put away sin it was never meant to grant eternal life. Jesus died for the sins of the world, past and present. When sin was conquered then the faithful of old were led by Christ into glory.

1st Peter also confirms that only the blood of Jesus (not of the animal sacrifices) was enough to “pay the ransom of sin” here is the verse in full:

1 Peter 1:17 (ESV) And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Going back to Psalm 68, the best explanation I have heard for this was said by the founder of Calvary Chapel Chuck Smith Senior when he said…

“But hell, prior to the death of Christ, was separated into two compartments. One compartment was of suffering for the unbelievers; the other was a compartment of comfort by Abraham for those who were trusting in the promises of God and in the fulfillment of God’s promise. Now these Old Testament men of faith all died in faith not having received the promise, but seeing it afar off they held onto it and they claimed that they were just strangers and pilgrims here. And they were just looking for a city which hath foundation, whose maker and builder is God. Now when Jesus died, He descended into hell. He who has ascended is the one who first of all descended into the lower parts of the earth. And when He ascended, it is then that He led captivity captive. In the book of Isaiah, chapter 61, the prophecy concerning Christ, it said, “He is going to set at liberty those that are bound and open the prison doors to those that are bound.” Set at liberty those that are chained, open the prison doors to those that are bound. Those that were bound by death, waiting with Abraham for the promise of God. When Jesus died He descended into hell and He preached to those souls that were in prison. The glorious fulfillment of God’s promise. The redemptive program is complete. The blood has been shed, whereby your sins are now put away once and for all. And now with their sins put away, they can ascend into the heavenly scene. So when He ascended, He led the captives from their captivity. And then He gave gifts unto men. That is, within the church, He gave gifted men as apostles, as prophets, as evangelists, as pastor teachers, for the perfecting of the saints. So, Paul quotes this in Ephesians 4, and of course, it just ties together a whole group of scriptures. Luke, the sixteenth chapter; Acts, chapter 2; and Ephesians, chapter 4; and the reference there in Peter where He went and preached to those souls in prison; and Isaiah 61. So you can look those up and find them tied together.” Credit – Pastor Chuck Smith Snr. Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa C2000 Series

Explained it way better than I ever could. Let’s look at Psalm one hundred and ten:

Psalm 110:1 (ESV) A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I  make your enemies your footstool.”

This gives a great insight into where Jesus is in the kingdom of heaven. At present he is sitting at the right hand of the father, which is why it states The LORD says to my Lord. Father God is speaking to the Son and gives the messianic promise also that his enemies will be trampled underfoot.

One Messiah – Two comings

Skeptics of the bible raise the question and claim that this could not possibly apply to Jesus as he did not trample his enemies underfoot when he died on the cross. I would say that it had a partial application during his first coming (conquering sin and death) and will be fully fulfilled in his second coming.

This verse is quoted as a Messianic Psalm in the book of Matthew chapter twenty two:

Matthew 22:41 (ESV) Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? 45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Jesus had been questioned by the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Herodians about different points of scripture and always had given answers that were straight from God and had exposed flaws in their theology and now Jesus asks the Pharisees a question when they were all together. He came to them when they were at their strongest, they loved to debate great points of scripture and show themselves holy among their peers.

He asks a question about himself as he knows that they do not believe that he is the Christ. You see, Jesus was a threat to these guys, they quoted the Rabbis who had gone before them when they interpreted the scriptures, Jesus did not. Jesus spoke with authority straight from the father and these “holy men” knew that he was different.

In asking this question he could see where their hearts were, whether they were asking for knowledge sake or whether they were genuinely seeking. Jesus asked a similar question of his disciples in which the Spirit revealed to peter who Jesus is.

Jesus used the thing they held upmost, the scriptures to demonstrate who he was. He knew they were going to answer “The Son of David” because that was one of the great titles of the messiah (See the earlier blog on this title) It is unknown whether they did not know of Jesus lineage and that through this mother and mothers husband he qualified as a “descendent of David.

The part they didn’t get was that the messiah was both human (Son of David) and divine (LORD of David) which is why they could not answer Jesus. Jesus accurately shows them that the Son of David was also the messiah; the messiah was also the LORD God coming with all authority given to him by the Father. And let’s look at Mark chapter sixteen that shows that he was actually lifted up…

Mark 16:19 (ESV) So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

What a fulfillment of scripture right here in the book of Mark (and also in yesterday’s verse in Luke chapter twenty four) He quite literally went to “prepare that place for us” and he fulfilled prophecy right there and then.

Jesus is in heaven at present and he desires that you join him. As we look at Christmas and draw an end to our advent series, I ask that you examine closely the claims of the messiah, hopefully the case that I have put forward in these twenty four parts will in some way to resolve some questions you had about who Jesus is.

December 25th is the day we hold in memory to remember the one who came to die for our sins and was the author of the faith that bears his name (Christian) My hope to you is that you get a Christmas gift that cannot be bought but it is worth more than gold. I of course refer to the gift of eternal life.

Jesus went through all this so we can join him in heaven, although that decision is ours, we have to choose to follow Jesus. My hope is that these articles help and please contact me if you need to discuss further.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

TTE Advent Calendar Day Ten – December 10th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Ten – December 10th

Thank you for reading our tenth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Thank you for reading this article today; this is part of an advent series where we examine prophetic claims that Jesus Christ was the messiah. Today we look at a claim that is not actually about Jesus himself but that he would be preceded by a forerunner. Let us look at the prophecy in the book of Malachi…

Malachi 4:5 (ESV) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

It is no mistake or error that the closing words of the Old Testament proclaim that one will be sent to redeem Israel and you will know that it is him because he has a forerunner. (In comparison the New Testament finishes by speaking of the grace of Christ Jesus.)

This prophecy has two fulfillments, the first of which was fulfilled in the book of Matthew chapter eleven, Mark chapter 9 and Luke chapter 1. This fulfillment was in the body of the person we know in history as John the Baptist.

No one greater than John the Baptist

Let’s look at the text in the gospel of Matthew…

Matthew 11:11 (ESV) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus was the one saying these words. He advised that “no one born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist” he said these words because although Jesus was born of a woman, he was not conceived in the natural sense. (We will see what happened here in Luke 1 later in the article)

Jesus gives confirmation that he is Elijah to come (v14) this is an answer in a way to the question that was posed to John the Baptist at the beginning of the chapter when his disciples asked “are you the one?”

John was great in the eyes of the LORD but to give him his place in the kingdom of heaven, the least were greater than he. In verse 13 we get a vital piece of information into who Jesus is. Up until that point, all the prophets had stated “The messiah is coming” but John could say “The messiah is here”. Does this tell you who the messiah is? it is of course Jesus Christ.

Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must suffer?

Let’s look at the gospel of Mark

Mark 9:11 (ESV) And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 12 And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”

Peter James and John had just had the mountain top experience to beat all mountain top experiences. They got a face to face audience with Jesus in all of his glory, with Elijah and Moses. God spoke to them, told them who Jesus was and that he was well pleased in his son’s mission.

Now they have questions, they know they are talking to the messiah and they quote the earlier verse in Malachi so they asked “where is Elijah?” So Jesus answers in the same way this article did, he advises of the two comings, that Elijah does come first to restore all things (prior to the second coming) that the Son of Man must suffer, which he was heading to do so on the cross at Calvary and concludes by stating that Elijah had come as John the Baptist, and he was killed by Herod. John came and ministered in the spirit of Elijah.

Who was John the Baptist?

Let’s look at the back story of John the Baptist in the book of Luke.

Luke 1:8 (ESV) Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

We meet Johns father and mother, Elizabeth was barren and God was about to bless them in a way far beyond anything they would have prayed for. John’s father was of the correct lineage and served in the priesthood and we read that he was a faithful man. We read that because of the amount of priests it was done by division and by lot and it fell to him to be given the task to burn incense unto the LORD.

Can you imagine what a day this was for him, he had been waiting so long to serve in this way. Dependent on the amount of worthy priests, this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I know that when I get to serve in certain ways for the LORD I do get pumped about it, I enjoy conveying God’s word and I always look forward to sharing. I am inspired when I read of this man’s life and see how faithful he was.

You can wonder about a lot of things in this situation, you wonder if he had been asking other priests what it was like back there, wondered if the LORD had a word for him in his life, wondered if he was worthy enough, you can imagine all sorts of things.

To offer the incense was seen as the most privileged position, he would be in the face of God whilst everyone else gathered and prayed from before dawn. He was in there alone in front but on the other side of the holy of holies (I mean that he hadn’t entered this) He was in the inner sanctum of the temple, about as close as a man would get to the altar.

Whilst the nation was in prayer (Could we learn something from this?) An Angel of the LORD came and spoke to him. We know he would have been praying for the nation, for himself, for a coming Messiah, to rid the land of the Romans, who knows? What we do know is that in his heart was the yearning to be a father. We read that “your prayer had been heard” and then he proceeded to advise that he would be a father and his son would be called John.

I love that the Bible is so honest, if I was face to face with an angel in that situation I think I would be scared also, something tells me he was freaking out. I am learning from this that despite how “veteran” we think our Christianity is, we can sometimes be surprised when God shows up. We shouldn’t be, but sometimes we are.

Here is a list of what he was told:

1) He would father a son called John
2) He will be great before the LORD
3) He would not drink wine or strong drink
4) He would be filled from the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb
5) He would turn many back to the LORD
6) He would have the spirit and power of Elijah
7) He would prepare the way of the LORD

Future prophetic meaning

We have to realize that it is one messiah and he will come twice, once to be the “suffering servant and the second time when he comes back to judge the world. It is truly one messiah and two comings. Let’s look at the book of Revelation chapter eleven.

Revelation 11:1 (ESV) Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, 2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, 10 and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

Elijah will return as part of the “two witnesses” who will prophesy for 1260 days prior to the second coming of the messiah. This is some feat as the world will at that point be so anti-God and the witnesses will be attacked, mocked and ridiculed. This will be why they are given tools to defend themselves. They will have power and protection from God until that time is elapsed.

Once that time is elapsed, there will be no time wasted in killing them; this will bring great rejoicing amongst those who are following the beast. They will not be buried, they will lay there for 3 and a half days and then God will raise them up. Can you imagine the stir that would cause?

This has been a long article and I apologize for the length, however it was on my heart that I needed to cover this in this way, my hope is that you find something in this article that strengthens your faith, renews your faith or sparks an interest in investigating whether Christ was indeed the messiah. Should you have any questions then please contact me or comment below.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

Pastors – Let us treat the “City of Houston” biblically

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Pastors – Let us treat the “City of Houston” biblically

Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 5:38 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

The idea of this article is perhaps to shed a little balance and take away emotion from something that is obviously a highly charged issue.  I will gladly share my bias here, I am a Conservative Christian blogger (duh, if you are here you will most certainly know that) who actually has a “dog in this fight” to use a British term. I have friends who are in the process of establishing a church in the very city that I am blogging about.

I have relative safety from this in the fact that I am blogging about this from the safety of my own home in Central California and have no ties to the City of Houston or any of its entities. As it stands at the moment my local authority has not requested any teaching that I have done or any pastors that I have been associated with.

Persecution?

This heading is rightly a question as I am a little unsure as I have heard many provocative remarks regarding whether this is “persecution” or not. The fact is that an elected official is using power that she has in order to air personal grievances. I am of course meaning the Mayor of Houston and her crusade to request copies of sermons (or as it was later requested “public speeches”)

This was done to find out if any of the pastors had taught a biblical perspective on issues of a LGBT nature, the mayor Annise Parker (which a lot has been made out of the fact that she is a lesbian, however I deem that irrelevant) has made it a personal goal to single out five pastors for “special treatment”.

I don’t necessarily call it persecution as I don’t see that I see in many other countries where biblical teachers are being dragged through the streets and tortured for even professing the name of Christ. These guys have freedoms that pastors in former communist and current Muslim countries would dream of, they have financial backing, many get paid to pastor and they can meet out in the open safe in the knowledge that the next convert may or may not be a Judas and sent them to their death.

So in the truest sense of the word it is not persecution.

Do as the verse says

We are told in the above verse that “And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” give her the sermons, give her as much literature as she wants and needs, don’t send her bibles! listen folks. I follow a BIG GOD who has told me that this in Isaiah 55 (That the word shall not return empty) Here is the full discourse for balance.

Isaiah 55:6 (ESV) “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Here is the crux of what i wish to say, I believe that there is some reason behind why she is asking to have these sermons, in her mind she is doing her own bidding, however I would not count out that God may be orchestrating something bigger. God has done this before remember,  one of the greatest evangelists was the Apostle Paul, who up until his conversion just shy of Damascus in Acts 9, was the Pharisee Saul who tortured and killed Christians.  (In fact he was on his way to do likewise when he was converted)

If Jesus can come face to face with a murderer and a man responsible for a lot of the first century persecution,  he certainly can work this situation to the glory of God using the ones who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)

Final thoughts

We are told (again by Jesus) in the book of Matthew

Matthew 28:19 (ESV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So my prayer to the pastors is to let them have the sermons. (Most are available on the church websites) and be available to counsel those who have questions. Embrace those who breathe evil against you are no show them the love of Christ.

I pray for the government officials that they find the knowledge of the one true messiah. His name is Jesus Christ and he is the LORD.

Jesus said in John 14:6 that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It is through him and him only that you can have eternal life.

God bless and I pray that this was a blessing and please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads.
TGBTG
TTE