The Person of Christ – Part Eight – Mark 8:9-38

 

We are drawing to the end of the first major section of the gospel of Mark, the section on the Person of Christ. It is fitting therefore that we end this section with the most important of all questions posed by Jesus to His followers. That question is, “who do you say that I am?”  (Mark 8:29; Matthew 16:15). The gospel, salvation, discipleship, and the entirety of the Christian faith, all depend on how that question is answered. As we draw to the culmination of this section we will consider this question posed by Jesus and will hopefully come to a clear picture and understanding of the Person of Jesus.

 

Before Jesus points that question personally at the disciples, He asks a broader question, “Who do men say that I am?” (Mark 8:27; Matthew 16:13). In addition to these two questions, there are two more that we will consider in this chapter. These other two questions are: How do we come to know Christ? And, What do we do with Jesus when we acknowledge Him as Christ? Let’s consider these questions.

 

Who Do Men Say That I Am?

 

Mark 8:27 – “Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?” (Compare Matthew 16:13) [1]

 

This question opens the door for us to consider a number of beliefs about Jesus which are common to people. There are seven views of Christ we can glean from this chapter and each except for one represents a certain faulty perspective on who Jesus is. Let’s consider who some people say Jesus is.

 

First, some say Jesus is merely a miracle worker who titillates our interests.

 

Mark 8:9-12, 22-26 – “Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away, immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha.11 Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him.12 But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation . . . . 22 Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him.23 So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything.24 And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.”25 Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.26 Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.”  [2] [3]

The parallel account in Matthew states:

 

  • Matthew 16:1-4 – “Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. 2He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; 3“and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. 4“A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.”  [4]

 

In Mark 6 and Matthew 14 Jesus fed 5,000 plus people with five loaves of bread and two fish (14:13-21). In Mark 8:1-8 and Matthew 15:32-39, Jesus fed 4,000 plus people with seven loaves of bread and a “few little fish”. Each of these miraculous mass feedings was preceded by miraculous healing ministry by Jesus (Mark 6:1-13; 7:24-37; Matthew 14:14; 15:29-31). All of these miracles of Jesus (and His disciples) were done in public, out in the open. This is the context in which it states,  “Then the Pharisees cam out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him” (Mark 8:11). Another “sign”? Why did they come seeking still another sign? Weren’t the various miracles Jesus did enough for these religious people? First, the reason that the Pharisees (and Sadducees according to Matthew) came looking for another sign was probably due in part to a tradition they held to. Pastor Chuck Smith comments on this saying:

 

‘The Pharisees believed that it was possible for Satanic powers to show signs on the earth because you’re dealing in Satan’s realm here on the earth. But they believed that a sign from heaven could only be wrought by God. Now He had just fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, He had fed the 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fish, and you say, what do you mean asking for a sign? These were earthly things and they believed that these were in the realm of demonic powers and you remember they had suggested that He was doing His miracles by the power of Satan, by Beelzebub [Matthew 12:22-30]. So asking for the sign from heaven, some kind of a lightning bolt or some kind of heavenly sign would then indicate that His power was from God.”  [5]

 

The point here is that they were seeking to have Jesus jump through the hoops of their human tradition. Jesus didn’t come to perform; He came to preach the gospel! Jesus didn’t come to earth to operate a three-ring circus. Jesus’ keeping a low profile in His healing ministry is evidence of this (Mark 8:26). Jesus is not One to merely titillate our senses with miracles. Those who seek Him emphasizing the miraculous are shallow like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

 

Second, some say Jesus is merely concerned with material needs.

 

Mark 8:13-21 – “And He left them, and getting into the boat again, departed to the other side.14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat.15 Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.”17 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?18 “Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?19 “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.”20 “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.”21 So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?”   [6]

In these verses Jesus is trying to warn the disciples about a dangerous doctrinal deception of the Pharisees and Sadducees that could pollute their faith. But the disciples are so caught up in the material realm that they initially miss the point being made by Jesus. What did Jesus mean by using the word “leaven”? And what is the “leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?

 

The meaning of “leaven”

 

“Leaven” is used as a type of sin. We see this in the following verses:

 

·         1 Corinthians 5:6-7 – “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”  [7] See also Galatians 5:1-9).

 

Just as a small portion of leaven or yeast causes dough to rise, so too, it only takes a small amount of sin to infect the believer. Sin is like cancer, it only takes a small cancer cell to be present and that small cell then multiplies out of control to infect the entire body, and if left untreated the consequence can be devastating.

 

The leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

 

What is the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees? In Luke’s parallel account it states:

 

·         Luke 12:1 - “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”  [8]

 

The Pharisees and Sadducees were always putting on a show for those around them. Their leaven involved presenting yourself as something that you are not. In other words they were play-acting religion.

 

The Pharisees were the legalists of their day who had constructed a body of human traditions that interpreted the Law of God (i.e. the Mishnah) creating a web of ceremony that only they could figure out. The Sadducees were the liberals of their day, they didn’t believe in miracles or the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees and Sadducees focused on the material and temporal aspects of reality. Jesus emphasized the spiritual and eternal aspects of reality. The religious leaders were superficial, Jesus was substantial. The religious leaders were concerned with the external and outward performance of things; Jesus was concerned with the heart and one’s faith. The religious leaders lived by law; Jesus came to bring grace (John 1:18). The religious leaders sought for a sign, Jesus wanted people to recognize the Spirit in what He did.

 

When we boil this down to the root problem what we come up with is spiritual blindness. Jesus had referred to the spiritual blindness of the religious leaders earlier in Matthew’s gospel account when He said:

 

·         Matthew 15:14 – “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” [9]

 

You see this spiritual blindness is what the disciples were in danger of falling into. When Jesus spoke of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, He was speaking of their spiritual state, not bread. We are all in a spiritual battle. Those who are unsaved are locked into the self-preoccupation and self-serving nature that the Bible refers to as “the flesh.” Those who are saved have a battle within them of the Spirit against the flesh. The flesh of humankind is always trying to seat itself on the throne of the heart. And this creates all kinds of trouble.

 

Spirit versus flesh

 

The Bible states that in the “flesh,” the sinful human nature of people, there is no good thing:

 

  • Romans 7:18 – “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”  [10]

The flesh in humankind is ultimate spin-meister. The flesh puts a spin on things to put the self in a positive light. The flesh is self-serving, self-centered, self-centered. The only way to overcome the flesh in us is through the Spirit in us that enters us at conversion. We will discuss this more later, but suffice it to say with Paul:

  • Galatians 5:16 – “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”  [11]

Jesus wants His followers to follow the Holy Spirit who guides and empowers us on our way. It is the Spirit which enables us to overcome the inward fleshly lusts and desires (Romans 8:26).

 

Spiritual Discernment

 

In order for a person to understand Jesus, they have to receive what the Spirit reveals to them. The Pharisees and Sadducees, and many of the people of Jesus day were not willing to do this. An example of the need for spiritual discernment is found in the gospel of John.

 

In John’s gospel account, when Jesus spoke of Himself as bread to eat, the religious argued about what He meant (John 6:22-59). Later Jesus explains the need to allow the Spirit to enlighten one’s understanding when He said:

 

  • John 6:63 – “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”  [12]

 

There is no way you can understand Jesus unless you are open to and aided by the Holy Spirit. Our “flesh” (i.e. self-reliance, human understanding, human reason), will just not cut it. Read the words of Paul who explains this further by saying:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 – “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”10But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”  [13]

 

Therefore, by warning the disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, He is exhorting the disciples to rely on the Spirit not their flesh to understand. This is an essential truth for the disciple.

 

Third, some say Jesus is merely a good social worker

 

Mark 8:28a (Matthew 16:14a)  – “So they answered, ‘John the Baptist, . . . .’”   [14]

 

John the Baptist had been beheaded for standing up to Herod over an immoral social injustice (Mark 6:14-29; Matthew 14:1-12). Some evidently thought Jesus, who had fed more than 4,000 and 5,000 on two occasions, was merely interested in meeting the social and material needs of people. While Jesus is concerned with social justice such as feeding the poor and helping the weak, His primary purpose in coming to earth is not social justice. Jesus is far more than a social worker, He is a Savior.

 

Fourth, some say Jesus is a powerful reformer broker

 

Mark 8:28b (Matthew 16:14b) – “but some say, Elijah; . . . ,”  [15]

 

Elijah was revered in Jewish history as one of the most if not the most powerful of prophets (see 1 Kings 17-19). It was Elijah who God used to powerfully defeat the prophets of Baal. It was Elijah who restored the widow’s son. It was Elijah who was taken up to heaven in a flaming chariot. Elijah was powerful and did powerful miracles. And it was Elijah who called King Ahab and the people of Israel to reform their ways and choose whom they would serve, Baal, or God. But Jesus is more than merely a powerful prophetic reformer. We need more than reformation, we need regeneration! Jesus is our Savior.

 

Fifth, some say Jesus is merely a prophet

 

Mark 8:28c (“Jeremiah” - Matthew 16:14c) – “and others , one of the prophets.”   [16]

 

Mark records a general reference to “one of the prophets,” while Matthew refers to Jeremiah in particular. Jeremiah was the weeping prophet who God used to reach out to a nation gone astray. Jeremiah was one of the most revered prophets of old. He spoke of the empty hearts of the people of God and how they had put their trust in broken cisterns that held no water. He spoke of a new covenant. But as good and powerful a prophet as he was, Jeremiah was still only a sinful man. Jesus was far more than a mere prophet, than a mere man, He was God in the flesh.

 

Sixth, some say Jesus is a cross-less Christ

 

Mark 8:30-33 – “Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.32 He spoke this word openly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Compare Matthew 16:21-23)  [17]

 

As we will see in a moment, Peter had just a short time ago proclaimed that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  (Mark 8:29; Matthew 16:16). But no sooner had he been the conduit for this mighty revelation, he relied on his flesh and was influenced by Satan to denounce the mission of Jesus. Jesus “must” go to the cross. Without the cross there is no salvation. Peter did not understand this vital truth at this point. But sadder still, is that people today do not understand this as well. There is no Christ without the cross!

 

In our age of tolerance we have stepped over the line of reason to the point where all views of reality are given the same validity. I am all for freedom of speech and expression of belief, but that does not mean that I accept that there are no absolutes. I tolerate the expression of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and even cultic teachings; I do not resort to coercion or force to get people to believe the way I do. But what I do, is present Jesus, the way, the truth, the life, and let the Spirit break down all other arguments leaving Jesus the Christ standing as superior to all others. It is the cross and resurrection that puts Jesus in a class of His own.  No other belief system deals adequately with the sin and guilt that human kind have. Only Jesus does that. And that is why the cross is absolutely essential to the redemption and salvation sufficiently sought and obtained by Jesus (see Matthew 26:36-46; Colossians 2:14-15). Jesus is not a cross-less Christ; He is Christ who gained victory through the cross.

 

Seventh, Jesus is the Christ, Savior of the world.

 

Mark 8:29 -  “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”[18]

In Matthew it states:

 

·         Matthew 16:15-16 – “ He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[19]

 

This incredible statement of Peter is a revelation from God the Father. That truly is the only way anyone can come to know Jesus, by revelation of the Father. Someone has said:

 

“If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.” 

 

Jesus directed His question to the disciples and it was Peter, inspired by the Spirit, who proclaimed the foundational truth of Christianity, “YOU ARE THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.” This is the rock foundation declaration upon which the church of Jesus is built.

 

“You are the Christ . . .”

 

In Mark and Matthew’s account Peter states, “You are the Christ.” What exactly was Peter saying when he made this proclamation based on a realization from the revelation of God? First of all Peter was identifying Jesus as the Messiah who was promised through prophesy of the Old Testament. More than 300 Old Testament prophecies, given hundreds of years in advance, (some over 800 years in advance - ! - such as those in Isaiah) were fulfilled by Jesus. When Peter identified Jesus as, “the Christ,” the word “Christ” is translated from the New Testament Greek term CHRISTOS (Strong’s’ #5547) meaning “anointed one,” and which is parallel to the Old Testament term for the Messiah which is MASHIYACH (Strong’s #4899) which means “anointed.” The Messiah of the Old Testament was a particular figure identified and promised in God’s word. The Old Testament contains prophecies of Messiah as both King (Psalms 2:6-8; 68:18; 118:22; Isaiah 9:6-7; 32:1-3; 42:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5; Daniel 2:44; 7:13-14; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 6:12-13; 9:9-10; Malachi 3:1) and Suffering Servant (Genesis 3:15; Psalm 22:18; 69:21; Isaiah 50:6; 52:14; 53:1-10; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 11:12; 12:10; 13:7). The political climate of the day with the Romans ruling over the Jews lent itself to the religious leaders and people to focus on the kingly aspect of Messiah and not the suffering servant aspect. Because the people were caught up in the Messiah they envisioned, they missed out on the Messiah Jesus who came to suffer for their sins. But not Peter, he responded to the Divine revelation of the heavenly Father and confessed Jesus as “Christ.”

 

The importance of understanding that that Jesus is the Christ prophesied in the Old Testament is seen in that it is a central focus of the message of the early church. Look at the following verses from Acts and see the centrality of Jesus as the Messiah, particularly the Christ foretold in the Old Testament:

 

  • Acts 2:29-31 - “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.30 “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,31 “he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.”  [20]
  • Acts 3:18-21 - “But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.19 “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,20 “and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,21 “whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”  [21]
  • Acts 5:42 – “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”  [22]
  • Acts 9:20-22 – “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.”  [23]
  • Acts 17:1-4 – “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.”  [24]
  • Acts 18:5,27-28 – “When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. . . . 27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace;28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.”  [25]

The Critical Importance of “the Christ”

Later in the New Testament we see that one’s salvation is dependent upon recognizing the Spirit given revelation of Jesus as the Christ foretold in the Old Testament. Indeed, to deny Jesus as the Christ, is to be like antichrist in nature:

  • 1 John 2:22 – “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.”  [26]
  • 1 John 5:1-5 – “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  [27]

As the Christ, Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the One who died on the cross in place of sinners to pay the penalty for sin and make a way by grace through faith to receive forgiveness of sin and enter into eternal life. That’s what it meant to be the Christ.

Why Do We Need A Savior?

Now you might be reading this and thinking, “I’m not such a bad person, why do I need a Savior?” Well, let’s address such a notion for a moment. The Bible tells us that a day is coming when God will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30-31). God has given us a standard of righteousness by which He will judge the world, His Law, or the Ten Commandments. Now if we take the Ten Commandments and use them as a standard to gauge our righteousness we don’t dome out to well. For instance, if you’ve ever told a single lie, what would that make you? A liar. If you’ve ever stolen something, no matter how small, that would make you? A thief. Jesus said if a person even looks on someone with lust in their heart they have committed adultery with them already in their hearts. That’s only three of the Ten Commandments, 30% of the standard, and most, probably all of us would have to admit we are lying, thieving, adulterers! Not too much of a leg to stand on before a Holy Perfect Righteous God on Judgment Day is it? We’re in a predicament because to be found guilty by God on Judgment Day means we will be cast into Hell eternally. Hell is hot, dark, perpetually painful, solitary and never-ending. Hell is not a place you want to go. So what can we do? We can’t do anything to sufficiently appease God’s holy, righteous, perfect standard of entry into Heaven. But there is hope in Jesus.

You see the Law of God is like a tutor to lead us to Jesus (Galatians 3:24). The Law of God exposes our guilt and shuts our mouth of excuse before Him (Romans 3:10ff.; 7:7). It’s as though we are caught driving 100 mph weaving and swerving through a residential area where the speed limit is 30 mph and there are a ton of little kids playing in the neighborhood. We’re stopped, handcuffed, brought before a judge and found absolutely undeniably guilty. The judge asks us to give an account and we say we’re sorry and won’t ever do it again, but this is a righteous judge who won’t let us off simply because we say we’re sorry (no plea bargaining here; no buying off the judge here). Then just as the judge is about to pronounce the sentence, a Stranger walks in and offers to pay the fine and serve our time. In reality that Stranger is Jesus. We are guilty as sin under the righteous Law of God, but Jesus came to die and pay the death penalty of sin for us (Romans 6:23). When we trust in Jesus, in His sufficient sacrifice on the cross, the Father Judge will forgive us based on His only Son’s sufficient sacrifice. Not only does He forgive us, he fills us with the Holy Spirit and gives us eternal life. He gives us a fresh start and with the Spirit within us, we will begin experiencing life the way it was supposed to be. With the Spirit in us, we’ll also be equipped to weather the inevitable storms that enter our lives in this fallen world. All of this is provided by Jesus, our Savior, and the Savior of the world.

“You are . . . the Son of the Living God”

 

Matthew’s account of Peter’s words adds, “the Son of the Living God”(Matthew 16:16).  Peter here is not making a general statement as though Jesus were just one of many sons of the Living God. No, Peter uses the definite article “the Son of the Living God.” Jesus was THE Son of the Living God, the unique, unequalled, and special Son of the Living God.

 

The Pulpit Commentary gives the following remarks concerning this verse and Peter’s confession:

 

“Herein Peter acknowledges Jesus to be the true Messiah, commissioned and sent by God to reveal his will to man, and accomplishing all that the prophets had foretold concerning him; no mere man, not even the most exalted of men (which common opinion held Messiah to be) but the Son of God, of the substance of the Father, begotten from everlasting, God of God, perfect God and perfect man, Son of God and Son of man. Such was Peter’s faith. The Church has added nothing to it, though she has amplified and explained and illustrated it in her Creeds; for it comprises belief in Christ’s Messiahship, Divinity, Incarnation, personality, and the momentous issues depending thereon. We need not suppose that Peter understood all this or speculated on the question how these several attributes were united in Christ. He was content to accept and acknowledge the truth, waiting patiently for further light. This is the attitude which Christ approves.” [28]

 

Everyone needs Jesus

 

An unknown author has written a poem-like piece that depicts the Savior Jesus. Jesus is the missing piece to the puzzle of every person’s life. Jesus is the answer, the truth to every life question. Jesus is the way to eternal life and victory over death. Jesus is God. The poem reads:

 

Mary and Joseph were told to call His name "Jesus" which means "Savior."  But far too few do not see Him as such today.  To so many Jesus is like Washington, Lincoln or some other VIP that we celebrate and get a day off work because of.  But in the Scripture He is seen in so many ways.

 

In Genesis He is the seed of woman.

In Exodus He is the Lamb for sinners slain.

In Leviticus He is the High Priest.

In Numbers He is the Star of

David and the Brass Serpent.

In Ezra He is the Lord of Heaven and earth.

In Lamentations He is the Man of sorrows.

In Amos He is the Eternal Christ.

In Malachi He is the Son of Righteousness.

 

He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, The Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the Rock of Ages, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

 

To the artist He is the one altogether lovely.

To the architect He is the chief cornerstone,

To the baker He is the Living bread,

To the banker He is the hidden treasure.

To the builder He is the sure foundation.

To the doctor He is the great physician.

To the educator He is the great teacher.

To the farmer He is the sower and the Lord of the harvest.

To the florist He is the Lilly of the valley and the Rose of Sharon.

To the geologist He is the Rock of ages.

To the judge He is the righteous judge.

To the lawyer He is the counselor, lawgiver and advocate.

To the newspaperman He is the good tidings of great joy.

To the philanthropist He is the unspeakable gift.

To the philosopher He is the wisdom of God.

To the preacher He is the Living Word of God.

 

To every man, woman, boy and girl He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, without whom there is no hope of everlasting life.

 

Who is Jesus? Jesus is God in the Flesh, touchable, personal, and real

 

Who is Jesus? Jesus is God in the flesh. What makes Jesus superior to every other religious figure in history is that He is God in the flesh. We have seen that Peter’s declaration on the identity of Christ and his use of the definite articles “the” show that he was beginning to recognize the uniqueness of Jesus. But just how unique is Jesus? The Bible tells us quite clearly that Jesus is God in the flesh. Where does it say this? Look at the following representative verses in this regard:

 

  • John 1:1-2,14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God. . . . 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  [29]

Jesus exists eternally as the second Person of the Triune Godhead (The Father is the first Person, the Holy Spirit is the third Person). It was Jesus who presents us with the personal revelation of God. In Jesus God became touchable, personal, and real. Jesus was, is and ever will be the answer to those who claim God to be distant, far off, unreachable, and unknowable. Read some of the things Jesus said that confirm this truth:

 

  • John 10:30,37-38 - “I and My Father are one.”. . . 37 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;38 “but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”  [30]
  • John 12:45 -  “And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.”  [31]
  • John 14:7-10 - “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”  [32]

Who is Jesus? Jesus is equal with God.

The Bible tells us that Jesus equal in glory with the Father, He is eternally blessed, and all the fullness of God dwells in Him. We see this in the following verses:

  • John 17:5 -  “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”  [33]
  • Romans 9:5 – “of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”  [34]
  • Colossians 2:9 – “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;”  [35]

Jesus gave up temporarily His position in heaven to save humankind (Philippians 2:1-11). But this did not diminish His divinity. In fact, only God could do what Jesus did. Only God could love the way He did in and through Jesus.

When we look at the Bible as a whole inductively, we see that Yahweh in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament have parallel and equal attributes. Yahweh is referred to as “Creator” (Job 33:4; Isaiah 40:28) as is Jesus (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17). Yahweh is referred to as the “First and the Last,” (Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12) as is Jesus (Revelation 1:17; 2:8; 22:13). Yahweh is referred to as “I AM,” (Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 43:10; Deuteronomy 32:39) as is Jesus John 8:24, 58; 13:19). Yahweh is referred to as “Judge,” (Joel 3:12; Romans 14:10) as is Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1).  Yahweh is referred to as, "King," (Psalm 47; Isaiah 44:6-8; Jeremiah 10:10) as is Jesus, (Matthew 2:2; Luke 23:3; John 19:21). Yahweh is referred to as, “Light,” (Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 60:20; 1 John 1:5), as is Jesus (John 8:12; Luke 2:32; John 1:7-9). Yahweh is referred to as the, “Rock,” (Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Samuel 22:32 and Isaiah 17:10) as is Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Peter 2:6-8). Yahweh is referred to as, “Savior,” (Isaiah 43:3; 45:21) as is Jesus (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14). And Yahweh is referred to as, “Shepherd,” (Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:11) as is Jesus (John 10:11,14,16; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25). These verses all attest to the equality of Jesus with God. Jesus always was, is and ever shall, be God.

Who is Jesus? He is God our Savior who reconciles us.

Because every sin committed is a sin against God, God hates sin. God hates sin because sin leads to pain, hurt, suffering and separation of His beloved creation from Him. Humankind on their own was, is and always will be helpless to solve the problem of sin (see Ephesians 2:1-10). But God has taken the initiative to reconcile humankind to Himself by solving the problem of sin through Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself”:

 

  • 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  [36]

In Christ, God took the initiative in reconciling the world to Himself. That is pure grace! God was offended; He was, is and ever will be in a position to righteously judge sinners. But rather than terminate humanity, He came to our world and worked out a way for His justice, holiness and love to be satisfied so that reconciliation could occur. He did this in Christ on the cross and the resurrection proves the cross to be acceptable to Him and victorious over sin and the result of sin, death.

Who is Jesus? Jesus is the FULLNESS OF GOD

The Bible refers to Jesus as:

 

  • Colossians 1:15-19 – “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,”

The inspired words used by Paul here tell us that Jesus is the exact representation of God. When we look at Jesus we look at God. He is firstborn over all creation. “First born” (Strong’s # 4416 - prwtotovko" - proµtoátoákoás, pro-tot-ok´-os) does not imply, (as Jehovah’s Witnesses wrongly interpret) that Jesus was created, no, Jesus as “first born” is entitled to rule over all things. Precedent for such use of the label firstborn is found in the Bible. Ephraim is called “firstborn” though Manasseh was actually born first (Genesis 48), but Ephraim was given precedence over his older brother in authority and preference.  Israel is called first born among the nations (Exodus 4:22 - though Israel was obviously not the first nation ever). Jesus is firstborn in that He is Inheritor, Ruler and King of all creation.

 

These verses in Colossians also tell us that Jesus created all things and that all things exist “for Him,” that is, our purpose in life is to live for Him (Colossians 1:15-16). Now Jehovah’s Witnesses insert the word “other” as in “all [other] things,” in Colossians 1:16 to make it seem as though Jesus created the universe but He Himself was created by the Father. This is absolutely, undeniably, untrue, false and a thinly veiled attempt to alter the scriptures to support the aberrant, false and lying doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

These verses tell us that Jesus holds all matter together. You may not be aware of it, but your matter, your flesh and bones body has more empty space to it than actual physical matter. When we look down deep into the atomic structure and substance there is more space between the nucleus and electrons of our atomic structure than there is actual matter. And the deeper scientists look the more space they find. So the next time someone accuses you of having a lot of empty space between your ears, don’t take too much offense at it, they’re right!

 

But what is even more interesting is that that scientists don’t really know how and why the electrons don’t go spinning out from their orbit around the nucleus. You see electrons orbit the nucleus of our atomic structure. A scientific law known as Kolubs Law tells us that objects that orbit are carried further and further away from the center due to centrifugal force. Ever go on a carousal or one of those spinning wheels at a fair that goes from horizontal to vertical? Well, what keeps you from falling off is Kolubs Law. But what is interesting here is that one might expect electrons to then just fly out from their position. But thankfully they don’t. Some scientists attempted to postulate that there was some kind of cosmic invisible glue that held the electrons in place but that was disproved.

 

No, science doesn’t have the answer here, the Bible does. The Bible tells us “in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17). This phrase literally means that Jesus holds everything together. Remember that next time you swing around in some way.

 

In Colossians also says Jesus is the Head of the Church. The Church is not a denominational organization, but it consists of all those saved from their sins by grace through faith in Jesus (Colossians 1:18). Jesus is to be preeminent in the Church. As Christians we should be mindful of that when we are tempted to exalt any human messenger or minister.

 

Lastly, here in Colossians we see that it is pleasing to the Father to have Jesus reveal Him as the only One who has all the fullness of God dwelling (Colossians 1:19). In other words, Jesus is God and represents the fullness, the full nature of God in Himself. The Bible says that God the Father was in Jesus (John 17:21-23), and that the Holy Spirit was His in full measure (Isaiah 42:1; John 3:34).

 

Who is Jesus? Jesus is the HEIR OF ALL THINGS, the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS.

In light of this, Jesus is therefore, the Heir of all things, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS as the following verses attest:

  • Hebrews 1:1-3 – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”  [37]
  • Revelation 19:16 – “And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”  [38]

These are only a small sampling of verses that attest to the deity of Jesus Christ. There are scores of other verses that attest to Jesus’ deity, as well as parallels between Jesus and the Father, Divine names given to Jesus, His Divine attributes, and other statements associating Jesus with being God. Jesus is God in the flesh; He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Six Straw Man Objections to Jesus As God[39]

In arguments and discussions opponents will sometimes use a straw man strategy to deceive and manipulate people to their way of thinking. A “straw man” in this case is described as “an unimportant person, object or discussion.” This is illustrated in the sentence, “Your argument is a straw man intended to divert us from the real issues.”

 

Cults, such the Watchtower and Tract Society or Jehovah’s Witnesses attempt to discredit and dispose of the deity of Jesus Christ (i.e. that Jesus is God) by taking parts of verses to prove their case. The parts of the verses they take are relatively “unimportant” but are selected by them and emphasized to make their case. Such straw men cases cannot stand up to the flame of God’s truth. There are six such straw objections that we will explain here.

 

Straw man objection #1 – Proverbs 8:24 – “Wisdom brought forth”

 

In Proverbs it states:

 

  • Proverbs 8:24-25 – “When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no fountains abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled,  Before the hills, I was brought forth;”

This straw man objection usually begins by citing 1 Corinthians 1:24 where Jesus Christ is referred to as “the wisdom of God.” Then Proverbs 8:24 is appealed to where wisdom is personified in an attempt to show that Jesus is referred to here as being “brought forth” as not eternal in nature and therefore not God.

A closer look at Proverbs 8 reveals that the Messiah (i.e. Jesus) is not referred to as the word “wisdom” in Proverbs 8:1-3 is in the feminine gender. Jesus is a man, not a woman and therefore associating the personification of wisdom in Proverbs 8 with Jesus is not warranted or good exposition of God’s word. Proverbs 8 is simply a literary device known as personification used to illustrate.

Also, if we return to 1 Corinthians 1:24 and follow the Witnesses reasoning then there was also a time when Jehovah had no power or wisdom.  Both wisdom and power are attributes that God has always had and that are associated with Jesus.

Straw man objection #2 – John 1:18 – “No man has seen God at any time”

John 1:18 states:

  • John 1:18 – “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”

This argument contends that since the above verse states “No one has seen God at any time,” and people saw Jesus, therefore Jesus cannot be God. Such an argument ignores the fact that in the Old Testament God did appear in visible form - Genesis 16:13; 18; 32:30; Exodus 3:6; Acts 7:2. Such occurrences of God in the Old Testament expose the faulty Witness interpretation of this verse.

The part of John 1:18 that is ignored by those who object to Jesus’ deity clearly supports Jesus as God as it says, “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” This verse in its proper context therefore, reveals that it was Jesus who appeared in the Old Testament to people. This is why Jesus could say:

  • John 14:9 – “Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Jesus is God in the flesh (Philippians 2:6-7). While no man has seen God the Father (John 6:46) at any time, people have seen God in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Bible says Jesus is the very image of God:

  • Hebrews 1:1-3 – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”

Jesus is the “express image” of God, He took on flesh and manifested God’s love and grace.

But in what sense is the statement fulfilled that says, “No one has seen God at any time.”? Spiros Zodhiates in his book Was Christ God? Makes the following comment in this phrase:

Although John in his Gospel tells us that ‘No man hath seen God at any time,’ we have to understand that this refers to the fullness of His glory. Our little cup could not contain Him, which is why we can only ‘know in part’ (1 Corinthians 13) . . . . If God in His totality made Himself exclusively visible and audible . . .  , He could not have been anywhere else, and nothing in and beyond this universe can be sustained without God . . . . God is something immaterial, not subject to the limitations of time and space. The essence of God, then, is not matter, but Spirit . . . . . But a spirit can only be perceived by another spirit . . . . That is why nothing physical can know God. Only the spirit of man can know God [1 Corinthians 2:9,10] . . . . There must be a correspondence between the receiver and the transmitter. . . . There is only one way in which man can know God and that is through man’s own spirit. God is a Spirit and can be known only by a Spirit . . . It is as if he is saying, ‘No one, not even one, has ever seen God in His fullness, except the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.’ There is an effort by the apostle John to concentrate our attention upon Jesus Christ, for He is the center of all that he is about to say concerning the revelation of God to man. John speaks this way in order to focus our attention on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only person who has seen God as He really is, and who consequently unveils Him before all as a man would unveil a statue to a curious audience. . . .

John declares that there has never been any particular time in history when anyone has head a full vision of God. . . . It is possible for man to have a glimpse of God, but nev3r to see Him fully, even through his own spirit. . . . . But we should not feel that this revelation of God in Christ is insufficient for you and me as human beings. . . . The verb horraoo, ‘to see,’ [indicates that] no man of himself, in his own power and of his own volition, has seen or can see God. God must at all times take the initiative in revealing Himself, and man becomes a recipient of this revelation. This Greek verb has three distinct meanings. The primary is ‘to see with the eyes.’ A vision of the fullness of God with one’s physical eyes is impossible. . . . The second meaning of the verb horaoo, ‘to see,’ is ‘to see with the mind, to perceive, to know.’ . . . A full and complete perception of God in His majesty and glory is impossible by man. . . . The third meaning of horaoo, ‘to see,’ is ‘to become acquainted with by experience, to experience.’ That also is impossible for man to do on his own, . . . It is only through Jesus Christ that man can become fully acquainted with God and experience His presence within his very soul and life. . . . If God is to be revealed at all, He has to reveal Himself, and He has done so through Jesus Christ. . . . That  is why the Lord Jesus said, ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father’ (John 14:9).” [40]

Straw man objections #3 – John 14:28 – “The Father is greater than I”

In John 14:28 it states:

  • John 14:28 -  “You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.”

The straw man objection states, “If Jesus says the Father is greater than he is how could he be God or equal with God?”

In responding to such an objection it is important that you recognize what Jesus did not say. Jesus did not say the Father was BETTER than He was, He merely said that the Father was greater. In Philippians 2:5-8 we are told that Jesus left His high position and humbled Himself by coming to earth. Jesus willfully limited Himself and did not cling to His high position making Himself of no reputation. The word “greater” here refers to one’s position. Therefore, by saying the Father was greater than Himself Jesus was merely speaking in recognition of His lower position at that time in respect to the Father due to His incarnated humble position as Man. If Jesus had wanted to state He was inferior to the Father He would have used the word “better” but He did not. “Better” would have referred to a difference in quality of nature, not position. 

We can illustrate this point by saying,” The president is greater than I, (since he is the leader of our nation).” The president is greater in authority to us because of his position, but he is not necessarily better than us as a human being by nature (e.g. President William Jefferson Clinton).

The Bible does say that Jesus was “better” than the angels:

  • Hebrews 1:4 – “having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

This is true because Jesus preceded the angels and created them (Colossians 1:16). Jehovah’s Witnesses would like people to believe that Jesus is an angel, Michael the archangel. Such a view has no basis in scripture and is entirely false as well as blasphemous.

Straw man objection #4 – 1 Corinthians 15:28 – “Then shall the Son also himself be subject”

In 1 Corinthians 15:28 it states:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:28 – “Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”

This argument contends that because Jesus will be subject to the Father He is therefore inferior to the Father. But subjection is not synonymous with inferiority! “Subjection is a form of love.” In Ephesians 5:22 wives are instructed to submit to their own husbands in the Lord. This submission is out of love in response to the love of the husband who loves the wife as Jesus loved the Church. Wives submit out of love for God and their husbands, not because they are inferior to their husbands.

If we follow such faulty reasoning we might also be led to think that Jesus was inferior to His earthly parents Joseph and Mary when it says He submitted to them as a child (Luke 2:51). Such an idea does not jive with the truth that Jesus is the Creator and therefore created His parents (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17).

One commentator makes the following statement on this verse:

This is a difficult expression and has often been misunderstood to suggest that the apostle subordinated the Son to the Father. However, two facts must be accounted for here. First, when Paul says that the Son is subject to the Father he is not speaking of the Son in terms of his essence, but in terms of his function, or ministry, as the incarnate Son. Second, the force of Paul’s statement is best understood dispensationally. At this present time the administration of the messianic kingdom is given to the Son (cf. Mt 28:18). However, at the conclusion of the messianic kingdom this function will be returned to the triune God that God may be all in all.[1]

A similar straw argument is used when considering 1 Corinthians 11:3 where God is said to be the Head of Jesus. But in John 16:23 the Father submits to the authority of Jesus’ name in fulfilling His wishes and desires. John 16:23 states:

  • John 16:23 - “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.”

Is the Father inferior to Jesus then? Hardly! The straw is burning up!

Straw man objection #5 – Colossians 1:15 – “The First-born of all Creation”

In Colossians 1:15 it states:

  • Colossians 1:15 – “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

Here it is contended that since Jesus is referred to as “first-born” He was created and therefore not eternal and could not be God. The problem with this straw objection is that the meaning of “first-born” is obscured and misused.  If Paul wanted to make the point that Jesus was the first created being he would have used the Greek term PROTOKTISTOS which means, first created. But Paul was not inspired to use that term, he was inspired to use the term PROTOTOKOS  (Strong’s # 4416 -  prwtotovko" - proµtoátoákoás, pro-tot-ok´-o)  which means “first born.” “First born” here refers to one who is the heir of a family estate.

Examples of the use of “first born” to refer to an heir rather than one who was actually born first are as follows: David is referred to as first born, yet he was the youngest of his brothers  (Psalm 89:27; 1 Samuel 16). Ephraim was born after Manasseh, yet is given first born status (Genesis 41:52; 48; Jeremiah 31:9). Remember too that Jacob was born after Esau, yet came to be referred to as “first born” as the inheritor of God’s blessing (Genesis 25:29ff.).

A closer and more careful examination of Colossians 1:15 shows that Jesus is the Creator of all things; He is therefore not the creator of Himself. In Isaiah 44:24 it states God was “by Myself” when He created the worlds. How doe the Jehovah’s Witnesses deal with such truth? They alter the translation of Colossians 1:16-17 by inserting the word “other’ in regards to what Jesus created. Such an act is despicable as well as deceptive in nature. This exposes just how far those who despise the deity of Jesus will go to purport their points.

Straw man objection #6 – “The beginning of God’s Creation”

In Revelation 3:14 it states:

  • Revelation 3:14 - “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:”

Straw man objectors contend by this verse that Jesus was the first created being of God and therefore not God. In the Greek language that the New Testament was originally inspired the word used by John that is translated “beginning” is ARCHE (Strong’s # 746 – ajrchv - archeµ, ar-khay´). What needs to be recognized here is that when in early times people were speaking of philosophical matters such as the creation of the universe, the word ARCHE was a technical term referring to “first cause”, “origin” , “source”. The word “architect” is derived from ARCHE. Aelius Aristedes (c. A.D. 175) a Greek philosopher wrote,” Zeus is the first cause [ARCHE] of all things and every thing is from God.” The Jewish historian Josephus wrote, “The universe is in God’s hands . . . He is the beginning (i.e. First Cause, ARCHE) the middle, and the end of all things” (Against Apion II, 190). Therefore in referring to Jesus as “the beginning  (ARCHE) of God’s creation”, John is inspired to proclaim Jesus as the Source, the Originator, the Architect of God’s creation, and NOT just the first of God’s created creatures.

These straw objections are all easily burned down when we apply the flame of God’s truth to them. Next time someone brings one of these straw arguments to you in an attempt to belittle Jesus or present Him as less than He truly is, apply the fire of God’s word and truth and burn it down!

What Can Be Known About God?

What we see in the majority of these portions of scripture is an attempt to describe the relationship within the Triune Godhead and we must remember that it is very difficult for our finite minds to grasp the infinite nature of God. When we come with our limited minds and understanding to the presence of the infinite God, we need to recognize and humbly admit our limitations in His holy presence.

Early on in Scripture we find a verse that instructs us on the proper attitude for us to have.  In Deuteronomy it states:

  • Deuteronomy 29:29 - “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” 

Someone has said, “It’s not what I don’t know about God that gives me trouble, but what I do know about that troubles me.” There are “secret things” we are not capable of understanding and these things should be left with the Lord. Instead of dwelling on what we don’t know, we should apply what God has revealed to us. A good principle is When you come to something you don’t know, fall back on what you do know and proceed. There will inevitably be things about God we cannot comprehend. Rather than get stuck in the rut of uncertainty, we should seek to master that which God has revealed to us.

God has revealed a great deal in His word. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he is inspired by God to reveal:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. . . . 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Let’s be workman who rightly handle His truth-full word so that we will have no need to be ashamed. When we do that, we will live lives fully, “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The God of the Universe is Knocking on the Door of Your Heart

There is an interesting portion of scripture in the book of Revelation that depicts Jesus as knocking on the door of our heart; it states:

  • Revelation 3:20 - “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

This verse is often used in evangelism as if Jesus is knocking on the door of the sinner’s heart, but in truth Jesus is saying this to the Laodicean church of the End Times, the lukewarm church. Imagine, the Creator, Sustainer and Savior of the universe, the One who holds all things together, the One in whom is the fullness of God, the word made flesh, imagine if He were to knock on the door of your heart, what would you do? Would you be too lukewarm to getup and answer the door? Would you be too busy, too enthralled with a TV program or game? Would you be too busy with work or a hobby? Would you be too busy talking with someone else? Would you answer the door?

If someone from Publishers Clearing House knocked on your door and you missed the opportunity to receive a million dollars you would be devastated. If a millionaire knocked on your door knocking to give away money and you missed him, you’d be devastated. But what if Jesus knocked on your door and you missed Him, would it bother you?

Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart. He wants to come in and fellowship with you. The God of the universe wants to spend time with you. Imagine that, it’s an awesome and incredible thought and yet it escapes us because we are too busy or preoccupied with the things of this world. He knocks and knocks and knocks; He knocks louder and louder to try and get our attention, but its often no use, He can’t get through to us. What a terrible shame.

But some answer the door and open up to the Savior. Those who do, experience a blessed union with Jesus, heaven on earth here and now. That is what is available to you if you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior. Open the door of your heart and invite Jesus in. he’s knocking; He’s knocking; He’s knocking. Open up!

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus is not merely a miracle worker, or someone who meets our material needs. Jesus is not merely a social worker or powerful reformer. Jesus is not merely a prophet and He is not a cross-less Christ. Jesus is Savior of the world. He is the “Son of the Living God.” He is God in the flesh. He is equal with God. He is God our Savior who reconciles us. Jesus is the fullness of God. He is the Heir of all things, the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Jesus is all of this and He is knocking at the door of your heart. We need to open the door of our hearts and invite Jesus into every aspect of our lives.

Don’t Tell Anyone Who I Am

Mark 8:30 – “Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.”

 Doesn’t that seem a bit peculiar, that Jesus told them not to tell anyone who He was? Why did Jesus do that? (See also Mark 1:35; 3:12) In the Old Testament Messianic prophecies two roles were associated with Messiah. The rabbinical teachers were confused and often thought that there must be two Messiahs. One Messiah was Messiah be David (i.e. Messiah son of David). This was the Messiah described in the Bible as a king  (cf. 2 Samuel 7:14-16; Isaiah 55:3-5; Jeremiah 23:5). Messiah ben David was a “political, nationalistic figure destined to free the Jews from Roman domination (cf. Mark 11:9-10).” The other Messiah was Messiah Ben Joseph. This Messiah was the son of Joseph because the prophecies pertaining to him referred to suffering (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53).

 

The disciples at this point in Jesus’ ministry were not ready fully aware of who Jesus was and that He actually was to fulfill both of the above messianic roles. In His first coming He would be a suffering servant whose substitutionary sacrifice would bring salvation to a sinful world. At His Second Coming He would establish His kingdom and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is likely that Jesus wanted the disciples to refrain from telling others about who He was until they fully grasped who He was. That the disciples didn’t fully understand who Jesus was is seen in Peter’s attempt to rebuke Jesus for teaching that He would go to the cross (Mark 8:31-33).  [41]

 

It’s also possible that Jesus knew that His time had not yet come in terms of the literal projected prophetic time as given in the book of Daniel. In Daniel chapter 9 God gives an exact prophetic time, to the day, that Messiah would make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jesus would have been aware of this and would have wanted to be in line with God’s word in this regard.

 

What Did Jesus Want the Disciples to Know About Him? The CROSS and RESURRECTION of Christ

 

Mark 8:31-33 – “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.32 He spoke this word openly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” 

Before the disciples were to be let loose to proclaim Jesus and who He was, they would have to know and accept the nature of His mission. Jesus came to suffer, be rejected, killed, die and rise from the dead. Jesus stern rebuke of Peter when Peter tries to dissuade Him from His mission shows us that any alternative to the cross and resurrection of Jesus is from Satan.

 

Below is a brief summary study of the cross and resurrection and their pivotal and essential role in the mission of Jesus. When you see the impact and plan of God in the cross and resurrection of Jesus, its no wonder Satan opposes it. 

 

The Necessity of the Cross of Christ

 

Below are ten aspects of the cross that speak about the absolute necessity of Christ’s sacrifice on it. The cross was not optional; it was and is essential to salvation and defeating sin (See Matthew 26:36-46).  Then we will look at seven important facts of the resurrection that testify to its importance and absolute necessity.

 

First, The Cross of Christ is indispensable to the Gospel.

 

  • 1 Corinthians 2:2 – “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”  [42]

These words of Paul to the Corinthians demonstrate to us just how central and indispensable the Cross of Christ is to the gospel. Paul made the Cross of Christ is central focus and he explained why as we look at the verses that precede the above verse:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.19 For it is written:  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”  [43]

You see, in the Cross of Christ we have the embodiment of God’s wisdom and power. Wisdom is the ability to solve a problem. God solved the problem of sin powerfully in the Cross of Christ. How did He do this?

 

Second, The Cross of Christ is the means God uses to deliver us from sin.

 

  • Galatians 1:3-5 – “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  [44]

The Cross of Christ is the means by which God provided a way for sinful humanity to be delivered from the evil world in which we live. Apart from God, sinful humanity is caught in the clutches of sin and in bondage to sin. Sin causes pain. Sin is like a narcotic that although the user knows it will kill them in the end, they can’t stop in their own strength the using and abusing of it. How does God deliver sinful humanity from this evil world and sin through the Cross of Christ?

 

Third, The Cross of Christ is where Jesus became a curse for us.

 

  • Galatians 3:10-14 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  [45]

In our own strength, apart from God’s help, we are under His righteous law. Under this standard one offense, one misstep in regards to keeping God’s law is enough to put us under the cruse or penalty for the law. God is totally just and as a just Judge, He penalizes sin. The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). God’s wrath is on sin (Romans 1:18). At the Cross of Christ, Jesus took our place on the cross and became a curse for us. Here we see the substitutionary nature of the Cross. What is the significance and meaning of Christ’s substitutionary cross-work?

 

Fourth, The Cross of Christ is where Jesus satisfied God’s Holy Justice.

 

  • Romans 3:20-26 – “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”  [46]

The law of God was given not to make one righteous, but to expose utterly the sinfulness of humanity (Romans 3:20). The law of God removes all excuses from sinful humanity because it shows that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:1-18,23). But God sent His Son Jesus Christ to the Cross to be a propitiation, or an atoning sacrifice that satisfies God’s holy justice. We cannot do anything that will satisfy God’s just standard; therefore, God sent His Son and in Him satisfied His own standard of holy justice. On the Cross of Christ Jesus took the sins of the world upon Him as well as God’s holy just wrathful penalty for sins upon Him and paid the price for all sin. God did this to demonstrate beyond doubt His righteousness. A Holy God does not simply dismiss sin without dealing with it, but justly made a way to deal with sin and remove it’s penalty. All sin is forgiven, past, present and future, on the basis of Jesus’ propitiation on the Cross. And what is even more incredible is that God is the, “just and justifier” BECAUSE GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD TO HIMSELF ON THE CROSS. As Paul was inspired to write:

 

  • 2 Corinthians 5:19,21 – “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. . . 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  [47]

We have seen God’s justice, but what about God’s love?

 

Fifth, The Cross of Christ is God’s greatest and clearest demonstration of His Holy Love.

 

  • Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  [48]

The Cross of Christ is God’s greatest demonstration of  “His own love.” God’s love held nothing back, not even His son, not even Himself. Greater love has no one than this, that God laid down His life for sinful humanity.

But what about after we have been forgiven through faith in Christ, is the Cross of Christ useful in living life?

 

Sixth, The Cross of Christ is the means to live a life of death to sinful self.

 

  • Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  [49]
  • Galatians 5:24 – “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  [50]

When we accept Jesus as our Savior and exercise God’s gift of saving faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) it’s as though our old sinful self is crucified with Him. From that point we are in a righteous position before God, sins forgiven, slate of recorded sins wiped clean forever. But where do we go from there? The above verses tell us that by faith now in Jesus we put fleshly desires in the wastebasket of the cross. The apostle Paul was inspired to explain this in the following way:

 

  • Romans 6:4-14 – “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”  [51]

Practically speaking, after we have experienced the new birth (John 3:3,5; Titus 3:5) we will experience fleshly lusts from within us to sin which are connected with the “old man,” or old sinful way of living. This is because we have yet to receive glorified bodies (Romans 8:23), and there remains a struggle with the “old man” who still rears his head to seek control of us. But in the Cross of Christ there is a means of victory. When the old man attacks with his lusts, then by faith we need to “reckon” or put to the account of, lay, place, those lusts and temptations in the casket of the cross, close the lid, and stand in your right position by faith before God in Christ by the Spirit. This is the sanctifying process of the Spirit in the believer (Ephesians 5:18).

But what about the temptations from the world outside of us?

 

Seventh, The Cross of Christ is the means to gain victory over a sinful world.

 

  • Galatians 6:14 – “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  [52]

Here we see that the same process is used when temptations come from the world. By faith we maintain our position before God and cast the temptations in the casket of the Cross and close the lid.

 

But how do those who are unsaved react to the Cross of Christ? Will they joyfully respect the Cross of Christ?

 

Eight, The Cross of Christ is a foolish concept to the unsaved, but the power of God to the saved.

 

  • 1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  [53]

The world views the Cross of Christ as foolish, a barbaric notion of an imaginary religious belief system. But to those who have experienced the power of the gospel in the Cross of Christ, there is no need to explain, but only receive by faith.

Ninth, The Cross of Christ will bring persecution from the religious and worldly (i.e. fleshly; self-centered; self-absorbed; self-serving).

 

  • Galatians 5:11 – “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.”  [54]
  • Galatians 6:12 – “As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.”  [55]
  • Philippians 3:17-19 – “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”  [56]

Those who depend on religious works (i.e. “circumcision” – Galatians 5:11), fleshly pursuits (Galatians 6:12), and “whose god is their belly” will all persecute those who live by faith in the Cross of Christ.

 

Tenth, The Cross of Christ eliminates prejudices and brings peace in the Spirit.

 

  • Ephesians 2:14-18 – “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one [i.e. Jews and Gentiles], and has broken down the middle wall of separation,15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”  [57]

The Cross of Christ is the answer to the divisions in the world caused by the sinfulness of humanity. Sin divides and destroys; but the Cross of Christ unites and brings us into the presence of the Father by the Spirit. THE CROSS OF CHRIST IS THE BRIDGE THAT ALLOWS THE SINNER TO CROSS OVER THE CHASM OF SEPARATION FROM GOD CAUSED BY SIN (Isaiah 59:2), AND STEP INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD AND HIS PEOPLE PERSONALLY FOR ETERNITY.

The Cross of Christ is an incredible provision by God and is offered by His grace to us.  The crux of the Cross is that we can be forgiven for our sins (Colossians 2:13), indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-14), and given eternal life (John 3:16) through faith in Jesus and His cross-work (Romans 10:8-10). We can come into the presence of God through the Cross of Christ.

When Jesus endured the cross He did so joyfully (i.e. He had full assurance that He was fulfilling the will of God) because in His love for you and me, He knew it was necessary if we were to deal with and defeat sin in our lives and spend eternity with Him (Hebrews 12:1-4). I pray His passion have its full impact on us and that we receive His passion, His love, in a way that will compel us to live for Him now (Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:14-16).

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus took up the cross and the cross of Christ is central to our salvation and sanctification. We ought to trust in Christ’s cross work and take up our cross too.

The Importance of the Resurrection

Over three hundred (300!) verses are devoted to Jesus' resurrection in the New Testament. It is extremely important for believers to grasp and recognize the import of the resurrection because without it our faith is futile. This is what Paul stated to the Corinthians when he was inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 – "Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable."

The resurrection is the linchpin of the Christian faith. The resurrection is God’s exclamation mark on the work of His Son Jesus Christ. The resurrection is the evidence of the completion of Christ’s work and that it was acceptable to God for atonement and forgiveness of sin. Therefore, what place and purpose does the resurrection have in the life?

First, The Resurrection is a Sign For Unbelievers.

The resurrection is a sign for unbelievers. This means that in light of the resurrection, there is no excuse to not come to Jesus for salvation. Jesus stated:

  • Matthew 12:38-41 – "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You."39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.41 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here."

The resurrection is one of the most well documented and provable events in history and as such unbelievers should take it to heart and come to the Lord. If any skeptic truly seeks out the truth of the resurrection, they will come to see the truth of it. Many have sought to study the resurrection in an effort to refute it only to find that it truly happened just as He said it would and ultimately came to faith in Christ (Matthew 28:6). (See Who Moved The Stone by Frank Morison, a skeptic who came to Christ when he investigated the resurrection). Before you forget about the resurrection and whether or not the gospel is for you, you need to check it out and see for yourself. If you fail to do so, you will not only miss out on the meaning and purpose you were created for, but you will miss out on eternal life.

Second, The Resurrection Destroys Doubt.

Jesus gave the ultimate answer to anyone who would antagonistically say to Him, "Show me!" Read what Jesus said to those who doubted:

  • Luke 24:38-43 – "And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?"42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.43 And He took it and ate in their presence."

The reality of the resurrection destroys doubts because if Jesus is raised from the dead, than any and all other obstacles to belief in Him are eliminated.

Third, The Resurrection Proves Jesus’ Teachings Are True.

Jesus’ resurrection validates and confirms that what He said was true. Jesus is faithful to His word. It was on the basis of the resurrection that Peter and Paul proclaimed the Gospel because the resurrection confirmed the truth of it:

  • Acts 2:22-24 - "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;24 "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."
  • 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 – "Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."

Fourth, The Resurrection Is Central to the Gospel.

The resurrection is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ; you cannot accept Jesus without accepting the resurrection. Peter said in his sermon at Cornelius’ house:

  • Acts 10:34-40 – "Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.35 "But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.36 "The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—37 "that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:38 "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.39 "And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.40 "Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,"

To the Corinthians the apostle Paul writes:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,"

The resurrection is central to the gospel message. There is no gospel without the resurrection.

Fifth, The Resurrection Demonstrates the Power For Life Available to the Believer.

When the apostle Paul discusses the practical application of the righteous life he does so referring to the resurrection because if the resurrection is possible, all other obstacles in life pale in comparison. Read how Paul includes reference to the resurrection as demonstrating the power of God available to the believer:

  • Romans 6:4-14 – "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (See Philippians 3:10)

The power of God demonstrated in the resurrection is the same power that is made available to the believer to live life. The apostle Paul wanted every believer to know this and said so through Divine inspiration when he wrote:

  • Ephesians 1:15-21 – "Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come."

Indeed Paul was inspired to write that knowing this power was of the utmost importance for people:

  • Philippians 3:7-11 – "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

Christian, you need to know and apply the power of the resurrection to your lives!

Sixth, The Resurrection Demonstrates the Power of  God Over Death

  • 1 Corinthians 15:55-58 -  “O Death, where is your sting? 1 O Hades, where is your victory?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  [2]

Because of the resurrection we don’t have to face death in darkness and despair. The great question mark that all humanity faces, death, can be faced with certainty and victory because of the resurrection. That is a great comfort to those facing death.

Seventh, The Resurrection Gives the Believer Hope for The Future.

The resurrection gives the believer hope at the point of death and beyond:

  • John 11:25 – "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."
  • 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 – "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."55 "O Death, where is your sting? 1 O Hades, where is your victory?"56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
  • Philippians 3:20-21 – "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself."

The resurrection of Jesus is the proof that He is able to remove any stone in your life that is keeping you from Himself.

 

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus included the resurrection as an essential part of who He is and the purpose of His mission. We ought to understand the importance of the resurrection and live in its power.

Christ’s Call to Discipleship

 

Mark 8:34-38 – “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.35 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.36 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?37 “Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”  [58] (Matthew 16:24-28)

 

The natural consequence of coming to Jesus is to follow Him. In fact, if you aren’t following Jesus, you haven’t truly come to Him. This is what Jesus said in the following parable:

  • Matthew 22:1-9 – “And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said:2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,3 “and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.4 “Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’5 “But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.6 “And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.7 “But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.9 ‘Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’”  [59]

Jesus calls us to come, but He does not force us to come to Him, He simply offers or invites for us to come to Him. And to come to Him leads us to follow Him. But what does it mean to follow Jesus?

 

We are saved by receiving God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith in Christ (Romans 10:8-13; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). But once we are saved, then what? Once saved we need to grow and go on in the Lord bearing spiritual fruit and developing our relationship with the Lord. Not everyone answers Christ’s call to discipleship. It is safe to say, every disciple is a Christian, but not every Christian is a disciple. Let’s consider the alternative to discipleship and then we will define what a disciple is.

 

The Lack of Character of the Carnal Christian

 

The Bible says that there are those who are spiritually immature in their faith. The apostle Paul describes such believers in the following way:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 – “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”  [60]

Looking at this verse we see that the spiritually immature are “carnal.” The word “carnal” means fleshy, living for temporal and material things.  The carnal Christian is still living for self to a great extent. They are not” spiritual people,” but are rather perpetual “babes in Christ.” They don’t grow and are stuck in the early stages of their faith. They are “not able,” or impaired by their disinterest and shallowness in spiritual things. The result of such spiritual immaturity is, “envy, strife, and divisions among you . . .”

 

A further result of carnality in the Christian is instability and a susceptibility to deception.  We see this referred to in the following verses:

 

  • Ephesians 4:14 – “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,”  [61]

There is a lack of spiritual growth in the carnal Christian as seen in the following verse:

  • Hebrews 5:12 – “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”  [62]

Because the carnal Christian settles for the least benefit of their walk with the Lord, they miss out on the benefits of assurance, they are susceptible to deception, and they are stunted in their spiritual growth and usability to God. They miss out on the blessings of ministry and they fail to store up for themselves eternal heavenly gifts (see Matthew 6:25-34). The carnal Christian lacks spiritual character, lacks spiritual substance, they are superficial.

 

The carnal Christian is somewhere in between an unsaved Pharisee and a devoted disciple. Jesus wants more for us than mere carnal Christianity (see Revelation 3:14-22). He is grieved and upset when there is strife, division, superficiality, and lethargic commitment in one’s walk with Him. Jesus calls us to be disciples. He calls us to grow in our faith and be spiritually mature. Being a disciple is the only way to experience the fullness of God’s blessings.

 

The Contrasting Character of a Disciple - Abandonment

 

The character of a disciple of Jesus is a vast contrast to that of the carnal believer.  Where the carnal Christian gives a half-hearted devotion to God, a disciple gives a whole-hearted devotion to God. The faith of a disciple is characterized by abandonment to God, a relinquishing to God of our perceived rights to ourselves. (In fact, we do not belong to ourselves, we have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus and no longer belong to ourselves – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

 

Oswald Chambers often spoke of the abandonment to God of the believer. He stated:

 

“”The Great aim of the Holy Spirit is to get us abandoned to God. . . . .When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time. . . . The reason some of us are such poor specimens of Christianity is because we have no Almighty Christ. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment to Jesus Christ.” [63]

 

“The weakest saint can experience the power of the Deity of the Son of God if he is willing to ‘let go.’ . . . God can do what He like with the man who is abandoned to Him.” [64]

 

An example of the abandonment of a disciple is found in the example of Philip in the Book of Acts. Philip was in the midst of a great revival in Samaria (Acts 8:4-25). Things were really cooking in ministry for Philip. Multitudes were turning to the Lord, miracles were happening, there was “great joy,” and Philip even was used by God to convert a sorcerer. But as the ministry was continuing, the Holy Spirit told Philip to go to Gaza, a vast wilderness region (Acts 8:26). Philip didn’t even ask why, didn’t argue one bit, he simply arose and obeyed and God used him mightily as a result.

 

The Spirit led Philip to an Ethiopian official who just happened to be reading the Scriptures at the book of Isaiah (Acts 8:26-34). What Philip told the Ethiopian Eunuch when presenting the gospel to him shows the heart of a disciple. Philip instructed the Ethiopian in the following way:

 

  • Acts 8:35-38 – “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.”  [65]

The key to following Jesus is following Him “with all your heart.” This is discipleship.

This spirit of abandonment brings fulfillment in everyday life. I would like to share a personal example relating to how abandonment to the Lord affects everyday life. It was early Fall and time to rake the leaves in our spacious yard so we as a family designated a Saturday for the task. My two sons, Stephen age eight and Daniel age eleven at the time, thought helping their Dad would be a great idea.  Now if you know anything about kids, you know they don’t view “work” like adults do. To young boys, “work” is really a neat excuse for play, especially when it comes to raking leaves. Daddy (i.e. me), on the other hand is seeing this from an adult’s perspective, as an all day job.  Can you see the crisis looming on the horizon?

Now as the effort begins to rake what I saw as a ridiculous amount of leaves, I observe that my two sons are not working the way I think thinks they should. The boys are cavorting, kicking up the leaves, jumping in them, thrashing them, throwing them at each other. They don’t’ think there’s enough leaves. Soon daddy is doing his impersonation of a pressure cooker. The pressure builds as repeated exhortations are given from daddy to his two sons to work and not play. Every time daddy exhorts his two young sons to “work!” their countenance falls and they put their hands to their work rakes and their fun stops. I can just imagine what they were thinking, “Man, dad is such a pain, why can’t we have some fun? Who cares about a bunch of dead leaves anyway? We’re kids you know? Kids don’t work! Doesn’t dad know that?” At that point my thoughts were something like this, “Man, I’m going to be doing this all day. Oh, my back, man I’m not as young as I used to be. I wish I could go lay down on the couch and watch a game. If these two kids don’t get to work I’ll be here all day. Don’t they understand what work is?!” In other words, my agenda was not the same as Daniel and Stephen’s agenda. But worse, I believe my agenda was not God’s agenda! 

A funny thing happened on the way to raking the leaves, the Lord spoke to me. It was as though He said to me, “Now son, how do you think this situation can be accomplished so that the work can get done, and your two boys and you can have fun? Why don’t you think of a way to make the work fun? What if you got them to help you rake all the leaves in the yard into one humongous pile with the prospect of jumping into it? And what if you said you would jump in it with them and video the entire event? Now that would be fun wouldn’t it son? And then after you have fun, you can re-rake the leaves, bag them and you’ll be done. ” Eureka! What a great idea! And that’s exactly what we did, we raked ALL of the leaves into one huge pile in the center of the yard and then not only jumped into it, we destroyed it, we tunneled into and through it, we laid in it, we had FUN! I worked out a plan with Daniel and Stephen to rake all the leaves, spend a time of jumping into them with the promise that afterwards we would re-rake and bag them and work as a team to complete the task. They bought into the plan enthusiastically and we had a wonderfully fun and productive day.

Now look at the point here and what was gained and why. If I had kept to my agenda, there would have been no fun, a bad attitude, a blow out between my two sons and me and daddy would be the bad guy. Furthermore, the work, if it got done would have had to be done by daddy alone since the attention of Daniel and Stephen would have led to another alternative fun activity. (I could have forced them to work, but such situations never work.)  Furthermore, if I kept to my agenda and all the above happened, my witness to my neighbors would have likely been shot as they saw the pastor next door screaming at his two sons, (yes, even pastors lose it sometimes). More importantly, a great opportunity to bond with my two sons would have been lost. The point is, because I was willing to abandon my agenda and follow God’s, the work got done, we had fun, we had a memorable life experience that deepened our relationship, and we were a great witness to those around us as we jumped and played and had fun, fun, fun together. You see, when I first started the yard work my perspective was my agenda; I was only seeing this from a horizontal perspective. But I needed to look vertical, I needed to look up. God’s perspective was that the Father in heaven looked down to a yard filled with leaves, a father and his two sons and He saw an opportunity to take a hard days yard work and turn it into so much more.  When we abandon ourselves to God, He works in and through us to accomplish His will. Remember that when you walk through the day and God will do something wonderful in and through you.

Being a disciple involves abandoning yourself and your rights to God. There is another word for this, it’s called character. God wants to build character in a disciple. Jesus gave a threefold call that characterizes a disciple. It’s to this that we now turn.

 

The Threefold Call and Character of a Disciple

 

Mark 8:34 – “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  [66]

In these verses Jesus lays out the call to discipleship. There are three things required of the one who would respond to the call of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who desires we be His disciples. What are they?

 

First, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself. Peter must have thought he was pretty special after he was the one God allowed to utter the revelation about Jesus identity. He must have thought he was pretty special, a cut above the rest of the other disciples. After all, why shouldn’t God choose him over the others to make this most important of declarations? It was just such thinking that likely led to his come to “rebuke” Jesus (Mark 8:32-33; Matthew 16:22). Imagine, rebuking “the Christ, the Son of the Living God”! Imagine the pride, the puffed up nature of Peter to do such a thing or even think he could do such a thing. That is what the flesh, or self-centered life will lead you to do. Your “self” or “flesh” will lead you to contradict and even oppose the very plans of God.

 

The disciple therefore, needs to deny their self, their human wisdom or self-reliance. Read what the Bible says about this:

 

·         Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  [67]

 

·         Galatians 5:24 – “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”   [68] (See also Romans 8; Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3)

Now we need to understand that there is a subtle and distinct difference between denying self and self-denial. Sometimes we can feed our flesh through self-denial. Self-denial can sometimes take on an ascetic or self-effort mindset that undermines denying self and actually feeds the flesh, that very thing we are seeking to crucify. How do we know the difference? Well, when you deprive yourself of something, do you subtly brag about it to God or man? Do you say, “Well, God, I’ll bet You’re pretty impressed with me aren’t You? I’ve given up smoking, and coffee, and candy, and all sorts of good stuff, and I did it all for You.” Or when you’re out with a crowd do you discreetly impress those your out with by abstaining externally from certain things with the explanation that you “gave it up for God”? Such outward medal seeking may be nothing less than pinning a medal on the chest of one whose flesh is in full bloom.

 

No, when we deny our self, we do so out of loving appreciation to God (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) and it is almost an afterthought. It’s really nothing in comparison to what Christ has done for us. To deny your self is to surrender fully to God so that He can do whatever He wants to do with you, no matter how big or how small.  Self-denial exalts self and is self-serving. Deny self crucifies the flesh with its passions and desires.

 

Second, take up your cross. What does it mean to take up your cross? Sometimes people remark about their ailments, their sore back or physical problems or some other discomfort or inconvenience by saying, “Well, it’s the cross I bear.” Let me say that that is certainly not what it means to bear the cross.

 

To take up your cross means to always carry the humbling awareness that you are condemned to death without Jesus; we all deserve to die without Jesus; we all carry a death sentence without Jesus. The cross is an object of capitol punishment. By carrying it with you always you are humbled and admitting your guilt. To carry your cross humbles us because it puts us in our place and reminds us of the pardon we have in Jesus alone.

 

There is a ministry our church supports called The Gospel for Asia. This is a ministry which trains indigenous peoples to reach out to the lost in their own land to fulfill the Great Commission. It is a humbling experience to minister to and hear of the exploits of such ministers. These pastors go through a three year training program and then seek the Lord about what village or area He is calling them to. Then when they go out, they start their ministry in a very telling way. The pastors who go out to share the gospel in the village of God’s leading, approach the village and before they enter it to minister, they dig their own graves outside the village! They dig their own graves because they are ready to die for the Lord. One such brother contracted malaria 18 times in the process of ministering in an area. The doctor treating him warned him about going back and said if he did, he would likely die. The afflicted pastor turned to the doctor with tears in his eyes and said, “But that is what I am called to do there, die!” His tears weren’t of regret or because he was being forced to go where he didn’t want to go. No, his tears were an expression of his burden for the lost. For him it was a supreme privilege, a supreme offering, the least he could do for the One who had already died for him. The love of Christ for the lost compelled him to go on, risking life and limb for the sake of seeing souls saved and brought to the Savior (see 2 Corinthians 5:14-21). That is what it means to take up your cross.

 

To take up your cross means to act redemptively for the lost like Jesus did. It means to go all the way, even to the point of death, for the sake of seeing the lost found and saved in Christ. To pick up your cross means to take on the particular mission God has called you to in your life. Jesus came with a mission, go to the cross. What is your mission? What had God called you to do? How does He plan to use you? To take up your cross means to commit yourself to that God-given mission unto death, no matter how obscure or self–denying. Taking up your cross builds on denying self, because you cannot participate effectively in God’s mission for you if you are self-seeking. His glory must be your sole desire, not your glory.

 

A.W.Tozer (1897-1963) described the one who picks up his or her cross to follow Jesus in the following way:

 

“There are three marks of one who is crucified:  One, he is facing in only one direction. Two, he can never turn back.  And three, he no longer has any plans of his own.”

   

Third, follow Jesus. Jesus said, “Follow Me.” To follow Jesus is to follow in His steps, to make Him our example and to do all that we do according to how He would do it. This is the sense of what Peter and John meant when they were inspired in their epistles to write:

 

·         1 Peter 2:21 – “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:”  [69]

 

·         1 John 2:6 – “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” [70]

 

To follow Jesus means to have His servant’s heart (Mark 10:45), to have the same compassion for the lost that Jesus had for the lost (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 18:27,33; 20:34), it means to be willing to submit your will to God’s will like Jesus (Matthew 26:36-46), and it means being willing to go all the way in your God-given mission, even to the point of death like Jesus (Matthew 27: 45-56). That is what it means to follow Jesus.

MARK THAT ACTOIN: Jesus calls us to be disciples by denying our self, taking up our cross and following Him. He calls us out from carnal Christianity to discipleship in the Spirit. We ought to answer that call by abandoning our selves to Jesus and trust in Him.

 

Three Reasons Why it’s Worth Being a Disciple

 

Mark 8:35-38 - “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.36 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?37 “Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [71] (Matthew 16:25-27)

Jesus follows His call to discipleship (Mark 8:34; Matthew 16:24) with three substantiating reasons that one should consider being a disciple. Jesus, the Master Disciple-Maker gives us three reasons why discipleship is the best way to live in relationship to Him. If discipleship is a main focus of this gospel, then this is a most strategic area of the book as a whole.

 

First, discipleship leads to true life. Jesus said,For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”  The world tells us that in order to experience true meaningful life, we have to look out for number one, pamper yourself, serve your self, accumulate things for yourself and focus on your self. Self, self, self, that is the key to happiness. But the truth of the matter is that the more you focus on your self, the more dissatisfied you will be. To focus on self is the pinnacle of pride and a deception of the devil. Jesus tells us just the opposite; He says that if we want to find true life, we need to lose it, give it up, and give it over “for My sake.” True life, true meaning and purpose that will satisfy and fulfill only comes through giving up our lives, the self-life, for the sake of Jesus.

 

Second, discipleship leads to true soul profit. Jesus said, For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Your soul is the most important thing in your life and its care should be your top priority. Your soul is eternal in nature and therefore outlasts anything material. But just what is the soul?

 

What is the “soul”?

 

The word “soul” (Greek – PSUCHE – Strong’s #5590) here refers to, “the breath, the breath of life,”[72] that eternal aspect of every human being. Your “soul” is, “the seat of personality.” In Luke 9:24-25 it is described as, “own self,” (Hebrews 6:19; 10:39; Isaiah. 53:10 with 1 Tim. 2:6). It is described as, “the seat of the sentient element in man, that by which he perceives, reflects, feels, desires,” (Matthew 11:29; Luke 1:46; 2:35; Acts 14:2, 22; Psalm 84:2; 139:14; Isaiah 26:9). Furthermore, it is described as, “the seat of will and purpose,” (Matthew 22:37; Acts 4:32; Ephesians 6:6; Philippians 1:27; Hebrews 12:3; Numbers 21:4; Deuteronomy 11:13). And lastly, it is described as, “the seat of appetite,” (Revelation 18:14; Psalm 107:9; Proverbs 6:30; Isaiah 5:14; 29:8).” [73]

 

Matthew Henry describes the “soul” in the following way:

 

“Every man has a soul of his own. The soul is the spiritual and immortal part of man, which thinks and reasons, has a power of reflection and prospect, which actuates the body now, and will shortly act in a separation from the body.”  [74]

 

Notice what Jesus says here; your soul is worth more than the entire world, there is nothing you could trade for your soul, your soul is the most valuable thing you have. Nothing in this world is worth your soul, not a career, not a house, not a car, not even a relationship. Your soul is eternal and you had best care for it because it isn’t going away. You can “Lose” your soul in the sense that you can spend eternity in hell, a place of darkness and torment, a place never meant for any soul to be. Or you can save your soul through faith in Christ and live in eternal bliss and blessing (see Luke 16:19-31). 

 

Your soul is eternal, worldly things are temporal. Read what the apostle John taught in this regard:

 

  • 1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  [75]

James was inspired to write that we should not only care for our own souls but also help others with their souls:

 

  • James 5:20 – “let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”  [76]

But how do we care for the soul?

 

The good way of the soul.

 

In John’s third epistle he is inspired to write:

 

  • 3 John 2 – “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”  [77]

The word “prosper” here (Greek EUODIA from EUODOOMAI – Strong’s #2137) means, “get along well, prosper, succeed, gain.”  Literally EUODIA means, “to be led along a good road; have a good journey (EU = “good” + HODOS = “way”). Now how can we care for our souls and the souls of others so that they will prosper? What is the good way of the soul?

We need to realize that only God can quench the thirst of our souls. The psalmist wrote:

  • Psalm 42:1-2 – “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul [nepesh Strong’s #5315, “soul; self; life; person; heart.”[78]] for You, O God.2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”  [79]

The soul of humans can only find fulfillment, completion, and satisfaction when it turns to God. Augustine once wrote:

“For Thou has made us for Thy Self, and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in Thee.”

Therefore, the prosperity of our soul is intertwined with our relationship to God. The book of Deuteronomy gives five soul-enriching practices that lead to the prosperity of our souls.

Five soul-enriching practices.

First, seek the LORD. In Deuteronomy it states:

  • Deuteronomy 4:29 - “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” [80]

We need to seek the Lord so that we can find help for our souls.

Second, love the LORD. In Deuteronomy it states:

  • Deuteronomy 6:5 - “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  [81]

The Bible calls us to love the Lord with everything within us, all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength. When you love the Lord, it enriches the soul.

Third, serve the LORD. In Deuteronomy it states:

  • Deuteronomy 10:12 - “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,”  [82]

Serving the LORD enriches our souls; it gets our minds off of ourselves and onto God and breeds healthiness in our souls.

Fourth, study the LORD’s word. Deuteronomy states:

  • Deuteronomy 11:18 - “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”  [83]
  • Deuteronomy 26:16 - “This day the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.”  [84]

There are few other things that enrich the soul like the study of God’s word. God’s word helps us to know our soul and care for it as the writer of Hebrews in the New Testament stated:

  • Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  [85]

Studying God’s word enriches the soul.

Fifth, obey and apply God’s word. In Deuteronomy it states:

  • Deuteronomy 30:1-10 - “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you,2 “and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,3 “that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you.4 “If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.5 “Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.6 “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.7 “Also the Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.8 “And you will again obey the voice of the Lord and do all His commandments which I command you today.9 “The Lord your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For the Lord will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers,10 “if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”  [86]

As this passage implies, obedience to God’s word, the application of God’s word practically to life is essential to the upkeep of the soul.

The words of Deuteronomy were inspired by God and written by Moses when the people of God were brought to the threshold of the Promised Land. The Promised Land was that place that God had purposed to bless His people and where they would fulfill their destiny as His messengers of light to a dark world (see Exodus 19:6). In the same way, if we want to enrich our souls and experience the blessings of God in the depths of our souls, we should pay heed to the enriching instructions in the book of Deuteronomy. These five steps will lead to the enriching and upkeep of our souls. Remember though, the upkeep of our souls, the implementation of these steps is not to be done in our own strength, but in the strength of the Holy Spirit working in us (see Romans 8; Galatians 5; Philippians 2:13).

Being a disciple is the best way to care for the most important thing in your being, your soul. Therefore, discipleship, which cares best for your soul, leads to the truest of profits because it benefits that which is most valuable to you, your soul.

 

Third, discipleship leads to true readiness.   Jesus said, For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son eof Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”  (Mark 8:38).   Jesus is coming back; He is coming to rapture or remove His church; and He could come at any time. He says that when He returns He will “reward each” person according to their works. This is not talking about salvation; we cannot earn our salvation. But it is talking about rewards and we do earn rewards. Part of our reward will be the words of Jesus if He is able to say in truth to us:

 

  • Matthew 25:21,23 - “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ . . . 23 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”  [87]

Oh how good it will be when Jesus comes back and He says those words to us face to face. It will be incredible. But unfortunately, He will not be able to say that to all those He returns for. Some will have been distracted by carnal concerns, preoccupied with self and will be ashamed at His return. Don’t be like the five virgins whose lamps were empty and weren’t ready when the bridegroom came for the bride (Matthew 25:1-13).

In the New Testament we are exhorted to be ready for the rapture by Jesus of the church. The rapture is imminent, that is, it can occur at any time. There are no events or conditions that must precede the rapture; it could happen before you finish reading this sentence or the next, or the next . . . Because of this we are exhorted to be ready for Jesus’ return at the rapture. Verses which speak of this include the following:

 

  • Luke 21:36 -  “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”   [88]
  • Romans 13:11-14 – “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”  [89]
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 – “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”  [90]
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 – “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”  [91]

Martin Luther once said: “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.”  With that mindset he was used by God to save the church from biblical illiteracy and false human traditions. Discipleship is worth it. Discipleship leads to true life, true profit and true readiness. What or who are you living your life for? Have you considered being a disciple? It’s worth it, follow Jesus.

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus told us if we are to find the meaning and true purpose of life we have to lose our life in Him. We have to give up our rights and let Jesus be Lord of our life. Our soul is so priceless and if we seek to gain the things of this world it could jeopardize our soul. We need to give our life to Jesus; this will make us ready for His return.

Conclusion

 

President Ronald Reagan once stated of Jesus:

“Meaning no disrespect to the religious convictions of others, I still can't help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man, that he lived and that he was put to death by crucifixion. Where...is the miracle I spoke of? Well consider this and let your imagination translate the story into our own time -- possibly to your own hometown. A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father's shop. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father's shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside, walking from place to place, preaching all the while, even though he is not an ordained minister. He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal, so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing -- the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place for him so he is interred in a borrowed tomb. End of story? No, this uneducated, property-less young man who...left no written word has, for 2000 years, had a greater effect on the world than all the rulers, kings, emperors; all the conquerors, generals and admirals, all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived -- all of them put together. How do we explain that?...unless he really was who he said he was." 

Jesus really is “The Christ, the Son of the Living God,” and as such, He should be our all in all. That is the point of a poem by an unknown author, which states:

Christ for sickness, Christ for health,
Christ for poverty, Christ for wealth,
Christ for joy, Christ for sorrow,
Christ today and Christ tomorrow;
Christ my Life, and Christ my Light,
Christ for morning, noon and night,
Christ when all around gives way
Christ my everlasting Stay;
Christ my Rest, and Christ my Food
Christ above my highest good,
Christ my Well-beloved Friend
Christ my Pleasure without end;
Christ my Savior, Christ my Lord
Christ my Portion, Christ my God,
Christ my Shepherd, I His sheep
Christ Himself my soul to keep;
Christ my Leader, Christ my Peace
Christ hath wrought my soul's release,
Christ my Righteousness divine
Christ for me, for He is mine;
Christ my Wisdom, Christ my Meat,
Christ restores my wandering feet,
Christ my Advocate and Priest
Christ who ne'er forgets the least;
Christ my Teacher, Christ my Guide,
Christ my Rock, in Christ I hide,
Christ the Ever-living Bread,
Christ His precious Blood hath shed;
Christ hath brought me nigh to God,
Christ the everlasting Word
Christ my Master, Christ my Head,
Christ who for my sins hath bled;
Christ my Glory, Christ my Crown,
Christ the Plant of great renown,
Christ my Comforter on high,
Christ my Hope, draws ever nigh.

Jesus is God and He is a Person we can know personally. God’s plan is to conform us to His likeness. That is something we ought to prayerfully seek to experience and know by the revelation and power of God in the Spirit. My prayer is that we would all grow in our knowledge and experience with Jesus.



[1]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

 



[1][1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5] Chuck Smith, word For Today, audiotape #8015 (Costa Mesa, CA 92628  box 8000)

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28] H.D.M. Spence and Jospeh S. Exell, Eds. The Pulpit Commentary – Volume 15 (Mclean, Virginia: macdonald Pub. Co.) p133.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39] Material in this part of the study is derived from a tract entitled “The Straw Men of the Watchtower Society”  distributed by Personal Freedom Outreach, Route 3 Weir Lake Rd. Kunkletown, PAS 18058 – 215-381-3661

[40] Zodhaites, Spiros, Was Christ God?  (AMG Pubs.  1998) pages 10-19.

[41]Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[58]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63] Harry Verploegh, Oswald Chambers – the Best From All His Books, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Pub. 1989) p. 1

[64] Harry Verploegh, Oswald Chambers – The Best From All His Books, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Pub. 1987) p. 1

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[66]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[67]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[68]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[69]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[70]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[71]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[72]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[73]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[74]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[75]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[76]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[77]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[78]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[79]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[80]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[81]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[82]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[83]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[84]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[85]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[86]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[87]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[88]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[89]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[90]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[91]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.