One of my favorite Bible Verses is John 1:1-17. What a grand and glorious description of the Deity of Christ, and his attribute of being the instrument by which creation was made. I also love thinking of Christ as the Living Word of God and the Bible being the Written Word of God. I love how Jesus and the Bible are paralleled in such dramatic style in the opening verses.
So many cults today begin by denying the deity of Christ. John 1:1 clearly establishes Christ as fully God. If there is any question of who the “Word” is, we get clarification in John 1:14, the Word became Flesh, and dwelt among us. We also see that Christ was not a created being. He existed from the beginning as Christ, and He simply “became flesh” at his conception.
Enjoy this verse in the grand literary style of the King James Version:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word was made 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.
15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Please share your thoughts on this verse? What insights have you gained, or how have you been touched by this verse?
I have been reminiscing recently about my time with the Samburu tribe of East Africa. They are a very remote people group in Kenya. They are so isolated they have no concept of a world outside of their village. They have no concept of money, do not know the world is round, and have rarely been exposed to “civilization”. To reach the village was a harrowing trip. Once we left the last improved road in Western Kenya, it was a 14 hour drive over dirt roads, animal trails and dry river beds. It was a very long drive in a crowded van with no air conditioning.
It was genuinely one of the high points of my life to finally reach and be welcomed into the Samburu village. These were the most kind and gentle people you would ever want to meet. We were able to share the Gospel in the village and that evening show the Jesus film. That evening people from the surrounding villages came for the film. Many made professions of faith. The local indigenous pastors made arrangements for one of their own to begin living in this village so the people could be discipled.
The great commission states in Matthew 28:18-20:
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go thereforeand make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Jesus commanded that we “Make Disciples”, not make converts. It is a simple matter to get someone to make a profession of faith, but truly Making Disciples is a lifelong endeavor. It was a blessing to be able to see these people begin their walk with Christ, but the real work will be done by the people we left behind to do the discipleship and training.
One of the interesting characteristics of our modern church culture is the phenomenon of believers speculating about Heaven. More often than I care to remember I have heard believers say, “Well Uncle Will is in a better place now, he always loved to golf and eat ice cream, so he is finally getting his fill of ice cream and can play golf all day.” First, there is very little consideration of whether or not Uncle Will actually had a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Second, the idea of heaven being a place where people go and get what they want is totally unbiblical.
In actuality, the Bible says almost nothing about Heaven. Most all of our popular ideas of Heaven are simply the fanciful imagination of men. There are about 4 places where it is clearly described in the Bible, and all cases are very similar to this case presented in Isaiah 6:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 So I said:
“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said:
“Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away,
Note that there are no golf courses, and no Blue Bell ice cream. Note also that Isaiah, one of the most righteous men to ever live, is not running up and high-fiving the entity on the throne, and is certainly not calling him “dude”. No, Isaiah’s response of seeing the throne room of God, and the entity on the throne is one of total repentance, and realization of his sin and unworthiness. Note when Isaiah says he is a man of unclean lips and from a people of unclean lips, God does not argue with him . . . it is clear what he is saying is true. In order that Isaiah is not consumed by the sight of God, God does provide a unique atonement for him with the coal from the altar. Otherwise it is likely that Isaiah would have been consumed.
This verse points out an important truth. Our modern church culture has had a tendency to create a low view of God. A being just like us, just a little bigger, a little better, a little more powerful. And if we play our cards right he might just hook us up with some cool swag.
The truth is the Bible warns us over 300 times to “fear God”. A popular teaching is that fear does not really mean “fear” but means to respect or have reverence. To this we must ask, when the Holy Spirit inspired the scriptures did he not have access to those words . . . respect and reverence? Certainly fear was used as the perfect word to describe one aspect of our relationship with God.
Yes, the Bible also teaches that God loves us. The thing is though, we can not really understand that love until we understand just how much trouble we are in, and how unworthy we are of His pardon. This is true repentance, and this is the beginning of a saving faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
You might never have heard of Replacement Theology, but if you are a church goer in the United States, there is a good chance you are being taught it in Church and Sunday School. Replacement Theology is based loosely on the verse, 2 Cor. 1:20:
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
And Romans 9:6-8:
But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.”That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.
Based on these and other related verses, the proponents of replacement theology suggest that Christians have replaced the Hebrews as God’s chosen people, and that God is done with the Jews.
This is a very attractive and easy-to-be convinced of doctrine. First, it puts the hearer, the modern Christian, in the position of not just being a child of God through adoption, but also to become God’s chosen people. We really like to hear good things about ourselves, and are quick to accept teachings that elevate our status. It is also attractive because it gives a very easy out for the complicated topic of the meaning of the Old Testament. With replacement theology, you just read the verse, scratch out “Jew” and Write in “Christian”. This way we do not have to go in and actually study the Old Testament, we just scan it for verses that will look good on T-shirts or facebook posts, Like Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
We hijack that verse to make it applicable to all Christians today, independent of their obedience or walk with Christ. Lets look at the verse in context. It was not even made to all Jews, the promise was made to a specific group of Jews, the remnant in Babylon AFTER God had taken everything away from them, killed their families, and sent them as slaves into exiles. They had been severely punished by God for their disobedience. That part usually does not make it onto the t-shirts.
We also note that as replacement theologists scan the Old Testament for encouraging verses, they rarely point out the warnings and judgements God put on the Hebrews. Ezekiel 22:6-12 likewise rarely makes it onto t-shirts:
“Look, the princes of Israel: each one has used his power to shed blood in you. 7 In you they have made light of father and mother; in your midst they have oppressed the stranger; in you they have mistreated the fatherless and the widow. 8 You have despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths. 9 In you are men who slander to cause bloodshed; in you are those who eat on the mountains; in your midst they commit lewdness. 10 In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity. 11 One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; and another in you violates his sister, his father’s daughter. 12 In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take usury and increase; you have made profit from your neighbors by extortion, and have forgotten Me,” says the Lord God.
No, apparently we only inherit the blessings and promises, not the warnings and curses.
The real problem with Replacement theology is that it just does not work when you try to interpret the Old Testament in this light. You simply end up having to throw too much out. The bottom line is that the Old Testament is filled with promises to the Hebrews that are Unconditional and Unfulfilled. Consider Ezekiel 37:19-28:
‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”’ 20 And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.
21 “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
‘Friends read this. These promises are unconditional and unfulfilled! God is promising to reunite Israel and Judah, and put them back into the promised land, and they will never be divided again. Now how does that work with the church being Israel? The Christian church was never a nation, and even more so was never divided into two nations. To try and spiritualize this will lead to us pretty much throwing out much of the Old Testament.
So, if we choose to reject replacement theology, what do we do with the Hebrew people in our theology? Well, we are left with a mystery. The one thing we can see taught perfectly clearly is that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved . . . that Name is Jesus Christ. Truly, He is THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Light. No one comes to the Father except through him. Yet, we see what look like unconditional promises to the Hebrews as God’s chosen people. Yet God hardened their hearts so that they could not see Jesus as the Messiah. Clearly we see that in the last days, the Jews will repent and be saved . . . in fact, Hosea 5:14-6:2 seems to indicate that the repentance of the Jews is one of the things that must happen in order for Christ to return. We also see in Zechariah 12:10-14 that the jews will repent of what they did in rejecting Christ. The Bible appears to teach that the Hebrew people will repent and acknowledge Christ at the time of his return. This is good news for those alive at that point, but a more perplexing question is related to those who die before that time. To me, that part is a mystery, and I do not clearly understand how they will fit into God’s plan. What I do clearly understand is that we are to love the Jews, and we should continue to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them. My prayer is that I could more clearly understand this mystery of God’s chosen people who constantly rebelled until God hardened their hearts so that they could not see their Messiah, yet even then God still appears to have made unconditional promises to “the whole house of Israel”.
I will admit that I have a facebook account, but I will also admit that it usually saddens me to look at it. Of all the trivial things one finds on facebook, the posts that disturb me the most are what I call the fast food theology posts. You will see a cartoon of Jesus with the words, “share if you like Jesus”. Really . . . that is your best expression of your love for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ . . . a thumbs up on facebook?!? How about what God revealed to you today in your daily quiet time? Why not share the burdens God has put on your heart for the lost people you are surrounded by? Anything, please, but not just hit the share button for a cartoon picture of Jesus.
As I look at this facebook theology I see a glaring problem. Our culture, and to some extent even our churches have created a god in their own image. Strangely, they even use Bible verses to create a god very different than the God of the Bible.
Yes, God is Love, but it is not possible to understand that love until you fully understand who He is, and just how much trouble you are in because of who He is, and the things you have done and continue to do.
I encourage you to really dig into scriptures and learn the true attributes of God. Read the Bible cover to cover and make a list of all the attributes of God. Then believe in THAT God, and Jesus Christ His Son.
If we have some strange imagination of who God is, and then we say we believe jesus is the son of that god of ours, does such a jesus still have the power to save? I fear that our image of God can become so corrupted that our profession of faith in “jesus” his son can lose its meaning.
Fully understanding the attributes of God is a wonderful journey that can take a lifetime, but a great place to start is Jeremiah 9:23-24:
Thus says the Lord:
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.
Notice we are warned to not set our heart on Glory, Riches or Wisdom, but the desire of our heart should be to KNOW and UNDERSTAND God. What a noble and fulfilling desire that is. God, grant me such a heart that my heart might be consumed to know you better and understand you better . . . that is my prayer.
The beauty of this verse is that we are given a starting point to know the God of the Bible by being given four of his important attributes. He is Judge, He is Love, He is Righteous and He is LORD!
Another great starting point on your path to understanding who God is can be found in Isaiah 33:22.
For the Lordis our Judge, The Lordis our Lawgiver, The Lordis our King; He will save us
So we are on our way to more fully understanding who God is! God is King, He is Lawgiver, He is Judge, He is Righteous, and yes He does love us and He is our savior. However, we must appreciate and accept the whole list. We can not create a Savior-Love God . . . one who has no rules and no expectations of us. I hope we can all delve into these attributes more fully, and begin to develop a more Biblical image of the full and true Attributes of God.
I ended up being a “Baptist” because the Baptist church is one of the few remaining denominations that will take a firm stand on Biblical inerrancy. Most of the grand denominations of the past have fallen to the way side on this critical issue, and few today will stand firm in declaring the fundamental truth that the scriptures in our Holy Bible are “God Breathed”.
While I am delighted that my denomination takes such a stand, I am saddened that many in the denomination take the stand only at the 30,000 ft. level. Yes, at the top level we proclaim that the Bible is God’s perfect word, but how quickly we practically fold on the issue once we open the Bible.
Genesis 1 clearly teaches the universe and all of creation were made in six days. Science clearly tells us that the universe is billions of years old. As believers, we are faced with a dilemma . . . take the Bible at face value, or adapt our interpretation of the Bible based on the teachings of men.
Many preachers, teachers, and church leaders have come up with a loophole, or an “out” for us. They teach that the word for “day” in Genesis 1 can mean “age” or a period of great time. Unfortunately, this is nonsense. The word used in Genesis for “day” is the Hebrew word “yom” (Stong’s Concordance Word 3117). Yom has one meaning, and that is the word “day”. So the idea that there is hidden truth in the ancient Hebrew that allows us to reconcile these two world views unfortunately has no scholarly basis. Yom means day, simple as that.
It is true, however, that the word “day” in the English language can have different meanings. For example, if I were to tell you, “Back in my Grandfather’s day, everyone walked to school”, clearly I am not talking about a literal 24 hour day. Similarly if I were to say, “The invention of the airplane ushered in a new day of high speed transportation”, clearly I am talking about an “age”, not a 24 hour day. If I were to tell you, “We have home fellowship on Friday evenings. It takes my wife 5 days to get ready for it. On day one she gets up in the morning, she cleans the kitchen, and she goes to bed in the evening. On day two she gets up, she buys the groceries for the home fellowship meal, and then she goes to bed. On third day she gets up in the morning, she cleans the sun room, and then in the evening she goes to bed. On the forth day she gets up in the morning, she prepares the room for the fellowship and then she goes to bed in the evening. On the fifth day she gets up in the morning, cooks the meal for the fellowship, and then after the fellowship she goes to bed in the evening.” It is pretty clear that in this case we are talking about a literal 24 hour day.
So, back to Genesis 1. We determine what type of “day” we are talking about by context. It is as simple as that. Clearly in Genesis 1, the context and description is the most similar to my description above of my wife getting ready for our home fellowship. The text in fact goes on to more clearly explain what a day and night is, as if God anticipated that there would be confusion on this issue. In Genesis 1:3-5:
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
I must ask myself . . . is there any way God could have been clearer by what he meant by a “day”?
Nothing in the text would suggest long periods of time. It is the fact that man tells us that the universe is old that we adjust our reading of the scriptures to allow for an “old” universe.
Adapting our reading of scripture to accommodate a world view created for the most part by people who do not believe in God, or at a minimum do not hold His word as precious and perfect is a very dangerous thing. We should adapt our view of the world based on the truth of the Bible. We should NOT adapt our reading of the Bible based on the teachings of men. To do so is to hold a very low view of scripture.
So how do we reconcile what the Bible teaches vs. what the world teaches? There is much that can be said about this, and if you are weak in your faith in this area, then we can talk in more detail in future posts. For now though I simply encourage you to hold fast to the simple truth of Genesis 1. On judgment day I stand before The Author of the Bible, not the authors of endlessly changing books on the Cosmos. I choose to believe Genesis for the simple and elegant way it is written. God created the world and all that is in it in six literal 24 hour days.
I have been reflecting recently on time I spent in the slums of Kipsongo. Kipsongo very well could be the saddest place on earth, filled with orphans, widows and many dieing of various diseases. In walking through the slums, I have never experienced such an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. It is East Africa neat the town of Kitale, Kenya.
Kipsongo is filled with the broken dreams of missionaries who have been there trying to make things better, you see faded and broken signs on buildings now fallen down . . . recreation centers, mission churches and the like. Started with great intentions but no follow through. More than one missionary has broken his plow trying to till the hard soil of this slum. The last time I was there, most relief operations appeared to be abandoned. The people did have a nice hand pumped water well that was still working . . . no doubt the work of some kind soul in the past.
The first time I went to Africa, I had my heart set on fixing the poor. I was sure that I could teach them skills, and show them how to be self sufficient, and help them pull themselves out of poverty. Unfortunately all my efforts were futile. I put in a chicken coupe, flock of chickens and taught how to raise chickens. When I returned, the chickens were dead, and the coupe was falling in. This and countless other efforts to bring relief to these people all failed.
I have come to understand a Biblical truth. God never told us to “fix” the poor, he told us to love the poor. In fact, he told us the problem is not fixable when he said “The poor will always be with you”. What I have come to realize is that what is needed more than anything else is the truth of the Gospel. Mission efforts centered on good works and relief are doomed to failure. There is not relief on earth to fix the problem. You can not fix a spiritual problem with mosquito nets, water wells and bags of ground corn. Only the hope that comes from knowing Jesus Christ can fix the problem. This requires that we spen more mission resources on the “First Love” . . . sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
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