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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Going Overboard

In this mornings message, the third in our series titled "Why Go?", we examined Jonah 1:4-16 to discover just how far some people will go not to go and preach the gospel - and even then, God uses His people to glorify and magnify Himself!!

Even as Jonah was running he preached to the sailors in the boat with him and they were converted. He however, would rather die than obey God's call to go to Nineveh. He'd rather go overboard than go!

How far will you go not to go??

Going Overboard - Jonah 1:4-16


BONUS: Be sure and read James White's blog today about Wimpy Preaching!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Phillip's Phunnies - Bumper Snickers

A merry heart does good, like medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Bumper Snickers:

I love animals, they taste great.

Keep honking, I'm reloading.

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

"The more people I meet, the more I like my dog."

"Work is for people who don't know how to fish"

Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?

What is a "free" gift ? Aren't all gifts free?

What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

Ask me about my vow of silence.

"We are Microsoft. Resistance Is Futile. You Will Be Assimilated."

How do I set the laser printer to stun?

Who is General Failure and why is he reading my hard disk?

Suburbia: where they tear out the trees & then name streets after them.

I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.

Some people are only alive because it is illegal to shoot them.

Nothing is fool-proof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Make it idiot proof and someone will make a better idiot.

"It's as BAD as you think, and they ARE out to get you."

Always remember you're unique...Just like everyone else.

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

We have enough youth, how about a fountain of SMART?

"I souport publik edekasion"

Comic Relief:

Friday, February 24, 2006

Faith and Assurance

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - 1 John 5:13
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 John 5

Puritan Catechism
Question #17 - Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state into which man fell?

Answer - The sinfulness of that state into which man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin (Rom. 5:19), the absence of original righteousness, (Rom. 3:10) and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin (Eph. 2:1; Ps. 51:5), together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it (Matt. 15:19).

Devotional Thoughts
We have spent time this week answering the question, "Where does faith come from?" The answer that we have unfolded through the week is that faith is a gift from God given through the hearing of the Word applied by the power of the Holy Spirit as He produces spiritual fruit in our lives. Now that we have that answered I want to conclude this week by putting the last few weeks devotionals together to see the relationship between faith and assurance.

We learned several weeks back from Hebrews 11:1 that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." In other words, faith, this deep abiding trust in Christ, gives substance to a reality for which we hope. We believe that the Word of God is true and that God meant what He said, and we take Him at His Word, having His Word give actual substance to our hopes. Faith makes our hope a tangeable reality.

Then we learned that faith affects behavior, or as we put it, faith works, it comes out in the way we think, speak, and live. Faith opens the door to understanding and to wisdom. Faith has as its object the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Faith is the instrument in our justification, and faith is necessary for successful Christian living on a daily basis.

Beyond that now, the end result of having faith in Jesus Christ is that we have assurance of our salvation. Because we take Christ at His Word, because true active saving faith works its way out in the way we live, because faith opens our understanding and is a condition of our justification and the forgiveness of our sins, because of all this faith ultimately ushers in assurance.

Have you ever doubted that you were saved? Have you ever wondered why you sin so much? Have you ever thought about why it seems God is close at times and far off at others? Have you wavered in your trust? The answer for all of this is assurance. So let's define assurance and then see how it is that faith gives us assurance.

Assurance Defined

Assurance carries with it the idea that we can reach a point in our Christian walk where we have confidence in the forgivenss of our sins and the salvation of our souls! We can be sure that we have been given eternal life in Jesus Christ.

To be sure this assurance is not a product of our own hearts, nor is it a confidence in the works of our flesh or our own righteousness. It is a confidence that comes from faith in Christ, trusting Him to save us. It is believing that Christ has done what He has said He would do. It is an extension of faith. It is saying, "I believe that Jesus has saved me and will keep me."

Do we believe what God has said? Do we know and hear His voice and follow Him? Do we have a deep seated peace, a calm in the midst of life's storms, that God is in control and watching over us and accomplishing His purposes for our good and His glory? This is assurance.

The Holy Spirit gives us this hope and this confidence. Part of what He does in our lives is sustaining our faith and giving us confidence in the work and Word of God. Let us read a few verses together that show the role the Spirit fulfills in giving us assurance.

1 John 2:26-27
These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

1 John 3:24
Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

Hebrews 11:13
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Romans 8:16-17
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

So we see that the Holy Spirit of God gives us assurance as we continue to trust God and His Word. As we walk by faith we have confidence in what God has done for us and will do through us as we are yielded to Him. Now let us examine the fruit of assurance - what does assurance give us in our daily lives?

Assurance Applied

Because we trust Christ and are assured of our salvation we have confidence in the saving power of God and we are able to be full of rejoicing. The word rejoice means to be full of joy, full to overflowing. Do you rejoice? Assurance leads directly to rejoicing. We know what God has done, we trust He will bring us safely through to glorification, we await His return, and we rejoice always!

This is a command, to rejoice and give thanks. But it is possible for us to obey this command because of the work of the Spirit. We trust God, we are assured of His promises, and we have cause for overflowing joy.

1 Peter 1:6-9
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

Further, beyond rejoicing in the finished work of Christ and our hope in His salvation, we also see that assurance aids us in gaining victory over temptation. Because we trust the power of God and the ability of the Spirit to keep us we have strength to stand against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Next time you are tempted, remember that Christ died for the forgiveness of your sins. If He made such a sacrifice for you to free you from sin, how difficult is it to stand firm on His truth, reject the temptation for what it is - a counterfeit that will lead only to death - and to overcome?

John 16:33
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

1 John 4:4
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

1 John 5:4
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

We also find that as we are assured, as we have confidence in our sovereign Lord, we have courage and boldness in fighting the good fight and being a witness of the saving power of God. Do you think of yourself as bold and courageous? And yet the Spirit gives us boldness and courage as we trust God's Word and see to obey it.

Courage is "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty." And boldness is "fearlessness before danger." Do we not see these very things produced in the lives of the disciples after the Day of Pentecost. As they received the Holy Spirit they were mighty in boldness and courage, often being persecuted, beaten, and threatened for their faith and preaching, and yet they never stopped. They never toned it down. They kept on preaching and obeying God. Why? Because they trusted that God was able to protect and provide for them and walk with them through the trials and suffering. The had faith that produced assurance.

Psalm 27:14
Wait on the LORD;Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Proverbs 28:21
The wicked flee when no one pursues,But the righteous are bold as a lion.

Acts 4:31
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

2 Cor 3:12
Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech.

Eph 3:8-13
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship[a] of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

And one more fruit of assurance we will see today is that of faithfulness. When we have faith, when we trust God and take Him at His Word, that produces in us a confidence in Him as our Savior and that confidence in the saving and sanctifying power of God helps us to be even more faithful. The Spirit produces this fruit in us as we studied yesterday, and as we have faith we get more faith. In fact, Paul tells us in Romans 1:17 that "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." That phrase from faith to faith means that faith leads to faith. It is an ever growing fruit, compounding and multiplying. Faith leads to faith which leads to more faith. As we trust God and find Him more trustworthy we have that much more faith. We are faithful because God is faithful and we have more and more reasons to love Him and trust Him the longer we serve Him.

Romans 3:3-4
For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.

Do you have assurance? Are you sure you are saved? Do you have confidence in the power of God, in His Word, and in His ability to forgive your sins? If you waver, if you doubt, if you struggle with assurance, then go to the Word. As your faith grows so will your assurance. Remember, assurance is not about your ability to live the Christian life, it is about God's ability to keep His Word! Can God lie? Can He fail? NO! And that is the source of your assurance. Take your eyes off of yourself and look to Christ. Trust Him and rest assured, He is able to save you and keep. He is the Author and Finisher of your faith. "He who promised is faithful and will do it!"

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

Assurance of Grace and Salvation by A.A. Hodge
Salvation to the Uttermost by Charles Spurgeon
Powerfully Kept by Jim Elliff
The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith on Assurance

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Faith - A Fruit of the Spirit

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - 1 Corinthians 12:7, 9a
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all...to another faith by the same Spirit...

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 12

Puritan Catechism
Question #17 - Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state into which man fell?

Answer - The sinfulness of that state into which man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin (Rom. 5:19), the absence of original righteousness, (Rom. 3:10) and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin (Eph. 2:1; Ps. 51:5), together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it (Matt. 15:19).

Devotional Thoughts
In the past few days we have been answering the question, "Where does faith come from?" We learned, faith does not come from men, that is to say, faith is not produced by, inherent in, or available to any person without outside intervention!

So where does faith come from? The answer, as we break it up into several days worth of study, is that faith is a gift from God given through the hearing of the Word applied by the power of the Holy Spirit as He produces spiritual fruit in our lives. We have seen that faith is a gift from God given through the hearing of His Word. Today we will see that faith is a fruit of the Spirit produced as He applies the Word to our lives with power.

In the first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul devotes chapters 12-14 to the discussion of spiritual gifts. He corrects misuses and abuses of the gifts, demonstrates the proper motivation for and use of the gifts, and lists for us the gifts given. Of course debate rages around which gifts He still gives, if any, or all. It is not within the scope of this daily devotional to cover all of that today.

What we need to see is found in chapter 12 as Paul says that the manifestation of the Spirit has been given to all within the church for the profit of all. These gifts then were given to demonstrate the power of the Spirit for the edification of the whole church. These gifts were not given for personal or individual profit, but to the profit of all. So the use of gifts, in order to be true and Biblical spiritual gifts, must be used with this outward view, looking to serve and minister to others within the Body.

All spiritual gifts that are given are given by the Holy Spirit for use within the Body by believers. In other words lost men and women do not have spiritual gifts. The Spirit does not equip them to edify the Body. If then we can show that faith is more than a gift from God, more than just a result of hearing the Word of God, but in fact is a gift given by the Holy Spirit to believers for use in edifying the Body then we can show that a lost man has no hope of ever having faith on his own.

1 Corinthians 12:9 is an important verse in this study. It tells us that one of the gifts the Spirit gives for the profit of all in the church is faith.It is given according to the Spirit's will - in other words, it is His decision about when and where to give the gift of faith (1 Cor 12:11).

It is the power of the Holy Spirit applying the Word to our lives and hearts that gives us faith, the ability to take God at His Word, to trust Christ for salvation, and to progress in sanctification and holiness. The Spirit, who is given as the seal for believers, is indeed given as the down payment on our salvation - He is our Comforter and Convictor and the One who assures us that we belong to Christ (Eph 1:13-14).

We also see in Galatians 5 that faith is an integral part of the fruit of the Spirit produced in our lives by His power as we live in submission to Him and His will.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Here in this list of fruit that the Spirit produces through us we find evidence of faith. First we see that there is love and we know that we cannot love God unless we have trusted Him. We have joy because we have assurance in His providence and sovereignty. We have peace because we trust Him and He never fails. We are able to suffer long because we walk by faith, and whenever in Scripture that people fail to be patient they are often chided with the words, "O ye of little faith." We are kind and good because we take God at His Word and know that this is what He enables us to do. There is also gentleness and self-control, and we can have neither without faith because they are contrary to what our flesh wants!

Did you notice I skipped one? Yes, the fruit of faithfulness. The word used specifically is pistis, which in Greek is literally translated as "faith, faithfulness, trust." So the fruit produced by the Spirit is more than being faithful, it is having faith! Being a person of faith is what makes us trustworthy.

So we see that faith is a spiritual gift given to the regenerate only as it is produced in their lives as a fruit of the Spirit. How can a lost man have faith? The Spirit has to be at work in His life before anyone has any hope of believing! That is why we started this week with Ephesians 2:8-9 where we read that grace and faith are gifts from God and not of works. Faith is not something we can work up on our own. Our continued ability to take God at His Word, to trust Christ, is a gift from the Spirit produced as He works in our lives with the Word of God.

We are to call all men to obey the gospel, repent of their sin, and trust Christ. But we must do so with this assurance: It is not up to us to persuade a man to believe and repent. It is not up to us to pick the most effective and emotion stirring words to bring him to faith. We do not bring faith out - God puts the faith in!! We preach the gospel and call all to obey it understanding all along that God gives repentance and faith. He gives the increase. All we do is sow the seed!

Have you been sowing lately?

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

Faith and Regeneration, Faith and Repentance Inseperable, and The Work of the Holy Spirit by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Faith Comes by Hearing the Word

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Romans 10:17
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Daily Scripture Reading - Romans 10

Puritan Catechism
Question #17 - Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state into which man fell?

Answer - The sinfulness of that state into which man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin (Rom. 5:19), the absence of original righteousness, (Rom. 3:10) and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin (Eph. 2:1; Ps. 51:5), together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it (Matt. 15:19).

Devotional Thoughts
In the past few days we have been answering the question, "Where does faith come from?" We learned, faith does not come from men, that is to say, faith is not produced by, inherent in, or available to any person without outside intervention!

So where does faith come from? The answer, as we break it up into several days worth of study, is that faith is a gift from God given through the hearing of the Word applied by the power of the Holy Spirit as He produces spiritual fruit in our lives.

Today then, we will be looking at the second part of that answer: Faith is given to us through the hearing of the Word of God. This study will demonstrate for us the power of the Word of God as it is the means that God uses to give the gift of faith to those who would believe the gospel and be saved. Let us start then with the hearing of the Word of God.

Hearing the Word

Our verse for the day, in its context, reads:

For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,who bring glad tidings of good things!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "LORD, who has believed our report?" So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:13-17

In order to be saved one must call on the Lord, turning from his sin to Christ in faith. But the immediate question that the Spirit addresses through Paul is that of asking how can anyone call on God if they do not believe God and His Word and obey the gospel. Further though is the question that they cannot believe God if they have not even heard of Him. So there needs to be a preacher to proclaim the truth to them so that they might know Who God is and what is required of them to be reconciled to Him.

This gives us a hint about what we preach when we witness. We tell them the truth about God and the truth about themselves and their need for calling on Him for salvation.

We also must note that this is not speaking of a preacher in the sense of a pastor or evangelist or "official" church position. It is speaking of the role we all have to be proclaiming the gospel to those around us. So it is not necessarily preaching from a pulpit, but any proclamation of the gospel from those who know it to those who need to hear it.

This preacher must be sent. While we understand the call of God on the lives of those serving as pastors and missionaries, we must not forget that we have all received such a call to proclaim the gospel. Again, all believers in Jesus Christ have been called to go and make disciples! (Matthew 28:19-20). We are all to be sowing the seed, because if we do not tell people about God and about their need for salvation, then how can they call out to Him and be saved?

God is sovereign in the salvation of sinners, no doubt. But He uses us as the means to call sinners to salvation.

We see then from this series of questions and answers about who will be saved this truth - faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. People must hear the Word of God in order to know the truth and believe it. Faith comes by hearing the gospel - not just listening, but hearing and understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ. And hearing comes by the Word of God. God uses the Word to open ears and eyes to hear and see the truth.

Without Him we are dead, blind, and deaf. But when He uses the Word to open our ears and eyes then we can hear and see and believe and call out with our mouths!! And "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

The Power of the Word

This teaches us then the power of the Word of God. It is alive, active, powerful, unable to be contained or constricted or stopped. Do you think about the Bible as being a living Book?

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.

Hebrews 4:12

It is living and powerful. It cuts right to the heart of the matter. It is a two-edged sword (Eph 6:17). It reveals the true intentions of the human heart and exposes our every thought.

The Word of God is a mirror that reflects to us the truth about who we are and what we need. It gives us the standard by which we must be measured to be pleasing to God. (James 1:23-25). It reflects to us the truth, unvarnished. And the way we respond says much about our faith and maturity in the Lord.

Along with revealing to us the standard of living for pleasing God, the Word of God is powerful!! Consider these verses:

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

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. - Isaiah 55:10-11

The Word of God is the power of God to salvation. It is what gives life when applied by the Spirit. It is what God uses to impart faith. Salvation is accomplished by the application of the Word of God. And this power, this Word, never fails! Get that? Often we think it is not enough just to give people the Word of God. But the Word of God is the only thing we have to give people that brings guaranteed results!

The Word of God ALWAYS accomplishes the purpose that God sends it forth to accomplish. The Word is never sent out to fail and return void with no results. Often we forget that the Word can bring several results because often we are seekig one primary result, the salvation of souls. And when peolpe are not saved we think that either we have failed in the method we have used to witness or we believe that the Word of God failed and did not bring forth fruit.

But the Word of God not only brings salvation, it also brings healing, hardens, convicts, sanctifies, and breaks people! And the Word is never sent out, not once, that it does not accomplish the specific task that God wants to accomplish. This should give us great freedom and motivation in preaching the Word to those who need to hear it because the results do not depend upon us, but upon the Spirit and the Word. And the Word never fails!

Preaching the Word

The purpose then of preaching is to simply and boldly declare the Word of God to those who need to hear it - that would be everyone! The Scriptures are specific, we do not need a great snazzy program or world class marketing and promotions. We do not need to have raffles and give-a-ways. We do not need to bribe people or manipulate people. We just need to faithfully preach the Word.

Paul is clear, he did not minister with smooth or flattering words. He says he ministered by "by setting forth the truth plainly." He says he did not come preaching with "excellence of speech" or "with persuasive words of human wisdom." He simply and faithfully preached the Word of God.

Why do we think the Word is incapable and that we must add our own twist, our own presentation, our own talent, our own persuasion and excellence, as if we were competing with the television or radio or as if it were a performance to be appreciated and applauded? We are not in the business of marketing the gospel. We live to preach the truth of God's Word to faithfully and consistently sow the seed and let God give the increase!

In fact, the preaching of the Word is seen by the world as foolishness. This is why many people abandon churches that preach the Word! They have itching ears, cannot bear up under sound doctrine, and want their fleshly needs and desires met. They come to hear preaching that helps them meet their needs and entertains them instead of to hear preaching that is faithful to the text and confronts us with sin and righteousness. Many today do not want preaching that is expositional or applicabale - they want a quick fix to their problems so that they can tip God in the offering plate and then get on with their life.

But the preaching of the Word sets the tone for the church and in fact tells us everything we need to know about the ministy taking place. If a church fails at preaching then nothing else they do matters! Consider:

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. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." 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? 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.

- 1 Cor 1:18-21

Be a fool for Christ and preach the message of the good news that Jesus Christ has come to seek and save that which was lost. Stick with the Word - then the results are guaranteed! And pray for those that you preach to!

(One note - we do not mean by "preach" that we should shout or harass people. The term simply means to proclaim or tell forth the Word of God. Tell people what the Word of God says about God, themselves, and about what God has accomplished in your life through the Word!)

Reading the Word

We see then that the Word is the means that God uses to give us faith, but is it only through the "preaching" of the Word? No. It is through hearing, reading, memorizing, meditating, or singing the Word. The Word is powerful whatever form we get it in!

Psalm 1 tells us that the man who meditates on the Word is blessed and will bear fruit. John 15 tells us that we are to abide in Christ and have His Word abide in us. In fact, let's look at those verses from John:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

- John 15:1-8

Abiding in Christ involves having His Word abide in you! Why? Because without the Word we have no faith, no hope, no understanding, and no salvation. So we must walk with Christ, we must be filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit, and we should be hiding His Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11).

Do you read and memorize His Word? Do you view it as powerful and sharp and effective? It cannot be bound, chained, or stopped! (2 Timothy 2:8-9).

Remember too in all of this that Jesus Himself is the Living Word of God! The written Word reveals to us the Living Word, and there is the source of the power of God's Word. The Word of God will never pass away. Peter refers to "the word of God which lives and abides forever."

Do you believe the Word? If not, read it! Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God!

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

What Does the Bible Say About Itself? by Pastor John Stevenson
The Word of God - Living, Active, Sharp by Pastor John Piper
The Speaking Voice by A.W. Tozer

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Faith is a Gift

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Daily Scripture Reading - Matthew 9

Puritan Catechism
Question #17
Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state into which man fell?

The sinfulness of that state into which man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin (Rom. 5:19), the absence of original righteousness, (Rom. 3:10) and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin (Eph. 2:1; Ps. 51:5), together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it (Matt. 15:19).

Devotional Thoughts
Yesterday we asked the question, "Where does faith come from?" We examined a few answers that run contrary to the Word of God so that we could see where faith does NOT come from. As we learned, faith does not come from men! We cannot say it more simply that this - faith is not produced by, inherent in, or available to any person without outside intervention!

So where does faith come from? If it is not something we already have and can pull out and use at will, then where do we get faith? We know that the gospel must be believed for people to be saved, so where does the ability to trust God come from? Where does saving faith originate?

The answer, as we will break it up into several days worth of study, is that faith is a gift from God given through the hearing of the Word of God applied by the power of the Holy Spirit as He produces spiritual fruit in our lives.

Today then we will look at the first part of our answer and see demonstrated from Scripture that faith is always and only a gift given by God.

Faith is a Gift

The first proof of this statement is found in the well known and oft quoted verses of Ephesians chapter 2. Specifically verses 8 and 9, which say:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

These verses are used to show that salvation is a gift from God. That is very true. Romans 6:23 tells us that "the gift of God is eternal life." And here we have it in black and white, grace and faith - the necessary elements for turning from our sin to Christ is not "of yourselves; it is the gift of God." This verifies every answer provided in yesterday's devotion. Grace and faith neither one originate with us.

Now some argue that salvation is a gift of God's free grace, but that we already have the faith and just must be motivated to use it and trust Christ. But as a friend of mine preached, "What is the gift here? The grace or the faith? Well, it is BOTH. It is not one or the other, but both. Everything related to our salvation is a gift from God's hand. He gives us everything we need to be saved." Amen and well stated!

We are not saved by works. We are not saved by what we can do, but by what Christ has done. And God gives us grace and faith so that we might trust Him! Praise God for His marvelous gifts!

While these verses are quite clear, some might need more convincing that faith is a gift and not something that originates with us. So let's see what else the Bible has to say about the matter. These verses show us that everything related to our salvation is a gift, including repentance and faith.

Acts 5:31

Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Jesus gives repentance to those who then turn from their sin. This is a simple and yet profound truth. It explains why in Scripture some seek repentance but do not find it! Hebrews 12:17 tells us that after Esau sold his birthright for a meal and then lost the blessing, he sought repentance diligently with tears, but did not find it. He could not repent even though he was sorrowful. Why? Because repentance is a gift from God. Left on our own none of us would even desire to be repentant about our sin - 1 Cor 2:14.

Often we confuse repentance for sorrow. And often we are sorry only that we got caught, not that we sinned. Repentance is a change of mind, it is a recognition of how awful sin is and a turning away from it. If we are sorry we got caught, or even sorry that we sinned, we still need to repent - to forsake that sin and change our minds about it. Face it, we sin because we want to (James 1:14). And repentance is a negation of that lust, that desire to sin. We cannot make up our minds about sin, so God helps! Have you ever asked Him for repentance when you have sinned? Ask God to make you truly repentant, to give you this gift!

Acts 11:18

When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

When the Jews first heard about Gentile conversions they were skeptical, but based on the testimony of Peter and others that saw for themselves that God had saved these Gentiles, their reply was that God had granted them repentance to life! They knew salvation was a gift from start to finish, given by God in His grace. And they glorified Him for giving this gift to Cornelius and those in his house.

Acts 13:48

Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Who believed? Those to whom it was appointed. This shows that God gives faith for the specific purpose that people will believe and be saved. He does not just give faith and hope the person will use it. No. He gives them the faith and the ability and desire to use it to effectively save them. This is how God saves sinners - by giving them everything they need to be reconciled with Him.

Acts 16:14

Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

Lydia had her heart opened by God! She could see the truth because God made it possible. This is reminiscent of Ezekiel 36:26 which says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." God takes out the hard dead heart and gives us a soft living heart! This is describing regeneration (see Eph 2:1-5). He gives us a new heart. He calls us to life. He gives us repentance. And as we see, He also gives us faith. This is why we preach that salvation is by grace alone! It is all God's work and doing, from start (regeneration) to finish (glorification).

Philippians 1:29

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake...

It has been granted to you to believe! It is a gift given. And this is not all He gives, but is certianly part of the package of salvation that we receive by His grace. He grants us faith!

2 Timothy 2:25-26

...in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Want to escape the snare of the devil? God must grant repentance and faith so that you can know the truth and be set free by Him! God must bring us to our senses. He must intervene otherwise we are doomed.

John 3:27

John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven."

Simple and to the point, John states that a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. Ever hear a preacher preach that a person must receive Christ? Yes, we are invited to repent and believe on Him. How do we do that? God must give us what we need because we do not have it on our own. Humbling isn't it?

John 17:2-3

...as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Eternal life is knowing Christ. And He has the authority from the Father to give that life to as many as God gives to Him!! God determines who is saved. And He gives Christ the authority then to save them. While we refer to salvation as a gift we also see that those who are saved are a gift, given by the Father to the Son!

1 Cor 3:6-7

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

And this is where it gets practical as we preach the gospel and call men to repent and believe. We sow the seed. We preach the Word. We share our testiminy and tell people what Christ has done. And God gives the increase. He is the one who causes the seed to bear fruit. His Word "shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please." We cannot contain His Word or prevent it from accomplishing the purpose for which He sends it forth. That is why we follow Peter's example from his sermon on the Day of Pentecost. We preach Jesus! And God does the work of saving people!

Hear this. It says that it is not a contest between churches. It is not up to us to make people believe. It is not up to us to persuade them and convince them and argue them into saving faith. Our responsibility is to love them enough to tell them the truth - and then leave the results up to God. He gives repentance. He gives faith. He gives the increase.

1 Cor 4:7

For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Here is where all boasting is excluded. Some will say that they are saved because of what they did and others are lost because of what they did not do. But the truth is that we do not have anything that was not given to us by God. When God saves us He gives us everything we need to be saved. We are not better or different from others as if we could boast that we chose Christ while others did not. No, Christ chose us and loved us first!

1 John 5:20

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

He gives us understanding. Without Him we cannot see the truth or believe the truth or obey the truth. Follow that? Faith, as part of our salvation, if a free gift from God. We do not have it on our own. We do not have the ability to repent, believe, or obey Jesus Christ. He gives us all of that by His grace!!

These few verses then make a solid case, revealing to us that when we ask where faith comes from we must answer first and foremost that faith is a gift from God! Has He given you repentance and faith? Have you turned from your sin to Christ in faith? If not, ask Him to give you grace!!! If you come to Him, He will not cast you out or refuse you!

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

Faith is a Gift of God by Geoff Thomas
Thoughts Concerning Faith by Jonathan Edwards
The Causes and Objects of Justifying Faith by John Owen

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Monday, February 20, 2006

Where Does Faith Come From?

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Romans 8:5
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Daily Scripture Reading - Romans 8

Puritan Catechism
Question #17 - Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state into which man fell?
Answer - The sinfulness of that state into which man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin (Rom. 5:19), the absence of original righteousness, (Rom. 3:10) and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin (Eph. 2:1; Ps. 51:5), together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it (Matt. 15:19).

Devotional Thoughts
In the past few weeks we have studied faith by defining what it is and what its object must be. This week we are going to answer another question about the nature of saving faith, namely, "Where does faith come from?".

We will examine Romans 10:17; Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 5:22-23; and several other key texts that will help us identify where saving faith comes from. But in order to do that effectively, in order to affirm the positive about where faith comes from, we must first expose the negative, that is, we must explain where faith DOES NOT come from. Not only will this sweep away several myths floating around the evangelical world, it will also give us a clean foundation upon which to build with the Word of God as we answer the question about where faith really does originate.

So what are a few of the incorrect answers out there about where faith comes from and how do we know that they are indeed wrong answers? Let's look to the Scriptures and allow the Spirit to expose doctrinal error where we find it.

Faith Comes from the Heart

The first error, or wrong answer we will examine is the idea that faith is produced in the hearts of men. This would be explained as if every man, fallen or saved, has the ability in his own heart without any input or influence from the outside to chose to believe or not believe the Word of God or the gospel. Faith is there, lying dormant until awakened by the yearning of the heart.

Does every person have the ability to just believe? Is faith really there deep in the heart of every man, woman, and child, as if all they have to do is dig deep enough and be persuaded to search hard enough to find it, bring it up to the surface, and use it? Does faith originate in the hearts of men?

Since we have already identified this as a wrong answer then of course the answer to these questions is "No." Human beings do not get faith from deep down in their hearts. The Bible is clear about the condition of the hearts of men without Christ.

Consider what the Scriptures say:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? - Jeremiah 17:9

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man... - Matthew 15:19-20

But, you might say then that there is another verse that may apply. What about Luke 6:45?

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Ah! Yes. The Bible does say that a good man out of the treasure of his heart brings forth good things. But hold one for just one second. How many men are good? Outside of Jesus Christ, how many good men are there who bring forth good things from their hearts?

They have all turned aside,They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one. - Psalm 14:3

They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” - Romans 3:12

No one is good but One, that is, God. - Matthew 19:17

So how many good men are there who can bring forth good or faith from their own heart? None. Left to ourselves all our heart can bring forth is sin and wickedness and evil. Even the things we think are righteous are nothing but fithly rags in God's sight - that is how Holy He is and how sinful we are without Jesus Christ!

Faith does not originate in the hearts of men.

Faith Comes from the Mind

Is faith a product of the minds of men? Just as we asked about the heart, what about the mind? Is faith there in the mind waiting to be drawn out? Is it a matter of hearing and deciding to believe what you hear?

God asks, "Who has put wisdom in the mind?" (Job 38:36). Wisdom is defined as having the right perspective. Can we have faith without a perspective that sees what is real and what is not? Can we get wisdom on our own? No. Wisdom is a gift from God, and we must ask for it! (James 1:5). So if we cannot even have a proper perspective without God's intervention then how do we expect to be able to believe God as if faith was already there and just had to be discovered?

The mind, left to itself, only thinks of evil, for it is the Spirit that leads the mind to think on spiritual matters. In fact, the carnal mind (the mind of fallen man) cannot be subject to the Law of God, meaning left on our own, our minds cannot be made to obey God's Word! Lost men's minds are blinded and unable to see. Their minds are defiled.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. - Romans 8:5

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. - Romans 8:7

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. - 2 Cor 4:3-4

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled. - Col 1:21

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. - Titus 1:15

Further we know that as fallen men our minds need to be renewed:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. - Romans 12:2

...be renewed in the spirit of your mind... - Eph 4:23

So we cannot trust that faith is there in the recesses of men's minds. The mind is as lost as the heart! Defiled, an enemy of God, incapable of believing on its own.

Faith Comes from the Spirit

By this we mean the spirit of a man, not the Spirit of God. Each of us has a physical (material) part and a spiritual (immaterial) part. We are by design spiritual beings with physical bodies. And while our physical bodies will die (or be glorified at the Second Coming) our spirit lasts forever.

So does each person have faith resting down in their spirit, waiting to be brought out and exercised? Is faith there in all of us? Is it a spiritual matter that we can manipulate or persuade? Does faith come from the spirit of a man?

Aagin, the answer is "No." The spirit of a man is dead. He is conceived in sin and born a sinner and dead spiritually. The spirit is not sick, or weak, or malnourished. The spirit of a fallen man is dead. He is dead in sin. So can a dead spirit produce living faith? Can something that is alive come from something that has no life? Just as Adam died spiritually when he sinned in the garden, now we inhreit that original sin and are born spiritually dead. That is why we need to be "born again!" We were dead in trespasses and sin and were by our very nature children of wrath!

Consider these verses:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned... - Rom 5:12

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. - Eph 2:1-3

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God - 2 Cor 3:5

Before being born again we are spiritually dead. That which is dead spiritually surely cannot do anything good and cannot bear spiritual fruit. In our sinful fallen state we can only bear bad fruit, the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21!

Faith Comes from the Emotions

Is faith just a feeling that we have to work up? It is that we need to use soft lights and soft music and whisper to people with "every head bowed and every eye closed" so that "no one is looking around"? Can it be manipulated? I mean, if faith is a matter of feeling then we could logically manipulate people into trusting in Jesus, right?

Sadly this is the result of Charles Finney's man centered evangelistic methods, where he stated that if we plug in the right sequence of events then we can arrive at the desired spiritual result, guaranteed. So we had lengthy invitations and begging and pleading, and manipulation brought into the church. It has devolved even to the point that in some circles ministers and evagelists will give children money and candy if they will come forward, pray a prayer, and be baptized!

But can faith be worked up as a feeling? "No." Faith is not a feeling, simply put. We defined what faith is, it is trust, and trust is not an emotion. Beside that, when it comes to sin and faith, the lost man is "beyond feeling!"

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

There are no heart strings to tug - when it comes to faith, those who walk in the futility of their minds (without Christ) are past feeling! They only seek to feel good in their flesh, to please themselves, and pleasing God does not please our flesh! In fact, we know that a lost man cannot generate faith in his own in any way shape or form. How do we know this, beyond the evidence already presented?

Remember Hebrews 11:6? "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Add to that the FACT that a lost man, those in the flesh, with carnal minds, CANNOT PLEASE GOD. That means they do not have and cannot have faith on their own!

So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. - Rom 8:8

Without Christ, lost, dead in sin, with darkened futile minds, fallen man cannot please God - that is as plain as stating, "Fallen man cannot produce his own faith." It is impossible.

Faith Comes from Others

There is one more popular answer. Even after looking at these wrong answers already given some persist. When asked where faith originates or comes from they answer that faith is inherited! We get it from our parents and their faith, or from our upbringing. Is the faith of a parent automatically handed down to their children?

Can we inherit faith? What do we inherit from our parents in this regard?

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. - John 1:12-13

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. - Rom 9:6-8

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. - 1 Cor 15:50

So faith is not handed down automatically from parent to child. Seeing these answers then, where does faith come from? How do we "get faith?" Tune in tomorrow and we will start to examine what the Bible tells us about the origins of saving faith!

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

Saving Faith by Charles Spurgeon
What is Sin? by Dr. John MacArthur
Saving Faith by John Bunyan

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Phillip's Phunnies - Imitation Humor

A merry heart does good, like medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

I think I'll pull a Purgatorio:

Now Seriously!

Al Mohler - Eddie Thomas

James White - Yul Brenner

Marc Heinrich - Tom Sizemore

Tom Sizemore - Tom Ascol

Tom Ascol - Billy Bob Thornton

Two hours later.....
Wow. This is more difficult than I thought.
Where does he find all those pictures??
Oh, well. I tried. Love ya, Marc!
So here are just some pictures I thought were funny:

Driving Schools

Nine Lives Driving Academy

Easy Method Driving - Lesson 12 - Using Crumple Zones

Car Alarms - R - Us

Jack's Go Carts
Warning: Pay attention to Load Limits

Here's Your Sign

File it Under:
You Always Knew It Was True

Truth in Advertising
Movie Poster
With and Without
Hair Spray
(with apologies to James White)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Was Jesus Resurrected from the Dead?

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Acts 2:32
This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 15

Puritan Catechism
Question #16 - Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
Answer - The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery (Rom. 5:18).

Devotional Thoughts

We have taken the time this week to review a few basic facts from Scripture - seeing that Jesus is the only suitable object of our faith, seeing who Jesus is, why He came, and how He died - and now we are going to answer another basic question, a question vital to orthodoxy. Was Jesus resurrected from the dead?

Some might ask what it matters. Some might think it is a given that Jesus was raised from the dead. Others may think it doesn't matter either way - maybe His body is still in the grave, maybe not. So what does the Bible say about the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Buried in a Borrowed Tomb

The Scriptures are clear. Jesus Christ died for the sins of His people. He acted as their substitute. And after He died He was buried temporarily in a borrowed tomb (Matt 27:57-61). He was buried in haste for the sun was setting and the Sabbath day was about to begin. Those who loved Jesus were planning to come back after the Sabbath and prepare the body for a proper burial, but this could not be done with the Sabbath approaching, so they waited, and laid His body in this tomb, on loan from Joseph of Arimathea.

Day one was the day of the crucifixion. Day two was the Sabbath day. Day three was Sunday, the first day of the week, and by the time they arrived at the tomb to prepare the body for final burial, He was not there! The stone was rolled away, angels were present, the guards had fainted and fled, and Jesus was not there. On the third day, just as He promised, He had risen from the dead (Mark 9:31).

Believe in Your Heart that God has Raised Him from the Dead

So was His body moved? Was it stolen? Was it taken away by the disciples so that they could pretend He was alive and create a new religion? Or had Jesus not really died on the cross, only swooned, fainted, and passed out? All of these lies have been perpetuated through the ages as the devil himself knows the danger of the truth of the resurrection. You see, the cross may have bruised Jesus' heel, but it also bruised Satan's head - meaning it was a death blow for both. But Jesus did not stay dead and the devil only has dying forever to look forward to in the lake of fire!

Before we explain what happened and how important the doctrine of the resurrection is we have to make one note, a note above all else. The doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is so important that it is an essential element of the gospel message! When you trust Christ, you must be believing in a living Jesus, a Christ who has conquered death. Romans 10:9-10 states clearly:

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

The resurrection is central to the gospel. Why? Because if Jesus had only died for our sin and not been raised then we would have no hope of salvation. It is not enough that Jesus took the penatly for our sin upon Himself. If He had only taken our sin away, we would still die one day. And then where would we be? You see, by being raised from the dead, Jesus not only took away our sin, He also gave us life! He overcame death for us. He died and lived again so that we too, though we may die, will live again with Him.

If we have no sin, but also have no life, that gets us nowhere. But if we have no sin, with death conquered, that gives us heaven!

Combating Heresy

Since we see that the Bible makes belief in the resurrection a necessary element of the gospel, we need to understand that all these other views about what happened to Jesus after He died are heresy. That is, to say that Jesus was not raised from the dead is to proclaim a powerless gospel, another gospel (Gal 1:6-9). So let's answer the heretics and see what really happened to Jesus on that third day. Here are a few of the lies that have been told about the resurrection:

1. The Swoon Theory.

This is the idea that Jesus did not die on the cross. He merely swooned. They thought He was dead because He was so near death, but through all the blood and gore and the darkness and earthquakes and all that happened that day they just missed that He was still barely breathing when they took Him off the cross.

This idea is really just stupid. It discounts the facts that the Romans were efficient executioners. They crucified thousands upon thousands of people. It was their most brutal form of execution. They were professional killers and knew when a man was dead. They broke legs to be sure, they pierced bodies through to the heart with a spear to check. The torture of crucifixion was so horrible that many victims died before ever being nailed to a cross. The Biblical testimony is clear. Jesus "gave up His Spirit", He "breathed His last", He died on the cross (Luke 23:46). And the Romans in charge of the crucifixion verified He was dead by piercing His heart with a spear. Had He not already been dead, this alone would have killed Him. But the spear did not kill Jesus, neither did the scourging, or the cross. He had already given up His life willingly into the Hands of the Father.

2. The Stolen Body Theory.

This idea was fueled by the Jewish authorities after the guards fled from before the angels who opened the tomb to reveal that Jesus was not there. They paid the guards and told them to explain that while they slept His disciples came and stole the body. Imagine trained Roman guards, posted at a sealed tomb, told to expect trouble by the third day because of the prophecy of the resurrection, falling asleep while a few disciples rolled that huge stone away and took the body. The stone in front of the tomb would be a huge round rock that would have to be rolled uphill in a groove to remove it from the entrance. It was a concern even as the women were coming to prepare the body. "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?", they asked one another on the way.

Further to believe the Body was stolen and buried elsewhere is to believe in a massive conspiracy. Why? Because hundreds of people claimed to have seen Jesus after He was raised from the dead. In order to make this conspiracy work, Mary and Mary Magdelene, the Apostles including Paul, five hundred people on one occassion, and many others all had to lie (John 20:14-16, 26-29; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:6, 8; Acts 9:3-17).

3. The Hallucination Theory.

This idea is based on the premise that those who thought they saw Jesus were hallucinating. They all saw the same thing at the same time. This is easily debunked even if we ignore the Biblical evidence. Hallucinations are not group activities. They are individual occurrences induced usually by drugs or by deprivation from sleep or food and water. All of these people mentioned already saw, talked to, touched, and ate with Jesus on many different occassions in different settings.

4. The Resuscitation Theory.

This interesting take on things suggests that Jesus passed out on the cross, was mistaken for dead He was so near death, but just like a patient shocked back to life after his heart stops on the operating table, Jesus was somehow resuscitated and never actually died. And then, after having not slept for days, endured the beating, the blood loss, hanging on a cross for 6 hours, having His heart pierced by a spear, and having been wrapped up and put in a tomb - somehow Jesus had the strength to get up, roll away the stone from the inside of the tomb, break the seal, and then fight off the Roman guards standing watch. Please. Reality TV and Professional Wrestling are more believable.

The Report of Eye-Witnesses

These theories require blind faith, but the truth of Scripture informs our faith with the reports of eye witnesses. The idea that God raised Jesus up from the dead is fundamental and foundational to our faith. So how do we KNOW Jesus was raised from the dead?

The proof, recorded for us in the Bible, includes these facts:

1. The tomb was empty - Luke 24:2-3

2. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdelene - John 20:11-16

3. Jesus appeared to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus - Luke 24:13-27

4. Jesus appeared to 10 of the 11 remaining disciples - John 20:19-24

5. Jesus appeared to the 11 all together - John 20:26

6. Jesus appeared to 500 people at one time together and others - 1 Cor 15:5-8

7. People ate with Him and touched Him, proving He was not a ghost or hallucination - Luke 24:39; John 20:27; 21:1-14

8. Jesus appeared later to Paul and to John - 1 Cor 9:1; Acts 26:14-18; Rev 1:12-13

The Ramifications of the Resurrection

So what happens to our faith if there is no resurrection? What if we fall for a lie and deny that Jesus was raised from the dead? What are the consequences and ramifications of the doctrine of the resurrection?

First we strip the gospel message of truth, for Paul declares that the gospel includes the resurrection. See 1 Cor 15:1-8:

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

Secondly, if Christ is not alive from the dead then our faith is vain, our preaching empty and useless, and those who have died have perished with no hope. See 1 Cor 15:14-18:

And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 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. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

Thirdly, if there is no resurrection, what is the point of suffering for Christ? And let's be clear, the disciples who in fear fled and abandoned Jesus when He was arrested in the Garden, denied Him while He was on trial, and hid for fear of their lives in the Upper Room, after seeing Jesus became bold, turned the world upside down with their preaching of "this Jesus whom God raised up", and most became martyrs for their faith in loving obedience to the risen Christ. The power of the resurrection transformed them and the world. See 1 Cor 15:30-32:

And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

Fourth, we have no hope of heaven without the resurrection, for just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so we too will be raised from the dead when He returns. See 1 Cor 15:50-53:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

And last, God by raising Jesus from the dead declared His sacrifice sufficient to pay the penalty of our sin. God was satisified, and as Jesus conquered death now we have the hope of eternal life. See 1 Cor 15:57-58:

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.

This we declare, just as Jesus came and lived a sinless life, just as He died on the cross as our substitute, just as His body was laid in a borrowed tomb, so too is it true that He was raised from the dead. This is our hope. We know by this that sin and death have been defeated, our faith is not in vain, we have the hope of eternal life, and we know that Jesus meant what He said when He declared from the cross, "It is finished." The price for redemption has been paid in full and we have been reconciled to God through His death and resurrection!

Jesus is alive. He is our Hope. He is coming back. Do you believe this?

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

The Resurrection of Christ a Historical Fact by B.B. Warfield
The Power of Christ's Resurrection by George Whitefield
The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How Did Jesus Die?

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Psalm 22:1
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?

Daily Scripture Reading - Matthew 26-27

Puritan Catechism
Question #16 - Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
Answer - The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery (Rom. 5:18).

Devotional Thoughts

We have seen Who Jesus is and we have answered questions about why He came, but those answers have led to more questions. We know that Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost, to live a sinless life and offer Himself as a substitute for us, taking our sins upon Himself and bearing the wrath of God for them, and giving to us His righteouesness so that as we trust Him we are justified by faith before God. But how did Jesus die? We know the why, now we will look at the how!

Sequence of Events

We will examine first the chronological sequence of events that transpired from the time of the Garden of Gethsemane to the Death of Christ. We will also examine what killed Jesus. Was it the scourging, loss of blood, the cross, the spear in his side? What caused the death of Jesus? But first, the chronology and history of what Jesus endured in bearing the wrath of God for our sin.

The Garden of Gethsemane

Time - approximately 11:30 PM to 1:00 AM
Scriptures - Matt. 26:36-56; Mark 14:32-52; Luke 22:39-53; John 18:1-11

Jesus departed with His disciples from the observance of the Passover meal, during which He showed the fulfillment of the Passover by instituting the Lord's Supper. As they left, singing a hymn, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was going to pray. He left all the disciples except for Peter, James, and John - those that were the closest to Him - and went to find a place to pray.

As He prayed, Jesus knew what He was facing! He knew the death that awaited Him in order that the Divine plan of salvation might be accomplished. He had been born to die and now death was near at hand. Jesus was fully God (the spirit is willing) and knew what He had to do. He was also fully man (the flesh is weak), and He did not want to die! What a fearful thing to be facing the torment of bearing the full wrath of God toward sin.

He prayed specifically, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Then He came and found the disciples asleep! He awoke them and asked them to watch and pray with Him, and He went back to fall on His face before the Father. He prayed again, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." He knew that drinking this cup meant to do what He had come to do, to be humbled as a man and crucified on a cross. And the disciples fell aspleep again, so He left them there and returned to pray a third time, saying the same thing.

The weight of bearing the wrath of God had already begun and while Jesus prayed the blood vessels in His face began to burst due to the stress, and He began to sweat great drops of blood. His face was bruised from the weight of the cross, and He had not yet even been arrested!

Judas and the chief priests and temple guards arrived to arrest Jesus and turn Him over the Romans. The Jews had no authority to put a man to death, though they could bring him before the Romans and they would carry out the sentence. Judas kissed Jesus, a pre-arranged signal to identify the one to be arrested so that there was no mistake. Jesus asked who they were seeking, they replied, "Jesus of Nazareth." He answered, "I Am He." With that statement the Book of John records that all there were struck with the power and glory of God - the whole mob fell back away from Jesus as He was revealed as "I AM."

Then as they got up and moved to arrest Him, Peter stepped up to defend Jesus even if it meant his own life. He drew his sword and tried to strike one of the men approaching. It was Malchus, a servant of the High Priest. As Peter swung the sword and Malchus ducked out of the way the sword missed lopping his head off but did take his ear off! Jesus instructed Peter to put the sword away, for "all who live by the sword will die by the sword." This was not a statement of pacifism, as Jesus had even told His disciples to buy and carry swords for defense against wild animals and robbers. He meant in this instance that if Peter killed Malchus, Peter himself would be put to death. With that Jesus healed Malchus' ear completely! And He went to be tried as His disciples and a young man named John Mark fled and ran for their lives.

The Trial before the High Priest

Time - 3:00 AM
Scriptures - Matt. 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:63-71; John 18:12-27

Jesus was taken and brought before Annas and Caiphas, the High Priest, and charged with blasphemy. These men would decide the crimes to be charged against Jesus when He would stand trial before the Sanhedrin. Here they were accusing Him, complete with a list of witnesses who lied, of a crime punishable by death. They were set on killing Him.

Jesus was struck and spit upon, and at one point even blindfolded and hit in the face as those striking Him cried out, "Tell us who hit you." He was mocked and condemned.

Peter Denies Christ

Time - During the Trial before the High Priest
Scriptures - Matt. 26:69-74; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62

While He was being questioned by the High Priest, Peter stood with John out in the courtyard. Here Peter was accused by a servant girl in the crowd of being a follower of Jesus. He denied he knew Jesus. A little while later another girl saw him and said that she had seen him with Jesus. He swore an oath that he did not know Jesus and had no idea what this girl was talking about. Then again after a time someone accused him of knowing and being with Jesus, saying he talked like he was from Galilee. At this point, the third time Peter denied Jesus, he cursed and said that he did not know the Man.

Immediately after this, the Bible records for us that Jesus saw Peter through a window. They made eye contact. And Peter remembered the prediction he had refused to believe, that he would deny Christ 3 times before dawn. And he had. He fled the courtyard and went out a wept bitterly at having denied His Lord.

The Trial before the Sanhedrin

Time - Dawn
Scriptures - Matt. 27:1; Luke 22:66-71

At dawn, Jesus was taken with the charges against Him from the High Priest and tried before the Sanhedrin, the highest court in Israel. They quickly found Him guilty of blasphemy, and sent Him to Pilate so that He might be put to death.

The Trials before Pilate and Herod

Time 6:30 AM to 9:00 AM
Scriptures - Matt. 27:2-28; Mark 15:1-20; Luke 23:1-25; John 18:28-19:15

Pilate, the Roman Governor of Palestine, representing Caesar and acting as the highest ranking military and civil officer in that area, had to approve all cases demanding the death penalty. He interviewed Jesus and declared that He was innocent! In fact, while questioning Him, Pilate determined that this was not a case for death and so the local officals, namely King Herod, could rule on the case. So Pilate sent Jesus to Herod.

King Herod Antipas, powerful but nothing more than a puppet for Rome, was the son of Herod the Great, who of course had met with the Wise Men after the birth of Christ and had ordered all the male children 2 and under to be slaughtered in an attempt to prevent the birth of a new king! He died before Joseph and Mary and Jesus returned from their flight to Egypt. Herod Antipas though was more interested in Jesus and His miracles. In fact, he was not interested in trying Jesus. He just asked Jesus to perform "tricks" for him! Herod heard the accusations against Jesus from the Jewish leaders, placed a flowing velvet robe on Him mocking Him, and sent Him back to Pilate.

Pilate still insisted He was innocent and in order to pacify the crowd and the Jewish leaders, said that Jesus was to be beaten. He thought that perhaps if He was beaten and released that this would satisfy the crowd. The crowd instead cried out for Barabas to be released - an assassin, a terrorist if you will, and the elders of Israel wanted him released. When Pilate asked then what to do with Jesus the crowd cried out, "Crucify Him!"

So the Roman guards took Jesus and scourged Him. They likely used a cat-of-nine-tails. It was a rod with 9 strips of leather tied to the end, and at the end of these leather strips where embedded pieces of bone, sharp rocks, and metal. This whip was used to lash prisoners. A skilled punisher could use the whip to lodge these sharp pieces into the chest of the criminal and then yank it all loose stripping off pieces of flesh from the chest and stomach all the way around to the back.

The guards crowned Jesus with a crown of thorns after this. They did not use a crown like what we see in most artwork. It was like a ball cap without a bill, a hat woven out of the branches of a short thorn bush that produces thorns an inch and a half to two inches long. This was beaten into Christ's head with a rod.

They took the robe Herod had given Him and pressed it into His bleeding back and mocked Him as a "king." As the blood from the wounds in His back dried into the thick purple robe, they ripped the robe off aagin, opening the wounds afresh. They spit on Jesus, ripped His beard out, and continued to hit His head with the reed.

The Place of the Skull

Time - 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Scriptures - Matt. 27:29-66; Mark 15:21-47; Luke 23:26-56; John 19:16-42

At this time, Jesus was already weak from the loss of blood. His face was bruised from both sweating drops of blood in the Garden and from being hit, beaten, slapped, and His beard pulled out. He was bleeding from His face, back and sides, and His head. And they took Him to the place of the skull. It was a small hill outside the city gates where people were put to death for their crimes. This hill was called "Golgotha" which means "place of the skull". It was so named because it looked like it had a skull in its side with caves forming cavities.

He was forced to carry the cross beam that He would be nailed to as He was crucified. He dropped it on the way, and the most amazing thing happened. A man named Simon from Cyrene was pulled from the crowd and forced to carry the cross for Jesus. (Simon's son Rufus is later mentioned as part of the church in Rome - Rom 16:13.) Look at what is happening here. Jesus is bearing the weight of our sin and even in the midst of the full wrath of God, grace and mercy is shown in that someone else carried the cross!!

Arriving at the place to be crucified Jesus was offered pain killer but refused. He would not find any loss of His senses as He bore the pain of death for our sin. He was stripped of all clothing and nailed to the cross - His hands (through the wrist) and His feet, one over the other with the nail piercing through the top of both feet and exiting the heel into the cross.

The charge against Him was nailed to the top of the cross, identifying in 3 languages that "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." At noon, as He hung on the cross, the sun was hidden and everything was dark until 3:00 PM. During this time, in order to take a breathe on the cross, Jesus had to push up on the nail in His feet and pull up on the nails in His wrists, scraping His already sliced back up and down on that wooden cross. Those who died on a cross usually died of suffocation - not being able to have the continued strength to pull up and take a breath.

While hanging there between heaven and earth, bearing the penalty for our sin, Jesus spoke and said the following things:

1. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

2. "Woman, behold your son." (Spoken to Mary His mother, identifying the Apostle John as the one who would take care of her in His absence).

3. "Behold your mother." (Spoken to John about Mary).

4. "Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Spoken to the theif who believed in Him and would join Him in heaven that very day).

5. "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacthani - a scream of such pain in being separated from the Father as He bore the full brunt of the wrath of God for our sin that the people who heard Him did not even understand what He said. They thought He was calling to Elijah to save Him. He was in fact uttering the most hideous cry ever uttered by a man.)

6. "I thirst."

7. Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit." (He knew He would go to be with the Father upon His death).

8. "It is finished." (Tetelestai - PAID IN FULL - He had paid the debt we could not pay).

And He died. When He died the veil of the Temple was rent in two - now man had access through the blood of Christ directly into the presence of God. No more High Priest or sacrifices or rituals. He was the High Priest and the sacrifice, once for all.

When He died, He did not die from suffocation, or blood loss, or the beating, or the crucifixion. He willingly gave up His life. He chose the moment He would die! He died not due to the physical torments of the crucifixion. He died willingly as a result of bearing the wrath of God for our sin upon Himself. He tells us He gave up His life willingly so that He could take it up again - referring to the resurrection. He was always God! He was always in control. He chose when to die, and when to be raised from the dead. All to pay for our sin!

A guard standing by would usually break a criminals legs in order to hasten death - he could then not push up and keep breathing. But when they came to do this to Jesus He was already dead. They stuck a spear in His side to check and pierced His heart and both blood and water came out of the wound, a clear sign that He was dead.

Upon seeing Him die, the Centurion in charge of the execution believed that He was the Son of God - fulfilling the prayer, "Father, forgive them." Surely this man was the Son of God. And He gave His life willingly to pay for our sin and save us. He made of Himself a substitute.

Hebrews 12 tells us that through the pain, the torment, the abandonement, the shame, and all that He did to pay for our sin, through all of that He had one thing in mind!! Joy! Yes, joy!

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. This is how Jesus died.

He had come to seek and save that which was lost, and just as the angel told Mary before He was born, He would save His people from their sin. He had come to do this. He was born to die. And He died to save His people from their sin.

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

J.C. Ryle on The Cross: A Call to the Fundamentals of Religion
Charles Spurgeon on Our Suffering Substitute
John MacArthur on God's Miraculous Commentary on the Cross

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship