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Abundant life

  1. Abundant life is what we all want—that extraordinary and supernatural and eternal kind of life in our day to day experience.
  2. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1.3-4 that God has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness. This life is ours to enjoy.
  3. The movie "It’s a Wonder Life" starring Jimmy Stewart illustrates the point that we often reject or miss that which we really want. George did not recognize and appreciate what he already had until he thought he had lost it.
  4. God has given every believer the opportunity to live an abundant life; whether we experience this kind of life depends upon our day to day relationship with God and his Word.
  5. We often miss the opportunity to love life and to experience God’s day to day blessings. Jesus said in John 10.10, "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly."
  6. Jesus uses the word "life" in three ways in John 10—eternal life, an abundant spiritual life in time, and physical life. Peter wrote about the abundant spiritual life in 1 Peter 3.10; he quoted the Psalmist, "Let him who means to love life and see good days…."
  7. Both John and Peter have day to day life in mind—an abundant and fulfilling and enjoyable temporal life that is possible because believers possess eternal life.
  8. To enjoy eternal life in time, the abundant daily experience of eternal of life, we must continue to live in a growing and submissive relationship to Christ our Shepherd. John 10 includes four elements for the abundant life (John 10.3, 4, 9, 10, 14):
    • A sheep-person must be a part of the shepherd’s flock (believe in Christ).
    • The sheep-believer must follow the shepherd (listen to him and watch him).
    • The sheep-believer must depend on the shepherd (trust him, believe him).
    • The sheep-believer must obey the shepherd (faith application of the Word).
  9. The abundant life can be lived during days that are filled with routine or suffering or testing or success or prosperity because it does not depend on circumstances; it depends on relationship with Jesus Christ our shepherd.
  10. Jesus taught the disciples, in John 13-17, the central truths that they would need to live the abundant life: occupation with Christ, knowledge of the Word, faith-rest, confession of sin, spirituality, prayer, and ministry.

Apollos

  1. Apollos was a Jewish believer born in Alexandria, Egypt. He had a wonderful knowledge of  the Old Testament and, apparently, had also learned under the ministry of John the Baptist.
  2. He had only been baptized with the baptism of John, which meant that he believed John’s message that the kingdom promises were about to be fulfilled through Jesus, the promised Messiah (Mark 1.1-8; John 1.19-28).
  3. Apollos was a captivating speaker and was enthusiastic about the Lord Jesus.
  4. He spent some time in Ephesus in about AD 52 or 53.
  5. He taught what he understood about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ to his audiences, even synagogue audiences (Acts 18.24-26).
  6. He was not very familiar with church age doctrine, including church age water baptism of believers, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the newness of life that each believer has through union with Christ and living by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  7. While he was in Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla carefully took him aside and graciously taught him “in the way of God more accurately.” The Bible does not specify which doctrines they taught him, but the contexts of Acts 18-19 and 1 Corinthians seem to indicate that Aquila and Priscilla instructed him on the distinctions between Israel and the church, about John’s baptism and church age believer’s baptism, about the eternal life gospel, about the doctrine of Christ, and possibly other basic Christian life doctrines.
  8. Apollos humbly received their instruction (Acts 18.26). As a result, in about AD 53, Apollos went to Corinth where he became more effective for the Lord (Acts 18.27).
  9. While in Corinth, he used Scripture to demonstrate to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 18.28).
  10. Paul recognized Apollos as a leader and valuable fellow-worker for the spiritual growth of the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 3.4-6, 22; 4.6).
  11. Apollos became very prominent at Corinth, so much so that when the church split into factions, one faction claimed to follow Apollos (1 Corinthians 1.12-14).
  12. The carnal Christians became such a problem in Corinth that Apollos left; Paul encouraged him to return (1 Corinthians 16.12).
  13. Paul, near the end of his own life, spoke highly of Apollos (Titus 3.13).
  14. Apollos teaches us many things:
    • The importance of humility
    • Spiritual enthusiasm.
    • Eagerness to learn Bible doctrine.
    • A willingness to work together in the ministry with other believers.
    • The value of biblical preparation so that one may teach the Word of God—especially to demonstrate from the Scripture that Jesus is the Christ—and the value of a sustained ministry over many years.
  15. Spiritual growth and service for Christ thrive when a knowledge of Bible doctrine combines with graciousness, humility, willingness to learn, and enthusiasm for teaching the Word.

Apologetics

  1. Apologetics is the biblical and reasoned defense of the biblical faith.
  2. God gives us many opportunities to give evidence to others that what we believe is true. We talk with people about the evidence for the existence and nature of God, for Jesus Christ—his life and times, physical resurrection—, for the reliability of the Bible, for Christianity and pagan myths, for the origin of the universe and of man, for miracles, for salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, for biblical and non-biblical worldviews, and for other doctrines of the Word of God.
  3. When we answer the critic’s questions, explain why we believe what we believe, and challenge them to consider what the Bible says, we are not only evangelizing and teaching, we are also practicing apologetics.
  4. The word “defense” comes from the Greek word ajpologiva, apologia, “a speech of defense or reply.” 
  5. The writers of the New Testament use the word eight times—Acts 22.1; 25.16; 1 Corinthians 9.3; 2 Corinthians 7.11; Philippians 1.7 and 16; 2 Timothy 4.16, and 1 Peter 3.15.
  6. Peter tells us to be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us: “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3.15).
  7.  Paul had an apologetics ministry in Athens, in Ephesus, and even in Jerusalem.
  8. In Athens he spoke with Jews, God-fearing Gentiles, and Greek philosophers:  “reasoning [dialevgomai, dialegomai, to discuss, converse, preach] in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place (Acts 17.17)…. they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?’” (Acts 17.19).
  9. In Ephesus he spoke in the synagogue and in the school of Tyrannus: “reasoning [dialevgomai, dialegomai, to discuss, converse, preach] and persuading [peivqw, peitho, to persuade, to have confidence] them about the kingdom of God (Acts 19.8)….reasoning [dialevgomai, dialegomai, to discuss, converse, preach] daily in the school of Tyrannus”(Acts 19.9). 
  10. In Jerusalem Paul gave his defense for his faith in Christ and for his apostolic ministry: “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense [ajpologiva, apologia, a speech or reply of defense] which I now offer to you” (Acts 22:1).
  11. Apollos was using apologetics when he discussed the faith with some Jews in Corinth: “for he powerfully refuted [diakatelevgcomai, diakatelenchomai, refute completely] the Jews in public, demonstrating [ejpideivknumi, epideiknumi, demonstrate, show, point out] by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18.28).
  12. Paul wrote from a Roman prison that he had a ministry of “defense [ajpologiva, apologia, a speech or reply of defense] and confirmation of the gospel” (Philippians 1.7) and “I am appointed for the defense [apologia, apologia, a speech or reply of defense] of the gospel” (Philippians 1.16).
  13. Paul also instructed Titus that the elders-overseers-pastor-teachers should “be able…to refute [ejlevgcw, elencho, expose, convince, correct] those who contradict” sound doctrine (Titus 1.9). Luke (Luke 1.1-4 and Acts 1.1-3) and Paul (1 Corinthians 15) used evidence to give others a reason to consider that Jesus Christ is the only savior.
  14. Jude interrupted a letter about our salvation through Christ and instead wrote to encourage believers to earnestly contend for the faith: “I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly [ejpagwnivzomai, epagonizomai, to contend, to fight] for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
  15. Then in Jude 22-23, he made it clear that there are some who have doubts about the Word of God. We ought to have mercy on them, which includes teaching, answering questions, and challenging them so that they might grow strong in the biblical faith.
  16. Apologetics is a part of witnessing, teaching, and preaching God’s word. Apologetics is doing what God said to do. Apologetics is giving evidence that “the Word of God is living and powerful” (Hebrews 4.12).
  17. We are all called upon to “always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” and “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

Authority

  1. Authority is the right to rule and make decisions.
  2. Divine authority and human authority ought not to contradict each other.
  3. God is the absolute authority and the source of all legitimate human authority (Psalm 135.6).
  4. God has created the universe (John 1.1-4; Colossians 1.16) and his authority maintains the consistent function of the universe (Colossians 1.17). 
  5. God’s authority establishes human freedom; human freedom requires responsibility; responsibility protects human freedom and restrains human authority (Romans 13.1-6; 1 Peter 2.13-17).
  6. God has instituted human authority in order to
    • Protect free will.
    • Protect the human race from self destruction
    • Give order to life
    • Maintain peace
    • Allow the gospel and doctrine to spread and influence people
    • Support the believers’ witness by their authority orientation in a rebellious world.
  7. He has expressed his authority in His written Word and through Jesus Christ, the living Word (Hebrews 1.1-2; 4.12; 2 Tim 3.16). 
  8. Believers have the responsibility to obey human authority except where that authority contradicts God’s authority as expressed in His Word (Daniel 6.4-17; Acts 4.19-20; Acts 5.29).  
  9. Believers are under the authority of the laws of their nation; we are to obey them. The exception is that when the laws contradict Scripture, we must obey the Scripture instead of the human laws. Peter and John state this in Acts 4.19-20; Peter records the principle in 1 Peter 2.11-23. Daniel faced this same kind of challenge in Daniel 6.4-17.
  10. When we choose for God instead of the human law, we honor God and His plan and at the same time help our country by presenting God’s truth.  If we are arrested or harassed we must take the consequences, all the while continuing to learn the Word of God, living by the Holy Spirit, living by faith, and applying the Word of God to life.
  11. We have recently studied principles related to these concepts in the doctrines of Human Freedom and Spiritual Freedom, Divine Institutions, Divine Establishment, and Authority.

Baptism

Baptism is a word used many times in the New Testament and is often misunderstood. The Greek word “to baptize” is baptizo, which means to dip, immerse, plunge, overwhelm, and so to identify with something. There are at least seven different kinds of baptism mentioned in the Bible. Three are wet baptisms and four are dry baptisms.

The three wet baptisms use water:

  1. The baptism of John meant that one believed John’s message that the kingdom promises were about to be fulfilled through Jesus, the promised Messiah (Mark 1.1-8; John 1.19-28).
  2. The baptism of Jesus by John was a one-time only baptism. This baptism identified Jesus with God the Father’s plan that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, the savior of the world, and the king of Israel (Matthew 3.13-17; Luke 3.21-22).
  3. Church age water baptism emphasized a believer’s relationship with Christ in Christ’s death to sin and resurrection to new life (Matthew 28.19; Acts 8.12 and 16; Acts 16.33; 1 Corinthians 1.13-17).

The following four baptisms are dry baptisms:

  1. The baptism of the Holy Spirit began after Pentecost and is unique to the church age; each believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and made a member of Christ’s spiritual body, the church (1 Corinthians 12.12-14);
  2. The baptism of Moses occurred during the Exodus. Israel was baptized into Moses when the nation went through the Red Sea and was led by the cloud during the day; the nation was identified with Moses, their leader (1 Corinthians 10.2).
  3. The baptism of the cup is a figure of speech which Jesus used to identify himself with his suffering and death on the cross. Jesus said that both James and John would also drink his cup, by which Jesus meant that they would suffer severely for him (Mark 10.38-39; Mark 14.36; Matthew 20.22-23; Luke 12.50).
  4. The baptism of fire is a reference to some kind of judgment upon those who reject Christ as Messiah. It will probably be fulfilled at his second coming to earth (Matthew 3.10-12; Luke 3.16-17). Mark 1.8 and John 1.33 are parallel passages and omit the baptism of fire because they also omit the judgment material that Matthew and Luke contain.

Baptism with the Holy Spirit

  1. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the act by which the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Christ the moment he believes, and by this indwelling God identifies and unites that believer with Christ and his spiritual body, the church (1 Corinthians 12.13).
  2. One cannot be a believer and in the church apart from the baptism of the Holy Spirit; the Corinthian believers, with all of their spiritual failures, had been baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11.15-18; 1 Corinthians 12.13; Ephesians 1.22-23; Romans 8.9).
  3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit provides the basis for Christian living.
    • Because the baptism of the Holy Spirit identifies each believer with Christ in Christ’s death to sin and in Christ’s new resurrection kind of life (Romans 6.1-11).
    • Because the baptism of the Holy Spirit is our spiritual circumcision—the removal of the legal control over us by our unbeliever self (Colossians 2.11), and
    • Because the baptism with the Holy Spirit is the time when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believer in Christ (Acts 11.15-18). Jesus prophesied the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 3.11, Mark 1.8, Luke 3.16, John 1.33, and Acts 1.5.
  4. Jesus said, in Acts 1.5,  that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was future to his ascension. It was therefore not a part of the age of Israel, but was the fundamental and basic sign of the church age.
  5. The baptism of the Holy Spirit first occurred in Acts 2.1-4 with Jews. God later proved that everyone who believes in Christ will be baptized with the Holy Spirit when he visibly gave the baptism of the Holy Spirit to Samaritans in Acts 8.12-17, to Gentiles in Acts 10.43-48, and to Old Testament believers in Acts 19.1-6.
  6. Luke wrote in Acts 10 that, while Peter was preaching to Jews and Gentiles at Cornelius’ house in Caesarea, Peter and his audience witnessed the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Gentiles who believed the gospel (Acts 10.44-47).
    • Shortly after, Peter went to Jerusalem where Jewish believers criticized him for eating with those Gentiles. He explained to them what had happened when the Gentiles believed the gospel that he delivered; Peter said that he saw the Gentiles being baptized with the Holy Spirit.
    • Peter then explained that this baptism was exactly what Christ had predicted when he spoke to his disciples before his ascension (Acts 1.5 and Acts 11.15-18).
  7. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something that God does for each believer in Christ; it is not something that is felt; it occurs at the time a person believes in Christ; it is supernatural; it cannot be improved upon; it is complete and perfect when it happens; it is not now evidenced by signs, though several times in the young church it was evidenced by signs in order to confirm that the Holy Spirit was given to every church age believer in Christ; it is revealed only by the Word of God; it is the basis for the supernatural Christian life.

Barnabas

  1. Barnabas was Jewish, a Levite, and a believer in Christ.
  2. He was originally from Cyprus; he was generous; he had an active, varied, and wonderful ministry.
  3. His original name was Joseph, but the apostles gave him the name Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement (Acts 4.36-37).
  4. He was the cousin of John Mark (Colossians 4.10). 
  5. Barnabas, about A.D. 37, at a time when  believers were still somewhat afraid of Saul, took Saul in hand and introduced him to the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 9.26-27).
  6. Later, when the Jerusalem church heard that a large number of Greeks at Antioch were believing in Christ, the leaders sent Barnabas there to witness the ministry (Acts 11.22). After seeing the good ministry, he encouraged the believers at Antioch.
  7. Luke records that Barnabas was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and faith (Acts 11.23-24).
  8. Barnabas then went to get Saul who was in Tarsus; Saul and Barnabas spent a year in Antioch teaching the Word of God (Acts 11.25-30).
  9. Barnabas was Saul’s partner on the first missionary trip (Acts 13-14, about A.D. 48-49) and at the Jerusalem council meeting (Acts 15.1-5). 
  10. Barnabas served in evangelism, teaching, reconnaissance, financial responsibilities, and encouragement of believers.
  11. Though he was a grace oriented believer, even he gave in to the pressures of the legalists in Antioch; these legalists objected to Peter sitting down to dinner with Gentiles, and so Barnabas, along with Peter, separated from the Gentiles until Paul corrected them (Galatians 2.11-19).
  12. Barnabas and Paul disagreed on whether they should take John Mark with them on the second missionary trip; Barnabas said yes, Paul said no. The two men separated; Barnabas took John Mark to Cyprus and Paul took Silas and began the second trip (Acts 15.36-40, about A.D. 50). 
  13. Barnabas illustrates biblical application for us:
    • Be flexible in the use of gifts and training.
    • The prepared believer has a variety of ministry opportunities.
    • No service is insignificant.
    • Spiritual failure does not remove one from future ministry.
    • Be an encouragement to others, not a discouragement
    • Beware of legalism.

Blessings

  1. Blessings are good things—a word, an act, a gift—that encourage us, lift us, and help us.
  2. All blessing begins with God because he created the heavens and the earth and all living creatures.
  3. The American Heritage Dictionary defines the verb bless “to confer well-being or prosperity on” and the noun “something promoting or contributing to happiness, well-being, or prosperity; a boon.” These definitions are accurate for the Hebrew (krb, berach,  hkrb berachah) and the Greek  (eulogew eulogeo, euloghto~ eulogetos, makario~ makarios) words for blessing.
  4. Believers receive unique blessings because of their relationship with Christ.
  5. God blessed Israel in the past and will bless Israel in the future because of the conditional covenant with Moses (Mosaic law, Deuteronomy 28) and unconditional covenants for Israel (Abrahamic, Genesis 12.1-3, Palestinian, Deuteronomy 30.1-10, Davidic, 2 Samuel 7.14-16, and New, Jeremiah 31.31-34).  
  6. God has blessed every church age believer with positional blessings—the same blessings for all believers—simply because we are believers in Christ (Ephesians 1.3; Romans 4.6-9; Galatians 3.14).
  7. He also blesses individual believers with experiential blessings—individualized blessings for those who practice accurately the Christian life  (Acts 20.35; Romans 15.29; Galatians 4.15; Hebrews 6.7; 1 Peter 3.14; 4.14; Revelation 22.7).
  8. God also has blessings for believers during the millennial kingdom and eternity; these begin with Christ coming for his church (Titus 2.13; Matthew 5.3-11; Revelation 19.9; 20.6).

Christ Died for the Sins of Mankind

  1. Christ died for the sins of all mankind—sins past, present, and future. What kind of a death did he die? The Bible says that God the Father judged his Son, Jesus the Christ, while his Son was on the cross. Christ was on the cross for six hours. The last three hours were the bad ones—he took the judgment for mankind's sins; at the end of that period of time he voluntarily died physically.
  2. Jesus was crucified at 9:00 AM (Mark 15.25).
  3. The land was darkened from noon until 3:00 PM (Matthew 27.45; Mark 15.33; Luke 23.44). Matthew wrote, “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.” (Matthew 27.45).
  4. Why the darkness for the second three hours on the cross? The judgment was so catastrophic that the Father broke fellowship with the Son while he was bearing our sins and the sun was darkened during this time to indicate the terrible judgment and separation.
  5. Jesus voiced this terrible separation from God the Father when he cried out to him while in darkness and on the cross: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27.46. Also Mark 15.34).
  6. At the end of this terrible judgment, Jesus voluntarily gave up his life in physical death:  “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50. Also Luke 23.46). 
  7. John was very precise when he recorded Jesus’ physical death: “When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30. Also Matthew 27.50 and Luke 23.46).
  8. To what did Jesus, still physically alive, refer when he said “It is finished!”? He meant that God the Father had finished judging him for the sins of the world. He then died physically—the second stage of his death on the cross.
  9. In mankind, physical death is a result of spiritual death. Jesus Christ was true man; he also died physically, not because he had sinned, but because he had completed the payment for mankind’s sins and now followed humanity in physical death.
  10. Because Jesus died physically he was able to arise physically—physical resurrection. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead; he set the pattern as the first resurrected man. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 15.20-22: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.”
  11. At the point of his physical death the veil of the temple that separated the holy place from the holy of holies tore into two pieces from top to bottom (Matthew 27.51; Mark 15.38; Luke 23.45). The tearing of the thick veil, which occurred when he said “It is finished!” and died physically, demonstrated that he had completed the redemption of mankind. No longer was there a need for the temple sacrifices, including the day of atonement sacrifice.
  12. Note, also, that the soldiers offered Jesus a sedating drink at the beginning of his ordeal on the cross. He refused it (Matthew 27.34; Mark 15.23; Luke 23.36). Why? Because Jesus wanted to be in full control of his mind and senses; he had a world changing job to do: he had to be judged for sin.
  13. At the end of the ordeal he requested a drink and was given one (Matthew 27.48; Mark 15.36; John 19.28-30). Why did he take a drink at this time? Because he had completed the agonizing work.
  14. Again the question, What kind of death did he die?
    • The Bible indicates that Jesus went through two stages or two kinds of death. The first was the three hours of darkness and separation from the Father while he was being judged for our sins: it was dark during the day; he was alone; he was under the agonizing pain of our sins and the physical crucifixion. This separation from fellowship with the Father due to judgment for sin was a spiritual suffering or a spiritual death.
    • The second stage or kind of death was a separation from his physical body or physical death.
  15. Which does the Bible emphasize as the most important and terrible part? The three hours on the cross bearing our sins and separated from the Father was the most important. The physical torture on the cross was excruciating, yet he was strong enough to survive it and maintain mental and physical self-control. He deliberately and voluntarily gave up his physical life after he said “It is finished!”
  16. The second stage or kind of death demonstrated the completeness of his work and prepared for his physical resurrection and rule. Adam and Eve and then all mankind experienced this spiritual death or separation from God due to sin (Genesis 2.19; Genesis 3.7; Ephesians 2.1, 5; Colossians 2.13; John 3.3).
  17. Adam and Eve’s spiritual death was demonstrated in the garden when they fell: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings” (Genesis 3.7). They were very much alive physically.
  18. Paul wrote to believers in Asia and said that they were spiritually dead before they became Christians by faith in Christ: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2.1). In order for Christ to substitute as our sin bearer, he had to die spiritually, then die physically.

Christology

  1. Christology is the biblical study of Christ. Christ (Cristov" christos) is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word  for “anointed one,” “Messiah” (j'yvim; massiah).
  2. Names for Christ:
    • Jesus Christ is God (John 1.1-14;  Hebrews 1.1-4,8).
    • The Son of God (Luke 22.70; Hebrews 1.4-5).
    • Man (Luke 2; 1 Timothy 2.5).
    • Prophet (Luke 24.19; John 6.14).
    • Priest (Hebrews 4.14; 5.5-10).
    • King of Israel (Matthew 27.11; John 1.49).
    • Savior (John 4.42; 1 Timothy 4.10).
    • World ruler (Zechariah 14.9; 1 Corinthians 15.24-28).
  3. Jesus, His human name, means savior (Matthew 1.21); Christ or Messiah is His title; LORD is the personal name of the revealed covenant God of Israel; Lord is a title for deity; Immanuel comes from Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 7.14 and means in the Hebrew “God with us” (lae WnM;[;  lae el means God, Wn nu means us, M;[I im means with ).
  4. Jesus was virgin-conceived (Isaiah 7.14; Matthew 1.20-23) so that he would be undiminished deity and true humanity without a sinful human nature (Luke 1.35; Hebrews 4.15). This means that he had no human father; God caused Mary to become pregnant—a miracle.
  5. Christ became man when he was born of Mary in order to die for the sins of the world—to reconcile mankind (2 Corinthians 5.18-21; 1 Timothy 1.15); He was the lamb of God (John 1.29).
  6. Besides not having a sin nature, He never sinned (2 Corinthians 5.21; Hebrews 4.15).
  7. Christ is undimished deity and true humanity in one person forever (John 1.1-14; Hebrews 1.1-13; 2.14); the theological name for this is hypostatic union.
  8. When he came to earth He voluntarily restricted the independent use of certain divine attributes, though from His birth on He always is undiminished deity and true humanity; the theological name for this truth is kenosis (Philippians 2.6-8).
  9. During His time on earth, in His humanity, He relied on the Holy Spirit (Luke 4.14,18).
  10. His purpose for coming to earth was to die in our place for our sins; He was our substitute, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
  11. During the three hours of darkness, while He was on the cross, God the Father judged Christ, His son, for all the sins of all mankind (1 Timothy 1.15; 2 Corinthians 5.18-21; John 1.29; John 19.30; 1 John 2.1-2).
  12. He arose from the dead on the third day (Luke 24; 1 Corinthians 15.4 ); He ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father forty days after He arose (Acts 1.3-9 ); He now intercedes for believers (Hebrews 4.14; 1 Jn 2.1-2); He will return for the church to take church believers back to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4.16-18; Titus 2.13), then after the seven years of tribulation on earth, He will come to earth to set up and rule His millennial kingdom (Matthew 24.27-31; Acts 1.10-11; 2 Thessalonians 1.7-10 ); at the end of the millennium, after one last Satan-led rebellion which will be followed by the Great White Throne Judgment, Christ will turn over the kingdom of God to the Father and the Father will have Him continue to rule the eternal kingdom, which will reside in a new heaven and a new earth, forever (Revelation 20; 1 Corinthians 15.24-28).

Circumcism

Circumcision was a physical sign, a ritual, a human work showing that one believed God’s covenant to Abraham. Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin from the male sex organ.  It began with Abraham and the Mosaic Law included circumcision (Leviticus 12.3). It is a ritual which signifies that the individual has accepted the Abrahamic covenant—God’s unconditional covenant that he would bless Abraham by giving him and his heirs a land, by giving him children who would expand into a nation, and by blessing the whole human race through one of his heirs (Genesis 12.1-3; 17; Romans 3.1-2)—by faith (Genesis 17.1-14; Romans 4.10-11). Circumcision was established for all male Jewish children 8 days old (Genesis 17.12), male Gentile children born into the house or purchased (Genesis 17.12-13), and male foreigners wishing to celebrate the Passover or become citizens of Israel (Exodus 12.48). True circumcision was a sign that a particular Hebrew family accepted by faith the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17.1-14; Romans 2.24-29). Circumcision was a prerequisite for eating of the Passover meal. The Passover is indirectly a commemoration of the Abrahamic Covenant (Exodus 12.40-51). Circumcision was never necessary for salvation (Romans 3.30-4.12; 1 Corinthians 7.19; Galatians 2.3-7). There have been two types of circumcision in Israel's history. True circumcision was the surgical procedure based upon faith in correct doctrine. False circumcision was the surgical procedure based upon works and incorrect doctrine (John 7.14-24; Romans 2.25-29; 9.1-9; Philippians 3.1-7). Circumcision has no spiritual significance in the church age (Acts 15; Galatians 2; 5.1-13; 6.12-18). The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the spiritual sign that a person is a part of the church just as circumcision was a physical sign that the person was a part of Israel under the Abrahamic covenant (Romans 6.3-4; 1 Corinthians 12.13; Colossians 2.11-13).

David

David was from the tribe of Judah, a son of Jesse, king of Israel, and psalmist (2 Samuel 23.1). He was the second king in Israel and ruled after Saul, though he was the first king from the ruling tribe, Judah. He began as a shepherd, was Saul’s armor bearer, was anointed by Samuel to be God’s king of Israel (1 Samuel 16). He killed Goliath, was pursued by Saul (1 Samuel 17), and at Saul’s death was inaugurated King of Israel (2 Samuel 5). God promised him (Davidic Covenant, 2 Samuel 7.4-17) that his descendants, and especially his greatest descendant, Jesus the Christ (Matthew 1.1; Romans 1.3) would rule forever over Israel. His most noted sons were Absalom (2 Samuel 3.3, mother was Maacah), Nathan (1 Chronicles 3.3, Bathsheba), and Solomon (2 Samuel 12.24, Bathsheba). He was noted for his faith and loyalty to the Lord (Psalm 22 and 23), and though he publicly sinned numerous times he always returned to fellowship with the Lord by confessing his sin to Him (Psalm 32, 2 Samuel 12.1-15; Psalm 51; 1 Kings 15.3-5). God said that David was a “man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13.14; Acts 13.22, 36); that is, one who, in spite of his sin, always returned to fellowship with God and desired to do God’s will. David was a great military leader and author of many at least 73 Psalms. David’s challenge and instructions to Solomon, and the nation were applications of his understanding practice of grace, humility, obedience, and faith (1 Chronicles 28-29, and especially 1 Chronicles 29.10-21).  David’s greatness was his consistent desire to do God’s will, his faith in the Lord, his loyalty to the Lord, his willingness to honestly confess sin and failure to the Lord, and his spiritual and national leadership.

Death of Christ

  1. Christ died for the sins of all mankind—sins past, present, and future.
  2. What kind of a death did He die?
  3. The Bible says that God the Father judged his Son, Jesus the Christ, while His Son was on the cross.
  4. Christ was on the cross for six hours.
  5. The last three hours were the bad ones—He took the judgment for mankind's sins; at the end of that period of time He voluntarily died physically.
  6. Jesus was crucified at 9:00 AM (Mark 15.25).
  7. The land was darkened from noon until 3:00 PM (Matthew 27.45; Mark 15.33; Luke 23.44). Matthew wrote, “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.” (Matthew 27.45).
  8. Why the darkness for the second three hours on the cross?
  9. The judgment was so catastrophic that the Father broke fellowship with the Son while He was bearing our sins and the sun was darkened during this time to indicate the terrible judgment and separation.
  10. Jesus voiced this terrible separation from God the Father when He cried out to him while in darkness and on the cross: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27.46. Also Mark 15.34).
  11. At the end of this terrible judgment, Jesus voluntarily gave up His life in physical death:  “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50. Also Luke 23.46). 
  12. John was very precise when he recorded Jesus’ physical death: “When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30. Also Matthew 27.50 and Luke 23.46).
  13. To what did Jesus, still physically alive, refer when he said “It is finished!”? He meant that God the Father had finished judging Him for the sins of the world. He then died physically—the second stage of His death on the cross.
  14. In mankind, physical death is a result of spiritual death. Jesus Christ was  true man; He also died physically, not because He had sinned, but because He had completed the payment for mankind’s sins and now followed humanity in physical death.
  15. Because Jesus died physically he was able to arise physically—physical resurrection.
  16. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead; He set the pattern as the first resurrected man.
  17. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 15.20-22: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.”
  18. At the point of His physical death the veil of the temple that separated the holy place from the holy of holies tore into two pieces from top to bottom (Matthew 27.51; Mark 15.38; Luke 23.45).
  19. The tearing of the thick veil, which occurred when He said “It is finished!” and died physically, demonstrated that He had completed the redemption of mankind.
  20. No longer was there a need for the temple sacrifices, including the day of atonement sacrifice.
  21. Note, also, that the soldiers offered Jesus a sedating drink at the beginning of His ordeal on the cross.
  22. He refused it (Matthew 27.34; Mark 15.23; Luke 23.36).
  23. Why? Because Jesus wanted to be in full control of His mind and senses; He had a world changing job to do: He had to be judged for sin.
  24. At the end of the ordeal He requested a drink and was given one (Matthew 27.48; Mark 15.36; John 19.28-30).
  25. Why did He take a drink at this time? Because He had completed the agonizing work.
  26. Again the question, What kind of death did He die?
  27. The Bible indicates that Jesus went through two stages or two kinds of death.
    • The first was the three hours of darkness and separation from the Father while He was being judged for our sins: it was dark during the day; He was alone; He was under the agonizing pain of our sins and the physical crucifixion. This separation from fellowship with the Father due to judgment for sin was a spiritual suffering or a spiritual death.
    • The second stage or kind of death was a separation from His physical body or physical death.
  28. Which does the Bible emphasize as the most important and terrible part? The three hours on the cross bearing our sins and separated from the Father was the most important.
  29. The physical torture on the cross was excruciating, yet He was strong enough to survive it and maintain mental and physical self-control.
  30. He deliberately and voluntarily gave up His physical life after He said “It is finished!”
  31. The second stage or kind of death demonstrated the completeness of His work and prepared for His physical resurrection and rule.
  32. Adam and Eve and then all mankind experienced this spiritual death or separation from God due to sin (Genesis 2.19; Genesis 3.7; Ephesians 2.1, 5; Colossians 2.13; John 3.3).
  33. Adam and Eve’s spiritual death was demonstrated in the garden when they fell: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings” (Genesis 3.7).
  34. They were very much alive physically.
  35. Paul wrote to believers in Asia and said that they were spiritually dead before they became Christians by faith in Christ: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2.1).
  36.  In order for Christ to substitute as our sin bearer, He had to die spiritually, then die physically.

Dispensations

  1. Dispensations are the Divine administration of human history (or period of time) in the progressively revealed (God gave new Scripture, Genesis to Revelation, as time went on) plan of God. Each dispensation is distinguished by doctrine, people, administrators, and events (Ephesians 1.10; Ephesians 3.1-12).
  2. Time (human history) is divided by God into four basic administrations (select Old Testament Scripture such as Isaiah 11; Psalm 72; Daniel 2.4-45; and Revelation 20:
    • Age of the Gentiles (Gen 1-11); 2)
    • Age of Israel (Gen 12-Gospels and Rev 4-19); 3)
    • Church Age (Acts-Rev 3); 4)
    • Millennium, the rule of Christ on earth ).
  3. Dispensational theology is based upon a normal or plain interpretation of the Bible, a recognition of the distinction between Israel and the Church, and the recognition that the purpose of history is to demonstrate God’s glory.
  4. The word “dispensation” comes from the Greek word oikonomia which means 
    • Management of a household, direction office (Luke 16.2-4; 1 Corinthians 9.17; Col 1.25; Ephesians 3.2
    • Arrangement, order, plan (Ephesians 1.10; 3.9)
    • Training (1 Timothy 1.4), (BAGD 559).
  5. Another word that has been translated age, world, and dispensation is aion (Matthew 13.39, 40, 49; Matthew 28.20; Hebrews 9.26; 11.3).
  6. What really distinguishes dispensational theology from reformed and covenant theology?
    • First, dispensational theology is based upon a normal or plain interpretation of the Bible. Normal or plain interpretation means to read the Bible as any other book; the author means what he says; the Bible uses figures of speech; it uses parables; it talks of ideas, people, places, and events; when the author names a person or group of people or promises something to a person or group of people or predicts a specific event, one using a normal or plain interpretation will take the people, places, events, and predictions at face value unless there is something in the context to indicate a different meaning.
    • From a plain interpretation we see that God, throughout human  history, distinguishes between Israel and the Church. This is the second hallmark of dispensational theology. Israel and the church are two prominent groups of people through whom God works. Since Pentecost, God has been working through the church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 1.22-23). After Christ removes the church, God will resume working through Israel. The third hallmark of dispensational theology is that the primary purpose of God is doxological, that is, to demonstrate his glory. The salvation of people is a prominent way to glorify God, but that is not the purpose of history.

Election

  1. Election, in practical terms, means that God has selected and secured those whom he knows will believe in Christ.
  2. The word “election” means selection, choice, differentiation. Charles Ryrie, in A Survey of Bible Doctrine, page 116, writes that election is "the action of God in choosing certain people for certain purposes. The reason the definition is so broad is so that it can include the various people and groups who are said to be elect in the Bible."
  3. God selects those who will believe in Christ for eternal life, for privileges, and for opportunities.
  4. Life, privileges, and opportunities are only given to those who are related to God by faith (Ephesians 1.3-14).
  5. He elected people according to their foreknown faith response to the gospel. He selected and secured these faith people for personal participation and blessing inside His gracious plan (Ephesians 1.3-14; Ephesians 1.4-5; 1 Thessalonians 5.9; 2 Thessalonians 2.13; 1 Peter 1.1-2).
  6. Acts 13.48, “and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed,” links God’s election in the past to man’s belief of the gospel in the present.
  7. The meaning of “election” has been hotly debated. I believe the following interpretation of election according to God’s foreknowledge answers the most questions and best brings all the Scripture on this subject together.
  8. Many think election means that God simply programs people to believe or not believe, and that this definition of election protects God’s sovereignty, but it takes greater sovereignty and power to create beings who have the freedom and ability to accept or reject God’s gift of salvation than to create beings who do just what they were programmed to do.
  9. God created man with volition; God was smart enough and powerful enough to plan for every contingency, every bad decision and every good decision and make it all come out to fulfill his plan and honor his character.
  10. Predestination is different from election and only applies to believers. It means God designed a destiny for every believer. That destiny is that he will be like Christ (Romans 8.29; Ephesians 1.5-6). Believers, therefore, are predestined to be like Christ. Predestination has nothing to do with man’s eternal destination.

Evil

  1. Evil has resulted from the fall of Satan and the fall mankind and sums up the worldview which Satan, the evil one (John 17.15; Ephesians 6.16; 1 John 3.12), has sponsored.
  2. Evil refers to the ungodly presuppositions, mind-set, attitudes, plans, sayings, actions, and goals of life that stand apart from God’s will, direction, and influence because of a rejection of and a lack of God’s Word.
  3. Evil includes liberal theology, the social gospel, salvation by works, preoccupation with self, one-world government apart from the physical rule of Christ, ecumenism and one-world religion, moral relativity, rejection of absolute truth and the ability to know absolute truth, emotional control of the soul, rejection of authority, self-esteem based upon human good, the redistribution of wealth, the theory of evolution, post-modernism, naturalism-materialism, do-it-yourself spirituality, and many others ideas, projects, programs, and activities that Satan and fallen man believe and promote.
  4. Evil is sometimes a synonym for sin, but evil is more comprehensive than sin.
  5. Evil includes human viewpoint, human good, and sin (Genesis 2.17; 3.5; Proverbs 6.14; 8.13 Ecclesiastics 5.13-14; Matthew 15.19; Romans 7.21; 12.9, 21; 2 Corinthians 6.8; Gal 1.4; Hebrews 5.14).
  6. The love of money is, in the human realm, a root or beginning of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6.8-10).
  7. Rebellion against proper authority is evil; laziness is evil; self-centeredness is evil; religion, defined as human works to gain something from God, is evil; emotionalism is evil; crime is evil; some wars are evil; and human good activity that ignores or seeks to replace God’s will is evil.
  8. What do we do about evil?
    • Proverbs 3.7 advises us to fear the Lord and turn away from evil
    • Hebrews 5.14 teaches that by learning and practicing the Word of God we are able to discern good from evil
    • Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5.22, tells us to stay away from every kind of evil
    • Peter, in 1 Peter 3.11, tells us to shun evil and, in its place, do divine good;
    • We learn in Romans 12.21, that divine love, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, overcomes evil
    • in 1 Corinthians 13.5, divine love does not think evil.
  9. The conclusion to the question of what to do about evil is that we ought to grow up in the Word of God so that we take possession of Bible doctrine and the biblical worldview and throw off evil—that which contradicts Bible doctrine and the biblical worldview. We must make biblical choices—choices for God’s Word and against evil.

Feasts of Israel

Feasts of Israel (Biblical feasts, Leviticus 23) were five in Number.

  1. The Passover and Unleavened Bread were the first of the three great annual feasts (Exodus 12.1-28; 23.5;  Leviticus 23.4-8; Numbers 28.16-25; Deuteronomy 16.1-8).  The Passover commemorated God’s deliverance from the tenth plague, which brought the death of the firstborn, and the Exodus. It was a spring festival, the first festival of the religious calendar, and occurred on Nisan 14. Nisan was the first month of the religious calendar and was equivalent to March-April. The Passover taught redemption by God. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a seven day festival that began the day after the Passover and lasted from Nisan 15-21. Passover and Unleavened Bread were one unit; the Passover marked the sacrifice, and Unleavened Bread marked the feast following the sacrifice. Unleavened Bread commemorated the separation from Egypt under God’s direction and protection.  Unleavened Bread taught separation from the past to a new life with the Lord.
  2. Pentecost, celebrated in May-June, was the second great annual feast (Exodus 23.16; 34.22; Leviticus 23.15-16; Numbers 28.26; Deuteronomy 16.10). It was also called the feast of Weeks (Exodus 34.22; Deuteronomy 16.10, 16), the feast of Harvest (Exodus 23.16) and “the day of first fruits” (Numbers 28.26). Israel observed Pentecost seven weeks plus 1 day (50 days, Pentecost) after the Nisan 16 wave offering of the barley sheaf during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Pentecost linked the spring barley harvest to the early summer wheat harvest. Pentecost stressed thanksgiving and taught that God provides the necessities for life for Israel.
  3. Trumpets occurred in the fall, during Tishri, September-October, the seventh religious month and the first civil month (Leviticus 23.23-25; Numbers 29.1-6).  It marked the beginning of the civil year, like our New Years Day. Israel blew trumpets on the first day of every month (Numbers 10.1,10), but this trumpet blast was on the first day of the seventh religious month or first of the civil month. The trumpet blasts symbolically called on the Lord to bless Israel (Numbers 10.10). Trumpets called the Lord’s attention to Israel’s need of His blessing; it may have prepared for the Day of Atonement, besides opening the civil year.
  4. The Day of Atonement occurred on the 10th day of Tishri, the seventh religious month, September-October (Leviticus 16; 23.26-32; Exodus 30.10-30; Numbers 29.7-11). This was the most important annual festival. The high priest entered the holy of holies. The scapegoat was sent into the wilderness, signifying the sending away of the people’s sins. The Day of Atonement taught that God graciously forgives all sin.
  5. The Feast of Booths or Tabernacles was the third great annual feast (Leviticus 23.33-43; Numbers 29.12-39; Deuteronomy 16.13; Nehemiah 8.18; John 7.2,37). It occurred during Tishri 15-21, the seventh religious month, September-October. The name comes from the fact that Israel was to live seven days in temporary booths that they made out of boughs. This commemorated that God took care of Israel during the exodus, during which they did not have permanent houses. Booths taught that God gives fatherly care and protection. In summary: the Passover taught redemption by God, and Unleavened Bread taught separation from the past to a new life with the Lord; Pentecost stressed thanksgiving and taught that God provides the necessities for life for Israel; Trumpets opened the civil year and called the Lord’s attention to Israel’s need of His blessing, and it may have prepared for the Day of Atonement; The Day of Atonement taught that God graciously forgives all sin; and Booths taught that God gives fatherly care and protection.

Hezekiah

King Hezekiah (728-686 BC, 2 Kings 18-20; 2 Chronicles 29-32) was Ahaz’s (Jehoahaz, 732-715 BC) son. He was one of the godly kings of Judah. Hezekiah cleaned and repaired the temple and destroyed the idolatrous worship centers (2 Kings 18.3-6). Hezekiah cleansed the temple (2 Chronicles 20); he celebrated a national Passover (2 Chronicles 30); and he destroyed idols and restored contributions for the temple (2 Chronicles 31). He threw off Assyria’s yoke which he had inherited from his father (2 Kings 18.7) and successfully fought the Philistines (2 Kings 18.8). Sennacherib twice invaded Judah. The second time (701 BC), the Lord fought for Judah and destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kings 19.35). Following this victory, Isaiah told Hezekiah that he would soon die. Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and the Lord gave him 15 more years (2 Kings 20.1-7). The Lord gave him a miraculous sign that this would be true—the shadow on the staircase went back ten steps 2 Kings 20.8-11). Soon after this, Hezekiah foolishly showed Merodach-baladan, king of Babylon, the temple treasures, for which Isaiah scolded him. Isaiah told Hezekiah that in the near future Babylon would come and take the temple treasures to Babylon (2 Kings 20.12-18). Hezekiah placidly accepted this because it would not happen until after his time. Hezekiah is also famous for the construction of the 1777 foot long underground water tunnel that carried water from the Gihon springs outside the city (which he stopped up and covered over) into Jerusalem. Along with the water tunnel he built the Siloam reservoir to hold the water (2 Kings 20.20; 2 Chronicles 32.1-4, 32). The Siloam inscription in Hezekiah’sw ater tunnel reads “[...when] (the tunnel) was driven through.  And this was the way in which it was cut through:  While [...] (were) still [...] axe(s), each man toward his fellow, and while there were still three cubits to be cut through, [there was heard] the voice of a man calling to his fellows, for there was an overlap in the rock on the right [and on the left].  And when the tunnel was driven through, the quarrymen hewed (the rock), each man toward his fellow, axe against axe; and the water flowed from the spring toward the reservoir for 1200 cubits, and the height of the rock above the head(s) of the quarrymen was 100 cubits.” Hezekiah, by his attitude of seeking the Lord, righting wrongs, instituting proper temple worship, and submission to the Lord, was instrumental in a national resurgence of Israel.

Josiah

Josiah (2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35; r. 640-609 BC) was the last prominent king of Judah before the great destruction. The invasions by Babylon began in 605 BC and eventuated in the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and the exile of the people to Babylon in 586 BC. At the age of eight years he began his reign. In the eighteenth year of his reign be began repairing the temple. During this construction Hilkiah the high priest found the book of the Law (Moses’ writing). Shaphan the scribe read the Law to Josiah. He was appalled at the apostasy of the people from God’s word. Josiah purged Jerusalem and Judah of idols, idol high places (for worship), pagan priests, mediums, and spiritists. Because of his honest acceptance of God’s word, the Lord would put off divine judgment of Judah until after Josiah died. Josiah met his death when he foolishly went to fight against the Egyptians in 609 BC. After Josiah died, Judah rebelled against God, God’s prophets, and God’s disciplining hand. God judged this generation through the Babylonians from 605 BC to 586 BC.  Though Pharaoh Neco of Egypt killed Josiah in battle, set up Josiah’s son Jehoahaz as the client king, then removed and imprisoned him at Riblah in 609 BC, Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar soon disposed of Egypt as a power, and then invaded and destroyed Jerusalem. Josiah gave Judah a brief resurgence of religious life and national prosperity through his attention to the Lord and a reviving of the teaching of the law and application of the law in the national life.

Legalism

  1. Legalism is the belief in and the practice of human religious regulations and taboos because one believes that is the way to please God, become spiritual, and live the Christian life. Legalism can then become the strict following of Scripture or of tradition by human ability. All of this, of course, is wrong. In Acts 21 those “zealous for the law” were legalists. The law of Moses was their code of religious regulations and taboos; they were upset with Paul that he did not place high priority on living by the law. The entire context of Acts 21-23 demonstrates that Paul was unable to persuade Jews that Christ alone was sufficient for salvation and that the Christian life was lived by God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit and by faith. Coupled with this is another belief: that God will bless, help, and prosper the one living this way.
  2. A legalist follows the letter of Scripture and tradition in order to gain good from God or show his own righteousness. Legalistic people work for God's blessing, they confuse cause and result, and they misunderstand grace.
  3. In contrast to the legalist, a biblical believer follows the meaning of the scripture from a desire to please God. Scripture teaches that a believer is to think and act rightly because of genuine appreciation for God.
  4. Legalism becomes a heavy yoke or load to live under (Matthew 11.28).
  5. Legalism is against salvation by grace (Galatians 1.6-9; 2.16), spirituality by grace (Galatians 3.2-5; 5.5), and the freedom to live the Christian way of life by grace—which is the freedom to live apart from pressure imposed by a religious community or a taboo list (Galatians 4.8-11; 5.1-5).
  6. Legalistic people often attempt to force their lifestyle upon others and thereby judge and interfere in the freedom of other believers (John 7.19-24; Romans 14.1-12; Galatians 2.1-5).
  7. Pride, self righteousness, and a critical mental attitude characterize legalists and perpetuate legalism (Matthew 12.10; Luke 18.9-12; Galatians 2.3-5; 6.12-13). The legalistic person has separated himself from the light load and easy yoke of freedom in Christ (Matthew 11.30; Galatians 5.1-4).
  8. Legalistic people replace Bible doctrine and the spirit of Bible doctrine with human standards (Matthew 12.1-8; 15.1-3).
  9. Common legalistic practices in Bible times include observing religious ritual for the sake of ritual (Acts 15.5; Galatians 4.10-11; Colossians 2.16), observing special days, months, seasons, and years (Galatians 4.10-11; Colossians 2.16-18), circumcision (Galatians 2.3-5; 5.2-4), taboo lists (Colossians 2.20-22), hand washing before eating (Matthew 15.1-20), special rules for the Sabbath (Matthew 12.1-1-5, 9-14), self righteousness (Luke 18.9-14), and depending on personal heritage, ability, and conformity to a regulatory system to please God (Philippians 3.4-6).
  10. Current day expressions of legalism related to salvation include believe plus promise to change one’s life, believe plus make Christ Lord, believe plus join the church, believe plus give up habits such as smoking and movies, believe plus an emotional experience, and believe plus participate in church sacraments.
  11. Current day expressions of legalism related to the Christian way of life may include right activity done for the wrong reasons: praying regularly, giving money, reading the Bible, and experiencing emotional highs during a church service. Legalism related to the Christian life may also include wrong activity for the wrong reasons: imitating famous Christians, basing one’s spiritual life on emotional responses to God, avoiding certain taboos such as smoking, attending movies, or playing sports on Sunday.
  12. Legalism ultimately emphasizes human works. The Bible teaches that a believer is unable to contribute anything to God through his own human efforts. Grace emphasizes God’s work and the believer’s dependence upon God’s work.

Missions

  1. Missions is the spiritual ministry that takes the gospel to people who live in geographical regions (foreign missions or home missions) where the gospel is not accurately proclaimed; “regions beyond” were Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10.16 (Matthew 28.19-20; Acts 1.8; Romans 1.14-16; Acts 13-28 is Luke’s record of the missionary trips; Ephesians 4.11-16).
  2. The purpose of missions is
    • To proclaim the good news that eternal salvation is a free gift to all who will believe in Jesus Christ as savior.
    • To teach the new believers Bible doctrine for spiritual growth and ministry.
    • To help the indigenous believers to form a local church, select a pastor-teacher and deacons, and begin to grow and serve Christ.
  3. The missionary will then repeat this process with other people in the same, similar, or different regions.
  4. Missionaries ought to revisit the new churches on occasion in order to encourage and teach the believers until they are self-sufficient.
  5. Missionaries should be sent out from a home local church and be supported by that church and possibly by other churches in that geographical area.
  6. Missionaries ought to return to their own local church to report on their ministry and to be taught and further equipped by the pastor-teacher.
  7. A missionary ought to have one of the public communication spiritual gifts: evangelist, teacher, or pastor-teacher.
  8. Missionaries must be biblically grounded in all Bible doctrine, but especially the gospel, grace, faith, and basic Christian life doctrines (occupation with Christ, knowledge of the Word, faith-rest, confession of sin, spirituality, prayer, and ministry).

Pastor and Teacher

  1. Pastor and teacher or pastor-teacher is the man gifted by God to equip believers for ministry and for the edification of the church (Ephesians 4.11-14). We often shorten the title to pastor, but that includes the teaching  part of the job. The general profile indicates that he is to study the Word of God and to authoritatively teach the Word of God for spiritual growth and application, and to lead, encourage, and protect his own God-given flock.  This will result in believers who are able to minister and participate in the build up of the body of Christ and therefore represent God on earth (Ephesians 4.11-14; Acts 20.17 and 28; Romans 12.7; 2 Timothy 2.15; Titus 2.15; 1 Peter 4.11-12; 1 Peter 5.1-4).
  2. There are three terms that refer to the pastor-teacher: 
    • "Pastor and teacher" (poimhn kai didaskalo~), which can also be written as pastor-teacher, is the working title for the man God gifts to teach, encourage, lead, and protect his flock or congregation. Pastor emphasizes leadership, encouragement, care for, protection, correction.  Teacher emphasizes communication and instruction of the Word of God. Pastor-teacher emphasizes the person and ministries that result from the gifts. The pastor-teacher is also the overseer and elder (Ephesians 4.11; Acts 20.17 and 28).
    • The title "overseer" (episkopo~, guardian, superintendent) is an official title emphasizing the supervisory activity (1 Timothy 3.2; Titus 1.7).
    • The title "elder" (presbutero~, elder, older man) is an official title emphasizing the rank.  Both refer to the pastor-teacher as the leader, and both carry authority (1 Timothy 5.17; Titus 1.5; 1 Peter 5.1-4). The pastor-teacher seems to be multi-gifted in order to perform God's function. The gifts most apparent are teaching, leadership, encouragement, and administration (Acts 20.28; Ephesians 4.11-12).
  3. God gives each pastor-teacher his own specific flock or congregation to teach and to shepherd (Acts 20.28; 1 Peter 5.2-3).
  4. Along with this God-given responsibility, God also gives the pastor-teacher the spiritual authority to serve his own congregation. This authority has been delegated from God through the Holy Spirit and the Bible (Ephesians 4.11-16; Acts 20.17-28; 1 Peter 5.1-4; 1 Timothy 5.17; Hebrews 13.17).
  5. The pastor-teacher must be a servant and must not abuse his authority (Matthew 20.25-28; John 13.15-17; 1 Peter 5.3).
  6. In human terms he is a general and a soldier, and a coach and a player.
  7. The character of the overseer (pastor-teacher) must be good, but it does not indicate that spiritual leaders are more holy than anyone else. All possess sin natures, all have weaknesses, and all fail (1 Timothy 3.2-7, Titus 1.5-9, and 1 Peter 5.1-3).
  8. The pastor-teacher must please the Lord, not people; God wants him to equip his congregation (Galatians 1.10; 1 Thessalonians 2.4-6; Ephesians 4.11-12; Titus 2.15).
  9. In day to day life the practice of the pastor-teacher is to study the Bible, from the original languages if possible, and to communicate the content for application, to lead and encourage the people during good and bad times, and to protect the congregation from bad doctrine and disruptive influences in the church (Acts 20.28-31; Ephesians 4.11-12; Philippians 1.25; 2 Timothy 2.15; 4.2).

Persecution

Persecution is some kind of attack against a believer in Christ because one is a believer in Christ; it is one of the occupational hazards of a Christian; Paul wrote to Timothy “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3.12). Persecution of Christians was local and sporadic until about A.D. 250.  It was often initiated by religious authority (Acts 7) and by government authority (Nero, A.D. 54-68; Domitian, A.D. 81-96; Aurelius, A.D. 161-180; Decius; A.D. 249-251; and Diocletian A.D. 284-305).  Some persecution was by arrest and interrogation, and sometimes included jail time (Acts 4-5); other persecution was by mob violence as in Acts 7 and 17; Herod Agrippa executed the Apostles James (Acts 12.1-2); Jews stoned Paul at Lystra (Acts 14.19); Peter wrotes in 2 Peter 3.1-6 that unbelievers enjoyed ridiculing believers; Paul recorded, in 2 Thessalonians 1.4-5, what probably was physical, verbal, and mental persecution of the new Thessalonian believers; the apostle John was put in some sort of solitary confinement on the Island of Patmos (Rev 1.5).  Polycarp, at the age of 86 or older, was burned to death at Smyrna because he would not recant his faith. Rome instigated major persecutions in A.D. 249-251, under Decius, A.D. 258-259, under Valerian, and from A.D. 296-310, under Diocletian and especially under Galerius. The intermingling of church and state which began with Constantine and the growth of the papacy eventually brought  persecution by both church and state. There were numerous reasons for persecution: religious establishments have always resorted to the persecution of “heretics”; when the Roman political order thought that Christianity was a threat, the Romans sought to remove the threat by removing Christians; Christians became the scapegoat for failed political policies—Nero and the infamous “Christian torches” is one example.

Peter: Not the First Pope

  1. Peter was not the first Pope. In fact, the papacy is a product of man’s design, not God’s. Peter was not even the outstanding leader of the apostles. He was a fisherman turned disciple and apostle by God’s grace. He denied the Son of God during Jesus’ trial (Matthew 26.33-35, 69-75). He was a busybody about John’s ministry (John 21.15-22). Peter gave in to legalism during a trip to Antioch and Paul had to correct him (Galatians 2.11-14).
  2. Yet Peter was also the disciple who answered Jesus’ question, “But who do you [all] say that I am?” with “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded by telling Peter, “And I also say to you that you are Peter [petro~, a stone or rock; this is nominative masculine singular; it refers to Peter], and upon this rock [petra, a massive rock or rocky place, the form is petra/ , dative feminine singular; it refers to Peter’s statement about Christ] I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.” Jesus told Peter that he was correct and that Jesus would build his church on himself (Jesus Christ), the doctrine of which was embodied in Peter’s statement “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.”
  3. Jesus then told Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16.15,16,19). Jesus meant that Peter would be the one to both formally and publicly open the kingdom of heaven, through preaching the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter did this with the Jews in Acts 2.38-40, with the Samaritans in Acts 8.14-17, and with the Gentiles in Acts 10.34-36.
  4. With regard to Peter’s authority over “binding and loosing,” this statement was made to Peter (Matthew 16.19), then to all the disciples-apostles (Matthew 18.18). This authority refers to the apostles’ leadership and ruling authority during the apostolic period of the first century. Peter, for example, used the authority in Acts 3 with the lame man and in Acts 5 with Annanias and Sapphira. John 20.23 is different from the two Matthew passages. John records that Jesus extended this authority to declaring the results of a person’s response to God’s terms for forgiveness of sins—those who believe in Jesus have been forgiven and those who disbelieve Jesus have not been forgiven.
  5. Roman Catholic theology also wrongly uses Luke 22.32 to support Peter’s authority by making this Scripture teach that Christ’s prayer for Peter guaranteed Peter’s infallibility; the theology also applies this guarantee to those bishops who succeed Peter. From these biblical statements and tradition (religious and historical) the Roman Catholic Church builds its doctrine of the papacy.
  6. The Roman church is, of course, quite wrong. Peter later wrote that he was a fellow elder with other elders and so on equal footing with them (1 Peter 5.1). James was the leader of the Jerusalem church, not Peter (Acts 15.13-19). 
  7. Peter, when writing about the rock, the stone, the foundation, means Christ; all church believers are living stones of the building called the church (1 Peter 2.4-8; Acts 4.11-12).
  8. Peter himself stated that only God can forgive sins (Acts 10.48; 13.38-39).
  9. John, another apostle, quoted Jesus’ restrictive statement “and I [Jesus] have the keys of death and of Hades” (Revelation 1:18).
  10. After the church began, God appointed Peter as the apostle to the Jews. God worked through Peter to build up and enlarge the church. God inspired Peter to write First and Second Peter; the gospel of Mark is possibly Peter’s gospel penned by Mark.
  11. While Peter may have spent some time in Rome, there is no evidence that he was ever a bishop of Rome.
  12. In summary, Peter was an apostle, the apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2.7-9); God worked through him to help begin, build, and strengthen the church; Peter never thought of himself as the leading apostle, and he certainly was not the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church nor was he infallible. Some of the Roman Catholic proclamations and their dates are of interest: 1545-1563, the Council of Trent, which made the teachings of the Roman church into binding law, one of which was the denial of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone; 1854, Mary’s immaculate conception; 1869-1870,  First Vatican Council,  which proclaimed  papal infallibility 1870; 1950, Mary’s bodily assumption into heaven at her death; 1962-1965, the Second Vatican Council reaffirmed the rulings of the Council of Trent; 1994, the Catechism of the Catholic Church officially restated for the first time in 400 years the traditional beliefs of the Roman Catholic church.

Repentance

Repentance is about harmony and fellowship with God. It means to change one’s mind about God and sin. The verb is metanoevw, metanoeo; the noun is metavnoia, metanoia. Repentance has a wide scope; on one end it can be a broad call for a nation to return to her heritage and on the other end of the spectrum it can be a precise call for a believer to confess specific sin and return to fellowship with God. Repentance is not a condition of salvation; faith in Christ as Savior is the only condition for salvation (John 3.16; Acts 16.31; Ephesians 2.8-9). Both unbelievers (Matthew 12.41) and believers (Luke 15; Acts 19.18-20; 2 Corinthians 7.7-10; Revelation 3.19) repent. When unbelievers repent, it does not mean that they have become believers. An unbeliever’s repentance may hold off God’s judgment or prepare him to listen more closely to the gospel. In the case of the believer, repentance may prepare for a confession of personal sin and return to fellowship; at times, it includes the confession of sin as illustrated by the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. Jesus and John the Baptist told Israel to repent. This was not a call to eternal salvation, but instead a call to return to the national relationship with God for which God had prepared them. The call to repentance was to prepare them to believe in their Messiah (Matthew 3.1-3; Luke 3.3, 8-9). Jesus also told the Jewish people to repent from their rebellious political and religious activities; if they did not repent, temporal judgment, including physical death would result (Luke 13.1-9). In summary, the command to repent is a call to harmony and fellowship with God. It is a call for the unbeliever or the believer to change his thinking about God and sin and so turn from one’s sin to God.

Resurrection in the Old Testament

  1. Resurrection was taught in the Old Testament, though not in detail.
  2. Paul, the expert in Old Testament theology and Pharisaic theology said that the resurrection was taught and believed in the Old Testament and by Pharisees (Acts 23:6; Acts 26:6-8; Acts 26:22-23). Jesus clearly believed and taught resurrection (Matthew 22.30-33; Luke 14.14; John 2.19-22; 5:28-29).
  3. The Old Testament spoke of resurrection of the body. Sometimes faintly, but the doctrine was taught (Daniel 12:1-3, 13,
    • Daniel expects a resurrection of the believer and unbeliever. The believer will enter into his allotted destiny at that time
    • Isaiah 26:13-19; Job 19:25-26, Job would see God after his physical death and from the vantage point of his own body
    • Psalm 16:10 with Acts 2.23-36, Peter interprets this as physical resurrection
    • Psalm 116:15, How do we explain this apart from resurrection
    • Psalm 17:15; Psalm 49:15; Psalm 73:24; Hebrews 11:9-10,13,17-19,  These tell us that the Old Testament believers were expecting a future after death, and that future seemed to include physical bodies
    • Ezekiel 37:12-14, Ezekiel 37 is the vision of the bones and sticks. The point is that Israel will be raised up and regathered. This may just refer to a national regathering and regeneration, but the figure of resurrection is used and has meaning to the Jews
  4. In conclusion, the Old Testament writers expected a future bodily resurrection of both the believer and unbeliever. It was future to their time. They will be with God. It will be a time of happiness and fulfillment of God’s destiny for them.

Revelation

  1. Revelation means that God has communicated himself and his word to mankind (John 1.18; 2 Timothy 3.16-17).
  2. There are two kinds of revelation: General and Special.
    • Mankind knows, through General or Natural revelation, that God, exists but General revelation does not tell mankind how to have relationship with God (Psalm 19.1-6). We see God’s glory and design when we look at the heavens (Psalm 19.1-6) or recognize the seasons and weather (Acts 14.17). We know he exists when we see the design and order of  the unseen but accepted laws that govern and maintain the solar system (Colossians 1.17). Since the creation of man all mankind has possessed God-consciousness—an inner knowledge of God’s attributes, power, and nature (Romans 1.18-21). The very existence and survival of Israel documents that God exists and has a purpose for the world (Hebrews 11.1-2, 26-27; Joshua 24; Act 7).
    • Special revelation refers to the way that God has revealed specific details about himself and his redemption plan: he has specifically revealed himself through his Son and our savior, Jesus Christ, the living word (John 1.18; Hebrews 1.2-3) and through the Bible, the written word (1 Corinthians 2.10; 2 Timothy 3.16-17). The Bible is without error (Joshua 23.14-15; Matthew 5.18; 22.31-32; Luke 24.44; 2 Timothy 3.16-17; Deuteronomy 25.4; Matthew 10.10; Titus 1.2). God has made his written word, the Bible, known and understood to mankind through three steps: revelation (Acts 3.18-22; 1 Corinthians 2.10; 2 Peter 1.21), inspiration (2 Timothy 3.16-17), communication (Ezekiel 2-3; Ephesians 4.11-12).
  3. Both general and special revelation honor God and bless mankind (Psalm 119).

Roman Administrative Authority

Roman administrative authority extended far beyond the city of Rome. Though Augustus did not originate the administrative system, he did give careful attention to it. Rome administered the lands that were not a part of the physical city by designating them as provinces, territories, or colonies. All fell under Rome’s administrative authority. The provincial system had two kinds of provinces, imperial and senatorial.  There were thirty-two provinces when Paul made his missionary trips: twenty-one were imperial provinces and eleven were senatorial provinces. An imperial province came under the direct control of the emperor. These provinces were in newer and more unstable areas of the empire. The emperor appointed a governor or imperial legate who served until death or until the emperor removed him. The emperor paid the governor a salary and commanded just treatment of the people. The emperor also stationed Roman legions in the provinces to keep peace and to protect Roman interests. Imperial provinces included Bithynia, Pamphylia, Galatia (with Lystra, Pisidian Antioch, and Iconium), Cappadocia, Syria (with Tarsus, Damascus, and Antioch of Syria), and after A.D. 70, Judea. A senatorial province was governed by the senate through a proconsul, who served a one year term. The emperor kept a watchful eye on the senatorial provinces. The proconsul had a small military force at his disposal. Senatorial provinces included Crete, Macedonia (with Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea), Achaia (with Athens and Corinth), and Asia (with Ephesus as the capital city). Territories were foreign lands ruled by a client-king. Often provinces began as territories. The king, later on, yielded the territory to Rome. Galatia, Cappadocia, Bithynia, Pamphylia, Macedonia, and Achaia began as territories. A Roman colony was a small piece of the city of Rome that was geographically separated from Rome; Luke correctly records that Philippi (Acts 16.12) was a Roman colony; Augustus had granted colony status to Philippi. The Roman colony policy began very early with groups of 300 families sent to garrison coastline cities. The colony policy changed over the years; political reasons surpassed strategic reasons and colonies were used for emigration of common folk or veteran soldiers. Colonies helped to Romanize native communities and to protect Rome’s interests. A colony was a small copy of Rome.

Saul, also named Paul

Saul, also named Paul, was born in Tarsus, an important city within the Roman world. He was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin and a Roman citizen by birth. We do not know for sure how his family first acquired Roman citizenship, but "Presumably Paul's father, grandfather or even great-grandfather had rendered some outstanding service to the Roman cause... One thing is certain, however:  among the citizens and other residents of Tarsus, the few Roman citizens, whether Greeks or Jews by birth, would constitute a social elite." (F.F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, p. 38-39) (Acts 16.37; 21.39; 22.3, 25-29; Romans 11.1; Philippians 3.5). Saul was a Pharisee, and Gamaliel, the leading Pharisee of the day, had taught him (Acts 23.6; 26.5; Philippians 3.5).  He had a wonderful heritage, intellect, ability, and training. He succeeded at whatever he did (Philippians 3.4-6).  Saul was hostile to Christ and Christians.  He was present at the stoning of Stephen; while there he must have heard the message which Stephen delivered. Later he was armed with written authority to seek out and persecute believers (Acts 7.58-60; 8.1-3; 9.1-2; 22.4-8; 26.9-12; 1 Corinthians 15.9; Galatians 1.13; Philippians 3.6).  Later, the Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself to Saul while he was traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus to harass and arrest believers. Saul believed in Christ as savior at that time. The Lord immediately sent him to Ananias, a believer, in Damascus. God removed Paul's temporary blindness and instructed him through Ananias (Acts 9.1-19; 22.3-16; 26.12-18).  Soon after Paul met Ananias, he went into Arabia where the Lord taught him and prepared him for his ministry. Following this training he returned to Damascus to witness and teach Bible doctrine (Acts 9.20-22; Galatians 1.16-18). Later, Saul began his missionary travels. Saul began to go by his Roman name, Paul, about the time his missionary trips to the Gentiles began (Acts 13.1-13).

Sin of the Tongue

Sins of the tongue are a common source of great evil (James 3.1-12). Everyone has a sin nature and will fail in many areas of life; one area of failure that is common to all people is the tongue—our speech. Sins of the tongue are one of the three areas of personal sin (Proverbs 6.16-19). Sins of the tongue will be a part of the increasing apostasy that occurs before Christ returns (2 Timothy 3.1-9); even the Man of Lawlessness will deceive and control people by what he will say; we can even say that lying literature—literature that propagates false ideas—is an extension of sins of the tongue (2 Thessalonians 2.1-12). Mental attitude sins such as pride are often a source of sins of the tongue—flattery is one example (1 Thessalonians 2.5; James 4.16). They can destroy a cohesive group of people, such as a church (Psalm 52.2; Romans 16.17-18; 1 Corinthians 5.6). Control of the tongue is difficult, but if a person can control the tongue,  that shows some spiritual maturity and the self-discipline that goes with maturity (James 3.2). What we say can cause enormous damage, just like a forest fire. The tongue can destroy us; it incites the ups and downs of history; and the tongue seems to be driven by its potential for destruction (James 3.3-8). Believers use the tongue to both curse and bless; this is not right. Since we are in Christ and since we have had Bible doctrine taught to us, we ought to bless or benefit others with the tongue, not cause them trouble (3.9-12). God clearly instructs us to avoid sinning with our tongues (Ephesians 4.29; 5.4; Colossians 3.8).

Spiritual Royal Birthright

Spiritual Royal Birthright is the possession of every church age believer. The birthright (the right or privilege to which a person is entitled by birth, American Heritage Dictionary) of every citizen of a country is the national heritage, national purpose, and reason for national courage. The birthright belongs to each citizen because he is a citizen. The value of the birthright depends, of course, upon the value and credibility of the founders and the founding documents. Every church age believer is a citizen of heaven: “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3.20). The Father has “transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved son” (Colossians 1.13). We are “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.26). We are “in Christ…a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5.17). We are “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 3.9). This relationship to God through Jesus Christ confers spiritual royalty upon us. We have, therefore, a spiritual royal birthright. God has given to every believer in the church a royal heritage, a royal mission, and a reason for royal courage. This threefold birthright is the foundation for living the Christian way of life (Philippians 1.27-30). Our royal birthright heritage is summarized in Philippians 1.27: “standing firm in one spirit” (sthkete en eni pneumati). This refers to our unique oneness or commonness of spiritual life in Christ. The three parts of our heritage are the in Christ heritage, the Word of God heritage, and the blessings of God heritage. Our royal birthright mission is summarized in Philippians 1.27: “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (mia yuch sunaylountev th pistei tou euaggeliou). We actively serve together for the faith like athletes who train and compete in athletic games. Our common mission is to spread the gospel, learn and pass on the word of God, and support believers. Our personal mission is to produce divine good through our spiritual gifts combined with the filling with the Holy Spirit and the word of God in our souls. Our royal birthright courage is summarized in Philippians 1.28: “in no way alarmed by your opponents” (mh pturomenoi en mhdeni upo twn antikeimenwn). Courage is acting on what we believe—faith-rest and faith-application. This spiritual courage, when used, makes us undaunted in the face of enemy attack. We have courage to fulfill our royal birthright mission because we have and believe our royal birthright heritage.

Spirituality

Spirituality (Galatians 6.1) is the absolute condition of any believer “walk[ing] by the Spirit” (Galatians 5.16) and “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5.18). God the Holy Spirit permanently indwells every believer (1 Corinthians 3.16; 6.19 12.13), but every believer is not always spiritual. Spirituality emphasizes Christian life practice, while fellowship emphasizes Christian life relationship with God (1 John 1.1-10). Spirituality is distinct from spiritual maturity. Carnality, which describes the condition any believer controlled by his sinful nature, is the opposite of spirituality (1 Corinthians 1.1-3 and Galatians 5.16-17). Every believer is either spiritual or carnal at any point in time. Spirituality is the normal condition of the believer’s life, but personal sin quenches (1 Thessalonians 5.19) or grieves (Ephesians 4.30) the Holy Spirit and places the believer under the control of the sinful nature; this condition is carnality (1 Corinthians 3.1-3). Spirituality is regained by confession of sin (1 John 1.9 and 1 Corinthians 11.30 compared to Galatians 5.16-17) and trusting the Holy Spirit to live through one (Galatians 3.2-5). The Holy Spirit controls the sinful nature while a believer is spiritual; the spiritual believer possesses the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22-23); he can serve in the restoration of carnal believers (Galatians 6.1); he has the spiritual freedom to please God instead of following a legal code out of duty (Galatians 5.18); the spiritual believer has the spiritual freedom to reflect God’s ongoing transformation of him to Christ-likeness (2 Corinthians 3.17-18); and spirituality orders and uplifts the believer’s soul and makes him thankful (Ephesians 5.19-20).

Undeserved Suffering

Undeserved suffering is pressure, pain, ridicule, injustice, and any harassment that a Christian faces because he is a believer in Christ or because he is living in a way that pleases God. Genuine undeserved suffering comes upon us because we are believers in Christ and are living the Christ-like life:  by faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and according to the Word of God. Undeserved suffering is part of a believer’s supernatural Christian life (2 Corinthians 6.3-10). Undeserved suffering is not caused by personal sin, spiritual immaturity, or failure to apply Bible doctrine. Paul and Silas were witnessing about Christ and teaching Bible doctrine in the city of Philippi. Even though they both were Roman citizens and had broken no law, they were falsely accused, beaten, and imprisoned—because they were believers in Christ and living in a way that pleased God (Acts 16). Paul, during his first Roman imprisonment, continued to live occupied with Christ and ready and willing to carry on his God given ministry (Philippians 1). His faith in God and God’s word continued to clothe him and to encourage him during his second Roman imprisonment, even though he knew then that he faced physical death because he was a believer and living Christ’s kind of life (2 Timothy 4.6-8). Believers who endure undeserved suffering through faith application of the Word of God are living examples of God’s grace, and this kind of life pleases God (1 Peter 2.19-20). When we endure undeserved suffering because Christ’s kind of life is living out through us we ought to rejoice; we have been granted a great privilege (1 Peter 4.13). We also are being blessed because the Spirit of God’s glory, the Holy Spirit, is at that time abiding in us (1 Peter 4.14). We ought to continue to live God’s kind of life—the Christ-like life—through the faith application of the Word of God, even if it brings more undeserved suffering on us (1 Peter 4.19). We have God’s promise that he is working his good out of hard circumstances (Romans 8.28), that he is on our side (Romans 8.31), and that he will provide all the spiritual resources we need (Romans 8.29). God honors with the crown of life those who continue to live the supernatural Christian life while enduring undeserved suffering (Revelation 3.10).

Witnessing for Christ

Witnessing for Christ is our privilege. There are many biblical examples of witnessing, and they help us in our witnessing for Christ.

  1. Jesus witnessed about Himself as the Savior many times: to Nicodemas in John 3; to the woman at the well in John 4; to Martha in John 11; and to Thomas in John 20.
  2. Peter was a witness for Jesus Christ when he preached to the Jewish crowd who had seen him heal the lame man (Acts 3). Peter began with the current event that they had seen and used that to move into a message to persuade them that Jesus Christ, whom they had crucified and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had raised from the dead, was the Messiah, the one whom the prophets had announced. He proclaimed to the Jews that to return to the message of the prophets about the Messiah and believe in Jesus Christ would gain for them forgiveness now and prophesied kingdom blessing in the future. To reject Jesus Christ would bring judgment.
  3. Paul witnessed for Christ throughout his ministry: to the Philippian jailer in Acts 16; to the Athenian philosophers in Acts 17; to the Jewish mob in Acts 22; to Felix, Festus, and Agrippa in Acts 24-26; and to many others throughout his ministry. Paul’s attitude toward witnessing should be our attitude: “I am under obligation,” “I am eager,” and “I am not ashamed” (Romans 1.14-16).
  4. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, therefore we all are to witness for Christ (Romans 1.16; 2 Corinthians 5.18-19).
  5. To witness for Christ, then, is to clearly communicate the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that he arose, and that whoever believes in him as savior will be given eternal life (John 3.16-18; Acts 16.31).
  6. Witnessing for Christ, along with teaching and learning Bible doctrine, is the mission of believers between Christ’s first and second comings. The believer gives the gospel (Matthew 28.18-20, 2 Timothy 3.15), the Holy Spirit convinces the unbeliever (John 16.8-11), and when one believes in Jesus Christ as savior the Holy Spirit gives that one eternal life (Titus 3.5; John 20.31).