Tuesday, December 23, 2008

by Bonnie Calhoun

To finish up our notable people of the New Testament.

Phoebe is one of the few women missionary figures of the New Testament. History indicates that it was not uncommon for women to be in leadership roles in the early church, though it was certainly not typical in Jewish synagogues. Phoebe traveled to Rome, most likely to bring Paul's letter (what we know as the Book of Romans) to the Christians there.

Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria. He was actually a missionary before he met Paul. John the Baptist had mentioned him and helped Apollos become a powerful preacher. He found help for his questions about Jesus in Corinth when he spoke with Priscilla and Aquilla.

The first martyr of the church was Stephen. A young Pharisee named Saul was present. Eventually Saul would be converted and receive the name Paul. His conversion is a sign of the wondrous grace God has in store for those who believe in Him. When Stephen was stoned, he died with a vision of Jesus in sight. He was at peace and thus incensed his captors even more. Before he died Stephen said, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."

Another famous Ananias was Ananias of Damascus. When Paul was converted, he became blind. Ananias was told to go to the house where Paul was staying. He did so, though he knew that the man Saul was coming to arrest Christians. He prayed and the newly converted Paul received his sight back.

Dorcas, who was also called Tabitha, also received a miracle during the early days of the church. She lived in Joppa. She fell ill and then died. Her distressed friends sent for Peter, the "rock" of the church. He prayed for her even as she was dead! She was given her life back and sat up. Many of her friends became believers as a result of this miracle.

Cornelius was actually a Roman soldier and was stationed at Caesarea. He was a Gentile who had joined a synagogue in order to seek God. He was a "God fearer." An angel appeared to him one day and told Cornelius to send for Peter. When Peter came, Cornelius and his entire family learned about Jesus. They were baptized immediately and praised God.

Eutychus had been named well. His name means "lucky." While he was listening to Paul preach, he fell out of a three-story window (he fell asleep) and was lying still and believed to be dead when they reached him. Paul embraced him and he was healed. He had been blessed, not lucky, but his name seems appropriate!

Philemon had an interesting conversion experience. He was a wealthy Christian from Colosse, and he was converted by his slave, Onesimus. Onesimus had rn away and eventually met the apostle Paul and became a believer. Paul sent him back to his master, Philemon, and urged Philemon to receive him as a "beloved brother." Philemon did so and was also saved!

Lydia is one of the few women mentioned in the early church. She was a seller of purple cloth and a Gentile, but sought God by going to a Jewish prayer center. She then met Paul and his fellow missionaries. She became converted, and eventually she and her family and even their workers were baptized. Paul and his friends stayed in her home.

Stephanas and his entire household were the first Christians to convert during Paul's ministry in Achaia. As the church grew in that area, Stpehanas took a more active role in caring for other new Christians. Paul was fond of him and his family and he especially enjoyed Stephanas's visit with him in Europe.

Aquila and Priscilla were a tent-making couple from Corinth. They became Christians after listening to Paul preach. They were dear friends of Paul and supported him to the very end, even risking their lives for him. They were loved and known in many churches in Greece and Asia Minor.

One final note on Paul. Acts closes with Paul incarcerated and under a mild form of house arrest in the imperial capital. He continued preaching the gospel and writing letters to the churches he had established. Acts says nothing more about Paul's appeal or ultimate fate, or that of Peter. Both eventually disappear from the biblical account without any specific word about what happened to them. According to well-established tradition, both apostles were martyred during Emperor Nero's persecution of Christians after the great fire in Rome in A.D. 64.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

by Bonnie Calhoun

We've been talking back and forth with a lot of biblical names here in the New Testament. Let's get a handle on some of the people that we've met and some that we will meet in coming books.

The list of disciples differ slightly from one book to another. The Gospel of Matthew lists Simon, Andrew (Simon's brother), James and John (the Sons of Zebedee), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew the tax collector, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot. Luke refers to Simon as "the zealot" (a brand of political protestors) and mentions "Judas son of James" instead of Thaddaeus. Many of these men were pillars of the early church.

Peter, who was called Simon before Jesus renamed him, was the first leader of the early church. Peter had a long history with the Lord; he denied Christ three times before the cock crowed but went on in faith following Christ's death and resurrection to become exactly what his new name meant─"the rock."

James and John, both sons of Zebedee, were brothers. They both were active in the early church. Both had been especially close to Jesus, being present at the transfiguration. It is strongly believed that John went on to write the Gospel of John.

Acts introduces the New Testament's second most influential figure (Jesus was the first!), an educated, pious Jew and tent-maker named Saul. Born in what is now Turkey, Saul went to Jerusalem to learn from the esteemed rabbi Gamaliel, grandson of legendary rabbi Hillel, the most prominent pharisaic rabbi of the first century. Given authority by the high priest to arrest followers of Christ in Damascus for blasphemy, Saul vigorously persecuted early Christians. His name was changed to Paul after he experienced a transforming vision and conversion.

Barnabas was one of the earliest convert to Christianity and a close friend of Paul's. A Greek-speaking Jew from Cyprus, Barnabas's real name was Joseph, but because he was an excellent teacher, his friends called him Barnabas, which means "Son of encouragement." He accompanied Paul on the first missionary journey through Asia Minor.

Timothy was one of Paul's main helpers. Paul mentored the younger man through two letters (1 and 2 Timothy) and called him his "true son in faith." Timothy also traveled on his own.

Philip became a missionary and was the first to preach the gospel to those living in Samaria. He is especially remembered for how he helped an Ethiopian read a passage from Isaiah. An angel directed him to go to the Ethiopian. Upon arriving they read the passage together. The foriegner asked to be baptized and became the first Ethiopian Christian.

Silas traveled as a missionary with Paul and Peter. He sang hymns joyously to Christ when he was imprisoned with Paul during the earthquake in Philippi. The jailer became a Christian because he was so moved by their display of faith. He was to Paul a "faithful brother."

I'll finish up the list of notable characters of the New Testament tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

by Bonnie Calhoun

Today we are looking at the book of Hebrews. Since chapter 1 is short, I've decided to give you some background on this book.

The author does not identify himself, but he was obviously well known to the original recipients. Though for some 1,200 years the book was commonly called "The Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews," there was no agreement in the earliest centuries regarding its authorship. But since the Reformation it has been widely recognized that Paul could not have been the writer.

Moreover, the statement, "This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him" (2:3), indicates that the author had neither been with Jesus during his earthly ministry nor received special revelation directly from the risen Lord, as had Paul (Gal 1:11-12).

Hebrews must have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70, or it would have been mentioned, and the author wouldn't have used the present tense when speaking of the Temple and the priestly activities connected with it.

The letter was addressed primarily to Jewish converts who were familiar with the Old Testament and who were being tempted to revert to Judaism or to Judaize the gospel.

The theme of Hebrews is the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as revealer and as mediator of God's grace.

Chapter 1

In these first five verses we see that all Old Testament writers are now viewed as prophets in that their testimony was preparation for the coming of Christ. The words, "by His Son" is a new and unique category of revelation in contrast to that of the prophets.

The superiority of the Son's revelation is demonstrated by seven great descriptive statements about Him:
1.) Appointed heir of all things
2.) Through whom He made the universe
3.) Radiance of God's glory
4.) Exact representation of His being
5.) Sustaining all things
6.) Provided purification for sins
7.) Sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven

And to top it off...He is superior to the angels. Now that is the topper, because to most Jews angels were exalted beings, especially revered because they were involved in giving the law as Sinai, and to the Jews, the law was God's supreme revelation

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Themes Of Hebrews

by Bonnie Calhoun

Today let's explore the theme of the book of Hebrews.

It deals with the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as revealer and as mediator of God's grace. The prologue (1:1-4) presents Christ as God's full and final revelation and it states that Jesus Christ is superior in every respect to the Law. In other words...there would be no others that would surpass the message that Jesus had for the world.

He also far surpassed the limited preliminary revelation given in the Old Testament. The prophecies and promises of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the "new covenant" (or "new testament"), of which Christ is the mediator.

From the Old Testament itself, Christ is shown to be superior to the ancient prophets, to angels, to Moses (the mediator of the former covenant) and to Aaron and the priestly succession descended from him. Hebrews could be called "the book of better things" since the two Greek words for "better" and "superior" occur 15 times in the letter!

Practical applications of this theme are given throughout the book. The readers are told that there can be no turning back to or continuation in the old Jewish system of sacrifices or regulations, which has been superseded by the unique priesthood of Christ. Some have suggested that these professing Jewish Christians were thinking of merging with a Jewish sect, such as the one at Qumran near the Dead Sea. It has also been suggested that the recipients were from the "large number of priests who became obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7).

The point was that God's people now must look only to him, whose atoning death, resurrection and ascension have opened the way into the true, heavenly sanctuary of God's presence. Resisting temptations to give up the struggle, believers must presevere in the spiritual contest to which they have committed themselves.

Otherwise they may meet with judgment as did the rebellious generation of Israelites in the desert!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

In the preceding chapter the church was designated as the bride of Christ. Now in this chapter it is to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ. I have told you that my humorous friend says this sequence is to be expected—after a couple gets married, the war begins. Therefore, the church should be a good soldier. He was being facetious, of course. In the future the church is to be presented as the bride of Christ. This is the expectation of the church. Today is the period of the engagement and exhibition of the church before the world.

Now this chapter presents another side of the life of a believer. In the world today the church is to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ. In Ephesus there stood the great temple of Diana, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It stood for all that was pagan and heathen; it was grossly immoral. It was time for the believers in Ephesus to recognize that they had an enemy. Not only did the Christians in Ephesus have an enemy, but we have an enemy today. Our enemy is not the worship at the temple of Diana. I think we have something infinitely worse than that. We are seeing immorality and heathenism not only in the name of religion but actually in the name of Christianity—when it is not Christian at all!

The first part of the chapter opens with instructions to children, parents, servants, and masters. This may seem foreign to the life of a soldier. However, a soldier’s training does not start in boot camp; it begins when he is a child in the home.

V1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

The first lesson that a soldier must learn is obedience to those in authority. He must follow orders. This basic training is learned in the home. After the soldier has learned to obey, then he is in a position to be promoted to the rank of an officer where he gives commands to others. To know how to give orders depends largely on how the soldier learned to obey. This basic training is found in the home with the parent-child relationship, and then with the master-servant relationship.

V10-11 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

What in the world is Paul talking about? He is talking about spiritual wickedness, about that which is satanic. Notice that he is coming to the end of the epistle and says, “In conclusion be strengthened in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” You cannot overcome the devil in your own strength and your own power.

The enemy whom the Christian is to fight is not flesh and blood. The enemy is spiritual, and the warfare is spiritual. That is why we need spiritual power.

V24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

And Paul ends with “Grace” which is the key word of the epistle. It opened the epistle (Eph. 1:2) and is the subject of the epistle (Eph. 2:7–8). It now concludes the epistle. It is a fitting word because it is God’s grace which saved us and which sustains us today.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tonight we're starting on the book of Ephesians. Mimi did a very good job of introduction, so we'll start right in.

Chapter one is one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament because it talks about our God-given purpose on this earth.

V1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the briefest of all the introductions to Paul’s epistles. It’s brief because, very frankly, this epistle was sent to the church in Ephesus but was intended to be for all the churches. In some of the better manuscripts en Epheso is left out—it’s not there. Ephesians was apparently the epistle that Paul referred to when he said in Colossians to read the epistle to the Laodiceans. In other words, this was a circular letter for the churches in that day. He’s not writing here to the local church as much as he is to the church in general, that is, the invisible body of believers.

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ” should be changed to Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus. I hope you’ll not think I’m splitting hairs here, but all the way through this epistle and in many other places it should be Christ Jesus. The word Christ is His title. That’s who He is: “… Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Jesus was His human name.

V1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

"...And any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1–2).

By the way, that answers once and for all the question of a limited atonement, that is, that Christ died only for the elect. This verse in 1 John makes it clear that He died for the world. I don’t care who you are, there is a legitimate offer that has been sent out to you today from God, and that offer is that Jesus Christ has died for you. You can’t hide and say, “I am not one of the elect.” You are of the elect if you hear His voice. You also have free will not to hear His voice. The free will of man is never violated because of the election of God. The lost man makes his own choice.

V15-16 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.

Paul prayed that all the Ephesians would gain knowledge and power through prayer. Paul says, when he heard the good news and wonderful reports about the Ephesian church, “I…. cease not to give thanks for you.”

It’s interesting that we don’t too often think of Paul as an outstanding man of prayer. We would put him at the top of the list as a great missionary of the cross. We can’t think of any greater example of apostleship than Paul. If you were to make a list of ten of the greatest preachers of the church, you would certainly put Paul as number one. He was also one of the greatest teachers. The Lord Jesus was, of course, the greatest of all—“… Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46)—and Paul certainly followed in that tradition. He is also an example of a good pastor. According to Dr. Luke, Paul wept with the believers at Ephesus when he took leave of them. He loved them, and they loved him.

I always judge the spiritual life of a church by the way they love their pastor, providing he stands for the Word of God. One can pretty well judge the attitude of the people by the way they love their pastor. Today we need to judge folk by their attitude toward the Word of God rather than how big a Bible they carry under their arms. The Ephesians not only loved Paul, but they loved God’s Word.

And that's where we should all be today!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Well, I'd like to say a big hello to all of our returning readers. For everything there is a time and a season. We rested for a season, now it is time to put the rubber to the road.

Chapter 13 of Romans is one of my favor chapters because it is so truly modern. This shows us how we are to act toward our government, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent. God set down the rules....Submit to Government!

1. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

It is true that the kingdoms of this world belong to Satan and that injustice and corruption abound in all governments; yet God still has control.

2. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will 1bring judgment on themselves.

We need to beware of those who would change our government under the guise of improving it. Remember John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod, Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, James, the brother of John, was slain with the sword of Herod, and Paul was put to death by Nero. Yet Paul chose to tell us this.

Therefore, Christianity never became a movement to improve government, help society, or clean up the town. The gospel was the power of God unto salvation of the individual. Paul never went around telling about the deplorable conditions of Roman jails—and he knew them well from the inside.

In our day the government is corrupt. What is the Christian to do? Our business is to get out the Word of God, and our business is to obey the law. That is what Paul is saying here. Christianity is not a movement to improve government or to help society clean up the town. It is to preach a gospel!

5. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.

The government is to maintain law and order. When it does not do that, it has failed. I feel that a Christian should be opposed to the breakdown of law and order. We are to respect our rulers who are enforcing the law. I have great respect for our army, although it is honeycombed with corruption. I have great respect for police officers, although I know they make mistakes.


6. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Although we may resent the way our tax money is being used, we are to pay taxes anyway. 'Tis The Tax Season!!!!

8. – 10. Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

There is nothing to explain here. It is self-explanatory!

12.b – 14. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

We hear a great deal about night life. The believer is identified with day life. He walks as one who belongs to the day. Oh, how many believers are making every provision for the flesh but are making no provision to go into His presence. My friend, I beg you to put Christ first in your life and to get out the Word of God. This is all important.

And be sure to stop by and visit us on Saturday as I resume the Lessons From the Land of The Bible series!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Romans Chapter Nine

At the time Paul wrote this he was accused of being an enemy of his own people. We are told in Acts 23:12, “And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.” Now Paul uses an expression that is a favorite with him: “I tell the truth, I do not lie.” This poor man is full of anguish that Israel is rejecting Christ.

Verse 6 brings up an interesting point.

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel [Rom. 9:6].

This is a strange expression. In other words, not all the offspring, the natural offspring of Israel, are the real Israel. The Jew in Paul’s day raised the question as to why the Jew had not wholeheartedly accepted Christ since theirs was an elect nation. Is not this failure on God’s part? Paul partially dealt with this problem at the beginning of Romans 3.

Now Paul is going to make a distinction between the natural offspring of Jacob and the spiritual offspring. Always there has been a remnant, and that remnant, whether natural or not natural, has been a spiritual offspring. This is a distinction within the nation Israel, and he is not including Gentiles here at all. The failure was not God’s; but the people had failed. God’s promises were unconditional.

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid [Rom. 9:14].
What will we say to this? Is there injustice with God? Perish the thought! Let it not be. The answer is a resounding no! The natural man rebels against the sovereignty of God. If anything is left to God to make the choice, man immediately concludes that there is injustice. Why is that?

Although we cannot intrude into the mysterious dealings of God, we can trust Him to act in justice. We cannot avoid the doctrine of election, nor can we reconcile God’s sovereign election with man’s free will. Both are true. Let’s keep in mind that this is His universe. He is sovereign. We are but little creatures on earth, and He could take away the breath from us in the next moment.

Do I have the audacity to stand on my two feet, look Him in the face, and question what He does? That would be rebellion of the worst sort. I bow to my Creator and my Redeemer, knowing that whatever choice He makes is right. By the way, if you do not like what He does, perhaps you should move out of His universe and start one of your own so you can make your own rules. But as long as you live in God’s universe, you will have to play according to His rules. Little man needs to bow his stiff neck and stubborn knees before Almighty God and say, “There is no unrighteousness with Thee” (see John 7:18).

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith [Rom. 9:30].

This is a thrilling statement. Gentiles, without willing or working, found righteousness in Christ because God worked and God willed it. The Old Testament Scriptures had prophesied it. As we have seen, Isaiah had said that Gentiles were to be saved.

But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness [Rom. 9:31].

In other words, Israel, pursuing after a law which should give righteousness, did not arrive at such a law. This is a terrifying statement. The Jews tried to produce a righteousness of their own through the Mosaic system. They didn’t produce it—look at the nation today. Religious people are the most difficult people to reach with the gospel—church members, who think they are good enough to be saved.

You will never be able to reconcile the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. But Paul is making it very clear here that if you are going to be saved it is your responsibility!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Romans: Chapter Six

Chapter 6 of Romans tells us that we are dead to sin, but alive to God. Well all I can say is praise the Lord for that!

We see that Paul is being argumentative. He wasn't, you remember, when he was discussing sin. Rather, he was stating facts. He wasn't trying to prove anything. Bu tnow he's using this idiomatic question and being argumentative!

The very fact that Paul is asking this question makes it obvious that he understood justification to mean a declaration of righteousness; that it did not mean to make a person good, but to declare a person good. Justification means that the guilt or the penalty of sin is removed, not the power of sin in this life.

Now he is going to talk about removing the power of sin. If God has declared you to be righteous and has removed the guilt of your sin, then, my friend, you cannot continue in sin. The answer is, “God forbid!”

What did Paul mean by the word baptize in this third verse? I do not think he refers to water baptism primarily. Don’t misunderstand me; I believe in water baptism, and I believe that immersion best sets forth what is taught here. But actually he is talking about identification with Christ.

You see, the translators did not translate the Greek word baptizō, they merely transliterated it. That is, they just spelled the Greek word out in English, because baptizō has so many meanings. In my Greek lexicon there are about twenty meanings for this word.

Actually baptizō could refer to dyeing your hair. In fact, there was a group in Asia Minor who dyed their hair purple; and they belonged to a baptizō group. But here in Romans 6:3 Paul is speaking about identification with Jesus Christ. We were baptized or identified into His death. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 Paul says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body...” We are identified in the death of Christ, as Paul will explain in the next verse.

“We are buried with him by baptism [identification] into [His] death.” Frankly, I think that immersion is a more accurate type of this identification. I think the Spirit’s baptism is the real baptism. Water is the ritual baptism, but I do think that immersion sets forth the great spiritual truth that is here. This is the reason a child of God should be baptized in water in our day. It is a testimony that he is joined to the living Christ. That is all important.

When Paul says your “old man” is crucified with Him, he doesn’t mean your father; he means your old nature is crucified with Him. “That the body of sin might be destroyed”—the word destroyed is katargeo, meaning “to make of none effect, to be paralyzed or canceled or nullified”—“that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Paul is not saying that the old nature is eradicated. He is saying that since the old man was crucified, the body of sin has been put out of business, so that from now on we should not be in bondage to sin.

We have seen that sanctification is positional. That means we are to know something. We are to know God’s method of making a sinner the kind of person He wants him to be. While justification merely declared him righteous, removed the guilt of sin, it did not change him in his life. It gave him a new nature.

Now he is to know that he was buried with Christ and raised with Him. God wants him to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. The believer is joined to the living Christ. He is to reckon on that fact; he is to count on it. He is to consider it as true. You see, God saved us by faith, and we are to live by faith. Many of us have trusted Him for salvation, but are we trusting Him in our daily living? We are to live by faith.

And I'm going to leave you on that note...Trust Him in our daily living!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The theme of chapter three is the availability of a righteousness from God

In the first section we have God's judgment being defended:

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? [Rom. 3:1].

"Profit" means that which is surplus, that which is excess, and the Question has to do with the outward badge of God’s special covenant with the Jews, circumcision.
It looks as if Paul is in danger of erasing a distinction which God has made. The question is, if Jew and Gentile are on the same footing before God, what then is the supposed advantage of the Jew and what good is circumcision? Paul is saying, "Yes, the Jew has an advantage." The advantage, however, created a responsibility. We need to note carefully the advantage the Jew had because there is a great deal of confusion in this area.

Paul is making it clear that God not only gave to the nation Israel the oracles of God—they were the ones who communicated the Word of God—but in the Word of God was something special for them, promises, not yet fulfilled, and peculiarly their own.

The Jew failed; doesn’t that mean God failed? No. God’s promise to send Israel the Redeemer was not defeated by their willful disobedience and rejection. All His promises for the future of the nation will be fulfilled to His glory in spite of their unbelief. I personally thank God that His promises to me do not depend on my faithfulness. If it had depended on me, I would have been lost long ago.

Now, the whole point is this: if my unrighteousness reveals the marvelous, wonderfully infinite faithfulness of God in the grace of God, then has God a right to judge me? That’s what Paul is asking here. This makes it very clear that the unsaved world in Paul’s day understood that Paul was preaching salvation by the grace of God.

Secondly we have that, "all have sinned."

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin [Rom. 3:9].

Now Paul doesn’t mean "proved" here. That word is a little too strong; it does not have quite that shade of meaning, because Paul is not trying to prove man a sinner. Rather, he is showing that God judges sin. He assumes man is a sinner, and you don’t have to assume it—it is evident. He is merely stating that which is very obvious today. The better word is charged—“for we have before charged both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” He is just stating the case, by the way, that it doesn’t make any difference who we are today—high or low, rich or poor, good or bad—we’re all under sin.

Third is God's righteousness through faith:

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets [Rom. 3:21].

"The righteousness of God" should be a righteousness of God, since the article is absent in the Greek. This "righteousness" is not an attribute of God—He says that He will not share His glory with another—nor is it the righteousness of man. God has already said that “… our righteousness is as filthy rags …” (Isa. 64:6), and God is not taking in dirty laundry.

And lastly: boasting excluded:

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith [Rom. 3:27].

If God is saving by faith in Christ and not by your merit, your works, then where is boasting? What is it that you and I have to crow about? We can’t even boast of the fact that we’re fundamental in doctrine. We have nothing to glory in today. Paul asks, “Where is boasting then?” And he answers the question he raises.
“It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Romans Chapter One

Today we start the Book of Romans. Chapter one's theme is Paul's personal greetings, Paul's purpose, Paul's three "I ams"; a natural revelation of God; subnatural response of man; and the unnatural retrogression of man.

Romans teaches the total depravity of man. Man is irrevocably and hopelessly lost. He must have the righteousness of God since he has none of his own. Verses 16 an 17 have long been recognized as the key to the epistle. These two verses should be memorized and the meaning of each word digested.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.
Paul starts off by identifying himself as a slave, or doulos, of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the road to Damascus, the Lord said to Paul, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And Paul replied, “Who art thou, Lord?” He said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” It was at this moment that Paul came to know Him as his Savior. Then Paul’s question was, “What wilt thou have me to do?” (see Acts 9:4–6). This is when Paul made himself a bondslave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Verse 6, the called are the elect. Who are the called? Well, they are those who have heard. The Lord Jesus made it clear when He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Paul's purpose: He wants to come to Rome to teach the Word of God. Paul loved to teach the Word of God.

His three "I am's": Paul said, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians.” He had had a personal transaction with Jesus Christ which put him in debt to every man, because the grace of God had been so bountifully bestowed upon him. Paul was in debt to a lost world. Second "I am": In verse 15: "I am ready to preach the gospel...." Paul has said that he is a debtor; now he says he is ready to pay. The third "I am" is the bock quote I gave at the beginning.

The natural revelation of God: The wrath of God is revealed.” Actually, if you want to know what salvation really is, you have to know how bad sin is. In other words, “Sin is the measure of salvation.”

The subnatural response of man: Verses 21-23... There is no such thing as man moving upward. Man is not improving physically, morally, intellectually, or spiritually. The pull is downward. Of course this contradicts all the anthologies of religion that start with man in a very primitive condition and move him up intellectually and toward God.

The unnatural regression of man: Now we see the results of man’s revolution against God. In the remainder of this chapter it says three times that God gave them up.
Man has a revelation from God, but he flagrantly flaunts it by defying the judgment of God against such sins. He continues to practice them and applauds and approves those who do the same.

As usual, when I want pictures, Blogger shows me who's boss!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chapter 27 is a pretty heavy chapter because of our Lord's death and crucifixion.

As the chief priests and elders were leading Jesus through that hall to take Him to Pilate, here comes Judas to address the religious rulers.

They tell him, “You did the job, and it’s over with. We have the One we were after. We have paid you off, and we have no need of you any farther”. This man leaves the Temple area, goes out and hangs himself.

The significant thing is that Jesus was present when Judas returned with his thirty pieces of silver. In fact, Jesus was on His way to die...even for Judas. Our Lord had given him an opportunity to come back to Him there in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He had said, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” And even at this eleventh hour, Judas could have turned to the Lord Jesus and would have been forgiven.

The next section is Jesus going before Pilate. You see, the religious rulers wanted to get rid of Jesus because of what they considered blasphemy. You remember that when the high priest put Him on oath and asked Him if He was the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus said that He was.

To the religious rulers that was blasphemy, and they would have stoned Him on that charge, but Rome did not allow the Jews to carry out the death penalty. So they had to deliver Jesus to Pilate with a charge that would stick in a Roman court. Treason would be one that would stick, and so Jesus was charged with claiming to be the King of the Jews.

The answer of Jesus to the charge was, “Thou sayest”...or...“It is as you say.” He didn't answer because He was the Lamb of God. Matthew simply states the bare facts.
Obviously, Pilate felt that the religious rulers had no basis for requesting the death penalty. He wanted to please the religious leaders in order to maintain peace in Jerusalem, but he felt that he could not arbitrarily sentence the Lord Jesus to death.

So he hit upon a solution to the problem. Since it was his habit to release a Jewish prisoner during the Passover celebration, he would offer the crowd a choice: Jesus; or a very notorious prisoner called Barabbas, who was guilty of murder, robbery, and treason.

Pilate was a clever politician. He could see what was taking place, and he was sure that the crowd would ask for Barabbas to be crucified and Jesus to be released. This would give him a happy “out” to this situation. While the religious rulers were clever politicians themselves. They circulated among the crowd asking the opposite.

Pilate tried to wash his hands of the matter, but "crucified under Pontius Pilate will stick for eternity!

The crucifixion is hard for me to write about. Our Lord was put on the cross at the third hour, which would be nine o’clock in the morning. By twelve noon, man had done all he could to the Son of God. Then at the noon hour, darkness settled down, and that cross became an altar on which the Lamb who taketh away the sin of the world was offered.

Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? We find the answer to that question in Psalm 22, verse 3: “But thou art holy …” (Ps. 22:1, 3, italics mine). When my sin is put upon Jesus, God has to withdraw. Our Savior had to be executed if He were going to take my sin and yours.

Monday, June 02, 2008

To better understand the customs in Israel during the New Testament period, we refer to the Peshitta, which is a Syriac version of the Bible. Although it is not a text to be recommended, it does shed light on some of the customs of the day. The Peshitta translation indicates that the virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom and the bride, which means that the bridegroom is coming from the marriage to the marriage supper.

Although the marriage of Christ and the church takes place in heaven, the marriage supper takes place on this earth. A passage in the Gospel of Luke substantiates this. Our Lord is giving warnings and parables, in the Book of (Luke 12:35–36).

You see, the wedding has taken place, and the bride is with him. Obviously, if he is coming from the wedding, the bride is with him; no man ever went on a honeymoon by himself—if he did, it wasn’t a honeymoon!

In the parable of the ten virgins, Christ is the bridegroom, and bringing the bride with Him. The believers on earth are waiting for Him. While the Great Tribulation has been going on upon the earth, Christ has been yonder in heaven with His bride, the church. At the conclusion of the seven years of Tribulation, He comes back to earth with the church.

This, now, is the attitude toward His coming on the part of those on the earth—Oil is symbolic of the Spirit of God. In that day I think there will be phonies as there were at His first coming. Jesus called them hypocrites. They will have lamps but no oil.
Notice both the wise and the foolish virgins slept. The difference was that some had the Holy Spirit ( the oil) and some did not, because they were not genuine believers.

Our Lord concludes this parable with a warning—Notice that it is “the day nor the hour” rather than the century or the year, as it is from our perspective. The attitude for His own during this future period is to watch. That is the important thing for them to do.

The parable of the Talents is another parable for that future generation that will be waiting for our Lord’s return to earth. Notice that the master gave to his servants responsibilities according to their individual abilities.

Notice that the “talents” were sums of money. They do not represent talents in the sense of the natural endowments of a person such as a musical talent. The application to us is that whatever God has given to us, we are to use for Him.

All were given a certain sum of money and told to use it profitably. But one buried the talent he had been given. He was not faithful to his master.

The response of his master was this...the one who buried his talent, so that he would have it for the master was considered slothful and wicked!

There is a great principle in this parable for us. And it was given in the light of the fact that all of us—you and I included—are going to have to stand in the presence of God and give an account of how we have used what He has given to us. The Lord is not going to ask us how much we have done for Him but how faithful we have been to that which He wanted us to do.

For the child of God there are two important things: (1) Find out what God wants us to do; that is, determine what the talent is that He has given us, and then (2) be faithful in the use of it. To some of us God gives a very small ministry, and that may be upsetting to us; but if we are one—talent people, God expects us to be faithful with that.

Sorry, no pictures....Blogger is being a booger!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tonight this chapter begin with The Parable of the Wedding Feast. This is significant because this was one of the greatest parables Jesus gave for the period in which we live. Take note of the first line:

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said [Matt. 22:1].

Take note of the word again. This little word indicates that Jesus is still addressing the chief priests and elders mentioned in Matthew 21:23.

Obviously, “a certain king” is God the Father, and “his son” is the Lord Jesus. He resorts to the expression “kingdom of heaven” instead of kingdom of God which He used in the previous two parables.

He “sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding.” Who were bidden? The lost sheep of the house of Israel. Our Lord sent His apostles to them. And the prophets had been the messengers back in the Old Testament. Israel's response was rejection of God’s invitation. They killed His messengers, including the Jesus Himself.

In verse 8 we will see a definite change in the method and manner of the invitation, and it refers to the present age in which we live. Notice what happens. The King's invitation is for everyone, but there is a danger of coming without meeting the King's demands. The wedding garment is the righteousness of Christ, which is essential for salvation, and it is supplied to all who believe!

Notice verse 12, he was speechless! I hear some folk say that they don’t need to receive Christ, that they will take their chances before God, that they intend to argue their case. Well, our Lord said that this fellow without the wedding garment was speechless.

Whether or not you accept the wedding garment is up to you. Christ has provided it for you. The invitation has gone to everyone, but you will have to come on the King’s terms.

In the next three sections we have the Herodians coming with the question of paying tribute to Caesar. The Sadducees coming with a question regarding the resurrection. And the Pharisees coming with their question concerning the great commandment of the Law.

First Jesus answers the Herodians. They were a political party favoring the house of Herod, who wanted deliverance from the Roman yoke. Herodians weren't a religious party but were strongly political. However, the Pharisees apparently used them, and it is quite possible that many Pharisees were Herodians as well.

It was a trick question. If He said no to paying taxes to Caesar, He would be accused of being a traitor. If He said, yes to paying tribute, then He could not be the true Messiah. Notice Jesus calls them what they are...hypocrites.
It's notable that He used their coin. They were using the legal tender of the Roman government, walking on Roman roads, where Rome provided them with a measure of peace, so they owed Rome. Therefore render unto Caesar, what is Caesar's! But there is another side to this coin...render unto God what is God's!

Now Jesus gets to answer the Sadducees. This is a really funny story because it reminds me of a modern soap opera like As The Stomach Turns...LOL! The Sadducees use a ridiculous illustration to try and trap the Lord, because they didn't believe in the resurrection. Just think of a woman who had seven brothers for her husbands. She must have lived in Hollywood! Their question: In the resurrection, whose wife would she be?

Notice what Jesus says, we will be like angels in that we will not marry in heaven. There will be no necessity to continue the race by procreating. This doesn't mean that a husband and wife who were close here can't be together there. If they want to, they can. Think of the ones who wouldn’t want to be together. They won’t have to be! They both will have new dispositions, and probably they'll get along better there than they did here! LOLOkay Herodians and Sadducees down, now come the Pharisees! The Pharisees have a huddle and send forth a very clever lawyer, that is, a scribe who is expert in Mosaic Law to ask which is the greatest commandment in the law?

Notice Jesus doesn't pick one of the Ten Commandments. He says: "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." Then gives them a second. "Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself." These two commandments actually summarized the entire Mosaic Law. And show us how we fall short.

The Pharisees go back to the huddle and try to trap Him again, but He beats them to the punch and asks them a question. The Lord Jesus is quoting Psalm 110:1. How could David call his son his Lord? The Pharisees would have to say that the son would have to be supernaturally born for David to call him “my Lord.” The Lord Jesus was forcing the Pharisees to face up to the real issue and to acknowledge Him as David’s son and as David’s Lord. This ended the verbal clash with the religious rulers.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Chapter Twenty contains a lot of meat, as my Pastor would say. The first sixteen verses deal with the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.

This parable is closely related to the previous chapter. So you see that at both the beginning and at the end of this parable the concept of the last being first and the first, last, forms sort of a parenthesis around it.

You see the landowner going out four times to gather workers. This is a tremendous parable (vv1-16) which illustrates an important truth: It is not the amount of time which you serve nor the prominence or importance of your position which determines your reward. Rather, you will be rewarded for your faithfulness to the task which God has given you to perform, regardless of how small or how short or how insignificant it appears.

Perhaps God has not called you to do something great for Him, but are you faithful in what He has assigned to you?

The next section (vv17-19) we have is Jesus' fourth announcement of His death and resurrection. This is the fourth time He is telling them, in detail, exactly what is going to happen to Him. Somehow the disciples didn’t comprehend it, cause it just didn’t fit into their program. However, as you and I read it now, we see very clearly that it was Christ’s intention to go to Jerusalem to die. Let’s ponder the significance of this. He went there deliberately to die for you and for me. That is something to think about. The disciples of Jesus just couldn’t believe it!

The next section (vv20-28) deals with the request of the mother of James and John. At the time of Jesus’ significant announcement of His pending death, the mother of James and John came to Jesus to ask Him a favor. There are a great many of us who worship Him with the same motive!She wants for her sons to sit on Jesus' right and left hand, in the kingdom. On any other occasion this request would be a natural one for a mother who was ambitious for her children. In this instance, however, she missed the atmosphere and the very understanding of what was really taking place.

Don’t miss the meaning here because it is so important to Christians today. Our Lord is not saying that there is no place at His right hand and left hand for somebody. He is saying that He will not arbitrarily give the positions to James and John or to anyone else. Rather, the places are for those who prepare themselves for them.

Heaven is for the asking. You do nothing for salvation. You are saved by faith in Christ through His marvelous grace. However, your position, your reward in heaven is determined by what you do down here on earth. That is very important, and Christians seem to have lost sight of it. What kind of a place are you preparing for yourself?

Personally, I have no ambition for the places on Christ’s right or left hand. I’m sure I have missed those, but I am working for a place. All of us should be doing this. In Philippians 3:14 Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The trouble with Christians today is that too few are even trying to win anything. We need to recognize salvation as a free gift, but we need to get on the race course in order to receive a reward.

And the last section (vv29-34) is the two blind men who get their sight back. Jesus and His disciples are going from Jericho to Jerusalem, which is the opposite direction from the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves. The Lord is going from Jericho up to Jerusalem to die with thieves.

By the way, some folk think that because at His trial He did not defend Himself, He never defended Himself, and that Christians should follow the same policy. However, at other times He did defend Himself. When He went to Jerusalem to die, He did not defend Himself because He was taking our place, and we're guilty. Believe me, there was no defense! That is the reason He did not open His mouth at that time. He was bearing our sin at that time.

They acknowledged His kingship. Even though the Lord could see their problem, why did the He ask what He could do for them? When you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, you must tell Him your need. If you are coming to Him for salvation, you must tell Him that you are a sinner and need His salvation. If you don’t, you will not be saved. That’s the offense of the cross.

Everybody would like to come to the cross if they could bring along the perfume of their self-righteousness and good deeds. But, you and I haven’t any goodness at all, none whatsoever, to present to God. You can no more sweeten human character with training and psychology and education than you can sweeten a pile of fertilizer out in the barnyard with Chanel No. 5. We have to come to Him as sinners and receive Him as our Savior. And the blind men came to the Lord Jesus with their need, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened”!

Our Lord healed them, and they followed Him. Remember where He is going. He is on His way to the cross.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

by Bonnie Calhoun
Tonight I'm, going to continue with another post on the wild words from the Bible. Let's continue with words and Phrases for ten, Alex.

"Do not throw pearls before swine." Jesus ' words in Matthew 7:6 urge believers to take care with their message; it is not necessary to teach to those who are openly hostile to the gospel. A person wouldn't throw precious pearls to pigs, and Christians shouldn't throw the gift of salvation to those who will only turn around and attach them.

"Eat, drink and be merry" was a phrase created by Jesus in Luke 12 while telling a cautionary tale about a rich fool who thought the rest of his life was set. The fool dies that very night. The words are still generally used in the sarcastic or pejorative sense.

"The straight and narrow." Following the small. Less-traveled path leads to the narrow gate of life. In Matthew 7:14, Jesus cautioned his followers against following the more glamorous, broad, and well-traveled path that led to a wide gate full of destruction.

"A good Samaritan." Someone who goes out of the way to help another can be likened to the famed character of Jesus' parable in Luke 10:30-37. The hero acts for the good of another with no thought to his own situation.

"Sweating blood" is a phrase used to describe someone going through a very difficult time. The etymology of the word relates back to Luke 22:44, when Christ's anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane caused him to sweat blood—something physicians say is, in fact, possible for those enduring great duress.

"The forbidden fruit" is one of many Old Testament phrases still used regularly in the English language. The original "forbidden fruit" was the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were instructed to stay away from it in Genesis 2:17, but when the Serpent tempted them to eat of it, the couple disobeyed God and chose to sin. Now we use the phrase to refer to partaking in an activity we know to be wrong or sensual.

"Fire and brimstone" were the tools God used to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, according to Genesis 19:24. The apostle John used those same words to describe the ultimate end of Satan in Revelation 21:8. Due to its colorful imagery, the phrase is generally used to describe preachers who focus on the punishment aspects of the biblical story, or for any fiery speaker who makes reference to a bad end for wrongdoers.

"Taking a sabbatical" comes from the old Jewish notion of "taking time off." Leviticus 25 commands the people to allow the ground to lie fallow every seventh year in order to refresh itself—an action that was referred to as the "sabbatical year"

"An eye for an eye" is a phrase that first appears in Leviticus 24:20. Rather than being a vindictive call for revenge, it actually limited the damage one person could do to another when taking retribution. Human nature encourages an individual to hurt others, but the Old Testament law wanted to limit that hurt to equivalent damage.

The word beautiful was first used in the English language by William Tyndale when he produced his English translation of the New Testament in 1526. Some scholars considered it an outrage that a translator would use a new, fashionabe word in his interpretation of Scripture.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's In A Name

by Bonnie Calhoun

This is a new series that I contemplated starting!
"Let's have Famous Words and Phrases for ten, Alex!" Sheesh...you'd think I watched Jeopardy a lot!

"Raising Cain" means to act with abandonment or wildly. As a phrase, it is most likely descended from the Genesis character Cain who killed his brother, Abel, and was forever marked as a violent man.

"Jezebel" or "Delilah" is the name often given to a woman of cunning and deceit. Both bible characters were beautiful, though calculating in nature. Delilah was a seductress; Jezebel was a queen.

"A "Judas" can only refer to one personality trait: betrayal. Judas Iscariot betrayed his relationship to the Lord for thirty pieces of silver.

"Doubting Thomas" didn't believe Jesus had truly risen from the dead. He insisted on touching the nail marks in the Lord's hands and side before he would believe. Today we call a person with doubts a doubting Thomas.

"Jonah" is considered an unlucky name. The prophet Jonah tried unsuccessfully to run from God's calling. He took refuge on a boat and brought nothing but trouble to the other passengers, because God would not forget Jonah. Someone who brings bad luck or misfortune is considered a Jonah

"The salt of the earth" Many of the words we use in our culture come from the Lord Jesus. In describing his disciples with these words in Matthew 5:13. Christ was saying that they were valuable--salt being the preferred method of payment in those days. The phrase is still used to describe people we find valuable or important

"Seek and ye shall find" These oft-quoted words of Jesus come from his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:7. It is still generally used as advice or encouragement to those who need to be seeking...
"A wolf in sheep's clothing" Jesus created this phrase in Matthew 7:15 to describe religious leaders who appear righteous on the outside but are actually evil on the inside. We still use it to describe hypocrites or those who portray goodness while intending evil.

"The faith to move mountains" Although not currently used quite as often as it was in the twentieth century, the phrase refers to the power of belief. The words were first said by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 17:20 when He was talking to His disciples about healing the sick and the demon possessed.

"The blind leading the blind" Jesus coined this phrase in Matthew 15:14 when describing false teachers who insist they know the truth but do not, therefore leading innocent people astray. In our culture we generally use it as a negative descriptor for the self-important ans self-deluded.

Well folks, this is the first ten in the series. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

by Bonnie Calhoun

Sunday, March 23, 2008

by Bonnie Calhoun

Thursday, March 13, 2008

by Bonnie Calhoun

Saturday, February 16, 2008

by Bonnie Calhoun

Sunday, January 20, 2008

by Bonnie Calhoun