Tag Archives: Bible Study

So Great A Salvation

Hebrews 2:1-4

2 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

“Give the more earnest heed.”  I sometimes wonder what I am giving the most attention to, do you?  After all, this world bombard us every day with images, news, music, and a myriad of other things to keep our mind occupied.  I can get distracted so easily!  I will be typing away on an email, or this blog, and suddenly another thought will come into my head and I’ll go do something else that I think is more important at the time, I often make out lists of things to do today only to work on something besides what is on the list.  I am straying from the things I should be giving the “most earnest heed” to.  Of course, I also often forget to put things on that list that should be priorities.  I need to work at making my lists better, I guess.  The point is that I often get distracted.

The time when I get the most distracted is when I pray.  There are so many things that should receive the “most earnest heed” when I am praying.  My own financial situation, for example, needs a lot of prayer.  I have a friend in ICU who has COVID.  He needs my prayer.  Another friend is building an army for the Lord and needs my prayer.  But I have a tendency to get busy and forget to pray as I should pray.  I have begun, this year, to keep a prayer journal, trying my prayers daily into a word document.  These are by no means all my prayers for the day as all day long I pray when I feel the Holy Spirit asking me to.  This journal is my morning prayers, and it has helped me to focus and make sure I devote the time I should to prayer.

But more important than all these things are that I give “the most earnest heed” to the words of Jesus – the red letters if you will.  The writer here acknowledges that many have come before and spoken about Messiah – the words of angels he calls it.  These would be the words of the prophets, the Psalms, Proverbs and the like that point to righteous living and a holy God.  They spoke of walking upright, and that our sins would surely receive an equal and devastating reward.  The Jews had been warned since the beginning of their nation that if they forsook the Lord, bad things would happen.  Just read Deuteronomy 28!  We can see some of these things creeping into our land even now because we have neglected the words.  The Jews knew the scriptures, and the writer here reminds them of the words that were spoken before, because they knew the wages of sin.  The knew their transgressions carried a just reward and it wasn’t a good one!

When Jesus the Son came everything took a step up.  Now the Son has come to share that His words bring life.  His sacrifice brings freedom from sin.  Following Him will give us joy unspeakable and full of glory.  He brought words of healing, of deliverance, of salvation to all.  He taught us how to live and move in God’s will.  Ho showed us by example the ways in which we could minister to others.  But most importantly, He died on a cross to take away our sins.  He told us this is why he had to die, and the apostles and disciples went out and told the people as well.  The told them how much they needed to accept Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins.  Then they confirmed their words with signs and wonders.  All through the book of acts we see things happen that are against the natural order.  These would be signs and wonders.  Ananias and Sa[hire dying, prison doors opening, lame man walking, dead rising to life, healing by merely being in a shadow.  All these things were God’s way of getting people’s attention.  The words of these men should not be neglected, especially the words of Jesus.

Over 80% of the world’s population reject these words of life!  Actually, it’s probably higher than that.  The latest figures I could find reflect that 25% of the people in the world are Christians.  This is going by their own admission, of course.  How many Christians do you know who do not adhere to the words of Jesus when it comes to salvation?  How many do not believe in the whole “born again” thing, or that you have to be saved?  I would guess if you really got down the nitty-gritty that maybe 10% are really Christians by the “born again” standard.  It’s probably less than that!  Even those who say they are Christian neglect this great salvation message.  Many think that they can just doe good, go to church, and put something in the offering and they will be fine.  But this gift of salvation has to be accepted.  Yes, it was freely given when Jesus died on the cross.  We must accept it by faith – it does not automatically become a part of my life while I do nothing.  John 3:3. Romans 10:9-10 and 1 John 1:9, among many other verses, all say this.

How about you today?  Have you been born again?  Have accepted this great salvation, or have you neglected the message that the New Testament is all about.  The greatest gift ever given is Jesus Christ crucified.  His sin free life made atonement for all my sins, and I can be washed from my sins simply by accepting this gift and then following in His ways.  My actions and good deeds will never get me to heaven.  Only the confession of my mouth can do that.  Why don’t you accept Him today and stop neglecting this great salvation you have been offered, Simply say this prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I have sinned and I ask you for forgiveness.  I will repent and turn from my sin, and from this day forward I will follow you.  Help me to be what you made me to be.  Thank you for my salvation!” Yes, it really is that simple.  Now, if you have prayed this prayer for the first time, please comment below and I will contact you.  Everyone needs someone else to help them on this journey.  Jesus had 12 men who followed Him everywhere.  We need people too, especially when the hard times come.  Jesus needed help carrying His cross the burden was sop heavy.  There are times you will need help carrying the things that will come into your life.  A Christian brother who can help you understand the word is good to have.  Don’t try to walk through this Christian life alone.

Ministering Spirits

Hebrews 1:10-14

10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Buddhism has no account in its teaching about how the world came into existence.  Hindus believe Brahma created all things, and all beings on this earth came from a greater, higher consciousness. Islam teaches that all matter was in one place and Allah spoke causing it to explode (Big Bang).  None of these give any timeline for their explanation of creation, and these religions account for 60% of the world’s religious believers.  It seems only Christianity has a defined timeline that can be traced back to the original inhabitants of Earth.  That timeline says it was about 6,000 years ago that God created this world and all that is within it.  The Big Bang theorists say it was more like 4.5 billion years ago.  This brings the debate!  Science vs. God.  Can carbon dating really be trusted?  After all this is what science is using to date the earth, isn’t it?  One simple calculation measuring the breakdown cycle of carbon is used to refute the Bible.  And that method of measuring time has come under much scrutiny in recent years.  I believe the more scientists learn, the more they will prove the Biblical story rather than disprove it.  Science has a long way to go to catch up to God!

Take this universe for example.  Recently, reports have come out that say the universe is expanding more rapidly than before, and more rapidly than it should be. I have to ask the question “Who decides how fast the universe should expand?”.  Certainly not scientists!  They have absolutely no control.  But saying it is going faster than it should signifies that there has been a pattern in the past, and they expect it to stay the same in the future.  That is almost an admittance that someone or thing is in control of it!  I know who that is!  It is the God who made it all, who worked out the heavens with His hands.  He placed the stars and continues to place them.  These scholars who say a star blew up billions of years ago and we are just seeing the light from it now don’t take into effect the fact that the universe expands all the time.  That star was much closer to earth not all that long ago.  God continues to create stars and place them today, organizing them into galaxies and super galaxies, all to show off His glory.  Let us never forget the one who made it all and places all those stars.  His name is Jesus!

One day this universe will be done with.  Peter writes that the earth will burn with fervent heat.  This world will be destroyed, and a new heaven and new earth will come down to take it’s place.  As much as man wants to conquer this universe, and as much as they think it has always been and will always be, there is only one entity that will endure, and has endured, forever.  That is the God we serve.  Other religions do not refute the Bible story, they only give their own versions of it.  In a court of law, the prosecution must make its case.  If they do not, the defense wins, often without even going to trial.  This is because the evidence has to support the charges.  If it does not, there is no reason to go through a trial.  The matter is settled outside of court.  In this universe, the creation story stands on its own merits.  No one can refute it.  May we always fight to have this taught in the public forum so people will never forget who made this land that they stand on, eat from, and love. 

As we said, the universe is constantly expanding and changing.  Stars are added, galaxies are newly discovered, and stars are moving all the time.  There is no wasted motion.   Someday it will end, but God never goes away.  He remains steadfast and loyal those who call on his name.  He does not change.  The word immutable is one that I have had on my mind for some time now.  We know the other words that describe God – omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent – but we forget about immutable.  Immutable means unchanging over time or unable to be changed.  There is such peace in knowing this is His characteristic.  If He healed before, He will heal now.  If He delivered before, He will deliver now.  If He parted seas and rivers before, He will do it now.  If He raised dead bones and gave them life, He will do it now.  If He rained down manna from heaven before, He will do it now.  He does not change.  Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever! For this reason, the angels are there to minister to the needs of the saints.  Jesus is always working, always moving in people’s lives, always making life better for His saints.  He uses the angels to do this, to deliver messages, to bring healing, to hold back obstacles, to lift weights of burden from our shoulders.  The angels are there in any way to guard over us as we walk with Him.  They are always around to answer His call and do His bidding, because they love to serve the one with the sceptre!  It is not a task they dread, but one they look forward to.  All of heaven breaks into a party when one soul is saved!  The angels applauded when you were saved.  Imagine that!  When we speak the name of Jesus, we get their attention!  Because when we speak His name, the angels know He will answer and they will be pout to work as His ministering Spirits.  What a delight to know this as fact.

A Sceptre of Righteousness

Hebrews 1:5-9

For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Here the writer distinguishes the difference between the angels and Jesus, the Son.  Jesus is not an angel and never has been.  In preparing for this lesson, I came across a writing that stated that the ministering angels in the Old Testament were actually Jesus before he came in the flesh.  There is a problem with this thinking.  Angels are created beings but Jesus was not created.  He has always been and will always be.  He has no beginning and no end.  Angels are not equal with God, but Jesus said “I and the Father are one.”  Jesus is no angel and never was one.  He is higher than the angels, as we discussed in our last lesson.  If anyone tries to tell you he was an angel, walk away!  Or know your scripture well enough to defend the Son of God!

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, we read a fascinating tale of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove.  As this interesting event took place, the heaven’s opened and a voice spoke out from heaven and said “Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”  I wish I had been there to see the crowd’s reaction to those words!  How often do you hear a voice speak from heaven?  I know I never have!  I wonder how many in the crowd remembered the words of Psalm 2:7, which says “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee?”   This is considered by many as one more fulfillment of prophecy by Jesus – he is declared the Son of the most high God!  I would guess that most Jews had no concept of God having a Son outside of this particular scripture.  I don’t believe there is any where else in the Old Testament.  Hosea 11:1 comes the closest by saying “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”  The Jews knew there would be a messiah – they had no idea this Messiah would be God’s Son!  And they certainly did not think that Son was Jesus.

The next verse talks about the first-begotten.  We know Him better as the only-begotten!  God has only one Son!  The Mormon church believes that Lucifer was a son of God as well, but ther3e is no scriptural basis for this belief.  Jesus was God’s only Son.  He was the only one born of a virgin, the only one conceived by the Holy Ghost, the only one to fulfill all the prophecies of the Old Testament.  No one else comes close.  And all the angels of heaven are assigned to worship Him and Him alone.  We can see this scene in heaven as they all come around the throne to worship the Lamb.  The angels will never worship Lucifer.  Oh, he has fallen angels that followed him when he left heaven.  They made the decision to follow him when he fell.  They are subservient to him and him alone, acting like little trolls to do his bidding.  The angels of heaven, on the other hand, do the bidding of Jesus with pleasure.  In Frank Peretti’s book “This Present Darkness” he talks about the way the angels do God’s bidding based on the prayers of the saints.  They go where the prayers are active.  They go where they hear the name of Jesus.  His name is there driving force.  This is the truth of scripture.  The angels worship Him, and Him alone!  The angels are simply ministering spirits, flames of fire that touch the hearts and lives of men.

But Jesus is on a throne.  A throne that sits in all of heaven.  And he holds the sceptre on that throne.  A sceptre is a sign of power and authority.  It is a symbol that the one who holds it has everything in His control.  A sceptre has a way of helping everyone else to see who is in control   Jesus holds the sceptre and it is a sceptre of righteousness!  He does what is right – always.  He does what is good, what is pure, what is just, lovely and true.  He does only that which is motivated by love.  I would not want Jesus to hold any other sceptre than this one.  It gives me the assurance that no matter what is going on in my life, Jesus is doing what is right, and good and just. This is because he loves these things and he always wants what’s best for me (as long as I put Him first).

Let’s never be confused.  Jesus is not an angel.  He never was.  The angels worship Him.  We should as well.  He holds all power and authority and we would do good to remember that – especially in the hardest of times.  After all, He is on our side!

Concluding with Grace

Titus 3:12-15

 

12 When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.

13 Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.

14 And let our’s also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

15 All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.

By my count, Paul uses the word grace around 90 times in his letters to the various churches in the pastoral letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon.  His emphasis on grace is apparent matter where you look.  He opens every letter with grace be given to the reader, and closes every letter the same way.  I would not be surprised if he said “Grace be to you” as his official greeting when he met people.  As I think about that, perhaps that would be a good way for all of us to greet people or say good-bye.  I understand that in Hawaii it is common to say “Aloha” as a greeting or as departing words.  Why not do the same thing with grace!

Today, we say “Hi’ or “Hello” or “How are you today” as empty words that we really don’t expect a truly honest response from.  Imagine if someone actually told you exactly how they are that day.  Would you take time to listen?  Would we even want them to tell us what was really going on in their lives?  If they did share with us, would we take time to listen?  Would we take time, right there in the convenience store, to pray with them or would we just leave them and say those empty words “I will pray for you,” or do we actually take the time to pray for them.  Then there is the common “Have a good day” wrapped up all in one word almost, as it is said so fast like a mantra, said with little meaning or caring.  I have said that to a young girl at the cash register that I knew.  Her response was I will try, and I responded back, “Don’t try, just do it!  Have a good day.  It’s your choice.”  Now she says “I will” when I say that.  Her perspective has changed.  There is power in our words.

Imagine if we just started saying “Grace be with you” as a greeting and a conclusion to our conversation, instead of just a dull “Hello, how are you?”  I think it would turn a few heads, don’t you?  People would think us a little odd, wouldn’t they?  After all, we don’t hear grace being talked about much in the world around us.  In the church, yes, it is talked about a lot.  But out in the street, the supermarket, the gas station, the dentist’s office, the bank, there is little talk of grace.  It seems there is more doom and gloom going around than grace.

I think the world needs to hear about grace more from the children of God.  I’m guilty, I admit it.  I don’t share His grace enough with those around me.  I talk about Covid, about work, about my day, but rarely about grace.  If I lead the conversation with grace and close with grace, people might start asking me what this grace thing is all about.  Why have I started saying that?  What is it about grace that I want to talk about?  Oh, what a door would be open then!  A door that all need to open if they want to find their home in heaven.  Then I can freely tell them about the grace of Jesus Christ.  How he came to earth to be a sacrifice for their sins.  Heaven is not earned.  It cannot be bought.  It has to be entered into through the blood of the Lamb.  By His grace alone we are saved.  We did not earn it. We certainly do not deserve it, no matter what good deeds we have done.   His grace is our admittance to eternal life in heaven.  Without His grace, we are headed for the Lake of Fire eternally.

His grace allows the fruit of the Spirit to grow within us as we mature in Christ.  Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.  Who of us do not want more of these things alive in our lives?   I know I can always use more of each of these, and there are some of these I really struggle with, like temperance and longsuffering (patience).  I need to be more fruitful and the only way I get there is by His grace.  His grace gives me a door to all of the ministry gifts.  His grace allows me to sing, to worship to preach, to teach, to evangelize, to encourage and edify.  If His grave is not in these things, they are non-productive.  When I walk in grace and minister grace, His Holy Spirit will touch the hearts and lives of those I come in contact with.  After all, we are told to speak with words that minister grace to the hearer (Ephesians 4:29).  That verse has become one of my favorites because it challenges me to watch my words much more careful.  Minister grave wherever you go!

I’m going to try it.  Pray God gives me the boldness to carry it out.  That I might say “Grace be with you” everywhere I go and to everyone I meet.  Let’s spread a little grace around us!  It’s one of the best things we can share!

Some Things to Avoid

 

Titus 3:9-11 

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

I am hearing a lot of foolish questions lately.  Foolish to the point of what does that have to do with how we should live our lives today.  Isn’t today the important thing?  We are never promised tomorrow. Are we?  So why is there wo much emphasis these days about what is going to happen in the future?  Why is it so important to study The Revelation of John?  Why must we know every detail, every little thing that will happen in heaven?  Why do I need to know about the crowns, and the vials, and the trumpets sounding?  I see people spending so much time on this and so little time on what they should be doing right now for the Kingdom of God.  I know I mentioned this a few posts ago, but I truly believe the ones who are all caught up in future events have missed the point entirely.

Jesus taught a gospel of today.  Read the Sermon on the Mount if you want a snapshot of what you should be like here on this earth.  The beatitudes at the beginning is a great place to start and Jesus started here for a reason.  Be poor in spirit, be meek, be merciful, be a peacemaker, hunger and thirst for righteousness. These are things we must do now – we must practice now.  Not tomorrow or the next day, but now.  These are things that can grow in each one of us and that will minister to all those around us.  Jesus starts out with these for a reason.  If we do now have these down, the rest of the Sermon goes to waste.  We will never be able to accomplish the rest.  Forgiving one another, going to our brother when we have a problem between us, going the second mile, lending more than was asked, not judging.  These things are so needed today, If we would set our minds on keeping these truths today tomorrow will take care of itself.

One other thing Jesus said, in Matthew 6:33 and 34, was that we should first seek the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is here on this earth now.  It is living with in each one of us in the form of the Holy Spirit.  It is full of the fruits of the spirit and operates in the gifts of the spirit.  We need to seek that Spirit inside of us that would move us to good works and good words.  The Kingdom of Heaven is what is to come.  People are seeking that instead of the Kingdom of God.  I did a study about these two kingdoms years ago and it was astonishing to see how they are spoken of by Jesus.  If you have never studied that out, I recommend you do.  We are supposed to be seeking the Kingdom of God first, not the Kingdom of Heaven.  We have it backwards.  If we would just start seeking the Kingdom of God instead of the Kingdom of Heaven, the beatitudes would come alive in us and we could change the world.  We should avoid foolish questions about what is to come and concentrate on what is true today.

Avoiding genealogies is a different story, and I am not sure exactly what Paul meant by this.  If I had to guess, I would say this has more to do with whether you are Jew or Gentile.  Today, in our society, it would translate to who is black, Hispanic, oriental, or white.  It makes no difference – the same gospel applies to all of us.  We all need to be saved.  Our heritage has nothing to do with who we can be in Christ.  He has a plan and design for each life, and we need to be about our Father business when we come across any person of any genealogy or racial background.

Avoiding contention and striving about the law are Paul’s next admonishment to Titus.  We have to keep in mind that Titus was left in Crete to help a newly formed church mature. The main thing Paul wanted Titus to do was preach the Gospel – get people saved.  So many people want to bring the law into play when we ask them about their religious beliefs.  This doctrine or that doctrine are said to be the right ones.  The laws we have put in place, or the laws of the Bible, are used to separate us into fragments.  The church is weaker because of this.  We need to keep the main thing the main thing.  Get people saved and help them to follow Jesus.  Help them to see that her has a plan for their lives, even in the midst of their deepest tragedies.  God will bring it around for good. People need to know this, not be caught up in a bunch of doctrinal beliefs or laws that would hinder their growth. Jesus didn’t say we should just go out and get people saved.  He said we should make disciples.  This means that not only do we lead them to Christ, but we help them become disciplined in the ways of Christ.

I have an issue with verses 10 and 11 though.  I don’t think we should ever give up on anyone.  Paul says that if a man does not heed corrections after the second time, we should reject him.  I do see the point of telling someone to leave the church if they are doing things that would bring shame to the church or to Jesus.  That has happened to me and I totally agree with that pastor’s decision. But that Pastor continued to pray for me as I went to be disciplined, and now we are friends again and I am welcome in his church.  I don’t believe we should ever give up on anyone.  You never know what simple word might get into their spirit and change their lives. May we all run with patience the race that is set before us and allow God to work out His plan in us, so that we might be more effective in our ministry to others.