Interesting Facts From The Temple Of Serapis

 

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

In the writings of Socrates, there is found a very interesting passage about the temple of Serapis.  

We read: 

“When the Temple of Serapis was torn down and laid bare, there were found in it, engraven on stones, certain characters which they call hieroglyphics, having the forms of crosses. Both the Christians and pagans on seeing them, appropriated and applied them to their respective religions: for the Christians who affirm that the cross is the sign of Christ’s saving passion, claimed this character as peculiarly theirs; but the pagans alleged that it might appertain to Christ and Serapis in common; for,’ said they, it symbolizes one thing to Christians and another to heathens.’ Whilst this point was controverted amongst them, some of the heathen converts to Christianity, who were conversant with these hieroglyphic characters, interpreted the form of a cross and said that it signifies Life to come.’ This the Christians exultingly laid hold of, as decidedly favorable to their religion. But after other hieroglyphics had been deciphered containing a prediction that When the cross should appear,’—for this was life to come,’—the Temple of Serapis would be destroyed,’ a very great number of the pagans embraced Christianity, and confessing their sins, were baptized. Such are the reports I have heard respecting the discovery of this symbol in form of a cross.” (AETERNA PRESS, The Ecclesiastical History Of Socrates, Scholasticus, 4156-4165 (Kindle Edition)) 

Several things about this predictions rom Serapis stand out and are worthy of our consideration.  

First, let’s look at the identity of this person “Serapis.” Who exactly was he?

One of the ancient church fathers, Melito, has given us a clue to the identity of Serapis when he writes: 

“The Egyptians worshipped Joseph the Hebrew, who was called Serapis, because he supplied them with corn during the years of famine. (Melito (c. 170, E), 8.752) 

One of the names of Joseph, therefore, was Serapis. This is corroborated, in fact, by several other “church fathers.”

Ken Johnson provides an excellent summary of how the Egyptians understood Serapis: 

“Who was Serapis and how was he able to accurately prophesy? The ancient church fathers relate that Serapis was one of the Egyptian names given to Joseph, son of Jacob. Joseph knew that in time the Egyptians would worship him as they did most of the ancestral kings. So he built a library to house the oracles of the one true God of the Hebrews, and carved the prophecy into the stone walls of the library. In time it was perverted into a pagan temple, and Sarapis became synonymous with the god O s iris. When worshiped under the figure of a bull , he is called Apis.” (Ken Johnson, Th.D., Ancient Prophecies Revealed: 500 Prophecies Listed In Order Of When They Were Fulfilled, 76 (Kindle Edition); BibleFacts.org) 

Second, this identification of Serapis with Joseph helps us to understand the powerful prophecy that was here manifest. Joseph was a Prophet of God through whom the Lord revealed the future. For example, we are told:

Genesis 41:25-Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do:

Joseph made it clear that his knowledge of the future and of interpreting dreams came from the Almighty, and not from Joseph himself:

Genesis 41:16-So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”

Jospeh, the Prophet of God, was able to see into the future. This ability was given to the Prophets as an evidence to the people that they were truly serving the one true God:

Isaiah 41:21-24-21 “Present your case,” says the LORD. “Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob. 22 “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; Let them show the former things, what they were, That we may consider them, And know the latter end of them; Or declare to us things to come. 23 Show the things that are to come hereafter, That we may know that you are gods; Yes, do good or do evil, That we may be dismayed and see it together. 24 Indeed you are nothing, And your work is nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination.  

Amos 3:7-Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

The pagans often had knowledge of the Gospel of Christ (as reflected in their writings) because they incorporated the prophecies from the Hebrews.  

“The influence of ancient Judaism is evident throughout different cultures.85 Monotheism and the prophecies of a Savior, born of a virgin, sacrificed for sins, and resurrected can be found throughout the Old Testament documents. The first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, was recorded approximately 1446 BC (oral tradition likely preserving it for countless years prior to that date), and the entire Old Testament was translated into Greek around 250 BC, making it available in the common language of the Hellenistic empire that extended to the ends of the known world. Since the Old Testament prophesied of the virgin-born Messiah, it is not surprising that the story spread before Christ’s first advent. An Egyptian papyrus dated to 340 BC reveals, “Who is the author of Re-birth? The Son of God, the One Man, by God’s Will.”86 And from another source, dated to approximately the same time, “The Lord and maker of all . . . from himself made the second God, the Visible . . . whom he loved as his Son.” Although not in agreement with Christian doctrine as to the nature of the Son, these two writings predate Christianity and point to what can be considered a common knowledge. Old Testament history (both oral and written) provides a basis for the existence of mutual knowledge, since the cultural and religious practices of neighboring and distant nations is referenced several times by different authors. In light of these historical facts, the Savior myth can be seen as a common belief emerging from the similar nature of human beings, a diffusion of knowledge from a central base—the Middle East, and the direct result of the distortion of biblical prophecy. Common knowledge produced generally similar stories whose details were invariably different.” (Walter Martin, Jill Martin, Rische Kurt, Van Gorden, The Kingdom Of The Occult, 112-113 (Kindle Edition); Nashville,, Tn; Thomas Nelson)  

Third, this information about the temple of Serapis reveals to us the fact that Joseph had told the people long before the time of Christ about the religion that the Creator world bring to the world which would herald salvation. What would be the sign of this new religion?

The cross!  

It is important for us to realize that numerous events in the Bible pointed to what Jesus would accomplish at Calvary. It is no wonder that Paul reminds us:

1 Corinthians 1:18-For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

When Jesus died for the sins of mankind on the cross of Calvary, He was paving the way for us to be saved and redeemed.  

Colossians 1:20-and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

The Gospel (Good News) is primarily about the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). What incredibly good news this is for those who are being saved!  

Finally, please notice that the pagans responded in precisely the correct way to this knowledge. Having heard the Word of God, they as believers repented and were baptized into Christ. In Scripture, we are told:

Acts 2:41-Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

Acts 8:12-13-But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

Acts 8:38-So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

Acts 9:18-Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

Acts 10:47-48-47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Acts 16:14-15-14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.  

Acts 16:33-And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.

Acts 18:8-Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.

Acts 19:5-When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 22:16-And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

Why not follow their example and turn your life to the Lord friends?  

Or if you are a child of God who has turned away from the Lord, why not repent today and confess your sins to the Lord in prayer (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

“I Can’t Become A Christian Because I Know That I’ll Mess Up”

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Over my years of preaching the Gospel, I have been richly blessed to speak with several individuals about lots of different topics.

One of the topics that has come up more times then I can count deals with excuses people make about not wanting to become a Christian.   Continue reading “I Can’t Become A Christian Because I Know That I’ll Mess Up”

Original Sin?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

One of the prominent teachings of our day and age is that children are born as sinners.

This teaching (largely borrowed from the Catholic Church) embodies the idea that humans are born as sinners as a direct result of the sins of Adam and Eve.

Of course, Scripture is clear that children do not inherit the sins of their parents.

For example, Ezekiel the Prophet declared:

Ezekiel 18:20-The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. Continue reading Original Sin?

The Sinner’s Prayer Is Still Not In The Bible 

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Recently while studying with a friend about the Gospel, I was reminded again of the need to study the Word of God carefully (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

You see, there are many false ideas and notions in the religious world around us (1 John 4:1).

For that reason, we must make sure that we receive the Word with all readiness of mind and search the Scriptures daily to determine whether or not the things which we are told are true (Acts 17:11).  

My friend that I was studying with had made the comment that they were trying to teach people of the need to be saved.  

That was wonderful!

Indeed, all the fallen sinners of Adam’s race need redemption (Romans 3:23).  

My friend had pointed out that it was only through Jesus that a person could be saved.  
That was wonderful!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).  

Then my friend made the following comment (paraphrased):

“Mark, I have been trying to get the lost to see their need to pray the sinner’s prayer and be saved from their sins.”  

How tragic and how sad.  

While I commend my religious friends for teaching people of their need to be saved, I am very saddened that so many proclaim that this salvation takes place in the form of a “sinner’s prayer.”

You see friends, there is no sinner’s prayer salvation in the Bible!  

In each of the conversion accounts mentioned in the Book of Acts, sinners are NEVER told to pray the sinner’s prayer to be saved.

Instead, they are told of their need to believe in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31) when they hear His Word (Acts 2:40; 8:11-12; 18:8), to repent of their sins (Acts 3:19-21), to confess their faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:37), and to be baptized into Christ to receive the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38).  

It it is often argued that the statement “whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21), refers to the “sinner’s prayer.”

Yet does it really?

I would ask you to consider three things with me regarding this allegation.  

First, the phrase ‘calling on the name of the Lord’ was a common expression used throughout the entire Bible.

It simply meant to serve or to obey God in whatever He has commanded.

The Lord was clear about this in HIs statement through the Prophet Zephaniah: 

Zephaniah 3:9-For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, That they all may CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD, To SERVE HIM with one accord.

Do you see that here “calling on the name of the Lord” simply meant to “serve” or “obey” Him?

Isaiah the Prophet also made it clear that ‘calling on the name of the Lord” means to obey Him completely and with the whole heart: 

Isaiah 55:6-7-6 Seek the LORD while He may be found, CALL UPON HIM while He is near.

7 Let the wicked FORSAKE HIS WAY, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him RETURN TO THE LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

Calling on the name of the Lord simply meant to obey God with the whole heart.  

Second, that “calling on the name of the Lord” here in Acts does not have reference to praying the sinner’s prayer for salvation is evident from the text itself; for if the people in Acts 2 had understood the phrase “calling on the name of the Lord” to be the sinner’s prayer, then they would not need to have asked, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

They would have already known that they needed to pray the sinner’s prayer! Yet their response shows that they understood the phrase “calling on the name of the Lord” simply meant to obey God’s Word.  

Third, the connection between Acts 2:21 and Acts 2:38 is clear, and it is here that we see what ‘calling on the name of the Lord” meant in this particular context. &nbsp

Notice: 

Acts 2:21-And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on THE NAME OF THE LORD shall be saved..’

Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We “call on the name of the Lord” when we as believers repent of our sins and are baptized by Jesus’ authority (in His name) for the remission of our sins.  

Don’t we also see this with Saul of Tarsus? Saul was a believer who had repented of his sins and who had been praying to the Lord for three days and nights (Acts 9:9-11). Yet what was he told after those three days of prayer and fasting?  

Acts 22:16-And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD.’

Most of our religious friends would have told Saul that he was forgiven when he prayed as a believing sinner who repented of his wickedness for those three days and three nights. Yet he was not forgiven until he arose and “got himself baptized” (literal translation).

Further, even though he had been praying for those three days and nights, he still had not truly “called on the name of the Lord,” i.e., he still had not done what God instructed him to do.  

Since the sinner’s prayer is not in the Bible, where did it originate?

One author, carefully investigating that very question in great detail, has written the following: 

“It is clear from this study that a theology that could support the use of the Sinner’s Prayer emerged in the middle of the nineteenth century. This is evident in the teachings of Methodist preachers, such as James Caughey and, especially, William ‘California’ Taylor. It was a crucial component of D. L. Moody’s preaching from the mid-1870s. At the end of that century, it would also seem very likely that the use of spoken Sinner’s Prayers was being encouraged in Moody meetings by some counsellors and by officers in The Salvation Army. This practice seems to have become common in the first half of the twentieth century, especially in America, with printed forms certainly appearing in books in 1922 and 1945. Cards, booklets and tracts with Sinner’s Prayers were being used from the late 1940s and 1950s, and they became common in the 1960s. Billy Graham and Campus Crusades’ Four Spiritual Laws have done more than anything else to popularise this method of evangelism, taking it to most countries in the world. Sinner’s Prayer evangelism, therefore, can be regarded as first emerging in the late nineteenth century, developing in the first half of the twentieth, before becoming a major form of evangelism from about 1960. Yet it is not good evangelism. As we suggested in chapter 2, there are better and more biblical ways to evangelise. It is recommended that you read chapter 2 again to become more familiar with those practices. Jesus said, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ (Matt. 28:19). This we must do and do it well.” (David Malcolm Bennett, The Sinner’s Prayer: It’s Origins And Dangers, 4039-4050 (Kindle Edition); Capalaba Qld; Even Before Publishing a division of Wombat Books) 

To all of my denominational friends and preachers, I plead with you: please return to the Gospel plan of salvation that is clearly outlined in Scripture. Let us turn away from these human constructs and return with all of our might to the Word of God.

The sinner’s prayer IS NOT found in the Bible.  

Could you face criticism for speaking out against these ideas (2 Timothy 3:12)?  

Yes.  

Could friends from your denominational affiliation reject you for preaching what the Lord did (Mark 16;15-16)?  

Yes.  

Is it possible that you will be hated by religious people for speaking the words of the Bible and turning away from the innovations of man (Galatians 4:16)?  

Yes.  

Will God be proud of you for not being ashamed of His Word (Mark 8:38)?  

Absolutely!  

Will people who desire to hear the Word of God be saved because you had the courage to speak that Word to them in love (1 Thessalonians 2:13)?  

Without a doubt!  

Friends, I plead with you: drop the “sinner’s prayer” and embrace New Testament Christianity.  

The God of Heaven loves us so very much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of mankind on the Cross of Calvary (Isaiah 53). Jesus died for each and every person (1 Timothy 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:15) because He wants all sinners to be saved (Ezekiel 18:23; 1 Timothy 2:4). He died for us, was buried, and on the third day arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

With His blood, He established His church (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28) to which He adds all those who are saved (Acts 2:47).

Who are those whom He saves?

Those who obey His plan of salvation outlined above (Romans 6:17-18).

Why not today turn your life to the Son of God and let Him save you from your sins?

If we are faithful to Him, He has promised us a home in Heaven when He returns in judgment on the world (John 14:1-3; Revelation 2:10).

When we sin and fall away after being saved, He forgives us when we repent of that sin and confess it to Him in prayer (1 John 1:9).

Why not obey God today?  

If I can help you in any way, please call upon me.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

What It Means To Be A Disciple Of Christ

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Recently, I read this quote from a fantastic book: 

“After Jesus rose from the grave, He left His followers with a simple command: “Go into all the world and make disciples” (see Matt. 28: 19). The church should be known for this. If we are going to call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, we should be making disciples. But most Christians today are not known for making disciples. We have developed a culture where a minister ministers and the rest of us sit back and enjoy “church” from a comfortable distance. This is not what God intends for His church. Every Christian is called by God to minister. You are called to make disciples.” (Francis Chan with Mark Beuving, Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples, 9 (Kindle Edition); David C. Cook) 

In the church, many have forgotten (or have never been properly taught) what it means to be a disciple of Christ.  

In this article, we are going to study what the Bible teaches about this subject.  

Defining Our Terms 

What does the word “disciple” mean?  

William Barclay has well written: 

“Akolouthein is the common and normal Greek verb which means to follow. It is a word with many uses and with many associations and all of them add something to its meaning for the follower of Christ. First, let us look at its usage and its meaning in classical Greek. (i) It is the common and the usual word for soldiers following their leader and commander. Xenophon (Anabasis 7.5.3) speaks about the generals and captains who have followed the leader for whom they are fighting. (ii) It is very commonly used of a slave following or attending his master. Theophrastus, in his character sketch of the Distrustful Man, says that such a man compels his slave to walk before him instead of following behind him, as a slave would normally do, so that he can be sure the slave will not dodge away (Theophrastus, Characters 18.8). (iii) It is commonly used for following or obeying someone else’s advice or opinion. Plato says that it is necessary to find out those who are fitted by nature to be leaders in philosophy and government, and those who are fitted by nature to be followers of the leader (Plato, Republic 474c). Some people are fitted to give leadership; others are only fitted to accept it. (iv) It is commonly used of obeying the laws. To follow the laws of a city is to accept them as the standard of life and of behaviour. (v) It is commonly used of following the thread or argument of a discourse. When the argument has got into a difficult position Socrates says: ‘Come now, try to follow me, to see if we can get this matter adequately explained’ (Plato, Republic 474c). (vi) In the papyri akolouthein is very commonly used for attaching oneself to someone in order to extract some favour which is desired. One writes in advice to another: ‘stick to Ptollarion all the time…. Stick to him so that you may become his friend.’ The idea is that of following a person until the favour desired is finally extracted from him. Every one of these usages has light to throw on the Christian life. The Christian is in the position of the soldier who follows Jesus Christ, and who must immediately obey his leader’s command. The Christian is in the position of the slave, who must obey as soon as his master speaks. The Christian must ask for the advice and for the ruling of Jesus Christ and must have the humility to follow it, whatever it may be. The Christian is the man who desires citizenship of the Kingdom of Heaven, and, if he is to receive it, he must agree to live according to its laws. The Christian is the learner and the listener who must listen to the words of Jesus, and who must follow their thread, so that day by day he may learn more of the wisdom which Jesus is ever wishing to teach him. The Christian is always in the position of one who needs and desires the favour and the grace and the help which Jesus Christ can give to him, and who follows Christ because in Christ alone he finds his need supplied.” (William Barclay, New Testament Words, 594-618 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press) 

We also must realize that the word “disciple” carried the idea of personally trusting a particular person and his teaching: 

“Math teu (make disciples) is the main verb and the central command of verses 19-20, which form the closing sentence of Matthew’s gospel. The root meaning of the term refers to believing and learning. Jesus was not referring simply to believers or simply to learners, or He would have used other words. Math teu carries a beautiful combination of meanings. In this context it relates to those who place their trust in Jesus Christ and follow Him in lives of continual learning and obedience. “If you abide in My word,” Jesus said, “then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8: 31). It should be noted that some disciples were not true (see John 6: 66).” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 49990-50006 (Kindle Edition); Chicago; Moody Press) 

From this, we see that there are several fundamental principles about being a disciple, including: 

Being Ready To Learn From The Master And His Word; 

Trusting In The Master And His Word;

Loving And Clinging To The Master And His Word; 

Being Willing To Obey The Master You Follow;

Being Willing To Sacrifice For The Master And To Go Wherever He May Send.  

With these things in mind, lets study three of the things which Jesus teaches us about being His disciple.  

To Be A Disciple Of Christ, You Must Put Jesus First 

In the Gospel of Luke, the Lord tells us;

Luke 14:26-27-26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Now, what does it mean to “hate” our fathers and mothers and wives and children and brothers and sisters, etc.?

Many people would read this and clonclude that the Lord wants us to literally HATE our families.

Yet how can this be since we are to love everyone? 

Romans 13:8-10-8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

9 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.”

10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

How can we literally hate our parents when the Bible teaches us to honor our fathers and mothers (Exodus 20:12)?  

Perhaps the answer lies in studying that original word used in Luke’s account that is translated as “hate.”

Notice some different translations of this passage: 

Luke 14:26 (CEV)-You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.

Luke 14:26 (Amplified)-If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his [own] father and mother [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God] and [likewise] his wife and children and brothers and sisters–[yes] and even his own life also–he cannot be My disciple.

These translations are picking up on something important that we often miss in limiting ourselves to one translation of the Bible: sometimes the word “hate” simply means “to love less.”  

For example: 

Genesis 29:30-31-30 Then Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah. And he served with Laban still another seven years.

31 When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.

The word used here is the same in the Greek Old Testament as the word used here.

The idea of “hated” carried the ideas of “loved less.”  

“Fourth, the Hebrew word for “hated” really means “loved less.” Indication of this comes from the life of Jacob himself. For the Bible says Jacob “loved also Rachel more than Leah…. The Lord saw that Leah was hated” (Gen. 29:30—31). “The former implies strong positive attachment and the latter, not positive hatred, but merely a less love.”88 The same is true in the New Testament, as when Jesus said, “ ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother … he cannot be my disciple’ ” (Luke 14:26). A parallel idea is expressed in Matthew 10:37: “ ‘Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.’ ” (Norman Geisler, Chosen But Free: A Balanced View Of Divine Election, 85 (Kindle Edition); Bloomington, Minnesota; Bethany House Publishers) 

If we would be a disciple of Jesus, we must be willing to put Him first in our hearts and lives.

In fact, we need to be ready to put Him above family, friends, and even our very lives.

Notice that we are told that we must be willing to “take up our cross” and follow Him.

In the first century, this was a picture that everyone understood would include two main ideas: 

First, there is the notion of being hated by others.

The ones who were condemned to the death of the cross were mocked and abused terribly by onlookers. There was insult, mockery, personal offense, and hostility by our fellow man.

Jesus endured this, and He and His Apostles told us to expect it from those in the world: 

John 15:18-19-18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 16:2-They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

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

Many of the attacks against God’s people will come from those who believe they are following God in persecuting His people!

As such, we should not be surprised when we are hated by the world for the cause of Christ. When people hear about our allegiance to Jesus and His Word, they will often insult and slander us.

Names like “Campbellite” and “waterdog” and “legalists” are often attached to Christians by the ignorant and the lost.

Jesus tells us that we need to be prepared to be hated by those in the world.  

Second, the idea of taking up our cross means casting aside earthly attachments.

To the person who was being crucified, there was the understanding that the world itself was nearly ended.

In other words, the person who was taking up their cross was at a point where his life was nearly ended. He understood this; as such, the world itself had lost its power over the one thus condemned.  

Romans 6:3-14 (ERV)-3 Did you forget that all of us became part of Christ Jesus when we were baptized? In our baptism we shared in his death.

4 So when we were baptized, we were buried with Christ and took part in his death. And just as Christ was raised from death by the wonderful power of the Father, so we can now live a new life.

5 Christ died, and we have been joined with him by dying too. So we will also be joined with him by rising from death as he did.

6 We know that our old life was put to death on the cross with Christ. This happened so that our sinful selves would have no power over us. Then we would not be slaves to sin.

7 Anyone who has died is made free from sin’s control.

8 If we died with Christ, we know that we will also live with him.

9 Christ was raised from death. And we know that he cannot die again. Death has no power over him now.

10 Yes, when Christ died, he died to defeat the power of sin one time—enough for all time. He now has a new life, and his new life is with God.

11 In the same way, you should see yourselves as being dead to the power of sin and alive for God through Christ Jesus.

12 But don’t let sin control your life here on earth. You must not be ruled by the things your sinful self makes you want to do.

13 Don’t offer the parts of your body to serve sin. Don’t use your bodies to do evil, but offer yourselves to God, as people who have died and now live. Offer the parts of your body to God to be used for doing good.

Colossians 3:1-3-1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

If we would be true disciples of Christ, we must Jesus first.  

To Be A Disciple Of Christ, We Must Be Willing To Learn And Obey God’s Word 

Let’s notice a passage which teach us about the importance of learning and obeying the Lord in order to be true disciples of Christ.  

Matthew 28:19-20-19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Here we see that teaching is a definite step in becoming a disciple of Christ, and in continuing to be a disciple of Christ.

Notice that the text has an imperative (a command), i.e. MAKE DISCIPLES.

The text then tells us two participles which instruct us how to make the disciples:

GOING, TEACHING, BAPTIZING.

Furthermore, there is the added command of OBSERVING the teaching of Christ.

As such, we see that to be a disciple of Christ, we must be active in four things:

GOING-TEACHING-BAPTIZING-OBSERVING.  

Notice four things with me.  

First, Christianity is a religion that is focused on “going.”

If you are a disciple of Christ, you have the obligation to GO. Too many believers believe that their obligation to follow Christ is fulfilled on Sundays and Wednesdays.  

“Well, I have been at worship services this week, that takes care of my discipleship.”

Oh most people would not SAY such things, but many certainly live like this.  

Church, God has given us a mandate to GO. Where?

Into all the nations!!

In the New Testament, the Apostles were commissioned to start where they were and then to expand outward: 

Acts 1:8-8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Second, if we are going to be disciples, then we must be willing to LEARN and TEACH. Notice that in the text disciples are made by “teaching” (KJV).  

Friends, you cannot become a disciple unless you are taught the Word of God.

In the same way, you cannot make disciples unless you teach them the Word of God. Many in our world attempt to engage in lots of programs to grow churches, and yet the Bible is clear that it is only by teaching the Word of God that disciples are made.  

John 6;44-45-44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

45 It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT BY GOD.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.

Please notice that Jesus here teaches how the Father draws us to Him.

How?  

Through the teaching of the Word of God, we are drawn to Him.

Everyone who has “heard” (literally, keeps on hearing) and learned (literally, keeps on learning) from the Father comes to Me.  

The only way you will personally be able to make disciples is to get involved in teaching them the Word of God.

We need to sit down with our friends and family members, ask to have Bible studies and address questions that they have, and show interest in them.

Only by teaching will disciples be made.

Third, notice that this passage teaches us that in order to become a fully initiated disciple, one must be baptized into Christ.

The Greek of the passage is absolutely clear that baptism (along with teaching) is what is involved in making disciples of Christ.

Why was this the case?

The answer lies in the phrase “in the name” of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

In the first century, this was a legal phrase that had reference to a slave being transferred “into the ownership” of someone else.  

“The Greek phrase “into the name of ” (εἰς τò ὄνoμα) occurs mainly in commercial or legal documents and carries the idea of “into the ownership or possession” of someone. The Hebrew phrase “into the name of ” ( ) carries the idea of “with reference to,” defining the intention or purpose of the act, or even in some instances “in worship to.” 446 A Hebrew background has greater probability with reference to Matthaean usage, but the practical results may not have been greatly different. Something done by a person as an act of worship toward another brought the first person into a relationship of belonging to the object of the act, and someone to whom a person belonged or was obligated received acts of homage from that person.” (Everett Ferguson, Baptism In The Early Church: History, Theology, And Liturgy In The First Five Centuries, 3005 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 

“Another controversy of the religious world concerns the purpose of baptism. Many people, correctly rejecting the false doctrine of salvation upon the basis of works of human merit, have erroneously concluded that no works-of any type-are involved in salvation. Hence, they have overlooked the clear connection between baptism (which is not a work of human merit; cf. Titus 3:5) and forgiveness of sins in such passages as Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21, etc. One interesting passage in this connection is Matthew 28:19, 20 where the Lord’s followers are instructed to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” What did Christ mean by baptizing them “into the name” of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Many scholars were uncertain. Then archaeologists began to uncover numerous Greek papyri containing the phrase eis to onama, “into the name.” It was a technical expression denoting “into the possession” of someone. A slave was sold into the name, i.e., into the possession, of his owner. So, as Moulton and Milligan comment: “The usage is of interest in connection with Matthew 28:19, where the meaning would seem to be ‘baptized into the possesssion of the Father, etc.'”. What a thrilling concept! When one, in believing penitence, turns to the Lord by the obedient act of being immersed in water, by that submission, he becomes the possession of the divine Godhead.” (Wayne Jackson, Biblical Studies In The Light Of Archaeology, 56; Montgomery, Alabama; Apologetics Press). 

Fourth, if we want to be a faithful disciple, we have to apply ourselves to observing all of Christ’s commands.

As Jesus told His followers earlier: 

John 8:31-Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.

To Be A Disciple Of Christ, We Must Be Active Member Of His Church 

The last thing I want to notice with you about being a disciple of Christ is that being a disciple means that you are an active member of His church.

Notice what the Bible tells us:

Acts 11:26-And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

    Let’s notice several things.  

    First, the disciples are clearly here identified as being members of “the church” and as being called “Christians.”

    A true disciple of Christ is a member of His church, and-because of that-he is a Christian.  

    Remember that it is teaching and baptism by which one becomes a disciple (Matthew 28:19).

    With that in mind, we recall that those in Jerusalem who gladly received His Word were baptized ; and the Bible tells us that these were then added by God to His church (Acts 2:41, 47).

    To be a disciple of Christ is to be a member of His church.  

    Further, to be a Christian is to be a member of His church.

    The word Christian is often applied loosely to anyone who professes a faith in Jesus; yet in the strictest sense, the word “Christian” has reference to those who have been added by God to His church when they have thus been baptized as believers into Him (Acts 2:37-47).  

    Yet notice something else.

    The Bible tells us here that these disciples were members of the church both universally and locally.  

    Sometimes the word church is used in a universal sense, to have reference to all the saved people of God in any area (cf. Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:16; Colossians 1:18).

    The word is also used to have reference to a group of Christians who assemble locally (1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1).

    In these local congregations, the disciples assemble together on the Lord’s Day-Sunday (Acts 20:7) to worship the Lord and to be edified by His Word (Hebrews 10:24-25; Colossians 3:16-17).

    It is in the local church that the work of the Lord for evangelizing the local community, and spreading the Gospel through the world, is planned and prepared (1 Timothy 3:14-15).  

    There are many in the church who do not want to be identified with a local congregation.

    They will travel from one congregation to another, and will never identify themselves with a local congregation.

    This is clearly against the Bible patten for faithful disciples.

    First, we are commanded to assemble with the local brethren (Hebrews 10:24-25).

    Second, the Bible tells us that Paul tried to assemble with the brethren at Jerusalem when he was first baptized (Acts 9:26).

    Third, the Bible commands elders of the church to shepherd the flock of God which is among them (1 Peter 5:1-5).

    If members of the congregation do not declare that they desire to be recognized as members of the local congregation, then how can elders of the church ever shepherd the flock?

    Fourth, when Paul wrote his letter to the church at Rome, he identified at least 26 saints (Romans 16:1-16).

    Many were from congregations in Rome that had congregations meeting in their homes.

    Clearly, Paul understood that there were local members in the congregations.  

    If we would be faithful and productive disciples of Christ, we must be members of the church both universally and locally.  

    Finally in this connection, I want you to notice with me that being a disciple of Christ means that we are active members of the congregation.

    The church here in Acts 11:26 was heavily involved in both evangelism and benevolence.

    Acts 11:27-30-27 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch.

    28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.

    29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.

    30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

    Being a disciple of Christ means that we are willing to be involved in the work of the Lord.

    Are we ready and eager to be involved in the work of the Lord?  

    Judges 5:2-When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the LORD!

    Psalm 110:3-Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power; In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth.

    It seems that in the church, there are many members of the congregation who are part of the “Tate” family:

    “Do you have any idea of how many members of the Tate family belong to your congregation? There is old man Dic Tate who wants to run everything, while uncle Ro Tate tries to change everything. Their sister, Agi Tate, stirs up plenty of trouble with help from her husband, Irri Tate. Whenever new projects are suggested, Hesi Tate and his wife Vegi Tate want to wait until next year. Brother Facili Tate is quite helpful in church business. Cousins Cogi Tate and Medi Tate always think things over and lend a helpful steady hand. And, of course, there is the bad seed in the family, Ampu Tate, who has cut himself off completely from the Body of Christ.” (Paul M. Miller, World’s Greatest Collection Of Church Jokes, 235 (Kindle Edition); Uhrichsville, Ohio; Barbour Publishing, Inc.). 

    If we want to be true disciples of the Lord, then we need to be active members of His church.  

    Conclusion

    Being a disciple of Christ means these three important things: 

    Putting Jesus And His Kingdom First; 

    Being Ready To Learn And Obey The Word Of God; 

    Being An Active Member Of The Lord’s Church

    The central message of the Word of God is the Gospel, or “Good News,” that God’s Son (Jesus Christ) came to this world to die for the sins of mankind (1 Timothy 2:6; Isaiah 53). Jesus died to pay for the price for each person’s sins because God desires for all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). He was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). It is upon Jesus Christ and His Word that we can safely build our lives; only He is the solid foundation upon which His church is built (Matthew 7:24-27).  

    Why not today place your faith in Jesus Christ, repent of your sins, confess Him as the Son of God, and be buried with Him in baptism (Acts 2:37-38; 8:35-38)?

    When you obey God’s plan of salvation, He will add you to His church (Acts 2:47), and He promises to walk with you and to build you up through His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:12-13).

    When we fall short and sin as Christians (1 John 1:8), He will forgive us when we repent of that sin and confess it to Him in prayer (1 John 1:9).  

    If I can assist you in any way, please contact me.  

    The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

    Hebrews 9:7-Will God Only Forgive Sins Of Ignorance? 

    By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

    Several times, I have heard the statement made that God will only forgive the sins of those who sin in ignorance.  

    In other words, it is claimed that if a person commits a sin while knowing that it is a sin, God will not forgive said person, even if they repent.  

    It is usually argued that there are several passages in the Book of Hebrews which teach this.  

    In this article, we will study one of the passages which (it is claimed) teaches this.  

    Let’s open our Bibles and study together.  

    Hebrews 9:7-Sins Committed In Ignorance 

    While discussing the various works and responsibilities of Old Testament priests, the writer of Hebrews points to the responsibility of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. This particular holiday was one of the seven feasts of Israel, and it was held each year in the Fall. The priest would go in and sprinkle blood of sacrifices on the Ark of the Covenant.  

    Speaking of this, we read in Hebrews: 

    Hebrews 9:7-But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;

    Many read this and conclude that the only sins which were forgiven by God were the sins committed by the people in ignorance.  

    Notice several things with me.  

    The Range Of Forgiveness On The Day Of Atonement 

    The Old Testament is clear that the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement provided forgiveness for ALL the sins of the Old Testament saints of which they repented. Notice what we are told in Leviticus:

    Leviticus 16:16-So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.

    Please observe how this is rendered in different translations:

    Leviticus 16:16 (GW)-So he will make peace with the LORD for ALL THE SINS the Israelites committed against the holy place. These sins happened because the Israelites were unclean and because they COMMITTED REBELLIOUS ACTS. He will do the same for the tent of meeting which is among an unclean people.

    Leviticus 16:16 (Jewish Publication Society)-And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the children of Israel, and because of their TRANSGRESSIONS, even ALL THEIR SINS; and so shall he do for the tent of meeting, that dwelleth with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.

    These translations are pointing out something that is often overlooked, in regards to the “type” of sins being committed and atoned for.  

    Throughout the Old Testament, there are different words in the Hebrew language which are translated as “sin.”

    Gareth Reese has provided an excellent study of this:

    “It has been said that there are three classes or kinds of sin in the Hebrew Old Testament. (1) The lightest infractions are those that are called chet, chata, chatta’ah, or chattah, a fault, a shortcoming, a misstep, to sin, err, miss the mark. (2). Of a more serious nature are the sins described by ‘avon, avah, or ‘aven, a breaking of a commandment, iniquity. (3) The most serious sins are those called pesha’ (transgression) and resha’ (wickedness). There is the idea of rebellion involved in pesha’, and of what has become a habit or state in resha’. Psalm 106:6 mentions all three words, “We have sinned (cheta) like our fathers, we have committed iniquity (avah), we have behaved wickedly (resha’).” A similar threefold list is found in Exodus 34:7, “Who forgives iniquity (avon) , transgression (pesha’) and sin (chatta’ah).” (Gareth Reese, Commentary On Romans, 216; Joplin, Missouri; College Press).  

    Please notice that here in Leviticus 16:16, we are assured that God forgives all of the sins of the people when they repent and obey His Law of forgiveness.  

    With this understanding, it helps us to better understand other passages of Scripture. think of what God promised through Moses regarding intentional sins:

    Leviticus 6:1-7-1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

    2 “If a person sins and commits a trespass against the LORD by lying to his neighbor about what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or about a pledge, or about a robbery, or if he has extorted from his neighbor,

    3 or if he has found what was lost and lies concerning it, and swears falsely—in any one of these things that a man may do in which he sins:

    4 then it shall be, because he has sinned and is guilty, that he shall restore what he has stolen, or the thing which he has extorted, or what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or the lost thing which he found,

    5 or all that about which he has sworn falsely. He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering.

    6 And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering, to the priest.

    7 So the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he shall be forgiven for any one of these things that he may have done in which he trespasses.”

    There can be no doubt that the sins here described were intentional sins! Yet, when repentance was manifested, forgiveness was abundant.  

    Consider further what God declared through Isaiah the Prophet:

    Isaiah 55:6-7-6 Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

    7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

    We read later:

    Ezekiel 18:23-Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

    Ezekiel 18:27-Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.

    God extends His invitation of forgiveness to all sinners-even to the most wicked!  
    Clearly, the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement provided forgiveness for all the sins of the people of which they repented.  

    Understanding What The Word “Ignorance” Meant To The Hebrews

    However, that still leaves the question as to the meaning of Hebrews 9:7.  
    What did Paul mean when he wrote that the High Priest provided atonement for the sins of the people committed in “ignorance?” 

    The answer is found in how the Jewish people defined the word “ignorance.” Famed scholar William Barclay wrote:

    “The sin of ignorance is pardonable; the sin of presumption is not. Nevertheless, we must note that by the sin of ignorance the Jews meant more than simply lack of knowledge. They included the sins committed when someone was carried away in a moment of impulse or anger or passion or was overcome by some irresistible temptation, and the sins were followed by repentance. By the sin of presumption, they meant the cold, calculated sin for which the perpetrator was not in the least sorry, the open-eyed disobedience of God. So, the priest existed to open for sinners the way back to God –as long as they wanted to come back.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letter To The Hebrews, 54 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

    So to the Jewish people, the idea of a sin of “ignorance” included any sin that a person committed, for whatever reason, so long as there was repentance of that sin.  

    To many in our modern world, this concept is difficult to grasp.

    One researcher named Michael Brown has studied the ancient Hebrew Scriptures and rabbinic traditions for years, and has written a four part several of books on the topic, entitled Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus. At one point in his studies, he carefully examines the question of the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, and whether or not they were only for “unintentional sins.”

    Speaking specifically of Leviticus 16:20-22, Brown writes:

    “Notice carefully what the text says: The High Priest is to confess over the head of this goat “all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites-all their sins”-and “all” means “all.” Notice also that the text specifically speaks of the “wickedness” (or “iniquity”; Hebrew, ‘awon) and “rebellion” (Hebrew, pesha, meaning willful transgression) of the Israelites, not merely their unintentional sins. “But what do the rabbis say about this? What is written in the Talmud?” With regard to the kinds of sins atoned for by the sacrificial goats of Yom Kippur, the Talmud is even more explicit than the biblical text. Here are two different translations of m. Shevu’ot 1:6, a well-known text in traditional Jewish law: A. And for a deliberate act of imparting uncleanness to the sanctuary and its Holy Things, a goat [whose blood is sprinkled] inside and the Day of Atonement effect atonement. B. And for all other transgressions which are in the Torah-C. the minor or serious, deliberate or inadvertent, those done knowingly or done unknowingly, violating a positive or a negative commandment, those punishable by extirpation [karet] and those punishable by death at the hands of the court, D. the goat which is sent away [Lev. 16:21 ] effects atonement.22’ And for uncleanness that occurs in the Temple and to its holy sacrifices through wantonness, [the] goat whose blood is sprinkled within [the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement] and the Day of Atonement effect atonement, and for [all] other transgressions [spoken of] in the Law, light or grace, premeditated or inadvertent, aware or unaware, transgressions of positive commands or negative commands, sin whose penalty is excision or sins punishable by death imposed by the court, the scapegoat makes atonement.”‘ As codified and explained by Maimonides almost one thousand years later (Laws of Repentance, 1:2): Since the goat sent [to Azazeil]229 atones for all of Israel, the High Priest confesses on it as the spokesman for all of Israel, as [Lev. 16:21 ] states: “He shall confess on it all the sins of the Children of Israel.” The goat sent to Azazeil atones for all the transgressions in the Torah, the severe and the lighter [sins]; those violated intentionally and those transgressed inadvertently; those which [the transgressor] became conscious of and those which he was not conscious of. All are atoned for by the goat sent [to Azazeil]. This applies only if one repents. If one does not repent, the goat only atones for the light [sins]. Which are light sins and which are severe ones? Severe sins are those which are punishable by execution by the court or by premature death [karetJ. [The violation of] the other prohibitions that are not punishable by premature death are considered light [sins].230 Here, then, is a perfectly clear statement from the most authoritative sources of traditional Judaism that the sacrifices offered and the ceremonies performed on the Day of Atonement effected atonement for all kinds of sins, intentional and unintentional, willful and inadvertent. The only question raised by the Rabbinic sources is to what degree repentance was a necessary part of the equation, a question that all Messianic Jews would answer by saying, “Repentance plays a vital part in the equation!”…The rabbis (see b. Shevu’ot 2b; 6b-14a) comment specifically on the words rebellion (transgressions in Hebrew) and sins, explaining that “transgressions” refers to acts of rebellion-which are certainly intentional-while “sins” refers to inadvertent acts.232 And it is the goat whose blood is sprinkled in the Most Holy Place that effects atonement for the people, just as the blood of the bull offered up by the High Priest effects atonement for him (m. Shevu’ot 1:7, following Lev. 16:11, “Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering.”). Notice also that it is a sin offering that effects atonement for Aaron and the people of Israel, demonstrating that it is not only the guilt offering that effects atonement for willful sins.-“‘ Let me also remind you of the prayer of Solomon offered up at the dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 6), in which he asked God to forgive his sinning people when they turned to God in repentance and prayed toward the Temple. The Lord promised that he would, in fact, forgive and restore-because of the sacrifices offered up in the Temple (see 2 Chron. 7:12-16, and the discussion above, 3.9)-and the text makes clear that inadvertent or unintentional sins were not the only things covered by Solomon’s prayer. See, for example,, I Kings 8:33-36, 46-50; 2 Chronicles 7:14, clearly referring to all kinds of sins and transgressions.” (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus-Volume Two: Theological Objections, 129-132 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books) 

    Please notice with me that the Old Testament (as well as the New Testament) explicitly taught that all sins of which a person was guilty could be forgiven if there was repentance and adherence to God’s Word.  

    In fact, Michael Brown (in continuing his comments on the aforementioned subject) has some more excellent commentary on this subject. Due to the fact that it is relevant to our present study, I will include it here:

    “How then should we understand Numbers 15:22-31 ? These verses seem to teach that sacrifices could be brought to atone for unintentional sins, but for willful, defiant sins no sacrifice was possible. The sinner’s guilt would remain on him. Let’s look at this passage, allowing some Jewish biblical scholars to explain its meaning: Now if you unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the LORD gave Moses-any of the LORD’s commands to you through him, from the day the LORD gave them and continuing through the generations to come-and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering. The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have brought to the LORD for their wrong an offering made by fire and a sin offering. The whole Israelite community and the aliens living among them will be forgiven, because all the people were involved in the unintentional wrong. But if just one person sins unintentionally, he must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. The priest is to make atonement before the LORD for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made for him, he will be forgiven. One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether he is a native-born Israelite or an alien. But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the LORD’S word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.” Milgrom explains: The possibility of sacrificial atonement is explicitly denied to the individual who presumptuously violates God’s law (Num. 15:30-31). This, however, does not mean, as many critics aver, that sacrificial atonement is possible only for involuntary wrongdoers. To cite but one exception, the askant offering is prescribed for that premeditated crime called by the rabbis asham gezelot (Lev. 5:20ff.; Num. 5:5-8). A more correct assertion, then, would be that the priestly system prohibits sacrificial atonement to the unrepentant sinner, for the one who “acts defiantly … it is the Lord he reviles” (Num. 15:30). This is an explicit postulate of post-biblical literature: “the hattat, the asham, and death do not atone except with repentance” (Tosef., Yoma 5:9; cf. Yoma 8:8).-” Or as expressed concisely by Rashi, “Only at the time when his iniquity is upon him shall he be cut off, meaning, as long as he has not repented” making reference to b. Sanhedrin 90b, where the Talmud mud explains that Numbers 15:31 leaves open the possibility that the sinner might still repent. Thus, his guilt remains on him as long as he fails to repent. Interestingly, there is almost an exact New Testament parallel to this warning in Numbers 15:30-31, and it is found-not surprisingly-in in the Letter to the Hebrews: If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge edge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26-31 The point in both cases is clear: There is no sacrifice, no forgiveness, no atonement for those who commit-and continue in-willful, defiant sin. If they don’t turn back in repentance, nothing will atone for them. As noted by R. L. Harris with reference to Numbers 15:30-31, “Here the NIV has correctly caught the sense of the unpardonable sin-not one done intentionally, but one done ‘defiantly,’ i.e., in rebellion, sinning against light (cf. Matt. 12:31-32).”1″‘ The Hebrew image is quite clear: The sinner transgresses “with a high hand” (bevad ramah)-almost challenging God to punish him or hold him to account. But God is not one to be challenged! As Moses reminded the children of Israel, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him” (Deut. 7:9-10). But for those who would repent and perform the required Temple service, abundant mercy and pardon was available (see vol. 1, 1.11, and below, 3.21). Looking back, then, at what we have seen so far, we can say categorically that sacrifices were not for unintentional sins only. The sacrifices on Yom Kippur argue against this position, specific sacrifices (the’asham and the hatta’t) argue against it, other scriptural principles argue against it, the Talmud and Law Codes argue against it, the custom of kapparot argues against it, and the concept of repentance offered in conjunction with sacrifices argues against it.” (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus: Volume Two-Theological Objections, 132-134 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

    Jesus-The Ultimate High Priest

    Finally, we need to remember the point that the writer of Hebrews is making.

    From Hebrews 2-9 (and continuing through Hebrews 10), Paul has been arguing that Jesus’ Priesthood is greater than that of the Old Testament Levitical system, and that all of the ordinances of the Old Testament actually foreshadowed what Christ would accomplish. Jesus is the ultimate High Priest, and everything through the Old Testament pointed to this reality!  
    To more fully appreciate this, consider several passages from Hebrews which help to make this point more clear: 

    Hebrews 2:14-15-14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

    15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

    Hebrews 2:17-18-17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

    18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

    Hebrews 4:14-16-14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

    15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

    16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

    Hebrews 5:9-10-9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

    10 called by God as High Priest “ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK,”

    Hebrews 7:25-27-25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

    26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;

    27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

    All of the ordinances of the Old Testament were but a shadow of what Christ Himself would accomplish as our High Priest!  

    Hebrews 9:9-9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—

    Hebrews 9:23-23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

    Conclusion

    The God of Creation graciously offers redemption to all people.  

    Revelation 22:17-And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

    Friends, if you have believed or have been taught that you committed a sin which cannot be forgiven, please know that this is not true.  

    God WANTS to forgive you (1 Timothy 2:4)!
    God WILL forgive you (Mark 16:15-16)!

    There is no sin so great that the blood of Jesus cannot provide atonement (1 John 2:1-2)! 

    God wants you to be saved and He has made it possible. The entire Godhead-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-were involved in paving the way for mankind to be forgiven. Our sins have separated us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). We cannot bring redemption for ourselves, no matter how many good works that we do (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet the Lord loves us so very much that He sent His Son to die on the Cross of Calvary, to pay the price for our sins (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Yet do not think for a moment that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were not also willing to make this Sacrifice, for they were; and we are assured throughout Scripture that all Three were involved in the horrible events of Calvary (Isaiah 48:16).

    Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). The Lord promises salvation to whoever will “call on His Name” (Acts 2:21), which simply means to serve Him and to obey His Word (cf. Zephaniah 3:9).  

    What has God commanded we do to be saved?  

    His Word commands us to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (John 8:24), to repent of our sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30-31), to confess Jesus as God’s Son (Acts 8:37), and to be baptized into Him to receive the remission of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38).  

    He commands us to be faithful until death (Revelation 2:10), as a part of His church which He adds us to be when we are baptized (Acts 2:41-47).  

    When we sin as Christians, He promises forgiveness to us if we will repent and pray to Him for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).  

    Why not turn to Him today?  

    If I can assist you, please call upon me.  

    The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.