What Are The Facts About 1 John 5:7?

 

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Near the end of the Apostle John’s First Epistle, he makes a powerful statement about the Godhead: 

1 John 5:7-For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.  

What is tragic is that many versions of the Bible completely omit this passage of Scripture. Those Bible translations today which retain this passage (such as the New King James Version) usually have a footnote which says this verse was based on only a few very late manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. 

Well, what are the facts of this passage of Scripture? Please notice the following: 

“Only 300 of the 5, 300 plus manuscripts have 1 John. Of these 300 , only ten Greek manuscripts ranging from the fourteenth century to the eighteenth century, contain the Johannine Comma ; Manuscripts 61, 629, 918, 2318 , 2473, 88, 177, 221, 429, 636 . Ni n e Latin manuscripts , ranging from the 10th to 16th centuries include the Comma. These facts are used by some scholars to teach that the Comma was never in the original text of 1 John…..First John 5: 9 10 refer to the event recorded in Matthew 17:5 where God the Father spoke out of heaven and testified that Jesus was His Son. If we leave the Comma in , we have the witness of the Trinity and the witness of man in verses 7- 8 . Verse 9 contrasts the witness of men, describe in verses 6 and 8 with the witness of God in verse 7 and 10- 11 . If we leave out the Comma , we have verses 10- 11 referring back to a non- existent clause…Several ancient church fathers quote or allude to this passage. Cyprian says: The Lord says, ‘ I and the Father are one; ’ [ John 10:30 ] and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy S pirit, ‘a nd these three are one ’ [1 John 5:7- 8]. Cyprian, Unity of the Church 6 , AD 250…Jerome commented in his Latin Vulgate that the Greek church created a controversy when they decided to leave out the Johannine Comma . His Greek copies, now non- existent, contained the Johannine Comma and he refused to alter the Scriptures! The general epistles are not the same in the Greek Church a s they are for the Latin Church . .. The general epistles have been correctly understood and faithfully translated into Latin [from the Greek] in their entirety, without ambiguous or missing information; especially the verse about the unity of the Trinity found in 1 John . Unfaithful translators have created much controversy by omitting the phrase “ Father, Word, and Spirit , ” while leaving the phrase “water, blood and spirit , ” which only serves to strengthen our faith and show the Father , Son , and Holy Spirit are of the same substance. I do not fear those who call me a corrupter of Scriptures ; I refuse to deny the truth of Scripture to those who seek it. Jerome , Prologue to the Canonical Epistles , Codex Fuldensis , AD 541- 546…Tertullian stated that 1 John 5:7 is saying these three are one in substance, and this is what Jesus meant when He said that He and the Father are One in John 10:30. Jesus did not mean He was the Father. “‘These Three are one’ in essence, not one Person, as it is said, ‘I and M y Father are One,’ in respect of unity of substance , not singularity of number.” Tertullian Against Praxeas 25 , AD 200…We have 86,000 quotes of Scripture from the ancient church fathers (AD 32- 325). Here are just a few of the ones who either quoted , or alluded to , the Johannine Comma. 215, Tertullian, Against Praxeas 25 250 , Cyprian, Unity of the Church 6 250 , Cyprian, Epistle to Jubaianus 635, Athanasius, Books 1 & 10 , cited three times 380, Priscillian , Liber Apologeticus 385, Gregory of Nazianzus , Theological Orientations (Holy Spirit ) 390, Jerome, Prologue to the General Epistles 450, Author Unknown, De divinis Scripturis suie Spaculum 500, Jerome, Codex Freisingensis 527, Flugentius , De Trinitate.” (Ken Johnson, Ancient Word Of God: KJV Only Or Not? 112-117 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added M.T.))  

From this information, several conclusions may be drawn.  

First, from a contextual point of view, 1 John 5:6-9 implies the need for verse 7. Without verse 7, there is an obvious “vacuum” in the text.  

Second, the textual evidence for 1 John 5:7 is actually very strong. Not only is this verse found in several of the Greek manuscripts, it is included in several of the early versions of the New Testament and it is quoted by several of the early “church fathers.” With that in mind, it seems that there is good reason to include the Comma in the text of the Scripture.  

Third, it is interesting that Jerome points out that his manuscript copies of the Greek New Testament contained the Comma, and that it is inserted into every one of the Latin Vulgate manuscripts which contain 1 John.  

Fourth, it is possible that there were some in the early church who attempted to tamper with some of the manuscripts of the Bible, just as Jehoiakim tried to cut up and burn the scroll of the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36). Nevertheless, just as in the case mentioned above, the Word of God stands true. As God promised, He has preserved His Word (Psalm 12:6-7)!  

Fifth, it is important to realize that the truths taught in 1 John 5:7 are amply taught elsewhere in the Scripture. For example, the Old Testament makes several references to the Godhead (Genesis 1:26-27; Isaiah 6:8; 48:16; Psalm 45:6, etc.) as does the New Testament (John 1:1-5; 10:30; 20:28; Acts 5:1-3; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Corinthians 13:14, etc.). As such, I would not encourage a person to totally dismiss a Bible translation based on that translation’s treatment of this one verse. Instead, I would encourage a balanced view of regarding some translations as stronger and some as weaker.

It is important to remember that Jesus and His Apostles often quoted from the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament and called it the Word of God, despite its’ obvious weaknesses.  

The entire Godhead (Father, Son, and Spirit) has made a tremendous sacrifice to save you from sin (1 Timothy 2:4-6).

Will you not today turn to the Son of God Who loved you, died for your sin, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)?

Will you not as a believer repent of your sin and be baptized by the authority of Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:36-38)?

If you are an erring Christian, I plead with you today to be restored back to your relationship with Christ (Galatians 6:1-2) by repenting and praying (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.  

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How Long Has Jesus Existed?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

One of the great questions that can intrigue the mind deals with the Nature of Jesus Christ, especially the subject of His origins.  

Many theories abound regarding the question, How long has Jesus existed? 

Some hold to the idea that Jesus was created at some point in the past, perhaps being the very first created being.  

Others teach that Jesus has always existed as God the Son, and therefore had no beginning.  

In the Gospel of John, the Apostle writes to Christians who are being influenced by the Gnostics, a group of heretics who were arising in his day and age. These religious teachers were combining Christianity with pagan Greek religions, and John was vigorously refuting their false teachings about the Identity of Jesus.  

In the beginning of His Prologue, he writes: 

John 1:1-In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In this article, I would like to pay attention to that little preposition that we often take for granted, the word “was.”

In the original Greek, it teaches us some important lessons about the Word (the Logos, also shown in John 1:14 to be another Name for Jesus).  

One scholar, describing the use of this preposition, has noted:

“The English word “was” is about as bland a term as you can find. Yet in Greek, it is most expressive. The Greeks were quite concerned about being able to express subtleties in regard not only to when something happened, but how it happened as well. Our little word “was” is poorly suited to handle the depth of the Greek at this point. John’s choice of words is deliberate and, quite honestly, beautiful. Throughout the prologue of the Gospel of John, the author balances lbetween two verbs. When speaking of the Logos as He existed in eternity past, John uses the Greek word rlv, en (a form of eimi). The tense’ of the word expresses continuous action in the past. Compare this with the verb he chooses to use when speaking of everything else-found, for example, in verse 3: “All things carne into being through Him,” eyeve ro, egeneto. This verb2 contains the very element missing from the other: a point of origin. The term, when used in contexts of creation and origin, speaks of a time when something came into existence. The first verb, en, does not. John is very careful to use only the first verb of the Logos throughout the first thirteen verses, and the second verb, egeneto, he uses for everything else (including John the Baptist in verse 6). Finally, in verse 14, he breaks this pattern, for a very specific reason, as we shall see. Why emphasize the tense of a little verb? Because it tells us a great deal. When we speak of the Word, the Logos, we must ask ourselves: how long has the Logos existed? Did the Logos come into being at a point in time? Is the Logos a creature? John is very concerned that we get the right answer to such questions, and he provides the answers by the careful selection of the words he uses. Above we noted that John gave us some very important information l about the time frame he has in mind when he says “in the beginning.” That information is found in the tense of the verb en. You see, as far back as you wish to push “the beginning,” the Word is already in existence. The Word does not come into existence at the “beginning,” but is already in existence when the “beginning” takes place. If we take the beginning of John 1:1, the Word is already there. If we push it back further (if one can even do so!), say, a year, the Word is already there. A thousand years, the Word is there. A billion years, the Word is there.’ What is John’s point? The Word is eternal. The Word has always existed. The Word is not a creation. The New English Bible puts it quite nicely: “When all things began, the Word already was.” Right from the start, then, John tells us something vital about the Word. Whatever else we will learn about the Word, the Word is eter-nal.4 With this John begins to lay the foundation for what will come.” (James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief, 50-51 (Kindle Edition); Minneapolis, Minnesota; Bethany House Publishers)

Another scholarly reading confirms this use of the preposition:

“First, the use of the verb eimi, “to be”—in this case the word “was” (n)—is extremely important, and readers should pay particular attention to its appearances in the Prologue (1:1a,b,c,2,4,8,9,10,15b,c). It is to be contrasted with the use of the Greek word egeneto (“became”), which is used in the LXX of Genesis 1 and which is rendered in the NIV here variously by the following formulas: “were made” (v. 3), “come … who was” (v. 6), “was made” (v. 10), “became” (v. 14), and “came” (v. 17). The verb “was” (n) in the Prologue was used by the evangelist to denote a supertemporal reality in existence; the other verb (egeneto) was used to denote that something had taken place or come to pass in time and space. Accordingly, in John 1:1 we are dealing with a thesis that means that just as in Gen 1:1, where there was allowed no hint of the creation of God, there is here no time envisaged when the Word was not in existence or in relationship to God.18” (Gerald L. Borchert, The New American Commentary: An Exegetical And Theological Exposition Of Holy Scripture: John 1-11-Volume 25A, 2565-2579 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; B&H Publishing Group)

From these facts, several things are clear.  

First, Jesus has always existed. There never was a time when He did not exist! Being God the Son, He has eternally existed with God the Father and God the Spirit (cf. Isaiah 48:16; John 8:58; 17:5, 34; Titus 2:11-14).  

Second, John points out that God the Father and God the Spirit are also greatly involved in Jesus’ work. All throughout his Gospel, John points this out:

John 3:5-5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

John 3:16-For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:34-For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.

John 5:18-Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

John 10:30-I and My Father are one.

John 14:16-17-16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:23-23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

All of these passages (and more) show us that the entire Godhead-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-are intricately involved in the work of the Gospel.  

Finally, Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) in order that people might be saved from sin. John writes:

John 1:12-But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Those who “receive” Christ are those who “believe in His Name.” What does the word “believe” mean?

“If we wish to put this very simply, we may say that through Jesus there is possible a relationship, an intimacy, a unity with God which are possible in no other way. Through what he is and does men may enter into the very life of God himself. (iv) This eternal life comes through what the NT calls belief in Jesus Christ (John 3.15, 16, 36; 5.24; 6.40, 47; I John 5.13; I Tim. 1.16). What does this belief mean? Clearly it is not simply intellectual belief. Belief in Jesus means that we believe absolutely and implicitly that what Jesus says about God is true…But belief goes even further than that. We believe that God is Father and that God is love, because we believe that Jesus, being the Son of God, has told us the truth about God—and then we act on the belief. We live life in the certainty that we can do nothing other than render a perfect trust and a perfect obedience to God.” (William Barclay, New Testament Words, 535-545 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

So the word “believe” carries with it the ideas of trusting in what Jesus has taught, and in obeying what He has taught. So those who “receive” Christ are those who “trust and obey” Jesus’ teaching.

The New Testament teaches us when it is that we actually become sons of God:

Galatians 3:26-27-26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Friends, the eternal Son of God became flesh and dwelt among us in order to save us from our sins. By dying in our place on the horrible Cross of Calvary, Jesus became the Lamb of God that can take away the sins of the whole world (John 1:29). After His death, Three days after His death and burial, He arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) with the promise to return one Day and usher in the end of the world (Matthew 28:19-20). He promises to save all those who-as “believers”-will repent of their sins, confess Him before men, be buried in baptism with Him, and will live faithfully (Acts 2:37-47; 8:35:38; Revelation 2:10).  

When we sin and fall away as Christians, He will forgive us when we repent and confess those sins to Him in prayer (1 John 1:8-2:2).  

Why not obey Him today?

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

Does God Really Understand? How The Incarnation Of The Son Of God Reaches To Our Deepest Hells

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

When I am going through some heartache or trial, does God understand what I am facing?  

This is a question that goes beyond mere intellectual curiosity. It is one which challenges and stirs the soul even as it cries out from the heart of despairing man to the heights of Heaven.  

Can God understand the moment by moment struggle of the victim of rape?  

Could God possibly understand the angst and the despair of the drug addict?  

Can the Lord of Heaven truly comprehend my doubts, my pains, my anger?  

How can the Creator in Heaven even BEGIN to fathom the sorrow of a broken home, of a failed marriage, of a lost sinner? 

It is in the midst of these questions that we must turn to the pages of God’s Word for our answers.  

God Understands 

Throughout the Word of God, we are reminded of the fact that the Lord perfectly understands our suffering and our troubles. Indeed, He knows us, and our heartaches, better then we know ourselves!  

For example: 

Psalm 139:1-16-1 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.

3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.

4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.

5 You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me;

12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

Jeremiah 17:10-I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

John 2:23-25-23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.

24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men,

25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

Yet can we truly believe that God knows our struggles?  

The answer is YES, and the evidence is found in a powerful word that is packed full of theological truths: 

INCARNATION.  

What The Incarnation Is And Why It Matters

When we are talking about the “Incarnation,” we are referring to the fact that the eternal God became human.

Yeshua (Hebrew Name of Jesus) is literally Immanuel, or “God With Us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).

According to the Scriptures, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Second Person of the Godhead (John 1:1; 1 John 5:7) came into this world and lived among humans, AS a human.  

Through Him and His life, the entire Godhead was at work.

Isaiah the Prophet had spoken of how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit would work in Jesus’ coming to the world:

Isaiah 48:16-“Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.”

Here, the powerful novel The Shack comes to mind. If you haven’t read this book, then take my advice and read it!

In another book which describes some of the powerful lessons of The Shack, we read:

“I hate you! The last word of the human race, trapped in the great darkness. But such awful desolation is not the end of the story. For the lover of our souls meets us in our pain. This, too, is a brilliant move, to my mind, and one of the great themes running throughout The Shack . Unlike the indifferent god of our imaginations, the Father, Son, and Spirit do in fact meet us in our pain, in our tragedy, and especially in our darkness and sin. It is not so much— as we will see— that the blessed Trinity is absent to the rest of our lives; it is that, in the trauma created by the collision of life and the false god of our imaginations, we begin to get new eyes….Lesson One of the story is that we are Mackenzie. The astonishing embrace enfolding him is the truth about us. We are known, loved, and delighted in by the Father, Son, and Spirit, just as we are, whether we believe in God or not. The truth is we have already been embraced by Jesus’ Papa and by the Spirit. That is what the coming of Jesus was all about. The blessed Trinity has already met us in our shacks. In Jesus they have pitched their tents inside our garbage cans. We belong to the Father, Son, and Spirit. We always have, and always will; Jesus has seen to that personally. But like Mackenzie, we have wrong eyes; there is so much hurt, we cannot possibly know the truth or believe it— yet. But so it is.” (C. Baxter Kruger, PH. D., The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared To Dream, 23-26 (Kindle Edition); New, NO: Faith Words) 

Why This Matters

In the Book of Hebrews, Paul addresses the fact that Jesus perfectly relates to mankind in all of his weaknesses.

After pointing out that Jesus is God (Hebrews 1:8), the Apostle highlights the fact that Jesus is also perfectly Man:

Hebrews 2:14 (ERV)-14 These children are people with physical bodies. So Jesus himself became like them and had the same experiences they have. Jesus did this so that, by dying, he could destroy the one who has the power of death—the devil.

Hebrews 2:17-18 (ERV)-17 For this reason, Jesus had to be made like us, his brothers and sisters, in every way. He became like people so that he could be their merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. Then he could bring forgiveness for the people’s sins.

18 And now he can help those who are tempted. He is able to help because he himself suffered and was tempted.

The text tells us that Christ shared in the full identity with humans in the Incarnation. The Greek used here was very emphatic. It speaks to the fact that Christ was completely entrenched in humanity; He was a complete participant in everything which makes us truly human.  

In coming into our world, Jesus Christ (and through Him, God the Father and God the Spirit) would show to the human family that the pain and anguish of mankind was fully comprehended by Heaven. By the suffering that He endured throughout His life, coupled with the agonizing three year ministry which culminated in the most horrific event of human history (i.e., Calvary), the Son of God completely walked the same path that we do.  

He Embraces All Of Our Infirmities And Sins

Centuries before Jesus was born, God had written through the Prophet Isaiah about the work the Messiah would accomplish in carrying our sorrows and our sins:

Isaiah 53:4-7 (ERV)-4 The fact is, it was our suffering he took on himself; he bore our pain. But we thought that God was punishing him, that God was beating him for something he did.

5 But he was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain.

6 We had all wandered away like sheep. We had gone our own way. And yet the LORD put all our guilt on him.

The New Testament shows us that this was applied to both literal physical illnesses and diseases (Matthew 8:6-17) and to our sin and wickedness (1 Peter 2:21-24). While He walked among us, Jesus fully lived out every possible scenario and pain that humans can experience.  

The teaching of Scripture is that God DOES indeed fully understand all of our pain, and all of our struggles. Through His suffering, temptations and trials, the Lord Jesus perfectly relates to us.  

More than that, through the suffering of Christ, the entire Godhead embraces our anguish:

“‘When my heart is most fearful, help me out of my fears, through thy fear and pain’, says a hymn by Paul Gerhardt. This mysticism of the passion has discovered a truth about Christ which ought not to be suppressed by being understood in a superficial way. It can be summed up by saying that suffering is overcome by suffering, and wounds are healed by wounds. For the suffering in suffering is the lack of love, and the wounds in wounds are the abandonment, and the powerlessness in pain is unbelief. And therefore the suffering of abandonment is overcome by the suffering of love, which is not afraid of what is sick and ugly, but accepts it and takes it to itself in order to heal it. Through his own abandonment by God, the crucified Christ brings God to those who are abandoned by God. Through his suffering he brings salvation to those who suffer. Through his death he brings eternal life to those who are dying. And therefore the tempted, rejected, suffering and dying Christ came to be the centre of the religion of the oppressed and the piety of the lost. And it is here, in the theology of the mysticism of the cross in the late Middle Ages, that we first hear the monstrous phrase ‘the crucified God’, which Luther then took up.” (Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God, 61 (Kindle Edition); Minneapolis, Minnesota; Fortress Press)

The Incarnation Offers Hope In The Midst Of Our Moral Bankruptcy  

The writer of Hebrews wants us to understand that through His Incarnation, Jesus came to fully understand every human weakness:

Hebrews 4:15 (Amplified)-For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.

The Bible recounts that when Jesus was baptized, He was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days where He was continually tempted by the devil (Mark 1:12-13).  

Can you imagine what that would have been like?  

Forty days of nothing but temptation to commit sin. The specific temptations mentioned (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-12) show us that He was continually tempted by the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:15-17), though He never sinned.  

Even after those temptations, the Bible makes it clear that the devil continued to tempt Jesus (Luke 4:13).  

From this, I learn that Jesus was indeed tempted in every point as we are.

But what is truly incredible is learning what His lifelong resistance to sin meant in regards to His experience with sin and temptation:

“But it gets even better. On the way to the cross for thirty years, Christ was tempted like every human is tempted. True, he never sinned. But wise people have pointed out that this means his temptations were stronger than ours, not weaker. If a person gives in to temptation, it never reaches its fullest and longest assault. We capitulate while the pressure is still building. But Jesus never did. So he endured the full pressure to the end and never caved. He knows what it is to be tempted with fullest force. A lifetime of temptation climaxing in spectacular abuse and abandonment gave Jesus an unparalleled ability to sympathize with tempted and suffering people. No one has ever suffered more. No one has ever endured more abuse. And no one ever deserved it less or had a greater right to fight back. But the apostle Peter said, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22-23). Therefore, the Bible says he is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). This is amazing. The risen Son of God in heaven at God’s right hand with all authority over the universe feels what we feel when we come to him in sorrow or pain—or cornered with the promises of sinful pleasure. What difference does this make? The Bible answers by making a connection between Jesus’ sympathy and our confidence in prayer. It says that since he is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses… [therefore we should] with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Evidently the thought goes like this: We are likely to feel unwelcome in the presence of God if we come with struggles. We feel God’s purity and perfection so keenly that everything about us seems unsuitable in his presence. But then we remember that Jesus is “sympathetic.” He feels with us, not against us. This awareness of Christ’s sympathy makes us bold to come. He knows our cry. He tasted our struggle. He bids us come with confidence when we feel our need.” (John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die, 72-73 (Kindle Edition); Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway Books) 

The Incarnation Shows Us The Intimate Knowledge Of Sin And Weakness The Godhead Experiences With Us

“But,” someone says, “if Jesus never chose to sin, then how can He understand the guilt that we feel and the condemnation that we experience when we rebel against God?”  

Again, the Incarnation reminds us of a powerful and brutal thought: on the Cross of Calvary, Jesus had all of our sins placed upon Him.  

Hebrews 2:9-But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (ERV)-14 The love of Christ controls us, because we know that one person died for everyone. So all have died.

15 He died for all so that those who live would not continue to live for themselves. He died for them and was raised from death so that they would live for him.

16 From this time on we don’t think of anyone as the world thinks of people. It is true that in the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks. But we don’t think that way now.

17 When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new!

18 All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between himself and us. And God gave us the work of bringing people into peace with him.

19 I mean that God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold people guilty for their sins. And he gave us this message of peace to tell people.

20 So we have been sent to speak for Christ. It is like God is calling to people through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God.

21 Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could be right with God.

It is in Yeshua that we realize how hope can be found-not only for the natural sufferer, but for the moral rebel.

It is in Golgotha that we experience Christ offering such grace to us, the chief of sinners (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:15).

Here we learn how that we can approach the throne of God with boldness and receive grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

It is in the shadowy recesses of that hill on that day of darkest despair that we behold the power of the God Who is with us, the incredible love that descends from the richest glories of Heaven to the lowest depths of Sheol to provide the most unworthy with the treasures of eternity (2 Corinthians 8:9).  

2 Corinthians 9:15-Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out:

“God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us. Matt. 8.17 82 makes it quite clear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering….The Bible directs man to God’s powerlessness and suffering; only the suffering God can help.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters & Papers From Prison, 360-361 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY: Touchstone Rockefeller Center)

“Yeah, But…”

Some may claim that because they cannot fully understand HOW God can relate to our pain, then surely He cannot.  

Yet friends, this is where we need to learn the correct balance between faith, evidence, and reason. A number of years ago, brother Homer Hailey made this interesting and insightful note:

“The function of reason per se is not to determine whether the fact was possible or impossible. Reason cannot determine whether one could begotten in the womb of a woman unimpregnated by the male sperm, or whether a dead body could be raised to life again. Rather, its function is to weigh the evidence that claims to sustain the facts. Reason must sit in judgment on the evidence and determine it valid or invalid, trustworthy or untrustworthy, strong or weak. When it has done this and has deduced a conclusion on the weight of the evidence, it has served its purpose. Will must then take over.” (Homer Hailey, That You May Believe, 19; Las Vegas, Nevada; Nevada Publications).

The evidence is clear that the Bible is the Word of God (if you have doubts, contact me and I will provide you with a plethora of evidence); and the Bible is clear that God perfectly understands the depths of our anguish, trials, temptations, and infirmities (as this article has set out to establish).

Therefore, you can know that God understands everything you face and struggle with, even to a degree which you yourself may never fully reach. The question is not, Is it true? The question is, Will you accept this truth and allow it to transform you? 

Conclusion

The Incarnation is the ultimate demonstration of the fact that God relates to each of us..  

Allow me to share the following excerpt with you.  

In his insightful interview with Lee Strobel, Peter Kreeft discussed why the Incarnation is the ultimate answer of God to the problem of evil, pain, and suffering: 

“”“I think Mr. Templeton is anthropomorphizing God by saying, ‘I couldn’t imagine how any intelligent being could bear this,’ ” Kreeft said. “And, yes, he’s right—we can’t imagine it. But we can believe it. God does, in fact, weep over every sparrow and grieve over every evil and every suffering. So the suffering that Christ endured on the cross is literally unimaginable. It’s not just what you and I would have experienced in our own finite human agony, physical and mental, but all the sufferings of the world were there….God’s answer is the Incarnation. He himself entered into all that agony, he himself bore all of the pain of this world, and that’s unimaginable and shattering and even more impressive than the divine power of creating the world in the first place. “Just imagine every single pain in the history of the world, all rolled together into a ball, eaten by God, digested, fully tasted, eternally. In the act of creating the world, God not only said, let there be pretty little bunny rabbits and flowers and sunsets, but also let there be blood and guts and the buzzing flies around the cross. In a sense, Templeton is right. God is intimately involved in the act of creating a world of suffering. He didn’t do it—we did it—yet he did say, ‘Let this world be.’ “And if he did that and then just sat back and said, ‘Well, it’s your fault after all’—although he’d be perfectly justified in doing that—I don’t see how we could love him. The fact that he went beyond justice and quite incredibly took all the suffering upon himself, makes him so winsome that the answer to suffering is—” Kreeft’s eyes darted around the room as he searched for the right words. “The answer,” he said, “is . . . how could you not love this being who went the extra mile, who practiced more than he preached, who entered into our world, who suffered our pains, who offers himself to us in the midst of our sorrows? What more could he do?” I said, “In effect, then, the answer to Templeton’s question about how could God bear all that suffering is—he did.” “He did!” Kreeft declared. “God’s answer to the problem of suffering is that he came right down into it. Many Christians try to get God off the hook for suffering; God put himself on the hook, so to speak—on the cross. And therefore the practical conclusion is that if we want to be with God, we have to be with suffering, we have to not avoid the cross, either in thought or in fact. We must go where he is and the cross is one of the places where he is. And when he sends us the sunrises, we thank him for the sunrises; when he sends us sunsets and deaths and sufferings and crosses, we thank him for that.”..We were clearly moving toward the climax of our discussion. The clues Kreeft had mentioned at the outset of our interview were converging, and I could sense an increasing passion and conviction in his voice. I wanted to see more of his heart—and I wouldn’t be disappointed. “The answer, then, to suffering,” I said in trying to sum up where we’ve come, “is not an answer at all.” “Correct,” he emphasized, leaning forward as he pleaded his case. “It’s the Answerer. It’s Jesus himself. It’s not a bunch of words, it’s the Word. It’s not a tightly woven philosophical argument; it’s a person. The person. The answer to suffering cannot just be an abstract idea, because this isn’t an abstract issue; it’s a personal issue. It requires a personal response. The answer must be someone, not just something, because the issue involves someone—God, where are you?” That question almost echoed in his small office. It demanded a response. To Kreeft, there is one—a very real one. A living One. “Jesus is there, sitting beside us in the lowest places of our lives,” he said. “Are we broken? He was broken, like bread, for us. Are we despised? He was despised and rejected of men. Do we cry out that we can’t take any more? He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Do people betray us? He was sold out himself. Are our tenderest relationships broken? He too loved and was rejected. Do people turn from us? They hid their faces from him as from a leper. “Does he descend into all of our hells? Yes, he does. From the depths of a Nazi death camp, Corrie ten Boom wrote: ‘No matter how deep our darkness, he is deeper still.’ He not only rose from the dead, he changed the meaning of death and therefore of all the little deaths—the sufferings that anticipate death and make up parts of it. “He is gassed in Auschwitz. He is sneered at in Soweto. He is mocked in Northern Ireland. He is enslaved in the Sudan. He’s the one we love to hate, yet to us he has chosen to return love. Every tear we shed becomes his tear. He may not wipe them away yet, but he will.” (Peter Kreeft in Lee Strobel, The Case For Faith: A Journalist Investigates The Toughest Objections To Christianity, 45-52 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

Friends, God loves you-more then you can imagine. Through the suffering of the Godhead, you can find healing.  
Let Him bear your burdens and be your Savior.  

After Jesus’ death, He was buried and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). God promises that those who hear His Word (John 6:44-45; Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus Christ (John 8:24), repent of their sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37) and are baptized into Christ (Acts 22:16) will receive the remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Why not today obey Him (Acts 2:41) and allow Him to add you to His church (Acts 2:47)? 

If you are a child of God who has not been living the faithful Christian life, won’t you please today repent of your sin and confess it to the Lord in prayer (1 John 1:9)?  

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. 

The Crowning Of Joshua The High Priest

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

For the past two years, our Sunday morning adult Bible class at church has been trying to go through the entire Bible in a Book by Book format.

We had almost finished the entire Old Testament- and then we got to the Book of Zechariah. Keeping in mind our goal of doing one Book of the Bible per week in an overview system, we have now been on Zechariah for six weeks.

This Book is, without a doubt, one of the most profound Books of the entire Bible. I would like to share with you something that we studied about this past Lord’s Day that has had me shocked and amazed since I began to understand it: the crowning of Joshua.  

Now before I relay the passage to you, let me set the context.

In the Old Testament, the Twelve Tribes of Israel underwent a terrible division and civil war (around the year 931 B.C.). The ten northern tribes became known as the nation of Israel, and the two southern tribes became known as the nation of Judah (you can read about this in 1 Kings 12). The ten northern tribes continued in their wickedness until the year 722 B.C., when the nation of Assyria deported most of them back to their land (and there is good evidence that the Assyrians eventually brought some of those Hebrews to America, but that’s covered in other articles I have written, so I just mention it here for detail). You can read about this event in 2 Kings 17. The two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were carried away to the land of Babylon (in the years 606, 597, and 586 B.C.). You can read about these deportations in 2 Kings 24-25.  

God had declared through Jeremiah the Prophet that the Jews would be in captivity in Babylon for seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10). After that, God would bring the captives back to the land of Israel, where they would be commissioned to begin rebuilding the Temple and Jerusalem to start getting ready for the coming Messiah.  
They returned to their land at three different times (536, 457, and 444 B.C.) under the commission of Cyrus king of Persia (of which we also have good archaeological evidence). They started rebuilding the Temple in 536 when they returned, but soon stopped because of the persecution from their Gentile neighbors. In 520 B.C., God commissioned two Prophets, Zechariah and Malachi, to stir up the people to begin rebuilding the Temple once more. The governor of the land was named Zerubbabel, and the high priest was named Joshua.  
In Zechariah 6, we read of an astonishing command that God gave to Zechariah the Prophet.

Read with me: 

Zechariah 6:9-15-9 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:

10 “Receive the gift from the captives—from Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have come from Babylon—and go the same day and enter the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah.

11 Take the silver and gold, make an elaborate crown, and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.

12 Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD;

13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” ‘

14 “Now the elaborate crown shall be for a memorial in the temple of the LORD for Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen the son of Zephaniah.

15 Even those from afar shall come and build the temple of the LORD. Then you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And this shall come to pass if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.”

Priests Could Not Be Kings

The main reason why this passage is so incredible is that under the Old Law of Moses, a priest could not be eligible to become a king.

The Law stated that kings could only come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), and that priests could only come from the tribe of Levi (Numbers 16:40; 18:7; Hebrews 7:14). One king who tried to serve as priest was named Uzziah. He was struck with leprosy by God as a punishment (2 Chronicles 26:16-23).  

Zechariah the Prophet knew all of these things, and yet he goes and crowns this man Joshua the priest as king.

How did this make any sense?  

Furthermore, it seems as if Zechariah is calling Joshua the Branch, which was an Old Testament designation for the Messiah (Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15).

So, how could an inspired Prophet of God call Joshua the Messiah?

How could an inspired Prophet of God crown a priest as king?  

What are we missing here? 

The answers to our questions will be found in recognizing that Zechariah’s Crowning of Joshua was not about Joshua at all, but rather looked to something else entirely.  

This Is Not About Joshua

The first thing to really notice about this passage is that Joshua is not really in view at all.

When we first read this, it sounds like Zechariah is telling everyone on the sidelines, “Listen up everyone, behold this man I’m crowning is the Branch!”

However, a study of the original languages (and the English also bears this out when we look carefully) helps us to see that it is actually Joshua being told to see that the Branch will one day be coming!

Look at how the Amplified Version translates this passage: 

Zechariah 6:12 (Amplified)-And say to him, Thus says the Lord of hosts: [You, Joshua] behold (look at, keep in sight, watch) the Man [the Messiah] whose name is the Branch, for He shall grow up in His place and He shall build the [true] temple of the Lord.

Please notice that Joshua is told to behold the fact that the Branch is coming.  

This is one of the reasons why the ancient Jewish interpreters of our passage saw that the entire scene was somehow descriptive of the Messiah who was to come.

For example:

Zech. vi. 12 [Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord.'”] is universally admitted to be Messianic. So in the Targum, the Jerusalem Talmud (Ber. 5 a), in the Pirqé de R. Eliez. c. 48, and in the Midrashim.” (Alfred Edersheim & Edited by Robert C. Newman, Messianic Passages in the Old Testament as Cited in Rabbinic Literature, 1552 (Kindle Edition); Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute http://www.ibri.org

Several researchers, carefully investigating the ancient Hebrew commentaries on this passage, concur:

“To explanations, such as that of Grotius, who, by the righteous Branch, understands Zerubbabel, we here need the less to pay any attention, that the fact of his being in this without predecessors or followers palpably proves it to be erroneous. If, indeed, we could rely on Theodoret’s statement (“The blinded Jews endeavour, with great impudence, to refer this to Zerubbabel”-then follows the refutation), the older Jews must have led the way to this perverted interpretation. But we cannot implicitly rely on Theodoret’s statements of this kind. In the Jewish writings themselves, not the slightest trace of such an interpretation is to be found. The Chaldean Paraphrast is decidedly in favour of the Messianic interpretation: אתן אמר יי ואקים הא יומיא לדוד משיח דצדקה “Behold the days shall come, and I will raise up to David the righteous Messiah, (not דצדקיא ‘the Messiah of the righteous,’ as many absurdly read), saith the Lord…For Josedech, the father of Joshua the high-priest, is a person altogether obscure. All which they intended, by their retaining the Hebrew form, was certainly only the wish, to express that it was a nomen proprium which occurred here; and they were specially induced to act thus by the circumstance, that this name was, in their time, generally current, as one of the proper names of the Messiah.” (Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament: And a Commentary on the Messianic Predictions (Complete), 15677-15687 (Kindle Edition); Library Of Alexandria). 

The most ancient Jewish commentators underwood this passage as being a prophecy of the future Messiah; yet when the Messiah came and the Jews rejected Him, later Jewish scholars began to try and change the meaning of the text to reflect an anti-Christian interpretation.

One author, speaking specifically of this willful and prejudiced mishandling of the text by later Hebrew authorities , tells us: 

“Another example of Rashi’s influence in changing messianic interpretation is seen in Zech 6: 9–15. This passage relates a role-play wherein Joshua the high priest is crowned as a representative of the Messiah, who will unite the offices of priest and king and be named “Branch.”…In either case, Joshua is viewed as symbolic, enacting a role-play of the future Messiah. 64 This is the view of the Midrash as well. It asks, “What is the name of the Messiah?” Then, after giving various names from differing Old Testament texts, it says, “His name is ‘Branch’ as it is stated, ‘Behold, a man whose name is Branch, and who shall branch forth from his place, and build the Temple of the Lord’ (Zech. 6: 12).” 65…To summarize the point of this section, Rashi and other medieval Jewish interpreters, in seeking a polemical tool to combat Christian interpretation of the Old Testament, adjusted the meaning of peshat, changing it from the literal (or literary) sense to the historical sense. They then used the peshat, even if it contradicted the messianic interpretation of earlier rabbinic sages, to combat the messianic interpretation of the Old Testament and the identification of Jesus as the Messiah.” (Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic? 126-127 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; B& H Publishing Group)

Why would so many of the later Jewish rabbis be so intent on perverting the obvious intent of this passage of Scripture?

Without a doubt, one reason has to do with the fact that this passage clearly prophesies the very NAME of the Messiah-YESHUA!

This Messiah was Himself put to death by the Hebrews when He finally came to the world. Michael Brown writes: 

“Zechariah 6:9-15, however, is explicit: Joshua the high priest is to be crowned—remember that only kings were crowned—and it is he who symbolizes the Branch: “Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch [once again, the Targum calls him the Messiah], and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD’” (Zech. 6:11-12).292…”It is the high priest Joshua, crowned and sitting on a throne, who is symbolic of the Branch, thus emphasizing the priestly role of the Messiah—making atonement for Israel and the nations—who is elsewhere known in the Scriptures as the royal son of David. What makes this all the more interesting is that this man Joshua is normally known by a shortened name in the Tanakh, just as someone named Michael could be called Mike. And what is that shortened name? Yeshua!…”And so, the one and only man directly singled out in the Bible as a symbol of the Messiah was called Yeshua. The Lord knew exactly what he was doing when he laid this all out in advance, giving enough clues along the way that, once discovered, the evidence would be indisputable. Is the picture becoming clearer to you?296”. (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus-Volume Three: Messianic Prophecy Objections, 144-145 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books) 

Summing Up Thus Far

Now, what have we said thus far?  

First, Joshua could not be crowned as a king because he was a high priest. This therefore must have been an event which was symbolic of something else.  

Second, Joshua is commanded by Zechariah to take comfort in the fact that the Messiah (the Branch) would one day come into the world and build the temple of the Lord.  

Third, the most ancient Jewish commentators understood that this Branch was not Joshua, but was instead a reference to the coming Messiah.  

Fourth, the prophecy of Zechariah 6 is so detailed that it even prophesies the very name of the Messiah.  

Fifth, later Jewish interpreters put forth the idea that the Branch was Joshua because of the passage’s clear prophecies about Jesus Christ Himself.  

How Is Jesus Both A Priest And A King?  

Of course, this still leaves us with the same question we had at the beginning of our study: how can Jesus be both Priest and King as the Messiah?

After all, He was not from the tribe of Levi but from Judah (Hebrews 7:14).

So even if this passage is a prophecy of the future Messiah, how can the Messiah be both Priest and King?  

The answer is simple: Jesus could not be both Priest and King under the Old Testament Law.  

Therefore, the Law had to be changed.  

This was one of the central teachings of the Book of Hebrews. Jesus cannot be both Priest and King under the authority of the Old Testament Law. Therefore, since Jesus is both Priest and King, the Law must have been changed. Paul writes: 

Hebrews 7:12-14-12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.

13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.

14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. This priest was also a king of the city of Jerusalem, nearly five hundred years before the Levitical priesthood was established. We first read about Melchizedek in the Book of Genesis: 

Genesis 14:18-20-18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.

19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;

20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.

This Melchizedek was both a priest and king. We are told in Psalm 110:4 that the Messiah would be a a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.  

In the crowning of Joshua, we see a prophecy that there would be a New Law and a new Priesthood one day.

In stunning accuracy, the “hidden message” of the crowning of Joshua was revealed for all to see.  

The coming Messiah would one day be brought into the world under a New Law, and would become both Priest and King for God’s people.  

Some Powerful Lessons From The Text 

First, this event went far beyond what Zechariah himself understood.

When I was talking about this event with my wife, her first statement surprised me: “I feel bad for Zechariah.” When I asked “why,” she pointed out, “Well, he didn’t know what was going on! He knew that it was against the Law to crown a priest as king, and yet God told him to do just that.”

While it is clear that Zechariah understood there was some hidden significance to this action, it does not change the fact that there was much God called Zechariah to do that he did not fully understand.  

Think about the connection to us today.

Often times, God calls us to follow Him and His Word, even if we do not fully understand “why.” I think of faithful Abraham, who went out now knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11:8). He had to leave behind EVERYTHING to follow the Lord, and he had no idea where he would end up!

Following God does not require perfect understanding on our part; it requires trusting God and obeying what we know of His commandments, even when we do not fully understand every aspect of those commands.  

Second, please notice that this event describes to us the powerful message that the Word of God is true!

Think about it: Zechariah did all of this, and these events forecast in extremely incredible detail, the Messiah who was to come.

The Prophet himself did not fully understand everything, yet the God Who was orchestrating all of this clearly foresaw what would be.

The evidence of prophecy and fulfillment is one of the strongest evidences that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus Christ is, indeed, the Son of God.  

Third, we are reminded here of the important fact that the priesthood of Christ would be under a New Law. The Old Testament was not sufficient to bring redemption, and it was designed to be temporary.  

Hebrews 8:6-13-6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.

8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “BEHOLD, THE DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL MAKE A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH—

9 NOT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT THAT I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS IN THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; BECAUSE THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DISREGARDED THEM, SAYS THE LORD.

10 FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS IN THEIR MIND AND WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

11 NONE OF THEM SHALL TEACH HIS NEIGHBOR, AND NONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL SHALL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST OF THEM TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.

12 FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.”

13 In that He says, “A NEW COVENANT,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

We are blessed to live under the New Covenant, which has a better Priest, a better Mediator, better laws, and better promises.  

Finally, notice with me that the Bible here teaches that Christ would be a High Priest while He reigned. Since Jesus is now serving as High Priest (Hebrews 7:25-28), then we see that He is also now reigning as King.

Many in the religious world (such as our premillennial friends) teach that Jesus will not be King until the Second Coming.

Yet Scripture teaches that He is king NOW, over His kingdom, the church (Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28; Matthew 16:18-19).

Christ will not establish His kingdom at the Second Coming, for He did that at His First Coming!  

1 Corinthians 15:23-26-23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.

25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.

26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

I want to ask you the question: have you made Jesus your King and Priest? He came to this world to die for the sins of mankind on the Cross of Calvary (Isaiah 53). He died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). The Word of God has the power to save us (Romans 1:16). God declares that all who hear His Word (Acts 18:8; Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus Christ (John 8;24), repent of sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; 1 Timothy 6:12), and are baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38) will be saved (Mark 16:15-16) and added by God to His church (Acts 2:47).

If you have never obeyed that Word, will you not do so today?  

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

If you are a child of God who has turned away from the Lord in sin (Galatians 5:4), will you not today repent of that sin and confess it to the Lord to be forgiven (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?  

The churches of Christ stand ready to assist you.  

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

“Knowing” Christ: Personal Relationship With God

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

One of the great teachings of the Bible is that the God of Heaven desires to have a personal relationship with His people.

One of the greatest blessings is enjoying such a personal relationship with the Lord.  
Many in the religious world are uncomfortable with this teaching of the Bible, yet this teaching of the Bible is one of great importance.  

Where does the Bible mention such a personal relationship which God desires with His people? 

While there are several passages which teach this idea of a personal relationship between God and His people, we will notice in detail something which the Apostle Paul declared in his Epistle to the Christians at Philippi:

Philippians 3:8-Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. 

Please look carefully at the phrase “the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” 

This is a very interesting phrase in the Greek New Testament.

The idea here goes far beyond the concept of knowledge ABOUT a person; instead, it carries with it the idea of knowledge OF a person (such as in personal relationship). 

Notice how the passage is translated in the Amplified Bible: 

Philippians 3:8 (Amplified Bible)-Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One),

Peter O’Brien, in his in-depth study of the Greek New Testament, has this excellent note: 

“In the OT knowledge signifies ‘living in a close relationship with something or somebody, such a relationship as to cause what may be called communion’. 1982 To know God was regarded as of paramount importance (Ho. 6:6; cf. 4:1, 6) and meant to be in a close personal relationship with him. Here at Phil. 3:8 Paul is speaking about ‘his own personal relationship with Christ’, something that is absolutely basic and fundamental to his being a Christian. It ‘includes the experience of being loved by him and loving him in return’. 1983”. (Peter T. O’Brien, The New International Greek Commentary: The Epistle To The Philippians, 9732 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)

Another scholar of the Greek New Testament, Gordon Fee, concurs with this assessment: 

“As v. 10 will clarify, “knowing Christ” does not mean to have head knowledge about him, but to “know him” personally (BAGD) and relationally. Paul has thus taken up the Old Testament theme of “knowing God” 21 and applied it to Christ. It means to know him as children and parent know each other, or wives and husbands knowledge that has to do with personal experience and intimate relationship. It is such knowledge that makes Christ “trust- worthy.” The intimacy will be expressed in v. 10 in terms of “participation in his sufferings.” In the light of such expansive language, therefore, the object of his “knowing” is not simply “Christ,” nor even “Christ Jesus,” but “Christ Jesus my Lord.” Here is the evidence of intimacy and devotion. Paul regularly refers to Christ with the full title and name, “our Lord, Jesus Christ”; only here does he reverse the order and substitute the first person singular pronoun. The “Christ Jesus,” because of whom he gladly considers all else to be loss, is none other than “my Lord.” The reason for such devotion and longing is not expressed here, but it rings forth clearly in Gal 2:20, “who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is not simply coming to know the deity it is that, of course but even more so, it is to know the one whose love for Paul, expressed in the cross and in his arrest on the Damascus road, has transformed the former persecutor of the church into Christ’s “love slave,” whose lifelong ambition is to “know him” in return, and to love him by loving his people. There is something unfortunate about a cerebral Christianity that “knows” but does not “know” in this way.”. (Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary On The New Testament: Paul’s Letter To The Philippians, 9220-9240 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)

Throughout the Old Testament, God had expressed His desire to share in a personal relationship with His people (cf. Psalm 103:11-14; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Micah 7:18-19; Hosea 6:6; Isaiah 57:15).

God does not offer this relationship because He is lonely (for He has full perfection with complete happiness and joy within the Holy Trinity-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-1 John 4:8; 5:7); instead He offers this gift because He is loving and kind (Psalm 136). 

Several passages in the Bible reiterate the intimacy of the relationship that we enjoy with God in Christ.  

The Bible likens our relationship to that of husband and wife (Ephesians 5:22-33), a vine and branches (John 15:1-8), a Shepherd and His beloved sheep (John 10:1-10, 27-30), a Father and His beloved children (2 Corinthians 6:16-18), and several other illustrations are provided to convey the friendship we enjoy with the Lord.  

This relationship that God offers to us is through His Son, Jesus Christ: 

John 17:3-And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

God desires for us to be saved from the consequences of sin (eternal death-Romans 6:23).

Hell is beyond our worst imagining; for it is the very absence of God’s Presence (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). 

In order to make it possible for us to be forgiven and to enter into that personal relationship with Him, God allowed His Son Jesus Christ to pay for the full penalty for our sins by dying in our place at the Cross of Calvary (1 Timothy 2:1-6). Jesus died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He invites all men and women to come to Him to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).  

Those who believe in HIs Word (Acts 18:8; Romans 10:17; John 8:24) are commanded to repent of sin (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30-31), confess their faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized in water (Acts 8:35-38) to have their sins forgiven (Acts 2:38). God adds us to His church at this point (Acts 2:47), and we are to live faithfully to Him even to the point of death (Revelation 2:10).

When we as Christians sin and fall away, God commands us to repent of sin and to return to Him (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).  

If you need to obey the Lord, I plead with you to do so today.

No relationship can compare with a relationship with the Lord and His people.

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

Papa-He Or She ?  

I remember when I first suggested The Shack to sister Barbara Fields. I told her how impressed that I was with it, and she had read some other books I recommended. (She was totally a disbeliever in Christian Fiction books, until I got her to read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers; she called me a few hours later bawling her eyes out and telling me she was sorry and wanted to read every Christian Fiction book I had at my disposal). Well, Barb’s first reaction when reading the first couple of chapters of the Shack can only be described as absolute HORROR. She called me and said, “Babes, I can’t read this, it’s sacrilegious!” I said, “How do you mean?” She said, “Mark, this says that God is a fat black woman named Papa! Won’t God be upset by being called a woman?”   Continue reading Papa-He Or She ?  

The Restoration Of The Broken

Perhaps one of my favorite themes of the Shack is the that of the broken being restored. We see this right from the beginning-the ways that the Trinity take things which are broken and desolate and bring forth life and beauty. When Mack receives the letter from Papa and returns to the shack that was the site of his worse and most horrific nightmare, he sees it as it is: a foul reminder of suffering and death, rundown and dilapidated. After his initial outburst at God (Whom he believes did not actually show up for the meeting), he turns around and storms out, returning to his car. Continue reading The Restoration Of The Broken