Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bible Study - Glue (1) - Stick with Love - John 15:9-14 - April 26, 2015

Bible Study – Glue (1) – Stick with Love – April 26, 2015

This is lesson (1) in our series entitled “Like Glue: Making Your Relationships Stick.”

Our focus scripture is John 15:9-14.

In this new series of study, we will explore various scripture selections for the next six (6) weeks, which act as glue in relationships: Love, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Service, Humility and Acceptance. We begin with love. The source of love is GOD.

Let love permeate every relationship. Mutual love brings unity. We were created to live in relationship with GOD. GOD made mankind to love and fellowship with HIM. We read in Genesis 1:26-27:

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.

Another look at GOD’S formation of mankind in Genesis 2:7-9:

7 Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being. 8 The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He placed the man He had formed. 9 The Lord God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Life was good in the Garden of Eden until disobedience, which resulted in sin entered the Garden. Sin changed the dynamics of mankind’s relationship with 

GOD as we read in Genesis 3:8-9:

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

What an intimate, personal relationship mankind had with GOD until sin separated them and the death penalty came upon them. But GOD loved mankind and had a plan to redeem mankind as we read in John 3:16-18:

16 “For God loved the world •in this way: He gave His •One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

As you recall in last week’s lesson, we studied in Ephesians 1:4, GOD had HIS redemptive plan in HIS mind before HE created the world.

What is love? Today, many young people confuse lust with love. The Greek language has four words for love:

Agape – Self-giving love. It is a love that does not require or demand love in return.
Phila – Brotherly or love based upon friendship.
Eros – Erotic or sexual love.
Storge – Family love.  It is the love that family members have for each other. The love parents have for their children.

We will focus upon agape or self-giving love.

In general, a person cannot be made to love another person. There are exceptions such as the “Stockholm Syndrome.”

So what produces love? Love can begin as a friendship and develop into a deeper relationship. But there is usually an attraction. I do not mean a sexual attraction but an interest in a person, subject, work, etc. Love for these things is manifested in many different ways.

Our focus is upon the love GOD has for HIS Only Son, JESUS, and the Son’s love for HIS Father. This is the example and goal GOD and JESUS desire for all who place their faith in CHRIST as their Savior to have.  This love for Christians begins at the moment of salvation and grows and matures through the process of sanctification as we build our relationship with CHRIST. Let’s explore!

Those who experience an intense event in their lives bond with each other quickly. Those in the military form lifelong friendships based upon the situations they experience and live through as a team. They form bonds that often cannot be broken.

When we consider love, let’s think of the love a mother and dad have for their child. No one has to teach normal parents to love their child or children.  Their love began even before their child was conceived in the desire to have children or when the child was conceived or adopted.

Consider marriage. Every marriage gives the opportunity for love which develops as a couple work together to build their lives as one in harmony and unity.

Salvation is just the beginning process of every Christian building a new life with CHRIST and GOD based upon knowing and doing the will of the Father. It is a relationship of trust. Ground zero is confession to JESUS anything that we attempt to hide or withhold from HIM. HIS desire is for us to be honest with HIM as we walk with HIM.

GOD desires each Christian to develop such a bond with JESUS that through that relationship, each Christian will develop that same intimate, personal relationship with HIM. When Christians are in unity with JESUS and GOD they are also in unity with fellow Christians, who are in that same relationship with JESUS and GOD.

How do Christians develop this bond? It is all about getting to know CHRIST and trusting HIM to lead and guide you in the direction GOD would have you to go through the indwelling Holy Spirit. When you take a step of faith, HE will give you another step of faith. As you gain experience through obedient service, your bond with HIM will grow. It is all about trusting GOD in obedient service.  But ground zero is being grafted into the source and that comes as the result of salvation. JESUS said it best as we read our next scripture.

Let’s begin by reading John 15:1-8: (Foundational)

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He (GOD) removes, and He (GOD) prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already • clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. 6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

Salvation grafts Christians into the true, living vine, CHRIST and obedient service keeps them grafted into the vine for the purpose of producing fruit. 

Christians are to remain or abide in CHRIST through Whom all blessings flow. All Spiritual nutrients flow through CHRIST, the true vine, to Christians who are the branches and the fruit bearers.

The Apostle Paul identifies some of the fruit that is produced in Galatians 5:22-23:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
There is no law that can force a person to manifest these attributes; such attributes are the result of abiding in the true vine, CHRIST as his or her life source.  

Let’s read John 15:9-10:

9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.

This is JESUS talking. The same love the Father has for HIS Only Son JESUS, JESUS has for all who place their faith in HIM. JESUS admonishes Christians to “remain” in their relationship.

How do Christians “remain?”  They abide in HIM. They are obedient to HIM as the Holy Spirit leads them and they take the time to learn of HIM and from HIM through Bible study, prayer and Holy Spirit led activity.

Will remaining in JESUS mean that I will be a religious nut? Was JESUS a religious nut? HE was obedient to the commands of the Father. HE knew the scriptures and HE stayed in contact with the Father through prayer. HE only took action and spoke as the Father gave HIM direction and revealed to HIM. Yet, HE functioned among those seeking truth and since HE was truth, HE revealed truth. Not notions but truth. Do you know the truth and do you speak the truth or speak those things that sound good?

JESUS is the example which we are to follow.

Let’s read John 15:11-12:
11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you.

What is joy? Joy denotes gladness and happiness which comes from favorable circumstances. In this world, circumstances can change on a dime and that is why Christians must remain in relationship to GOD through their relationship with CHRIST. GOD and CHRIST’S love does not change. It is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. But for Christians to continually experience that unfailing love they must remain in obedient relationship to CHRIST.

This is not a work your fingers to the bone relationship but an abiding relationship. It is “Here I am dear JESUS, as I am, but willing for You to use me according to Your plan and purpose for my life. You must be my strength as I obediently walk with You each moment.” It is not the magic of using specific words; it is all about the attitude of the heart. But when the opportunity is presented, take action.

JESUS’ greatest joy is for Christians to know and experience the “JOY” HE experienced in being obedient to HIS Father. HIS desire is for Christians to experience “HIS Joy” to the max, full and overflowing. When our joy is overflowing it spills over to others and others see CHRIST in us. The Holy Spirit gives Christians balance but the joy of the LORD is apparent. Then others see that CHRIST is the light of the world. Not to bring glory to them but to bring Glory to CHRIST and GOD.

When Christians know they are being used by GOD, they are the happiest.
Christians are to love one another “as I (CHRIST) have loved you.” This statement reflects the “ongoing” nature of CHRIST’S love for us. HE loved us so much that HE gave HIS life for us in that while we were yet sinners, HE died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Love is the glue that holds things together.

I know when my dear wife experiences something of great joy; she wants to share it with me as I want to share with her the things that being me joy.

Let’s read John 15:13-14:

13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.
JESUS defines love in verses 13 and 14. To love like JESUS is to love unconditionally and sacrificially. The Apostle John captures this idea in 1 John 3:16:

16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.
Humans are made up of body, soul and spirit. Life refers to the essence of a person’s being and to “lay down his life for his friends” means he or she is willing to die for that person.

JESUS leads by example. HE gave HIS life for each person who will place his or her faith in HIM. JESUS paid the penalty for sin in full. But HE has called each Christian to die to self and to give his or her life to obediently follow HIM that others may get to know HIM as his or her Savior.

Do you want to be a friend of JESUS? If so, remain in HIM and do what HE commands you. Blessings!!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bible Study - CHRIST (8) - Exalted like No Other - Ephesians 1:7-10, 18-23 - April 19, 2015

Bible Study – CHRIST (8) – Exalted like No Other – April 19, 2015

This lesson eight (8) and our final lesson in our series entitled “Like No Other: The Life of CHRIST.”

Our focus scripture is Ephesians 1:7-10, 18-23.

Honor JESUS as LORD.

Our series began with prophesy regarding the coming of the promised Messiah, then we studied HIS birth, HIS life, HIS death, HIS resurrection, HIS ascension and the Holy Spirit coming to indwell all who place their faith in CHRIST. The Holy Spirit is referred to as a paraclete or One Who comes along the side of a Christian.

A question regarding to whom the letter to the church at Ephesus was addressed has been raised. It seems that some Bible scholars think that originally the letter was, although sent to Ephesus the capital city of the province, it was intended to be a circular letter. A circular letter would be intended for all the Christian churches in a broad area. Whether it was or not, we still can glean the message GOD has for Christians today through Paul’s writings.

To me this lesson is fitting to follow our study of CHRIST and that we focus on Ephesians 1:3-6: (Lead in)

3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. 4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us within the Beloved.

Christians are blessed beyond measure. GOD had HIS plan for the redemption of mankind before HE created the world. HE knew who would accept or reject HIS Only Son as his or her Savior before HE created the world. So why did HE proceed knowing that some would be condemned? Not to do so would be to condemn them without giving them an opportunity for redemption. So where were we before we were conceived? We were in the mind of GOD, safe and secure until we were conceived. Now, to me that is mind-blowing.

Did the fact that HE knew who would be saved through the shed blood of JESUS mean that HE decided their eternal destiny? Does that mean that HE rejected others? No, because HE chose everyone who would ever be conceived and born as a human for Himself but each of us have the freedom to choose. HIS foreknowledge allows HIM to know how each person will chose. [I think those who have never faced a specific moment of decision such as the unborn, children, etc. will be with HIM in Heaven when they die because of HIS grace. I base this thought on the age of accountability for a person, which to me is not a physical age.]  But this I know, GOD works to the max to appeal to every person to accept CHRIST as his or her Savior but the choice is always in that person’s hands. GOD’S desire is for no one to experience eternal death, which is eternal separation from HIM.

Those GOD foreknew who would become Christians, were covered with the shed blood of CHRIST until that moment of decision and beyond for eternity. Satan would like to destroy every person who will become a Christian. Keep in mind what the scripture says about those who are to receive salvation as recorded in Hebrews 1:14:

13 Now to which of the angels has He ever said: Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve those who are going to inherit salvation? GOD watches over HIS own children or children to be.

Let’s read Ephesians 1:7-10:

7 We have •redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 He made known to us the • mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him 10 for the administration of the days of fulfillment—to bring everything together in the • Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.

What is redemption? Redemption comes from a verb which means “to ransom.” It describes circumstances or situations when a person is totally incapable of freeing him or herself. The person is completely and totally destitute and dependent upon someone else to free him or her. It is like a person stepping into quick sand and being sucked under with nothing to hold onto. He or she is totally helpless unless someone comes to his or her rescue. GOD placed the death sentence upon mankind when Adam and Eve sinned and disobeyed GOD by choosing to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

One may say it was our ancestral roots who committed the sin which we had no control over, why are we under the death sentence? Our ancestral roots had a choice of eternal life by eating the fruit from the tree of life but they chose to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Just as we inherited human life from our root parents, we also inherited eternal death and need to be redeemed from it.

Eternal death is a debt we, as human, are incapable of paying. We cannot live perfect, righteous lives in order to satisfy GOD. HE knows that and that is why HE had the plan to redeem those who chose to be redeemed from eternal death and to be restored to HIS original intent for the human race.

The Apostle Paul melds redemption together with forgiveness and grace. Forgiveness comes from a word which means to “send away.” The idea is that a person is incapable of atoning for his or her sins. The Old Testament gives us a symbolic picture of sending our sins away when Old Testament worshippers would place their sins on a scapegoat and send it away into the wilderness. GOD, in essence, made JESUS to be our scapegoat. GOD placed our sins upon the precious, sinless Lamb of GOD. JESUS willingly took our sins in order for all who place their faith in HIM to become the righteousness of GOD. Where is that in the Bible? You got it, it is 2 Corinthians 5:16-21:

16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 18 Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He (GOD) made the One (JESUS) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

How is all of this possible? As the Apostle Paul wrote in verse 7 of our focus scripture, it is GOD’S grace. As Christians, HIS grace extends far beyond our inability to live perfect lives after salvation. Every Christian is a “work in progress” through the ongoing process of sanctification.

The word used for “trespasses” translates more than the forgiveness of “sin,” which is missing the mark, but a word which seems to carry the idea of once a person is a Christian, he or she, “slips or strays” from the ideal path. GOD’S grace is sufficient to always keep Christians as HIS children. Satan would have a Christian to believe that GOD abandons him or her but DO NOT believe that lie. Once you are born into GOD’S family, through faith in CHRIST, you never become unborn.

GOD has imputed the righteousness of CHRIST to all Christians which results in their redemption, forgiveness, according to the riches of HIS grace, and lavished them with “all wisdom and understanding.” The indwelling Holy Spirit imparts wisdom and understanding as Christians seek to know CHRIST through an intimate, ongoing and personal relationship.

If you have strayed from GOD, reach out to HIM and tell HIM you are sorry and you have come back to HIM. HE will embrace you with HIS loving arms and welcome you back. Do it now! [Here I am, as I am please forgive me and take me back. In the twinkling of the eye HE will restore you back into fellowship with HIM.]

The mystery of HIS will for Christians is revealed through an intimate, personal relationship with CHRIST, which HE planned for each Christian according to HIS good pleasure. CHRIST reconciled Christians to GOD to “to bring everything together in the • Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.”

The heart and love of GOD compels HIM to restore mankind to HIS original intent for mankind before sin. HIS grace is sufficient for all Christians who are covered by the shed blood of CHRIST.

Have you placed your faith in CHRIST by asking HIM to forgive you for your sins and to come into your life? If not, now is your opportunity. Take that step of faith which will secure eternity for you. It is vital and is eternal. JESUS loved you so much that HE gave HIS life just for you. Please make that decision now. HE is calling you to get to know HIM intimately, through the miracle of rebirth.

Let’s read Ephesians 1:11-17: (Connecting Scripture)

11 We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, 12 so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory. 13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.

Prayer for Spiritual Insight

15 This is why, since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.

In addition to bringing HIS plan and purpose together in unity, Christians are included in HIS plan, purpose and part of that unity through CHRIST. Why? So that Christians might bring praise to HIS Glory because the instant we heard the message of truth we received the seal of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a Christian’s surety or guarantee of eternal life with GOD.  

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:15-17:

15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “• Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs —heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Paul knew the value of prayer and the need for divine wisdom and for the revelation of the knowledge CHRIST in the lives of Christians. Christians can dream of all sorts of ideal notions about CHRIST but what must prevail is truth, not notions. This leads us into our next scripture. 

Let’s read Ephesians 1:18-21:

18 I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.

We need to pray for each other as we all journey with CHRIST. Paul is speaking about the eyes of our heart, the eyes of our understanding or the very core of our being where we meet GOD and learn from HIM. The “eyes of the heart” is the most secret place in our lives. It is the place where real, honest, truth resides. It is where a person receives the “Ah Ha” moment of understanding. The light turns on in their minds.

Paul prayed for the enlightenment of fellow Christians in three areas:
-  The hope of HIS calling. Hope is used in at least two different ways in the Bible. Here Paul focuses on the need for Christians to grasp the certainty and assurance of their future. Being a Christian is not pie in the sky but reality, therefore embrace it.     
 -  The glorious riches of HIS inheritance. Glorious riches of what awaits every Christian cannot be fully comprehended with the human mind. What awaits every Christian as HIS inheritance should compel every Christian to live in strict obedience to the leadership and direction of the Holy Spirit. Living life upon earth is no longer about us but about HIM and what HE desires to be accomplished through us.

    - The immeasurable greatness of HIS power in us who believe. As a Christian, have you ever experienced GOD’S power? GOD has given HIS children not only Hope and an Inheritance but HIS power to get them through life upon earth. We all like power but this power is to be used as GOD directs. You may recall that JESUS disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven on a town when the people did not receive them as recorded in Luke 9:51-55: 51 When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, He determined to journey to Jerusalem. 52 He sent messengers ahead of Him, and on the way they entered a village of the • Samaritans to make preparations for Him. 53 But they did not welcome Him, because He determined to journey to Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, 56 and they went to another village. GOD must direct HIS children on the proper use of HIS power. That means Christians are to grow and mature Spiritually. Let’s fast forward to Acts 8:14-17: 14 When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had welcomed God’s message, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 After they went down there, they prayed for them, so the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. It was better to wait for these Samaritans to become Christians than to destroy them as James and John wanted to do. Christians must wait upon the LORD because HIS power brings salvation in due time. HIS ways are far above our ways and HIS thoughts are not our thoughts. Walk with HIM and build an intimate relationship with HIM. Then you will see HIS power manifested through you and you are in harmony and unity with HIM.  

Let’s read Ephesians 1:20-21: (God’s Power in Christ)

20 He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens— 21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

When Christians consider GOD’S power, they need to consider the power of GOD to do what is impossible and that is to restore life to a dead person. GOD raised CHRIST, the Messiah, from the dead. GOD gave all authority to CHRIST, which is above all “far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”

GOD seated CHRIST at HIS right hand. GOD’S right hand is the position of authority, which above any other authority.

Let’s read Ephesians 1:22-23:

22 And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.

GOD, in turn, gave CHRIST all authority, including being the head of the Spiritual church. Every Christian is a living stone who makes up part of the Spiritual church or the body of which CHRIST is the head. Each Christian has a specific function within that Spiritual body.

Are you functioning within the Spiritual body as GOD has called you? Not as man has called you but as GOD has called you?

CHRIST brings all things together under one authority. CHRIST brings unity to the body of believers. Is there discord in your church or your body of believers? If so, CHRIST is not preeminent in the members of your organization. HE is the head and Christians are HIS body. Christians must be in harmony and unity with HIM to function according to GOD’S will and purpose.

JESUS is The LORD of LORD’S and King of King’s. HE is preeminent: above all. There will be a time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that JESUS IS LORD! Blessings!!!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Bible Study - CHRIST (7) - Ascended like No Other - Acts 1:1-11 - April 12, 2015

Bible Study – CHRIST (7) – Ascended like No Other – April 12, 2015

This is lesson seven (7) in our series entitled, “Like No Other: The Life of CHRIST.”

Our focus scripture is Acts 1:1-11.

JESUS ascended to heaven but HE did not leave us alone. JESUS ascended back into Heaven and took HIS seat at the right hand of GOD, HIS Father. The Father would, at HIS choosing, send the Holy Spirit to indwell (Or settle upon) all who place their faith in CHRIST as a security deposit or down payment. The Holy Spirit would teach, enlighten, reveal, lead, guide, empower and manifest Spiritual gifts to all who place their faith in CHRIST for the purpose of obedient ministering.

A note regarding the authorship of the books we know as Luke and Acts. The early manuscripts of these writings do not indentify an author but very early church tradition attribute authorship to Doctor Luke, the physician and often traveling companion of the Apostle Paul.

The book of Acts gives us some of the history of the early Christian church and movement. I have to trust the early Christians in identifying Doctor Luke as the human author of Luke and Acts as inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is believed that Luke was a Gentile and the only non-Jewish writer of the New Testament.

Let’s read Luke 1:1-4: (Luke indentifies the scope of his first narrative.)

1 Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

Doctor Luke was commissioned by Theophilus to investigate and write about this person called JESUS thus the books of Luke and Acts. Acts focuses upon the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell all who place their faith in CHRIST as manifested in the physical and Spiritual growth of the early Christian church and its members.

Doctor Luke recorded the acts of the Apostles as empowered, lead and guided by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Luke identifies the scope of his second piece of work as recorded in Acts 1:1-2:

1 I wrote the first narrative (Luke), Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day He was taken up, after He had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. 3 After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

Doctor Luke recorded in Luke Chapter 24 the events of JESUS after HIS resurrection up to HIS ascension. Acts picks up with HIS 40 days upon earth and leads us to the ascension of JESUS, the coming of the Holy Spirit and beyond.

Let’s read Acts 1:3:

3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
When we study the things that JESUS did after HIS resurrection, we discover some of the attributes of HIS Glorified body: (Luke 24 and John 20 and 21 covers much the 40 days after the resurrection of JESUS)

-         HE could be recognized as JESUS or remain unknown to others until HE revealed HIS identify.
-         HE could appear and disappear.
-         HE could walk through physical barriers, such as a door or open the door as other people.
-         HE could eat normal food.
-         HE had total control over HIS glorified body, which gives Christians an idea of what their Glorified bodies will be like after the second coming of CHRIST.
-         HE knew where certain people would be.

JESUS was alive and during HIS 40 days upon earth after HIS resurrection, HE demonstrated that HE was alive to over 500 people and most especially to HIS disciples.

The statement “after HE had suffered” or “after HIS passion” draws our attention to the word “suffered.” Suffered has its roots in “pascho” which forms the basis for our English word “paschal” which gives the idea of JESUS being the Paschal Lamb. In turn, this carries the idea of “experiencing something bad or evil brought on to the person or object from the outside, not self-induced. We see, then, the clear reference to JESUS’ sinless, guiltless suffering for our sins that resulted in HIS death on the cross.” (Reference: Rev. Curtis Honts, “Advanced Bible Study Commentary” published by LifeWay, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234, page 68.)

Thus - 2 Corinthians 5:21:

21 He (GOD) made the One (JESUS) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

JESUS was dead but GOD raised HIM from the dead as a living person as proof that HE conquered both sin and its consequence, death. The resurrection is a guarantee of every Christian’s resurrection and having a Glorified body. To prove that JESUS was alive, HE did many convincing proofs or unquestionable proofs that HE was alive.

Luke used the word “appearing” which carries the idea of appearing and then disappearing during those 40 days. JESUS instructed them about the Kingdom of GOD. It seems the disciples and others who knew HIM could not shake the idea that JESUS was going to be an earthly ruler, such as King of Israel, at this time in history. Later of course, HE will rule the world.

JESUS was preparing those who were called to continue spreading the Gospel of CHRIST for HIS departure, because HE is and always will be the only true Son of GOD. HE came to the earth in the flesh, lived a sinless life, was tempted in all ways as humans are tempted, yet without sin, and gave HIS sinless life to pay for the original sin of the first Adam. Because of sin, the first Adam brought the death sentence upon mankind. The second Adam, JESUS, brought eternal life to all who will place their faith in HIM.

JESUS was intent on HIS disciples and others to understand what had happened. HE was dead as a door nail but GOD raised HIM from the dead. Now HE had HIS new Glorified body which could do human things as well as Spiritual things. JESUS equipped HIS disciple as well as HE could before HIS departure but there was yet a special event to take place that would help bring understanding to something appearing so complex.

The Apostle Paul recorded a brief summary in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7:

3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to • Cephas, then to the Twelve. 6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen • asleep. 7 Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.

JESUS needed to teach, equip and assure HIS disciples and other faithful Christians that HE died, was buried and GOD resurrected HIM from the dead, not as a ghost, but in a new bodily form that was the same yet profoundly different from the normal human body. HE had a Glorified body that is eternal and subject to HIS command. HIS new body is like the new Glorified body all Christians will receive at the second coming of JESUS.

So why do we have to wait in Heaven in our Spiritual body until JESUS returns before we will receive our Glorified body? If you had a Glorified body that could do all the things that JESUS’ Glorified body could do and you could bebop in and out of earth to reveal yourself to your loved ones, would you? If a loved one was headed in the wrong direction would you be tempted to intervene? Or would want to assure loved ones that heaven is for real and what a spectacular place it is? Would you be tempted to reveal it? All humans are exposed to the same opportunities for salvation. Each person must choose to either accept or reject JESUS as his or her Savior. There are no short cuts. GOD has a plan and purpose for each one of us as HIS born-again children. But it is up to each of us either to accept or reject JESUS as our Savior and then whether or not to make HIM LORD of our lives.

Let’s read Acts 1:4-8:

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The Ascension
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

JESUS had been with them for these 40 days teaching them. The fact that HE asked them not to depart Jerusalem gives the idea that they may have been leaving Jerusalem to go to Bethany or some place outside Jerusalem to spent the night or some of their time. Jesus admonished them to remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit had come upon them. When the Holy Spirit came upon them they received power to accomplish the will and purpose of GOD.

Each Christian receives the Holy Spirit the instant he or she asks JESUS to forgive him or her for his or her sins and to come into his or her heart. JESUS had told them about this event earlier “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Notice that JESUS was not specific as to when this event would take place. No Christian will know exactly when JESUS will return to earth for the second time. Only the Father knows. The idea is that Christians are to obediently work and remain ready for that event.

If those in the sound of HIS voice were obedient, that is remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came, they would receive an anointing, if not, they would miss it. With GOD, timing is very important. Today is the day of salvation. Don’t put it off. That is not to frighten but it is a fact because eternity is just a heartbeat away. [To study more about the teachings of JESUS in preparing HIS disciples for HIS departure after HIS resurrection regarding the coming of the Holy Spirit read John 14:15-26 and 16:5-15.]

“They asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” The idea here is that they didn’t just ask HIM once or twice but they kept asking HIM over and over before they received an answer to the question “Will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel.” They still had visions of an earthly kingdom because in the Old Testament, the use of the phrase “outpouring of the Spirit of GOD” carried the idea of restoring Israel. So it was natural for JESUS’ disciples to dwell on JESUS establishing a physical kingdom.

Once we make up our minds to something it is hard for us to consider alternatives. JESUS knew HE had to prepare HIS disciples and others called to spread the Gospel of CHRIST to embrace truth, which would come together after HE ascended into Heaven and the Holy Spirit came upon all who place their faith in CHRIST.

“He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” Again, JESUS’ response is direct without a timeline. Christians should not dwell on when certain times and when certain events are going to take place. They are to be obedient to their calling to the ministry GOD has given them. Just take matters a day at the time and trust.

But JESUS gave them vital information “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” GOD calls Christians to what often appears to be daunting tasks but HE equips us to do the job. We all have many questions but as we move in the direction GOD has called us to, HE equips and reveals. As we take a step it often opens up the opportunity to take the next step.

Often, we have to grow and mature Spiritually before we can comprehend some Spiritual matters or develop enough trust to take a step of faith. But GOD knows each of us intimately, even to the number of hairs upon our heads. When HE calls, HE equips and it may take years. The Holy Spirit empowers Christians and HE does not create junk. Our time upon earth is not the issue but it is our perfection by the Master's Hands.
Many Christians think the Holy Spirit was for that specific time but the Holy Spirit is just as relevant and powerful today as then. When we have an intimate, personal relationship with CHRIST, then we can witness the things HE has revealed to us as we have walked with HIM. It is an awesome lifetime journey.

Let’s read Acts 1:9-11:

9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

There comes a time when the disciples and those who have taken up the cross of JESUS must graduate. JESUS ascended into heaven, out of sight. They witnessed this event with their own two eyes and heard what the angels had to say with their ears.

JESUS was physically gone but HE would be more intimate and present with all who place their faith in HIM through the indwelling Holy Spirit. As we walk with HIM, we build trust with HIM and respond as HE leads and guides us through the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We are witnesses to what we experience as we journey with CHRIST as revealed to us and experienced by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Being martyred is witness to a person’s faith in CHRIST.

As JESUS ascended two angels descended with a message “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
There comes a time when Christians must stop gazing and take action. JESUS told them that they would be equipped for the tasks to be revealed to them. So what did they do as we read our next scripture?

Acts 1:12-14:

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a Sabbath day’s journey away.
13 When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.
14 All these were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

JESUS’ disciples, the women which included the mother of JESUS and guess who; HIS brothers. The very brothers who did not believe in HIM as recorded in John 7:2-3:

2 The Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 so His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go to Judea so Your disciples can see Your works that You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 (For not even His brothers believed in Him.)

I asked the question in last week’s lesson, “Why did the angel and JESUS instruct HIS disciples and the women to go to Galilee?” That was JESUS’ home area and HE had unfinished work that needed to be done after HIS resurrection. HE needed to prove to HIS disciples, family, friends, those who saw HIM grow up, that HE died and was resurrected as proof that HE was and still is the true SON OF GOD.

Do you believe that JESUS came in the flesh? Is HE the only Son of GOD? Have you placed your faith in HIM?  If not, now is the time. Ask HIM to forgive you for your sins and for HIM to come into your life. HE loved you so much that HE gave HIS life for you. GOD raised HIM from the dead as proof that HE conquered both sin and death. Christians serve a risen Savior. The grave is empty!

As promised and as recorded in Acts Chapter 2, the Holy Spirit was manifested visually, as tongues of fire, audible, as a violent rushing wind and Spiritually as evidenced by converts speaking in other known languages as the Holy Spirit came upon those who accepted CHRIST as their Savior at Pentecost. The Apostle Peter preached and 3,000 people (Acts 2:41) became Christians and later their numbers had grown to about 5,000 (Acts 4:4).

If Christians are serious about being obedient to serving CHRIST, they must not be afraid of the Holy Spirit leading, guiding, directing and empowering their lives. I know, I fought it for many years but one day I basically said “LORD here I am as I am, my good and bad I give to You and ask that You take my life and help me to live the Christian life.” It was a profound and pivotal instant in my life. Has everything since that moment just been easy sailing? Not by a long shot but it has been a journey of discovery and building an intimate, personal relationship with GOD through CHRIST. Blessings!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bible Study - CHRIST (6) - Resurrection like No Other - Matthew 28:1-10 - April 5, 2015

Bible Study – CHRIST (6) – Resurrection like No Other – April 5, 2015

This is lesson six (6) in our series entitled “Like No Other: The Life of CHRIST.”

Our focus scripture is Matthew 28:1-10.

JESUS is alive – and we can live forever. Who raised JESUS from the dead? 

We read in Acts 2:23-24:

23 This Jesus, when delivered up according to the definite and fixed purpose and settled plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and put out of the way [killing Him] by the hands of lawless and wicked men. 24 [But] God raised Him up, liberating Him from the pangs of death, seeing that it was not possible for Him to continue to be controlled or retained by it (death). (Amplified)

1 Corinthians 15:20-23:

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the • firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man (Adam), the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man (CHRIST). 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. (Amplified)

The ultimate proof that CHRIST was and is the only true Son of GOD is that GOD raised HIM from the dead. As further assurance of HIS resurrection, when a person accepts CHRIST as his or her Savior, through faith, the Holy Spirit indwells that person as a security deposit or down payment that the person is GOD’S Son or Daughter through the miracle of rebirth.
Let’s consider what JESUS had told HIS disciples would happen to HIM earlier as we read in Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23 and 20:19:

Matthew 16:21-22:

21 From then on Jesus began to point out to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, •chief priests, and • scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to You!”

Matthew 17:22-23:

22 As they were meeting in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men. 23 They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” And they were deeply distressed.

Matthew 20:17-19:

17 While going up to Jerusalem, Jesus took the 12 disciples aside privately and said to them on the way: 18 “Listen! We are going up to Jerusalem. The • Son of Man will be handed over to the •chief priests and • scribes, and they will condemn Him to death. 19 Then they will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked, flogged, and crucified, and He will be resurrected on the third day.”

How often we forget when things do not go as we think they will go. JESUS’ disciples scattered when JESUS died but guess who remembered the words JESUS spoke regarding HIS resurrection, as we read in Matthew 27:62-66:

62 The next day, which followed the preparation day, (Friday) the chief priests and the • Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that while this deceiver was still alive He said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore give orders that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come, steal Him, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ Then the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “You have a guard of soldiers,” Pilate told them. “Go and make it as secure as you know how.” 66 Then they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting the guard.

The tomb where JESUS was laid was sealed and guarded by the temple police.

Let’s read Matthew 28:1-7:

1 After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, • Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. 2 Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow. 4 The guards were so shaken from fear of him that they became like dead men. 5 But the angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. In fact, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there.’ Listen, I have told you.”

After the Jewish Sabbath, which would be our Sunday some women went to the tomb where they had placed the dead body of JESUS to complete the embalming process.

When we combine the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, each give us the list of the women who went to the tomb of JESUS:

Matthew 28:1 - Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb.

Mark 16:1 - 1 When the Sabbath was over, • Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so they could go and anoint Him.

Luke 23:55-56 - 55 The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed along and observed the tomb and how His body was placed. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

Luke 24:9-10 - 9 Returning from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. 10 • Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them were telling the apostles these things.

John 20:1 - 1 On the first day of the week • Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark.

Women of that day were not considered of great value and it is interesting that the most profound event to ever happen in the world was revealed to women, the resurrection of JESUS. JESUS always valued women and reached out to them and HE did so by them witnessing HIS resurrection. HIS disciples were hiding and afraid but these gutsy women went to the tomb in love and compassion that JESUS would get a proper burial. And what a joy they witnessed.

Matthew’s gospel gives us an account of what these women’s experienced. An earthquake, when the angel descended, caused the stone covering the entrance to the tomb where JESUS body had been placed was rolled away as they approached the tomb. This was to reveal that JESUS had not escaped by HIM physically walking out of the tomb but a miracle had taken place because GOD resurrected HIS physical body.

This was an example and confirmation that GOD has the power over the physical and the Spiritual to all who place their faith in CHRIST. A Christian’s born-again Spirit exits his or her physical body at the death of their physical body and he or she is immediately in the presence of CHRIST and GOD in Heaven. At the second coming of CHRIST, those with CHRIST in Heaven will follow behind HIM and will be united with their new Glorified body for eternity as we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:

13 Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [ in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do who have no hope [beyond the grave]. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will also bring with Him through Jesus those who have fallen asleep [ in death]. 15 For this we declare to you by the Lord's [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death]. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord! 18 Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words. (Amplified)

A Christian’s new Glorified body will be like JESUS’ Glorified body after HIS resurrection. Study what CHRIST did after HIS resurrection and you will get a glimpse of what your Glorified body, as a Christian, will be like.

As we see in our scripture, gloom turns to great joy because of the resurrection of CHRIST. When we come to the realization of the resurrected CHRIST, the joy of that moment is overwhelming. Friday was a day of gloom, doom and no hope but in the darkest hour there is hope because, “It is Friday but Sunday is coming!”

What do we want to do when we experience the resurrected JESUS? We want to do exactly what these ladies wanted to do! We rejoice because HIS resurrection is the assurance of the resurrection of all who place their faith in HIM.

Let’s read Matthew 28:8-10:

8 So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell His disciples the news. 9 Just then Jesus met them and said, “Good morning!” They came up, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see Me there.”

When the resurrection of CHRIST is revealed and we accept HIM as our Savior, we encounter HIM. Salvation is just the beginning of a life long process of getting to really know HIM personally and intimately through relationship. The in dwelling Holy Spirit comes to our aid in enlightening us to truth and embracing truth. We want to tell others this Great News!  

When we embrace CHRIST as truth and see what HE did for us, we worship HIM because of HIS great love HE has for us, while we were yet sinners, HE gave HIS life for us so that we will receive eternal life at the instant we place our faith in HIM.

Christians are not to be afraid but we are to worship CHRIST and go and tell the Good News of JESUS CHRIST and HIS resurrection to others.

JESUS said HE was going to Galilee and HIS disciples should meet HIM there. Why Galilee? JESUS and HIS disciples, with the exception of Judas, were all from Galilee. JESUS taught and most of the miracles were manifested in Galilee. It was the home area of JESUS and where HE was rejected. I think HE returned to HIS home area to reveal to them that HE was Who HE said HE was, The Son of GOD.

As Christians obediently follow JESUS, HE will reveal more of Himself to them as they walk with HIM. After HIS death and resurrection, JESUS walked upon earth for 40 days and over 500 people witnessed HIS resurrection as we read the Apostle Paul’s review of  death and resurrection of JESUS in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8:

3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to • Cephas, then to the Twelve. 6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen • asleep. 7 Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.

Do you believe it? JESUS was and is the true Son of GOD and HE gave HIS life just for you. Will you accept HIM by placing your faith in HIM and asking HIM to forgive you for your sins and to come into your life?

If you did, then thank HIM for coming into your life and go and tell someone what you have done. This is just the beginning of an awesome journey with CHRIST. It will not be easy but the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit will be with you each step of your journey. Begin by reading the Gospel of John and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you and HE will. Pray as you study the Bible and also ask GOD to lead you to the place where you can be Spiritually fed. I rejoice with you in this your new life in CHRIST my brother or sister.

To those who are Christians and have not been living for HIM, confess your sins and return to HIM because HE is right where you left HIM. Keep in mind John 3:16-18 and John 5:24:

16 “For God loved the world •in this way: He gave His •One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

John 5:24: (JESUS is speaking.)

24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.