Friday, April 6, 2018

88 - Christ's Ascension

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

Make Disciples and Baptize

Not everyone who is called to preach is automatically called to baptize.  Paul wrote I thank God that I didn't baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius.  Also, I did baptize the family of Stephanas, but I don't remember if I baptized anyone else. Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the good news. 1 Co 1:14-17.

baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Over the centuries the church has placed overbearingly much stress on using these exact words when baptizing someone.  As if any other phrase would invalidate the baptism.

There is not even one incident, recorded in the entire New Testament, where any of the disciples, or anyone else, like Paul, ever baptized anyone in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

In the New Testament the baptismal formula reads like this:

Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Act 2:38

they (some Samaritans had) been baptized in the name of Christ Jesus. Acts 8:14-16.

he (Peter) commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (here the word Lord can mean, Mr; sir; controllerStrong G2962; it does not mean "God").  Acts 10:48

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

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Rom. 6:3.

Over the years much has been made of the "mode of baptism".  Some sprinkle, some pour and some immerse.  Some base their eternal salvation on whether or not they are baptized and on how they were baptized. 

Some of those who insist that real baptism can only be done by immersion in water seem to overlook a few Biblical facts.  They insist that the word baptize means to immerse completely and yet that word baptize is the same word that is used when people are baptized by the holy spirit, in which case people are neither completely immersed nor is there necessarily any water present.

Another point is that Paul wrote that the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, when they left Egypt, were baptized into Moses.  Considering that Paul referred to that passage in Exodus it seems that he did not think that immersion in water was required for baptism: all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 1 Cor.10:1-2.  This he says in spite of the fact that the writer of Exodus wrote He (Jehovah) made the sea dry land, and the waters divided. And the sons of Israel came into the middle of the sea on dry ground. Exodus 14:21-22. They didn't even get their feet wet and yet the word Paul uses is, baptised.

Christ's Ascension

until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 
to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Acts 1:2-3. 

ow after He said these things, while they were beholding Him, He was lifted up, and a cloud withdrew Him from their eyes. 
And while they looked intently into heaven, while He was going, behold, two men stood along side them in white apparel, 
who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him going into heaven." Acts 1:9-11

He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many convincing proofs.  There are no less than thirteen different appearances of Jesus to his disciples (after His resurrection, over a period of forty days) recorded. [Barnes]

The historical proofs that Jesus "rose from the dead" are there.  The problem is that 2000 years have dimmed the reality of His resurrection in our societies.  In the meantime, our way of seeing things has dramatically changed so that what seemed so important to the very early Church holds hardly any fascination for us.

appearing to them during forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.  To the very end of His life on earth, Christ kept on explaining, to His disciples, the truths of the kingdom of God.  Forty days after His resurrection Christ was standing with His disciples and He was lifted up, and a cloud withdrew Him from their eyes. 

Based on all the evidence, in the Bible, that space ships and aliens are involved with the bible story it is easy to imagine that when Christ was lifted up He was "beamed up" to a UFO hiding just above the cloud which the disciples saw!

f we believe that He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, where do we find the problem with believing that He is coming back?  Is it because His promise is 2000 year old?  That is a poor excuse; Jehovah does not count time as we do.

Time For A Break

In the last 88 posts, we have examined some of the highlights in our Redeemer's life as they are recorded in the three synoptic gospels.

In many cases, we have looked at various opinions that have been expressed by other Bible teachers.

he idea that I tried to stress throughout is that we must not blindly follow our teachers. We, ourselves, must do our own thinking, we must Think Again.  We must not be afraid to leave the, not thought through, doctrines that our teachers, with closed minds, have taught us.  I have learned from experience that this is a very difficult thing to do!

I express my deepest thank you to all of you who have followed me in this blog.  The +1's, the comments and the re-sharing have been most encouraging. Good bye. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

89 - Christ's Resurection

And having looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away--for it was exceedingly large. 
And entering into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right clothed with a white robe, and they were alarmed. 
But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You are seeking Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has arisen! He is not here! See the place where they put Him. 
But go, say to His disciples, and Peter, that He is going before you into Galilee; there you shall see Him, just as He said to you." 
And going out, they fled from the tomb, but trembling and amazement held them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. 
Now having arisen early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 
She went and reported to those who had been with Him, as they were grieving and weeping. 
And those, when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they disbelieved. Mark 16:4-11.

Christ in a Spiritual Body

The soldiers were afraid that the disciples of Christ would steal and hide the body of Jesus and then claim that Jesus had risen from the dead.  To make sure that that did not happen they placed a stone in front of the tomb.  the stone ... was exceedingly large.  Not only that but Pilate said to them (his soldiers), "You have a guard; go make it as secure as you know how." Mat. 27:65.

On Thursday, during the Crucifixion the centurion (a leader of 80 soldiers) and those with him guarding Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were greatly afraid. Mat 27:54.  Later, on Sunday morning, behold, a great earthquake occurred. Mat 28:2.  It would seem that this was an aftershock of Thursday's earthquake.

He has arisen! He is not here! See the place where they put Him. It is worth noting that the stone was not removed so that Christ could leave the tomb but so the disciples and the ladies could go in and see that Christ was no longer there.  Christ was no longer bound by the restrictions that the human body had imposed on Him until His death.  

This fact is shown by the words of John.  Then ... when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, "Peace to you." John 20:19.

after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been closed, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" John 20:26

This is also verified when Christ, after having had supper with two of His followers, took bread, He blessed and broke it, and He gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He vanished from their sight. Luke 24:31.

Throughout the years of following Christ the disciples began to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, then, shortly before His crucifixion, He startled His disciples by saying that He must go to Jerusalem and be killed.  The disciple's hopes were dashed.  Now, after a weekend of agonizing confusion, this man was alive again but they had trouble believing what they saw.  Any of us would have.  So to verify His claim Jesus came and stood in the midst and showed them His hands and His side. John 20:20.

He was willing to bear the imprints of the nails through His hands and feet and the wound of the spear in His side, into eternity, because of the Father’s love for His Church.  Someday Everyone will see him, even the ones who stuck a sword through him. Rev. 1:7 CEV.

Angels in Disguise

Luke tells us that there were two men standing in the tomb after Christ had left the tomb.  John says that there were two angels, Mark says that there was a young man and Matthew says that first, the angel sat on the stone outside the tomb and that later that same angel talked to the ladies in the tomb. Mat. 28:2-5.  This seeming contradiction need not cause any concern.  The picture of angels, that we have in our minds, tells us that they can transport themselves in the blink of an eye and be visible or invisible, as they please.

go, say to His disciples, and Peter.  Ironically, Peter was the first of Christ's twelve apostles and now, it seems, Christ is not even including him among the disciples.  Was Peter maybe feeling rather "uppity"?  Did he maybe have a false feeling of security because he was the one who held the keys to the kingdom? Mat. 16:19.  Christ once said, the last shall be first, and the first last. Mat 20:16.   

On the other hand, it has been suggested that after Peter denied knowing Christ, just before Christ's crucifixion, Peter felt so worthless, so not like a disciple, that Christ, in His concern for Peter, mentioned him specially to make him feel more included.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 
When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. 
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Mat 28:16-18.

After the angel had told the ladies that Christ had risen and that He is going before you into Galilee they were on their way to tell the disciples the good news.  

When the disciples heard the ladie's report they "took off" for Galilee and met Christ and worshipped.  It is important here not to think of the word "worship" as one worships Jehovah.  Rather the meaning is to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand.  [Strong G4352]

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  This is the authority that He earned by being faithful to His Father, in all respects, even to the point of an agonizing death.  His statement also says that this is an authority that He did not use to have and if He did not always have that authority He also is not a member of the "Godhead".

Friday, March 30, 2018

87 - The Crucifixion of Christ

The Easter season is the apex of the Christian calendar.  Today, let us take the time to meditate on the death of Jesus Christ and to praise Christ's Father for His love for humanity.

I Find No Fault in Him!

Then Pilate went out to them and said, What charge do you bring against this man? They answered and said to him, If he were not an evildoer, (even according to their own laws they could not honestly have accused Him of any wrongdoing) then we would not have delivered him up to you.  Then Pilate said to them, You take him and judge him according to your Law.  Then the Jews said to him, It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death. John 18:29-31.  Before the trial had even begun the leaders of Jerusalem had already decided that Christ would be put to death.

Pilate tried the second time to release Christ from such an unjust death, so he said to them, I find no fault in him. But you have a custom that I should release one to you at the Passover.  Then do you desire that I release to you the king of the Jews?  Then they all cried again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas!  

This is an interesting name for the guilty Barabbas.  "Bar" is Greek for "Son of" and "Abba" in Chaldeaic, means "father"; so here we have the guilty son of a father being released in place of the innocent Son of The Father.  But Barabbas was a robber. John 18:38-40.  In the case of Barabbas we know from S. Mark and S. Luke that he had been guilty of insurrection and consequent bloodshed. [Cambridge Commentary].  Because Christ had insulted them and hurt their feelings they would rather kill Christ and set a murderer free!

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and flogged Him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns and put it on His head. And they put a purple robe on Him, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they struck Him with their hands. Then Pilate went out again and said to them, Behold, I bring him out to you so that you may know that I find no fault in him. Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.  It has been suggested that this was another attempt by Pilate to release Jesus.  According to this theory, Pilate hoped that when the Jews saw Christ bloody from the lashes and the thorns on his head they would feel sorry for him and ask for His release.

They put a reed in his hand, symbol of a scepter(one) supposes that he refused to hold it, in consequence of which they took it from him, and smote him with it. The awful indignity was a wondrous prophecy. Nay, from that very hour he began to reign. That crown of thorns has been more lasting than any royal diadem. [The Pulpit Commentary]  And Pilate said to them, Behold the man! Then when the chief priests and under-officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify! Crucify Him! Pilate said to them, You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a Law, and by our Law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. John 19:1-7

The King of The Jews

Then he (Pilate) delivered Him up to them (gave them permission) that He might be crucified. And they took Jesus and led Him away. And bearing His cross, He went out to a place called, The Place of a Skull (which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha) where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the middle. And Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. John 19:16-19.  Is it possible that Herod thought that the Jews, as a nation, were losers, and therefore, this loser of a man, is a fit candidate as their king?

Then when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, It is finished! And He bowed His head and gave up the spirit. Then the Jews, because it was Preparation, begged Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the sabbath. For that sabbath was a high day. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a lance, and instantly there came out blood and water. John 19:30-34.

And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus ... begged of Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave permission. Then he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus also came, ... Then they took the body of Jesus and wound it with linens with the spices, as is the custom of the Jews to bury. And in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one yet had been placed. There, then, because of the Preparation of the Jews, because the tomb was near, they laid Jesus. John 19:38-42