Friday, April 28, 2017

40 - The Saviour is Tempted

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the wilderness, to be tempted by the Devil.  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterwards hungry. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Then the Devil took Him up into the holy city and set Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple. And he said to Him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down. For it is written, "He shall give His angels charge concerning You, and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone." Jesus said to him, It is written again, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." Again, the Devil took Him up into a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve."  Then the Devil left him. And behold, angels came and ministered to Him. Mat. 4:1-11 

Forty Days of Fasting

when He had fasted forty days and forty nights.  While it is unlikely, but probably not impossible, to go without food for forty days, what is interesting about the number forty, in the Bible, is that it is much overused in Bible stories.  Way more than the "law of averages" would allow. 

We know that not every stated fact in the Bible is expected to be taken literally. Some statements and numbers are symbolic.  Writing about Noah's flood, in another blog, I wrote: remembering that numerology was important to Jewish scribes, it is perhaps not surprising that the writer chose the number forty as the length of time it rained. 

Todd Denis and Richard Anthony write: Of all the types and shadows of the Old Testament, none is as pervasive and important as the shadows revealed in the relationship between "forty," and the fulfillment of promises.

For a comprehensive list of the number forty in the Bible I suggest:

Soon after His baptism, Jesus was led, (Mark uses the word driven,) into the wilderness.  Matthew is the only one who says that the purpose for this was so that Christ could be tempted by the Devil. Mat. 4:1. Mark is the only one who mentions the wild beasts. Mark 1:13.

Matthew and Mark write, the Spirit; Some translations do not capitalize the word spirit.  Luke writes the Holy Spirit.  It is difficult to believe that God drove His Son into the wilderness that so that He could tempt his Son.  

As I have written many times, Bible translators frequently add words to the Bible to propagate their own theology.  It seems this is especially true if they can foster the idea of a trinity.  Maybe it was not the "Holy Spirit" that drove Christ into the wilderness but rather His own driving force (spirit).  Perhaps He just needed to be alone to meditate and pray.

Furthermore, it seems unlikely that Jehovah would drive Christ into the wilderness just to tempt Him.  In speaking of Jehovah James wrote, neither tempteth he any man. James 1:13. 
Another vital point that is brought up here is if Christ is God how is it possible that He could be tempted; God cannot be tempted with evil. James 1:13 

After Christ had eaten nothing for forty days the Devil came to Him and tempted Him.  Matthew has a different arrangement of the temptations than Luke does and Mark does not mention them at all.  

Satan Tempts Christ

The areas in which Christ was tempted are familiar to all of us:
  1. Bodily comfort - those of us who have everything we need to live a comfortable life find it very easy to complain if our comfort level drops even a little bit.
  2. Riches - we are willing to destroy our happiness and our relationships so that we can afford more toys or vacations.
  3. Prestige - "climb to the top" and when you get there you see plenty of reasons why you should commit suicide.
  4. Idol worship - our world has gone crazy worshipping movie stars, singers, and sports heroes.  Does the human mind really have nothing better to learn than all the useless trivia about all the screen heroes and starlets? Will it ever matter to anyone who won the 1997 football game?
      This idol worship has gone so far that in the hockey teams in Canada there are two players that are "so good" that one is called "Jesus Christ" and the other is called "God".  And still, the Christian church supports professional sports. 

For each temptation that the Tempter came up with Christ had the appropriate Bible verse with which to refute the Devil.  This may have been because Christ did not spend His time learning all the useless trivia and sports scores.

After Satan had finished tempting Christ in the wilderness, He left Him because Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! Mat 4:10.  However, Luke points out that it was not the last time that Christ was tempted, he says, Satan departed from Him for a time.  Luke 4:13

Thursday, April 20, 2017

39 - The Forerunner Meets the Messiah

And it happened in the baptizing of all the people, Jesus also being baptized, and praying, and the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily shape, like a dove on Him. And a voice came from Heaven, which said, You are My Son, the Beloved; I am delighted in You. Luke 3:21-22  

The Baptism of Jesus

After John had been baptising and preaching for a while Jesus came from Galilee to Jordan, to John, to be baptized by him. Mat. 3:13.

In true humility, John said, I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?  Matthew 3:14.

And answering Jesus said to him, Allow it now, (even if it doesn't seem right to you, please do it anyway) for it is becoming (fitting, proper) to us to fulfill all righteousness.  Then he allowed Him. Mat 3:15.

Many times it has been asked, "since Jesus was sinless, why did He need to be baptised?" 

Here are a few quotes which I think answer the question very well.  The purpose was for Jesus to completely identify Himself with sinful man. This is exactly what He did in His birth, His upbringing, and His death. So here ... is Jesus, standing again in the place of sinful man. Guzik.

At this point we can readily see the appropriateness of His baptism, and also an element in common between it and that of the people. They had come professing to be willing to do the will of God by turning from sin to righteousness. He had no need to turn from sin to do the will of God: but He had to turn from the quiet and peaceful home life at Nazareth, that He might take up the burden laid upon Him as Messiah. EBC

The descent of the spirit of God

And it happened in the baptizing of all the people, Jesus also being baptized, and praying, and the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily shape, like a dove on Him. Luke 3:21-22.  Luke is the only one of the three synoptic gospels that mentions that Christ was praying at His baptism.  

And lo, the heavens were opened to Him, and He (John) saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. Mat 3:16.   

There are a few technical facts to notice here:

1. In modern Bibles, the words "Holy Spirit" are capitalized.  After all, if "Holy Spirit" is the proper name of the third person of the trinity they should be capitalized.  This is done by the translators of the newer translations to push the false idea that God is a trinity.  

2. In The Geneva Bible (1587) the word "holy" is not capitalized.  In the Greek text, it also is not capitalized, but the word "Spirit" is.  Interestingly, Mark does not use the word "holy" at all, he simply says "the spirit". 

3.  The Greek word for spirit is "pneuma" and its definition is, a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit. Strong 4151.  It is hard to imagine how Christian theologians can take a definition like this and change it into defining a person; the third person of the Trinity!

He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. Mat 3:16.  This statement may well be the key to defining the ministry of Christ. 

If we were to put the proper emphasis on this statement, in Mat. 3:16, it would answer a lot of questions concerning the ministry of Christ.  For example: How could Christ walk on water? How could Christ raise the dead? How could Christ cast out demons?  How could Christ ........?  The answer to that kind of question is answered in Matthew 3:16.

Jesus, Yehoshua the Messiah, has used God's spirit, God's unique active force. Romans 8:9 even calls this active force both "God's spirit" and "Christ's spirit", because CHRIST has been given FULL AUTHORITY to use God's spirit, just like he has been given full authority over everything that is God's (Matthew 28:18; John 17:10; John 16:15). For example, Luke 5:17 says that 'GOD'S POWER' (Greek 1411 dynamis) was available for Jesus to do healing. In other scriptures this 'God's power' that Jesus used is called "GOD'S SPIRIT" and "GOD'S FINGER", so this 'God's power' that Jesus used is holy spirit (Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20). Questions and answers from the Bible" by Krista Mariia

A voice from heaven

And a voice came from Heaven, which said, You are My Son, the Beloved; I am delighted in You. Luke 3:21-22.

A voice from heaven is not an unknown theme in the Bible.

At Christ's transfiguration, a cloud came and overshadowed them. And they feared as they entered into the cloud.  And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My Son, the Beloved, hear Him. Luke 9:34-33
Paul, on his way to Damascus, heard a voice from heaven; as he drew near to Damascus, even suddenly a light from the heaven shone around him.  And he fell to the earth and heard a voice. Act 9:3-4  

Saint John, when was told to write The Revelation, said, I came to be in the Spirit in the Lord's day and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Rev. 1:10

Even though at Christ's transfiguration and in Paul's experience, the trumpet is not mentioned, it is still reasonable to believe that a trumpet may have been used as it was in John's case.    

This difference is significant because, if in the first of these three cases, Jehovah descended in a UFO, He used a cloud to hide His mode of transport.  This tactic was also used at the ascension of Christ.  And saying these things, as they watched, He was taken up. And a cloud received Him out of their sight. Act 1:9  

In John's case, it was different.  John's view of the spaceship was unimpeded; he clearly saw the trumpet.  He also heard it talking, not making musical notes.

Knowing that trumpets do not speak with a voice, this phrase, a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, forces a question.  Was John hearing a loudspeaker, something that physically resembles a trumpet, as a bullhorn does?  The trumpet did not play notes, it talked, it was saying.  

It is not too far-fetched to believe that Jehovah would use an electronic, physical device to speak to his servant.  After all, He uses physical, mechanically printed pages (the Bible) to speak to his servants.  He has also used loudspeakers in radios and TV's to call sinners to repentance.  There is only a technical difference between a radio and the trumpet that John heard.  From my blog: The Amazing Amalgamated Apocalypse Amplified
**  They say, "Take it with a grain of salt" but this picture needs a whole barrel of salt.
 *** "Bible Videos" from the Latter Day Saints file.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

38 - John Baptised in a River

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." And the same John had his clothing of camel's hair and a leather girdle about his loins. And his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea went out to him, and all the region round about Jordan. And they were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. Mat .3:1-6 

Baptism: is it the biggest point of contention in the Church?

The Jewish nation was expecting the Messiah; their hope was that the Messiah would set them free from Roman suppression. However, the plans for the Messiah were much greater than assuring freedom for one nation.  This was His Father's plan: Jehovah has laid on Him, Christ, the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6  We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:8.

When the people came to be baptised by John they saw an unusual man, so far above the ordinary that all men mused in their hearts concerning John, lest perhaps he was the Christ. Luke 3:15.  John denied that he was the Messiah, he said, There is One coming after me who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down to loosen. Mark 1:7.

If John would have been the ordinary, self-seeking, person he might have thrown in this interesting tidbit, however, the Messiah and I are second cousins.  That would have elevated him even more in the eyes of the populace.

About the Messiah, John said, I indeed have baptized you with water, which is the symbol of the real baptism. Mark 1:8.  He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Where did John Baptise

John came baptizing in the wilderness. Mark 1:4  

And he came into all the country around Jordan. Luke 3:3

they were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. Mat 3:6

John was also baptizing in (the river) Enon near Salim.  John 3:23.

It sounds as if John was a wandering preacher who went from one location to another.

The importance of baptism

Baptism in the Christian church has been the source of a lot of heated debate.  Anything I write about it could, of course, be debated and proven wrong with the Bible, by those who hold fanatical views of baptism.

Here is an example of what I mean:
1. This baptism is not to be rested in; it is only an emblem of that which you must receive from him (Christ). Clarke

2. we all have to be immersed in the name of Y’shua for the forgiveness of sins. 
Focus on the kingdom, Oct. 2016.

Is baptism vital or not?  The answer you get all depends on whom you ask.

The method of baptism 

1. Some baptise by sprinkling water on the person
2. Some by pouring water on a person
3. Some by completely immersing a person in water by bending them forward
4. Some immerse by aiding the adherent to lean backwards and dunking them under water.
                                                                                                                                    A common consensus is that all of the instances of baptism recorded 
in the Acts of the Apostles suggests the idea that it was by dipping the person baptized, i.e. by immersion.  Easton Bible Dictionary.  For those who insist on baptism by immersion, this statement sounds like a valid argument.  However, there are a few cases recorded in the New Testament which really causes one to doubt that dictionary's conclusion. 

1. John was also baptizing in Enon near Salim, because there was much water there. John 3:23.  Much water indicates deep water suitable for immersion.  But, notice the difference in a different translation.  

John was also baptizing in Aenon, near Salim, for many waters were there. John 3:23 LITV.   "many waters" indicates many streams.  If a small river like the Aenon is divided into many streams forming a delta, it is likely that none of the streams will be very deep.  There is no proof, as to the method of baptism, either way, from this argument.

2. In Acts 16 the story is told of the jailer who was baptised by Paul; And he was baptized, he and all his, immediately. Acts 16:33.   Was there a river close to the jailhouse?  Was there a swimming pool?  I feel confident that the jailhouse did not have a baptismal tank.  Because we do not know the answer to these questions we cannot say with certainty that the jailer was immersed.  

Those who insist on infant baptism say that everyone in the jailer's family, including children, was baptised.  We do not even know if the jailer had any young children.  So this argument does not sway the jury in either direction.

Baptise, (in Greek Baptismos) is held by some scholars to mean "to dip, immerse".  But this meaning is held by others to be not the most exact or common, but rather a meaning that is secondary or derived.  By the latter it is claimed that all that the term necessarily implies is that the element employed in baptism is in close contact with the person." Unger's Bible dictionary.

To sum up:

1.  The depth of the River Aenon has not been proven to be deep enough for baptism by immersion.
2.  The age of the Jailer's children is not given therefore that argument cannot be used for or against baptising children or infants.
3.  The origin and meaning of the word "baptism" are not clear enough to force the idea that baptism must be by immersion.
4.  Since baptism is a representation of a person's death to the carnal lifestyle and the new life in Christ, baptism by immersion, seems to be the best picture available. 

The age of the adherent

1. The Roman Catholic and many Protestant churches believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, therefore they believe that infants should be baptised as soon as possible.  Some believe that if they are not baptised before they die they have no chance at eternal bliss.  

2. Some believe that baptism is necessary before marriage, so it is normal for those churches to baptise teenagers.  This can degenerate into a mere formality done for those who hope to get married soon.

3. The majority of evangelical churches believe that baptism should happen only after a person has accepted Christ as their Saviour.  So this can be at any age that a person can understand the implications of being a Christian.  Even though it is a ritual, and usually quite formal, it is expected that the one getting baptised is doing it to show all in attendance that he/she is serious about following the teachings of Jesus.

The Formula for Baptism

Christ commanded Christian leaders to baptise Christ's followers.  Our Bible says to use this formula, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 28:19.

Here again, we have a problem created by the Catholic Church.  About this, a former pope of the church (2005-2013) said:

"The basic form of our (Matthew 28:19 Trinitarian) profession of faith took shape during the course of the second and third centuries in connection with the ceremony of baptism.
So far as its place of origin is concerned, the text (Matthew 28:19) came from the city of Rome.
The Trinity baptism and text of Matthew 28:19 therefore did not originate from the original Church that started in Jerusalem around 33 A.D. It was rather, as the evidence proves, a later invention of Roman Catholicism completely fabricated.
Very few know about these historical facts.”

From the blog; "Probation is about to close"

So, since the Bible does not recognize the Trinity, Christians should not be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Some, with very good reason, suggest it should be "in the name of Jesus Christ".  Note: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Act 2:38  

In this post we sort of lost John the Baptist in the wilderness, but we will find him again in the next post.

Friday, April 7, 2017

37 - The Locust Eating Preacher


The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And all the land of Judea, and those of Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a leather girdle about his loin. And he ate locusts and wild honey. And he proclaimed, saying, There is One coming after me who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down to loosen. I indeed have baptized you in water, but He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Mk. 1:3-8

Here is a brief outline of the story of John the baptist:  

After Matthew had explained that Joseph and his family had fled to Egypt and later returned to the hill country of Judea, he moves on to the topic of the ministry of John the Baptist.  In this part of the story, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are very similar.  

Mark introduces his biography with this story and he is much more concise than either of the other two. 

The Setting 

In similar words, all three Gospel writers tell us that the coming of John the Baptist was foretold in the Old Testament: it is written in the book of the Words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight."Luke 3:4 

That prophecy was fulfilled and Matthew wrote, In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea. Mat 3:1-2

Matthew and Mark describe his austere lifestyle as to food and dress. And the same John had his clothing of camel's hair and a leather girdle about his loins. And his food was locusts and wild honey. Mat 3:4. There are a variety of locusts, but about locusts Smiths Bible dictionary states, The common brown locust is about three inches in length, and the general form is that of a grasshopper. ... Locusts have been used as food from the earliest times. ... some dried their locusts in the sun and ate them with milk. The more common method, however, was to pull off the legs and wings and roast them in an iron dish. Then they were  thrown into a bag, and eaten like parched corn, each one taking a handful, when he chose."

Only Matthew and Mark tell us who his audience was; Then Jerusalem and all Judea went out to him, and all the region round about Jordan. Mat 3:5

John's message and method: 

1. After the people confessed their sins he baptized them. And they were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. Mat 3:6.

2. who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Mat 3:7, Luke 3:7. It is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment. Heb. 9:27

3. Therefore bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. Luke 3:8.  Live a life that matches the confession of sin you just made.  Empty words have no meaning. 

4. do not think to say within yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. Mat 3:9.  Don't claim your religious background as a passport to heaven.  It is your faith and your lifestyle that will decide where you will spend eternity, not the lifestyle of your forebears or your church's teachings.

5. And now also, the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. Mat 3:10.  What makes you think that you have forever to repent and ask Jehovah for forgiveness. Remember this: now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Luke 3:9
The hearers are all ears and they ask, You tell us to live a new lifestyle, but what exactly does that look like?  The Baptist answers:
    He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. And he who has food, let him do likewise. Luke 3:11
About Christ, John said, whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor.  In Christ's day after all the old grain had been sold or eaten the owner of the granary would clean the leftover chaff out the granary by wafting it out with a fan.  Not an electric fan. After that was done he would gather the wheat into His storehouse.

But He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire; after the wheat is safe in the granary the chaff is disposed of by burning.  Luke 3:17.   This phrase by John has often been used to mean that Christ will send all non-born again people to "hell".

Notice, though, that this phrase says nothing about people and it probably refers to the evil deeds (the chaff) done by a person as opposed to the good deeds which are safe in the granary to be reckoned with on the day of judgment.

Herod's involvement

But Herod the tetrarch (governor of a Roman province) was (reproved by him (John the Baptist) on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife), (Herod had an adulterous affair with his brother's wife and John said to him, It is not lawful for you to have her. Mat 14:4) and for all the evils which Herod had done added still this above all, that he even shut John up in prison. Luke 3:19-20.

At this point, we must skip to Matthew 14, to flesh out this story.

And when he (Herod) desired to put him (John) to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. Mat 14:5
                                                    But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. So he promised with an oath to give her whatever she would ask. 

And she, being instructed before by her mother, said, Give me John the Baptist's head here on a platter. 

And the king was sorry. But for the oath's sake, and those reclining with him, he commanded it to be given. And he sent and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl. And she brought it to her mother. 

And his disciples came and took up the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. Mat 14:6-12.  Christ's second cousin had just been killed by the king.  Christ knew that His message was very similar to that of John.  I wonder how this turn of events made Christ feel.
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