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Archive for March 2019

Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus

Part 25

 We know Jesus spoke to and interacted with large crowds. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and the feeding of large crowds (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15) are just two of examples. We also have records of his encounters with individuals and their reactions. People who we talk to about Jesus, often have three reactions: rejection (either in sorrow or anger); leave with more to think about it; and acceptance. We are going to look at two encounters that we find in the Gospels, what Jesus had to say to them and their subsequent reactions.

Rich young ruler

As Jesus started on his way; a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.'" "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy." Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:17-22).


This story is in all three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Luke describes him as a wealthy ruler (Luke 18:18-27). Matthew describes him as a young man (Matthew 19:16-26). In Mark’s account, he is simply a man (Mark 10:17-22). Put altogether that makes him a rich young ruler. He runs up to Jesus and falls on his knees before Him. He wants eternal life, wants it now and so asks Jesus about it. When he calls Jesus a good teacher, Jesus responds “No one is good—except God alone.”

Now Jesus could have been correcting the young man, but more likely Jesus was asking: “Do you know what you are saying and how close to the truth about me you are?” This young man had fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus (Mark 10:19).

However, when Jesus said to the young ruler, that to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, the man left disconsolate. That was a step too far for the rich young ruler. He wanted his riches and eternal life but Jesus said he couldn’t have both. He remains, as far as we know, the only person who left Jesus’ presence sorrowful, and that due to putting his trust in his riches and wealth alone. Now riches are not necessarily wrong, but they do make trusting fully in God very difficult (Mark 10:23).

Nicodemus

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. (John 3:1-3)


Nicodemus wants to know more about Jesus and investigate Him personally, instead of merely following many the other Jewish leaders. What do we know about Nicodemus?

  • From other sources, we know he may well have been from a family of wealthy landowners
  • He protested Jesus’ condemnation without a trial (John 7:50-52).
  • Took gifts to anoint Jesus’ body (John 19:39-40).
  • He was a member of the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin and a leading teacher and learned scholar of the Scriptures


Nicodemus was probably one of the many looking for a kingdom of God based around a political Messiah; hence him admitting that due to his miraculous signs, Jesus must have been from God. They wanted a Messiah who was a political leader and somebody who would lead Israel once again to be a shining light for the whole world to come to Jerusalem and worship the one true living God. However, Jesus corrects Nicodemus and says that it is not through a new Israel that God’s kingdom will be seen, but by being “born again”. Three times in this conversation, Jesus repeats about being “born again”. Jesus seemed astonished that this noted Jewish teacher didn’t already know what he was talking about, being as Nicodemus was a highly educated and learned teacher.


What does “born again” mean?

  • It is not a physical rebirth and nor is it merely a turning over a new leaf.
  • It is not baptism because Jesus has not instituted baptism yet.
  • It is the new covenant; which Nicodemus should have known about it (Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36). It is being born with water and spirit – cleansed of sin and indwelt with the Holy Spirit
  • It is being born from above, which is looking to the one who has come down from heaven. For the phrase “born again” can also be translated “born from above”.
  • Bing born again, involves looking to Jesus and trusting in Him, just as the ancient Israelites were saved by looking at the bronze snake (Numbers 21:8).
  • Being born again is on an individual basis just as physical birth is. Nobody knows the date and time of their own birth unless they are told by somebody.

Here we have two different reactions to Jesus: The rich young ruler who left full of sorrow; the Jewish leader who left with more to think about regarding this Jesus. In each encounter, Jesus is remarkably comfortable with both people.

We see there is no barrier which Jesus is afraid to cross to meet people and show them the love of God. Jesus loved the rich young ruler (Mark 10:21). The love of Jesus Christ surrounded those he met, just as his love surrounds all people today. His message of salvation, through Him alone, is for everybody of all time.

 

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Hebrews 11:23-28 - One like Moses

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.


Moses said that, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God .... And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18: 15, 18, 19)
On the basis of that saying there was a common expectation of a great prophet - like Moses.
Jesus was not very much like Moses! One of the defining factors about Moses was the way he was able to talk to the Pharaoh of Egypt because, in the amazing providence of God, he had been brought up as a prince of Egypt. The average, ordinary Jewish slave would have had no chance of securing an audience with the Emperor and, even if he had, would not have known what to say. The Jewish nation, the Israelites, looked back to those days as the founding events of their nation. Our writer says he preferred to suffer for the sake of Christ. Of course, he did not know who the Christ = Messiah would be. Instead he will have had a vision of an eventual Kingdom of God. That came with Jesus.

Mentions of the Passover and the sprinkled blood are interesting. Jesus chose to bring his ministry to its climax at the feast of Passover, not the Day of Atonement. He was setting his ministry firmly into a historical perspective, not one of a more doctrinal nature. It is yet another reminder that we are on a journey, a Way, as we seek to follow him. We too are bound for a promised land. We are to be careful not to ‘harden our hearts’ as they did, and suffered by so doing.

When we use the word ‘follow’ in relation to us and Jesus, we are implying that we will be on a journey. It is not the sort of ‘following’ that is implied in talking about following a sports team, which is a purely passive occupation. No, we are to up and go wherever he wants us to go. There is no greater or more exciting prospect in this life for any but to follow the Lord of Glory - wherever he may take us.

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Partakers Friday Prayers

29 March 2019

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!

A prayer of Augustine


Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
that I love but what is holy.

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy.

Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
that I always may be holy.

Amen.

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Pulp Theology 04

PulpTheology Book

HAHA - Heroes And Heretics Abound

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I know what you are probably thinking! History is boring! Was I right? I have heard it a million times! I think history can be fascinating, particularly Church history. Why do I think that? Because how can anything with heroes and heretics be boring? More than that, the story of the Christian Church is your story! Yes! You, dear reader! Your story, regardless of where you are from and who you are. Your story, regardless of your belief or non-belief. Perhaps you know very little of it. No worries! This book is written with you in mind.

Before Jesus Christ ascended back to heaven, he commanded his 11 followers to go and tell others about Him and His work. They did, and we stand here today as a product of their obedience. But how did the Church get here today? Together we explore her birth, growth and development. Development to the point where today, she is worldwide and has at least 2 billion people who identify as a Christian, of one kind or another. All the while, striving to avoid the mistakes and embrace the joys of her history.

We also interact with some people of today, who tell about their relationship with the Church. Finally, we also interact with some of the great minds of Church history, looking at some of the prayers of the Church. As the Church of today and tomorrow, we can all learn something from this exciting story. Come on in!

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Watch Now:

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Peace

The world we live in, wants peace! Particularly at Christmas! The world is unified around the concept of peace! However, the peace the world wants requires the manipulation of circumstances. God's peace, and peace with God, however, comes regardless of circumstances. We look in this video at the following things!

  • How can we define true Peace?
  • Look at a short history of Peace!
  • Look at peace with God, other people and with ourselves!
  • How do we maintain peace within?

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Psalm Tuesday - Psalm 37

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Psalm 37

37:1 Don't fret because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness.
37:2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither like the green herb.
37:3 Trust in Yahweh, and do good. Dwell in the land, and enjoy safe pasture.
37:4 Also delight yourself in Yahweh, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
37:5 Commit your way to Yahweh. Trust also in him, and he will do this:
37:6 he will make your righteousness go forth as the light, and your justice as the noon day sun.
37:7 Rest in Yahweh, and wait patiently for him. Don't fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who makes wicked plots happen.
37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Don't fret, it leads only to evildoing.

37:9 For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for Yahweh shall inherit the land.
37:10 For yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more.
Yes, though you look for his place, he isn't there.
37:11 But the humble shall inherit the land, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
37:12 The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth.
37:13 The Lord will laugh at him, for he sees that his day is coming.
37:14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, to kill those who are upright in the way.
37:15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart. Their bows shall be broken.
37:16 Better is a little that the righteous has, than the abundance of many wicked.

37:17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but Yahweh upholds the righteous.
37:18 Yahweh knows the days of the perfect. Their inheritance shall be forever.
37:19 They shall not be disappointed in the time of evil. In the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
37:20 But the wicked shall perish. The enemies of Yahweh shall be like the beauty of the fields. They will vanish- vanish like smoke.
37:21 The wicked borrow, and don't pay back, but the righteous give generously.
37:22 For such as are blessed by him shall inherit the land. Those who are cursed by him shall be cut off.
37:23 A man's goings are established by Yahweh. He delights in his way.
37:24 Though he stumble, he shall not fall, for Yahweh holds him up with his hand.

37:25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging for bread.
37:26 All day long he deals graciously, and lends. His seed is blessed.
37:27 Depart from evil, and do good. Live securely forever.
37:28 For Yahweh loves justice, and doesn't forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
37:29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and live in it forever.
37:30 The mouth of the righteous talks of wisdom. His tongue speaks justice.
37:31 The law of his God is in his heart. None of his steps shall slide.
37:32 The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to kill him.

37:33 Yahweh will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
37:34 Wait for Yahweh, and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land. When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
37:35 I have seen the wicked in great power, spreading himself like a green tree in its native soil.
37:36 But he passed away, and behold, he was not. Yes, I sought him, but he could not be found.
37:37 Mark the perfect man, and see the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.
37:38 As for transgressors, they shall be destroyed together. The future of the wicked shall be cut off.
37:39 But the salvation of the righteous is from Yahweh. He is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
37:40 Yahweh helps them, and rescues them. He rescues them from the wicked, and saves them, Because they have taken refuge in him.

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