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The Gifts of Christmas

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Christmas is hard work and expensive! We celebrate Christmas because it is tradition and part of our culture. God doesn’t command it, nor do we earn brownie points for doing so. Is it really worth the trouble?

For those of us who are Christ followers, if we are going to spend the effort and money, it seems that we should do so with purpose and not just follow tradition. And, it’s more fun when we celebrate because of gratitude as we remember God’s gifts to us embodied in our Christmas celebrations.

Several years ago, I hosted a neighborhood Christmas luncheon. When I got out my decorations, I asked myself, “What message do I want to give to the women as they come into my home?” Decorating is work; I wanted it to be meaningful! Over the years, I had collected a bunch of odds and ends stuff—mostly things given to me by my mom, our kids, or found in the attics of houses we bought. Recalling a book I read years ago called The Gifts of Christmas by Rachel Hartman, I remembered the author had taken the parts of the biblical Christmas story and considered them to be gifts (music, wonder, love…). Then, she related each gift to the traditions we have for celebrating Christmas. Her book had seven gifts—too many for me to use! So, I took three of the gifts—love, life, and joy— and put my decorations in groups matching the gift along with a descriptive card.

Love

The first gift is that of love—God’s love. Christmas is the celebration of God making good on a promise He had made hundreds of years earlier that a child would be born who would be both God and man. God delivered on that promise when Jesus was born. We don’t know the date. The early Christians celebrated the resurrection, not the birth of Jesus. But by the 4th century, they celebrated Jesus’ birth when the Romans were busy with their own feasts—Dec. 25 in the West, Jan. 6 in the East. (The 12 days of Christmas connect the two dates.)

God made a promise and kept it. Love keeps promises. It was God’s idea to come to earth and live as a man—Jesus—fully man yet fully God. Now, why would God do that? Was it for His sake? No. It was for ours. It was God’s gift of LOVE to us.

“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16).

Because God lived as a man (Jesus), He could pay the penalty of death that He as God had imposed on man because of sin. His death on the cross opens the way for us to have a relationship of LOVE with God. Titus 3:3-7 describes this well.

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)

We can have confidence that He understands what we’re feeling and experiencing as humans on earth. Because He’s has been here, He knows what it’s like to be tired, hungry, sad, surrounded by cranky people, and having someone dependent on you day and night. He showed His LOVE to women, so we know He LOVES us as women. God’s LOVE gift is expressed in nativity scenes, red bows, giving gifts, and serving one another.

Life

The second gift is one of LIFE—real life that God promises to those who love Him. This same Jesus who died to pay the penalty for our sins so we could be totally forgiven of them also rose again from the dead—alive with a new body. And, he’s in a human body still in heaven. Do you think of Him that way? God offers this same LIFE to us who believe in Him.

“…so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).”

This new LIFE richly fills the longing in our hearts for a relationship with God our Creator. He adopts us as His children.

But to all who have received him -- those who believe in his name -- he has given the right to become God’s children -- children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God. (John 1:12-13)

We get to call Him Father, even Daddy. This gift of LIFE that never ends is represented in evergreen trees, wreaths, lights, and candles. I love evergreen wreaths with red bows and white lights at Christmas—LIFE!

Joy

The third gift is JOY expressed in celebration. The angels announced the good news of Jesus’ birth with JOYFUL praise. The shepherds responded by going to investigate for themselves, seeing the truth of the message and telling others.

Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!” When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord has made known to us.” So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger. When they saw him, they related what they had been told about this child, (Luke 2:13-17)

JOY is a sense of well-being apart from circumstances. The world seeks happiness and is devastated when things go wrong. God’s gift of JOY transcends such “happenings.” JOY is the infallible sign of the presence of God. It comes to us through our relationship with Him.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)

When we experience His gifts of love and life, joy follows. Traditions expressing joy are music, angels, and bright colors.

Conclusion

Maybe dwelling on these 3 gifts of Christmas will make your celebration more meaningful and give more purpose to your decorations. What message do you want to convey to those in your household or to those who come to visit you? Having this focus in my decorating has made a huge difference for me. May God bless your Christmas celebration this year.

Related Topics: Christian Home, Christmas, Evangelism, Women's Articles

As For Me

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Jane Austen once wrote, “I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle.”1 Far too often people placate themselves in outright selfishness—even at times out of pure greed. We have all noted this in many forms of social behavior, such as evidenced in political leaders, shoppers, drivers, or various public figures. For many, personal desire, opinion, or viewpoint is all that matters. For others, however, selflessness is quite characteristic such as in performing charitable deeds or in a desire to help or encourage others. Of vital importance is a spiritual concern not only for one’s own relation to God but for all people. As Haggai expressed it, “A self-centered life is totally empty, while an emptied life allows room for God.”2 Even more importantly, the need to put God first in one’s personal life so as to trust him above all, and in and through all circumstances is crucial.

In this study we shall note cases where the emphatic anticipatory phrase, “As for me” occurs followed by something other than a verb. Where it is followed by a verb, this phrase tends to underscore strongly the action involved. In other constructions it emphasizes a given person’s reaction, resolve, or attitude in accordance with the situation in which he finds himself. The latter shall be our focus of attention, with special attention to the biblical book of Psalms. The expression “As for me” may occur in most any context, such as in the psalmist’s declaration of his personal integrity (Ps. 26:11).We shall note two distinct yet at times overlapping situations, followed by a special study of Psalm 73. A summary and applications will close the study.

The Psalmist’s Need for Deliverance

In several passages, a psalmist cries out to the Lord in a time of dire need, whether due to trouble or even outright oppression (e.g., Ps. 70:5). Thus in Psalm 35 David points out to the Lord his grounds for seeking divine intervention in the midst of his troubles at the hands of others. Indeed, rather than persecuting others, he had a deep empathy and concern for them—yes, even those who were now maliciously and unjustly attacking him (Ps. 35:11-18). This was particularly true when they were ill. As Leupold observes, “Their sickness grieved him to such an extent that in deep- feeling for them he even wore sackcloth. He even fasted in his prayers for them as did Bible men in days of old in many instances. He would at such times go about as though his closest of kin, friend, brother, or mother had been sick.”3

In Psalm 69 the psalmist shares with God the depth of his troubles. He complains that he has so many enemies who hate him “without cause” (v. 4; cf. Ps. 119:81-88).4 Indeed, he is surrounded by them with their ridicule and insults. (vv. 7-12, 19-21). Therefore, he cries out,

O LORD, may you hear my prayer

and be favorably disposed to me.

O God, because of your great loyal love,

answer me with your faithful deliverance! (v. 13)

As in verses 1-3, he likens his situation to one who is about to be overwhelmed in surging waters (vv. 14-15), and pleads for God’s compassion and intervention on his behalf (vv. 16-18). His plaintiff cry is distinctively felt in verse 29:

But as for me—poor and in pain—

let your salvation protect me, God.

His great desire is not only to be rescued from his oppression and troubles, but to be able to praise the Lord before all, even those who had insulted him (vv. 30-32). Even more, as Futato expresses it, “As he was disgraced publicly, so he will praise God publicly. As God has been insulted by the opposition, so he will be praised by the opposed. Others, too, will join in the praise.”5

In a still later Psalm, the psalmist is again seen pleading for relief from all his troubles (Ps. 88:1-9). His plight is so severe that even his closest friends have nothing to do with him (vv. 14-18). Indeed, he feels lonely and abandoned by all, even the Lord himself (v. 14). His despair, however, does not keep him from seeking the Lord each morning. Accordingly, he reminds the Lord that he has come daily to cast his cares before him:

As for me, I cry out to you, O Lord;

in the morning my prayer confronts you. (v. 13)

The psalmist’s feeling of abandonment stands in vivid contrast with the sentiment of the hymn writer:

On life’s pathway I am never lonely,

my Lord is with me, my Lord divine;

ever present guide, I trust him only,

no longer lonely, for He is mine.

No longer lonely, no longer lonely,

for Jesus is the friend of friends to me.6

In a graphic lament the author of Psalm 102 complains bitterly about his troubles, which have so greatly impaired him physically and emotionally (vv. 1-11; cf. Ps. 109:1-5, 22-26). So burdensome is his situation that his physical impairments have taken on a grotesque appearance. To add to his woes, his enemies taunt, mock and curse him (v. 8). As Yan Gemeren points out, “In the tension of his being and not-being and of meaning and meaninglessness, the psalmist despairs. He is full of feverish anxiety…and is alone in his suffering.”7 So miserable is his condition that he feels certain that his life is nearly over :

My days are coming to an end,

and (MT. “As for me”) I am withered like grass (v. 11)

Accordingly, he cries out to the Lord as his only source of help:

O LORD, hear my prayer!

Pay attention my cry for help!

Do not ignore me in my time of trouble!

Listen to me!

When I call out to you, quickly answer me! (vv. 1-2)

The psalmist’s plea is reminiscent of the words of the hymn writer:

Help me then in ev’ry tribulation

so to trust your promises, O Lord,

that I lose not faith’s sweet consolation

offered me within your holy Word.

Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,

e’er to take, as from a father’s hand,

one by one, the days, the moments fleeting,

till I reach the promised land.8

The Psalmist’s Resolve to Trust God

In Psalm 41 David pleads for relief from his sickness, which he feels he may have brought on himself by sins he had unwittingly committed

As for me, I said:

“O LORD, have mercy on me!

Heal me. for I have sinned against you!” (v. 4)

He prays also for relief from the terrific oppression he is receiving from those around him (vv. 5-8). So severe is his condition that,

even my close friend whom I trusted,

he who shared meals with me, has turned against me. (v. 9)

In light of all of this he asks the Lord not only for healing but for the opportunity to set the record straight with his adversaries (vv. 10-11).

Although at first sight it might appear that David is being vindictive and desirous of revenge, such is not the case. Rather, at the outset he expresses his confidence in the Lord’s known actions as a just, holy, and compassionate God (vv. 1-3; cf. Ps 109:28). Therefore, in spite of his sickness and troubles, it is apparent that he has resolved in his heart to trust the Lord to act in the same way in his situation. Therefore, he goes on to say,

As for me, you uphold me because of my integrity;

you allow me permanent access to your presence. (v. 12)

David closes his thought here by affirming that the Lord is worthy and deserving of all praise both now and forever (v. 13; NET, “We agree! We agree!”; MT, “Amen and amen”).

David’s expressed condition is reminiscent of Psalm 38 (see also, Psalm 116). As in Psalm 41, here David is fearful that his poor health may have been caused by some unknown unintentional sin that he has committed (cf. Ps 38:3, 10, 18 with Ps. 41:4). Likewise, he is tormented by oppression not only from those who dislike him, but even by his close friends (vv. 11-12; cf. Ps. 41:5-9). In his depressed state he feels despised by all and totally alone;

But I (MT, “As for me”) am like a deaf man—I hear nothing;

I am like a mute who cannot speak.

I am like a man who cannot hear

and is incapable of arguing his defense. (vv. 13-14)

In his helpless and discouraged condition he cries out to the Lord for the help that only the Lord can grant (v. 15). He hopes that it will be a quick deliverance lest he stumble further in his walk before the Lord (vv. 16-18). Moreover, as in Psalm 41 David prays for relief from his adversaries, whom he has helped and not harmed in any way. David’s prayer is most sincere, for in laying his needs before the Lord he emphasizes very strongly his relation to the Lord and his dependence on him. This he does in a three-fold manner: it is the LORD (Yahweh) who is “My God” (cf. Ps 31:14) and “My deliverer”; Yahweh is the one true God of the universe and all human history, and he is the one and only one who can who can deliver David from this awful state (vv. 19-22). Thus David’s impassioned plea is not only one of an urgent need of help, but also is an expression of his total reliance on the Lord for deliverance. It is for this reason that earlier David declared:

I wait for you, O LORD!

You will respond, O LORD, my God. (v. 15)

David’s resolve to trust completely in the Lord, which we have seen in Psalms 41 and 38, is in evidence in Psalm 59. Here again he prays for deliverance from adversaries whom he has not wronged (vv. 1-5). In the face of their attacks against him he feels confident in God, his source of strength and help in perilous times (vv. 6-10, 11-13). Although their attacks are relentless (vv. 14-15), he is so certain of God’s support and deliverance that he can, and avows that he will, praise the Lord in song:

As for me, I will sing about your strength;

I will praise your loyal love in the morning.

For you are my refuge

and my place of shelter when I face trouble.

You are my source of strength!

I will sing praises to you!

For God is my refuge,

the God who loves me. (vv. 16-17)

David’s determination to praise God is echoed in Psalm 75, a psalm of Asaph:

As for me, I will continually tell what you have done;

I will sing praises to the God of Jacob!

God says, “I will bring down all the power of the wicked;

the godly will be victorious.

It is also reflected in the well-known Psalm 119. Here again we see a faithful follower of the Lord and his Word pleading for deliverance from those who attack him without cause (vv. 81-86, 107). The declaration of his virtue and his affirmation of innocence are encapsulated by saying,

They have almost destroyed me here on earth,

but I (MT, “As for me”) do not reject your precepts. (v. 87)

Accordingly, he can plead with the Lord and pray expectantly for relief so that he may in assured confidence continue to adhere to God’s revealed standards.9

In the fifth Psalm, we note once more David entreating the Lord to deliver him from his foes, while punishing the wicked (vv. 1-6, 8-10). Moreover, he knows that he can plead with the Lord to care for the godly (and by implication he is included among them), confident in God’s faithfulness to do so (vv. 11-12). Unlike the ungodly, David is determined to continue his heartfelt worship of the Lord and resolves to do so:

But as for me, because of your great faithfulness,

I will enter your house;

I will bow down toward your holy temple as I worship you. (v. 7)

David’s confident trust in the Lord’s sustenance and deliverance together with his resolve to sing praises to him are underscored in Psalm 13 (cf. Ps. 138:7). Thus he declares,

But I (MT, “As for me”) trust in your faithfulness.

May I rejoice because of your deliverance!

I will sing praise to the Lord

when he vindicates me.(vv. 5-6)

Likewise, in Psalm 31 he reaffirms his trust in the God of faithfulness (v. 5). By way of contrast he adds,

I hate those who serve worthless idols,

but I (MT, “As for me”) trust in the LORD.

I will be happy and rejoice in your faithfulness,

because you notice my pain

and you are aware of how distressed I am. (vv. 6-7)

As in Psalms 38 and 41 he pours out his heart in deep despair because of his weakness and suffering (vv. 9-13). Having done so, he expresses his appreciation of God’s delivering power (v.8) and reaffirms his confident trust in the Lord:

But I (MT, “As for me”) trust in you, O LORD!

I declare, “You are my God!” (v. 14)

He goes on to say that he understands full well that his life and destiny are in God’s hands and therefore he can plead with the Lord for his deliverance (vv. 15-16).10 Indeed, it is with the realization of God’s faithfulness (cf. v. 21) that he closes his psalm by urging the Lord’s people as faithful followers to “love the LORD” (v. 23).11

A Special Case: Psalm 73

We culminate our exploration of passages in the Psalms in which the formulaic expression “As for me” is found by taking particular note of Psalm 73. The structure of Psalm 73 is readily discernible:

Introductory statement: the guiding principle (v. 1)

The psalmist’s problem (vv. 2-14)

The resolution of the problem (vv. 15-24)

The concluding statement: the applicability of the guiding principle (vv. 25-28)

The psalmist prefixes his personal observation of the world around him by informing his readers of a guiding principle for evaluating life that he had come to realize. God is truly good both to his people Israel and especially to those who live with a pure heart. Indeed, the heart theme is weaved throughout this psalm: once in verses 1, 7, 13, 21 and twice in verse 26 (although the Hebrew word for heart is not always reflected in translations). Thus the psalm emphasizes the basic source of a person’s motives: his innermost personality. The heart must come to understand and reflect the goodness of the Lord, for he is the ultimate example of goodness (cf. Pss. 52:9; 145:7).

He goes on to point out that he had personally missed this truth before he came to his senses. By way of introducing all of this he says,

As for me, my feet almost slipped,

my feet almost slid out from under me, (v. 2)

Because of his external trials, the psalmist had plunged himself internally into a depressed condition. He was like someone who walks on slippery ground. His problem was a spiritual one. Although he thought that he was living a good and proper life before the Lord, his own life was nonetheless in a state of turmoil. As he contemplated those who were proud and rich, he concluded that were faring very well despite their sinfulness. In viewing their status in life, he envied them (v. 3). He saw them as physically healthy and strong as well as free from the troubles that plague others (vv. 4-5). Indeed, they were not only proud, but conceited, arrogant, and often violent toward others. Yet they are enormously successful, live for self, and attract a large following (vv. 6-9). As Leupold observes, “ Success had made them self-assertive, proud, without regard to the rights of God and man. Indeed, a repulsive spectacle!12 Moreover, they scoff at any thought that God had any power over them; they believe that they answer only to themselves (v. 10-11). Accordingly, he says,

Take a good look! This is what the wicked are like,

those who have it so easy and get richer and richer.

I concluded, “Surely in vain I have kept my motives pure

and maintained a poor lifestyle.

I suffer all day long,

and am punished every morning.” (vv. 12-14)

Although he had come to these conclusions in accordance with his observations as to life’s unbalanced inequalities, he did nevertheless did not express them to others, troubled though he was. He did not wish to be a stumbling block to anyone else (vv. 15-16). Providentially, his misconstruing of the true state of human existence and affairs was reshaped when he at last took his problem to the Lord. Having gone to the temple and laid his conflicts before the Lord, he now “understood the destiny of the wicked” (v. 17), especially the haughty, proud rich: “In the end evil is not and never will be victorious The wicked will be severely punished.” 13. Now he sees clearly that their apparent success is merely an illusion. It was they who were in danger of being in “slippery places.” Their ruin could come at any moment. The righteous Lord will deal justly with them, so much so that they will be totally destroyed, not only in this life but forever (vv. 18-20; cf. James 5:1-6)

The psalmist has come to a point where he discerns the foolishness of his past perspective and attitude. He now understands how bitter his spirit has been. Rather than seeking God’s wisdom, he has relied on his own reactions to life’s circumstances as he saw them. He realizes further that his thoughts have been ruled by doubts and self pity. He confesses to God that what it boiled down to was,

I was ignorant and lacked insight;

I was as senseless as an animal. (v. 22)

Going through this experience, however, had enabled him at last to become aware that God had not deserted him and he could now have intimate fellowship with the Lord. Now he was aware that the Lord was his source of wisdom and strength and even held his “right hand” (vv. 23-24). 14 As Leupold remarks,

No matter what had happened, no matter what he might have passed through, “nevertheless” he was continually with God. That nearness was, however, not due to the fact that he had tenaciously clung to God but rather to the fact that God had not let him go…. Left to myself, I might even have left Thee. But with infinite patience, God clung to His weak and sometimes even wayward child (v. 23). 15

Rather than feeling worthless and bitter, he now understood that nothing could be better or worthy of more honor than being led by God. The psalmist’s experience and ultimate spiritual victory is well reflected by the hymn writer:

The King of love my Shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never;

I nothing lack if I am His and He is mine forever.

…….

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, but yet in love he sought me,

And on His shoulder gently laid, and home rejoicing brought me.16

The psalmist brings his account of his spiritual struggle to a close by reaffirming and enlarging upon his opening statement concerning how crucial the guiding principle of life has proven to be (vv. 25-28; cf. v. 1). Not only do his comments underscore the psalmist’s new convictions, but they sound a high note of confidence and trust in God, as well as praise for him. By means of a rhetorical question, which the psalmist himself answers, he declares that ultimately his hopes and allegiance belong to the Lord.

Whom do I have in heaven but you?

I desire no one but you on earth.

My flesh and my heart may grow weak,

but God always protects my heart and gives me stability. (vv. 25-26)

Therefore, he can now face with confidence in the Lord the challenges and obstacles of life. As VanGemeren remarks, “There is no one but God, his Sustainer in heaven, with whom he longingly desires to fellowship even while in the flesh; therefore he is more prepared to face his present existence with all of its problems.”17

Furthermore, the issue that troubled him so greatly is now settled. Rather than envying the person who is unfaithful to God, however rich and influential or powerful that one may be, he realizes that all who live for self rather than the Lord will perish. Eternal life and true fellowship in this life are found in the Lord alone. His final declaration is both emphatic and of special importance to all believers: “But as for me, God’s presence is all I need” (v. 28a). The Hebrew text is even more emphatic: “The nearness of God is my good” (see NET text note). He ends the psalm by affirming his now fully established conviction: God is the ultimate sovereign over all things, including the psalmist’s life and circumstances. The Lord is his refuge and shelter for whatever may come. Therefore, he highly resolves to praise him in everything, including not only his words and testimony, but doubtless in his whole manner of life (v. 28b).

Summary and Application

There are a great many of the biblical Psalms, which contain the psalmist’s plea for rescue from oppression and trouble. We have given particular attention to those in which the formulaic expression “As for me” occurs. We noted at the outset that this expression tends to emphasize rather strongly the psalmist’s reaction resolve or attitude in light of his difficult circumstances.

Certainly the psalmist had ample reason to believe that Lord is an available helper in time of need. Perhaps the greatest example that the psalmist had before him was that of God’s deliverance of his people from Egyptian oppression in the days of Moses (Exod. 12-39; cf. Exod. 3:7-10, 12; 18:4, 8-10) and from the clutches of the Egyptian forces at the Red Sea (14:1-15:21). Many other examples of God’s deliverance or rescue back in the days of Joshua and the Judges would also be familiar to the psalmists. Not to be forgotten also was God’s rescues of Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-24) and Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-23). Moreover, the Psalmist David had experienced the Lord’s delivering power on more than one occasion in his relations with King Saul (e.g., 2 Sam. 12:7) as well as from several enemies. Therefore, David could rightly praise the Lord (cf. 2 Sam. 22:18-20, 44).

From this we learn that a righteous, god-fearing and loving psalmist could anticipate and expect deliverance by his Sovereign Lord (e.g., Ps 69:9; cf. Ps. 41:12). Even when his friends shunned him, he could depend on the Lord not to abandon him. The psalmist’s confidence was shared in a more recent time by Elizabeth Howell:             

All merciful One!

When men are further, then thou art most near;

when friends pass by, my weakness to shun,

thy chariot I hear.18

So also John Newton could declare,

Though troubles assail us and dangers affright,

though friends should fail us and foes all unite,

yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,

the promise assures us, “The Lord will provide.”19

In several of these psalms in which “As for me” occurs the psalmist displays that as a true believer and follower of God, he has definitely resolved to trust in the Lord no matter what he is going through or may lie ahead (e.g., Pss. 31:14; 59:9-10, 16-17). Such a confidence in the Lord was also expressed by Oliver Wendell Holmes:

Though long the weary way we tread,

and sorrow crown each lingering year,

no path we shun, no darkness dead,

our hearts still whispering, Thou art near! 20

Many other examples of those who depended on God for deliverance, while maintaining their allegiance to him, are found in the Scriptures, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. For example, Daniel’s three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were delivered from the accusations and resulting action of their adversaries, which had caused them to be cast into a fiery furnace (Dan. 3:8-27). Likewise, an unjustly accused Daniel was rescued from the mouths of lions (Dan. 6:14-24) and the Apostle Paul was delivered from imprisonment in a jail in Philippi (Acts 16:8-49).

The greatest example, of course, comes in connection with the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Isaiah had prophesied long ago (Isa. 53:3-9) and as Simeon confirmed at Jesus’ presentation in Jerusalem (Luke 2:33-35), Jesus would later instruct his disciples with reference to those who hated and persecuted him because of his miraculous deeds: “Now they have seen the deeds and hated both me and my Father. Now this happened to fulfill the word that is written in the law, ‘They hated me without cause’” (John 15:24-25). Nevertheless, Jesus committed himself to follow the will of God the Father. Accordingly as he journeyed to Jerusalem for the last time it is reported, “He set out resolutely (Gk. ‘Set his face”; see NET note) to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51). Knowing full well what lay ahead (cf. Mt. 16:21), even in his closing hours he would commit himself for the Father’s will to be done (Mt 26:39-44). Much as Jesus his Lord and example, Paul declared,

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit warns me in town after town that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not consider life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24)

With all of this clearly in mind, the psalmist’s troublesome experience as reported in Psalm 73 can be all the more meaningful for today’s believers. Like the psalmist, Christians can all too easily be guilty of improper thinking. As Peale warned, “You cannot think clear-headedly while seething with a sense of outrage hating other people or life or even God for some experience that has befallen you.”21 Yes, as did the psalmist, some Christian believers could conclude that God seems to ignore the godless. For they do not fear or respect the Lord but go on in their wicked lifestyles, even at times oppressing their fellow man (cf. Ps 10:1-11). Such thinking is wrong-headed, for to envy the godless rich is to mistake their coming judgment (cf. Ps 73:12-19; James 5:1-6). Much better is it to realize that the believer has even better riches—true spiritual riches, which are of everlasting worth. Indeed,

His presence is wealth,

His grace is a treasure,

His promise is health

and joy out of measure.

His word is my rest,

His spirit my guide:

In him I am blest,

whatever betide.22

Not only are envy and greed and unjustified pride to be avoided Gal: 6:3-4; cf. Rom. 12:3) but false Christian conduct (Rom. 8:25; James 1:26). As Paul declared, “Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself” (Phil. 2:3).

Elsewhere Paul reminds believers that the road to true success in this world lies in dedication to the Lord. He tells believers that they should present “your bodies as a sacrifice--alive, holy, and pleasing to God– which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:1-2; cf. Josh 24:15). This will bring life changing results in one’s thinking (Phil. 4:9; cf. Col. 3:2-3), actions (Eph. 2:8-10; 5:15-21; cf. James 3:13) and speech. As Paul admonishes the Colossian believers, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17). In so doing we can like the psalmist (Ps. 73:15) avoid being a source of discouragement to others but rather, be a source of encouragement to them (1 Thess. 5:11). And this we can do through Christ, if we are thoroughly dedicated and committed to the Lord . As the hymn writer wrote,

May the mind of Christ my Savior

live in me from day to day,

by His love and pow’r controlling

all I do and say.23

Whatever trials a believer may be going through should never cause him to doubt the Lord’s concern and availability to help. It is as the psalmist declared long ago,

The godly cry out and the Lord hears;

he saves them from all their troubles. (Ps. 34:17; cf. Ps 145:18-19)

To be sure, “The Lord is near!” (Phil 4:5). This is a living certainty, for believers have been taken into a living, vital, spiritual union with the risen Christ (Gal. 2:20; cf. Eph 2:4), who has gained victory over all things including death. Moreover, he has also sent the Holy Spirit in order that each believer may sense God’s presence and experience his comfort and strength for any and all matters. As I have remarked elsewhere, “The reality of God’s presence should bring real joy and foster a deepened trust in the Lord’s provision for their lives. This will enable them to stand firm even in the midst of life’s testings and trials. Indeed, these experiences, when surrendered to Christ, will equip believers for a life of rewarding service for the Lord (cf. Paul’s assurance in 2 Tim. 4:6-8).”24

In a more intimate way than the psalmist, today’s believer may affirm, “As for me, the nearness of God is my good.” Therefore, as united to the living Christ may we live for him, not self. May each of us reflect Widdington’s burning desire:

Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;

Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;

Not I, but Christ, in every look and action;

Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.

O to be saved from myself, dear Lord, O to be lost in Thee,

O that it might be no more I, but Christ, that lives in me.25


1 Jane Austen, “Pride and Prejudice,” in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, ed. Justin Kaplan (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 16th ed., 1992), 387.

2 Tom Haggai, as cited in Quotable Quotations, ed. Lloyd Cory (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 344.

3 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 288.

4 Note the similar plaintiff cry of a psalmist in Psalm119:86: “I am pursued without reason. Help me!”

5 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2009) 7:232.

6 Robert Harkness, “No Longer Lonely.” One is also reminded of the words in Ludie D. Pickett’s old hymn song: “No, Never Alone”: “No, never alone, no never alone, he promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.”

7 Willem A. VanGemeren, “ Psalms,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland 13 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Rev ed., 2008) 5:750.

8 Lina Sandell Berg, “Day By Day,” translated by Andrew L. Skoong

9 A similar sentiment may be noted in Micah 7:7 “But I (MT, “AS for me”) will keep watching for the LORD; I will wait for the God who delivers me.”

10 A similar sentiment is expressed in Psalm 143 where once again David is portrayed as weakened by adversity (vv. 3-4). Here, too, David calls on God for guidance and protection (vv. 5-10), and points out his concern for God’s reputation (v. 11). He closes the psalm with an appeal to God for his faithfulness to be demonstrated in David’s situation (v. 12, see NET notes).

11 It should be noted that the psalmist’s confidence in the Lord’s faithfulness is well taken. Indeed, others have experienced similar instances of God’s faithful care and guidance. Thus Isaiah records the Lord’s own assurance that he is a God who is faithful to his promises (Isa. 59:21). Such a promise was given to Jeremiah at his call to be God’s prophet (Jer. 1:18). In both cases the familiar “As for me” occurs in the Hebrew text.

12 Leupold, Psalms, 526.

13 VanGemeren, “Psalms,” 5:564.

14 It should be noted that the image of the right hand was one that expressed assurance or dignity as well as good fellowship (cf. Ps. 139:10; Isa 41:10). See further, Richard D. Patterson and Michael E. Travers, Face to Face with God: Human Images of God in the Bible ( Richardson, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 2008), 33-51.

15 Leupold, Psalms, 530.

16 Henry W. Baker, “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.”

17 VanGemeren, “Psalms,” 5:566. See further, the NET note #29.

18 Elizabeth Lloyd Howell, “Milton’s Prayer.”

19 John Newton, “Though Troubles Assail Us.”

20 Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Hymn of trust.”

21 Norman V. Peale as cited in Quotable Quotations, ed. Lloyd Cory (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 399.

22 Patrick Brontē, “The Cottager’s Hymn.”

23 Kate B. Wilkinson, “May the Mind of Christ My Savior.”

24 Richard D. Patterson, “The Pleasure of His Presence” (Biblical Studies Press, 2010), 7.

25 Ada A. Whiddington, “Not I, but Christ.”

Related Topics: Character of God, Faith, Suffering, Trials, Persecution, Terms & Definitions, Text & Translation

Lesson 10: The Study of Future Events

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He who will not look forward must look behind ―Gaelic Proverb

Introduction

Consider a few of some of the world’s worst predictions. King George II said in 1773 that the American colonies had little stomach for revolution. An official of the White Star Line, speaking of the firm’s newly built flagship the Titanic, which launched in 1912, declared that the ship was unsinkable. In 1939 the New York Times said the problem with TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn’t have time for it. An English astronomy professor said in the early 19th century that air travel at high speed would be impossible because passengers would suffocate.1

Question one: How do we know that the Bible can predict future events? The answer is because it has a 100 percent track record of doing so. Daniel predicted Alexander the Great
(Dan 8:21). Malachi predicted Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Jeremiah predicted the 70 year captivity (Jer 25:11). Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD
(Matt 24:1-2). And the list goes on and on and on.

Question two: Why is studying about the future in biblical prophecy important? Sometimes Christians are told not to focus too much on prophetic issues because what is important is the gospel. We are told we should focus on the gospel that unites us as opposed to future events, which have not yet happened and people have differing opinions on. In response to this attitude first one must say that future events are part of the gospel. It is a major part of the good news in which Jesus is coming back, we will be in his presence, and God will complete the salvation process in us. We will receive glorified bodies and will be freed once and for all from our struggle with sin. Secondly, when one considers the amount of prophecy that is in the Bible it is apparent that it is such a major emphasis that it must be very important in God’s overall message for us. J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament for a total of 1,817. These encompass 8,352 verses out of 31,102 verses.2 Thus, over a quarter of the entire Bible is biblical prophecy. Why is it there in that quantity if it’s not that important? Third, Paul taught detailed events surrounding the second coming of Jesus in Thessalonica after planting a new church there and only being there three weeks. He thought it was a critical teaching that the church needed to be introduced to at a very early stage in its development. Lastly, God wants us to know certain events about the future so that we can live our lives today with confidence about what is to come. He gives us the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. Thus, one would have to conclude that biblical prophecy is a critical part of the core faith of Christianity.

In theological terminology, the study of future events is referred to as eschatology. This lesson will briefly survey and focus on key topics related to future events. These areas are: the rapture and great tribulation, our resurrection, the return of Jesus Christ, the millennium and future for national Israel, and future judgments including heaven and hell. Lastly, it will conclude with what not to say about the future and a primary application for us.

The Rapture and the Great Tribulation

The rapture refers to an event in the future in which believers in Jesus Christ who are alive at that time will be taken up into heaven in conjunction with the Lord’s coming without having to physically die. Those believers who had already died will rise from the dead and all those in Christ will receive immortal glorified bodies. The word rapture is from the Latin word rapturo which means to be “caught up.” All evangelicals agree that the rapture will happen but the differences evangelicals have are concerning when it happens in relationship to what is called the great tribulation and the return of Jesus’ coming to earth. There are two primary passages on the rapture both located in Paul’s writings.3

The first is in 1 Thessalonians: “For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:15-17). The second is in 1 Corinthians: “Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Cor 15:51-52).

In evangelical circles, there are three major views on when this rapture will take place. The first is called the pretribulation rapture view.4 This view is that the rapture will occur at the beginning or just before the start of the 7 year tribulation period. The second view is called the midtribulation rapture view as it sees the rapture occurring at the middle of the 7 year tribulation period. A development of the midtribulation rapture position is referred to as the prewrath rapture view, in which sometime during the second half of the seven year tribulation the rapture takes place prior to a great outpouring of God’s wrath on the earth. The last view is called the posttribulation view as it sees the rapture taking place at the end of the 7 year tribulation period.5 The postribulation rapture position along with the pretribulation rapture view are probably to be considered the most common views today. Once one understands the various framework for these basic events one can then consider some of the arguments for the differing positions for the timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation period. Since the rapture is still future and there are differing interpretations of the biblical data by good scholarly evangelicals, one has to hold one’s position with a degree of humility that reflects some of the ambiguity on this issue. If someone has a view on it, as this author does, it should be held with an open hand rather than a clenched fist.

What is the Tribulation?

The “great tribulation” or just “tribulation” in certain New Testament contexts refers to an unprecedented time of global suffering and trial in the world that immediately precedes the second coming of the Lord. Jesus stated, “For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen”
(Matt 24:21-22). If you think about all the different types of and magnitude of suffering has been experienced already in the world, this statement is a sobering description of how devastating this time period will be. In other words this devastation will be far worse than the Christian persecutions under any Roman Emperor, famines in Africa, genocides, what the U.S. saw in its own civil war in which hundreds of thousands of Americans were killed at the hands of their fellow countrymen, what the world saw in World War II with the Holocaust, massive battles and nuclear detonations, or the 2004 Asian Tsunami in which over 200,000 people were killed.6 And the list could go on. In another passage dealing with this time period John writes, “Then one of the elders asked me, “These dressed in long white robes – who are they and where have they come from?” So I said to him, “My lord, you know the answer.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb!” (Rev 7:13-14). What do we know about this “great tribulation”? It’s a period that lasts 7 years long (Dan 9:27; Rev 13:5). It is a time of God’s wrath (Rev 6:17) and involves at least three series of judgments from God toward the world that are global in nature (seals, trumpets and bowls; Rev 6-18). The suffering and conflict will be greater than has ever been seen (Matt 24:21-22). It involves a unique manifestation of evil driven by the Devil, the Antichrist and the False Prophet (2 Thess 2:3-4; Rev 12-13). People will be faced with a stark choice to repent and worship God or follow evil and receive the consequences of this choice (Rev 14:6-7).

The Postribulation Rapture View

Why do some people hold to the postribulation rapture view? Here are five basic arguments in support of it.7 First, there is only one “coming” of Jesus and both the rapture and conquest of Jesus must be the same event after the tribulation when he comes as seen in Revelation 19. Second, a resurrection is mentioned in Revelation 20 just following the second coming of Christ in glory (Rev 19), which suggests that the rapture that includes the resurrection is there at this event as well. Third, the saints (or elect) are seen in the tribulation period (e.g., Rev 7) and this must be the church. Also, the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 seems to indicate that believers go through the tribulation and these are to be identified with the church as well. It is argued that the church does not have to be removed from the tribulation to be protected from God’s wrath through it, similar to God protecting Israel during the plagues against Egypt in the book of Exodus. Fourth, the pretribulation position is a relatively recent development in part promoted by the writings of J.N. Darby8 and is not seen in the writings of the early church fathers. And lastly, the parable of the wheat and tares suggests that believers and unbelievers will be together until the “end of the age,” which would be until the second coming of Jesus (Matt 13:24).9

The Midtribulation/Prewrath Rapture View

At least three basic arguments can be given for the midtribulation rapture view. First, the rapture is said in 1 Corinthians 15 to occur at the “last trumpet.” In Revelation there are a series of seven judgments that start with the blowing of trumpets. The seventh trumpet blows in Revelation 8 which appears to be approximately half way through the tribulation period.

Second, there is an emphasis in Revelation on 3 and one/half years in the seven year judgment sequence (Rev 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5 cf. Dan 9:27). This suggests a major event at the midway point. And third, the church is delivered from the wrath of God (1 Thess 5:9) which this view argues starts at the mid-point of the tribulation (Rev 15:1). The prewrath rapture view is a development and modification of the midtribulation rapture position which sees the church going through the midpoint of the tribulation period and undergoing persecution but being taken out sometime prior to the end of the seven year period and before a great outpouring of God’s wrath.10

The Pretribulation Rapture View

The view that in this writer’s opinion provides the most coherence with the biblical data is the pretribulation rapture view. There are four basic arguments that lead in this direction. First, in the Old Testament there is Daniel’s 70 week prophecy, which relate to these end time events.11 Daniel states that these events are for or concerning “his people” (Dan 9:24). This must refer to national Israel as Daniel is an Israelite. Since the first 69 weeks primarily refer to the time when God is focusing his program/dealings with the nation of Israel, it makes sense that the 70th week would as well. The 70th week, a seven year period, is the same length of time as the tribulation period (See Rev 12:6, 14; 13:5 which refers to half of this period) and Daniel’s events fit well with a future tribulational framework (e.g., the abomination of desolation (Matt 24:15), etc). The point then is that the tribulation period is not for the church or concerning the church. Second, while the church is explicitly mentioned many times in Revelation 2-3 it is not explicitly mentioned once in chapters 4-19. It is true that believers are described in Revelation 7:9-17 but they are not described as the “church.” There is a shift in terminology which suggests a change has taken place. In Revelation 4-19 the focus appears to be on the tribes of Israel (Rev 7:1-8), which is contrasted with believers from other peoples (Rev 7:9). Third, in Revelation 3:10 it appears that the church is promised to be kept from the hour or time of trial that is coming on the whole world, not protected through it. We are not just kept from the trial but kept from the time of it. The phrase “to test those who dwell/live on the earth” (cf. Rev 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 14; 17:2, 8) describes God’s purpose for the event and refers to the unbelieving world some of whom will turn in belief to God. Lastly, the church is not appointed to God’s wrath (1 Thess 5:9). It is clear that even from right at the start of the tribulation with the seal judgments, God’s wrath is unleashed in terrifying force (e.g., Rev 6:16-17).12

Resurrection and Glorified Bodies

Our future resurrection is also a significant theme of understanding the biblical picture of the future. In essence, the resurrection refers to the replacement of our mortal physical body with an immortal physical body. Jesus promised this to those who believe in him in the clearest of terms. In John 11 after a man named Lazarus had died, Jesus gave hope to his sister. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies’” (John 11:25). The foundation of the Christian faith is the death and resurrection of Christ. Also, Jesus’ resurrection is a prelude to every Christian’s resurrection. Paul writes to the church at Corinth, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20). Jesus’ resurrection is only the first of many to come. The reference to those who have fallen asleep refers to Christians who had died. The symbolic language of sleep suggests that we will wake up again. The Christian who dies will wake up in the resurrection. But what kind of body is it? Paul describes, “It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:42-44). It is an imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual body. What a glorious future we have to look forward to! For the church, the resurrection takes place at the time of the rapture (1 Thess 4:15-17). For the Old Testament saints as well as those believers who die in the tribulation, their resurrection appears to occur at the second coming of Christ prior to the millennium (Dan 12:1-2; Rev 20:4).

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

The ascension of Jesus Christ was a prelude to his second coming. Luke records, “After he had said this, while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud hid him from their sight. As they were still staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:10-11). While Jesus had predicted his return earlier than this (See Matt 24), the ascension shows how Jesus would return and even where, on the Mount of Olives (Zech 14). In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, the entire theme of the book is centered on the return of Jesus: “Look! He is returning with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes on the earth will mourn because of him. This will certainly come to pass! Amen” (Rev 1:7). Revelation 19 describes the majestic and awesome climax of Jesus’ return as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19).

The Millennial Reign of Christ

Another major topic related to future events concerns what is termed the millennium. This word comes from the Latin term mille, which means 1000. The length of the reign of Jesus is mentioned 6 times in Revelation 20:1-6 as being 1000 years long. John writes, “Then I saw an angel descending from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a huge chain. He seized the dragon – the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan – and tied him up for a thousand years. The angel then threw him into the abyss and locked and sealed it so that he could not deceive the nations until the one thousand years were finished. (After these things he must be released for a brief period of time.) Then I saw thrones and seated on them were those who had been given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. These had not worshiped the beast or his image and had refused to receive his mark on their forehead or hand. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev 20:1-4). There are three major views related to the millennial reign of Christ. They are termed amillennial, postmillennial, and premillennial.13

The amillennial position believes that the 1000 years is a symbolic time between the first and second coming. Based on events at Jesus’ first advent14 it also holds that Satan is currently bound by the chain mentioned in Rev 20:1. This view was introduced by the early church father Origen and popularized by Augustine.15 The postmillennial position believes that the church will usher in the God’s kingdom and ideal millennial conditions. After that, Jesus will return to the earth. This view was more popular going into the early part of the 20th century but faded following the devastations of World Wars I and II and lack of the church’s ability to stem it. The premillennial position believes that the 2nd coming of Jesus occurs prior to a literal 1000 year reign on the earth.16 This view was held by early Christian interpreters (Epistle of Barnabus (about 130 A.D), Papias (60-130 A.D. Irenaeus, Tertullian, Justin Martyr (100-165).17

The main test though for the truth of any position is the biblical arguments for and against it. The premillennial position has much to commend it. First, it fits a natural chronology of the book of Revelation. In Revelation the second coming of Jesus comes first in Chapter 19 and then the millennium is described in Chapter 20. Secondly, it will take Christ himself coming in judgment to bring in His kingdom and defeat evil including Satan and his forces. This is what is pictured in Zechariah 14 and Revelation 19. A future millennial reign on the earth also fits the Old Testament passages that promise a messianic kingdom that has not yet been seen. For example, the Son of David is said to rule on David’s throne forever and the government being on his shoulders (2 Sam 7:13-14; Is 9:6). In the New Testament, Jesus told the 12 disciples that in the future they would rule over the 12 tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28). This did not happen in their lifetime.

Also, it is claimed by some that the 1000 years are merely symbolic not literal. While other numbers in Revelation may be symbolic they also have a literal referent (e.g., 12 literal tribes
(Rev 7), 7 literal historical churches (Rev 2-3) etc). The reference to 1000 years is mentioned 6 times and thus it is emphasized in Revelation 20. Whenever time references are given with a number, for example 1260 days or 42 months (Rev 12:6; 13:5), they are always taken literally in correspondence with Daniel’s seventieth week. So it would also seem to be true for 1000 years. Lastly, when John speaks of an indefinite period of time he states it that way. For example Satan is released for “a short time” in Rev 20:3 which contrasts with a definite period 1000 years.

My main objection to amillenialism though from the passage is that the purpose of the binding of Satan is not currently being fulfilled: the deceiving of the nations. During the period of binding there is no indication of any freedom for Satan in his confinement; the pit is locked and sealed. This description of Satan being bound contradicts quite a few New Testament passages. For example, Satan is a roaring lion seeking someone to devour
(1 Peter 5:8).18 Ananias’ heart was filled with Satan (Acts 5:3). Satan blinds people to the gospel
(2 Cor 4:3-4). Satan hindered Paul (1 Thess 2:18). Christians are alerted to Satan’s temptations
(1 Cor 7:5; 2 Cor 2:11; 11:14). This point strongly suggests that we are not currently in the millennial period.

Future Judgments

There are two basic types of judgments described in the Bible, one for believers and one for unbelievers. This is the basic dividing line. Jesus stated, “The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God” (John 3:18). The final judgment and condemnation of unbelievers is sometimes referred to as the great white throne judgment based on John’s description of it in Rev 20:11-15: “Then I saw a large white throne and the one who was seated on it; . . And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and another book was opened – the book of life. So the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds. . . If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:11-15). There is also a final judgment and reward for believers in Jesus Christ. This is sometimes referred to as the Bema judgment based on the Greek word related to this judgment. Paul writes, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat (Gk. Bema) of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil”
(2 Cor 5:10). This judgment is not related to whether or not a Christian gets into heaven but rather the reward that awaits when one gets there (cf. 1 Cor 3). Lastly, there is a judgment of believers (as represented as sheep) and unbelievers (as represented as goats) at the second coming of Jesus in which the sheep enter the blessing of the kingdom while the goats go off to judgment (Matt 25:31-46).

What is hell like? The Greek word for hell is Gehenna. It is a place of fire (Matt 13:30; Luke 3:17); weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 8:12); darkness (Matt 8:12); separation from God
(1 Thess 1:9) and eternal destruction (2 Thess 1:9). From these verses and others, it is clear that the Bible pictures hell as a place of conscious eternal torment.19 On the converse side, what is heaven like? First there is the continuous praising of God in his very presence by saints and angels (Rev 4-5). Paul states that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord
(1 Cor 5:8). There will be no more sin, death, crying or pain (Rev 21:4). We will be in resurrected eternal bodies. Heaven is a place to be with Jesus forever as well as with our fellow saints
(1 Thess 4:17). A new heavens and new earth will be created for us to live on and in (Rev 22). The tree of life gives healing to the nations and God’s glory lights the new creation (Rev 22:1-5).

Conclusion

In conclusion, despite the debates about the rapture and nature of the 1000 years perhaps the most important point to take away is this: When Jesus comes back he is coming back to earth and when he gets here he will defeat his enemies and rule. As Matthew states, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne”
(Matt 25:31). In this passage, notice the word “then,” which describes the future rule of Christ after the second advent.

But we must not try to make date setting predictions for Jesus’ return. Unfortunately, not all have heeded this advice as numerous people have tried their hand at date setting to the church’s detriment. One of the latest of these attempts was broadcast and publicized on family radio by Harold Camping who predicted that Jesus would come back on May 21, 2011.20 But as Jesus stated, “But as for that day and hour no one knows it – not even the angels in heaven – except the Father alone. For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man”
(Matt 24:36-39). Instead, we need to be ready and live in light of Jesus’ future coming and our accountability before him. Jesus himself gives us our basic responsibility. “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matt 15:13).

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do you think the Bible gives us prophecies about the future to think about?
  2. What are the most important things to know about the future and how can we live our life in light of them?
  3. How do rewards for the Christian motivate us to serve God?
  4. How has and does “date setting” for the Lord’s return hurt the church?
  5. How much leeway should we give our fellow Christians in different views about the future?
  6. How does and should God’s sovereignty affect how we think about our personal future and the future of the world?

1 The World’s Worst Predictions in Readers Digest, March 1991.

2 J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980).

3 Some also add John 14:1-3 to this list but this passage is not as clear as the passages in Paul.

4 One could also add the partial rapture theory in which only faithful Christians are raptured but this view is not that common today.

5 For an in depth presentation of three views on this topic see Stanley Gundry and Alan Hultberg, eds., Three View on the Rapture – Pretribulation, Prewrath, or Postribulation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).

6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Indian_Ocean_earthquake_and_tsunami.

7 These are developed in part from George Ladd. See George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956.

8 John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) is sometimes considered to be the father of modern Dispensationalism and was a major figure in England in the origin of the Plymouth Brethren Assemblies. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Darby_%28evangelist%29 (Date accessed December 2).

9 Counterarguments could be developed on these points but for now we want to try to understand some of the main arguments for postribulationalism.

10 Marvin J. Rosenthal, The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church: A New Understanding of the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming (Nashville: Nelson, 1990).

11 To start understanding the 70 week prophecy one must realize that a “week” in the Old Testament can refer to a week of days or a week of years and here it refers to a week of years. For more information on this prophecy see Alva J. McClain. Daniels Prophecy of the 70 Weeks (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969).

12 One could also add for those in a premillennial framework that postribulationism does not easily have a solution of how believers will enter the millennium in mortal bodies since at the rapture the church receives its glorified bodies.  Millennial conditions appear to start out with only the saved (Matt 25: 31-46) and also have people dying during that period though at older ages (Is 65:20). For pretribulationalism though those who get saved and also live through the tribulation events can enter the millennium with their mortal body.

13 See Robert Clouse ed., The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1977).

14 One verse that is sometimes given is Luke 10:17-18, in which Jesus states that he saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening.

15 Augustine states: “Those who, on the strength of this passage, have suspected that the first resurrection is future and bodily, have been moved, among other things, specially by the number of a thousand years, as if it were a fit thing that the saints should thus enjoy a kind of Sabbath-rest during that period, a holy leisure after the labors of the six thousand years since man was created, and was on account of his great sin dismissed from the blessedness of paradise into the woes of this mortal life.  And. this opinion would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints in that Sabbath shall be spiritual, and consequent on the presence of God; for I myself, too, once held this opinion. But, as they assert that those who then rise again shall enjoy the leisure of immoderate carnal banquets, furnished with an amount of meat and drink such as not only to shock the feeling of the temperate, but even to surpass the measure of credulity itself, such assertions can be believed only by the carnal. They who do believe them are called by the spiritual Chiliasts, which we may literally reproduce by the name Millenarians (Augustine, The City of God, 20.7).

16 See Donald Campbell and Jeffrey Townsend eds., A Case for Premillenialism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992).

17 Justin Martyr states: “But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.” Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Tryho, 80.4.

18 Someone has once well said that if Satan is currently chained with the description of Rev 20 it must be an awfully long chain.

19 For some differing views on this topic see Stanley Gundry, ed. Four Views on Hell. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

20 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold Camping (Date accessed January 9, 2013).

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Dispensational / Covenantal Theology, Eschatology (Things to Come), Heaven, Hell, Prophecy/Revelation, Revelation

Lesson 36: What Are You Eating? (John 6:48-59)

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November 24, 2013

Perhaps the Sunday before Thanksgiving is not the time to ask, “What are you eating?” The holidays are the most difficult time of the year to stick to a diet. You say, “Ask me in January!”

But that’s the question that our text implicitly wants us to consider: “What are you eating?”—not physically, but spiritually. We hear a lot these days about the importance of a healthy diet. You are what you eat and a lot of Americans eat a lot of junk food, resulting in a lot of serious, but avoidable health problems. Most of us could benefit by being careful about what we eat.

It’s the same spiritually. If you gorge yourself on the latest movies or on the fare that is offered every night on TV, and you seldom feed on the Bible, don’t be surprised if you’re not spiritually healthy. If your spiritual intake consists of a sugary devotional that you grab on the run, like a donut, and an occasional sermon when you aren’t doing something else on Sunday, don’t be surprised if you’re feeling kind of spiritually sluggish. You are what you eat.

In John 6, after He fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, Jesus repeatedly offers Himself as the spiritual food that gives eternal life and eternal satisfaction to all who eat:

John 6:27: “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”

John 6:32: “Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.’”

John 6:33: “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

John 6:35: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’”

John 6:48: “I am the bread of life.”

John 6:50: “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”

John 6:51: “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

In 6:52, the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” Rather than softening the analogy so as to be less offensive, Jesus goes on to make it more offensive! He changes the bread analogy to His flesh and, in a statement that would have grossed out just about every Jew, He added that not only did they need to eat His flesh, but also they needed to drink His blood!

John 6:53-57: “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.’”

Then He goes back to the bread analogy (John 6:58): “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

Then John mentions (6:59) that Jesus spoke these things (probably from 6:41 on) as He taught in the synagogue in Capernaum. At another time, Jesus lamented of Capernaum (Matt. 11:23-24), “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”

That’s an awful warning! It’s going to be worse for Capernaum on the day of judgment than for Sodom because the people of Capernaum did not eat Jesus’ flesh or drink His blood when it was offered freely to them. So we need to be clear about what Jesus means here and we need to take it to heart so that we don’t follow Capernaum into judgment. The lesson is:

Feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for eternal life, for temporal sustenance, and for temporal and eternal satisfaction.

This is an eternal life or death matter. In 6:50, Jesus says that if you eat of Him as the bread from heaven, you will not die. He states the converse in 6:51, if you eat of this bread, you will live forever. In 6:53, Jesus warns the Jews that unless they eat His flesh and drink His blood, they have no life in themselves. In 6:54, He again states the converse of 6:53, namely that the one who eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life. He reinforces it again in 6:57, “He who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” And in 6:58 he again contrasts Himself with the manna, which the Israelites ate and died, by saying that the one who eats this bread (probably pointing to Himself) will live forever. Thus …

1. Feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for eternal life.

Some interpret these verses to refer to partaking of communion, or the Lord’s Supper. The Roman Ca1tholic Church and the Orthodox Church also base their views of transubstantiation (the view that the communion elements actually become the body and blood of Christ) in part on John 6:53, where Jesus says that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. So before we examine what Jesus means, we need to look at what He does not mean:

A. Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood do not refer to partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

A. W. Pink (Exposition of John, on monergism.com) gives four reasons that John 6 does not refer to communion. First, communion had not yet been instituted. Jesus instituted it on the night He was betrayed. Second, Jesus was speaking here to unbelievers and communion is for believers. Third, the eating here is unto salvation or eternal life, while eating the Lord’s Supper is for those already saved and points to fellowship. Fourth, the Lord’s Supper does not produce the results that are here attributed to eating and drinking Christ. If Jesus’ words here refer to communion, then you gain eternal life by partaking, which contradicts many other Scriptures that show that salvation is through faith in Christ, not through participating in a ritual. So, as J. C. Ryle puts it (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], 3:393), “We may eat the Lord’s Supper, and yet not eat and drink Christ’s body and blood. We may eat and drink Christ’s body and blood, and yet not eat the Lord’s Supper.”

The main problem with the Catholic and Orthodox view of transubstantiation (the communion elements actually become Christ’s body and blood) is that it takes literally words that were obviously meant as symbolic. True, Jesus said (Matt. 26:26), “This is My body.” But He also said (John 10:9), “I am the door.” John 15:1, “I am the true vine.” Nobody takes those statements literally. Jesus clearly meant them symbolically.

There are other reasons for rejecting the view that the communion elements actually become the body and blood of Jesus. But it’s obvious that Jesus’ words in John 6 to these unbelieving Jews, spoken at least one year before He instituted the Lord’s Supper, have nothing to do with that ordinance. True, there are parallels that we can draw between the Lord’s Supper as later instituted and Jesus’ words here. As Colin Brown puts it (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology [Zondervan], 2:535), “John 6 is not about the Lord’s Supper; rather, the Lord’s Supper is about what is described in John 6.” By comparing parallel verses in John 6, we can determine what Jesus meant by the metaphor of eating His flesh and drinking His blood:

B. Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood refer to believing in or appropriating personally His death on the cross as your only hope for eternal life.

Note these parallels: In John 6:40, Jesus says, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” The requirement for eternal life is to behold the Son and to believe in Him. The promised results are that a believer has eternal life and Jesus will raise him up on the last day. In 6:54, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” These are exactly the same results as in 6:40, but instead of beholding the Son and believing in Him, Jesus substitutes eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Since things equal to the same thing are equal to each other, eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood refer to believing personally in His death on the cross as your only hope for eternal life.

Why would Jesus use such graphic language as eating His flesh and drinking His blood to describe believing in Him? Perhaps one reason is that He was making it clear to these Jews who wanted Him to be a political Messiah that He wasn’t that kind of Messiah. He came the first time to give His life as an offering for our sins. He will come the second time as the conquering King to rule in power and judge the nations (Rev. 19:15).

But the first time, He was the Passover Lamb of God (John 1:29), offered up so that His blood would protect those who applied it to their lives. The Jews were very familiar with eating the Passover lamb. By shocking them with this graphic language and applying it to Himself, those who were true seekers for eternal life would be jarred into realizing that their main need was not for a Messiah to give them literal bread, but for one to give them the bread of eternal life. They needed Jesus as their Passover Lamb.

In 6:51, Jesus says, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” By giving His flesh, Jesus was referring to His upcoming death. No one took His life from Him; rather, He gave it on His own initiative (John 10:18). Also, the bread analogy pictures death. As Jesus says (John 12:24), “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” To make bread, the grain of wheat had to die. Then, the fruit of the grain had to be plucked, crushed, and made into flour before it was baked into bread. Even so, Jesus had to die in order to be the bread that gives eternal life to those who eat it in faith. Pink suggests that “eating” looks back to Adam and Eve. Their eating the forbidden fruit plunged the human race into sin and judgment. Now, eating Christ, the “tree of life,” liberates us from the curse that came on us with Adam’s fall.

Perhaps another reason that Jesus uses the graphic language, especially the part about drinking His blood, is that it puts the offense of the cross in full view. Drinking or eating blood was highly offensive to a Jew (Gen. 9:4; Lev. 7:26-27). But when they start arguing among themselves about how “this man” (probably a derogatory term) can give them His flesh to eat (John 6:52), which was offensive enough, Jesus doesn’t explain it in less offensive terms. Rather, it’s like He pokes them in the eye by adding to eating His flesh the gross picture of drinking His blood!

But the Bible is clear (Heb. 9:22), “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Have you ever thought about how bloody the Jewish religion was, with the slaughter of bulls and goats and rams? We got a little glimpse of that when we visited our daughter and her family in a Muslim area of Central Asia, where they were slaughtering sheep on the sidewalk as we walked by. It isn’t pretty! But to be the complete and final sacrifice for our sin, Jesus’ blood had to be shed. If Jesus is just your moral example, but not your sacrificial Lamb, then He is not your Savior from sin.

So, to be clear: Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood refer to believing in and personally appropriating His death on the cross as your only hope for eternal life. Thus,

C. Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood are how you gain eternal life.

This is not just a matter of how to have a happier life. It’s a matter of eternal life or eternal death. In 6:49-51, Jesus contrasts the manna, which only fed the people physically for a while and then they died with Himself as the living bread that came down out of heaven to give eternal life to people through His flesh. Religious rituals cannot not bring eternal life to anyone. Apart from Jesus’ sacrificial death, He cannot be the bread that gives eternal life to us. So to gain eternal life, you must eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood, which primarily means, to believe in Him personally.

But let’s think about the eating and drinking analogy further so that we understand what saving faith means (Pink develops some of these points).

First, eating is a necessary response to a felt need. You eat when you feel hungry and you drink when you feel thirsty. If you go long enough without eating or drinking, you will die. But, the world feeds us with all sorts of things that mask our true hunger and thirst. It feeds us with money and possessions and sex under the illusion that these will satisfy us, but those things get left behind at death. Sometimes the world deceives us with legitimately good things, like family and friends, to make us feel full and happy. But the best family and friends will not do us any good when we stand before God at the judgment. Those are not true food. Jesus says (6:55), “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.” The Holy Spirit has to impress on us the vanity of life apart from God and convict us of our true guilt before God so that we will hunger and thirst for the eternal life that only Jesus can give.

Second, eating and drinking only benefit you when you actually eat and drink. It doesn’t do you any good to smell a good meal or to analyze it chemically or to write flowery poems about how wonderful it is. You’ve got to eat it. Also, it must be personal. I can’t eat it for you. Your parents can’t eat it for you. You must eat your own food. In the same way, you have to appropriate Christ for yourself by faith. You must not only believe that He is the Savior. You must believe that He is your Savior. You must trust in His death on the cross as the penalty for your sins. You must receive or appropriate Him into your innermost being, just like you eat food and drink water to live. Feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for eternal life.

2. Feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for temporal sustenance.

In 6:56, Jesus states, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” Here Jesus mentions the intimate union that takes place between Him and the one who feeds on him by faith. (He will explain this further to the disciples in 15:1-11.) The Greek verb for “eats” is a present participle, looking at the ongoing, close relationship between Jesus and the one who feeds on Him. When you eat food, it literally becomes a part of you. When you feed on Christ by faith, you become more like Him and you enjoy a close relationship with Him.

Also, in 6:57 Jesus emphasizes the intimacy that we enjoy with Him: “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” J. C. Ryle explains (ibid., 3:404),

It is as though our Lord said: “Just as the Father sent Me into the world to be born of a woman and take the manhood into God—and even though I am among you as man, I live in the closest union and communion with God—even so the man that by faith feeds his soul on my sacrifice for sin shall live in the closest union and communion with Me.” In a word, the union between Christ and the true Christian is as real and true and close and inseparable as the union between God the Father and God the Son.

The implication here is that we should eat often. Most of us eat three meals a day, sometimes with snacks in between. If you were a prisoner of war, you might survive on a cup of rice or a piece of bread and some water every day. But if you survived, you would come out of that camp emaciated, weak, and vulnerable to disease. To be healthy, you have to eat nutritious food several times a day.

Do you feed your soul on Christ every day? “Well, I try to read ‘Our Daily Bread’ once in a while.” Okay, but you need more than that. You need a consistent diet of reading and meditating on God’s Word, praying as you read, “Lord, reveal Yourself to my soul.” Or, as Moses dared to pray, even after all of the amazing miracles that he had seen (Exod. 33:18), “I pray You, show me Your glory!” Feed on Christ often in His Word. Don’t be satisfied with the fact that you ate last week or yesterday. You need manna for your soul today.

Also, it is helpful to eat at regular times. Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat, but eat at set times. Dietary experts say that breakfast is the most important meal not to skip. Likewise, it’s spiritually healthy to spend at least a short time each morning feeding your soul on Christ. I’m not a morning person, so it’s hard for me. But I set my alarm a half hour earlier than I need to and spend that time reading God’s Word and often praying it back to Him.

One final thought: You can’t overeat when it comes to feeding on Jesus! When we sit down to a holiday feast, it all tastes so good that it’s easy to eat more than you should. But with Jesus, you can eat and eat and eat, and it won’t adversely affect your health. In fact, the more of Jesus that you feed on, the healthier you will be!

Thus, feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for eternal life and for temporal sustenance.

3. Feeding on Jesus by faith is necessary for temporal and eternal satisfaction.

In Matthew’s account (14:20) of the feeding of the 5,000, he says, “And they all ate and were satisfied.” There is a satisfaction factor about eating, isn’t there? That’s why we overeat—because it tastes so good and it’s pleasurable. Good bread nourishes and sustains life, but also it’s enjoyable. To smell bread baking in the oven and then to butter and eat a warm slice—ah! Even so, feeding on Jesus by faith is enjoyable in this life and it will continue in His eternal presence, where, as David exults (Ps. 16:11), “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

Conclusion

Yet, as John Calvin laments (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], p. 261), “How few are there who are satisfied with Christ alone!” How about you? Are you satisfied with Christ alone? Do you feed on His death for you as your only hope of eternal life? Do you feed on Him daily in His Word as nourishment for your soul? Do you enjoy all that He is for you, both now and for eternity? If not, the answer is fairly simple: Change your diet!

Application Questions

  1. Biblically, what is the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper? How can we keep it fresh when we repeat it so often?
  2. A Christian tells you, “I try to read the Bible every day, but it often seems so dry and boring.” How could you help him?
  3. I mentioned two reasons why Jesus may have used such graphic language that He knew would shock His hearers. Can you think of any other reasons?
  4. Discuss: Should you read the Bible and pray as a regular discipline even when you may not feel the delight? How can you keep the “delight” factor burning strong?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Christian Life, Faith, Soteriology (Salvation), Spiritual Life

3. God Conquers Inadequacy (Judges 3:12-30, Ehud)

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Judges: A Drifting People, A Delivering God (part three)

Jesus replied to Paul's prayer: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." This is not a new principle, but a prominent theme in the Old Testament. In Judges chapter three, God used an inadequate leader with an inadequate weapon to deliver an inadequate army against their superior enemy. God delights in changing the world using inadequate people like you and me. This ensures that He will receive the proper credit. Better still, adequacy is an illusion. We're all inadequate instruments desperately depending on God. Have you seen God use you for His glory despite your inadequacies? When He does, our response should be that of Paul: "When I am weak, then I am strong."

Related Topics: Character of God, Discipleship, Empower, Establish, Grace

The Net Pastors Journal, Rus Ed 9, Осеннее издание 2013

Осеннее издание 2013

Составитель

Др. Роджер Паскоу, президент

Институт Библейского проповедования

Кембридж, Онтарио, Канада

www.tibp.ca

«Укреплять церковь в библейском проповедовании и руководстве»

ЧАСТЬ I: ПРОПОВЕДОВАНИЕ И ПОДГОТОВКА ПРОПОВЕДНИКА

“Проповедник и работа Божья” (продолжение, часть 3)

Написано Роджером Паскоу,

президентом Института Библейского проповедования,

город Кембридж, провинция Онтарио, Канада

В предыдущем издании (за весну и лето 2013 года) мы начали рассуждать о духовной и личностной подготовке проповедника. В этом издании мы продолжим эту тему. Мы обратили внимание, что порядок подготовки проповедника для апостола Павла заключался в том, что сперва проповедник проходит подготовку, а потом уже готовиться проповедь. Иными словами, перед тем, как проповедовать Слово в силе, делать это точно, сохраняя кредит доверия, нужно на духовном и личном уровне подходить для этого. Апостол Павел называет «мужем Божьим» тех, кто годится на эту роль.

Однако Писание наставляет нас в четырех основных направлениях, которым мы должны уделить первоочередное внимание, чтобы иметь право на беспрецедентную привилегию проповеди Слова: (1) блюсти вашу нравственную жизнь, (2) устраивать вашу семейную жизнь (3) питать свою внутреннею жизнь, (4) дисциплинировать жизнь служения.

Управлять семейной жизнью (1 Тимофею 3:5)

Истинный характер человека, ценности, и образ жизни показывают дома. Это - то, где он действительно самостоятельно. Джон Макартур говорит: “Так как пастор должен быть лидером церкви Бога и любящим родителем семье Бога, какой лучший путь он может квалифицировать чем, доказывая его духовное лидерство в его собственной семье?” Если человек не может иметь отношение хорошо и должным образом его жене и детям, и если он не может "управлять" своим домашним хозяйством хорошо, как он может возглавить церковь? (1 Тимофею 3:5). Благочестивое лидерство своими силами - предпосылка для лидерства в церкви. Жертвенное то же самое, лидерство слуги, которое Вы ожидали бы от кого-то возглавляющего церковь, должно быть очевидным дома.

Поэтому, Ваша семейная жизнь должна быть характеризована балансом, счастьем, подчинением к Word, дисциплине, повиновению, любви, спонтанности, обслуживанию, жертве для других, взаимоуважение и т.д. Так, посвятите соответствующее и значащее время и внимание к Вашему супругу и семье и возьмите на себя ответственность за духовный тон и руководство в Вашем доме, подавая пример духовности. Вы ответственны, чтобы установить духовный приоритет и центр Вашего дома. Так как Вы проповедуете и рекомендуете приоритету Священных писаний и повиновения Богу в Вашей жизни служения, удостоверьтесь, что Вы - пример этого в Вашей семейной жизни.

Если Вы не подаете пример для, и внушаете уважение, Ваш супруг и дети дома, как Вы можете сделать так в церкви, или агентстве по миссии, или министерстве союза верующих?

Столь позвольте мне поощрять Вас откладывать соответствующее и подходящее время для своего супруга и своих детей. Не помещайте их во второе место к Вашему министерству или церкви. Вы, вероятно, раскритиковали бы кого-то еще в своей конгрегации для того, чтобы сделать это, так что не делайте этого непосредственно. Покажите свою семью, что Вы подготовлены отложить другие неотложные дела, потому что Вы оцениваете их чрезвычайно. Будьте доступны для них, быть доступными им в Вашем присутствии, Вашем уме, и Ваших эмоциях.

Возьмите на себя ответственность за духовное, физическое, эмоциональное, и умственное благосостояние всех в Вашем доме. Если Вы не берете на себя эту ответственность дома, как Вы можете сделать это в своем министерстве со степенью вероятности или успеха?

Таким образом, мужчины Бога должны любить и преданные мужья и отцы.

1. Быть любящим и верным мужем (1 Тимофею 3:2; cf. Эф. 5:22-33)

Я поощрил бы Вас позволять своей жене развивать и устанавливать свою собственную личность, осуществлять свои собственные подарки, вместо того, чтобы получать свою личность от Вас и Вашего призвания как пастор. Тем не менее, она должна быть благосклонной к Вам в Вашей роли пастора, и ее жизнь должна увеличить то, что Вы делаете, не умаляют это.

Есть очень много источников напряжения для жен пасторов:

  • Они иногда чувствуют, что берут второе место к требованиям служения своего мужа, и это может привести к негодованию.
  • Они могут чувствовать себя изолированными, без близких друзей в церкви, которая может привести к одиночеству.
  • Они могут видеть, что их мужья получают внимание от других женщин в церкви, которая может привести к ревности и подозрению.
  • Они часто чувствуют давление, чтобы казаться прекрасными, который приводит к ним пытающийся поддержать на высоком уровне ложное появление, пытаясь понравиться всем.
  • Они живут в духовном "круглом аквариуме" в церкви, которая может привести к духовной усталости.
  • Иногда пасторы не зарабатывают много денег, которые могут заставить их жен негодовать на финансовые давления.
  • Иногда, есть расстройство близости и близости в браке так же как нехватке взаимной поддержки из-за требований служения, которое может привести к неприветливости, гневу, беспокойству, депрессии, и сексуальному выводу войск.

Все эти источники напряжения могут привести к брачным трудностям. Так что давайте любить, чувствительный, благосклонный, и преданный нашим женам.

2. Быть любящим и верным отцом (1 Тимофею 3:4; Эф. 6:4)

Будьте добры и нежны Вашим детям (сравните 1 Фес. 2:7, 11). Вашими отношениями с их матерью и Ваше христианское шоу доказательства Ваши дети, что это должен быть благочестивый, последовательный христианин. Если Вы ожидаете использоваться Богом, чтобы быть духовным лидером церкви, начните, будучи духовным лидером Ваших детей.

Не забудьте никогда не использовать своих детей в качестве иллюстраций с кафедры проповедника, не, даже если они соглашаются на нее. Дети склонны легко соглашаться на такие вещи, но когда они публично высвечены, они могут тайно негодовать на это.

Не забудьте проводить время со своими детьми. Нет такой вещи как "качественное" время, когда так или иначе составляет из-за отсутствия "количества" времени. То, в чем нуждаются Ваши дети, является Вашим временем и вниманием.

Ваша семья первостепенной важности. Это - ответственность, Вы обвинены в том, когда у Вас есть дети. Вы не можете выйти из этого. Так подойдите и возьмите на себя что ответственность как благочестивый лидер.

Никогда не позволяйте своим детям чувствовать, что они берут второе место - не даже к министерству - или они будут быстро негодовать на это. Если министерство и домашние обязанности находятся в конфликте на регулярной основе, просто регулируют Ваш график служения.

Дайте свое детское пространство, поскольку они растут, чтобы стать Богом людей, создал их, чтобы быть. Часто, дети подняли в чувстве домов пасторов, на которое оказывают давление, чтобы быть прекрасными. Если Ваша жена чувствует, что живет на виду у всех, сколько еще делают Ваших детей! Так, давайте не добавлять к тому давлению, заставляя их соответствовать ожиданиям других людей. Мы можем помочь им иметь дело с этим, поддерживая частную жизнь в наших домах и помогая им жить столь же нормальное детство насколько возможно.

Наконец, давайте защищать их от становления циничным, не обсуждая церковные проблемы перед нашими детьми.

Построение внутренней жизни

В министерстве Вы расходуете огромное количество эмоциональной, духовной, умственной, и физической энергии. Мало того, что министерство требует у полной индивидуальности, но и это легко становится всепоглощающим. Прежде, чем Вы будете знать это, у Вас нет никакой жизни или интересов вне Вашего служения. Поэтому Вы должны дисциплинировать себя, чтобы заботиться о Вашем личном благосостоянии, отложить время для:

1. Духовное восстановление

Если Вы - местный церковный пастор, Вы выделяете своей конгрегации все время - ободрительный, побуждение, предупреждение, рекомендация, проповедование, обучение. Если Вы будете делать это достаточно долго, не питаясь духовно непосредственно, то Вы в конечном счете высохнете. В одном случае Иисус сказал его ученикам ломаться в место пустыни сроком на отдых.

Вы должны питаться духовно. Как Вы можете сделать это? Один путь состоит в том, чтобы иметь кого-то еще министр Вам. Слушайте других проповедников, прочитайте религиозные книги, посетите конференции, или пригласите проповедников гостя на регулярной основе проповедовать для Вас - это хорошо для церкви и для Вас. Безотносительно способа, которым Вы решаете получить духовное восстановление, дисциплинировать себя, чтобы регулярно участвовать в этом так, чтобы Ваши духовные батареи недооценили не управляемый.

2. Умственное освежение

Здоровая умственная жизнь требует умственного расслабления так же как возбуждения. Умственное расслабление может взять различные формы, такие как регулярные каникулы, прогулки с Вашим супругом, вечер хорошего товарищества с друзьями, с которыми Вы можете расслабиться и быть самостоятельно. И не забывайте намечать время, чтобы быть одними - одиночество хорошо, специально для умственного расслабления.

Противоположность также необходима - умственное развитие. Апостол Павел написал: “Независимо от того, что вещи верны, благородны, только, чистый, прекрасный, хорошего отчета, если есть какое-либо достоинство и если есть что-либо достойное похвалы - размышляют на этих вещах” (Фил. 4:8). “Эти вещи” стимулируют Ваш ум с хорошими мыслями и стимулирующими предметами, которые будут поучать Вас.

Не становитесь ленивыми или загрязненными в Ваших взглядах. Вы можете держать свою тревогу ума и стимулируемый:

  • Чтение хороших книг по множеству предметов
  • Соединение с аналогично мыслящими людьми с интеллектуальной способностью и духовной зрелостью, кто может участвовать в стимулирующих беседах о темах, у которых есть вещество
  • Слушание хорошей музыки, которая может министр Вам
  • Слушание или чтение хороших проповедей
  • Непрерывно модернизируя Ваши профессиональные навыки, посещая семинары и курсы - особенно те при проповедовании и церковном руководстве

3. Телесный отдых

В 1 Тимоти 4:8, говорит апостол: “Целиком осуществите прибыль немного” - то есть это имеет некоторую ценность. Каждый пастор должен занять время для ручного и физического отдыха, чтобы дать компенсацию за умственные и духовные требования проповедования. Не сделайте ошибку об этом, проповедуя и пасторальное министерство тяжелая работа. Тратя весь день на встречах, рекомендации, правительстве, и исследование означает, что Вы должны наметить время, чтобы сделать что-то активное.

Физическая активность хороша не только для Вашего тела, но также и для Вашего ума. Забота о наших телах является управлением, которое столь же важно как управление наших денег, время, и духовные подарки. Павел учил, что тело должно быть посвящено (Рим. 12:1); сохраненный (1 Фес. 5:23), осуществленный (1 Тимофею 4:8), и дисциплинируемый (1 Кор. 9:24-27). И помните, “Ваше тело - храм Святого Духа” (1 Кор. 6:19-20). Поэтому, мы должны заботиться, как мы используем это. Мы должны сохранять это чистым для славы Бога. Мы должны поддержать его здоровье. И мы должны “прославить Бога в Вашем теле и в Вашем духе, которые являются Богом” (1 Кор. 6:20).

Часть процесса того, чтобы заботиться о нашем теле участвует в некоторой форме физических упражнений, чтобы сохранять это подгонкой и здоровый. Попытайтесь дисциплинировать себя, чтобы сделать это. Поскольку Вы становитесь старше, Вы будете радоваться, что сделали.

4. Эмоциональное восстановление

Пасторы являются очень видимыми и слышимыми - все видят то, что мы делаем и слышит то, что мы говорим. Некоторые вещи мы говорим и делаем произведет:

  •               Критика от тех, совесть которых реагирует на то, что мы говорим
  •               Конфликт и возможно осуждение от тех, кто не соглашается с нами
  •               Беспокойство о тех, о которых мы заботимся физически, эмоционально, и духовно

Конфликт и критика берут большие потери на нас эмоционально. Поэтому, время от времени мы должны выздороветь эмоционально. Как мы можем сделать это? Некоторые предложения:

  •               Наслаждайтесь товариществом с друзьями, которые поощряют Вас и помогают Вам смеяться
  •               Встретьтесь с другими пасторами, которые могут дать Вам адвоката по вопросам того, как иметь дело с трудными ситуациями
  •               Прочитайте книги по пасторальному министерству - Вы найдете, что не являетесь одними; даже видные проповедники страдают от конфликта и критики

Дисциплина в жизни, как служителя (2 Тимофею 2:1-6, 15)

Благочестивый лидер / проповедник несет торжественную ответственность “быть прилежным, чтобы представить себя одобренный Богу, рабочему, который не должен стыдиться, справедливо деля слово правды” (2 Тим. 2:15)

Этот стандарт для библейского проповедования описан ранее в главе через три картины слова дисциплинированной попытки - ежедневная дисциплина и обязательство солдата, атлета, фермера (2 Тимофею 2:1-6). Картины, которые нарисованы в этих стихах, изображают дисциплину, обязанность, и преданность, которые, когда показано, приносят выгоду.

1. Благочестивые лидеры должны «фокусироваться на чем-то одном», как воин (2:3-4)

Во-первых, исключительный центр солдата должен всегда желать и должен быть готов пострадать (2:3) - чтобы “вынести затруднение.” Страдание должно ожидаться в министерстве из-за духовной войны (сравните Эф. 6:1-20) и плохое обращение.

Во-вторых, исключительный центр солдата должен всегда желать и должен быть готов пожертвовать (2:4a). Вы не можете быть озабочены “делами этой жизни”, чтобы быть всегда при исполнении служебных обязанностей и доступными. Это - требование пожертвовать - чтобы распутать себя от любых других обязанностей, которые отвлекли бы Вас от Вашей главной задачи. Дело не в этом есть что-то не так с “делами этой жизни,” но если у них есть тенденция запутать нас, они должны быть отвергнуты. Что-либо, что отняло бы у нас необходимое время с Богом (в молитве и Слове) и время для Бога, должно быть принесено в жертву.

В-третьих, исключительный центр солдата должен всегда желать и должен быть готов к обслуживанию (2:4b) - “чтобы понравиться ему, кто завербовался (Вы), чтобы быть солдатом.” Как солдаты Иисуса Христа, мы должны быть готовы служить Тому, кто завербовал нас в его обслуживание. Мы всегда при исполнении служебных обязанностей.

Подлинный солдат отмечен искренней преданностью обязанности, полному обязательству, ничто не сдерживалось. Награда солдата - одобрение его вышестоящего должностного лица. Это - то, что мы работаем на - одобрение Бога.

2. Благочестивые лидеры должны “прилагать усилия” как спортсмен (2:5)

Атлет показывает напряженное усилие в обучении и конкуренции. Чтобы победить, атлет должен бороться к трем целям:

  1. Стремление к совершенству. Это вовлекает применение, осуществление, усилие, обучение, усердие, обязательство, соревнование, делая это хорошо. Проповедники должны сделать свою задачу с превосходством и усердием.
  2. Стремление жить по Писанию. Это обращается к повиновению правилам, честности. Знание правил и после них, даже когда никто не смотрит. У проповедников должна быть такая целостность.
  3. Стремление к победе. Награда должна быть коронована, чтобы быть победной, ища только одобрение Бога. Награда проповедника - одобрение Бога теперь и его корона тогда. У атлета должна быть искренняя дисциплина, чтобы конкурировать и победить законно. И награда должна быть "коронована" победитель.

3. Благочестивые лидеры должны обладать «настойчивостью» фермера (2:6)

Труды фермера долго и трудно без любого знака или гарантии успеха. Это берет большую самодисциплину, устойчивую. После подготовки почвы и установки семени, тогда он должен ждать урожая. Это берет доверие - доверяют Богу, поскольку только Бог может заставить семя вырастить и произвести урожай. Фермеры нуждаются в искреннем труде и зависимости.

Благочестивые проповедники могут подготовить лучшую из проповедей и уроков Библии и поставить им с большим усердием, но результаты принадлежат Богу, чтобы привести в чувство тех, кто был мертв (Эф. 2:1).

Выводы

Только посредством тяжелой работы, искреннее обязательство, и самодисциплина могут мы представлять нас “одобренный Богу” рабочие, которые не должны “стыдиться” (2:15). Настолько легко в министерстве стать ленивым, потерять обязательство, и стать обескураженным.

Давайте дисциплинировать нас, чтобы вставить время и энергию, необходимую, чтобы получить преуспевшую работу. Давайте проведем нас так, чтобы люди видели, что мы посвящаем себя нашему христианскому доказательству и министерству. Не будьте нерешительны о своей христианской жизни или удовлетворены посредственностью в Вашем министерстве. Проповедование и церковное руководство - тяжелая работа! Все, что мы делаем, должно быть сделано для славы Бога, и это означает, что мы делаем это со всей нашей энергией и с превосходством.

На личном уровне мера христианского служения человека Бога означает с одной стороны, будучи прилежной представлять себя одобренный Богу, и с другой стороны, будучи рабочим, который не должен стыдиться.

На практическом уровне, мере христианского служения человека средств Бога точное, соответствующее, и авторитетное проповедование и обучение - справедливо деление слова правды.

ЧАСТЬ II. лидерство: ЯВЛЯТЬ СОБОЙ ПРИМЕР БЛАГОЧЕСТИЯ

“Личная святость” (продолжение)

Написано Роджером Паскоу,

президентом Института Библейского проповедования,

город Кембридж, провинция Онтарио, Канада

We continue the topic of personal holiness from our last edition of the NET Pastors Journal. Last time we discussed purity in our social lives. In this edition, we are going to look at purity in our thoughts, motives, and words.

ЧИСТОТА МЫСЛЕЙ (2 Коринфянам 10:5)

Наши мысли могут быть настолько тонкими и греховными, не так ли? Иногда Вы задаетесь вопросом, куда определенные мысли прибывают из. Несомненно они возникают из нашей греховной природы, вызванной сатаной и искушениями, он вставляет наш путь.

Чтобы поддержать чистоту в наших мыслях, мы должны быть осторожными, о чем мы думаем. Мы должны дисциплинировать наши умы, чтобы управлять мыслями, что мы развлекаем. Когда наши мысли являются безудержными, фантазии могут так легко вступить во владение. И фантазии, которые являются безудержными, имеют тенденцию становиться действительностью. Библия говорит, “Поскольку человек думает, так он” (Пров. 23:7). Наши мысли формируют наш характер и наше поведение. Каждое действие или привычка начинаются с мысли.

Так, давайте будем осторожны, о чем мы думаем. Если Вы думаете нездоровые или греховные мысли, молитесь относительно Бога, чтобы выслать их из Вашего ума. Это работает! Бог освобождает нас от зла, поскольку власть Бога больше чем сатана или любое земное искушение.

Наши мысли часто производятся вещами, которые мы прочитали или видели. Так будьте осторожны, на что Вы смотрите, потому что то, на что Вы смотрите, входит в Ваше сердце и воздействует на Ваши желания. “Когда желание забеременело, оно рождает грех; и когда грех является выросшим, он ясно показывает смерть” (Иакова 1:15). Это - образец, если наши мысли идут необузданные.

Вероятно, то, что продолжается в уме, является самым опасным из всех (больше так чем даже действия направленные наружу), потому что никто не может видеть Ваши мысли. Никто не может считать Вас ответственными за то, что Вы думаете, потому что они не знают. Но помните то, что сказал Иисус: “Из сердца продолжаются злые мысли, убийства, супружеские измены, внебрачные связи, воровство, лжесвидетель, богохульства. Они - вещи, которые загрязняют человека” (Мэтт. 15:18-20). То, что входит в Ваш ум, выйдет - ли хорошие мысли или плохо. И те мысли сформируют основание того, кто Вы и что Вы делаете.

ЧИСТОТА В МОТИВАЦИИ

Нечистые побуждения - то, когда мы делаем правильные вещи по неправильным причинам - выполнение чего-то, чтобы достигнуть желаемого результата, но по неправильной причине. Так, давайте спросим нас: Почему мы делаем министерство? Каково наше побуждение? Мы должны сделать правильные вещи и по правильным причинам.

В Преподобном 2:2-3 церковь в Эфесе сделал правильные вещи, но с нечистым поводом - а именно, они не делали этого из любви к Христу. Предупреждение состоит в том, что, если бы они не раскаивались бы их нечистых побуждений, Бог удалил бы их подсвечник (их общественное доказательство как церковь). Чего мы делаем министерство? Для чего мы живем?

Мы делаем министерство нашей собственной самославы как те, кто “рекомендует себя,”, кто, измеряя их непосредственно и сравнивая их непосредственно между собой, не мудры” (2 Коринфянам 10:12)?

Мы живем для нашей собственной личной выгоды, как те, кто “предполагает, что набожность - средство выгоды” (1 Тимофею 6:5)?

Мы ищем нашу собственную саморекламу? Иисус сказал, что “Я среди Вас как тот, кто служит” (Лука 22:27). Павел сказал, что “служил Богу со всем смирением, со многими слезами и испытаниями” (20:19).

В его книге, “Пася церковь,” пишет Джо Стауэлл: “Те, кто служит для Его славы и Его выгоды, находят их самую большую радость не в подтверждении, которое может прибыть в дверь после проповеди, но в жизни, которая, в течение долгого времени, функционально изменена через министерство провозглашения. В жизни, которая теперь приносит больше славы Богу чем в прошедших днях. В жизни, которая дает кредит Богу - не нам - для того, что Бог сделал в их жизнях через нас.” Да!

Чистые побуждения заставляют нас служить для славы Христа и выгоды его королевства. Повод Пола для служения был то, что “Христос быть увеличенным в моем теле, ли жизнью или смертью. Для мне, чтобы жить Христос и умереть выгода” (Фил. 1:20). Павел сказал, “Я - последний из апостолов и не имею право быть названным апостолом” (1 Коринфянам 15:9). Повод Иоанна Крестителя был то, что Иисус Христос “должен увеличиться, но я должен уменьшиться” (Иоан 3:30).

Давайте проверять свои сердца на то, что наши побуждения как лидеры людей Бога.

ЧИСТОТА В WORD (1 Тимофею 4:12; Синица. 2:7)

Наша речь - область, которая может быть самой опасной, и тот наиболее легко ошибался на. Что мы говорим (слова и фразы, которые мы используем), и как мы говорим, что это (язык тела, тон голоса) может или уполномочить нашу роль лидерства или остановить это. Вы можете дать полностью различное значение словам, которые Вы используете только через акцент на различные слова или язык тела.

Мы должны быть осторожными относительно нашего выбора слов. Я замечаю более несоответствующие светские слова и выражения, прибывающие от христиан (и проповедники), который однажды никогда не использовался бы сторонниками. Я услышал пасторов, и христианские лидеры говорят вещи, которые заставляют меня съежиться. Иногда они используют выражения, которые распространены в нашем обществе, но которые не должны быть частью нашей коммуникации. Я слышу лидеров в церкви, используя жаргонные слова все время, которые являются производными от слов проклятия (и я не думаю, что они даже знают это).

Слова выскакивают так легко, и от них нельзя отречься. Когда они выходят, они походят на воду, пролитую на земле - это не может быть собрано назад (2 Сэма. 14:14). Когда неправильные слова сказаны, очень поздно, ущерб нанесен.

Слова - запас товаров для христианских лидеров. Наше ремесло вращается вокруг использования слов. Поэтому, это возложено на нас быть экспертами в их использовании - не только в кафедре проповедника, но и во всех наших взаимодействиях. Мы должны быть невидимками, тщательно выбирая слова, которые мы используем так, чтобы они точно передали то, что мы хотим сказать.

Но точность и правдивость не достаточны. “Позвольте своей речи всегда быть с изяществом, закаленным солью (Кол. 4:6). “Скажите правду, любящую (Эф. 4:15). “Не спешите говорить и быстро слышать” (Иакова 1:19).

Так, попытайтесь избежать жаргона или сленга - это получит Вас в проблему. Не используйте резкие или грубые слова (Эф. 5:4) - это не подобно Христу. Попытайтесь не использовать слова с двойными значениями. Везде, где возможный, будьте сознательны, чтобы использовать вежливые, положительные, конструктивные, хорошо подобранные слова.

Остерегайтесь сплетни, клеветы, расположения, обмана, выводов, инсинуаций, соблазнения, бормотания, жалобы, хвастовства, преувеличения. Они все происходят от неправильного использования или применения слов (сравните Эф. 4:25, 29, 31; 5:4; Кол. 3:8-9; 4:6; Матф. 15:11, 17-20). Избегите слов, у которых могут быть нечистые коннотации.

Давайте использовать «речь» (Тит. 2:8), который является доказательством другим “добрых слов”, которые продолжались ко рту Бога, чистоты речи, которую мы хотим, чтобы другие приняли, и вида слов, которые указывают других Христу.

Учителя имели обыкновение говорить нам: “Палки и камни могут сломать мои кости, но слова никогда не будут вредить мне” - не верный! Слова, произнесенные в гневе, шутке, поддразнивании, критика может причинить боль намного дольше чем физический вред и вызвать невыразимый вред в христианских отношениях. Слова, которые мы используем, важны, так выберите их тщательно.

Часть III.Мысли для размышления

“Служение земных посудин, часть 2: мотивация служения” (2 Коринфянам 4:16-5:9)

Составитель

Др. Роджер Паскоу, президент

Институт Библейского проповедования

Кембридж, Онтарио, Канада

В Летнем выпуске этого журнала мы начали изучать предмет “Служения Глиняных Сосудов” (2 Послания к коринфянам 4:7-5:21). Мы смотрели на 2 Послания к коринфянам 4:7-16, который имеет дело с темой “Природы Служения.” Теперь мы продолжаем со следующей секцией, 2 Послания к коринфянам 4:16-5:8, который имеет дело с темой “Побуждения для Служения.” Апостол указывает на три побуждения для служения: (1) побуждение будущего преобразования (4:15-5:8); (2) побуждение ответственности перед Богом (5:10-13); и (3) побуждение любви Христа (5:14-17). В этом выпуске этого Пасторы Джоернэл мы покроем только ПОБУЖДЕНИЕ БУДУЩЕГО ПРЕОБРАЗОВАНИЯ (4:16-5:9).

Апостол развивает этот предмет служения глиняных сосудов приблизительно четыре парадокса служения. В прошлый раз мы заметили первый парадокс служения: слабый посыльный против сильного сообщения. Теперь, в связи с побуждением для служения (определенно, побуждением будущего преобразования) у нас есть следующие три парадокса.

Второй парадокс служения: распад направленный наружу против внутреннего возобновления (4:16-17). Для христианина парадокс состоит в том, что “Даже при том, что наш человек направленный наружу распадается, все же наш внутренний человек возобновляется день за днём” (16b). Есть различие между направленным наружу и внутренним - направленное наружу распадается, и внутреннее возобновляется. С одной стороны, мы страдаем от прогрессивного распада нашего физического существа. Наш “человек направленный наружу” (то есть что видимо - наше физическое тело и способности) "распадается" (то есть устойчиво и безвозвратно направляется в смерть). С другой стороны, наше внутреннее существо прогрессивно возобновляется по подобию Бога. Наш “внутренний человек” (то есть что невидимо - наша новая жизнь в Христе, наше духовное существо, наше Christ-сходство) “возобновляется день за днём” (то есть быть освященным, преобразованный в изображение Христа).

Действительность для нехристианина превращается в камень. Они испытывают только распад направленный наружу без любого внутреннего возобновления, потому что у них нет никакой духовной жизни. "Для" вводит объяснение этого парадокса распада направленного наружу против внутреннего возобновления “наше легкое несчастье, которое является слишком на мгновение, работает на нас намного более чрезмерный и вечный вес славы” (17). Отметьте контрастирующие элементы христианского парадокса:

  •               Существующее страдание для пользы Иисуса = легкие и мгновенные проблемы
  •               Будущая слава в присутствии Иисуса = вечная слава, которая далеко перевешивает все наше существующее страдание или проблемы

Павел не учит, что физическое страдание вознаграждено духовной заслугой. Он не подтверждает аскетизм. Скорее Павел все еще имеет дело с проблемой того, как слава и власть Бога показаны в глиняных сосудах (7); проблема духовно (и возможно физически) умирающий с Иисусом (10a); проблема жизни Иисуса, проявленного в нас (10b); проблема того, чтобы быть поставленным до смерти для пользы Иисуса, что жизнь Иисуса может быть проявлена в нас (11).

“Тема Пола всюду по этому посланию - то, что непрочность человеческой структуры и несчастья, которое это выдерживает в причине евангелия, увеличивает, из-за удивительного контраста, и обеспечивает возможность для того, чтобы она испытала, все-превышающая слава и власть и изящество Всемогущего бога.” Независимо от того, насколько серьезный наше физическое страдание может быть “для пользы Иисуса” (то есть страдание, которое вынесено и понесено для пользы Иисуса в причине евангелия), это "легко" и "мгновенно" по сравнению с "вечной славой", которая сохранена для нас на небесах.

Третий парадокс служения в этом проходе: видимое против невидимого (4:18). Глаз веры не озабочен тем, что замечено, но тем, что не замечено. “Мы не смотрим на вещи, которые замечены, но в вещах, которые не замечены.” Мы не сосредотачиваемся на нашей человеческой слабости, страдании, умирая (то есть распад нашего физического существования направленного наружу), и трудные обстоятельства, а скорее, мы смотрим “на вещи, которые не замечены.” Нехристианин сосредоточен на медосмотре, направленном наружу, и подарок (сокровища на земле, скоропортящихся вещах), но христианин сосредоточен на духовном, внутреннем, и вечное. Мы сосредоточены на духовных фактах (например, правда, жизнь в Христе). Мы сосредоточены на внутренней власти, возобновлении Святого Духа. Мы сосредоточены на вечной славе - будущая, небесная перспектива, когда мы будем полностью и наконец как Христос. Мы устремляемся вперёд не оглядывание назад (Фил. 3:14). Мы выносим подарок в гарантии будущего. Мы знаем, что переходный процесс уступит место постоянному. Мы ищем временные несчастья, которые будут заменены вечной славой.

Четвертый парадокс служения: наша земная палатка против нашего небесного здания (5:1-8). Объяснение предыдущего парадокса теперь следует: “Поскольку мы знаем …” основание нашего взгляда на существующее страдание, и распад - наше знание будущего прославления, выкуп наших тел так же как наших душ, определенной надежды на славу. Единственная неуверенность - умрем ли мы прежде, чем Иисус приезжает -“ … если наш земной дом, эта палатка (освещенный. наша останавливающаяся на палатке земля), разрушен …” (5:1).

Тело, в котором мы теперь живем, является временным и переходным, не наше постоянное живущее место. Но даже если это разрушено в смерти, “… у нас есть здание от Бога, дом, не сделанный руками, вечными на небесах.” Образы "палатки" против "здания" - намек на шатер израильтян в дикой местности против постоянного храма в Иерусалиме (сравните Heb. 11:8ff.). Как они в дикой местности, мы - паломники и незнакомцы на земле, только проходя - наше гражданство находится на небесах. И когда мы добираемся до небес, у нас будут тела, подходящие для того небесного существования - “не сделанный руками” (не это - мир, земные создания), не временный, не подвергающийся распаду, не затронутому грехом, но постоянный, вечный, прославленный, тела восстановления как великолепное тело Христа (Фил. 3:21).

"Для" (объяснение v. 1) “в этом (тело) мы стонем (сравните Rom. 8:23) искренне желающий быть одетым с нашим жильем, которое является от небес...” (2). В нашем существующем земном жилье палатки мы стонем (потому что это подвергается распаду, страданию, боли). Именно поэтому мы жаждем прославленных тел (наше жилье, которое является от небес), которые рассматриваются как поставивший как одежда по нашим земным телам (сравните 1 Коринфянам 15:53) так, чтобы было и непрерывностью и преобразованием - наши земные тела, будет покрыт и изменен нашими прославленными телами. То, чего мы действительно жаждем, является возможностью (“... если действительно”, v. 3) получения наших прославленных тел, не умирая (“... одетый”) - чтобы быть живым при прибытии Христа так, чтобы, “уже будучи одетым” с нашими прославленными телами, “мы не будем найдены голыми” (3). Надежда, выраженная здесь, состоит в том, что мы не будем лишены наших тел в смерти, что мы никогда не испытываем свободное государство вообще, что мы не умираем прежде, чем мы получим прославленные тела, “одел с нашим жильем (жилье), которое является от небес” (2b).

"Для" (дальнейшее объяснение) мы, кто находится в этой палатке (этот временный служащий, разлагая физическое существование) стон, быть обремененным, не потому что мы хотим быть раздетыми, но (потому что мы хотим быть) далее одетый, так, чтобы смертность могла быть проглочена жизнью” (4). Мы стонем из-за бремени наших существующих тел, не потому что мы хотим умереть (то есть раздеваться, и наши тела возвращаются к пыли), но потому что мы хотим быть далее одетыми нашими прославленными телами (тела, подходящие для славы), так, чтобы наши смертные тела (наш подарок, разлагая тела) могли быть проглочены (принятый, поглощенный, одетый с) вечная жизнь при возвращении Христа, так, чтобы мы никогда не умерли и испытали коррупцию.

Это - то, что произойдет с теми, кто жив при прибытии Христа. Мы не будем "раздеты" (голый, распущенный), но “далее одел”, ставя наши прославленные тела по нашим смертным телам. Когда это произойдет, наши смертные, земные тела будут немедленно поглощены и преобразованы в наше прославленное государство, так, чтобы наша смертная плоть (наше проживание, земные но смертные тела) была "проглочена" (исчезните внутри, поглощенные, интегрированные в, переваренный), "(что будет действительно), жизнь.”

Так, образы в 5:1-4 - то, что наши смертные тела походят на предмет одежды, который покрывает душу, которая в смерти становится голой, потому что это будет отделено от тела. С другой стороны, наши бессмертные тела уподоблены при прибытии Христа в предмет одежды, что переодежда (или покрытия) наши души, или, для тех, кто жив тогда, “дальнейшая одежда” нас - то есть поставился по вершине наших смертных тел.

“Теперь Он, кто подготовил нас к этой самой вещи, является Богом” (5a). Сам бог вылепил нас для приема (одежда) наших прославленных тел. Это заключительное преобразование в наше прославленное государство полностью и исключительно работа Бога. Это дает нам гарантию, потому что это не зависит от нас, но Бога, и таким образом это, конечно, случится. Что начал Бог, Он закончит (Фил. 1:6), поскольку Он“ … также дал нам Свой Дух как гарантию” (5b). Мало того, что у нас есть инструкция апостола относительно этой будущей уверенности, что Бог достигнет нашего заключительного преобразования, но прямо сейчас у нас есть внутренний депозит (авансовый платеж) Духа как гарантия, что Бог, конечно, сделает это (сравните Эф. 1:14; cf. Rom. 8:11ff.). Святой Дух постоянно и непрерывно заверяет нас, что власть, которая воспитывала Христа от мертвых, поднимет нас в славе (Эф. 1:9-20).

Какую веру и побуждение это вселяет нам, особенно в страдании и старости! Наши тела направленные наружу распадаются, мы страдаем от нашей смертности, но более определенно для пользы Иисуса. Но все, что потеряно в гарантии и надежде на наше будущее преобразование в сходство Христа, для этого не сравнивается со славой, которая должна быть.“ Так” (в результате этой гарантии, что Бог сделает это и дал нам его Дух как нашу гарантию), “мы всегда - уверенный …” (6a) - наша уверенность в выполнении Бога нашего преобразования является непоколебимой и постоянной - “... знающий, что (уверенность основана на знании), в то время как мы находимся дома в теле …” (живущий в этой земной палатке) “…, мы отсутствуем в (присутствие) Бог. Для того (потому что) мы идем верой, не видом (сравните Heb. 11:1). Мы уверены, да, очень довольны скорее отсутствовать в теле (то есть умереть) и присутствовать с Богом” (6b-8) - то есть когда вид заменит веру. Хотя смерть - наш заключительный враг, она не заставляет нас бояться. Скорее мы полны уверенности и побуждения.

Бог сознает ситуацию и в жизни и в смерти. Дух Бога дает нам внутреннюю гарантию, что Бог закончит наше преобразование. Наша временная жизнь - наше постоянное напоминание, что мы еще не в присутствии Бога - действительно, в этом государстве, мы живем верой не вид. Наше желание состоит в том, чтобы оставить нашу существующую земную жизнь и быть с Богом даже при том, что мы вошли бы в период наготы, ожидая, чтобы быть одетыми с нашими новыми телами. Это не желание умереть, а выражение, что желание быть с Христом омрачает препятствие смерти (сравните Фил. 1:21).

Но лучшее из всех обстоятельств должно было бы быть живым при его прибытии, преобразованном и переведенном, чтобы быть с Христом без смерти (сравните Фил. 1:21-13).

Заключение: “Поэтому, мы делаем это нашей целью, или существующий или отсутствующий, чтобы быть хорошо приятными Ему” (9). Независимо от того, что происходит, являемся ли мы здесь дома в теле в то время, когда Христос приезжает или отсутствующий в теле в то время, когда Христос приезжает, наша цель и побуждение для нашего служения состоят в том, чтобы быть хорошо приятными Богу.

Часть IV. Планы проповедей

Написано Роджером Паскоу,

президентом Института Библейского проповедования,

город Кембридж, провинция Онтарио, Канада

Иоанна 4:19-42, Диалог Иисуса с Самаритянской Женщиной, часть 2

Для английской аудио версии этой проповеди, нажмите на эти ссылки: Иоан 4:19-22; Иоан 4:22-26; Иоан 4:27-30; Иоан 4:31-42

Название: Как Господь относится к благовестию, часть 2

Предмет: Преодоление духовные и социальные барьеры в евангелизме

Продолженный от Пункт №3 в последнем выпуске этого журнала...

Пункт №4: Укажите человека Богу (4:19-24)

1. Посредством пробужденного ответа (19-20)

a) О том, кто Иисус (19)

b) Об обнаружении Бога (20)

2. Посредством поучительного ответа (21-24)

a) О том, где Бог найден (21)

b) О том, как Богу поклоняются (22-24)

Пункт №5: Покажите Божество Иисуса (4:25-26)

1. Узнавая, что они знают о нем (25)

a) О его прибытии снова

b) О его открытии правды

2. Показывая, что они не знают о нем (26)

Пункт №6: Развейте веру в других (4:27-38)

1. Развейте веру в других через Ваше личное доказательство (28-30)

a) Демонстрируя, что Бог изменяет жизни (28)

b) Приглашая других лично убедиться (29a)

c) Объявляя, что Христос сделал (29b)

d) Указывая, кто Христос (29c-30)

2. Развейте веру в других через надлежащее богословие (31-42)

a) Работа того Бога в мире - миссия Христа (31-34)

- сделать желание Бога

- закончить работу Бога

b) Работа того Бога в мире - "маловероятная" миссия (35)

- в самые неожиданные времена возникает духовный урожай

- духовные урожаи возникают в самых неожиданных местах

c) Работа того Бога в мире - миссия команды (36-38)

- Команда бога составлена из сеятелей и жнецов

- все члены команды Бога одинаково важны

- все члены труда команды Бога для того же самого результата

Пункт №7: Заключения - результаты (4:39-42)

1. Некоторые будут верить через Ваше личное доказательство (39-40)

2. Еще многие будут верить через Слово Господне (41-42)

Related Topics: Pastors

Names of God

The great purpose of man, especially the believer in Christ, is to glorify God. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Essential to our ability to glorify God is the knowledge of God and knowing Him personally in view of that knowledge.

The word “glory” in the Greek New Testament is doxa which means an opinion, an estimation, or reputation in which one is held. It refers to that which should accrue to God as praise, thanksgiving, obedience, reverence, and service because of who God is and what God does (past, present, and future). In other words, giving glory to God is tied in with the knowledge of God (revelation of God), and knowing God personally (response to God).

The Lord Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” The many names in Scripture constitute additional revelation of God’s character, His works, and His relationship to us based on His character and works. The names which God chose for Himself and which are ascribed to Him in the Word of God are additional revelations of the who and what of God that we may know and relate to God.

Note David’s declarations about God’s name and word in Psalm 138:1-2. God’s name declares much about His person, but it is God’s Word that reveals God and His name.

We know what God is like, not only by His perfections and works, but also by His names. They tell us many things about God’s care and concern for his own. This is one of the fascinating studies of Scripture. The various circumstances which bring forth each of the names of God are important.1

The Significance of
the Names of God in Scripture

In our twentieth century Western culture, personal names are little more than labels to distinguish one person from another. Sometimes nicknames are chosen which tell something about a person, but even this is a poor reflection of the significance of names in the Bible.

Unfortunately, to many the names God or Lord convey little more than designations of a supreme being. It says little to them about God’s character, His ways, and what God means to each of us as human beings. But in Scripture, the names of God are like miniature portraits and promises. In Scripture, a person’s name identified them and stood for something specific. This is especially true of God. Naming carried special significance. It was a sign of authority and power. This is evident in the fact that God revealed His names to His people rather than allowing them to choose their names for Him. This is also seen in the fact that God often changed the names of His people: Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel. Note also how this concept of authority and power is seen when Nebuchadnezzar changed the names of Daniel and his three friends.

The Name of God in General

There are a number of instances where no name of God is employed, but where simply the term “name” in reference to God is used as the point of focus:

(1) Abraham called on the name of the Lord (Gen. 12:8; 13:4).

(2) The Lord proclaimed His own name before Moses (Ex. 33:19; 34:5).

(3) Israel was warned against profaning the name of the Lord (Lev. 13:21; 22:2, 32).

(4) The name of the Lord was not to be taken in vain (Ex. 20:7; Deut. 5:11).

(5) The priests of Israel were to minister in the name of the Lord (Deut. 18:5; 21:5).

(6) The name of God is called “wonderful” in Judges 13:18.

(7) To call on the name of the Lord was to worship Him as God (Gen. 21:33; 26:25).

Consequently, from this we can conclude that such phrases as “the name of the LORD” or “the name of God” refer to God’s whole character. It was a summary statement embodying the entire person of God.2

When we turn to the New Testament we find the same. The name Jesus is used in a similar way to the name of God in the Old Testament:

(1) Salvation is through His name (John 1:12).

(2) Believers are to gather in His name (Matt. 18:20).

(3) Prayer is to be made in His name (John 14:13-14).

(4) The servant of the Lord who bears the name of Christ will be hated (Matt. 10:22).

(5) The book of Acts makes frequent mention of worship, service, and suffering in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:18; 5:28, 41; 10:43; 19:17).

(6) It is at the name of Jesus that every knee will one day bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11).

So, just as the name of God in the Old Testament spoke of the holy character of God the Father, so the name of Jesus in the New Testament speaks of the holy character of God the Son.3

Overview of the
Names of God in Scripture

(1) Elohim: The plural form of EL, meaning “strong one.” It is used of false gods, but when used of the true God, it is a plural of majesty and intimates the trinity. It is especially used of God’s sovereignty, creative work, mighty work for Israel and in relation to His sovereignty (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 32:27; Gen. 1:1; Isa. 45:18; Deut. 5:23; 8:15; Ps. 68:7).

Compounds of El:

  • El Shaddai:“God Almighty.” The derivation is uncertain. Some think it stresses God’s loving supply and comfort; others His power as the Almighty one standing on a mountain and who corrects and chastens (Gen. 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; Ex. 6:1; Ps. 91:1, 2).
  • El Elyon: “The Most High God.” Stresses God’s strength, sovereignty, and supremacy (Gen. 14:19; Ps. 9:2; Dan. 7:18, 22, 25).
  • El Olam: “The Everlasting God.” Emphasizes God’s unchangeableness and is connected with His inexhaustibleness (Gen. 16:13).

(2) Yahweh (YHWH): Comes from a verb which means “to exist, be.” This, plus its usage, shows that this name stresses God as the independent and self-existent God of revelation and redemption (Gen. 4:3; Ex. 6:3 (cf. 3:14); 3:12).

Compounds of Yahweh: Strictly speaking, these compounds are designations or titles which reveal additional facts about God’s character.

  • Yahweh Jireh (Yireh): “The Lord will provide.” Stresses God’s provision for His people (Gen. 22:14).
  • Yahweh Nissi:“The Lord is my Banner.” Stresses that God is our rallying point and our means of victory; the one who fights for His people (Ex. 17:15).
  • Yahweh Shalom:“The Lord is Peace.” Points to the Lord as the means of our peace and rest (Jud. 6:24).
  • Yahweh Sabbaoth:“The Lord of Hosts.” A military figure portraying the Lord as the commander of the armies of heaven (1 Sam. 1:3; 17:45).
  • Yahweh Maccaddeshcem: “The Lord your Sanctifier.” Portrays the Lord as our means of sanctification or as the one who sets believers apart for His purposes (Ex. 31:13).
  • Yahweh Ro’i: “The Lord my Shepherd.” Portrays the Lord as the Shepherd who cares for His people as a shepherd cares for the sheep of his pasture (Ps. 23:1).
  • Yahweh Tsidkenu: “The Lord our Righteousness.” Portrays the Lord as the means of our righteousness (Jer. 23:6).
  • Yahweh Shammah: “The Lord is there.” Portrays the Lord’s personal presence in the millennial kingdom (Ezek. 48:35).
  • Yahweh Elohim Israel: “The Lord, the God of Israel.” Identifies Yahweh as the God of Israel in contrast to the false gods of the nations (Jud. 5:3.; Isa. 17:6).

(3) Adonai: Like Elohim, this too is a plural of majesty. The singular form means “master, owner.” Stresses man’s relationship to God as his master, authority, and provider (Gen. 18:2; 40:1; 1 Sam. 1:15; Ex. 21:1-6; Josh. 5:14).

(4) Theos: Greek word translated “God.” Primary name for God used in the New Testament. Its use teaches: (1) He is the only true God (Matt. 23:9; Rom. 3:30); (2) He is unique (1 Tim. 1:17; John 17:3; Rev. 15:4; 16:7); (3) He is transcendent (Acts 17:24; Heb. 3:4; Rev. 10:6); (4) He is the Savior (John 3:16; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10). This name is used of Christ as God in John 1:1, 18; 20:28; 1 John 5:20; Tit. 2:13; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1.

(5) Kurios: Greek word translated “Lord.” Stresses authority and supremacy. While it can mean sir (John 4:11), owner (Luke 19:33), master (Col. 3:22), or even refer to idols (1 Cor. 8:5) or husbands (1 Pet. 3:6), it is used mostly as the equivalent of Yahweh of the Old Testament. It too is used of Jesus Christ meaning (1) Rabbi or Sir (Matt. 8:6); (2) God or Deity (John 20:28; Acts 2:36; Rom. 10:9; Phil. 2:11).

(6) Despotes: Greek word translated “Master.” Carries the idea of ownership while kurios stressed supreme authority (Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; Rev. 6:10; 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4).

(7) Father:A distinctive New Testament revelation is that through faith in Christ, God becomes our personal Father. Father is used of God in the Old Testament only 15 times while it is used of God 245 times in the New Testament. As a name of God, it stresses God’s loving care, provision, discipline, and the way we are to address God in prayer (Matt. 7:11; Jam. 1:17; Heb. 12:5-11; John 15:16; 16:23; Eph. 2:18; 3:15; 1 Thess. 3:11).


1 Robert Lightner, The God of the Bible, An Introduction to the Doctrine of God (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1973) page 107.

2 Ibid., p. 108.

3 Ibid., p. 109.

Names of God

The great purpose of man, especially the believer in Christ, is to glorify God. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Essential to our ability to glorify God is the knowledge of God and knowing Him personally in view of that knowledge.

The word “glory” in the Greek New Testament is doxa which means an opinion, an estimation, or reputation in which one is held. It refers to that which should accrue to God as praise, thanksgiving, obedience, reverence, and service because of who God is and what God does (past, present, and future). In other words, giving glory to God is tied in with the knowledge of God (revelation of God), and knowing God personally (response to God).

The Lord Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” The many names in Scripture constitute additional revelation of God’s character, His works, and His relationship to us based on His character and works. The names which God chose for Himself and which are ascribed to Him in the Word of God are additional revelations of the who and what of God that we may know and relate to God.

Note David’s declarations about God’s name and word in Psalm 138:1-2. God’s name declares much about His person, but it is God’s Word that reveals God and His name.

We know what God is like, not only by His perfections and works, but also by His names. They tell us many things about God’s care and concern for his own. This is one of the fascinating studies of Scripture. The various circumstances which bring forth each of the names of God are important.1

The Significance of
the Names of God in Scripture

In our twentieth century Western culture, personal names are little more than labels to distinguish one person from another. Sometimes nicknames are chosen which tell something about a person, but even this is a poor reflection of the significance of names in the Bible.

Unfortunately, to many the names God or Lord convey little more than designations of a supreme being. It says little to them about God’s character, His ways, and what God means to each of us as human beings. But in Scripture, the names of God are like miniature portraits and promises. In Scripture, a person’s name identified them and stood for something specific. This is especially true of God. Naming carried special significance. It was a sign of authority and power. This is evident in the fact that God revealed His names to His people rather than allowing them to choose their names for Him. This is also seen in the fact that God often changed the names of His people: Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel. Note also how this concept of authority and power is seen when Nebuchadnezzar changed the names of Daniel and his three friends.

Read More of this Article: The Names of God In General


1 Robert Lightner, The God of the Bible, An Introduction to the Doctrine of God (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1973) page 107.

Related Topics: Character of God, Theology Proper (God)

The names of God in General

Names of God, part 2

The Name of God in General

There are a number of instances where no name of God is employed, but where simply the term “name” in reference to God is used as the point of focus:

(1) Abraham called on the name of the Lord (Gen. 12:8; 13:4).

(2) The Lord proclaimed His own name before Moses (Ex. 33:19; 34:5).

(3) Israel was warned against profaning the name of the Lord (Lev. 13:21; 22:2, 32).

(4) The name of the Lord was not to be taken in vain (Ex. 20:7; Deut. 5:11).

(5) The priests of Israel were to minister in the name of the Lord (Deut. 18:5; 21:5).

(6) The name of God is called “wonderful” in Judges 13:18.

(7) To call on the name of the Lord was to worship Him as God (Gen. 21:33; 26:25).

Consequently, from this we can conclude that such phrases as “the name of the LORD” or “the name of God” refer to God’s whole character. It was a summary statement embodying the entire person of God.2

When we turn to the New Testament we find the same. The name Jesus is used in a similar way to the name of God in the Old Testament:

(1) Salvation is through His name (John 1:12).

(2) Believers are to gather in His name (Matt. 18:20).

(3) Prayer is to be made in His name (John 14:13-14).

(4) The servant of the Lord who bears the name of Christ will be hated (Matt. 10:22).

(5) The book of Acts makes frequent mention of worship, service, and suffering in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:18; 5:28, 41; 10:43; 19:17).

(6) It is at the name of Jesus that every knee will one day bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11).

So, just as the name of God in the Old Testament spoke of the holy character of God the Father, so the name of Jesus in the New Testament speaks of the holy character of God the Son.3

Read More of this Article: Overview of the Names of God in Scripture


2 Ibid., p. 108.

3 Ibid., p. 109.

Related Topics: Character of God, Theology Proper (God)

From the series: Names of God PREVIOUS PAGE

Overview of the Names of God in Scripture

Names of God, part 3

Overview of the Names of God in Scripture

(1) Elohim: The plural form of EL, meaning “strong one.” It is used of false gods, but when used of the true God, it is a plural of majesty and intimates the trinity. It is especially used of God’s sovereignty, creative work, mighty work for Israel and in relation to His sovereignty (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 32:27; Gen. 1:1; Isa. 45:18; Deut. 5:23; 8:15; Ps. 68:7).

Compounds of El:

  • El Shaddai:“God Almighty.” The derivation is uncertain. Some think it stresses God’s loving supply and comfort; others His power as the Almighty one standing on a mountain and who corrects and chastens (Gen. 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; Ex. 6:1; Ps. 91:1, 2).
  • El Elyon: “The Most High God.” Stresses God’s strength, sovereignty, and supremacy (Gen. 14:19; Ps. 9:2; Dan. 7:18, 22, 25).
  • El Olam: “The Everlasting God.” Emphasizes God’s unchangeableness and is connected with His inexhaustibleness (Gen. 16:13).

(2) Yahweh (YHWH): Comes from a verb which means “to exist, be.” This, plus its usage, shows that this name stresses God as the independent and self-existent God of revelation and redemption (Gen. 4:3; Ex. 6:3 (cf. 3:14); 3:12).

Compounds of Yahweh: Strictly speaking, these compounds are designations or titles which reveal additional facts about God’s character.

  • Yahweh Jireh (Yireh): “The Lord will provide.” Stresses God’s provision for His people (Gen. 22:14).
  • Yahweh Nissi:“The Lord is my Banner.” Stresses that God is our rallying point and our means of victory; the one who fights for His people (Ex. 17:15).
  • Yahweh Shalom:“The Lord is Peace.” Points to the Lord as the means of our peace and rest (Jud. 6:24).
  • Yahweh Sabbaoth:“The Lord of Hosts.” A military figure portraying the Lord as the commander of the armies of heaven (1 Sam. 1:3; 17:45).
  • Yahweh Maccaddeshcem: “The Lord your Sanctifier.” Portrays the Lord as our means of sanctification or as the one who sets believers apart for His purposes (Ex. 31:13).
  • Yahweh Ro’i: “The Lord my Shepherd.” Portrays the Lord as the Shepherd who cares for His people as a shepherd cares for the sheep of his pasture (Ps. 23:1).
  • Yahweh Tsidkenu: “The Lord our Righteousness.” Portrays the Lord as the means of our righteousness (Jer. 23:6).
  • Yahweh Shammah: “The Lord is there.” Portrays the Lord’s personal presence in the millennial kingdom (Ezek. 48:35).
  • Yahweh Elohim Israel: “The Lord, the God of Israel.” Identifies Yahweh as the God of Israel in contrast to the false gods of the nations (Jud. 5:3.; Isa. 17:6).

(3) Adonai: Like Elohim, this too is a plural of majesty. The singular form means “master, owner.” Stresses man’s relationship to God as his master, authority, and provider (Gen. 18:2; 40:1; 1 Sam. 1:15; Ex. 21:1-6; Josh. 5:14).

(4) Theos: Greek word translated “God.” Primary name for God used in the New Testament. Its use teaches: (1) He is the only true God (Matt. 23:9; Rom. 3:30); (2) He is unique (1 Tim. 1:17; John 17:3; Rev. 15:4; 16:7); (3) He is transcendent (Acts 17:24; Heb. 3:4; Rev. 10:6); (4) He is the Savior (John 3:16; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10). This name is used of Christ as God in John 1:1, 18; 20:28; 1 John 5:20; Tit. 2:13; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1.

(5) Kurios: Greek word translated “Lord.” Stresses authority and supremacy. While it can mean sir (John 4:11), owner (Luke 19:33), master (Col. 3:22), or even refer to idols (1 Cor. 8:5) or husbands (1 Pet. 3:6), it is used mostly as the equivalent of Yahweh of the Old Testament. It too is used of Jesus Christ meaning (1) Rabbi or Sir (Matt. 8:6); (2) God or Deity (John 20:28; Acts 2:36; Rom. 10:9; Phil. 2:11).

(6) Despotes: Greek word translated “Master.” Carries the idea of ownership while kurios stressed supreme authority (Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; Rev. 6:10; 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4).

(7) Father:A distinctive New Testament revelation is that through faith in Christ, God becomes our personal Father. Father is used of God in the Old Testament only 15 times while it is used of God 245 times in the New Testament. As a name of God, it stresses God’s loving care, provision, discipline, and the way we are to address God in prayer (Matt. 7:11; Jam. 1:17; Heb. 12:5-11; John 15:16; 16:23; Eph. 2:18; 3:15; 1 Thess. 3:11).

Related Topics: Character of God, Theology Proper (God)

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