Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Gospel of Isaiah 53: A book review

Dr. Gregory Jackson Reviews the Kregel Publication:  "The Gospel According to Isaiah 53"


Isaiah 53 - King James Version (KJV)

1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

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The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 - Book Review

Book Review: The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 – Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish and Christian Theology

Editors – Darrel L. Bock and Mitch Glaser

Kregel Academic and Professional, Grand Rapids, 2012

ISBN #978-0-8254-2593-6

http://store.kregel.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=2890

Publisher description -  Description:  The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 presents the redemptive work of the Messiah to the Jewish community, exploring issues of atonement and redemption in light of Isaiah chapter 53. It is clear that Jesus fulfills the specifications of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. This book has many potential uses in its presentation of the gospel for Jewish people. Pastors who study it will find unparalleled help in preparing Bible studies and sermons, so that their listeners will become better equipped to tell Jewish people about Jesus. It will be beneficial as supplemental reading for classes on Isaiah, the Prophets, and Jewish evangelism. And believers will be trained to share Isaiah 53 with Jewish friends and family. Contributors include: • David L. Allen • Richard E. Averbeck • Darrell L. Bock • Michael L. Brown • Robert B. Chisholm Jr. • Craig A. Evans • John S. Feinberg • Mitch Glaser • Walter C. Kaiser Jr. • Donald R. Sunukjian

Bock is a New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. Glaser is president of the Chosen People Ministries in New York.

I signed up with Kregel for free books to review, because I have found their books to be worthwhile for theology. We are currently using the Kregel edition of Luther’s Galatians Commentary for the adult study class.

The book began with a Jewish rabbi becoming a Christian believer in 1892, after hearing the Gospel in the Lower East Side. He founded a group that became the Chosen People Ministries. Therefore, this work is both academic and evangelistic.

Biblical Basis for Isaiah 53 as Evangelism

Isaiah 53 is so significant to the New Testament that most of the chapter is quoted in various New Testament books. As they say, if Isaiah 53 in the Old Testament were lost, most of it could be recovered from the New Testament sources.

This also illustrates the unified perspective of the Bible, not as a collection of books or verses, but one unified message of truth, the Book of the Holy Spirit, with one divine author and many human sub-authors.

Pope Piux XII expressed it well, comparing the Bible to Christ, having a divine and a human nature and yet without error.

Isaiah 53 – Justification by Faith

In honor of the Reformation we should recognize the departure from Romanism that Luther advanced, advocating justification by faith while rejecting any version of justification by works. This distinction is essential for understanding the Christian faith, noting what divides and what unites various confessions.

Most conservative Protestants understand that the Gospel creates faith. This book illustrates that confidence in describing a recent campaign to spread the Gospel among Jews. The focus was on proclaiming the Gospel with a focus on Isaiah 53 being fulfilled by Jesus the Messiah and Savior.

Although this basic concept has many variations, the unifying truth among conservative Protestants is that faith in Christ means complete forgiveness of all sin, salvation, and eternal life.

In contrast, liberal Protestants emphasize the grace of God by declaring all the sins of the world forgiven and absolved, whether anyone believes or not, preferably not. This exodus from historic Christianity began at Halle University, which was founded to promote Biblical studies yet soon became rationalistic. The mainline denominations of America teach this cryto-Universalism. Since everyone is forgiven and saved in this parody of the Faith, there is no barrier to ecumenism with any religion and no reason for evangelism.

Holy Spirit, Faith, Forgiveness

Abraham is the example of justification by faith (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4; Galatians 3) and Isaiah 53 is the Gospel proclamation (Galatians 3 and Romans 10).

KJV Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

In Greek, report is akoue, so we often translate Romans 10:17 as

KJV Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

That way, the emphasis is on hearing, but Isaiah really means to emphasize this unique report. To paraphrase it and keep both meanings, we should say – “Faith comes by hearing the preached Gospel.”

Isaiah 53 is the opening of the Gospel of the crucified Messiah.

KJV Galatians 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

The Holy Spirit carries out the proclamation of the Gospel, which creates faith and graciously gives that forgiveness promised in the proclamation.

Lacking Trust in the Word

The problem is not that the Word is no longer effective but that people no longer trust the Word to carry out God’s will.

Understanding Isaiah 53 as the key Gospel passage for Jews is the principle reason for this book, which is organized in three parts:

1. Interpretation of Isaiah 53
2. Isaiah 53 in Biblical Theology
3. Isaiah 53 in Practical Theology

“This passage is therefore one of the great pillars of our faith, a multi-faceted diamond that demands we appreciate its true value and worth.” (p. 29)

The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 is so thorough that anyone will find value in it, whether as a beginning in this area or as a minister or professor. The chapters include a large number of references to other worthwhile efforts. I have already promised to loan the book to someone who specializes in this area.

Isaiah 53 is especially for evangelism among Jewish people, but the book is a great resource for any Gospel-based evangelism effort, where the emphasis is upon the Word of God rather than the felt needs of man.

Those who will appreciate this compilation the most are:

College and seminary students.
Biblical and evangelism professors.
Clergy.
Interested laity.
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Note that the preceding Christian book review can be found at Dr. Gregory Jackson's website:

http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-gospel-according-to-isaiah-53-book.html

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why do natural disasters occur? Should God be blamed?

"Frankenstorm Hurricane Sandy" - Predictions
were on target
One of the great mysteries of life is why natural disasters occur and why so many people are affected by their destructive forces. Why does there have to be death and destruction in this world? Why are good people reduced to the common destructive fate of all people no matter how moral or immoral other people [are]?
This web author and Christian emeritus pastor offers no logical or reasonable explanation   It is my understanding that one cannot fathom the awesome characteristics of nature. [Psalm 46:1f] Nor can we sinful human beings fathom why the Almighty holy Triune God allows what He allows. But, in all of this, it is the genuine disciple of Christ, who can say, as the person of old [Job] exclaimed, thousands of years ago:
“And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” KJV –  Job 1:21-22
Please note by reading the first 2 chapters of Job, that he did not blame God for his peculiar and very difficult circumstance and experience.
Related:
Also related:

Posted by:  Pastor emeritus Nathan M. Bickel


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Children of God: By one's own will or His?

Human souls are corrupted because
of corrupting sin. Jesus told disciple
Peter that "flesh and blood" could not
reveal the Savior Christ to him; but,
only the heavenly Father.
Matthew 16:13-17

To access all the Gospel of John questions and answers - Click here 

"He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." - John 1:10-13

Questions: How does a person become a child of God? Is it by one's own will; or, God's?

Answer:

Of all the sad ironies; perhaps, the most prevalent, is the reality that the world's human creation for the most part, rejects its Creator. Christ makes reference to this in the recorded Gospel of Matthew:

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." - Matthew 7:13;14

For some people, it is a common (false) notion that they can "accept Christ" into their lives. This falsity has been spread since the time of Christ's Resurrection. In more recent times this erroneous understanding was most popularized in the evangelistic efforts of the Rev. Billy Graham. At the end of each crusade of his, the crowd would be invited forward to the speaking platform to be met with Christian counselors. But, before people would be invited "forward," Billy Graham would lead them in a "salvation prayer."  I call this:  "Formula driven Christianity."

Christian pastors and Christian leaders are often guilty of formula driven Christianity, when they “prescribe” certain litmus like steps, to arrive at a certain destination in the Christian life and walk. Preachers are prone to emotionally lead earnest people, seeking spiritual relief, into formula driven prescription prayers. Once having led the soul searching individual into a step by step [“repeat after me”] type of prayer, the person is told that they have fulfilled the spiritual requirements to now label and proudly proclaim for themselves the title of “Christian.”

Often, part and parcel of a “repeat after me” prescription step by step prayer, led by a Christian pastor or evangelist, is, immediately following the sermon. It is proclaimed a quiet time of “every head bowed, and every eye closed,” in which the preacher incorporates a combination [quasi / pseudo] prayer along with an emotional plea to “come forward” to the altar to “accept Jesus Christ.” I have never been comfortable with this well intentioned practice, as I believe it leads both sinner and Christian saint into believing that an individual, can, by personal fiat, determine his own soul’s “salvation.” I respectfully disagree with this practice, as the impression and practice it invokes, flies in the face of the clear teaching of Holy Scripture:

1 Corinthians 2:14 ; 1 Corinthians 12:3 ; John 1:12-13 ; Romans 9:10-16 – especially Romans 9:11 and Romans 9:16 ; Also - James 1:18 ; Ephesians 2:8-10 ; 1 Corinthians 1:29-31 ; 2 Timothy 1:9 ; Titus 3:3-6 ; Philippians 2:13 ; Matthew 16:13-17

The John 1:12-13 Scripture verses make it plain that the human soul cannot affect one's right standing before God; - and automatically declare that one is a Christian for having prayed "the 'sinner's' prayer." Nothing can take the place of God the Holy Spirit's work, who initiates faith and causes the sinner to both repent and believe the Gospel. - Titus 3:5 ; John 3:1-21 ; 1 Corinthians 12:3 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:14 

Note the following Bible passages:


John 15:16 - "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." [KJV]

1 John 4:19 - "We love him, because he first loved us." [KJV] 

Jeremiah 31:3 - "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." [KJV]


Galatians 3:26 - "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." [KJV] 

Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. [KJV] 

Finally, it must be noted that the Triune God works through His means to effect His Holy Spirit faith within the human soul. That principle means is found in the Holy Scriptures, the written revelation, gifted to humanity by a loving God.  -  Romans 1:16 ; Romans 10:17 ; 1 Peter 1:23 ; Acts 8:26-39

 Please also note the following topical messages:


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Please notice: The above verses quoted out of the King James Version. However, by placing your computer cursor over the Bible reference; you may read each individual verse in the New King James Version [translation].

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Note to the reader:  

"Bible Questions and Answers" are intended to help assist the web reader to appreciate the Holy Scriptures and to enhance understanding. It is this web author's prayer that God the Holy Spirit will utilize this humble effort to effect and affect faith in those who read and hear.

Please also note:

As Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel has additional thoughts to convey of these specific Bible questions and answers individual published web postings, he will continue to edit - revise and add. Please check back, at will on this website; and / or check with Nathan M. Bickel ['s] Facebook page:  The Christian Message for notifications of upgrade.


Note:  Above pic (s) found on the web


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Christ the light: Why He is described as the light

Artist's depiction of Christ, the light [of the world].
Priceless souls desperately need the light of Christ
to transform them.
To access all the Gospel of John questions and answers - Click here 

John 1:4-9 - "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world." - John 1:4-9

Question:  Why is Christ described as "light?"

Answer:

John's Gospel further describes Christ. It talks of Him as "life" - and, in this life there is divine light to pierce through spiritual darkness. In this very first Chapter, the reader (and hearer) is introduced to one of the Gospel of John's "I AM" sayings of Jesus:

John 8:12 - "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." - KJV - 

The preceding verse [John 1:3] spoke of Christ creating all physical life; but verse 4 speaks of of a life that is so much different. It is a regenerating life; a type of life that transforms the human soul from being enemies of God [Ephesians 2:1;2;3 ; Romans 8:7 ; 1 Corinthians 2:14] to that of being friends with God. [Psalm 23:1f] This regenerating life only happens when Christ the Creator comes with His divine light, not only to expose sin [John 8:12] but to author and pioneer the way out of that spiritual darkness [Hebrews 12:2  ;  Hebrews 5:9] which only leads to eternal damnation. 

John 1:6 - "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." 

John the Baptist is now introduced in verse John 1:6. Later on in the chapter it is more fully explained about his role of introducing the people of his day to Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy of Christ, the Messiah.

It can be noted that John 1:7;8;9 verses, are Scripture verses which can (and are) misinterpreted by the "Universalists." This misinterpretation ends up with everyone finding themselves in heaven. Nothing could be farther from the Gospel truth as in John 1:10-14 and other Scriptures, it is plain that it is God granted faith in a person which is the quality and prerequisite of making one acceptable to God and his holy heaven. Please note the following:  Cheap Grace is a Worthless Substitute for a Faith That Saves - thechristianmessage.org

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Please notice: The above verses quoted out of the King James Version. However, by placing your computer cursor over the Bible reference; you may read each individual verse in the New King James Version [translation].

_______________________________________________________

Note to the reader:  

"Bible Questions and Answers" are intended to help assist the web reader to appreciate the Holy Scriptures and to enhance understanding. It is this web author's prayer that God the Holy Spirit will utilize this humble effort to effect and affect faith in those who read and hear.

Please also note:

As Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel has additional thoughts to convey of these specific Bible questions and answers individual published web postings, he will continue to edit - revise and add. Please check back, at will on this website; and / or check with Nathan M. Bickel ['s] Facebook page:  The Christian Message for notifications of upgrade.


Note:  Above pic found on the web



Sunday, October 14, 2012

You are either righteous or ungodly


A depiction of Christ's Parable of the
Pharisee and tax collector - Luke 18:9-14.
One was ungodly; the other was justified
by God.
Psalm 1:1-6 is one of this Christian emeritus pastor's favorite Psalms. It is only 6 verses long; but full of defining content. The Hebrew literary style leaves no question in the mind of the reader that there are only 2 types of individuals; the righteous and the ungodly. These two entities are contrasted with each other.

Psalm 1:1 - Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 

Psalm 1:2 - But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 


Psalm 1:3 - And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 


Psalm 1:4 - The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 


Psalm 1:5 - Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 


Psalm 1:6 - For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. - KJV


[Please note that by placing your cursor over the individual verse you will be seeing the NKJV - New King James Bible translation]


The righteous:

The righteous [person] does not take advice from the ungodly (sinner). He does not involve himself in the way of the ungodly. His way of life is totally different than the unregenerate sinner whose life is marked by scorn toward not only godly religion, but the godly, themselves.

In short, the righteous person's direction in life is totally opposite the ungodly sinner who scoffs and derides the Christian disciple's way - the way of Christ. The pursuit of the righteous man is to delight himself in Almighty God; and in His written revelation, the Scriptures. As he does this, his path in life and death is a divine success. His works take on a beneficial spiritual quality. He will be blessed (favored) by Creator God. Romans 4:3

The ungodly:

The ungodly because of their sins against their 
holy Creator God, are by their sinful nature
 adamantly predisposed against God. 
Ephesians 2:1-2
The ungodly person as described in Psalm 1:1f is not only described as "ungodly," but as a "sinner." This would distinguish a person in his continued unregenerate state. The soul which has not been regenerated by God is lost to his own damning sins. He (or she) has rejected the forgiveness gained by Christ who died for the sins of the whole world. That person then, dies in damning unbelief. Hence, this Psalm describes the eternal fate of the ungodly. They will not inhabit the same space as the righteous. And, they will be driven away as the chaff is, in the wind. Matthew 25:31-46 is the account of the righteous and the ungodly. Christ, Himself calls the the righteous, "blessed of My Father," who are invited to inherit that which is prepared for them. However, the ungodly are called the "goats" who will go away into everlasting punishment prepared for the devil and his wicked angels.

You can't fool God:

Friend, God Almighty will not be fooled. He knows your heart. He knows whether you are presently one of His or whether you are ungodly, headed for hell. You may think that because you make a show of religious activity, that, that action will stand you in good with God. The Bible calls this show, "works." [Ephesians 2:8:9] Your good intentions and works cannot affect your right standing before a holy God. The Scripture says that you must be born from above [John 3:5;6;7;8] It says that belief in Christ will make the eternal difference for your soul. [John 3:1-21 ; Ephesians 2:8;9] The Scripture says that it is by faith that you are justified (made right with God) - Romans 4:3

You cannot expect to attend church and be told of Christ's sacrifice for you and your sins, and expect then that you are "in like flint" to be one of heaven's own. That, is a false gospel of Universalism. It's a gospel devoid of Scriptural teaching balance. It's a gospel which over emphasizes the Atonement of Christ as a be all and end all; and, in the process, disses the Holy Spirit of God who initiates faith and grants to the lost soul the forgiveness of sins, brought about by Christ's holy crucifixion sacrifice [atonement] for the world's sins. In short, Universalism is a false gospel which is void of saving faith.

Genuine faith; not in a formula; but faith in the
Person of Christ.
The Bible proclaims that it is faith in Christ, which saves a human soul from the eternal consequences of human sin. It never says that faith in a church formula saves the soul. It never says that "faithful" church membership in a particular Christian denomination saves a soul from eternal damnation. It never says that if you follow this and that step, that you will have arrived in the good graces of God. No. It relates about belief and faith in Jesus Christ, which saves the [your] soul. John 3:1-21 ; Ephesians 2:8;9

Your soul is priceless:

Unregenerate friend, you have a priceless soul. But, your whole being is sinful. It will not qualify you to be in the company of the righteous and to be afforded God's holy presence in heaven. Your sins are an offense to God. His holy presence will not allow sin in His holy heaven. Your soul needs to be clothed with Christ's righteousness. You need to be dressed in His garments of holiness. [Matthew 21:1-14 ; Philippians 3:8;9] You need the "faith of Christ" as the Apostle Paul stated in one of his epistle writings - 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

Friend, the Bible makes it clear that head knowledge will not save; nor faith in formula; nor faithful church attendance; nor doing works of mercy to one's neighbor. Simple trusting faith in Christ, is what saves your wretched priceless soul. Ephesians 2:8;9

A Poem:

In the Gospel of John 10:1f, Christ speaks of Himself
as the True Shepherd and also as the "gate"
 [door]:  "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me,
 he will be saved, and will go in and out and find
 pasture" John 10:9
There's a saying often heard -- tis this; "There's many ways to Heaven, and God approves them all." That is not true my precious friends; that's just not true at all.

For those who talk in such a way I take my pen in hand, and hope this picture that I paint will help them understand.


I seem to see an angel stand beside a golden gate. Beyond the gate is Paradise, where heavenly glories wait. Stretched through the Heavens wait a throng who fain would enter there; the angel sentry they must pass -- He questions them with care:


"Do you know the password?" he inquires, of a man of stately mien. "Presbyterian," he proclaims, "My people all have been!" The angel bends on the stately soul, a searching look - yet kind, then turns the leaves of his golden book; but the word he cannot find. "I'm sorry," he says, but it is not here, friend, kindly step aside, As soon as you think of the proper words the gate will open wide."


A friendly look the next soul has He eagerly draws near. "With Methodists I meet," he says, "I'm sure you know us here." The angel loveth the friendly soul by his face we can plainly see, yet he stops for a look at his golden book, "The name is not here," said he. "Stand here by the Presbyterian," He said with a pitying smile. "You'll surely remember the proper words when you have thought awhile."


The next soul carries a book of prayer, and calmly doth advance. "Episcopalian," the angel bends on his book a searching glance. "Tis sorry work, oh soul," he says "But only one thing to do. I've looked but I cannot find the name. I must keep you waiting, too."


A Catholic next in line doth come, "Tis the one true Church," he saith. On page after page the angel looks, but no mention the record hath. "Neither have you the answer given my Master doth demand. You, too dear soul must step aside, and with the others stand."


And now a soul approaches him in the Baptist faith well versed, who tells the angel in detail of how he was immersed. The angel hears the story through with interest to the end. But this, his simple verdict was, "This will not save, my friend."


A follower of Luther next, comes up before the gate, and in the great reformer's name doth his credentials state. "Luther I know," the angel says, "Heaven holds him very dear. But following him is not the way to gain an entrance here."

Jesus:  "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever
shall not receive the kingdom of God as
a little child, he shall not enter therein."
Gospel of Mark 10:15

And now, a very little child stands where the rest have stood. Whose voice rang out, in accents clear, "I trust in Jesus,' blood!"


Lo, at these words the golden gate suddenly opens wide, and a lovely One with nail pierced hands, welcomes the child inside.


If you were summoned today, my friend, to stand at the gate of God, would your answer be that of the little child, "I trust in Jesus' blood?"


Note: Above poem’s author – anonymous


Unregenerate friend - where do you obtain the faith of a little child to trust in Christ and in His holy cleansing sacrifice for you? You obtain that faith in the Scriptural divine revelation:

"Faith comes by hearing and by hearing the Word of God."  - Romans 10:17.  

Please also note other related Scriptures:  


Romans 1:16 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ; Acts 8:26-39 ; 1 Peter 1:23 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:14 ; James 1:18


It is the same Word of God which the righteous delight in (Psalm 1:3) which is God's means to bring you to faith by His Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Salvation unto us has come by God's free grace and favor;
Good works cannot avert our doom, they help and save us never.
Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone, Who did for all the world atone;
He is our one Redeemer.

Faith clings to Jesus' cross alone and rests in Him unceasing;

And by its fruits true faith is known, with Love and hope increasing.
Yet faith alone doth justify, works serve thy neighbor and supply
the proof that faith is living.

[TLH - 1941 ; CPH - "Salvation unto us has come" - Verse 1 and 9]


Related Topical Messages to the above:
Above Message and Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended can utilized in a simple worship format:

Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:
The Order of Morning Service
The Order of Matins


Related Scriptures:

Scriptures describing the "scornful:"


Proverbs 1:22 ; Proverbs 3:34 ; Proverbs 9:7;8;9 ; Proverbs 13:1 ; Proverbs 15:12

The end of the ungodly:


Matthew 25:31-46 - The Last Judgement

Luke 16:19-31 - Christ's Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

The Gospel [Good News] of Jesus Christ:


John 1:1-14 and John 3:1-21

Luke 18:9-14

Other related topical messages:
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Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- an in-depth view of Isaiah 53:1-12 and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.



Please Note: Topical Christian Messages, by subject


Pastor (Emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship formatare not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages and related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

How did our world come to be? What is the reason for the whole universe's existence?

An artist's illustration of our
world's divine origin
To access all the Gospel of John questions and answers - Click here 

John 1:3 - "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."

Questions:  How did "our" world come to be? What is the reason for the whole universe's existence?

Answer:

Perhaps, the "meatiest" of all Scripture is contained in this 1st chapter of John's Gospel. The last posting dealt with the first 2 verses, having to do with "in the beginning." This emeritus Christian pastor did not even delve into the name given to Jesus Christ as the "Word." Such explanation  study and detail could be contained in a future "The Christian Message" website topical message in the future and then linked to this Gospel of John questions and answers.

John 1:3 - "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."

In simple straightforward language the Bible tells us finite human beings that our world and everything came into existence, by the creative action of Jesus Christ. All that we sense, feel and witness; and even all that we can't comprehend  such as unlimited outer space, had its beginning in the person of Jesus Christ:

[Note: Click on the Scripture reference itself to view the New King James Version translation]

Revelation 4:11 - "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." - KJV 

Heb 1:1-2 - "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." - KJV 


Colossians 1:16-17 - "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." - KJV 

The natural question is often asked:  

"I thought God created everything. What's this about Christ creating everything? Doesn't it say in Genesis 1:1 that God performed it all? Is the Bible contradicting itself?"

Certainly God created all; because His divine revelation (which, by one of its own definitions) cannot lie. But, here in the Christian New Testament, God's Word says that God's Son, Jesus Christ, created all. There is no contradiction; as Scripture does not contradict itself. For those "competing" type of Scriptures, (such as Genesis 1:1) those Scriptures really don't compete with others; they only accentuate; and the humble soul must relegate questions which seem to have no human answers, to God Almighty, its holy author. - Deuteronomy 29:29

Also, one must keep in mind, that Jesus Christ is the second person of the "Trinity," - The Triune God. Hence, it is no contradiction to say one time that God created all; and then, another time to say that Jesus Christ created all.

Please note some "Principles of Biblical Interpretation" in the following message:

"Understanding the Bible – Reasons Why Non Christians Don’t Comprehend the Holy Scriptures" - thechristianmessage.org/2012/02/

Furthermore, we must realize that many seeming contradictions, are only paradoxes. For instance; God is a God of love; but, at the same time, He hates sin, and will punish sin to the fullest as witnessed in many Scriptures; - Matthew 25:31-46, being one of them.

Evolutionist's avoid belief in
Creator Christ.Instead they choose
to believe in a theory which never
has been evidenced or proven by
genuine science. They choose to
believe that they are not special
creations of God, but rather
descendants from the animal
kingdom.
Finally, for those who have been snake charmed by the pseudo scientific explanation of what we see, hear and smell; please access the following topical messages:

"Evolution:" Rejected by Jesus Christ - thechristianmessage.org/2011/02/

Trusting a Theory or Trusting the God of Human History - thechristianmessage.org/2012/02/

Please also note three creation websites:

Institute for Creation Research - icr.org/

Answers in Genesis - answersingenesis.org/

Creation Ministries International - creation.com/

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Please notice: The above verses quoted out of the King James Version. However, by placing your computer cursor over the Bible reference; you may read each individual verse in the New King James Version [translation].

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Note to the reader:  

"Bible Questions and Answers" are intended to help assist the web reader to appreciate the Holy Scriptures and to enhance understanding. It is this web author's prayer that God the Holy Spirit will utilize this humble effort to effect and affect faith in those who read and hear.

Please also note:

As Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel has additional thoughts to convey of these specific Bible questions and answers individual published web postings, he will continue to edit - revise and add. Please check back, at will on this website; and / or check with Nathan M. Bickel ['s] Facebook page:  The Christian Message for notifications of upgrade.


Note:  Above pic found on the web



Sunday, October 7, 2012

In the beginning was the Word

Time stands still in eternity. It is non existent. Our
human minds cannot comprehend when God
says: "In the beginning."
To access all the Gospel of John questions and answers - Click here 

John 1:1 - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

John 1:2 - "The same was in the beginning with God."


Question:  

How did Jesus Christ come to be? What was [is] His origin?

Answer:

The Bible says:  "In the beginning"
referring to the "Word," which is Jesus Christ. The Scripture again interprets itself, because in verse John 1:14, it explains "who" the "Word," is. Jesus Christ was not only present when He was born of the Virgin Mary; He was present in eternity - "in the beginning."

Scripture teaches that one of the Triune God’s “attributes,” is that He is a “spirit,” [John 4:24] -- [Also, that He is “Invisible” -- 1 Timothy 1:17] Scripture also, ascribes to God, the quality of being, “Eternal.” That means that He has no beginning and no end. [Psalm 90:1;2] Hence, Mary, the (earthly) mother of Jesus, cannot be what some, erroneously term, the “Mother of God.”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. - John 1:1;2

Think of it this way. The Bible (the Scripture) is God's communication divine written revelation; and Jesus Christ is God's Word communication made present in human flesh. Please note also: John 14:1f - John 16:1f regarding the Holy Spirit who was to fully manifest Himself after Christ's ascension into heaven.

So, if Christ was "in the beginning," (and He was) - when was the beginning? God does not grant us the full answer. But we are told in Scripture that God is "from everlasting to everlasting." - Psalm 9:1;2 ; Psalm 93:2

What is "everlasting?" Everlasting is forever. God, has no beginning, as He is eternal. "Beginning" is the word to express a period of time which has no defined limits. Think of endless outer space. This also reminds me of the one hymn verse words from "Amazing Grace," where it describes heaven's eternity:

When we've been there ten thousand years; bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise; than when we first begun. 

When we say that "God is eternal" that is one way to express only one of God's divine attributes (characteristics). "Divine attributes" of God are:

*God is a spirit - John 4:24;39

Also, God is the following:

*Eternal - Psalm 90:1;2
*Unchangeable - Malachi 3:6 ; Psalm 102:27
*Omnipotent (almighty; all powerful) - Genesis 17:1 ; Luke 1:37 ; Matthew 19:26
*Omniscient (all-knowing) - Psalm 139:1;2;3;4 ; John 21:17
*Omnipresent (present everywhere) - Jeremiah 23:24
*Holy (sinless and hating sin) - Leviticus 19:2 ; Isaiah 6:3
*Just (fair and impartial) - Deuteronomy 32:4
*Faithful (keeping His promises) - 2 Timothy 2:13
*Benevolent (good, kind, desiring our welfare) - Psalm 145:9
*Merciful (full of pity) - Psalm 145:9
*Gracious (showing undeserved kindness, forgiving) - Exodus 34:6:7 ; 1 John 4:8

Please note:  The above divine attributes of God and corresponding proof Scriptures - taken from Martin Luther's Small Catechism ; CPH - 1943

How does the Triune God differ from (false) "gods?" Note the following 4 Scriptures:

* Psalm 115:1-8

"Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth. Why should the Gentiles say, 'So where is their God?' But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

Their idols are silver and gold,the work of men’s hands.

They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear; noses they have, but they do not smell; they have hands, but they do not handle; feet they have, but they do not walk; nor do they mutter through their throat.

Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them." - Psalm 115:1-8

* John 1:14

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." [KJV] - John 1:14


* 1 John 1:1;2;3


"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." - 1 John 1:1-3


* Hebrews 1:1;2;3;4

"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." - Hebrews 1:1;2;3;4

Jesus Christ was [is] the Word. He existed in eternity; and He was born into human flesh of the Virgin Mary. This is the miracle of the holy Incarnation as expressed in the words of the Nicene Creed:

The Nicene Creed, speaking of Jesus Christ:


".......And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost [Spirit] of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven; and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick [living] and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end......"

[Please note the whole Nicene Creed at the bottom of this page]


Finally:

The historic Nicene Creed, which was authored and codified in the 3rd Century AD makes reference to God's origin. It clarifies the relationship of the three divine persons of the Trinity [Triune God] The Nicene Creed helps us to understand the Triune God; and not only God the Father's role, but the origin of Christ, God's Son and God the Holy Spirit. 

In order to understand the beginning of this Gospel of John, it is helpful to note:

Time stands still in eternity. It is non existent. Our human minds cannot comprehend when the Bible says: "In the beginning." Why can't we human beings comprehend "in the beginning?" It is because we were created with finite minds; unlike our Creator, the Triune God whose whole spiritual being, is infinite. That infinite quality, could also be considered a divine attribute of the Triune God.

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The Nicene Creed - 325 A.D. - In its entirety

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost [Spirit] of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven; and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick [living] and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost [Spirit], the Lord and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets. And I believe (in) one holy Christian and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead; and the life of the world to come. Amen.


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Note to the reader:  

The above is the first of what is hoped [Lord willing] to be many. "Bible Questions and Answers" are intended to help assist the web reader to appreciate the Holy Scriptures and to enhance understanding. It is this web author's prayer that God the Holy Spirit will utilize this humble effort to effect and affect faith in those who read and hear.

Please also note:

As Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel has additional thoughts to convey of these specific Bible questions and answers individual published web postings, he will continue to edit - revise and add. Please check back, at will on this website; and / or check with Nathan M. Bickel ['s] Facebook page:  The Christian Message for notifications of upgrade.

Note:  Above pic found on the web


Please finally note:


It cannot be understated that living faith is created and sustained by divine means. That principle divine "means" is God's written revelation - the Scriptures [the Bible]. 

Look at the following Scriptures to see for yourself what they say about their supreme importance to possessing saving faith. Note that saving faith in Christ the Savior is essential for your priceless soul: 

Romans 10:17 ; Romans 1:16 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ; Acts 8:26-39











Wednesday, October 3, 2012

John's Gospel: Bible questions and answers

Picture of the artist's depiction of Christ,
"The Good Shepherd;" one of the 7 "I Am"
statements of Christ in The Gospel of John
Note:  Please click on the linked questions to be transported to separate pages for the answers.

1 -  What is the stated purpose of this particular historical Gospel of John?

2-  How did Jesus Christ come to be? What was [is] His origin? - John 1:1;2

3-  How did our world come to be? What is the reason for the whole universe's existence? - John 1:3

4 -  Christ the light: Why He is described as the light? - John 1:4-9


5 - How does a person become a child of God? Is it by one's own will; or, God's - John 1:10-13

6 - What is the "glory" of Christ? - John 1:14-18

7 - The fullness of Christ - John 1:14-18

8 - Rejecting God and His Word by rejecting His prophet messengers - John 1:19-28

9 - Christ dying for the sins of the world is different than a faith that justifies one before God - John 1:29-34

Note:  This web author has introduced this new "facility" to "The Christian Message." Please be patient as Pastor emeritus Bickel works to smooth out this new addition.







Bible Questions and Answers

The Gospel of John





Note:  This is a new addition (facility) to "The Christian Message" site. Please be patient with this web author as he lays it out.

This web author wishes that he could effect a quick web route for the curious and eager reader. However, Pastor emeritus Bickel is no computer whiz. Also, he is planning on presenting other Bible books with the question and answer format. That, primarily is the reason for this 2 "mouse click" web reader access.






The Gospel of John: Bible questions and answers

The artist's depiction of Christ, in deep thought.
John's Gospel more than the other 3, depicts more
of the "person" of Christ; and, His eternal words


Question:

What is the stated purpose of this particular historical Gospel of John?

Answer:

This Gospel Scripture specifically what its purpose is: John 20:31, as Scripture, often interprets itself.

Also, we know that the Triune God's divine revelation purpose is described elsewhere in the Bible. For instance:

2 Timothy 3:15;16;17 ; Psalm 119:105 ; Luke 11:27;28 

Brief summary:

The historical Hebrew and Christian Scriptures make it plain who is the most important person with which to be personally connected [with]. It is the Lord Jesus Christ, commonly known as the second person of the Trinity [The Triune God]. Why is it so important to be "connected" with Jesus Christ? Because you have a priceless soul; and, your eternal destiny depends upon belief [faith] in Christ. 2 Timothy 3:15;16;17 ; John 3:1-21 ; Matthew 25: 31-46

As we progress through this Gospel of John, this Scripture aptly refers to Jesus Christ in clear terms as the "Light of the World; The Bread of life; The True [sustaining] Vine; etc. No one person connected to you in this world, is more important than Christ;  - not even the closest of family members, as Jesus Christ, Himself, points out:

Matthew 10:32  Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.  

Matthew 10:33  But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 

Matthew 10:34  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 

Matthew 10:35  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the 
daughter in law against her mother in law. 

Matthew 10:36  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 

Matthew 10:37  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 

Matthew 10:38  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 

Matthew 10:39  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 

Also: Matthew 22:37 Philippians 3:7;8;9

Please notice: The above verses quoted out of the King James Version. However, by placing your computer cursor over the Bible reference; you may read each individual verse in the New King James Version [translation].

__________________________________________


Note to the reader:  

The above is the first of what is hoped [Lord willing] to be many. "Bible Questions and Answers" are intended to help assist the web reader to appreciate the Holy Scriptures and to enhance understanding. It is this web author's prayer that God the Holy Spirit will utilize this humble effort to effect and affect faith in those who read and hear.

Please also note:

As Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel has additional thoughts to convey of these specific Bible questions and answers individual published web postings, he will continue to edit - revise and add. Please check back, at will on this website; and / or check with Nathan M. Bickel ['s] Facebook page:  The Christian Message for notifications of upgrade.


Note:  Above pic found on the web