Ask The Chaplain

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

What is the Best Bible?

Choosing a Bible Translation
Choosing a Bible Translation magnify
Choosing a Bible Translation
by J. Kristen Edscorn

Fifty years ago the King James, or Authorized, Version of the Bible was considered by many to be the only reliable translation and choosing a Bible involved selecting the binding and color. Today, dozens of English translations are available. So, how does one decide which is best?

First, we need to recognize that there is no one translation that is the best. Even the writers of the New Testament books quote from several Greek translations of the Old Testament. Today we have no perfect translation, but there are a number which are very good. The real question is: Which is best for our particular needs?

About the King James
So what is wrong with the good old King James Version? It probably is the most beautiful, elegant, literary English translation that will ever be produced. In fact, it contributed a great deal to the formation of the English language. Modern translations usually lack the poetry of the King James because modern biblical scholars are more scientists than artists.

Nevertheless, there are two major problems with the King James Version. First of all, when it was translated in 1611, there were relatively few Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available and they tended to be recent and less accurate. In the nearly 400 years since then literally thousands more manuscripts have been discovered, ranging from small portions to complete copies of the Old or New Testaments. Many of these are very early and more accurate.

Secondly, the English in the King James Version is not at all the same language spoken today. Both the vocabulary and grammar have changed considerably. As a result, a reader often must retranslate the King James into modern English in his or her mind. For many people, especially children, reading the King James Version is like reading a foreign language.

So Which is for Me?
Which brings us to the numerous modern translations. Most of these have been produced by fine scholars using the many thousands of manuscripts available today. Different translations are better for various purposes.

If you are interested in serious study of the Bible, including grammar and vocabulary, you will want a more literal translation, such as the English Standard Version, New King James, or New American Standard. However, it is always good to compare several translations, especially for passages that are difficult to understand. If you are interested in reading the Bible in large blocks, you probably will prefer one of the freer translations (not necessarily less accurate), such as the New International, New Living Translation, or Contemporary English Version.

The following is an annotated list of the most popular modern English translations.

Contemporary English Version (CEV), is a completely new translation published by the American Bible Society in 1995. Originally intended as a children's translation, it uses a very simple, contemporary style. It is independent of traditional translations and freer of "biblical" terms. This is an especially good translation for people who speak English as a second language.

English Standard Version (ESV) is an "essentially new literal translation" follows the tradition of the King James, American Standard Version, and Revised Standard Version. Published in 2001 by Crossway, it was developed by a translation team of more than 100 scholars, with the goal of being very accurate (word for word), and yet very readable.

Good News Bible (Today's English Version) (TEV), completed in 1976, was translated by Robert G. Bratcher with six other scholars. This very free, though very accurate, translation avoids the use of traditional biblical vocabulary and communicates especially well with youth and the unchurched. Also published by the American Bible Society.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) is another new word-for-word translation that strives to be both literally accurate and readable. It is not as literal as the ESV or NASB, but is more so than the NIV. The Holman published by Broadman & Holman in 2003, is the product of nearly 100 scholars.

The Living Bible (LB), completed in 1971, is Kenneth N. Taylor's paraphrase of the American Standard Version. Easy to read and once immensely popular, it is often criticized for adding too much commentary to the biblical text. Published by Tyndale House, although apparently no longer available from them.

The Message (Msg) - Eugene Peterson completed this paraphrase of the entire Bible in 2002. Peterson takes great liberties with words in his attempt to effectively communicate both the original thoughts and tone of the Scripture. The result is a very earthy, informal language. Published by NavPress.

New American Standard Bible (NASB) - completed in 1971, was produced by 54 conservative Protestant scholars sponsored by the Lockman Foundation. This version is very literal in vocabulary and word order, although the resulting English is quite wooden. It often is preferred by those who want an English version that reflects the grammar of the original. An Update was published in 1995 which seeks to use more modern English while preserving the literal nature of the translation.

New International Version (NIV), completed in 1978, was the product of 115 evangelical scholars. Within a decade it became the best-selling English version. It combines contemporary, literary English with traditional biblical vocabulary. The NIV is copyrighted by the International Bible Society.

New King James Version (NKJV), released in 1982, involved 119 contributors. It updates the vocabulary and grammar of the King James Version, while preserving the classic style and beauty. Although it uses the same Hebrew and Greek texts as the original, it indicates where other manuscripts differ. Published by Thomas Nelson.

New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) of 1985 revised and updated the text and notes of the Jerusalem Bible of 1966. This version, translated by two Catholic scholars, is an elegant, literary rendering (perhaps the most poetic since the KJV). The notes reflect a modern, liberal perspective.

New Living Translation (NLT), published in 1996, is the product of 90 Bible scholars from around the world, from various theological backgrounds and denominations. This is a very readable translation, while remaining more faithful to the original texts than the Living Bible (see above). Also published by Tyndale.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) - published in 1989 by the National Council of Churches, revises the Revised Standard Version of 1952. While following the literal tradition of the RSV, the NRSV eliminates much of the archaic language. One distinctive is the use of gender inclusive pronouns to replace male pronouns when the original writers meant both men and women. The NRSV does not change masculine pronouns referring to God, however.

Revised English Bible (REB), completed in 1989, is a thorough revision of the New English Bible. Like the original, it was translated by a committee of British scholars, representing all the major Christian traditions in the United Kingdom. The more archaic language was omitted and a more conservative approach was taken toward some of the difficult passages. Many readers find it to be an excellent translation for personal reading and study, though its British idioms make it less popular in the U.S.

A New Testament of Note
Special mention also should be made of an important New Testament paraphrase. A paraphrase translates the thoughts of the original text, not the words. In 1958 J. B. Phillips completed The New Testament in Modern English. Phillips had a special knack of rendering difficult and long sentences into very understandable English. He even translates well some of the Greek puns and word plays that usually are lost. It can be very helpful to have a copy of Phillips nearby, especially when studying the epistles of Paul.

For Children
Several translations especially for children have been published in recent years, in addition to the CEV mentioned above. The International Children's Bible was completed in 1985 by 21 evangelical scholars. It is written on a high third-grade level. An adult edition, known as the New Century Version, also is available. Published by Thomas Nelson/Word.

The International Bible Society produced the New International Reader's Version (NIrV) as a children's version of the popular NIV. It also is on a third-grade reading level. Both of these Children's Bibles are excellent resources for children. The NIrV comes in several study Bible formats designed especially for children. Published by International Bible Society.
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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Does God Speak to Us Through Dreams?

God has chosen to communicate with mankind through dreams. He guides
and counsels us through our dreams. He establishes covenants with us
through our dreams. He grants us gifts in our dreams. He utilized
dreams from Genesis to Revelation, and declared that He would
continue to use them in the last days. When you total up all dreams
and visions in the Bible, and all the stories and actions which come
out of these dreams and visions, you have about one-third of the
Bible, which is equal to the size of the New Testament! Dreams are a
central way God has chosen to communicate with us, and thus they must
be given great weight!

Five Things You Can Do to Help Recall Your Dreams
Say to yourself, "I believe dreams contain a valid message."
This is a signal to your heart that you are taking it seriously and
want to hear what it has to tell you. You are giving it permission,
and even asking it to awaken you after each dream. Your heart will do
exactly that. You see, if you do not awaken within five minutes of
the dream ending, you will not recall it. If, however, you

tell your heart that dreams are leftover undigested pizza, then you
heart lets you sleep through the dream and doesn't awaken you after
it is over, and thus you do not recall it.

Ask God to speak to you through dreams as you fall asleep.
God does answer prayers, especially when prayed in accordance to His

Put your journal beside your bed and immediately record your dreams
upon awakening.
You will forget most of your dreams by the morning, so get up and
write them down when you awaken.

Get eight hours of sleep, as the entire last hour will be dream-time.

Awaken naturally, without the use of an alarm clock, as alarms
shatter dream recall and blast tidbits of dreams into oblivion where
they are never found.

If you will do the above five things, you will recall dreams every

Seven Foundational Principles for Interpreting Dreams
Most dreams are symbolic (including biblical dreams), so view them
the same way you would view a political cartoon. Throw the switch in
your brain that says, "Look at this symbolically."
You can learn the art of communicating symbolically by playing the
game "Pictionary" or "Bible Pictionary."

The symbols will come from the dreamer's life, so ask, "What does
this symbol mean to me?" or, if working on another's dream,
ask, "What does this symbol mean to you?"
For example, Joseph was a shepherd, and he dreamed of sheaves and
sun, moon and stars bowing down (Gen. 37:1-11). These images surround
a shepherd boy who lives in the fields. Nebuchadnezzar, a king,
dreamed of statues of gold (Dan 2:31ff), which surround kings who
live in palaces.

The dream generally speaks of the concerns which your heart is
currently facing. So ask, "What issues was I processing the day
before I had the dream?"
For example, Paul was wondering where to go next on his missionary
journey and had a dream of a Macedonian man motioning for him to come
on over (Acts 16:6-11). Nebuchadnezzar was thinking his kingdom would
go on forever (Dan. 4:28-33) and he had a dream of a tree being
chopped off at the roots (Dan. 4:9-27). Once you know the thoughts
that were on the dreamer's heart when he fell asleep, it is much
easier to draw out the meaning of the dream.

The meaning of the dream must be drawn from the dreamer. Realize you
know nothing about the dream, but through dependence upon the Holy
Spirit and the skillful use of questions, you can draw the meaning of
the dream out from the heart of the dreamer.
As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all
learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and
dreams (Dan. 1:17).

Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of
understanding will draw it out (Prov. 20:5).

The dreamer's heart will leap and "witness" and say, "Aha!" when it
hears the right interpretation, so never accept an interpretation
that does not bear witness in the dreamer's heart.

Dreams reveal but do not condemn. Their goal is to preserve life, not
to destroy it (Job 33:13-18).

Never make a major decision in your life based only on a dream
without receiving additional confirmation from the other ways that
God speaks to us and guides us (peace in our hearts, the counsel of
others, illumined Scriptures, God's still small voice, prophecy,
anointed reasoning, etc.).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Did Jesus Ever Get Depressed?

You don't think of Jesus as having a bad day, do you? Nevertheless, I want to look in this study at what was quite probably one of the worst days of Jesus' life, and how he handled the challenge he was faced with.

Matthew 26:36-39
(36) Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
(37) And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
(38) Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
(39) And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt].

Have you ever been so depressed that you wanted to die? That's how Jesus felt on this day. There is no record elsewhere in the gospels where he felt so bad that he told any of his disciples about it, but that's what he did here. And, he didn't bare his heart before all of his disciples; he went off with only Peter, James and John into the Garden of Gethsemane, where he sometimes went to pray, and let them know how he was feeling. He didn't try to put on a good, "spiritual looking" front for them. He was honest with them about how bad he was feeling.

Now here's something to think about: If Jesus was so depressed, what was he doing wrong that caused it? Was he focusing his mind on the wrong things? Was he failing to look at things from God's perspective? Was he failing to exercise proper control over his mind?

We know even as we ask this question that Jesus was doing nothing wrong. There was no sin or guilt in his life to pull him down. There was no shortcoming or failure in his walk with God that could have caused this. He was as fully committed to God as always, and as disciplined in his walk with God as he had ever been. And he was still so depressed that he wanted to die.

This lets us know that depression is not always the result of something you or I have done wrong. Depression can occur even when we are doing things right. If Jesus could get depressed in spite of his perfect walk with God, perhaps we should not be so quick to condemn ourselves or others when depression occurs.

Now being depressed is one thing; handling it the right way is another.

How did Jesus handle his depression? Did he seek for comfort at the bottom of a bottle? Did he look for recreational herbs to numb his mind? Did he gorge himself with food, or seek to forget his troubles in the arms of a woman? Did he seek out entertainments? Did he cut himself off from those around him? Did he curl up by himself somewhere and sleep for hours on end, unable to do anything?

How did Jesus handle his depression? He prayed. And he did something else that you never see him doing throughout the gospels: he asked three of his disciples to pray with him.

Can you imagine being Peter, James or John and having this weight dropped on you? It's hard enough that Jesus is depressed; it's another thing entirely to be asked to pray with him about his problem. The disciples had prayed for other people; they were not strangers to prayer. But praying for Jesus in a crisis situation was something entirely new -- and, no doubt, frightening -- to them.

What would you do in that situation? Wouldn't you be on your best prayer behavior? This would be the most important prayer you've ever prayed. The farthest thing from your mind would be taking a nap. Yet, when Jesus returned to them after going off a little way to pray, he found them all asleep.

Why was Jesus depressed? Verse 39 gives us a clue. Jesus knew what it was that God wanted him to do, but he didn't want to do it. There was a conflict here between the will of God and the will of Jesus. But rather than running off and doing his own will, Jesus went right to God in prayer.

What was the conflict? We don't have to guess about this. The Scriptures tell us.

Hebrews 5:7
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

To put it quite simply, Jesus did not want to die. The "cup" that he asked God to let pass from him was his death.

God's plan for the redemption of mankind was for Jesus, the one sinless man, to die in the place of sinful man, and for God to raise him from the dead. Now let's be frank for a moment and forget that we're talking about Jesus Christ. What kind of plan does this sound like to you? If God's plan was for you to die and for him to raise you from the dead, how excited would you be about the idea? Would you follow right along, no questions asked, because of your trust in God? Or would you have some serious questions about whether it was really God who was talking to you, or whether you had understood Him correctly?

Doesn't this sound suspiciously like the “Heaven's Gate” incident, where a group of misguided religious men and women gave up their lives in the hope that they would be resurrected on a spaceship somewhere? We think of people who act like that as crazy, and if they say that God told them to do it, we consider it a confirmation of our suspicions!

Jesus trusted God, and he had always done what God told him to do; but this went far beyond anything God had ever asked of him before. Jesus was just as determined as he ever was to obey God at all costs, but here he did something he had never done before: he asked God to change His will. He asked this not once, but three times. And he didn't ask calmly, dispassionately. He went before his Father with "strong crying and tears."

What was he praying so hard for? What was he agonizing about in the garden? He wanted God to save him from death. He wanted to obey God, but he didn't want to die. Jesus made it clear in his prayer that if there was no change in God's plan for him, he would carry out God's will; but he also prayed that if it were possible, "this cup" would pass from him.

Jesus was heard by God when he prayed, but he didn't get the answer that he prayed for. God did not change His will. Instead, Jesus "was heard in that he feared." What does this mean? Jesus' prayer was answered by his being given what he needed to carry out God's will willingly. The "fear" referred to here is obedience.

Hebrews 5:8-9
(8) Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
(9) And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Philippians 2:8
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Once Jesus rose up from this intense time of prayer, there is no further hint of depression on his part. There is no sign of hesitation or unwillingness to carry out the assignment God had given him. Why is this? What had changed? What enabled Jesus to face the cruel, agonizing and shameful death of the cross without looking back?

Hebrews 12:2
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

There's the answer. Jesus was able to endure the cross because of "the joy that was set before him." God's solution to Jesus' depression was to give him joy.

What was it that Jesus was joyful about? There was nothing in his immediate situation that called for joy; he still faced the suffering and humiliation of the cross. The answer is right here in the same verse: God had him look beyond the cross, not just to his resurrection, but to what he would be doing after his resurrection. Where is Jesus now? He is seated at God's right hand. That's what God set before him, and that was the source of the joy that kept him going unhesitatingly to the Cross.

The right hand of God is a position of authority and power. According to Psalm 16, it is also a place of joy.

Psalm 16:8-11
(8) I have set the Lord always before me: because [he is] at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
(9) Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
(10) For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
(11) Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fullness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 45:6-7
(6) Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom [is] a right sceptre.
(7) Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

God enabled Jesus to overcome his depression by focusing his attention on something that he could not have yet, but which was guaranteed to him in the future. In other words, God gave him something to hope for.

There are two vantage points available to the Christian that enable him or her to set in proper perspective the things that are happening in life. The first is to look at things from our legal position, where we are seated with Christ at God's right hand.

Ephesians 2:4-7
(4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
(5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
(6) And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:
(7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

God has raised us up together with Christ and made us sit together in the heavens in Christ Jesus. When you're sitting in the heavens in Christ, everything on earth looks small. No matter how immense or unsolvable our situation may seem from the vantage point of the earth, they all seem small and manageable from the vantage point of the heavens. Our Heavenly Father is more than able to deal with anything we are confronted with in life.

The second vantage point that sets things in proper perspective for us is looking at things from the vantage point of Christ's return. Looking at our lives and our situations from the viewpoint of Christ's return reminds us that all we see around us is temporary, while what God has given us and done for us in Christ is forever.

Have you ever, while reading a tense part in a suspense novel, looked ahead to the end of the book to make sure a favorite character was still around? If he is, your anxiety about what he's going through in the middle of the book is considerably lessened, because you know it's only temporary. At the end of the book he or she will be alive and well.

Well, we've read the end of the book -- God's book -- and guess what? If you've confessed Christ as your Lord, you're still alive and doing well at the end of the book! Knowing this gives you strength for dealing with whatever difficulties you are faced with now, because you are assured that they are temporary, and you will still be here when they are gone.

"Why Did God Allow Satan to Afflict Job?"

If Job was blameless, why did God allow Satan to afflict him?
Job 1:1 and Job 1:12

(Job 1:1) - "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil."

(Job 1:12) - "Then the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him."

When the Bible says that Job was blameless, it does not mean that he was absolutely sinless. It means that he was a God-fearing man who sought to do what was right before the Lord. Job's awareness of his own sins is acknowledged by the fact that he sacrificed animals to the Lord as atonement for his sins in chapter 1.
As the story goes, the "sons of God", angels, presented themselves before God. Satan was there and a conversation ensued about Job's goodness. Satan challenges God by stating that Job will denounce God if afflicted. God gives permission to Satan to afflict Job. Of course, Job doesn't denounce God. So, the question is why would God allow Satan to do this?
The reason is so that God may be vindicated at His word and so that we might understand that trials and tribulations will come to those who are godly. In the former, we see the righteousness of God After all, none are righteous before God (Rom. 3:10-12). In the latter we see the perfection of Job's faith (James 1:2-4).

What Does it Mean to "Pull Down a Stronghold?"

“Pulling Down Strongholds”
The Bible does sometimes use military terminology when describing the Christian’s responsibility. Yet, in those cases, we must ask ourselves if we are “pushing the parables too far,” by reading more into metaphorical language than was meant. For example, a classic text that is often misinterpreted is 2 Corinthians 10:3-6:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete (2 Cor. 10:3-6).

The King James Version, rather than saying “we are destroying speculations,” says we are “pulling down strongholds.” From this one metaphorical phrase, practically an entire theology has been built to defend the idea of doing “spiritual warfare” in order to “pull down the strongholds” consisting of evil spirits in the atmosphere. But as the New American Standard Version clearly conveys, Paul is speaking, not of evil spirits in the atmosphere, but of strongholds of false beliefs that exist in people’s minds. Speculations are what Paul was destroying, not wicked spirits in high places.

This becomes even clearer as we read contextually. Paul said, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (emphasis added). The battle of which Paul symbolically writes is a battle against thoughts, or ideas that are contrary to the true knowledge of God.

Using military metaphors, Paul explains that we are in a battle, a battle for the minds of people who have believed the lies of Satan. Our primary weapon in this battle is the truth, which is why we’ve been commanded to go into the entire world and preach the gospel, invading enemy territory with a message that can set captives free. The fortresses we are destroying have been built with building blocks of lies, joined by the mortar of deception.

If you will take the time to read all of the tenth chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, you will see that he makes no mention there of wicked spiritual powers, even though we know (and he knew) that wicked spirits are involved in spreading lies. Therefore, in this particular passage, evil spirits were not the “strongholds” of which He was thinking when he wrote. To say that Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 prove that we can and should practice pulling down evil spirits in the atmosphere is an obvious misrepresentation of what Paul actually meant.

If Paul did mean that we should pull down evil spirits in the atmosphere, we would have to wonder why he himself never practiced what he preached, as there is no mention of him ever doing it in the history of his ministry as recorded in the book of Acts.

The Whole Armor of God
Another passage in Paul’s writings that is often misinterpreted is found in his Ephesian letter:

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:10-17).

May I initially point out that although this passage is definitely about the Christian’s struggle with the devil and evil spirits, there is no mention of pulling down evil spirits over cities. As we study the passage closely, it becomes clear that Paul is primarily writing about each individual’s responsibility to resist Satan’s schemes in his personal life by applying the truth of God’s Word.

Notice also the evident metaphorical language of the entire passage. Paul obviously was not speaking of a literal, material armor that Christians should put on their bodies. Rather, the armor of which he speaks is figurative. Those pieces of armor represent the various scriptural truths that Christians should use for protection against the devil and evil spirits. By knowing, believing, and acting upon God’s Word, Christians are, figuratively speaking, clothed in God’s protective armor.

Let’s examine this passage in Ephesians verse by verse, while asking ourselves, What was Paul really trying to convey to us?

The Source of Our Spiritual Strength
First, we are told to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). The emphasis is on the fact that we should not derive our strength from ourselves but God. This is further brought out in Paul’s next statement: “Put on the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:11a). This is God’s armor, not ours. Paul is not saying that God Himself wears armor, but that we need the armor that God has supplied for us.

Why do we need this armor that God has supplied? The answer is, “that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” ( Eph. 6:11b). That is the reason. This armor is primarily for defensive, not offensive use. It is not so we can go out and pull down evil spirits over cities; it is so we can stand firm against Satan’s schemes.

We learn that the devil has evil plans to attack us, and unless we are wearing the armor that God supplies, we are vulnerable. Notice also that it is our responsibility to put on the armor, not God’s.

Let’s continue:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).

Here it becomes crystal clear that Paul is not talking about a physical, material battle, but a spiritual one. We are struggling against the schemes of various ranks of evil spirits whom Paul lists. Most Bible students assume that Paul listed those evil spirits as they are ranked from bottom to top, “rulers” being the lowest class and “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” being the highest class.

How can we struggle against spiritual beings? That question can be answered by asking, How can spiritual beings attack us? They attack us primarily with temptations, thoughts, suggestions, and ideas that contradict God’s Word and will. Therefore, our defense is knowing, believing, and obeying God’s Word.
“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Eph. 6:13).

Notice, once again, that Paul’s purpose is to equip us to stand against Satan’s attacks. His purpose is not to equip us to go out and attack Satan and pull down evil spirits from the atmosphere. Three times in this passage Paul tells us to stand firm. Our position is one of defense, not offense.

This is not to say that we never take an offensive stand, but that this passage is primarily speaking of maintaining a strong defense. When we proclaim the gospel, for example, we are definitely “invading enemy territory” in an offensive measure.

Also, notice that it is our responsibility to take up the armor and to stand firm. God will not do it for us.

Truth—Our Primary Defense
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth...(Eph. 6:14a).

Here is what keeps our armor in place—the truth. What is the truth? Jesus said to His Father, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). We cannot successfully stand firm against Satan unless we know the truth with which we can counter his lies. Jesus beautifully demonstrated this during His temptation in the wilderness as He responded to Satan’s every suggestion with, “It is written...”

Paul continued:
“...and having put on the breastplate of righteousness...(Eph. 6:14b).

As Christians, we should be familiar with two kinds of righteousness. First, we have been given, as a gift, the righteousness of Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:21). His righteous standing has been imputed to those who believe in Jesus, who bore their sins on the cross. That righteous standing has delivered us from Satan’s dominion.

Second, we should be living righteously, obeying Jesus’ commands, and that is probably what Paul had in mind regarding the breastplate of righteousness. By obedience to Christ, we give no place to the devil (see Eph. 4:26-27).

Firm Footing in Gospel Shoes
“...and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace...” (Eph. 6:15)

Knowing, believing and acting upon the truth of the gospel gives us firm footing to stand against Satan’s attacks. The shoes that Roman soldiers wore had spikes on the bottom that gave them a firm grip on the battlefield. When we know that Jesus has died for our sins and been raised from the dead for our justification, Satan’s lies are unable to knock us off our feet.

Paul specifically refers here to “the gospel of peace.” We now have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). We are no longer enemies with God.
“ addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one (Eph. 6:16).

Notice again Paul’s emphasis here on our defensive posture. He is not talking about our pulling down demons over cities. He is talking about our using faith in God’s Word to resist the devil’s lies. When we believe and act upon what God has said, it is like having a shield that protects us from Satan’s lies, represented figuratively as the “flaming missiles of the evil one.”

Our Spiritual Sword—God’s Word
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

Salvation, as the Bible describes it, includes our deliverance from Satan’s captivity. God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Knowing this is like having a helmet that guards our minds from believing Satan’s lie that we are still under his dominion. Satan is no longer our master—Jesus is.

Additionally, we are to take “the sword of the Spirit” which, as Paul explains, is figurative for the Word of God. As I already mentioned, Jesus was the perfect example of a spiritual warrior who skillfully yielded His spiritual sword. During His temptation in the wilderness He responded to Satan each time by quoting directly from God’s Word. So too, if we are to defeat the devil in spiritual combat, we must know and believe what God has said, lest we fall for his lies.

Also notice that Jesus used “the sword of the Spirit” defensively. Some like to point out, to those of us who maintain that the armor of which Paul wrote is primarily defensive, that a sword is definitely an offensive weapon. Thus, with a very weak argument, they try to justify their theory that this passage in Ephesians 6:10-12 is applicable to our supposed responsibility to offensively “pull down strongholds” of evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Obviously, from reading Paul’s own reason why Christians should put on God’s armor (that they may “stand firm against the schemes of the devil”), we know that he is speaking primarily of a defensive use of the armor. Additionally, although a sword can be thought of as an offensive weapon, it can also be thought of as defensive, as it blocks and protects from the thrusts of the opponent’s sword.

Moreover, we must be careful that we don’t strain the entire metaphor, as we attempt to wrench from the various pieces of armor significance that really doesn’t exist. When we begin to argue about the defensive and offensive nature of a sword, we are very likely “pushing the parable too far” as we carve into pieces a simple metaphor that was never meant to be so dissected.

Most importantly, notice that every piece of the armor which Paul described relates somehow to the truth of the Word of God. Knowing, believing, and acting upon God’s Word are the ways we overcome Satan’s schemes against us.

Didn’t Jesus Instruct Us to “Bind the Strong Man”?
Three times in the Gospels we find Jesus making mention of “binding the strong man.” In none of those three cases, however, did He tell His followers that “binding the strong man” was something they should practice. Let’s examine exactly what Jesus did say, and let’s read what He said contextually:

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man's house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit” (Mark 3:23-30, emphasis added).

Notice that Jesus was not teaching His followers to bind any strong men. Rather, He was responding to the criticism of the Jerusalem scribes with unassailable logic and a clear metaphor.

They accused Him of casting out demons by using demonic power. He responded by saying that Satan would be insane to work against himself. No one can intelligently argue with that.

If it wasn’t Satan’s power that Jesus used to cast out demons, then whose power was He using? It had to be a power stronger than Satan’s. It had to be God’s power, the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus Jesus spoke metaphorically of Satan, comparing him to a strong man guarding his possessions. The only one able to take the strong man’s possessions would be someone even stronger, namely, Himself. This was the true explanation as to how He cast out demons.

Satan is the “strong man,” and Jesus is the one who overpowered him to plunder his house. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did through His sacrificial death? He broke Satan’s power over all those who would believe in Jesus. His casting out of demons was a foreshadowing of an even greater deliverance that He would accomplish for Satan’s captives.

Jesus concluded by warning those scribes of the great danger they were in by attributing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit.

This passage that mentions the strong man, as well as the similar ones found in Matthew and Luke, cannot be used to justify our “binding strong men” over cities. Additionally, when we examine the rest of the New Testament, we do not find any examples of anyone “binding strong men” over cities, or any instruction for anyone to do so. We can thus safely conclude that it is unscriptural for any Christian to attempt to bind and render powerless some supposed “strong man-evil spirit” over a city or geographic area.

What About “Binding on Earth and in Heaven”?
Only twice in the gospels do we find Jesus’ words, “Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be [or ‘have been’] bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be [or ‘have been’] loosed in heaven.” Both instances are recorded in Matthew’s gospel.

Was Jesus teaching us that we can and should “bind” demonic spirits in the atmosphere?

First, let’s consider His words, binding and loosing. Jesus’ use of those words is obviously metaphorical, as He certainly did not mean that His followers would be taking physical ropes or cords and literally binding anything or literally loosing anything that was bound with physical ropes or cords. Jesus must have used the words binding and loosing figuratively. What did He mean?

For the answer, we should look at His use of the words binding and loosing within the context of whatever He was speaking of at the time. Was He talking on the subject of evil spirits? If so, we could conclude that His words about binding have application to the binding of evil spirits.

Let’s examine the first passage where Jesus mentioned binding and loosing:

He [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. (Matt. 16:15-19, emphasis added).

No doubt the reason this passage has been interpreted in so many ways is that it contains at least five metaphorical expressions: (1) “flesh and blood,” (2) “rock,” (3) “gates of Hades,” (4) “keys of the kingdom of heaven,” and (5) “binding/loosing.” All of these expressions are figurative, speaking of something else.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Biblical Response to Mormons

Witnessing to a Mormon is like trying to climb Jell-O: it's hard to get a foothold. But, if you know what Mormonism teaches then you are already well on your way. Following are basic approaches that should aid you in witnessing to a Mormon. Though none of these approaches are fool proof they will provide you with the basic framework you need to be able to witness to a Mormon. It will be up to you to use what you have learned, develop more skill in witnessing, and perfect your method as you go. Remember, the best way to learn to witness is to witness.
There are two important things to know before you begin evangelizing Mormons. First, you need to understand their definitions to the same biblical words that you use: Trinity, Jesus, Salvation, Heaven, etc. Second, you must be able to show them that they believe in a wrong Jesus. This is important because only the true Jesus gives eternal life (John 10:28), reveals the Father (Matt. 11:27), and sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).
For the first part you really need to study the The Terminology of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. Once you understand what it is that they are saying, you will be much more able to witness.
To witness means you must teach. To teach means you must understand. To understand means you must know not only what you believe, but also what they believe.

1. Terminology
1. When a Mormon says he believes in the Trinity he does not mean the historical orthodox Trinity of one God who exists in three persons. To a Mormon, the Trinity is an office held by three separate gods: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
1. Remember, the correct doctrine of the Trinity is that there is only one God who has existed for eternity. This one God exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are not three separate gods, but only one God.
2. When a Mormon says he believes in God he does not mean in the one true God, the creator of all things, the One who has always existed from all time. He means he believes in a god who used to be a man on another planet, who followed the laws and ordinances of that god on that planet and became exalted to godhood. And, to top it all off, he has a wife who is a goddess.
3. If you are in a witnessing situation with a Mormon you might be using the same words, but you won't be speaking the same language. So, it is a very good idea to study Terminology Differences where the definitions of Mormon terms (and Jehovah's Witnesses) are explained and contrasted with true definitions.
2. They Have a Testimony
1. Mormons will bear their testimony to you and tell you that they know the Mormon church is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.
2. There are two basic approaches you can take.
1. Ask them where their testimony is.
1. "In my heart." They'll say.
2. You say, "Did you know that the Bible says not to trust your heart because it is deceitful?"
3. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9).
2. Second, you can ask them how they get their testimony. They will say by the Holy Spirit.
1. Ask, "Who bears witness of the truth?"
2. They will say that the Holy Spirit does.
1. Correct him gently by showing him that the Holy Spirit Bears witness of Jesus (John 15:26) and that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).
2. Once you've shown them that the Holy Spirit is sent from Jesus ask them if a false Jesus will send the true Spirit of God. The answer, of course, is no.
3. The point is that only the Jesus of the Bible will send the Holy Spirit. If they don't have the right Jesus they can't have the true Holy Spirit, and their testimony is invalid.
3. Praying about the Book of Mormon
1. Mormons believe that if you read the Book of Mormon and then pray and ask God whether or not it is true, you will receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit verifying its truth. If it is true, then Joseph Smith is true and so is Mormonism. Many Mormons claim to have this testimony.
1. First of all, God never says to pray about truth. He says to search the Scriptures to find truth (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:16).
1. So, what the Mormon is doing is unbiblical.
2. Second, it doesn't matter what you feel. If what you feel contradicts the Bible, then what you feel is wrong.
3. Third, ask them if they ever had to pray about the Bible to see if it is true. Of course they haven't. So why are they supposed to pray about the B.O M.?
1. Their answer will be that the B.O.M. says to pray about it.
2. Still, the Bible says to study God's word for truth, not pray about it.
2. A common verse that Mormons use to support their belief that you can pray about the B. O. M. is found in James 1:5: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." They say that because since they believe they're sincere, God will answer them.
1. First of all, the problem with sincerity is that it becomes works righteousness because the person is saying "Because of my sincerity, God will listen to me." In other words, because of what's in the person God will look favorably upon him. God does not look into a person and find something good because there is no good in anyone (Rom. 3:10-12; Eph. 2:3).
2. Second, this verse is about wisdom, not about praying to see if the Book of Mormon is true.
3. In James 1:1 it says, "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings." So, the book of James was written to those who were believers and already had the truth. That is why James calls them "brothers" in verse 2.
3. Third, wisdom is the proper use of knowledge, not the acquisition of knowledge. You acquire true spiritual knowledge from the Bible, not your heart. You don't pray about the B.O.M., you pray about the truth you've learned from the Bible and ask God to teach you more, and how to apply properly what He's already shown you.
4. What is the Gospel?
1. The following approach is direct and hard hitting. Sometimes it is necessary to be blunt in order to get their attention. Ask a Mormon "What is the gospel?".
1. He will say something like, "The gospel is the laws and the ordinances of the Mormon church."
2. Ask again what it is and listen closely for any hint of the free forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. You usually hear an answer dealing with works, obedience, doing something, etc.
3. After the person has answered, explain that according to the Bible, the gospel is what saves us, what cleanses us of our sins, and enables us to stand in the presence of God the Father. Explain that Bible specifically defines the gospel and that the gospel is what makes you a Christian and then ask again, "What is the gospel?"
4. After you've heard a works-righteousness-type answer, turn in your Bible to 1 Cor 15:1-4 and read: "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."
1. Explain that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus...for sins!
5. Then turn to 2 Cor. 4:3-4 and read again. "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
1. Say something like, "You clearly did not understand the gospel message of Jesus the Savior and the Bible clearly shows you why. It is because your mind has been blinded."
5. The Apostasy
1. Mormonism maintains that the true gospel message was lost from the earth shortly after the apostles died.
1. The Mormon Apostle Orson Prat said, "Jesus...established his kingdom on earth...the kingdoms of this world made war against the kingdom of God, established eighteen centuries ago, and they prevailed against it, and the kingdom ceased to exist." (Journal of Discourses. Vol. 13, page 125).
2. But Jesus said, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18, KJV).
3. As you can see, Mormonism contradicts what Jesus said. That is why they must say that the Bible is not trustworthy. That is, it isn't trustworthy wherever it disagrees with Mormonism.
6. Authority and The Mormon Priesthoods
1. Since Mormonism claims to be the restoration of the gospel, it also claims to have the authority to perform priestly duties and, therefore, properly represent God here on earth.
2. All offices of the Mormon church grow out of the priesthoods.
1. Melchizedek - This is the greater priesthood. It consists of several offices:
1. Elder, seventy, high priest, patriarch or evangelist, and apostle.
2. Aaronic - a part of the greater Melchizedek priesthood.
2. Aaronic priesthood - This is the lesser priesthood
1. Is synonymous with the Levitical Priesthood (D.&C. 107:1,6,10)
2. Performs the administration of the ordinances (D.&C. 107:13-14)
3. Deacon, teacher, then priest.
3. Quite simply, the Bible contradicts what Mormons believe concerning the priesthood.
1. Jesus is the only high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 3:1; 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:11,15,17,21,24,26; 8:1; 9:11).
1. "Where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:20).
2. "And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life" (Heb. 7:15-16).
2. The Melchizedek Priesthood is unchangeable and untransferable
1. "but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood" (Heb. 7:24).
7. Many Gods
1. One of the truly dividing lines between Christianity and Mormonism is their doctrine of the plurality of Gods.
1. Mormonism teaches that there are many many gods. (Mormon Doctrine by Bruce McConkie, page 163; Teachings pages 348-349).
2. In there desire for legitimacy they will even quote 1 Cor. 8:5 to say that the Bible also teaches many gods. 1 Cor. 8:5 says, "For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many ‘gods' and many ‘lords')."
1. They will say, "see even the Bible says there are many gods."
2. You can say, "It says there are many that are called gods. It doesn't say they really are gods. It is saying that they only called gods. The Scriptures recognize that there are false gods (Gal. 4:8).
3. Besides, the Bible flatly denies the existence of any other gods.
1. "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "...Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me" (Isaiah 43:10).
2. "This is what the LORD says -- ...I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God...Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one" (Isaiah 44:6,8).
3. "I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God" (Isaiah 45:5).
8. Errors in the Book of Mormon
1. Saved by grace after all you can do? (2 Nephi 25:23)
2. How could Moroni "read" Heb. 13:8 and James 1:17 when the N.T. never reached America? (Mormon 9:9).
3. Helaman 12:25-26, written 6 B.C. says, "we read," quoting 2 Thess. 1:9 and John 5:29, 90 years too early.
4. Jesus, a son of God (Alma 36:17).
5. Mosiah 21:28 says King Mosiah had a gift from God, but original B. of M. manuscript reads "King Benjamin".
6. Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-2; Matt. 2:1). In the Book of Mormon (Alma 7:9,10) it says it was Jerusalem.

Why is The Blood of Jesus so Important?

John 19:34-35a (Jer) One of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it.

Rev 5:9 (Jer) ... with your blood you bought men for God.

How Much Are You Worth?

# Sandy Gregory's Car Parable: If I offer a car for sale, which I think is worth 7K, and offers are made ranging from 2K to 9K, how much is the car worth? The 7K that I think it's worth? The "low-ball" offer of 2K? No. The car is worth what the highest bidder is willing to pay in the open market. People are "traded" in a spiritual and eternal market. We are not worth what we happen to think, or any "low-ball" offer. We are worth what the highest bidder will pay. The highest bidder is God, and the price-tag is the Cross. God looked out across the eternal ages and said, "I'll take that one, even though the price is steep!" Our worth is established once and for all, and can never change or diminish. God has made the ultimate offer and paid the highest price.

Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV) "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father... So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

1 Peter 1:18-19 (Phi) For you must realize that you have been ransomed from the futile way of living passed on to you by your traditions, but not by any money payment of this passing world. No, the price was, in fact, the life blood of Christ, the unblemished and unstained lamb of sacrifice.

1 Cor 7:23a (Phi) You have been redeemed, at tremendous cost.


# NIV Study Notes: "'Redemption' is a word taken from the slave market; the basic idea is that of obtaining release by payment of a ransom."

1 Cor 7:23 (Jer) You have all been bought and paid for.

John 19:30 (NEB) Jesus took the wine and said, "It is finished!" Then he bowed his head and died.

# Bible Knowledge Commentary: Tetelestai is the word in Greek translated here 'it is finished'. Papyri receipts for taxes have been recovered with the Greek word tetelestai written across them, meaning 'paid in full'.

We Are God's Possession

# Imagine yourself in a sweatshirt with a giant red SOLD written across it. "Sorry, no more offers being accepted!" SOLD to the highest bidder.

Revelation 1:5b (JNT) To him, the one who loves us, who has freed us from our sins at the cost of his blood.

# Since Jesus has purchased us with his blood, we should recognize the fact that we are no longer in control of our lives. We have been bought, and are now under the Lordship of our new Master.

1 Cor 7:23a (Liv) You have been bought and paid for by Christ, so you belong to him.

1 Cor 6:19 (Phi) You are not the owner of your own body.

1 Cor 6:19b-20a (NIV) You are not your own; you were bought with a price.

1 Cor 6:19b-20a (Jer) You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for.

Bought For What?

1 Cor 6:18-20 (NEB) Shun fornication. Every other sin that a man can commit is outside the body, but the fornicator sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a shrine of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the Spirit is God's gift to you? You do not belong to yourselves; you were bought at a price. Then honor God in your body.

Titus 2:14 (NIV) [Jesus Christ,] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Rev 5:9-10 (NIV) And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."

Eph 1:13-14 (NIV) ... In him, when you believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession, to the praise of his glory.

Rev 12:11 (TEB) Our brothers won the victory over [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the truth which they proclaimed; and they were willing to give up their lives and die.

Rom 14:8 (Jer) If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord.

We Belong to The Lord

Rom 6:20-22 (Jer) When you were slaves to sin, you felt no obligation to righteousness, and what did you get from this? Nothing but experiences that now make you blush, since that sort of behavior ends in death. Now, however, you have been set free from sin, you have been made slaves of God, and you get a reward leading to your sanctification and ending in eternal life.

Rom 6:23 (Phi) Sin PAYS its servants: the wage is death. But God GIVES to those who serve him, his free gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Keep in Mind the Price Tag!

Rom 3:24-25 (NIV) [For all] are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.

Col 1:14 (Liv) ... who bought our freedom with his blood and forgave us all our sins.

Acts 20:28 (Liv) "And now beware! Be sure that you feed and shepherd God's flock--the church, purchased with his blood--for the Holy Spirit is holding you responsible as overseers.

Eph 1:7 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and spiritual understanding.

Heb 10:29 (TEB) What, then, of the man who despises the Son of God? Who treats as a cheap thing the blood of God's covenant which cleansed him from sin? Who insults the Spirit of grace? Just think how much worse is the punishment he will deserve!

Protected By The Blood

Ex 12:7,12-13 (NIV) "... they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs... On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn--both men and animals--and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt."

Rom 5:9 (Wey) If, therefore, we have now been pronounced free from guilt through His blood, much more shall we be delivered from God's wrath through Him.

Purchased Under What Contract?

# A new contract (agreement or covenant) "redeems" us from our previous master, the Law and sin.

Ex 24:8 (NIV) Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words."

Jer 31:31,34 (NIV) "The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel... For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

Isaiah 53:5 (NIV) He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

1 Pet 2:24-25 (NIV) He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Heb 8:13 (NIV) By calling this covenant "new", he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Cleansing Blood

Heb 9:15-22 (Phi) Christ is consequently the administrator of an entirely new agreement, having the power, by virtue of his death, to redeem transgressions committed under the first agreement... For, as in the case of a will, the agreement is only valid after death. While the testator [the person named in the will] lives, a will has no legal power. And indeed we find that even the first agreement of God's will was not put into force without the shedding of blood... "This is the blood of the agreement God makes with you." And you will find that in the Law almost all cleansing is made by means of blood; it implies again and again "No shedding of blood, no remission of sin."

Life In The Blood

Lev 17:11a (NIV) For the life of a creature is in the blood.

# Which is more "real" and permanent: the world we see or the spiritual world? What mystery are we participating in, what truth is being revealed in the Communion elements?

John 6:41-60 (Phi) At this, the Jews started grumbling at him... "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose parents we know? How can he now say that 'I have come down from Heaven'?"... Jesus answered and said, "I myself am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, AND THEY DIED!... The bread which I give you is my own body, and I shall give it for the life of the world." This led to a fierce argument among the Jews, some of them saying, "How can this man give us his body to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Unless you do eat the body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, I assure you that you are not really living at all. The man who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up when the last day comes. For my body is real food, and my blood is real drink." ...Many of his disciples heard him say these things and commented, "This is a hard teaching indeed; who could accept that?"

Mat 26:27,28 (Phi) "Drink this, all of you, for it is my blood, the blood of the new agreement shed to set many free from their sins."

Mark 14:24 (TEB) Jesus said, "This is my blood which is poured out for many, my blood which seals God's covenant."

Luke 22:20 (JNT) "This cup is the New Covenant, ratified by my blood, which is being poured out for you."

1 Cor 11:25 (NIV) "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."

1 Cor 10:16 (NIV) Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?

The Result: Near God

Col 1:19-23a (NIV) For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation, if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.

Heb 9:12,14 (NIV) He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption... How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Job 33:28 (NIV) He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.

1 John 1:7 (NIV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin.

Heb 10:22 (Phi) Let us draw near [to God] with true hearts and fullest confidence, knowing that our inmost souls have been purified by the sprinkling of his blood just as our bodies are cleansed by the washing of clean water.

Eph 2:13 (Phi) But now, in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off are brought near through the shedding of Christ's blood.

Heb 12:24 (Phi) You have drawn near to God, the judge of all, to the souls of good men made perfect, and to Jesus, mediator of a new agreement, to that cleansing blood which tells a better story than the blood of Abel.