Undergroundchurch Blog

Preparing the Church for the future

Posts Tagged ‘crucified’

The Source of Our Dilemma

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 22, 2010

“Original Sin”, some call it “Ancestral Sin“, is a more pervasive dilemma to our current state than we might even fathom.

Original Sin, as understood for this article, is the sin seed that is passed on to every human because of the original sin committed by Adam in the Garden.

Original Sin effects us today because there are multiple components to it…

Original Sin is about Love

The point of God planting a tree in the middle of the Garden then telling Adam not to eat from it was not to tempt Adam, but to see if Adam would choose to love God or love himself.  When Adam sinned, it separated him and us from the direct connection with God.  Remember that God walked with Adam in the garden, something God has not been able to do since Adam sinned.

The most powerful words God ever utters in the Bible are the ones He says right after he says the word, “Now” as in Revelation 21:3

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

This event takes place after everything is made new.  God is looking forward to the day when He can once again “walk with man in the garden” as it were.

It is all about Love because God reached out to us when we couldn’t reach out to him. (c.f. John 3:16, Romans 5:8)

Original Sin is about Penalty

We are still paying the price for the sin Adam committed that fateful day.

Penalty of Death

  • God told Adam, “In the day you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16,17)
  • All have sinned, and the wages of that sin is still death (Romans 3:23, 6:23)

Every time someone dies, we are reminded of Adam’s original sin. If Adam’s sin only applied to him, we wouldn’t have death, sickness and sin in the world today.

Penalty of Pain in Childbirth

Every time a woman gives birth naturally, she is paying a price for Eve because she listened to the serpent and not her husband. (See Accountability and Original Sin below)

Other creatures in God’s kingdom don’t go through the pain of birth that humans do; ever heard a dog or cat scream like a human?

Penalty of Snakes

Part of the curse is the form of the snake, which crawls on its belly.  Each time I see one, I am reminded of the curse. (Genesis 3)

Penalty of Thorns and Thistles

Ever been scratched by a thorn? Or have to pull a weed out of the garden? Thank Adam.

Penalty of Gardening

Yep, gardening is a result of the curse.  Makes you wonder how it was before Adam sinned. (Genesis 3) God was going to provide all our food.

Original Sin is about Accountability

Genesis 3 tells us what went down.

Eve ate of the tree first; Adam, who was with her, but didn’t speak up during the entire event, ate it once she gave it to him.

However, you have to go back a chapter to see the setup.  You see…

  1. Adam was created first
  2. God then planted the tree in the Garden.
  3. God tells Adam that if he eats from it, he will die.
  4. Later, God creates the woman from the man’s side.

In chapter 3, we see the man and woman at the tree, she is telling the talking serpent (which should have been a clue) that if they ate from it OR TOUCHED IT they would die.

How did she know about eating it, and where did she get the extra restriction?

We have here the first case of legalism in the Bible, which always adds to God’s word.  God said Adam would die if he ate it; Eve added (probably because Adam told her) that if they touched it, they would die. She ate it first (eyes were not open), and then Adam ate it (eyes were opened to their nakedness after this).

SPECIAL NOTE: The extra rule didn’t help them abide by the command God gave them. (Legalism doesn’t help you be a better Christian.)

The problem in the story is that God told Adam the rule, and Adam told his wife the rules, but Adam did not defend God’s word, nor his wife as she was talking to the serpent.

It was not her fault, it was Adam’s!

Had Eve eaten, and Adam not, there would be no sin today because she was not responsible to God. Adam should have been the one talking to the serpent and saying something like, “Get thee behind me Satan!” He was her covering, and he failed her.

Accountability and the Original Sin Seed

The Original Sin seed does not pass through the woman, it passes through the man because of accountability.  Adam was accountable to God, Eve was accountable to Adam (God never told Eve the rules, that was Adam’s job).

Jesus could only be born as a human, not because Mary was “immaculately conceived”, but because she was a woman and there was no man involved in conceiving Jesus.

The promise was to Eve that the savior would come…

And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.” – Genesis 3:15

Men and woman are equal in every way relationally with God except one, accountability. Eve was cursed because she was deceived, and did not listening to her husband, but we have sin in the world because the man of the house refused to be the man of the house. (c.f. 1 Timothy 2:14)

Original Sin is about Redemption

Paul states that through one man, Adam, sin and death entered the world (Romans 5:12-21). It is through one man with no Original Sin seed connection through man to Adam that sin is broken  and we can live. Our only hope is in the “Son of God” who became the “Son of Man” without losing his claim as “Son of God”.

His Father is God, born of a woman, which allows him to be fully man and fully God and gives us hope that the power of sin and death is broken for those that receive the gift of life. This only comes through the power of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


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Where Faith and the World Collide

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 29, 2010

With all these ridiculous “religious knowledge” surveys going around, I got to thinking about “faith” and just what it is.

I think there are two primary pieces to the “religious” experience with which some just don’t understand– Faith and Hope. I will address faith here.

There are two facts about faith that must be understood:

  1. True faith is not blind
  2. True faith is not void of substance

Those that steer clear of faith in God tend to do so because they see it as a futile, wishful-thinking belief system empty of reason, understanding and wisdom. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Faith is not a childish look into a fantasy world, but a childlike trust in a revealed reality.  The goal in faith is to connect with God through relationship.  The problem is that if you try to prove God to yourself first, you fail to take the path God intended for you to take to produce faith in you.

Faith follows a specific path – Obedience to Jesus first, revelation of Jesus second and finally faith in Jesus is born.  Notice that all three have their source in Jesus.

God calls us to a path that begins with him.  Faith is not based on my understanding but His understanding.  I have to trust Him first, demonstrated through obedience, and then I can receive a faith that comes from God, for He rewards those that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

Abraham is a perfect example.  He walked with very little faith for most of His life.  Yes, he followed God’s leading and that was out of obedience, but never really trusted him.  God said, “leave your family”, but Abraham took his father.  God promised him that his children would be plentiful, but he lied about his wife to protect his life.

It wasn’t until Abraham was challenged to give back to God the only son he had been given by God, through a black and white act of obedience, that Abraham achieved the level of obedience to God that God was looking for.  Just as Abraham was about to plunge the knife into his son as a sacrifice to God, and angel stopped him and said these powerful words, “Now I know that you fear me, for you did not withhold your son from me.” (Genesis 22:12). It was during the trek to the altar that Abraham answered his son’s question concerning what they were going to sacrifice with, “God will provide”. (Genesis 22:8)

The scriptures say multiple times that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom“. Strangely enough, the path to faith comes through a fear in God which produces in us obedience.

Once we obey, God can then respond in building up our faith.

You see, if the faith you have is your own, it is bound to fail.  But if the faith you have comes from God, then the source is solid and produces in you a revelation of God that makes Him real in you.

Nature cries out that there is a God, but it doesn’t tell you how to establish relations with Him.  Only when God reveals himself to you through faith, do you discover that your faith is a sure foundation.

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Happy Good Thursday!

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 2, 2010

When was Jesus crucified?

The question has been asked for centuries.  Like many questions of this type, I don’t believe the day of the week or time really matters that much.  What does matter is that He was crucified on a cross for the sin of the world.  But I do want to throw in my two cents just because.

A Long Time Ago

To be honest, technically speaking, He was actually crucified when the foundations of the world were laid (Revelation 13:8Hebrews 9:26).  The crucifixion was not a last minute idea, but was planned by God even before Adam sinned. Even though this might be the spiritual answer, there was an actual day when Jesus was nailed to a tree, and I believe that it is not the day that we call “Good Friday”.

Good Thursday

I might be in the minority with this idea, but I am not convinced that Friday is the day Jesus was Crucified.  We do know that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week (John 20:1, Luke 24:1, Mark 16:9).  We also are pretty clear that it is first day of the week after passover like this year’s is.

Author’s Note: The way the move Easter around has always bugged me. It should not something based on our calendar but based on the Jewish calendar, and it should be the first Sunday after the 14th of Nisan.

The Jewish day started at sunset and ended at sunset the next day.  When the Jewish leaders wanted to get Jesus off the cross before sunset because that day was a “special sabbath” (John 19:31) , it is easy to jump to the conclusion that this meant that He was crucified on Friday since the Sabbath is Saturday.  However, there are two pieces of the puzzle that makes this case not so open and closed.

Jesus Testimony

Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:40

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth

If you run the numbers from Friday to Sunday morning, the best you can do is 2 days and 2 nights that Jesus would be in the ground.  Either Jesus was wrong, or we got it wrong.

OK, you say, “Jesus was being figurative. ”

God thought you might say this and placed a couple of guys in the Bible that tell us how long it was from Jesus death to the first day of the week.

On the day he was resurrected, Jesus is on a walking trip down the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, Cleopas tells Jesus that it has been three days (vs 21)  since the death.

John 19:31 alluded to the Day of Preparation which was part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and was regarded as a special Sabbath even though it didn’t have to occur on a “Saturday”, so using that idea to make it Friday is not necessary.

I suppose, in short, I believe Jesus’ words.

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12 Days of Christmas Correction – Correcting “Christmas”

Posted by undergroundchurch on December 18, 2009

If you like to hold to traditions, you don’t want to read this article.  Just wait, and in a couple days I’ll come out with another you might like (or not).  However, if you want to dig down and discover some truth, even when it hurts to swallow, then read on.

Right out of the gate, let me be blunt – evangelical believers cannot celebrate “Christmas”.

Your defensive mechanisms just engaged, but you need to follow through to understand.  I am not saying throw the baby out with the bath water as some tend to do when discovering something new, but I am saying that we might need to see clearly and understand why things are the way they are and how it relates to your relationship with God.

To be sure, the core of this season is to commemorate the birth of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  All the rest is fluff, and some of it is fluffier than other stuff.

The Real Christmas Defined

The term we have come to know and even defend, may not mean exactly what you think it means.  Christmas does not mean, “the birth of Christ” or “advent of Christ”.  In fact, it means that absolute opposite, “Christ’s death”.

The first part of the word is indeed, “Christ”, but the whole word comes from the old English, Cristes mæsse which means, “Christ’s Mass”.  Coined in 1038, it literally is the Mass of the Catholic church.  That being the case, we have to defer to the Catholic understanding of what a Mass is to get the full meaning of the word, “Christmas”.

The term Mass is the English word for the celebration of the Eucharist (the body and blood of Christ). It comes from the Latin, missa, and means “dismissal”. It’s from the last phrase uttered in the mass, “Go, it is the dismissal”.

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) reaffirmed traditional Catholic teaching that the Mass is the same Sacrifice of Calvary offered in an unbloody manner. The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different. And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner… this sacrifice is truly propitiatory” (Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio, c. 2, quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1367). – Wikipedia

The Catholic Mass introduces Jesus literally into the bread and wine.  This process called transubstantiation, is substantially different from the Evangelical teaching that sees Christ’s work on the Cross as “finished” and the communion time as a time of remembrance (1 Corinthians 11:24). In fact, James tells us in essence that it brings public disgrace on Jesus to subject Jesus to sacrifice all over again (c.f. Hebrews 6:6).

So in short, the “Christ-mass” doesn’t exactly fit into evangelical theology.

Does this mean that you should stop saying, “Merry Christmas”? I’m not going to tell you one way or another, but I have heard many people complain that companies, schools, etc. are forcing their workers, students, etc. to say, “Happy Holidays” in place of “Merry Christmas”.  I get it.  I know that you want to keep Christ in your greeting.  But the true meaning of the season is buried under a blizzard of man’s traditions, pagan celebrations and theological inaccuracies, that I really think that being able to say, “Merry Christmas” is the least of our problems this time of year.

If we are celebrating the birth of Jesus, then celebrate his birth, but if you are going to throw trees, lights, presents, yule logs, Santa Clause, elves, snowmen, and sales at Macy’s in the mix, maybe you need to reevaluate what you are really celebrating.

Jesus came quietly in the night to a stable in the desert. Maybe, we should desert some of our traditions and focus on the real source for hope and peace in the world.

I’m just saying…

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About Hell: The Reality

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 28, 2009

Hell: Arguably the most controversial subject when it comes to the afterlife.  Most people’s beliefs about hell come from what they learned through tradition, folklore, poor teaching, movies and general fear.  When it comes to hell, many people simply write it off as a myth or parable, and can’t imagine it as a real place that a loving God would actually send people.

To those that write it off, however, the real possibilities of hell come into play when you speak of Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung, Stalin, Charles Manson, mass murders and the like, because heaven certainly can’t be their eternal home. But at what point between the evil of a Hitler and the good of a Mother Theresa does one cross the boundary line of a path that leads to eternal destruction and one to eternal bliss because they were “good”? How many “bad” deeds disqualify you?  How many “good” deeds earn you a ticket?

The Bible lays out reality of hell, how to go there, how to avoid it and the role it plays in God’s eternal plan.

The Reality of Hell

Most people believe in a heaven.  Some believe in hell and few believe in nothing at all.  Sadly, it really doesn’t matter what we believe because belief never offsets reality.  From a practical point of view, the best avenue would be to look at it from a worst case scenario and approach life as if there is a heaven and hell.  If you are wrong, then you have nothing to lose.  But if you discount hell, heaven or both, and are wrong, then your eternity could be quite disappointing.

The Bible has quite a bit to say on the subject, and will look at it over the next couple posts.

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Hope vs. Hope

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 11, 2009

People that buy a lottery ticket hope they win.  I hope to spend eternity with God.  There is a difference between those two hopes.

Romans 5:4-5

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Hope, with the possibility of failure

This is the type of hope that we usually think of when someone uses the term “hope”.

  • Boy I really hope we win this game.
  • I hope I get a raise.
  • I hope I win the lottery.

This type of hope has varying levels of confidence in failure.  In other words, the desire is to have the dream come true, but in the back of your mind, you have a serious doubt issue going on.  This is a shaky hope in biblical terms because usually, the assurance is weak at best.

Hope with assurance of a positive outcome

This is the hope that is understood by the first century church.  This is the hope that comes as a result of understanding that God loves you.  It is a hope that kept the early church going even when being thrown to lions, burned at the stake and stoned.  It is the hope that say, “I KNOW in whom I have believed and that when my breathing ceases in this life, my next breath will be in the presence of God!”  Doubt is banished, fear – erased.  The hope of salvation is a guarantee.

What is your hope like?  Do you hope you’ll make it to God when you die, but you aren’t really sure?  Maybe you think you have to do something, to earn a chance to be with God.  Maybe you think you are good, but you are really gambling with your eternity.

The only path to assurance is accepting what God already did for you.  You don’t have what it takes to earn back his good graces.  Only God has that power, and he already did all the work.  Have you received it?  Do you believe it?  Is your hope found solely in Jesus Christ?

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The Power of the Blood

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 12, 2009

I was asked the question, “Is it within our power to ‘plead the Blood of Jesus’?”  Since I know that many people practice this, in the spirit of truth, I wanted to tackle it; therefore, here is the answer I believe the Bible gives.

The blood of Jesus has one expressed Biblical purpose – to bring you life through salvation by bringing you near to God.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7,8)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (John 6:53)

There is a concluding thought to this in Revelation where the saints, that’s us, overcome the enemy by two things – the blood of the Lamb and word of our testimony.  (Revelation 12:11)

The power of this is two-fold.  First, the Blood of Jesus set up the ability for anyone to overcome the hold that death and Satan has on them.  That is, salvation is available to them because of the shed blood of Jesus.

For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness from sin (Hebrews 9:22)

Second, the testimony is your confession of Christ, which is your part in the salvation experience.  When you confess Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, you are expressing the testimony or witness that Jesus is your Lord.  That’s why confession is so important.  Just as a side note: Many people pray “sinners prayers” when they get saved.  This is not necessary and again is not in the Bible.  You need to “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Romans 10:9 and 10).  That is your testimonial expression that will overcome the enemy in the end.

The Blood Jesus shed is extremely powerful; it redeems you from the seed of sin that you were born with, but that is really where the power ends.  There are other means, other gifts, powers and responsibilities given to the believer to deal with other things in your and other’s lives.  But to the extent that you “plead the blood of Jesus over someone’s life” or “plead the blood of Jesus over a situation“, that is a misuse of the authority, and not as effective as simply praying in earnest for that person or situation.

We’ll look a little deeper into the power you do and don’t have in another post.

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The Greatest Description of Jesus: Part 3 of 4

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 15, 2009

The continuing study of Philippians 2.  See Part 2.

The God-man:

…being made in human likeness. 
And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
         even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:7b-8)

Do you know that there are more scriptures that talk about God being a man (Jesus) than Jesus being God? 

In our society today, we tend to have less faith in God and have substituted it with faith in “science”.  Much of what we call science is just faith in what we see, and I am amazed how often that faith changes.

Twenty years ago, science said that we were going into a period of global cooling, now it’s global warming.  Foods that were good for you are now bad and those that were bad are now good.  Evolution is even changing from Creator to Big Bang to a collapsing universe – from life evolving from a single cell to life evolving from aliens (I’m not making that last one up.) But I digress…

In the first century, the prevailing thought among doubters in Jesus was that a spiritual God who was good and holy could not become a dirty sinful man.  The early church battled this thinking called, among other names, gnosticisim.  It was easier to believe a man could become a God than for God to become a man. 

Even the Catholic church took on this concept with the teaching that Mary was sinless, for a holy God could not be born of a sinful girl, so they created a sinless vessel in Mary.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on that except to say that the sin seed does not pass through the woman but the man.  It is not woman’s responsibility; it is man’s. 

Adam was the one God told not to eat from the tree in the garden.  It was his responsibility to tell Eve.  He was with her when she ate the fruit.  She did not recognize the sin when she did eat of the fruit God told Adam not to eat. Her eyes were not opened until He ate it.

There was still hope for her had he not eaten it, but the accountability for man’s sin fell to the man, and when Adam ate, all hope was lost. (Genesis 2-3)

For Jesus to be fully man he had to have all the experiences of man from birth to death. He had to learn to walk, talk and eat.  He went through potty training, skinned knees and probably hit his thumb with his hammer a few times.  Jesus had all the same temptations we get, only he didn’t fail.

He humbled himself; he was born in a feeding trough, not a royal crib.  He came into the world with the bleating of goats not the roaring of crowds.  He was called a bastard by other kids that knew he was born out of wedlock. He wore robes of rabbis not robes of royalty.  In the end, he was killed with thieves and put in a borrowed tomb.

Jesus Christ suffered in every way you can imagine, yet did not sin.  He was fully man. He was born and he died. But that is not the end of the story.  Because as much as he “became” man, he was already and would forever be “fully God”!

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The Immanuel Project: Chapter 6: The Incarnation

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 25, 2009

Click here for Chapter 5

There is something about the Bible that I always found curious.  There are some doctrines we believe today that aren’t talked about in the Scriptures like we do today.  For example, the Trinity doctrine is based on many passages. But no single passage exists that says, “Jesus is the Son of God, the Father is God and the Holy Spirit is God, yet all three are one and yet they are different.  We call this the ‘Trinity’.”

From a theological point of view it would be great to point someone to that one scripture and say, “See, it says right here as plain as day.”

The Scriptures are not laid out in “doctrinal” fashion.  They are designed to make you read them and discover what God is saying.  In fact, God says, “search the scriptures”.  He wants you to read them, not as a doctrinal thesis, but as a living love letter from Him to you.  The Bible, unlike any book you will ever read, is alive.  God uses it to speak to His people.  If it was just doctrine, it would not have that personal touch.  It would come across more as a “rule book” and less as a book that shows God reaching out to man passionately.

Probably the greatest example of this is the doctrine of God.  You will not find in the pages of scripture any place where God sets out to prove His existence.  In fact, God is just “assumed”. 

Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God…”  He doesn’t waste any time talking about why He exists, what His purpose is for existence, how we know He really exists.  He just states unequivocally, “I exist”.

Later He takes that statement as His name.  When God first called Moses at the burning bush event,  Moses asks a great question, “Who do I tell them [Pharaoh and Israel] who sent me.”

God answers Moses, “Tell them the ‘I am’ sent you”.

Moses never proves that God exists; only that Egypt’s gods are no gods at all.  The Egyptians already knew there had to be some form of deity above man.  They just had it wrong when it came to who that deity was.

God is not the substance of his creation.  He is not divided up into multiple gods constantly warring. He is not the uncaring, uninvolved sovereign that just lets the world runs its course without His loving intervention.  He is, and He alone is God… period end of discussion.

The name “I am” became so closely associated with God, that Jesus was accused of being a blasphemous deceiver by the Jewish rulers because He used the “I am” phrase when referring to Himself.  He said, “Before Abraham was, ‘I am’.”

The incarnation was the single most significant event in human history.  It was talked about for centuries before, but when it actually occurred, man was somewhat disappointed.  They did not understand the purpose of the incarnation.  They wanted something substantially different.  This misunderstanding was due to the fact that they misinterpreted the Scriptures, and Jesus held them accountable for not understanding the Scriptures. 

To understand the incarnation better, you have to understand why it occurred. 

The prophets had foretold that the deliverer or “Messiah” would come.  I don’t think anybody had any real issue with that.  The problem was that nobody understood the purpose in His coming. 

The Scriptures give two main functions of the Messiah, and I think that the problem everyone ran into was because they blended the two together or they simply ignored all the bad parts and just wanted to believe the good stuff.

The two veins are as follows:  The Messiah would be a conquering king, and the Messiah would be a suffering servant.

Put yourself in the shoes of the typical Jewish leader in Jesus’ day.  You are preaching your messages on Saturday morning for generations about the Messiah who would come.  Do you think they concentrated on the parts that showed him suffering, dying and being rejected by the Jews, or do you think they preached about the conquering king that would come and deliver His people from the captors and rule the world putting all of Israel’s enemies under His feet?

They weren’t about to ruin their Saturday morning crowds with bad news. They only wanted to see the good news.

The problem is that they didn’t understand that the bad news of the Messiah’s suffering was their good news.  The words “good news” are translated “gospel” and that is defined by Paul as the following, “Jesus died, was buried and rose again.”  Yes that’s bad news, but it is also good news and even greater news when you receive the news with joy.

The Pharisees knew Jesus might be the Messiah. They were just waiting for Him to take out about a legion of Roman guards to prove it.  Jesus never took out a legion of Roman guards.  He did, however, take out a legion of demons because He was more interested in the condition of man’s souls that the comfort of His circumstances.

Sadly, the preachers of the Bible today aren’t too far from committing the same error in misinterpreting the Bible like the teachers in Jesus day.

For example, I listen to well intentioned teaching that attempts to convince the church in America that we won’t go through the time of tribulation.  Like everyone else, I wish that were true, but I don’t think that is a good way to approach the teaching about prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled.

I am going to let a little secret slip.  The easiest thing to preach about is the end times.  There are two reasons for it.  First, I could take the prophecies and make them say whatever I want and turn around and exempt the church from any of it. 

Second, It is a feel good message because if I exempt the church from going through the tribulation, then I don’t have to worry about what’s in the book of Revelation, but it sure is fun to talk about.

Have you ever noticed how much teaching is out there about the end times?  But the way it is presented, the church will never even go through it, so why teach it?

I don’t want you to get me wrong about what I believe the Bible teaches concerning the church and the End Times. I just think that you walk on very dangerous ground when you speak so matter-of-fact about future events found in prophecy. 

The popular approach to the end times is that the church is raptured and then the tribulation begins.  This would mean that about seventeen chapters in Revelation as well as about a half dozen other chapters throughout the Bible have nothing to do with the church.  Yet it is a favorite subject for Sunday morning service.  Isn’t that what the Jewish teachers were doing about the Messiah?  They only wanted to see the good parts, not the bad parts. 

The Bible says that there will be a great falling away in the last days.  People will believe the Lie.  

Remember, these are Christians that are falling away. Why do you think they will be deceived so easily?  It might be because they are sitting in the middle of the tribulation time having to make a decision about the whether they want the mark of the Beast or they want to die, and they are saying to themselves, “This is not what my pastor told me would happen.  He said I’d be rescued out of this.  How can God love me and allow me to go through this?”

I am saddened when our American interpretation of the end times makes it to a place like Africa.  I have heard the testimonies from Christians that already have fallen victim to that teaching while they are experiencing their tribulation time.  They fall away because they thought that they would be rescued from it.

The Christians of old never taught that.  They knew that tribulation would come. The church was born in a time of tribulation.  The world couldn’t kill Christians fast enough, yet the church grew.  They did not believe for one second that they would be rescued from tribulation.  They knew they would be preserved through any tribulation that came their way.

We have so convinced people that tribulation won’t happen in their lifetimes that they will be pouring out of the churches when it actually does happen.  Preachers today are no different than those early Jewish teachers.  The only hope is that we catch ourselves before it is too late and begin teaching the truth that we may very well go through tribulation.  We may very well find out who the anti-Christ is.  We may have to make a choice to take the mark of the Beast or die instead.  It may not be a “feel good” message now, but when the tribulation time comes, and it will come, those that are prepared will prevail.

The purpose of prophecy is not to tell you what will happen as much as it is designed to prepare you for what will happen.  If you teach that the church isn’t going to experience anything, then you aren’t preparing anybody for anything. 

The best interpretation for prophecy is to recognize its fulfillment when it occurs.  Jesus tells the Jewish leaders that they should have recognized the times and seasons they were in and they would have realized that the prophecies were coming true. In fact, Jesus holds them accountable for not knowing the time of His coming which is actually given to the precise day in Daniel 9:25.  We don’t have that kind of precision in Revelation, so we need to always be watchful, vigilant and prepared. 

I like what one person said, “Be ready as if Jesus is coming back today, prepare as if He isn’t coming back until the Millennium.”

I chased a little rabbit there, but I’m back now.

Jesus came as the “I am”.  He was God in flesh.  Believe it or not, that concept proved to be a bigger problem for the first century believer than the fact that Jesus was God.

You won’t find many Scriptures trying to convince you that Jesus is God.  Like God’s existence, Jesus is assumed to be God.  John 1, Philippians 2 and a smattering of other passages is all you have to tell you unequivocally, “Jesus is God”.

The most talked about subject concerning Jesus is, “How could God be in the flesh”.  You will see every writer in the New Testament spend time convincing their readers that God came in the flesh. 

The problem stemmed from the Greek influences of the day.  Essentially, they believed that matter was evil and spirit was good.  When applied to Christ, they could not conceive how God, being spirit, could become man and therefore evil.

They tried many different workarounds.  One teaching taught that God came and appeared in the form of man, but really wasn’t flesh and blood like man is.  Another taught that he was somewhat of an apparition or ghost.  You could see him, but you couldn’t touch him.  These teachings though nullify the sacrifice.  Jesus had to be like us to be our sacrifice and literally die.

The incarnation solved the issue of God in flesh.  He was fully God and fully man. He was the “I am” and He was the son of Mary. 

The incarnation took God from birth to death in the robes of man’s flesh.

It shocks you to think that God had to potty train, God had to learn to walk, learned to talk, God scraped His knee on the dirt roads, hit His thumb with a hammer.  But if you want to believe Jesus was man, you have to believe that He experience what man experiences.

He cried, He laughed, He joked, He smiled, and He felt hurt and pain and rejection.  When it came time for him to crucified on a cross, He felt every stroke of the whip, every fist across His face, every bone wrenching hit with a hammer on the nails that pierced His hands and feet, every thorn of the crown beat down on His head.  He felt the beard being pulled out. He felt the pain of the jeering crowd. He felt the insult of spittle running down His beaten face; He felt his love for man being violated to the highest degree. He felt his Father God turn His back on Him in His greatest moment of agony as His bore the weight of the world’s sin. He felt the pain in every breath He gasped for while hanging by His arms, and He felt his heart beat its last beat as He gave up His Spirit when He said, “It is finished”.

If He was not fully man, the suffering servant couldn’t have suffered that much.  But because He was one of us, He could be that ultimate sacrifice for our sin that we so desperately needed.

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A Martyr’s Death

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 22, 2009

Neda Soultan is becoming a historic icon through nothing that she did, only what was done to her.

Her fame has swept the world as today’s Iranian symbol for freedom. I’m sure that she did not travel into that street thinking that she could be anybody.  She probably had no ambitions of her own to think she could ever lead a revolution. However, her innocent demeanor has landed her on the front pages of a nation’s revolution, and her tragic death by the bullet of a soldier has fueled an entire nation’s rally cry. She is and forever shall be – a martyr for the cause.

Martyrs have always been a catalyst for revolution throughout history.  The word for martyr comes from the Greek and it means “witness”.  Their deaths testify or are witness to some cause, situation or movement and empower people to do more, be more and overcome more.

Most martyrs die never even expecting or possibly imagining the symbolism they would personify. Nevertheless, timing, circumstance and fate expands their seemingly small sphere of influence to a world changing stage.

Some martyrs, like Neda, are unwilling participants that become a symbol; others become a martyr because their passion and drive put them in situations that brought about sheer risk.  Martin Luther King Jr. is a good example of this.  He exposed himself to danger, but it was not his intent to die. He had a passion, a drive and a dream, but they did not including becoming a martyr.  That was for the rest of us to decide.

Still there is a level of martyrdom that even goes beyond this. It is where a cause or purpose is so important that death itself is possibly a byproduct for your belief.  Many people around the world die for a cause because they believe in something. 

Though he did not die that day, “tank man” became a symbol for the freedom in China that fateful day in Tienanmen Square where many others were massacred.

 He simply stood there knowing that it could very well be his last moments of life.  He didn’t really stand a chance against four tanks, but he was going to do everything in his power to make his belief made known to those who would try to kill him.

From a biblical point, Stephen was this type of martyr. He stood before the leaders of the Jews of his day who were accusing him, and testified of Jesus. He knew, as many others who were tossed to lions, burned on stakes and skinned alive, that his words could very well be his last. In fact, Paul the apostle, at that time called Saul, held the coats of the people that murdered Stephen giving his approval.

As powerful as the faith based martyrdom is, there is another more powerful and potent martyrdom that lasts beyond death.

This martyrdom isn’t about ideologies or belief systems, it is not about politics, movements or fate.  This martyrdom is about one thing only… Love.

This is the martyrdom that Jesus says is the greatest love that any person can show another person, “That you lay your life down for your friends.” (John 15:13) This description of perfect love comes right after he challenges his disciples to “love each other as I (Jesus) have loved you”.  He not only tells them to love each other, but he shows them how to do it by laying his own life down for them, you, me and everyone in between through his voluntary death on a cross.

The famous scripture posted at every sporting even (John 3:16) tells the whole story of the love of God.  He loved us, not just in word, not just in life, not just in healing a few people, not just in preaching a good message, making bread out of nothing, turning water into wine, or even creating the heavens and earth.  He loved us “so much”, the verse says, “that he gave us his only son” to die for us, that if we “believe on Him, we will have life everlasting.”

You can tell me you love me, you can write it down, you can live it out, you can do everything for me to show you love me now, but when you die for me, you are showing me that your love is not constrained by our temporal existence, your love is for now and forever and that you are willing to give it all to prove it. That is what Jesus did for you.

He was the greatest martyr the world has ever known.

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