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For Lovers of God: Psalm 33

Psalm 33 1) beautifully describes God’s nature as reflected in his many activities and 2) encourages people everywhere to worship him loudly and clearly with joyful praise and celebration.

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Psalm 33 opens with a clarion call to praise that pictures a scene of genuine celebration:

1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. (Psalm 33:1-3 NIV, 1984)

Verses 4 and 5 give four reasons to celebrate God:

  1. For the word of the LORD is right and true; (vs 4)
  2. He is faithful in all he does (vs 4)
  3. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; (vs 5)
  4. the earth is full of his unfailing love. (vs 5)

The body of the psalm develops these four points:

1. For the word of the LORD is right and true (vs 4)

God created by his Word (see footnote 1, technical).

6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; {Or sea as into a heap} he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

2. He is faithful in all he does (vs 4)

10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. 

As we consider today’s shifting political market and humankind’s long world history, we see that various nations and people groups rise and fall. “But the plans of the LORD stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” God is faithful, unchanging, ever true, and powerful.

3. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; (vs 5)

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling-place he watches all who live on earth–
15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.

The LORD blesses those who follow his ways (vs 12). His ways are righteousness and justice. God did not simply create and then disappear into the vastness of an infinite space (deus ex machina). Verses 13-15 state that God looks and sees everyone everywhere. He judges by his own standards of uprightness, of righteousness and justice. Verses 16-17 state that history is full of examples in which leaders with great armies, great strength, and the best of equipment find all those insufficient to save. It is God who saves.

4. the earth is full of his unfailing love. (vs 5)

18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

The LORD knows his own. He watches over them carefully, minutely, and always. The text describes God’s people as those who love him, respect, trust in, and obey him (text: fear him) as well as place their hope in God’s loyal and faithful actions and attitude of love towards them. We might call these actions faith. God delivers from death those who place their faith in him, who give their loyalty to him. He also keeps them alive in famine.

What should our response be?

Verses 20 and 21 recap the introductory verses 1-3.

20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

Verse 22 concludes with a prayer that 1) asks the faithful God to continue blessing his people just as he has done in the past, and 2) expresses the continued loyalty of the people.

22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

Application:

Explanations of a psalm are never as good as the psalm itself, just as reading a synopsis of a book or movie is never as good as experiencing. When someone tells about a great time they had, the description comes nowhere near the great time itself. Explanations like the above serve at best as a roadmap to lead the way or guideposts to point out interesting sights. Whereas experiencing a psalm and being swept up into its mood or passion can happen in just a few short minutes, digesting an explanation can dampen the joy of movement. So read the psalm when you are fresh and celebrate God’s ever present goodness.

_______________

I. Technical Note: The following translations use “word” in verse 6: ESV, NIV 1984, NIB (British NIV, 1984), NAS, BBE (Bible in Basic English), LXE (Brenton’s Septuagint English Translation), NETS (New English Translation of the Septuagint, Pietersma, 2009), KJV, NKJV, NRS (New Revised Standard Version, 1989), and the NIV, 2011. “Word” literally translates both the Greek of the Septuagint and the Hebrew, as the NET points out in its notes. However, the NET model, 2006,  and the NIRV (New International Reader’s Version, 1998) have taken the liberty to interpret the literal “word” of the two original languages and to place the interpretation into the text. NET then puts the literal translation into the notes. Can these two be right and everyone else wrong?

The NET writes for Psalm 33:6, “By the LORD’s decree the heavens were made; by a mere word [breath, or spirit] from his mouth all the stars in the sky were created.” The NIRV writes, “The heavens were made when the LORD commanded it to happen. All of the stars were created by the breath of his mouth.”

The interpretation these two more modern versions have given (although the later NIV went back to using “word”) is a narrow slice of the semantic range of possible meanings of the literal “word” of the original. In the case of the NET, I strongly suspect that this is an editorial decision based upon the philosophy (hermeneutics) of Old Testament interpretation the editors have chosen. NET is fond of placing the literal in the margin and their particular interpretation in the text itself.

Why does this matter? 1) these two versions are changing the literal translation of God’s word. 2) They are interpreting for God the meaning of the text, rather than allowing the readers to do so under the guidance of God.

One of the readers of Psalms was John the Apostle. In John 1:1-5, he writes,

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (NIV, 2011)

The author of Hebrews writes,

2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

Why rob the reader the pleasure of seeing the Word, the Son, in Psalm 33:6 by changing the literal translation “word” to “LORD’s decree“? The semantic domain of “word” includes the concept of “decree,” while “decree” erases the possibility of the Personhood of God’s Word.

The text of Psalm 148:5-6 is interesting in its contextual similarity to Psalm 33:6.

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.
6 He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away. (NIB, NIV 1984)

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he gave the command and they came into existence.
6 He established them so they would endure; he issued a decree that will not be revoked. (NET)

In these verses, “them” means everything named in verses 2-4: angels, heavenly hosts, sun, moon, shining stars, highest heavens, and waters above the skies, i.e., creation, apart from the earth. These verses contain the translations “commanded…created,” “set them in place,” and “gave a decree.” Interestingly, NET notes does not mention any of the three verbal phrases.

In comparison with Psalm 33:6, the immediate creation context is identical. “6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Yet even though the context is identical, the original Greek and Hebrew words referring to the act of creation are different. Psalm 33, as noted above, uses the Hebrew and Greek original for “word,” “logos” (see Strong’s H1697 and G3056), whereas Psalm 148:5-6 uses different words more directly related to “command” (see Strong’s H6680, H8765, G1781, G2476, and G4367).

“Logos,” which is “word” in the New Testament, carries great weight, and one cannot help but wonder why the NET chose to minimize its potential importance in Psalm 33:6, given that NET’s claimed translation “the LORD’s decree” has other specific Hebrew and Greek words that God could have chosen, as for example, those he did choose in Psalm 148:5-6 in an identical context. Are we to think that God pays less attention to details than NET? In Psalm 33:6, if God intentionally chose Hebrew “dabar” and Greek “logos,” both meaning “word,” then “word” it is.

 

 

Psalm 18: Papa Roars and Rescues

Drama from the Past

God the Son endangered, the ropes of death ensnared him, squeezed his breath away. A tsunami of destruction crashed upon his head. He couldn’t breathe. Hell’s net pulled him tighter, under. Death held its vise-like grip. There was no way for him to escape. In gasping anguish he cried out loud; he called to his Father for help.

“Papa! Help me! Save me! Death must not win forever!”

God in his holy temple heard his Son’s voice; the pleading cry of desperation reached the Father’s ear. Though his Son lay buried, three days in the grave, Almighty Papa roared and pierced the sky to save.

The earth reeled and rocked; foundations of mountains trembled. The royal Papa’s anger shook, an earth quaking gush of love. Smoke rose from his nostrils; devouring fire consumed, glowing coals of flame no dragon ever produced.

God bowed the heavens descending, thick darkness under his feet. He rode a cherub and flew swiftly on wings of wind. Almighty Papa in darkness cloaked, a canopy surrounds him. Thick clouds dark with water cover his form from view. Bursting through this darkness, his brightness once concealed, with flashes of fire and brimstone, his golden light breaks through. He thunders in the heavens, blasting out his voice, hailstones and coals announcing–Papa on the move.

Scattering forth his arrows, flashing out his lightnings, God routed the enemy, death…(and here the Son breaks in…)

“The channels of the sea you exposed, the foundations of the world laid bare. You rebuked them, O Lord, my Father, when your nostrils blasted your breath.”

“Did you see all this, my people? Were you watching? Did you see? When he came from on high and took me and pulled me from the waves? He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated and surrounded. They were too mighty for me, confronting, that one single day. But he, the LORD my Papa came through. To this broad place he brought me. He heard my cry and rescued, because he delights in me.”

*This poem draws heavily from the English Standard Version of Psalm 18:4-19

 

 

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Bible Study at Home: A Simple How-To

Do you have a Bible study you attend regularly? Either at a church, a group, or online? If not, you are not alone.

There are many reasons why a person hungry to learn more about God’s word cannot attend a Bible study, one of the most likely being that they cannot find one or the ones available to them meet at the wrong time or the wrong place. This doesn’t mean that you cannot learn the Bible–you can! I’m going to give you a simple way to begin studying at home. It is called a Word Study or Topical Study.

1. Pray.

Always pray and ask God to help you know him more and to help you obey and apply what he shows you. All teaching from God begins and ends and is through the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, God himself, breathing his life into his word as he shows it to you inside your heart, the best knowledge of God’s word will only be dead knowledge.

Pray that God will lead you to the right Bible for you at this time in your life.

Pray that God will direct you to the right verses that he wants you to study.

Pray that God will help you to understand and apply what you read.

2. Second, buy yourself a reference Bible. 

You may have one already. What is a reference Bible? A reference Bible is not necessarily a study Bible. A reference Bible is a Bible that simply has a list of other verses in a center column, or a side column, or at the foot of the page.

Center Reference Bible

You can see from the example above that the text on the left has verse numbers that correspond to a list of verse numbers running down the middle of the page between the two columns of scripture.

Verse 33 at the top of the page, for example, has a small, italicized letter a before the word “teach.” “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes.” That’s what the Lord is doing right now. He is teaching you how to study Scripture.

The center column has the number “33” corresponding to the verse you just read. There is a small letter “a” followed by “Ps 119.5, 12.” This means that if you turn to Psalm 119 verses 5 and then 12, you will find more verses that use the word “teach.”

Psalm 119:12 Blessed art Thou, O LORD; Teach me Thy statutes.

Verse 36, which is underlined, has the small letter “a” before the word “incline.”

Psalm 119:36 Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, And not to dishonest gain.

Turning to the center column, the number “36” is followed by a small “a” and the reference “1Ki 8:58.” Looking up that verse we see:

1 Kings 8:58 that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.

When we read the above verse, we see that it begins half way through a sentence. To get the full meaning, we need to go up a verse to the beginning of the sentence, and we read:

1 Kings 8:57 The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, 58 that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.

Perhaps a small desk dictionary might be useful here to understand the meaning of “incline” in this sentence. This is from Merriam-Webster.

1 :to cause to stoop or bow :bend

2 :to have influence on :persuade

  • his love of books inclined him toward a literary career
3 :to give a bend or slant to

Putting this together, we see that the psalmist in Psalm 119:36 is asking the Lord in prayer to “incline” or bend, that is, to persuade his heart to prefer obedience to the Lord’s way rather than preferring to spend his time trying to get rich. 1 Kings tells us that when God is with us, he does just that. The psalmist is praying to God, asking God to influence his heart to prefer the Lord’s way above the way of the materialistic world. This tells us that we are not alone, that God is the one who influences us to desire him and his word.

How might a reader apply this verse to her own life? Does she sense that her heart is growing cold towards the Lord? She should turn to the Lord and ask him to help her. Do someone else find that worldly interests of career and money are drawing their attention away from God? They should turn to him, just as the psalmist does, and ask God to help them, to influence their heart and the things their heart desires.

3. Summary

What I have showed today is very simple. The more you practice looking up all the little verses in the reference column, the better you will become at it. 

Also, you will soon see that the Bible is a unified whole. It all connects and teaches the same message. Each part repeats in a different setting what the other parts are also saying.

You also will be studying topics, such as love, light, truth, life, faith and any of the other Christian words you can think of.

Your beginning point will be a single verse. For example, 

John 3:16 “For God so (a) loved the world, that He (b) gave His (1)(c) only begotten Son, that whoever (d)believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 

Looking up the verses in the reference column for each one of these letters gives us the following list:

(a) loved the world Rom 5:8; Eph 2:4; 2Th 2:16; 1Jo 4:10; Rev 1:5

(b) gave Rom 8:32; 1Jo 4:9

(c) only begotten Son Joh 1:18; Joh 3:18; 1Jo 4:9

(d) believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life Joh 3:36; Joh 6:40; Joh 11:25f. (The letter “f” here means “forward.” That is, read John 11:25 and keep reading, since there are more verses that continue on the same topic.)

(1) While letters refer to verses, numbers refer to notes by the editors or translators of the particular Bible you may have. Here the (1) says the following, “unique, only one of His kind.” That is what the translators or editors are saying about the word “only begotten.”

I guarantee that by the time you have looked up all the above verses, you will have a good idea of the topic of God’s love to all people in the world!

 

 

 

 

 

New Birth–Its Necessity and Its Joy

Week 4

The New Birth–Necessary and Desirable: John 3:1-21 and John 4:1-42

First, let’s read the text, especially John 3:1-15  (New Birth Necessary) and John 4:1-30 (New Birth Desirable).

What is the New Birth?

“It is very clear, therefore, that there is an act of God which precedes any act of man. In its initial stage the process of changing a person into a child of God precedes conversion and faith.” (Hendriksen, Vol. 1, 133)

Being “born again” or “born from above” is an action of God that connects the person spiritually with God; communication with God is restored through the depositing by God of his own Holy Spirit into the person. Being born from above is God’s action of REGENERATION upon a dead soul (the Bible precedes “Dr Who” by 2,000 years). It’s God’s work of bringing an enemy of God (all human beings since the fall of humankind–see Genesis 3 and Romans 5:10) into the very family of God as children.

ESV John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

NIV  Galatians 3:26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith

ESV  Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

NIV  Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

ESV  Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”

2 Corinthians 6:18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

1 Peter 1:23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

Why is the New Birth Necessary? Jesus explains to Nicodemus 

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [ἄνωθεν, an-o-then, 1-from above, 2-again] he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

ESV  Romans 8:9 … Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

1 Corinthians 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. [AND]Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Why is the New Birth Desirable? Jesus explains to the Woman at the Well  woman-well

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

2 Samuel 14:14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

How do we get the New Birth? We must only ASK for it.

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 

John 4:15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

Isaiah 55:1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

The new birth (the water of life) is FREE; it is for EVERYONE who asks.

God will cleanse us to make our water vessels clean.

Nicodemus and the woman at the well both discovered that they were incapable of being born from above and receiving the water of life on their own. They didn’t have the capacity to effect their own new birth; unlike the mythical Dr Who, they were not able to perform their own regeneration. Such a miracle of life must come from above; it must proceed from God alone. God created at the first, speaking life out of nothing. He alone can speak new life into a dead sinner’s heart.

Jesus explained to Nicodemus in very few words the entire theology of the Old Testament, made clear in the picture of the brass serpent that Moses lifted up high on a pole to heal all those who had been fatally bitten by a venomous serpent. (Numbers 21) The poisonous snake, in the picture God chose to use, represents sin. Looking at a brass serpent lifted up on a pole effected physical healing. Looking at Christ (with the look of faith) lifted up on the cross brings spiritual healing–cleansing–to a soul poisoned by the fatally venomous bite of sin.

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

 2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”–

Nicodemus needed to be cleansed of the sin of unbelief. (Exodus 20:3-7)

John 3:11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Nicodemus did not confess his sin of unbelief, and the account in John 3, he did not receive salvation–cleansing and new birth–the water and the Spirit.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

The woman at the well needed to be cleansed of her sin of immorality.

John 4:17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.

She did confess her sin (see just above, vss 17 and 19). John 4 recounts her joyful salvation and her sudden trip back to the village to tell all her neighbors the good news of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ paid the price for our cleansing, so that the water of life would be FREE for all of us.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

Outline of John up to this point Outline

You might be interested to read more at this link from Billy Graham’s website: How to be Born Again

 

 

 

 

Word of God

john-1_1-51

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God. 

2 He was in the beginning with God. 

3 All things were made through him,

and without him was not any thing made that was made. 

4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 

5 The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness has not overcome it.

THE PNEUMA PROJECT: The Human Body and Healing

A lesson on the Bible and what it says about the Human Body & Healing, by Brent Eglitis

Given at The Shepherd’s House on May 10, 2016

The Human Body and Healing by Brent Eglitis

 

Jesus Heals

Reconciled AND Responsible–Colossians 1:21-23

ESV  Colossians 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Paul’s attention shifts once more to the Colossians and their role as Christians in God’s grand plan of redemption and reconciliation.

I. “And you…alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,”

A. Humankind’s disposition on account of the Fall is that we are all by nature alienated from God…

Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Ephesians 4:18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

…and therefore children who hate God…

Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

…doing evil deeds.

B. Thoughts and actions form an interactive, self-reinforcing circle. “Wrong thinking leads to vice, vice to further mental corruption, so that the mind, still not totally ignorant of God’s standards, finds itself applauding evil.” (Wright, 85)thoughts_actions

II. “he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death,”

A. Grammatically, it is not clear whether God does the reconciling to himself through Christ, or whether it is Christ who does the reconciling to himself.

1. The NIV chooses the former, and the NET and ESV allow for the latter.

2. Biblically, both are true.

a. God reconciles: (2 Corinthians 5:18)

b. Christ reconciles: (Ephesians 2:14-16)

c. Christ and the Father are One (John 14:10)

B. The Joyful News is that the formerly estranged Colossians and all believers have been brought back into a right (a good) relationship with God through the blood of Christ on the cross.

C. The “body of his flesh”: In the prior section, verses 15-20, we saw the divinity of Christ; here we see his humanity.

D. Narrative:

A father and daughter had a quarrel. The daughter, doubting her father’s wisdom and love, renounced her father first,  turning her back on him in disbelief of his wise instruction. He then turned his back on her. The daughter, having been kidnapped by a lying and treacherous false lover, could no longer find her father. And even if she could, she didn’t want to return to his house, because as time went on, her mind tricked her into thinking of him more and more as a brutal dictator.

It remained for the father to locate his daughter and bring her home. But how could he, after she had abandoned him for his arch enemy?

There was a son, whom the father loved above all else. Between them, they devised a plan to bring the daughter home. The son volunteered to go to the foreign land in the enemy’s territory to locate the daughter and woo her back. In the process, he died, thus paying the ransom for the daughter’s life. The father, now satisfied that his holy justice and honor had been vindicated, called his daughter by the winds of his own spirit. She heard and responded, turning to see her father’s face shining on her in love. She ran to him. Thus they were reconciled. She and the son, who by a miracle of her father’s power had been resurrected from death, went out together to locate her own sons and daughters to tell them that Papa was welcoming them back home.

E. God is the prime mover from beginning to end: Reconciled

 

 

 

 

III. “in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach

  • holy — cleansed from all sin and separated entirely to God and his service
  • blameless — without any blemish whatever, like a perfect sacrifice (Philippians 2:15)
  • above reproach — completely above merited accusation (1 Timothy 3:10; Titus 1:6-7)

A. This is every believer’s accomplished legal standing before God in principle at the moment of salvation, and in daily living these words describe a progressive and ongoing practise.

B. If such were not the case, Paul would not have written (Colossians 3:5-9).

C. The Presentation: Here Comes the Bride!

This glorious presentation is here referred to as the purpose of the reconciliation. (Wright, 84)

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

 Revelation 21:9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

Ephesians 5:31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

IV. If… Unconditional love has a condition

if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven,

A. Salvation is unconditional…”whosoever believeth in him”…(John 3:16)

B. Perseverance (assurance of salvation) has conditions… “if indeed you continue in the faith,…

1. No human can tell the genuineness of another’s salvation, not even the Apostle Paul, or John, or Peter. Appearances deceive–consider the Pharisees. And often, it is difficult to judge the state of our own hearts–“Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

2. It is better to discover sooner, rather than later, the true state of one’s soul, in case there may be need of repentance–

Hebrews 3:15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.

3. Because God has created us in his image, especially in the new birth, and because Christ is our forerunner, our model, our guide, our paradigm, we believe that we have free will, that God does not carry his children kicking and screaming into heaven. Therefore, as Colossians 1:23 indicates, continued and willful disobedience to the standards of a “stable and steadfast” faith and moving away from “the hope of the gospel that you heard” are both strong warning signs that all may not be right.

4. Notice that this verse does not say that living a sin free life, or a nearly sin free life, after salvation is the condition for our being presented to Christ at the End Time. Remaining in the faith is what Paul says God requires.

C. What does it mean for believers to “continue in the faith“? How can we know if this is true of both others and ourselves? Is it about certain doctrines or signing or not signing certain petitions? The Bible gives us Sure Signposts of a Steady and Steadfast Faith:

1. Obedience to God’s Word. They are not to move away from “the hope of the gospel that you heard.” (Galatians 1:8; 1 John 2:3-6)

2. Love for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:10-11John 15:12)

3. Regularly meeting with a body of believers for worship, prayer, and edification (Bible study). (Hebrews 10:25)

4. Repentance for ongoing sins. (1 John 1:5-10)

5. We are not doing this alone!

a. God has given us his Holy Spirit (our Guide by our side) to help us every step of the way. (Philippians 4:13; John 14:16-18)

b. God is FOR us, and he wants us to succeed. (Romans 8:31-39)

c. God uses us to fight the battles for a stable and steadfast faith in order to bring about the end that he underwrites–the salvation of our souls.

We are in partnership with the Son, the Holy Spirit, and God. We are required to cooperate–to fight beside God–for our own perseverance to the End. Responsible

V. and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Having spoken about the roles of God the Father (Vss 12-13), God the Son (Vss 14-20), and the Colossians themselves (Vss 21-23a), Paul now shifts to his own role in the salvation and sanctification (ongoing walk of faith) of the Colossian believers (Vss 23b-2:5).

Week 8 Life Group: Colossians Bible Study

God the Father and God the Son: Colossians 1:12b-20–High Christology

Chapter 1 Overview

A. In this letter Paul addresses the Colossians as Believers in Christ

B. He recounts how they came to be saved (Col 1:6-7)

C. Paul recounts how he prays for these precious believers

1. He thanks God for their faith and love in Christ through the Holy Spirit (Col 1:3-8, especially 3-4)

2. He petitions God to give them clear understanding of his will and the power to do it with joy and thanksgiving (Col 1:9-12a)

D. Paul spells out the Father’s role in the Colossian believers’ salvation (Col 12b-14)

E. The Father’s role spills over into the Son’s role (Col 1:14)

F. Paul expands upon the unsurpassable excellences of Christ (Col 1:15-20)

Question: In this letter only, which of the three persons of the trinity does Paul present with least detail? second least? the most detail? (For Scripture concerning the Spirit’s role in believers’ salvation, see Galatians 3-6.)

G. The Colossian believers’ position in Christ (Col 1: 13-14, 21-23a)

H. Paul’s role among the Colossians and the kingdom of Christ (Col 1:23b-2:5)

Part 1: God the Father’s Role in Salvation (Col 1:12b-14)

Colossians 12b …[the Father] who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

I. The Inheritance

A. How has God “qualified” the Colossian believers and us to share in the inheritance? (see :13)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.

B. Describe some of the differences between the dominion of darkness and the Kingdom of light (the kingdom of the Son he loves)

C. What is the inheritance?

 

II. The Inheritors

A. Who are “his holy people in the kingdom of light?”

Exodus Chart 2

B. How are “redemption” and “forgiveness of sins” related? (vs 14)

Redemption = to loosen, to set free, to release

Forgiveness = to loosen, to set free, to release in exchange for an equivalent payment of some kind

III. Christ is the Mediator Between God and Man

A. OT Israel was God’s son

Exodus 4:22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son,

Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

B. NT Israel is Christ, who is God’s Son

Matthew 2:15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Mark 9:7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

C. The OT Exodus from Egypt

D. The NT Exodus from the dominion of darkness, enslavement to sin, curse of death, release from bondage to the ruler of this world (Satan)

Colossians 1:20 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.

Other Great Verses:

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light

Acts 26:18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

1 Peter 2:24 “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.”

Ephesians 1:14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

 

A Living Polystrate Book

A most amazing thing about the Bible is how it remains unchanged and relevant through all  the ages of worldview evolution–which is how people’s thinking about the world changes with the world itself.

Tropical_Bible

The Bible sprang to life among the Ancient Near East cultures, when chaos and unpredictable gods governed people’s lives.Modern_Bible

It flourished during the centuries when sophisticated Grecian philosophies dominated the thinking of the Mediterranean world.

It survived the Dark Ages when almost no one could read it nor had a copy of it even if they could.

It’s made it through the Enlightenment and is currently a best seller even in the multicultural, post-post modern world we live in.

Unchanged, unchanging, but changing the hearts of thousands and millions over the course of time.

What other book speaks so strongly?

Interactive!

God Speaks And Listens

How often I pray and ask God to listen to me. We want to be heard by him and sometimes blame him if he doesn’t respond. God does indeed listen and hear everything we think and feel and everything in us of which we may even be unaware (Psalm 10:17). Wonderfully, God also speaks in a personal way through his written Word, the Bible. He doesn’t speak this way every single time we read the Bible, but he does so often enough that our prayer before reading should always include a request for our hearts and minds to hear him when he speaks to us.

Word of God Speak – MercyMe

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