What did Jesus mean by Cross to bear and Who Killed Jesus?

Luke 14:25-31(ESV)25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Dictionary.com list cross to bear as this:

A burden or trial one must put up with, as in Alzheimer’s is a cross to bear for the whole family, or in a lighter vein, Mowing that huge lawn once a week is Brad’s cross to bear : This phrase alludes to the cross carried by Jesus to his crucifixion. Today it may be used either seriously or lightly.

Many people interpret “cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives: a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness. With self-pitying pride, they say, “That’s my cross I have to carry.” Such an interpretation is not what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

Here are a few heresies concerning carrying your cross.

David Wilkerson said” It’s very true that Jesus said to His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.” But Jesus could not carry His cross – and neither can you! Jesus fell under the load of His cross, weary, exhausted, and unable to carry it another step. John said, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place…called Golgotha” (John 19:17). the Bible doesn’t tell us how far Jesus carried His cross. We do know they compelled Simon, the Cyrene, to pick it up and carry it to the place of crucifixion (Matthew 27:32).”
“Jesus did take up His cross and was led by His tormentors like a lamb to be slain. But He could not carry it for long. The truth is, Jesus was too weak and frail to carry His cross. It was laid on another’s shoulder. He had reached the end of His endurance. He was a physically broken and wounded man. There is only so much one person can take. There is a breaking point. Why did they compel Simon to pick up that cross? Was Jesus lying on those cobblestone streets like a lifeless man, with the cross lying over him like dead weight? Did they kick Him, try to prop Him up, and attempt to force Him a step further? But did He just lie there, with not enough strength to move an inch? His cross had become too heavy to bear.”

Paul Ellis “Jesus did not suffer and die on the cross so you could join him in suffering.”

Jesus rescued us from having to carry our own cross.

Jesus will never blame us for sending Him to the cross.

No one has the power to kill Jesus except God Himself.

When Jesus carried His cross up Golgotha to be crucified, no one was thinking of the cross as symbolic of a burden to carry. To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by the most painful and humiliating means human beings could develop.

Two thousand years later, Christians view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love. But in Jesus’ day, the cross represented nothing but torturous death. Because the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion, bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device while facing ridicule along the way to death.

Therefore, “Take up your cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender. After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said, Luke 9:24-25(ESV)24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? Although the call is tough, the reward is matchless.

The first requirement of discipleship is self-denial. A person who is not willing to deny himself cannot claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Deny is from aparneomai, which means to completely disown, to utterly separate oneself from someone. It is the word Jesus used to describe Peter’s denial of Him while He was being questioned by the high priest (Matthew 26:34). Each time he was confronted about his relationship to Jesus, Peter more vehemently denied knowing Him (vv. 70, 72, 74). He disowned his Master before the world.

That is exactly the kind of denial a believer is to make in regard to himself. He is to utterly disown himself, to refuse to acknowledge the self of the old man. Jesus’ words here could be paraphrased, “Let him refuse any association or companionship with himself.” Self-denial not only characterizes a person when he comes in saving faith to Christ but also as he lives as a faithful disciple of Christ.

Arthur Pink wrote, “Growth in grace is growth downward; it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a deepening realization of our nothingness; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.”

The second requirement of discipleship is to take up one’s cross. This idea has profound meaning which must be understood. Taking up one’s cross is not some mystical level of selfless “deeper spiritual life” that only the religious elite can hope to achieve. Nor is it the common trials and hardships that all persons experience sometime in life. A cross is not having an unsaved husband, nagging wife, or domineering mother-in-law. Nor is it having a physical handicap or suffering from an incurable disease. To take up one’s cross is simply to be willing to pay any price for Christ’s sake. It is the willingness to endure shame, embarrassment, reproach, rejection, persecution, and even martyrdom for His sake.

To the people of Jesus’ day the cross was a very concrete and vivid reality. It was the instrument of execution reserved for Rome’s worst enemies. It was a symbol of the torture and death that awaited those who dared raise a hand against Roman authority Not many years before Jesus and the disciples came to Caesarea Philippi, 100 men had been crucified in the area. A century earlier, Alexander Janneus had crucified 800 Jewish rebels at Jerusalem, and after the revolt that followed the death of Herod the Great, 2,000 Jews were crucified by the Roman proconsul Varus. Crucifixions on a smaller scale were a common sight, and it has been estimated that perhaps some 30,000 occurred under Roman authority during the lifetime of Christ.

When the disciples and the crowd heard Jesus speak of taking up the cross, there was nothing mystical to them about the idea. They immediately pictured a poor, condemned soul walking along the road carrying (which is an accurate translation of airo, meaning “to raise, bear, or carry”) the instrument of his execution on his own back. A man who took up his cross began his death march, carrying the very beam on which he would hang.

For a disciple of Christ to take up his cross is for him to be willing to start on a death march. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be willing, in His service, to suffer the indignities, the pain, and even the death of a condemned criminal.

The cross represents suffering that is ours because of our relationship to Christ. As Jesus moved unwaveringly toward Jerusalem, the place of execution where He “must go”, He had already taken up His cross and was beginning to bear on His back the sins of the whole world. And in His train, millions of disciples, all with their own crosses, have since borne reproach with Him.

Christ does not call disciples to Himself to make their lives easy and prosperous, but to make them holy and productive. Willingness to take up his cross is the mark of the true disciple. As the hymnist wrote, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone, and there’s a cross for me.” Those who make initial confessions of their desire to follow Jesus Christ, but refuse to accept hardship or persecution, are characterized as the false, fruitless souls who are like rocky soil with no depth. They wither and die under threat of the reproach of Christ Matthew 13:20–21(ESV)20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. Many people want a “no-cost” discipleship, but Christ offers no such option.

The third requirement of discipleship is loyal obedience. Only after a person denies himself and takes up his cross, Jesus said, is he prepared to follow Me. True discipleship is submission to the lordship of Christ that becomes a pattern of life.
1 John 2:4-6(ESV)4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Matthew 7:21(ESV)21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
To continue in His Word is to be His true disciple John 8:31(ESV)31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed during trials. Jesus assured us that trials will come to His followers.
John 16:33(ESV)33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus never hid that cost.

In Luke 9:57-62,(ESV)57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus[a] said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Three people seemed willing to follow Jesus. When Jesus questioned them further, their commitment was half-hearted at best. They failed to count the cost of following Him. None was willing to take up his cross and crucify upon it his own interests.

Therefore, Jesus appeared to dissuade them. How different from the typical Gospel presentation! How many people would respond to an altar call that went, “Come follow Jesus, and you may face the loss of friends, family, reputation, career, and possibly even your life”? The number of false converts would likely decrease! Such a call is what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions:

• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?

• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?

• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?

• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?

• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?

In some places of the world, these consequences are reality. But notice the questions are phrased, “Are you willing?” Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to you, but are you willing to take up your cross? If there comes a point in your life where you are faced with a choice—Jesus or the comforts of this life—which will you choose?

Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily, giving up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Only if you willingly take up your cross may you be called His disciple. Luke 14:27(ESV)27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. The reward is worth the price. Jesus followed His call of death to self (“Take up your cross and follow Me”) with the gift of life in Christ: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” Matthew 16:25-26(ESV)24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 

The murder of Jesus was a vast conspiracy involving Rome, Herod, the Gentiles, the Jewish Sanhedrin, and the people of Israel—diverse groups who were seldom fully in accord with one another. In fact, it is significant that the crucifixion of Christ is the only historical event where all those factions worked together to achieve a common goal. All were culpable. All bear the guilt together. The Jews as a race were no more or less blameworthy than the Gentiles.

This is very plainly stated in Acts 4:27-28, a corporate prayer offered in an assembly of the very earliest believers:
Acts 4:27-28(ESV)27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

So there is no justification whatsoever for trying to fix the blame for Jesus’ death on any one people group. This was, in essence, a corporate act of sinful humanity against God. All are guilty together.

And yet even that does not exhaust the full truth about who killed Jesus. Scripture emphasizes from cover to cover that the death of Christ was ordained and appointed by God Himself.
Isaiah 53:10-11(ESV)Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.11  Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

The Romans were the ones who actually crucified Him (Matthew 27:27-37). Crucifixion was a Roman method of execution, authorized and carried out by the Romans under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus. Roman soldiers drove the nails into His hands and feet, Roman troops erected the cross and a Roman solider pierced His side (Matthew 27:27-35).

Ultimately, and perhaps somewhat amazingly, it was God Himself who put Jesus to death. This was the greatest act of divine justice ever carried out, done in Acts 2:23(ESV)23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men and for the highest purpose. Jesus’ death on the cross secured the salvation of countless millions and provided the only way God could forgive sin without compromising His holiness and perfect righteousness. Christ’s death was God’s perfect plan for the eternal redemption of His own. Far from being a victory for Satan, as some have suggested, or an unnecessary tragedy, it was the most gracious act of God’s goodness and mercy, the ultimate expression of the Father’s love for sinners. God put Jesus to death for our sin so that we could live in sinless righteousness before Him, a righteousness only possible because of the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”

Jesus didn’t just die; he died with power and authority. His life wasn’t taken from him; he laid it down willingly to die for our sins. His crucifixion was an apparent defeat for him, but turned into a lasting defeat for the evil one who sought to use his death to win a victory over God. No one could take Jesus’ life. He gave it willingly to save us and purchase us from death. The Cross is God’s power demonstrated in humanity’s worst forum. It is our glory!

John 10:1-18(ESV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

1 John 3:16(ESV)16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

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Ephesians Pt3 Power, Authority,Dominion

Ephesians 1:(HCSB)20-22 20 He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens— 21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.

Many people do not realize where Jesus is at this moment. They say things like, Jesus is in my heart, he is all around us, jesus shows up when 2 or more are gathered, cliche after cliche. Where exactly is Jesus? The Bible is clear.

Acts 7:55-56(ESV)55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Romans 8:34(ESV)34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Colossians 3:1(ESV)If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Hebrews 1:3(ESV)3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Hebrews 8:1(ESV)Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
Hebrews 10:12(ESV)12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
Hebrews 12:2(ESV)2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
1 Peter 3:22(ESV)22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Revelation 3:21(ESV)21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Acts 2:33(ESV)33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

As we will see in a little while the bible is clear of who resides in you.

Jesus has been given all power authority and dominion. Not you, Jesus has those. But what exactly is Power, Authority and Dominion?

Power ability to act or produce an effect; legal or official authority, capacity, or right; possession of control, authority, or influence over others; a source or means of supplying energy

Romans 8:9-11(ESV)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. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
So which person of the Trinity resides in you?

2 Corinthians 10:3-4(ESV)3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

There are a few words used in scripture for power

1. Authority. Exousia means authority, jurisdiction, power of government, choice, or judicial decision.

2. Miraculous Power. Acts 1:8(ESV)8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”The word ‘power’ is ‘dunamis’ meaning strength, ability, power for performing miracles, moral power and excellence of soul, the power of influential people, power and resources arising from numbers and armies.

3. Prevailing Power. Philippians 4:13(ESV) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The Greek word for ‘can do’ is ‘ischus’ meaning abiding power or strength, the strength to continue, to endure to the end, to overcome. While you are waiting for God’s miraculous power to heal, deliver, or break through in your life, you can depend on God’s sustaining power, ischus.

4. Dominion Power. The Greek word kratos means dominion, corporate, kingdom dominion. Paul prayed that the spiritual eyes of Ephesian believers would be opened so they would know “the exceeding greatness of His power (dunamis) toward us who believe according to the working of His mighty (kratos) power (ischus) which He worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead…” (Ephesians 1:19)

5. Energizing Power. The Greek word energeia means energy, working, efficiency. “I was made a minister (servant) according to the gift of the grace of God given to me through the effective working (energeia – energizing work) of His power (dunamis).

6. Aggressive Power. The Greek word bia means strength in violent action, force of body or mind. Forceful (biastes) men lay hold of the kingdom of God. (Matthew 11:12(ESV) 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.) There is grace available for those who would make an effort to enter kingdom living in spite of violent opposition.

Never forget where this power comes from. John 15:5(ESV)  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. In the Greek Jesus was saying, ‘Without me you have no dunamis power.’ Stay connected or you will run out of power! You have to ABIDE in CHRIST to have ANY POWER!

Authority the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something: the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people: a quality that makes something seem true or real

Jesus said, in Matthew 28:18(ESV) “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations…” The Greek for ‘power’ is ‘exousia’ rightly translated ‘All authority’. Exousia means authority, jurisdiction, power of government, choice, or judicial decision. The authority Jesus gives His people is not to be used in their name, but Jesus’ name then Jesus gave His disciples authority to carry out His will here on earth.

Here is a funny story in the bible where people thought they have found a magical incantation.
Acts 19:13-20(ESV)13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all[d] of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

It refused to recognize any other authority in Ephesus. The demon’s question “who are you?” is chilling in its implications to the seven sons of Sceva and their total lack of authority. Demons cannot be cast out via a formula or a ritual or invoking Jesus’ name. There is no power in incantations, even if they include the name of Christ. The power belongs to Jesus alone. Probably the greatest mistake the seven sons of Sceva made was their failure to realize that Paul was not doing the exorcisms. Jesus Christ was doing the exorcisms through Paul.The problem faced by the seven sons of Sceva was that they had no power over the demon they confronted. They were not apostles. More than that, as religious as they were, they had no relationship with God. They were not believers in Christ. They did not possess the power or the presence of the Holy Spirit. There was nothing in them or their words that would cause a demon to pay them the slightest heed. One proud demon in particular seems to have been fed up with their stage show and gave them a beating they would remember.
Matthew 7:21-23(ESV)21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

This echoes the 7 sons of sceva.

Dominion the power to rule : control of a country, region, etc.: the land that a ruler or government controls.The Greek word kratos means dominion, corporate, kingdom dominion. We love to talk about the Kingdom, the Kingdom is the King’s Domain, it is what the King has Dominion over. So the Kingdom start with those who Christ has control of.

The original Hebrew uses the word “radah” Genesis 1:26(ESV) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” – which means literally: To Rule over with Authority; The Right and the Power to Govern and Control; To Dominate

Jesus wants to dominate you. Christ is the conquerer and the believers are his spoils of war. He came and died for you, not for us to live rebellious lives. He came and waged war against death and dominated death, hell and the grave for us.

1 Corinthians 11:3(ESV) But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 

The implications of this teaching are profound. First, church leaders are to surrender ultimate leadership to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who leads and determines the teachings and practices of the church.
The 1689 2nd London Baptist Confessional 26.4 The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church. In him is vested, by the appointment of the Father in a supreme and sovereign manner, all authority for the calling, institution, order and government of the church. The Pope of Rome cannot in any sense be the head of the church, but he is the antichrist, that ‘man of lawlessness’, and ‘son of destruction’, who exalts himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God, whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
2 Thessalonians 2:2-42(ESV) Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

The Roman Catholic Church, by the way, still holds to the lies of Papal headship and Papal infallibility.  Reading from Catholic dogma, “The Pope possesses full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church and not merely in matters of faith and morals but also in Church discipline and in the government of the Church.”

To explain that out of their own literature against the various forms of Episcopalianism which limited the jurisdictive power of the Pope in favor of the Bishops, the Vatican Council declares this, quote: “If anyone shall say that the Roman Pontiff has the office merely of inspection and direction and not a full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which belong to faith and morals, but also in those which relate to the discipline and government of the Church spread through the world, or assert that he possesses merely the principle part and not all the fullness of this supreme power or that this power which he enjoys is not ordinary and immediate, both over each and all the Churches and over each and all the pastors and the faithful, let him be anathema.”  Damn anybody who questions the Pope’s headship.

The 1689 2nd London Baptist Confessional 26.5 In executing the authority entrusted to him, the Lord Jesus, through the ministry of his Word and by his Spirit, calls to himself out of the world those who are given to him by the Father.1 They are called to walk before him in the ways of obedience which he prescribes for them in his Word.2 He commands those who are so called to form local societies or churches for their mutual edification and to engage in the public worship which he requires of them while in the world.

Jesus has ALL power, Authority and dominion, He is head of the church, no man is head. There are certain things in this life that we as Christ followers have power, authority and dominion over, but when we are not in Christ we forfeit those. Jesus Christ rules and governs his people and directs them towards the fulfilment of God’s purposes. All power and authority within the church derive from Jesus Christ as the head., and we are the body.

1 Corinthians 12:27(ESV)27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. For a church body to function properly, all of its “body parts” need to be present and working

1 Corinthians 12:12-20(ESV)12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 So the body is not one part but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. 19 And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? 20 Now there are many parts, yet one body.

The church must be together to carry out many of its purposes. Church is not something that you do individually it is something that you do collectively. To be a follower of Christ is not just what you do by yourself it is what you do together with other people. We are what the Bible calls the “family of God.” A family is by its very nature inter-dependent. What it means to be a part of a local church is that you’re inter-dependent with other people in your church.

For these reasons and more, church attendance, participation, and fellowship should be regular aspects of a believer’s life. Weekly church attendance is in no sense “required” for believers, but someone who belongs to Christ should have a desire to worship God, receive His Word, and fellowship with other believers.

A believer will never reach full spiritual maturity without having that outlet for his gifts, and we all need the assistance and encouragement of other believers. It’s not enough to just attend a church; we should be involved in some type of ministry to others, using the spiritual gifts God has given us.

He loves the church Ephesians 5:25(ESV)25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
1John 3:16(ESV)16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

He cares for the church John 17:12(ESV)12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

He provides for the growth of the church Ephesians 4:15-16(ESV)15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

He prays for the church John 17:20-26(ESV)20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

He judges the church Revelations 2:23(ESV)23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

He will present the church blameless before God Jude 24(ESV)24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,

Prophet, Priest and King

One of the greatest gifts to the Christian understanding of the work of Christ is the great Reformer John Calvin’s exposition of the threefold office of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King. Jesus is the center of the Bible and should be the center of our lives.The centrality of Christ is the foundation of the Protestant faith. Christ Alone, one of the Five Solas of the Reformation is very important to believe and understand. Martin Luther said that Jesus Christ is the “center and circumference of the Bible”—meaning that who He is and what He did in His death and resurrection is the fundamental content of Scripture. Ulrich Zwingli said, “Christ is the Head of all believers who are His body and without Him the body is dead.”

We urgently need to hear and hold to solus Christus in our day of pluralistic theology. Many people today question the belief that salvation is only by faith in Christ. As Carl Braaten says, they “are returning to a form of the old bankrupt nineteenth-century Christological approach of Protestant liberalism and calling it ‘new,’ when it is actually scarcely more than a shallow Jesusology.” The end result is that today, many people—as H. R. Niebuhr famously said of liberalism—proclaim and worship “a God without wrath who brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

Augustine in his 5th century book Harmony of the Gospels viewed the variations in the gospel accounts in terms of the different focuses of the authors on Jesus: Matthew on royalty, Mark on humanity, Luke on priesthood and John on divinity.

The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, also called the Second London Baptist Confession, was written by Particular Baptists, who held to a Calvinistic Soteriology in England to give a formal expression of their Christian faith from a Baptist perspective. This confession, like the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) and the Savoy Declaration (1658), was written by Puritans who were concerned that their particular church organisation reflect what they perceived to be Biblical teaching. The Philadelphia Confession was a modification of the Second London Confession which added an allowance for singing of hymns, psalms and spiritual songs in the Lord’s Supper and made optional the laying on of hands in baptism. The Confession of Faith taught the typical Protestant view of the time that the Pope is antichrist.

26.4. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ.

The 1689 London Baptist Confession Chapter 8 Christ the Mediator, section 9)speaks of Christ in this way:This office of Mediator between God and the human race belongs exclusively to Christ, who is the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church of God. This office may not be transferred from him to any other, either in whole or in part.

After 1830, the New Hampshire Confession became increasingly popular among Baptists in the North. It was an intentional modification of the Philadelphia Confession. In 1845, when the Southern Baptist Convention was formed, every delegate came from a church or association that had adopted the Philadelphia Confession or an abstract of the document. When the Abstract of Principles was drafted in 1858, it was an abstract of the 1689 Confession, though clearly in the same moderate vein as the New Hampshire Confession. It really wasn’t until the Baptist Faith and Message (1925) that you had a major non-Arminian Baptist confession in America that did not have the 1689 Confession in the immediate background; the BF&M was a modification of the New Hampshire Confession. Published in 1925 then modified in 1963 then again in 2000.

Catechism a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.

The Heidelberg Catechism (1563)The Council of Trent had just finished its work with its conclusions and decrees against the Protestant faith.One of the aims of the catechism was to counteract the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church as well as Anabaptists. The Heidelberg interprets the title “Christ” in terms of the threefold office, in Lord’s Day 12, Question and Answer 31:

Q. Why is he called “Christ,” meaning “anointed”?

A. Because he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our chief prophet and teacher who perfectly reveals to us

the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance; our only high priest

who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father; and our eternal king who governs us by his Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism is a catechism written in 1646 and 1647 by the Westminster Assembly, a synod of English and Scottish theologians and laymen intended to bring the Church of England into greater conformity with the Church of Scotland. The Westminster Shorter Catechism explains the role of Christ as redeemer in terms of the threefold office:

Q. 23: What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?

Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.

Q. 24: How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?

Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Q. 25: How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.

Q.26: How doth Christ execute the office of a king?

Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Jesus not only qualifies overseers in the church, but provides the job description as well. Two key passages in Scripture offer specific guidance for overseers in the church.

The Apostle Peter writes to the overseers of the early church:
1 Peter 5:2–3(ESV)Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

In the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul addresses the overseers of the church at Ephesus: Acts 20:28 (ESV)Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock,in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

Jesus is the good shepherd, He puts overseers in place to protect and care for his flock. God promises great reward for those who fulfill this task faithfully: 1 Peter 5:4(ESV) “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory”.

Jesus is the perfect chief prophet, high priest, and King of kings, and as image-bearers of God and disciples of Christ, each of us will reflect aspects of his character in different ways. He provides the church with men and women who can lead, and their specific abilities will usually tend toward prophet, priest, or king, as a primary ability. They will also have a secondary. It is best to have a Prophet lead pastor with a complimentary Priest as an Associate pastor.

Of course, all leaders in the church must perform bits and pieces of each area, depending on the situation. In general, however, each leader will be stronger in a particular area, and a team of overseers in a church is most effective when they complement one another in the roles of prophet, priest, and king to fulfill the Great Commission:

1.To a prophet goes the work of proclaiming the news of
the kingdom, so that more people can receive it and be baptized. He is the primary leader, the main Bible preacher, and the visionary. If a church has just one paid employee, it’s the prophet. He is in the Thinking realm of teaching, part of the Head. A prophet of God is someone who reveals God, speaks for God, and communicates to people the truths that God wants them to know.
Undoubtedly, Jesus did this when he came to do the will of the Father (Luke 22:42(ESV)42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
 to reveal the Father (Matthew 11:27(ESV)27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
to speak the things of the Father.
John 8:28(ESV)28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.;
John 12:49(ESV)49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.

2.To a priest goes the work of caring for the people of the kingdom, making disciples, and teaching the family of God how to enjoy new life in Jesus. The priest is a counselor,a midweek class teacher, or a small group leader. A church typically has more than one priest, usually serving as unpaid volunteers.He is in the Affective realm, feeling and caring, part of the Heart. The priests were the ones in the Old Testament who offered sacrifices to God in order to cleanse of sin. Ultimately, all such priests were representations of Jesus who is the True Priest who offered himself as a sacrifice
Ephesians 5:2(ESV)2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.; Hebrews 9:26-27(ESV)26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Hebrews 10:12(ESV)12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
by which he cleanses us of our sin (1 John 1:7(ESV)7 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 cleanses us from all sin.. But, Jesus is called a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:20(ESV)“Where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”.   Hebrews 9:11 says, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation.” As a priest, Jesus is our mediator between God and ourselves,1 Timothy 2:5(ESV)5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,.

3.To a king goes the work of managing the kingdom, wisely stewarding the resources God has provided so that the church can grow until eventually the good news reaches all nations. The king administrates all or some of church business and operations. At a small church, the king is probably a volunteer, while a larger church might employ multiple staff to cover kingly functions. He is in the Behavioral, the doing realm, part of the Hands. A king is someone who has authority to rule and reign over a group of people. Jesus is just such a king. He is called the King of the Jews by the Magi (Matthew 2:2(ESV)2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”, and Jesus accepts that title in Matthew 27:11(ESV), “Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say.’” Matthew 21:5 speaks of Jesus and says, “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey.” Remember, Jesus is King in that he rules and judges.Revelation 19:11(ESV) “And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.” The armies follow him (Revelation 19:14(ESV)14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

A church doesn’t exist without someone preaching the Word of God. Indeed, the book of Acts shows that the church was born when Jesus’ disciples started preaching.

By definition, the church is a bunch of sinners who recognize their need for a Savior. When a large group of broken people gathers together, the counseling caseload and discipleship needs are obvious and rather urgent.

Unfortunately, it’s usually not until the church reaches a crisis point before anyone starts looking around for a king—like when the budget is shot, the staff is bloated, the new building needs a fundraiser, or the lead pastor is burning out.

Thanks to Mark Driscoll ministries, Ligonier, the 1689, Westminster and the Heidelberg Catechisms for the resources.

Ephesians Pt2 Wisdom and Revelation

Ephesians 1:15-19(HCSB)15 This is why, since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.

Whenever we read Scripture, we should attempt to determine as much as possible about the original context and purpose of the particular passage of study. This is called hermeneutics, this practice gives us a guide to interpretation and keeps us from going off into false interpretations or from reading our own opinions into the text(Eisegete).  Most of the time, it is easy to determine the purpose of each of the New Testament letters because the Paul refers to specific problems in the congregation. For example, Paul’s purpose in writing Galatians is clear—to expose the false gospel preached by the Judaizers and unfold the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
Galatians 1:6–10(HCSB)6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 2:11–21(HCSB)15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Ephesians, however, presents us with some difficulty because Paul does not mention any specific problems troubling the church at the time he wrote. Yet since the letter covers a whole host of basic Christian doctrinal and ethical principles, we can surmise that the pressing need of the believers in Ephesus and the surrounding regions was instruction in doctrine and living so that they might mature in the faith.“a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).

Wisdom and knowledge, both recurring themes in the Bible, are related but not synonymous. The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Knowledge, on the other hand, is “information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance.” Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered.

God wants us to have knowledge of Him and what He expects of us. In order to obey Him, we have to have knowledge of the commands. But as equally important as having knowledge is having wisdom. Knowing facts about God and the Bible is not all there is to wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God. James 1:5(HCSB)If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. God blesses us with wisdom in order for us to glorify Him and use the knowledge we have of Him.

The book of Proverbs is perhaps the best place in the Bible to learn of biblical wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 speaks of both biblical knowledge and wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, / but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” To fear the Lord is to start on the path to knowledge, and God can then begin to provide us with wisdom through Christ, who the Bible says is wisdom itself: 1 Corinthians 1:30 (ESV)“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”.

Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the Scriptures. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom is the fitting application of knowledge. Knowledge understands the light has turned red; wisdom applies the brakes. Knowledge sees the quicksand; wisdom walks around it. Knowledge memorizes the Ten Commandments; wisdom obeys them. Knowledge learns of God; wisdom loves Him.

John Calvin writes, “Till the Lord opens them, the eyes of our heart are blind. Till the Spirit has become our instructor, all that we know is folly and ignorance. Till the Spirit of God has made it known to us by a secret revelation, the knowledge of our divine calling exceeds the capacity of our own minds.” At regeneration, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes so that we can see who God is and who we are for the very first time. But after conversion, He continues to work to give us insight into His revealed Word and to deepen our personal relationship with Him.

The “spirit of wisdom and of revelation” is not some extra gift or special blessing received after conversion. Instead, it refers to the work of the Spirit to help all the people of God understand the things of God. If you are a Christian, you possess this Spirit, and He works in the corporate body of Christ to confirm the truth of Scripture, help us understand its meaning, reveal our sin, drive us to Christ, and so much more.

The word revelation simply means a revealing of something or someone. It is to reveal what was before hidden. It’s like opening a curtain or a door and seeing what is behind it. Long ago, God revealed Himself to Abram (later changed to Abraham) (Genesis 12) and then to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3) so for Abram and Moses, there was a revelation from God and that was their first ever revelation of God and it changed the course of human history. Through Abraham came the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. The Bible is a book where God gradually reveals Himself more and more until finally, Jesus Christ arrives and we see the God-Man live a sinless life and die for the redemption of those who would trust in Him. Jesus Christ is God revealed and through Jesus’ atoning death, He brings us to a knowledge of God the Father as well as God the Holy Spirit so Jesus is able to reveal to us Who the Father and the Spirit are.

There are two types of revelation, General revelation and special revelation. They are the two ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.

In regard to general revelation, Psalm 19:1-4(ESV) declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” According to this passage, God’s existence and power can be clearly seen through observing the universe. The order, intricacy, and wonder of creation speak to the existence of a powerful and glorious Creator.

General revelation is also taught in Romans 1:20(ESV) “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Like Psalm 19, this passage teaches that God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what has been made, and that there is no excuse for denying these facts. With these Scriptures in mind, perhaps a working definition of general revelation would be “the revelation of God to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent.” Even in the most remote areas there are people who acknowledge the existence of a higher being, a creator as the Native Americans called Him.

Special revelation is how God has chosen to reveal Himself through miraculous means. Special revelation includes physical appearances of God, dreams, visions, the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ. The Bible records God appearing in physical form many times (Genesis 3:8, Genesis 18:1; Exodus 3:1-4, Exodus 34:5-7), and the Bible records God speaking to people through dreams (Genesis 28:12, Genesis 37:5; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2) and visions (Genesis 15:1; Ezekiel 8:3-4; Daniel 7; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7).

One of the most important ways in the revealing God is His Word, the Bible, which is also a form of special revelation. God miraculously guided the authors of Scripture to correctly record His message to mankind, while still using their own styles and personalities. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is inspired, profitable, and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God determined to have the truth regarding Him recorded in written form because He knew the inaccuracy and unreliability of oral tradition. He also understood that the dreams and visions of man can be misinterpreted. God decided to reveal everything that humanity needs to know about Him, what He expects, and what He has done for us in the Bible.

The ultimate form of special revelation is the Person of Jesus Christ. God became a human being (John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, John 1:14(HCSB)14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth..

The author of Hebrews summarizes it best Hebrews 1:1-3(HCSB) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
God became a human being, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to identify with us, to set an example for us, to teach us, to reveal Himself to us, and, most importantly, to provide salvation for us by humbling Himself in death on the cross.
Philippians 2:6-8(HCSB)who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Jesus Christ is the ultimate “special revelation” from God.

Assurance of Salvation/Memorial Service

Today we gathered to celebrate the life of Mr. Ernest Blanchard a man that knew where he was going to be for eternity.

Luke 9:57-62 (HCSB)57 As they were traveling on the road someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go!”58 Jesus told him,“Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” “Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.”60 But He told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.”61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Today we are not here as dead people burying our dead, but people who were once dead  celebrating the life of someone who knew his eternal destiny. You may ask how’d he know? Glad you asked. It begins in Ephesians.
Ephesians 2:1-5(HCSB)And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!

1 Thessalonians 4:13(HCSB)13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Paul expects Christians to view death differently than the rest. Christians, he tells us, will grieve, but they will grieve in hope. The rest have no hope. What is that hope? What is it that makes the difference?

My privilege on this occasion, is to share with you how you can grieve with hope. My joy and delight is to share with you how you can exchange the fear of death for the faith of David. In the next few moments, I want to offer to you the hope which David experienced, and which he expressed in Psalm 23. The source of this hope is to be found in the texts of two passages. Let me make a few comments about the hope which God offers to all those who face death, a hope which exchanges fear for faith.

Psalm 23:1(HCSB)The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. 2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake. 4 Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff —they comfort me.5  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

This psalm is a favorite among people, especially when one brought fact to face with the reality of death. It describes, in poetic terms, the peace and confidence which David has, in the face of adversity and opposition from his enemies, and even death. There is another passage, not nearly as familiar, which informs us that David’s sense of peace and security is not natural, but supernatural.

Hebrews 2:14-15(HCSB)14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. This passage puts Psalm 23 into perspective. It tells us that death normally produces fear, and not faith. It tells us that the fear of death hinders and haunts men all of their lives. It tells us that David’s faith, as expressed in Psalm 23 is not natural, but supernatural. As we come to honor the life and memory of Mr. Ernest, we come also to face the reality of death. We come, knowing that we, too, shall experience death. If we are honest with ourselves, some must admit that facing death today is a fearful experience, just as Hebrews informs us. Others can truly identify with David, and the peace and security which he knew and cherished.

David did not fear. He did not fear what his enemies would do to him. He did not fear death. His fear was replaced by faith. The basis of David’s faith is expressed in Psalm 23.

First, David’s faith rested in God. Second, David’s faith rested in the fact that God was His shepherd. Third, David’s faith replaced his fear of his enemies, and even of death. Fourth, David’s fear of death was gone because he was assured of God’s presence. Fifth, David’s faith rested in the fact that God was present with him, in life, in death, and throughout all eternity.

John 1:29(HCSB)29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

David could rejoice because the Lord, his Shepherd, was with Him. We can now see that the Good Shepherd became a sheep (like David). The Lamb of God died for us, and triumphed over death by His resurrection. Not only did Jesus Christ come as the Lamb of God, to die for those who would be His sheep. Jesus rose from the dead, triumphant over death. And thus, those who trust in Him need no longer fear death. Death was defeated by the Lamb who was slain, and who rose again.

This is the faith of which David is writing, in Psalm 23. This is the good news of the gospel, of which the writer to the Hebrews is speaking. Man’s fear of death is accepted. Death is the penalty for sin, and we are all sinners, worthy of death. But the Good Shepherd became a sheep, so to speak. He took on human flesh and lived among men. The Lord Jesus Christ then died for our sins, and suffered the penalty, our penalty, of death. God raised Him from the dead. All those who trust in Him lose their fear of death and find the faith, peace, and hope of which David writes. It is with faith that we can grieve today, but we will grieve with hope, if the Lord is our Shepherd, because He became the Lamb of God in our place.

John 10:11(HCSB) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 6:44(HCSB)44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. 

John 8:12(HCSB) Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”

John 14:6(HCSB) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

The basis for our comfort and joy in the face of death is found in these words, spoken by Simeon when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple:

Luke 2:25-32(HCSB)25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said: 29  Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised. 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation. 31 You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples—32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.

The occasion is the presentation of our Lord by Mary and Joseph as their firstborn son in the temple. Mary and Joseph were there to present their son and to offer a sacrifice as the Law of Moses prescribed. Nearly everyone assumes that Simeon is elderly. He may very well have been old. I think we must reason that it is because Simeon’s age was not important to Luke. What is important is what Luke does clearly communicate. Luke tells us that Simeon was ready to die, now that he has seen Jesus. Simeon had been waiting to see the Savior. God’s Spirit had informed him that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. As soon as Simeon sees Jesus, he says that he is ready to die.

Luke wants his readers to know that Simeon is ready to die, not because he is old, but because he has seen the Savior. Being ready to die is not a matter of one’s age, but is rather a matter of one’s relationship to Jesus Christ, by faith.

Those who knew our friend know that he was ready to die. He was not ready to die because he was old, and his health was failing; he was ready to die because he had come to know Jesus Christ by faith. In this sense, our friend’s age has no more to do with his faith than Simeon’s age had to do with his faith. Our friend, like Simeon, was ready to die because he had seen the Lord Jesus as his Savior, by faith.

How can this be? How can trusting in Jesus Christ cause one to welcome death, rather than to dread it? The answer to this question is found in the Bible. When God created Adam and Eve, He placed them in the Garden of Eden. God warned Adam that they must not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said that if they did eat of it they would certainly die (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and the result was both physical and spiritual death.

But God in His grace promised them that He would provide a cure. For her role in the fall of mankind God pronounced a curse upon Eve. She (and all women after her) would bring forth children in pain (Genesis 3:16). But through the curse of pain in childbirth Eve would bring forth a child who would save men from their sins and the curse of death. One of Eve’s offspring would be the cure for the curse of death. This coming One would strike a fatal blow to Satan, while Satan would only bruise the Savior’s heel (Genesis 3:15). This coming “seed of the woman” is the Savior for whom every Old Testament saint expectantly waited. This coming Savior was the Messiah whom Simeon longed to see. This coming Savior was Jesus Christ.

God provided a remedy for the curse of death by making death the cure, as well as a curse. The coming Savior was the perfect, sinless, Son of God. He had no sin of His own, yet He took our sins upon Himself on the cross. He died in the sinner’s place, bearing the penalty for sin, the curse of death. But God also raised Jesus from the dead. He is now in heaven, sitting at the Father’s right hand. All those who trust in Jesus as their Savior have the forgiveness of sins, and the assurance of eternal life. They no longer need to fear death:

Hebrews 2:14-15(HCSB)14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.

All those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior no longer fear death, as we see in many different biblical texts:

Romans 8:31-39(HCSB)31What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? 33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died,but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.35 Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. 37 No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, 39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

2 Corinthians 5:1-10(HCSB)For we know that if our temporary, earthly dwelling is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands. 2 Indeed, we groan in this body, desiring to put on our dwelling from heaven, 3 since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 And the One who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 6 So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight, 8 and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless.

It was his faith in Jesus Christ which assured our friend of his salvation, so that he was able to welcome his own death. It is not old age, or sickness, which enables one to live joyfully and be confident of eternal life; it is trusting in Jesus Christ as the One who bore the curse of death, in order to provide the cure for the dread of death as the penalty for our sins. That is why we can rejoice in our friend’s death, because we know he has gone to be with our Lord.

As you consider your own death, do you do so with fear, or in faith? If death causes you to fear, I urge you, like Simeon and our friend, to place your trust in Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and the assurance of eternal life. Just as God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, He will also raise us to eternal life. Death need no longer be viewed as something we dread, but rather can be welcomed as our deliverance. May you experience the calm assurance of Simeon, of all the saints, and of our friend this very day. To God be the Glory!

1 Corinthians 15:50-57(HCSB)50 Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. 51 Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep,but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. 54 When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55 Death, where is your victory?Death, where is your sting?56 Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!