Speaking or Praying “In the name of…”

When a message is delivered through a messenger, the result is the same as if the original speaker were present.  For example, when the boy in a family tells his little sister, “Mom said to clean up your room or no desert tonight,” it’s just as though Mom herself is giving the sister the message.  

This is the same impact we have when we speak or pray “in Jesus’ name.”  Since we are speaking under His authority under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it’s just as though He is speaking or praying through us.  This is a mystical concept that few believers acknowledge or understand.  

Yet, this concept is emphatically realized in the story of the centurion in Capernaum, whose slave Jesus heals.  The result is that the centurion’s faith is praised by Jesus Himself, saying, “Not even in Israel have I found such great faith”  (Matthew 8:10; Luke 7:9).  

In Matthew’s Gospel, the story is told from this perspective:
And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him,and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.”Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  (Matthew 8:5-8)  
In Luke’s Gospel, however, this is how the story is told:  
And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  (Luke 7:2-7)

Notice the difference:  In Matthew the centurion himself speaks to Jesus, asking that his servant be healed, while in Luke, the centurion sends some Jewish elders to make the request.  The end result is that the servant is healed, yet in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus never even sees the centurion in person, while the man’s faith is still acclaimed and praised by Jesus.

In fact, the message the centurion sends with the messengers emphasizes this mystical concept, for the words of the Jewish messengers are not only the same as those of the centurion himself, but also he applies the same concept to his own life as a Roman officer who gives the orders of his superiors to his men who serve beneath him in the military hierarchy.  

In effect, when the centurion gave orders, it was just as though Caesar himself was giving the orders. The centurion recognized that this same relationship applied to Christ’s and His Father in Heaven, and because of this understanding, the centurion was greatly praised by Jesus.  

Again, this is our power and authority when we speak or pray “in Jesus’ name.”  Since we are speaking under His authority under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it’s just as though He is speaking or praying through us. Like the centurion, we also need to have this same understanding when we speak or pray in Jesus name!

See the rest of the story in both versions, Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:2-10.

    
 In Luke’s Gospel                                       In Matthew’s Gospel

God’s Promises Fulfilled: Hope, Faith and Patience

Hope, Faith and Patience

     I often ask people in Bible study situations how they know they are saved and going to Heaven. Some responses are rather tentative, such as, “I believe in Jesus,” or “I try to be a good Christian.”
     Others seem more secure, saying “I’ve prayed the ‘Sinner’s Prayer,'” or “I prayed with someone at the end of a Billy Graham Crusade film.”
     Pursuing this question, I ask, “What gives you the assurance that God has saved you?  You aren’t in Heaven yet, so how do you know you will go there when you die?”
     Often, unfortunately, I may see a kind of sadness or despair.  I’ve heard people say, “I’ve wondered my whole life whether I have done all the right things,” or “I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.”  
     I then probe a little deeper, asking them, “What is the verse that is the most commonly memorized and quoted regarding salvation?”
     They respond, of course, with John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”    
     I then ask them if this verse gives them any evidence of their salvation, and if so, what is it about the verse that assures them that they are saved.
     “It’s in the Bible,” they say, or “Jesus Himself said it.”
     “But how do you know it applies to you,” I ask?  
     After thinking again and reciting the verse to themselves, they realize that the words “God so loved the world” and “whosoever” are categories into which they can place themselves unconditionally. The only stipulation in the verse is the “whosoever believes in Him” clause, which only includes them if they have truly believed in Jesus, the Son of God.
     I then ask, “What kind of statement does this verse make?”  In other words, what form does it take?
     After thinking some more, they realize that the verse is stated in the form of a promise, a promise of eternal life given to all who will believe in Jesus Christ, the One God sent into the world to save us from the death that our sin brings.

Promises Bring Hope

     I can then begin building on this foundation, that the basis of their salvation is a promise given by a loving God who loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus as an atoning sacrifice that cleanses us from all the sin that separates us from God.
     In particular, I point out that believing in a promise of God brings hope.  Just one passage that confirms this idea  is what Peter writes:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (II Peter 1:2-4)
     The promises of God are both precious and magnificent, and through them we are made to be partakers of the divine nature.  This divine nature gives us “all things pertaining to life and godliness” the eternal life we seek, for we no longer are bound by the “corruption” that plagues us in this world.  
     These promises are both “precious and magnificent,” for they are God’s assurance that we have the privileges of God’s children, for we are partakers of His divine nature.
 

What is Hope?

     What is a good definition of “hope”?  
     First of all, we find that hope comes from receiving the Word of God in our hearts.  The Scriptures, are the primary source of the Word in our lives, as Paul writes in Romans:  “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction. . .” (Romans 15:4)
     These promises of God are both sure and steadfast.  When we hear these promises, they produce hope in our hearts, which means that we have a joyful, confident expectation that God will fulfill these promises in our lives sometime in the future.  

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  (Romans 15:4)
     This is why the Apostle Paul prays the following prayer for the Ephesians:
. . .that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. (Ephesians 1:17-19)
     We know, therefore, that God desires for us a glorious inheritance, and He wants us to know these promises through the wisdom and revelation we receive from His Word.
     It’s like a child who has been told that she will have a party for her birthday.  The parent’s promise brings joy to the child even though the birthday may be weeks away, for the child knows her parents love her and want her to be happy on her birthday.  Their faithfulness also lets her know that they will not deceive her, and she lives in expectation of the promise’s fulfillment.
     This is why we can confidently look forward to being with Christ Jesus in Heaven.  The Father has promised that we will be with Him, so we look forward with joy in the Spirit to the time we will be with Him.  Like Paul, we can say, “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith”  (Galatians 5:5).
     This is also why we can look forward to Christ’s second coming with hope.  We have the promise of Jesus Himself that He will come again to receive us unto Himself, so like Titus, we are  “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).  
     In fact, we can rely on the promises God has made to us, which include all things pertaining to life and godliness, for it is impossible for God to lie and we have the resulting hope that keeps us strong in our faith.  Our hope is an “anchor of the soul,” an anchor that keeps us steadfast even in the midst of a mighty storm in our lives, as it says in Hebrews:
In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast… (Hebrews 6:17-19)

Hope is Future, Faith is Now

     Hope, therefore, helps us to look to the future joyfully as we expect the fulfillment of our Lord’s promises.  If we have already obtained the results of the promise, we no longer hope for it, as Paul writes in Romans:
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.  (Romans 8:24-25)
     Faith, on the other hand, is a spiritual power that operates in the present tense and claims fulfillment of the promises even though they have not yet been fulfilled, as it says in Hebrews:
Now faith is the assurance [reality] of things hoped for, the conviction [proof] of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.  By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3)
     An allusion is made in these verses to the creation of the universe, when God created the worlds visibly out of things which were not visible, or “nothing.”  His Word alone was the power that created something out of nothing.  Because of the certainty of God’s promises, so strong is our faith that we may fully realize that these promises have already been fulfilled, even though we still await their arrival.  
     Having  faith, therefore, means being assured of the fulfillment of God’s promises for the future and believing them now.  This assurance is what Paul is writing about in his second letter to the Corinthians: 
For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.  (II Corinthians 1:20-22).  
     Not only are the promises of God always answered with a “Yes,” but we have been assured of His faithfulness to us by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  
     The Greek word for “pledge” in this verse means “down payment,” or “deposit.”  This contractual term in this passage is assuredly confidence building, for the pledge comes unilaterally from our faithful Father in Heaven.

 Faith and Patience

     Since God is timeless, beyond seconds and minutes, days and years, He exists eternally in the present tense.  He is now, just as our faith is now.  Therefore, in addition to faith and hope, one final spiritual element that is necessary for us to be receivers of the promises of God, along with their fulfillment, is patience:
. . .So that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.  (Hebrews 6:12)
     We inherit the promises of God by looking to the future in hope, living in the present with faith, and continuing in that faith with patience.
     What is “patience”?  It’s the spiritual ability to wait, an ability that must take place over time.  We live in the realms of chronology.  We live from moment to moment, from day to day and year to year. Therefore, having patience is probably one of the more difficult capabilities to have.  An example of someone who received the promises of God with patience is Abraham.

 

The Story of Abraham

     As Abraham lay in bed he thought about all the times he had been ridiculed even by his own household.  His name had been “Abram,” which means “father of many,” yet he had no children with Sarah, his wife.  Yes, he had one son, Ishmael, by Hagar, a servant of Sarah.  Yet, he was ninety-nine years old and hardly was the father of many.  Yet the angel of the Lord had told him that he would be the father of many nations through his son with Sarah, who was never able to give birth and was long past the age of childhood.  
     The traditions of childbirth left no more room for hope, yet the angel’s word from God raised the possibility that he would indeed have a son with Sarah.  He thought of his own body as eh neared one hundred years old.  He might as well be dead, he thought.  
     But then, he began to have hope after repeating to himself the angel’s words, and this hope became the foundation of a faith that had never before been known, for Abraham knew that the God who had created the world could call into existence what does not exist.  God could create something out of nothing.
     Here is the story as it is summarized in Paul’s letter to the Romans: 
. . . (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”
Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.  (Romans 4:17-25)
     As astounding as this example of faith, hope, and patience is in the life of Abraham, in the next article in this Biblical Mysteries Revealed blog site I will focus on another amazing act of faith in Abraham’s life, one which led directly to the sacrifice of God’s own Son on the cross. 

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

The Mystery

Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon, was both confused and angry.  His confusion arose from the numerous dreams he had been experiencing in the night, dreams that took away both his sleep and his peace.  He couldn’t recall much of the dreams, though some of the details remained, including a vision of a large statue.  

Consequently, he was angry.  His anger arose from frustration at his own inability to remember the dreams, but also because of the lying trickery of his mystical counselors.

Having called for the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans before him, he challenged them not only to interpret his dreams, but also to tell him what his dreams were.  He knew from experience that included in their magic and strange conjurations that he was open to their deception.  They could simply agree with one another on a possible interpretation, then give it to him while pretending to have supernatural insights.

Nebuchadnezzar had decided to thwart this dark deception, for he somehow realized that his dreams were not merely a result of drinking too much wine and eating too much swine.

Therefore, the king determined to put the conjurers to the test:  If they could tell him his dream, then he could trust that they would also have the correct interpretation.  When they insisted that he must tell them the dream first before they can interpret it, the king’s anger grows:

The king replied, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.”  (Daniel 2:8-9)

The conjurers heared the threat, but continue to ask for the dream itself, knowing that they could not possibly repeat the scenes seen in the king’s dreams:

The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean.  Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.”  (Daniel 2:10-11)

The king’s anger grew to fury, and Nebuchadnezzar gave orders that they all be taken away to be destroyed.  

 

Daniel

Daniel, however, was not present with the magicians and conjurers when they were confronted by Nebuchadnezzar, but he was included in the list of those to be killed for their failure to reveal the king’s dream and its interpretation.  

He asked Arioch, the king’s commander, why the order from Nebuchadnezzar was so urgent.  When Arioch informed Daniel of the recent confrontation the conjurers had had with the king, Daniel asked to speak to the Nebuchadnezzar himself.

He told Nebuchadnezzar that he had only just learned about the king’s dreams, and he needed time to seek the answers to the king’s mystery.  Receiving the time he requests, Daniel left to go pray with his friends:

Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.  (Daniel 2:17-18)

Daniel and his friends had been taken captive by the Babylonians, and to enforce their servitude, their names had been changed to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meschack, and Abednego.  

After praying, the four young men received the compassion they were seeking, for Daniel soon saw the secret the king wished to know: “Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision” (Daniel 2:19). Then Daniel gave thanks to God for revealing the king’s dream, as well as the interpretation.

After being brought before Nebuchadnezzar, the king asked if Daniel could make known the dream he had, along with the interpretation.  

Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed. (Daniel 2:27-28)

 

God-Sun-Rays-300x168

The Mystery

Daniel related the dream about the magnificent statue with a head of made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.

At the end of the king’s dream a stone appeared that was made without hands.  This stone struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.   When the stature fell, the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at once and were scattered like dust.

However, Daniel told the king, the stone that struck the statue became a “great mountain” that filled the whole earth.

Daniel proceeded then to relate the meaning of the dream.  The head of the statue, Daniel said, represented Nebuchadnezzar and his powerful kingdom, which will be followed by four other kingdoms, all seen in the breast and arms made of silver, the belly and thighs made of bronze, and the legs of made of iron, concluding with the feet made with a mixture of iron and clay.  

The climax of the story, Daniel told the king, concerned the “stone made without hands” that represented the Kingdom of God:

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy. (Daniel 2:44-45)

When Daniel finished telling the dream and its interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar was so astounded that he fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, even commanding an offering to be given and incense to be burned.  

“Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries,” Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “since you have been able to reveal this mystery.”

The king’s astonishment was converted to rewards for Daniel.  Nebuchadnezzar appointed him to be ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.  And Daniel’s friends were given the administration of the province of Babylon.

 

The Application

How do we apply this story to our own lives today?  I want to focus on the “mystery” in this story since it’s the only place in the Old Testament where this word is used.

In this case the dream is given not to a prophet or servant of God but to a king in a country that has the reputation for being the most ungodly and paganistic of ancient empires.  Even so, Nebuchadnezzar is able to see the power of Daniel’s ability to receive the truth concerning what would ordinarily be impossible to know.  

Nebuchadnezzar relies on the Chaldeans, the magicians, the conjurers, and the sorcerers to give him supernatural wisdom, but clearly the king is skeptical of their powers.  He realizes that his dream is so powerfully insightful that he wants the true meaning to come forth, not an interpretation that derives from the collaboration of those who are used to deceit and trickery.  Therefore, he sets up a test to prove either that these advisors have received the truth or will be exposed in their lies.  He does so by making the task impossible without divine intervention.

When faced with the challenge, the king’s counselors admit that they cannot obtain the wisdom he desires, claiming that “no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean.”  Moreover, they claimed, the king demands what is “difficult,” which means “impossible,” though they don’t want to admit to any inability or weakness in the realms of divination or soothsaying.  Finally, they claim, no one else can do any better unless he himself is a god whose “dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.”

Thus, Nebuchadnezzar is perfectly aligned to see the power of the revelations given to Daniel about his dream, an understanding that leads the king to give authority and power over the realm of Babylon to a former slave, what must have been unheard of in the king’s realm.

Such an event was indeed nearly unbelievable in the days before Christ’s coming and the giving of the Holy Spirit’s gifts to the Church.  Under the Old Testament, only a few people were given the insights the Holy Spirit gives to all in the Church today through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The most significant examples in the Early Church period were the manifold revelations given to the Apostle Paul after his conversion to Christ.

Paul’s Vision

Before being sent out as an apostle to the Gentiles, Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul, also received mysteries that he was commissioned to reveal to the new Christians in the early Church.  This is what he wrote to the Church in Ephesus, for example:

If indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ.  (Ephesians 3:2-4)

To the Church in Corinth, Paul related how the mystery was made known to him  He does so in enigmatic, indeterminate terms in the following passage:

 Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows.  (II Corinthians 12:1-3)

But Paul’s use of the third person (I know “a man who was caught up,” rather than “I was caught up”) perhaps serves to deflect any accusation of pride on his part, as he says in the following verse: 

For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. (II Corinthians 12:6)

In spite of the magnitude of the revelations he’s received, Paul refuses to boast in himself.  Instead, he wants to have the truth revealed in his life, not merely in his words.  In fact, the depth of the revelations he has received were so great that they couldn’t be understood even in terms of words. 

And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.  (II Corinthians 12:3)

Nevertheless, Paul was as fearless as Daniel when confronted with the lions, or Hananiah, Azariah, and Meshael when faced with the fiery furnace.  The truth when it is received is so powerful that no weapon raised against it will prosper, even if it means martyrdom.

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;
And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord.  (Isaiah 54:17)

Christ in You

The Mystery of Christ

Reading and studying the Scriptures, particularly the Apostle Paul’s letters in the New Testament, we find a number of passages that use the term “mystery,” so we’ve been looking to see if we can uncover the secrets God wants to reveal to us. Here is another one in Paul’s letter to the Colossians:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.  (Colossians 1:24-29)

Several significant points emerge immediately concerning the mystery from this passage, and they include the following:

  • The mystery has been hidden from past ages and generations.
  • The mystery has now been manifested to Christ’s “saints.”
  • God wants to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery.
  • The mystery, in essence, is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
  • Paul therefore seeks to admonish and teach all believers about this mystery so they may be “complete in Christ.”

The Hidden Mystery

The mystery, Paul writes, has been kept hidden for many ages and generations.  Why is this?  In part at least, it was because humans were separated from God, unable to hear God’s voice or receive His wisdom.  

Even with God’s chosen people, the Israelites in the Old Testament, the Lord communicated them visually and externally, rather than from the inside.  And in the accounts of God’s direct dealings with His prophets, priests, or kings, we read that the Holy Spirit “came upon” them rather than filling and living in them as He does now under the New Covenant.  

Here in the case of the anointing of David as future king of Israel  is one of many examples:

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah. (I Samuel 11:6)

Here is an account of the first Judge who helped deliver the Israelites from their enemies:

When the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. (Judges 19:9-10)

And similar accounts are told about Samson, Amasai, Jeptha, Jahaziel, King Saul, and others, how the Spirit of the Lord “came upon” them.

Before His crucifixion and after His resurrection, however, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would not only be their teacher but also would fill them with power so they could be His witnesses in all the earth.  

 

The Infilling of the Holy Spirit

Just after Christ’s resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and breathed on them, saying to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). This is the moment when they were “born again” into the New Covenant, but they still needed more of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  It wasn’t until the the Day of Pentecost that this promise of the Spirit’s power was given to them:

This is what Peter declared in his message on the Day of Pentecost, when the gathered disciples were all filled with the Holy Spirit:

Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  (Acts 2:33)

This “Gift of the Holy Spirit” was foretold by the Prophet Joel and the promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.  Peter refers to this prophecy in his message to the crowd that has gathered:

“It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
 Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”  (Joel 2:28-29)

This promise of the Spirit was new, kept hidden from past generations, but on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit appeared like flaming tongues of fire that rested on each one of the believers in Christ.  

Peter relates that this same promise was made to all who will call upon Him in the future:  “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself” (Acts 2:39).  This is the mystery God wants to reveal to the saints of all ages, showing the “riches of the glory” of this infilling of the Holy Spirit.

 

        

 

The Healing of the Man Born Lame

After the Day of Pentecost, Peter and John are arrested and called before the Jewish leaders after a man who was lame from birth was healed.  They spend one night in prison and then are called before Annas the high priest and all who were of high-priestly descent.

Peter, who is “filled with the Holy Spirit,” speaks in response to gathered rulers, who ask, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” (Acts 4:7).

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health.

When Peter and John are released, they return to the rest of the Believers gathered in Jerusalem, relating their story.  The Believers give thanks and praise to God, saying:  

“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29 -31)

Thus, God fulfills His promises both to fill and continues filling, the faithful believers as they seek to manifest His glory to the world, as it says later in Acts:   “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 13:52).  Is it any wonder that the Gospel spread so quickly and so powerfully in the early days of the Church?  

 

Riches of Glory

In describing this Mystery of Christ to the Colossian believers, Paul emphasizes certain words to reveal their importance:  

God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The one word that stands out the most in this description is the word “glory.”  This word is kaw-bode’, or כבוד, in Hebrew. The word relates to “heaviness in weight,” or figuratively, “weighty in terms of importance,” as in the weight of a particular attribute such as majesty, strength, beauty, or splendor.  

In the New Testament, on the other hand, the Greek word for glory is doxazo, which means “brilliance” or “radiance.”

Summarizing and connecting this word’s meanings to our mystery-text, “glory” refers to the “fullness of God,” or “the acts and the attributes” of God.   God’s glory refers to the things God does and the things God is, just because He is God.  It is the self-manifestation of God’s love, might, and power.

Those who have asked for and received, the Holy Spirit, in their lives, the very presence of the Spirit of Christ, know from personal experience what this glory is.  Those who have not received the gift need only ask, seek, and find, for all who call upon the name of the Lord will receive His promise of the Spirit if they ask in faith.

Isn’t it significant that many Eastern Mystics meditate to receive peace by essentially emptying their minds?  

Yet instead of emptying themselves, Believers in Christ seek to be filled, continually filled, with the  eternal presence of the Holy Spirit.  This is what it means when Paul writes,

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.  (I Corinthians 6:18-20)

 

The Hope of Glory

The mystery–“Christ in you, the hope of glory”–is a rich mystery indeed, so rich that Paul constantly is proclaiming, admonishing and teaching to ensure that believer is complete in Christ.  

We still need to receive revelation about a significant question, however:  What does “hope of glory” mean?  

The word “hope” means “a joyful and confident expectation” that a promise of God will be fulfilled.  Since faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,”  our faith believes that a promise for the future, as in ‘hope,” has already been fulfilled.  Hope, on the other hand, anticipates its arrival.  

Lacking patience, many people cease believing or seeking when an answer is not immediate.  They may even petulantly give up if they do not see the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises right away.  This is why Paul needed to “admonish” and “teach” the people.  They needed to learn steadfastness, unswerving stability, when seeking the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Thus, we must live our lives in constant expectation of seeing God’s glory in our lives at any moment, remaining steadfast in spite of circumstances that God will reveal His will according to His promises to us and perform it in our lives.

Combining these ideas with those concerning “glory,” we now understand that we can live our lives in constant, joyful expectation that Christ’s glory will manifest, that we will receive new revelations of Him at any moment. 

 

 

 

 


The New Covenant with Israel, Part II

False Interpretations…

In Part I of this Blog topic we examined God’s dealings with Israel, and we saw that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.  In the “Sermon on the Mount,” He said this:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  (Matthew 5:17-18)

If all has been fulfilled concerning Jesus the Messiah, the focus of God’s plan, then all has been fulfilled for Israel all the Law was kept perfectly by Christ. All the sins of the people were poured out and atoned for by Christ, the Lamb of God. Therefore, the law is no longer the way to righteousness.  

Christ Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Thus, all people must look to Christ, not law-keeping, to find righteousness, or right standing, with God:  “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

After His resurrection, Jesus further explained to His disciples what His purpose was in His ministry on Earth, making clear that His work was accomplished, just as He said while dying, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  (Luke 24:43-45)

…Lead to False Teachings

Apparently, some Bible teachers who focus on “End Times” prophecy disagree, however, saying that God’s purposes with the Law of Moses still need to be completed.  These teachers resort to interpretive extremes, then display their complicated misreadings of prophetic passages on charts or diagrams to simplify their complex models (see an example below).

For example, the teaching that follows even predicts as many as four or more resurrections from the dead:

The Bible does not teach one resurrection or even two resurrections in number. Rather, it teaches that there will be two resurrections in type which will be conducted in stages, resulting in several resurrections — at least four, to be specific.(http://www.raptureready.com/featured/reagan/dr8.html)

 

Israel Restored?

One of the most problematic misreadings, in my opinion, is the attempt to “rebuild” ancient Israel.  They seek to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem so that sacrifices may be resumed and the people may continue to follow the laws of the Old Covenant with sacrifices, thus ensuring their salvation.  This teaching contradicts the statement Jesus made to the Jewish leaders before the crucifixion, for He said, “Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).  In fact, Jesus predicted the complete destruction of the Temple, a prophecy fulfilled a mere forty years later, for indeed in A.D. 70, not one stone was left on another after Titus’s army destroyed the Temple.  

This teaching not only contradicts Jesus’ own prophecies before His crucifixion about the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, but also sides with those the Apostle Paul calls “accursed,” for these teachers want the Jews to be able to continue following the Laws of Moses.  Here is Paul’s judgment:  

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  (Galatians 3:10-14)

 

The Gap Theory

In addition, with no exegetical justification, they insert a “gap” of what has currently amounted to about 2,000 years between the 69th and 70th weeks in Daniel’s “Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.” This is the passage: 

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.  (Daniel 9:24-27)

They also attribute the works of Messiah the Prince in this passage to  “the prince who is to come,” or the one they designate the Anti-Christ, making him the one who makes and end of sin, makes atonement for iniquity, and brings in everlasting righteousness.  They have taught these extreme interpretations and more, while making improbable predictions of future events,and even incorporating astrology (an occult practice forbidden under the Old Covenant), such as adding “blood” moons, into their presentations and publications.  

 

More Examples of False Teachings

What follows here are some examples of false teachings based on misinterpretations:

1.  British Israelism:

This teaching states that all of the British peoples from Australia to New Zealand, from England to the United States, are the direct lineal descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and hence the inheritors of the promises of the Old Covenant.  Yet, Paul writes clearly that the Lord is no longer sees either Jews or gentiles, but rather a new, born-again Body of Believers, who will inherit the fullness of the promises made to Abraham through Christ Jesus:  

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:27-29)

2.  Jews Rule the World:

The theory that present day Israel will one day rule the world from Jerusalem.  Jesus Himself or even a resurrected King David,  according to some teachers, will return again to sit on a throne that is yet to be constructed. When the Old Testament prophecies are read only from a historical perspective, rather than focusing on covenant relationships, these teachers believe and teach that there will be a future time of national Israel’s rule as head over all the nations.

Yet, after the resurrection of Christ Jesus, when the disciples asked if He would restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, Jesus redirects their thinking to another level than the mere political.  He said, “You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  Jesus tells them that their focus should not concern national borders or cultures and that He Himself is the fulfillment of all the promises in the Old Testament: 

 “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.  (Luke 24:44-48)

Thus,  Christ’s rejection by the Jews was not only part God’s original plan, but also Jesus told His disciples that His Kingdom was not of this world.  

In his Letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul makes clear that Christ’s kingdom cannot be bounded either by human wisdom or international borders:  

 In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. (Ephesians 1:8-10)

Paul also wrote that he prays that Believers in Christ Jesus will understand this “mystery” of God’s will.  As shown in the following passage below, Christ’s coronation has already occurred in the Heavenlies.  Since Christ currently reigns over His spiritual kingdom from the right hand of God, not only in Paul’s age  but “also in the one to come,” there is no need for Him to be enthroned  on earth, especially since He now rules in a glorified body, the Head over all believers, whether Jew or Gentile:

 These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:17-23)

 3.   Renewed Sacrifices

It is taught that the Jews will again make sacrifices for sin in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, or possibly a “Holy Place.” These sacrifices would essentially render void or inadequate the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of all.  (See the note below from an actual web site which proclaims this teaching.)

However, the Scriptures are clear that the Old Covenant has been fulfilled and the New Covenant has come, as prophesied in Jeremiah (see 31:31-34).  And the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament is clear in stating that the old sacrifices for sin were mere copies of the one true sacrifice for sin offered by our High Priest, Christ Jesus:

For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:24-26)

Why would God desire the Jews to return to a copy, or prototype, when the real version exists and has replaced the mere copies?  Those who advocate for renewed sacrifices are in line with the false teachers Paul exposes in his letter to the Galatians, for they advocated a continued following of Old Testament practices. 

To teach that the Old Covenant commandments are acceptable to God is to divide what God has joined together in Christ. And this teaching directly contradicts Jesus’ statement to the woman at the well: “An hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father . . . an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:21, 23).

4.  Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

In a prediction that incorporates their misreading of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9 (see above), some teachers claim that the Anti-Christ will one day make a bargain that will lead to Armageddon and the final destruction of the world before the Messiah returns.  

II Thessalonians 2:1-17, however, is a passage which is also used to support the idea that the Anti-Christ will appear in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.  This prediction is problematic, however, because II Thessalonians was most likely written before A.D. 70, a date which allows for the prophecy to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, the son of Vespasian and a future Emperor, not to any future temple in this age. 

Instead, it makes much more sense, therefore, for the “prince who is to come” or the “man of lawlessness” (found in Daniel 9 or II Thesalonians 2) to refer to Titus, the future Emperor of Rome, when he brought about the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.   

5.  The 2,000 year Gap

Some end times prophecy teachers refer to the present day Church Age period as a kind of “interlude” in the progress of Israel’s prophesied history, still believed to be God’s primary purpose.  They somehow hold to the idea that the blood of lambs and goats is needed by the Jews who are still under the Old Covenant, making these sacrifices equal to the blood of Christ.  In effect, they say, the Jews were offered the Kingdom that was promised when Jesus appeared at His first advent, but they rejected Christ the Messiah, even to the point of crucifying Him.  

This rejection led God the Father to implement another plan, they say, since His will was not received by the Jews.  Thus, the Church Age was implemented, though God will yet revive the promises to Israel, giving them another opportunity to repent before Christ comes again, when a “remnant” of the Jews will be saved.  

They believe that the Old Covenant of the Law of Moses still needs to be fulfilled, that Jews during the supposed seven-year tribulation period will still be saved through sacrifices in a rebuilt temple, in spite of the teachings in Hebrews that such sacrifices cannot ever cleanse the sins of the people completely.   

Incredibly, some teachers even believe that the new converts saved during the supposed Tribulation Period of Seven Years will not be part of the Body of Christ in Heaven, but will live and rule from Jerusalem during the Millenium, another symbolic or figurative concept from the Book of Revelation that has been made literal.  

The Olive Tree

However, the prophecy of the Apostle Paul in Romans remains:

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

     “The Deliverer will come from Zion,
     He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
      “This is My covenant with them,
     When I take away their sins.”

From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  (Romans 11:25-29)

No, God has not forsaken Israel, though, He through Christ the Messiah, was rejected.  All Israel will be saved, consisting of both Jews and Gentiles who have been grafted into the Olive Tree.  Christ came to save us and to unite Jews and Gentiles into one body “by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man” (Eph 2:15).  

This is a mystery, Paul writes, but we must understand this mystery in context with the rest of the teachings of the Scriptures about the covenants God has made with His people, both Jews and Gentiles.  Above all, we must not be “wise in our own estimation,” as Paul warns, but rightly divide the Word of Truth.  

The Church is one and the same with New Covenant Israel – one redeemed people,  heirs to the covenants of promise through Jesus Christ:

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.(Ephesians 2:11-16)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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