Episode 147

147 Disciple Up
Let Freedom Ring!
By Louie Marsh, 2-19-2020

1  For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (ESV)

It’s amazing to see how often a desire for freedom appears in history. You see it over and over again. Some times it’s a misunderstanding of what freedom is, but it’s there. From the recent Arab Spring (which certainly is not about freedom the way we in the West understand it) to the Tea Party to the young people and old hippies currently “occupying” places all over America.

In the words of that old song, “people just gotta be free.”  But why? Why is it that people almost everywhere seem to have a soul deep desire to be free?

To answer that question from a Biblical perspective we’ll have to begin at the beginning. In the book of Genesis we see that God created Adam and Eve and placed them in what can only be described as a paradise.

They were innocent in a way that no one today can lay claim too. But what about when our children are babies, aren’t they innocent? Compared to me they are! But not when they are compared to Adam and Eve. Because as fallen creatures being born into a fallen world, they carry the seeds of that fall within their very genes. This isn’t a philosophy or a theology of “original sin.” It’s a fact! A fact everyone knows even though we don’t like to admit it.

When God placed this innocent couple into their earthly paradise, He gave them freedom like none we’ve ever seen. In fact He only gave them one limitation. “The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” Genesis 3:2-3 (NIV)

Imagine that!  Adam and Eve had one and only one limitation on their freedom! The proof that we are fallen creatures can be found in the fact that this set up would never work today. No society, family or individual could possibly function with only one limitation on freedom. It’s just not possible for fallen creatures in a fallen world to live that way.

But it was possible for Adam and Eve. They lived quite well (for how long no one knows) until the fateful day Eve was tempted and both she and Adam used their freedom badly and violated the single limitation God had placed on them. This act plunged not just them, but the entire world into the prison of sin. A prison in whose dark and twisting labyrinth mankind has struggled to find true freedom in ever since.

There are a couple of things to note about our original parent’s experience that we need to note to understand God’s perspective on freedom.

1) God created them free – and men and women ever since have had a longing to return to that perfect kind of freedom. Of course we’ll never find it in this life, but our desire for it drives us to be as free as we can in this life.

2) God gave limits on freedom. Even in a finitely perfect environment God had to create boundaries for human beings. There is no such thing as absolute freedom. If that was true then it’s even truer for fallen people in a fallen world.

Without limits – there is no freedom – only anarchy. As we’ll see in this series the Bible often speaks of freedom as something to be devoutly sought after. But it condemns anarchy as destructive as it surely is.

3) When our First Parents turned away from God they lost their freedom and entered into slavery to fear.  Do I need to point out how true this has been of all of Western Civilization in the last 50 to 60 years?

4) When given freedom under the best possible of circumstances, Adam and Eve blew it and lost their freedom.  Our fallen nature always makes us want what we cannot have, and we cannot have absolute freedom. We can’t even keep the freedom we have without God’s grace, help and a lot of hard work to protect our freedoms.

Freedom is a most perishable fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives.

A classic study of freedom in the Old Testament is Moses and the Children of Israel in Exodus. I’m sure we all know the story. Israel has spent about 430 years in slavery in Egypt and things are worse than ever. Trapped in a truly heathen culture, the people of God wonder if they will ever be delivered.

From out of the desert their deliverer comes. Perhaps he’s not what they were expecting however. He’s around 80 years old, can’t speak well, and only has Aaron by his side. They confront Pharaoh with God’s demand to let His people go, and things only get worse!

Throughout this epic supernatural battle of good and evil the people waver. They are unsure what to make of all this because in spite of Moses’ claim to be God’s appointed deliverer, things just keep getting worse.

But after a final showdown, Pharaoh relents, and for a short time, things look good! Free at last, the Israelites plunder the Egyptians on their way to freedom. Marching towards Israel they find themselves boxed in, all at God’s command.

In this moment of crises, when their freedom is at greatest risk along with their lives, we can see just what value most of the Israelites put on their freedom – not much!  They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Exodus 14:11-12 (NIV)

This becomes a familiar refrain through out the rest of Moses’ life. It seems that whenever things got tough, and freedom called upon them to pay a price, most of the Israelites were either afraid or unwilling to make that sacrifice. So we see them swinging back and forth between exclaiming their willingness to follow the commands of God, and whining that they want to go back to Egypt where it was safe and comfortable.

Their struggle with freedom came to a head when Joshua reported back on his intelligence gathering patrol into Canaan. He and Caleb said it was a wonderful land, flowing with milk and honey, and they ought attack and conquer it right now!

The other 12 spies said it was hopeless and all Israel would die if they dared attempt to enter this land of giants.  What did the people do? I’ll bet you know!

All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Numbers 14:2-4 (NIV)

That’s right, even after all this time and everything they had gone through, they wanted to go back into slavery rather risk their lives for the freedom God held out before them. Their fear drove them to reject God’s man and God’s plan, so in turn God rejected them.

As the writer of Hebrews put it; For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. Hebrews 4:2-3 (NIV)

If all of this sounds familiar it should! We are having much the same argument today as we struggle to fight a war on terror. How many times have you heard it said the price is too high, the pain to great, the risk too large to stay the course? Pull out of Iraq; come home where it’s safe and sound.

I believe that history will vindicate those who want to stand tall for freedom, as it almost always does. Those, like Senator Kennedy and many others, who want to run and hide and not pay the price for freedom, will be looked at much the same way we look at the generation of Israelites who died in the desert.

This episode from the Old Testament shows us a few new things about people and freedom.

1) While mankind has an inborn desire for freedom, it is often overridden by fear and selfishness. If the choice is sacrifice for freedom or live comfortably in bondage, our fallen nature will often drive us to choose the latter, which is after all the easier choice.

Limited freedom, or almost no freedom at all, in exchange for comfort and security has seduced millions and continue to lure us today. But as Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

The path of least resistance is never the path God calls us to walk, fear and faith don’t mix and God always calls us to faithfully combat our fears and live in freedom!

2) The allure of the past will rob us of our future freedom if we let it. When faced with an unknown future, and the very uncertain idea of freedom, most of the Israelites rejected it.

And why not? They had never known freedom, nor had their parents, grandparents or great, great grandparents!  Remember they had spent 430 years as slaves! The only past they had was one of being cared for from cradle to grave by their masters.

Not much care being given by the Egyptians you say? I agree, but it was more certain and sure than a trip into a waterless desert and an attack on fortified towns by ex-slaves with no military training!

So they let their past pull them away from the freedom God had waiting for them.  For all of us, living in the past robs of us our future freedom.

In Samuel chapter 8 we find the greatest of all the Judges of Israel coming to the end of his life. It was to be a hard ending for old Samuel. First of all he appointed his sons to take his place. But unlike their father they were dishonest and not really following God. The people were unhappy about this and the Elders complained to Samuel. But they didn’t just want new Judges, what they wanted was something far different.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 1 Samuel 8:4-5 (NIV)

You can see right away what’s happening here can’t you? It’s so much like modern life that it’s scary! The Elders, and we assume their people as well, wanted a King. Why? Not because they thought it would be a better form of government, or a more efficient way to oversee the nation. Nope – they wanted to be just like everyone else!

Who says peer pressure is limited to teenagers? Here’s a group of grown men, leaders even, who are more concerned with pleasing people and “fitting in” than with doing the right thing before God!

Samuel’s response is classic! But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 1 Samuel 8:6-7 (NIV)

Funny how we spiritual leaders can be so sensitive to rejection isn’t it? As a former Pastor (I was out of the ministry when I wrote this) let me tell you that I can completely understand his reaction here The Lord’s response informs us that Samuel was feeling hurt and rejected, even though he shouldn’t have felt that way because they were really rejecting God!

There’s a parallel here that we don’t want to miss. When we seek to needlessly conform to the culture we find around us, to “fit in” at any and all price, we not only reject God, but we start down a road that leads to a loss of our freedom. The Lord tries to warn Israel about this:

As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.” 1 Samuel 8:8-9 (NIV)

Notice how personal God makes this – He points out that this is another in a long line of bad decisions Israel is making, a huge dysfunctional and sinful behavior pattern the nation is continuing wallow in.

How good is the Lord! First of all He allows Israel to choose, even when He knows their choice is wrong! That’s freedom! God respects our freedom of choice, as He had in the garden and does all the way down to today. If we are intent on doing something wrong or stupid, God stands aside and allows us to go our way.

But not without a warning!

Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 1 Samuel 8:10-18 (NIV)

What a stern warning, about the only thing left out is for them to look out for an income tax!! Seriously though, God clearly sets out the future for them, and at the end of His warning tells them He won’t enable their sinful behavior by bailing them out and rescuing them from the consequences of their choices.

How did they react to this chilling warning? But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.” 1 Samuel 8:19-22 (NIV)

They ignored it and stubbornly demanded their own way. You can see what they really wanted, to be just like all the other nations, as if that meant anything! You can also see the power of our sinful nature to blind us to the facts when they say they want a King who can “fight our battles.” Soon they would find out that the King goes out in front alright, and then sends them and their sons into battle while he stayed safely behind if he wanted too.

As always in God’s economy once they had been warned and insisted on continuing anyway, He allows them to have what they want. With one of the results being a loss of freedom for everyone.

So there you have it, another example of our fears, insecurities and stupidity causing us to sell out our freedom, reject God, all in a vain attempt to look good and be just like everyone else!

The message is clear, if you want to be free in Christ, you aren’t going to be just like everyone else! That includes being just like whatever your church tradition considers “a good little Christian” to be too.

Real Spiritual Freedom sets us down the road less traveled and sets us apart from most of those around us. If you aren’t willing to pay that price, you can’t be free!

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Episode 146

146 Disciple Up

The Supremacy Of The Son, Col. 1: 15-23

By Louie Marsh, 2-12-2020

 

Intro. To help us understand vs. 15-20 underline the words ALL & EVERYTHING and then underline what they are connected to and you’ll find the following –

1) Firstborn of ALL creation (15)

2) He created ALL things (16)

3) He is before ALL things (17)

4) ALL things hold together in Him  17

5) He is supreme in ALL things (18)

6) ALL of the fulness is in Him (19)

7) He has reconciled ALL things to Him (20).

 

This passage is a hymn to the Son & shows us just how great He is.  Compare this to man-made gods like you find in the Iliad.  They are big men – Christ is the eternal God!

 

  1. I) WHO HE IS (vs. 15)

 

15  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Colossians 1:15 (ESV)

 

  1. A) The Image of God

1, What does God look like?  John 14:8-9

 

8  Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:8-9 (ESV)

 

2, Christ will make us into this Image  Eph. 4:23-24

 

23  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:23-24 (ESV)

 

  1. B) Firstborn over all creation

1, What this does NOT mean!

a, that God first made Jesus & then Jesus made everything else

b, this is J.W. doctrine which they stole from Arianism.

 

2, What it DOES mean.

a, Firstborn (15) NOT first created

 

16  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)

 

b, Vs. 16 says He created ALL things therefore He can’t be a created being Himself.

c, Vs. 17 He is BEFORE ALL things, therefore He can’t be a thing.

1, A thing = a created object, living or otherwise.

 

3, Firstborn over all creation!

a, How can Paul write that since we KNOW Jesus wasn’t the first person ever raised from the dead?

b, because the term “firstborn” doesn’t always mean “first one born”

c, The term usually means “preeminent” and is used that way in ancient lit. This is because the firstborn son had right of succession (unless crippled then next son was called “firstborn”).

51  Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52  The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Genesis 41:51-52 (ESV)

 

9  With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. Jeremiah 31:9 (ESV)

 

4, This passage is telling us that Jesus of Nazareth is the uncreated, eternal, self-sustaining God!

 

  1. II) WHAT HIS UNIVERSAL STANDING IS (vs. 16-20)
  2. Relating to Creation (vs. 16-17)

 

16  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)

 

1, He created the EVERYTHING

a, the physical universe, the spiritual universe (angels, seraphim)

b, They were made for Him – He is their Lord by right of creation!

2, He sustains all things (17)

a, “hold together” is in the present tense

b, without His continuous sustaining activity everything would disintegrate.

 

  1. B) Relating to Redemption (vs. 18-20)

 

18  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:18-20 (ESV)

 

1, He is Lord of the church.

a, it’s head – director – as our head directs our body

b, it’s beginning – the source of the body’s life

c, it’s pathfinder – the 1st one to be raised to an incorruptible state, He shows us the way to our eternal state in heaven.

2, He contains the Fulness (19)

a, the word “God” or “Father” in vs. 19 isn’t in the Gk. text, it’s placed there by translators to help us understand what Paul is saying.

b, Lit. Trans. = “in Him all the fulness was pleased to dwell”

c, What?  OT help.  24  Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD. Jeremiah 23:24 (ESV) OT teaches that God fills the universe, the word “pleased” is used of God’s pleasure.

d, SO Christ was the place or the one in Whom God, in all His fulness was pleased to dwell.  And ALL His attributes are perfectly displayed in Him.  This is permanent –

 

9  For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, Colossians 2:9 (ESV)

3, He has reconciled ALL things to Himself (vs. 20)

a, How? By dying a bloody violent death on the Cross

b, Who was reconciled?  US – if we accept the free gift that He bought with His life.

c, Not just people – ALL things!

19  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8:19-22 (ESV)

d, Romans 8:19-22, teaches that Christ has drawn all of creation back to God.  When He returns all creation will be restored.

e, So now all things are obligated twice over.  Once by right of Creation and twice by Redemption.

 

III) WHAT ALL THIS MEANS TO US  (vs. 21-23)

 

20  If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21  “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22  (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Colossians 2:20-23 (ESV)

 

Avoid the appearance that lacks reality.

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Episode 145

Disciple Up # 145
Two Kinds of People
By Louie Marsh, 2-5-2020

I’ve read a lot of articles, jokes, etc that start with the line, “There are two kinds of people…” Today I’m adding my own ideas to this mix, whether it’s wanted, needed and helpful or not!

 

Based on my 52 years of experience, I think that there are two kinds of people in the world, those who are introspective and those who aren’t.

 

These two kinds of people aren’t easy to tell apart at first, and they get along well most of the time. But they look at the world, and especially themselves, in very different ways.

 

The non-introspective person tends to slide through life dealing with whatever comes his or her way without wondering too much about what it all means, and why they do what they do. You rarely find them wondering about their motives, and when they do they tend to quickly come up with an answer – often humorous – that pushes those thoughts away so they don’t have to bother with them anymore.

 

When you talk to people like this you often hear them say that they go through life as smoothly as possible, and they don’t like being put in a position of trying to figure out why they do what they do or think or feel they way they do. They tend to dodge as much of that as they can, and if asked why often reply, “All that stuff’s just a waste of time!”

 

They want to move on, get the job done, or just enjoy the moment, laugh and have fun, or just watch TV. What you see is what you get could be their life slogan or goal. They don’t want to sweat what they see as “the small stuff” of their personal motives, feelings, doubts, etc. In fact, these kinds of people will often tell you they never doubt – or at least do so very rarely.

 

Strong, solid and reliable, they are usually great people to work with and can be a lot of fun. They are not the kind of people who are going to give you a long, detailed conversation or debate about philosophical or theological or – God Forbid! – psychological issues!

 

This of course frustrates the second kind of person to no end – which is why I suppose introspectives tend to marry non-introspectives.

 

The second kind of person is the Introspective. This kind of person approaches life and self from the polar opposite position of the non-introspective. He or she is constantly asking a lot of questions, and their interior dialogue tends to be filled with a lot of questions like:

 

Why did I do that?

 

What does that mean?

 

How do I know that’s true or false?

 

Am I really fulfilling God’s plan for my life – and what the heck is it anyway?

 

I could go on but you get the idea.

 

This kind of person not only wants to deal all these personal issues and more besides, they need too! You could even say they have too. To not pursue these questions would ultimately result in total, screaming insanity!

 

Introspectives face the temptation of thinking they are deeper than non introspectives, though whether or not they are is actually an open question. They certainly spend more time thinking about things, but that opens them up to becoming overly introspective, and far too subjective.

 

Let me close this post with a question and some hints at where I might be going with it.

 

I’d like to know which one of these you think you are – let me know in the comments! I’ll tell you where I see myself in all this – although if you know me you already know this I’m sure – in my next post.

 

Some of the questions I want to explore in later posts on this topic include but are not limited to:

 

Why the difference?

 

How does this affect our spirituality? Is it easer for one type to grow spiritually than another?

 

Do these differences make any difference in the end?

 

Is it better to be introspective or non introspective?

 

Is there anything you can do about it?

 

To start with let me set the record straight and say that I am definitely in the Introspective category, as if you couldn’t tell. If you know me you probably know that, and if you don’t you probably guessed that anyway. After all if I was an introspective I wouldn’t be asking these kinds of questions in the first place!

 

I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. Early on I was an odd mixture of skeptical and naïve. I would tend to believe what I was told if the person doing the telling seemed nice and sincere. On the other hand I also found myself asking questions that other kids didn’t seem to be asking. I got into a lot of trouble that way!

 

By the time I was in High School two things happened. One – I became a Christian. Two – my faith clashed head on with what I had been taught about the world, and the culture at large which was in the throes of rapid change.

 

As a result I plagued the Minister of my church, and my poor long suffering Youth Group Sponsors with tons of questions, doubts, arguments, etc. I was a very sincere and usually polite, teenaged pain in the neck!

 

The main battlefields for me at that time were evolution and the war in Vietnam. I was a believer in the former and an opponent of the latter. I fought this two front war for pretty much my entire High School career.

 

In spite of all that, and a bad recommendation from a leader in my church, I went off to Bible College because I had “dedicated my life to full time Christian Service,” as we said back then.

 

It was sometime in college or shortly thereafter that I found this passage of Scripture that finally let me know that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t a bad Christian for constantly feeling the need to question things.

 

“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24 (NIV)

 

I felt then, and still do, the man’s response to Jesus perfectly captures how I often feel. I believe alright – but at the same time I’m skeptical!  This is actually a beautiful description of a word that’s mostly misunderstood these days. Thanks largely to so called “faith teachers” who don’t understand what faith actually is!

 

That word is doubt.

 

You hear these TV preachers constantly railing against, “doubt and unbelief.” By tying these two things together they accomplish a couple of things. They bind people to them and their teaching as the only way to escape doubt and unbelief. They also guarantee that their coffers will be replenished by the faithful seeking a stronger faith.

 

Finally – they completely misrepresent what the word doubt actually means!  The word doubt in Greek and English for that matter – means to be suspended between two things. It is NOT the opposite of faith – unbelief is! Doubt is not being sure either way.

 

For example faith is sure God exists, unbelief is sure He doesn’t, doubt isn’t sure either way.

 

Introspective people have a lot of doubt. Which sounds really bad I know. But actually it doesn’t have to be a negative force in your life at all. In my life it has impelled me to investigate the issue at hand. It’s driven me to find answers and not quit until I’m really satisfied deep down inside.

 

This then illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of being introspective. On the one hand you suffer a lot of uncertainty, on the other hand you face things others don’t and often go a lot deeper into things than a non-introspective person would.

 

But to have that outcome you have to handle your doubt and introspective tendencies correctly. If you don’t respond appropriately to your doubts you can end up feeling condemned and defeated by all your questions.

 

And if you don’t strike a careful balance with your introspective tendencies you’ll end up completely self-absorbed – and that is a spiritual disaster!

 

The way you have to react is to realize a doubt or question is an opportunity to grow and find new answers for yourself. It’s not an attack on God or His Word, it’s a question for my Father. But now I have to get out of myself – into His Word, history, and whatever else is necessary to find the answers I need.

 

Finding the answers, I fortify my faith, and then move forward in service to God and others. I do not sit around and stare at my navel all day long!

 

So I believe being an introspective person can be a real benefit to your spiritual growth and life, it sure has been for me!

 

So far I’ve looked at some of the advantages and disadvantages of being introspective. Of course you’d expect me to major on the advantages of being introspective since that’s the type of person I am right?

 

Okay, so let’s look at a disadvantage (or “challenge” for the PC crowd! 😉 ). Jesus laid down a bedrock condition for discipleship, one that is tough for everyone.

 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

 

Self denial is an absolute condition for following Christ. But it didn’t start with Him. If you look in the Old Testament you’ll find Yahweh calling upon the Israelites to deny themselves and obey His Law too.  Look at this fascinating passage.

 

The LORD said to Moses, “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.” Leviticus 23:26-32 (NIV)

 

Surprised? I was when I found it in good old WORDsearch!  Here what Keil & Delitzsch have to say about it.

 

On the tenth day of the seventh month the day of atonement was to be observed by a holy meeting, by fasting from the evening of the ninth till the evening of the tenth, by resting from all work on pain of death, and with sacrifices, of which the great expiatory sacrifice peculiar to this day had already been appointed in ch. 16, and the general festal sacrifices are described in Num 29:8-11. (For fuller particulars, see at ch. 16.) By the restrictive ‏אַךְ‎, the observance of the day of atonement is represented a priori as a peculiar one. The ‏אַךְ‎ refers less to “the tenth day,” than to the leading directions respecting this feast: “only on the tenth of this seventh month…there shall be a holy meeting to you, and ye shall afflict your souls,” etc.—Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

 

So God is calling upon all of Israel to deny themselves by fasting and not working as they celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  Fasting is an obvious sacrifice to all us junk food eating Americans – but not working?

 

I know a lot of people who love not working! Love it that is until they discover they aren’t going to be paid!  Sorry to tell you but God isn’t offering any paid leave of absence to worship Him! It’s a sacrifice you make to please Him! In those days of subsistence farming, you can imagine that it really was quite a sacrifice.

 

One of the problems here for us Introspectives is that it’s very, very, very – and I mean very! – hard for us to stop thinking about ourselves long enough to deny ourselves. Why sometimes we positively fall in love with how complicated, devious, and complex we are! Christian Introspectives give thanks to God alright – and then plunge right back into themselves!

 

Even when I’m trying to be denying I find myself pondering the mysteries of how much this self denial is costing me, or how it’s making me feel, etc.  It’s as easy as sweating on a hot June day in Parker for me to stop thinking about God and starting thinking about my favorite subject – that’s right – ME!!

 

Now do you see the problem?

 

If only Christ had called me to analyze myself as I follow Him, then I’d be smack dab in the center of the Divine Will! Sadly such is not the case!

 

So I’m stuck with trying to deny myself and not obsess about it as I do it! It’s like trying to write when that little Editor in your mind keeps yelling at you. Often you have to shut him up and turn him off to get anything done. Same here really.

 

This is a huge problem for us Introspectives, and it doesn’t stop here either. Since worship is essentially forgetting about myself and expressing love for God, I face huge temptation here as well. All the way from analyzing the quality of the music or sermon, to losing focus on what’s happening in the service to think about how this makes ME feel, to wishing they’d hurry up because my rear end is sore, it’s a struggle.

 

Score one for the Non-Introspectives?

 

Well yes, kind of. Of course there is another side to this issue (you just knew that was coming didn’t you? Come on – admit it!).

 

To deny myself, to carry my cross and die to myself, bespeaks a certain level knowledge of myself doesn’t it? After all I can’t deny or give up something that I don’t know I have or am. So even here which ever kind of person you are brings with it challenges.

 

And that I suppose is the real point to all this. Like being outgoing or shy, being self aware and focused or not isn’t a matter of better or worse, it’s just the way you are!

 

Either one can and will be used by God to bless you, those around you and bring glory to His Name. And either one can be used by the devil or by yourself to trip you up!

 

It’s all a part of being a fallen human being in a fallen world!

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Episode 144

Disciple Up #144
Death with Dignity?
By Louie Marsh, 1-29-2020

Over the course of my ministry I’ve seen more than a few people die. I remember years ago watching a friend of mine pass and that’s when I first began to ponder the phrase, “Death with Dignity.” I want to make clear that the hospice workers were great! The place was clean, very nice and had everything someone whose terminal could need.

I’ve had several people in my church who do hospice work, and I admire them very much. They do something that most people, including myself, don’t want to do and probably wouldn’t be very good at. And hospice was invaluable to my family during my Father’s and Mother’s passing as well.

God bless them for providing this wonderful and loving service to the community and to those who have such a great need for it.

Years ago I visited a friend who was in a hospice facility in the Phoenix area and would die soon. What struck me as I watched my friend lying there, obviously in the last stages of life, was a phrase that I’ve heard a lot of in the last several years. It’s a phrase that sounds good, but in that moment I felt as though I seeing through it.

The phrase is, “death with dignity.”

I didn’t see any dignity in that room, or the other rooms I passed by that day. I saw someone who was emaciated, alone, and very sad looking, slowly passing his final hours on this earth. Someone who probably wasn’t even aware he was there, much less aware of me.

In spite of that I talked to him and touched him and read Scripture to him and prayed for him. But in all of that I saw no dignity.

I thought about that all weekend and have continued to ponder it. You hear that term used a lot from people who approach life from what I believe is a non-biblical perspective. They tell us that death is just a part of life, it’s a natural close to the cycle of life that we are all part of, and therefore is beautiful when it can be done peacefully and without much pain or discomfort.

Many Christians buy into that, I mean it sounds good and noble and can be comforting if you accept the premise of the statement – that death is a natural part of life.

I don’t accept that premise – and neither does the Bible.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:22-26 (NIV)

Paul tells us here that while death became the order of the day after Adam and Eve fell – it wasn’t intended to be that way from the beginning. That’s why I believe all human cultures have rebelled against death. They either fear it or try and deny it and all have some form of belief in an afterlife because human beings were not made to die, but to live forever with their Maker.

He also shows us that death is an enemy! It’s not a friend; it’s not a natural end of the life cycle and therefore a wonderful, beautiful thing. Its evil, it’s destructive and painful and was not in God’s plan for the ages. Which is why in the end, death will be destroyed. It’s such a great enemy of God that it will be the last one to fall before Him, but fall it will!

But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (ASV)

You see sin and death both came into the world at the same time, as part of God’s curse upon mankind and the universe we live in after the fall. As Paul writes, You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. Romans 5:12 (MSG)

So sin and death are partners in this fallen world we live in as we see in Romans. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NIV)

But God has overcome both of these evil twins through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ from the grave! It is in Him and through Him that we find the victory we need over these two things.

So then the Christian approach to physical death is that we are only temporarily submitting to a remnant of the fall. For we shall rise again and live again just as our Lord Jesus has already done.

Jesus goes even further than that in John’s gospel when He tells us that in a real sense believers in Him cannot die at all!

But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:50-51 (NIV)

To eat the living bread means to accept Christ into our lives and become united with him. We are united with Christ in two ways: (1) by believing in his death (the sacrifice of his flesh) and resurrection and (2) by devoting ourselves each day to living as he requires, depending on his teaching for guidance, and trusting in the Holy Spirit for power. Just as the Jews depended on bread for daily strength and relished it as a main part of their diet, so we should depend on and desire the living Christ in our daily lives.—Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary

Since the word death’s basic meaning in Greek is separation you can begin to understand that we actually cannot die in Christ because death cannot separate us from Him, and in Him we are spiritually linked to all believers, living and dead!

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 (NIV)

So in Christ death is conquered once and for all, and even though our bodies will die short of the Lord’s return, we do not and cannot die because of Christ’s life in us! Though His life and the Holy Spirit, we are linked together as one Body of Christ!

Thoughts on Death with Dignity.

  • Believers aren’t as concerned with dignity as we are with serving God and others
  • Dignity comes from within not without
  • To die well is the ultimate way to die with dignity
  • You have to live well to die well, and you have to live right up to the last second for Jesus. If you do then you’ve died well, and you’ve died with dignity.

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Episode 143

Disciple Up # 143
The Most Oppressive Countries for Christians
By Louie Marsh, 1-22-2020

Christianity Today Article: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/january/top-christian-persecution-open-doors-2020-world-watch-list.html

Disciple Up YouTube Page where the video is available: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpLH-5-lQzRDF2RtGe89W6A

Direct Link to the YouTube Video – https://youtu.be/3q89dTMp9iw

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Episode 142

Disciple Up # 142
Paul’s Prayer For You & Me, Col. 1: 9-14
By Louie Marsh, 1-15-2020

If you were asked to pray for a small, struggling group of Christians who you had heard of but never met, what would you pray for? Would you pray for revival, more warmth in their fellowship, more evangelism or that they try some new exciting program to grow? Well Paul didn’t he prayed that the Colossians – and us! – would know God’s will! Why? Lets see…

I) THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL

9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, Colossians 1:9 (ESV)

A) Filled Up
1, filled = filling out to completeness. We should be completely filled with knowledge of His will.
2, This knowledge comes from receiving God’s grace

6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, Colossians 1:6 (ESV)
3, Knowledge = a full grasp of something MUCH deeper than mere mental understanding. This is plague of Bible study!!
4, Paul is asking that we be filled with a complete knowledge of God’s will? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??

B) Through Wisdom & Understanding
1, Wisdom = a mind controlled by the Spirit of God.
2, understanding =applying this God given wisdom to our circumstances
3, This means that we must prayerfully analyze situations before jumping into them.

C) But What About God’s Will?
1, We’ve been talking about it!
2, God’s will in the N.T. isn’t primarily concerned with which job should I take etc.
A, Becoming like Christ.
B, Be obedient.

II) RESULTS OF THIS KNOWLEDGE

10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, Colossians 1:10-11 (ESV)

A) Living Worthy of the Lord
1, Paul doesn’t want our knowledge to be barren orthodoxy!
2, He wants our total understanding of God’s will to show in a transformed life!
a, Knowing God’s will is the only way to live a life pleasing to Him.
b, Full knowledge will make us want to please Him in every way!!
3, A transformed life bears fruit.
a, just as the Gospel does (vs. 6)
b, our fruit is our CONTINUAL good works for Christ
c, the more our full knowledge of God’s will grows the more fruit we’ll show.

B) Powered By God (vs 11)
1, I’m tired, I can’t produce fruit! You need some power to do it!
2, We are to be strengthened with all power.
a, power = dunamis (Acts 1:8) dynamite, dynamic, dynamo

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.” Acts 1:8 (ESV)

b, Might = Kratos = God’s perfect power, used of Him almost exclusively.
3, This means that God’s Kratos continually becomes dunamis in us!
a, so we depend on God – not circumstances – for the power to live.

C) The Purpose of the Power
1, Notice how these 3 qualities parallel the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5)
a, the purpose of God’s power is to bear fruit in our lives
2, Great endurance = the kind of perseverance which enables one to hold the position already taken in battle against enemy attacks from without. – Eph. 6

7 Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. 8 For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. 9 I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. 12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. 2 Corinthians 10:7-18 (ESV)

16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. 19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11:16-28 (ESV)

3, Patience = not striking back when attacked
4, Joyfully – these 2 qualities must be tempered with joy for we are not stoics!

III) FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12-14 (ESV)

A) Give Thanks!
1, for what? The Power and the will of God! And for what follows.
2, Qualified to share with the saints.
a, notice that GOD qualified us – we didn’t qualify ourselves. HOW?

B) Rescued From Darkness (vs. 13)
1, Domain = exousia = the right or legal authority to rule
2, How does the Darkness or the Devil get this authority over us?
a, We give it to him by sinning
b, ALL non-Christians are helpless slaves of the Dark rebel kingdom – totally helpless to free themselves, just as all of us once were!
3, The Father must rescue us!
a, How? Through Christ’s death for us and His resurrection which gave Him the exousia, the legal authority, over Darkness.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Matthew 28:18 (ESV)
b, The Beloved Son died – that we might live.
c, And He died that we might be transferred to the Kingdom of Light!
1, aorist tense – it’s an accomplished fact for those who believe!

C) The Way Out!
1, Redemption – the O.T. concept is of paying a price to buy something back that once belonged to you.
a, Christ died to buy us back from Satan to God Again

45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (ESV)

2, Forgiveness of Sins.
a, Forgive = to release or let go
b, What happens when WE don’t forgive?
1, It’s like an ancient penalty for murder, being chained to the corpse till it falls apart!
2, By dragging around your pain you’re stinking up your life, and everyone else’s you know!

3, Christ’s death forgives ALL OUR SINS!
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Episode 141

Disciple Up # 141
Is the Bible Reliable?
By Louie Marsh

Show Intro – Read E-mail from John Explain this was part of my Basic Bible Questions and this chapter was taken largely from Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell found here: shorturl.at/eoQ68

I have asked this question about the truth of the Bible first for good reason. Everything in Christianity hangs on how this question is answered.

If you say, “Yes, the Bible is true,” then you approach the Scriptures as the very Word of God, accept everything it says as truth revealed by God, and have a standard for truth and morality that transcends time and cultural shifts and quirks. If the Bible is true, then the Christian faith is true also, Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world, and everyone should believe and follow Him.

On the other hand, if you say, “No, the Bible isn’t true, it’s simply a collection of writings of men who lived a long time ago,” then you have no eternal standard and are left on your own to decide what’s true and what isn’t. So our faith and the identity of Jesus are left hanging.

The so-called middle ground, that the Bible contains both truth and error, doesn’t really leave you in any better position. Because the end result is that you are the one who decides what’s true and what isn’t. So again we have no standard, and in essence are left to be our own little “gods,” deciding between right and wrong.

The historic Christian position is to accept the Bible as God’s Word, inspired and true in the normal sense of that word. And yes, that is the position I hold.

As will be seen below God has provided us with an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the truth and validity of the Bible. We will only be able to cover a small part of this evidence, but even that should go a long way to answering this question is the Bible Reliable?

What Does the Bible Say About Itself?

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.  2 Tim. 3:16-17 (NLT)

 The Bible makes the astounding claim that it is God message to mankind! The real author of the Bible is God Himself – working through men that He picked! Not only that but Paul makes it clear that it’s not only inspired by God, but practical as well. The Bible tells us that it is God’s Word and is to be used and followed in every area of our lives!

 Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark place—until the day Christ appears and his brilliant light shines in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God. 2 Peter 1:19-21 (NLT)

 The reason we are told to obey the Bible is that it is God authority for living. Peter says it came about when God moved people to speak or write things down, not when they felt like it themselves. The Bible is like a light directly from God that shows us what to do and how to do it, and what not to do as well.

People sometimes think that this status as God’s Word was something given to the Bible by people who lived long after it was written. But that’s just not true! Look at what Paul and Peter said about their writings:

 If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 1 Cor. 14:37

 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:15-16

You can see from the emphasis I placed in the verses that Paul knew God was inspiring him, and that Peter agreed, placing Paul’s writings in the same class as the writings of Moses or David!

It’s clear from these few Scriptures that we’ve studied (and there are more we don’t have time for now) that the Bible claims for itself a unique status – God’s Message to Mankind!

But is there any evidence to back this up? Are we being asked to believe the Bible is true just because it says so? Or is there credible evidence to support this amazing claim?

How do we know the Bible is true?

1) Through it’s Uniqueness.

  • The Bible is unique in its continuity. It was written over 1500 year span (that’s more than 40 generations), by over 40 different authors. These men came from every walk of life, including Kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, scholars, etc.
  • The Bible is Unique in its Languages. The Bible was written on three different continents (Asia, Africa, Europe) in three different languages.
  • Hebrew, was the language of the Old Testament. In 2 Kings 18:26-28 its called “the language of Judah.”
  • Aramaic, was the “common language” of the Near East until the time of Alexander the Great (6th century BC).
  • Greek, the language of the New Testament, it was the international language of the Roman Empire during the time of Christ.
  • The Bible is Unique in its translations. As far is known today, the Bible was the first book to be translated into another language. The Greek translation of the Old Testament was made in c. 250 B.C. The Bible has been translated, retranslated and paraphrased more than any other book in existence. By 1977 the number of translations stood at 1603.
  • The Bible is Unique in its survival. It has survived through time better than any other book in history. The Bible is one of the oldest books in the world, yet more copies of the Bible exist than any book its age.
  • It’s also Unique in its survival through Persecution. The Bible has withstood more attempts to destroy it than any other book every written. Here’s just a few examples…

In 303 A.D. Diocletian issued an edict to destroy Christians and the Bible. Twenty-five years later Constantine commissioned Eusebius to prepare 50 copies of the Bible at the expense of the Roman Empire.

Voltaire, noted Frenchman, said before his death in 1778 that in 100 years Christianity would be extinct. Fifty years after he died the Geneva Bible Society was using his printing press to publish Bibles!

  • The Bible is Unique in its survival of Criticism.  For more than 1800 years critics have been attempting to destroy the trustworthiness of the Bible. They have made about as much headway as a man armed with a tack hammer facing the Pyramids of Egypt would (John W. Lea, paraphrased). Bernard Ramm says, “A thousand times over the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and the committal read, but somehow the corpse never stays put!”
  • The Bible is Unique in its Teachings. No other book in history presents truth like the Bible does. Below are just three of the many unique ways the Bible teaches truth.
  • Prophecy: The Bible contains by far the largest and most detailed predictions ever assembled. They include prophecies about the Messiah, Israel and her neighbors, etc. Not one prophecy in the Bible has ever been proven wrong – and that’s unique too!
  • History: Distinguished archaeologist Professor Albright wrote in his book, The Biblical Period, “The Table of Nations in Genesis 10 stands absolutely alone in ancient literature without a remote parallel even among the Greeks…The Table of Nations remains an astonishingly accurate document…(it) shows such remarkable ‘modern’ understanding of the ethnic and linguistic situation in the modern world, in spite of all its complexity, that scholars never fail to be impressed…”
  • Personalities: The Bible deals very frankly with the faults of its main characters. Many ask why the Bible reveals the flaws of its hero’s. Well, the Bible has the habit of telling it like it is, it is indeed the Word of Truth.

2) Through Archaeology

 The science of Archaeology has greatly assisted Christians in showing the world that the Bible is what it claims to be – the Word of God and absolutely true. This only makes sense since if the Bible does give us an accurate account of God’s dealing with mankind you would expect it to be backed up by historical evidence.

Nelson Glueck, well known Jewish archaeologist wrote, “It may be well stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” He also wrote about “the almost incredible accurate historical memory of the Bible, and particularly so when it is fortified by archaeological fact.”

Let’s first examine the Old Testament to see how well it’s stood the test of science and time.

At one time critics rejected the Old Testament because it spoke about a mighty tribe called “Hittites.” Since no other reference to Hittites was then extant, the Bible must be wrong. Only it wasn’t. Since the late 1800’s the fact of a huge and powerful Hittite empire in the ancient east (Turkey was its center) has been proven and is now accepted by everyone.

Here’s a short course on what the Bible says about the Hittites:

  • Descended from Canaan’s son, Heth. Genesis 10:15
  • Called
  • Sons of Heth. Genesis 23:3, 20
  • Children of Heth. Genesis 23:5
  • One of the seven nations of Canaan. Deut. 7:1
  • Dwelt in Hebron. Genesis 23:2-3, 19
  • Governed by kings. 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6
  • Land of, promised to Israel. Genesis 15:20; Exodus 3:8
  • Israel commanded to destroy. Deut. 7:1-2, 24
  • Part of their land given to Caleb. Joshua 14:13
  • Not entirely destroyed by Israel. Judges 3:5
  • Made tributary in the reign of Solomon. 1 Kings 9:20-21

Not bad for an imaginary tribe is it?

For years Genesis 14 was considered to be historically unreliable. Yet the archives of Elba, discovered in 1964 contained thousands of clay tablets. One of those tablets lists the five cities mentioned in Genesis 14, and does so in the exact order found in the Bible!

Okay, okay – you might be saying, but what about the New Testament, how reliable is it?

Of all the New Testament writers Luke has often been singled out for a great deal of criticism. This is due to the fact that he wrote the book of Acts which is the only history book in the New Testament.

At one time most scholars agreed that he had completely missed the boat on the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Critics argued that there had been no census that Quirinius was not the Governor of Syria at that time and that everyone could not have been made to return to their ancestral home.

Once again archaeology comes to our rescue again! Discoveries were made that show the Romans had a regular enrollment of taxpayers and also held a census every 14 years. This practice was begun by Augustus and the first one took place in either 22-23 B.C. or 9-8 B.C. The latter one is the one referred to by Luke.

We also now know that Quirinius was indeed Governor of Syria around 7 B.C. We know this because he name was found on an inscription in Antioch dated to that time period.

A papyrus found in Egypt gives directions on how to conduct the census. It reads, ‘Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing from any cause away from their homes should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment and that the tilled lands may retain those belonging to them.”

Luke gives to Publius the chief man in Malta the title, “The First Man of the Island in Acts 28:7. Inscriptions have been unearthed which give him the title of “First Man.”

Luke used the Greek word Politarchs to denote the civil authorities in Thessalonica (Acts 17:6). Since this title wasn’t found in classical literature Luke was thought to have been wrong. However, some 19 inscriptions have been found that make use of the title. Interestingly enough five of these are in reference to Thessalonica.

The Apostle Paul, writing from Corinth in Romans 16:23 makes mention of the city treasurer Erastus. A pavement was unearthed during the excavations of Corinth in 1929 which read ERASTUS PRO:AED:S:P:STRAVIT (“Erastus, curator of the public buildings, laid this pavement at his own expense”).

https://www.foxnews.com/science/biblical-town-emmaus-may-have-been-found

So what conclusion can we draw from the evidence so far seen? Obviously it speaks loudly that the Bible is a true, historically accurate and trustworthy document. Surely it is worth of our respect, attention and obedience.

Evidence from the Prophets

If you think that Archeology has produced an impressive amount of evidence to support the Bible as God’s Word, wait till you take a look the fulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament. Below is a list of prophecies we know from archeology and history have been fulfilled, with a estimation of the odds against it coming true.

 

#

Scripture Reference

Subject

Odds Against Fulfillment

1 Ez. 26:3-21 Tyre 1 in 7.5 X 107
2 Hosea 13:16, Micah 1:6 Samaria 1 in 4 X 104
3 Amos 1:8; Jer. 47:5; Zeph. 2:4-7 Gaza & Ashkelon 1 in 1.2 X 104
4 Ez. 25:3-4; Jer. 48:47, 49:6 Moab & Ammon 1 in 103
5 Isa 34:6-15; Jer 49:17-18; Ez 25:13-14, 35:5-7 Petra & Edom 1 in 104
6 Isa 13:19-22, 14:23; Jer. 51:26,43 Babylon 1 in 5 X 109
7 Jer. 31:38-40 Jerusalem Enlarged 1 in 8 X 1010
8 Lev 26:31-33; Ez 36:33-35 Palestine 1 in 2 X 105
9 Josh 6:2-5 Jericho 1 in 2 X 105
10 Ez 44:1-3 The Golden Gate 1 in 103
11 Jer 26:18 Zion Plowed 1 in 103

The probability of these 11 prophecies coming true is 1 in 5.76 X 1059. Let’s try to visualize that number. First of all we’ll round it off to 5 X 1059. Then let’s suppose that we had that many silver dollars. How big a pile would that make?

The volume of the sun is 1,000,000 times larger than that of the earth, yet out of 5 X 1059 silver dollars would could make 10 silver balls the size of the sun!

 It has been estimated that the whole universe contains about two trillion galaxies and that each galaxy contains about 100 billion stars. From our 5 X 1059 silver dollars we could make all of the stars in these galaxies 2 X 105 times!

Now suppose that we marked one dollar and stirred it into the whole pile before making them into balls the size of the sun. Then suppose that we blind fold someone and told him to go over to each of the balls and pick up the dollar which he thinks is the right one.

What chance would he have of picking the marked silver dollar?

Assuming he could travel 60 mph day and night it would take him 5 years to go once around each star, or 500 billion years for each galaxy! So let’s suppose that this guy is really fast and is able to look over all the dollars contained in the 100 billion stars of a galaxy in one second!

It would still take him 3 X 10 years (that’s 3 billion years!) to cover them all!

It is absurd to think that he would pick the marked coin! It is just as absurd to think that these prophecies were fulfilled by chance! Only an all-powerful and all knowing God could have written a book that is so amazingly accurate.

This is powerful evidence that the Bible is true and is a good reason for you to put your faith in the Bible as God’s Word! [This section was taken from the book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Vol. 1, page 318, Written by Josh McDowell.]

Evidence From Ancient Literature

 Many people are bothered by the age of the Bible. They wonder how we can know that the Bible we have today is the same as what was originally written? After all how would we know if it had been changed several hundred years ago?

The answer to these questions are found in manuscript comparison.

The number of copies left of any ancient piece of literature is the main way to tell how accurate it is. Even more important than that is the period of time between when it was written and the date of our earliest copy is. The more copies and the shorter the gap between the original copy and the manuscripts we have means the more accurate the manuscript.

Below is a chart comparing the Old and New Testaments to some of the best known ancient literature.

 

Author

Date Written Earliest Copy Time Span # of Copies
Homer (Iliad) 900 BC 400BC 500 yrs. 643
Caesar 100-44BC 900 AD 1000 yrs   10
Plato 427-347 BC 900 AD 1200 yrs     7
Tacitus 100 AD 1100 AD 1000 yrs   20
Pliny the Younger 63-113 AD 850 AD 750 yrs     7
Thucydides 460-400 BC 900 AD 1300 yrs     8
Suetonius 75-160 AD 950 AD 800 yrs     8
Herodotus 480-425 BC 900AD 1300 yrs     8
Cataullus 54 BC 1550 AD 1600 yrs     3
Euripides 480-406 BC 1100 AD 1500 yrs     9
Demosthenes 383-322 BC 1100 AD 1300 yrs 200 (all from 1 copy)
Aristotle 384-322 BC 1100 AD 1400 yrs 49 (of any 1 work)
Aristophanes 450-385 BC 900 AD 1200 yrs  10
 
New Testament 40-11 AD 125 AD 25 yrs More than 24,000
Old Testament 1500-350 BC 200 BC ??? Over 800

As you can see we have more copies of the Bible than we do of any other piece of ancient literature. So why is it that only the Bible is attacked as untrustworthy? When was the last time you heard someone say that Caesar or Aristotle didn’t really write the books that have their names? If we are going to be fair we must judge all ancient literature by the same standards. By that standard the Bible stands head and shoulders above the rest as true and trustworthy!

Evidence From the Early Church

 If the Bible is indeed true and trustworthy then we would expect to find that it was widely read, used and quoted by the early Christians. Indeed it was!

If every single copy of the New Testament was completely destroyed, we could reconstruct the entire New Testament except for 11 verses!  How? Through the writings of the early church leaders, known as the Church Fathers.

 

The New Testament & the Early Church Fathers

Writer Gospels Acts Paul’s Letters General Letters Rev. Total
Justin Martyr 268 10 43 6 3 330
Irenaeus 1038 194 499 23 65 1819
Clement of Alex. 1017 44 1127 207 11 2406
Origen 9231 349 7778 399 165 17922
Tertullian 3822 502 2609 120 205 7258
Hippolytus 734 42 387 27 188 1378
Eusebius 3258 211 1592 88 27 5176
             
Totals 19368 1352 14035 870 664 36289

This chart leaves little doubt two things:

  • The New Testament was recognized quickly to be the Word of God.
  • The Bible we have is the same one that the early Christians had.

Conclusion

 After reading over this brief look at some of the evidence available the question we started with seems easy to answer now. Is the Bible reliable?

Yes! The evidence is amble and overwhelming – you can trust the Bible as God’s Word!

Yeah But…

 YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO ARGUE ANYONE INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

https://Alpha.org

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Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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Episode 139

139 Disciple Up Show Notes
The Real Meaning of Christmas
By Louie Marsh, 12-18-2019

Past Shows on Christmas:

Disciple Up #86 – CS Lewis & Christmas

 Disciple Up #87 – Non-Pagan Roots of Christmas

 Disciple Up #88 – Christ Is In X-Mas

A Christmas Story Part One – written for my radio show, Tales From the Scrypt, which airs each Wednesday on KLPZ, 1380 AM here in Parker. Available at 1380.com on the web.

https://www-nytimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/12/09/us/nativity-scene-cages-claremont.amp.html?usqp=mq331AQCKAE%3D&amp_js_v=0.1#aoh=15760221212693&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2019%2F12%2F09%2Fus%2Fnativity-scene-cages-claremont.html

Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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Episode 138

Disciple Up #138
News: Jesus Game, Micro-Churches, Persecution in China
By Louie Marsh, 12-11-2019

NEW book – #forparker
55 Daily Devotionals to strengthen your outreach and evangelsm.

Available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book: http://shorturl.at/sCFK5

Micro-Congregations:
https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2019/fall/carving-out-niche-for-micro-congregations.html

Persecution in China:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/december/lottie-moon-church-china-historical-site-sbc.html

Jesus Video Game:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1198970/I_Am_Jesus_Christ/

Coming soon: Jesus Christ, the video game

Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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Colossians Pt 3 – Paul’s Prayer for You and Me

Disciple Up Show Notes #137
Colossians: The Supremacy of Christ, Pt 3
Paul’s Prayer for You and Me, Col. 1: 9-14

As we study Colossians you might also want to read Ephesians since there are many parallels between them.

If you were asked to pray for a small, struggling group of Christians who you had heard of but never met, what would you pray for?  Would you pray for revival, more warmth in their fellowship, more evangelism or that they try some new exciting program to grow?  Well Paul didn’t he prayed that the Colossians – and us! – would know God’s will!  Why?  Lets see…

  1. I) THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL (vs. 9)

9  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, Colossians 1:9 (ESV)

  1. A) Filled Up

1, filled = filling out to completeness.  We should be completely filled with knowledge of His will.

2, This knowledge comes from receiving God’s grace (vs. 6)

6  which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, Colossians 1:6 (ESV)

3, Knowledge = a full grasp of something MUCH deeper than mere mental understanding.

                              a, THIS IS THE PLAGUE OF BIBLE STUDY!!

4, Paul is asking that we be filled with a complete knowledge of God’s will?  HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??

  1. B) Through Wisdom & Understanding

1, Wisdom = a mind controlled by the Spirit of God.

2, understanding =applying this God given wisdom to our circumstances

3, This means that we must PRAYERFULLY ANALYIZE situations before jumping into them.

  1. C) But What About God’s Will?

1, We’ve been talking about it!

2, God’s will in the N.T. isn’t primarily concerned with which job should I take etc.

3, It’s really concerned with verses 10-11.

  1. II) RESULTS OF THIS KNOWLEDGE (vs. 10-11)

 10  so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, Colossians 1:10-11 (ESV)

 A) Living Worthy of the Lord (vs. 10)

1, Paul doesn’t want our knowledge to be barren orthodoxy!

2, He wants our total understanding of God’s will to show in a transformed life!

a, Knowing God’s will is the only way to live a life pleasing to Him.

b, Full knowledge will make us want to please Him in every way!!

3, A transformed life bears fruit.

a, just as the Gospel does (vs. 6)

b, our fruit is our CONTINUAL good works for Christ

c, the more our full knowledge of God’s will grows the more fruit we’ll show.

  1. B) Powered By God (vs 11)

1, I’m tired, I can’t produce fruit!  You need some power to do it!

2, We are to be strengthened with all power.

a, power = dunamis (Acts 1:8) dynamite, dynamic, dynamo

b, Might = Kratos = God’s perfect power, used of Him almost exclusively.

3, This means that God’s Kratos continually becomes dunamis in us!

a, so we depend on God – not circumstances – for the power to live.

  1. C) The Purpose of the Power (vs 11)

1, Notice how these 3 qualities parallel the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5)

a, the purpose of God’s power is to bear fruit in our lives

2, Great endurance = the kind of perseverance which enables one to hold the position already taken in battle against enemy attacks from without.

3, Patience = not striking back when attacked

4, Joyfully – these 2 qualities must be tempered with joy for we are not stoics!

III) FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT (vs. 12-14)

12  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12-14 (ESV)

  1. A) Give Thanks!

1, for what?  The Power and the will of God!  And for what follows.

2, Qualified to share with the saints.

a, notice that GOD qualified us – we didn’t qualify ourselves. HOW?

  1. B) Rescued From Darkness (vs. 13)

1, Dominion = exousia = the right or legal authority to rule

2, How does the Darkness or the Devil get this authority over us?

a, We give it to him by sinning

b, ALL non-Christians are helpless slaves of the Dark rebel kingdom – totally helpless to free themselves, just as all of us once were!

3, The Father must rescue us!

a, How?  Through Christ’s death for us and His resurrection which gave Him the exousia, the legal authority, over Darkness.

b, The Beloved Son died – that we might live.

c, And He died that we might be transferred to the Kingdom of Light!

1, aorist tense – it’s an accomplished fact for those who believe!

  1. C) The Way Out! (vs. 14)

1, Redemption – the O.T. concept is of paying a price to buy something back that once belonged to you.

a, Christ died to buy us back from Satan to God Again (Mark 10:45)

45  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (ESV)

2, Forgiveness of Sins.

a, Forgive = to release or let go

b, What happens when WE don’t forgive?

1, It’s like an ancient penalty for murder, being chained to the corpse till it falls apart!

2, By dragging around your pain you’re stinking up your life, and everyone else’s you know!

3, Christ’s death forgives ALL OUR SINS!

4, You must receive Him for this forgiveness to be yours!

Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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