from the 12th-century Jruchi Gospels II MSS from Georgia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are usually many of places I have to go in any given day. I usually go to work. Sometimes I have to put gas in the truck. There’s always somewhere I need to visit to stock-up on something. It seems, for every place I go… there’s a reason. I’m rarely just out wandering around.
I get the impression that Jesus was like this too. When He started walking, He usually had a reason… and a purpose.
There’s an interesting statement at the beginning of the fourth chapter of John that has always caught my eye. It says that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria”.
I’ve read several theories as to why people think He “had to” travel that road. History tells us that most Jews chose to travel a different route from Jerusalem to Galilee. The Jews and Samaritans had several long-standing theological disagreements that had caused separation… but for some reason Jesus chose to engage instead of ignore.
Jesus met a woman in Samaria. Most readers surmise that the Samaritan woman was terribly lost that day. While she well knew her way to the town’s source of water, it seems clear she had not been able to find all she was looking for in life.
In the end we know this woman, and many in her village, believe Jesus is the Promised Messiah. My question is… what was this woman’s spiritual condition prior to Jesus’ arrival? Was she really an unbelieving soul that Jesus converted that day… or could she have been a “true believer” from the wrong side of the tracks?
I suspect she was not as spiritually lost as many conclude. The fact that she wasn’t a Jew… shouldn’t automatically exclude her from being a believer in God’s promises. Continue reading →
Some Christians need to lose their “definition of salvation”.
Our 21st-century church culture usually uses the term “salvation” to describe someone who says a prayer at an altar, or raises a hand in response to an invitation. We say things like, “Did you hear about (insert name here)? He got saved last Sunday!”
Whether it happens in a church building, at a summer camp, or at the corner table in a coffee shop… that’s pretty much the width of meaning most Christians give the term. When people use “saved” in that way, they are talking about the “point in time” event that happens when someone comes to initial faith in Christ as their Savior. That’s certainly an appropriate way to use the term, but is that the only way we should understand “salvation”?
Following up on my last post… I’d like to take a look at some more examples of justified, Old Testament saints, being used by God to welcome The Messiah to the earth. In Luke 1 we are introduced to the parents of John the Baptist. Again… it is important to pay attention to the way people are described in the text. I believe it gives a clue to the content of their souls.
Luke 1:5–7 (NASB95)
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
When God chose a couple to bring John the Baptist into the world… he chose two people who were “righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” These two people were people of faith… true believers in God… prior to their call to be the parents of John the Baptist.
I know this might be obvious… but I’m not sure people always pay attention to this context. Continue reading →
It’s about time we jump into the text… and get our feet wet in the gospels.
We’ve talked about context… and getting to know the neighborhood… and the promised Messiah. Now lets just look closely at the arrival of that Messiah. We’ll ask the question… “When little baby Jesus arrived, was there anyone, in faith, looking for Him”?
Matthew 1:18–19 (NASB95)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
You may have already noticed it. How is Joseph described? The text says he was “a righteous man”. How should we understand that description? There are a couple possible interpretations.Sometimes the term is used to describe those who think they are righteous… but they really aren’t (Matthew 9:11-13, Luke 15:7,Luke 18:9, Luke 20:20). These are the self-righteous folks who are more concerned with their outward appearance than their inner spirituality. Jesus warns us against being like these people (Matthew 23:27-28).Other times the word “righteous” is used, from God’s perspective, to describe the true spiritual state of someone. Continue reading →
When looking at the gospel of Jesus Christ, in its original context, we’ve got to head all the way back to the beginning of God’s story. We must be willing to jump back into the Old Testament and set the stage for the arrival of Jesus. To do this we will consider the problem of sin… and the promise, that God offered, to fix that problem.
We will look into the common role of faith in the salvation of all people. We must understand the purpose of the law in the Old Testament and how God used it with people of faith. The Old Testament law had a definite purpose and limitations.
Probably the most important idea we’ll delve into, is the concept of the “believing remnant”. This is the idea that since sin entered the world, God has always had “people of faith” on the earth. At any given time, there has always been a group who truly believed God was the only one big enough to solve the sin problem. Continue reading →