When our body does die, our spirit will immediately depart this temporary dwelling, and be present with the Lord in heaven. There is no delay, whereby our spirit will remain here on earth. There will be no “soul sleep”, as our soul lies in a state of suspension. The spirit that lives inside our body is eternal. At the moment of death, the spirit leaves the body. If we have placed our life in Jesus Christ, and we die trusting in Him, then our spirit will immediately be “present with the Lord”, in heaven. If we rejected the salvation that Jesus has offered us all throughout our earthly life, then our spirit will depart our body to descend into hell, were it will remain until the final judgement of all things
In the very first verse, Nahum tells you what the prophecy is all about. It is the burden of Ninevah. Ninevah was the capital of Assyria, and the Assyrian empire sort of ruled the world around the 700-800 B.C., on down to about 600. The Assyrians were very cruel, heartless people. They made a practice of seeking to terrorize their enemies. When they would take captives, they would often skin people alive. They would cut off a foot, cut off a hand, cut off an ear, cut off their nose, pull their tongues out, would maim, and disfigure the captives, in order to create terror. They would also make piles of human skulls, just to create terror in the hearts of their enemies. Many times nations, or cities that were surrounded by the Assyrians, rather than to go into captivity, and to be mutilated, the people would commit mass suicide.
Let’s turn now to Second Peter chapter two. This chapter really begins in the previous chapter or is just a continuation. And in reality that’s what it was. There were no chapters and verses when they were originally written. It was just a letter written by Peter that was later divided into chapters and verses by godly men who wanted to help us to reference passages of scripture. And so by dividing it into chapters and verses, it’s a lot easier to reference a particular thought or idea from the scriptures. But a lot of times the chapter divisions fell in the middle of a phrase or a paragraph and basically in the end of chapter one, Peter was telling us concerning the Bible, concerning the prophecies of the word of God and he declares that there was “no prophecy of scripture was of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in the old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).
God does speak to man and God speaks to other men through men that He has spoken to. So it was the duty or the office of the prophet. He was a spokesman for God. He would tell the people what the Lord was saying to them, to the nation at the time. God’s spokesmen. But along with the true prophets, there were also false prophets. And so he tells us,
We’ve obtained, Peter says, this like precious faith. It is by faith that we are saved. Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And we all come the same way. Like precious faith, that a similar faith that we all have in Jesus Christ that brings us the hope of salvation “through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord (1:2),
Notice how he is tying together the Father and the Son all the way through. The righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ. “Grace and peace be multiplied through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” Oh, that we might know Him more fully, more completely. Paul’s cry was to know Him and to be found in Him. But to know Him and to know the power of His resurrection. Oh, “that we might know that power of the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.”
First Peter chapter five. Peter has been talking about suffering and how that Christ is really our example of suffering. And how that it is possible to suffer, though the suffering is not really deserved or something that is caused by you. Jesus surely, the classic example there. So in chapter five, he now addresses the elders, the word is presbuteros, the overseers. Those men who were in charge of the affairs of the church and it is interesting that this concept of elders is something that was throughout the Old Testament, each city had its elders. Those men who would sit in the gate and who would judge the affairs of the city.
You remember when Moses came to the place where taking the oversight of the people actually became too great a task. From morning till evening, Moses sat in judgment as a long line of people were waiting to interview him and to have him settle the disputes and the affairs. And so finally, the Lord said to Moses, Bring seventy men, elders of Israel, into the tent of congregation. I’ll take the Spirit that I put on you, I’ll put on them (Exodus 18:13-26).
Let’s turn back to Romans chapter six where Paul deals with this very same subject of being dead to sin. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin [that is, we who have been born again], that the grace of God may abound? God forbid! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man [the old nature, the life governed by sin] is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be [“katargéo,” thrown down] destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he lives, he lives unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:1-11).
Peter has turned to relationships and the Word of God has to be practical. It has to be something that can be practically worked out in our lives. Not just theories. Not just scattered ideas but our relationship with God should enhance every other relationship that we have. And so you always find that the Bible never just lays out principles and then lets it go at that but it shows the practical application of these in our own personal lives. And so with laying out certain truths, then we get the application and it’s not really practical if it can’t find application within our lives.
He began in the latter part of chapter two talking about one of the most common relationships in the Roman empire, and that was the relationship of a master with his slave. He deals with that relationship. But now the most important relationship that most of us will experience in life on the human level is the relationship in marriage, the husband and wife relationship. Now he’s beginning in chapter three dealing with an unfortunate kind of a relationship, and that is a believing wife with an unbelieving husband.
So, let’s turn in our Bibles now to the Book of James, chapter five, as we finish the Book of James tonight. And then we start into the two epistles of Peter, as we move through the Bible. And of course, we’re getting down towards the end. Come springtime, we will be completing, well perhaps, summer time, completing our study of the Bible, going through it. So, we have just about a half a year left and we will have completed our study once more through the whole Bible. Then I’m sort of anxious and excited to get back to Genesis.
So, James chapter five. He begins the fifth chapter with a warning to the rich, who have gained their riches by fraudulent means. And he is rebuking them for the riches that they have laid up through fraud.
Just exactly when 1 Timothy was written, we are not certain. But the occasion is that Paul has gone on from Ephesus. He has left Timothy in Ephesus for a short time to sort of keep the helm steady and to really establish a straight course for the teaching of doctrine. There are those in Ephesus that are getting into some weird ideas and concepts and are trying to sort of promote them within the church. And so Paul, realizing that the church needed to be sort of stabilized in a doctrinal way, left Timothy there for a while. Whether or not this is when Paul first left Ephesus or if Paul after his imprisonment in Rome-there are certain traditions in the early church that Paul, after his imprisonment in Rome, was released and he went back to Ephesus for a while, that we don’t know for sure. But at any rate, Timothy is there in Ephesus. Paul had left him there in order to establish the saints.
“I shall not want”.
Once we have submitted our life to Jesus as “Lord”, He then can lead us. The results of being led by the Lord is that we will have no “want”. We will be content, and the longing of our heart for love and a purpose in our life will be satisfied. All the needs we have will be taken care of, as long as we keep the Lord first as Lord and Shepherd of our life.
Though the Lord is our Shepherd, we will still suffer losses during our life. Those we love will die, friends will come and go, and material blessings will be gained and lost. There will be suffering, pain, and sorrow, but in all these things, there will be a knowledge that we are loved by God, and that we have a Shepherd who is caring for us, tending to our injuries, and comforting us in our losses. There will be no “want” for answers to life’s problems and difficulties, if we abide in and stay close to our Shepherd. There will be a confidence about us, though doubts will come, and fears will never cease. If the Lord is our Shepherd, we will always come back to a place of peace, knowing that God is for us and the He will never leave us or forsake us. In these things we will have no “want” for answers, for the Shepherd will be our abiding provider and will guide us through all of life’s perils.
Is there blessing in not walking through this world in the same way that everyone else walks? David wrote these words, perhaps on a morning like this one. Maybe he felt a tug on his heart, and he wrote these words to encourage me today, nearly 3,000 years later, to make a deeper commitment myself.
In the same way, I am writing these words to you, some from David, some from my heart, about a day of revelation. A day to make a decision to walk in the path of Righteousness as an expression of our love for Jesus and desire to be His own special people who have set ourselves apart from this world, to belong more fully to Him.
Each one of us has to decide just how far we are willing to go with the Lord. Jesus had to make this decision Himself, before He gave His life for us. The Lord decided that He would give up everything for the Joy of seeing us forgiven and free of sin, and living finally in His glorious and perfect home in heaven.
For many years there has been an unbridgeable gap between the fundamentalist position of Biblical creationism and the scientific theory for the origin of the universe.
Christians have long maintained that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago, because of the dates and times given in the Bible that have led to this conclusion.
In 1654 Archbishop James Ussher of Armagh, after having worked his way through all of the genealogies of the Bible, announced that the date of Creation described in Genesis 1:3, was Sunday October 21, 4004 B.C, at 9:00 am in the morning. Archbishop Ussher arrived at this conclusion strictly by studying the Bible.1
However, this does not mean that the date for the creation of the universe was 4004 B.C. The first verse of Genesis describes the fact that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
The Bible does not tell us when “in the beginning” occurred. If modern Astronomy can correctly measure the age of the expanding universe by accurate means, and determine that it is 1bout 13.7 billion years old, this certainly does not conflict with Genesis chapter 1, verse 1.
The term “Good” has it’s origin in the name “God”. Philo, a Jewish philosopher from the first century said that “God alone is good”, emphasizing the unique quality that only God has.1 The early Anglo-Saxon’s derived their word “God” from the term “good”, believing that all true goodness had God as it’s source.2
The idea from the beginning of human language has been that God is the source of all goodness and virtue.
By Jesus response to the young man who asks him this question: “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”, we may miss the subtlety of his answer in the english translation. When Jesus asks the young man why he is calling him “good”, it is due to the fact that all men during this time, also ascribed the term “good” only to God, from where the name “God” originated from. The New Testament was originally written in Greek. Any person who would read this verse would know for certain that Matthew was ascribing Jesus goodness to his belief that he is God, from where all goodness originates.
When we compare Matthew’s record of this event with what Mark wrote, we see a difference the helps us understand what is being stated here.
Matthew writes that the young ruler said: “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do…”
Luke writes: “Good teacher what shall I do…”
Many years ago, a young man approached me immediately after I had concluded teaching the word of God on Sunday morning, and he said to me: “Pastor you have the best job in the world, you only have to work one day a week”.
He did not realize that being a servant of God is a lifetime appointment, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
When Jesus took the body of a man at Bethlehem, He did not become a servant to the Father on our behalf for only thirty-three and one half years, He became “a priest forever”.
Hebrews 5:4-6 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”
The responsibility of becoming our High Priest was not something that Jesus took upon Himself, he was “appointed” to this position by the Father.
The term “You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” in verse 6, is a very strange indeed. The priesthood described in the Old Testament, came from the Tribe of Levi, Jesus came from the Tribe of Judah. Here in Hebrews chapter 5, we see that Jesus is not the same type of priest as those from the tribe of Levi. Jesus is a High Priest after the likeness of Melchizedek.
It is amazing to consider that although Jesus was laying down His life for us as a servant, He was still Lord of the universe, and in control over absolutely every event that we read in the four Gospels.
The foal of a donkey submits to His authority. (Matthew 21:7)
The wind and the waves submit to His authority. (Mark 4:39)
The dead submit to His authority. (John 11:43)
Death submits to His authority. (John 11:25)
Sickness and disease, submit to His authority. (Luke 18:42)
The demons submit to His authority. (Luke 4:35)
The devil submits to His authority. (Matthew 4:10)
All History submits to His authority (Matthew 26:56)
All the kingdoms of this world will submit to His authority (Matthew 19:28)
As we examine this list from Psalm 22, what can we assume by what is being described?
It appears that someone was present at the crucifixion of Jesus and recorded the events that surrounded His death. The only problem with this assumption is that David was not there when Jesus died on the cross. He wrote this description in Psalm 22, about 1,000 before the events took place. Crucifixion did not exist when David wrote these things, and neither he, nor anyone that he knew, had been ever been crucified. The terrible method of execution by crucifixion would not be invented for another 600 years. These facts stand as conclusive proof that David was writing these words as he was directed by a transcendent being that lives outside of time. A being who knows all the events of human history, and conveyed the knowledge of what Jesus would endure, to the mind of David so that he could write the words of Psalm 22.
It is reasonable to state that whatever your concept of God currently is, this knowledge is very limited. It is impossible for a transient being to understand a transcendent being. It is certain that what we believe we know about God is infinitely less than the reality of His person.
If we can accept for a moment, the self evident truth that the reason for the universe is God, and that He did make us for a purpose, we should at least explore that valid possibility and be willing to investigate Him further.
Let us be honest, the universe, and closer to home, the earth, are reasonable proof for the existence of God. The most logical explanation for any phenomenon of unknown origin, is often the most obvious. A beautifully engineered, intelligently functioning creation, logically originates from an intelligence, rather than the product of random chance.
The Bible is clear that all men since Adam are under a curse. From the moment that Adam disobeyed God, he was under the judgment of sin and death. Because all men are descended from Adam, all human beings have inherited this curse.
We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners.
The propensity towards sin comes from the fact that we are inherently flawed in our basic spiritual DNA. We commit sin because that is what we do best. It is not really possible for any human being to not sin. Although we may try very hard to be a better person, at some point we will always fail. This is true for those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, as well as those who do.
The advantage that a person who has come into a relationship with Jesus possesses, is that Jesus is now dwelling within us, giving us the power to overcome sin. Before a person comes into a relationship with the Lord, the Bible describes this person as being “slaves” to sin. After we come into this new relationship with Jesus we can become slaves to righteousness.