• Christmas, Encouragement, Holiday's Perspective, Jesus Church, Other Bible Teachers

    Posted on December 12th, 2012

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    Faith in What?

    Faith in What?

    Christmas is around the corner. It’s the time of year when cynics are pressed to enjoy hot cocoa and gingerbread and even non-believers begin to hope for miracles. It’s a time of year when faith pops into conversations.

    Faith. People toss the word about, as though faith itself is a good thing. Hard-core LOST fans will recall that a conflict developed between the man of “faith” - John Locke — and the man of “science” - Dr. Jack Shepherd during the show’s early seasons. At one point at the end of the second season, Jack famously asked Locke why it was so easy for him to believe, and Locke said, “It’s never been easy!”

    No, faith is not easy, and unfortunately for John Locke, his faith was in an ISLAND - an ISLAND with a smoke monster.

    “Have faith,” people will say. Faith? Faith in what? Faith in God? Faith in money? Faith in the good nature of the universe? Faith in our own karma? [By the way, in what bank is karma held, and who are the tellers?] We need to make sure we are building our faith on the right foundation.

    A skeptic asked us, “But see, there’s a problem when Grandma prays to be healed and she isn’t healed. She thinks she doesn’t have strong enough faith or that God doesn’t love her. What about Grandma?”

    We all want to see miracles. We want to pray for Grandma’s crippling arthritis and see her healed; we don’t want her suffering for two more decades. We want to pray for healing and freedom and see them happen.

    This is a hard issue. On top of it, the “name it and claim it” “blab it and grab it” “faith” teachers have skewed our understanding, presenting faith as the means to get anything we want. They leave out major components of what the Bible teaches, forgetting that faith has little to do with getting a Mercedes and everything to do with strengthening our relationship with our Savior.

  • Easter, Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on April 5th, 2012

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    3. What Happened Before Midnight on Thursday

    3. What Happened Before Midnight on Thursday

    I suggested on an earlier page that considerations of time played a peculiar and decisive part in determining the events that immediately preceded the death of Christ. If we wish to get at the real truth about this matter we must study it with our eyes, as it were, constantly upon the clock. Particularly is this the case when we approach two very important elements in the case: The dealings that the Jewish leaders had with judas and later with Pontius Pilate.

    Both these men played a strange and, at first sight, an inexplicable role in the happenings of those twelve hours that closed the earthly life of Christ. Let us begin by considering the case of Judas.

  • Other Bible Teachers, Resurrection/Easter

    Posted on April 4th, 2012

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    Was Jesus Crucified on Good Friday?

    Was Jesus Crucified on Good Friday?

    “How can there be three days and three nights between Friday and Sunday?”
    The observances of Good Friday and Easter Sunday have perpetuated the traditional chronology that the crucifixion took place on a Friday, that the Lord’s body was buried on that day about 6 p.m., and that he rose from the dead early on Sunday. There are some, however, that feel this tradition is at odds with the Scriptural record. It also seems to conflict with certain prophetic and legal facts.

  • Frank Morison, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on February 4th, 2012

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    15. The Servant of the Priest

    15. The Servant of the Priest

    Who was the young man who, if this interpretation be the true one, anticipated the women and shared with them the earliest experiences of that memorable morning? We shall probably never know, for if Mark withheld his name it must have been for very good and sufficient reasons. But there is one thought in that connection that I venture to think will bear profound and repeated study.

    If the reader will take the last eight verses of Mark’s Gospel (16:1-8) and will study them carefully, remembering that they represent probably the earliest written account of these events, he will, I think, be pulled up very sharply by one fact — the absence of any hint or suggestion as to how the stone itself came to be moved. An impenetrable curtain descends abruptly at the conclusion of the burial on Friday afternoon and does not rise again until dawn on Sunday, when the stone has already been removed. Why was this? Did the church, as late as AD. 58, know nothing of what happened during that critical period, or was Mark writing under the pressure of some intense reserve?

  • John MacDuff, Memories of Patmos

    Posted on February 3rd, 2012

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    4. The Epistle to the Seven Churches

    4. The Epistle to the Seven Churches

    A well-known commentator on the Apocalypse has graphically pictured the aged Evangelist ascending one of the rocky heights of Patmos, and from thence, as a center, beholding on every side, even at that early dawn of the Christian era, undoubted evidences of the spread of the Gospel. Flourishing churches were planted all around, far beyond the line of the visible horizon. In Greece, those of Philippi and Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth; in the East, Jerusalem and Antioch; in the South, Cyprus, Alexandria, and Crete; westward, in Caesar’s household and Caesar’s capital; while the bearers of the glad tidings had even left the impress of their early footsteps on the shores of France and Spain, and our own remote island of Britain. He who in his former years had witnessed the whole Church of Christ contained in one upper-room in Jerusalem, had lived to see its line gone out through all the earth, and its words to the end of the world.

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on February 3rd, 2012

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    14. Some Realities of that Far-off Morning

    14. Some Realities of that Far-off Morning

    What is the secret of this silent and impenetrable tomb? It is a question that presses insistently for an answer, and I propose to discuss it in the present chapter.

    Certain things about this story impress me profoundly. They are not the kind of things that can lightly be set aside as of minor or only relative importance. They belong to the fundamental and bedrock features of the problem. In the first place, whatever the physical or dogmatic consequences may be, I cannot and do not believe that the body of Jesus of Nazareth rested in Joseph’s garden during any part of that period that is contemporary with the rise of Christianity.

    If it could be shown that there was a single document of admittedly early date dealing with the crucifixion and burial of Jesus in which it was even remotely hinted that such was the case, I for one should attach to that hint very considerable weight. It would at least introduce the same kind of uncertainty that exists concerning certain other aspects of the problem. It would provide a peg, however shaky and insecure, on which to hang a doubt. But the documents are adamant on this fundamental feature of the Easter dawn.

  • John MacDuff, Memories of Patmos

    Posted on January 28th, 2012

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    3. The Accessories of the Vision

    3. The Accessories of the Vision

    We pass from the Vision of the Lord Jesus, to a brief consideration of its accompaniments or accessories. These are threefold—The seven Golden Candlesticks: the Stars He holds in His right Hand: and the Keys of Hell (Hades) and of Death.

    THE GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS. This is the first of the many golden emblems we shall meet with in this Book. It unquestionably denotes the Church of Christ. The purest and rarest of the precious metals is taken to symbolize that, whose preciousness can best be estimated by the price paid for its redemption—”Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.” The figure takes us at once back in thought, to the sacred furniture of a now waning, or rather, abrogated dispensation—to the one candlestick, with its branches or lamps, in the Tabernacle of the wilderness and the Holy place of the Temple—reminding us also of the similar beautiful and suggestive vision of the Prophet Zechariah, when he saw the candlestick “all of gold,” with its seven lamps fed from the upper bowl (or reservoir) of olive oil.

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 28th, 2012

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    13. The Witness of the Great Stone

    13. The Witness of the Great Stone

    I suppose that no one can read through the earliest account of the Resurrection as it is given in the Gospel of Mark without being arrested by the extraordinary significance of what we are told about the golal or great stone that, according to the evidence, was placed against the entrance to the grave.

    We are all familiar with the kind of shock a person experiences when he suddenly encounters something for which he is not looking, something which, like the footprint on the sand in Crusoe’s stow, sends the mind swiftly back in search of an explanation. Such an experience, I think, awaits everyone who comes fresh to the story as it is told in Mark, because, contrary to expectation and without searching for it, we are driven by the logic of the facts to investigate another story, told in another Gospel, the story of the guards.

  • John MacDuff, Memories of Patmos

    Posted on January 23rd, 2012

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    2. The Trumpet Voice and Opening Vision

    In the preceding chapter we considered the prologue and dedication of this great Book. He who is alike the Revealer and the Revealed is now to occupy our attention. It is a befitting sequence, to pass from the announcement of the subject, to a description of the adorable Person and character of Him whose tongue of living fire dictates the immediately succeeding letters to the Seven Churches—whose Presence fills every subsequent unfolding of the prophetic roll, and whose glorious Advent is the culminating event—the terminating act of the sacred drama.

    But under what form is this description of the majestic Being, who dwells in inaccessible light, to be brought before His Church? How can even John (though ‘the eagle’ be his traditional symbol) soar upwards on his wings of love and devotion to catch a sight of the Invisible; endure the splendors of the unclouded Sun—and present the result in human words? It cannot be embodied in the usual forms of speech; and, therefore, in accordance with many antecedents in Hebrew history, this revelation of the Person of Christ is to be made, not in earthly language, but by heavenly vision.

  • John MacDuff, Memories of Patmos

    Posted on January 22nd, 2012

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    1. The Scene and Spectator

    1. The Scene and Spectator

    That evening in April can never be forgotten, when sailing through the Archipelago on the way from Palestine to Smyrna, and just as the sun was sinking in subdued splendor over its western rocky ridges, our eyes rested on the Isle of Patmos. Though privileged to enjoy, a few weeks before, the most hallowed associations of all connected with the Apostle of Love, while treading the streets of Jerusalem and the shores of the Lake of Galilee, we had expected to renew these in another form, as we were afterwards permitted to do, amid the desolate ruins of Ephesus, where his own saintly life mellowed by venerable age was closed, and where his Gospel in all probability was written. But sudden and unexpected was this new souvenir of the Gospel era, seeming to rise on the bosom of the deep like one of his own visions. The trail of golden light, brighter had it been seen half an hour before on the molten waters, was yet sufficient irresistibly to recall the description of “the Sea of Glass mingled with fire.”

    The Island itself was obscure, but it took its place thenceforward in the shrine of memory, among the world’s holiest sanctuaries. Our emotions awakened at beholding the exile home of the Beloved Disciple—the very spot where, before the eye of the rapt prophet, there passed the dream of all dreams—”the visions of God”—where the portals of heaven seemed as if they had descended and the gates of pearl had been flung open, while he heard unspeakable things which it is not possible for a man to utter!

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 22nd, 2012

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    12. The Evidence of the Man from Tarsus

    12. The Evidence of the Man from Tarsus

    It is almost impossible to imagine anything more fortunate from a purely historical point of view than the fact that, just at the moment when Christianity was taking the measure of its adversaries, there chanced to come to Jerusalem a young man, who, judged even by high modem standards, can claim to be a very competent and almost impartial observer.

    The name of this young man was Saul. He was a Hebrew of very careful upbringing, intensely zealous in the performance of his religious duties, but with a mind broadened by contact with the wider life and speculative thinking of the Greco-Roman world. He was acquainted with at least some of the writings of Aratus, of Epimenides, and of Menander, as his later speeches show. And he hailed from Tarsus, in Cilicia. The year was about AD. 34.

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 21st, 2012

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    11. The Evidence of the Prisoner’s Brother

    11. The Evidence of the Prisoner’s Brother

    With one single exception, which I shall deal with later, there is nothing in the whole of this strange story that impresses me so profoundly as the part played by the individual known to the ancient church as James, the Lord’s brother, or, alternatively, as James the Just.

    For our knowledge of this man we are not entirely dependent on sources favorable to the Christian faith. Like Pilate and certain outstanding personalities of the early Christian era, he is mentioned by Josephus, a writer notoriously contemptuous of the whole movement. Moreover, some independent details are given by Hegesippus, the father of church history, in some fragments preserved by Eusebius.

    It will be convenient if we trace his record backwards, beginning with the famous paragraph in which Josephus describes his death. The passage from Josephus is as follows:

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 20th, 2012

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    10. The Evidence of the Principle Fisherman

    10. The Evidence of the Principle Fisherman

    There are three men in particular whose testimony concerning this matter, if it could be obtained, would be absolutely final and conclusive. The first is the fisherman, Peter, who himself led the attack on Jerusalem, and who was for several years the unchallenged leader of the movement. The second is the Prisoner’s brother, James the Just, who for some extraordinary reason threw in his lot with the Christians and who ultimately perished for the cause. The third is a certain Saul from Tarsus, who, backed by the full power of the State, tried to smash the movement and was eventually engulfed by it.

    All these three men thus came under the spell of the post-Crucifixion experiences of Christianity. They all suffered the extreme penalty of their convictions after the manner of that barbaric age James in Jerusalem itself Peter and Saul in Rome. If we could learn what each of these outstanding primary witnesses for Christianity believed and taught about the Resurrection, many obscure points in our study would be made clear. Let us consider first the case of Peter.

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 18th, 2012

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    9. The Historic Crux of the Problem

    9. The Historic Crux of the Problem

    Whoever comes to this problem has sooner or later to confront a fact that cannot be explained away or removed by any logical processes whatever. It looks us persistently in the face as the one concrete and unassailably attested certainty of the situation.

    This fact is that, sometime between the close of the thirty-six-hour gap and a period we cannot reasonably place more than six or seven weeks later, a profound conviction came to the little group of people whose behavior we have been considering a change that attests to the fact that Jesus had risen from the grave.

  • Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 15th, 2012

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    8. Between Sunset and Dawn

    8. Between Sunset and Dawn

    It is strange that there is no escaping the clock in all this baffling story of the closing phase of the life of Jesus.

    We saw in an earlier chapter how the inexorable pressure of events precipitated the arrest, forced the hands of the authorities, prolonged the hour of the preliminary hearing, and modified profoundly the character of the Roman trial. It is as though everything in this affair was done under the lash of an invisible taskmaster, from whose decree there was no appeal. So now, whether we realize it at first or not, we shall find the problem steadily narrowing itself down to an investigation of what was happening just outside the walls of Jerusalem about 1,900 years ago between sunset on a certain Saturday and the first streaks of dawn on the following morning. Let us begin by considering in some detail the various hypotheses that have been put forward to account for the facts.

  • Encouragement, Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 10th, 2012

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    7. On The Behavior of Two Sisters…

    7. On The Behavior of Two Sisters…

    Before we can consider what these facts mean, and especially what validity attaches to the various explanations that have been brought forward to account for them, it is necessary to complete the general picture of the historic background that has hitherto engaged our thought.

    We saw in a preceding chapter that the sudden and unexpected arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane late on Thursday night split the little party of His personal adherents into two distinct groups. Throughout the preceding chapters we have been studying in some detail what took place in connection with the smaller of these fragments, the one that was, as it were, marooned or temporarily isolated in Jerusalem itself. We have given comparatively little thought to the larger fragment outside. Yet the behavior of this larger fragment is one of the essential factors of the problem. Is there anything in the documents that throws any light upon this important question?

  • Easter, Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Salvation, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 8th, 2012

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    6. Thirty Six Hours Later

    6. Thirty Six Hours Later

    By all the ordinary standards of human reasoning, the mystery attaching to the person of Christ ought to have terminated with His death and burial. That He really did die in the full physical meaning of that term we have already judged to be one of the certainties of history, and we have seen how a consistent and straightforward account is given of the steps taken to give the body a respectful burial. I cannot personally see anything in the accounts of the crucifixion and burial that is not deeply and profoundly true to expectation. The whole account reads like an actual, unvarnished, and even naïve transcript from real life. Yet when we turn over the page to the events of the succeeding days we run into a situation that, were it not for the complete singularity of certain aspects of the problem, would be utterly unbelievable by any student acquainted alike with history and the conclusions of modern thought.

    It is because I believe there are things lying hidden beneath the surface of the narrative that must profoundly modify the construction we place upon it, that I will ask the reader to consider first the trend of events from about six o’clock on Friday afternoon to the setting out of the little party of women at dawn on Sunday morning.

  • Easter, Frank Morison, Resurrection/Easter, Who Moved The Stone

    Posted on January 5th, 2012

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    5. The Situation on Friday Afternoon

    5. The Situation on Friday Afternoon

    If we are to gain a teal insight into the events immediately following the death of Christ we shall have to begin by studying carefully the situation as it probably existed about four o’clock on Friday afternoon.

    Hitherto we have approached this subject almost exclusively from the official and priestly point of view. That point of view was extremely important in the earlier stages of the case. The prosecution was the priests’, and it was vital to our purpose to know what lay behind it. But with the achievement of their main object, these official representatives of Jewry recede temporarily into the background and a new group of people takes their place. It is with this group the personal friends and adherents of Jesus-that we shall be chiefly concerned in the next two or three chapters. Let us begin by considering who these people were, and what the documents tell us with regard to them.

    If we exclude Mary and Martha of Bethany, and their brother Lazarus, who, for certain reasons that we shall discuss later, are not heard of in connection with the final tragedy, we are left with a group of sixteen persons, all of whom are known to have belonged to the inner circle of Christ’s personal supporters:

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