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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Education / Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20 Welcome Guest
    Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20
          Have you always had questions about different passages and books of the bible? Me too. Let's explore everything together and find out what God's Word actually says. Are you ready for a life-changing experience? Are you? Then come on!
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    Wed, Mar 28th - 6:57AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    "And behold, one came and said to Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  And He said to him, Why call Me good?  there is no one good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments (19:16-17)."

       We need to recognize this young man's approach towards Christ Jesus.  It is one that is prevalent in today's society.  People frequently are more than willing to admit that Jesus was a "good Man."  This is more acceptable to people rather than having to admit that He was/is God Almighty.  This young man refers to Jesus as "Good Master."  The concession is that Jesus is good.  Also, this young man seeks to know the exact "good thing" that he can do in order to enter into heaven.  He is convinced that good works/achievements are what will gain him entrance into eternal life.  
       Jesus responds to this request with a question of His own.  He wishes to know why He is being called "good."  His implied answer within the answer is that He is God and that makes Him good.  Jesus was redirecting the young man's thinking into the direction it ought to have been in from the beginning.

    "He said to Him, Which? Jesus said, You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother: and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  The young man said to Him, All of these things I have kept from my youth to this day: what do I still lack (19:18-20)?"

       This young man had devoutly observed the commandments each and every day of his life, and yet he still recognized that there was a lack in his life.  The commandments given here in this passage compose the last section of the "Decalogue" which deals with a man's relationship to man.  The first section of the commandments have to do with man's relationship with God.  Jesus did not use those since He was leading this young man's thinking in a specific direction.  Having accomplished this goal, Jesus now redirects the man's thinking back to his relationship to God.

    "Jesus said to him, If you will be perfect, go and sell that which you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me (19:21)."

       "If you will be perfect."  The young man was told what he must do in addition to obeying the commandments.  It meant that he would have to change.  It also illustrated that this young man was not keeping the first set of commandments, he was "cherry picking."  We must keep in mind that Jesus was on His way to the cross, this man needed to be willing to follow Him there as well.  This young man was in the same position now as had the fishermen been when Jesus entered their lives' and told them to "Come, and follow Me."

    "But, when the young man heard that saying, he went away unhappy: for he had great amounts of possessions (19:22)."

       The young man's possessions prevented him from going after the Lord.  His wealth had become a stumbling block to gaining eternal life in heaven.  Do not think that wealth is the only thing which can be a stumbling block to our acceptance of the call to follow Christ Jesus.  Perhaps it is our lifestyle choice, or our choice of friends, or our hobbies, or maybe it is even church membership.  Believing that I am a Christian simply because I attend services regularly, give money regularly, and have my name written in the rolls of membership of a church actually keeps me from facing up to my sins.  I feel secure because I have been through the rituals, may even been baptized.  But I am as unconverted as the darkest sinner ever found upon the face of this earth.  I have not come to Christ.  Is there something separating you from Christ?  Is there something over which you are stumbling on your way to the cross of Christ?  Why aren't you following after Christ?  Why do you continue to stubbornly walk your own path in life?  These are questions which all need answering.  

       That is all for early this morning, beloved.  Next time I shall study Jesus' explanation of this incident to His disciples.  The disciples' response ought to cause each of us to pause in what we are doing, and ask ourselves the exact same question.  Grace and peace be yours today!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Sun, Mar 25th - 8:21AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    "His disciples said to Him, If the case of the man so be with his wife, it is not good to marry.  But He said to them, All men can't receive this saying, save those to whom it is given.  For there are some eunuchs, which were born as such from their mother's wombs; and there are some eunuchs, which were made so by men; and there are eunuchs, which have been made eunuchs by themselves for the kingdom of heaven's sake.  He that is able to receive it, let him receive it (19:10-12)."

       The disciples can see that the really quick conclusion is that a man ought not to get married at all, it would be better to remain single.  True, a man would avoid much potential trouble without any question.  But there is more to this than that.  Christ voiced a great principle here, something which Christianity struggles with today.  There are some men and women who do not need to marry.  They get along quite nicely all by themselves.  Singleness comes naturally to them, living apart from having sexual relations with the opposite sex.  This does not mean that homosexuality replaces heterosexuality either.  These people simply are not driven to have sex with anyone.
       Man-made eunuchs can be either through surgery or else by mandate, such as in the Catholic Church.  People in certain positions are not to marry nor have sex of any kind.  This sort of demand/requirement has no basis for being implemented, even though Christ pointed it out here.  
       Finally, there are those people who have voluntarily chosen to not have sex nor become married. For instance, someone who has answered the call to go and become a missionary in a foreign land may choose to sacrifice the chance at becoming married in order that they may go where Christ has opened up the door of service for them.  They make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom.
       So should priests, pastors, ministers, or preachers in general, go out and get married?  It is not up to me to mandate that anyone ought not to be married.  God has already stated here that it is to be left up to the individual.  You and I have to make that choice for ourselves.  Trying to force this choice upon those for whom it will not work only creates huge problems.

    "Then there were brought to Him little children, that He should put His hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and do not forbid them, to come to Me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.  And He laid His hands upon them, and departed there (19:13-15)."

       This passage in no way establishes a doctrine of infant baptism.  It does not establish a doctrine of not having to choose Christ as one's personal Savior.  What it does show us is that there is salvation for children who die before achieving the age of accountability.  It is well known that no child will reject Christ Jesus if He is presented to them on a Biblical basis.  This is why all Christians ought to be striving to get the gospel out to the children.  Would this mean that we could guarantee that everyone would be saved if we were able to present the gospel message to every single child?  No, it would not.  Once each child reaches the age of accountability they must choose what to believe.  Each still must make a decision for or against Christ.  Just because a child makes a choice to believe in Jesus when they are four, five, or six, I can't rest or relax thinking they have been raised in the way that they ought to go.  I must follow through on the initial planting of the seed to find out whether or not it has germinated and is growing strongly.  Rather than arguing and debating upon the street corners with unbelievers each day, we need to be presenting Christ's message of hope to the children.  Why allow them to waste a majority of their live's before stumbling upon the truth?  Let's help them to begin serving Christ for the majority of their live's.
       How incidental could it be that our Lord, having spoken about the issue of divorce, immediately begins speaking about children.  Who gets hurt the most in every divorce?  The children.  A spouse ought not to seek divorce simply because they no longer feel love for their mate if there are also children involved.  Make the marriage work for the sake of the children.  How will the children ever come to Christ if they are forced to experience broken relationships within their very own family?  If they are thrust into turmoil, anger, bitterness, and guilt, how shall they find God?  Christian couples especially need to make every effort to hold their marriage together.  A large percentage of children and young adults from broken homes are in trouble with the police.  They suffer from lack of respect of adults, from unresolved anger, self-esteem, and self-guilt issues.  They "act out" in defiance of authority figures for they have personally experienced the disappointment of their parents' divorce.  How many children of these broken homes will never come to Christ, simply because the actions and choices of their parents have turned them away from God?  Christ did not accidentally tie together divorce and His concern for children. It was quite deliberate.
       My advice to any couple who is pondering getting married is to sit down and ask yourselves "Why do I want to marry this person?"  Am I wanting to marry them because of the great sex we have between us?  This would be a poor criteria for when the sexual dimension ceases to be great, will you still love that other person?  Am I wanting to marry them because they stimulate great debates and discussions intellectually?  Using this criteria isn't quite as poor, but what will you feel towards them when their keen intellect becomes clouded by dementia or Alzheimers?  The question must be "Do I love this person and expect to be their companion for the remainder of my life?"  Am I willing to sacrifice so that I can unconditionally love them?  Am I able to offer them my love without expecting to get something back in return?  Conditional love never lasts.  It puts a price tag upon feelings and creates a manipulative situation.  To agree to exist in such an atmosphere means that you are enabling the manipulator.  You are not experiencing true love in that relationship.  
       Beloved, I shall stop here for today.  Next time I shall look at the rich young ruler who came to Jesus seeking advice.  Until then, grace and peace be with you!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Sun, Mar 25th - 8:20AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    "His disciples said to Him, If the case of the man so be with his wife, it is not good to marry.  But He said to them, All men can't receive this saying, save those to whom it is given.  For there are some eunuchs, which were born as such from their mother's wombs; and there are some eunuchs, which were made so by men; and there are eunuchs, which have been made eunuchs by themselves for the kingdom of heaven's sake.  He that is able to receive it, let him receive it (19:10-12)."

       The disciples can see that the really quick conclusion is that a man ought not to get married at all, it would be better to remain single.  True, a man would avoid much potential trouble without any question.  But there is more to this than that.  Christ voiced a great principle here, something which Christianity struggles with today.  There are some men and women who do not need to marry.  They get along quite nicely all by themselves.  Singleness comes naturally to them, living apart from having sexual relations with the opposite sex.  This does not mean that homosexuality replaces heterosexuality either.  These people simply are not driven to have sex with anyone.
       Man-made eunuchs can be either through surgery or else by mandate, such as in the Catholic Church.  People in certain positions are not to marry nor have sex of any kind.  This sort of demand/requirement has no basis for being implemented, even though Christ pointed it out here.  
       Finally, there are those people who have voluntarily chosen to not have sex nor become married. For instance, someone who has answered the call to go and become a missionary in a foreign land may choose to sacrifice the chance at becoming married in order that they may go where Christ has opened up the door of service for them.  They make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom.
       So should priests, pastors, ministers, or preachers in general, go out and get married?  It is not up to me to mandate that anyone ought not to be married.  God has already stated here that it is to be left up to the individual.  You and I have to make that choice for ourselves.  Trying to force this choice upon those for whom it will not work only creates huge problems.

    "Then there were brought to Him little children, that He should put His hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and do not forbid them, to come to Me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.  And He laid His hands upon them, and departed there (19:13-15)."

       This passage in no way establishes a doctrine of infant baptism.  It does not establish a doctrine of not having to choose Christ as one's personal Savior.  What it does show us is that there is salvation for children who die before achieving the age of accountability.  It is well known that no child will reject Christ Jesus if He is presented to them on a Biblical basis.  This is why all Christians ought to be striving to get the gospel out to the children.  Would this mean that we could guarantee that everyone would be saved if we were able to present the gospel message to every single child?  No, it would not.  Once each child reaches the age of accountability they must choose what to believe.  Each still must make a decision for or against Christ.  Just because a child makes a choice to believe in Jesus when they are four, five, or six, I can't rest or relax thinking they have been raised in the way that they ought to go.  I must follow through on the initial planting of the seed to find out whether or not it has germinated and is growing strongly.  Rather than arguing and debating upon the street corners with unbelievers each day, we need to be presenting Christ's message of hope to the children.  Why allow them to waste a majority of their live's before stumbling upon the truth?  Let's help them to begin serving Christ for the majority of their live's.
       How incidental could it be that our Lord, having spoken about the issue of divorce, immediately begins speaking about children.  Who gets hurt the most in every divorce?  The children.  A spouse ought not to seek divorce simply because they no longer feel love for their mate if there are also children involved.  Make the marriage work for the sake of the children.  How will the children ever come to Christ if they are forced to experience broken relationships within their very own family?  If they are thrust into turmoil, anger, bitterness, and guilt, how shall they find God?  Christian couples especially need to make every effort to hold their marriage together.  A large percentage of children and young adults from broken homes are in trouble with the police.  They suffer from lack of respect of adults, from unresolved anger, self-esteem, and self-guilt issues.  They "act out" in defiance of authority figures for they have personally experienced the disappointment of their parents' divorce.  How many children of these broken homes will never come to Christ, simply because the actions and choices of their parents have turned them away from God?  Christ did not accidentally tie together divorce and His concern for children. It was quite deliberate.
       My advice to any couple who is pondering getting married is to sit down and ask yourselves "Why do I want to marry this person?"  Am I wanting to marry them because of the great sex we have between us?  This would be a poor criteria for when the sexual dimension ceases to be great, will you still love that other person?  Am I wanting to marry them because they stimulate great debates and discussions intellectually?  Using this criteria isn't quite as poor, but what will you feel towards them when their keen intellect becomes clouded by dementia or Alzheimers?  The question must be "Do I love this person and expect to be their companion for the remainder of my life?"  Am I willing to sacrifice so that I can unconditionally love them?  Am I able to offer them my love without expecting to get something back in return?  Conditional love never lasts.  It puts a price tag upon feelings and creates a manipulative situation.  To agree to exist in such an atmosphere means that you are enabling the manipulator.  You are not experiencing true love in that relationship.  
       Beloved, I shall stop here for today.  Next time I shall look at the rich young ruler who came to Jesus seeking advice.  Until then, grace and peace be with you!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Sat, Mar 24th - 11:18AM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    "Guidelines for a Christian marriage"
    First of all, and foundational to a biblical understanding of marriage, is the truth that marriage is a permanent relationship.  In Mark 10:6-7, Jesus said, "From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife." And then in verse nine we read, "What therefore God has joined together, let no one put asunder."
       A second biblical guideline is that marriage is a harmonious partnership.  The Bible speaks of the union of the husband and wife as harmonious.  Jesus said, " And they two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh (Mark 10:8)." 
       I have never known of a broken marriage where the husband and wife had enjoyed a true partnership that had been harmonious and mutually sacrificial.  But God established marriage to be just that, and His Word gives guidelines about how to keep harmony in the home.
       But there is truth that is even greater than the truths that marriage is a permanent relationship and a harmonious partnership.  And that is the biblical teaching that marriage is a spiritual companionship. 
       Christian marriage should be a companionship where each helps the other to grow in Christ.  The Bible tells us that in the marriage relationship, the husband and wife become one.  It is my conviction that that speaks not only of a physical union, but of a spiritual union as well.

                       ~George Sweeting

    "And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, He departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan.  And great multitudes followed Him; and He healed them there(19:1-2)."

       This is what happened right after what Jesus had said during the last part of chapter eighteen.  It actually covers all of chapters 16-18 and what He had preached upon while in Galilee.  Having accomplished what He had wanted to, Jesus then moved south to Judea along the east bank of the Jordan River.  The overall movement physically and spiritually remains geared towards Jerusalem and the cross. 
       We see that immense crowds of people tagged along wherever He went.  Not only did they follow Him but they were obviously the ones in need of healing.  It tells us that Jesus healed them.  It does not say that He healed a few of them or a hundred of them or half of them.  Simply put, He healed them.  All of them.  Again, how could anyone deny these healings done by Christ when there were literally thousands of people walking around the region who had been healed.  And again it clearly shines the revealing flashlight of God upon today's faith healers.  If you are healing people by the power of God you ought to be doing so to all who are in need of it, not just a select handful here and there.

    "The Pharisees also came to Him, tempting Him, and saying to Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause (19:3)?"

       The Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus into giving them an improper answer.  They desperately wanted to paint Him as being in direct opposition to the Mosaic system.  The problem they brought to Him is just as hard today as it was then.  Is it okay for a man to divorce his wife for every conceivable reason? 
       God has given certain things to all of mankind for the welfare of the human race.  He has given marriage for the protection of the home.  Marriage is something which has been given to be a blessing to mankind in a general sense.  Capital punishment has been given to be a protection of a nation, to protect the lives of its citizens.  God also gave the Sabbath law for the protection of the individual, that he/she might have at least one day of rest.  All of these were given by God to protect the individual, the family, and the nation.  God gave these to all mankind. 
       But what about the question concerning marriage?  The Pharisees brought it before Jesus in the context of the nation of Israel.  When we are through considering marriage here in Matthew we must then consider it in the context of Christianity today.  Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife for any reason whatsoever?

    "And He answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female (19:4)."

       Christ referred them back to Genesis, to the very beginning, back to the first marriage of a man and a woman.  The Mosaic Law had permitted divorce on a broad basis: "When a man has taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she finds no favor in his eyes, because he has found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it to her, and send her out of his house (Deuteronomy 24:1)."  As far as the Mosaic Law was concerned, a divorce was not as bad as was marriage to a stranger.  For example, if the priest's daughter married a stranger, she was shut out from the nation Israel.  However, as time went on, the Mosaic Law was made quite meaningless, and the granting of divorce was done on the most frivolous pretexts, such as burning a loaf of bread.  The result was a great deal of discussion relative to divorce in that day.

    "And He said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh?  Thus they no longer are two, but one flesh.  What God has joined together therefore, let no man put asunder (19:5-6)."

       Here was God's original plan for men and women before sin entered into the human race.  Divorce never was in God's original plan.  Why?  Because sin never was in God's original plan, and divorce is always a result of sin.  No matter what you or I may say, there is sin in the relationship somewhere which causes divorce.  Christ forced them back to the original plan of God in order to strip away their veneer of normality concerning divorcement.  Marriage was to be taken seriously, it was a vow taken until death did part the spouses one from another.

    "They said to Him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?  He said to them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so (19:7-8)."

       Why had Moses permitted divorce?  Because of the hardness of their hearts.  Marriage was supposed to be the tenderest and the sweetest of all relationships.  There is nothing else like it in all of the world.  In reality, marriage represents the relationship between Christ and His body of believers.  Only believers in Christ can set forth this high and holy relationship.  But when we fail, and bitterness and hardness of heart enters the picture, then the marriage becomes hollow, a caricature, and it is a mockery of real marriage.  Marriages are either made in heaven or in hell, there is no third option.  When marriage is made in the wrong place it is in trouble from the very outset.  Why else do we witness such a high divorce rate here in America?  People are getting married on the wrong basis.  Even Christians find that marriage becomes a very shaky proposition once God is not a part of it.
       So due to the hardness of the human heart, God permitted divorce.  God is merciful to us.  But His ideal is never divorce.  Today's culture has become extremely lax in the area of marriage.  It is due to the prevailing notion of being "liberated" from antiquated institutions and ideas.  The only problem with this perspective on life is that it ignores the root cause of all of our problems: sin.  Every person on this planet is a sinner.  Since God forgives murderers, He can also forgive divorced people.  But the root cause of divorce is sin.

    "And I say to you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, ans shall marry another, commits adultery: and who ever marries her which is put away commits adultery (19:9)."

       Adultery breaks the marriage relationship and provides the single ground for divorcement.  It makes no difference what sort of person you happen to have married, no adultery occurs then you can't divorce them.  That isn't fair! Right?  Life is not fair beloved.  Perhaps you ought to have reconsidered before jumping into marrying your spouse.  Perhaps you should have really found out what sort of person you were proposing to become yoked to for the remainder of your life.  Today too many people think marriage is like a lunch buffet.  I will try this person for a while, but if something distasteful shows up then I will divorce them and go and try someone else.  This approach cheapens marriage and simply creates broken relationships that must be healed. 
       Divorce was granted for the purpose of permitting the innocent party to remarry.  This rule is applicable to believers; God is not regulating the lives of unbelievers but is holding them to the message of the cross first.  God wants the unbeliever to come to Christ, then they can come under the original plan concerning marriage.  It makes no difference until a person accepts Christ.  Until that time a person is spiritually lost whether they are married, divorced, or single.   Adultery is the only grounds for divorce in a Christian marriage.
      
       That is all for this last day of our week.  I hope that you find something of value in today's posting.  The important thing to see in this beginning of chapter nineteen is that Christ accurately placed His finger upon the reason why so many marriages are failing today.  People enter into them not really believing that they will last for their entire lives.  They might hope they will, but they do not go into them with such an expectation.  Too many people enter into marriage believing that once married they will be able to change their spouse into the sort of person that they would like to be married to.  This is a deadly mistake that is always doomed to failure and divorce.  Only God is able to change people, better to take your prayers to Him.  I hope that you have a wonderful day.  Grace and peace of God be yours today!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Fri, Mar 23rd - 6:07PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    "Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times (18:21)?"  

       I would bet anything that Peter thought that he was being very generous in offering up seven times worth of forgiveness.  It sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  According to their rabbi they only had to forgive someone two or three times.  Peter was more than doubling it!  Peter's generosity was meager once compared to the new dispensation given by Jesus.

    "Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven (18:22)."

       Four hundred ninety times!  I can picture Simon Peter's jaw dropping open in disbelief and shock.  Why so many times?  Perhaps by that time things may be fairly well worked out between the two people.  If not, both individuals would have reached old age and the issue wouldn't amount to much anyway!  Such a high number presses home God's point here.  I am to be willing to forgive a fellow believer whenever he/she sins against me.  I do not have the option to refuse to forgive simply because they do not ask for the forgiveness.  If I refuse to forgive them, then God has said that He will not forgive me either!  It is then in my best interests to forgive others.  

    "Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened to a certain king, which would take account of his servants.  And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought to him, which owed him ten thousand talents.  But since he had nothing with which to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.  The servant therefore fell down, and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you all that I owe. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt (18:23-27)."

       It would appear that this servant proposed the installment plan!  But the amount of money owed to this lord was the equivalent of 12 million dollars today, in essence, it could never be paid back.  This illustration is given to show us that our debt to God is unpayable as well.  God was moved with compassion, came down here, and loosed all of us from the debt sin had laid upon us all, and forgave us.  We just have to choose to accept God's gift.

    "But, the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him a hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe me (18:28)!"

       A hundred pence amounts to about seventeen dollars today.  We have an unforgiving man presented to us here!  He who was forgiven much ought to have been more than willing to forgive another of a much lesser amount.  Please take careful note of the outcome of being unwilling to forgive others.

    "And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and begged him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay all of it back to you.  And he would not have patience with him: but went and cast him into prison until he would pay the debt in whole.  So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told their lord all that had happened.  Then his lord, after that he had called him, said to him, O you wicked servant, I forgave you all of that debt, because you desired me: Should not you also have had compassion on your fellow-servant, even as I had pity on you?  And his lord was angered, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to his lord.  So likewise shall My heavenly Father do to you, if you refuse to forgive your brother their trespasses against you (18:29-35)."

       This parable of the servant, who was previously forgiven but then refused to forgive another, illustrates the principle of forgiveness.  It is newly presented in this passage, but it is not quite the basis of forgiveness for believers which is set out in Ephesians 4:32---"And you be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you."  Because God has forgiven us, we are then to forgive each other.  Thankfully, God does not forgive us the same way in which we tend to forgive others.  If He did, none of us would ever be forgiven.  Once we have become children of God, because we have been forgiven by God, we are to then forgive others.  It is a principle tenet of Christian conduct.  

       Well, we have reached the end of chapter eighteen in Matthew.  Now we shall turn to the next chapter, which presents to us Jesus entering Judea proclaiming God's standard for marriage and the only grounds for divorce.  Jesus also will be found blessing the little children, meeting a rich young ruler, and appointing the apostles to their position in the coming kingdom.  But that is for next time!
    I hope that all of you are continuing to prepare your hearts for the upcoming Passion week which will lead all of us into Easter.  May grace and peace govern you day!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Wed, Mar 21st - 7:22PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish (18:14)."

       The word over which many stumble is "perish."  This word is translated from the Greek appolumi which can mean any of the below:
    1. to destroy
      1. to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to, ruin
      2. render useless
      3. to kill
      4. to declare that one must be put to death
      5. metaph. to devote or give over to eternal misery in hell
      6. to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed
    2. to destroy
      1. to lose
       As can be readily seen, it can mean a rather broad range of things.  In speaking of little children Christ appears to mean "to be lost, ruined, rendered useless."  God repeatedly speaks of utensils that have been set aside to be used in service of God becoming unclean and useless.  He also speaks about people in a very similar sense when pointing out that a person is clothed in unclean rags and reeks of the grave and is not of any use in serving God.  Up until the age of accountability God takes personal care of the souls of children.  But after that, parent, you had better of been instructing your child in the way that they ought to go because they shall become responsible for their choices in life.  If they choose to lash out physically and assault another without cause, then they shall be held accountable for their actions by God.  It will do no good to claim that you were merely protecting/defending your friend from being harassed.  Physical assault is wrong.  
       The problem today in our public school systems is that our children are being used as human guinea pigs for humanistic philosophy that is seeking a way to change our society from the inside out.  Young people have been paying an awful price in our contemporary classrooms.  It is now showing up in young adults and how they conduct themselves in the business world.

    "Moreover if your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone: if he shall hear you, you have gained your brother (18:15)."

       If anyone sins against me, I am to go to that person by myself.  "Brother" here represents a fellow believer in Christ.  The obligation is upon the one who has been injured to approach his/her brother/sister who has offended him/her.  It is not to be done out in public but in private.  If that person hears, understands, and apologizes to me then I have gained that person back into fellowship with me.  I am to engage them in a dialogue in which I use scripture to point out to them that what they said or did was uncalled for, caused me to stumble in my spiritual walk, or caused much embarassment to me.  

    "But if he will not hear you, then take one or two more with you, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be to you as a heathen person and a publican (18:16-17)."

       Perhaps we have too many people in the church today who do not like to deal with conflict and instead they smother trouble and cover it up.  It simply is not the way Christ Jesus tells us to handle it.  Whenever there is a problem between two believers, it ought to be worked out between the two of them.  If that does not work out, then find two a couple of other believers to go with you to try and resolve the issue; the extra people are witnesses so that this does not devolve into "I say, you say."  Few churches really want to go this far today from what I have seen.  Confrontation and conflict resolution appear to quite weak in today's church.  People would rather become offended, leave the church, and go find another church where they believe that they will never be offended again.  Nice thought, but the reality is that offenses will find you anywhere that you happen to go.  After all, we are simply imperfect human beings.  If the issue still can't be ironed out and you don't receive an apology that allows you to forgive them, then the issue is to be taken before the entire congregation in the church.  The church is the final authority on these matters.  It is no light matter to be brought before the whole congregation in order that a conflict may be resolved.  

    "Truly I say to you, Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (18:18)."

       Previously we studied in chapter 16 verse sixteen this same concept of binding and loosing.  There it was evident that it alluded to the giving out of God's Word or the withholding of it.  But here binding and loosing is spoken of in connection with resolving offenses before the whole congregation of believers.  I feel this speaks of the congregation deciding to remove someone from their fellowship if they refuse to repent of offending another member, they have been loosed from the congregation here on earth and thus in heaven they will be loosed from the family of God.  I suppose this is where the Catholic Church arrived at excommunication, but I may be wrong.  

    "Again I say to you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them (18:19-20)."

       Does Jesus really mean that if you and I agree on anything that He will do it?  Yes, but we must also notice the condition: "where two or three are gathered together in My name."  God will hear any request made in the name of Christ Jesus, that is, a request that Christ Himself would make.  We could also say that asking in His name is asking in God's will.
       Verse twenty illustrates the simplest form of church government.  Whereas verse nineteen is a new basis for prayer, so then is verse twenty a new basis for the visible church.  When believers gather together they must remain aware of the fact that Christ is present in the middle of their gathering, watching, listening, and waiting to be included in all that we do.

       That is all for tonight beloved.  Next time I shall look at Jesus' new methodology for forgiveness.  It is revolutionary even today in the church.  Until then, grace and peace be with you all in this week of Lent.  Continue to prepare your heart for the Passion Week leading up to Easter.  Search your heart for any sins that need to be repented of.  Now is the time to cleanse yourself, not on Easter Sunday morn!  

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Mar 19th - 7:03PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



       My apologies for being away from this study so long!  It has been a quick twelve days.  But let's get back to it, and move forward.  If you recall, Paul had mentioned in I Timothy 3:6 that leaders of the church ought not be novices to the faith.  This is a good rule of thumb for it is very easy to become prideful when you are lifted up and become praised for what you are doing.  It is therefore quite necessary to seek out someone who is more mature in their faith, less able to be seduced by Satan and his wiles.  So let's begin today with verse four of chapter eighteen of Matthew.

    "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receives Me.  But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck,and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (18:4-6)."

       When we emphasize the entrance into the kingdom, the new birth, then we find that the person who humbles themself as a little child is the one who is greatest of all in the kingdom.  Christ went on to point out that whoever receives one of these children in Christ's name is also receiving Christ as well.  He was not simply speaking about immature people, children, but He was also using this to illustrate new born again believers in Him.  

       We find the term "offend" in verse five.  This word means "to cause to stumble"; in other words, to lead into sin.  Jesus warns us in no uncertain terms to beware leading little children away from God.  The evangelism of children is a high priority, a divine imperative.  Therefore anyone who today works with children in Christian ministry is to be highly commended.

       A story is told of Dwight L. Moody concerning his coming home one night after a meeting.  His family asked him how many converts he had had that night.  He replied, "Two and half."  His family mistakenly thought that he meant two adults and one child.  But he corrected them by saying that two children and one adult had accepted the Lord that night.  The adult was an old man who had already lived half of his life before coming to the Lord while the children had their entire lives ahead of them in which to serve Christ.  

    "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence comes!  Wherefore if your hand or your foot offends you, cut them off, and cast them from you: it is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.  And if your eye offend you, pluck it out and cast it from you: it is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire (18:7-9)."

       Such harsh words coming from that loving, compassionate, humble, Jesus!  We must be fully prepared to accept the entire package that is Christ Jesus and not try to cherrypick only the parts of Jesus which we find pleasing.  

    "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I say to you, That in heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven (18:10)."

       When one of these children dies his/her immortal soul immediately goes to Paradise.  I have my reasons for believing that Paradise still exists and that that is where believers' souls go upon death.  One is that we are informed that at the time of being called out of this world, the dead in Christ shall rise first and then the living.  If Paradise did not still exist, then why would the dead in Christ rise from the earth?  But at any rate, when children die they go to Paradise to await the call from heaven to rise.  They shall all enter into the kingdom of heaven.  So, if you have lost a child through accident, disease, or whatever, please be assured that your child will be with God in heaven once they are called by Christ to arise.  

       King David knew about this outcome.  When his infant son by Bathsheba fell deathly ill, he was greatly upset about the life of his child.  This is recorded in II Samuel 12:15-23.  He fasted and wept and prayed and lay all night upon the earth.  But when the child finally died, David arose, bathed, changed into clean clothes, and went into the house of God and worshiped Him.  Everyone was baffled by his behavior.  What was David's response?  While the child was still alive I tried to intervene upon his behalf before God.  But now that he has died, can I do anything to bring him back?  No, fasting and weeping will do me no good at all.  I shall go to him one day in the future, but he shall not return here to me.  The king had the confidence that one day he would get to see his son again, in heaven.  

       Today we must stop and take note of God's feelings about children.  Today we allow all sorts of crimes to be committed against our children.  People stuff them into closets because they have not acted perfectly.  Or they are left along the roadside of an interstate in the middle of the night.  Perhaps they get imprisoned in the basement in order to prevent them from becoming corrupted by the outside world.  We are all shocked and dismayed when we either read about these incidents in the papers or see them on the nightly news programs.  How can anyone treat a child in such cruel fashion?  Some people then say that there can't possibly be a hell, but I would point out that there ought to be one for people such as these!  And in fact, there is a hell.  Christ uses the strongest language possible in warning us about offenses against children.  Children are unable to defend themselves against adults, they are unable to properly process what they are forced to experience in highly stressful situations like these.  They are therefore forced to survive through their own minds taking steps to defend their sanity.  Sometimes the mental defense works successfully, but far too many times it fails and the child becomes damaged psychologically.

    "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.  How do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them strays off, does he not heave the ninety and nine, and go into the mountains, and seeks that which has gone astray?  And if he does find it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety and nine which did not stray away (18:11-13)."

       This parable is different from the one found in Luke 15.  The key to this parable is the word save.  In Luke the key word is find.  One instance it is of finding the lost and in the other it is about saving the lost.  God rejoices more in finding the lost souls than He does in those already in the fold for they can then become saved and rejoin the fold.

       There is more to this concept, but it is for tomorrow.  Until then, God willing, grace and peace flood your heart and your life!  Listen for that small quiet voice coming from behind you saying, "Here, this is the way!  Follow and do not depart from it, neither to the left or to the right!"  Peace be with you all.

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Mar 7th - 9:13PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    "And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doesn't your master pay tribute?  He said, Yes.  And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What are you thinking, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children or of strangers?  Peter said to Him, Of strangers.  Jesus said to him, Then are the children free.  Notwithstanding, unless we should offend them, you go to the sea, and cast out a hook, and take up the fish that first comes up; and when you have opened his mouth, you shall find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you (17:24-27)."

       "Tribute" was like a tax, and it was collected annually in support of the Temple.  Jesus here stopped Peter from going and getting some of their own money to give as tribute.  Jesus used the example of royal families not having to pay taxes for they were exempt.  So too, He would not be obligated to pay for the support of the Temple since He was the Son of God.  

       Jesus's method of securing the tax money was most certainly unique.  Through this episode Christ demonstrates that He has recovered all that Adam had lost.  The created organisms were obedient to Him.  The fish as well as Peter followed His command.  As far as we can ascertain, God had given Adam the same dominion over all of creation, but he lost it with his fall from grace.  "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth (Genesis 1:26)."  

       In the transfiguration upon the mount we see man restored to his original purpose.  In this episode of the tribute money we see man restored to his original performance.

       That completes chapter seventeen.  We have learned much useful information, and must absorb it and synthesize some conclusions of our own.  Whatever we do choose to conclude, it must always be compared against the rest of God's Word to see if it remains consistent with what God has given to us and remains consistent with God's own nature.

       Now we begin chapter eighteen which ought to provide us with some answers to our questions which inevitably arise after reading chapter thirteen with its Mystery Parable Discourse which gave us an overall outline of the kingdom of heaven in our present age.  How essential is the new birth to entering the kingdom of heaven?  Let's find out.

    "At the same time came the disciples to Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  And Jesus called a little child to Him, and set him in the midst of them.  And said, Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (18:1-3)."

       How much ambition do you think was beginning to seep into the minds of the disciples?  Perhaps they had begun to think that a handful of them were preferred over the remainder?  Surely they ought to be held in higher esteem by the Christ?  

       The example of the little child tells all of us that he came to the Lord without hesitation.  The children would willingly come to Christ, it was the adults who would prevent them and forbid them to go near Christ.  Then, Jesus tweaks the example.  Unless adults become willing to come to Him as if they were children they would not be able to ever enter into the kingdom of heaven.  I am well aware of the fact that atheists claim that this passage clearly teaches that we all must become children all over again and not question what we are being told.  That we are to simply become puppets of our "sky-Daddy."  This a gross misunderstanding of what is being taught to us here.  We must remember that Jesus is talking about conversion not reversion.  We aren't to become juvenile in our actions in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus is not talking about going back to some previous life but about moving on to a new life in Him.  Rather than focus upon achieving some exalted position in the kingdom, all of us need to focus our attention upon the primary importance of securing entrance into that kingdom.  This is every bit as radical as that found in John 3:3.  The new birth is emphasized here over and above position within the kingdom.  In order to become born again spiritually you must come to Christ just as if you were a child full of trust and belief.  Becoming born again causes you to look at things in a fresh sense, just like when you were a child.  Just as we mature physically during our lifetimes, so too we must mature spiritually during our Christian lifetimes and can't remain babes sucking upon the formula bottle. 

       Unfortunately, there are far too many Christians today who are unable to recognize their spiritual immaturity.  Can babies become officers of the congregation?  Ought they to be elders, deacons, pastors, or youth pastors?  The apostle Paul has listed qualifications for the office of bishop/elder within the church (I Timothy 3:6).  We need to rely upon wisdom, upon the Holy Spirit to reveal to us who is mature enough to handle the position of a leader within the body of believers.  

       Well, that is all for tonight beloved!  I shall continue this study this week and hopefully we will uncover answers to some of our questions concerning the kingdom of heaven and how it is that we can gain entrance into it.  Grace and peace be with you all as we continue our journey through the Lenten season.

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Mar 3rd - 2:31PM

    STUDY IN MATTHEW



    "And His disciples asked Him, saying, Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?  And Jesus answered and said to them, Elijah truly shall come first, and restore all things.  But I say to you, that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done to him whatsoever they listed.  Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them (17:10-12)."

       This confirms what was said in the prophecy of Malachi.  Was this John the Baptist?  Recall that back in chapter twelve I already covered this.  Jesus is laying the groundwork here to forestall any future argument that He had to die on the cross because John the Baptist was not Elijah and that Elijah must come before Christ returns to establish His heavenly kingdom on earth.  Christ is telling them here that if they accept Him as King then John the Baptist is Elijah.  Just as the Baptist suffered at the hands of the rulers of their day, so too would Jesus have to suffer. 

    "Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.  And when they were come to the multitude, there came to men a certain man, kneeling down to Him, and said, Lord have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sorely vexed: for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water.  And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him (17:13-16)."

       This had been a kingdom of heaven situation shown to the selected three disciples.  Where does the Church fit into it?  But now we must travel with these individuals down to the foot of the mountain where the other remaining disciples were faced with a rather large problem. 

       Obviously this was the worst case which had been brought to the attention of Jesus.  It was sad because His disciples were unable to help relieve the young man of his lunacy, they were impotent.  Here is a picture of today's church in a world that is demon-possessed and is steadily going crazy.  Why is the church impotent in this crazy world of ours?  Is it because it does not have enough psychology or enough methods or enough money?  It has all of these things, but they are not what the church needs to heal people.  Here in the above passage comes a man who is forced to say that Christ's disciples could not heal his boy. 

    "Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?  how long shall I suffer you? bring him here to Me(17:17)."

       Christ Jesus would use these exact same words today to this generation of people and especially to the church.  People today are faithless and perverse in their behavior. How long shall people continue to believe that they can come to Christ and remain unchanged?  How long shall people claim that there is very little that they can do in the face of tremendous odds?  As long as they labor under their own efforts and refuse to recognize the Holy Spirit and accept the power of the Living God, as long as they do this they shall not be able to do anything for God that is out of the ordinary. 

    "And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured in that very hour.  Then the disciples came to Jesus apart from the multitude, and said, Why couldn't we cast him out?  And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief: for truly I say to you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from here to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you (17:18-20)."

       First Christ rebuked His disciples, and then He rebuked the devil in this young child.  Christ informs all of us here that as long as we remain in God's will nothing will be impossible to accomplish.  It was God's will that this boy be delivered from demon possession.  Why couldn't the disciples drive this demon out of the boy?  Simply because they did not believe?

    "However this kind of demon does not leave a person except by prayer and fasting (17:21),"

      Frequently it can be read where "experts" claim that this verse ought not to be included in the Bible because it does not appear in the "better" manuscripts.  How are these manuscripts defined as being better?  Simply that they are older than the others.  Older is not always better, especially if it is inconsistent.  Here we find that in order to effectively face down strong demons and cast them out of people we must have properly prepared ourselves ahead of time through prayer and fasting.  It requires communing with God and forcing all temptations to the farthest edges of our lives.  It requires fervent and continuous prayer time before the throne of God.  One can't simply answer a knock on one's door, leave what you are currently doing, and go and cast out a demon from someone.  That is pure Hollywood fantasy.

    "And while they stayed in Galilee, Jesus said to them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:  And they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall be raised again.  And they were all exceeding sorry (17:22-23)."

       For the third time Jesus reminds His disciples that He would die and be raised again from the dead.  The first time that He mentioned it was when they all were in Caesarea Philippi.  Here He is on His way to Jerusalem and He mentions it to them again.  What is the response of the disciples?  They felt sorry! 

       We see here that Christ was well aware of what was goin on all around Him.  He knew who would betray Him at the appointed time, He knew the appointed time, He also knew that He must not deviate one step to the left or to the right of His path to the cross at Calvary.  He remained faithful and obedient to God the Father in heaven.

      That is all for today in this study beloved.  Next time I shall turn to a parable that Jesus gave so that we all could discover that He had reached the point where He had effectively recovered all that which Adam had lost in the Fall from grace.  Until then, may God bless you and keep you from all harm. 

    ~Eric



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    About Me

    Name: Eric Rajaniemi
    ChristiansUnite ID: ejroyal
    Member Since: 2007-09-08
    Location: Bedford, Virginia, United States
    Denomination: Born-again, Church of the Brethren
    About Me: I refrain from any denomination as much as possible since my faith has to do with Jesus Christ and not denominations. My wife and I are charter members of Lake Side Church of the Brethren for they desire to follow the New Testament precepts. We hav... more

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