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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
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    Sat, Mar 21st - 11:08AM


    "And He came out, and went, as He was used to doing, to the mount of Olives and His disciples also followed Him.  And when He was at the place, He said to them, Pray that you do not enter into temptation.  And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and kneeled down, and prayed.  Saying, Father, if You be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.  And there appeared an angel from heaven, come to strengthen Him.  And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  And when He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow.  And said to them, Why do you sleep? rise and pray, otherwise you might enter into temptation (22:36-46).'

       Jesus Christ regularly spent the evening in the mount of Olives praying whenever He was in Jerusalem.  This particular time He asked His Father in heaven to please remove the cup of His wrath from Jesus' near future.  The "cup" was the judgment of mankind's sins.  Jesus bore the weight of His own cup of suffering.  His human nature dreaded the thought of the coming crucifixion, He, like any child, cried out to His Father in brokenness and dependency, knowing that the Father would hear Him and turn to help Him.  Jesus asked God to remove the cup for He did not desire to be separated from God, even for a short period of time.  His divine nature and will is also clearly seen in this passage.  Jesus' first impulse is a struggle of His personal will, coming from His flesh, to escape the cup of separation from God.  His second impulse came from His divine nature; not to do His will but that of His Father in heaven.  Jesus' surrender to do God's perfect will was critical in that Garden, and so it is with each and every believer in Him ever since.  Each of us must surrender our will to His.  Jesus surrendered to become the Ideal Man, the Ideal Sacrifice for all of mankind's sins. 

        Christ did not fear the approach of His death upon the cross.  This is seen clearly in John 10:17-18.  Christ knew He would die from the moment He was born in human flesh, for that is why He came from heaven to earth.  He did this to show all people the way to God.  The cup He spoke of is referred to several ways.  It is called the cup of the Lord's fury (Isaiah 51:17).  It is associated with suffering and God's wrath (Psalm 11:6; Isaiah 51:17; Luke 22:42).  It is also associated with salvation.  Because Jesus drank the cup of suffering and wrath for us, we can take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord (Psalm 116:13).  Jesus bears the judgment of God for the sins of all people who have ever lived or will live.

       Jesus is seen to have prayed more earnestly, more intensely.  He sweat great drops of perspiration, like they were drops of blood.  Words can't properly express exactly what Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane.  We can pretty much assume that it was full of emotional and mental agony at His approaching death.  There was also the physical experience of death while being the Son of God.  We are told that the wages of sin is death, and that that death will be eternal.  There isn't extinction into nothingness as many attempt to claim and support.  There was also the spiritual experience of death while being the Son of Man.  What is it like to be without any sin?  To be sinless?  Somehow God made Jesus into sin for each of us.  What is it like to bear all of the sins of the entire world?  What is it like to be sinless and then have all of the sins of the world placed within you?  Jesus became the Ideal Sin-Bearer once upon that wooden cross.  What must it be like to be separated from God when you have never been separated from Him before? 

       When Jesus finished praying alone, He got up and returned to the disciples to find them all asleep.  Jesus had specifically told them to watch and to pray.  He had warned them all of Satan's intentions.  Jesus warned of the flesh and its inherent weakness.  Obviously the disciples fell asleep dut to the stress and strain from the emotional distress of that evening.  We must see that watchfulness and prayer bear testimony to God.  When people watch and pray, they demonstrate that dependency and trust in God are well founded.  When God answers prayers He demonstrates that He loves and delivers those who truly look up to Him.  The disciples' spirits were not alive and alert enough to overcome the flesh.  How are we doing today?  Do we allow our flesh to control our thoughts, speech, and actions?  Do we watch and pray?  Do we remain alert?  Do we believe God when He tells us that Satan is prowling about seeking whom he can devour? 



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    Wed, Mar 18th - 8:08PM


    "And he said to Him, Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison, and to death. And He said to him, I tell you, Peter, the cock shall not drow this day until you shall deny that you know Me.  And He said to them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, did you lack anything?  And they replied, Nothing.  Then He said to them, But now, he that has a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that has no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.  For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in Me, And He was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning Me have an end.  And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords.  And He said to them, It is enough (22:33+38)."

       If Satan is so intent upon ruining our relationship with God, what in the world can we do to prevent his attacks? 

    1)  Prevention #1: Knowing the difference between a carnal and a spiritual commitment.  Peter immediately declared his loyalty to Christ.  He did not know the difference between a carnal and spiritual commitment to God.  Here are three differences:

    a.  Between purposes and desires; carnal purposes and desires are to have earthly and material things.  Spiritual purposes and desires are to have spiritual and heavenly things.  Peter was committed to Jesus in the establishment of an earthly kingdom.  That was what he expected, what he probably wanted as well.  He was ready to die in combat against Rome.  All of this sort of thinking was to be put in limbo when Christ gets arrested, tried, and crucified.  Succumbing to temptation was inevitable in Peter's case.  He could not see any way possible for himself to be seated at either the right or left hand of God's throne.  Succombing to temptation was not due to lack of commitment, it was due to wrong purpose and motives for committing himself to Christ.

    b.  There is a difference between seeing and being blind to the cross on Calvary.  Carnal commitment ignores or rejects or spiritualizes the real meaning of the cross.  Spiritual commitment sees the cross and leads a person to crucify his/her flesh by the cross.  Peter's overconfidence was caused by being blind to the cross.  It was Jesus hanging upon the cross that was going to force Peter to deny Christ.  Jesus had already told Peter all about the cross; but Peter had refused to believe what he heard.  It was simply beyond his limited comprehension and experience. 

    c.   There is a difference between knowing and not knowing the weakness of the human flesh.  Peter boasted confidence in himself, in his capabilities, in his own natural strength.  In his natural strength he was spiritually weak.  The need for Christ's strength, the presence of the Holy Spirit to conquer self and evil was the great lesson Peter had to learn.  Peter and the other disciples had to learn to trust the strength of Christ, not their own flesh, not if they wished to please God and to be acceptable to Him.  Just as we must learn to do exactly the same today, beloved. 

    2)  Prevention #2: Not forgetting Christ Jesus' resources.  They had been reminded of how God had taken care of them when He sent them out to preach.  God provided everything they needed.  So, do not forget God's glorious provisions when Satan attacks.

    3)  Prevention #3: Knowing that very difficult days lie ahead.  Christ warned of the perilous days that lay immediately ahead of the disciples and the need for them to prepare for those dark days.  Jesus spoke of spiritual warfare and spiritual preparation.  Two things were to happen to the followers of the Lord:

    a.  Their friends were to forsake them,  They would have to earn their own livelihood while preaching and ministering.  They would now need to have purses and money.  Not many people would help them nor provide housing or upkeep; no one would come to free them to preach the gospel or minister.

    b.  Their enemies would be fierce. Jesus was not telling His disciples to arm themselves.  He was simply using symbolic language to stress a spiritual truth.  The persecution they were to soon face would be so fierce that they must clothe themselves with courage, the kind of courage that is determined to stand and conquer, that considers a weapon more important than clothing, that gives up its last possession before surrendering.  We must not forget that this "sword" spoken of by Christ is nothing other than the Word of God which is a sharp two-edged sword that cuts both ways. 

    4)   Prevention #4: Knowing that Jesus is the Suffering Servant of God.  Jesus Himself said:

    a.  The Scripture included prophecies of Him and they "must yet be accomplished in Me."  He was claiming deity, to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  He was claiming that the prophecy of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 concerned Him. 

    b.  He was to be reckoned and counted among the transgressors.  This meant that God the Father was to look at Him and count Him as a sinner just like all other people.  He was to become one with man even in sin, yet He was to be without sin.  Why?  So that He could take the place on the cross of sinful men, bearing their sins in their stead.  He was to become the substitute for men in bearing both their sins and the guilt and judgment of their sin. 

    c.  The things concerning Him "have an end (Greek: telos echei)."  This Greek word means an accomplishment, fulfillment, completion.  Christ would fulfill Isaiah 53 and man's salvation would be finally settled, finished.  He proclaimed upon the cross "It is finished!" and then bow His head and gave up the Spirit. 

       It must be concluded that the disciples did not understand what was going on and what was about to happen.  The clearly given warning was not grasped.  They were still thought in terms of an earthly Messiah ruling from David's throne in Jerusalem.  A Messiah who obviously needed their help in the fight against the ungodly Romans.  They still refused to accept the spiritual kingdom of the Messiah.  Jesus' words "it is enought" did not mean that two swords were enough, but that it was enough of this kind of talk.  Do we continue to wrestle with the same kind of issues today?  Do we believe that God needs our help in bringing about His kingdom here on earth?  Do we believe that we must pick up arms and physically coerce unbelievers to accept Christ?  Do we struggle to accept that Christ died in our place upon that old, rugged, cross?  Do we believe that we must lay our burdens at His feet and allow Him to carry those burdens?  Do we believe that we must work to support ourselves while we minister and preach?  Do we believe that we must blow up our opponents?  Do we believe that Christ is not trustworthy, that it is okay to reject portions of His Word?  Important questions for evey person who claims to be a Christian.

    Grace and peace be yours!


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    Mon, Mar 9th - 9:03PM


    "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith not fail: and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers and sisters (22:31-32)."

       Right away, Jesus informs Simon Peter that he is involved in a spiritual war.  The struggle is not simply a physical one, it is spiritually initiated.  Satan's desire is to sift believers, to separate them from God.  A lot is revealed to us about temptation.  "You" in  Greek is plural, pointing to the fact that Satan desires to tempt all believers.  Peter was a leader of the group of disciples so Jesus warned him that he would go beyond desertion of Christ and actually deny even knowing Christ.  "Desired" in the Greek means to beg for something, to obtain by asking.  Jesus pictured Satan as begging permission of God to tempt the disciples.  This is a continuation of what is found in the book of Job.  Nothing goes on in the universe unless God allows it, even temptation and suffering.  What we learn in these two verses is that Satan is still subject to God's will.  Satan can't tempt believers unless God chooses to allow it to happen.  In Matthew 6:13 we find this concept as well: "Deliver us from the evil one."  The word "sift" means to shake, to sift in a sieve in order to separate the good grain from the chaff. Satan desires to shake believers, to test and to try them in order to prove they are not genuine believers in Christ.  He seeks to disgrace God by proving their disloyalty.  

       Satan's primary purpose in temptation is to disgrace and cut the heart of God.  He challenges God to remove the sense of His presence and His blessings from the believer.  Satan feels that the believer will fall and turn from God.  Satan believes that the believer will not stand by faith alone through trial after trial.  Satan seems to think that believers only love God for what they get out of God, not for God Himself.  Why is this entire discussion important?  It is important due to the fact that Jesus was about to remove Himself from the disciples.  He was going to die.  The disciples were stuck on thinking in terms of a physical kingdom and material rewards.  We must also recall that they did not yet know the full meaning of the cross and resurrection.  They were living through all of these incredible events and trying to make sense of them.  Their love and devotion of Christ ran deep.  They did repent, returning and committing their lives to Christ Jesus and the Way.  Satan's efforts ought to drive us to stand firm through all temptation, no matter what the cost.  We must stand on our faith in the power and authority of God.

       What was the purpose of Christ speaking to Peter in such fashion?  He was showing that He had already been Peter's advocate before God when Satan came to accuse him of being false.  Jesus prayed that Peter's faith would not crumble and fail under Satan's assault.  Stumbling and falling is a part of spiritual life, but the faithful believer must continually keep getting up and walking in faith after Christ.  Christ spoke of a conversion to take place at some point in the future.  Epistrepho means to turn around, to turn back to, to turn again.  The believer is to repent, turn back to God after turning away from sin. This conversion must take place, as Jesus stated in scripture: "And said, Verily I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3)."  "Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19)."  The believer is to strengthen his brothers once he/she has returned to God.  Take what has been learned from falling spiritually and teach others how to avoid it.  Teach others how to find the mercy of God, strengthen the faith of others, and generally assist others to repent of sin. 

    Grace and peace be yours, beloved!


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    Sun, Mar 8th - 10:09PM


    "And there was also a striving among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.  And Jesus said to them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.  But you shall not conduct yourselves thus: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that does serve.  For which is greater, he that sits at the dinner table, or he that serves? is not he that sits at the table? but I am among you as He that serves.  You are the ones which have continued with Me inMy temptation. And I appoint to you a kingdom, as My Father has appointed to Me; That you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (22:24-30)."  

       Please take notice of the fact that the disciples were no different than any of us, at this particular time.  They argued about who was to sit at the right and left hand sides of Christ Jesus in the kingdom of heaven.  They were thinking of earthly kingdoms and positions of authority and prestige.  It was what they had been raised in to expect from those all around them.  It is how the ruling council, the Sanhedrin, conducted themselves.  The word "strife" (philoneikia) means being eager and ready to argue and contend; being alert to strive for one's position.  We get the feeling that there is to be no giving of ground, of standing up no matter what, of being stubborn, of resisting changing one's mind no matter the circumstances.  Obviously the disciples still thought of the coming kingdom in physical terms.  They thought Jesus would rise up and defeat the Romans and free their land of persecution and occupation by Gentiles, establishing the Messianic kingdom in Israel as prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures.  All of this striving apparently took place while they all were still in the upper room for the Passover feast.  The disciples were seeking to establish their positions now, before Christ came into ruling the world from Jerusalem.  They were a reflection of how the world approaches the term "greatness."

       The world's thoughts on greatness encompass two key concepts:
    (1) The concept that greatness is holding authority over people or lording it over people: holding position and authority, influence and power, rank and dominion, money and property.  People seek position and wealth for the sake of gaining power and influence over others.  They simply want to rule or manage people, exercise authority over them, and control their lives in as many ways as possible.
    (2) There is the concept of being known and called a benefactor, a person who gives and helps others.  Note that the term "called" is used here.  These benefactors wish others to call them generous people, recognized and honored for their help and contributions.  The benefactor wants to be known as a great person, a person who is generous, thoughtful, concerned, and honorable, even if they really are not any of those things.

       We see the Lord's concept of greatness contrasted with what the world thinks greatness is.  Christ rejected the world's view of greatness.  True greatness does not seek to hold authority nor to use it to control peoples' lives.  It does not seek positions of power or authority.  Giving to others is not because of any need to be known and called a benefactor.  True greatness is not self-centered and selfish.  Now, did Jesus forbid us from holding positions of greatness or authority?  No, He did not.  What He did do was give instructions as to how to conduct oneself when in a position of greatness, or if one sought to become great.  Christ drew the disciples' attention to the need for them to act more like the youngest, of taking the last seat at the table of assuming the lowliest position.  In the ancient world physical age greatly determined honor and position.  It was looked up to and given deference.  Jesus taught them that they were to be humble and serve one another, the one who served the others the best and most would be chief among them in greatness.  Christ's behavior was to be their blueprint.  As He chose to serve them, so to, they were to choose to serve one another in kind.  In our world today this means that our pastors, ministers, priests, deacons, and elders, all are to serve the laity and each other humbly and lovingly, just as Jesus Christ had served while on this earth.  We are to serve just as a table waiter/waitress serves us in any restaurant.  In ancient times the table waiter was a bond-servant (doulos).  They were bound every moment of their life, always serving, no matter the hour or call or difficulty.  The truly great person seeks for people to help and for ways to help them, whether at work, home, play, or church.  

       In choosing to follow in our Lord's footsteps of serving others, we must see His encouragement to serve faithfully.  Jesus gave assurances to His disciples who proved themselves.  Those who continued with Jesus, who were faithful, standing with Him and sticking to Him, were given a great promise: a covenant.  This covenant was appointed.  It was set  and fixed in eternity.  It could not be revoked nor changed in any form or fashion.  This covenant was twofold:
    (1) The faithful servant is to be a citizen of the Lord's kingdom.  It is a picture of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb (Luke 22:15-18; Matthew 20:2).  
    (2) The faithful servant is to rule.

       Christ told these twelve disciples that if they remained faithful to Him that they would be rewarded with twelve thrones, each one governing one of the twelve tribes of Israel.  When are they to govern? "In the regeneration" when the new order of things shall be set up under the rule and reign of Christ Jesus.  When is the new order of things to be?  There are two possible answers: either the millenial reign of Christ (Revelation 20:4-6), or the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1f).  One needs look at these scriptures for more information on this: Matthew 19:28; Matthew 20:21,23; Luke 22:28-30.  The fulfillment of this promise seems to be the Messianic kingdom or millennial reign of Christ on earth.

    At this point we must consider three things:
    (1) Some commentators find great difficulty in saying there is ever again to be a distinction between Jew and Gentile, for Christ came to bring peace between all people, breaking down the wall of separation between all people.  They say that the great weight of Scripture is opposed to there being a distinction between Jew and Gentile again.  This interpretation simply says that when Christ returns, He sets up His eternal reign and rule forever.  Therefore, the apostles are to rule and reign over the entire church, spiritual Israel, the true Israel of God (Galatians 6:15-16; Romans 2:28-29).
    (2) Jesus said He will reward the disciples with a particular honor.  The twelve disciples who became the apostles were specifically to rule over the twelve tribes of Israel.  Who will rule over the Gentiles??  Obviously Gentile disciples who prove themselves worthy of such honor will be appointed to sit upon thrones to rule and govern Gentile believers in the kingdom of heaven.
    (3) These twelve disciples were not the only ones to be rewarded.  Every true believer of Christ will be greatly rewarded (Matthew 19:29; Luke 16:1-13).

    Beloved, each one of us must endeavor to seek out a life of humble and loving service to others, both believers and unbelievers.  We are to seek true greatness in the eyes of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We have been called, we have been sought by the Living God, therefore we must respond with love swelling in our hearts.  

    Next time I shall look at verses 31-38 and how relates to us today in our spiritual journey with Christ.  I pray for grace and peace to be abundant in your lives.


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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. I ... more

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