Fri, Oct 25th - 7:28PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"But the lawyer, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answered saying, A certain man traveled down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves which stripped him of his clothing, and wounded him, and left him half dead as they departed. And by chance there came along a certain priest from Jerusalem' and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. And likewise, a Levite, when he was at the same place, he came and looked on him, and passed by on the opposite side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed down from Jerusalem, came to where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him upon his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, Take care of him; and what ever you spend beyond this, when I come back again, I will repay you. So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him that fell among the thieves? And the lawyer said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus to him, Go, and you do the same (10:29-37)."
We find in this passage the second question of life: Who is my neighbor? The lawyer was seeking to justify himself, and his choices in life. He did not get satisfaction from Christ Jesus. Christ had told him that he must do the Law; but the lawyer had failed to love his neighbor. So how to eliminate this problem? Why, by challenging the definition of just exactly who is my neighbor. Christ's answer drove the point home to this man's heart. This parable of the foolish and irresponsible traveler. It was some 21 miles from Jerusalem to Jericho walking down this particular road. It went through rugged terrain with rocky passes much of the way. Along this road robbers normally hung out, waiting for unsuspecting travelers to come along so that they could assault them and take their money, wares, and clothing. This road was called the Way of Blood. But this lone man chose to walk down this road to Jericho anyways. How many of us today are foolish and reckless in life, exposing and damaging our bodies by walking where we ought not to and by doing what we ought not to? Too many of us.
Three people happen to pass by this beaten up man, lying naked by the side of the road. First, a priest comes down the road. Priests in that day were religionists, they placed great value upon religious work and ceremony. This was valued above the welfare of people who were in need. He did not even go over to see if this man was still alive, or not. More than likely he feared even getting close to a dead person, for touching a dead body would make him unclean, or so he thought. This priest also was probably in a great hurry to meet his evening religious duties down in Jericho. It took an entire day to travel down to Jericho, he could not waste any time along the way, right? How many times does this rationale surface in our society today? I can't help you, I must get to an important appointment now! If I stop to help you I will end up being late for my meeting! How many of us also put our work ahead of helping others? How about putting our religious work ahead of helping others? Or simply remaining "too busy"? Would we treat people differently if we were to look upon them as half dead travelers who need our compassion and help?
Then there came a Levite. This man actually went over close enough to check the half dead man in the road. But he also chose to do nothing and kept walking on down to Jericho. Perhaps he feared falling victim to the robbers who had done this awful thing. Perhaps he simply feared touching a dead body as well, not wanting to become unclean for seven days, as the religious rule enforced. How many of us draw away from helping those people who are dirty, disheveled, homeless, smelly, and generally do not look healthy?
Finally, a Samaritan man came walking along that road to Jericho. If you weren't aware, Jews and Samaritans despised one another. The Jews would travel all the way around Samaria rather than cross through it. They would go out of their way to avoid coming into close proximity to these people. Samaritans were partially Jewish and partially Gentile. If you remember, Jesus went to Samaria and spoke to a woman at a well there, talking to her about "living water." She was taken aback, confused as to why a Jewish man would even talk to her. She was Samaritan and a woman. But here we see a Samaritan man who obviously looked upon all people as equal members of humanity, who deserved help when in need. He did not place the importance of his trade above the welfare of another human being. We need to notice that he went out of his way to help the hurt man lying at the side of the road. He went to him and treated his wounds. He bound them up with his own clothing. He then lifted the man up onto his beast of burden and walked beside the beast while taking him to an inn that was not very far away. This Samaritan then put him up in the inn at his own expense. The next day he provided the innkeeper with money to cover expenses for allowing the hurt man to stay at the inn to recuperate. We learn from this that being neighborly means that we must sacrifice of what we have. We must go to our neighbor in order to help them. It will cost money, time, energy, and personal investment. Love is not just an idea or a feeling toward God and others. It is practical acts and commitment to help any who need help.
Our Lord's commission is forceful: Go, and do the same! Christ still had not really answered the lawyer. But there was no need to. The answer had been made quite clear: If the lawyer wished eternal life, he had to go and do as the Samaritan man had done. The lawyer now knew who his neighbor was: it was any person who needed mercy, whether friend, stranger, or even enemy. Today we need more than simple confession of this truth. We need to love. We all need to demonstrate love as we go about our daily affairs.
A few more words about Samaria are in order. It was the central part of Palestine which was a small country, only around 120 miles south to north. It was divided into three sections. There was Judea, the southern section. There was Galilee, the northern section. And there was Samaria, the middle section lying between the other two. There were a couple of things that seemed to cause the hatred between the Jew and Samaritan. 1. Samaritans were mixed breed of Jewish ancestry. Centuries before, the King Assyria had captured the ten tribes of Israel and hauled them all off to captivity, scattering them throughout Media. This king then sent people from all over his empire to live in what became Samaria to repopulate the region. Intermarriage naturally took place and the resultant population of people became a mixture of races. Some were transplanted people, some were the weakest left behind by the king of Assyria, and some were the outcasts and irreligious who had intermarried with the original Samaritans. This intermarriage of Gentile with Jew infuriated the strict Jews who held to a pure race and culture.
The Samaritans weren't just a mixed breed genetically, they were also a mixture when it came to their religion. The transplanted heathen (unbelievers in Jehovah) brought their own "gods" with them from Assyria. Jehovah eventually won out, but the Samaritans never achieved a pure state of Judaism ever again. This mixture of religion happened because of"
1) When Ezra led the Jews back from exile in Babylon, the first thing the Jews did was to start rebuilding their temple. The Samaritans offered to help them but the Jews rejected their help. they declared that the Samaritans had lost their purity and forfeited their right to worship the only true God. This sort of severe denunciation angered the Samaritans against the Jews in Jerusalem.
2) The Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim to compete with the Jewish temple.
3) The Samaritans twisted both the Scriptures and history to favor their own people and nation. They twisted Scriptures by accepting only the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. They rejected all of the Psalms, Proverbs, and the prophets. They twisted history by claiming that three great events took place on Mt. Gerizim, events that set it apart as a place of worship. It was the place where Abraham offered Isaac, where Melchizedek met Abraham, and where Moses built his first altar after leading Israel out of Egyptian bondage.
Today we must remain aware of the continual temptation to alter history to favor ourselves and our nation. To forget history is to condemn oneself to repeating its mistakes over and over. I believe this trap is what has led to many denominations being created over the centuries. People wish to build their own place of worship to compete with God's. They will choose to alter history to suit their personal needs and desires in creating for themselves a copy of Christianity. I believe this is what Islam did so many centuries ago. It is what the Mormons did. It is what Jehovah's Witnesses have done as well. Sometimes the copy is quite close to being an accurate duplicate of the original, but usually there are many kinks and quirks inserted into it. Scriptures become purposefully twisted around in order to make them say something other than what God originally intended. It simply means that any person today who truly desires to become a faithful disciple of Christ Jesus must remain a faithful reader, and interpreter, of God's Word. A disciple of Jesus today must never take single verses out of context in order to create basic doctrine that then is in conflict with other established doctrines of faith. To select a certain few verses to support a claim that Christ is an angel is to choose to ignore the over whelming amount of scripture that says that He was the Creator of the Universe and that He created even the angels. One must ignore the fact that angels were created to serve Jehovah. It is to also ignore the very words spoken by Christ when He stated that He and the Father were One, to see Him was to have seen the Father. God is not an angelic being, therefore Jesus is not one either.
That is enough on that subject at this time, don't you think? Next time I will look into verses 38-42 where Christ teaches us about the one thing that genuinely is needed in our lives. Hope that you will come back, and I pray that the Holy Spirit is revealed to you each and every day. Grace and peace follow your path through life.
Sat, Oct 19th - 4:44PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said to him, What is written in the law? how do you read it? And the lawyer answered Him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. And Jesus said to him, You have answered right: do this and you shall live (10:25-28)."
We discover in this passage that if people would ask just two questions, and heed their own answers, our world would be revolutionized. Question 1: How do I inherit eternal life? Question 2: Who is my neighbor? This lawyer thought he was being sneaky, setting Jesus up with a loaded question. The lawyer was not the least interested in seeking the truth, not really trying to discover the way to God. His aim was to discredit Christ Jesus by getting Him to give an unusual answer that would arouse people to be against Him.
ETERNAL LIFE - How can I inherit eternal life? What must I do? The lawyer stressed works. To him, salvation was only by what he could do. God was going to accept him because he was or could become good enough. He had absolutely no concept of God's great love and grace nor their part in salvation. Christ clearly laid out the steps to eternal life. First, the Law contains the answer to eternal life and thus people must look into the Law of God to find it. Deuteronomy 6:3 and 6:11 contain the answer that the lawyer supplied to Jesus Christ's question. Just as this lawyer already knew the answer to the question, we today can open up any Bible and find the same answer to what we must do to inherit eternal life. God has supplied the answer in written words, it is in black and white, certain and unmistakable. God has also given us the answer in the very life of Christ Jesus Himself. The words were caused to be lived out in a human life, giving us the example of the Ideal Life.
Second, each of us is to love God supremely. We are to love God as our very own God. It is to be a personal relationship, not a long distance one. God is not impersonal, not way out there somewhere in outer space, distant and out of touch. God is personal, ever so close, and expects us to become intimately involved with Him as if face to face. Loving God is to be alive and active, not dead, passive, and inactive. So what what kind of love is involved in this God relationship? We are to love God with all that we are, holding nothing back. Christ broke it down into chunks that ordinary people could understand. Love God with all of your mind, all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your strength. Oh, and do not ever forget to love your neighbor just as you love yourself.
Third, this neighbor love-thing must be an active aspect of my daily life. If I wish eternal life for myself I must love all of my neighbors, both near and far. Christ's first commandment to love God is abstract as it can't be seen or understood standing by itself. There has to be a demonstration, an act, something done for love to be clearly seen and understood. A profession of love without demonstration is empty. Love is not known without showing it. Here are several important points that we must acknowledge:
A. Love is an active experience, not an inactive, dormant, one. Love for God acts. Love for God must be demonstrated. It is inaccurate and foolish of any person to claim, "I love God," and then do absolutely nothing for the One loved. If a person truly loves God, that person will do things for God that will please God. Any person who loves does things for the one they love.
B. God wants us primarily to love our neighbor, not to do religious things. Doing religious things is good, but it is not the first thing God wants. Hospitality grows from out of loving our neighbor, not from out of doing religious things. Rituals, observances, ordinances, and laws are lifeless things, usually involving material objects; these objects are not helped by our doing the things. They do make us feel good and religious, contributing to our growth but they do not demonstrate our love for God. If I say I love God but I still hate and act unkindly toward my neighbor, then I do not actually love God at all. I have completely missed God's message to me found in this passage.
That is all for today, beloved. I hope that this post has clarified one or two things in your mind concerning Christian love. There are many more scriptures that speak to this issue, such as I John 3:14, Matthew 5:44, John 13:34-35, Romans 13:8-10, I Thessalonians 3:12, and James 2:8. I will resume next time with verses 29-37. I pray that the Holy Spirit falls fresh upon you this day, that He heals you of all your sin, and that you surrender yourself to His guidance and instruction in the Word of God. Grace and peace be with you.
Fri, Oct 18th - 6:40PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in Spirit, and said, I than You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no person knows who the Son is, except the Father; and who the Father is, except the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him. And He turned to the disciples, and said privately to them, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that you see: For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which you do see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which you hear and they have not heard them (10:21-24)."
We find Jesus Christ rejoicing in some things as revealed by these few verses. He rejoiced at the fact that the Father in heaven had chosen to reveal to His disciples spiritual insight into truth.He rejoiced at the revelation of the knowledge of God and of His only Son. He also rejoiced at the disciples' insight and privilege of learning God's full revelation. We must understand that the English word "rejoice" is not as strong a word as the Greek egalliasato which means great joy and exultation, to be filled with joy or thrilled with joy. The feeling of these verses is one of victorious joy because of the victory over Satan. This joy only comes from the Holy Spirit; it can't be created by humans. It is a joy of confidence and assurance that comes from deep within a person: a confidence that all is well with God and that the victory is already won over evil and wickedness. This is the joy Christ experienced at the return of the seventy disciples. Souls had been snatched from out of the grip of sin and death. Souls had been redeemed from living in spiritual darkness and brought back into the eternal light of God's love. Satan's ultimate demise was assured. God would be victorious within the created world as the gospel was carried out by His servants to those who were in dire need. "Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2)."
It is seen here that the Christian disciple is able to grasp the spiritual truth of things. The phrase "these things" refers to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Specifically it refers to the truth which the seventy had learned, that is, that God is active in the world. God saves and cares for people, giving them power over the forces of evil in their lives and writing their names in the book of life up in heaven. Knowing "these things" is the greatest knowledge in all of the world. No other knowledge surpasses knowing that God has saved us, that He cares and looks after us, that He delivers us from the power of evil, and that He fills us with assurance and confidence and perfect security. All other knowledge must be built upon this foundation in order for it to remain in proper perspective.
It must not be overlooked that God hides "these things" from the so-called wise and prudent people of this world of ours. These people are blind to the Lord of heaven and earth and to the truth about God. The proud and self-sufficient by their very nature sense no need for help and refuse to receive help. They choose to rest in their own ability and achievements. It is seen here that spiritual truth is hidden. Where is it hidden? In God. God has done the logical thing and taken spiritual truth and locked it up inside of Himself. The only access to truth is through God. The only key to spiritual truth is faith and trust in God. The person who considers him/herself wise and intelligent and sufficient enough without God never comes to God. A personal relationship with God is never realized. The self-sufficient person never comes to know Christ nor the spiritual truth hid in God. God, His presence, and His plan for the ages are foreign to the self-sufficient person. That person does not believe God enough to come to Him. So the things of the Spirit and of the gospel are hidden from that person, however, God's heart and truths are open to those who come in dependency and trust.
A crucial point here is that Christ does not condemn intelligence and wisdom. He does condemn intellectual pride and self-sufficiency. We humans were created to think and reason and seek and search in order to discover and build, but God expects people "not to think" of themselves too highly (Romans 12:3). People are to walk humbly during their lives, knowing from whom they have come and to whom they are going. They are to trust God, putting their time and destinies in His hands. God is limited in revealing truth to the "wise and prudent" of this world. Why? Because they rely upon their own ability and achievements and sense no need beyond themselves.
They keep God out of their lives.
They push God away.
They deny God's existence.
They question the value of God.
They believe they have no need for God, especially not right now.
They believe God is irrelevant in a scientific, technological society and world.
Man's self-sufficiency and pride does not originate from God. Man makes himself his own god and creates the religion of humanism (that man is sufficient to himself). This leaves God with no choice. He has to do two things First, God has to leave such people to themselves for He can't force people to worship Him. Forced behavior would be making robots out of all of us. God wants to be loved and worshiped by people because they choose to do so. Our sin therefore becomes our punishment; our rejection becomes harder and harder, and we are removed farther and farther away from God, fulfilling our hearts' desires. Second, God has to hide the truth from such persons because their evil hearts would only corrupt the truth. They would mix the truth with their own understanding, with rationalized and humanistic ideas. If the self-sufficient knew the "truth", they would be honored as the creators of the truth. They would end up lifting man up as the source of truth. But God does not share the honor due His Son with anyone else. Jesus Christ is the One who has loved perfectly, loved so much that He laid down His life to save the entire world.
If a person honors God with what he/she has (intelligence, abilities, and achievements), God will give "these things" to that person. But the opposite also holds true: the person who honors themselves will have "these things" hidden from them. It is seen here that God reveals "these things" to babes. These "babes" are those who are humble before God, who acknowledge that this world is not all that there is, that a few short years of life are not all that there is, that they have an inadequacy in solving the seed of corruption, or the seed of sin and death in the world, that God is and that He is their Father, and that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). The term "babes" is used because such persons are open and receptive within their own spirits, dependent and trusting spiritually, responsive and submissive to spiritual truth, teachable and obedient to God, and loving and forgiving toward others.
It pleases God enormously that He is able to reveal "these things" to the babes of the earth. "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then you are My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32)." "You are My friends, if you do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I do not call you servants; for the servant does not know what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known to you (5:14-15)." "But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of people, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God (I Corinthians 2:9-10)." "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow by it: if you have experienced that the Lord is gracious (I Peter 2:2-3)."
Disciples of Christ have the privilege of having the spiritual world revealed to them. They have the privilege of knowing God and Christ Jesus in a very personal way. What Christ says in verse 22 of chapter ten of Luke is that He holds the supreme place in the entire universe. All things have been delivered into the hands of God's Son (Colossians 1:16-17). Christ Jesus is the Supreme Authority over the universe; therefore, He is to oversee and rule the universe. But His sovereignty is not seen, not at this time, not by the vast majority of people. He was not understood nor accepted by the people of His day, nor is He understood and accepted by the people of today. But one day the truth will become obvious, for the day is approaching when the Son of God will be revealed once again to the entire world.
People everywhere must come to realize that God and Christ alone have perfect knowledge. In this fashion then, a complete knowledge of God can only be grasped by the Son, and a complete knowledge of the Son can only be grasped by God the Father. Part of this is due to the fact that God is Spirit, as shown in John 4:24. He is of another dimension of being entirely. Finite humans can't bridge the gulf between ourselves and an infinite God-being. For mankind to know the spiritual world around us then God must choose to reveal that realm and the things of that realm to mankind. This is what Christ Jesus was doing. Christ has chosen to reveal God the Father, who is Spirit, to some people who have also chosen to believe. Those people chosen to receive the revelation of the spiritual realm are those who truly seek and pursue God and trust the Son's testimony.
This passage in Luke also reveals the privilege given to those chosen to see and learn God's full revelation. Jesus shared this point with His disciples alone. What He said is understood only by His disciples. Christ stated that He was the great salvation which the godly prophets and kings of ancient times desired to see and to hear. Christ claimed clearly to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. He was the One promised by God down through the ages. This is the basic premise of Christianity, that Christ is the fulfillment of God's prophecies of a Messiah to come and save people from their sin. One must accept this premise, otherwise one can't claim to be a Christian.
I hope and pray for opportunity to post more frequently in the coming weeks. Christian Growth Institute classes have been demanding of my time and energy, but I will not turn from posting God's Word on this site for all to read and share with others. May God's grace and peace be with you all!
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