Monday, 8 September 2014

Message in the first And second Epistles of Paul to Timothy

Paul's letters to Timothy differ from most of his other letters in that they were written to an individual, rather than a church. The only other Pauline epistle written to an individual is the book of Titus. Therefore, 1 and 2 Timothy, along with Titus, are often referred to as the "Pastoral Epistles."

This gives 1 and 2 Timothy a more personal touch than some of his other letters and provides us with an intimate glimpse into the life of Paul. Couple this with the fact that these are among some of the last letters Paul wrote, and their significance grows. The maturity that comes only with time flavors these letters.

Timothy was ordained as the first bishop of the church at Ephesus (see the subscript at 2Ti 4:22 [found in some Bibles]). This apparently took place when Paul had to flee Ephesus . Therefore, these letters have special significance to ministers. Paul gave Timothy instructions on how to run the church at Ephesus and also how to manage himself in order to be as effective as possible. There are exhortations to boldness (2Ti 1:7), and instructions on how a young minister can operate in authority despite his youth (1Ti 4:12).

In 2Ti 4, Paul made a somewhat impassioned plea for Timothy to come to him quickly and bring Mark and certain items such as a cloak and his parchments. Everyone but Luke had left Paul, and he desired his "son in the faith" to be with him at the end.

Message in the Epistle of Paul to the Colossians

As has already been detailed in the Life for Today Study Bible Notes, Introduction to Ephesians, the epistle to the Colossians and Paul's epistle to the Ephesians are remarkably similar. Therefore, Paul's teaching can be better understood by closely comparing them with each other.

Paul stated his purpose for writing this letter very clearly in Col 2:1-8. He wanted to make sure they had a full revelation of Christ and what He had accomplished for them, while warning them against false teaching. Paul believed that the Colossians' best defense against false teaching was for them to be fully aware of all they had in Christ. So, in the remainder of Col 2 and into Col 3, Paul expounded on the completeness we have in Christ. Paul exhorted the Colossians to a holy lifestyle and concluded with instructions to parents, children, slaves, and masters, as he did in the letter to the Ephesians.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Message in the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

It was while Paul was in Macedonia that he met up with Titus. Titus had been to Corinth, and he brought Paul word about how the Corinthians had received his previous letter (2Co 7:6-8). Perhaps Titus was the messenger Paul used to carry that letter. In 2Co 8:6 and 16-17, Paul revealed that he had commissioned Titus to minister to the Corinthians about giving.

Paul believed that this letter was needed for several reasons. First, he used this letter to explain his delay in returning to them as he had promised in 1Co 16:5-9. He didn't want to come to them until all differences were reconciled (2Co 1:23-2:3), and that wasn't complete yet. He wanted the Corinthians to forgive and restore the brother whom Paul said in 1Co 5 to turn over to Satan (2Co 2:5-11).

Paul also defended his apostleship to these Corinthians again (2Co 3:1-3; 4:1-15; 10:10-14; 11:4-6, 13-15; and 13:3). Last, Paul wanted to give further instruction about the collection that was being taken for the poor saints at Jerusalem, lest the Corinthians be embarrassed (2Co 9:1-11)

Message in the book Acts Of the Apostles

Since the second century A.D., the book of Acts has commonly been called, "The Acts of the Apostles." In comprehending more completely and correctly the contents of the book, we may more accurately say that it is "The Acts of the Holy Spirit Through the Believers." We find that ten of the apostles' "ministries" and "acts" are never mentioned; whereas, several "acts" of non-apostolic believers are mentioned (Ac 8:5-8; 9:10-11, and 17).

The book of Acts is the greatest handbook of information on the workings of the Holy Spirit in the world today. It is the practical working out of the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20, Mr 16:15-20, and Lu 24:46-49) and literally fulfills Mr 16:20, "They went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." The Greek word for "working" in that verse is "SUNERGEO," and it literally means "to be a fellow-worker" (Strong's Concordance). This relationship between the Holy Spirit and the believers is clearly portrayed throughout the book of Acts.

Whereas "the former treatise" (that is, the Gospel of Luke) dealt with "all that Jesus began both to do and teach" (Ac 1:1), the book of Acts describes what Jesus continues to do and teach through the lives of the believers (His church). We might say, "These are the acts of the resurrected Christ through the believers."

As a result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the witness of Christ and His teachings spread through Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and into the uttermost parts of the earth (Ac 1:8). Certainly one of the aims of this book was to show that the Jewish Messiah and His atonement were for all people, for all time.

Message in the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians

Paul's defense of the true Gospel in this letter provides some of the clearest statements about grace found anywhere in the Bible. Romans may be Paul's most detailed treatment of the subject, but Galatians was his strongest. Paul minced no words in condemning trust in self-righteousness. He skipped most of the customary politeness of an introduction and got right to the point with a stinging curse placed on anyone who would dare to preach a gospel other than the one the Galatians had already received (Ga 1:8-9).
Paul was very disturbed that the Galatians had been seduced (Ga 3:1) from their faith in Christ through a perversion of the Gospel (Ga 1:7). They had been told that faith in Christ alone wasn't enough for salvation; they had to keep the precepts of the Old Testament Law, specifically the rite of circumcision. He wrote to turn them back to a pure faith in Christ alone for salvation.
Paul revealed that trusting in anything other than Christ alone for salvation voids the death of Christ (Ga 2:21). He also said in Ga 5:4 that the work of Christ can be made of no effect unto those who are trusting in their own keeping of the Law in order to produce justification. They are fallen from grace.
Aside from the obvious purpose of this letter--to bring the Galatians back to a pure faith in Christ--Paul gave some personal information about himself and his beginnings in ministry that is not recorded elsewhere in Scripture (Ga 1:13-2:21).

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Message in the Epistle to the Ephesians

Paul's letter to the Ephesian church is full of some of the most wonderful revelations about the believer's union with Christ found anywhere in Scripture. Paul said that the truths he was presenting in this letter were mysteries, previously unknown (Eph 3:3-6). For this reason, Paul included two prayers (Eph 1:15-23 and 3:14-21) in this letter, asking the Lord to grant the readers wisdom.

In contrast to Paul's letter to the Romans, which masterfully expounds the method of salvation (see Life for Today Study Bible Notes, Introduction to Romans), this letter reveals the benefits of salvation by grace through faith. The letter to the Galatians was harsh (see Life for Today Study Bible Notes, Introduction to Galatians); this letter is uplifting. The two letters to the Corinthian church were personal, addressing specific problems and questions; this letter is impersonal, advancing doctrine in much the same way a book would do.

The impersonal nature of this letter might be explained if Paul intended this letter to be circulated among other churches. He clearly stated that this was to be done with the letter to the Colossians (Col 4:16) and the letter to the Thessalonians (1Th 5:27). Therefore, there is some reason that this letter is nonspecific, with Ephesus being mentioned because it was the principal city from which Paul spent three years evangelizing. This could possibly make this letter the unknown letter to the Laodiceans mentioned in Col 4:16.

The first three chapters of Ephesians deal with our position and calling in Christ. The last three chapters (Eph 4-6) are practical and speak of our life in this world that demands a conduct inspired by this new calling of grace. It has been said that on the practical side, the book of Ephesians is "the Gospel walked out in shoe leather," for it talks of relationships between husbands and wives, masters and servants, parents and children, etc.

On the doctrinal side (Eph 1-3), we find that everything has been done and is complete in Him. A true understanding of Christianity does not begin by doing but begins with what has been done. We are invited to sit down and enjoy all that God has done for us in Christ. We are to rest in Him. It's only from this revelation that true works of faith spring; otherwise practical Christianity can turn to the works of the Law--a danger that Paul himself warned us about (Eph 2:15 and Ga 3:3).

Message in the Epistle

Message in the First Epistle Of Paul to the Corinthians

The book of 1 Corinthians is the second longest of the Pauline epistles, surpassed only by the book of Romans, which it follows in the traditional order of Scriptures.

Paul made it clear at the beginning of this letter that his reason for writing this epistle was because members of Chloe's household had informed him of divisions in the church (1Co 1:11). Paul mentioned three men by name who had come to him from Corinth (1Co 16:17), but it is not certain if these were the members of Chloe's household to whom Paul referred.

Paul's main purpose in this book was to correct the carnality that had damaged the unity of the believers and to answer specific questions. 1Co 1:10 sums up his intent: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

Paul dealt with this disunity in three main areas. First, he countered the division caused over a difference of opinion as to whom the people should be following (1Co 1:10-4:21). Some of the church claimed Paul as their spiritual leader, some Apollos, and some Peter (1Co 1:12).

Second, Paul reprimanded the believers for the immoral conduct of certain individuals (incest, 1Co 5; lawsuits, 1Co 6; marriage relationships, 1Co 7; eating things sacrificed to idols, 1Co 8) and the passivity of the others in not dealing with these problems (1Co 5:1-11:16).

Third, Paul dealt with the conduct of the Corinthians in their church services (1Co 11:17-14:40). This section includes instructions for the Lord's Supper (1Co 11) and the operation of the gifts in the church (1Co 12-14).

Paul concluded this letter with the most complete arguments found in the New Testament on the resurrection of our bodies (1Co 15). 1Co 16 gives instructions for the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem as well as miscellaneous instructions and salutations.

Spiritual Gifts
Three chapters of 1 Corinthians are devoted to the subject of spiritual gifts (1Co 12-14). This is the most information on spiritual gifts in one place in the entire Bible. This is the only place in the Bible that guidelines are set forth for the operation of the gifts in an assembly of believers.
Some people have tried to capitalize on the fact that these believers had all the spiritual gifts (1Co 1:7) and yet were carnal (1Co 3:3), to argue that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not necessary or that they are even of the devil. However, Paul never told these believers that their gifts were of the devil. Despite these flagrant abuses, Paul told them, "Covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues" (1Co 14:39). He taught them how to properly use the gifts, not to dispose of the gifts.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Message in the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians

                        Overview And Background

The letter to the Philippians is one of four written by Paul while he was in prison. The other three are Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon. Philippians was written to the first church established by Paul in Europe, then known as the province of Macedonia . Paul visited Philippi on his second missionary journey  after receiving a night vision where he saw a man from Macedonia standing before him, earnestly asking him to "come over into Macedonia, and help us" (Ac 16:9).

Paul's primary reason for writing this letter was to thank the Philippian church for the gift they had sent him in his time of need (Php 4:10-19). He also used this opportunity to encourage them to look confidently to Christ for their joy and unity, and to continue to persevere in their Christian life and faith.

Even though Paul wrote this letter from prison, it contains a constant theme of rejoicing. The words "joy" and "rejoice" were used sixteen times in this short epistle. Paul made it very clear in Php 3 that his personal relationship with the Lord was the key factor in his joy.
Paul had a special affection for the Philippians. They were not only the first fruits of his ministry in Europe but also the only church that contributed to his ministry after he had departed from their city (Php 4:15-16).

Message in the first Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians

Thessalonica was a city in Macedonia , or what we now call Greece. Paul traveled to Thessalonica after being released from prison in Philippi (Ac 16:40-17:1). Thessalonica was the second major city where Paul ministered after having the vision of a man calling him over into Macedonia (Ac 16:9).

Paul had a relatively brief ministry in Thessalonica because persecution drove him from the city; but the Word of God did make an impact, and a church was established. This letter to the church at Thessalonica gives us great insight into Paul's ministry and its effect in that city.

In 1Th 1:5, Paul mentioned that his preaching came to the Thessalonians in power and in the Holy Ghost. This is comparable to what Paul said in 1Co 2:1-5 and 4:20, and it is speaking of the miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit. No doubt one of the reasons Paul made such an impact in such a short time was that the Holy Spirit was working through him with signs and wonders.

Those who believed Paul's message became like him (1Th 1:6), so much so that they "sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad" (1Th 1:8). These were committed believers.

Paul had such an impact that he was driven from the city by persecution from the religious Jews (Ac 17:5-10). After leaving Thessalonica, Paul and his company went to Berea, which was about forty miles west along the Roman road called the Egnatian Way. However, the Jews who had persecuted him in Thessalonica came to Berea and caused the Berean Jews to expel Paul from their city also.

Paul went south to Athens, but left Timothy and Silas in Berea. When Paul reached Athens, he soon sent for Timothy and Silas to join him (Ac 17:15). Paul was so concerned for the Thessalonians' welfare that he sent Timothy back to check on them (1Th 3:5). Timothy joined Paul again in Corinth with good news about the Thessalonians' faith and their love for Paul (1Th 3:6). This was what led Paul to write the letter of 1 Thessalonians.

In this letter, he encouraged the Thessalonians to persevere in light of their many persecutions. He also wrote to correct various errors that had crept into the church. In addition, this letter contains one of the clearest teachings concerning the resurrection of the saints who have already died and the "catching up" of the believers who are still alive (1Th 4:13-18).

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Authority for a Christian

Is there someone in your life who just rubs you the wrong way? If there is, it may surprise you to learn that it’s not really that person who is creating the rub. There is someone else at work—your real Enemy—and he may be using them in an attempt to gain an inroad to your life. There is a spiritual war going on, and as a believer, you must be aware of it.

Many Christians have adopted a humanistic view of things. They do not realize the spiritual implication behind what is going on in their lives. What I mean by humanistic is that they only look at things on a surface level. They think most everything they encounter on a daily basis is either physical or natural.

The truth is, there is a battle raging every single day in the spiritual realm. That battle is for your heart and the hearts of every other person on earth. God is trying to influence people and draw them toward righteousness and toward Himself, to live consistent with Him so that His blessings can manifest in their lives.

Satan, on the other hand, is waging all-out war trying to steal the hearts of people away from God. He wants to fill their hearts with his trash and corruption. And honestly, although most Christians recognize this to a degree, I don’t think they realize how intense the warfare really is and how much their actions are contributing to it.

If I could sit and talk with each of you reading this, I would find that many of you aren’t aware of the spiritual significance behind what’s going on in your lives. You attribute much of what is happening to circumstances and therefore passively accept what comes your way. When you do that, you’re ignoring the intense battle that is being waged for your heart every single day.

The choices you make, the things you say, the actions you take, and what you believe about what is happening around you determines whether God or Satan dominates in your life. Satan cannot control you outside of your will. He cannot do anything without your cooperation and consent. But you need to recognize that you’re in a battle.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Blessing, anointing and joy are only in your place

The Bible says,

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:17).

The Bible gives little background on Elijah. It wasn’t his pedigree or education that brought him into a position of influence and power. Elijah was nobody until he received a word from God. It was the revelation God gave him that put him into a position of leadership.

One of the great lessons we can learn here is that God doesn’t reveal His complete plan immediately. He reveals His will to us one step at a time. After we obey the first step, He shows us the next. Why should the Lord show us step two or ten if we haven’t obeyed step one? That would just make us more accountable. So, don’t try to figure out the next step until you have acted on what you know to do now. That’s a powerful truth.

The Lord told Elijah to go to the Brook Cherith. He had already commanded the ravens to bring Elijah bread and meat there every morning and evening. This was miraculous! What a provision during a terrible time!

Each of us has a place  where the blessings of the Lord are waiting. The Lord never fails to provide, but people often fail to receive because they aren’t all there. If Elijah had not gone to his place , his disobedience would not have stopped God’s faithfulness; however, he would not have received the provision; it was over there by the Brook Cherith.

Some of you are not seeing God’s provision because you aren’t doing what He has told you to do. This doesn’t mean the Lord is punishing you. If Elijah hadn’t gone “THERE,” he would have lost his provision. The Lord has provision for you too, but it’s “in your place.”

This place  changes. God changed the place and method of Elijah’s provision:

“And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee” (1 Kin. 17:8-9).

You can’t just seek the Lord once, hear His voice, step out in faith, and then stop listening. The Lord brings us into His perfect will step by step. Elijah moved when the Lord told him to move.



Message in the Gospel of Luke

The Gospel of Luke is the longest of the four Gospels despite the fact that it has been divided into four chapters less than was Matthew. It was written primarily for the Gentile Christians to portray Jesus as the Son of Man. In Lu 3:23-38, Jesus' genealogy is traced all the way back to Adam. This is quite different than Matthew's genealogy, which only traces Jesus' ancestry back to Abraham, and this reflects Luke's intent to portray Jesus as the Savior of everyone.

The Gospel of Luke only records nine Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled, while Matthew (the Gospel to the Jews) records twenty-five prophecies; Mark, eleven prophecies; and John, fifteen prophecies. This is more evidence that this Gospel was written with a Gentile audience in mind.

Luke's desire to present Jesus to the Gentiles can also be seen in many of the events that he alone among the Gospel writers reported, such as the widow's son being raised from the dead at Nain (Lu 7:11-17); Jesus' forgiveness of the sinful woman who fell at His feet despite the Jew's objections (Lu 7:36-50); the parable of the good Samaritan (Lu 10:25-37); the parable of the great supper where the guests wouldn't come (Lu 14:15-24); the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, which illustrated His great love for the lost (Lu 15:1-10); the story of the prodigal son and his brother (Lu 15:11-32); and the cleansing of the ten lepers (Lu 17:12-19). The material covered from Lu 9:51 through 18:14 is not given in any of the other Gospels and would be of particular interest to Gentiles. Nearly one-third of Luke's events are peculiar to his Gospel.

Luke was not an eyewitness to the life of Jesus, as were Matthew, John, and possibly Mark. However, he stated that he had a perfect understanding of all the events in Jesus' life, and one of his stated purposes in writing this Gospel was to set those events in their proper order. Thus, Luke was the historian of the Gospel writers.

Luke mentioned in the introduction to his Gospel that many had "taken in hand" to write an orderly account of the life and ministry of Jesus. However, he apparently did not think they succeeded, and therefore he, being led by the Holy Spirit, set out to give us the accurate account. With many accounts in circulation, both written and oral, it is easy to see why an authorized version was needed. The early, extra-biblical sources we have access to mention Luke's Gospel more than any of the other Gospels and show that Luke accomplished his purpose.

Luke alone mentioned the angels' appearance to Zacharias and Elizabeth, and with the exception of seven verses in Matthew, all of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus were recorded by Luke. Luke alone also gave us many of the details of Jesus' life before his baptism by John. These are details that those who were not eyewitnesses themselves would have been interested in and that were apparently missing from the oral accounts.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Messages in the Gospel of Mark and John

The message in the Gospel of Mark
Mark's record is the shortest of all the Gospel accounts. This enables the reader to grasp more of an overall understanding of Jesus' life than is readily available in the other Gospels. Mark, unlike Matthew, did not write his Gospel to the Jews only. Explanations are given throughout this Gospel that would be unnecessary if all the readers were Jewish.

For instance, when Mark mentioned Jordan in Mr 1:5, he referred to it as "the river of Jordan." Also, in Mr 2:18, he gave an explanation of some of the Pharisees' traditions, which occasioned their question. Mr 11:13 reveals that the time of figs was not yet. This would be unnecessary to say to a Jew who was familiar with the climate of Jerusalem during the feast of the Passover. All of these examples point to this Gospel being written to, or at least to include, a Gentile audience.

Message in the Gospel of John

The Gospel of John is unique among the four Gospels. Only seven out of all the events recorded in this Gospel are shared by the other three Gospel writers. This Gospel does not give as much attention to the happenings in the ministry of Jesus as it does to the teachings of Jesus. Many have referred to it as "the Spiritual Gospel" or "the Gospel to the Church."

The writer carefully selected the events and teachings of Jesus to portray Him as the Son of God. This emphasis on the deity of Jesus (Joh 1:1) is in stark contrast with the other Gospels where these truths, although present, are not given the same preeminence.
As will be noted when we discuss the date this Gospel was written, it is probable that the Gospel of John was written a full generation after the other Gospels and for the specific purpose of refuting the sect of the Gnostics who believed Jesus was not God. Therefore, we see doctrines expounded much more in this Gospel than the other three (Joh 3:3; 6:35, 48, 54; 8:56, 58; etc.).