Sunday, August 10, 2008

The GOSPEL in Code

We as Christians know the Gospel, for it is the proclamation of good news, given by the LORD God in the scriptures. Note that it's GOD that has given this message to us. We didn't think this message up ourselves: it's origin is GOD.

We surely didn't create the Gospel but it has created us: by believing the Gospel, we have been born of heaven, rejuvenated spiritually, regenerated by the Holy Spirit Himself, based on the atonement of the LORD Jesus Christ's death on the cross, and His resurrection!
One of the best definitions of the Gospel is found in

1 COR 15:3-4: 
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Note that the verses underscore that the death and the resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ was in accordance to the scriptures, for the Apostle Paul knew that this was our one and only source for spiritual authority, the Word of God as contained in the scriptures.

Note what it DOESN'T mention as the Gospel: It doesn't mention Christ's teachings, His miracles, etc. It declares that that He died for our SINS (a politically INcorrect word in today's modernist pulpits!) according to the scriptures, and that He rose from the dead, likewise according to the scriptures. The resurrection is also in question among liberal theologians and churches, but as Paul stated, if there is no resurrection, then we are yet in our sins (vs. 16-17).

Among the many scriptures in the New Testament, we can point to dozens that portray the Gospel in one way or another, and such good news was foretold in the Old Testament as well:

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift [it] up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

ISAIAH 41:27
The first [shall say] to Zion, Behold, behold them: and I will give to Jerusalem one that bringeth good tidings.

In Genesis Chapter Five we have a genealogy of ten names; a rather ho-hum chapter when you consider what precedes and proceeds it - Chapter four is about the strife between Cain and Abel, the second recorded murder in the scriptures (where is the first you might ask? Good question! Find out!) and the sixth chapter is about the very weird proceedings of the sons of God and the daughters of men, and what's come to be known as the 'nephilim'.

So what's the big deal about chapter Five? God always rewards the diligent, and with a little digging, one might become stunned at the treasures uncovered!

How would a rendering of the Gospel - in code - grab you?

As you probably already know, names are very significant in the Bible, and we can learn the meaning of names if you have a very thorough study Bible or a Lexicon, yet in some cases (such as the one before us) you need a dictionary of root-words and their etymological (historical background of word usage and origin) significance.

But for some names, we already know their meaning; for example, what does the name Adam mean? If you say, "man" you're right!

All ten names in this genealogy have meanings; let's go through them all, shall we?

Adam had a son, and his name was Seth, and Seth means "appointed".

Seth's son's name was Enos, meaning "mortal". Enos' son's name was Cainan, meaning "sorrow".

Cainan had a son and named him Mahalaleel, which means "the Blessed God".

Mahalaleel had a son and his name was Jared, and it means "shall come down" or "descend" and many Bible scholars believe that it was in the days of Jared that the sons of God (a term used in the OT exclusively of angels, and in this case, fallen angels who committed such rebellious deeds as found in Gen. ch. 6) came down from the heavens to co-habitate with human females.

Jared had a son and named him Enoch and we know Enoch as a righteous man that walked with God, and God took him, for he was not. Enoch means "teaching".
No doubt he became a teacher for those who wanted to learn about God. Enoch was also given a prophecy regarding The Second Coming, as found in the book of Jude:

JUDE 1:14-15
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Enoch's son's name was Methuselah, and it was pronounced that in the year that Methuselah died, that the judgment would come as God said to Noah (remember that the life span of people in these days were quite long, a single life lasting as long as 600, 700, 800 yrs, so these men's lives overlapped each other quite a bit).

It's also interesting to note that Methuselah is the longest life that God ever gave to a mortal man. What does that say about the nature of God? That He longs to show mercy and procrastinates judgment as long as possible. As I like to say, God sprints to show mercy, but drags His feet to bring judgment. Such is the heart of our Loving Abba.

Well Methuselah means "his death shall bring", a most fitting name for such a one whose death would signal the impending Flood that deluged the entire planet!

Methuselah had a son whose name was Lamech, and this name means "sorrow or despairing" and this even shows up in our English language, for we are familiar with the word "lament".

And finally the last of these 10 names is Noah, the son of Lamech, and Noah means "rest".
So now let's take the meaning of all 10 of these names and string them together and see what we get, all right?

"Man appointed mortal sorrow. The blessed God shall come down, teaching His death shall bring the despairing rest."

Can you honestly believe that the scribes of Jesus' day would intentionally sneak a secret message that would support and verify the message of Jesus, their enemy?

Rather, the Holy Spirit worked in the heart of Moses, who wrote the first 5 books of the OT (those who doubt the authorship of Moses need not go any further than the LORD Jesus Christ as the authority for this truth; every time Jesus quotes from the Tanahk He always credits Moses as its author!) to include this genealogy which displays the Gospel, in code, waiting to be discovered centuries later! MIND BLOWING!
Lastly let me share with you an acronym that I received from the LORD Himself (He knows that I LOVE acronyms!)

G.O.S.P.E.L. = God's Omnipotent ("all powerful") Salvation Proclaiming Eternal Love/Life.

I love how His Salvation is Omnipotent, or All Powerful, for there is no one so bad that they CAN'T be saved! The blood of Christ washes away the vilest stains of sin! thank you LORD!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Definition Of A Biblical Freak

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word "freak" as follows: "One that is markedly unusual or abnormal: as a : a person or animal with a physical oddity who appears in a circus sideshow; a thing or an occurrence that is markedly unusual or irregular. An abnormally formed organism, esp. a person or animal regarded as a curiosity or monstrosity. An eccentric or non-conformist person, esp.a member of a counterculture."

Certainly such definitions if taken objectively would bring no offense, but say such a word to someone in a derogatory fashion, and the intent of insult could hardly be missed. Such was the intention of the Romans who perceived the disciples of Jesus Christ as objects of curiosity, or even monstrosities, and at the very least, enigmatic followers of a strange religion.

However they couldn't deny how these people loved one another, or the One that they claimed to be the Son of God, only begotten of God. In a derogatory manner, the Romans referred to this strange lot of people as "little Christs", a term meant to ridicule and insult.

Yet when the disciples heard of it, they were humbled by such praise, as to even be compared to the LORD of Glory whom they served with love and obedience. They were first called "Christians" in the city of Antioch. Christians today are similarly confronted with another derogatory term, "Jesus Freak" and take exception to such words, for as we look upon our past and compare it with the life we now have with Jesus, we would readily agree that we WERE once freaks, but are now as God intended us, redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb and indwelt by the Spirit of the LORD.

Yet really, if one carefully considers the ramifications of such a word in light of the spiritual workings of God within our hearts and lives, there need be no offense, but rather the makings of yet ANOTHER badge of honor, similar to the one the first century church encountered with the Romans! Jesus said in regards to salvation of human souls, MATT 7:14 "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it". In light of this truth, any that come to salvation are comparatively few, and would naturally be seen by the majority as 'freakish, different, odd, unusual,' etc.

In life, conformity to the 'norm' is something that we've all been subjected to, and it starts early, when we are first affected by the social structure in any culture. This is the essence of peer pressure we all experience in our teen years. We want to dress the same, act the same, like the same things that are considered 'cool' and thus be in the "in crowd".

Such conformity are established outwardly upon any individual from the group that the individual wishes to join, much the same as any league or club or society that adults seek to find a place in. Even in religious circles, such modes of conformity are found as the seeker adopts the practices, beliefs, even manner of dress and diet of the religion he desires to join.

All of these are objectives to be attained by the individual that wants to belong and are achieved by human means and outward manifestations. But none of these practices and procedures can do a thing to change the human heart any more than teaching a pig to bark, bury bones and chase cats can make it into a dog!

This is the very thing that Jesus rebuked in the Pharisees and scribes, for they were so obsessed with the outward show and religious trappings of their Jewish religion, that they missed the entire intent of the Law which was to be used as a Mirror, revealing the human heart for what it is, and its dire need of God's transformational power. And this is yet another aspect of our "freakishness" that the world can't understand.

For as Christians we are not to be conformed to this world by the many pressures it exerts on us in order to be "accepted" but to be transformed... how?

ROM 12:2
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God

The renewing of our mind is a process beyond our own capabilities, for it involves the introduction of pure thoughts, holiness, divine love, all of which are positively alien to sinners.

It requires no one less than God Himself to initiate this process, and He does this in the life of a believer from the INSIDE, OUT. He starts at the very core of our being, He begins within the essential stuff that make up our genuine being: our heart, or spirit as it were. He can't simply reform our hearts, or by outward influence, conform our hearts, for there is nothing within it that's curable.

Jeremiah states:

JER 17:9 
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 

The word used in the verse above "desperately" literally means 'incurable'! Thus God must grant to us a new heart, and in an act of divine creation, He fashions for us a new spirit, infused by His own Holy Spirit Who enters in at the point of salvation, that is, when we receive Christ into our lives and hearts as LORD and SAVIOR.

EZEK 36:26 
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

JOHN 3:3,5 

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

The transformational power of the spiritual rebirth by an actual Divine intervention within the human heart of any one who approaches Jesus Christ for salvation has absolutely no parallel in the world whatsoever.

It is a phenomena and an experience exclusive to the realm of the kingdom of God. Thus we are called "the sons of God" by the power of receiving Christ, as mentioned in JOHN 1:12. (An interesting side note: Adam was called "a son of God" as were angels in Genesis and Job. In these instances they refer to the direct creation of God; certainly Adam was directly created by God from the dust of the earth. All angels were directly created by God as well, for there are no angels that have parents or grandparents. The Christian is also a son of God in that these have hearts that are a direct creation of God Himself at the point of salvation! ... wow, huh?)

Oh, certainly you will find in such orders and occult circles as the Masonic order and various branches of witchcraft, among others, and of course Hinduism, this idea of being 'born again' but none of these transform the human heart and consciousness to the point of being something other than merely human, and conduct that portrays something more than human behavior, rather divine.

Its only the Christian, who under the influence of and obedient yielding to the Holy Spirit of God, that can "love those that hate" him, and "bless those that curse" him. Its only the Christian, who when subjected to horrific experiences of persecution and tribulation that can "count it all joy" when all circumstances are contrary to him. Its only the Christian who can rest in blissful assurance when they lay at death's door, and whose breath is labored in wheezing and shallow gasps, and yet within the eyes there is a light of hope and the gleam of joy in departing this world to be present with the precious LORD and KING, JESUS our SAVIOR.

The world can't understand this behavior and this conduct any more than a microbe can understand the scientist that has it under his microscope, for they exist in entirely different planes of reality: the one being the mere physical and the other being spiritual, specifically the Kingdom of Heaven, or God.

1 COR 2:14 
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned

Ever notice how the principles of the Kingdom of God are diametrically opposed to the rules of conduct as established in this rebel world of sin?

That's not by accident! God desired to establish the ambassadorship of those who would represent Him and His Kingdom in such a way that would violently clash with the ideologies of this world, and so the Kingdom is full of these freakish, unusual, so-called abnormal people known as Christians! Review the beatitudes as found in MATT 5 and ponder how "otherworldly" these principles really are! They are positively "freakish"!

So if you are ever called a Jesus Freak, hey . . . it shows that you are behaving in a way that contradicts the world and the darkness that has enslaved it by the rule of the god of this world, Satan.

And that's a good thing!

Amen? EPH 4:17-32