Law and Grace –Part 3

 

In part two, we briefly discussed that Apostle Paul’s revelation in the New Testament does not nullify the Old Testament revelation and the Lord Jesus confronted the Pharisees and Scribes for practicing the commandments of men instead of obeying God’s instructions.

In this segment, we will briefly look at righteousness and grace.

A believer’s standing in the family of God.

Every born again believer is a member of God’s family and a beloved child of God (see Ephesians chapter one). The moment a person accepts the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, on his or her behalf, he or she becomes an heir of heaven. Everything God promises is at his or her disposal. A believer’s standing in the family of God is solely based on grace and is the result of the work of Christ. It is received by faith (John 1:12-13, Rom 8:15-17, 1 Cor1:30, 12:12-13, Gal 3:26). Regardless of one’s social, religious, financial, ethnic or academic backgrounds, everyone has the same standing in God’s family. Every believer is a child of God with full legal rights. He or she receives complete pardon and acquittal for all the sins he or she has committed up to that point of time. He or she is declared righteous in God’s sight.

However, a believer’s walk or actual condition as a child of God solely depends on how one responds to his or her new birth privileges and responsibilities.  Every person is expected to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, see 2 Peter 3:18.

We need to grow in grace

The saving grace of our God has appeared, and it is available to all, see Titus 2:11.  As discussed earlier, this grace can be received only by faith in Christ. After receiving salvation by grace, every believer, whether old or new, has to replace his or her old thought patterns and accept the truth about the family of God. He or she then has to live the new way of life. He or she has to accept what God says (in His Word) about him or her. He or she then grows as a child of God by appropriating the privileges and rights. As the Holy Spirit illuminates the Scriptures to a believer, he or she ceases to think or act in the old pattern. This new way of life can be compared to an old computer with a new processor. Although the body of the computer and all other components remain the same, the computer will no longer act the same way it used to. Unlike computers, human mind can choose not to respond to the new processor (the born-again spirit). Scripture warns us that the grace of our God can be turned into lewdness even to the point of denying the only Lord, God (Jude 1:4).

Righteousness

Every born-again believer is righteous because of his or her faith in Christ, see Phil 3:9 and 1 Cor 1:30. However, some teach that you can never become unrighteous. Is this a correct statement? Does the bible teach so? The answer is both “Yes” and “No.” You may ask, “How could that be?” Let me explain. As far as your standing in the family of God is concerned, you are a righteous child of God. There will never be a change to that. You and I will always have this “tag of righteousness” attached to our name. I believe it is sealed in the heaven, and it cannot undone!

Can you, a born-again believer, ever commit unrighteous acts? Can you become unrighteous in your thoughts and speech? Yes, you can. We all do that occasionally. Some hyper-grace teachers teach that a believer in Christ cannot sin and there is no sin-consciousness in born again believers. They even declare that 1 John 1:9 is not addressed to believers in Christ, but written to gnostics in the church. However, the commentaries and treatises of the early centuries do not support such a view.

I believe a believer can and does sin.  In our spirit, we are righteous, yet in our thinking, which leads to action, we can be unrighteous. In other words, we, the righteous children of God, can commit or practice unrighteousness.  All sins one commits after the new birth have to be confessed.

The epistle of John is written to believers in Christ, or “Dear children or little children” of God, and it addresses the issue of fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Your state or “current status” in the family of God will depend on your walk. Since we can become unrighteous in our thoughts, speech, and actions, a washing of “hands and feet,” would be needed for the otherwise “fully bathed” believer.

It would be preposterous to think that we will not be held accountable by God for our thoughts, speech and actions as we are his family, see Heb. 12:5-11 & Rev. 3:19. I believe our God is righteous towards all, both believers and unbelievers, as evident in the scriptures. There is no evil or wickedness in our God, see Psalm 92:15. He wants us to be like Him.

Although each of us has been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light (Col 1:13), we can, and in most cases, we do walk in the kingdom of darkness. It is easy to slip back into the kingdom of darkness because we had lived there before accepting Jesus. But by confessing the sins one is cleansed from all unrighteousness.

Conclusion

I believe, because of grace, we can always come back to fellowship with God. The throne of God is a throne of grace for the child of God, see Hebrews 4:16. He or she can come to this throne boldly to obtain mercy. He or she is not punished by God, but forgiven when a sin is confessed. In addition to that, he or she is given the grace to help him or her in his or her need or weakness. That is, we are granted the divine power (grace) to accomplish something that we cannot accomplish with our physical strength or will power.

Grace is not a license to sin, but a provision through which we can restore our fellowship with God and walk in authority. Grace always beckons you, without giving you a sense of reproach or guilt. It does not accuse you, but lovingly reminds you of the mercy of God. Grace extends the olive branch, as to speak. Grace is the constant assurance. It encourages and comforts. Grace is the very nature of the Holy Spirit who always reveals Jesus to us. God wants us to grow in this grace (2 Peter 3:18). He wants us to take full advantage of this grace to reach our destiny.

Let us walk, live, and grow in this grace!

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LAW AND GRACE –PART 2

 

In our previous discussion, I presented at least three usages of the Hebrew word, Torah, translated as “The Law” in English bibles. Although in its strict sense Torah refers to the first five books (Pentateuch) of the Old Testament, it is occasionally used to refer to the entire Old Testament. Since the term Torah means instruction or teaching, in a very real sense the word can be applied to the entire Bible also.

Let us, now, talk about the New Testament. The new revelation that Paul and others received and taught in the churches is now part of the New Testament. What does the New Testament tell us about the Old Testament?

Romans 15:4 NIV For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

The Old Testament then is for our learning! What do we learn from the Old Testament and why do we have to learn from the Old Testament? I believe the majority of the revelation we have about God is in the Old Testament. Does God have to repeat, in the New Testament, every information that he has already revealed in the Old Testament?  I believe the answer is obvious.

The Scriptures of the Old Covenant give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises of both the old and new covenants to be fulfilled.

Paul’s revelation about the Old Testament

Paul’s revelation and teaching in the book of Romans and Galatians is not about doing away with the entire teaching of the Old Testament. In these epistles, Apostle Paul clarified that a believer under the Old Covenant was reckoned righteous because he or she kept all the teachings about sacrifices.  The righteous people under the Old Covenant were not sinless. They were right with God because they observed “All the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.” For example, what does the bible tell us about Zechariah and Elizabeth who lived under the Old Covenant?

Luke 1:6 NLT Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.
Paul declares that he himself was considered righteous under the Old Covenant, see Phil 3:6 and Romans 10:5. A believer under the Old Covenant trusted the coming Messiah and offered in faith the required sacrifices for his sins.

Now that the ultimate sacrifice for sin has been made by the Lamb of God, we are justified (declared righteous) by believing in Him. We no longer need to offer sacrifices as the perfect sacrifice has already been made, fulfilling all the legal requirements.

Gal 3: 23-25 NLT Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.  Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.   And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

Is Paul talking about the entire Old Testament, or is it about the “Law of Moses.” Reading this in the context, we know it is about the “Law of Moses.” However, we need to remember that Paul is referring to the law (teaching) of Moses or the teaching that was given to Israel through Moses concerning righteousness. Why is this important? The Pentateuch reveal so much about God that it would not be correct to say that we do not need the revelation in those books. For example, do the Ten Commandments stand canceled in the age of grace? What sections of the Pentateuch is then no longer applicable to us? Only the teaching that has to do with righteousness.

There are specific commandments and ordinances in the Old Covenant that would make a man or woman righteous if he or she kept them. There are specific sacrifices and feasts of the Lord that Old Covenant believers were expected to keep. Each one of these sacrifices or feasts pointed to Jesus the Messiah, and what He would do to deliver mankind from sin. By observing those sacrifices and celebrating those feasts, the Old Covenant believers expressed their trust in the Messiah who was yet to come. The Passover (Jesus is the Passover Lamb, 1 Cori 5:7), The Feast of Unleavened Bread (this pointed to the Messiah’s sinless life), The Feast of First Fruits (Resurrection of Jesus as the first fruit of the righteous) and the Feast of Weeks also known as Pentecost (harvest of souls and the gift of the Holy Spirit to Jews and Gentiles) have been fulfilled. Believers under the New Covenant do not have to celebrate them. “They were meant to lead us to Christ.”

Jews and Judaism

Many believers hold the wrong impression that  the Lord Jesus was against the Old Testament because of His frequent confrontations with Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees. So, it will be worthwhile to consider few facts about the religion these groups followed. We do not see these three groups anywhere in the Old Testament books. From the time of Malachi (about 400 B.C.) till John the Baptist, there was a not a single prophet among the Jews who spoke to them authoritatively. During this period, the Jewish elders and scholars began to write separate interpretations and comments to the Old Testament books. These books, Mishna and Gemara forming the Talmud, and Midrashim and Kabbala were superimposed upon the Old Testament teachings. Obedience to the laws of these books was mandatory, and in effect these traditions replaced the Word of God. So the Jews during that 400-year period were not following the Word of God or Torah, but the traditions of the elders. This new religion can be called Judaism.

It is said that there are 252 commandments (I have not personally counted them) and laws in the Old Testament. Judaism had 613 commandments and laws. The commandments codified by the Pharisees, put people in real bondage. For example, God commanded His people to rest on the Sabbath. Pharisees made a law that you can walk only 1100 meters on Sabbath days (see Acts 1:12). God did not say that, they added that to God’s word. The Lord Jesus never approved the teachings and practices of Judaism, but he held high the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Once, while confronting the Pharisees, He said,

Matt 7:9-13 NLT “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.  For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents.  And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”

The Lord, in fact, upbraided them because they were not teaching the Old Testament.

Another gospel

In the first chapter of the book of Galatians, the Holy Spirit through Paul speaks about “Another gospel.” This another gospel is the erroneous teaching that the born again gentile believers should be circumcised in order to be saved. This erroneous teaching was already discussed at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and rejected by James, Peter and John, who were considered pillars of the church in the first century. However this false teaching did not die out quietly. False brothers tried to secretly bring in such teachings in the church.

What is circumcision?

Circumcision was a sign or seal of righteousness, see Romans 4:11. Under the Old Covenant, the Israelites were required to undergo circumcision. The circumcision did not make them righteous but it was a sign or seal of their separation or distinction from the gentiles. They were counted righteous because they observed all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.

LAW AND GRACE –PART 1

Is Christ is the end of the Law?

Some Christians believe we need to have a New Testament verse for everything we believe or accept as doctrine. Unfortunately, we will not find a verse in the New Testament for everything we believe about God.

 The demand for a verse from the New Testament originates in the belief that the entire OT is done away in Christ. Several passages in the New Testament are used to support such beliefs. In this study, we will examine few such passages, using some simple principles of interpreting the Scriptures. I will present all the facts I have researched so far, and let the readers draw their conclusions.

 One of the NT scriptures used to support this belief is Romans 10:4

 Rom 10:4 Christ is the end of the law for righteousness

 Some believe the term, “Law or the law,” refers to the entire Old Testament and thus conclude that the Old Testament ended in Christ.  They, therefore, teach that the Old Testament is not applicable to Christians. They believe Christians live in a new administration called “Grace.” The argument we often hear is that “We are under grace, and not under law”.

 My study began with one simple question: If the Old Testament is not applicable to Christians, why then, Paul and other writers of the New Testament quote liberally from the Old Testament in their writings? For example, the book of Romans, which is considered to be a doctrinal epistle by many, contains numerous references to the Old Testament scriptures.  For example, “The just shall live faith,” is actually a quote from the Old Testament (Habakkuk 2:4)

 In order to accurately understand the passage in Romans chapter 10, we need to examine and establish the meaning of the term, “Law,” first.

 The word “Law” is Torah in Hebrew language.

 In the strict sense of the word, Torah means instruction designed to teach us the truth about God. So, Torah can mean direction, instruction, teaching, or doctrine.

 The English translation, “Law” gives a wrong impression, as law would mean rules and regulations.

 The New Testament uses the Greek νόμος (nomos) for the Hebrew Torah

 The Greek word, “Nomos,” however, has a variety of uses among which, to be sure, is law, but it is certainly not limited to law.

 Many believe the Law or Torah started with Moses. But Torah or instructions did not start with Moses. In the Garden of Eden God taught Adam, he instructed him on a variety of things! Wouldn’t it be, then, accurate to say that the Torah began in the Garden of Eden?

 Who taught Cain and Abel about offerings? From the time of Adam till the law was given in written form, there existed teachings or Torah of God. Successive generations knew these teachings.

 Rom 10:4 Christ is the end of the law for righteousness

 Now let us replace the word “Law” with teaching or instruction.

 Christ is the end of teaching or instruction for righteousness. That means the teaching on righteousness ends in Christ. All previous teaching was to lead us to Christ.

 Once we begin to use the word teaching or instruction in the place of “Law,” we need to ask ourselves another question! Does this refer to the entire Old Testament, or a specific part of it?

 Let us read Jesus’ own comments about the Old Testament. Jesus, our Lord, divided the Old Testament into three sections.

 Luke 24:44 (NLT) Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

 The Lord was very specific about the term “Law.” He specifically said the ” The Law of Moses”. You will also notice that the Lord divided the Old Testament into three sections. In the index of your bible, you may notice sections like, “history, poetry, major prophets, minor prophets” etc. But the Lord did not divide the Old Testament that way. This just tells us that we need to go by what the Lord said, and not by what the popular teachers or theologians say.

You may also examine the following passages to see how the Lord used the term “Law” in his teachings.

Matthew 5:17, 7:12, 11:13, 22:40; Luke 16:16.

Philip, Luke and Paul were very clear in their usage of the term law as evident in the following passages:

John 1:45; Acts 13:15, 24:14, 28:23.

In most of the above passages, the word “Moses” does not appear, yet from the context we know it is referring to the Law of Moses.

So, “The Law” usually refers to the book of Moses and not the entire Old Testament. Tanakh (Ta-nack) is the more proper term for the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. This term is an acrostic formed from the Hebrew letters “taw”(t), “nun” (n), and “kaph”(k), which stand for the three main divisions of the Hebrew Bible: The Torah (Law or Instructions), the Nevi’im (Prophets), and the Ketuvim (Writings).

However, the term “The Law” is occasionally used loosely to refer to the whole of the Old Testament, as in John 10:34 cf Psalms 82:6 ; John 15:25 cf Psalms 35:19; 1 Corinthians 14:21cf Isaiah 28:11,12.

If we read every New Testament verse, where the term “The Law” occurs, in the context, we will be able to determine whether it is a reference to the first five books (Pentateuch) or the entire Old Testament.

Since the term Torah means instruction or teaching, in a very real sense the word can be applied to the entire Bible.

Lord Jesus said that he did not come to destroy the law or the prophets. He made that very clear in the following passage

 Mat 5:17 (NLT)”Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

 When you read this verse in the context of the discourse beginning in chapter 5, you will realize that the Lord’s purpose was not to abolish or dissolve the Law, rather He raised standard for Christians by asking them to maintain a higher standard of life to glorify the Father.

He came to fulfill what was in the law (teachings or instructions) about him. He further said that everything the prophets had written also would be fulfilled.

 Mat 5:18 Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen.

 He also said that the law and the prophets prophesied till John the Baptist.

 Mat 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

 So the law or the teachings of Moses and the prophets prophesied! What did they prophesy? They prophesied about the coming Messiah and His Kingdom.

 Has everything written in the law or the prophets happened? I would say, “No.”

 Let us not forget that Jesus did not teach from the New Testament as there was no New Testament at that time. Paul taught from the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Messiah! The new revelation Paul received agreed with the Old Testament scriptures and that is one of the reasons the Jews believed in Jesus when Paul preached or taught.

 

 

Why four gospels-How to study the Bible

Four Gospels

In this segment of “How to study the Bible”, I would like to discuss a topic that you will come across sooner or later. When you read the first four books of the New Testament, known as the gospels, you will notice that all four of them talk about the life and ministry of Jesus, upon this earth. Why do we have four gospels, why not two or just one, since all of them tell the story of the same person? Is there a divine purpose behind it? Let us find out!

Some scholars say that in the apostolic times (the first century) there were four representative classes—the Jews, the Romans, the Greeks, and the Church (a body of people from the first three groups).  In their opinion, each writer wrote for these respective classes, and adapted himself to their character, needs, and ideals.

So, Matthew wrote to Jews presenting Jesus as the Messiah.

Luke wrote to the Greeks presenting the perfect Man.

Mark wrote to the Romans, a people whose ideal was power and service, presenting Jesus as the Mighty Conqueror.

John wrote to the Church or Christians, presenting Jesus’ deity.

(Source: Pentecostal Classics, through the Bible book by book, part 3).

Harmony of the Gospels

The first three Gospels have been called the Synoptic Gospels by most theologians and scholars.  (From the Greek syn “together” and optanomai, “to see”).They try to see them together because of the similarities or the common view of the life of Christ that the three gospels present.  Why do we want to see them together when God assigned three different writers to write three different gospels? However, there is another question that needs to be answered. If the Gospels are totally independent of each other in origin and development, why do they resemble so closely?  In several places there are exact verbal agreement!

2 Timothy 3:16 Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. GW

2 Peter 1:20-21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. KJV

All Scriptures are inspired by God, or God-breathed!  No Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.

 

We do not know if Matthew deliberately wrote to the Jews or John specifically wrote to Christians, as scholars have us believe. There is no doubt that the scholars have drawn their conclusions after careful consideration of all the available evidences. However, human viewpoints are devoid of any authority when interpreting the Bible.

What we know for sure is that Holy Spirit inspired four different men to write an account of the life and ministry of Jesus, and they wrote independently. We do know that God has a purpose for everything he does. Does He always tell us His purpose? The answer is in Deuteronomy 29:29. Please read it!

If God wanted us to know why He gave us four gospels, I am certain, He would have revealed it in the Scriptures! God has revealed so much about Jesus the Messiah, in the Old Testament. Let us have a look at some of the Old Testament passages about the Messiah!

In several passages in the OT Jesus Christ is referred to as the “Branch.”

In Jeremiah 23:5-6 and 33:15 Christ is presented as the “Righteous Branch,” the King raised to rule in righteousness.  So, I would say Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to present Jesus as the Messiah and King.  The Gospel begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David.  The fact that He is son of David, the first King is emphasized here.  Saul should have been the first but, since he was removed from the throne, none of his offspring ever occupied the throne.  The royal dynasty begins with David. Is He is the King of Jews only? That’s a tricky question! He is the King of the whole universe! Yet, he came to this earth primarily as the King of Jews. The Jews can understand and relate to the gospel of Matthew better that any other people group. Does that mean it was written to the Jews? Then why we Gentile Christians reading it or studying?

In Zechariah 3:8, Christ is presented as “The Branch” the Servant brought forth for Jehovah’s service.  So God inspired Mark to present Jesus as Jehovah’s Servant.  You don’t see any genealogy here.  A servant doesn’t have and need a genealogy.  We see Jesus straightaway entering into his ministry right in the first chapter.

In Zechariah 6:12, Christ is “The Branch,” the man growing up or branching out from his place.  So Luke was inspired to present Jesus as the Son of Man.  He gives details of his growing up and brings the perfections of Christ as “Perfect Man.”  The genealogy is rather backward and traces back to Adam the son of God.

In Isaiah 4:2, Christ is “the Branch of Jehovah,” the one with all-intrinsic beauty and glory of Jehovah.  So, we have John presenting Jesus Christ as the Son of God in his Gospel.

Would it be accurate to say that the four Gospels present the four characteristics of the branch, the Messiah?

Did God intend a harmony (an arrangement of parallel passages of different Gospels made so as to bring out corresponding ideas, qualities etc.) of the Gospels? For then He would have given us one Gospel.  There has to be a reason for the four Gospels!

While considering this important question, I would like to draw your attention to another passage of Scripture.

Luke 1:3It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, KJV

The term, “the very first” in the Greek is anothen,[1]and it means “from above.”

So, Luke tells us, right at the beginning of his gospel, that he was going to write what he received from above.

In conclusion, I would like to remind you, students of the Bible, to do your own study, before accepting and believing the hypothesis of renowned scholars!

For further study, you may consult The Companion Bible(E W Bullinger)

[1] This same word, anothen, is translated as “top” in Mathew 27:51

The genealogy in Genesis 5

March 10, 2016

Once day, after a brief discussion with a fellow believer, about the genealogy in Genesis 5, I decided to make a simple table, using the information available in this passage. The table speaks volumes about the people named in the genealogy.  The table is appended at the end of this short article. Please have a look and then read on ….

 

You must have already noticed that Adam lived to see 8 generations (through Seth).

In other words, Adam was alive when Lamech was born.

Besides, Adam lived 800 years after Seth was born and had other sons and daughters (Gen. 5:4).  It is fair to conclude that he had many grandchildren through these sons and daughters. 

Similarly, Seth, Enosh, Kenan etc., had other sons and daughters besides the sons named in this genealogy.  This means Adam saw his progeny filling the earth.  This is not a simple matter when you look at it in light of the blessing God pronounced when he was created, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”

Another significant fact to take note is that the blessings were not just for Adam.  It propagated.  Seth, Enosh, Kenan etc., lived to see several generations.

Methuselah: Lived 969 years, the longest we read of that any man ever lived on earth.

The significance of his name: some think his name was prophetical, his father Enoch being a prophet. Methuselah signifies, he dies, or there is a dart, or, a sending forth, namely, of the deluge, which came the very year that Methuselah died. Some explain the meaning of his name as “in the year he dies, it will come”.  If indeed his name was so intended and so explained, it was fair warning to a careless world, a long time before the judgment came.

It is commonly supposed that Methuselah died a little before the flood; the Jewish writers say, “seven days before”, although there is no scriptural proof to it.

Lamech: Died 5 years prior to the flood.  Certainly both Methuselah and Lamech heard the preaching of Noah.  They both were alive when the ark was being prepared.

genesis-5-table-1

How to study the Bible and enjoy it-4

IMG_0893

James K Sebastian

February 22, 2016

CAN GOD SPEAK OR BEHAVE CONTRARY TO HIS NATURE

Bible clearly states that righteousness and justice are the foundations of God’s throne (Psalm 89:14). It further states that the LORD is fair in all his ways (Psalms 145:17).

The Lord himself proclaimed that He is merciful, gracious, and abundant in goodness truth.

However, some of the incidents and statements in the Old Testament puzzle the reader because they contradict the nature of our Heavenly Father as revealed in both the Old and the New Testaments.

The annihilation of the armies of Pharaoh, the flood during the time of Noah, and the tower of Babel are few of them.

To understand such passages, one must understand the idiomatic expressions of the Hebrew language. An idiom is a usage of words in a culture which have meaning different from its dictionary meaning. For example, when someone says, “I hit the sack early last night,” It means he or she went to bed early.

In the Old Testament, God uses the “Idiom of Permission,” to conceal the enemy.  In his book, “Figures of Speech used in the Bible”, E W Bullinger explains the Idiom of permission in this manner: “Active verbs were used by the Hebrews to express not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do.”

So, when we read “God killed someone,” it means God allowed him to be killed. When anyone breaks the law of God, he or she gets the just wages of their action (see Romans 3:23). In other words, the enemy kills, harms, hurts, and destroys.

Why does God speak in this manner? One of the reasons, I believe, is not to glorify the devil. God commanded His people, in Exodus 23:13 not to take name of other gods. So, in the OT, the enemy is named only in few instances. The adversary was not revealed until Jesus Christ came to this earth.

Passages such as Job1:21, 1 Sam 2:6, Isaiah 45:7 should be understood in the light of the idiom of permission.

2Sa 24:1 The LORD became angry with Israel again, so he provoked David to turn against Israel. He said, “Go, count Israel and Judah.” (GW)

In the above passage, God apparently provoked David. Now read the parallel passage in the book of Chronicles.

1Ch 21:1 Satan attempted to attack Israel by provoking David to count the Israelites. GW

The books of Chronicles are written from God’s point of view in contrast to the books of Kings and Samuel which are from man’s point of view. Therefore, the passage in the book of Chronicles nails the culprit, so to speak, while in the book of Samuel, he is not named. Please understand all the books under discussion are inspired by the Holy Spirit.

A difficult passage in Luke 22:31-32 becomes easy and clear, when we study it in the light of what we have learned so far.

ANOTHER POINT ABOUT BOOKS

I have a collection of books on various subjects. When I read a book, I keep my bible handy. I try to put everything I read through a litmus test of the Bible. In some cases, I do not read a book until I have first studied the subject on my own.

However, sometimes, a book sitting on my book rack catches my attention.  A word in the title of the book keeps flashing before my eyes. In such cases I pull it out of the rack and begin to read. As I read along (I do not always begin from chapter one), I am prompted to pause at a certain place, and Holy Spirit downloads a new insight or a complete teaching on the same subject.

You may be led to a different, yet unique experience, as you study the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Resources such as Orientalisms of the Bible, Manners and customs in the Bible, and Figures of Speech used in the Bible also can help in our study the Word. We will talk about them some other day.

STUDY BIBLES

Study Bibles and chain reference Bibles provide a wealth of cultural, social, historical, and geographical information. However, the interpretations they provide do reflect the doctrinal position of the publishers or editorial board.

APPLICATION OF THE TRUTH

We study the Bible to know the author, God, and His ways. When I say, “Know,” I use it in the way it is used in the Eastern Culture. That is, to experience something or someone by association and application. So, apply the truths as you learn them.

The Word will transform (Rom 8:29; 12:2) and set you free (John 8:31-32)

How to study the Bible and enjoy it-3

James K Sebastian

February 10, 2016

In the previous sessions, we discussed some of the basic principles of studying the bible and enjoying it.

I would like to share few more important things for those who want to dig a little deeper.

APPARENT CONTRADICTIONS

As you progress in your study of the Bible, you may come across some statements or incidents that apparently contradict other passages of Scripture. What do we do when we encounter such a situation?

First of all, we need to remember that the Bible is written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, it cannot have errors or contradictions!

What we perceive as contradiction could be our ignorance of the unique expressions found in the original language, or customs and mannerisms of the Bible Land.

One reason for apparent contradiction is not separating similar incidents from the identical ones. You will find several such incidents in the gospel narratives.

For example Jesus, our Lord cursed a fig tree few days before his crucifixion. One gospel account says the tree dried up instantly (Mat 21:19), while another one says, it dried up the next day (Mark 11:20). Now, there is a contradiction, apparently! How do we resolve this?

Before we, jump into any conclusion, I suggest you read the entire passage, paying careful attention to every detail.

Read from Mark 11:17.What details do we have here?

Jesus sat on a colt and rode to Jerusalem. There is only one animal. Let us call it  Day One

Some people spread their garments on the on the highway, while others cut branches of trees and spread on the highway.

Jesus entered Jerusalem, went into the Temple.

He looked around all things, but since it was late, he returned to Bethany

The next day, (Day Two) he returned from Bethany.

He was little hungry and went near a fig tree. There were no fruits on it. He said, “No one will eat from this tree anymore.”

Disciples heard that statement

Jesus, then went to Jerusalem, entered the Temple

He began to throw out the vendors. This incident took place on the second day of entering Jerusalem, riding on a single animal.

In the evening, they went out of the city

Next day (Day Three) they returned to Jerusalem. Passing along, they noticed the fig tree withered from its roots

Now please read from Mathew chapter 21, beginning with verse 6.

The disciples brought a donkey and a colt to Jesus. They spread their clothes on them and Jesus sat on them. (There are two animals here). Day one of Matthew

The crowd that went with him shouted, “Hosanna!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the city was shaken

Jesus, our Lord, entered the temple, threw out the vendors. This incident took place the day entered Jerusalem on donkey and a colt.

Jesus then healed a blind man

The chief priests were disturbed by the wonders, the shouting of Hosanna etc. They objected to it.

He went out of Jerusalem, to Bethany and stayed there.

The following day, returned to Jerusalem. Day two of Matthew

He was little hungry, went near a fig tree, it had no fruits

He said, “No one will eat fruit from this tree anymore,” and the tree dried up immediately,

Then he went to the Temple, the chief priests and the elders questioned him

I have highlighted some similarities and differences in both the accounts. I suggest you take your time to read both the accounts carefully, writing down every single similarity and difference. Read the account recorded in Luke chapter 19 also. Once you do this, you will have a better picture.

Who rode on donkeys and who rode on colts in the Old Testament? Well, use your concordance and read the passages where the term “Colts” is used. You will get more insight.

INTERPRETATIONAL ERRORS

Most people believe Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday. If this is true, how could he complete three days and three nights (Math 12:40) by Sunday morning?

First of all Bible doesn’t say the Lord was crucified on a Friday. The gospel accounts tell us that the day after his crucifixion was a Sabbath day, a special Sabbath. It seems to me that the church erroneously interpreted this Sabbath as Saturday and thus fixed Friday as the day of crucifixion.  It is interesting to note that the First Century church never observed Good Friday!

Since there is no record of a Good Friday in the Bible, we should not teach Jesus was crucified on a Friday. What the Bible clearly tells us is that after the resurrection, Jesus was seen by Mary Magdalene on the first day (Sunday) of the week. Now, if you really want to find out the day Jesus was crucified, you need to read the accounts in all the four gospels, and list every detail as we did in the previous case.

1 Cori 5:7 states that Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us.

In other words, Jesus Christ came to this earth as the Passover Lamb, appointed by God. Jews did not realize that Jesus Christ was their real Passover Lamb.  Jesus Christ died exactly on the day when the Jews killed the Passover lamb as per the stipulations found in Exodus chapter 12. The Passover lamb was selected on the 10th of Abib or Nisan, and then sacrificed on the 14th evening. Please read through the chapter and note down every detail.

Then read about The Feast of First Fruits Lev 23:10-11.

Compare the details of Exodus, Leviticus and the gospel accounts. You will have the answer.

As we continue our discussion on how to study to the Bible, I want to emphasize that Holy Spirit may prompt you to study a certain subject.  As you read the Bible, a certain verse or even a word may catch your attention! You may NOT be able to take your eyes off that verse for a while, or you may feel that verse or certain words in that verse are jumping out of the Bible. Several other verses or passages may come to your mind (Holy Spirit reminds John 14:26). As you look them up, and read through them, you will have a newer and better understanding of a certain truth (Holy Spirit teaches John 14:26).

I have described some of my experiences with the Holy Spirit. In fact, after I began to read and study the Bible, without reading books, I have learned a lot. Holy Spirit can do wonderful things with you when you study the Word with a desire to know God. Your experience could be different, but you will certainly enjoy studying the Bible with the Holy Spirit.