Tag Archive for 'Jesus'

2 Corinthians 12:8 and Answer to Prayer

I just found that I’ve been blogging for over 10 years, although not very much lately. II thougt I would post some from the archives:

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 12:8-9
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Three times he pleaded for his affliction to be taken away. This is reminiscent of Jesus praying three times in Gethsemane. “So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.” (Matthew 26:44) “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 b)

We can see that Jesus and Paul were persistent in prayer. Maybe there is significance in comparing the fact that Paul and Jesus both prayed three times but that isn’t a magic formula. Jesus may have prayed that same thing many times before that night. And Paul received a definite answer after three times.

The parables that illustrate persistence in prayer are the impudent friend in Luke 11:5-10 and the bothersome widow in Luke 18:1-8.

Both Jesus and Paul got an answer of “no” to one of their most fervent prayers. This should give us comfort when we and our loved ones don’t get what we wish.

But by no means is that the end of it. God accomplished in Paul and Jesus much more after an answer of “no” than anyone would imagine. God is good (Nahum 1:7) and His will is perfect (Romans 12:2).

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” I never thought that this could apply to the answer of “no” until now.

As far as our prayers go, in his commentary on 2 Corinthians Garland says, “Calvin explains that there are two kinds of answers to prayer:

We ask without qualification for those things about which we have sure promise, such as the perfecting of God’s kingdom and the hallowing of His name, the forgiveness of sins and everything profitable* to us. But when we imagine that God’s kingdom can and indeed must be furthered in such and such a way, or that this or that is necessary for the hallowing of His name, we are often mistaken, just as, in the same way, we are often deluded as to what in fact tends to our own welfare.

We can ask with full confidence for what is certainly promised to us, but ‘we cannot prescribe the means.’ God may grant the end that we ask for in prayer, but God may use a means that we do not desire.”

*I’m guessing his definition of “profitable” may be different than what we may think.

Quotes from The Person of Jesus by Gresham Machen

Here are some quotes from the book The Person of Jesus: Radio Addresses on the Deity of the Savior by Gresham Machen. This is a very short book of a series of radio addresses given in 1935. This post is under the new category of Book Quotes, which gives you a sample of a recently read book. See the last quote for some humor.

So it is when we try to think of God as eternal. If the word “infinity” is related, by way of contrast, to the notion of space, so the word “eternity” is related, by way of contrast, to the notion of time. When we say that God is eternal, we mean that he had no beginning and that he will have no end. But we really mean more than that. We mean that time has no meaning for him, save as it has meaning to the creatures whom he has made. He created time when he created finite creatures. He himself is beyond time. There is no past and no future to him. The Bible puts that in poetical language when it says: “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Ps 90:4). We of course are obliged to think of the actions of God as taking place in time. We are obliged to think of him as doing one thing after another thing; we are obliged to think of him as doing this today and that tomorrow. We have a perfect right so to think, and the Bible amply confirms us in that right. To us there is indeed such a thing as past and present and future, and when God deals with us he acts in a truly temporal series. But to God himself all things are equally present. There is no such thing as “before” or “after” to him.

Jesus does not present himself merely as an example for faith but presents himself as the object of faith.

And therefore to apparel [put on] ourself with Christ is none other thing than to believe assuredly that Christ is ours.

“Why does this man speak like that?” they said. “He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). They were right. None can forgive sins but God only. Jesus was a blasphemer if he was a mere man. At that point the enemies saw clearly. You may accept the lofty claims of Jesus. You may take him as very God. Or else you must reject him as a miserable, deluded enthusiast. There is really no middle ground. Jesus refuses to be pressed into the mold of a mere religious teacher.

If the Jesus of the Gospels were a purely natural and not a supernatural person, then we should have no difficulty in believing that such a person lived in the first century of our era. Even skeptics would have no difficulty in believing it. Defenders of the faith would have an easy victory indeed. Everybody would believe. But then there would be one drawback. It would be this: the thing that everybody would believe would not be worth believing.

The bottom of the next quote is the most humorous I’ve read in a Christian book in a long time.

Those first disciples of Jesus [supposedly] became convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead because they experienced certain hallucinations, certain pathological experiences in which they thought they saw Jesus before their eyes when in reality there was nothing there. In an hallucination, the optic nerve is really affected but it is affected not by light rays coming from an external object, but by some pathological condition of the bodily organism of the subject himself. This is the so-called “vision theory” regarding the origin of the Christian church. It has held the field among unbelievers inside of the church and outside of the church since the days of Strauss about one hundred years ago. I think we ought to understand just exactly what that vision theory means. It means that the Christian church is founded upon a pathological experience of certain persons in the first century of our era. It means that if there had been a good neurologist for Peter and the others to consult there never would have been a Christian church.

The Person of Jesus

Also find it at: Westminster Bookstore

“Which is easier to say”? You’re forgiven or healed?

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”
Mark 2:9-11 ESV

In reading through Mark using several study Bibles and a couple of commentaries when necessary, the comment on this passage in the ESV Study Bible is very helpful.

Mark 2:9–11 Which is easier … ? On the surface, of course, it is easier to say the words, “Your sins are forgiven,” because that is something invisible and impossible to disprove. But it is harder to say, “take up your bed and walk” because, if the man does not get up, the one who said the words will be shown to have no authority to heal. On a deeper level, however, it is harder to forgive sins, because only God can forgive sins—at the cost of Christ’s death on the cross. The logic here is that, since Jesus can do the visible miracle (heal the paralytic), this is evidence that he also has the power to do the invisible miracle (forgive sins).

I’ve been using up to seven study Bibles. All of them are available to me online except the paper version of The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB), which I have found to be the most helpful after using it and others while reading 1 Timothy through Revelation.

Free Resources
You can find the Reformation Study Bible for free at BibleGateway, along with previews of many others, along with some commentaries, and the HCSB Study Bible on their own site. Go to the Library link on the left and find it within the book list. Let me know if there are others you’re familiar with.

Quotes About Jesus in the Old Testament – Pt 3 of Many

We cannot say that Moses preached the opposite of Jesus because Moses spoke of Jesus. We cannot say that Israel had only the law, and we have the gospel: “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them.” (Hebrews 4:2, emphasis added)

–David Murray, Jesus On Every Page (Advance Copy)

Also see:

Quotes About Jesus in the Old Testament – Pt 2 of Many

Most Christians delight in reading and rereading the record of Jesus contained in the four Gospels. These four short books reveal so much about our precious Savior. But what would you say if I told you that knew of some bonus material about Him? What if I told you there were other books—books that most people know very little about? No, I’m not talking about some newly discovered Gnostic gospels. In fact, the books I’m talking about were written hundreds of years before a star appeared in the east.

You won’t be surprised to learn that I’m talking about the Old Testament. Yes, the Son of God was present and active on earth long before His birth in Bethlehem. This was probably my most exciting discovery when I started looking for Jesus in the Old Testament. Numerous writers, including Jonathan Edwards and Jonathan Stephens, opened my eyes to see the amount of bonus material that I had completely overlooked till then.

–David Murray, Jesus On Every Page (Advance Copy)

Also see:

Book Review: Jesus On Every Page by David Murray

Book Cover - Jesus On Every Page by David Murray Jesus On Every Page by David Murray

The author writes: “Some surveys put the ratio of Old Testament to New Testament sermons at 1 to 10. Some would like it nearer 0 to 10. But might this imbalance in the spiritual diet of most Christians explain many of the spiritual problems in the modern church and in modern Christians? Or as theologian Gleason Archer put it: ‘How can Christian pastors hope to feed their flock on a well-balanced spiritual diet if they completely neglect the books of Holy Scripture on which Jesus and all the New Testament authors received their own spiritual nourishment?’”

In addition to this book being about what the title says, it’s a book about recovering the Old Testament in general. I love the Old Testament and am so glad to read what David Murray has to say. In the first chapter, after the quote above, he offers a litany of reasons as to why we have lost the interest in and importance of the Old Testament. He’s not overly polite in this area, and it’s a needed admonition. At one point I thought he was being a little on the negative side, but then I’m already biased in believing how important the Old Testament is.

That’s just the first chapter. I very much appreciate the first portion of this book which is not just introductory material. In Part I: My Road To Emmaus, he writes about how when he was a younger lad, he reluctantly became a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament in a small Scottish Presbyterian denomination. This started a study of a subject he first dreaded, but quickly began to enjoy.

The way the book is written is as if he’s in a living room speaking with a variety of people. The newer believers will be able to understand him enthusiastically teaching them, and the more knowledgeable Christians will learn a great deal as well. He writes about the Old Testament from the perspective of Jesus, Peter, Paul and John, and how they utilized the Old Testament (a lot!).

In the chapter on Paul, he wrote, “I decided…” when discovering something about how the Old Testament was quoted. This sounded rather strange, as if he was going about this on his own and not using the wisdom of the church universal to confirm his findings. But this was quickly dispelled, as before this and throughout the rest of the book, he provides ample quotes from people like Christopher Wright, Jonathan Edwards, and many more. Murray is an educated learner, being a Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, having pastored two churches in Scotland and recently starting a new pastorate. So he is teaching us from his own knowledge gained, but providing additional sources of information, which also provides the reader with a nice bibliography. The references are contained in the oft complained about end notes, including Scripture references.

For those willing to read about this subject, this will be highly valuable in understanding the importance of reading and studying the Old Testament. (Also see: 7 Reasons To Study Your Old Testament)

I wanted to write mainly about the first portion of the book since you will find plenty of reviews about the rest of it. As I was reading the second portion, I found myself not just learning about Jesus in the Old Testament, but also how to read and interpret the Old Testament, which is fantastic. The book has more to offer than just what the title suggests. I highly recommend it.

I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

I also read David Murray’s short book Christians Get Depressed Too which was surprisingly good, since I expected it to be too basic. He’s also one of my favorite bloggers and Twitterers.

See the book’s web site Jesus on Every Page : Dr. David Murray

The book can also be found at Amazon.com

Christ-Centered Bible Study

I’m glad to announce that David at Armchair Theology has produced a free eBook that helps us to see Jesus and the gospel throughout the Bible. I had the privilege of proof-reading much of it and I think it’s very good, solid, concise yet comprehensive teaching with no fluff.

Find a trailer video, description and download here:

Christ-Centered Bible Study – Read the Bible Like Jesus

Dave’s enthusiasm for reading and studying Scripture is infectious. The message is clear and contains sound Biblical instruction, filled with Scripture and quotes. It’s written for a wide range of people from laymen to leaders. Writings geared toward the gospel are popular right now, and for good reason. It’s something we need to be constantly reminded of. I highly recommend this e-book for everyone.

Free in February: Kindle version of ‘Imaginary Jesus’

This is free in February. I don’t know if it will be longer than that. I’m not familiar with the book–just passing it along.

Imaginary Jesus [Kindle Edition] by Matt Mikalatos, Tyndale House Publishers (January 4, 2010)

Book - Imaginary Jesus

Euro Jesus

(I didn’t know if I should capitalize the J. I did out of respect for Himself.) Don’t people yet realize Jesus wasn’t born in Northern Europe? And that nobody knows what he really looks like? What really irks me is that Christian book publishers (even the good ones) put out books with depictions of Jesus. I personally don’t like images of Jesus at all which I don’t want to debate here, and I don’t judge those who do, but can’t they actually make an attempt to portray him as where he comes from?

One of the best images I’ve seen (click on it for a blog post):

I believe Nathan Stitt helped me with this image. If not, let me know who you are.

New Web Site – Jesus.org

This site looks interesting with some good people answering questions. Let me know what you think.

From an email message:

Dear Friend [they don’t know me, but I guess I made a new friend],

Our team has been hard at work building a new online destination that seeks to advance the Gospel and ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus.org is a rich database of answers to some of the most perplexing and frequently questions asked about who Jesus is and what He means to us today. Whether reading an article, listening to an audio clip, or watching a video, visitors to Jesus.org will be engaged with solid Biblical theology.

I wanted to let you know about this website for a couple of reasons

  1. The answers on Jesus.org are provided by well-known biblical scholars. We can support the work of teachers such as Alistair Begg, RC Sproul, Greg Laurie and others by encouraging interaction with their contributed answers on Jesus.org.
  2. No other website offers such comprehensive collection of questions and answers on the life of Jesus Christ. It is our hope that Jesus.org will serve as a source of Biblical truths and historical accuracies, but most importantly as a tool for expanding the Gospel Message.

Scripture of the Day: Forever the Same

Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

You know how some people are into genealogy?

Grant Osborne is too.

Who Was Jesus’ Grandfather?
What the two genealogies of Christ, found in Matthew and Luke, are really trying to say.
by Grant Osborne

I like to read about seemingly boring things so that I can see the significance of why they might be in the Bible although for some reason I never really get bored reading genealogies.

Someday I’d like to read a commentary on the least interesting OT book to let someone help open my eyes to important things in the text that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

Let me know if you disagree with his assessment. I know there are various ways of looking at it. From what I’ve read so far I think we can rule out one was Mary’s and one was Joseph’s in Luke and Matthew which is what I always heard previous to reading commentaries and other related material.

Moving Day

This would be filed under “I’m embarrassed I didn’t realize this until now”.

Jesus was from (of) Nazareth but later on Capernaum became his home.

Matthew 4:13-16
He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:

15 “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali,
beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River,
in Galilee where so many Gentiles live,
16 the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.”

17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

I don’t know how many times I read this until it rung a bell last week. I simply never thought about it for whatever reason.

At the risk of being sacrilegious, maybe this was in part so that Jesus in his humanity would know what it is to have to move.

Seriously, if you would like to read more about this, see the comments to this post at NT/History Blog where Peter Kirk and Bill Heroman discuss this.

The blog which was brought to our attention by Brian Fulthorp at living the crucified life.

Praising Others

Unlike most men I know, Jesus also loved to praise other people. When he worked a miracle, he often deflected credit back on the recipient: ‘Your faith has healed you.’ He called Nathanael ‘a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.’ Of John the Baptist, he said there was none great born of women. Volatile Peter he renamed ‘the Rock.’ When a cringing woman offered him an extravagant act of devotion, Jesus defended her against critics and said the story of her generosity would be told forever.

–Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew

Praising others is not one of my strengths. I’m praying that this year during the Christmas season while spending more time with others that God will give me the grace, and that I will be obedient, in loving others in this way.

I pray that those reading this blog will have a nice time celebrating the birth of Jesus and spending time with others.

That those without family will find fellowship with others.

That those who are estranged, alone or suffering would find comfort in and fellowship with our Lord.

Four Great Passages On Who Christ Jesus Is

John 1:1-14 HCSB
In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.
5 That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man named John who was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. 12 But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. 14 The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Philippians 2:5-11 HCSB
Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. 7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death–even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow–of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth– 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Colossians 1:15-20 HCSB
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; 16 because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. 18 He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. 19 Because all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Him, 20 and to reconcile everything to Himself through Him by making peace through the blood of His cross — whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Hebrews 1:2-3 HCSB
In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. 3 He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

How about memorizing all of them? I’m one for four so far.