......................................................... . Updated April 18, 2019

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Jesus Cross is Ready for You

Dawn awakens on a perfectly beautiful day the Lord made, birds chirping, livestock is grazing. People are waking up to another day of hard work, the children having hungry stomachs, in Jerusalem. The Sabbath day of rest is tomorrow after this day, April 19th, 33 AD. This is a very special day in all history. The set-apart day the earth would quake, the sun be blotted out, and the day Mary and Joseph’s son, the God-man Jesus Christ, would pay it all, just for us! 

(6) "It is Finished

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Please note that some of the content contained within the Reflection Moments depicted here is not recorded in the scriptures. They are merely human attempts to relate and ask some questions of certain aspects of the Son of God, which may help you see the Savior’s human side of His divine life on earth.

Pilate's first interview with Jesus at 6 am. "Who are You?"

 Pilate said to the priests and elders at 8 am, "What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?"

Within this series of Gods Great Love for Us, we have often referred to Jesus in the wood shop during His formative years at home in Nazareth. Descriptions such as Mary and Joseph’s son, the Carpenter, God in the flesh and the God-man are descriptions showing us Gods human nature while simultaneously possessing the divine nature as God. It is significant Jesus the Christ, God Himself be described in these human terms for a couple very important reasons. One, so you and I can relate to God on our level (Phil. 2:5-7). And two, so that we can know what, who and how God is in order to learn how to grow in Jesus to become more and more like Him (Rom. 15:5-6). God who is perfect in every way understands our shortcomings in order to love and discipline us not out of anger, but from love because He is love (1 Jn. 4:8). He is where love comes from in the human race. For it is in the bible that we learn to know about Christ and His ultimate focal point - The cross He is about to endure - for us.

Period replica bust of Pontius Pilate

“When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.” (Matthew 27:1-2)

Pontius Pilate was the Roman procurator in Judea from 26 to 36 A.D. (Luke 3:1) He will forever go down in history as the man who being persuaded by the Jewish authorities against his will, ordered the crucifixion of Jesus!

In the New Testament Pontius Pilate first appears around 6 am Friday morning during the time of the Passover Feast in Jerusalem and is confronted with the person of Jesus, who is accused of treason and blasphemy by the Jewish authorities. Pilate must act as Jesus' judge.

Jerusalem, early Friday morning, April 3rd

So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?" "If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you." Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law." "But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews objected. This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled. Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?(John 18:33)

That was not a question that could be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” No, he was not a political king who had come to establish earthly Jewish supremacy (a lesson some religionists could well learn today), but yes, he was the long awaited king of the Jewish scriptures.

"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?" "Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

"What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him." (John 18:29-38)

Reflection Moment

The question to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews” from Pilate is curious. According to the gospel account by John, Jesus was asking for clarification from Pilate through a rhetorical question. That is, Jesus was clarifying with Pilate as to whether or not the indictment was second-hand (i.e., is it that others say that I am a King of the Jews?) versus Pilate himself. In other words, was the indictment because Rome saw Jesus as a king, or because others said that Jesus was a king? To put it another way, if there was no threat to Rome (since it was not Pilate accusing Jesus of being a king), then why is Jesus being charged at the instigation of third-parties?

When Pilate clarified that it was the former case (others accusing you of being a king), Jesus then indicated that this "kingdom" for which he was king had no fighters, and therefore was non-violent. (There was no threat to Rome) Jesus indicated that the essence of this kingdom was truth. Pilate responded with "What is truth?" (John 18:38), and determined in the same verse that there was therefore no legal basis for an indictment. Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.” Later we read Apostle Paul confirming to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:13), “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate.”

Of all the innocent people that ever lived on this planet, Jesus the God-man was the most innocent human there ever was.

Pilate continued to question Jesus since he knew he was innocent, but he had a roaring crowd that demanded Jesus be killed! Pilate told the Jews that he could find no fault in Jesus at all (John 18:38) but the Jews by now were so incensed Pilate even tried to release Jesus according to the Jewish custom at Passover for the offering of Barabbas in His place, a robber. The Jews wouldn't have it and shouted, "Not this man (Jesus), but Barabbas, release him." (John 18:40)

Around 7:30 am, the soldiers began flogging the God-man, relentlessly using an instrument that had flesh tearing implements built into it. There is no words to describe this scene. Jesus remained silent!

The Flagrum was a whip with a short handle and generally two or three long thick thongs, each weighted at some distance from their extremity with lead balls or mutton bones. In action, the thongs cut the skin, while the balls or bones created deep contusions. The result was significant hemorrhage and considerable weakening of the vital resistance of the victim. In compensation, if one may call it that, this weakening shortened their agony on the cross.

Hebrew law was strict on limiting the lashes to 40. The Pharisees, in order to make sure that they never broke the law, gave only 39 lashes. The Romans had no limit, except for the fact that the victims should be left with just enough strength to carry their crosses to the place of execution. As the man who condemned Jesus to be flogged was Pilate, the Roman Proconsul, the number of lashes could be unlimited. The Gospels report that Jesus could not carry his cross without calling to an onlooker for help. This suggests a very severe beating.

Why was Jesus Christ torn and beaten? The Apostle Peter tells us, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." (1 Peter 2:24-25) Christ had no sins of His own (1 Peter 2:22). He was paying for our sins. The scourge is a symbol of the awfulness of our sin and the terrible price Christ personally paid for our sins (Isaiah 52:14).

Jesus was then mocked by the Roman soldiers and clothed with a purple robe and a crown of thorns smashed upon His head saying,

"Hail, King of the Jews."

Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, "Behold the Man!"

Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out,

"Crucify Him, crucify Him!"

Pilate said to them, "You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him."

Reflection Moment

We can see Pilate trying to convince the Jews of Jesus innocence a few times up to now, and he's not finished yet. What was his purpose to continue the case for innocence? The scripture says he was "The more afraid" (John 19:8)

All that he had heard related of the miracles of Jesus, the mysterious character of His person, of His words and of His conduct, the strange message which he had just received from his wife - all is suddenly explained by the term "Son of God." Was this extraordinary man truly a divine being who had appeared on the earth? The truth naturally presents itself to his mind in the form of pagan superstitions and mythological legends"

Pilate's conscience fights for Christ, but it immediately yields, because it is not upheld with the power of God.

Pontius Pilate tried one more time saying, "Do You not know that I have the power to crucify You, and power to release You?" Jesus answered,

"You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."
(John 19:11)

When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this Person, you see to it."
(Matt 27:24)

Pilate finally said to the Jews, "Behold your King." But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him! Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The Jews answered, "We have no King but Caesar!" Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away. (John 19:14-16)

Reflection Moment

Jesus looking to His Father see’s the cross and the fulfillment of all prophesies about Him in front of Him. This is where he will finish the work His Father sent Him for. After just being severely beaten near to death, He maintains incredible clarity and purpose in His human form. Though the scriptures do not state such, as a man in bitter pain and agony with body fluids secreting, He surely recalled His life as a young boy and His childhood. As a man He surely remembered working and shaping wood that formed many pieces of furniture, helping His step father in the business. And surely He remembers that one momentous early dawn when He took that first divine step out of the wood shop 3-1/2 years ago towards Jerusalem where He is now calling all of mankind to repent, believe and be baptized in His name. His next appointment is clear even through all of this. The pain and suffering will increase, and the world will change in an instant. The Son of God is now about to fully glorify His Father bringing forth Gods redemption plan to mankind for all of eternity. Jesus the God-man will not waver, all because of His Great Love for us!

There is no way to prove or surmise the origin of the wooden mallet that pounded the nails through Jesus body on His cross. I say "His cross" because no other person can or could bear this singular cross of burden and pain much more the perfect blood for our sin as He is about to commit. But just for a moment, what if that singular mallet somehow in Gods providence was one that Jesus Himself fabricated in the wood shop? The reality of this being the case can only make us wonder. But on the real side of this thought is, Jesus did in fact make the wood, the elements that produced the nails, and the soldier that held the nails and forced the blows! This soldier and his cohorts sin is being paid for right before their eyes! Will they see it?

The seven sayings of Jesus on the cross before He gave up His breath.

  1. Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.
  2. Luke 23:43: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
  3. John 19:26–27: Woman, behold your son. Son Behold your mother.
  4. Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34: My God, My God, have you forsaken me?
  5. John 19:28: I thirst.
  6. John 19:29-30: It is finished.
  7. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."

Reflection Moment

Item 4 above is probably the most perplexing question from the Savior in all of mankind we may never fully grasp. Why as the Son of God did Jesus say – My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me.?

It is hoped you can find the time to watch this most thrilling study into the mind of Christ that will enrich your understanding of Jesus of Nazareth on this question - "Why?"

Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:

“They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” (Psalm 22:18)

Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him:


"The Ninth Hour"

"Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit."
Having said this, He breathed His last. (Luke 23:46)

When Jesus died, the temple veil in front of the Holy of Holy’s was torn, and the earth quaked and many saints resurrected (Matt 27:51-53). God moved out of that place never again to dwell in a temple made with hands (Acts 17:24). God was through with that temple and its religious system. The temple and Jerusalem were left “desolate” (destroyed by the Romans) in A.D. 70, just as Jesus prophesied in Luke 13:35. Hebrews 9:8-9 refers to the age that was passing away as the new covenant was being established (Hebrews 8:13). As long as the temple stood, it signified the continuation of the Old Covenant which sadly today, the Orthodox Jews (Hasidim) are continuing the tradition by undergoing the building of a new temple - but God will not be there!  At the moment of Jesus death being the perfect sacrifice, Gods justice was satisfied making Him accessible by all mankind without the need for priesthood representation before Him. Jesus Christ the Son is now our advocate before the Father forevermore. Hallelujah…

Jesus Buried in Joseph’s Tomb
Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. (Matt. 27:57-61)

Pilate Sets a Guard
On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. (Matt. 27:62-66)

Our exploration of the life, ministry and extremely difficult road Jesus Christ traveled to the cross is truly the greatest story ever told, and the greatest life ever lived. And He lived it all because of His Great Love for Us. Have you ever wondered or even had the nerve to go a little deeper into the truth of Jesus the God-mans sufferings? This short video from a Medical Doctor reveals to us the physical and mental anguish that Jesus went through during the final hours that last day beginning at the garden of Gethsemane. Any bible student owes it to themselves to listen closely to what the Lord Jesus, that young boy from Galilee actually went through to try and understand what He endured for us. If you are a disciple of Christ, it will do you good to increase your faith in God as His Spirit guides, guards and directs you. If you are a seeker, it may help you to hear the doctors perspective putting reality to the images and stories you may have seen and heard.

A medical perspective of Jesus sufferings

But wait... The story isn't finished!

~ He Is Risen ~
The evidence here

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week (Sunday April 5th) began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” 

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

The Women Worship the Risen Lord
And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

The Soldiers are Bribed
Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. (Matt.28:1-16)

The Great Commission
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying,

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.(Matt 28:1-20)

The Ascension

~ Gods Answer to Sin ~

There are many events in the Old Testament that foreshadow the cross: The blood of a lamb placed on lintels and doorposts during Passover (Exodus 12:23) was the beginning. God now reconciles His people by delivering us from the consequences of sin, and the means God uses to rescue us is the cross where Jesus unblemished blood was spilled. Isaiah stated that the Messiah "poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12). The apostle Paul confirmed this prophecy when he wrote, "For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross" (Colossians 1:19-20, 2:13-15). The cross where Jesus blood was spilled represents God's victory over sin.

Do we see a common thread occurring here? What cleanses us of sin is the blood. “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt. 26:28)

Many people think of God only as a God of love, always on hand to help when things go wrong and bound in the end to forgive every body's sins and receive them into heaven forever. This idea is fatally misleading. The Bible certainly tells us that ‘God is love' (1 John 1:8), but also that he is ‘majestic in holiness' (Exodus 15:11) and that ‘the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men' (Romans 1:18).

The cross of Christ tells us that sin is a Curse. When used as an ornament around the neck, a cross says little about the ugliness of sin. But when we look at sin through the cross of Christ, we see sin as God does: ugly, deforming, condemning, separating man from his Creator. Sin is so terrible that it made God send His only begotten Son to the cross to pay for its cost. Las Vegas does not present a true picture of sin. In the nightclubs and on TV, sin is glamorous, gaudy, fun, enticing, exhilarating. But sin causes death-separation from God (Rom. 6:23, Isa. 59:1-2). Jesus became a curse for us, hanging on the cross (Gal. 3:13), and I should see this when I see the cross.

The cross of Christ tells us that Reconciliation was made. So long as man was in sin, he could not be right with God, but, was in fact an enemy. With our best intentions and greatest works, we could not bring about this healing of enmity to reconciliation. Since atonement was made by Jesus sacrifice on the cross, it was possible for God to invite man back into a saved relationship. Paul said that this was the great work of the apostles, "appointed by God to be ambassadors, entreating on behalf of God, be ye reconciled unto God" (2 Cor. 5:18-20). Note that atonement precedes reconciliation and that God had to initiate them both due to our sinful condition. I should see this when I see the cross.

The cross of Christ tells us that Substitution was made. "The soul that sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:4). I sinned, therefore I ought to die. But thanks be to God that His grace permitted it to be different. As the story of Abraham and Isaac and the substitute ram for sacrifice foreshadowed it, the cross declares it plainly. Jesus Christ was sent by God to be a substitute for me. He took my punishment and death. "By his stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5). I should see this when I see the cross.

The cross of Christ shows us the painful payment of Justice served. Propitiation is a two-part act that involves appeasing the wrath of an offended person and being reconciled to him. It is not an everyday word, but it is vitally important that we understand it. ‘Propitiation' means appeasing an offended person (God) by paying the penalty (Jesus sacrifice) he demands for the offence (our sin). Here is an example.

A young lady appears in court for a traffic ticket. The judge must asks her – “Guilty or Not Guilty?” She responds, “Guilty your honor.”

After court the judge walks over to the cashier’s window, pulls out his billfold and pays the young lady’s fine with no questions asked. He then turns to the young lady and says, “Your debt is paid free and clear my estranged and beloved daughter.”

The lesson is, the judge (God) by His law and justice had to pronounce his daughters (Gods children) guilt plea, and it was painful. But he paid the debt (on the cross) of her infraction for breaking the legal code without question. The judge has removed (cleansed) her debt (sin) from the ensuing charge (judgment) of guilt.

‘In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins' (1 John 4:10).

The cross of Christ tells us that fellowship with God is possible. Now that atonement has been made and reconciliation is possible, I can be forgiven. While atonement was made for the sins of the world, not all men will be saved. Not all will obey the call of the gospel through the apostles, to be reconciled to God by the cross. To some, the word of the cross is "foolishness;" to others, it is a "stumbling block" (1 Cor. 1). But if we reject the cross and the word of the cross, we reject reconciliation. If we reject reconciliation, we reject the peace with God that forgiveness brings. If we accept the cross, we may enter into a relationship with God reminiscent of that between Adam and Eve and God in the garden before sin intruded. Fellowship in a mutual sharing in heavenly matters is found only in Christ. I should see this when I see the cross.

The cross of Christ tells us that I must become dead to the world and alive to God. "If then ye have been risen with Christ. . . " (Col. 3: 1) presupposes that we have died with Christ. "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). But how does one become dead to sin? "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Rom. 6:2-6). Yes, we must crucify the old man of sin. We must walk in newness of life after having been buried in Christ (Rom. 6:4). How is all this done? The bible says it is done when we are baptized “into Christ” (not pray into) for remission of sins (Acts 2:38, 22:16, Col. 2:11-12). I should see this when I see the cross.

There is a cross for us to bear. It is not a silver or gold ornament with no real meaning but that of vanity and false humiliation. The cross that Jesus bore was that of "obedience unto death, yea, the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8). All the ornamental jewelry and superstitious architecture in the world will not bring us any closer to the service of God unless we do understand it.

Sacrificial Service
Christ stated on more than one occasion, "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 10:38-39, 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35, Luke 9:23-24, 14:27).

Are you wearing your cross, or are you bearing it?

We hope you have been enriched and have learned something new about the mind and life of Christ as He walked this earth He created just for us. May you know Gods Great Love For You is everlasting and without falter no matter your station in life. He has already paid the price for sin by the spilling of His divine blood, just for us.

The question is, will you give your life to Him in faith by obeying the Gospel as He commands (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 22:16)? Will you find your life by losing it for Him as He did for you? It's a must-do if one wants the hope of going to Heaven. And it's all for free! The blessings we receive when gifted the Holy Spirit by God are innumerable, if we will just take up our cross, and follow Him. (Luke 9:23)

And we close with...

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)

Many blessing to all in Jesus, the Creator, the Lord, the King...

1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6
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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Faith A Word Of Action

“Faith is the only thing that one can do without doing anything.”

This affirmation is a textbook case of contradiction.

The following examples will clearly reveal that genuine faith is not a mere attitude; rather, it is a word of action.
  1. Jesus was teaching in the city of Capernaum. The crowds so pressed around him that some who sought his presence could not gain access to the Lord. Four enterprising men brought a lame friend, climbed to the rooftop of the house wherein Christ was teaching, and lowered their impotent companion through the ceiling. Significantly, the inspired writer comments: “And Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5).

    What did Christ see? He literally saw the action of these men (including the sick man who obviously endorsed the activity). But the action is called faith. In a similar vein, James challenged: “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith” (James 2:18).

  1. John 3:16 is perhaps the best-known verse in the Bible; but it is one of the most misunderstood: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

    Does the “belief” of this passage include obedience, or exclude it? A comparison of this verse with Hebrews 5:9 reveals that the former is the case. In John 3:16, believing results in eternal life. In Hebrews 5:9, eternal salvation is said to issue from obedience to Christ. It thus should be quite clear that the belief that saves is one that manifests itself in obeying the Son of God. True faith is not just a mental process.

  1. Note this declaration from the Lord: “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36, ASV).

    We have cited the American Standard Version here because it is more accurate in its rendition of the original language than is the King James Version. The term in the latter portion of the verse is apeitheo, which, according to Balz and Schneider, literally means “to disobey” (1990, 118). In this passage “believing” is set in vivid contrast to disobedience.

    Is not Christ suggesting that the one who obeys the Son is promised life, but the person who disobeys will not receive such?

    Observe a similar usage in Acts 14:1-2: “[A] great multitude both of Jews and of Greeks believed. But the Jews that were disobedient stirred up the souls of the Gentiles, and made them evil affected against the brethren.

    In the book of Hebrews we are informed that God was displeased with many rebellious Israelites who died in the wilderness. They were condemned because they were “disobedient”—yes, they were not allowed to enter the promised land due to their “unbelief” (Hebrews 3:18-19). Continuing that analogy, it will be those who have “believed” who will enter the final rest (Hebrews 4:3), but those who are “disobedient” will not (Hebrews 4:6).

    The Bible knows nothing of true faith that is divorced from obedience.
  1. When a jailor in the city of Philippi feared for his life during an earthquake that rocked the prison, he pled with Paul and Silas: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” God’s messengers proclaimed to him the gospel. Evincing repentance (for having beaten his prisoners), the jailor washed their stripes. Subsequently, he and his family were immersed (Acts 16:31-33).

Significantly, this entire process is summed up in this fashion: “And he . . . rejoiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God” (Acts 16:34). It is clear that the participle, “having believed,” includes the jailor’s repentance and his baptism.

  1. The book of Romans demonstrates that faith is an action term. For example, Paul commends the “faith” of these saints, which, says he, is “proclaimed throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8). As he concludes the epistle he again congratulates them: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men” (Romans 16:19). Faith and obedience are parallel in these verses. In fact, at the beginning and end of the book the expression, “obedience of faith,” stands like guardian sentinels, defining the character of biblical faith (Romans 1:5, 16:26). In Romans 10:16, those who refused to “obey the gospel” fulfilled Isaiah’s prediction that some would not “believe” the divine report.

  1. That the “faith” system of the New Testament is not merely a mental phenomenon is evidenced by Galatians 3:26-27. There Paul declares: “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For [a conjunction of explanation] as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

    Immersion was an integral part of the faith process. Later, to the same people, the apostle affirmed that the faith that avails is that which is “working through love” (Galatians 5:6). The fact of the matter is, believing itself is a work (cf. John 6:27-29; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3).

  1. James shows the connection between faith and obedience when he writes: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works [obedience], in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? You see that faith operated with his works [obedience], and by works [his obedience] was [his] faith made complete; and the scripture was fulfilled which says, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:21-23).

  2. If faith plus obedience constitutes one as a “friend of God,” how would one be characterized who has faith minus obedience?

  1. Those who possessed genuine intellectual-emotional faith were granted the “right to become” children of God (John 1:12), but they were not, by that faith, automatically constituted sons of God.
That faith alone is invalid as a means of redemption is revealed by a number of biblical examples.
  1. There were many Jews who “believed on” Christ (John 8:30-31), but their faith was not operative, hence, the Lord appropriately described them as children of the devil (John 8:44).

  1. There were those among the Hebrew rulers who “believed on him [Christ],” but because of Pharisaic pressure they would not confess their faith; they loved the glory of men more than that of God (John 12:42).

    Will anyone contend that these proud egotists were saved simply because they “believed” (cf. Matthew 12:32)? What was the flaw in their theology?

  1. Luke records that when Christ was preached, “a great number that believed turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21). The construction of the original language indicates that the “believing” was prior to the “turning,” hence, turning to the Lord involved something in addition to their faith.