THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE GOSPELS

From the four gospels, we read how the Jewish leaders persecuted Jesus and sought to slay him because he had done such things as healing on the Sabbath and claiming that God was his Father.

On more than one occasion they tried to stone him for declaring that God was his Father but he was delivered from them while the stones were still in their hands. On numerous occasions they attempted to end his life but they could not touch him because his hour (the hour in which he would glorify his Father by his death and resurrection) had not yet come.

Luke tells us that at the beginning of his ministry he came to Nazareth where he had grown up. While there, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day according to his custom and read from the book of Isaiah that was handed to him to read. Jesus read from Isaiah 61 and announced among other things that he is the Messiah.

This angered those who heard him so much that they wanted to kill him. The angry listeners rose up and forced Jesus out of the city. They lead him to a cliff on the hill upon which their city was built. They had every intention of throwing Jesus head first over the side of the cliff; however, Jesus walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

His life was in the Father’s hand and no one could take it from him prematurely. Yet the Bible tells us that at one point later in his ministry he chose to leave Judea because he knew that the Jewish leaders were plotting his death.

There was real unrest amongst the Jews because of those who opposed Jesus and it had become public knowledge that the religious leaders wanted to kill him. They tried on numerous occasions to arrest him but could not because his time had not yet come.

The confrontation between Jesus and those who wanted to silence him; namely the religious authorities, became so intense that they would stop at nothing to destroy him. The Jewish leaders were so adamant in their efforts to stop him that they agreed together to expel from the Synagogue anyone who confessed or believed that Jesus is the Messiah and they publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him.

They became so obsessed with destroying him that they eventually decided to kill Lazarus also (whom Jesus had raised from the dead) because many people had believed in Jesus because of Lazarus. The religious authorities did not know him nor did they know God who had sent him. The truth in Jesus so angered them and hardened their hearts against God who had sent him that they were blinded by the truth in Jesus.

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. ~ John 12:37-41


In John 9:1-6 Jesus had healed a man that had been born blind on the Sabbath day and this caused quite a backlash from the Pharisees. It was already enough that they hated Jesus but the fact that he had done this miracle on the Sabbath only infuriated them all the more. They were so against Jesus that they refused to believe the man’s testimony and expelled him from the Synagogue for testifying that it was Jesus who had given him his sight.

When Jesus heard how the man had been treated he sought and found the man and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” The man responded by saying; “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe in?” Jesus then said to him, “You have both seen him, and it is he that talks with thee.” The man then replied; “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped Jesus.

Jesus then made this incredible statement; “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind” (TNLT).

When some of the Pharisees heard Jesus say this they asked him; “Are we blind also?” In response to their question, Jesus said to them, “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (KJV).

They were blind because they refused to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and they refused to believe the works which he did in his Father’s name. They refused to accept the works which God did through him because they did not know God. Jesus address their damnation to his disciples privately when he said the following:

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. ~ John 15:22-25

God did not send Jesus to be the recipient of his judgment. On the contrary, God placed all judgment into the hands of his Son. Jesus was entrusted with absolute authority over all things and this included the authority to judge.

The words which Jesus spoke from the Father and the works which he did in his Father’s name testified that he was the one sent from God to be the Savior of the world. Those who would not hear him nor believe the works he did rejected God and thereby bring condemnation upon themselves.

Jesus is the one whom God ordained to be the Judge of living and the dead (Acts 10:42) and this is what Jesus is referring to in John 5:20-30.

For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. ~ John 5:20-30

The Father gave to his Son absolute authority to judge and he gave to the Son absolute authority over all things. In John 12 Jesus declares that his death and resurrection would mean judgment upon both the world and the prince of this world;

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. ~ John 12:31

When Jesus began his ministry, he announced that the Kingdom of God had arrived. By the power of the Holy Spirit he overcame this world and that is why he could say to his disciple in private; “I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

When Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, He fulfilled the scripture which says; “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.’” ~ Matthew 12:5 TNLT

The Pharisees then declared; “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!” (John 12:19 TNLT). Jesus was in complete control for the Father had placed all authority into his hands but instead of making himself King for his own glory, he chose to lay down his life for the Glory of God.

He did not exalt himself to be King but instead surrendered his life to the will of his Father to be the offering for our sin. He gave his life as a ransom for many. He is the Servant-King!

Jesus laid down his life so that the world would know that he loves the Father (John 14:29-31) and He glorified God by giving his life as a ransom for our sins (John 13:31-32). The gospel repeatedly describes his death as his departure and his going to the Father (John 13:1, 3; 16:5-7, 10, and 28). He described the laying down of His life as that of a corn of wheat falling into the ground and dying which afterwards brings forth a great harvest.

Jesus laid down his life because of his love for us (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16) and death could not hold him because he is the resurrection and the life (John 11). Jesus gave his life to redeem us with His precious blood and he conquered death for us by his resurrection so that all who believe in him would have the remission of sins and life from the dead.

WHAT JESUS HAS TO SAY ABOUT HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION

When I teach on the subject of the cross of Christ, I like to begin by addressing this question: What did Jesus actually say about his own death? I find it unsettling that many Bible teachers and even theologians tend to pass over this very important question and inadvertently treat the words of Jesus as an unimportant part of the equation. Of all the people from whom we could learn about the cross, why wouldn’t we want to first hear what Jesus had to say?

I also like to follow up with this question: How did the apostles, those who were personally trained by Jesus, describe His death? Once, while teaching a Bible School Seminar, I presented this to the students. I must say, it was tough sledding for the first hour because of the things the students had been taught. During the break between sessions, there was quite a buzz as some of the students were discussing the thought provoking challenge that I had set before them.  

After the break, I began to take them systematically through the scriptures to show them what Jesus actually said and later to what His apostles actually preached. The students began to catch on and at one point one of them blurted out, “How (or where) did you learn all of this?” They were experiencing a real epiphany as the scriptures began to open to them.

The Bible tells us that there was an exact time 1 when Jesus began to teach his disciples about his crucifixion and resurrection. According to the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly affirmed that he would suffer unjustly from the hands of sinners and that he would rise again on the third day.

In all of the accounts that we have in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, never once does Jesus ever refer to his death on the cross as rejection or condemnation from God to satisfy God’s wrath. He always declared what the scriptures had already prophesied: the Messiah would be rejected and condemned by men.

Again and again, Jesus stated that God would raise Him from the dead contrary to what sinful men would do to him. This view of the cross and resurrection is taught all throughout the New Testament.

Understandably, the apostles of our Lord did not comprehend the meaning of His death before He was crucified, but after His resurrection, Jesus opened their understanding so that they could comprehend the scriptures. Their eyewitness accounts, along with the scriptural insight given to them by Jesus, were empowered on the Day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit. As a result, they preached the death and resurrection of Jesus as they understood it from their Master and the One sent by him.

If you would like to learn more, follow the link below.

THE STONE THE BUILDERS REJECTED: https://rootedandgroundedinchrist.com/the-stone-the-builders-rejected/

CAN THE MARK OF THE BEAST BE TAKEN BY ACCIDENT?

There are Christian people who have fears about the mark of the beast, and one of those fears is potentially taking the mark unknowingly, or accidentally. These fears are often magnified by conspiracy theories such as the covid 19 vaccine being the mark of the beast.

The idea that a Christian, or anyone at all can receive the mark of the beast unknowingly or accidentally, speaks volumes to the lack of sound doctrine which is prevalent among evangelical Christians. The covid vaccination is not a sign of apostasy, but those who turn away from sound doctrine are, and those who believe that you can unknowingly receive the mark of the beast are dabbling with real apostasy by abandoning sound doctrine in Christ.

In 2 Timothy, Paul writes the following:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. ~ 2 Timothy 4:1-4

Conspiracies which circulate on social media platforms (often repeated by Christians) are fables, and they are not in line with sound Biblical doctrine. The truth is in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:21), and the idea that a person who loves God can unknowingly take a mark whereby they will damned is by definition a heresy, for it is a denial of the true faith in Christ. Maybe your “god” (the one you imagine) would damn you to hell for something you did unknowingly, but not the true God and Father of Jesus Christ!

In John’s gospel, Jesus says the following:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. ~ John 10:27-29

If a person could unknowingly receive the mark of a man (the mark of the beast) and consequently be condemned, that would mean it is possible to be plucked out of the hands of Jesus and out of the hands of the Father. Yet Jesus says such is not possible.

According to scripture, we are kept by the power of God unto salvation. Consider the words of the apostle Peter:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. ~ 1 Peter 1:3-5

It’s unfortunate but not uncommon that some people project onto certain Biblical texts (such as those which mention the mark of the beast) their own superstitions, and in doing so they undermine the very gospel they claim to believe.

In the gospel, God’s righteous character is revealed in and through Christ, and the New Testament repeatedly underscores the truth regarding God’s keeping power for those who trust in him. In his letter to Timothy, Paul declares: I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. ~ 2 Timothy 1:12

You never see Paul being worried about the mark of the beast. Paul was persuaded that God would keep him and taught this as an essential part of our faith towards God. Not only does Paul teach it but others in the New Testament do as well. Consider Jude’s encouraging words:

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. ~ Jude 1:24-25

Jude’s doctrine is consistent with Paul’s who says the following to the Romans:

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:31-39

In the book of the Revelation, those who received the mark of the beast were not tricked, conned, or deceived. They were marked because they rejected God and refused to repent, and whether one believes the mark of the beast is literal, symbolic, past, present, or future, there is absolutely no truth in the belief that anyone could receive it accidentally or unknowingly and thus be rejected by God.

Such notions are a fallacy and undermine the words of Jesus in John 10, the words of Paul in Romans 8 and the entirety of the doctrine of God in Christ. If the truth be known, that is exactly what Satan wishes to accomplish with fear regarding the mark of the beast. Such conspiracies have no place in Bible interpretation and have no place in Christian behavior, and those who embrace them deny the very truth by which they were saved. 

CHIEF APOSTLES

I recently came across a man who refers to himself as chief apostle, and from what I can tell, he seems to teach that he’s called by God as the modern day “chief” of all apostles. He claims to have had an experience (or experiences) with God and was called by God into this prestigious ministry. That alone ought to be a glaring red flag from the get- go, but he has followers.

You may find it interesting that the only use of the word “chief” in relation to apostles in scripture is used by Paul as a description of the self appointed apostles who were deceiving the Corinthians. You may also find it interesting that those who were deceiving the Corinthians were boasting of their visions. If you have never taken time to read Paul’s refutation of the false apostles who were influencing the Corinthians, it is very insightful regarding the mojo of false apostles, the gullibility of those who believe them, and the heart of a true apostle as Paul pleads with the Corinthians.

Paul thought of himself like a father to the Coritnhians because they had been nurtured under his ministry. Paul had not moved in on another man’s labors. Paul genuinely cared for the Corinthians and loved them deeply. In 2 Corinthians 11 and 12, Paul out of sincerity and passion, compares his apostleship with the false apostles who had influenced the Corinthians. One of the things that Paul reveals about the false apostles was their boasting of supernatural experiences. In response Paul says, “I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord…”

This is part of a train of thought in which Paul is basically giving the Corinthians what they want. It would be like him saying, “you want to hear boasting about  visions, well, let me tell you about visions I have had”  Now, Paul does not say this with any pleasure as if he’s truly boasting in his experiences. He is actually saying it to their shame to get a point across.

He goes on to say this:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—

The context seems to indicate that Paul is referring to his own experience of being caught up into the third heaven, and I believe that many scholars agree that Paul is referring to himself. However Paul did not promote his ministry by such experiences and only brings it up to show the Corinthians their error.

Paul had chosen to boast in his human weakness because the grace of God he had discovered in his own life was available to all through faith in Jesus Christ. Real supernatural experiences, like being caught up to heaven are few and far between, but in real life in this world where there are trials and suffering, people need to know the grace of God in truth.

Those who boast in dreams, vision, and supernatural experiences do so to elevate themselves, instead of the grace of God which is given to all who call on the Lord. Consider Paul’s words to the Colossians:

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. ~ Colossians 2:6-19

Notice that Paul mentioned those who go into details about visions which are puffed up by their fleshly minds and then he says, “not holding fast to the Head”. Christ is the head of the body and those who boast in visions promote themselves and not Christ. They want you to believe they are special and thus they gather followings rather than leading others into the true grace of God.

Those who claim to have a special place in God’s Kingdom because of supernatural experiences are false ministers. A true minister will boast in the grace of God which is available to all of God’s children. God’s true grace cannot be mixed with the boasting of the self appointed, for God’s grace is available to all people who humble themselves under Christ Jesus our Lord. 

THE FOUNDATION OF THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS

The word apostle means “sent one.” It does not mean “the one with authority to govern over your faith.” 

In one sense of the word, anyone who is sent by God is apostolic for those to whom they are sent. Missionaries sent by God are apostles to those to whom they are sent. This does not mean they are apostles to all people or all Christians. It does not mean they are apostles in the same class as the original apostles.

The truth is, many who are apostles would never refer to themselves as such, because they are not desirous of titles, their joy is fulfilled in Christ, and in spreading the gospel and helping those to whom they are sent become established in Christ.

Those who think apostleship is about governing over other believers, and claim apostleship in this regard, have motives you will not find in one truly called to be an apostle.

In scripture, the original apostles (the 12 ordained by Jesus, including Matthias ~Acts 1:15-26) were ordained as eyewitnesses of Jesus’s resurrection. These original apostles along with the prophets who testified beforehand of Christ, gave us the foundation upon which the church is built: Jesus Christ who is himself the chief cornerstone .

The witness of the prophets who testified of Christ who was to come, and the witness of the apostles who walked with Christ give us the foundation upon which our faith rests. We build on the foundation of their witness and testimony of Christ.

In John 17 Jesus prayed for his original apostles and those who would believe in him through their word.  In Revelation, we can see the connection between the calling and ministry of the original apostles and the foundation of the city of God!

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. ~ Revelation 21:14

The ministry of the original apostles are the New Testament counterpart to the ministry of the Old Testament prophets. The prophets bore witness before Christ came, the apostles bore witness to his having come in the flesh. 

Peter declares, This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour… ~ 2 Peter 3:1-2

Notice how Peter closely connects the ministry of the prophets before Christ, and the apostles of Christ. 

MORE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, MORE OF JESUS

When the 120 disciples of Jesus continued in prayer in one accord, they did so in obedience to Jesus’s command to not leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father. As they waited, imagine how they must have postured themselves. They had seen the power of God at work in and through Jesus, but how would the Spirit that was in Jesus come upon them? 

Suddenly, they heard something: the sound of a rushing mighty wind…

Consider the Holy Awe of that moment, when they literally heard a powerful wind coming from Heaven! Then, without warning there appeared cloven tongues of fire. Wind spreads fire!

The awe they felt must have intensified. 

Then those tongues of fire which appeared, rested on each one of them, and at that very moment (before they could stop and reflect on what they had just experienced) they were all filled with the very same Holy Spirit they had witnessed every moment in Jesus! And they spoke with tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Their Jesus who was now in Heaven had filled their hearts on earth. 

Jesus had done exactly what he said he would do, ” I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you” (John 14:18). Jesus was with them In a whole new way, and joy must have undoubtedly filled their hearts like never before.

Unlike the 120 disciples, too many believers today want tongues as evidence of the Spirit, rather than desiring the Spirit as evidence of Jesus in their lives. When Jesus fills our hearts with his Spirit, the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts of God as he wills.

The disciples had been in prayer for days, now their prayers had turned to testimony as they declared the wonderful works of God in the native tongues of the countries their fellow Jews were born in. Through the Spirit of Jesus in them, God was raising the banner of redemption, and drawing the remnant of his people unto himself.

Thank God for the Holy Ghost! More of the Spirit equals more of Jesus! May God grant you more of his Spirit so that experience more of Jesus in your life! 

IS THE GIFT OF TONGUES ONLY PREACHING THE GOSPEL IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE?

A common argument used by those who oppose speaking in tongues is that it is, or was only a gift for evangelizing those who speak foreign languages.

While it is true that speaking in tongues can serve this purpose, we do not see this as its only purpose in scripture. Those who claim that speaking in tongues is isolated to being a gift for evangelizing purposes often cite Acts 2. However, in Acts 2 the 120 disciples of Jesus were not preaching the gospel to their fellow Jews, who heard them speaking in the language of the nations wherein they were scattered.

The Bible only tells us they heard them speaking the wonderful works of God in those languages (2:6-11). They did not hear the gospel of Christ until Peter stood up and preached it to them. The children of Israel of the Northern tribes had been scattered prior to the southern Kingdom of Judah being taken captive by the Babylonians. The Jews which had been taken captive into Babylon eventually returned to their homeland, the Israelites of the northern Kingdom which were scattered abroad did not. They settled in other countries and when they heard the 120 disciples of Jesus speaking in tongues, they heard them magnifying God in the languages of those nations wherein they had been scattered: And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? ~ v. 8

This got their attention. It did not convict their hearts concerning the gospel. Instead, there was confusion among the Jews as to what was going on among them. According to the Bible, those who heard the 120 disciples speaking in tongues “were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, what does this mean?” ~ v.12

The scripture then says, “Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” ~ v. 13

They did not hear the gospel until Peter stood up and declared it unto them. Peter did not preach the gospel to them in tongues. They understood Peter without the use of tongues when he stood and preached about Jesus to them. We can see this from the context. The idea that in Acts 2 they spoke with tongues to communicate the gospel of Christ, just isn’t correct.

After they heard the gospel preached by Peter in one language that they all knew, their response was different than when they heard the 120 speaking in tongues of the nations they were all born in. Rather than being amazed and wondering what this means as they did regarding the tongues which brought about mocking from some of them, when they heard the gospel preached by Peter, the Bible says they responded in this way:

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? ~ v. 37

There is a clear distinction between their reaction to speaking in tongues and their reaction to Peter preaching the gospel in Acts 2. In fact, Peter explains the meaning of the speaking in tongues before he declared the gospel of Christ to them.

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. ~ Acts 2:16- 21

After speaking these words, Peter then begins to declare the gospel of Christ (the message about Jesus) to them:

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. ~ v. 22-24

Later, after the people were pricked in their hearts and asked what they must do, Peter says the following:

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. v. 38-39

In Acts 10, Peter was sent to the home of Cornelius who was a Gentile to testify of the gospel of Christ. Cornelius along with his entire household gathered together to hear the words of salvation from Peter, who was accompanied by some of his fellow Jewish believers in Jesus. As Peter shared the gospel with them, the Bible says that the Holy Ghost fell on Cornelius and those of his household and they began to speak with tongues.

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God… ~ Acts 10:44-46

When the Gentiles first received the gospel, the Holy Spirit fell on them and they spoke with tongues, magnifying God. The Gentiles were the ones receiving the gospel, not the ones evangelizing or preaching the gospel.

In Acts 2, the 120 speaking in tongues got the attention of the Jews and gave Peter the opportunity to preach the gospel to them. In Acts 10, the Gentiles speaking in tongues got the attention of the Jews, because God had given his Spirit freely to the Gentiles apart from the Law.

In the mind of the first century Jew, covenant relationship with God was dependent on Jewish membership along with circumcision and allegiance to the Law of Moses.

However, God had done something so unexpectedly different and entirely new when he sent Peter to Cornelius’ house. He had called out a people from among the Gentiles for his Name and he had done it apart from the Law.

In Acts 15: 7-11 Peter recounts his visit to Cornelius’s house in Acts 10. Peter along with the other Jews who accompanied him saw firsthand the salvation of Gentiles as Cornelius and his house were instantly filled with the Holy Spirit and had spoken with tongues in similar fashion as the Jewish followers of Jesus had experienced in Acts 2.

When Peter returned to Jerusalem from Cornelius’s house he was confronted by the Jews for lodging at the home of Gentiles and eating with them.

And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, thou wentest into men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. ~ Acts 11:2-3

Peter then rehearsed to the Jews his experience from the beginning (Acts 11:4- 17). Notice the following from Peter’s explanation to Jews:

And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? ~ Acts 11:15-17

Then in verse 18, the scripture says: When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

The evidence which convinced Peter and the Jewish believers at Jerusalem that the Gentiles had been accepted as the people of God, was the Holy Spirit. God had given to the Gentiles the same gift he had been given to the Jews at Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit had now become the new identity of the people of God replacing the old identity of physical circumcision and adhearance to the law.Had Peter and the other Jews not heard the Gentiles speak with tongues, they may have concluded that the Gentiles should take on the yoke of the law. However, Peter reached a different conclusion:

And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. ~ Acts 15:8-11

In the early days of the church in the book of Acts, tongues were not used to preach to others in another language. No one did that. Instead, tongues served as a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit, and this arrested the attention of those who heard. In Acts 2 it arrested the attention of the Jews to whom Peter preached the gospel. In Acts 10, tongues arrested the attention of Peter and his fellow Jews who were sharing the gospel so that they would see what God was doing through the very gospel they were preaching!

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT

Ephesians 6:18 says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit…” Jude 20 says, “…building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.”

Notice the similarity of these two phrases, “praying in the Spirit” and “praying in the Holy Ghost.” In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul uses similar language when he describes speaking or praying in other tongues. In verse 2 he refers to speaking in other tongues as speaking in the spirit: For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”

Jude 20 says we are to build up ourselves on our most holy faith by praying in the Holy Ghost. Paul uses similar language in 1 Corinthians 14:4 where he says, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself…” To edify is to build up.

Now notice 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul describes praying in other tongues as “praying with, or in, the Spirit” and he uses this language in contrast to praying with the understanding. He also refers to singing in the Spirit in contrast to singing with the understanding.

Paul’s refers to other tongues as (1) speaking in the Spirit, (2) praying with the Spirit, and (3) singing with the Spirit.

THE PURPOSE FOR TONGUES

Speaking in tongues has been a great blessing and benefit to my spiritual life in the past.

I have been discouraged at times because of the abuse I have seen from others. and the lack of sound doctrine, and the teachings, among those who speak with tongues.

Even so, this does not disqualify God’s gifts.

Praying in other tongues is not going to straighten out your theology. It didn’t do that for the Corinthians and it won’t for you either. It is not going to make you spiritual. it didn’t do that for the Corinthians, and it won’t for you either.

This is where I think people mistake the purpose for the gift of other tongues.

In scripture, the primary purpose for tongues is for exalting God (praising and glorifying him) in you personal devotion.

If you pray in other tongues, your spirit is edified, but others around you are not, and that is why the gift of the interpretation of tongues is given.

Praying and singing in other tongues in your personal devotion with enrich your praying and singing with your understanding.

Tongues is given primarily as a gift to enhance your personal devotion with God. In the book of 1 Corinthians 14, the apostle Paul says the following:

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Notice that Paul makes a contrast between his much speaking in tongues and speaking in the church. While speaking in tongues in private edifies the individual who speaks in tongues, speaking in tongues publicly does not edify those who do not know what you are saying.

This is why Paul says he’d rather speak five understandable words in the church than 10 thousand which can’t be understood by others. When we are in fellowship with others (in church,) we should be concerned with the edification of others, and not ourselves.

Paul tells the Corinthians to keep silent (from speaking in tongues) in the church if there is no interpreter present.

The sad truth is that many Christians are robbed of the blessing of speaking in other tongues because of the abuse of carnal Christians who think speaking in tongues publicly is a sign of spirituality. It is not!

Speaking in tongues publicly with no interpretation, is a sign of carnality, being able to control yourself and keep silent is a sign of spirituality.

Spiritual people do not need to draw attention to themselves with their gifts. Spiritual people are more concerned with using their gifting with discretion and wisdom so that the name of Christ is glorified and others edified.

The same can be said for the gift of prophecy. There has been much abuse of the gift of prophecy, but the real truth is, you don’t have to announce that you are prophesying or giving a prophetic word to prophesy.

Prophecy can edify people and give them hope without them ever knowing they were prophesied to.

if you have to announce that you are prophesying, ask yourself, why?

Are you being carnal, and needing to draw attention to yourself?

If we will grow in our love towards others, the gifts of God can and will enrich our lives and when used properly, be a tremendous blessing to others.

JESUS BORE OUR SINS

The apostle Peter tells us that Jesus is our example of suffering wrongfully and that he committed himself to God who judges righteously. Peter tells us this within the context of Christ bearing our sins. ~ 1 Peter 2:19-25

The Biblical definition of what it means to bare doesn’t actually mean what we sometimes might think it means. For example, as believers we are to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:3). We are to follow Christ’s example in bearing the burdens of others because Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree.

Isaiah 53:12 tells us, He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

The Hebrew word for bare in Isaiah 53:12 is naw-sawand is translated as forgiveness in its various forms on multiple occasions in the Old Testament. For instance, it is translated as forgiving in Exodus 34:6-7.

And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

It is also translated as forgive, forgiven, and forgavest in Psalm 25:16-18 and Psalm 32:1 &5.

Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. ~ Psalm 25:16-18

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile…I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. ~ Psalm 32:1, 2, & 5

In the scriptures above we can see that God bares his people’s sins by forgiving them.  In Romans 4 Paul quotes Psalm 32:1-2 (referenced above) in view of the forgiveness which comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. ~ Romans 4:6-8

The Hebrews word naw-saw, which is translated as bare in Isaiah 53:12 appears in 610 passages of scripture in the Old Testament and is referenced a total of 653 times. Here are a few examples of how it is used elsewhere in the Old Testament:

And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. ~ Genesis 7:17

And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. ~ Exodus 10:19

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. ~ Exodus 19:4

And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. ~ Exodus 25:14

Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them. And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!) How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. ~ Deuteronomy 1:8-13

The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God, Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. ~ Deuteronomy 1:30-33

Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. ~ Isaiah 1:13-14

Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. ~ Isaiah 40:9-11

Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. ~ Isaiah 46:3-4

I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. ~ Isaiah 63:7-9

In Isaiah 53:4, the Hebrew word naw-saw is rendered as borne.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 

In Matthew 8:16-17 Matthew interprets Isaiah 53:4 in view of healing and deliverance.

When the evening was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

According to Matthew’s interpretation of Isaiah 53:4, Jesus did not take the peoples infirmities and bare their sicknesses by becoming afflicted and sick as a substitute in their place. Instead, Jesus took and bare the infirmities and sicknesses of the people by delivering them from demons and healing them.

From Matthew’s interpretation of Isaiah 53:4 we can see Matthew understood the words of Isaiah in view of the antidote which is healing and deliverance.

In the same way, Jesus bore our sins by giving himself as an unblemished sacrifice so that we could be cleansed from our sins by his precious blood and made alive with him through his resurrection from the dead.

It is in view of the salvation which Jesus obtained for us through the laying down of his life that we should understand what it means that he bore our sins.

THE NEW TESTAMENT 

The Greek word for bare is anaphero, and it means to take up, bear, bring, (carry, lead) up, offer (up). It is used 9 other times in the New Testament in 8 different verses.

1 Peter 2:24 says 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.

In Matthew 17:1 it is used to describe Jesus leading three of his disciples as they ascended up the Mount of transfiguration: And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart.

Mark 9:2 also referencing the ascent up the Mount of Transfiguration as leadeth them up.

In Luke 25:51 it is used to describe Jesus’s ascension after his resurrection: And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

Consider that the same Greek word used in 1 Peter 2:24 which declares that Jesus bore our sins is the same Greek word used to describe his ascension into Heaven. This immediately reminds me of the burnt offerings which were offered on the altar of sacrifice in the Old Testament.

The words, burnt offering, come from the Hebrew word, o-law, meaning ascending. The burnt offerings were to be wholly offered to the Lord as a sweet fragrance. Ephesians 5:2 tells us Christ loved us, and gave himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. Jesus was wholly given to the Lord of us and was accepted for us as a sweet fragrance to God. In this manner, he bore our sins as a sacrifice to God.

In Hebrews 7:27 and Hebrews 9:28 the Greek word anaphero is translated bare, and is used to describe Jesus giving his life as an offering for our sins.

Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. ~ Hebrews 7:27 

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. ~ Hebrews 9:28

In Hebrews 13:15 it is used as a reference to the sacrifices of praise which we offer to God: By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

In James 2:21 it is used as a reference to Abraham offering up Isaac as a burnt offering on the altar of sacrifice: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Finally, in 1 Peter 2:5 it is a reference to the spiritual sacrifices which we offer to God: Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

As we can see the word bare has nothing to do with substitution, or becoming the very thing it is removing. It has to do with lifting up, offering up, and ascending. In 1 Peter 2:5 (mentioned above) it is used in conjunction with the spiritual sacrifices which God accepts from believers through Jesus Christ.

Jesus bore our sins by offering himself to God as an unblemished sacrifice. God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf as a sweet fragrance, and by him and through him our sins are taken away by the blood of his cross.

Jesus was not rejected by God in our place, rather Jesus was a holy and pure offering, accepted by God for us and by his precious blood we have redemption.