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!


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.


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.


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 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.


Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do thy will, O God . ~ Hebrews 10:7

This is a reference to Jesus. The volume of the book refers to the entirety of the Old Testament scriptures which testify of Jesus. In the volume of the book it is written of Jesus.

At the beginning of this verse he says, “then said I.” This is a response to what has been said in the previous verses concerning God not desiring the sacrifices which were offered under the Law.

Now consider this: according to the testimony of the Law, God never desired those sacrifices on which the law covenant was ratified and renewed year by year.

There are some who have claimed that the new covenant is actually the renewed covenant. This is not correct. The new covenant is an entirely new covenant, better and far superior to the first.

There was a renewing of the Law Covenant every year on the Day of Atonement. The reason the law covenant had to be renewed is because it’s representatives were imperfect and it’s sacrifices could not take away sin. Every year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest had to first offer sacrifices for his own sins and for the sins of the priesthood before he could offer sacrifice for the people.

Jesus however, is our perfect representative. He does not need to offer sacrifice every year for himself and for us. He offered himself once and for all and is perfected forever as our Great High Priest. By his blood he has put away sin in the presence of God once for all.

God is so eternally pleased with Jesus that there will never again be the necessity of another representative for God’s people, that is, a high priest to offer sacrifice for sin.

The first Covenant could not give this. It had to be renewed every year and as long as that system was in place there was a remembrance of sins again year after year. Yet in his mercy and grace, God so ordained that the first Covenant be set up in such a way that it would foreshadow the one to come in Christ.

Those things which were only a shadow were never the things which God desired. Jesus, on the other hand, pleases God in every respect. He is unblemished and holy in every respect and he fulfills and fulfilled God’s will perfectly and completely.

It is not merely that he is holy because he never sinned. Rather, he never sinned because he is holy!

He did the will of God, not against his own will as one forced to serve, but as the expression of his own will, for it was his continuous delight to please the Father in everything. Jesus did the will of God from the heart because God’s will was his will and this is what God had always desired. This is what made Jesus the perfect representative to take away our sins.Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ~ Hebrews 10:5-10


At the inauguration of the service of the Tabernacle of Moses, God demonstrated his acceptance of the offerings which foreshadowed Christ by consuming the sacrifices by fire from His Holy presence.

And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. ~ Leviticus 9:22-24

This fire which consumed the sacrifices came from the presence of God from within the Holy of Holies. This demonstration of God’s glory was repeated at the dedication of the temple which Solomon built, except this time the fire came down from Heaven.

Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord. And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of music of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood. Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brazen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:1-7

When God consumed the sacrifices at the dedication of the tabernacle under Moses, there was lit upon the altar a divine fire. This was the fire of which God had instructed Moses saying, “it shall not be put out” and “it shall never be put out.” ~ Leviticus 6:9-13

This is significant because of the important role which the brazen altar of sacrifice had in connection to the golden altar of incense within the Holy Place.

In scripture, the incense from the golden altar is associated with prayer (Revelation 8:3). The burning of the incense upon the golden altar was evidently from the divine fire taken from the brazen altar.

In Leviticus 10, not long after God had consumed the sacrifices with fire from His presence, Aaron’s two sons (Nadab and Abihu) took it upon themselves to offer incense with strange fire. When they did this, fire once again came from the presence of the Lord, but this time, it devoured the two sons of Aaron.

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. ~ Leviticus 10:1-2 This all foreshadowed Christ, who is man’s only approach to God, All other ways lead to God’s judgment. Through Christ alone we are enabled to approach and stand in the presence of a Holy God. Jesus gave Himself for us as a sweet smelling savor to God (Ephesians 5:2) and through him alone the authentic fire of God’s presence burns within our hearts. Through Jesus alone we have access with confidence, and in Him our prayers become as sweet incense before God’s throne.

Anything else, other than the authentic Jesus, is strange fire.


For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. ` 2 corinthians 5:21

Sometimes people interpret this text as, “Jesus became sin with our sinfulness.” This is common among those who interpret the cross solely as the place of substitution rather than sacrifice, and there is a difference.

Part and parcel to the belief that Christ was made sin with our sinfulness is the belief that Christ was rejected and condemned by God as a sinner when he died on the cross.

Because this view is so prevalent, it isn’t uncommon to hear someone describe the atoning work of Christ as substitutionary atonement rather than sacrificial atonement – there is a difference, a huge difference. Consider the meaning of the two words, substitution and sacrifice.

A substitute takes the place of another, for all intents and purposes it is a replacement. A sacrifice on the other hand is an offering, something of immense value which is given unselfishly, and is very costly to the giver.

When a firefighter enters a burning building to rescue another person he is putting his life on the line to save another, and if he dies in the process, we could say he sacrificed his life. We would not describe the firefighter as a substitute, and if we did, our words would likely be considered an insult.

Words do have meaning, and I am convinced that many Christians are missing out on truly understanding the power of the cross, because of this.

Throughout the Old Testament the sacrifices which were types of Christ were offered to God as a sweet fragrance (a sweet savor, or aroma) that God would accept on the behalf of the people, as holy sacrificial offerings (Leviticus 22:20, 21, 25, 27). By virtue of these offerings, the people were sanctified and made holy in the sight of the Lord.

In Philippians 4, Paul draws on the language of the sweet savor offerings when he speaks of the gift of support which the Philippians sent to his aid.

But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.~ Philippians 4:18

In 2 Corinthians, Paul again draws on the language of the sweet savor offerings when he says the following: Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish… ~ 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

In both cases (Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2) Paul appeals to the language found in the Old Testament which described the atonement sacrifices foreshadowing the death of Christ.

No one reading Paul’s words in Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2 would think the expression “sweet savor” had any other meaning than that which is pleasing to God. In fact, Paul uses the words “well pleasing” in his Philippians 4 description.

When Christ died on the cross, he paid the ransom for us with his holy life which he offered to God as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Jesus gave himself as a sweet savor offering, well pleasing to God!

This is why holy communion is so important and powerful. It is a memorial of the death of our Lord, for through Jesus’s sacrifice we are consecrated to God and made holy.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet – smelling savor. ~ Ephesians 4:32- 5-2

God accepts us because he accepted, not rejected, Jesus when he died on the cross for our sins. Had God rejected Jesus on the cross, we would still be in our sins. Throughout the Old Testament the offerings which foreshadowed Jesus were accepted to make atonement. Those offerings which were rejected did not make atonement.

And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. ~ Leviticus 1:4

Notice the language in the text above: “it shall be accepted for him to mke atonement.” In like manner, Christ was accepted for us. Now consider Leviticus 7:18:

And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.  ~ Leviticus 7:18 

Rejected sacrifices and offerings did not make atonement.  Only those which were accepted as a sweet savor did. Yet there is an entire ideology that many have been taught which states that Jesus redeemed us by becoming a substitute rejected by God in our place. This is contrary to the entire narrative of scripture regarding the sacrifices which foreshadowed Jesus, which were offered for atonement. Jesus sacrificed his holy life for us when he died on the cross, and the sacrifice of himself was an offering that was a sweet fragrance to God. 

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. ~ Ephesians 5:2

Why then does the Bible say that Jesus was made sin for us, and how should we interpret this verse? 

Paul’s reference to Christ being made sin for us is derived from the Old Testament motif of the sin offerings. The sin offerings were offered to make atonement for sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the word atonement was used to convey the idea of reconciliation, sanctification, consecration, and forgiveness. This is the context which surrounds Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5.

Literally, Paul is telling us that Christ was made to be the offering for our sins, and that is how we are reconciled to God. Christ was made to be our sin offering not our literal sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the words sin and sin offering are translated from the same Hebrew word “chattath”. One writer pointed out that chattath is translated as sin offering 118 times, and translated as sin 168 times. We determine which is being spoken of based on the context. 

In Hebrews 10:6, the writer of Hebrews is quoting from Psalms 40:6 which says, Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

It is clear that the Psalmist is referring to the sacrifices and offerings and not talking about sin. In Hebrews 10:6, the author of Hebrews cites this text in reference to Jesus, saying, In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. The words “sacrifices for” have been added by the translators of the KJV for clarity, because the context is the sacrifices for sin. Without this clarification, the text could have read, In burnt offerings and sin thou hast had no pleasure.

The Greek word “hamartia” which is used in Hebrews 10:6 in reference to the sin offering, is also used in 2 Corinthians 5:21 in reference to Christ being made sin for us. So we must determine from the context if Paul is saying Jesus was made to be our literal sin, or our sin offering.

It should be of importance to us that the apostle Paul was a Jew who had come to know Christ. The things which Paul taught about Jesus were rooted in his scholarly understanding of the scriptures. Paul most assuredly would have thought through the scriptures as a Jewish scholar and would have understood Christ’s death and resurrection in view of the scriptures. Paul tells the Corinthians the following:

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

Paul certainly understood Christ’s death in view of the Old Testament scriptures and would not have taught anything contrary to the Old Testament’s motif when he speaks of Christ dying for our sins. Paul spoke of Christ’s death in view of the precedent set forth within the sacrificial system because those sacrifices foreshadowed Christ.

Jesus is our Redeemer, and he died for our sins as one who was pure and holy. There is no precedent anywhere in scripture which would indicate that the offerings for sin were made sinful with the sins of the people, which is how 2 Corinthians has been interpreted by some. Instead they were to be offered as unblemished sacrifices which were holy to the Lord.

Leviticus 6:25 says, “Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, this is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy.

Christ was a most holy offering for our sins when he died on the cross. He was not morphed into a condemned sinner. He wasn’t a sin infested replacement. He was pure, holy, and righteous.

Leviticus 22:21 tells us that the sacrifices which foreshadowed Christ had to be perfect in order to be accepted – And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.Christ was perfect, He was without sin: he knew no sin. Jesus Christ died as an unblemished lamb whose blood is pure and holy. The scripture says we were not redeemed with corruptible things, instead we were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ as from a lamb without spot or blemish (See 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Jesus did not become a corrupted sin infused replacement when he died on the cross. He was a holy sacrifice unto God and in that holy sacrifice of himself we are accepted and have access to God.

The teaching of the Bible is that our redemption is by virtue of the blood of Jesus. Jesus is, was, and always will be holy, pure, and just. The apostle Peter declared that he is the holy and just One which the people rejected (Acts 3:14). Peter also declared that he is the prince of life and that the grave could not hold him because God would not allow his holy one to see corruption. (See Acts 2:24, 27; 3:15)

Christ was our sin offering and not our literal sin when he died on the cross.



The following is a quote from a well respected minister: “…It amazes me that we believe this, that God would crush and kill his own son but let you slide. “

Did God kill his only Son? According to the New Testament, Jesus taught his disciples that his death would come from the hands of sinful men, and this is exactly what the apostles preached, including Paul, throughout the book of Acts. Jesus is the Stone the builders rejected, and before his death on the cross, Jesus prepared his disciples for the things he was soon to suffer. After his resurrection, Jesus revealed to them how all things written in the Law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets concerning his death and resurrection were fulfilled by the events they had just witnessed.

And he said unto them, these are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. ~ Luke 24:44-48 

Jesus opened the understanding of his disciples, and they comprehended that the things they had just witnessed was the fulfillment of the scriptures concerning his sufferings and the glory that should follow.

Jesus began to prepare his disciples concerning his death and resurrection while at Caesarea Philippi, the very same place where Jesus asked his disciples “who do you say that I am?”

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.  ~ Matthew 16:21

Soon afterwards, Jesus was transfigured on the mountain known as the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter, James, and John all witnessed as Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus concerning his death which was soon to take place in Jerusalem. ~ Luke 9:31

After this, Jesus and the disciples with him made their way down the mountain. As they journeyed, Jesus said to them, “the Son of Man is going to suffer and be put at naught as it was written of him.” 

When they arrived at the foot of the mountain, they were met by a crowd of people, along with nine anxious disciples who seemed a bit overwhelmed regarding the father of a young man who had epilepsy. They had tried to cast out an evil spirit from the epileptic boy but to no avail. Jesus had compassion and cast out the demon and presented the young man back to his father.

As the crowd rejoiced, and the disciples wondered why they could not set the boy free, Jesus turned to them and said, “Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.”  ~ Luke 9:44

The disciples did not yet understand what Christ was teaching them, yet they were being prepared because Jesus knew the time was approaching when he would offer his life for the sin of the world. Luke tells us “It came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” ~ Luke 9:51

Not long afterwards, while in Galilee, Jesus again rehearsed to his disciples how he was going to suffer. Matthew tells us, “while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.” ~ Matthew 17:22-23

Still, the disciples did not comprehend these things. It wasn’t until after Jesus had arisen from the dead and opened their understanding to the scriptures that they fully understood.

Nonetheless Jesus was preparing them because they were going to be eye witnesses of the fulfillment of the scriptures concerning the Messiah and they would testify of him with boldness in the power of the Holy Spirit.

As they made their way towards Jerusalem, Jesus again pulled his disciples aside and rehearsed to them what he was about to suffer.

Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” ~ Matthew 20:17-19 NKJV

Luke gives us a little different insight and says, “He took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.  For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” ~ Luke 18:31-34

Notice that the things the Jesus endured from the hands of men is described by Jesus as the accomplishment, or fulfillment of “all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man.”


In Luke 24:1-8, we read of certain women who came to the empty tomb on the day that Jesus was raised from the dead. They were greeted by an angel of the Lord, who said the following to them:

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spoke unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. ~ Luke 24:6-8

When the angel of the Lord said this to the women, the Bible says, “they remembered his words.”

Later, in Luke 24:13 -31, we read of two of Jesus’s disciples who traveled along the road to Emmaus. As they walked and talked together, they spoke of “all these things which had happened.”

As these two disciples discussed what had happened, a stranger suddenly came along for the journey. They had no idea their new traveling companion was none other than Jesus himself. The Bible says, their eyes were kept from recognizing him. ~ Luke 24:16

Jesus then asked them what they were having such an intense discussion about. One of them whose name was Cleopas answered Jesus and said, “Are you only a stranger in Jerusalem and have not known the things which have happened in these days?” 

Jesus responded, “what things?”

Then they said to Jesus, “concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done.” ~ Luke 24: 19-21

Notice that, these things, of which these two disciples were speaking includes the betrayal and trial along with the crucifixion. It was now the third day since the Jesus had been betrayed.

As they proceeded to tell Jesus all that had happened to him and how they had hoped that he would have been the one who would have redeemed Israel, they still had no clue it was Jesus with whom they were talking. They even told him that they had heard reports of his resurrection, yet they were still in disbelief. Luke continues the narrative of Jesus’s response to their report of his death and resurrection.

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. ~ Luke 24:25-27 

Notice how Jesus describes these things which they had witnessed as being that which all the prophets had spoken concerning himself (i.e., his death). The context of this passage shows that Jesus revealed nothing other than his sufferings, beginning with the betrayal by Judas into the hands of men and their condemnation of him as the fulfillment of all that the scriptures had foretold of His death.

Jesus expounded to them those things in the scriptures relating to his sufferings and the glory that was to follow. Jesus literally schooled these two disciples on the meaning of the scriptures beginning with Moses and continued through all writings of the prophets to show them that what they had just witnessed was the fulfillment of the scriptures.


The Lord’s closest disciples were his personally appointed apostles, and they preached the cross throughout the book of Acts exactly as they had been taught by Jesus that what they had witnessed was the fulfillment of the scriptures.

As we read through the book of Acts, we see that the apostles laid the blame for the death of Jesus upon the people of Israel. As the apostles preached the gospel, their message was filled with overtones of  “look at what you have done to him and repent.”

Consider the words of Peter in Acts 2:

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. ~ Acts 2:23-24

Later, in verse thirty-six, Peter says, “… let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made this same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” ~ Acts 2:36

In Acts 3, after the lame man was healed at the gate called Beautiful, a crowd quickly assembled around Peter and John. The people were amazed at what had happened because the man had been lame his entire life, more than 40 years. Peter quickly defused any attention towards him and John and preached the following to the people.

… Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. ~ Acts 3: 12b-19

The remainder of Peter’s sermon is recorded in verses 20-26, but from the verses above one can clearly see that Peter blames the people and not God for the death of Jesus.

As we read into chapter four, we see that Peter’s boldness for Jesus invoked trouble from the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees. Peter and John were taken into custody because these leaders were angered that they had taught and preached about the resurrection of Jesus which resulted in approximately 5,000 people being saved.

The next day, Peter and John were placed on trial before the High Priest and were asked, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” Peter’s response is worth examining because it again reveals how the apostles understood the cross and resurrection of Jesus:

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. ~ Acts 4:8-12 

Notice that Peter again directs the responsibility for the death of Jesus towards those who rejected him. He then attributes the resurrection to God showing how God had overturned what the people had done in condemning Jesus. God had raised him from the dead. Peter speaks of Jesus as the stone which his audience at that time had rejected and says the stone which they had rejected is the stone which has becomes the cornerstone of God’s house!

Peter would later write about this in his first epistle.

You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” ~ 1 Peter 2:4-8 TNLT

Peter is telling us the same thing in his first epistle as he preached to the religious leaders in Acts 4. Jesus is the Stone whom the people rejected. Not the one God rejected. In his death, Jesus suffered unjustly at the hands of sinful men, and in his resurrection he was vindicated by the justice of God, for God exalted him to the highest place of honor at his own right hand.

After being threatened by the council and let go, Peter and John returned to the other believers. The Bible says they reported to them all that the chief priests, and the elders had said to them. After hearing this, the whole crowd of believers began to lift up their voices in unity to God in prayer. Among other things their prayer contained the following words.

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. ~ Acts 4:24-28 

Here we can see the disciples declared that it was not only Jesus that the people opposed but God as well. Those who condemned Jesus to death were gathered against the Lord and against his Christ.

The Lord and his Christ is a reference to God and his Son Jesus!

In John 15 Jesus had taught his disciples that the world hated him because it hated his Father in Heaven and interprets the scripture, “they hated me without a cause,” as hatred aimed at both he and his Father, God. Consequently the world would hate them as well.

This is what we are seeing in Acts 4 as well as the entirety of the book of Acts. The unrepentant religious hierarchy within Jewry were hell bent on silencing the testimony of Christ being witnessed by the apostles.

Yet, the power of the Holy Spirit could not be quenched, for Christ had overcome this world and was now the exalted King seated at the Father’s right hand. Christ’s gospel is unstoppable by the kingdoms of this world for it is not preached in man’s strength but in God’s, for the Kingdom of God is not in word but in power. (see 1 Corinthians 4:20).

After the company of believers in Acts 4 prayed, God shook the building and filled them all with the Holy Ghost. God answered their prayer and did many signs and wonders among the people through the hands of the apostles. This caused quite a stir with the high priest and those with him. The Bible says they were filled with considerable resentment toward the followers of Jesus. Once again they tried to stop the work of the Holy Ghost, but this is how Peter and the other apostles answered them:

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. ~ Acts 5:29-32

The apostles not only blamed them again for the crucifixion of Jesus, but they declared that God, in opposition to what they had done, had raised Jesus from the dead. They made it clear they had been witnesses of all this themselves as well as the Holy Spirit.

This declaration by Peter and the apostles was met with such resistance by the high priest and his associates that they wanted the apostles dead just as they had wanted Jesus dead. Acts 5:33 says, “When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.”

It wasn’t the apostles only whom they wanted to stop. It was the work of the Holy Spirit through the apostles that they were opposing. We can see this in the case of Stephen. Stephen was not an apostle, but a faithful disciple and deacon in the church. Stephen had been chosen as a deacon because he was of an honest report, and he was full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. In Acts 6:8 we are told that “Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.”

Yet there were some Jews from the Synagogue who stirred up debate with Stephen but when they could not stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke, they persuaded some men to lie about him. They accused Stephen of speaking blasphemous against Moses and God. This resulted in stirring up more trouble with the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law.

They then came and arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council and they publicly accused him falsely. It was in this setting that Stephen preached his last sermon before dying as a martyr for the Lord Jesus after being stoned to death by his accusers.

Yet, we need to ask, what exactly made them so angry? What did Stephen preach that so infuriated them that caused them to stone him to death? Stephen testified of the long history of Israel’s continued rejection of God and Israel’s rejection of those whom God sent to them, which culminated in their rejection of Jesus.

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers… ~ Acts 7:51-52

Stephen says to those who were about to stone him that they were betrayers and murders of Jesus, the Just One. Their fathers had persecuted the prophets who had showed beforehand his coming, and they had followed in their footsteps by their rejection of Christ. Stephen actually says that what they did to Jesus was that of resisting the Holy Ghost!

In Luke 11:46-52, Jesus had said to the leaders of the Jewish people that by their rejection of him they would be accounted as guilty of the blood of all the prophets from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah and by resisting Stephen’s preaching about Jesus, those who killed Stephen had also fallen into the same category because they too were resisting the Holy Ghost.

This is a major theme that runs consistently throughout the New Testament. God sent Christ to turn the hearts of his people back to him. Those who repented received the remission of their sins through the Messiah who died for them and rose again. Those who refused to repent were condemned by their rejection of Jesus.

In Acts 13, the Apostle Paul also preached this same Gospel when he said, “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work, which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.”

These words by Paul refer to the resurrection of Christ as the work of God which the scriptures foretold God was going to do. Here is the context of Paul’s message:

Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. ~ Acts 13:26-46

The apostles always preached the resurrection of Jesus as the work of God in contrast to what sinful men had done to Jesus. It was this testimony that the Holy Ghost affirmed with signs, wonders, and miracles.

In Acts 8, Philip the evangelist preached Christ to a high ranking Ethiopian. The Bible tells us that he was a eunuch and had great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians. He had oversight of all her treasure, and he had come to Jerusalem to worship God. On his way home he was reading from the prophet Isaiah as he sat on his chariot. The Spirit of the Lord spoke to Philip and said, “Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.” Philip ran to him, and heard him reading from Isaiah and asked him, “do you understand what you are reading?” See verses 29 and 30.

The Eunuch replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” He then urged Philip to come up into the chariot and sit with him. The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: “In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.”  See verse 31-33.

It was this place in scripture that Philip began to declare to him about Jesus. What’s significant here is the phrase, “In his humiliation his judgment was taken away,” is a reference to the unjust treatment that Jesus endured.

Here is what some other translations of Acts 8:33 says,

  • He was humiliated and received no justice… (NLT)
  • In His humiliation He was taken away by distressing and oppressive judgment and justice was denied Him… (Amplified Bible)
  • In His humiliation justice was denied Him… (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Now, here is what some other translations of Isaiah 53:8 says, which is the verse quoted in Acts 8:33:

  • Unjustly condemned, he was led away… (New Living Translation)
  • By oppression and judgment He was taken away… (Amplified Bible)
  • He was condemned to death without a fair trial… (Contemporary English Version)

Later, in Acts 10 when Peter was sent to the house of Cornelius, the message was the same. Peter preach about Jesus and said the following:

And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead (the living and the dead). To him give all the prophets witness that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. ~ Acts 10:39-43


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 10:28-29

These verses are often used by those who teach once saved, always saved (OSAS), as the promise of unconditional eternal security.

I want you to notice the beginning of verse 28, “And I give unto them eternal life…”.  Who is “them” a reference to in this text? The answer is found in the previous verse. If the pronoun, them, was a reference to all who have had a conversion experience, then yes, there would be justification to cite these verses as a promise of unconditional eternal security.

However, the pronoun, them, is not a reference to all who have had a conversion to Christ. Consider verse 27:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. ~ v. 27

The Lord’s sheep are those who hear his voice and follow him. In Hebrews 3, the author of Hebrews writes the following:

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end… ~ Hebrews 3:7-14

The Israelites failed in the wilderness because they did not follow God’s voice, but hardened their hearts. Though they were God’s people, many of them never enter the promised land because of the hardness of their hearts. According to the author of Hebrews, the Israelites in the wilderness serve as and example to us not to err in our hearts, but to remain faithful to the Lord.

Jude also addresses this when he writes the following:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. ~ Jude 1:3-5

If a person truly converts and years later begins to drift away from Christ, and eventually hardens their heart to the point of becoming an adulterer, they are no longer following Jesus, though they may have at one time.  

The eternal life promised by Jesus in John 10:27-29 is said within the context of the Shepherd and the sheep. A sheep that follows the shepherd will be safe. A sheep who wanders away from the shepherd will not. Israel was the sheep of God’s pasture (Ezekiel 34:30-13), and yet many of them failed in the wilderness because they did not remain faithful to the Lord, and to follow his voice.

The apostle John warns his audience against being deceived by seducers who are antichrists. Within that context John reminds them that the promise He has promised us is eternal life; thus he reminds his audience to abide in Christ and follow the truth so that they will not be ashamed at the coming of the Lord. 

Those who follow Jesus (that’s the key word – follow) have the promise of eternal life, and they are the ones who are securely held in his hand and in his Father’s hand. Those who turn away from Jesus do not have the promise of being securely kept in his hand.

Jesus is the good Shepherd and he will keep us in his care if we follow him. If we do not follow him, there is no promise of eternal security.

Consider the following from John 8:

As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ~ John 8:30-32

One does not have the promise of eternal life because he once had a conversion experience if he/she does not continue in the faith and follow Jesus. The promise of eternal life and eternal security applies only to those who follow Jesus.

He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. ~ Matthew 10:38


Rooted and Grounded In Christ

In Matthew 12 the scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus and tempted him. They asked him to give them a sign to prove that he is the Messiah. Jesus responded by saying the following:

An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. ~ Matthew 12:39-41

The reference to the sign of the prophet Jonas (Jonah) can be found in Matthew 12:38-41, Matthew 16:1-4 and in Luke 11:29-32 and is an…

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