god-so-loved-the-world

My Redeemer Lives! ~ Hebrews 1:3

aboveThe Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NLT ~

In our last study on Hebrews 1:3, we discussed how Jesus sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.  I truly love how this study is  going. There is so much for us to glean and absorb from God’s word to us and to the Hebrews, and I’m truly excited about the timing of everything.

Doesn’t it seem appropriate that we are going to spend time studying the following part of Hebrews 1:3, at this time, when Christians everywhere are celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God?

… When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

Think about it… All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… There is no one righteous, no, not one… The wages of sin is death… 

god-so-loved-the-worldThe situation was grim. Mankind was lost and dying. Though it wasn’t created for man, the fact is that all of mankind was destined for hell. Though sin had separated all of mankind from God, in His mercy and His grace, God had a solution for mankind’s eternal problem…

… For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life… Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends… You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you…

woundedThere is no greater love than this. God loved us so much, that He willingly sacrificed His Son for our sins, and it is at this time of year, that we celebrate His great act of love on our behalf. And Jesus could have refused to die for us, but He didn’t. Instead, He chose to suffer on your behalf and mine…

1 Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed His powerful arm? 2 My Servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in a dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. 3 He was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 

4 Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! 5 But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.

7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth. 8 Unjustly condemned, He was led away. No one cared that He died without descendants, that His life was cut short in midstream. But He was struck down for the rebellion of my people. 9 He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave. 

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush Him and cause Him grief. Yet when His life is made an offering for sin, He will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in His hands. 11 When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied. And because of His experience, My Righteous Servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins. 12 I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier, because He exposed Himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. ~ Isaiah 53 — NLT ~

… When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven~ Hebrews 1:3 — NLT ~

After Jesus suffered and died to pay for your sins and mine, He descended into hell…

18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.

19 So He went and preached to the spirits in prison — 20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood~ 1 Peter 3:18-20 — NLT ~

deathThe scriptures also tell us that everyone must die, and after that, face judgment, just as Jesus did, but here is the good news. Though Jesus died for your sins and mine, He arose from the dead!

27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him. ~ Hebrews 9:27-28 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, we are so blessed. For when Jesus rose up from the dead, He didn’t stop working on our behalf. Indeed, this  is why believers throughout the world celebrate Christ’s resurrection every year at this time…

1 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me. 2 There is more than enough room in My Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” ~ John 14:1-4 — NLT ~

Therefore He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. ~ Hebrews 7:25 — NLT ~

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. ~ Romans 8:34 — NLT ~

Isn’t it comforting to know that Jesus is sitting beside God right now, on His right side, in the place of honor, interceding for you and me?  There is no better or more able to defend us than Christ, the holy Son of God!

As we prepare to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, this weekend, let’s reflect on this…

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, let us not forget to give thanks to Him for sacrificing His one and only Son so that you and I could live…

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the gift of Your Son Jesus. Thank You Lord, for sacrificing Him for my sake, and thank You for raising Him up from the dead, so that He could prepare a place for me to live, 

And Lord Jesus, thank You for stepping in when I sin and fail God, and for pleading and interceding with Him on my behalf, because if You are for me, who could be against me. 

Thank You, Lord for the great love that You lavish on me, and forgive me for sinning against You.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Image Credit:
Darrell Creswell

All Things Upheld By the Word of His Power ~ Hebrews 1:3

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Image Credit:
ubdavid.org

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NLT ~

Greetings beloved readers! I don’t know about you, but God is ministering to me through this study of His word. In our last study, we discovered that Jesus is the very image of God, possessing His character as well. We discovered that Jesus has the same exact mindset as God, our heavenly Father does, and that we are to have the same mindset as Christ. In closing, I cited Romans 8:17, and asked, As a child of Almighty God, and a joint heir with Christ, are we really willing to do what Paul said in Romans 8:17? And if we’re not, are we willing, to begin praying for God to give us this same mindset that Jesus, and all of His disciples (except for Judas Iscariot) had?”

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Image Credit:
Voice of the Martyrs

Did you ask yourself if you are willing to share in Jesus’ suffering? For indeed, we must be willing to share in His suffering if we are to share in His glory. Sadly, much of the church (here in America at any rate), wants to share in the glory and skip the suffering, as if that is an option, when in reality, it isn’t. Jesus even warned us, before His arrest and crucifixion, that we would suffer, so if anyone tries to tell you that as a child of God, you won’t go through trials like everyone else, remember these words of Jesus…

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. ~ John 16:33 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
Columna Bites of Wisdom

Now, we’re ready to move on to the next part of our study in Hebrews… and YES, we’re still studying Hebrews 1:3. There is so much for us to feast on in this one verse, as we study God’s word line by line and precept upon precept…

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Real Jesus Ministries, Inc.
Image Credit:
Real Jesus Ministries, Inc.

Today, in this post, we’re going to study how Jesus sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When I said we are going to study Hebrews line by line and precept upon precept, I meant exactly that. Therefore, in order for us to accomplish this, let’s look at this verse in the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

When looking for the original Greek words (for the New Testament) or Hebrew words (for the Old Testament) that were translated into the many different versions of the Bible that we are blessed with today, you usually do so by referring to either the King James Version (KJV) or the NASB. I personally prefer the NASB over the KJV, simply because people no longer speak King James English, whereas, we (Americans especially) do speak the language of the NASB. Therefore, let’s look at this verse in the NASB…

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NASB ~

Let’s begin by looking at the Greek word and definition for upholds:

Upholds = pherō

I.         to carry

A.     to carry some burden

i.     to bear with one’s self

B.     to move by bearing; move or, to be conveyed or borne,                         with the suggestion of force or speed

i.     of persons borne in a ship over the sea
ii.    of a gust of wind, to rush
iii.   of the mind, to be moved inwardly, prompted

C.     to bear up i.e. uphold (keep from falling)

i.     of Christ, the preserver of the universe

II.       to bear, i.e. endure, to endure the rigor of a thing, to bear                              patiently one’s conduct, or spare one (abstain from punishing                    or destroying)

III.   to bring, bring to, bring forward

A.     to move to, apply
B.     to bring in by announcing, to announce
C.     to bear i.e. bring forth, produce; to bring forward in a                             speech
D.     to lead, conduct

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NASB ~

Next, we will look at the Greek word and definition for all things:

All Things = pas

I.     individually

A.     each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things,                              everything

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NASB ~

As we continue to search the original meaning of this passage, by looking for the Greek words and definitions, from which this scripture was translated, we will look at the Greek word and definition for by the word:

By the Word = rhēma

I.     that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken,           word

A.     any sound produced by the voice and having definite                            meaning
B.     speech, discourse

i.     what one has said

C.     a series of words joined together into a sentence (a                                declaration of one’s mind made in words)

i.     an utterance
ii.    a saying of any sort as a message, a narrative

a.     concerning some occurrence

II.    subject matter of speech, thing spoken of

A.     so far forth as it is a matter of narration
B.     so far as it is a matter of command
C.     a matter of dispute, case at law

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NASB ~

The final word that we are going to research for today’s study is power:

Power = dynamis

I.     strength power, ability

A.     inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its                      nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth
B.     power for performing miracles
C.     moral power and excellence of soul
D.     the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth
E.     power and resources arising from numbers
F.     power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NASB ~

Now that we know the Greek words and their definitions, let’s put it together so that we can have a thorough knowledge of what this portion of Hebrews 1:3 means to us…

Image Credit: Darrell Creswell
Image Credit:
Darrell Creswell

This portion of Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus upholds (to carry, to carry some burden,  to bear with one’s self, to bear up i.e. uphold [keep from falling], of Christ, the preserver of the universe) all things (each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything) by the word (that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word, any sound produced by the voice and having definite meaning, an utterance, a saying of any sort as a message, a narrative, so far as it is a matter of command) of His power (strength power, ability, inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth, power for performing miracles, moral power and excellence of soul).

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Image Credit:
Obtaining God’s Blessings

Beloved readers, what this means is that Jesus holds everything together.  Think about this scientifically. As far as anyone has been able to determine, our world is the only planet on which there is intelligent life (or life of any kind for that matter!). Not only that, if you were to fly to the moon or some other planet, special space suits must be worn, in order to prevent you from drifting away into space, and also in order to maintain life. However, here on earth, there is something (we call it gravity) that sustains or lives… Here, and here alone out of all the planets that we are aware of, is there the correct amount of oxygen that enables us to live. It is also only here on earth, that there is that gravitational pull, which keeps us from imploding, exploding, dissolving or floating away, and also holds everything together…

One of the things that I love about the Bible (Actually, there are many things I love about it!) is the fact that it was written by people  thousands of years ago (Under the inspiration of Holy Spirit), who did not have access to the scientific knowledge that the people of this generation have, and yet, there are many profound scientific facts contained therein…  For example, at a time in history, when everyone else believed that the earth was flat, the God-breathed scriptures described the earth as round – thousands of years before man discovered this to be true…

He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters at the boundary of light and darkness. ~ Job 26:10 — NASB ~

21 Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand? Are you deaf to the words of God— the words He gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant? 22 God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to Him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes His tent from them. ~ Isaiah 40:21-22 — NLT ~

This scripture makes it clear that it is Jesus who holds the world together. How powerful is that?  Think about it the next time you are outside, as you look at the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars. Think about it as you look at the trees and the grass, the flowers and the weeds.

Think about the fact that Jesus holds all of creation together, the next time you look in the mirror. Think about it the next time you look at your beloved. Think about the fact that He holds us together the next time you look at your children…

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see — such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. 17 He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. ~ Colossians 1:15-17 — NLT ~

God says, “At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked. When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps its foundations firm. ~ Psalm 75:2-3 — NLT ~

As we look at the world around us and the people within it, remember that it was Christ Jesus who was in the beginning with God, creating the heavens and the earth and all that is therein. You see, He is the One who has given us life. He is the One who sustains our lives, and it is He who gives life to those whom we love.

24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since He is Lord of heaven and earth, He doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve His needs—for He has no needs. He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need. 26 From one man He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and He determined their boundaries.

27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.

30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now He commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to Him. 31 For He has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man He has appointed, and He proved to everyone who this is by raising Him from the dead.” ~ Acts 17:24-31 — NLT ~

Going forth from today’s study, look at the world around you and the people around you. Take notice of the beauty of God’s creation. Even in the midst of a fallen creation, there are still glimpses of the original beauty, if we look at the world and the people therein through the eyes of Christ. Therefore, let this be your prayer until our next study…

Father, thank You for Christ who holds all of creation together. We thank You Lord that in You, we live and move and have our being. Father, please give us the heart to look at and see creation, and every man, woman and child therein through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

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wallpaper4god.com

The Exact Representation of God’s Nature ~ Hebrews 1:3

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wallpaper4god.com

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NLT ~

Praise God! Today, we’re going to continue our examination of Hebrews 1:3. In our previous post we learned about how Jesus, the Son of God, radiates God’s own glory, how He is the Light of the world, and how His Light gives us life. Let’s look at the next part of this scripture…

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God… ~ Hebrews 1:3a — NLT ~

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature ~ Hebrews 1:3a — NASB ~

In order to understand the meaning of this very important passage, let’s look at the Greek words used for representation and nature…

Representation = charaktēr

I.     the instrument used for engraving or carving
II.    the mark stamped upon that instrument or wrought
out on it.

        1. a mark or figure burned in (Lev. 13:28) or stamped on, an impression
        2. the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect, i.e. – facsimile

Nature = hypostasis

I.     a setting or placing under

        1. thing put under, substructure, foundation

II.    that which has foundation, is firm

        1. that which has actual existence the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing
          1. a substance, real being
        2. the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution
          1. confidence, firm trust, assurance

This is such a beautiful revelation. Not only does Jesus radiate God’s own glory, He also expresses God’s character. Have you ever longed to know God? I mean to really know Him, not just about Him…

expression of the glory of godTo know God, we must first know His Son, because Jesus is the exact image of God. He is the precise reproduction of His Father in every respect

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! So why are you asking Me to show Him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak are not My own, but My Father who lives in Me does His work through Me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen Me do.” ~John 14:9-11 — NLT ~

“The Father and I are one.” ~ John 10:30 — NLT ~

37 “Don’t believe Me unless I carry out My Father’s work. 38 But if I do His work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe Me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father.” ~ John 10:37-38 – NLT ~

Christ is the visible image of the invisible GodHe existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation… ~ Colossians 1:15 — NLT ~

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Image Credit;
delivertheword.com

In Exodus 33:20, the Lord tells Moses that no one can see His face and live. However, Jesus made it clear that anyone who has seen Him, has seen the Father. I’ve always found it interesting that not everyone who saw Jesus saw God…

You see, many who saw Jesus had hearts that were too hard to recognize Him as the visible image of the invisible God…

10 He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. 11 He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. ~ John 1:10-11 — NLT ~

If Jesus were to come to you, or if you were to meet Him somewhere, would you recognize Him? I pray with all my heart that I would know Him, but the truth is, that He does sometimes visit His people without revealing who He is at the time… 

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? 39 When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give Me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit Me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?’

45 “And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” ~ Matthew 25:34-46 — NLT ~

Animated-Beautiful-Flowers-Pictures-21That’s why it’s so important for us to pray that we have the same mindset that He did… Indeed, in Jesus, we see the steadfastness of mind that is in God the Father.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. ~ Philippians 2:5-7 — NKJV ~

I can do nothing on My own. I judge as God tells Me. Therefore, My judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the One who sent Me, not My own will. ~ John 5:30 — NLT ~

We see in Christ, the mind of God, and as His followers, we are to have the same mindset that Jesus has. You see, a Christian is a follower of Christ, His disciple, a child of the Most High God. Therefore, if we truly belong to Him, our thoughts will be His thoughts…

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~ Romans 12:1-2 — NLT ~

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.~ Philippians 4:8 — NLT ~

1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. ~ Colossians 3:1-4 — NLT ~

Do you see, beloved readers? Sometimes, we get so caught up in the struggles and worries that we must endure here on earth, that we lose hope. Have you ever heard the saying, “They’re so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good”?  The truth is, that this saying is just another example of how the enemy distorts God’s word. The truth of the matter, and the real cause for concern is that there are too many who are so earthly minded that they’re no heavenly good. This bible study is so good not only for you, beloved readers, but for me. We must all (certainly I must) keep our minds set on heaven, so that we don’t become disheartened by our earthly circumstances…

We see in Christ the firmness, the courage and the resolution that is in God, as well as the confidence, firm trust and assurance…

54 Jesus answered, “If I want glory for Myself, it doesn’t count. But it is My Father who will glorify Me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 but you don’t even know Him. I know Him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know Him and obey Him. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to My coming. He saw it and was glad.”

57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus answered, I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” ~ John 8:54-58 — NLT ~

27 My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, 29 for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.” ~ John 10:27-30 — NLT ~

As Jesus said “I Am He,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! ~ John 18:6 — NLT ~

Do you see the courage Jesus exhibited as He spoke these words? Can you see the power He possessed? So much power enveloped Him, that when the soldiers, who had come to arrest Him, heard Him say that He was the “I AM” they were looking for, the power of His authority knocked them off their feet.

Indeed, Jesus possessed such courage and resolution, such firm assurance that He was doing the will of the Father, and that was all that mattered, that He set His face like flint and rode into Jerusalem for the Passover, knowing that by the time it was over, He would be arrested, tortured, convicted and crucified. A question for each one  of us to ponder, as we close this lesson, is this… As a child of Almighty God, and a joint heir with Christ, am I really willing to do what Paul said in Romans 8:17? And if I’m not, am I willing to begin praying for God to give me this same mindset that Jesus, and all of His disciples (except for Judas Iscariot) had?

And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. ~ Romans 8:17 — NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Radiance

Christ, the Radiance of God’s Glory ~ Hebrews 1:3

RadianceThe Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NLT ~

In this verse, God reveals a great wealth of information about Himself and His Son. It is in this verse that we learn that the Son radiates God’s own glory… Therefore, let us delve into this scripture line by line, and precept upon precept, so we can see and learn what the Lord wants us to know about Him and His Son Jesus through the book of Hebrews…

The Son radiates God’s own glory… ~ Hebrews 1:3a — NLT ~

TheStarSo, what exactly does it mean when we read that the Son radiates God’s own glory? Let’s first see what the Greek word for Christ’s radiance is, so we can understand exactly what the author of Hebrews was trying to convey. ..

Radiance = apaugasma

    1. reflected brightness
      1. of Christ in that He perfectly reflects the majesty of God
    2. effulgence
      1. shining forth, of a light coming from a luminous body (Vine)
      2. out-raying (Vincent)

What this means is that Jesus is a brilliant radiance/a shining forth coming from His luminous body…

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought Light to everyone. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. ~ John 1:4-5 — NLT ~

the-light-shinesPraise God, Jesus’ light shines in the darkness… Think about all of those dark  places in your life… the secret, sinful places that you try to hide from the world… those dark places that try to overwhelm and overtake you… those dark things that try to control you and fill you with fear and anger and bitterness… But as you think of all the darkness that tries to ruin your lives, know this… The light of Christ shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it or overcome it!

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the Light of the world. If you follow Me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the Light that leads to life.” ~ John 8:12 — NLT ~

How comforting it is to know that all of the darkness in our lives can be dispelled. If we will just look to the Light of the world, who extinguishes the darkness in our lives, we will enjoy the freedom that the Son of God gives… and whom the Son sets free, is free indeed!

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the Light, as God is in the Light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. ~ 1 John 1:5-7 — NLT ~

cross-lightBeloved readers, are you living in the Light? Or has the darkness overcome you? Do you long to break free from the chains of sin and darkness that bring only death? Do you long to walk in the Light of freedom? 

There is no reason for any of us to walk in the darkness of sin and fear and death, because Jesus overcame it all on the cross. Before God’s Son came to live with us in the flesh, the prophet Isaiah prophesied about the Light that He would bring to those who live in darkness…

1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great LightFor those who live in a land of deep darkness, a Light will shine. ~ Isaiah 9:1-2 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, fear not, for the darkness and dispair will not go on forever, for those who truly long to be free. If you follow Christ, you do not have to walk in darkness, for where there is light, the darkness cannot remain. Are you a child of Christ? If your answer is yes, then you should not be walking in sin and darkness. Don’t allow yourselves to be fooled by those who try to excuse sin. Instead, walk in obedience to God… 

Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey Him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have Light from the Lord. So live as people of Light! For this Light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the Light shines on them, 14 for the Light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,“Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you Light.” ~ Ephesians 5:6-14 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, what have we learned from this lesson about Christ, who is the radiance of God’s glory? We’ve learned that as children of God, His light also shines forth in us…

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” ~ Matthew 5:14-16 — NLT ~

We also learned that the darkness must go from where the Light is… For the darkness can never overcome or extinguish the Light. Think about this… No matter how dark and how bleak your situation may seem, it can never overcome Christ, who is the Light of the world. However deep the darkness of your pain and depression is, Jesus, the Light, has the power to extinguish it. Rejoice! For where the Light of Christ shines, the darkness must flee…

This is not only good news for all believers, it is the best news! For whether you have been trapped in the darkness of fear, depression, anxiety, pain, oppression and even insanity, if you will allow the Light of Christ to come into your dark places, the darkness will be extinguished. As you pray about what we have studied and learned today, plan to come back as we continue our study of Hebrews 1:3! God bless you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Image Credit:
Grace Church The Blog

God Speaks ~ Hebrews 1:1-4

Image Credit: Grace Church The Blog
Image Credit:
Grace Church The Blog

1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, He has spoken to us through His Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son He created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 4 This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave Him is greater than their names. ~ Hebrews 1:1-4 — NLT ~

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. Enoch walked in close fellowship with God, until He took him… God spoke  to Noah and told him to build an ark… God spoke to Abraham when He appeared before him as an angel of the Lord, promising to bless all of mankind through his Seed… He spoke to Moses through the fire of a burning bush, then later, He spoke to him audibly… God spoke to Joshua, encouraging him to “Be strong and courageous…” He spoke to each of the judges who were willing to listen to Him… He spoke to Samuel in the night, calling him by name, “Samuel! Samuel!”… He spoke to King David and to King Solomon… He spoke to Elijah in a still small voice…

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. God used to speak to His people through the prophets, but when Christ came, things changed. Now, He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus. Think about this, God speaks through the One who created the universe with Him…

Image Credit: Biblical Truth
Image Credit:
Biblical Truth

1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. ~ John 1:1-5 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, do you get it? God speaks to us through the Word! He speaks to us through His Word! He, who spoke all of creation into existence… He who spoke our lives into existence, also speaks to us through His Son, the Word of God… He speaks to us through Christ, who “… radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” He speaks to us through Jesus, who “… expresses the very character of God…” God now speaks to us through His Son, “… who sustains everything by the mighty power of His command…”

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. 17 He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. ~ Colossians 1:15-17 — NLT ~

Image Credit: RayNoah
Image Credit:
RayNoah

How amazing and how wonderful that the God of the universe, the Holy One of Israel speaks to us through His Son and Heir, Jesus Christ, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords! What an honor this is! It used to be that He only spoke to prophets, but now, beloved readers, He speaks through His Son Jesus to ordinary people like you and me! Imagine, hearing the voice of God Almighty as He speaks to us through His Son!

“Oh,” some may say, “I’ve never heard God speak to me.” But according to His Word, He does speak to through His Son. Could it be that those who don’t hear Him speak simply don’t recognize His voice? Let’s see what God’s Son has to say about this…

2 “But He who enters by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. 3 To Him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear His voice; and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when He brings out His own sheep, He goes before them; and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” ~ John 10:2-5 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: Fr Ed's Place
Image Credit:
Fr Ed’s Place

Do you see, beloved readers? If you are a child of God, (a.k.a. – a part of the Good Shepherd’s {Jesus’} flock) then when He speaks, you will recognize His voice. Indeed, He will call you by name, just as God called the prophet Samuel so many years ago, just as a shepherd calls his sheep. For Christ Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and He calls us by our name, and when He speaks to us, if we are truly one of His sheep, the Spirit within us compels us to follow Him and obey Him.

For you see, beloved reader, when Christ “… cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven…” This same Jesus, through whom God speaks to regular people like you and me, now sits at the right hand of Almighty God in heaven, reigning and ruling with His Father. Isn’t it wonderful and amazing to know that this same Jesus, who is far greater than the angels, and whose name is above all other names, would speak to someone such as you or me?

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. ~ Acts 4:12 — NLT ~

9 Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:9-11 — NLT ~

After reading all of this, what can we conclude from our study of the first four verses of Hebrews 1? 

    1. We can know that although God used to speak to us through the prophets, He now speaks to us through His Son, Jesus.
    2. We know that Jesus is heir to everything, according to God’s promise.
    3. We know that God created the universe through His Son, Jesus.
    4. We know that Jesus radiates God’s own glory.
    5. We know that the Son of God reveals the very character of God.
    6. We also know that Christ sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. 
    7. We know that after Jesus cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
    8. We know that God’s Son is far greater than the angels.
    9. And finally, we learned that Jesus’ name, given to Him by God, is far greater than any other name in heaven, on the earth below, under the seas, under the earth, or anywhere else in the universe!

Hallelujah! Isn’t it amazing how much we learned about the Lord and how He speaks to us in just four verses? I can’t wait to continue with the next part! 

Please bear with me, because I’m not sure how much writing I’m going to be able to do in the next few weeks, as my daughter-in-law (I will refer to her as my daughter from hereon, because that is what she is to me.) just had brain surgery, and I’m going to help care for six of my grandchildren. For those of you who have faith that our awesome and wonderful God and Father hears our prayers and answers them, I ask you to please pray for my son, daughter and children.  

Please pray that my daughter heals quickly, and completely, and that she would know just how precious she is to her husband (my son), my husband and me, and everyone who knows her. Pray also that my grandchildren feel God’s love for them, and that they would see how awesome and mighty He is, as He heals their mommy. Please also pray for peace within their home, because this is such a difficult time for all involved, and we all know how the enemy likes to attack when everyone is at their weakest point…

Thank you to each and every one of you for your prayers and for your patience, as my posts for this Bible study will be worked around my beautiful grandchildren’s schedules, and you can imagine how busy my husband and I will be as we help care for those precious children!

Again, thank you and may God bless each one of you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Image Credit:
Latter Days Ministry
(Not LDS or Mormons)

Hebrews Bible Study ~ Introduction

Image Credit: Latter Days Ministry (Not LDS or Mormons)
Image Credit:
Latter Days Ministry
(Not LDS or Mormons)

1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, He has spoken to us through His Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son He created the universe. ~ Hebrews 1:1-2 — NLT ~

I love studying the Word of God, and the book of Hebrews is filled with so much wisdom. During my  study of the Law, I was going to start in one of the later chapters of Hebrews, but the problem I ran into was that as I began to study that chapter, I felt the need to back up to the previous chapter, in order to keep what I was studying in the proper context. Then, when I went further back, I felt the Spirit stirring within me, urging me to start from the beginning of Hebrews. Therefore, beginning with this post, I’m going to study the book of Hebrews, and I’d like to invite you, my beloved readers to join me as we embark on a new adventure into the Word of God…

Image Credit: morninghope.com
Image Credit:
morninghope.com

Many people believe that Paul was the author of the book of Hebrews, but the fact is that no one really knows for sure who the author was, because unlike Paul’s other epistles, Hebrews does not begin with Paul’s usual salutations…

1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach His Good News. 2 God promised this Good News long ago through His prophets in the holy Scriptures… ~ Romans 1:1-2 — NLT ~
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1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes.

2 I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be His own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as He did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 — NLT ~
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1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.

I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of His holy people throughout Greece.

2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:1-2 — NLT ~
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1 This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ Himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

2 All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.~ Galatians 1:1-2 — NLT ~
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1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, He has spoken to us through His Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son He created the universe. ~ Hebrews 1:1-2 — NLT ~

Every single book that is known to have been written by the Apostle Paul for sure,  begins with a salutation introducing himself, whereas the book of Hebrews does not. While this doesn’t definitively prove that Paul was not the author of Hebrews, it does seem very unlikely that he did write it.  It’s really not important who the human author of the book is. What’s important for everyone to know is that the book of Hebrews, like all other books of the bible, was written under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Lakeview Chapel
Image Credit:
Lakeview Chapel

Now that we are armed with the knowledge that no matter who the human author was, we are assured that God inspired the book of Hebrews, let us move on to discover who this book was written for and why it was written…

Judging the book by its content, it appears that Hebrews was written to Jewish believers, as there are many references to the Torah. Also, judging by what is contained within this book, it was written to warn the Jewish believers not to fall away from Christ. Of course, since all Scripture is God-breathed, and therefore living and active, it can also be taken as a warning to all believers (both Jews and Gentiles) to remain faithful to God.

There is one final thing for me to cover in this introduction to our Hebrews Bible Study… When studying the Word of God, I usually like to try and answer the “5 W’s”… 

    1. Who We’ve answered this question by discovering that although we are unsure of who wrote the book of Hebrews, we do know that it was originally written to Jewish believers, since there were many references to the Torah. 
      • We can also deduce that although Hebrews was originally written to Jewish believers, it is equally important to all believers.
    2. What – We know that we are studying the book of Hebrews, which is a part of the Word of God.
    3. When – We  know that the book of Hebrews was written before 95 A.D., because Clement of Rome quoted from the book of Hebrews in 95 A.D.
    4. Where Although it is not known where the book of Hebrews was written, it is thought that it was written to Jewish believers in Jerusalem, though there is now no concrete evidence to support this supposition.
    5. Why  As I stated earlier, it is thought that the book of Hebrews was written for Jewish believers who were in danger of turning away from their faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Though it may have been the author’s intent to write this letter as a means of warning Jewish believers, it is obvious that God intended this book to minister to many more, as Hebrews has become one of the foundational books used to teach and minister to all believers, both Jews and Gentiles.

As we join together, digging into this book, we’ll discover a wealth of wisdom and instruction, as well as the warnings therein. Therefore, please be sure to join me the next time, as we begin studying the book of Hebrews, starting with the first four verses. Until then, I pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and give you peace. May God be gracious as He lets the light of His countenance give you peace, in Jesus’ name.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

the stoning of soraya 2

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 6

Image Credit: The Erratic Muse
Image Credit:
The Erratic Muse

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning He was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and He sat down and taught them. 3 As He was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do You say?”

Image Credit: this fragile tent
Image Credit:
this fragile tent

6 They were trying to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with His finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then He stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ~ John 8:1-11 — NLT ~

the stoning of sorayaThis story has always moved me deeply, but never more than now, after having watched, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”a true story about an Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery by her adulterous husband and stoned to death. As I watched this heartrending story of the atrocities committed in the name of Islamic law, I couldn’t help but think of a very familiar and similar story of the adulterous woman in the book of John.  I also couldn’t help but think of the Mosaic Law, which carried the same punishment for adultery as the Islamic law, and compare it to the Law of the New Covenant, which those who are born-again now live under.

In this series, Live By the Law/Die By the Lawwe have learned much about the Old Testament Law, as we examined whether we are called to Live By the Law and Die By the Law or not…

  • Image Credit: Anna Popescu
    Image Credit:
    Anna Popescu

    In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1we learned that the Law does not have the power to save us, for salvation comes only by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 2we learned that God gave the Jews Ten Commandments, (also known as the Law of Moses and The Old Testament or Old Covenant), and from these ten Laws, the Jews created 613 laws, (known as the Tradition of the Elders), which were meant to supplement the Law of Moses.
  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we began an in depth study of the first two Commandments…
    • “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” ~ Exodus 20:2-3 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.” ~ Exodus 20:4-6 — NKJV ~
  • Image Credit: Groupthink Rescue
    Image Credit:
    Groupthink Rescue

    In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4we continued our in depth study of the Ten Commandments, starting from the third Commandment and ending with the tenth…

    • “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” ~ Exodus 20:7 — NKJV ~
    • “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” ~ Exodus 20:8-11 — NKJV ~
    • “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” ~ Exodus 20:12 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not murder.” ~ Exodus 20:13 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not commit adultery.” ~ Exodus 20:14 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not steal.” ~ Exodus 20:15 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” ~ Exodus 20:16 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” ~ Exodus 20:17 — NKJV ~
  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5we discovered that the purpose of the Law was to show people their sins, and that it was only supposed to last until Jesus, the Christ came. It was never intended to be an eternal law.

the stoning of soraya 2

Never did it become more clear to me just how very wonderful and merciful our Lord is than after I watched “The Stoning of Soraya M.” last night. You see, if we still lived under the Old Covenant, then not only would we be bound to obey every command, we would also suffer the  punishment meted out for every command that we break… According to Old Testament Law, we would be subjected to stoning if we committed any of the following sins…

    • 13 “Suppose a man marries a woman, but after sleeping with her, he turns against her 14 and publicly accuses her of shameful conduct, saying, ‘When I married this woman, I discovered she was not a virgin.’ 15 Then the woman’s father and mother must bring the proof of her virginity to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 16 Her father must say to them, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to be his wife, and now he has turned against her. 17 He has accused her of shameful conduct, saying, “I discovered that your daughter was not a virgin.” But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.’ Then they must spread her bed sheet before the elders. 18 The elders must then take the man and punish him. 19 They must also fine him 100 pieces of silver, which he must pay to the woman’s father because he publicly accused a virgin of Israel of shameful conduct. The woman will then remain the man’s wife, and he may never divorce her.

20 But suppose the man’s accusations are true, and he can show that she was not a virgin. 21 The woman must be taken to the door of her father’s home, and there the men of the town must stone her to death, for she has committed a disgraceful crime in Israel by being promiscuous while living in her parents’ home. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you. ~ Deuteronomy 22:13-21 — NLT ~

    • 2 When you begin living in the towns the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman among you might do evil in the sight of the Lord your God and violate the covenant. 3 For instance, they might serve other gods or worship the sun, the moon, or any of the stars—the forces of heaven—which I have strictly forbidden. 4 When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 then the man or woman who has committed such an evil act must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. 6 But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses. 7 The witnesses must throw the first stones, and then all the people may join in. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you. ~ Deuteronomy 17:2-7 — NLT ~

    • 18 “Suppose a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. 19 In such a case, the father and mother must take the son to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 20 The parents must say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his town must stone him to death. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid. ~ Deuteronomy 21:18-21 — NLT ~

The examples above are just a few of the reasons that  someone who lives under the Law of Moses and The Tradition of the Elders could be stoned. There are numerous other punishments and judgments meted out against those who break the Law, and each punishment seems quite harsh, especially to those with a western mindset. To those who reside in the Middle East, they are deemed appropriate. Indeed, as the movie, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”revealed, these punishments are still leveled against people.

woman-caught-in-adultery (1)This is why Jesus’ response to the adulterous woman was considered to be so radical. Not only did He refuse to condemn her for the sin she committed, He turned the tables on those who wanted to condemn her with His challenge…

… “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” ~ John 8:7b — NLT ~

Suddenly, instead of looking at this woman, who was caught in the very act of adultery, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees were forced to look inward, and examine themselves. No one knows what Jesus wrote on the ground, whether it was related to their accusation or perhaps their own sins, or not. All that is known, is that the powerful words He spoke forced each of her accusers to stop.

Who, among them, had the right to pick up a stone and throw it? Who, among them, could be brazen enough to cast the first stone, thereby administering the punishment she surely deserved, when by doing so, he would be declaring before God and his cohorts that he had never sinned? I can  just imagine the youngest ones, full of zeal and self-righteousness, respectfully waiting for one of their elders to cast the first stone, so they too, could join in, only to witness each one drop his stone  to the dry and barren ground, as the very oldest left with their heads bowed low in defeat and consternation. As each one of the elders left, one by one, the younger condemners were also constrained to realize that they had no more right to throw the first stone at the woman than their senior counterparts.

Image Credit: glogster.com
Image Credit:
glogster.com

Now, in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this post, and how it ties in with the series Live By the Law/Die By the Lawplease allow me to enlighten you. There are many, many men and women born-again believers who get caught up in trying to live by the Law. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, God loves it when we obey Him, but He does not love it when we get so caught up in trying to live by every jot and tittle of the Law, and we also place that demand on others. You see, living by faith and living by the Law may produce the same outward effects, but the difference between the two lies within the hearts of mankind.

1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of His death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?

5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the Law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. ~ Galatians 3:1-7 — NLT ~

You see, one who lives by  the Law does so because he/she is trying to gain the approval of God and mankind. One might try to obey every letter of the Law in order to receive the accolades of man. Or one may try to obey the Law for fear that if he/she doesn’t, he/she may lose his/her salvation. A person who lives by the Law may do so because he/she believes that he/she must be an example for others to follow. One who lives by the Law is usually self-righteous, and lacking humility, though this person may not even realize it. A person who follows the Law often sees the sin in others, and sometimes feels superior to those who just don’t “get it.”

10 But those who depend on the Law to make them right with God are under His curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the Law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of Law, which says, “It is through obeying the Law that a person has life.”

13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the Law. When He was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. ~ Galatians 3:10-14 — NLT ~

On the other hand, one who lives by faith walks in obedience because he/she loves the Lord, and it feels good to do those things that please Him. One who walks by faith does so regardless of what others may say. This person walks in the Spirit, doing those things He leads him/her to do, confident that he/she is a child of the Most High God, saved by His grace through faith. This person knows that his/her salvation has nothing to do with his/her behavior, and that he/she did not choose Christ because it was Christ who chose him/her. The person who lives by grace is humble, fully aware that he/she is no better than anyone, even the vilest sinner. 

1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the Law.

2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole Law of Moses. 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the Law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. ~ Galatians 5:1-6 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, the whole point of this post and of this series, Live By the Law/Die By the Lawis that those who choose to live according to the Law rather than by the Spirit, must understand that they will then be judged according to the Law, and it is important to remember that there is no one who is righteous. Other than Jesus Christ, no one has ever obeyed the entire Law.

20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:21 — NLT ~

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23 — NLT ~

Beloved reader, I am not saying that the Law is evil. What I am saying is that we must live by the Spirit, not by the Law. I’ll close with the following scripture, and I encourage you to pray about this post, and seek the Lord’s face regarding what we have studied here.

30 There is only one God, and He makes people right with Himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law. ~ Romans 3:30-31 — NLT ~

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Cheryl A. Showers

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