do you not know?

chains

  • Did you know that the leading manufacture of tires in the world is LEGO?
  • Did you know that a 26-year old woman aged 50 years in just days due to a strange illness cause by an allergy to seafood?
  • Did you know that Pumbaa from the Lion King was the first character to pass gas in a Disney film?
  • Did you know that only 2% of the world population has green eyes?
  • Did you know a guy from the UK actually changed his name to “Captain Fantastic Faster than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine The Hulk and the Flash Combined”? (Jack,’s younger brother?)
  • Did you know that falling coconuts kill more than shark bites each year?

I suppose you won’t look at Pumbaa the same the next time you watch The Lion King. Or maybe you won’t be able to look at me the same for feeding you such a ridiculous factoids. Sorry, I am a nerd for useless facts.

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul lists no less that six “Did you not know” questions. Now he isn’t sharing useless Jeopardy Trivia, rather he is calling to mind truths the church was already taught but had not caught. So in asking the questions Paul is revealing their heart and making certain the truth’s are being applied to their current situation. What the questions reveal are two problems within the church. First, some members in the church are disputing over trivial matters outside the church that should be reconciled inside the church,

  • 1 Corinthians 6:2 – Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
  • 1 Corinthians 6:3 – Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life?
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9 – Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Second, the church is tolerating types of sexual sin inside the church, which commonly characterizes unbelievers outside the church,

  • 1 Corinthians 6:15 – Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!
  • 1 Corinthians 6:16 – Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

Paul’s questions follow the pattern of Jesus’ (cf. Mark 4:13-14; John 6:43-44). Jesus used the same question not to upstage people with His knowledge, but is rather calling their knowledge into action. Knowledge should always lead to action. The question is meant to sit with you. Let it soak in. Stew in it. As you do so you cannot help but do something about it.

My pastor used to share an illustration on how many Christians are like the Dead Sea: stagnant and dead. Why is the Dead Sea so dead? It has an inlet, but no outlet. Water and salt come into the sea by river, but nothing comes out. Similarly, many Christians think they are wise because they know a lot of facts about God and know a lot about His Word. They are all in-take, but there is little to no out-take. They know that facts, but the facts do not effect their actions. Instead, they become more stagnant and dead, like the Dead Sea.

The test of knowledge is the character and behavior (or action) it produces. Genuine knowledge of God’s truth produces a true love for God’s people, a concern for God’s reputation, and a display of God’s glory. This is the background of 1 Corinthians 6. It’s also what leads us to Paul final “Did you not know” question, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19)

What does it mean that your body is called the temple of the Holy Spirit? To understand the question you must also understand the Jewish temple? First, the temple was a sacred shrine—a place dedicated by God and erected for God. Second, it was a holy temple—it’s a place clean and pure. In a casual reading of Exodus and Leviticus, we see God’s temple is immaculate, it resembles His own character. Third, the temple is not just any ordinary temple—it’s a place where God lives. In Moses day as in Jesus’ day, there were many kinds of temples, but Israel’s temple was unique because God designed it and God dwelt in it.

What evidence is there that you and I are God’s temple? Your belief about your body leads to your behavior within your body. Paul’s question is followed by two points which help you and I answer this question. They are two truths you must know. The first is theological and the second practical. If heeded they will change the way that you live in your body and within the Body of Christ.

Theological Truth You Must Know: You are not your own, for you were bought with a price (6:19b-20a)

In short, this verse is a simple definition of redemption. It is also the one of the greatest truths you need to know, think about, and allow to change the way you live. How would you define redemption? At it’s core, redemption is about being bought out of slavery.

What comes to mind when you think of slavery? Do you think about the 18th century slave trade? Or modern day trafficking? It is this image that lies at the backdrop of redemption. We are redeemed from slavery. And if redemption is the solution, then slavery is the problem.

When studying slavery in the Bible we see there are two forms. The first form of physical slavery. From cover to cover slavery is woven into the Bible’s tapestry because slavery is woven into the culture of time. In Genesis, we read about characters like Hagar a slave of Abraham and Joseph who was sold as a slave to Egypt by his brothers. In Exodus, we see slavery on a grand scale. An entire people is in slavery and they are miraculous redeemed. In the Law, Prophets and Epistles we learn that biblical times were a time of masters and slaves, even Jesus and His disciples address the topic of slavery. While not condoning slavery, the Bible makes provisions for slaves.

Whatever oppressive or unjust thoughts slavery congers up in your imagination, physical slavery is not the worst form of slavery. The Bibles second form of slavery is by far the worst. It is spiritual slavery. Jesus says some shocking words in John 8:31 “everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (cf. Romans 3:23) To say we are slaves to sin a shocking thing to say. It’s so shocking because modern and religious people do not think of themselves like this. However, to sin is to deny God’s love, to defy God’s word, to deceive yourself, and to willfully drink the poison.

In the movie, Truman Show, Jim Carrey plays a character who from a baby was raised in a city-sized television studio. He grew up without ever realizing the false reality he was living. He was trapped in his own world. When he realizes something is wrong he begins looking for an escape and finds his way out.

In contrast, a slave whether physical or spiritual is trapped. There is no way to escape. One might try to run away, but he’s still a slave. What can you and I do about what’s wrong? What can you do about your slavery to sin? Nothing. If I am slave I am powerless and helpless. Sin is a terrible taskmaster. It pays horribly. It doesn’t pay anything, but more slavery and death. What I need is someone to come and free me. A price needs to be paid. A ransom needs to be paid.

In the Old Testament there was two types of ransom given in the Law. First, there was a cash ransom, where a person was able to spend money to buy someone else out of debt. If you got into too much debt you had to sell yourself into slavery to someone with enough cash to buy you out. Second, there was a sacrificial ransom. In the sacrificial system, an animal was killed to pay for one’s sin debt. It was innocent blood spilt for a guilty human. Now according to the system, animals were to be sacrificed annually illustrating the fact that animal blood was not a sufficient substitute to cover the sins of a human or a nation. Instead, it pointed to a greater need, a bigger debt, a greater more sufficient sacrifice. A human life for human life. The ransom cost Jesus His blood. “We have redemption through His blood.” (Ephesians 1:7) Jesus’ death came at a cost. Your sin cost the God Man His life, the spotless sinless Lamb of God His blood, and the Father His precious Son.

He purchased freed that could not be bought with money or animal sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12-14). Your sin debt was bought with another man’s blood. Therefore, since you were bought with a price, you are not our own. You have a new task master. But God is a different taskmaster. His burden is easy, and yoke is light. He treats us as sons and daughters and instead of death He gives of life, instead of nothing, He gives us everything (Galatians 3:29-4:7). That is a truth we must know to honor our body as God’s temple.

Practical Truth You Must Know: “So glorify God in your body” (6:20b)

You are built to display God’s glory. It is easy to think we are something significant because God dwells within us. Wrong. We are not significant. What is significant is that the God of the universe would chose—if not promise—to dwell within us. What? Wow!

Yet what does it mean to glorify God? Sometimes the phrase to “Glorify God” slip off our lips so nebulously that its meaning is muffled. So the best way to define it is the way the Bible describes it.

First, creation glorifies God. Mountains speak, trees clap, waters cover the earth, and the heavens all declare the glory of God. Though tainted by the Fall, creation groans for the day it will be renewed.

Second, Israel declares God’s glory (1 Samuel 15:29; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Isaiah 60:19; 46:13). His people are His joy. They are His light to the nations (1 Chronicles 16:24), which is at the heart of evangelism and missions, then and now.

Third, Jesus displays God’s glory. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14; cf. Hebrews 1:3). In His birth (Luke 2:9, 14, 32), during His ministry (Luke 9:31-32), in his humanity (John 17:5, 22, 24), and in His deity (Philippians 2:9-11) He displayed God’s glory. Jesus has God’s DNA. If you want to know what God’s glory looks like with skin on just look at Jesus.

Fourth, your body is for God’s glory. We’re in great company, eh? With creation, Israel and Jesus, we display the glory of God. “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus ‘sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)

How do I glorify God in my body? How do I make this practical? According to 1 Corinthians 6, it begins by donating your body to God for sexual purity. If you continue studying the Scriptures on what it means to glorify God it comes down to worshiping God, listening to God, obeying God, serving God, telling people about God’s Son, using your gifts for God and His Body, and giving God credit for it all. Glorifying orbits completely around God and God alone.

If you obsess over praising your own significance, knowledge, or morality, you are unable to exalt God’s significance. The two are mutually exclusive endeavors. You cannot have it both ways. In Philippians 1:21 Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” If your thinking is “For me to live is personal gain or personal pleasure and to die is Christ” you forfeit the essential element of what it means to glorify God in your body. Until you are liberated from your obsession with self you will not be free to glorify God.

Michelangelo is said to have painted with a brush in one hand and a shielded candle in the other to prevent his shadow from covering the art he was creating. Likewise, as God works through us to display His glory and gain, we must be careful that our shadows are not cast across the canvas of His work. Christ is the masterpiece. He is the only significant person and foci of the universe. He is worth of our lives and death. He is worth our passions. He is worth all of us including our bodies.

Do you not know you are the temple of the Holy Spirit?

Are you living free and pure in the light of your redemption in Christ?

Are you proclaiming freedom in Christ to the glory of God?

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a biblical theology of the book of Revelation

The book of Revelation has been studied by all generations of Christians with various interpretations of the book.  Often the studies have focused solely upon its Apocalyptic nature, seeking to interpret the prophetic messages of the book.  Yet Revelation has a vast theological message that has been largely ignored.

Within a three part series and two guest bloggers we will attempt to trace the theological themes of the book of Revelation through the lenses of

1) the glory of God,

2) suffering and victory, and

3) redemption.

Theology of Redemption from the book of Revelation

This article was written by my friend Jeremy Oliver. Jeremy is an Assistant Pastor at Battle Ground Bible Church since August 2011. Previously he taught Bible and ran the Spiritual Life at a Christian academy in Phoenix, Arizona, where he also served in the biblical counseling program and led a small group at Harvest Bible Chapel North Phoenix. After earning a BA in History from Indiana University and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies concentrated in History from Valparaiso University, he completed a Masters of Divinity from Faith Bible Seminary in 2010. He and his wife, Jen, have been happily married since November 2006. They have a beautiful boy named, Charlie.

One of the great questions that loom in the mind of individuals is, “How can a loving and all-powerful God allow evil in the world?”  If God is so concerned for humanity and even died to redeem it, how is it that evil exists in the world?  Grant Osborne notes that Revelation serves as a theodicy of God, continuing in the line other biblical literature which “refers to the justification of God in two directions: the seeming triumph of the wicked and the suffering of the innocent.”[1]  Revelation continues in this tradition, prophesying of the culminating redemption of creation and the defeat of evil.  It is in this horrid picture of judgment upon the world that ultimate redemption is found for those who hold fast to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.  In the final vision (Revelation 21:9-22:9) God has defeated the forces of evil and His redemptive work is completed.  It is in the context of Revelation that the answer to the problem of evil is finally answered and God responds to so many who have echoed the cry of those slain on behalf of God, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10). In this section, the theme of redemption will be traced through the book of Revelation.

In the prologue of this book, John admonishes the reader to hold fast to Christ because the events flowing out of these visions are imminent and the consummation of redemption is ‘near’.   Beale notes, “The main goal of the argument of John’s Revelation is to exhort God’s people to remain faithful to the calling of following the Lamb’s paradoxical example and not to compromise, in order that they may inherit final salvation.”[2]  Following this admonition is John’s vision of the risen Christ as he views the church in the world.  This vision contains seven letters to contemporary churches of John’s day from Jesus (1:5), who has provided redemption “from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom of priests to his God and Father” (1:5).

After the initial greeting to these churches, Jesus observes their activities, bringing attention to their strengths and weaknesses.  Yet within these letters there are promises of final redemption for those who repent and hold fast to Jesus Christ (2:7, 11, 17, 28; 3:5, 11-12, 21).  Repentance is crucial to the people of God in Revelation and it is stubborn refusal to repent that precedes the judgments of God.  Osborne notes, “It is clear that the judgments of the trumpets and bowls are not just the over-reaction of a vindictive God who wreaks vengeance on all his enemies but a last call to repentance while there is still time.”[3]  Jesus is calling them to repent and stand, which in turn is setting the stage for what one should stand firm for, namely, the consummation of redemption at the end of human history as we know it.  The return of Christ is certain and imminent; they will be affected by it, whether it occurs in their lifetime or in the distant future.

Upon the close of these seven letters John is brought to heaven for a vision of the coming judgment (4:1-11:19).  In transition to the impending judgment by God comes a glorious scene of the risen Jesus Christ as one who is worthy to bring that judgment (5:3-5).  In Christ’s death and resurrection, he is the redeemer who alone is worthy to judge the sinfulness that has permeated the world.  Beale notes, “God and Christ are glorified because Christ’s resurrection demonstrates that they are sovereign over creation to judge and to redeem.”[4]

Chapters 4 and 5 are central to the book of Revelation as they show the sovereign hand of the God, the only one worthy to bring both judgment upon sin and the fulfillment of redemption.  What a horrible scene of mass destruction; yet God is worthy in his holiness to bring such judgment.  In his holiness he is praised by those who follow him because they know that such destruction is part of his plan of redemption for those who follow him.  The second vision ends with this sobering reminder of this contrast of judgment and reward, all at the hand of God,

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth” (11:17-18, ESV).

The next stage in this progress of redemption is battle between God and Satan.  It is Satan who is ultimately behind this rebellion against God and who battles greatly against God’s people on the earth (12:17), knowing that his time is limited (12:12).  In his battle against God’s people, Satan calls the Beast and the False Prophet to cause men to reject God (13:4, 14) and brutally hunt and massacre the people of God in the world (13:7, 15).  But even in the midst of this ghastly scene, there is hope for those who choose God over this rebellious onslaught (13:7-10).  In this is the hope of that final destruction of evil by God and the consummation of redemption.

In response to this great atrocity God does not idly allow evil to continue unrestrained.  He is patient with humanity, warning them of the coming judgment (14:6-13) before his final and horrific judgments and the millennium in which he will rule upon the earth (15:5-18:24).  Here God continues his process of defeating evil and progressing towards the pinnacle of redemption.  Again God is praised for his just and sovereign dealings with evil and rebellion (19:1-2) and calls his people to himself where they will commune with him, in contrast to the destruction of those who are conquered with the Beast and the Prophet.

After this thousand year reign the ultimate defeat of evil comes as Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire and all those who followed this rebellion with him.  It is here that evil is ultimately defeated and God wholly brings redemption to the world and all those who follow him (21:1-22:5).

The overarching theme of this consummation of redemption is marked by the new heaven and earth (21:1).  There are three specific elements of this redemption that will be examined further: Jerusalem, the Temple, and the people of God.

Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a place of great significance throughout Israel’s history and is, as Isaiah noted, “Yahweh’s holy hill, the place where he lives (4:5; 8:18; 10:12; 12:5-6; 14:32; 24:23; 30:19; 31:9)”.[5]  This city was established under the reign of David as the capital of Israel; it is here in the Tabernacle and eventually in the Temple that Yahweh dwelt.  Sadly, sinful Israel mistook this presence of Yahweh for unconditional protection, which was shattered with the Babylonians in 587 B.C. and the unimaginable scene of the removal of Yahweh’s presence from Jerusalem’s Temple in Ezekiel (8:1-3).  It was because of sin that Jerusalem never attained the status intended for it as the city of the Great King (Psalm 48:2).

Jerusalem, which was intended to be a place of great worship of Yahweh, became a place which “kills the prophets” (Luke 13:33) and would eventually murder the one who came to redeem it, Jesus Christ.  This city lost its status as the dwelling place of God and instead received condemnation from the Savior (Luke 19:41-44).

It is in Revelation 21-22 that Yahweh redeems Jerusalem from its sinful past so that it lives up to its potential as the city of the Great King (Psalm 48:2).  The description that John gives is fantastic, recording a place of immense glory and the dwelling place of the glorious One.

The Temple

The Temple was the center of Jewish worship of Yahweh.  After the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden, Yahweh was not able to dwell directly with his people due to their sinfulness and his holiness.  Yet, desiring a relationship with his people he had the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses, construct the Tabernacle as a place of worship in which this was possible.  Even this interaction between God and man did not compare to the harmonious relationship in the Garden, as sacrifices had to be offered continually and the people were removed from direct presence of God in his dwelling place, the Holy of Holies.  Once the permanent settlement of the Temple was constructed, this same basic structure remained in place for Jewish worship.  It was in the holy city of Jerusalem that the Temple was erected and viewed as being protected because it was the dwelling place of God.  However, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 587 B.C., all of Israel was distraught and confused.  McKelvey notes, “This meant nothing less than the loss of God’s presence (Ezek. 9:3; 10:4-5; 11:23).”[6]  The Temple was restored under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, but this did not last either.

As history progressed, Jesus Christ came upon the scene making Messianic promises of worship that would not take place at the Temple (John 4:21-24).  Jesus would later cleanse the Temple and reject the people who rejected him and, as McKelvey notes,

“The consequences of Jesus’ rejection and death for the Temple of Jerusalem are nowhere more in evidence than in Mark’s statement that at the moment Jesus died the veil of the Temple was torn apart (15:38)…the meaning is not in doubt; the death of Jesus stands for the removal of the Temple of Jerusalem and its replacement by a new means of forgiveness…”[7]

Later in the New Testament Paul would describe the believer as “God’s Temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).  No longer did the believer have to offer sacrifices to Yahweh as a means of blood manipulation; rather, through the death of Jesus Christ, sin was atoned for and a new era of communion with Yahweh was brought forth.  The nullification of Temple worship became even more apparent with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.  However, believers are still sinful beings and do not yet know the promise of ultimate fulfillment of dwelling with Jesus.  In Revelation 21-22 the realization of this is seen in the structure of the New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:22 gives the key to the Temple in the New Jerusalem, “and I saw no Temple in the city, for its Temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” (ESV).  What an amazing picture in which communion with God is fully realized, without the need of sacrifices or the veil of the Holy of Holies. It is here in the New Jerusalem that God and humanity will dwell together as was intended in the Garden of Genesis 2.

The People of God

Lastly, the people of God are fully redeemed as well.  Since the Fall of Adam and Eve humanity has lived under the effects of the sinful nature.  In the atoning work of Jesus Christ, redemption was made possible, yet the indwelling of sin still existed.  Revelation echoes this great truth in victory songs, recalling imagery of redemption throughout human history.  Hubbard notes,

“The Lamb is worthy of praise because its shed blood ransomed `believers from all nations (5:8-9).  The language appears to compare Christ to the Paschal lamb whose blood delivered the Israelite firstborn (Exod. 12; Mark 14:12-25, par.; cf. John 1:29) and to the lamb (i.e., the Suffering Servant) whose atoning death purchases believers from eternal death.”[8]

In Revelation 21-22 redemption is fully realized as this communion occurs between humanity and God.  Revelation 21:3 gives such a vivid picture of this ultimate goal of Yahweh’s sovereign plan of redemption, “Behold the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (ESV).  What a glorious picture of the hope which all believers should long for.  Ladd notes, “This feature – the fact that God will be God to his people – is the central element of God’s covenant with his people throughout the entire course of redemptive history…Now, at last, this covenant promise finds its perfect fulfillment in the new earth of the Age to Come.”[9]  Finally, it is this hope that is the motivation for John’s benediction (Revelation 22:6-21).


[1] Grant R. Osborne, “Theodicy in the Apocalypse,” Trinity Journal 141:1 (Spring 1993), 64.

[2] G.K. Beale, New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, 356.

[3] Osborne, “Theodicy in the Apocalypse”, 69.

[4]Beale, G. K. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 173.

[5] P.W.L. Walker, “Jerusalem”, in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. by T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Rosner, D.A. Carson, and Graeme Goldsworthy (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 589.

[6]  R.J. McKelvey, “Temple” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. by T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Rosner, D.A. Carson, and Graeme Goldsworthy (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 807.

[7] Ibid, 808.

[8]  R.L. Hubbard, Jr., “Redemption” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. by T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Rosner, D.A. Carson, and Graeme Goldsworthy (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 720.

[9]  George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974; revised edition, Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1993), 682.

Jesus redeems man

superbad hero

If you could have any superpower you desired, what power would you have? Maybe you would want the power of invincibility, super strength, supersonic speed, or ninja-like fighting skills. Let’s say you were granted the power to have these super powers, what would you do with them? Would you do good? Or would you cause harm? We would like to think that we would be good superheroes, not reckless villains. It is interested to read into the lives of popular superheroes. Each superhero from Spiderman to Batman had an inner power struggle between doing good or evil. Is there any good super hero? Am I capable of doing any good?

here’s the bad news, but…

The gospel would not be good news if there were not bad news.[1] The bad news is that you are a deliberate sinner separated eternally from God and are without hope of saving yourself, but Jesus came as the eternal hope to deliver you from the punishment of your sinfulness. Now I am overjoyed that there is a “but” in the previous sentence. Have you ever received bad news with a “but”? As Greg Gilbert said,

“But. I think that must be the most powerful word a human being can speak. It’s small, but it has the power to sweep away everything that has gone before it. You have cancer. But it can be treated. Your friend was in a car wreck. But he is fine. [You failed the test. But you can still pass the class. You have sinned. But there is hope; Jesus has come.] Sadly, sometimes the but doesn’t come. Sometimes the sentence stops, and all we get is the bad news. Yet those moments only magnify for us the times when the but does come. And they are glorious.”[2]

He Is Your Hope

I am glad that God brings us hope in the midst of our sinful rebellion. Jesus is our hope. For centuries people have been looking for a hope only to be disappointed by not finding any, but the hope did come. God’s Word describes this hope as a Messiah who will come to redeem His people.

Adam and Eve around 4000 B.C. were promised a future offspring who would crush the head of the serpent [Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4]. Abraham in 2000 B.C. was promised a Messiah through his son Isaac [Genesis 12:3; Matthew 1:1-2]. The prophet Micah in 700 B.C. was promised a Messiah born in Bethlehem [Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-7]. The prophet Isaiah in 700 B.C. was given the promise of a Messiah born of a virgin [Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-23], that He would be sinless [53:9; 1 Peter 2:21-22], that He would do miracles [35:5-6; Matthew 11:2-5] and that we would be beaten, hated, rejected killed, buried, and resurrected [50:6; 53:3-12; read the Gospels]. This is just a sampling of the slews of promises with fulfillments given in the Scriptures. For you and me, there is to little doubt, the promised Messiah—Jesus Christ—has come.

The question is not if Jesus came to this earth. The proof of Jesus’ reality is widely accepted even among skeptics. There is little doubt that Jesus was a real life historical figure. But, who is Jesus? What makes millions of people follow Him? Is He really who He says He is? Can He really save people from their sins?

Who is Jesus and what makes Him so special?

Jesus asks a very good question to His followers, “Who do you Say I am?” [Mark 8:29] Is He just some dude, spiritual sage, good religious teacher or prophet? When we take the time to dive into the life of Jesus we see that He is certainly more than a timeless superhero that did good for the people of planet earth. When Jesus came he was not wearing a cape, he didn’t have a catchy logo or cool theme song. He was not a motivational speaker with a message declaring the power of positive thinking. He is not the pasty white religious guru you see characterized on Family Guy, South Park or the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which take no shame in crossing the line of blasphemy and heresy. This is how the Bible describes Jesus:

Jesus is man. He was born a crying, diaper-filling, thumb sucking, cute-faced baby [Lk.1:34-35]. However, He did not have a normal birth because He was born of a virgin and His daddy was God the Father. He had a miraculous one-of-a-kind birth and sinless life.

Roughly two thousand years ago, Jesus was born in a dumpy, rural, hick town, not unlike those today where guys change their own oil, think pro-wrestling is real, find women who chew tobacco sexy, and eat a lot of hot pockets with their uncle-daddy. Jesus’ mom was a poor, unwed teenage girl who was mocked for claiming she conceived via the Holy Spirit.[3]

The Bible also tells us that He grew as a wise manly man [Luke 2:52]. Like my stepdad, he swung a hammer and built things with His carpenter’s hands [Mark 6:3]. He hurt [Matthew 26:37], He had humor [Mark 4:21], He cried [John 11:35], He was tired [Matthew 8:24], He got mad [Matthew 21:12], He had compassion [Luke 7:13], He felt betrayed [Matthew 26:47-50], He was tempted to sin [Matthew 4:1-10], He was hungry and thirsty [John 4:7; 19:28], He felt pain, and He died [Luke 23:46]. Jesus was a real man through and through from His blood to His bones to His breathe.

Jesus is God. [John 1:1, 14]. He claimed it [John 8:58-59; 14:6], His miracles claimed it [Mark 4:41; John 10:36-39], others claimed it [Matthew 16:16], and God claim it, “This is my son in whom I am well-pleased.” [Matthew 3:17] Jesus offered people forgiveness of sins [Luke 5:20-21; 7:48], asked people to worship and pray to Him [John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:24], and lived sinlessly to prove it [John 8:46]. Anyone who claimed to do these things would either be as C.S. Lewis said, “be a liar, lunatic, or Lord”[4]

Jesus is Prophet, Priest and King. He holds all three offices, and He holds them effectively and perfectly. As prophet He tells the truth about your life and future. At least 50 times in the Gospel of John He says, “I tell you the truth…” As prophet He calls us to repent of our sins. As priest He intercedes your prayers, worship, and cry for repentance on behalf of God [Hebrews 4:15-16]. As king He rules over the affairs of man fairly and sovereignly. He says to us, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” [Mark 1:15] When the Bible refers to Jesus as “Lord,” this is short hand for: master and commander-in-chief of my life. Jesus is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and ruler over all creation [cf. John 18:36-37]. His kingdom will always stand. Jesus does not want to be an inspiration role model or martyr; He wants to be the center of your universe and the champion of your soul.

Jesus is the Suffering Servant. He did not come to be served, but to serve [Mark 10:45]. This is different than most popular kings, priests or kings that you read about throughout humanities history. The Bible describes Jesus as the Lamb of God who became the bloody slaughtered sacrifice for the sins of mankind [John 1:29, 36]. His crucifixion was so grotesque and excruciating that He was unrecognizable. He willingly died as the penal substitute for sin taking upon Himself the wrath of God in my place [1 John 2:2; 4:10]. Nobody takes Jesus’ life from Him; He chose to lay down His life.[5] He took your bullet, sat in your electric chair, and bore your condemnation without an ounce of whining or wincing [cf. Isaiah 53].

Jesus has risen, indeed. He died, but He did not stay dead for long. Three days to be exact [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]. Now He is alive. We have recorded after Jesus rose from the grave He was seen by hundreds [cf. 1 Corinthians 15:5ff]. He conquered sin and death [1 Corinthians 15:55-56] ascended to heaven [Acts 1:6-11], and is seated at the right hand of the Father [Colossian 3:1; Hebrews 8:1]. Since Jesus resurrected, you and I have the hope to resurrect into eternal life too [John 11:25]. The impact of Jesus resurrection rippled through His followers who were transformed and went to their own deaths for the sake of getting Jesus’ life-saving earth-shaking message to the masses.

all this to say, “Jesus is Your Redeemer!”

Who do you say Jesus is? Is Jesus your Savior, Deliverer and Redeemer? If this is who you say Jesus is, then can you back that up? If Jesus is your redeemer, do live like you are redeemed? Jesus did not just come to save you, but to change you from the inside out. He saved you from sin and the need to keep on sinning. If someone saved you from falling off a cliff or paid your ten billion dollar bail bond would you treat that person like crap after the fact? Even if Jesus does not have a cool cape, kicker theme song, or super hero status in your book; He is still your one true to life Redeemer. Never will there be another. Never will you have a better time to bow your knee to Him than now,

Mark 1:14 Jesus came, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so 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.


[1] J. Mack Stiles, Marks of the Messenger. IVP Books. Downers Grove, IL. 2010. 27.

[2] Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? Crossway, Wheaton, IL. 2010. 59.

[3] Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Vintage Jesus. Crossway Books. Wheaton, IL. 2007. 11.

[4] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. Macmillan, New York. 1952. 40-41.

[5] Jared C. Wilson, Your Jesus Is Too Safe. Kregel Publications. Grand Rapids, MI. 2009. 201.

breaking news

Have you ever received any breaking news? The kind of news that startles you for a moment and your life is never the same. Maybe you received news that your lover has just broken off the relationship, your father passed away suddenly, you failed the test, you are pregnant, you lost your job, or you watch a tragedy unfold on the breaking news today.

This is not the kind of news we want to hear, but inevitably we will all here some bad breaking news. How do you normal respond to bad news? Brace yourself; I have some more bad news for you. Ready? You are going to die. 100% of people who are born into this world will one day die. Do you know where will you go when you die? The answer to this question might be even worse news to you. The thought of death and the perplexity of an afterlife cause many to be fearful or anxious.

Not all breaking news is bad news. I have some wonderful breaking news for you: the gospel. What is the gospel, you ask? The gospel is good news. It is earth shattering, life-altering breaking news. When I am confronted with the gospel I see myself for who I really am and the way I respond to the gospel can have eternal ramifications.

The Gospel is the center of Christianity. Without a right understanding and application of the gospel you do not have a true picture of Christianity. The gospel is what makes Christianity distinct and exclusive from other faith-based systems. The gospel to Christianity is like a wrench to a mechanic or a flower to a florist. The mechanic does not sit around and ponder, “What is this wrench used for?” Nor does a florist wonder, “What is a bouquet of roses?” Without the gospel one does not understand the core of Christianity.

How good a grip do you have on the gospel? What is the good news that Christians blaa-blaa-blaa about? What is so good about good news anyway? We do know what the gospel is not, or at least what the gospel is not alone.

  • The gospel is not Jesus alone.
  • The gospel is not Jesus death, burial and resurrection alone.
  • The gospel is not a belief in Jesus alone.
  • The gospel is not being forgiven of my sins alone.
  • The gospel is not God loves you alone.
  • The gospel is not God has a special plan for you alone.
  • The gospel is not changing my life to be a better [loving] person alone.

The gospel is a belief that the Bible is absolutely true: God is a loving creator, and man has sinfully disobeyed God, therefore Jesus graciously and sacrificially died for man that they might respond to Christ’s forgiven and have a means to become right before God. The gospel is not only something I believe in for a moment that will change my life eternally, but its also the means for me to live righteously all throughout my life.

How do I know this is the gospel? How do I know this gospel is true? How do I know this gospel is for me? Could it be as simple as Bible tells me so? YES. It comes down to whether I believe God wrote a book and that this book is Truth.

How can I know that the Bible is absolute truth and authoritative? Is the Bible reliable? Other than the Bible we have three sources of so-called reliable truth. The first source of truth we have is tradition. Tradition tells us what has be true passed down from generation to generation. Some say tradition is not reliable because traditions change or generations might distort the truth to another generation. A second source of truth is reason. Reason uses mans thinking to proven or make understandable what is true. Does everybody agree on what is true? Reason often leads to skepticism and more questions rather than understanding truth. A third source of truth is experience. Some measure truth by what I can seems or feels right. What we know from experience is the experience is not a good measurement for truth. Tradition, reason, and experiences fail us more often then not. What is your standard of authority? Is it reliable? Are you sure?

So where can we find truth? I believe that God authored His Word and spoke these words to called men who recorded them in what we know as the Bible. I also believe since God is perfect and holy, the Bible is infallible and authoritative [2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 18:30]. Therefore, the overall plan of salvation for sinful men that God lays out through His Word is absolutely true.

In the letter to the Romans the apostle Paul writes about the Gospel. He gives a concise and clear explanation of God’s purposes in Christ. He writes this letter to people who would consider themselves Christians, but Paul wants to make sure they really do understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” [Romans 1:16]

If Paul were alive today he would share the gospel with his mailman, garbage man, X-Box buddies, bowling league, and bullies at work or school. We know this because he was unashamed of the gospel in his time when Christians were killed for their faith. He was beaten, bullied and put into jail, but this did not stop him from sharing the gospel with the prison guards. The gospel was life to Paul.

What is the Gospel according to the Bible?

First, I am responsible to God. I am responsible to God because He is my Creator and Sustainer. Without God I would not be breathing. Since He is Creator He has say so over His creation. He did not just create you and leave you alone. He created you for fellowship with Him. You cannot have fellowship with a God who is far off playing Parcheesi in another planetary system. The God of the Bible says He is with us and He has made His presence know quite plainly.

ROMANS 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

God is visible through His creation. When I look at Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, and the myriads of stars in the summer sky I am left to ponder: Could not have been created by mere chance? Could there be a greater power behind this? God says we are without excuse. It is as if He has written in the clouds, “Look around you, I am with you.” Since God is your Creator, He owns you. On that basis alone you are obligated to obey Him. Yet that is not always what happens, which brings us to the next point.

Second, I have rebelled against God. Rather than obeying our Creator and thanking Him we spit in His face and in a sense tell Him by our words and actions we do not think He is doing a good job running this world. Therefore we sin against God.

ROMANS 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Have you ever blamed you messes on someone else? That is exactly what we do to God. We say to God, “If you really loved me and if you were really good, my life would not be like this!” Thus we pretend to be God and create our own truth system that makes us feel good. When we replace God we think we are wise, but God says this is foolish. You cannot play pretend god for long because God is jealous and wants to be our King and True Vine. Those who do not praise God will be rejected from His kingdom and cut off as dead branches.

Since, God is Creator, He has the right to judge His creation [cf. Romans 2:1-5]. My sin condemns me to death and eternal separation from my God. This is bad news. Do you see how bad your sin really is? Sin is life altering. Yet in the shadow of this bad news there is breaking news that shines as a beacon of light to our rescue.

Third, I can be redeemed by the blood of God’s Son who died and resurrected for the sins of humanity. What is God’s solution to our sin problem? God took action. Since God is a good and loving Creator He made a way for His creation to be forgiven—by faith in the work of Jesus Christ.

ROMANS 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

God sends Christ to earth as visible a message: “My creation, you are not okay. You are not as good as you think you are. In fact, you are wicked. You need Me. You need My help. I have come to the rescue. Repent of your sin and follow Christ.” Now this is good news!

Fourth, I must respond to the gospel. My response is to turn from my sin and believe Christ. It’s an all-in-Jesus-is-my-King choice. There is no turning back. When we give our life over to God we are saying to God I no longer want to be enslaved to sin, but now I want to be a slave of righteousness [cf .Romans 6-8]. God draws me to the message of the gospel in His grace and I must respond in faith. Salvation is not based on how good I am, can be, or wish to be, but solely on the work of Christ. “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness [Romans 4:4-5].

You now have come face to face with the breaking news of the gospel. The gospel is indeed life-altering and earth shaking. Your response to the gospel is a matter of life and death eternally. In review the gospel is: God is a loving creator, and man has sinfully disobeyed God, therefore Jesus graciously and sacrificially died for man that they might respond to Christ’s forgiven and have a means to become right before God.