Taken primarily from Derek Prince’s “Spirit-Filled Believer’s Handbook”
Mostly written in 2003
Hebrews 6:1: “…let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS and of faith toward God”
What was Jesus’s mission/purpose?: Luke 4:43 tells us Jesus’s purpose was to preach the kingdom of God.
What is the kingdom of God?: Rom. 14:17 and John 3:5 show that the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, as opposed to a natural kingdom (compare Ro. 14:17 with 1 Chr. 12:38-40).
How is kingdom of God received?: Mark 1:14-15 shows that you receive the gospel of the kingdom of God by repentance and belief, or being born again (John 3:3).
Putting all of these together, we can see that Jesus’s purpose was to lead people to repentance and belief in the gospel. This repentance and belief transports the person into a spiritual kingdom that is the difference between eternal life (heaven) and eternal death (hell). The first objective of Christ’s mission was for people to REPENT!
What is repentance?: Greek verb for repent is metanoein, meaning: “to change one’s mind.” Hebrew verb for repent literally means “to turn,” “to return,” “to turn back.” Putting the two together: Repentance is an inner change of mind resulting in an outward turning back, or turning around; to face and to move in a completely new direction.
What is an example of this repentance?: Perfect example is found in parable of prodigal son (see Luke 15:11-32). In this example, prodigal son turned his back on his father and home and went off to another land. Eventually he came to himself and made a decision. He said, “I will arise and go to my father” (v. 18). He immediately carried out his decision: “And he arose and came to his father” (v. 20). This is true repentance: first, the inward decision; then the outward act of that decision – the act of turning back to father and home.
How is repentance different from remorse?: Judas was remorseful (Matt. 27:3-4). Judas experienced intense anguish and remorse. Nevertheless, he did not experience true, scriptural repentance; he did not change his mind, his course, his direction. On the contrary, the very next verse says he went and hanged himself. Acts 1:25 expresses this in words: “Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” Esau was also remorseful, but not repentant (Hebrews 12:16-17).
What does repentance have to do with faith?: The New Testament is unanimous on this one point: True repentance happens with true faith. Without true repentance there can never be true faith.
Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3) and Malachi prophesy that there must be a messenger before the Messiah comes. Mark 1:3-4 shows: “’The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.’ John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” John came before Jesus preaching repentance, then Jesus came and said: “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15). Jesus’s first spoken commandment was to repent.
After His death and resurrection: “Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that REPENTANCE and REMISSION OF SINS should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47). We see repentance first, then remission of sins.
Shortly after the Holy Spirit’s coming on the day of Pentecost, the multitude asked Peter what to do: ”Then Peter said to them, ‘REPENT, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38). Here again, repentance first; after that, baptism and remission of sins.
When Paul spoke to the elders of the church at Ephesus, he outlined the gospel message which he had preached to them: “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD AND FAITH TOWARD OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST (Acts 20:20-21). The order is the same: first repentance, then faith.
Finally, Hebrews 6:1-2 lists the order of the basic foundation doctrines of the Christian faith, and it first lists repentance from dead works, then faith, baptisms and so on.
In Hebrews 6:1 repentance is defined as “repentance from dead works”; in Acts 20:21 it is defined as “repentance toward God.” This means that, in the act of repentance, we turn away from our dead works and face toward God, ready to hear and obey His next command.
In Luke 13:3,5 Christ says: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Christ was speaking of men who died in the very act of performing a religious rite.
Who does true repentance begin with?: Ps. 80:3,7 and Lamentations 5:21 show us that true repentance begins with God and not man (the word “restore” in Psalm 80 literally means “cause us to turn back”). It originates not in the will of man but in the free and sovereign grace of God. Apart from the working of God’s grace and the moving of God’s Spirit, man left to himself is incapable of repentance…Unless God first moves man toward Himself, man cannot of his own unaided will turn to God and be saved. The first move is always made by God.
Christ expresses this clearly in John 6:44.
The supreme crisis in every human life comes at the moment of the Spirit’s drawing to repentance. Accepted, this drawing leads us to saving faith and eternal life; rejected, it leaves the sinner to continue on his way to the grave and the unending darkness of an eternity apart from God. (Prince, SFBH).
Who is called to repent?: Acts 17:30 says that every man in every place is commanded to repent.
What is the formula in the Bible for GREAT MOVEMENTS OF GOD?: The familiar words of 2 Chronicles 7:14 must not be missed:
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn form their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chr. 7:14)
For God to move greatly, his people are called to: 1. humble themselves (the Bible shows that a method of humbling one’s self is fasting, see Ps. 35:13). 2. pray and seek God. 3. REPENT (turn around from wicked ways). In light of this passage, I would dare to say that FASTING AND PRAYER, AND REPENTANCE have been at the forefront of every single great movement of God. The importance of repentance (along with fasting and prayer) has been discarded for far too long.
But now that we know how to clearly hear God’s Word, what needs to be done to continue this “building project” of eternal significance?
Building Our Foundation: Doing
James 1:22-25 shows that we must DO what we HEAR in the Bible.
What are the specific foundations laid out in the Bible?…
Hebrews 5:11-6:3 (specifically 6:1, 2) shows us the “elementary principles” and “foundation” of which we are to act on:
“…repentance from dead works” (Heb. 6:1)
The definition of “repentance from dead works” applies to all things not done in Faith.
The Greek word for repentance means to change your mind and the Hebrew word means to turn back.
Acts 3:19 (among other verses) shows that Faith comes after Repentance (see also Luke 13:3).
Matt. 3:1-3, 7, 8 shows John the Baptist preaching repentance.
Mark 1:14-15 shows Jesus preaching repentance.
Acts 2:37-38 is Peter saying repent.
Acts 20:20-21 is Paul saying repent.
Luke 15:11-32 gives us the example of the prodigal son repenting.
Repentance from dead works means to stop wasting your life with works that are not Christ-based (stop being committed to religion, and start being committed to Christ).
“…faith towards God” (Heb. 6:1):
Romans 4:1-5 shows that we are not justified by our works, but by faith in Christ. “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,” (v. 5)
Romans 13:8-10 shows that love is the requirement and fulfillment of the law. “Owe no one anything, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (v. 8)
Faith towards God means we are not under legalism (which amounts to dead works), but rather “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
Romans 14:23 shows that anything not done in faith is sin.
“…doctrine of baptisms” (Heb. 6:2):
The word baptism literally means “to cover”. When “in” follows, it refers to the element. When “into” follows, it refers to the result that is produced.
The requirements for water baptism are: hearing the gospel, repentance, faith, public proclamation, identification of the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus.
1 Peter 3:20-21 tells us, first, what baptism is NOT, and then what it is. According to this verse, baptism is not some kind of physical cleaning, but it is THE ANSWER OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE TOWARD GOD.
Holy Spirit baptism:
Matthew 3:11 (see also Luke 3:16)shows that Jesus was coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit and Fire.
Acts 2:38, 39 says: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” The Greek word for “receive” is lambano, which suggests taking. It is not a passive verb, receiving is an action one must take.
You can have the Holy Spirit without being baptized in the Holy Spirit, but you cannot have the baptism in the Holy Spirit without having the Holy Spirit that comes from faith in the gospel.
(Note: baptism in the Holy Spirit is not to be confused with the Holy Spirit you receive when you believe on Christ, although, if instructed properly, one can receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit when they first believe)
As we have seen Matt. 3:11 shows that Jesus was to baptize with Holy Spirit and fire. The fire baptism is tribulation.
Acts 14:22 tells us that disciples of Christ must suffer tribulation.
Luke 12:50 says that Jesus has a distressing baptism that he must receive.
Putting these 3 verses together, we can see that the baptism in fire is a baptism of suffering/tribulation (we will delve into this concept deeper in future Bible studies).
Jesus, as our example, did all of these baptisms…as he was born from the virgin Mary and Holy Spirit, so that he had the Holy Spirit at birth (like believers receive the Holy Spirit when they are born again), then when he was 30 he was baptized in water by John (water baptism), then the Holy Spirit descended on Him (even though He was born with the Holy Spirit, this shows that it was a separate receiving of the Holy Spirit, a.k.a. baptism in the Holy Spirit), then He was led into the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan and eventually died on the cross (fire baptism).
“…laying on of hands” (Heb. 6:2):
The laying on of hands is for: body ministry (Acts 6:6), healing the sick (James 5:14; Acts 28:8), impartation of gifts (Acts 13:3; 2 Tim. 1:6), to commission members into ministry and apostleship (Acts 6:6; 13:3), to appoint elders (Acts 13:3; 14:23), and to impart a spiritual gift (Acts 8:18; Rom. 1:11-12; 1 Timothy 4:14).
“…resurrection of the dead” (Heb. 6:2):
1 Cor. 15:12-23 shows that Jesus conquered death by resurrecting, and that means that we too will live eternally through belief in Jesus. The belief in the resurrection of the dead is foundational to us as Christians. Clinging to this belief protects us from anything Satan can throw, and gives us an indescribable hope.
“…eternal judgment” (Heb. 6:2):
Matt. 11:20-24 and Mark 16:16 show that anyone not believing on Jesus will go to hell for eternity, although they will also be judged in varying degrees based on what they did on earth (but it must be noted that even the best of hell is infinitely worse than the worst of heaven).
1 Cor. 3:9-15 shows that even Christians will be eternally judged based on their works. “each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (vv. 13-15)
With eternal judgment as a foundational belief, and something we keep in mind, what we do on earth will take a proper perspective, and it will be much easier to avoid dead works.
Are there other foundational practices laid out in scripture?…
Acts 2:42 shows that the first church continually practiced 4 things that led to miracles (v. 43), unity (v. 44), worship (v. 47), and masses of people being saved (v.47).
Bible study (“apostles’ doctrine”)
Fellowship (with other believers)
Communion/eating together (“breaking of bread”)
Other foundational doctrines and practices are covered elsewhere in Scripture (see Foundations).
It is good to have a greater perspective on what God has put on our hearts for this time here (in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2/09), and not only here, but also what has gone on at Hope College (in Holland, Michigan). We need to see what God is doing and wants to do, as well as see what He has done.
During my freshmen year at Hope College (Fall of 2002) it seemed like God was stirring some of our hearts and we started doing a Bible study. I think there were about ten or thirteen people there when we started, and it is interesting to see the parallels between that time and what is happening now. At that time, we started studying the book of Revelation, which is initially what we were thinking about studying here. Then, during the Christmas break of our freshman year at Hope, we decided we needed to focus our Bible studies on more foundational things. After the break, when we started teaching the foundational things of God’s Word, we saw something interesting happen. In the first Bible study after the break there were around 15 people. In the next Bible study there were 32 people, and from there it blossomed even further. There were a lot of people coming to the Bible studies and a lot of people who wanted more of God and became discontent with merely going through the “Christian motions”. People were coming to the Lord and other powerful things were happening. In fact, a spectator during that year – who has since become a good friend of mine – later would tell me that he and friends initially thought we were running a cult, because we never had music, food, or drinks, and yet people were excited to learn about the Bible. To be clear, we were not against having any of these things, we just never thought of it, because there was such an excitement to learn God’s word. According to my friend, “typical” Bible studies seemed more obligatory and less exciting. I say this to point out that people recognized that God was doing something at Hope. Things grew, and that is what we all saw. It is an incredible blessing to see that people who were there in that first year of Bible studies are all over the world now, doing ministry in different capacities.
And here we are, seven years later. Hopefully we are seeing this legacy (if that’s what we can call it) passed on to everyone who is involved with this ministry. We believe that God is doing his own thing in your lives as well.
With that history in mind, we would like to unfold the vision that God seems to have placed firmly in our heart.
Hebrews 5:12 says, “Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God.” The author is writing to the Hebrew Christians and saying, “By this time you have known enough. You’ve grown enough that you should be teaching others, yet you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God.”
Now understand, the author of Hebrews is rebuking them. He is saying that they should be doing more with what they have been. In other words, they weren’t living up to their potential. He goes on, saying, “And you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:13-14). Here, he is speaking of the Word of God, and he says, “By this time you should be able to eat solid food.” The author is comparing their spiritual maturity to a physical infant who is growing. When you are an infant you can only have milk, but as you grow up you are able to eat more substantial meals. Therefore, the author is saying, “Well at this point you should be able to eat substantial meals of the Word, but you’re still just having the milk.”
Think about it this way: Someone comes to the Lord because they have heard something in the Word that is true. They hear that Jesus loves them and they receive Christ based on that truth. This, of course, is great. People should be saved by that revelation. Knowing that Jesus loves you is a wonderful revelation that a lot of people do not realize. However, that little bit – that truth that Jesus loves us – could be compared with milk given to infants. After that, you should be eating more solid things, though. You should be seeking out the deeper things of Jesus’ love. For instance, what does it mean that He loves us? How does He show his love? Seeking out these questions should lead believers to realize that God’s love for us also means He hates evil and He clings to good (see Romans 12:9). Then, this should develop into more intense studying and understanding Christ’s work on the cross. See, in all these things we should be growing in our understanding of the Word as we press on. Our understanding of Christ’s love should mature as we grow in the Lord.
Returning to this passage in Hebrews, we are taken into Hebrews 6:1: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of…” Now, before we go on, please note that the author is about to tell us what he considers to be foundational to Christianity. Therefore, if anyone is wondering what they need to know to be established in a firm foundation, you are about to read it. “…repentance from dead works and a faith towards God, of the doctrines of baptisms, of laying on of hands, or resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” (Heb. 6:1-3). He names six foundations here. If we want to build a strong spiritual house we need to have certain foundations.
The first four foundations relate to this lifetime: (1) Repentance, (2) Faith, (3) Baptism, and (4) Laying on of hands. The next two take us into eternity: (5) Resurrection, and (6) Eternal judgment.
Now, the reason I bring this up is to help us all understand a little more of the vision of these Thursday night Bible studies we are doing in Grand Rapids.
See, during this Christmas break, I believe the Lord was stirring me to teach on these foundations. Then Neal (a friend of mine who also was involved with the ministry that happened my freshman year at Hope College) and I started getting together and talking this through.
After talking for awhile about this, and praying to see if this was what God wanted us to teach, Neal said the Lord just spoke to him in a very strong way, through a couple of different events, that we were supposed to be teaching these foundations. Neal just felt confident that God spoke to him regarding this. Then, Chris (a friend of ours through Hope) had a dream the same night that Neal believed God spoke to him, and the Lord spoke to Chris in the dream saying that Neal had received a word that is from God and Chris was supposed to listen to him.
With all these events, it does seem like the Lord has put this on our heart for a reason, for this season. And Hebrews 6:3 becomes very applicable to this vision. Remember, the author is saying that the Hebrews need to move past the foundations, and in verse three he says that we will do this (i.e. move past the foundations) if God permits.
We want to pray and see what happens. We want to teach the foundations, and get a firm foundation in our spiritual house, but we also want to go on and teach many other things, as long as God permits it. We want to go on into the Word and become a bigger, better, spiritual house – to be more pleasing to God.
With all of that in mind, we will look at repentance next week.
God’s Spirit and God’s Word – A Divine Synthesis
This week we are going to look at part 2 of our study on God’s Spirit and God’s Word.
We taught part 1 three months ago, but part 2 should stand alone. In part 1, we looked at a Scriptural principle.
First, in Genesis 1:2-3, we saw that “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Alright. What do you have first in verse 2? What is going on? What is hovering over everything? The Spirit of God! But that alone was not sufficient to bring light, and later bring life. God did not act by the Spirit alone. What do you have then in verse three? The first three words are: “Then God said.” Put those together and what do you have? You have the Spirit and then you have the Word, side-by-side. When the Spirit and Word synthesized and came together, the first thing created was light and everything else was created after that point. You can see the pattern: the Spirit and the Word come together and they give you light. And when you have true light, life flows out of that.
In this example, we can observe a few things. First, it shows how much God honors light, that He would create it first. He honors light and He wants light to be in all of us. He wants us to have his light in our hearts. Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:6. He compares the physical light God created on Day 1 to the spiritual light that God wants to bring to our hearts, that is, a spiritual revelation of Christ.
Second, Genesis shows us that light needs these two components: The Holy Spirit and Word. A lot of people say “We have the Word,” and they try to interpret the Word, but even cults use the Bible. They are trying to interpret the Word without the Holy Spirit and they are being led astray. Well, other people say, “We have the Holy Spirit and that’s sufficient; that’s all we need.” However, cults also say they have a spirit. Of course, I don’t believe they have the Holy Spirit, but how do you know whether or not someone has the true Spirit? What’s the basis of differentiation? The Word tells you. It says the Word sorts out what’s of the Spirit and what’s of the soul. In Hebrews chapter 4:12, it says that. So what we have seen here is that when you have those two together – the Word and Spirit -, you have light.
God’s Spiritual Light
We also looked at Acts 8 in part 1 of this theme. Acts 8: 26-28 says, “Now an Angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.” What does he have in his hands? He has the Word, specifically the Old Testament book of Isaiah, and he’s reading it. The story continues: “Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.'” (Acts 8:29). Alright. Now we have something else that enters the story. He had the Word, but it wasn’t enough in the Lord’s eyes. He needed someone led by the Spirit, which ultimately shows that he needed revelation that only the Holy Spirit could bring (though, in this case, the Holy Spirit would reveal through a human vessel). This time the Spirit is going to speak through Philip to come and give light to what that Word is saying. “So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he reads was this. [And he quotes Isaiah 53: 7-8.] He’s led as a sheep to the slaughter…” (Acts 8:30-33). And he continues to read all these different things. But look at verse 34, what he says about it: “So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” (Acts 8:34-35). Ok, so you see, the man had the Bible alone, but it was not sufficient and he couldn’t understand it. It’s like how Jesus spoke. He didn’t speak in plain language; He spoke in parables. Why? Because he wanted to discern their hearts, he wanted to see whose heart really wanted to search it out. In that sense, this Book – the Bible – is a parable to everyone who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. It is a parable to those who do have the Holy Spirit when they are trying to discern it without the Holy Spirit’s aid. That’s how the Lord speaks, it’s difficult to understand. The Ethiopian eunuch is reading and saying, “I don’t know, is this Isaiah, is this someone else? I don’t get it.” Then the Spirit, through Philip, interpreted it and said, “This is what it means.” You see, now he had light. And he had life later. For instance, we see that he was baptized, he started converting people and all these other things happened. Do you see the power of light? If you don’t have light, you should not expect life to follow, but if you do have light, life cannot help but follow.
Therefore, we have this precedent, and I think that this is important for us to see. We are studying the Word, but we are hoping and praying that it is by the aid of the Holy Spirit. I don’t think it’s wrong to listen to other teachers, by any means, if they are speaking out of the Spirit – by what the Spirit has shown them directly or shown through other people, like you have here with Philip.
So this is the precedent we saw in part 1 of this study.
Spiritual Food and Drink
Now, in part 2, I want to basically look at two verses in depth. Please go to 1 Corinthians 10. We’re still continuing with this theme, about the union between the Spirit and the Word. “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink: for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). Paul is talking to the Corinthians, and what is he referring to? He is tipping his hat to something they would all be familiar with. Do you know what he’s talking about when he said they were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, they ate the spiritual food, they drank the spiritual drink, the rock that followed them? Do we recognize that from the Scriptures anywhere?
Paul is referring to the story and the book of Exodus. If you read through Exodus, you have all those things that happened. Do you ever remember when they were baptized in the water in Exodus? In actuality, you will not find a story that uses the word “baptize” in Exodus. What you do find, though, is what a lot of people here probably do remember, that is, the incident when they went down in the Red Sea. Here Paul calls that a baptism. Why? Because it’s symbolic of a baptism. We’ll talk about that when we get to the doctrine of baptisms.
This passage in 1 Corinthians 10 also shows that they ate spiritual food. What was the food that they ate when they were in the desert? Answer: Manna. Yes, The bread that fell from heaven. They called it “manna” because manna means, “What is it?” You have the manna come down and that’s what they ate. Paul goes on and says they drank a spiritual gift that came from a rock. Does anyone remember that? First, Moses hit the rock once and then he hit it twice. That all happened 1,500 years before Paul wrote this. But now, look at what Paul says. He has written this very purposely. He’s quoting what has happened, but he’s saying, “I want you to look at this with new glasses.” Believe me, Paul believes that this happened just like it said. But he also says something else. Look at verse 6: “Now these things occurred as examples,” and verse 11: “These things happened to them as examples.” Alright. These things are examples for Christians today, even though they are historical for the Israelites.
How does that work? Notice the word “spiritual”. Why does Paul call it spiritual drink? Why was it spiritual food? Why was it a spiritual rock? Then he says an even stranger statement at the end. Do you see that? “And that rock was Christ.” (10:4). What does he mean by this? Does he think that Christ Himself was there pretending to be a rock? Of course not, that’s silly. But he’s telling us that what happened with that physical rock is a spiritual example for Christians.
The Scriptures talk about types and shadows. The book of Hebrews, among others, mentions this explicitly. The best way to understand this is to consider what a shadow is. If you see a shadow of this table here, it gives you a basic idea of the table, but it’s not the table itself. The shadows in the Old Testament give you ideas about Christ. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was preached in the Old Testament. He says that He is all over the Old Testament. All through the Old Testament you’re going to find things about Christ in shadow form. This means it’s going to give you ideas about who Christ is and about the Christian walk, but it’s not the substance. Christ is the substance of the shadow. In fact, in Colossians 2, it says that very thing. It says these were all shadows, but Christ was the substance. So this story in 1 Corinthians 10, accordingly, was a shadow of something else that was the substance.
Let’s start backwards in understanding all of these types and shadows Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 10:3-4. The last thing he says is that the rock was Christ, meaning, the rock represented Christ. Notice, Christ is called the rock, not Peter.
So we see the rock, but we have to see what happens with this rock. Exodus 17:1-7 says: “All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim. But there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ And Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pass on before the people taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock and water shall come out of it and the people will drink.’ And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And He called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, by saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?'”
This is the first mention of this rock. Again, I believe that this happened very literally, very historically, just like it says. He struck it and all those things happened. But Paul says there’s another level to this if you look a little deeper. The rock represents Christ. How did they get the water from the rock? What did they have to do to it? God gave a specific command. He had to strike the rock once. What does all of this represent? Answer: The Crucifixion. Jesus says, “All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night for it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” The striking of the rock represents the crucifixion.
So now we’re starting to build on Paul’s metaphor in 1 Corinthians 10, and Paul is showing that these things are symbols for Christians to follow.
Next, what happened when they struck the rock? Water came out. So follow this spiritual “type”. What does that water represent? Jesus answers this very specifically. In John 7, we read about an incident that ocurred during the feast of booths/tents. “On the last and greatest day of the feast,” (John 7:37) – now understand, this is important, John Wesley and others have mentioned this. At this time, during the last day of the feast, the Jews would have this tradition where they would shout and chant Isaiah 12:3: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” They would chant this in commemoration of the rock that was struck and the water that came out. This is important to see, because all the Jews would be shouting this verse in commemoration of the water that came forth out of the rock. Now, look at what Jesus does the day they would have been shouting, that is, the last day of the feast – “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice.” (John 7:37). See, He cried out in a loud voice just like they were doing. But look at what Jesus says. He puts a little twist on it and reveals a little more meaning to this: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37). He’s yelling this: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow within him.” (John 7:38). You can see that Jesus’ words clearly relate. The question is, what is He referring to when He mentions this living water? “By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:39). Do you see what He is saying? The water that comes out of the rock represents the Holy Spirit. He says it right there. So does the type fit? when the rock was struck, the water came out? Is that true of Christ that when He was struck on the cross, like the rock being struck, that his Holy Spirit was made accessible and poured out to believers, like the water from the rock? Absolutely. And think about this: When he was crucified it says even the rocks were struck and split in half.
Please keep this in mind, because there is a second incident with the rock. Numbers 20:1-13 says: “In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, ‘If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring us up out of Egypt into this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!’ Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.’ So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?’ Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’ These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he showed himself holy among them.”
This is the second incident with the rock. Now, the Israelites have moved quite a bit, so they are refering to a different rock, and that will actually come into play in a little bit. Don’t misunderstand me, this rock still represents Christ as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:4. But look at what God says very specifically. The first time they were thirsty he told Moses, “Get your staff, strike it, and the water will come forth.” Now they are thirsty again and he starts the same way. He says get your staff, gather the congregation together and…do what? Speak to it, instead of striking it. And then the water is going to come forth. Well, what is happening here? This is something that will perhaps bring a little clarity, or maybe you already see what I’m getting at.
The first rock that they struck, in the Hebrew language, was a rock that was sunken into the ground. That’s what the Hebrew word means. The Hebrew word for the second rock means a rock that is ascended or actually up on high. I don’t know how far ascended, but I don’t think it would have been a strike down; it would have been like reaching up or to the side maybe.
What is God getting at with all of this? Think of this: Where is Christ now? He was struck once, on the cross, and now where is He? Yes, He has ascended. Since He is ascended now, when we want the Holy Spirit, what are we supposed to do? Speak to it! That is, we must pray and ask for the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that great? You read Exodus and it’s not a dry, boring book by any means. We should read it and think, Wow, they’re supposed to speak to the rock and the waters would come forth and they would receive that spiritual drink as Paul calls it in 1 Corinthians 10.
Moses, though, makes a mistake. He hits it twice and for this reason he’s completely banished from the Promised Land. Why did God do this? At first glance, it seems kind of harsh.
Well, lets take this a little further. Why is God so severe in his judgment toward Moses? I think part of it is certainly disobedience, but part of it also seems to be what it represents.
Moses, in essence, struck Christ twice. That’s the metaphor that Paul says. Go to Hebrews 6:4-6. I’m going to take a chance by reading this passage. It’s a very controversial passage, and I’m actually not going to address the most controversial part, but I will focus on verse 6. “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” (Hebrews 6:4-6). I won’t go into all the details, but, in essence, this passage is referring to those who truly receive the Holy Spirit; they truly have received the Word. It is not just that they were raised in a church. No, this is referring to people who have truly received God. And then they decide that, “Well, this Christianity is not so great. Maybe it’s alright, but it’s not great.” And even though they really know what it’s all about, they eventually say they don’t want anything to do with Christianity.
If they have that attitude, they are rejecting Christ’s work on the cross. They say that Christ covering their sins on the cross is not that great and they don’t care for it. The author is saying in verse 6 that having this attitude makes it so you would need Christ to die all over again to be forgiven. That is, Christ died once and they received forgiveness, but then they say they don’t need that anymore. How will their sins be covered, then? They would need Christ to die all over again if they rejected his work on the cross. Once was not enough for them, and they have to go through it all again. He says, “No. This is wrong and it’s impossible for them to have God’s life if they make this mistake.” They can’t receive the Promised Land, so to speak.
It’s the same with the type for Moses. He cannot strike the rock twice and still receive the Promise Land, that is, the inheritance. Christ only needed to be struck once. Remember what He said on the Cross? “It is finished.” This is an important point. On a different week we were talking about the rest. Spiritually, we rest. Why do we rest? Because Christ finished the work. It’s finished on the cross, that’s the one striking. If you try to strike Him all over again, you are saying that was not enough. You are saying that there needs to be more added to that work. This attitude is called many different names by God, but it basically equals death if you think that Christ’s sacrifice is not enough for your sins.
Have you ever heard people say, “Yeah, I know Christ died on the cross. But did he really die for my sins? I don’t know, I sin so bad. I don’t know if the blood covered that.” It sounds like a sort of weird humility, but it’s actually a perverted sense of pride, if you think about it. You know why? Because they are saying, “I’m so great, my sins are so great, that Christ couldn’t handle all of them.” Either Christ handled all your sins or He didn’t. If He did, then there is no second striking, which is what Moses did.
So we’re carrying this through now. We talked about the rock representing Christ, the striking representing the cross, and the water representing the Spirit. I want to show one other aspect now. Maybe you already know where I’m going, because of the title of this Bible study.
The Manna that fell from heaven is called spiritual food. But what did that represent?
In Matthew 4: 4, Jesus is answering Satan and He actually quotes from Deuteronomy chapter 8. “Man should not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” If you go to Deuteronomy 8 , you see that he’s comparing the manna to the Word of God. See, the Word of God is called our daily bread.
The Bible is also compared, in 1 Peter, to the milk that infants receive. And in Hebrews 5, the Bible is compared to solid food for the mature. So the bible is sufficient at all levels as you mature. Like I said before, some people come to the Lord when they just hear, “Jesus loves me”. And that is a revelation, believe me. For anyone who lived most of their life not knowing that Jesus loves them, that’s a revelation. They have that revelation from the Word, and that’s like the milk. They can live off that for a while, but as they are trying to grow up, they need to learn a little more about his love. They need to learn more about his holiness, as well. The Bible covers all those needs.
The Scriptures are compared to the bread, the Manna that came down from heaven. Think of this: Manna came from the heavens. That’s important, because it states that purposefully, that Manna came from Heaven. See, people will say, “Well, the Bible is really written by men, right?” No, its authority comes from heaven. 1 Thessalonians, and other places, say very clearly that the words of the Bible are not the words of man but the words of God.
We also read that the collection of the manna tested the obedience of the Israelites. What does James 1 say? Hear the Word and do it. See, our reaction to the Word, our collection of the Word, if you will, tests our obedience to the Lord.
I have one other note to say with all of this. Go to John 6. This is Jesus speaking. “I am the living bread, which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51). Now Jesus is talking about the Manna that came down, but he doesn’t say it represents the Word. He says it represents Himself. Yes, He says, “I am that manna that came down.” So which one is it? How does this work? Does the manna represent the Word or does it represent Christ? I believe He’s showing us that both are true. As you take the Word, you are taking in Christ. You are sharing in his presence. The written Word becomes the personal Word as you take that in. A similar picture can be seen with the water that came from the rock.
In 1 Corinthians 10:4, it says that they drank of that spiritual rock, but notice what else we see with that rock. The rock did what? It “accompanied them,” or others say, it “followed them.” Now, do you think they carried a big rock around with them? No. Did the rock sort of roll around with them? No. So what in the world does it mean that the rock followed them as they went forth? What multiple Bible commentators have said, and what makes the most sense to me, is that the water that came forth from the rock was the thing that sustained them during their journey. That water was like rivers that came forth, and they drank from that water.
The rock brought forth the water and, therefore, by drinking the water it was like they were drinking part of the rock. Think about this: the water represents the Spirit, so as you drink of the Spirit, as you take in the Spirit, Jesus says Himself that anyone who receives the Spirit receives me. When you receive the Spirit, when you receive the Word, you are receiving Christ. According to these passages you are receiving Him in full measure when you take in these things.
Remember when Jesus was on the mountaintop, the mountain of transfiguration? He is with Peter and John, and James is there too. Then Moses and Elijah appeared to Him there and spoke with him, and Peter gets excited, which led God to interrupt him. See, Peter wanted to build three tabernacles at the top of the mountain – one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. But God interrupts him. That’s important to notice. When you read the gospels, Peter had a lot of things to say. Sometimes he said foolish things, and God mostly allowed him to speak even foolish thoughts. But do you know that Peter was interrupted three times in the Scriptures: once by the Father, once by the Son, and once by the Holy Spirit? This particular incident, he is interrupted by the Father. When he’s talking about the temple tax in Matthew 17 (just a couple sentences later than the mount of transfiguration), he’s interrupted by Jesus. And then, when he is speaking to Cornelius’ household in Acts 10, it says the Spirit interrupted him. So Peter is interrupted a couple times, and it’s interesting to look at what happened and what God said when he interrupted Peter. This time, he is interrupted and God says, “This is my Son, listen to Him.” After this was said, we read that Peter looked up and saw Jesus standing alone. I believe that God is saying something with this incident. Think about Moses. He’s the one who gives the law. I think he represents the Word. I think he was really Moses, of course, but I think there’s something else deeper that God’s saying. Elijah, on the other hand, is called “the prophet”. Therefore, I think Elijah represents the Spirit, and you’ll see that in other places in the Scriptures. Take it for what it is, but I think God is showing that they are accompanying Jesus, that is, the Word and the Spirit are accompanying Him. Listen to God. Here He says you don’t have to build three separate tents, because if you are listening to Jesus you are listening to the Word and the Spirit too. I think this incident may be showing that The Law and the Prophets testify to Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment and even embodiment of the Law and the Prophets, as well as the Spirit and the Word.
Regardless of that brief aside, what we’ve seen as we’ve gone through this, and what I wanted to show by this illustration, and by what Paul says, is that the only way the Israelites were able to live in the desert and in really dangerous conditions was with these two elements: (1) the water, which was there drink, and (2) the food, which was the manna. That is the only way they were able to live. It is the same for us today. You will not be able to live if you only have the Word, but you do not know the Spirit. You will not be able to live, and if you think you could, I would challenge you to go ahead and eat all you want, but don’t drink anymore. Physically, what’s going to happen? You will die.
Now it’s the same on the other side. Some people think, “Oh, I have the Holy Spirit, I will be fine, I’ll be able to live.” You will not be able to live! I challenge you in this. Well, it may not be a perfect parallel, because you can live a little longer without food than you can without water, but you will still eventually die. It’s just a matter of time if you are drinking and you’re not eating. You will not be able to survive for long. You need both to live. If your spiritual life is suffering, there’s a good chance that one of those components is missing – the Spirit or the Word. And if you are depending on one or the other, you won’t have light. When you have both come together, you have light and then life comes.
I’m going to wrap up this study with two warnings.
There’s two times where the Israelites complained that the water and the manna were not enough. Please consider this. What did we just say? The water represents the Spirit and the manna represents the Word.
Let’s think about this metaphor. They might not say it so politely but I’ve heard people say all the time, “We have the Bible, we have the Spirit. Yeah, yeah, but what else do we have? We need more.” Believe me, this is a terribly common sentiment. “We need programs, we need flashier this, we need music.” Well, there’s two times that Israel complained about the water and manna not being enough.
The first time is in Numbers 11. Here, the Israelites complained that they needed more than bread and water, so God gave them quail. “Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish…6 But now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” (11:4-6). The Scripture goes on to talk about the manna. The people went about, ground it, gathered it, and beat it, manna burgers, manna bananas (that’s a Keith Green song), all these different things; they have all this manna. Now look at verses 18-20. “Then you shall say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourself for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor give days, not ten days, not twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord, who is among you.'” Notice, they never got mad at God directly. They just said, “Your food and water is not what we want.” Specifically they had issues with the food, and, on a spiritual level, this happens all the time: “Well, we follow Jesus, but we don’t trust the Bible.” I hear that and it just grinds me because Jesus would absolutely repudiate that. These people are saying, “We don’t want the manna. That’s all right.”
What was the outcome of their complaints? Skip to verse 31: “Now a wind went out from the Lord, and it brought quail from…” From heaven? Is that what it says? No, it actually came from the sea, interestingly enough. Hold onto that. “..Quail from the sea and left them fluttering near the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and about a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the ground. And the people stayed up all that day, all night, and all the next say, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers); and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp, But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. So he called the name of that place Kibroth hataavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to the craving. From Kibroth Hataavah the people moved to Hazeroth, and camped at Hazeroth.” (11:31-35). Ultimately, that quail did not come from heaven, it came from the sea. Now, I think this is interesting. Look up Revelation 17:15. This is slightly out of context, but it will give a principle. “Then the angel said to me, ‘The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.'” (17:15). In Revelation, when you see seas, it represents the multitudes, that is, the world. I’ve thought about this. The sea is where the quail came from. Instead of from heaven – from God – it was the intense craving of the flesh and of the world. Essentially, while they were eating the flesh, I think it represents God giving them over to their own flesh, which happens when you are not trusting the Word and the Spirit. There is a principle we should think about (and everyone knows this to be true): Either this book – that is, the physical copy of your Bible – is a mess, because you’ve been through it so many times and your life looks pretty nice, or your life is a mess and this book looks pretty nice. Take your pick, but it usually is one or the other. If your Bible has been sitting pretty nice on the mantle place, your life probably is a mess. It may be a subtle mess, but that is the way sin starts: it is very subtle and almost unnoticeable initially. Check out where your life is at. That happens a lot, and it is the same with the Spirit. When you are following the Holy Spirit, you are not given up to the flesh, which ultimately leads to death.
There’s another time where Israel complained that the bread and water were just not enough. Read Numbers 21:4-6: “They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”. First, I like when it says, there’s no food or water and we detest this food you gave us. Basically, they are saying, “It’s not what we want”. Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.”
Why does God give serpents here? Of course, I think the serpent is a true serpent here. They were really given up to serpents. But it represents, ultimately, the enemy – “that serpent of old” (Revelation 20:2). Revelation and Genesis both say that about the serpent. They are given up to the serpent because Israel refused the manna and water alone.
So take your pick: You either get the manna and the water, which is sufficient, or you can get your flesh, or you can get the serpent. That is your choice. That is not just a reality for Israel during the desert. The New Testament shows clearly that the journeys of Israel in the desert also teach spiritual truth for Christians. If we have the Spirit and the Word together, like the manna and water, we can survive even in the most arid desert. Of course, later in Numbers 21, it talks about the bronze serpent God used to heal them, and Jesus says this represents Him, that He brought death to the serpent’s power by his death on the cross (see John 3). But that is a study for a different time.
I suppose that is the conclusion to this study. I do feel compelled to study the foundations and what we want to do is get them recorded. I don’t know what God wants to do with this, but we can give them to people who might be interested as we go through repentance, faith, baptism, and so forth in Hebrews 6. We want to make sure we have a sturdy foundation and give it to other people who need to grow. But, the fact is, if you are having one without the other, the Word without the Spirit, it’s not going to be true light. So we want to foster that. I want to foster that. I really hope we are all considering the concepts taught in this study. Are we trusting God, and saying that his Spirit and Word are sufficient for us? Are we putting them both together as we are seeking these other foundations out?
God’s Spirit – The Holy Spirit; the 3rd person of the Trinity
God’s Word – Primarily, the Scriptures [As defined by the 66 books contained in the Protestant Canon of Scriptures.] (John 10:35). Of course, God may act or speak in things that are not recorded in Scripture (see John 21:25), but the final authority and main definition of the phrase “God’s Word” belongs to the Scriptures, by which we must measure anything else that seems to be a “word” from God.
Acts 8:26-40 – A framework for this Bible Study
The Word without the Spirit = lack of understanding
“He was reading Isaiah the prophet,” but didn’t understand it (Acts 8:28-31)
The Spirit accompanies the Word
Note: God can and does use people/teachers as a means of revealing his Word through his Spirit.
The Spirit + The Word = Light and Life
It is a repeated and ongoing cycle (Acts 8:39-49).
Genesis 1 – God’s Pattern
Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2) + God’s Word (“God said,” 1:3) = Physical Light (1:3) and Physical Life (1:6-31). (See also Psalm 33:6).
Light is directly related to life (see also John 1:4)
The physical creation of light establishes a pattern for spiritual light given to us (2 Corinthians 4:5-6)
Spiritual light is directly related to spiritual life (Psalm 13:3; Matt. 6:22-23; Ephesians 5:14).
Note: As light gives way to life, so does darkness give way to death (compare Mark 15:33 with Mark 16:2). When individuals and/or corporate fellowships don’t properly exalt and seek God’s Word and His Spirit, spiritual darkness and lack of understanding sets in (Is this the reason that many “Christians” today preach, teach, and celebrate the fact that we can’t know God’s light [absolute truth] in most/all areas of our Christian walk?). When darkness sets in, a lack of true life will inevitably follow. Though these people may still do seeming “good works”, they lack true spiritual vibrancy and so few of their works will actually be enduring and eternal (see 1 Corinthians 13:3 compared with John 14:23-24 – eternal works are based on love, and love is contingent on knowing and obeying God’s light).
1 Corinthians 10:3-4 – Israel’s Journeys
Though the events of the Exodus are certainly accurate history, Paul sees these historical events as spiritual types/shadows that relate to our Christian walk today.
1 Corinthians 10:6,11 – “these things became our examples,” “written for our admonition”
All were baptized…spiritual food…spiritual drink…spiritual Rock (vv. 2-4)
“Spiritual Rock” (1 Corinthians 10:4)
The Rock represents Christ – “that Rock was Christ”.
Rock struck when Israelites thirsted (Exodus 17:1-7) = Christ crucified (Matt. 26:31)
Rocks were literally split when Christ died (Matt. 27:51).
Hebrew word for “rock” of Exodus 17:6 indicates a sunken rock (Mauro, P. (1970). The wonders of Bible chronology. Swengel, Pa: Reiner Publications.)
Rock spoken to (Numbers 20:1-13) = Christ glorified
Hebrew word for “rock” of Numbers 20 indicates an exalted or uplifted rock (Ibid)
Moses was forbidden from the Promised Land because he struck the rock when he was only supposed to speak to it (Num. 20:11-12). Like the rock, Christ only needed to be crucified once (Hebrews 6:6), and, after He was glorified, people could speak directly to Him.
“Spiritual Drink” (1 Corinthians 10:4)
The water that flowed from the rock represents the Holy Spirit and Christ’s Presence
John 7:37-39 – “‘rivers of living water,’…this He spoke concerning the Spirit.” According to the Jewish tradition of the time, Jesus shouted this on the same day that the Jews joyfully sang/chanted Isaiah 12:3, in commemoration of the waters that gushed forth from the rock. (Wesley, 1765)
Striking the rock made way for the waters to flow. In a similar manner, Christ’s crucifixion made way for the Holy Spirit to come to all who believe.
After Christ was glorified, the Holy Spirit flowed down to all who called on Him (see Acts 2:33), just as the rock of Numbers 20.
“For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them” (1 Cor. 10:4). “But as when it is said they ‘drank of the rock,’ it must mean that they drank of the water that flowed from the rock; so when it is said that the ‘rock followed’ or accompanied them, it must mean that the water that flowed from the rock accompanied them.” (Barnes, 1837) By receiving the water, they received the rock. Similarly, when we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive Christ’s presence (John 14:19,23).
“Spiritual Food” (1 Corinthians 10:3)
The manna from heaven represents God’s Word and Christ’s Presence
Matt. 4:4 – Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” He is quoting here from Deuteronomy 8:3, directly comparing the manna from heaven with the Word of God.
Note: In addition to being compared with bread, God’s Word is also described as milk (1 Peter 2:2) and solid food (Hebrews 5:12-14). Thus, it nourishes us through all stages of maturity.
Manna came from heaven (Exodus 16:4a); God’s Word comes from heaven (Isaiah 55:10-11; 1 Thes. 2:13).
Collecting Manna tested the Israelites obedience (Exodus 16:4b); receiving and using God’s Word tests our obedience (James 1:22).
“As we feed by faith upon the written Word of God, we receive within ourselves the divine life of the personal Word, that is, Jesus Christ Himself [see John 6:51]…it is through the written Word that the personal Word, the living bread from heaven, comes down to nourish the soul of the believer.” (Prince, 1993, The spirit-filled believer’s handbook. Orlando, Fla: Creation House). Thus, by receiving God’s Word we receive His presence and life, all depicted by the manna of Exodus.
The Israelites were sustained in the wilderness by bread and water, “lacking nothing” (Nehemiah 9:20-21). In a similar way, Christians who rely on, and seek after, God’s Word and Spirit will know the abundant life Christ promised (John 10:10b).
Numbers 11 – When the Israelites complained that they needed more than bread and water, God gave them quail. The quail came from the sea, instead of the heavens or the rock (compare Revelation 17:15), and they feasted on its flesh. As a result, many Israelites died. This should be a warning to Christians: Are we seeking more than God’s Word and God’s Spirit?
Numbers 21:4-6 – Again, Israel complains that they are only given manna and water. For this, God send serpents that bite and kill them. Warning: Christians who are not satisfied with God’s Word and God’s Spirit will be susceptible to all kinds of destructive devices of the Enemy, “that serpent of old” (Revelation 20:2).
Today we see 2 extremes – equally unbiblical – acted out among Christians. The one extreme is the use of the Spirit without the Word of God (the Bible). In this extreme, people are daily living and acting according to the Spirit of God (or at least what they presume to be the Spirit of God) without giving much credence to the Bible. Another equally dangerous extreme is the use of the Bible without the Spirit. In this extreme, people are paying full credence to the letter of the law, but not allowing for the Holy Spirit.
For those who give all attention to the Spirit without the Word, there is no light in their ministry or dealings, for Isaiah 8:20 says, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
On the other hand, for those who live by the law of the letter without giving room for the Spirit to work, they are equally guilty, for 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not quench the Spirit”. And 2 Corinthians 3:6 says, “…the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
This Bible study intends to show that there is a union, or marriage, between the Spirit and the Word. The Spirit cannot exist without the Word, and the Word cannot exist without the Spirit.
Let There Be Light
At the very beginning of creation, we see this principle working out. Gen. 1:2 tells us, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD WAS HOVERING OVER THE FACE OF THE WATERS.” (emphasis mine). We see here that the Spirit was hovering over the earth before anything was created. Yet, Gen. 1:3 tells us: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Gen. 1:6, 9, 11, 14, etc. affirm this same truth, namely, that God had to speak things into existence. The Spirit was working together with the Word to create the natural world, and the result was: “God saw the light, that it was good” (Gen. 1:4). Creation was created in such a way that God Himself saw it as good. What was necessary for it to be good? The Spirit working side by side with the Word.
The Psalmist affirms this same divine truth: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, / And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” (Ps. 33:6). “The word here translated ‘breath’ is actually the normal Hebrew word for ‘spirit.’ However, the use of the word ‘breath’ suggests a beautiful picture of the working of God’s Spirit. As God’s Word goes out of His mouth, so His Spirit – which is His breath – goes with it.” (Prince, Spirit-Filled Believer’s Handbook).
This same principle is true in everything that is created in the spiritual world. John 4:6 says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The only way something spiritual can be created (or “birthed”) is by the Spirit. Yet, 1 Peter 1:23 tells us, “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.” Jesus tells us essentially the same thing in the parable of the sower: “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God…the ones [seeds] that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:11,15). Just as fruit can only be created from a seed, spiritual/incorruptible fruit can only be grown through the seed of the Word of God. Setting John 4:6 alongside 1 Peter 1:23 we see a marvelous truth of creation in the spiritual realm, that is, only through the Spirit and the Word can anything spiritual be created. In our Christian experience, we understand that “he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6:8), but how many of us employ God’s means for creating and sowing Spiritual fruits – that is, by the Word and the Spirit working together. We read the Bible and it feels like ink on a page without the aid of the Spirit, or we rely on the Spirit but are led in a million directions because we don’t compare with the Bible. If only we truly could create by the example God has given us – with the Spirit and the Word working together – then God could say “it was good” concerning our spiritual harvests.
How much God would that we see this union as essential. Proverbs 17:7 says: “Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool,” or, put in another way: “it is the fool who is not concerned with excellent speech”. So why does God use such strong words about a man who is not concerned with excellent speech? It is clear that God wills that our words be pure word, in the hopes of ministering grace to those listening (Eph. 4:29 and Col. 4:6), but this beckons the question, why does he lay such stress in our very speech and communication? Is there not some divine truth He is trying to tell us through the means of our speech? I believe there is. On our human level, there is only one way to truly speak: by our breath and our words. Using your breath without any words is merely making noise, and using words without your breath is simply impossible. It is thus that God wants to show us that the very way we communicate reveals the inseparable union between the Spirit and the Word. How important is the communication of our mouth to the Lord?: “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9). It is no less important than His means of salvation (and as we have seen, the only way to be born again is by the Spirit and the Seed of the Word). With such import, I do not think it unreasonable to note the very nature by which we speak – through our breath and word.
Beyond birth itself (of things physical and spiritual), the marriage bond between the Word and Spirit is the very thing that nourishes us. Let us look at the Israelites pillage through the desert into the Promised Land. 1 Cor. 10 makes it abundantly clear that this entire plight has spiritual meaning to us as Christians (“Now these things became our examples,” “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition,” Paul says to the Christians at Corinth: 1 Cor. 10:6,11). It has been shown that their bondage to the Egyptians symbolizes the Christian’s bondage to sin before they are saved, that their leaving Egypt by the blood of the Passover Lamb represents repentance by Jesus’ blood, and that the immersion of the cloud and the Red Sea symbolizes the baptism of the Holy Spirit and Water, but what of 1 Cor. 10:3,4:
All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
What is the spiritual meaning of these things? Let’s start with the given, it is told us that the Rock represents Christ. Exodus 17:6 says: “’Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” It is clear that this striking of the rock is Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus Himself gives us insight into what the water symbolizes. During the Feast of Booths, on the last day of the feast, it was a tradition for the people to yell out Is. 12:3 in remembrance of the rock that Moses struck and the water that poured out, yet, at presumably the same time, Jesus yells out what that water symbolizes:
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this HE SPOKE CONCERNING THE SPIRIT, whom those believing in Him would receive…” (emphasis mine)
In no uncertain terms, we are told that the water represents the Spirit. And what of the spiritual food? Exodus 16:4: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” As with the water, Jesus also gives us insight into what is meant by the bread: “But He [Jesus] answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”’” (Matt. 4:4). The bread symbolizes the Word of God. In the passage in Exodus 16:4, we see how true this is – the bread came from heaven, which is where the Word of God originates from (1 Thes. 2:13), and the gathering of the bread was said to be a test on whether they were walking in God’s law/the Bible (John 10:34,35); this gathering of the bread is a lesson to Christians that the Bible has to be gathered and consumed, we cannot be merely “hearers of the word”.
Following the journey of the Israelites, we see that their two sources of nourishment were the Spirit and the Bible, the water and the manna. This was all they needed to survive. In fact, when they later complained that the bread and water was not good enough, God was provoked to anger, and they were caused to wander for 40 years in the desert. This, too, teaches us some important truths, namely, that without the use of the Spirit and the Word we will be wandering aimlessly. Also, just as we cannot survive with food and no water, or with water and no food, so we need the Spirit and the Bible together.
Prophecy & Scripture
At this point, some may rightly say that, “the Bible itself refers in many places to the utterances of prophets whose words are not recorded in the Bible.” (Prince, Spirit-Filled Believer’s Handbook). However, even this fact does not give permission to rely on the Spirit without the Word. It is said that, “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21). The Holy Spirit was the author of the Bible, and just as it is written, “let God be true and every man a liar”, and Jesus said to the Father, “thy word is truth”, we must believe that the Holy Spirit spoke only of truth things when writing the Word of God (through men), and therefore, any legitimate prophecy or stirring of the Spirit will be true and in perfect accordance and supported with the Bible.
To give an example. Peter received a legitimate revelation of the Spirit: “Peter went up on the housetop to pray…and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners…” (Acts 10:9-16). He understood this vision to mean that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles, and the word of God could be received by them, as it was the Jews. He even told of this vision to the apostles and brethren in Judea, and after explaining it, they too saw the truth of this revelation of the Spirit: “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’” (Acts 11:18). Yet, there is something later revealed in the Scriptures that cannot be missed. Acts 15 records the dealings at the Jerusalem Council in which the believing Jews debated over whether or not the Gentiles could be saved. After “no small dissension and dispute”, James brought an important point to their attention:
James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written…[he cites Amos 9:11, 12].”
Do you see the power the Word had on the disciples? In deciding if they should be ministering to the Gentiles, as Peter’s vision told them, they were not content to rely on any revelation (even though this was of the Spirit). James cites Peter’s experience, yet it was not with this experience that the meeting was satisfied. Experience and revelation from the Spirit were not enough for them. They knew that the Spirit does not move in any direction away from the Word, and so, they sought the Word to verify what the Spirit had revealed. Oh that we would see the power of the Word the way that the early church did!
Jesus gives us another example. After his baptism in the water by John the Baptist, He had a legitimate Spiritual experience:
Jesus came up immediately out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17)
It was not long after, though, that Satan laid charge against this experience of Jesus: “Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’” (Matt. 4:3). At this point, Jesus had many options in which to combat Satan’s charge. He could have easily appealed to this genuine Spiritual experience as proof that He was truly God’s Son, or used His Authority as God’s Son (after all, we know He had the power to send 10,000 legions of angels if He so chose), or He could have philosophized and argued with Satan, etc. Jesus, however, chooses none of these. It is told us, “He answered and said, ‘IT IS WRITTEN, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”’” (Matt. 4:4, emphasis mine). He would only use the Bible to fight the accuser’s allegations. How many of us have grappled with this passage? Why didn’t you just use your experience? Why not appeal to your authority? Why not tell Satan all about the “Lord, Liar, Lunatic” argument? Jesus, though, gives us a direct example by which to follow. Three times does He combat Satan with those three words, “It is written”. No mention of experience or spiritual authority. And it is said, “the devil left Him and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” (Matt. 4:11). As we saw earlier, Peter followed this example as the “Lord Jesus Christ showed” him (2 Peter 1:14). Jesus told His followers that true disciples are to hear and obey what He says and does. We therefore, as disciples of our Lord, have no excuses. Spiritual revelation cannot be sufficient without the backing up of the Word. “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Is. 8:20).
Is it possible to have true worship without the Spirit and the Word working side by side? To this question, Jesus answers,
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)
So Jesus gives a clear picture of the components of true worship: spirit and truth. We understand the spirit to be the Holy Spirit, but what do we make of the truth? Isn’t the Spirit Himself truth, why this added “and truth”? Thankfully, John does not keep us in the dark for long on what it means to worship in truth. A couple chapters later, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the light” (John 14:6). So we begin to see that Jesus Himself is truth, but that is not all. Still a few chapters later, John gives us the complete picture, as Jesus prays to God the Father, saying, “Sanctify them [believers] by Your truth. YOUR WORD IS TRUTH.” (John 17:17, emphasis mine). In fact, Paul calls the Bible “the word of truth” (Eph. 1:13). Really, we should not be surprised that Jesus and the Word are seen as one and the same, for John started His gospel by saying, “In the beginning was the Word…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14). Already, John shows us that the Word is Jesus, and that His nature is truth (and grace). We are therefore left with a clear and precise dictum of true worship: True worship can only be accomplished with the joining of the Spirit and the Word. Although we have seen that the Spirit can give true revelations outside of the Word, Jesus does not allow the Spirit to exist in worship without the Scriptures. This is a profound revelation that I must spend more time on. True worship is labeled with an “and”, not an “or”. It is not an option of Spirit or Truth (the Word). Anything short of this will not be accepted as true worship. We may have the best intentions in the world, the most energy poured into the Lord, the keenest intellect being used to preach about God, but all of these (by themselves) will never ever be accepted by God as true worship without the joining of the Spirit and Word.
I believe it to be no coincidence that in the book of Acts, we are shown prophets and teachers to be together in worship before the Lord: “there were certain prophets and teachers…they ministered to the Lord and fasted” (Acts 13:1-2). Prophets are those in the Scriptures that are constantly led by the Spirit, are in prayer, and give vision (although a test of a true prophet is whether they prophesy according to God’s Word, Deut. 13:1-3). A teacher, however, is he who has an abundant love for the Word. The prophet tends to understand the spiritual side of worship, whereas the teacher has a yearning for the truth side of worship. Alone, they can fall into danger of missing their complementing component of true worship (the teacher can miss the spirit, the prophet may miss the truth), however, together they can be an unstoppable force. In fact, it is said of this gathering of prophets and teachers that they sent out Paul and Barnabas by the Holy Spirit, and the results had every marking of divine power: “they [Paul and Barnabas] had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed…they reported all that God had done with them, and that he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” (Acts 14:26-27). Even before this instance, we can see that the early church took Jesus’ words – concerning true worship – to heart. As the church was growing abundantly, the need for deacons arose, and the church leaders talked about the appointing of deacons, and then said, “we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4). I can think of no better way to employ the Spirit and Truth into their worship.
In our Christian walk, we must be born again through the Spirit and the Word: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Eph. 1:13). We also are nourished through these same means: “when you read [the epistles (ultimately, the Bible)], you may understand my (Paul’s) knowledge in the mystery of Christ…as it has now been revealed by the Spirit…” (Eph. 3:4,5). Yet, the born again experience seen in Eph. 1 and the growth of Eph. 3, are inevitable precursors to the battle of Eph. 6. We already saw a glimpse of this battle when Satan attacked Jesus in the wilderness, but now it is time for the church to continue this war. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11). We are then given very exact pieces of armor that will equip us for this spiritual struggle. We have all sorts of defense pieces (belt, breastplate, etc.), yet only one piece that is truly offensive, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (6:17). Following Jesus’ example, we must realize that we are only given one weapon to put us on the offense, that is, the Spirit which is the Word of God. Here, we see the union between the Spirit and the Word. They are not separate things, not two swords, but one thing welded together to fight Satan with. The Spirit is the Word of God, and yet Jesus says “the words that I speak to you are spirit” (John 6:63). Do we not yet see the pains God has gone in revealing how utterly dependent the Spirit and Word are upon each other. It also should be mentioned that, like David preparing to slay Goliath, some may say they have never put this armor into practice, and it therefore will not be effective when we do experience true spiritual warfare. Only after practice and becoming familiar with the Word can we use it with the results that Jesus experienced (as David resorted to the stones in which he had become familiar with, instead of the unfamiliar armor, to defeat Goliath, symbolic of defeating the Devil). It is not enough, either, to read the words of the Bible hours every day without any appeal to the Spirit to explain why He wrote what He wrote. We must be diligent to rely on the Spirit to reveal the Words of the Bible. We must be like the disciples who, after hearing the words of Jesus (when He spoke to them in parables), went to Him privately and asked Him to explain the meaning.
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he exhorts them (and us): “But ‘he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.” (2 Cor. 10:17-18). This should awaken us to two divine facts: 1) all of our glory is to be given to the Lord, 2) We are not commended by God because we believe we should be, but only as the Lord Himself commends us. This means that however great we think our worship may be, it really means nothing unless it has God’s commendation – and have we not been told by Jesus Himself what He accepts as true worship? But even more than this, the verse quoted shows that there should be an urgency in the church to give glory to God, to give him the true worship He requires.
Lack & Darkness
There was a season in the church in which neither the Holy Spirit nor the Word were being used to worship Jesus. I believe this period to be when the Catholic Church was a political super power and the only church in the Western Empire of Rome. I also think this period was spoken prophetically of John, hundreds of years before it came to pass. Revelation 11 shows the vision John received after he had eaten the little book that was sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach. It says: “Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court…it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.’” (Rev. 11:1-2). We understand the reed like a measuring rod to represent the canon of Scripture, as “The word canon comes from the root word reed (English word cane, Hebrew form ganeh, and Greek form kanon). The reed was used as a measuring rod, and came to mean ‘standard.’” (McDowell, NETDV). If this interpretation is correct, it shows that John prophesied a time when the true church would be measured by the canon of Scripture, even though the outside appearance of the church would be given over to the world for a season of 42 months (which we understand to be 1,260 years, because 42 months is the same amount of time as 1,260 days, and prophetically, we believe a day to equal a year). During this period of corruption in the church, it shows there to be two witnesses that were clothed in sackcloth – showing that the church was not hearing them. Who were these two witnesses who the church did not want anything to do with during this time? They are depicted as being olive trees and lampstands. Comparing Zechariah 4:11-14 with Romans 11:11-24 and Ephesians 4:4, we see that in the picture of the olive tree, oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and to make this oil, olives must be crushed (symbolizing Christians crushed for Holy Spirit to go forth). Also, comparing Revelation 1:20 with Zechariah 4:2 and Exodus 27:20-21 we see a similar picture: pressed olives produce oil that causes the lamp to burn, and the lamp is symbolic of the church. Both of these symbols show clearly that the church would experience a season in which the Holy Spirit would be withheld from the Church. But why were there 2 witnesses? If it was the Holy Spirit alone being withheld from the Church, one witness would suffice. We think this other witness to be nothing other than the Bible – for as we have seen, the Spirit is married to the Bible (Eph. 6:17; John 6:63), and this vision of John began with the measuring rod (taken to mean the canon of Scripture). It has no doubt been seen that the church did in fact have a season of 1,260 years in which the Word was missing from the people (they were killed for possessing it) and the Spirit along with it. How tragic this period was. They may have spoken of Christ, and gone to church, but without these components of true worship, there would have been no commendation from the Lord. In fact, Revelation 11:6 shows the results of the witnesses prophesying during this time: “These [two witnesses] have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.” Is it any coincidence that the endemic plagues of Rome existed primarily during the time the Catholic Church (with all of its corruption then) snuffed out the Bible and Spirit? It is not until the vision of Heavenly Jerusalem in Revelation 22 that we see a river of the water of life and true, incorruptible fruits: “he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal…In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.” (Rev. 22:1-2). We know that pure water serves two purposes – to drink of and to cleanse. Concerning these, we have already seen that Jesus compares drinking water to the Spirit, but what of cleansing water? Eph. 5:25-26 says: “as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.” Therefore, this river of pure water is symbolic of the Spirit and the Word. Also, the bountiful heavenly fruits seen next to the river could only be a product of the seed of the Word and the Spirit.
Has it not been shown us how inseparable the union between the Spirit and the Word is throughout the Scriptures? From the origins by the Spirit and the Word in Genesis 1 to the absence of these two in Revelation 11, and finally the heavenly river and fruits seen in Revelation 22. The Word is the Spirit and the Spirit the Word, there is a union, not unlike marriage, that exists between the two. As Jesus spoke concerning marriage, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Matt. 19:5). The two may have been separate things, but with their joining together we can only see one flesh – just as there is only one sword called the Spirit and the Bible. And furthermore, Jesus says concerning the marriage union, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt. 19:6).
It is tragic that so many professing Christians are not exhibiting true worship. All Spirit is not true worship. All Word is not true worship. Only Spirit and Word.
To those who exalt the Spirit above the Bible…I ask how you know whether you are listening to the Spirit or your own soulish desires. You may say, “I just know it”, but many cults have been started under the same guise. What is the standard God gives for dividing what is spiritual from what is soulish? “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to THE DIVISION OF SOUL AND SPIRIT, and of joints and marrow, AND IS A DISCERNER OF THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTS OF THE HEART.” (Heb. 4:12, emphasis mine). You may indeed have true zeal for the Lord, but without the Word, without knowledge of the truth, your very zeal may become deadly: “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” (Prov. 19:2, NIV). Whatever you are growing, if it did not originate from the seed of the Word, it cannot be incorruptible (1 Pet. 1:23). You must repent and return to the Word.
To those who exalt the Bible above the Spirit…I ask how you can say, with any measure of sureness, that you have not unintentionally twisted the Word to your own destruction. “as also our beloved brother Paul…has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are SOME THINGS HARD TO UNDERSTAND WHICH UNTAUGHT AND UNSTABLE PEOPLE TWIST TO THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION, AS THEY DO ALSO THE REST OF THE SCRIPTURES.” (2 Peter 3:15,16, emphasis mine). The Word may indeed be your Bread and substance, but where is your drinking water? Where is your spiritual thirst quenched? Jesus says, “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life…If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 4:14; 7:37,38). What is this water? “this He spoke concerning the Spirit” (John 7:39). Jesus tells you that God is Spirit, and later, that His words are Spirit, can you therefore be justified before God if you preach the Word and neglect the Spirit? At the very best, you can say that you look into the mirror of the Word dimly and you may indeed know in part, but until we see clearly in the mirror and know in full, we are exhorted to “desire spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 13:8-14:1). You must repent from your quenching of the Spirit.
I pray that we may no longer separate the Spirit from the Word and the Word from the Spirit, but that we may be fed by the water and food together – and be content with it until we are led into the Promised Land –, growing the church into “one new man” (Eph. 2:15). To be a man we must be nourished. It is an absolute impossibility that any boy can grow up into a man with water and no food, or with food and no water. The only way for a boy to grow into a mature man is by food AND water, otherwise we cannot say that the church has truly become a man and put childish things behind it (1 Cor. 13:11). Are you ready to let God give the increase to your life, to the church body, to the world?
“[take] the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17-18)
I thought this was a very concise article but still robust study on how we can trust the 66 books in our Bibles (39 in Old Testament and 27 in New Testament) as being God’s Written Word – no more and no less.
Rich Geer, Earl Washington, Brian Holda, 2003 Borrowing some from Derek Prince
Many recognize Jesus indeed is the resurrected Lord and Savior. But, this prompts the same question asked by those listening to Peter preach the resurrection at Pentecost: “Men and brothers, what shall we do [next]?” (Acts 2:37). This Bible study will show the important Biblical truths of how to build a strong foundation for keeping in Christ and defeating Satan. After we receive Jesus as God, we still need to receive proper instructions of what to do next so that soon we can be believers “who have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6), and have stayed grounded in Truth.
Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4, 5; Acts 20:32; Jude 20, 21 show that we must be “built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
What is the foundation for our building?…1 Corinthians 3:5-17 (especially vv. 9-11) makes it clear that “no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ”. The foundation for a building:
Is primary and essential.
Sets limits on size and weight of the building.
Laying the foundation…Matthew 16:13-18 shows the necessary steps one must walk through to lay their foundation (which is Christ).
v. 18 says: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”…The Greek word used for Peter is petros, which means a stone or boulder that is a piece of the bedrock, and the Greek word used for rock is petra, which means the bedrock (of which the petros is a part of). This verse was to contrast Peter with the Rock which is Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:20 and 1 Cor. 10:4). Also, 1 Peter 2:4-5 shows that all believers are living stones. We see that it is only by the True Rock (Jesus) that the believers (church) can be built up
So, how does one get a hold of the Petra to build their house?
Confrontation: “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’” (v. 15)…Jesus is the door (John 10:7-10).
Revelation: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” (v. 17)…The Father, by the Spirit, reveals the Son (John 15:26).
Acknowledgment: “Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (v. 16)…You must receive this revelation and acknowledge Jesus (John 3:16).
Confession: “Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (v. 16)…You publicly confess, with the mouth (Romans 10:9, 10; Matthew 10:32, 33).
Is this still possible today?…Hebrews 13:8 says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Building on the Foundation…Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49 show that you build on the foundation of Jesus by hearing God’s Word and doing God’s word. Jesus himself is God’s Word made flesh (John 1:1, 14; Rev. 19:11-13; compare Matt. 4:4 with Matt. 26:26), so it does seem that a relationship with Jesus is interchangeable with a hearing and doing of the Bible. The Bible is given by God (2 Tim. 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20, 21) as a sword (Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17) to fight with. Interestingly, the Bible is the only offensive weaponry mentioned in Eph. 6:10-17 to fight the devil. Matthew 4:4-10 shows how Jesus used it against Satan, but it also shows how Satan tried to deceive Jesus by using the Bible. This leads us to the next question…
“Therefore whoever HEARS THESE SAYINGS OF MINE…” (Matthew 7:24)
It seems like Satan (usually by the means of people) could shape the Bible into saying whatever he wanted it to say, so what is the one thing that Christians need to keep us from straying?…
2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, specifically v. 10, tells us that we must “RECEIVE THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH”! (Notice truth and love are inextricably intertwined. “Love of the truth” yet Ephesians 4:15 tells us the truth shall be given in love.) (see also John 19:37: Jesus says those who are of the truth hear his voice)
V. 11 says: “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,”…God Himself allows demonic powers to deceive. God Himself sends these things. We need to receive the love of the truth, then we cannot be led into temptation and doctrines of demons (see 1 Tim. 4:1). The love of the truth is something that we need, but not only that, we need to receive the love of the truth. I can’t make someone love the truth. They need to receive the love of the truth.
Acts 17:11 shows that the people from Berea were more noble than those in Thessalonica because they “RECEIVED THE WORD WITH ALL READINESS, AND SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY TO FIND OUT WHETHER THESE THINGS WERE SO.”…The Bereans weren’t saying, “I’m not going to believe a thing, until I search it out.” No, the Spirit of God is meant to open your hearts. There is nothing wrong with hearing and believing right away, but there is something wrong with not checking it out in the Word later on. That’s the problem we run into in many Christian circles. We get saved but then we never study what salvation really means and we wonder why we are unstable in Churches and doubt our own salvation.
Rom. 3:4 and John 14:6 show that God’s nature is Truth…
”There are certain symptoms or traits that exhibit themselves when someone receives the love of the Truth. If we receive the love of the truth, we will be like Jesus. Our purpose is to take on that nature. We want to be like Jesus, don’t we?
“The Bible says that we shall see him as He is. We shall be like Him. The way that this happens is that we receive the love of the Truth. Then, the things that come out from under that are faith, love, hope, which are eternal virtues [1 Cor. 13:13]. These are what our works are going to be built upon. These things cannot ever truly happen without the love of the truth. To give an example: People say that you can believe in a lot of things without the love of the truth. They can have all kinds of faith in a lot of things, but if it is not based upon truth, it becomes two things. At worst it becomes stupidity; at best it becomes presumption. What do I mean by that? Stupidity means you believe in things that are totally false. Presumption means that you are asking God, or telling God, to do things that He has never said that He is going to do.” (“Love of Truth” Bible Study by Richard Geer/Earl Washington)
Can we have true love without the truth?
“I don’t believe it’s possible. I believe we can have presumptuous love, we can have emotional love, we can have sexual love – we can have all kinds of things that have nothing to do with the love of God. Not to say that emotional love or sexual love cannot be godly. If things are not based upon truth to start with, then you’re basing your love on an erroneous view of what love is. To give an example: People say, ‘Well, I love that person, so I don’t want to hurt him, so I can’t tell him that he is going to hell.’ Now that’s a very obvious and foolish thing to say but there are people who truly think that way! The truth of the matter is that they are going to hell. The truth of the matter is that you have the way to get them saved. The truth of the matter is that Christ is the Truth, and He would bring them into all truth that they might be saved. So, it is a love based on truth if you tell them that.” (“LT”, Geer/Washington)
Matthew 4:5, 6 and 2 Peter 3:15-17 show us that the Bible can be manipulated…
Peter said that the Word of God is perfect but we’re not. In 2 Peter 3:15-17 we read, “and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation – as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all of his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.” To be forewarned is the purpose of this lesson.
“The only thing that keeps me from error is the love of the truth. Nothing else. It is not my good intentions – I may have a lot of love, I have a lot of faith, perfect hope in Christ – all these will not keep me from error…
“We don’t have to talk about how many cults and false teachings, even among orthodox Christianity there is. Yet we’re shocked that this thing happens. We think, well, we’re not in Jehovah’s witnesses, Mormons, New Age, or whatever – we think we’re okay. I have news for you. If you don’t love the truth and are not testing things at all times, you can be sucked into things. We run into that in orthodox Christianity all the time. We say, ‘How can that person be wrong? He led me to the Lord. He has led 2,500 people to the Lord. He has been on TV…Even when we say we are truth-oriented, we are afraid to hurt people’s feelings, we are afraid to use Matthew 18 to come to the truth of matters, whether there be truth or error in the church. Consequently, we end up in greater error…greater falsity. We do not refute false things of the Word, by the truth things of the Word – we do it by our feelings. ‘Why, I think it means this?’ or ‘Well, you can interpret it any way you want to.’ People do this all the time. These are not acceptable ways to establish the truth.” (Geer/Washington)
An example of a belief – Who is the man of sin, or Antichrist (the point of this example is not to get into an eschatology (study of end times) argument, but rather to show that we must discern the Word of truth).
I have heard people say things similar to: “Anybody who thinks that the Papacy (the office of Pope) is the Antichrist has got to be crazy. I don’t believe it at all.” It must be noted that this is not the Word of God being used to seek the truth. It is also interesting to note that every reformer, from Martin Luther and John Calvin on down to John Wesley and others after Wesley, believed that the Pope was Antichrist. So if someone says he’s not, which is perfectly permissible, show why in the Word of God he is not. It is not enough, either, to tell him that just because the reformers all believed it he should believe it (for this is not using the Word of God to discern truth either), but it should make him think about it and go to the Word of God to determine the truth. But to say, “I don’t believe it, just because I don’t believe it, just because it’s unacceptable to me” is to be someone who is not discerning the Word of truth.
“People say, ‘Well, people need to know every detail.’ I don’t need to know every detail. Even if I may want to know every detail, I can’t know every detail. But, my point is that I should not be content to not know any detail. I should not be content to say, ‘Well, my pastor told me this. My leader told me this. I read it in a book years ago,’ and say that’s enough. (I remember years ago, somebody told my friend that the Pope was antichrist and I said, ‘That’s totally crazy.’ And then it took my friend years to realize that he was not studying.) I am not telling you what my conclusions are regarding this as far as the love of the truth goes, on whether he is or isn’t. But the point is, you need to understand the answer through the Scriptures…The point is that this is not an irrelevant issue. It is not an irrelevant issue to ask, ‘Who is antichrist?’ There are a hundred theories that consider everyone from the guru Maharajah Gi, Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy who was shot, (and it was thought he was going to get resurrected), from Hitler, to the Roman pontiffs. We do need to know the answer, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make here…about who the man of sin is. The point is, ‘What is your attitude regarding him?’ Do you want to know? Will you study the Scriptures? Can you find out why people believe one way or the other, and come to a conclusion yourself based on a love of the truth, and say, ‘Lord, even if it disagrees with something that I believe is good or right, or what I have been taught, I am willing to throw it out.’” (Geer/Washington)
John 16:13-15 shows that the Holy Spirit is a guide to truth…
“What about the Holy Spirit, as the second form of guidance? We have the word of God. We saw how that can be manipulated. We see how to get out of the manipulation by loving of the truth. The Holy spirit is God Himself. He is the Spirit of Truth. If we are listening to the Holy Spirit, can we be deceived? NO! However, the problem is we can listen to other spirits, and our flesh, the soul or unregenerate mind. How do we know what the Spirit of Truth is if we are not listening to it? In other words, if we allow things that are not the Spirit of Truth to get in our way – our own words, tradition, experience, false teaching, personalities, our emotions – all of these things can be interferences to the Holy Spirit. We listen to them all. We listen to books and teachings. The Holy Spirit is true, but we can listen to our flesh and even Satan, if we fail to love the truth. If we don’t love the truth we will not hear nor heed the Spirit…
“Hebrews 4:12, which is a very powerful Scripture, shows each one of us how interconnected our own emotions, psyche, and soul are with the Spirit of God. It says, ‘For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’
“Now there are many teachings on this. But I will just bring up some points. What is the function of bone marrow as compared to the joints? How does this relate to the soul and Spirit? The joints keep the body together, but the bone marrow gives it life. In the same sense, the soul keeps the body together, but the Spirit gives it life. Without bone marrow the body is physically dead, and without the Spirit the body is spiritually dead. Also, bone marrow is found inside the bones, and, similarly, the Spirit is found inside the body. To get to the Spirit, you go through your emotions, your thoughts, and your own self first. This is why it is called the inner man. The word of God breaks through that. So, if somebody says, ‘I am depending on the word of God’. Remember the Bible says that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life [2 Cor. 3:6]. The Word of God can be manipulated. If someone says, ‘I listen to the Holy Spirit,’ – how do we know it’s Spirit or flesh? We determine this by the Word of God. How do we use either one of these, then? It’s a Catch 22. Again it comes down to a love of the truth. The truth will let us listen to the Holy Spirit, not our own emotions or flesh. The love of the truth will get us to the truth. You see, God is not here trying to set us up. It is not like God sends lying spirits to those who are receiving the truth. No, He is sending them to those people who refuse to love the truth, who love their own traditions, their own contentments, their own emotions, their own experiences, – they love them more than they love the spirit of truth, than they love truth itself. So to what purpose does God send lying spirits? Lying spirits are sent to reveal those who don’t love the truth.” (Geer/Washington and Holda)
Jude 16-21 shows that there will be those who try to lead you astray, not lead you by the spirit…
“The point in verse 19 is, people who do not have the Spirit are soulish. They listen to their own thoughts and desires. You may ask, how do I know that I am listening to the spirit? You must love the truth. The Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit of God is not going to lead you into false teaching. He is going to lead us into all truth. The Spirit’s job is to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8) All these things are true issues. He is going to convict the world of these things. He is called the Spirit of Truth for a reason, but we listen to things other than that. The point is, ‘Be aware!’ Even when you think you are listening to the Holy spirit you may not be. That’s why we have people, such as the Mormons, who have revelations every day, supposedly from the spirit of God.
“Having visions are not good enough. Peter himself had a vision. The Holy Spirit Himself showed Peter to eat the unclean foods [Acts 10:9-16]. And Peter followed that vision, but he did not solely base his beliefs and actions on visions. It was not very long before the word of God was used to corroborate with that revelation [Acts 15:6-17].
“What should you do when a word of God contradicts your revelation? – YOU GET RID OF THE REVELATION.” (Geer/Washington)
Another example of a belief – the baptism in the Holy Spirit…
“Let us discuss the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This will really hit charismatics [people who believe the spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, etc. are for Christians of today] to the heart. But it applies equally to non-charismatics [people who believe the spiritual gifts have ceased]. Does this baptism exist today or not? Some say, ‘I’ve experienced it.’ Others say, ‘I’ve never experienced it.’ And so we each will try to find the word of God to prove or disprove our experience.
“Charismatics, if someone could prove through the word of God that the baptism of the Holy Spirit or speaking in tongues did not exist for today, what would you do? Are you willing to throw that experience out, if it could be proven through the word of God, that it is not of God?
“I’m not saying that the Bible does say that. What I am asking is, ‘Where is your heart?’ Don’t come up to me and say, ‘Well, it doesn’t say that.’ I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in where your heart is. What would your response be if it could be proven that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit had ceased? I ask the same question of the non-charismatics – if it could be proven scripturally that the baptism of the Holy Spirit does exist for today, would you throw your reformation or Baptist theology out the window and receive the [filling of the] Spirit of God? Would you speak in tongues if I could show you scripturally that it is supposed to be for today…if speaking in tongues is something that is supposed to be for you, a few, or for everyone, but that you could have it? Forget your church teaching, your pastors and your leaders. What does the word of God say? Do you love the truth enough to get it? Or are you, charismatics and non-charismatics, listening to your emotions while you listen to this? (Both of you are probably mad at me. You should be. But now, you should get mad at yourself, for being tricked that way. For both of you are doing the same thing. That is how you listen to your own soul, rather than listening to the Spirit of God.) I’m not saying that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an invalid experience – I am saying, ‘What does the Word of God say?’ You need to search these things to see if they are true.” (Geer/Washington)
1 Thessalonians 5:21 says: “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”…
“People today are afraid to test things. Leaders will tell you, because they are supposed to do this, ‘Search the Bible.’ When you do and you catch them on something, they blow you off. They are not teachable. These people are not to be listened to when they do that to you. If somebody says to you, ‘Wow, I think you’re right here’, or ‘No, I think you’re wrong and this is why, scripturally; I think it means this,’ they are teachable. They are people who receive the love of the truth. It isn’t enough for me to hear somebody say, ‘Search the Bible, and if I’m wrong…’ People have said that over and over again. But where there are disagreements that totally contradict what they said, they get their hackles up in the air – these are false teachers. These are people that are a danger, not only in being deceived themselves but also spreading deceit onto you and on to the church. We need to be aware of these people. Some of them are conscious of it; some are unconscious of it.” (Geer/Washington)
“Again, I get back to ‘we must love the truth.’ If we love the truth, the Holy Spirit is going to get through. If we love the truth, the true ministers are going to get to us. If we love the truth, we are going to rightly divide the Word of God. God will not let us come into a false teaching, at least not for very long, IF WE LOVE THE TRUTH. In fact, the statement of our willingness to search and study, to test the spirits, take apart the word of God, challenge teachers and leaders is the measure of our willingness to not be led astray and that’s what will keep us pure on the day of salvation. That is going to keep us safe. That is going to keep our guidance right…
“The main thing that happens to Christians, both teachers and listeners, is laziness. As a teacher, we have accepted old teachings and then we build upon those. Then someone, maybe ten years later, challenges those teachings and they are right – but we don’t listen to them because we’re lazy. We don’t want to go back to old ground and restudy it. The same thing with listeners. Because of laziness, we do not search the Scriptures and we get led astray. In other words, someone may tell you something that they interpreted in the Scripture. This is perfectly valid. But it is not perfectly valid for you to accept that interpretation without seeing if it is true. You must listen and examine what they are saying. Not everything has to be analyzed in the Greek or Hebrew, for the Spirit of God is in you…
“I don’t want to infer by all the things that I have said previously that we are not supposed to listen to ministers of the gospel, or that the word of God is not valid in all situations, or that it isn’t the word of Truth, or that the Holy Spirit does not dwell in us and there is no intuitive sense that leads us into truth – all of those are the forms of guidance but without this inherent something inside of you, of loving the truth, these things could be manipulated or sidestepped.” (Geer/Washington)
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD, For he shall be like a shrub in the desert… Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by waters… Nor will cease from yielding fruit.’”
“Do not despise…Test all things; hold fast what is good.”
1 Thes. 5:20-21
2 Thes. 2:1-12
v.3 – apostasy before Christ returns “Son of Perdition” (compare John 17:12; Judas is type for antichrist)
v. 4 – “in the temple” – Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16), not Jewish temple
v.7 – “already at work” – apostasy had begun in Paul’s day
v.9 – “signs…lying wonders” – miracles in themselves are not evidence of truth (cf. Ex. 7:12,22; 8:7; Deut. 13:1-5)
v.10 – NEED to receive love of truth Ultimately, receiving a love of the truth refers to receiving Jesus, who is Truth (Jn. 14:6), as shown in this context. Jesus holds “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” (Col. 2:3). However, this also expresses itself in a love of true doctrine, true ideas, etc. Though this study focuses on the love of truth in doctrine and in our Christian walk, we must be careful not to separate the love of true doctrines from a love of Christ, the Truth, as the two can’t exist in isolation and are really, ultimately, one thing.
1 Tim. 4:1 – We must continue in love of truth for entirety of our life.
Q: What does it look like to love Truth?
A: John 15:13 – “love” = willingness to lay down life for that which is loved Prov. 23:23 – symptom of “loving the truth” = willingness to give up what you have held onto for sake of Truth Example 1: Are spiritual gifts for today? Charismatics, would you throw out your experiences if it could be proven that gifts of the Spirit have ceased? Non-charismatics, would you throw out what you were taught and be filled with the Spirit if it could be proven this was for today? Example 2: Should babies be baptized? Example 3: Who is Antichrist? Ask yourself: Am I holding on to things besides Truth that make me assume my way is right? (cf. Prov. 14:12) v.11 – God will cause them to be deceived v. 12 – ultimately, it is issue of desire and heart (Rom. 1:18ff)
Q: How do you find truth?
A: God is truth (John 14:6; Romans 3:4). God cannot lie (Titus 1:2); compare with Satan who cannot speak truth (John 8:44 – “there is no truth in him”) Holy Spirit leads to truth :] (John 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:11; 1 John 2:27) But some can confuse Spirit with other spirits, emotions, or confuse soulish desires with spiritual desires :[ (1 Kings 22:5-23; 1 John 4:1; Hebrews 4:12) Scriptures minister truth :] (John 17:17; Heb. 5:12-14) But can be twisted :[ (Matt. 4:4-11; 2 Pet. 3:14-16) True Teachers minister truth :] (Acts 8:26-40; Eph. 4:11) But false teachers teach lies :[ (2 Thes. 2:3; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; Jude 16-21)
Q: How do you keep from corrupting and co-opting God’s ways to understand truth?
A: Love Truth (see above comments on 2 Thes. 2:10) Love the “revealers” of truth (Spirit, Word, teachers) God has given you, do not grieve or scoff at them (Prov. 23:23; Eph. 4:30; Rev. 22:18-19; Heb. 13:17) Be correctable (James 3:17; Ps. 141:5; Prov. 1:23; 9:8; etc.) Do not be lazy in seeking and investigating truth (Job 28; Prov. 25:2; Acts 17:11; Mark 4:10; 1 Thes. 5:21) Desire to do God’s will (1 Sam. 3; Prov. 1:23; Matt. 6:22-24; John 7:17; 2 Cor. 3:16) Over a desire to sin (Rom. 1:18-32; 2 Thes. 2:12; 2 Tim. 4:3) Trust in God’s power to reveal more than your power to understand truth (Matt. 11:25) 1 Tim. 6:20-21 – do not become overly fascinated with “knowledge” that contradicts truth (cf. 2 Cor. 11:3) Seek confirmation from multiple sources (Prov. 11:14; Deut. 19:15) Matt. 4:5-7 – Jesus uses context and whole counsel of Scriptures, not just isolated passages Acts 15:6-22 – Witness 1 = testimony of Spirit; Witness 2 = testimony of Word Gen. 1:2-3 – Principle: Spirit (v.2) + Word (v.3) =.light -> life This principle can be applied to having spiritual “light” and “life” (e.g. 2 Cor. 4:6) Be faithful to what God has already revealed to you (Prov. 4:4-6,10-13,20-21; Luke 16:10; Phil. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:14; 3:14-15)
Q: What does it look like to exercise a love of the truth?
A: Bereans – Acts 17:10-12 (cf. 1 Thes. 5:20-21)
Eagerly receive what you are taught
Eagerly test to see if it is truth Council of Jerusalem – Acts 15:6-22
Received testimonies of Peter, Barnabas, Paul
Saw confirmation in Scriptures (Amos 9:11-12)
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Transcript: Did Jesus Call a Woman a “Dog”?! (Auto-Generated from MS Slack)
0:01Hey, everyone want to address something that I mean, it’s already been addressed by others.
0:06I I don’t know.
0:07Hopefully this would add something to it.
0:09I pray it’s something that people have gotten kind of offended by or think that Jesus may have been wrong about which already should be a red flag like what this is the Lord like we’re the ones wrong in our assessment and I think you’ll find it here too.
0:24But here’s where people are concerned of Jesus language.
0:27I’m gonna read the story.
0:28It’s about the healing of a Sian woman.
0:31It’s a gentile woman and here’s what happens.
0:34I’ll read it from Matthew 15.
0:36It also is found in Mark seven.
0:38We’ll look at that in a moment.
0:39Matthew 15 verse starting with the verse 21.
0:42And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tea and Sadan and behold a canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying have mercy on me.
0:52O Lord Son of David, my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon, but he did not answer her word and his disciples came and begged him saying, send her away for.
1:03She is crying out after us.
1:06He answered, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
1:11But she came and knelt before him saying, Lord, help me.
1:15And he answered it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.
1:20She said, yes, Lord.
1:22Yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.
1:27Then Jesus answered her oh woman.
1:29Is your faith?
1:30Be it done for you as you desire?
1:32And her daughter was healed instantly.
1:37OK, so people flag this and say, whoa, he’s calling a woman a dog.
1:43What’s up with that?
1:46I think I, I don’t wanna laugh because I know it’s a serious question.
1:51It really is because it sounds degrading to women.
1:54When you read it and kind of with, I think it’s, I think what’s happening is it’s reading it with a modern lens of the way we use words and not the way Jesus in the Bible uses words.
2:05I, so I just laugh a little because I’m like, I think it’s missing the whole thinking point.
2:12When I read this, I honestly am greatly blessed and challenged because I’m like, huh, the Lord didn’t just, you know, I i it offends our concept of, well, he just, he just bends over backwards for everyone and that’s kind of how the Lord is because it’s all about us, right?
2:26That’s how we think.
2:27No, the Lord is saying he is willing to die on the cross.
2:32Even for gentiles, which is the point of what he’s getting at with her talk, the reference of the dog.
2:39A dog is an unclean animal.
2:42It’s, it’s a reference in Leviticus that the dog would be unclean.
2:46So gentiles were called, dogs.
2:50It’s even a stronger starker way.
2:52Paul Paul says that.
2:54so that’s what he’s saying.
2:57But you know what Jesus died for the unclean and guess what?
3:01That’s you and me like it or not.
3:04We are in ourselves unclean.
3:06We truly are dogs and honestly worse.
3:09And so, I read the story and I think, yeah, we kind of have got it twisted.
3:14We think Jesus should bend over backwards for us.
3:15If we just kind of even kind of whisper, even whisper a little prayer.
3:18He, you know, he’s just ready to just, it’s all about us.
3:21I think the Lord is trying to say, hold on, hold on.
3:23Who are you?
3:24I wanna see a little staying power.
3:27Are you willing to actually fight things through with me or are you willing to ask and seek and knock and keep asking and keep seeking, keep knocking.
3:34This story strikes that to me.
3:37OK, let me read it also from Mark’s version because I think it might be helpful.
3:44Mark 7 24 through 33 30.
3:48And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tir and Sadan and he entered a house and did not want anyone to know yet.
3:53He could not be hidden.
3:55I love it, by the way, one thing Jesus could not do be hidden.
3:58So anyone who says they have Jesus in their heart, he’s not gonna be hidden anyway.
4:03verse 25 but immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet.
4:10Now, the woman was a gentile, a s Phoenician by birth.
4:13And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
4:16And he said to her, let the Children be fed first for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.
4:22She answered him.
4:24Yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.
4:27And he said to her for this statement, you may go your way.
4:30The demon has left your daughter and she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
4:35First, I just wanna say this frustrates me that people are looking at this story as Jesus degrading the woman.
4:41He he healed the woman’s daughter.
4:45He healed the woman’s, he commends the woman for her great words.
4:50He he leaves her as a stark example against the, against the the disciples.
4:55And look at what she’s done.
4:56She’s, she’s, she’s willing to fight this through.
4:58This is wonderful.
5:00He does so much for this woman.
5:02It just, it just makes, brings tears to my eyes the way people are insulting Jesus.
5:05But I think it’s worldly eyes thinking of Jesus in a worldly way.
5:09So instead, first off, so let, let’s, let’s just take a step back.
5:15Another thing I should actually say.
5:17And here,, it, it brings us out.
5:20Mark, seven verse 27 he says, let the Children be fed first notice that he’s, I think there’s a little tip of the hat saying I, yes, I’m, I’m here for the Jews right now, but there’s gonna be a time coming where the gentiles are brought in and that’s what he does on the cross again.
5:38He dies for this woman.
5:41He dies for the gentiles.
5:43Please do not offend the Lord by saying, oh, he was so derogatory to call her a dog.
5:50So now with all that background, I just want to just take a quick moment.
5:54this won’t, I hope this doesn’t take long.
5:56I don’t think it needs to.
5:57, why are people offended in the first place?
6:00Well, I, I, let’s just really sit and pause here.
6:04Is it because he’s, I’ve kind of heard it this way or thought this way.
6:08Oh, he’s calling a woman by an animal.
6:10He’s calling a, he’s comparing a woman to an animal.
6:13and, and a dog at that.
6:15Well, before we even get to the dog part, just think about that.
6:17He’s comparing a woman to an animal.
6:20Did you read the whole section here?
6:21Did what I just read, I think about that.
6:25he said, actually we’re gonna go to Matthew’s version here, Matthew 15 and it says, excuse me, verse 24 Jesus answered, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
6:43That sounds like an animal, doesn’t it?
6:45So here he calls the, is he calls the Israelite sheep and then he calls the gentiles dogs.
6:52This is ok.
6:54So first off, take all offense off.
6:55He calls everyone an animal.
6:57You’re either a Joe or a gentile, you’re either a sheep or you’re an animal.
7:00So clearly he’s not trying to insult people by calling them animals.
7:04so then what is a sheep?
7:05A sheep is one that follows the shepherd?
7:08I mean, they don’t do it that great.
7:09Look at, John 10.
7:11Jesus draws it out.
7:12Actually, he’s talking about the Israelites and the sheep hearing the shepherd’s voice and saying there’s a lot of sheep who aren’t hearing my voice.
7:17They’re really not my sheep.
7:19so just because you’re calling yourself a Jew.
7:23I don’t know that you really are one if you, you, because you’re not following me but, but my point is he calls he, he, he points out here that Israelites can also be called animal names.
7:32Oh, man, everyone should be offended.
7:35Well, I, let’s look at another place in Matthew.
7:37I think this is, if, if you’re offended at that, let’s let’s go even further.
7:41Why, you know why stop there?
7:44excuse me, look at Matthew 10 and it says Matthew 10 verse 16.
7:52He’s speaking to his disciples here.
7:55Anyway, behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
8:01So be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
8:04There’s four animals mentioned here, three of them are gonna be are, are, are what he wants his followers to be.
8:11He said, you’re a sheep.
8:12I also want you to be wise as a serpent.
8:14That serpent is an unclean as satanic animal.
8:19But he’s using it in a descriptive way.
8:21He’s saying, think like the world a little bit, you know, think like, you know, be shrewd, understand, don’t be ignorant of Satan’s ways is another way I I see that why is the serpents innocent as doves?
8:32So he’s also saying, but, but think about the innocence of doves.
8:35So he’s using animals to draw out who you know, different attributes, different traits.
8:41And of course, he says, go in, you’re going in the midst of wolves.
8:45So the wolves are ready to devour you, right?
8:48So he’s using animals just as a word picture.
8:51He Jesus is brilliant in every way and he uses animals to give a quick sense of what he’s really getting at.
8:58let’s do one more.
9:00If you go to Matthew, this is all of Matthew as well.
9:03if anything, this would be the most, the Starkes, if you will of the animal, attributes, he gives to people Matthew seven and he says, verse one judge not that you be not judged.
9:19and he goes on and, and, and talks about moving the, get the plan because some people will say, oh, see, we don’t judge.
9:25Well, it’s not quite what he’s saying.
9:27He means, don’t judge by your own faulty standard.
9:31Take the plank out of your eye and then you’ll see a speck in someone else’s eye so you can grab that and you know, correctly.
9:37So first deal with your own issues.
9:38So don’t be crit is the main point.
9:41, that I, that I, that I think he’s getting at here.
9:44And then in Matthew seven, verse six, do not give dogs what is holy and do not throw your pearls before pigs unless they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
9:54Now, that’s a very strong and stark word picture here.
9:56Again, two animals mentioned.
9:59I think, and I’ve heard others say this, I, I’m, this isn’t, you know, original with me.
10:06This take But what is he getting at?
10:09Well, in the Jewish law, dogs would be unclean, but pigs were also unclean, but they’re unclean in a, in a slightly different way.
10:16Dogs were, you’re unclean.
10:19If you’re a land animal, you’re unclean in two ways.
10:21One was that you had a cloven hoof.
10:23I’m sorry, if you didn’t have a cloven hoof.
10:25So dogs have paws.
10:26So they’re unclean, but a pig does.
10:29So they’re actually clean on that count.
10:31But the other way you could become unclean is if you’re not, if the animal isn’t chewing the cud, they need to be excuse me, willing to chew or they, they have an ability to chew the cud.
10:45And so in that sense, then the pig becomes unclean.
10:48So outwardly, the pig is actually clean because it has the cloven hoof.
10:52But inwardly it’s unclean.
10:54A dog is outwardly and inwardly unclean.
10:58And so I think there might be a reference here.
11:01The pig being like one like a hypocrite really.
11:05one who is outwardly looks clean but inwardly is, is not, which is exactly how he describes Jesus and elsewhere describes the Pharisees.
11:12He says outwardly, you know, your weight washed tombs, you’re out, your, your outside looks clean, but inside you’re really, there’s no chain, there’s no holiness, there’s no actually following after in your heart.
11:23, dogs as, as opposed to dogs who are all just all clean.
11:30So, and I think the, it’s, of course, it’s, it’s so amazingly wise here.
11:36He’s saying you might have these great precious things the Lord has given you, but don’t waste your time with the unclean.
11:44whether they’re outwardly unclean or, or maybe they’re outwardly seeming clean, but inwardly, they don’t want anything to do with the pearl and ultimately the pearl of Christ, the pearl of the Gospel, they just don’t want it.
11:56And he says, don’t waste your time with them.
11:57Because if you keep around the, around those people who clearly have nothing to do with Christ, it’s gonna actually destroy you and it’s gonna destroy them.
12:05Excuse me, they, they don’t know what to do with this precious thing that you have because they don’t want it.
12:10They’re, they’re not, they’re not willing to be changed.
12:14OK, so I hope you can see now we have pigs, we have dogs, we have sheep, we have wolves, we have serpents and we have doves.
12:24That’s before we even get to the serra pho woman, which is what we started this ad.
12:27So then you go to Matthew 15 back where we started.
12:30We’re gonna end here is now we’re back to the story of the woman.
12:34and the quote unquote insult, at least that’s what a modern, you know, eyes and ears are hearing and saying this is so insulting.
12:42Oh man, he’s calling a woman a dog.
12:43Well, like we we saw already he’s calling, he’s calling all people.
12:47He’s calling people every, all sorts of animal names, including in his own passage.
12:50He calls this the Israelite sheep.
12:53So, and that’s not a fair thing to say.
12:55Well, it’s a derogatory because he calls a woman, a dog.
12:58You know, he call, or because he calls a woman an animal.
13:01, like we saw, he calls everyone an animal even in this passage.
13:06So the next part, yeah, but it’s not just an animal, it’s a dog.
13:11But did you hear what I just said?
13:14And what, how that would have, why, why that was used?
13:17It’s because it’s outwardly unclean and it, it mentions that in the passage and Matthew 15 to mark seven, she’s a gentile.
13:24I mean, that’s a fact and that would have been, it, it, it might, I mean, it was kind of a sharp thing and I think Jesus is trying to say it sharply.
13:33We are unclean.
13:35We are unworthy of him.
13:36I, I think that’s part of it.
13:38Like, I think people have this weird concept.
13:40I mean, it’s a very, it’s a, it’s a very sad concept.
13:43It’s a very unbiblical concept that somehow we are worthy of Jesus and he, I mean, he should be coming us because we’re so wonderful and great and, and, and it’s Jesus fault.
13:52If he, if he thinks we’re unclean or if he would call us a dog, we’re all dogs stop this.
13:59We are all unclean.
14:00We are all gentiles.
14:02Yet by the grace of God, we are all.
14:06now you might say, well, ok, only the gentiles are gentiles.
14:08Jews are Jews.
14:10Maybe even that even the Jews are called.
14:12So maybe they’re pigs if they’re not following Christ by the grace of God.
14:15The fact that all our only if we’re willing to repent and come to Christ are we considered clean?
14:21And that’s all the work of Him.
14:23And how does it happen?
14:24It’s by his blood that he shed.
14:25Not yours, not mine.
14:27It’s not that anything we’ve done.
14:28It’s he took all of it for us.
14:30We, he took it all and now he lives in us.
14:33Not because we’re so clean on the inside.
14:34He had to clean us.
14:37Read Ezekiel 16 is a powerful passage about how all of Israel is just unclean, unclean, unclean and he came and cleaned us and came and lived with us and we still just tramp our tramps around him.
14:46We’re spiritual horrors.
14:48It’s very sad.
14:49And so I say that because back to the passage, I think this is sad when people get offended and, and get up in arms about Jesus words here.
15:00I think when I hope just even the few things I’ve shown here can help give a little more perspective here that this is not Jesus outing the woman.
15:09I think it’s hurt him.
15:10Saying you are a gentile.
15:12But even if there’s hints here that he said I’m coming for you.
15:15I’m coming for you.
15:16You are unclean.
15:17I’m coming for you.
15:19I’m coming for you.
15:20And, she kind of, I, I, I always get this picture she broke through before even the full, you know, bringing all the gentiles in, of course, by the cross, the rejection of the Jews brought the triumph for the gentiles, Read Romans nine through 11.
15:31It talks about this.
15:33that’s good news for all of us.
15:35And, and it’s, it reminds me of the story of Joseph actually where his brothers who were the tribes of Israel really rejected him.
15:43But then the gentiles brought him in and he became one who was able to save all the world and including his own kinsman later, their rejection so that he could come into the gentile world and save them.
15:55That was a beautiful thing.
15:55Well, that’s the same way that Christ died.
15:59It was a rejection of the Jews, but he brought in the Gentiles.
16:01But he, I mean, the Jews who can now get, receive forgiveness through Christ, get blessed.
16:08I didn’t mean to.
16:08Well, I won’t say sorry, but that was a little to her, but hopefully it’s a blessing.
16:12But my, my point is I think he’s really, we’re missing it when we don’t see that he is calling out people to calling out this woman to say, yeah, you’re, you’re a gentile.
16:24You’re a dog.
16:27Not in a like it’s, it’s not like saying the N word or something like that.
16:31Like people would say like it was just, you’re unclean, you’re unclean.
16:35What are you gonna do?
16:36What are you gonna do?
16:38And she presses in and he says, yeah, and he even says, remember he said first I will feed the Children.
16:46So he’s given a little hint.
16:47Don’t worry, I’m coming for you.
16:48And she’s like, well, I want her right now though.
16:50I want you right now.
16:51And she pleads and she pleads and she wouldn’t stop pleading.
16:54And Jesus and his heart was just touched.
16:57And because of her words, it says actually mark seven because of your words, I’ll heal your daughter.
17:03What a hope for us.
17:05What’s your situation today?
17:09Yes, we’re unclean outside of Christ.
17:12But he says, now I’ve made you clean and I have you have access to the father.
17:15I’m waiting for you to pound on my door a little bit.
17:17I’m waiting for you to press in a little bit.
17:19That, that, that Jesus might say to us because of your words, I’ve healed this person or because of your words, this has happened.
17:27So, use words that touches her.
17:31So hopefully, this helps a little bit to show, I think we missed the point when people get up in arms about these kind of things, but maybe, maybe we’re all acting like pigs and dogs frankly.
17:41because you just has a precious pearl in the story that we’re missing.
Mark 16:9 and John 20:14 show Jesus appeared to Mary Magdelene.
Matthew 28:9, 10 show Jesus appeared to the women from the tomb.
Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5 show Jesus appeared to Peter.
Luke 24:13-33; Mark 16:12 show Jesus appeared to the disciples walking to Emmaus.
Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-24 show Jesus appeared to 10 apostles (Thomas was absent).
John 20:26-29 shows Jesus appeared to all 11 apostles.
John 20:26-29 shows Jesus appeared to seven disciples by the Lake of Tiberias.
1 Corinthians 15:6 shows Jesus appeared to 500+ believers on Galilean mountain.
Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-20; Luke 24:33-52; and Acts 1:3-12 all show Jesus to have been seen by The Eleven.
Acts 1:3-12 shows Jesus to have been seen at His ascension.
Acts 9:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:8 show Jesus appeared to Paul.
Acts 7:55 shows Jesus appeared to Stephen.
Acts 22:17-21; 23:11 show Jesus appeared to Paul in the temple.
Revelation 1:10-19 shows Jesus appeared to John on Patmos.
How do we know these weren’t hallucinations?
* “Men who are subject to hallucinations never become moral heroes. The effect of the resurrection of Jesus in transformed lives was continuous, and most of these early witnesses went to their deaths for proclaiming this truth.” (Straton, BLR)
* “Generally, only particular kinds of people have hallucinations.
“They are those whom one would describe as ‘high-strung,’ highly imaginative and very nervous.
“The appearances that Christ made were not restricted to persons of any particular psychological make-up.” (McDowell)
* “There was a variety in mood…
“Mary Magdalene was weeping;…
“the women were afraid and astonished;…
“Peter was full of remorse,…
“…and Thomas of incredulity.
“The Emmaus pair were distracted by the events of the week…
“…and the disciples in Galilee by their fishing.”
“It is impossible to dismiss these revelations of the divine Lord as hallucinations of deranged minds.” (Stott)
* “[Raoul] Mourgue, in his fundamental treatise on the neurobiology of hallucinations, reached the conclusion that variability and inconstancy represent the most constant features of hallucinatory and related phenomena. For him the hallucination is not a static phenomenon but essential a dynamic process, the instability of which reflects the very instability of the factors and conditions associated with its origin.” (Kleurer, as cited in Hoch, PP) It is extremely unlikely, then, that two persons would have the same hallucination at the same time.
* “It is absolutely inconceivable that as many as (say) five hundred persons, of average soundness of mind and temperament, in various numbers, at all sorts of times, and in divers situations, should experience all kinds of sensuous impressions – visual, auditory, tactual – and that all these manifold experiences should rest entirely upon subjective hallucination. We say that this is incredible, because if such a theory were applied to any other than a ‘supernatural’ event in history, it would be dismissed forthwith as a ridiculously insufficient explanation.” (Thorburn, RNMC)
* “Who ever supposes that the disciples deceived themselves and mistook the internal for the external, accuses them of such mental weakness as must invalidate their entire testimony concerning Christ and make it appear as though Christ Himself, when He chose such witnesses, did not know what was in man. Or, if He Himself had willed and ordained that they should mistake inward appearances for outward perceptions, He would have been the author of error, and all moral ideas would be confounded if this were compatible with His high dignity.” (Christlieb, as cited in Smith, TS)
* Luke says at the beginning of his second book, the Acts of the Apostles, that our Lord showed Himself alive after His Passion “by many infallible proofs,” or more literally, “in many proofs.”
* The Appearances of the Risen Master may be analyzed according to the human senses to which they appealed, whether the sense of sight, or of hearing, or of touch. The different phenomena may be conveniently grouped together under these divisions…
“And first as to the sense of sight…”Jesus met them”…”They saw Him”…”They…supposed that they beheld a spirit”…”See…My hands and My feet…”…”I have seen the Lord”…”He showed unto them His hands and His side”…”They saw the Lord”…“Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails”…”Because thou hast seen Me”…”And none of His disciples durst inquire of Him, Who art Thou? knowing that it was the Lord”…”Appearing unto them by the space of forty days”…
“The appearances of the risen Christ are reported also as appeals to the sense of touch…”Handle Me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold Me having”…”And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish. And He took it, and did eat before them” (Sparrow-Simpson, RCF)
* “The ‘hallucinatory’ vision at the tomb in Mark has an auditory experience: the angel tells the women to go and announce the fact to the disciples…
“Similarly in Matthew…the women both see and hear Jesus, and also touch Him…” (Thorburn, RNMC)
* Hallucinations are usually restricted in terms of when and where they occur. “If the appearances had all taken place in one or two particularly sacred places, which had been hallowed by memories of Jesus,” and if “their mood had been expectant,” then “our suspicions might well be aroused.” (Stott)
* “Consider the wide variety of times and places:…The early morning appearance to the women at the tomb…The appearance on the road to Emmaus one afternoon…A couple of private interviews in broad daylight…By the lake, early one morning…On a Galilean mountain by five-hundred-plus believers.
“Indeed, there is almost a studied variety in the times and places of Christ’s appearances – a variance that defies the hypothesis that these were mere visions.” (McDowell)
* Hallucinations require of people an anticipating spirit of hopeful expectancy that causes their wish to become father to the thought. (Anderson, RJC); (Little, KWB); (Peru, OPC)
* William Milligan states that the subject of the vision must be characterized by “belief in the idea that it expresses, and excited expectation that the idea will somehow be realized.” (Milligan, RL)
* In the case of His post-resurrection appearances, Christ’s followers were caused to believe against their wills. ”The phenomena, therefore, suggest that the Appearances were rather forced upon the mind’s attention from without rather than created from within.” (Sparrow-Simpson)
* “We may recognize the slowness with which the disciples arrive at a conviction to which only the inexorable logic of facts led them.” (Day)
* “any theory of hallucination breaks down on the fact (and if it is invention it is the oddest invention that ever entered the mind of man) that on three separate occasions this hallucination was not immediately recognized as Jesus (Luke 24:13-31; John 20:15; 21:4). Even granting that God sent a holy hallucination to teach truths already widely believed without it, and far more easily taught by other methods, and certain to be completely obscured by this, might we not at least hope that He would get the fact of the hallucination right? Is He who made all faces such a bungler that He cannot even work up a recognizable likeness of the Man who was Himself?” (Lewis)
* Hallucinations usually tend to recur over a long period of time with noticeable regularity. “All the accounts suggest that the appearances of the Risen Body came to an end; some describe an abrupt end six weeks after the death…A phantom can just fade away, but an objective entity must go somewhere – something must happen to it…
“If it were a vision then it was the most systematically deceptive and lying vision on record. But if it were real, then something happened to it after it ceased to appear. You cannot take away the Ascension without putting something else in its place.” (Lewis)
* “Hallucinations are individual occurrences. By their very nature only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly aren’t something which can be seen by a group of people. Neither is it possible that one person could somehow induce an hallucination in somebody else. Since an hallucination exists only in this subjective, personal sense, it is obvious that others cannot witness it.” (Collins)
Change in disciples.
2 Peter 1:16 shows that the disciples truly believed.
* “The most drastic way of dismissing the evidence would be to say that these stories were mere fabrications, that they were pure lies. But, so far as I know, not a single critic today would take such an attitude. In fact, it would really be an impossible position. Think of the number of witnesses, over 500. Think of the character of the witnesses, men and women who gave the world the highest ethical teaching it has ever known, and who even on the testimony of their enemies lived it out in their lives. Think of the psychological absurdity of picturing a little band of defeated cowards cowering in an upper room one day and a few days later transformed into a company that no persecution could silence – and then attempting to attribute this dramatic change to nothing more convincing than a miserable fabrication they were trying to foist upon the world. That simply wouldn’t make sense.” (Anderson, RJC)
* “Note that when the disciples of Jesus proclaimed the resurrection, they did so as eyewitnesses and they did so while people were still alive who had had contact with the events they spoke of. In 56 A.D. Paul wrote that over 500 people had seen the risen Jesus and that most of them were still alive (1 Corinthians 15:6 ff.). It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus.” (Montgomery, HC)
* “It was therefore impossible that they [the disciples] could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.
“The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unflinching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted.” (Greenleaf, TE)
* “Are these men, who helped transform the moral structure of society, consummate liars or deluded madmen? These alternatives are harder to believe than the fact of the Resurrection, and there is no shred of evidence to support them.” (Little, KwhyB)
* “Look at the changed life of James, the brother of Jesus. Before the resurrection he despised all that his brother stood for. He thought Christ’s claims were blatant pretension and served only to ruin the family name. After the resurrection, though, James is found with the other disciples preaching the gospel of their Lord. His epistle describes well the new relationship that he had with Christ. He describes himself as ‘a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (James 1:1). The only explanation for this change in his life is that which Paul gives: ‘After that He [Jesus] was seen by James’ (1 Cor. 15:7).” (McDowell)
* “the skepticism of Thomas comes out in the belief that the death of Jesus would be the death of His kingdom. ‘Let us go, that we may die with Him.’ The man who uttered these words had, at the time when he uttered them, no hope of Christ’s resurrection. No man would propose to die with another if he expected to see him again in a few hours. Thomas, at that moment, had given up all intellectual belief. He saw no chance for Jesus. He did not believe in His physical power. He had made up his mind that the forces of the outer worlds would be too strong for Him, would crush Him.” (Matheson, RMNT) However, Jesus made Himself known to Thomas also. In John 20:28 Thomas says, “My Lord and my God!” to the risen Savior. He went on later to die a martyr’s death.
* “On the day of the crucifixion they were filled with sadness; on the first day of the week with gladness. At the crucifixion they were hopeless; on the first day of the week their hearts glowed with certainty and hope. When the message of the resurrection first came they were incredulous and hard to be convinced, but once they became assured they never doubted again. What could account for the astonishing change in these men in so short a time? The mere removal of the body from the grave could never have transformed their spirits, and characters. Three days are not enough for a legend to spring up which would so affect them. Time is needed for a process of legendary growth. It is a psychological fact that demands a full explanation.
“Think of the character of the witnesses, men and women who gave the world the highest ethical teaching it has ever known, and who even on the testimony of their enemies lived it out in their lives. Think of the psychological absurdity of picturing a little band of defeated cowards cowering in an upper room one day and a few days later transformed into a company that no persecution could silence – and then attempting to attribute this dramatic change to nothing more convincing than a miserable fabrication they were trying to foist upon the world. That simply wouldn’t make sense.” (Anderson)
* “The power of God so came down upon Peter on the day of Pentecost that on that one day, in a sermon occupied, for the most part, with the truth of the Resurrection of Christ, three thousand souls were won to the Lord. One thing is true: Peter was at least preaching what he believed: that God had raised Christ from the dead. You cannot conscientiously preach lies with power like this. The disciples went on preaching the Resurrection, until the whole world was turned upside down by faith in this glorious truth. No, the disciples did not and could not have stolen the body of our Lord.” (Smith, TS)
* Each of the disciples, except John, died a martyr’s death. They were persecuted because they tenaciously clung to their beliefs and statements. As Paul Little writes: “Men will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false: The do not, however, die for what they know is a lie.” (Little)
* “If anything is clear from the Gospels and the Acts, it is that the apostles were sincere. They may have been deceived, if you like, but they were not deceivers. Hypocrites and martyrs are not made of the same stuff.” (Stott, BC)
* “When Jesus was crucified, his followers were discouraged and depressed. They no longer had confidence that Jesus had been sent by God, because they believed anyone crucified was accursed by God. They also had been taught that God would not let his Messiah suffer death. So they dispersed. The Jesus movement was all but stopped in its tracks.
“Then, after a short period of time, we see them abandoning their occupations, regathering, and committing themselves to spreading a very specific message – that Jesus Christ was the Messiah of God who died on a cross, returned to life, and was seen alive by them.
“And they were willing to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming this, without any payoff from a human point of view. It’s not as though there were a mansion awaiting them on the Mediterranean. They faced a life of hardship. They often went without food, slept exposed to the elements, were ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned. And finally, most of them were executed in torturous ways.
“For what? For good intentions? No, because they were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had seen Jesus Christ alive from the dead. What you can’t explain is how this particular group of men came up with this particular belief without having had an experience of the resurrected Christ. There’s no other adequate explanation…
“Wait a minute – think carefully about the difference [between Muslim, Mormon, Jim Jones, and David Koresh followers who were willing to die for their beliefs and the followers of Jesus Christ who died for their beliefs].
“Muslims might be willing to die for their belief that Allah revealed himself to Muhammad, but this revelation was not done in a publicly observable way. So they could be wrong about it. They may sincerely think it’s true, but they can’t know for a fact, because they didn’t witness it themselves.” (Moreland)
Resurrection was foundation for the church
Acts 1:21, 22; 2:23, 24; 2:31, 32; 3:14, 15; 3:26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:39-41; 13:29-39; 17:30, 31; and 26:22, 23 all affirm that a basic foundation for the establishment of the church was the preaching of Christ’s resurrection.
* “The church is a fact of history. The explanation for the existence of the church is its faith in the resurrection. Throughout its early years, this institution suffered much persecution from the Jews and Romans. Individuals suffered torture and death for their Lord only because they knew that He had risen from the grave. “There would have been no Christianity if the belief in the resurrection had not been founded and systematized…The whole of the soteriology and the essential teaching of Christianity rests on the belief of the Resurrection, and on the first page of any account of Christian dogma must be written as a motto, Paul’s declaration: ‘And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain [1 Cor. 15:14].’ From the strictly historical point of view, the importance of the belief in the resurrection is scarcely less…By means of that belief, faith in Jesus and in His mission became the fundamental element of a new religion which, after separating from, became the opponent of Judaism, and set out to conquer the world.” (Smith, GCWC)
* “Now the peculiar thing about this phenomenon [that Jesus resurrected] is that, not only did it spread to every single member of the party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual center of Judea, against the ablest dialecticians of the day, and in the face of every impediment a brilliant and highly organized camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less then fifty years it had begun to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire.
“When we have said everything that can be said about the willingness of certain types of people to believe what they want to believe, to be carried away by their emotions, and to assert as fact what has originally reached them as hearsay, we stand confronted with the greatest mystery of all. Why did it win?” (Morrison)
* “Paul Little points out that the church, which was founded around A.D. 32, did not just happen, but had a definite cause. It was said of the Christians at Antioch in the early days of the church that they turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). The cause of this influence was the resurrection.” (Little as cited by McDowell)
* “Had the crucifixion of Jesus ended His disciples’ experience of Him, it is hard to see how the Christian church could have come into existence. That church was founded on faith in the Messiahship of Jesus. A crucified messiah was no messiah at all [see Psalm 16:10]. He was one rejected by Judaism and accursed of God. It was the resurrection of Jesus, as St. Paul declares in Romans 1:4, which proclaimed him to be the Son of God with power.” (Major, as cited in Smith, TS)
* “There’s no question it [the Christian church] began shortly after the death of Jesus and spread so rapidly that within a period of maybe twenty years it had even reached Caesar’s palace in Rome. Not only that, but this movement triumphed over a number of competing ideologies and eventually overwhelmed the entire Roman empire.
“Now, if you were a Martian looking down on the first century, would you think Christianity or the Roman Empire would survive? You probably wouldn’t put money on a ragtag group of people whose primary message was that a crucified carpenter from an obscure village had triumphed over the grave. Yet it was so successful that today we name our children Peter and Paul and our dogs Caesar and Nero!” (Moreland)
* “At the time of Jesus, the Jews had been persecuted for seven hundred years…Many Jews had been scattered and lived as captives in these other nations…
“However, we still see Jews today, while we don’t see Hittites, Perizzites, Ammonites, Assyrians, Persians, Babylonians, and other people who had been living in that time. Why? Because these people got captured by other nations, intermarried, and lost their national identity.
“Why didn’t that happen to the Jews? Because the things that made the Jews, Jews – the social structures that gave them their national identity – were unbelievably important to them. The Jews would pass these structures down to their children…and reinforce them with their rituals, because they knew if they didn’t, there soon would be no Jews left…
“…they believed these institutions were entrusted to them by God. They believed that to abandon these institutions would be to risk their souls being damned to hell after death.
“Now a rabbi named Jesus appears from a lower-class region. He teaches for three years, gathers a following of lower- and middle-class people, gets in trouble with the authorities, and gets crucified along with thirty thousand other Jewish men who are executed during this time period.
“But five weeks after he’s crucified, over ten thousand Jews are following him and claiming that he is the initiator of a new religion. And get this: they’re willing to give up or alter all five of the social institutions that they have been taught since childhood have such importance both sociologically and theologically.” (Moreland)
Jews abolished practiced Jewish traditions
* “The Jews’ original day of rest and worship was Saturday because it was said that God had finished His creation and rested on the seventh day. This was written into their holy laws. The Sabbath is one of the supporting columns of Judaism. One of the most reverent things in the life of a Jew the keeping of the Sabbath. The Christians met for worship on the first day of the Jewish week in acknowledgment of the resurrection of Jesus. These Christians actually succeeded in moving to Sunday this age-old and theologically-backed day of rest and worship. Yet remember, THEY WERE JEWS THEMSELVERS! Keeping in mind what they thought would happen if they were wrong, we must recognized that this was probably one of the biggest decisions any religious body of men have ever made!! How are we to explain the change from Saturday to Sunday worship without the resurrection?” (Green, paraphrased by McDowell)
* “First, they [the Jews] had been taught ever since the time of Abraham and Moses that they needed to offer an animal sacrifice on a yearly basis to atone for their sins…But all of a sudden, after the death of this Nazarene carpenter, these Jewish people no longer offer sacrifices.
* “Second, Jews emphasized obeying the laws that God had entrusted to them through Moses…Yet within a short time after Jesus’ death, Jews were beginning to say that you don’t become an upstanding member of their community merely by keeping Moses’ laws.
* “Third, Jews scrupulously kept the Sabbath by not doing anything except religious devotion every Saturday…However, after the death of this Nazarene carpenter, this fifteen-hundred-year tradition is abruptly changed. These Christians worship on Sunday – why? Because that’s when Jesus rose from the dead.
* “Fourth, they believed in monotheism – only one God. While Christians teach a form of monotheism, they say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God…They [the Jews] would have considered it the height of heresy to say someone could be God and man at the same time. Yet Jews begin to worship Jesus as God within the first decade of the Christian religion.
* “And fifth, these Christians pictured the Messiah as someone who suffered and died for the sins of the world, whereas Jews had been trained to believe that the Messiah was going to be a political leader who would destroy the Roman armies…
“…how can you possibly explain why in a short period of time not just one Jew but an entire community of at least ten thousand Jews were willing to give up these five key practices that had served them sociologically and theologically for so many centuries? My explanation is simple: they had seen Jesus risen from the dead…
“Keep in mind that this is an entire community of people who are abandoning treasured beliefs that have been passed on for centuries and that they believed were from God himself. They were doing it even though they were jeopardizing their own well-being, and they also believed they were risking the damnation of their souls to hell if they were wrong.” (Moreland)
The early church celebrated communion.
Acts 2:46; John 6; Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 show the early Christian church celebrating communion.
* “They met Him in this sacrament [communion]. He was not dead and gone, but risen and alive. And they would celebrate this death of His, in the consciousness of His risen presence, until His longed for return at the end of history (1 Corinthians 11:26). We possess a short eucharistic prayer from the earliest Christian community, from the original Aramaic-speaking church (1 Corinthains 16:22 and Didache, 10). Here it is. Maranatha! It means, ‘Our Lord, come!’ How that could have been the attitude of the early Christians as they met to celebrate the Lord’s Supper among themselves is quite inexplicable, unless He did indeed rise from the dead on the third day.” (Green)
* “What’s odd is that these early followers of Jesus didn’t get together to celebrate his teaching or how wonderful he was. They came together regularly to have a celebration meal for one reason: to remember that Jesus had been publicly slaughtered in a grotesque and humiliating way…
“…How do you explain that? I explain it this way: they realized that Jesus’ slaying was a necessary step to a much greater victory. His murder wasn’t the last word – the last word was that He had conquered death for all of us by rising from the dead. They celebrated his execution because they were convinced that they had seen him alive from the tomb.” (Moreland)
The early church celebrated baptism.
Colossians 2:12 and Romans 6:1-6 show that the early Christian church celebrated baptism.
* “The Christians had an initiation ceremony – baptism. This is where they dared to depart again from Judaism. The Jews continued to circumcise, while the Christians followed their Lord’s command concerning baptism. A person was called to repent of his or her sins, believe in the risen Lord, and be baptized.
“Now, what did baptism symbolize? There is little doubt about this! Paul explains that in baptism a believer is united to Christ in His death and resurrection. When he enters the water he dies to his old sin nature, and he rises out of the water to share a new resurrected life of Christ. There is nothing in Christianity older than the sacraments, and yet they are directly linked to the death and resurrection of Christ. How is one to account for the meaning of Christian baptism if the resurrection never took place?” (McDowell)
* “The early church adopted a form of baptism from their Jewish upbringing, called proselyte baptism. When Gentiles wanted to take upon themselves the laws of Moses, the Jews would baptize those Gentiles in the authority of the God of Israel. But in the New Testament, people were baptized in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – which meant they had elevated Jesus to the full status of God.
“Not only that, but baptism was a celebration of the death of Jesus, just as Communion was. By going under the water, you’re celebrating his death, and by being brought out of the water, you’re celebrating the fact that Jesus was raised to newness of life.” (Moreland)
*** The institution of the church, then, is a historical phenomenon explained only by Jesus’ resurrection. Those sacraments that Christianity observes serve also as a continual evidence of the church’s origin.
Concerning the first believers who witnessed Christ’s resurrection, L. L. Morris comments: “They were Jews, and Jews have a tenacity in clinging to their religious customs. Yet these men observed the Lord’s Day, a weekly memorial of the resurrection, instead of the Sabbath. On that Lord’s day they celebrated the Holy communion, which was not a commemoration of a dead Christ, but a thankful remembrance of the blessings conveyed by a living and triumphant Lord. Their other sacrament, baptism, was a reminder that believers were buried with Christ and raised with Him (Colossians 2:12). The resurrection gave significance to all that they did.” (Morris, as cited in Douglas, NBD) ***
Inadequate theories about resurrection:
* “Their [people holding to the swoon theory] explanation runs like this: Christ was indeed nailed to the cross. He suffered terribly from shock, loss of blood, and pain, and He swooned away; but He didn’t actually die. Medical knowledge was not very great at that time, and the apostles thought He was dead. We are told, are we not, that Pilate was surprised that He was dead already. The explanation assertedly is that He was taken down from the cross in a state of swoon by those who wrongly believed Him to be dead, and laid in the sepulcher. And the cool restfulness of the sepulcher so far revived Him that He was eventually able to issue forth from the grave. His ignorant disciples couldn’t believe that this was a mere resuscitation. They insisted it was a resurrection from the dead.” (Anderson, CWH)
* Christ did die on the cross, according to the judgment of the soldiers, Joseph, and Nicodemus (along with the medical study of Christ’s death, given in the 2nd week’s Bible study on the resurrection). “It is significant that not a suggestion of this kind has come down from antiquity among all the violent attacks which have been made on Christianity. All of the earliest records are emphatic about Jesus’ death.” (Little)
* “…it [the swoon theory] won’t stand up to investigation. To begin with, steps were taken – it seems – to make quite sure that Jesus was dead; that surely is the meaning of the spear-thrust in His side. But suppose for argument’s sake that He was not quite dead. Do you really believe that lying for hour after hour with no medical attention in a rock-hewn tomb in Palestine at Easter, when it’s quite cold at night, would so far have revived Him, instead of proving the inevitable end to His flickering life, that He would have been able to loose Himself from yards of grave-clothes weighted with pounds of spices, roll away a stone that three women felt incapable of tackling, and walk miles on wounded feet?” (Anderson)
* John R.W. Stott asks, can we believe “that after the rigours and pains of trial, mockery, flogging and crucifixion He could survive thirty-six hours in a stone sepulcher with neither warmth nor food nor medical care? That He could then rally sufficiently to perform the superhuman feat of shifting the boulder which secured the mouth of the tomb, and this without disturbing the Roman guard? That then, weak and sickly and hungry, He could appear to the disciples in such a way as to give them the impression that He had vanquished death? That He could go on to claim that He had died and risen, could send them into all the world and promise to be with them unto the end of time? That He could live somewhere in hiding for forty days, making occasional surprise appearances, and then finally disappear without any explanation? Such credulity is more incredible than Thomas’ unbelief.” (Stott, BC)
* Skeptic David Friedrich Strauss – himself certainly no believer in the resurrection – says: “It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulcher, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror over death and the grave…and impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which he had made upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship.” (Strauss, LJP)
* “Those who propose the swoon theory would also have to say that Jesus, once He had revived, was able to perform the miracle of wiggling out of the grave clothes that were wound tightly about all the curves of His body, and leave without at all disarranging these.” (McDowell)
* “…Aromatic spices…served partially as a preservative and partially as a cement to glue the cloth wrappings into a solid covering…
“On the morning of the first day of the week the body of Jesus had vanished, but the graveclothes were still there…
“The wrappings were in a position where the head had been, separated from the others by the distance from armpits to neck. The shape of the body was still apparent in them…How was the corpse extricated from the wrappings, since they would not slip over the curves of the body when tightly wound around it?” (Tenney, as cited in Smith, TS)
* “Those who hold this theory have to say that Christ, in a weakened condition, was able to roll back the stone at the entrance of the tomb – a feat which historians say would take several men – step out of the sepulcher without awaking any one of the soldiers (if we assume for argument’s sake that they were asleep, and we know they were certainly not!), step over the soldiers and escape.” (Rosscup, CN)
* “If He (Jesus) presented Himself as one from the dead, whereas He was not such, He is guilty of false hood, and must be denied even the most common honesty.” (Le Camus, LC)
* If we believe this theory, “Christ Himself was involved in flagrant lies. His disciples believed and preached that He was dead but became alive again. Jesus did nothing to dispel this belief, but rather encouraged it.” (Little)
* “Again, there’s just no way he could have survived the cross.
“But if he had, how could he walk around after nails had been driven through his feet? How could he have appeared on the road to Emmaus just a short time later, strolling for long distances? How could he have used his arms after they were stretched and pulled from their joints? Remember, he also had massive wounds on his back and a spear wound to his chest…
“Listen, a person in that kind of pathetic condition would never have inspired his disciples to go out and proclaim that he’s the Lord of life who had triumphed over the grave.
“…with all the catastrophic blood loss and trauma, he would have looked so pitiful that the disciples would never have hailed him as a victorious conqueror of death; they would have felt sorry for him and tried to nurse him back to health.
“So it’s preposterous to think that if he had appeared to them in that awful state, his followers would have been prompted to start a worldwide movement based on the hope that someday they too would have a resurrection body like his. There’s just no way.” (Metherell)
* “…the German rationalist Venturini put forward the suggestion that Christ did not actually die on the cross, but fainted, and that in the cool temperature of the grave He recovered and subsequently appeared to the disciples.
“This suggestion…ignores the deadly character of the wounds inflicted…the frightful laceration of the hands and feet, the loss of strength through the ebbing away of blood, the hopelessness of human aid…the tight-drawn bandages…the heavy stone. To try even to think of what would happen to an utterly collapsed constitution, bleeding from five torn and untended wounds, lying on the cold slab of a tomb in April without human succor of any kind, is to realize at once the unreasonableness of the argument.” (Morrison)
Disciples stole body (see Matthew 28:11-15)
* “I do not propose to devote any considerable amount of space to testing the historical accuracy of this charge [that the disciples stole the body] because the verdict has been anticipated by the almost universal sense and feeling of mankind. So far as I know there is not a single writer whose work is of critical value today who holds that there is even a case for discussion. We know these eleven men pretty well by their subsequent actions and writings. Somehow they are not build that way. There is no trace of the daring sort of ringleader who would have had the imagination to plan a coup like that and to carry it through without detection. Even if it had been possible, and the disciples the meant to do it, the subsequent history of Christianity would have been different. Sooner or later, someone who knew the facts would have been unable to keep them hidden.
“Further, no great moral structure like the early church, characterized as it was by lifelong persecution and personal suffering, could have reared its head on a statement that every one of the eleven apostles knew to be a lie.” (Morison)
* As seen above in the Bible study, the disciples were so completely changed, that it is far too implausible to even suggest that they stole the body, and lied about it.
* “…the Jewish authorities never questioned the report of the guards…The guards would have never come back with such a story…unless they were reporting actual, indisputable occurrences, as far as they were able to apprehend them. The story which the Jewish authorities told the soldiers to repeat was a story to explain how the tomb became empty.” (Smith, TS)
* “When the chief priests induced Pilate to ‘command…that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day,’ the factual record justifies the conclusion that the sepulcher was in very truth mad ‘sure.’…we are inescapably faced with the conclusion that the measures taken to prevent the friends of Jesus from stealing His body now constitute unimpeachable proof that they could not and did not steal it.” (Roper, JRD)
* “These disciples were in no mood to go out and face Roman soldiers, subdue the entire guard, and snatch that body out of the tomb…Peter had proved himself such a coward…that, to save his own skin, he denied his Lord, and cursed and swore. What could have happened to Peter within those few hours to change him form such a coward to a man rushing out to fight Roman soldiers [to steal Jesus’ body]?” (Smith, TS)
* “’Either,’ says St. Augustine, ‘they [the guard] were asleep or awake; if they were awake, why should they suffer the body to be taken away? If asleep, how could they know that the disciples took it away? How dare they then depose that it was stolen?’” (Fallow, PCBE)
* “Sleeping sentinels could not know what happened.” (Bruce, EGNT)
* “That story [that the soldiers were asleep] is so obviously false that Matthew does not even bother to refute it! What judge would listen to you if you said that while you were asleep, your neighbor came into your house and stole your television set? Who knows what goes on while he’s asleep? Testimony like this would be laughed out of any court.” (Little)
* “It was death for a Roman sentinel to sleep at his post…If they [the Jewish rulers] did [believe that the disciples stole the body], why were not the disciples at once arrested and examined?…It is nowhere intimated that the rulers even attempted to substantiate the charge.” (Selwyn, as cited in Smith, TS)
* “The stone at the tomb was extremely large. Even if the soldiers were asleep and the disciples did try to steal the body, the noise caused while moving such a rock would surely have awakened them.” (McDowell)
* “No robbers would ever have rewound the wrappings in their original shape, for there would not have been time to do so. They would have flung the cloths down in disorder and fled with the body. Fear of detection would have made them act as hastily as possible.” (Tenney, RR)
* The disciples did not realize the truth of the resurrection as yet, “They did not seem to understand that He was to rise the third day; they certainly were surprised when they found that He had risen. These circumstances negate the thought that they would even contemplate stealing the body to create the impression that He had risen.” (Whitworth, LHP)
* “Stealing the body of Christ is something totally foreign to the character of the disciples and all that we know of them. It would mean that they were perpetrators of a deliberate lie which was responsible for the misleading and ultimate death of thousands of people. It is inconceivable that, even if a few of the disciples had conspired and pulled off this theft, they would never have told the others.” (Little)
* “The historian must acknowledge that the disciples firmly believed that Jesus was risen.” (Strauss, a skeptic of Christianity)
* “If the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body, they would have known that their resurrection proclamation was false. However, they ‘constantly referred to the Resurrection as the basis for their teaching, preaching, living and – significantly – dying.’ The theory that the disciples stole the body, then, is utterly absurd! (Lewis and Short, LD)
Jews stole body
* “Within seven short weeks [after Christ’s resurrection]…Jerusalem was seething with the preaching of the resurrection. The apostles were preaching it up and down the city. The chief priests were very much upset about it. They said that the apostles were trying to bring this man’s blood upon them. They were being accused of having crucified the Lord of glory. And they were prepared to go to almost any lengths to nip this dangerous heresy in the bud.” (Anderson)
* “If the Jews had issued on official order to have the body moved, why, when the apostles were preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem, didn’t they explain: ‘Wait! We moved the body – Christ didn’t rise from the grave.’
“If such a rebuttal failed, why didn’t they explain exactly where His body lay?
“If this failed, why didn’t they recover the corpse, put it on a cart, and wheel it through the center of Jerusalem? Such an action would have destroyed Christianity – not in the cradle, but in the womb!” (McDowell)
* “There is not the slightest hint or suggestion in the earlier extant writings, apocryphal or otherwise, that the priests ever contemplated changing the burial place, while there are a number of distinct statements that they were concerned lest some unauthorized person should abduct the body.” (Morison)
* “For if the priests induced Pilate to change the burial place…they must have known the ultimate and final resting place, and in that event they would never have been content with the obviously unsatisfactory and untrue statement that the disciples had stolen the body…” (Morison)
The Romans stole the body
* “It would have been to the governor’s advantage to keep the body in its grave. Pilate’s main interest was to keep things peaceful. Moving the body would have caused unwanted agitation to arise form the Jews and the Christians.
“J.N.D. Anderson says of Pilate: ‘He…was upset about this strange teaching. If he had had the body moved, it seems incredible that he wouldn’t have informed the chief priests when they were so upset.’ (Anderson, RJC, 6)
“Pilate merely wanted peace.” (McDowell)
* “Pilate was an obstinate man, as his curt refusal to alter the terms of the inscription shows. He was clearly glad of any excuse to be rid of this painful incident, and if a Jew of substance desired and was granted the necessary permission to take charge of and bury the body, what more need have been done? With the procurator in the mood in which he apparently then was, it would have required some exceedingly strong arguments to have induced him to alter his decision even at the request of the Jewish power.” (Morison)
Joseph of Arimathea took the body
* “Joseph was a secret disciple and as such would not have moved the body without consulting the other disciples first.
“If Joseph had ventured to move Christ’s body without consulting the rest, he surely would have told the other disciples afterward, when the resurrection message was being published, what he had done.” (McDowell)
* “At first sight the suggestion that the man who, by universal consent, begged the body of Jesus from the roman procurator, might himself have removed it for private reasons to another place, is one that seems to carry considerable weight…
“Now a closer examination of this hypothesis reveals certain weaknesses and inconsistencies that gravely affect its probability. In the first place, the hour required for this supposititious removal (necessarily between the close of the Sabbath and the first sign of dawn) is in itself a rather strange time for a respected leader of the people to choose for a perfectly legitimate operation that could have been performed much better and more expeditiously at the break of day. It should never be forgotten that on this theory Joseph of Arimathea and the little party of women were independently and quite unknown to each other planning to perform a service that would bring them to the tomb at the earliest possible moment consistent with the observance of the Sabbath. Because of the difficulties presented by the darkness that moment was unquestionably the break of day. Theoretically, therefore, Mary Magdalene and her friends, upon reaching the tomb, ought to have come upon the party of Joseph already at work.
“There is no trace, however, of this dramatic meeting taking place. We are compelled, therefore, to put the supposed removal further back into the night. We have to think of a party of men operating with lamps or torches, working under the maximum difficulties, picking their way through the unlighted regions beyond the city wall, carrying a heavy body, probably for some considerable distance, and depositing it in another grave. We have to think of them going to the trouble of removing all the grave-clothes first, leaving these in the tomb and removing the naked body to its destination. And we have to regard them as either forgetting to close the door of the old tomb or not wishing for the moment to waste time by doing so…
“There are two ways of regarding Joseph of Arimathea consistently with the narratives. He was either (a) a secret follower or disciple of Jesus who seriously desired to perform openly this service to one whose leadership he had hesitated to acknowledge during life, or (b) a pious member of the Sanhedrin who was concerned only with the fulfillment of the Jewish law, which enjoined burial of the crucified prisoner before sunset.
“A great deal has been made of the second possibility…It seems to me, however, that there is one insuperable difficulty in the way of its acceptance. The Jewish law that enjoined burial before sunset applied equally to the two thieves, and there is no suggestion that Joseph occupied himself with…the remains of these two men…The fact that Joseph did make this isolated application to Pilate shows that he was not acting in an official or representative sense. In any case, why should an honorable councilor and a member of the Sanhedrin have undertaken with his own hands a menial task that could more appropriately have been left to the civil guard?
“…there are very definite indications in the apocryphal literature that the priests were very angry with Joseph of Arimathea and summoned him before the council. There would have been no occasion for such anger if he had acted merely at their behest, but very good reasons for it if he had stultified their collective action in the eyes of the people and of Pilate himself, by giving to the body of Jesus an honorable and respectful burial. Finally, there is the explicit statement in Matthew’s Gospel that Joseph was a disciple, and Luke says that he had not consented to their counsel and deed…
“Now when we accept this view of Joseph of Arimathea [that he was a disciple of Jesus], we admit also a whole circle of ideas that are inseparable from it…If he took the action recorded of him in the Gospels he compromised and even destroyed his social standing with the official and ruling caste…He would hardly have adopted a bold and courageous course like that if he had not held Jesus in deep love and veneration….The more closely we consider this action of Joseph of Arimathea, the more we get the impression of a man acting on an inner compulsion to seize the last fleeting opportunity to align himself with the cause of Jesus before it was too late. Would he have incurred the penalties inseparable for is action…and have been willing within thirty-six hours to part with the glory? I think not. Overwhelmingly, psychology is against it.
“…If Joseph had made a perfectly legitimate removal of the body and…had done so in the middle of the night…the true facts of the matter must have been quite easily accessible to the priests. After all, another tomb had to be found, and at least two or three helpers were required to carry the body. Why then when all Jerusalem was seething with the Christian controversy, did they not simply tell the truth…?
“Finally…we cannot find in the contemporary records any trace of a tomb or shrine becoming the center of veneration or worship on the ground that it contained the relics of Jesus…
“Strangely though it may appear, the only way we can account for the absence of this phenomenon is the explanation offered in the Gospels, viz., that the tomb was known, that it was investigated a few hours after the burial, and that the body had disappeared.” (Morison)
* It has already been affirmed above in the Bible study that the people who had seen the resurrected Christ could not have been hallucinating. Some will agree, however, that they indeed did not hallucinate, but rather they saw the spirit of Jesus and that is the resurrection of which the disciples preached (a spiritual one, not a physical one) while the remains of Jesus still lay in the grave. As has already been proven, the remains were not still in the grave, and also…
* “You see, the Jews had a physical concept of resurrection. For them, the primary object of the resurrection was the bones of the deceased – not even the flesh, which was thought to be perishable [Job 14:12-14; Hebrews 11:17-19; and Daniel 12:2 clearly show this Jewish concept]. After the flesh rotted away, the Jews would gather the bones of their deceased and put them in boxes to be preserved until the resurrection at the end of the world, when God would raise the righteous dead of Israel and they would come together in the final kingdom of God.
“In light of this, it would have been simply a contradiction of terms for an early Jew to say that someone was raised form the dead but his body still was left in the tomb. So when this early Christian creed [1 Cor. 15] says Jesus was buried and then raised on the third day, it’s saying implicitly but quite clearly: an empty tomb was left behind.” (Craig)
* Jesus deals the deathblow to this theory when he says: “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39)
Women went to wrong tomb
* “Kirsopp Lake suggested in 1907 that the women merely went to the wrong tomb. He says they got lost and a caretaker at an unoccupied tomb told them, ‘You’re looking for Jesus of Nazareth. He is not here,’ and they ran away, afraid. Isn’t that a plausible explanation?” (Strobel)
* “Lake didn’t generate any following with this…the site of Jesus’ tomb was known to the Jewish authorities …the authorities would have been only too happy to point out the tomb and correct the disciples’ error when they began to proclaim that Jesus had risen form the dead. I don’t know anybody who holds to Lake’s theory today.” (Craig)
* “These women had carefully noted where the body of Jesus was interred less than seventy-two hours before [Matt. 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55]… ”Do you think that you or I or these women or any other rational person would forget so quickly the place where a dearly loved one was laid to rest just seventy-two hours earlier?” (McDowell)
* “The women reported to the disciples what they had experienced, and later Peter and John also found the tomb empty [John 20:2-8]…
“Is it to be argued that Peter and John also went to the wrong tomb?” (McDowell)
* “If the women went to the wrong tomb (an empty sepulcher), then the Sanhedrin could have gone to the right tomb and produced the body (if Jesus did not rise). This would have silenced the disciples forever!
“The high priests and the other enemies of Christ would certainly have gone to the right tomb!” (McDowell)
* “Certainly Joseph of Arimathea, owner of the tomb, would have solved the problem.” (Little)
* “Professor Lake’s citing of Mark 16:6 is incomplete. He quotes only part of what the young man said and ignores the key part of the narration. The phrase, ‘He has risen,’ is conspicuously absent in Lake’s citing of the verse. Notice the following comparison with the NASB:
“He is not here, see the place where they laid Him.”
“He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.” (McDowell)
* “For [Lake’s misquote] I can see no scholarly justification whatever.” (Anderson)
* “They [the women] had bought spices and were going to complete the anointing of their Lord’s body, since the approach of the Sabbath had made the work so hasty two days previously. These devoted and business-like women were not the kind to be easily deceived or to give up the task they had come to do.” (Stott, BC)
* “That the women went by mistake to the wrong tomb, and that the attempt of a bystander to direct them to the right one was misunderstood, is rationalization which is utterly foreign to the spirit of the narrative.” (Professor A. E. J. Rawlinson)
* “this theory, despite its appearance of rationality, has one peculiar weakness. If it was so dark that the women accidentally went to the wrong tomb, it is exceedingly improbable that the gardener would have been at work. If it was late enough and light enough for the gardener to be at work, it is improbable that the women would have been mistaken. The theory just rests upon the synchronization of two very doubtful contingencies. This is, however, only part of the improbability and intellectual difficulty which gathers around it.” (Morison)
* “Also, if the ‘young man’ was the gardener, as some people assert, why didn’t the priests secure his testimony as evidence that Christ’s body was still in the grave?” (Morison, paraphrased by McDowell)
* “If the disciples as a body were in any pressing kind of danger, their women-folk were in like peril…
“This interdependence of the women and the men very seriously embarrasses Lake’s theory at its most vital point. Lake is compelled to keep the women in Jerusalem until Sunday morning, because he firmly believes that they really went to the tomb. He is also compelled to get the disciples out of Jerusalem before sunrise on Sunday because he holds that the women kept silence. Finally…he finds it necessary to keep the women in Jerusalem for several weeks while the disciples returned to their homes, had certain experiences, and came back to the capital.
“…Would he himself in similar circumstances have gone off to safety, leaving his wife or his mother in a situation of unquestioned peril?…If it was safe for the women to remain in the city and go unostentatiously to the tomb of Jesus, it was safe for the disciples to remain also.” (Morison)
Conclusion: HE IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED
* “All that Christianity asks of men…is, that they would be consistent with themselves; that they would treat its evidences as they treat the evidence of other things; and that they who try and judge its actors and witnesses, as they deal with their fellow men, when testifying to human affairs and actions, in human tribunals. Let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances; and let their testimony be sifted, as if it were given in a court of justice, on the side of the adverse party, the witness being subjected to rigorous cross-examination. The result, it is confidently believed, will be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth.” (Greenleaf, TE)
* “Here is the complete record:
Confucius’s tomb: occupied
Buddha’s tomb: occupied
Mohammed’s tomb: occupied
Jesus’ tomb: EMPTY.” (Hardy, C)
* The verdict is in. The decision is clear. The evidence speaks for itself. It says very clearly: