Saturday, April 30, 2011

Is the Bible 100% True? In Defense of Inerrancy.

Do you really believe that the Bible is 100% true? Is it important to believe it is altogether true or is it okay to believe some of the Word of God is good moral writings that teach us lessons? My work on the inerrancy of the Bible will help anyone who is interested come to their own conclusions on the matter.

(Use of any part of this critique requires proper citation.)

In Defense of Bible Inerrancy: Working through the Maze of Concepts and Concerns


If we are to believe that Scripture is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind, then upholding inerrancy of Scripture is imperative to faith in a God who is fully faithful and true. The defense of Scriptural inerrancy is in effect, defense of God Himself. The Scriptures have been diligently and meticulously kept since ancient times and God has overseen His Word and kept it for all generations. However, inerrancy has been and continues to be a theological debate among noted scholars, students, and believers. When we can adequately defend Scriptural inerrancy against apparent discrepancies, problems and concerns, we also uphold His reputation as the one true God. Therefore, it is imperative to not only uphold Scriptural inerrancy, but to be able to defend the Scripture in a concise manner to all who ask or have doubt about its integrity.

Concepts of Inerrancy

The inerrancy of Scripture refers to the fact that the autographs or original manuscripts of Scripture are completely truthful. It means that the Bible always tells the truth in everything it contains. It does not mean, however, that it is exhaustive in every subject it contains, but affirms that what it does say about any subject is true. It also connotes that the Bible has neither
material errors nor internal contradictions. The text has been accurately transmitted in every detail. It is imperative that Christians believe all events and facts that the Bible relates are totally reliable regardless of the opinions of scholars, scientists and philosophers. Alleged errors in the autographs can and have been rectified by theologians and scholars, negating the arguments of non-evangelical scholars. In his work, “Inerrancy,” Norman Geisler has systematically worked through many of these issues of debate and controversy showing that most have clear historic and scientific resolutions defending the material in the autographs.

The authority of the Bible can be hinged on 2 Timothy 3:15-17 which states,
“and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

This is the scope, purpose, and nature of Scripture. The Greek word for inspired literally means, “God-breathed.” He is the author of His Word. While the Holy Spirit guided the hearts and minds of men to pen the words, they are the words of God Himself. The Bible’s authority cannot be separated from this qualification. The Bible was not written that we may become scholars but God speaks through His Word so that we may know Him and be transformed into His likeness. It is with this in mind that we understand the authority it carries. As the book of the history of salvation, its purpose is to align us in right relationship with God, “and it is this point of view that represents and defines the authority of Scripture.” The Bible is, from Genesis toRevelation, a unified revelation of God by God given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to men. To make assessments and distinctions between what is and what is not inspired is to elevate one’s self above the authority of the Word. Humans inspired by God wrote the Word for God’s divine purposes.

Still, some hold that the Bible is only authoritative in matters of faith and practice. Wayne Grudem insists that this belief allows for discrepancies in “minor” details including historical and scientific facts. Those who stand in this position adhere to Biblical infallibility but not inerrancy. Scripture does not qualify one subject or verse as having more or less validity than another. Jesus Himself never questioned the veracity of Scripture. He did not distinguish between matters of faith and practice. When He fought the enemy in the wilderness, He used the Word of God without reservation. As our role model, we can have the same faith in the Word of God.

Prophetic inspiration and God’s will within historic events are the results of divine revelation. Inspiration refers to the content of the Bible rather than the process by which it came into being. Yet, we understand that the human vessels color the language and tone of the inspired works by their culture, experiences, and personalities. Inspiration by nature involves infallibility from the Holy Spirit’s selection of words to the humans who were chosen to be the agents of those words. Those who wrote the words were not dictated to but guided in their hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit. Their writings, therefore, are accurate records acquired from direct revelation from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus unequivocally upheld the Scripture as “historically true, completely authoritative, and divinely inspired.” He consistently quoted the Old Testament in a literal way to teach, inspire, warn, confront and even to oppose the enemy himself. Jesus said repeatedly, “Have you not read…?” implying, “Don’t you know that God has said…?” Jesus makes no clarification or delineation between what is inspired and inerrant and what is not. His use of the books of history, law, psalms and prophecy took His listeners to every part of the Old Testament without discrimination and gives us solid ground to have faith in the Scripture as absolutely true.

Positions on Inerrancy

It is essential to keep the inspiration of God’s Spirit in mind when discussing the differing positions held in regard to inerrancy. There are those scholars who hold that inerrancy is not a relevant issue—that the Bible can be regarded as authoritative without subscribing to inerrancy. Dewey M. Beegle insists that any number of errors may be found in the Bible and yet it can still be considered God’s Word. He goes as far as saying that “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit” to permit errors to be made within the Scripture. However there are literally hundreds of implications in the Bible that it is God’s Word and purified “like silver tried in a furnace.” (Psalm 12:6)

Other scholars maintain that inerrancy of the Bible is applied to spiritual truths relating to salvation and living as a believer. The Bible is not a historical or scientific record but is limited in these areas as God did not reveal to the writers empirical knowledge they did not already have. Those who uphold this view of limited inerrancy refer to the Bible as infallible in its purpose of faith and practice.
It is clear that Jesus and the disciples held to absolute inerrancy of the Scriptures. The New Testament writers made no distinction between what had been written only for faith and practice and that which was historical or scientific. Indeed, they attributed truth to every detail of the Scripture. Jesus and the writers of the New Testament included many miracles and history including stories about Jonah and the great fish, (Matt 12:40) Naaman’s miracle (Luke 4:27) and the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. (2Peter 2:6-7) The writers of the New Testament did not differentiate between historical accounts and matters of doctrine or moral code.
In Romans 15:4, Paul declares that the Old Testament was written for our instruction. Revelation 22:18-19 gives a stern warning about adding or taking away from God’s Word. All of His inspired Word is His Word as He intended. Humans who impose limitations on the Scripture’s truthfulness regard their own opinions higher than God’s Word.

Importance of Inerrancy

It has also been the historical position of the church that the Bible is absolutely inerrant in all that it teaches including matters of science and history. Augustine believed that the Scripture was “free from error,” Although Martin Luther and John Calvin believed in the full trustworthiness of the Bible, they at times waivered from their positions. Nevertheless, the church has held firm its stand on the accuracy of the Scripture. It has been noted that where belief in the inerrancy of the Bible is compromised, the alteration of other foundations of the church are easily compromised as well. To move from a position of faith in the Bible’s inerrant nature is to compromise its authority as well as the foundational beliefs on which the church was built.

As Christians, if the Bible teaches on a matter of history, science, morality, or faith, we must believe it. Those who refer to the infallibility of Scripture instead of its infallibility and inerrancy would argue that a single error in the Bible should not characterize the whole of the Scripture untruthful. However, if we do not stand upon absolute Biblical inerrancy, we compromise and jeopardize the very foundations of our faith. It calls into question everything else in the Scripture. Erickson refers to this as “false in one, uncertain in all.”

Challenges to Inerrancy

With this in mind, we must understand that challenges to the Bible’s veracity are to be taken seriously. It cannot be understated that the reputation and credibility of the Scriptures as God’s Holy Word are at stake. Inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture are formally recognized in the original manuscripts. This acknowledgement is intended as a reality for textual transmission. However, it has also become a basis for scholarly ridicule of current documents as we do not have the autographs. The reoccurring question is how can the current renderings be considered inerrant if we cannot hold them against the originals? In his essay, “The New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Text, Form, and Authority,” Moises Silva states, “The simple answer is that, with regard to the bulk of Scripture, we know what the autographs said. To be more specific, the possibility of textual variation hardly ever affects those passages that are claimed by some to teach error or falsehood.” Wayne Grudem states that although the autographs did not survive, “for over 99 percent of the words in the Bible, we know what the original manuscripts said…and there are very few places where the textual variant is both difficult to evaluate and significant in determining the meaning.” He further states “The current published scholarly texts of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament are the same as the original manuscripts.”

It is obvious that the Bible was written by humans who were not in and of themselves inerrant. This has led critics to deny Biblical inerrancy as it was subject to human frailty. Some consider the balance between humanity and divine inspiration of Scripture a foremost consideration in the discussion of inerrancy. Many contemporary scholars including Kant and Brunner insisted that occasional encounters with God by fallen men gave way to inspired but imperfect Scripture. Geisler makes the stunning proclamation, “If true humanness on the part of Scriptural authors implies errancy, then to have a valid analogy to Christ, he must also argue that true humanness implies Christ’s sinfulness.” The entirety of Christ’s Gospel is therefore nullified if this is any way truth. Man’s part in writing of Scripture was to transmit what he received. Although they contributed personality, linguistic style, and cultural attributes, they contributed nothing theologically. They expressed their natural inclinations without corrupting the content of God’s inspiration.

Some scholars have either stated or implied that the Bible contains obvious errors. As believers, it is not apostasy to investigate these allegations. Indeed, we should look forward to seeking the truth and knowing that as we inspect the Word of God, it will be proven true. It may be necessary to seek expertise in terms of language, culture, history, archeology or science.
However, difficulties and apparent discrepancies in the Biblical text should not be judged as errors. If investigated fully, most of these passages can be justified. Theologians have worked through many of these issues of historical and scientific “problems” and have offered reasonable explanations. Numerical differences, the genealogies of Christ, the location of Joseph’s grave, dating the Exodus, and issues of phenomenological language are a few of the issues that have been adequately addressed. Believers must continue to work toward resolutions for problem passages rather than compromise the whole of Scripture to the denial of inerrancy.

Higher criticism has caused many contemporary scholars and theologians to compromise their thinking about inerrancy. Attempts to ascertain facts regarding Scriptural authorship, date, place, literary style, etc. is not negative in and of itself. However, higher criticism seeks to do so by investigating human processes without the benefit of divine revelation or inspiration. The result is all too often negative and skeptical judgment that may overlook commitment to honest evaluation. Referring to one method of higher criticism as “the historical-critical method,” Harold Lindsell calls it the Bible’s greatest enemy in his book, “The Bible in the Balance.” This method is concerned with studying any narrative conveying historical information to determine its historical accuracy. Formulated on the presumption that only if Scripture can be proved should it be accepted, doubt is substituted for faith and with this approach, those who seek to find ways to deny Scriptural veracity will do so by their own means. The Bible is then subject to conclusions drawn by men from extra-biblical materials. Earl D. Radmacher agrees with
Lindsell’s assessment of the historic critical method saying that it has eroded and destroyed the foundation of the Christian faith in a manner not seen since the days of Marcion.

Denying Inerrancy

The Bible is the authority on rules of faith and life for believers. Its authority is intact only if it is trustworthy. If the Bible is not inerrant, then its authority is not only diminished, it is destroyed. Other sources must be found as the Bible then becomes an insufficient source for foundational teachings on morality, faith and life. The denial of inerrancy has significant consequences. Numbers 23:19 states, “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” If God is not a liar, then His Word must be true. If He has spoken we can rely on every Word. To question this is to position ourselves on the “slippery slope” where doubt begins to override faith.

Harold Lindsell insists that once inerrancy is abandoned, apostasy follows. “No matter how sincere a man may be, and however carefully he guards against further theological concessions, they are inevitable once inerrancy is given up.”
Secular criticisms about the Bible’s veracity have filtered into the church until believers “approach some of its authoritative claims with great reservation.” Dismissed as myth, folklore or superstition, the Bible is viewed as archaic and irrelevant. If inerrancy is denied, how then do we trust God? If He speaks to us by His Holy Spirit, is He being truthful if His Word is not reliable? A denial of the truthfulness of Scripture must then filter into the ability to bring others into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is the way of truth that gives hope to the lost. A compromised Word cannot maintain the powerful impact on the unsaved as a God who is not all truthful may or may not care to deliver salvation and healing to those in need. The same can be said in counseling the hurting, broken hearted, or wayward soul. To understand that God is a god of love and all-sufficiency, that He is no respecter of persons and He is faithful and true--this is what brings deliverance to those in desperate need. Compromise can offer only less than the life-giving, life-changing Gospel that God intended. Geisler quotes S.T. David as saying that if a Christian doubts Scriptural inerrancy for faith and practice, “He must hold to some other authority or criterion as well. That authority, I am not embarrassed to say, is his own mind, his own ability to reason.”


Believing the Bible is God’s Word and that God can only speak the truth significantly effects how we approach what is considered an “alleged error” or controversial text. To study less clear passages of Scripture with the assistance of those which speak more clearly on the same subject is the kind of inductive study that will result in the truth. In any case, what is given to us in Scripture is God’s Word by His divine authority. It must never become subject to one’s own interpretation and opinion. 2 Peter 1:20-21 tells us, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
The doctrine of inerrancy can serve as the common ground upon which believers can unite among the many legitimate differences of dogma and Biblical interpretation. A common commitment to seek the truth and an agreement that truth will be found in Scripture is a basis for crossing denominational and other dividing lines in the body of Christ. John 17:11-26 records Jesus’ impassioned plea that we would be one as He and the Father are one that the Father may be glorified. There are issues in which the body of Christ cannot be divided if Jesus’ prayer is to be realized. Faith in the Scripture as the pure, trustworthy, inerrant Word of God is certainly outstanding among those issues.


Abba, Raymond. The Nature and Authority of the Bible. Philadelphia, PA: The Muhlenberg Press, 1958.

Beegle, Dewey M. Scripture, Tradition, and Infallibility. Ann Arbor, MI: Pryor Pettengill, Publisher, 1979.

Burk, Danny R. “Is Inerrancy Sufficient? A Plea to Biblical Scholars Concerning the Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture.” Southwestern Journal of Theology 50, (Fall2007): 76-91.

Bush, L. Russ. “Understanding Biblical Inerrancy.” Southwestern Journal of Theology 50 (Fall 2007): 20-55.

Carson, D.A. and Woodbridge, John D. eds. Scripture and Truth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983.

Comfort, Philip Wesley, Ed. The Origin of the Bible. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1992.

Elwell, Walter. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mi: Baker Book House, 2001.

Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998.

Geisler, Norman L, Ed. Inerrancy. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.

Lindsell, Harold. The Battle for the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976.

Lindsell, Harold. The Bible in Balance. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979.

McKim, Donald K. Ed. The Authoritative Word: Essays on the Nature of Scripture, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1983.

Radmacher, Earl D. and Preus, Robert D, Eds. Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christ's Passion for You: Day Six~He is Risen!

Resurrection Morning! It is the most glorious celebration and hope we have as Christians! Celebrate the day with this devotion. And have a blessed day with your family and friends around the good news--the grave is empty: He is Risen!!!


In the end of the Sabbath, it is beginning to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher, and, behold, there was a great earthquake: For the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. Matthew 28:1,2

“Jesus is alive! His resurrection was not merely a philosophical renaissance of His ideas and teachings – He was literally raised from the dead! The power of God exploded inside the tomb, reconnected Jesus’ spirit with His dead body, flooded his corpse with life and He arose! So much power was released behind the sealed entrance of His tomb that the earth itself reverberated and shuddered from the explosion. Then an angel rolled the stone from the entrance to the tomb, and Jesus physically walked through the door of the tomb alive!

“This is no legend nor fairy tale. This is the foundation of our faith! So today let’s examine the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was resurrected from the dead sometime between the close of Sabbath sunset on Saturday evening and before the women came to the tomb early on Sunday morning. The only actual eyewitnesses to the resurrection itself were the angels who were present and the four Roman soldiers who had been stationed there at Pilate’s command. (Matt 27:66) However, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all record the events that followed on the morning of His resurrection.

“When first reading all four accounts of what happened that morning, it may appear that a contradiction exists between the details told in the various Gospels. But when they are chronologically aligned, the picture becomes very clear and the impression of contradiction is wiped away.

“Let me give you an example of what appears to be a contradiction. The Gospel of Matthew says there was one angel outside the tomb. The Gospel of Mark says there was one angel inside the tomb. The Gospel of Luke says there were two angels inside the tomb. John says nothing about angels, but does say that when Mary returned later in the day, she saw two angels inside the tomb who were positioned at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been laid.

“So who is telling the right story? How many angles were there? As I said, to see the entire scenario that transpired that day, the events in all four Gospels must be properly sequenced chronologically. So, let’s get started.

“Matthew 28:1 says, ‘In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.’ In addition to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the mother of James, Luke 24:10 tells us that Joanna and the other women came to the tomb. Luke 8:3 tells us that this Joanna was the wife of Herod’s steward—evidently a wealthy woman who was a financial supporter of Jesus’ ministry. According to Luke 23:55-56, many of these women were present when Jesus was placed inside the tomb, but returned home to prepare spices and ointments so they could anoint His body for burial when they returned after the Sabbath day.

“These women had no way of knowing that the chief priests and elders had gone to Pilate the day after Jesus was buried to request a watch of four Roman soldiers to guard the tomb and an official at home, preparing spices and ointments.

“Yet while these women were preparing to return to anoint Jesus’ dead body, the tomb was being officially sealed shut and Roman soldiers had been ordered to guard the tomb twenty-four hours a day. Had the women known that the tomb was legally sealed and couldn’t be opened, they wouldn’t have returned to the tomb, for it was legally impossible for them to request the stone to be removed.

“Mark 16:2-4 says, ‘And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away; for it was very great.

“Ignorant of the fact that the tomb couldn’t legally be opened, the women proceeded to the tomb for the purpose of anointing Jesus’ body. As they drew near to the garden where the tomb was located, they wondered among themselves who would remove the stone for them. However, Matthew 28:2 says, ‘And behold, there was a great earthquake…’

“This earthquake didn’t occur at the time when the women approached the tomb; rather, it occurred simultaneously with the moment of Jesus’ resurrection, sometime after the Saturday sunset and before the women arrived at the garden. When describing the magnitude of the earthquake, Matthew used the word ‘behold.’ In Greek, this is the word idou. The King James Version translates it behold, but in our day, it might be better translated, ‘Wow!’ When Matthew says, ‘And behold, there was a great earthquake,” he literally means, ‘Wow! Can you believe it!’ Although Matthew writes his Gospel many years after the fact, he still experienced amazement when he thinks of this event!

“Matthew tells us that there was a ‘great earthquake.’ The word great is the Greek word mega, leaving no room for doubt as to the magnitude of this event. The word mega always suggests something huge, massive, or enormous. The word earthquake is the Greek word seimos, the word for a literal earthquake. Just as creation shook when its Creator died on the Cross, now the earth exploded with exultation at the resurrection of Jesus!

“Mark 16:4 says that when the women arrived at the tomb, they found ‘…the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.’ In other words, this was no normal stone; the authorities placed an extremely, exceedingly massive stone in front of the entrance to Jesus’ tomb. Yet when the women arrived, it had been removed!

“Matthew 28:2 tells us how the stone was removed. It says that ‘the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.’ Some have suggested that the ability of the angel to sit on top of such a huge stone may also denote his immense size—in other words, he was so huge that he could sit on top of the enormous stone as if it were a chair. If this were the case, the removal of the stone would have been a simple feat. Matthew informs us that not only was the angel strong, but ‘his countenance was like lightening, and his raiment white as snow.’ (vs 3)

“The immense size, power, and brilliance of this angel explains why the Roman guards fled the scene. Matthew 28:4 tells us, ‘And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.’ It was such a panic-stricken fear that it caused the guards to ‘shake.’
“This word, shake is derived from the identical root word for an earthquake. The mighty Roman soldiers trembled and quaked at the sight of the angel. In fact, they ‘became as dead men.’ They were so terrified at the appearance of the angel that they fell to the ground, violently trembling and so paralyzed with fear that they were unable to move. When they were finally able to move again, these guards fled the scene—and when the women arrived at the garden, they were nowhere to be found!

“Luke 24:3 tells us that with the stone removed, these women passed right by the angel who sat on top of the huge stone and crossed the threshold into the tomb. It says, ‘And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.’ But what did they find inside the tomb besides the vacant spot where Jesus had laid? Mark 16:5 tells us: “And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrightened.’

“First, these women saw an angel sitting on top of the stone at the entrance of the tomb. Now inside the tomb, they see another angel whose appearance is like a young man. The words, ‘young man,’ are from the Greek word neanikos, referring to a young man who is filled with vigor and energy and who is in the prime of his life. This illustrates the vitality, strength, and ever-youthful appearance of angels. The Bible also tells us that this angel was ‘clothed in a long white garment…’ The word ‘clothed pictures a garment draped about his shoulders, as a mighty warrior or ruler would be dressed. The word, ‘garment’ is from the Greek word, stole, which represents the long flowing robe that adorned royalty, commanders, kings, priests, and other people of high distinction.

“As these women stood in an empty tomb, Luke 24:4 tells us that ‘they were much perplexed thereabout.’ This Greek word for ‘perplexed is aporeo, which means to lose one’s way. It is the picture of someone who is so confused that he can’t figure out where he is, what he’s doing, or what is happening around him. This person is completely bewildered by surrounding events.

“Of course these women were perplexed! They came expecting to see the stone in front of the tomb, but it was removed! Sitting on top of the massive stone was a dazzling angel. To get into the tomb, they had to pass by that angel—but once in the tomb, they discovered there was no dead body. Then suddenly they looked over to the right side of the tomb and saw a second angel, dressed in a long, white robe like a warrior, ruler, priest, or king. The women didn’t expect to encounter any of these unusual events that morning. It would have been normal for their heads to be whirling with questions.

“Then Luke 24:4 tells us that all of a sudden, ‘two men stood by them in shining garments.’ The words ‘stood by’ are from the Greek word, epistemi, which means to come upon suddenly; to take one by surprise; to burst upon the scene; to suddenly step up; or to unexpectedly appear. In other words, while the women tried to figure out what they were seeing, the angel sitting on top of the stone decided to join the group inside the tomb. Suddenly to the women’s amazement, two angels were standing inside the tomb in ‘shining garments.’

“The word shining is astrapto, depicting something that shines or flashes like lightening. It may refer to the angel’s shining appearance.

“Luke 24:5-8 says, ‘And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day, rise again. And they remembered his words.

“After the two angels proclaimed the joyful news of Jesus’ resurrection, they instructed the women, ‘But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.’ (Mark 16:7) Matthew 28:8 says they ‘did run to bring his disciples word.’ Mark 16:8 says, “And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre.’ Luke 24:9-10 says that the women returned and ‘told these things unto the apostles.

“Can you imagine how flustered these women must have been as they tried to tell the apostles what they had seen and heard that morning? Luke 24:11 says, ‘And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.’ The words idle tales are from the Greek word leros, which means nonsense, idle talk, babble, or delirium. In other words, the women’s presentation of the Gospel probably wasn’t extremely clear, but it stirred enough interest in Peter and John to make them get up and go find out for themselves about Jesus!

“When we’ve had a supernatural encounter with the Lord, it isn’t always easy to put that experience into words. This is a frustration all of us who know the Lord have felt at one time or another. However, we can’t let that keep us from spreading the good news of what Jesus Christ has done in our lives.

“As you share Jesus Christ with your family and friends, it is your job to give it your best shot. Tell the Good News that best way you know how! But don’t overlook the fact that the Holy Spirit is also speaking to their hearts at the same time you are speaking to their ears. The Spirit of God will use you and your witness so stir hunger deep in their hearts. But long after you are finished talking, God will still be dealing with them. And when they come to Jesus, they won’t remember if you sounded confusing the day you presented the Gospel to them. They will be thankful that you loved them enough to care for their souls.

“So get up and get going! Open your mouth, and start telling the Good News that Jesus Christ is alive and well!

“Lord, I am concerned for my family, friends, acquaintances, and fellow workers who still don’t know You as their personal Savior. I’ve been concerned that if I tried to talk to them, I wouldn’t make sense, so I’ve shied away from witnessing to them. But I know You can make sense out of anything I say. Today I am leaning on you to help; me witness to people in my life. I need You to speak to their hearts at the same time I’m speaking to their ears! Please help me tell them about Your saving grace! I pray this in Jesus’ name!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Christ's Passion for You Devotional Day 5~The Veil is Torn

From Rick Renner’s “Sparkling Gems from the Greek.”
How precious is it that we have the ability to go to God as our Father! It is in Christ and His sacrifice that this privilege was won for us!

The Day the Veil Was Rent and the Earth Shook

Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. Matt 27:50-51

“Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record that on the day Jesus was crucified, the sky turned eerily dark at the sixth hour of the day. Matthew 27:45 says, ‘Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.’

“This sudden and unexplainable darkness covered all the ‘land.’ The word land is the Greek word for earth, ges, and it refers to the entire earth, not just a small geographical region. The Greek word ges emphatically tells us that the whole world literally became simultaneously darkened.

“The historians Phlegon, Thaddus, and Julius Africanus all referred to the darkness that covered the earth at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. Critics of the Bible have attempted to explain away this supernatural darkness by alleging that it was due to an eclipse of the sun. This is impossible, however, for the Passover occurred at the time of a full moon.

“The Bible informs us that the darkening of the sky started at the sixth hour. This is significant, for the sixth hour (noontime) was the very moment that the high priest Caiaphas, arrayed in his full priestly garments, began the procession in which he would enter the temple to slaughter a pure, spotless Passover lamb. This darkness that covered the land lasted until the ninth hour—the exact moment the high priest would be making his entrance into the Holy of Holies to offer the blood of the Passover lamb to cover the sins of the nation.

“It was at this moment that Jesus cried out, ‘It is finished!” (John 19:30). As He heaved upward to breathe for the last time, Jesus gathered enough air to speak forth a victory shout! His assignment was complete! After proclaiming those words with His last ounce of strength, Matthew 27:50 tells us that He ‘yielded up the ghost.’

“What Matthew tells us next is simply amazing! He writes, ‘And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom.’ The word ‘behold’ is the Greek word idou. Idou carries the idea of shock, amazement and wonder. It’s almost as if Matthew says, ‘Wow, can you believe it? The veil of the temple itself rent in two from top to bottom!’ Matthew wrote about this event many years after the fact, yet he was still so dumbfounded by what happened that day he exclaimed in effect, ‘Wow! Look what happened next!’

“There were two veils inside the temple—one at the entrance to the Holy Place and a second at the entrance of the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest was allowed to pass through the second veil once a year. That second veil was sixty feet high, thirty feet wide, and an entire handbreadth in thickness! One early Jewish writing states that the veil was so heavy, it took three hundred priests to move or manipulate it. It would have been impossible humanly speaking to tear such a veil.

“At the exact moment Jesus was breathing His last breath on the Cross at Golgotha, Caiaphas the high priest was standing at his station in the inner court of the temple, preparing to offer the blood of a spotless Passover lamb. At the very instant Caiaphas stepped up to kill the Passover sacrifice, Jesus exclaimed, ‘It is finished.’ At that same instant, miles away from Golgotha inside the temple at Jerusalem, an inexplicable, mystifying supernatural even occurred. The massive, fortified veil that stood before the Holy of Holies was suddenly split in half from the top all the way to the bottom!

“The sound of that veil splitting must have been deafening as it ripped and tore, starting from the top and going all the way down to the floor. It was as if invisible, divine hands had reached out to grab it, rip it to shreds, and discard it.

“Imagine how shocked Caiaphas must have been when he heard the ripping sounds above his head and then watched as the veil was torn in half, leaving two sides of the once-massive curtain lying collapsed to his right and his left. Just think what must have gone through this evil high priest’s mind when he saw that the way to the Holy of Holies was opened—and that God’s Presence was no longer there.

“You see, when Jesus was lifted up on that Cross, that Cross became the eternal mercy seat on which the blood of the final sacrifice was sprinkled. Once that sacrifice was made, it was no longer necessary for a high priest to continually make sacrifices year after year, for Jesus’ blood had now settled the issue forever!

“For this cause, God Himself ripped the veil of the temple in half, declaring that the way to the Holy of Holies was now available to everyone who came to Him through the blood of Jesus! This is why the apostle Paul wrote that Jesus ‘hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us’ (Eph 2:14).’

“Jesus’ death was such a dramatic event that even the earth reacted to it. Matthew 27:51 says, ‘the earth did quack, and the rocks rent.’ The word quake is the Greek word seiso, which means to shake, to agitate, or to create a commotion. It is where we get the word for seismograph, the apparatus that registers the intensity of an earthquake. It is interesting to note that Origen, the early Christian leader, recorded that there were ‘great earthquakes’ at the time of Jesus crucifixion.

“I find it so amazing that although Israel rejected Jesus and the Roman authorities crucified Him, creation always recognized Him! During His life on this earth, the waves obeyed Him; water turned to wine at His command; fishes and bread multiplied at His touch; the atoms in water solidified so He could walk across it; and the wind ceased when He spoke to it. So it should come as no surprise that Jesus’ death was a traumatic event for creation. The earth shook, trembled, and shuddered at the death of its Creator, for it instantly felt its loss.

“The earth shuddered so violently when Jesus died that even ‘the rocks rent’ Matthew tells us that huge, large rocks or petra, were rent by the shaking of the earth. The word rent is schidzo, meaning to rent, to tear, to violently tear asunder, to terribly fracture. This was a serious earthquake! It makes me realize all over again the incredible significance of the death of Jesus Christ!

“When Jesus’ blood was accepted at the Cross as final payment for man’s sin, the need to habitually offer sacrifices year after year was eliminated. The Holy of Holies, a place limited only to the high priest once a year, has now become open and accessible to all of us! As ‘believer-priests,” each of us can now enjoy the Presence of God every day. This is why Hebrews 10:19,22 says, ‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.’

“Since the way to the Holy of Holies has been thrown wide open to us, we need to take a few minutes each day to enter into the Presence of God to worship Him and to make our requests known. Because of what Jesus did, we can now ‘come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need’ (Heb. 4:16). Since this is God’s promise to us, let’s drop everything we’re doing and come boldly before that throne of grace for a few minutes today!

“Lord, I thank You for destroying the veil that separated me from Your Presence. By taking away the veil, You made it possible for me to come boldly before Your throne of grace to obtain mercy and receive help in my time of need. Because of what You did for me, today I am coming boldly to tell You what I need in my life. I present my case to You, and I thank You in advance for helping me just as You promised in Your Word. I pray this in Jesus’ name.”

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Christ's Passion for You Devotional Day 4~Crucified!

From Rick Renner’s “Sparkling Gems from the Greek.”

This is my favorite daily devotional of this week. It paints such a profound picture of what Jesus did, and His heart as He did it. It is even more profound to know that what He did is the perfect picture of love for me and you!


They gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified Him. Matthew 27:34-35

“When Jesus arrived at Golgotha, the Bible says, ‘They gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall…’ According to Jewish law, if a man was about to be executed, he could request a narcotic, mingled together with wine, which would help alleviate the pain of his execution. The word ‘gall’ in this verse refers to this special painkiller that was mingled together with wine for this purpose.

“There was a group of kind women in Jerusalem who made it their good deed to help anesthetize the pain of people who were dying horrific deaths. These women wanted to eliminate as much pain and misery as possible for the scores of people being crucified by the Romans. Therefore, they produced the homemade painkiller that Matthew tells us about in this verse.

“Jesus was offered this anesthetic twice—once before His crucifixion and once while He was dying on the Cross (Matt 27:34, 48). In both instances, Jesus turned down the offer and refused to drink it, for He knew that He was to fully consume this cup the Father had given Him to drink.

“Verse 35 begins, ‘And they crucified Him…’ The word ‘crucified’ is the Greek word staurao from the word stauros, which describes an upright, pointed stake that was used for the punishment of criminals. This word was used to describe those who were hung up, impaled, or beheaded and then publically displayed. It was always used in connection with public execution. The point of hanging a criminal publically was to bring further humiliation and additional punishment to the accused.

“Crucifixion was indisputably one of the cruelest and most barbaric forms of punishment in the ancient world. Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, described crucifixion as ‘the most wretched of deaths.’ It was viewed with such horror that in one of Seneca’s letters to Lucilius, Seneca wrote that suicide was preferable to crucifixion.

“Different parts of the world had different kinds of crucifixion. For example, in the East the victim was beheaded and then hung in public display. Among the Jews, the victim was first stoned to death and then hung on a tree. Deut 21:22-23 commanded, ‘And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he is to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God)…'

“But at the time Jesus was crucified, the grueling act of crucifixion was entirely in the hands of the Roman authorities. This punishment was reserved for the most serious offenders, usually for those who had committed some kind of treason or who had participated in or sponsored state terrorism.

“Because Israel hated the occupying Roman troops, insurrections frequently arose among the populace. As a deterrent to stop people from participating in revolts, crucifixion was regularly practiced in Jerusalem. By publicly crucifying those who attempted to overthrow the government, the Romans sent a strong signal of fear to those who might be tempted to follow in their steps.

“Once the offender reached the place where the crucifixion was to occur, he was laid on the crossbeam he carried with his arms outstretched. Then a soldier would drive a five-inch iron nail through each of his wrists into the crossbeam. After being nailed to the crossbeam, the victim was hoisted up by rope, and the crossbeam was dropped into a notch on top of the upright post.

“When the crossbeam dropped into the groove, the victim suffered excruciating pain as his hands and wrists were wrenched by the sudden jerking motion. Then the weight of the victim’s body caused his arms to be pulled out of their arm sockets. Josephus writes that the Roman soldiers ‘out of rage and hatred amused themselves by nailing their prisoners in different postures.’ Crucifixion was truly a vicious ordeal.

“When the victim was nailed to the cross, the nails were not driven through the palms of his hands, but through the wrists. Once the wrists were secured in place, the feet came next. First, the victim’s legs would be positioned so that the feet were pointed downward with the soles pressed against the post on which the victim was suspended. A long nail would then be driven between the bones of the feet, lodged firmly enough between those bones to prevent it from tearing through the feet as the victim arched upward, gasping for breath.

“In order for the victim to breathe, he had to push himself up by his feet, which were nailed to the vertical beam. However, because the pressure on his feet became unbearable, it wasn’t possible for him to remain long in this position, so eventually he would collapse back into the hanging position.

“As the victim pushed up and collapsed back down again and again over a long period of time, his shoulders eventually dislocated and popped out of joint. Soon the out-of-joint shoulders were followed by the elbows and wrists. These various dislocations caused the arms to be extended up to nine inches longer than usual, resulting in terrible cramps in the victim’s arm muscles and making it impossible for him to push himself upward any longer to breathe. When he was finally too exhausted and could no longer push himself upward on the nail lodged in his feet, the process of asphyxiation began.

“Jesus experienced all of this torture. When He dropped down with the full weight of His body on the nails that were driven through His wrists, it sent excruciating pain up His arms, registering horrific pain in His brain. Added to this torture was the agony caused by the constant grating of Jesus’ recently scourged back against the upright post every time He pushed up to breathe and then collapsed back to a hanging position.

“Due to extreme loss of blood and hyperventilation, the victim would begin to experience severe dehydration. We can see this process in Jesus’ own crucifixion when He cried out, ‘I thirst' (John 19:28). After several hours of this torment, the victim’s heart would begin to fail. Next his lungs would collapse, and excess fluids would begin filling the lining of his heart and lungs, adding to the slow process of asphyxiation.

“When the Roman soldier came to determine whether or not Jesus was alive or dead, he thrust his spear into Jesus’ side. One expert pointed out that if Jesus had been alive when the soldier did this, the soldier would have heard a loud sucking sound caused by air being inhaled past the freshly made wound in the chest. But the Bible tells us that water and blood mixed together came pouring forth from the wound the spear had made—evidence that Jesus’ heart and lungs had shut down and were filled with fluid. This was enough to assure the soldier that Jesus was already dead.

“It was customary for Roman soldiers to break the lower leg boned of a person being crucified, making it impossible for the victim to push himself upward to breathe and thus causing him to asphyxiate at a much quicker rate. However, because of the blood and water that gushed from Jesus’ side, He was already considered dead. Since there was no reason for the soldiers to hasten Jesus’ death, His legs were never broken.

“This, my friend, is a brief taste of a Roman crucifixion.

“The above description of crucifixion was exactly what Jesus experienced on the Cross where He died for you and me. This is why Paul wrote, ‘And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross’ (Phil 2:8). In Greek the emphasis is on the word ‘even,’ from the Greek word de, which dramatizes the point that Jesus lowered Himself to such an extent that He died even the death of a cross—the lowest, most humiliating, debasing, shameful, painful method of death in the ancient world!

“Now you understand why the kind women of Jerusalem prepared homemade painkillers for those being crucified. The agony associated with crucifixion is the reason they offered Jesus this ‘gall’ once before the crucifixion began and again as He hung on the Cross.

“Meanwhile, the soldiers near the foot of the Cross ‘parted His garments, casting lots…’ (Matt 27:35). They didn’t understand the great price of redemption that was being paid at that moment as Jesus hung asphyxiating to death, His lungs filling with fluids so He couldn’t breathe.

“According to Roman custom, the soldiers who carried out the crucifixion had a right to the victim’s clothes. Jewish law required that the person being crucified would be stripped naked. So there Jesus hung, completely open and naked before the world, while His crucifiers literally distributed His clothes among themselves!

“Making this distribution of clothes even cheaper was the fact that the soldiers ‘cast lots’ for His garments. The Gospel of John records that ‘when they had crucified Him, took His garments, and made four parts, to ever soldier a part; and also His coat; now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it.’ (John 19:23-24).

“This account informs us that four soldiers were present at Jesus’ crucifixion. The four parts of His clothing that were distributed among them were His head gear, sandals, girdle, and the tallith—the outer garment that had fringes on the bottom. His ‘coat,’ which was ‘without seam,’ was a handmade garment that was sewn together from top to bottom. Because it was specially handmade, this coat was a very expensive piece of clothing. This was the reason the soldiers chose to cast lots for it rather than tear it into four parts and spoil it.

“When the Bible refers to ‘casting lots,’ it indicates a game during which the soldiers wrote their names on pieces of parchment or wood or on stones and then dropped all four pieces with their names written on them into some kind of container. Because the Roman soldiers who helped crucify Jesus were remotely located, it is probable that one of them pulled off his helmet and held it out to the other soldiers. After the others dropped their names in the helmet, the soldier shook it up to mix up the four written names and then randomly withdrew the name of the winner.

“It is simply remarkable that all of this was taking place as Jesus was pushing down on that huge nail lodged in His feet so He could gasp for breath before sagging back down into a hanging position. As Jesus’ strength continued to drain away and the full consequence of man’s sin was being realized in Him, the soldiers at the foot of the Cross played a game to see who would get His finest piece of clothing!

“Matthew 27:36 says, ‘And sitting down they watched him there.’ The Greek word for watch is the word tereo, which means to guard. The Greek tense means to consistently guard or to consistently be on the watch. It was the responsibility of these soldiers to keep things in order, to keep watch over the crucifixion site, and to make sure no one came to rescue Jesus from the Cross. So as they cast lots and played games, the soldiers were also keeping watch out of the corners of their eyes to make certain no one touched Jesus as He hung dying on the Cross.

“When I read about the crucifixion of Jesus, it makes me want to repent for the callousness with which the world looks upon the Cross today. In our society, the cross has become a fashion item, decorated with gems, rhinestones, gold and silver. Beautiful crosses of jewelry adorn women’s ears and dangle at the bottom of gold chains and necklaces. The symbol of the cross is even tattooed on people’s flesh!

“The reason this is so disturbing to me is that in beautifying the Cross to make it pleasing to look upon, people have forgotten that it wasn’t beautiful or lavishly decorated at all. In fact, the Cross of Jesus Christ was shocking and appalling.

“Jesus’ totally naked body was flaunted in humiliation before a watching world. His flesh was ripped to shreds; His body was bruised from head to toe; He had to heave His body upward for every breath He breathed; and His nervous system sent constant signals of excruciating pain to His brain. Blood drenched Jesus’ face and streamed from His hands, His feet, and from the countless cuts and gaping wounds the scourging had left upon His body. In reality, the Cross of Jesus Christ was a disgusting, repulsive, nauseating, stomach-turning sight—so entirely different from the attractive crosses people wear today as a part of their jewelry or attire.

“At this time of the year, it would be a good idea for all of us as believers to take a little time to remember what the Cross of Jesus Christ was really like. If we don’t deliberately choose to meditate on what He went through, we will never fully appreciate the price He paid for us. How tragic it would be if we lost sight of the pain and the price of redemption!

“When we fail to remember what it cost Jesus to save us, we tend to treat our salvation cheaply and with disregard. That’s why the apostle Peter wrote, ‘Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.’ (1 Pet 1:18-19).

“The kind women of Jerusalem wanted to anesthetize Jesus to remove His pain. He refused their painkiller and entered into the experience of the Cross with all His faculties. Let’s not allow the world to anesthetize us, causing us to overlook or forget the real price that was paid on the Cross.

“Why not take time today to let the reality of the Cross sink deep into your heart and soul? As you do, you’ll find that it will cause you to love Jesus so much more than you love Him right now!

“Lord, help me never to forget the price You paid on the Cross for my salvation. Please forgive me for the times my life starts moving so fast that I fail to remember what You did for me. No one else could have taken my place. No one else could have paid the price for my sin. So You went to the Cross, bearing my sin, my sickness, my pain, and my lack of peace. That Cross was the place where the price was paid for my deliverance. Today I want to thank you from the very depths of my heart for doing this for me! I pray this in Jesus’ name!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Christ's Passion for You Devotional Day 3~Golgotha: The Place of the Skull

From Rick Renner’s Sparkling Gems from the Greek.

And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull. Matthew 27:32, 33

“When the soldiers brought Jesus out from the residence of Pilate, Jesus was already carrying the crossbeam that would serve as the upper portion of His Cross.

“Most Roman crosses were shaped like a “T.” The upright post had a notched groove at the top into which the crossbeam was placed after a victim had been tied or nailed to it. The crossbeam, normally weighing about 100 pounds, was carried on the back of the victim to the place of execution.

“According to Roman law, once a criminal was convicted, he was to carry his own cross to the place of execution if his crucifixion was to occur somewhere other than the place of the trial. The purpose for exposing criminals heading for crucifixion to passersby was to remind those who watched of Roman military power. At the place of execution, vultures flew overhead, just waiting to swoop down and start devouring the dying carcasses left hanging on the crosses. In the nearby wilderness, wild dogs anxiously waited for the newest dead bodies dumped by executioners, to become their next meal.

“After the person was declared guilty, a crossbeam would be laid across his back and a herald would walk ahead of him, proclaiming his crime. A sign with the person’s crime written on it would also be made, later to be hung on the cross above his head. Sometimes the sign bearing the person’s crime would be hung from his neck, so all the spectators who lined the streets to watch him walk by would know what crime he committed. This was the very type of sign that was publicly displayed on the Cross above Jesus’ head with the crime He was charged with—“King of the Jews”—written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

“Carrying such a heavy weight for a long distance would be difficult for any man, but especially for one who had been as severely beaten as Jesus. The heavy crossbeam on which He was destined to be nailed pressed into His torn back as He carried it to the place of execution. Although the Bible does not state the reason why, we may assume that the Roman soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to help because Jesus was so drained and exhausted from the abuse He had suffered.

“Little is known of Simon of Cyrene, except that he was from Cyrene, the capital of the province of Libya that was situated approximately eleven miles south of the Mediterranean Sea. Matthew 27:32 informs us that the Roman soldiers “compelled him to bear His Cross.” The word ‘compelled’ is the Greek word aggareuo. It means to compel, to coerce, to constrain, to make or to force someone into some kind of compulsory service.

“Matthew 27:33 says, ‘And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of the skull.’ This scripture has been the center of controversy for several hundred years, for many have attempted to use this verse to geographically identify the exact location of Jesus’ crucifixion. Some denominations allege that the place of Jesus’ crucifixion was inside modern-day Jerusalem, while others assert that the name Golgotha refers to a site outside the city that from a distance looks like a skull. However, the earliest writings of the Church fathers say this phrase ‘a place of the skull’ refers to something very different!

“An early Christian writer named Origen, (185-253AD) recorded that Jesus was crucified on the spot where Adam was buried and where his skull had been found. Whether or not this is true, there was an early Christian belief that Jesus had been crucified near Adam’s burial place. As the early story goes, when the earthquake occurred as Jesus hung on the cross (Matt 27:51) His blood ran down the cross into the crack in the rock below and fell on the skull of Adam. This history is so entrenched in early Christian tradition that Jerome referred to it in a letter in 386 AD.

“Interestingly, Jewish tradition states that Adam’s skull was buried near the city of Jerusalem by Noah’s son, Shem. Tradition says this burial place was guarded by Melchizedek, who was the priest-king of Salem (Jerusalem) during the time of Abraham (Gen 14:18) Unknown to most Western believers, this history is so accepted that it is considered a major theme of Orthodox doctrine, and the skull of Adam appears consistently at the base of the Cross in both paintings and icons. If you ever see a skull at the base of a crucifix, you can know that it symbolizes Adam’s skull that was allegedly found buried at the site of Jesus’ crucifixion.

“These extremely interesting facts, although unprovable, have retained strong support throughout 2,000 years of Christian history. If it were true, it would be quite amazing that the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, died for the sins of the world exactly on the spot where the first Adam, the original sinner, was buried. If Jesus’ blood ran down the crack in the stone and fell upon Adam’s skull, as tradition says, it would be very symbolic of Jesus’ blood covering the sins of the human race that originated with Adam.

“But what can we definitely know about the place of Jesus’ crucifixion?

“We definitely know that Jesus was crucified like a criminal by the Roman government just outside the walls of the ancient city of Jerusalem. Whether or not He was crucified at the place of Adam’s skull is interesting but not important. What is vital for us to know and understand is that Jesus died for the sins of the entire human race—and that includes you and me!

“Today we may not be able to say with certainty exactly where Jesus was crucified, but in our hearts and minds we should meditate on the scriptures that speak of His crucifixion. Sometimes life moves so fast that we tend to forget the enormous price that was paid for our redemption. Salvation may have been given to us as a free gift, but it was purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. THANK GOD FOR THE CROSS!

“This question of where Jesus was crucified is a good example of the way people tend to get distracted by unimportant issues and, as a result, miss the main point God wants to get across to them. People have argued and debated for centuries about the accurate location of the crucifixion when the truth they should have been focusing on is that Jesus was crucified for their salvation! The apostle Paul wrote, ‘Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that he rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures’ (1Cor 15:3-4). Of this, we can be sure!

“Aren’t you thankful that Jesus’ blood purchased the forgiveness for all of mankind’s sin? It is true that through Adam’s disobedience, sin entered the world and death was passed on to all men. But just as sin entered the world through Adam, the gift of God came into the world through the obedience of Jesus Christ. Now the grace of God and the free gift of righteousness abounds to all who have called upon Jesus Christ to be the Lord of their lives (Romans 5:12-21). Now every believer had the glorious privilege of reigning in life as a joint heir with Jesus Himself!

“Lord, how can I ever adequately say thank You for all that You did for me at the Cross? I was so undeserving, but You came and gave Your life for me, taking away my sin and removing the punishment that should have passed to me. I thank You from the depths of my heart for doing what no one else could do for me. Had it not been for You, I would be eternally lost, so I just want to say thank You for laying down Your life that I might be free! I pray this in Jesus’ name!”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Christ's Passion for You Devotional: Day 2~Scorned!

Christ's Passion for You -- Part Two
From Rick Renner’s “Sparkling Gems from the Greek.”

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped Him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him saying, Hail, King of the Jews! Matt 27:27-29
“After Jesus was scourged, Pilate delivered Him to the Roman soldiers so they could initiate the crucifixion process. However, first these soldiers dragged Jesus through the worst mockery and humiliation of all.
“Matthew 27:27 says the soldiers, ‘…took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole band of soldiers.’ The common hall was the open courtyard in Pilate’s palace. Since Pilate rotated between several official royal residences in Jerusalem, this could have been his palace at the Tower of Antonia. It also could have been his residence at the magnificent palace of Herod, located on the highest part of Mount Zion. All we know for sure is that the courtyard was so large, it was able to hold ‘the whole band of soldiers.’ This phrase comes from the Greek word, spira, referring to a cohort or a group of 300-600 Roman soldiers.

“Hundreds of soldiers filled the courtyard of Pilate’s residence to participate in the events that followed. Matthew 27:28 says, ‘and they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe.’ First, the soldiers ‘stripped Him.’ The word stripped is the Greek word, ekduo, which means to totally unclothe or to fully undress. Nakedness was viewed as a disgrace, a shame, and an embarrassment in the Jewish world. Public nakedness was associated with pagans—with their worship, their idols, and their statues.

“As children of God, the Israelites honored the human body, made in the image of God; thus to publicly parade someone’s naked body was a great offense. We can know, that when Jesus was stripped naked in front of 300-600 soldiers, it went against the grain of His entire moral view of what was right and wrong.

“Once Jesus stood naked before them, the soldiers then ‘put on him a scarlet robe.’ The Greek phrase is chlamuda kokkinen, from the words chlamus and kokkinos. The word chlamus is the Greek word for a robe or a cloak. It could refer to a soldier’s cloak, but the next word makes it more probable that this was an old cloak of Pilate. You see, the word ‘scarlet’ is the Greek word Kokkinos, a word that describes a robe that has been dyed a deep crimson or scarlet color, which is suggestive of the deeply colored crimson and scarlet robes worn by royalty or nobility. Did this cohort of Roman soldiers who worked at Pilate’s residence pull an old royal robe from Pilate’s closet and bring it to the courtyard for the party? It seems that this is the case.

“As Matthew continues the account, we find out what happened next: After the soldiers ‘had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head…’ The word ‘platted’ is the Greek word empleko which is often used to describe a person entangled in his lower garments or a person who is caught is caught in some type of vine. The soldiers took vines loaded with sharp, dangerous thorns; then they carefully wove together those razor-sharp, prickly jagged vines until they formed a tightly woven, dangerous circle resembling the shape of a crown. It was this kind of crown that the soldiers violently shoved down upon Jesus’ head.
“Matthew uses the Greek word, epitithimi, a word that implies they forcefully shoved this crown of thorns onto Jesus’ head. These thorns would have been extremely painful and caused blood to flow profusely from His brow. Because the thorns were so jagged, they would have created terrible wounds as they scraped across Jesus’ skull bone and literally tore the flesh from His skull.
“Matthew called it a ‘crown’ of thorns. The word ‘crown’ is from the Greek word, stephanos; the word that described a coveted ‘victor’s crown. These soldiers intended to use this mock crown to make run of Jesus. Little did they know that Jesus was preparing to win the greatest victory in history!

“After forcing the crown of thorns down onto Jesus’ brow, the soldiers put ‘a reed in His right hand…’ There were many beautiful ponds and fountains in Pilate’s inner courtyard where long, tall hard ‘reeds’ grew. While Jesus sat there before them clothed in a royal robe and crown of thorns, one of the soldiers must have realized that the picture was not quite complete and pulled a ‘reed’ from one of the ponds or fountains to put in Jesus’ hand. This reed represented the ruler’s staff, as seen in the famous statue called ‘Ave Caesar,’ which depicted Caesar holding a staff or scepter in his hand. The same image, also showing a scepter in the right hand of the emperor, appeared on coins that were minted in the emperor’s honor and in wide circulation.

“With a discarded robe about Jesus’ shoulders, a crown of thorns set so deeply into His head that blood drenched His face, and a reed from Pilate’s ponds or fountains stuck in His right hand, ‘they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him saying, Hail King of the Jews!’ The word ‘bowed’ is the Greek word, gonupeteo, meaning to fall down upon one’s knees. One by one, the cohort of soldiers passed before Jesus, dramatically and comically dropping to their knees in front of Him as they laughed at and mocked Him.

“Matthew 27:30 goes on to tell us, ‘And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head.’ They word ‘they’ refers to the entire cohort of soldiers who were present in Pilate’s courtyard that night. So as each soldier passed by Jesus, he would first mockingly bow before Him; then he’d lean forward to spit right in Jesus’ blood drenched face. Next the soldier would grab the reed from Jesus’ hand and strike Him hard on His already wounded head. Finally, he would stick the reed back in Jesus’ hand to make Him ready for the next soldier to repeat the whole process.
“The Greek clearly means that the soldiers repeatedly struck Jesus again and again on the head. Here was another beating that Jesus endured, but this time, it was with the slapping action of a hard reed. This must have been excruciatingly painful for Jesus, since His body was already lacerated from the scourging and His head was deeply gashed by the cruel crown of thorns.
“When all 300-600 soldiers were finished spitting and striking Jesus with the reed, Matthew 27:31 tells us that ‘they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.' The robe wrapped around Jesus had no doubt had time to mesh into His wounds, for it took a great amount of time for so many soldiers to parade before Him. Therefore, it must have been terrifically painful for Jesus when they jerked this robe off His back and the material ripped free from the dried blood that had coagulated on His open wounds.

“But this would be the last act of torture Jesus would endure in this stage of His ordeal. After putting His own clothes back on Him, the soldiers led Him from the palace to the place of execution.

“As the soldiers mocked Jesus that day, hailing Him as king in derision and ridicule, they were unaware that they were actually bowing their knees to the One before whom they would one day stand and give an account for their actions. When that day comes, bowing before Jesus will be no laughing matter, for everyone—including those very soldiers who mocked Jesus—will confess that Jesus is Lord!

“Yes, a day is soon coming when the human race will bow their knees to acknowledge and declare that Jesus is the King of kings. Philippians 2:10,11 talks about that day: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

“If you have a friend who doesn’t know Jesus yet, don’t you think it’s time for you to introduce that friend to Jesus Christ? Your friend will one day bow before Him anyway; the question is, from which place will he bow before Jesus—from Heaven, from earth, or from hell? Everyone in Heaven will bow low before Jesus on that day, as will everyone who is alive on earth at His coming and everyone who has gone to hell because they didn’t bow before Him while they lived on this earth. So the big question is not if a person will bow before Him, but from which place will he choose to bow before Him?

“Isn’t it your responsibility to help lead your friends and acquaintances to Jesus? God’s Spirit will empower you to speak the Gospel to them. If you pray before you speak to them, the Holy Spirit will prepare their hearts to hear the message. Why not stop today and ask the Lord to help you speak the truth to those friends, acquaintances, and fellow workers whom you interact with every day?

“Lord, open my eyes to those around me who are unsaved and in need of salvation. You died for them because You want them to be saved. I know that You are trusting me to tell them the Good News that they can be saved. Please empower me strongly with your Spirit, giving me the boldness I need to step out from behind intimidation and to tell them the truth that will save them from an eternity in hell. Help me to start telling them the Good News immediately, before it is too late. I pray this in Jesus’ name.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Christ's Passion for You Devotional~Day One

The Resurrection season is upon us. It is the time and opportunity for us to reflect on the glorious sacrifice of Jesus. Rick Renner has written one of my favorite daily devotionals called "Sparkling Gems from the Greek." Over the next few days, I would like to once again share with you part of the powerful account of Jesus' passion, from trial, to tragedy, to triumph. We will take it from the torturous scourging forward. I encourage you to follow and read each post, one about every other day. The posts themselves may seem long as I take them straight from the book, but they will give you great insight into the amazing passion Jesus has for you. If you read and meditate on the contents of these posts, I guarantee you won't be the same when you more fully realize what Jesus was willing to endure on your behalf.

Warning-some of the contents are of these posts will be extremely graphic.


...And when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. Matt. 27:26

"What was it like for a prisoner to be scourged in New Testament times? From what materials was a scourge made? How did it feel when the straps of a scourge whipped across a person's back and body? What effects did a scourging have on the human body?

"Matthew 27:26 tells us that Pilate 'had scourged Jesus' before he delivered Him to be crucified, so we need to understand what it meant to be 'scourged. The word 'scourged' is the Greek word phragello, and it was one of the most horrific words used in the ancient world because of the terrible images that immediately came to mind when a person heard this word. Le me tell you a little about the process of scourging and what it did to the human body. I believe this explanation is important so you can understand more completely what Jesus endured before He was taken to be crucified.

"When a decision was made to scourge an individual, the victim was first stripped completely naked so his entire flesh would be open and uncovered to the beating action of the torturer's whip. Then the victim was bound to a two-foot high scourging post. His hands were tied over his head to a metal ring, and his wrists were securely shackled to the metal ring to restrain his body from movement. When in this locked position, the victim couldn't wiggle or move, trying to avoid or dodge the lashes that were being laid across his back.

"Romans were professionals at scourging; they took special delight in the fact that they were the 'best' at punishing a victim with this brutal act. Once the victim was harnessed to the post and stretched over it, the Roman soldier began to put him through unimaginable torture. One writer notes that the mere anticipation of the first blow caused the victim's body to grow rigid, the muscles to knot in his stomach, the color to drain from his cheeks, and his lips to draw tight against his teeth as he waited for the first sadistic blow that would begin the tearing open of his body.

"The scourge itself consisted of a short, wooden handle with several 18-24 inch long straps of leather protruding from it. The ends of these pieces of leather were equipped with sharp, rugged pieced of metal, wire, glass, and jagged fragments of bone. This was considered to be one of the most feared and deadly weapons of the Roman world. It was so ghastly that the mere threat of scourging could calm a crowd or bend the will of the strongest rebel. Not even the most hardened criminal wanted to be submitted to the vicious beating of a Roman scourge.

"Most often, two torturers were utilized to carry out this punishment, simultaneously lashing the victim from both sides. As these dual whips struck the victim, the leather straps with their jagged, sharp, cutting objects descended and extended over this entire back. Each piece of metal, wire, bone or glass cut deeply through the victim's skin and into his flesh, shredding his muscles and sinews.

"Every time the whip pounded across the victim, those straps of leather curled tortuously around his torso, biting painfully and deeply into the skin of his abdomen and upper chest. As each stroke lacerated the sufferer, he tried to thrash about but was unable to move because his wrists were held so firmly to the metal ring above his head. Helpless to escape the whip, he would scream for mercy that this anguish might come to an end.

"Every time the torturers struck a victim, the straps of leather attached to the wooden handle would cause multiple lashes as the pieces of metal, glass, wire and bone sank into the flesh and then raked across the victim's body. Then the torturer would jerk back, pulling hard in order to tear whole pieced of human flesh from the body. The victim's back, buttocks, back of the legs, stomach, upper chest, and face would soon be disfigured by the slashing blows of the whip.

"Historical records describe a victim's back as being so mutilated after a Roman scourging that his spine would actually be exposed. Others recorded how the bowels of a victim would actually spill out through the open wounds created by the whip. The Early Church historian Eusebius wrote, 'The veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.

"The Roman torturer would so aggressively strike the victim that he wouldn't even take the time to untangle the bloody, flesh-filled straps as he lashed the whip across the victim's mangled body over and over again. If the scourging wasn't stopped, the slicing of the whip would eventually flay the victim's flesh off his body.

"With so many blood vessels sliced open by the whip, the victim would begin to experience profuse loss of blood and bodily fluids. The heart would pump harder and harder, struggling to get blood to the parts of the body that were profusely bleeding. But it was like pumping water through an open water hydrant; there was nothing left to stop the blood from pouring through the victim's open wounds.

"This loss of blood caused the victim's blood pressure to drop drastically. Because of the massive loss of bodily fluids, he would experience excruciating thirst, often fainting from the pain and eventually going into shock. Frequently the victim's heartbeat would become so irregular that he would go into cardiac arrest.

"This was a Roman scourging.

"According to Jewish law in Deuteronomy 25:3, the Jews were permitted to give forty lashes to a victim, but because the fortieth lash usually proved fatal, the number of lashes given was reduced to thirty-nine, as Paul noted in 2Corinthians 11:24. But the Romans had NO LIMIT to the number of lashes they could give a victim, and the scourging Jesus experienced was at the hands of the Romans, not Jews. Therefore, it is entirely possible that when the torturer pulled out his scourge to beat Jesus, he may have laid more than forty lashes across His body. In fact, this is even probable in light of the explosive outrage the Jews felt for Jesus and the terrible mocking He had already suffered at the hands of Roman soldiers.

"So when the Bible tells us that Jesus was scourged, we now know exactly what type of beating that Jesus received that night. What toll did the cruel Roman whip exact on Jesus' body? The New Testament doesn't tell us exactly what Jesus looked like after He was scourged, but Isaiah 52:14 says, 'As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.'

"If we take this scripture literally for what it says, we can conclude that Jesus' physical body was marred nearly beyond recognition. As appalling as this sounds, it was only the overture to what was to follow. Matthew 27:26 continues to tell us, 'and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.' This scourging was only the preparation for Jesus' crucifixion!

"Every time I think about the scourging Jesus received that day, I think of the promise of God to us in Isaiah 53:5. This verse says, 'But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed." In this verse, God declares that the price for our healing would be paid by those stripes that were laid across Jesus' back.

"In 1Peter 2:24, the apostle Peter quoted Isaish 53:5. He told his readers, ' whose stripes we are healed.' The word 'stripes' used in this verse is molopsi, which describes a full-body bruise. It refers to a "terrible lashing that draws blood and that produces discoloration and swelling of the entire body. When Peter wrote this verse, he wasn't speaking by revelation but by memory, for he vividly remembered what happened to Jesus that night and what His physical appearance looked like after His scourging.

"After graphically reminding us of the beating, bleeding, and bruising that Jesus endured, Peter jubilantly declared that it was by these same stripes that we are 'healed.' The word 'healed' is the Greed word iaomai--a word that clearly refers to physical healing, as it is a word borrowed from the medical term to describe the 'physical healing or curing of the human body.'

"For those who think this promise refers to spiritual healing only, the Greek word emphatically speaks of the healing of a physical condition. This is a real promise of bodily healing that belongs to all who have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ!

"Jesus' broken body was the payment God demanded to guarantee our physical healing! Just as Jesus willfully took our sins and died on the cross in our place, He also willfully took our sicknesses and pains on Himself when they tied Him to the scourging post and laid those lashes across His body. that horrific scourging paid for our healing!

"If you need healing in your body, you have every right to go to God and ask for healing to come flooding into your system. It's time for you to dig in your heels and hold fast to the promise of God's Word, releasing your faith for the healing that belongs to you."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cherokee Rite of Passage

I am posting this with permission from my Facebook friend, Brown Eagle. It is part of what God has been showing me in various ways of late: the beauty of simplicity in word, art, life.

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee youth's rite of Passage?

His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him, and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone.

Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him . Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump right beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Moral of the story: Just because you can't see God, Doesn't mean He is not there. "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Take Me Deeper

If you're anything like me, worshipping God is more than something that gives you a good feeling on Sunday morning. Worship is an integral part of life. It is as important as breathing~without it, you can't live. But if you're like me, there are times when you can't seem enter in or break through to the realms of heaven when you're worshipping. Could it be that we are attempting to enter into the presence of God with hearts that have been defiled by sin?

Psalm 24:3-5 says, "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart,who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation."

In the Good News Translation, verses 3-4 read, "Who has the right to go up the Lord's hill? Who may enter his holy Temple? 4 Those who are pure in act and in thought, who do not worship idols or make false promises."

Are we innocent or do we need to humble ourselves before His mighty hand, repent of our thoughts, deeds, and our worship of things other than God Himself before we attempt to enter His Holy Presence? Remember the priests of the temple. Before they dared enter the Holy of Holies, they went through ritual cleansing, and yet, wore bells to signal they were still moving, and a rope to drag their bodies from God's presence should they have entered unqualified.

Although we have a High Priest that has torn the veil between us and the presence of the Almighty God, this does NOT give us the right to go before Him haughtily with unclean hands or an unpure heart unless we are going in repentence.

I don't want to stand in the outer court shouting praise to the passing King. I want to be in His presence. I want to know Him like I've never known Him before. But there is a protocol for gaining access to the King's presence.

As for me, I take this moment to repent before God and man. For my many failings, I repent. If there are those I have unwittingly hurt in any way, I ask forgiveness. To my Lord, I come humbly and also ask forgiveness. And I am grateful to have a Father who is quick and faithful to forgive and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness that I may come into His presence once is, after all, what I long for. How about you?

Take Me Deeper
Kathy Lebron ©
April, 2011

We lift our hands to worship God
and enter His holy presence
but criticize, hold grudges,
and gossip with no remorse.

We ask God for signs and wonders
but hang tight to offenses~
we're just shouting from the outer courts...
fringe Christianity with no power to save and heal the lost.

Lord, take me deeper~
past the Holy Place
to the Holiest of Holies.
I long to see Your face.

Take the coal and cleanse my lips.
Take my heart and make it new.
Give me clean hands and a pure heart
that I might truly worship You.

Lord, take me deeper
I want to be with You
I’ve counted the cost
I’ll pay the price
Nothing less will do
No, nothing less than all of You
Take me deeper with You, Lord