Saturday, October 14, 2006

We are moving!

We have begun the process of moving to a new web site.

The new address is see you there!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bible Study Outline - Mark 1:9-11

9At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Mark links John's Ministry with that of Jesus by using parallel wording in verses 5 and 9.

Compare the latter half of verse 5 with the last part of verse 9.

they were baptized by him in the Jordan River Mark 1:5 (NIV)
was baptized by John in the Jordan Mark 1:9 (NIV)

1.What do they tell us about John?

He Baptized people in the Jordan river.
He Baptized Jesus in the Jordan river.

2.How are these verses alike?

They speak of John's ministry of Baptism.

3.How are they different?
The subject changes from John to Jesus

Mark changes the focus from John to Jesus.

Jesus' Baptism was the starting point of His public ministry. When the Apostles were deciding who would replace Judas, Acts 1:21-22 tells us something of the importance of Jesus Baptism

Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." Acts 1:21-22

The Apostle's made it a main criteria for the selection of Judas' replacement.

1.Why was it important that their selection have been with Jesus from Baptism to Resurrection?

He was to be an eyewitness.
He would have been present from the start of Jesus Minnistry to His resurrection.

Jesus knew His baptism was a part of Gods divine plan. It was to proclaim His coming to take the place of Sinners under God's judgment.

John's reaction when Jesus requested he Baptize Him was not positive. John balked at baptizing Him at first, but Jesus insisted. John of course relented as seen in Matthew 3:13-15.

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. Matt 3:13-15 (NIV)

1.What reason does Jesus give John for His Baptism?

“To fulfill all righteousness”

2.Explain in your own words what it means “Fulfill all righteousness”?

John Calvin wrote of the meaning of the phrase Fulfill all righteousness was
“The general reason Christ received Baptism was, that He might render full obedience to the Father and the special reason was, that He might consecrate Baptism in His own body, that we might have it in common with Him.”

Jesus knew in His roll as Messiah, He must submit to all of God's requirements for Israel.

10As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

Jesus upon leaving of the water experienced three distinct and simultaneous events that signaled the inauguration of God's Eschatological Kingdom.

The first listed of these events, the opening or rending of the Heavens was first expressed by the Prophet Isaiah as he pleads with God to come and bring the fires of judgment.

“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,that the mountains would tremble before you!”Isaiah 64:1 (NIV)

This concept was later expanded in Jewish tradition. The Pseudepigrapal Testaments of Levi and Judah seem to anticipate the Baptism of Jesus and speak of the Messiah King as the Star of Jacob.

1.Spurious writings, especially writings falsely attributed to biblical characters or times.
2.A body of texts written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200 and spuriously ascribed to
There is much debate as to the authenticity of these and their companion writings contained in the Testament of the Patriarchs. The Testament of the Patriarchs is said to be the last sayings of each of the 12 Patriarchs.

The Testament of Levi 18:6-8

The heavens shall be opened, And From the temple of glory shall come upon him sanctification, With the Father's voice as from Abraham to Isaac. And the glory of the Most High shall be uttered over him, And the spirit of understanding and sanctification shall rest upon him [in the water]. For he shall give the majesty of the Lord to His sons in truth for evermore; And there shall none succeed him for all generations for ever.

The Testament of Judah 24:1-3

And after these things shall a star arise to you from Jacob in peace, And a man shall arise [from my seed], like the sun of righteousness, walking with the sons of men in meekness and righteousness; And no sin shall be found in him. 2 and the heavens shall be open unto him, To pour out the spirit, (even) the blessing of the Holy Father; 3 And He shall pour out the spirit of grace upon you; And ye shall be unto Him sons in truth, And ye shall walk in His commandments first and last.

The rending or opening of the heavens is significant to second temple Judaism. It was believed that with the cessation of Old Testament prophets, god had stopped speaking directly to His people. It was believed that God spoke only in a faint echo

A long awaited return of God's spirit was signalled with the opening of the
Heavens. A period of Grace beings with Jesus that is unparalleled in its manner.

The Spirit descending was the second sign of Jesus Messiah ship. It was believed that Messiah in the Eschatological age would be endowed with Gods Spirit.

1.How does Mark describe the Spirits descent?

Mark uses a simile, “like a dove” to describe the Spirits descent.

2.How is Mark's description of the Spirits descent important?

Marks description of the Spirit descending magnifies this endowment.

The imagery of a dove is not a “special enlightenment” of Jesus or some kind of inner mystical experience but a supernatural experience.

11And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

The third and final Eschatological sign, the divine declaration by God the Father proclaiming Jesus as the beloved son.

Old Testament imagery abounds, the humble servant of God in spite of feelings of futility is declared by which His splendor is displayed in Isaiah 49.

Just as the suffering servant in Isaiah 49:3, Jesus would face opposition and seeming defeat. Jesus will reveal the will of God and provide the means for salvation Isaiah 49:6.

He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor." Isaiah 49:3

he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." Isaiah 49:6 (NIV)

1.What wonderful truths are stated about Jesus in verse 3 and 6?

Jesus is identified as the “Son of God”, echoing the enthronement of a King of Israel in psalm 2:7

"I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:He said to Me, 'You are My Son,Today I have begotten You. Psalm 2:7 (ESV)

1.How does the enthronement of the King of Israel foreshadow the divine proclamation?

The King of Israel was called “God's son” and as does the divine proclamation expresses the Father's love and unity with the subject.

The divine declaration is unique is its scope. No prophet ever heard words such as these.

Consider God's utterances to the following Children of God.

"But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, Isaiah 41:8 (NIV)

God called Abraham His Friend.

And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. Duet 34:5 (NIV)

Moses His Servant.

He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen. Psalm 105:26 (NIV)

Aaron a chosen one.

1.Take a minute now and ask yourselves by what name would God call me?

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Salvation - Comparing Islam and Christianity

The doctrine of Salvation or Soteriology is our focus for this comparative study. More specifically how Muslims (followers of Islam) and Christians (followers of Christianity), view Salvation and its inherent requirements.

The word Salvation can have many different definitions to various people and religions.

The definition for salvation we will be using comes from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition ;

1.Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil.
2.Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption.

In plain English, we will define salvation as what it takes to get into Heaven or Paradise.

We will investigate the following questions.

1.What do the religions of Islam and Christianity teach in regards to salvation?
2.How is salvation gained by an individual?

The Koranic quotations are taken from by Abdullah Yusufali's translation titled The Meanings Of The Holy Qu'ran unless otherwise noted.

The Biblical texts will be from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, again unless noted otherwise.

By examining what both the Qu'ran and the Bible have to say on the topic of salvation we find that both use the word Grace to describe a mechanism of God's gift of Salvation.

Qu'ran Surah 8:29

O ye who believe! if ye fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (to judge between right and wrong), remove from you (all) evil (that may afflict) you, and forgive you: for Allah is the Lord of grace unbounded.

Bible Deuteronomy 7:9

Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.

Grace shall be defined as the following:

1.a special favor
2.the prerogative of mercy exercised (as by a chief executive) or granted in the form of equitable relief

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Grace is a therefore receiving something we did not deserve or earn through our own actions.

Islam and Christianity diverge however on our need for salvation based on their understanding of Sin.

Christianity teaches that all men and women are born in a fallen state and thus have no hope of the righteousness demanded by God. The Doctrine of Original Sin states that Adam by his conscious description to disobey God ushered death into the world.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. Romans 5:12

[The effects of this first sin were] (1) "shame, a sense of degradation and pollution; (2) dread of the displeasure of God, or a sense of guilt, and the consequent desire to hide from his presence. These effects were unavoidable. They prove the loss not only of innocence but of original righteousness, and, with it, of the favour and fellowship of God. The state therefore to which Adam was reduced by his disobedience, so far as his subjective condition is concerned, was analogous to that of the fallen angels. He was entirely and absolutely ruined" (Hodge's Theology).

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Men and women don't just have a sin nature, they are conceived with a sin nature!

Indeed, I was guilty [when I] was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5

Thus the Biblical understanding of Sin, and our need for Salvation is one of desperation. Salvation is a condition that man can not resolve on his own. As evidenced by Jesus' reply to his astonished Disciples after His rebuke of the rich young man as recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels.

Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." Luke 18:26-27

The Qu'ran like the Bible, states that Adam sinned by disobeying God and eating the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve admitted there sin and begged forgiveness. Allah forgave them, but also punished them with a mortal existence on Earth.

They said: "Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: If thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us Thy Mercy, we shall certainly be lost."
((Allah)) said: "Get ye down. With enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood,- for a time."
He said: "Therein shall ye live, and therein shall ye die; but from it shall ye be taken out (at last)." Surah 7:23-25

Islamic Theologians teach that the nature of man is basically good, but prone to following this own will and not the will of Allah.

Qu'ran Surah 12:53

"Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful."

M.S. Laher in A Living Faith Published by I.M.S states “regarding the Islamic understanding of the nature of man As made by God, man is innocent, pure, true and free. He is not sinful by nature. He is born free from any so called "Original Sin," By nature he inclines to do righteous deeds. He is given true understanding about his own position in the universe and about God's goodness, wisdom and power. That is man's true self - just as it is the nature of the lamb to be gentle and of the horse to be swift.

But man is caught in the web of customs, superstitions, selfish desires and false teachings. These make him unclean, false, slavish, greedy, lustful and selfish. It is these that make him have strong desires for things that are wrong and forbidden. Man is diverted from the love of his fellowman, and the pure worship of the One True God. The problem is to cure this crookedness and to restore human nature to what it should be under the Will of God.”

The Christian view of Sin is that due to Adam's sin all men are born with the propensity to sin.

The Islamic view of Adam's sin is of a personal nature, what Adam did is not applicable to anyone but Adam. That our sin is personal and men have the ability to not sin and thus follow Allah's will.

The first step, which until now had been unspoken and that is Faith. What are the requirements of “Faith”?

The Muslim to be must first express his faith in Allah and his prophet Muhammad. The convert needs to make a declaration, known as la-shahaadatain. This declaration of faith has two parts one swearing fealty to Allah and the acknowledges his messenger Muhammad.
The Arabic transliteration is as follows;

1.Ash-hadu alla ilaaha illallah
2.Wa ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ar-rasool ullaah

The English translation would be :

1.I bear witness and attest that there is no god worthy of worship but the One God Allah
2.I bear witness and attest that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah
For the Muslim this is the required first step.

The Christian is called to an expression of faith in a similar fashion; Romans 10:9 states
“If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

John 1:12 further states
“but to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,”

Paraphrasing the two verses they say, believing and confessing that Jesus is Lord and Saviour makes you a child of God. The words used are far less important than the sentiment expressed.

The Bible teaches that Christians are saved out of the loving kindness of God's good grace, nothing else is required.

But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved! Ephesians 2:4-5

The Qu'ran actually has three additional criteria that must be met, these are

2.leading each other to the truth
3.leading each other to patience.

All of these are expressed in the 103:1-3. We will discuss only one of these requirements for brevity's sake and that will be deeds.

Qu'ran Surah 103:1-3

By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), Verily Man is in loss, Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.

At puberty a ledger of good and bad deeds starts accumulating. This ledger of deeds is used by God to judge the persons fate. Islam teaches that our good deeds can position us to receive mercy, and thus admission to Paradise. The Muslim can never know which side of the scale is holding the heavier balance. That of his good deeds possibly leading to Paradise or that of his evil deeds pointing to Hell.

Qu'ran Surah 23:101-103

Then when the Trumpet is blown, there will be no more relationships between them that Day, nor will one ask after another! Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy,- they will attain salvation: But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide.

With no assurance they have done enough good to earn their way into Paradise,outside of martyrdom, Islamic concept of grace is more a reward than a gift.

The Christian can take solace in the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as recorded in John 5:24

"I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.

The Greek word translated as “has” is echo (ekh'-o) and means to have, to own and to possess. Christ tells us we can be assured we are His. In Christianity the Child of God HAS everlasting life.

To summarize the questions we set out to answer;

1.What do the religions of Islam and Christianity teach in regards to salvation?

The Muslims need for a Saviour is non-existent due to the ability of each individual to choose to not sin. Islam teaches that humans are generally good by nature. Thus Salvation is a foreign concept in Islamic teachings.
The Christian teaching of Sin and are the need for an unblemished, right before God sacrifice, dictate the need for a Savior.

2.How is salvation gained by an individual?

The Muslim must have faith in Allah, do more good than bad, teach each other truth and patience.
The Christian must make Jesus Christ Lord of their lives.

I hope I have answered the questions set forth earlier in this study. If you have any questions or need further explanation, please feel free to write me at or visit my Web Log at

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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Word of the Week - Baptism, John's

John’s was not Christian baptism, nor was that which was practised by the disciples previous to our Lord's crucifixion.
Till then the New Testament economy did not exist. John's baptism bound its subjects to repentance, and not to the faith of Christ. It was not administered in the name of the Trinity, and those whom John baptized were rebaptized by Paul (Acts 18:24; 19:7).

Easton's Bible Dictionary
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bible Study Outline - Mark 1:4-8

After stating the prophesies of Malachi and Isaiah in verses 2 and 3, Mark quickly tells us of the coming of John.

4And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

After stating the prophesies of Malachi and Isaiah in verses 2 and 3, Mark quickly tells us of the coming of John.

1.What is Mark saying by moving so quickly from the prophecies of Malachi and Isaiah to ministry of John?
John is the fulfillment of the prophecies.

2.Looking back to verses 1 through 3, what do these prophecies say about John?
He is the messenger who clears the way.
He will come in the desert/wilderness.
Preaching a Baptism of Repentance

The people of Israel had been without a prophet for some 400 years.

1.What does Hosea (3:4-5) say about this inter testamental period, that is the time between the Old and the New Testament.

For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days. Hosea (3:4-5) NIV

The Israelites would live without God or His representative.
The Israelites would one day return.
Many Israelites repented at Pentecost.

2.How do you think the people pf Israel might have viewed John's coming after all those years?
The crowds are making the pilgrimage to see the figure who is announcing the fulfillment of Israel's destiny.

3.What does this long period of time between prophets tell us about God's time.
God's time is far different than that of men.

4.How should it change our thinking knowing that God operates on a different time schedule than we do?
It is a reason for rejoicing, for He is long suffering

John's Ministry was one of active participation, He came and Baptized anyone who was willing.

5.What point was Mark making regarding John's Baptizing?

John called all people to Baptism as a symbol of moral and spiritual regeneration. Mark does not tell us of certain things about John represented in the other Gospels, such as his birth Luke (1), his disagreement with the dominant schools of Judaism Matt (3:7-10) Luke (3:7-9).

John's Ministry took place mostly in the wilderness or desert.

1.What other events in Biblical history have taken place in the desert?
2.What significances is there to john's Ministry taking place in the desert or wilderness?
It would remind Israel of her Covenantal origins in the Exodus (Jere 2:2)

The wilderness was a place of redemption to Israel and thus God's place of Grace.

Mark portrays John as the fulfiller of Elijah's climatic role of the forerunner to the one who was more powerful.

John by appearing in the wilderness fulfills both the Mosaic and prophetic prototypes.

It is a re-enactment of the inaugural event in Israels history and that is the Exodus. The Israelites were leaving the city and returning to the wilderness.

It also fulfills the promise of the prophets since the area around the Jordan is the same region associated with Elijah 2 Kings (2:6) Luke (3:3)

Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan." 2 Kings (2:6)

He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Luke (3:3)

John calls people out of their comfortable homes and away from the Temple to a Baptism of Repentance the forgiveness of Sins.

1.What does John mean by repentance?
The Greek word used for Repentance is Metanoia (met-an'-oy-ah). Metanoia is a compound word meaning both “to change ones mind” and “to alter ones understanding”. Meaning conscious thought and a willful act as opposed to a faith built on feelings
2.For the forgiveness of Sin?

1.For the forgiveness of Sin, John does not bestow forgiveness.
Forgiveness belongs to the new Covenant which the Messiah will bring. Jere 31:34

No longer will a man teach his neighbor,or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Jer (31:34) NIV

2.Who was John calling to repentance?
The call is to not only notorious sinners Luke (3:12-13) and Gentiles Luke (3:14) but to the righteous as well Matt (3:7-12)

Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them.
Luke (3:12-13) NIV

Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely—be content with your pay."
Luke (3:14) NIV

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Matt (3:7-12) NIV

Josephus writing in Antiquities underscores John's call to reform in 18:116-118 thusly:

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him.

Josephus actually pays more attention to John than he does to Jesus. John's attraction and influence on the world were historical.

5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

1.Who does Mark say responded to John's message?
Hyperbole/ Literary exaggeration – Indicates the Covenantal people went out to be Baptized, probably as families.

2.How far did John's message of repetances travel?
The response to John's message reached Jerusalem and probably the Temple itself. John drew people from far and wide.
John's message was carried as far away as Ephesus 2 to 3 decades recorded in Acts (19:1-7 )

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"

They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied.

Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. Acts (19:1-7) NIV

3.Why do you think John received so much attention?
Many Jews believed there had not been a prophet since Malachi and prophets would not be restored until near the end of the age.

John's message was heard far and wide.

6John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

1.What about verse 6 strikes you as odd?
John's garb and diet were as unusual in his day as they would be in ours, however they weren't entirely unique. Zec (13:4).

"On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision. He will not put on a prophet's garment of hair in order to deceive. Zec (13:4) NIV

Locusts were exceptable under Jewish dietary laws Lev (11:22) NIV

Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. Lev (11:22) NIV

John's manner of dress and choice of food recalled Eljah, who was expected to return before the end Hos (4:5-6).

John not only associated himself with Elijah by diet and dress, his criticizing of Herod Antipas echo Elijah's confrontation with Ahab. 1 Kings 18:18

7And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

1.What does John's use of a metaphor of that time period,”unworthhy to untie his sandals”, tell us about his attitude? John 3:30
Only Gentile slaves preformed this duty. John 3:30

8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Mark concentrates on John's message of reform and of the one more powerful.
John's Baptism was symbolic and pointed to a more powerful and permanent reality. In the Old Testament only God bestowed the Spirit.

1.What is John saying about Jesus by saying “He will baptize with the Holy Spirit”?
Jesus has the power of God the Father.
Baptism of the Spirit is greater then water Baptism.
The reference to the Holy Spirit identifies this as coming from the Father.

Mark testifies to the fact that Jesus' coming was not a random event. In the Old Testament the Bestowing of the Spirit was the prerogative of God.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Word of the Week - Amillennialist

The amillennialist believes that the Kingdom of God was inaugurated at Christ's resurrection (hence the term "inaugurated millennialism") at which point he gained victory over both Satan and the Curse. Christ is even now reigning (hence the term "nunc-millennialism" — nunc means "now") at the right hand of the Father over His church. After this present age has ended, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked. The term "amillennialism" is actually a misnomer for it implies that Revelation 20:1-6 is ignored; in fact, the amillennialist's hermeneutic interprets it (and in fact, much of apocalyptic literature) non-literally.

A Special thanks to The Blue Letter Bible

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Friday, September 22, 2006

When tribulation comes...

Anyone can attest to the fact that, pain and suffering are part of our every day existence. It goes back to the earliest time period, back to the fall of humankind into depravity. All the way back to the time of Genesis, chapter 3, and the Fall itself.

Pain, suffering and even death did not exist in this world until that infamous act. The eating of the forbidden fruit. This one indiscretion by Adam and Eve allowed Sin into enter the world. Bringing with it death and its associates anxiety, anguish ,despair and all manner of afflictions. Romans (5:14)

Due to this one rebellious act the whole of creation was corrupted. Everything from our will, to our physical being. Including the entirety of creation, everything under Heaven. Romans (8:22)
Genesis (3:17-18)

As I write, I am sitting in the waiting room of our local hospital's radiology department. Waiting my turn on the CT Scanner.

Two summers back I was hit with a double whammy of a medical diagnosis. It turned out the lump on my scalp was cancerous. A B-cell lymphoma. To top it off the tremor that had developed in my right hand was the result of Parkinson's Disease.

A month or two prior to these diagnosis' I had read the book of James in preparation for leading our small group through it over the summer.

The words of James the brother of Jesus kept returning to my mind during this potentially devastating time.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:2-4 (NIV)

God was using my time of trial to work changes in me! I had learned from my study of James, to look for His will even the seemingly "bad" things. He proved Himself present by using my afflictions to bring me closer to Him! All of this is part of His plan and so am I. As are you!

Whatever affliction or hardship you are facing! Whatever anguish or distress you are currently undergoing! Is all part of His plan and His plan is pure good!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,who have been called according to his purpose. Romans (8:28)

God uses our difficulties to bring about changes He wants in us, if we will only trust in Him. Take comfort in the One who created you. 2 Cor (1:3-4)

When tribulations come, and they will, might I be so bold as to suggest you consider this life a trial run. Keep your eyes on His promise of a far better world to be.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Rev 21:4 (NIV)

Then you will begin to understand all things as a gift from God. In closing I borrow from the Apostle John as he closes the book of Revelation and The Bible with :

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Rev 22:20 (NIV)

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