Tuesday, February 21, 2012

CRUCIFIXION

I will have you recall John 19:31-37 -  Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.  The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.  But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.  Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."

This prophecy of no bone broken at The Crucifixion of Jesus is foreshadowed in Old Testament verses. 
 "a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones;" - Psalm 22:16-17 

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. - Psalm 34:19-20

Jesus is foreseen as the Christian's Passover Lamb that was slain without the breaking of any bones.
"It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones." - Exodus 12:46
"They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations." - Numbers 9:12 

Joseph Zias, former curator of Archaeology/Anthropology for the Israel Antiquities Authority from 1972 to 1997 has posted some interesting thoughts on crucifixion in the time of Jesus (http://www.centuryone.org/crucifixion2.html).  The following information is from his article "Crucifixion In Antiquity:  The Evidence".

"The complicated and much debated issue regarding how the individual expired on the cross has generated widespread debate over the years. While many researchers have believed that death occurred as the result of a ruptured heart due to the story in John 19:34 of the water and blood flowing out of the wound, pathologists such as Zugibe, have ruled this out as medically untenable. Other scholars have regarded asphyxiation as being the cause of death, however the latest research findings have shown the issue to be more complicated, depending upon the manner in which the victim was affixed to the cross. A series of experiments carried out by an American medical examiner and pathologist on college students who volunteered to be tied to crosses, showed that if the students were suspended from crosses with their arms outstretched in the traditional manner depicted in Christian art, they experienced no problems breathing. Thus the often quoted theory that death on the cross is the result of asphyxiation is no longer tenable if the arms are outstretched.

According to the physiological response of the students, which was closely monitored by Zugibe, death in this manner is the result of the victim going into hypovolemic shock. Death is this manner can be in, a manner of hours, or days depending on the manner in which the victim is affixed to the cross. If the victim is crucified with a small seat, a sedile, affixed to the uptight for minimum support in the region of the buttocks, death can be prolonged for hours and days. In fact, Josephus reports that three friends of his were being crucified in Thecoa by the Romans who, upon intervention by Josephus to Titus were removed from the crosses and with medical care one survived.

If, however, the victims are tied with their hands extended over their heads and left hanging, death can occur within an hour or, in minutes if the victims legs are nailed so that he cannot use his arms to elevate the body to exhale. For exhaling to occur in a normal manner two sets of muscles are needed, the diaphragm and. the intercostalis muscles between the ribs. With the victims being suspended by their arms directly over their heads, these sets of muscles cannot function properly which results in the victims inability to exhale and results in asphyxiation. Eyewitness accounts by prisoners of war in Dachau during WWII reported that victims suspended from beams by their wrist, which were tied, expired within ten minutes if their feet were weighted or tied down and within one hour if their feet were unweighted and the victim was able to raise and lower himself to permit respiration. Death in this manner, which is one form of crucifixion, was the result of suffocation.

As a deterrent in the ancient world, many of its victims were crucified where the criminal event took place as was the case with thieves or along the cities busiest thoroughfares. The situation can perhaps best be summed up by Quintilian who wrote that, "whenever we crucify the guilty, the most, crowded roads are chosen, where most people can see and be moved by this fear. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect."

As one of the main objectives of this cruel method of execution was its deterrent value, Roman authorities also devised various means whereby the victim could remain on the cross for days in public before eventually expiring. Thus the manner in which the victims were crucified was not fixed by law but appears dependent on the number of individuals involved, the sadistic ingenuity of those carrying out the execution and the time needed for this spectacle to have its maximum deterrent effect.

Giving the victim a proper burial following death on the cross, during the Roman period was rare and in most cases simply not permitted in order to continue the humiliation. Thus the victim was in many cases simply thrown on the garbage dump of the city or left on the cross as food for wild beasts and birds of prey."

Although Mr. Zias has provided information on the variety of ways someone may be crucified, we know that Jesus received the nails.  In Luke 24:39, Jesus appears to the disciples after He had risen from the dead and says, "Look at my hands and my feet.  It is I myself!"  Why would he draw attention specifically to His hands and feet if that were of no importance to belief in how He had just died days before.  Also, in John 20:24-28 Jesus deals with Thomas' unbelief.  In verse 26 it says, "But he [Thomas] said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.'"   A verse later, "Then he [Jesus] said to Thomas 'Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe.' "

So, Jesus was crucified with nails probably the size and shape of a railroad spike.  In addition, these nails had to be strategically placed to produce the most suffering (according to Roman aggression) and fulfill prophecy - no bone broken.

Again, Mr. Zias aides us with a display and description of someone who actually was crucified with a nail in the feet.
"In 1968 building contractors working in a suburb north of Jerusalem accidentally uncovered a Jewish tomb dated to the first century after the death of Christ.  Lying in a Jewish ossuary bearing the Hebrew inscription 'Jehohanan the son of HGQWL' were the skeletal remains of a man in his twenties, who had been crucified. The evidence for this was based on the right calcaneum (heel bone) of the individual, pierced by an iron nail 11.5 cms. in length. The nail penetrated the lateral surface of the bone emerging on the middle of the surface in which the tip of the nail had become bent. The bending of the tip of the nail upon itself suggests that after the nail penetrated the tree or the upright it may have struck a knot in the wood thereby making it difficult to remove from the heel when the victim was taken from the cross.

Remains of olive wood found between the head of the nail and the heel bone suggest that prior to penetrating the heel bone the nail was driven through a wooden plaque so as to increase the head of the nail thus making it difficult for the victim to free his legs from the upright."


 
This might be the way Jesus was crucified in His feet - on either side of the vertical cross beam, so as to fulfill the prophecy that no bone would be broken.  Clearly, if a railroad spike type nail goes through the top of the foot there is a good chance the bone is going to shatter.  Another entry point could have been between the Achilles tendon and the ankle bone at the back of the foot.

The nails in the hands had to have entered between the two wrist bones - the Radius and the Ulna bones.
If the railroad-spike-like nail had entered into the palm area of the hand, the hand bones would have been broken from the hammering first of all.  Second, the body weight from hanging on the cross would have torn Jesus off the cross when He gave up the ghost.  Thirdly, I have heard it taught that the Romans considered the wrist, where they placed the nail, as part of the hand.  One source I have seen documented on this is - Davis CT: The crucifixion of Jesus: The passion of Christ from a medical point of view. Ariz Med 1965;22:183-187.  And yet one more source is - Barbet P: A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Out Lold Jesus Christ as Described by a Surgeon, Earl of Wicklow (trans) Garden City, NY, Doubleday Image Books 1953, pp 12-18 37-147, 159-175, 187-208.
 
So, the picture we have is of Jesus crucified with a nail through each wrist, between the Radius and Ulna bones.  Then we have an image of two nails used to keep each foot to each side of the vertical beam of the cross.  
 
If there was any part of this equation (the hands or feet) that I would give a little "wiggle room" to - it would be the feet.  From looking at our feet from a top-down view, if a nail missed the long toe bones, I could concede the feet nailed from above.  But so much packed into such a small area and Romans not caring what they hit, I'll stick with a sideways approach of some sort - whether it be through the heel bone or Achilles Heel area.  
 
 
Knowing that prophecy was fulfilled on so many levels before, during, and after the trial, flogging, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ thrills my spirit.  However, some individuals are going to read this and disregard the details and go straight to the overall picture - the salvation of the world.  But I challenge those personality types to NOT do that here or ANYMORE, but start examining the details.  There is an old saying that "the devil is in the details", but it is PAINFULLY Clear that in this situation, in the story of our salvation and in particular the crucifixion - God is in the details!  He said not one bone would be broken for a reason - that it would come to pass and it did.  To understand how God orchestrated cultures so that this method would be used to kill The Savior is not a study in vain.  There is richness and satisfaction beyond words when one digs a little deeper.  I found this to be true as I wrote this.  My heart and spirit were moved at the same time my brain was stimulated.  He is in control of the smallest details as well as the overall picture, don't overlook those details they are great nuggets of truth to examine.







 




Friday, February 17, 2012

THE GENERATION THAT WILL NOT PASS AWAY

"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." - Matthew 24:34

Put another way...The generation that witnesses the things spoken of between Matthew 24:4-30 will not pass away before ALL those events transpire. (for all of the events foretold in verses 4-30 will occur within the time span of a generation, a certain generation).

The main timing mechanism for the start of "The Generation" that will see all these things is reunified and nationalized Israel.  The people of Israel were scattered throughout the nations of the world until May of 1948.  Since then, they have been harassed by their neighbors and even threatened to be wiped off the face of the planet, but still remain by the grace and many promises of God.  Many believe the story of the Fig Tree to be a huge symbolic picture of Israel mentioned in Scripture.  Matthew 21:18-22 speaks to Israel missing Christ's first visitation.  "Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry.  Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.  When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."    Luke 13:6-9 mentions Israel rejecting Jesus' three-year ministry, but receives one more year as a chance to accept Him as their Messiah. "Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any.  So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' " 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' "    Matthew 24:32 pictures Israel as a time-piece or stopwatch that must be observed closely, especially since the re-creation of Israel as a nation. "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near." 

Now, the exciting question is - how long is a Generation?  According to Psalm 90:10 - "The length of our days is seventy years-- or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." I don't believe in specific date setting.  However, I do believe we can know the Season of His Rapture of true believers.  Let us do the math - If you go out the max of 80 years from 1948 you get 2028.  Then subtract 7 years to account for the Tribulation and you get the year 2021.   So, for those who believe in a Pre-Tribulational Rapture, like me, anytime for the next 9 years is the Season to be looking for your redemption to draw near, according to this calculation. 

This special Generation was future for the generation Jesus was speaking to because of what we know Jesus said would happen and what has NOT happened yet in history paralleled to His words.  Taken from a study by Daymond Duck (http://www.raptureready.com/featured/duck/dd16.html) - “the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the Holy place” has not happened. "There’s no evidence of a seven-year covenant for peace in the Middle East when Jesus said these things.  Jesus talked about “great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world, no nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). It’s a stretch to say that 70 A.D. was worse than the Flood, worse than WWI, worse than WW II, worse than the Holocaust, or worse than anything that will happen in the future.  Jesus said, “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:21). No one came close to destroying the Romans Empire or everyone on earth in 70 A.D. There’s no evidence that Jesus came back and prevented anything like this from happening. For another thing, Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31). There’s no evidence of a darkened sun and moon, falling stars, everyone seeing Jesus, everyone on earth mourning, trumpets sounding, and all the elect being gathered together in 70 A.D."

However, there are events within Matthew 24:4-30 that have been occurring since Jesus prophesied them, but they happen like "birth pains/pangs" - greater intensity and greater frequency over time.  "Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, ' and will deceive many.  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains." - Matthew 24:4-8  

Matthew 24:36 says, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  When Christ said these words He had given up His Glory and clothed Himself with humanity.  I believe when He said those words they WERE true.  NOW, I believe He knows the Father's mind, because He is seated at the right hand of the Father and is one with Him.  How can God, who knows all things and is now together in heaven with each other, withhold information from Himself?  Get your brain around that one.  The main point is that WE don't know when Jesus is going to Rapture true believers back home with Him.  We are to be Working and Watching.  Telling people about God's saving grace through Jesus Christ our Lord and being ready for His rapturing away of us by living a Spirit-led, Christ-like life with God's help.

From studying Scripture(s) the future national and world conditions are going to worsen in the near future.  But there is hope.  True believers could definitely be off this "rock" within 9 years.  We could be in paradise in the next brea....("breath" for those that didn't get that).  No matter when Jesus comes for us, just be ready.  Buckle your seat belts this world is about to rock and roll and true believers are about to blast off.  







Tuesday, February 14, 2012

THE BEGINNING

I would like to propose an interpretation, possible translation, but definitely study of Genesis 1:1-2.

These verses I will be dissecting read like this in the New International Version -  Genesis 1:1-2 - "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." 

My translation is as follows...

Back at the start of all that humans can observe in space and time there was God and He is responsible for creating the heavens and all that is in them and the earth and all that is on and in them.  However, at this time allow me to take you back to the time when the earth was not formed yet, all the plans for earth and heaven were still in God's mind.  Then there was a tangible darkness which covered the first layer of the abyss and God's presence hovered, rested, and meditated over the sewer-like liquid of the abyssal darkness.

Now to how I got this translation.

Verse 1 of the original text states "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  This statement is a stand alone statement that lets the reader know that God is the one responsible for Creation.  The next verse/sentence to follow starts with the word "Now" which indicates a specific time that the reader is about to identify and he does - when "the earth was formless and empty" or when the earth was only in existence in the mind of God and Not physically created yet.  The rest of the verse starting with "darkness..." are extra details that I will now explain.

When I looked up the original Hebrew for the word "darkness" - Choshek - the words that I found were:  misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness.  As opposed to the absence of light.  1 John 1:5 - "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:  God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all." (New International Version)  In addition, James 1:17 - "Every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven; it comes down from God, the Creator of heavenly lights, who does not change or cause darkness by turning." (Good News Bible Translation)  To me, "darkness" sounds like a description of the fallen cherub - Lucifer. 

According to my knowledge of Christendom, none of these negative things existed until Lucifer was demoted.  I call it a "demotion" because Satan still has access to God's throne for he is called "The Accuser of the Brethren" (Revelation 12:10).  Conceding the original verse, I would place his Rebellion (Ezekiel 28:11-19) somewhere between God creating all things in the Spiritual Realm and Him creating the known, physical universe.  The one-third of angelic host that Lucifer convinces to join his ranks has to have an "earth" to be banished or flung to according to Revelation 12:4 -"His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth."  So, this violent persuasion occurred sometime after the creation of the earth.  Many believers know that fallen Lucifer, in the form of a serpent, came to Eve and enticed her to sin.  But the time frame between the creation of man/woman and the temptation of Adam and Eve is not given.  Believers know that God walked with man in the cool of the day for a while and enjoyed  harmonious fellowship/relationship with each other while being stewards over what God created on the earth (Genesis 2:4-3:19).  But again, the amount of time in this state with God is a mystery.

The descriptive words of "darkness" which allude to Lucifer's existence as a fallen being, also support the reality of angels at this time.  Again according to Ezekiel 28 Lucifer was God's perfected creation " 'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty."  A created, angelic being of the Cherubim Class that enjoyed the privilege of being the next best being down from God.  Job 38:4-7 also speaks to other angels at the beginning by saying, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.  Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?  On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone--  while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" Read that verse backwards and it becomes clear that the Spiritual Realm, including the angels, had to be in existence before the creation because the angels "shouted for joy" while God was speaking Creation into existence.  As a side note "morning stars" and "angels" seem to be two different things in this verse.  I have heard it said by some scientists that the first stars that exploded into being ("morning stars") probably made a sound that still reverberates through the universe and we just have to tune to the right channel to hear it properly.  While the holy "angels" are much more than exploding balls of gas and light.  They are spiritual beings. 

So, according to my study of the word "darkness", the view seems to be one of fallen Lucifer covering the "surface" or first layer of "the deep" or abyss (Teh-home in Hebrew) as it is defined in the original Hebrew.

I translate "the Spirit of God" into God's Presence because of personal preference.  Even though both are one-in-the-same, saying God's Presence reminds me of His - Omnipresence and those times when He manifests His direct presence, like when someone who has a presence about them walks into a room and you cannot help but notice him/her.

"Hovered", when I looked up the original Hebrew, had those meanings that I mentioned in the translation - hovered, rested, and meditated.  Other translations had "brooded". 

"Waters" had an interesting definition.  When looking up the original Hebrew I found such descriptive words as - urine, semen, piss, and wasting.  Yuck!  The Spiritual Realm, before the creation of the physical universe, and maybe even God's Throne itself (definitely His presence) seems to sit atop a "sewer system" whose warden is none other than fallen Lucifer or Satan.   

Here is something else to ponder.  The scientific community has hypothesized an ingredient in the Big Bang Theory.  It involves the existence of something scientists call Dark MatterAccording to dictionary.com this is a hypothetical form of matter invisible to electromagnetic radiation, postulated to account for gravitational forces observed in the universe.  The interesting thing is, the main verse, Genesis 1:1-2, may speak to this Dark Matter and it's role in the Creation Story. 


What if the "sweeping of Satan's tail" of a third of the angelic host of heaven after the earth was formed (therefore possibly the whole universe) had something to do in God's plan with the creation of gravity and Dark Matter's role in gravity.  It is Not that God needs this Dark Matter that Lucifer provided and still provides, but that it was designed by God to happen that way.  One thing we know for sure - "He [Jesus] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:17)

After studying this verse and giving you this breakdown, I imagine this scenario - God and God's creation of His Spiritual Kingdom before the Creation of the physical Universe.  Who knows how long everything goes fine.  However, Lucifer rebels and finds himself seriously demoted to the overseer of the realm's sewer-system which Satan created with his pride.  Who knows there could be links to the idea of Hell and the Lake of Fire here, but the sewer-like picture we are given does not present itself with fire.  Maybe that comes later. 

Then we have the Creation of the very first thing in the physical universe - light.  God goes on to create from there all that is.  When God gets around to creating us and treasuring our relationship the way He did and does, I get the image of Satan having an "Ah-Ha" (evil-villan) moment.  Desiring to hurt God where it matters most Satan aims at God's image, humanity, to bring rebellion into their existence.  Misery loves company.  And so we gave into the "craftiness", the lie(s) of the Father of Lies and rebellion/sin entered our human-nature.  Nature was also cursed.

But God....

Many know this, but here it is again - "For God SO LOVED the world that HE GAVE His one and only Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him WILL NOT PERISH, but have eternal life." - John 3:16

In addition to this and all that has been stated 1 Peter 1:20 declares, "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake."  Wow!  Father God had a plan and Jesus was on board before the creation, which lines up with Luke 14:28-31 - "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?"

Think on this - He counted the cost and thought us worthy enough to live, teach, suffer, die, resurrect and come back for!  What A Friend I Have In Jesus!

 


  










Thursday, February 9, 2012

BE ALL YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE

The following thoughts are highly influenced by and sometimes taken directly from two devotionals that come from Sparkling Gems From the Greek by Rick Renner.   The two devotionals are:  "It's Time for You To Stop Acting Like You're A Victim!" (pp.74-76) and "The Holy Spirit Wants To Place A Razor-Sharp Sword in Your Hands" (pp.77-79). 

Many of us, including myself, exhibit a knee-jerk reaction of fear, worry, or worse when problems, issues, or blatant attacks come our way.  Scripture says it does not have to be that way.  If I knew the Scripture like the back-of-my-hand, like I want to, I could use those Words of God that apply and speak it into the situation.  We all could apply God's Word if we would just stay in God's Word, The Bible, and really soak up His teachings and do our best to memorize verses.  What you cannot sink into your head-knowledge, I believe, God will quicken to your Spirit when you need it (assuming you have read it).

One of the first items to be addressed here, in order to be all you are supposed to be in Christ, is the right mindset or attitude.  For this correct frame of mind Mr. Rick Renner appropriately uses Colossians 2:15 which says, "And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."  Our enemy is defeated!  Not only that but look at how he was defeated! 

Spoiled translates in the Greek as "put off" according to my e-Sword resource.  According to the NIV translation the word spoiled is deemed "disarmed".  Jesus "disarmed principalities and powers"!  Mr. Renner pulls out the word "openly" (parresia in the Greek) in this verse.  This word comes in the next phrase.  He says, "By using the word parresia, Paul declares that when Jesus was finishing His dealings with Satan, His victory over the devil was no 'quiet affair'.  Quite the contrary!  Jesus boldly, confidently, and loudly exposed and displayed this now-defunct foe to Heaven's hosts.  Make no mistake!  When Jesus 'made a shew of them openly,' it was quite a spectacular show!" (p.75)  Rick goes even a step further and speaks to the word "triumph" in this verse.  He describes how it relates to when generals would return from victory in the enemies territory with his soldiers and the spoils by his side (sounds like Revelation 19:11-21), but the defeated ruler out in front of the general - seen as the ultimate trophy to the battle.  So, not only was the event vociferous and public, but it was meant as a statement, Loud-and-Clear, to anyone who could hear - this was the end of the matter!

Pay attention.  "Because of Jesus' death on the Cross and His resurrection from the dead, the forces of hell are already defeated.  However, even though they have been legally stripped of their authority and power, they continue to roam around this earth, carrying out evil deeds like criminals, bandits, hooligans, and thugs.  And just like criminals who refuse to submit to the law, these evil spirits will continue to operate in this world until some believer used his God-given authority to enforce their defeat!
We need to get ahold of this truth:  These demonic forces are legally stripped of their authority and are defeated!  We are not puny, struggling believers who are somehow trying to learn how to cope with the devil's attacks against us.  We're not merely trying to learn how to scrape by or survive.  Jesus' death and resurrection gave us the legal authority to keep Satan under our feet, so we must always make sure we approach spiritual warfare as victors and not victims." (pp. 74-75)

Now that we have the right attitude or mindset established, we need the right tools in our hands to be effective for the one who loved us first - Jesus.

Ephesians 6:17 says, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."   In this verse we have our offensive weapon defined for us - the sword:  the word of God.  For me, and possibly many others, "the word of God" automatically means all the verses in the Bible.  However, according to Rick Renner's study of the original Greek for "word" the translation is rendered rhema or a quickening word by the Holy Spirit.  Mr. Renner reminds us that a rhema word is when the Holy Spirit recalls a verse to our mind that appropriately applies to the situation at hand.  But, what screams louder than a trumpet call at this point is that everyone must know the Scriptures or Bible first in order for the Holy Spirit to have something to quicken.  If we have this in our lives and continue to "sharpen our sword" (keep reading the Bible) then we will be able to inflict serious damage to our enemy!  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." - Ephesians 6:12

Know thyself victorious in Christ through His armor and Sword, which is His Word.
And know thy enemy - defeated.  You just have to remind him the ole fashion way.





Tuesday, February 7, 2012

DON'T IGNORE THE LAST WORDS

DON’T IGNORE THE LAST WORDS!
 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. – Ephesians 6:10

In order to understand and grasp the magnitude of the importance of this verse one must observe how important the word “finally” is here.  It is taken from the Greek phrase tou loipou meaning in conclusion or in summation.  It is also a phrase that “depicts something so extremely important that it is placed at the very end of the letter.  This way if the reader remembers nothing else in the letter, he will be more likely to remember this one thing.” (p.68, Sparkling Gems from the Greek) 

The verses after Ephesians 6:10 describe the Armor of God.  However, it is everything that is mentioned prior to this in the book of Ephesians that makes you appreciate this passage more. 

“The book of Ephesians contains some of the deepest theological teaching in the New Testament.
§  The election of the saints (Ephesians 1:4)
§  The predestination work of God (Ephesians 1:5)
§  The adoption of the sons of God (Ephesians 1:5)
§  The dispensation of the fullness of times (Ephesians 1:10)
§  The sealing of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)
§  The earnest of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:14)
§  The power of God that is available to every believer (Ephesians 1:19)
§  The grace of God (Ephesians 2:1-10)
§  The eternal plan of God (Ephesians 3:10-11)
§  The fivefold ministry gifts (Ephesians 4:11-13)
§  The infilling with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-19)
§  And the list goes on…” (p.68, Sparkling Gems From the Greek)

Notice that in previous letters to other churches and in the previous chapters to this very church in Ephesus, Paul instructs the believer on ways to live the victorious Christian life.  However, this largest church of its day took the information down but seemed not to apply much of it.  Therefore, two things came about – (1) the devil still worked effectively among the members there and (2) it warranted the focus of what came after “finally” in Ephesians 6:10 – the Armor of God or a teaching on spiritual warfare.

So, that is why Paul said, “Finally…”.  Just in case the believer is Ephesus did not recall anything else in the previous chapters, Paul wanted them to remember that they must have these spiritual weapons to keep the devil at bay.
 
Are you suited with His “Helmet of Salvation”, “Breastplate of Righteousness”, “Belt of Truth”, “Shoes of Peace”, “Shield of Faith”, and “Sword of the Spirit”?  Know the function of each one and pray for the application to your spiritual body each day.  And be watchful for the "finallys" in Scripture.