An Overview of The Gospels

 Gospels

Have you ever wondered why there are four Gospels? Sometimes the information is identical, similar, or totally new. Only two of the gospels have a genealogy but they are not the same. Did the Gospel writers write from experience? Did they compare notes and validate stories before finalizing their writings? I will attempt to address these questions and more.

First thing to keep in mind is that no verse of scripture is available to inject our opinions according to 2 Peter chapter 1,

20 But, above all, remember that no prophecy in Scripture will be found to have come from the prophet’s own prompting;

21 for never did any prophecy come by human will, but men sent by God spoke as they were impelled by the Holy Spirit

This means that 1) we don’t get to guess what scripture means and 2) Holy men of spoke while being inspired by the Holy Spirit.   A third principle to consider is 2 Timothy 3

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

“Given by inspiration of God” means God breathed. In Genesis God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul. When God breathed into scripture it became the living Word. We need to keep these three principles (1- no verse is to be privately interpreted, 2- the writers were inspired by God, 3- all Scripture is God breathed and profitable) in mind when evaluating the source of the any of the books of the Bible including the Gospels. God provided them the story, idea, and context but they wrote with their own vocabularies and styles. God is the author of the Bible but there are many writers.

The key to understanding the Gospels is the word branch which is translated from the Hebrew word tsemach. Tsemach means shoot, growth or branch. The life of the fruits, leafs, twigs, and limbs are dependent on their connection to the trunk/roots via the branch. Tsemach is only used 5 times in the Old Testament and always in reference to Jesus Christ.  We will examine the usage of tsemach as they relate to the Gospels.

Matthew

In the Gospel of Matthew the focus is on Jesus Christ as God’s King.

Jeremiah 23

5 Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

Jeremiah 33

15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up to David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.

Righteous branch is in reference to his Kingly position. In these two verses David is mentioned. David was considered God’s first King and Jesus Christ is God’s last King.

The genealogy in chapter 1 traces Christ’s royal bloodline back to King David. Kings are required to trace their bloodlines to validate their kingship.

The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used 32 times in the bible and only in the book of Matthew.

Mark

Zechariah 3

8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you, and your fellows that sit before you: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

This Gospel represents Jesus Christ as God’s servant. The genealogy is absent because servants do no trace their ancestry.

Luke

Zechariah 6

12 And speak to him, saying, Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:

This gospel represents God’s perfect man. The genealogy traces back to Adam to provide the link to Jesus as the second Adam. His birth is included in great detail in this gospel.

The phrase “kingdom of God” is used 32 times in the book of Luke out of the 54 occurrences in the Gospels. It’s used 8 times in the church letters.

John

Isaiah 4

2 In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.

This gospel represents Jesus as God’s son. There is no genealogy since there is only Jesus Christ the son and God the father. The word “father”, in reference to God, is used 111 of the 224 total occurrences in the Gospels (111 of the 224; 62 in the church letters).The purpose of John’s gospel is summarized in John 20

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

31 But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.

The precision of the Word of God is astounding. Jesus is represented as God’s King, God’s man, God’s servant, and God’s son in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John respectively. Consider these perspectives when reading the Gospels.

Do You Believe?

Do you believe God

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. [James 2:26]

I saw a good movie last night, “Do you believe?”, challenging the characters to prove their faith by taking action due to their uncomfortable circumstances or helping somebody else in the midst of their uncomfortable circumstances. In one scene the EMT was faced with unemployment and litigation because he shared his faith with a dying man. We really do not know if we believe until we enter into The Uncomfortable.

Our human nature is to seek comfort and not voluntarily step into the uncomfortable. Christians are called to live in the uncomfortable. This forces us to release control over our lives and to trust God. This requires us to obey God because we are servants of the most high God. God will ask us to overcome the impossible not because we have the ability but because he wants us to trust his ability.

Peter and the disciples professed to Jesus that he could count on their loyalty to the death because they trusted him.

31 Then said Jesus to them, All you shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

33 Peter answered and said to him, Though all men shall be offended because of you, yet will I never be offended.

34 Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, That this night, before the cock crow, you shall deny me thrice.

35 Peter said to him, Though I should die with you, yet will I not deny you. Likewise also said all the disciples.

After Jesus was arrested, tortured and unfairly tried the true heart of Peter was revealed.

54 Then took they him [Jesus Christ], and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off.

55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.

56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked on him, and said, This man was also with him.

57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.

This is Peter’s first denial of Jesus. There were severe consequences for being one of Jesus disciples.

58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, You are also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.

This is Peter’s second denial.

59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.

60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what you say. And immediately, while he yet spoke, the cock crew.

This is Peter’s third denial. A fulfillment of Jesus prophetic word that Peter would deny him three times before sunrise.

61 And the Lord turned, and looked on Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, Before the cock crow, you shall deny me thrice.

62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

Peter experiences a wrenching moment knowing that he had lied to Jesus. His intentions were good but when under pressure he focused on his own safety.

Wow. It’s a blessing to have friends that are loyal to their death. However there was no cost for fulfilling their words. They were among friends.  Whenever a man or woman is under pressure and there is a cost for adhering to their words then their true character is exposed. There are Christians overseas that under severe persecution and yet will confess Jesus to their deaths. I am not proposing that Christians risk their lives but until there is a cost to backing your words then you will not know. We do have various circumstances to prove our faith.

  • When sick do you trust in God by believing his promises?
  • When unemployed do you trust in God by believing his promises?
  • When preparing for a test or a project do you trust in God by believing his promises?
  • When spending time with somebody that is annoying or irritating do you trust in God by believing his promises?
  • When in financial straits do you trust in God by believing his promises?

We demonstrate our trust by letting the peace of God be the umpire of our hearts (Colossians 3:15). An umpire determines if a base runner is safe or out, if a pitcher is throwing balls or strikes, and if a hit ball is in safe or foul territory. An unpeaceful heart is a good indicator of not trusting God. Make the decision to keep your heart in safe (peaceful) territory and not foul (unpeaceful) territory. If you have doubt, worry, fear, or elevated human reasoning above God’s word then you are not trusting God. Trust God today.

The next time you are under pressure ask yourself “Do I believe?”. Then check the peace of your heart and if your clinging to your thoughts and ways or embracing God’s thoughts and ways.

Church Leadership According to the Bible

Leadership

Church leadership is a vital topic for all of the saints because it impacts us all. It doesn’t matter how my church or your church operates, how businesses are structured, or how governments are formulated. The only thing important is what the Bible teaches about leadership. We will explore how churches should be organized hierarchically, what to expect from your leaders, and what they should expect from you.

Church Organizations

Here is a chart representing most church organizations.

 org pyramid

The hierarchy in most churches is modeled after businesses organizations. The structure is a pyramid with the Body of Christ at the bottom and the higher the position then the further up the pyramid. There is separation of shepherds (leaders) and sheep (the people).

However, the Bible seems to teach a different type of organization as represented by the illustration below.

 org inverted pyramid

The pyramid is upside down in the church. The leadership is not over the Body of Christ but serves the Body. Jesus sheds light on this topic in Mark 10.

42 But Jesus called them to him, and said to them, You know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority on them.

43 But so shall it not be among you: but whoever will be great among you, shall be your minister [servant]:

44 And whoever of you will be the most chief, shall be servant of all.

45 For even the Son of man [Jesus] came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Leaders are called because of their capacity to serve. Leaders are given more responsibility due to their increased capacity to serve. Leading is not a position of glamor or popularity. In 1 Corinthians 4

1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

The apostle Paul said consider us as the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. The Greek word for ministers in this verse is huperetes and not diakonis. Huperetes means under-rower. This refers to the slaves that rowed the ships. They were in the lower parts of the ships paddling with the long oars. It was one of the lowest jobs when underway. Leadership requires great humility and mercy.

What to expect from leaders in the Church.

The leaders in the Church are called to serve. They are called to lead by reading, studying, and modeling the Word of God daily. Leaders are leaders because of their maturity and faithfulness. The believers in the Church are to be instructed, led, cajoled, inspired, and corrected with the Word of God. All saints need leaders in their lives due to immaturity, blind spots, and  deception. The leaders will be judged on their loving faithful obedience to God’s Word. They will not be judged for results. All believers have freedom of will so they only need to know enough to make a choice between choosing God’s will or man’s will. In Isaiah 55

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The perpetual tension that we all face, do we obey God’s thoughts and ways or our own thoughts and ways? Leaders are responsible to ensure that the saints understand God’s thoughts and ways and contrast them with the saints thoughts and ways.

Leaders should also assist the saints in identifying their gifts and talents, assisting in the development of those gifts and talents, and finding a place for them to serve with their gifts and talents. This requires delegation by the leaders for scalability and the limits of leaders.

Leaders are called to be helpers of your joy and not rulers of your believing.

24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith you stand. [2 Corinthians 1:24]

Summary of what to expect from church leaders:

  • Mature believers with character and a capacity to serve people (patient, forgive, skilled in the Word of God, able to counsel, love people)
  • Teach doctrine, reproof, and correction from the word of god to the saints
  • Counsel while skillfully filtering life through the Bible.
  • Equipping ministries (apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, and pastors) top priority is to equip the church.
  • Be a righteous example of love, patience, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
  • Help each member of the body to serve in their talents and giftings as soon as possible.
  • Helpers of your joy and not rulers of your believing.

What the leaders desire from the saints.

  1. Be teachable. Have a willingness to learn and make mistakes.
  2. Have fun.
  3. Talk to family, friends, or neighbors about what God did for you and how he changed your life.
  4. Have a desire to serve.
  5. Learn to love God, the other members of the Body, and yourself.
  6. Start reading your bible.

Church leadership is vital to the Church and worthy to be honored when following God’s thoughts and ways. May more members grow in their desire to serve.  In Matthew 9 Jesus said

37 Then said he to his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few;
38 Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.

Worship Manifestations

decent and in order

Worship manifestations in the church are rarely done correctly. Either the manifestations are absent in the majority of churches or improperly operated in the rest. God did not leave us to guess about these operations. In chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, God provides clear instructions on how HE wants US to operate the worship manifestations.

1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy.

Pursue the love of God and desire spiritual gifts but I prefer that you prophesy (in the church meetings). The context of chapter 14 is church meetings. Church does not mean a building or a Sunday morning service. Church means when three or more believers are gathered together. Prophesy is not referring to the gift ministry of a prophet. Prophesy is available to every believer because it’s one of the nine manifestations of the spirit.

2 For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to men, but to God: for no man understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

When we speak in tongues it’s a divine conversation speaking mysteries with God in a language that the speaker does not understand. Another person may understand (like on the day of Pentecost) but not the speaker .

3 But he that prophesies speaks to men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

Speaking in tongues is for God but prophesy is for men. The goal of prophecy in the church is to build up, encourage, and comfort.  This prophecy is not for direction.

4 He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the church.

Speaking in Tongues is only profitable to the speaker by building up the spirit man. The person that prophesies builds up the church and is profitable to all. To edify or build up the church is mentioned 4 times in this chapter: verses 4,12, 17, and 26.

5 I would that you all spoke with tongues but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

God wants us all to speak in tongues in our private prayer lives but to prophesy in the church unless we speak in tongues with interpretation so that the church will be built up.

6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

If I speak in tongues there is no benefit to the church unless I speak by revelation, knowledge, prophesy, or doctrine in a language understood by the church.

7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?

8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

9 So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for you shall speak into the air.

We need to speak in a language understood by the listeners otherwise it’s just hot air because nobody understands it.

10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be to him that speaks a barbarian, and he that speaks shall be a barbarian to me.

If I speak in tongues and you speak in tongues then we will be like barbarians because I hear noise and you hear noise but no understanding for either of us.

12 Even so you, for as much as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the edifying of the church.

This is the second mention of edifying the church. With the same zeal that we are to have for spiritual gifts then excel at building up the church.

13 Why let him that speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

If you are going to speak in tongues then pray that you will interpret.

14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

Speaking in tongues is praying in the spirit, the mind is untouched.

15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

We can pray with the spirit(speaking in tongues), pray using our minds, sing in tongues, and sing using our minds.

16 Else when you shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupies the room of the unlearned say Amen at your giving of thanks, seeing he understands not what you say?

If you speak in tongues without interpreting the listener will not be profited because it’s a foreign language.

17 For you truly give thanks well, but the other is not edified.

Speaking in tongues is giving thanks well to God but nobody else is edified.

18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all:

The apostle Paul spoke in tongues more than anybody else.

19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

Paul understood that 5 words understood by the listeners will benefit the church some while 10,000 words in tongues benefits nobody but himself.

20 Brothers, be not children in understanding: however, in malice be you children, but in understanding be men.

God says “Grow up and heed my instructions in this chapter”. Be children in evil intent but men in understanding.

21 In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak to this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, said the LORD.

22 Why tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serves not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

Tongues are a sign to the unbelievers but prophesy is for the believers. In the context speaking in tongues (for the unbelievers) with interpretation (for the believers) addresses all in the church.

23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad?

If an unbeliever comes into a church meeting and everybody is speaking in tongues then they will think that everybody is looney. I have been in many churches where this verse is violated.

24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

The implication is that the prophesy is decent and in order. If all prophesy at the same time then it’s confusing. I believe that this is talking about speaking in tongues with interpretation (which is equivalent to prophesy).

25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

This is the power of speaking in tongues with interpretation in the church.

26 How is it then, brothers? when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying.

Psalms, doctrines, tongues, revelation, and interpretation are all wonderful but only when the goal is to edify the church.

27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

When speaking in tongues in the church then only two or three in order and only if the speaker is willing to interpret.

28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

If you are not willing or able to interpret your tongue be quiet and speak in tongues to God.

29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

The subject is now about the Prophets (gift ministry). Only two or three prophets speak in order and the other prophets listen and measure the prophesy against the word of God.

30 If any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace.

31 For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

When Prophets speak in order then the body learns and receives comfort.

32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. This applies to all believers. Your spirit is subject to your mind. You choose to speak in tongues and when to stop, te same with all of the manifestations. Spiritism controls people but not the one true God.

33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

God is not the author of confusion. If there is confusion in the church it’s not of God. Therefore, everybody speaking in tongues in unison is not of God.

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted to them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also said the law.

The context is still about the prophets. The wives of the prophets are to keep silent by obeying their prophet husbands.

35 And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

It is not orderly for the prophet’s wives to usurp the prophet’s authority.

36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it to you only?

37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

Any born again saint should acknowledge that this chapter contains God’s commandments.

38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

If you do not agree or like what is written then you are free to be stupid.

39 Why, brothers, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

Desire to prophesy and don’t even think about banning speaking in tongues.

40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

Let all things in worship(and all areas of our lives) be done decently and in order. This is a great verse to keep in mind because it is a Godly principle.

The Healing of Naaman

Naaman

And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. [Luke 4:27]

This story is a display of God’s love for a Gentile, the faithfulness of three servants, and the faithfulness/unfaithfulness of one servant. God’s goodness abounds in the context of obedience. The story encompasses chapter 5 of 2 Kings.

1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance to Syria: he was also a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper.

Naaman was a loyal Syrian general that delivered Syria with Jehovah’s assistance. Also, He had leprosy.

2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.

3 And she said to her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.

4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.

Naaman’s wife had an Israelite slave who told her that in Samaria is a prophet that can heal Naaman’s leprosy. This info is relayed to Naaman.

5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.

When the King Ben-Hada II of Syria became aware of the healing available in Israel he sends a letter to King Joram of Israel, following international protocol.

6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come to you, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may recover him of his leprosy.

7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man does send to me to recover a man of his leprosy? why consider, I pray you, and see how he seeks a quarrel against me.

After the king of Israel reads the letter he becomes nervous thinking it’s a declaration of war. The king of Syria assumes that the prophet is under the control of the king of Israel. This is not true. He is unaware of the expectations set by the Israelite slave.

8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Why have you rent your clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.

The name of the prophet in Israel is Elisha, understudy of Elijah the prophet and heir of his prophetic ministry. Elisha heard (by word of knowledge perhaps) of the King’s distress over the letter and asked the King to send Naaman to him. The healing will prove to Ben-Hada II that Elisha is a true prophet.

9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.

10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall come again to you, and you shall be clean.

Naaman arrives at Elisha’s house with his entourage and stands at the gate of the fence. Elisha remains in his house and sends his servant with the instructions for Naaman to go wash seven times in the Jordan river and he will be healed.

11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.

12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.

Naaman was mad and left because he had figured out how the prophet would heal him. Religion is always wrong because it’s about man deciding how God think and operates. He was ticked that Elisha sent a servant because a Syrian general deserved a showing with the Prophet. He was ticked about going to the nasty Jordan river when the rivers in Syria are clear and pristine. He leaves in a rage.

13 And his servants came near, and spoke to him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid you do some great thing, would you not have done it? how much rather then, when he said to you, Wash, and be clean?

14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like to the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Naaman servant reasons with Naaman. If the Prophet had asked you to do a great thing(build me a temple, give me a million dollars, crawl on your hands and knees in the dirt, etc.) you would have done it. Do you see the religious mindset of Naaman of his need to do a great work to receive a great healing. Because of the simplicity of the request he was offended. God only required Namaan’s obedience.

Naaman listens to his servant and goes to the Jordan. The requirement was to dip seven times in the Jordan. If he only dipped six times and quit he would have returned to Syria with his leprosy intact. Partial or delayed obedience is still disobedience. He dipped the seventh time and his skin was like a new born child. Halleleujah! Thank God for his obedience.

15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray you, take a blessing of your servant.

Naaman returns to Elisha’s house and offers him a gift.

16 But he said, As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.

God had told Elisha not to receive any gifts for the healing despite Naaman’s urgings.

17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray you, be given to your servant two mules’ burden of earth? for your servant will from now on offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice to other gods, but to the LORD.

Naaman asked for “two mules’ burden of earth”? This is like two wheelbarrows of dirt. This figure means he wants to take some dirt from the place he was healed and transport it back to Syria. This custom meant that some of the dirt from where a miracle or significant event occurs is taken back and left in a location as a memorial of the event.

18 In this thing the LORD pardon your servant, that when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon your servant in this thing.

19 And he said to him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.

Naaman asks Elisha if he can continue to escort the King of Syria when he goes to worship the idol, Rimmon since it’s part of his duties. Elisha says “Go in peace”.  That’s the love of God. He did not say “leave Syria and serve Jehovah”, he did not say “If you do that you are sinning”, he did not say “God just healed you. Be a man and defy your idol worshipping King”. Elisha did not lay any condemnation, guilt, or judgment on him.

20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD lives, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.

Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, is the first servant with a name. He reasons that Elisha does not want what Naaman offered but he would take something.

21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well?

22 And he said, All is well. My master has sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray you, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.

Gehazi lies about his master sent him and the visitors.

23 And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them on two of his servants; and they bore them before him.

24 And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.

The haul required two servants to help. When they got close to the house he dismissed then while he his the good.

25 But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said to him, From where come you, Gehazi? And he said, Your servant went no where.

Gehazi lies to Elisha. It’s not wise to lie to a prophet. Elisha asked him to see how he would respond. He knew exactly what Gehazi had done.

26 And he said to him, Went not my heart with you, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive groves, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?

27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall stick to you, and to your seed forever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

The consequences of disobedience are real. Gehazi’s punishment was leprosy not just for him but for his bloodline forever. What a sad ending to the story.

This is a story of servant’s in action.

  1. Naaman’s wife Israelite slave – tells Naaman’s wife that a Prophet in Israel can heal him
  2. Elisha – tells King of Israel to send Naaman to him, tells Gehazi what to tell Naaman
  3. Gehazi – tells Naaman how to be healed
  4. Naaman’s servants – persuade him to obey the Prophet’s instructions
  5. Gehazi – lies to Naaman, receive his goods, lies to Elisha

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God Romans 10:17

We base our believing on the Word of God. It’s not important how we receive the Word but that we receive the Word. This is a story of false expectations and the need for faithful servants.

The All Truth

The comforter

Jesus gives his disciples instructions before his death concerning their future.

John 16

5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asks me, Where are you going?

6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient [profitable] for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you.

“What? Did he just say that it is more profitable for us when he’s gone because the Comforter is better than Jesus presence?” I imagine that the disciples were thinking similar thoughts. These men were at a loss about what this meant?

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more;

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

The devil is the prince of this world.

12 I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

13 However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.

Why could they not handle the “all truth” yet? Because receiving the “all truth” requires the new nature made available on Pentecost.

14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it to you.

15 All things that the Father has are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it to you.

16 A little while, and you shall not see me: and again, a little while, and you shall see me, because I go to the Father.

They would see him with their physical eyes for a short period but after the day of Pentecost they would see him with their spiritual eyes.

After the day of Pentecost the believers bible consisted of the Old Testament. This is a wonderful book but is inadequate for the new nature that was introduced.  The New Testament books were written 20-60 years after Pentecost and not compiled until the second century. Therefore, they received the holy spirit on the day of Pentecost but had no operators manual. I believe that God had to be more active in their lives to compensate for the lack of a New Testament. Since the New Testament is written for us then we can study and research the Word of Truth.

The “all truth” that Jesus spoke about is the church letters contained in the New Testament.  Here is a breakdown of the church letters.

The Book of Acts explains the birth, growth, and expansion of the Church.

These are the general church letters for all believers.

1.   Romans

  1. 1 and 2 Corinthians
  2. Galatians
  3. Ephesians
  4. Philippians
  5. Colossians
  6. 1 and 2 Thessalonians

There are specific letters addressed to Church leadership.

  1. 1 and 2 Timothy
  2. Titus
  3. Philemon

Hebrews is a unique letter because it is addressed to born again Jews that are zealous for the Mosaic law.

The nine church letters (Romans to Thessalonians) is the all truth for the Body of Christ. It contains all of the information needed for the church to thrive (individually and collectively) and expand. Here are some of the great truths that are only contained in the church letters.

  • We are saved by grace and not by work.(Eph 2:8)
  • We are the Body of Christ and he is the head. (Col 1:18)
  • It’s Christ in you, the hope of the glory(Col 1:27)
  • There is one body, one baptism, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one hope, one God and Father (Eph 4:4-6)
  • The hope of Christ’s return. Details include: a new body, saved from the wrath to come, the dead in Christ will rise first, some will be alive when he returns, crowns earned, (1 Thes 4, 1 Cor 15)
  • Agape love – what it is, what is available (1 Cor 13)
  • Now we are sons of God. (1 John 3:2)
  • Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17)
  • We have nine manifestations of the Spirit available (1 Cor 12)
  • How to operate the worship manifestations in a church meeting (1 Cor 14)
  • Speaking in tongues. Benefits explained

He is Risen!

He is Risen

“HE IS RISEN!” should be our victory cry. God raised Jesus Christ from the dead so that we could be a part of his family after the day of Pentecost –. that he [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many siblings (that’s us). He was raised after three days and three nights.

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. [Matthew 12:40 KJV]

There are 21 verses (listed below) in the Gospels that state that Jesus will be raised on the third day. Jesus made the statement 2 times in the first person and 11 times in the third person. The remaining 8 times were stated by others. I found it odd that Jesus would speak in the third person concerning his resurrection. That is because it is a figure of speech called an “Apostrophe”. This figure places emphasis on the subject, Jesus.

God left no doubt that He would raise Jesus on the third day (and He did). Jesus spent the next seven weeks on the earth in his resurrection body.

Matthew 27:57-66

When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:

Between 3pm and 6pm Joseph of Arimathaea visits Pilate, the Roman Governor.

He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.

And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,

And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

Joseph was a planner. He carved out a tomb in a rock where rich people are buried. He gave Jesus an improper burial by omitting embalming with spices. Why would Joseph not follow Jewish custom concerning burials? He believed that Jesus would be raised on the third day.

And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.

Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make [it] as sure as ye can.

So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

The Pharisees were concerned that a hoax would arise by stealing Jesus body and claiming that he was raised from the dead. Pilate concurred and set a watch over the tomb.

Matthew 28:1-

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.

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.

 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead [men].

At about sunrise on Sunday the two Mary’s visited the tomb. The earth shook and then an angel rolled back the stone and sat down. The tomb keepers were paralyzed and slept.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

The angel said “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” They are reminded  that they have heard this before. Go tell the disciples and you will see Jesus at Galilee.

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

The angel was right about where they would see Jesus.

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus arose with a job to do. His mission was to equip the twelve apostles that he chose for the day of Pentecost.  They are still not ready after all of their time together. Jesus was constantly in teacher mode: instructing, reproving, and correcting. He will now spend 40 days completing his work before his ascension.

He is risen! We can rejoice that he did tell the truth that God would raise him on the third day. Also believing that he is risen is a requirement for being saved.

Romans 10:9-10

That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.

For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

APPENDIX

Here are all 21 verses in the Gospels (it’s mentioned in all four Gospels) that claim that Jesus will die and be raised on the third day. Most of the verses were proclaimed by Jesus.

  1. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. [Matthew 16:21 KJV]
  1. And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. [Matthew 17:23 KJV]
  1. And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify [him]: and the third day he shall rise again. [Matthew 20:19 KJV]
  1. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. [Matthew 27:64 KJV]
  1. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. [Mark 9:31 KJV]
  1. And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. [Mark 10:34 KJV]
  1. Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. [Luke 9:22 KJV]
  1. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third [day] I shall be perfected. [Luke 13:32 KJV]
  1. And they shall scourge [him], and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. [Luke 18:33 KJV]
  1. Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. [Luke 24:7 KJV]
  2. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. [Luke 24:21 KJV]
  1. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: [Luke 24:46 KJV]
  1. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. [Matthew 12:40 KJV]
  1. And said, This [fellow] said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. [Matthew 26:61 KJV]
  1. And saying, Thou that destroy the temple, and build [it] in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. [Matthew 27:40 KJV]
  1. Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. [Matthew 27:63 KJV]
  1. And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and [of] the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. [Mark 8:31 KJV]
  1. We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. [Mark 14:58 KJV]
  1. And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, you that destroy the temple, and build [it] in three days, [Mark 15:29 KJV]
  1. Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. [John 2:19 KJV]
  1. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will you rear it up in three days? [John 2:20 KJV]