The Subject of Holiness or the Holiness of God

by Vijay Chandra

 

Introduction:

It is a simple, statistical fact that ‘holy’ is the epithet applied to God more frequently in the Scripture than any other. Jesus calls him ‘Holy Father’ and teaches us to pray as our first request in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Hallowed be your name’ (Matthew 6:9).

 

Definition of the word ‘Holiness’ ‘Holy’

The word ‘holy’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘radish’, which means, ‘separated, marked off’, ‘placed apart’, or withdrawn from common use. With regard to God, the word has two important meanings. God is transcendent above His creation and above His creation’s corruption.

God is transcendent above His creation.

The word ‘transcendent’ comes from the Latin verb ‘transcend-ere’ [trans-over-to climb] which means ‘to go beyond, rise above, or exceed’. As a creator, God is above His creation and totally distinct from every created being. The distinction between God and the rest of His creation is not merely quantitative [the same, but greater], but qualitative [God is completely different Being]. Regardless of their splendor, all other beings on earth and in heaven are mere creatures. God alone is God—separate, transcendent, and unapproachable. Other gods and goodness cannot match His holiness. Holiness is the preeminent attribute of God and the greatest truth that we can ever learn about Him. The triune nature of God is an expression of His holiness: is there any created being so incomprehensible, mysterious and wonderful? To say that God is spirit is to express another aspect of His holiness: is there any created being so free and unhindered? Most of the pagan gods and goddesses are a hindrance to each other. God’s perfection, eternal nature, self-existence, immutably, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience are all expressions of His holiness. The holiness of God means that He transcends the moral corruption of His creation and is separated from all that is profane and sinful. God cannot sin, cannot take pleasure in sin, and cannot have fellowship with sin and sinners. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of His holiness. What we understand about this attribute will influence every aspect of our relationship with God.

 

Yet God’s holiness is one of the most difficult concepts of all for us to understand. [Different religions have different ideas of ‘holiness’ and they have a subjective view of holiness]. But the Bible tells us more about holiness, and how it is applied to our God. This is partly because of uncertainty—even the most accomplished linguists have it—about the derivation of the biblical word for ‘holy’. It is also because holiness relates to God’s very being. This is so much the case that has been rightly said that to say that God is holy is just to say that God is God. Holiness belongs to the very essence of God’s character. But, of course, the thing that makes it most difficult for us to conceptualize that holiness of God is that holiness relates to his distinctiveness. It is what makes God different from us. And it is because we are so remote from him in his holiness that we find it difficult to conceptualize this attribute. Of all God’s attributes, we can say ‘holiness’ is the mother of all God’s attributes. One should realize that we have the same problem in conceptualizing a perfectly holy God as we have in conceptualizing a wholly evil devil. It is because in both extremes we find that we are unable to conceptualize what is ultimate. In the case of God’s character, we find it impossible to conceptualize his ‘infinite holiness’ for the simple reason that we are sinners (Romans 3:23).

Nowhere is the meaning of holiness in God more fully expounded than in the teaching and preaching of Isaiah, and nowhere is Isaiah’s prophecy more helpful in this regard than in the great sixth chapter. Here, at the very outset of his ministry, Isaiah encounters God as the One whose essential nature is ‘holiness’.

 

There are two things that this passage sets before us:

A Revelation of God’s Holiness.

A Response to God’s Holiness.

 

A REVELATION OF GOD’S HOLINESS. THERE ARE THINGS ABOUT THE REVELATION OF GOD’S HOLINESS THAT DEMAND OUR ATTENTION.

First, the timing. It is obvious, isn’t it, that for some reason Isaiah wanted to locate this vision in time. We are told at the beginning of chapter 6 ‘In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the LORD’. Isaiah is describing the exact period of the time in which this occurred so this must be of significance. Uzziah’s reign had been singularly beneficial to Judah. There had seldom been a king who sought the well-being of his people and did good for them, as Uzziah did. He was probably the greatest king since the days of Solomon. Yet in 2 Chronicles 26, we find that near the end of his reign Uzziah disparaged the glory of God by disobeying God’s Word and counsel. Because of that, the glory of God broke in upon him and he ended his days a leper. Uzziah has been called the king ‘with that glorious reign with the ghastly end’. He became a great warning to others. He ended his life separated, cut off from the temple rather than being separated for it.

Significantly, it was in the year of the death of this man that Isaiah said he saw the LORD seated on a throne, high and exalted, the year when those who had put their trust in princes were finding their confidence shattered. By the very timing of the event, therefore, Isaiah highlights the vast distance between the greatest earthly monarch and the Holy One of Israel.

Second, the description. It is not really clear whether Isaiah is describing the earthly or the heavenly temple in this vision. But the important thing is that he is seeing beyond the earthly temple to the heavenly one, noting that the glory of the Lord is filling it and dominating it. What dominates the temple, as Isaiah’s vision begins, is the glory and presence of the Lord: ‘I saw the Lord seated on a throne high, and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple’.

‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty’

Notice that the seraphim used the word ‘holy’ three times in succession: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty.’ That needs explanation because it is not repetition for the mere sake of rhythm or meter. ‘The Hebrew language has no word for ‘very’. Indeed, it has no forms corresponding to our English superlatives, like greatest, best, deepest, and so on. So the Hebrew language repeats the word to express the superlative. Thus, when we find the Lord saying in the Aramaic language (which is related to Hebrew), ‘Truly, truly I say to you’, this is a way of emphasizing that what he is saying is especially true and important. The repetition is a linguistic device to stress it. This is the only context in Scripture where a word is repeated three times. And it occurs only twice here in Isaiah 6 and in Revelation 4:8, where the heavenly beings cry aloud to God in precisely this language,  ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come’.

The emphasis teaches us that if there is one thing about God that is supremely important, it is his holiness: his moral glory, his distinctiveness from everything in his creation, and the perfection and beauty of his character. The seraphim raise the word ‘holy’ to the power of three, as it were, in order to press its significance upon us. The other important word used by the seraphim is ‘glory’. Do you and I notice the parallels? ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory’. There is a balance of thought as well as a balance of language. It is between God’s holiness and God’s glory. That is an important thing because the glory of God is really the outshining of all he is. The root meaning of the word ‘glory’ is ‘weight’ or ‘heaviness’. Since the weight of something frequently reflects its worth, ‘glory’ came to mean that which gave something or someone honor or made him or it worthy of respect. That idea in the human realm, multiplied infinitely, gives some notion of what the glory of God is. It is all that makes him worthy of praise in heaven as well as on earth.

The key word, ‘holy’, probably means ‘separate’, ‘set apart’, ‘distinctive’, so, as it is applied to God, it denotes everything that is distinctive in God and which distinguishes God from his creatures. The Old Testament concept of God’s holiness, which is carried over into the New Testament, has to do essentially with God’s moral glory and distinctiveness. It is important for us to grasp this because the words ‘holy’ and ‘ holiness’ are not in themselves specifically  Christian, religious, or even Judaic. Holy in Semitic usage refers simply to distinctiveness, even objects became holy by belonging to God. But in biblical terms, the holiness of God is the distinctiveness that belongs to his moral glory. Therefore, it is an ethical concept.

‘The whole earth is full of His glory’ (Isaiah 6:1, 2)

‘Above him were seraphs, each with six wings. with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling one another’.

Third, the language: notice how God is described by the seraphic creatures we see in verses 2 and 5.

Ezekiel had the same problem. He begins to describe the glory of God, but he says, ‘It was like unto the likeness of something He finds it impossible to grasp’. God can’t be described by finite mind. He is a Holy One. In this vision we are at the edge of an infinity of impossibility in understanding what the transcendent glory and holiness of God really is—so much does God’s holiness separate him even from our imagination. John N. Oswald says, ‘There is a barrier beyond which the simply curious cannot penetrate’.

It is significant that, in the same way, in Exodus 24:10, when the elders of Israel saw God, all they have recorded is that the pavement under his feet was sapphire blue. They too found it impossible to describe God.

But then, do you notice that when Isaiah begins to describe what he sees, his description of God goes no further than the train of his robe? ‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.’ That is a significant thing because here Isaiah is discovering the very thing that we noted earlier: human language is an insufficient vehicle to describe God’s holiness. So all Isaiah is able to say, ‘the train of his robe filled the temple’. It was, of course, the presence and glory of God which filled the temple, but Isaiah sees no further than the robe.

The word that is used for the ‘Lord’ literally means ‘the sovereign One’. This sovereign One is seated on a throne. Isaiah describes that throne as ‘high and exalted’. In fact, by a peculiar combination to the Hebrew language, the words, ‘high’ and ‘exalted’, may qualify either ‘sovereign Lord’ or ‘throne’ or both. In Isaiah 57:13 God is shown as ‘the high and lofty One—whose name is holy’ who lives ‘in a high and holy place’. But the picture here is of an exalted figure, the glorious king of the ages, whose holiness is manifested by his glory filling the temple. And it is, of course, God’s holiness which exalts him above all he has made. He is transcendent, lifted up, separate from sinners, exalted.

 

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Daily Bible Nugget #498, Proverbs 11:30

The Nugget:

Proverbs 11:30  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (KJV)

My Comment:

In the past several Daily Bible Nuggets I have been presenting the brief outline I learned many years ago from a speaker’s presentation at the high school Bible club I attended at Cass Technical High School. The speaker suggested that to continue to grow spiritually, a Christian must do three things:  (1) Listen to God by reading the Bible daily, so that God can speak as we read God’s written word (Acts 17:11);  (2) Pray daily so that we can maintain communication with God as we speak to Him (1 Thessalonians 5:17);  (3) We speak for God as we share with others what God has done for us and what we have learned from His word in the Bible (Proverbs 11:30).

Probably the greatest help to grow ourselves is to become involved with teaching others. I learned much more from the Bible when I became a Sunday school teacher and had the responsibility of preparing weekly Bible lessons.

Another avenue of sharing spiritual truth with others is to simply let your light shine. When I worked at Michigan Bell Telephone Company, someone on my very first day on the job asked me if I was going to become a preacher or pastor. I had said nothing about my Christian faith. I was not carrying a Bible. I was not passing out Gospel tracts!

I had further opportunities to share my faith at work during the lunch hour when someone asked me about the Bible or spiritual things. I never began such conversations. But if someone started the conversation about spiritual things by asking me a direct question, I answered the question.

Learn, by repeatedly reading the New Testament, what God’s plan of salvation actually is so that you can share this important information based upon your own knowledge of what the Bible teaches. You can also learn what verses to use by reading Gospel tracts or leaflets and seeing what verses the authors often use.

This is a most important matter! Yet very few individual Christians have ever personally led a person to saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The results of this neglected activity on the part of ordinary Christians is plain to see by the changes for the worse, morally and spiritually speaking, that we see in the surrounding culture today. To reverse that trend, learn how to share your faith then do so.

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Daily Bible Nugget #497, 1 Thessalonians 5:17

The Nugget:

1Thessalonians 5:17  Pray without ceasing. 

My Comment:

This post continues my discussion of three practices that were suggested to me many years ago about how to grow in my Christian walk. The illustration shared with me was that of a simple three-legged stool. The stool must have three legs to stand upright. A Christian must practice three things to continue to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). These things are (1) read the Bible daily so God can speak to me (Acts 17:11); (2) pray daily so that I can speak to God (1 Thessalonians 5:17); (3) be a witness for Jesus Christ daily so that I can speak for God (Proverbs 11:30).

If I do not do these three things daily, and if you do not do these things daily, we limit and even stunt our Christian and spiritual growth.

Surely it is not hard to pray to God. The Bible tells us that God delights to hear our prayers (Proverbs 15:8). God invites us to make our requests to Him (Philippians 4:6). God assures us that He hears our prayers (Proverbs 15:29; 1 Peter 3:12; 1 John 5:14, 15). God’s Word tells us that sometimes we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). Jesus Himself taught and promised “Ask, and you shall receive” (Luke 11:9).

As you read the Bible daily, starting with the New Testament, be sure to notice the many things God’s word teaches us about prayer. I believe you will find, as I have found, that God does keep His promises!

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Jehovah’s Ruler from Bethlehem-Judah (Micah 5:1-9)

by Vijay Chandra

Introduction:

Micah 4-5 contains some remarkable prophecies of salvation.

First, from Babylon Jehovah promises deliverance and redemption. Notice how the prophet stresses “there” in Micah 4:10, “there you will be rescued”–there the LORD will redeem you from the land of your enemies. Deliverance and redemption happen in Babylon itself, the place we would least expect Jehovah to save His people.

The deliverance of Micah 4:10 will be like the deliverance of Exodus 3:8, “And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of the land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Redemption. Redemption is an important word in the concept of salvation. To redeem, Jehovah enters into a relationship with the people He redeems. The right to redeem was, under the law, only possible to a near kinsman, which truth is beautifully illustrated in the story of Ruth. In order to redeem us, Jehovah became one of us, a man, and as a man Jehovah pays a price for our redemption which is his own life (Hebrews 2:14, 15, 16, 17).

Second: Jehovah will turn the table on the enemies who surround Zion (his church). They imagine that they have come together to destroy Zion, but they do not know that Jehovah himself has gathered them for a very different purpose. Jehovah has a plan for his enemies, the enemies of his people. He has thoughts, but they are not the thoughts of “peace, prosperity, and salvation.” The wicked, fools that they are, do not perceive Jehovah’s plans, as Micah describes in Micah 4:13 (see Isaiah 41:4-16;  Jeremiah 51:33;  Revelation 14:18-20).

Now Micah speaks of the third deliverance which we have in Micah 5:1, 2, and we will look at this particular deliverance in some detail. In the midst of this prophecy (Micah 4:9–Micah 5:3), Micah prophesies specifically about the birth of the Messiah. Micah 5:2 is unique in the Old Testament prophecies because it specifies the birthplace of the Messiah. To us, the prophecy of Bethlehem is warm, comforting, and familiar, but to Micah’s contemporaries it was a surprise. Micah tells us that the messiah will be born in Bethlehem, that he will not be born in a palace. This prophecy comes immediately after the humiliation of Micah 5:1. But it also means that out of the rubble of the kingdom of David a better, greater, eternal ruler will come. That ruler will deliver and save Israel (and us) from sin and death.

I. His Birth Place:

  1. The text addresses the little town of Bethlehem. There were two towns called “Bethlehem” in Canaan, but Micah specifies Bethlehem-Ephratah in the territory of Judah (“among the thousands of Judah”).
  2. Bethlehem-Ephratah or Bethlehem-Judah has a long history in the Old Testament.
    (a) It is first mentioned in Genesis 35:19 as the burial place of Rachel.
    (b) Later, during the period of the judges, it is featured as the place where Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz lived.
    (c) Later still, Bethlehem is named as the birthplace of David.
    (d) Much later, Bethlehem is named among the list of returning captives: Ezra 2:21 reports that 123 men returned from Babylon to Bethlehem.
  3. The other Bethlehem is Bethlehem-Zebulun, mentioned in Joshua 19:5 as a city apportioned to the tribe of Zebulun. Bethlehem-Zebulun was, in fact, in the region of Galilee, and even more interesting, Nazareth was very close to Bethlehem-Zebulun but far away from Bethlehem-Ephratah. We might expect, therefore, that if Mary is from Nazareth it would be much more likely for her to give birth in Bethlehem-Zebulun instead of Bethlehem-Judah. But God had a different purpose for Mary and Jesus Christ.
    (a) About Bethlehem-Ephratah. Micah writes that it is “little”–the idea is not that Bethlehem was small in population, although it probably was, but that it was small in “strength,” inferior in “social status.” There is no evidence that the Jews ever attached any great importance to Bethlehem. David never exalted it or honored it as a royal city, and it lay almost unnoticed. Even the name “Bethlehem” (house of bread) and Ephratah (fruitful) did not bring it any honor in Israel. Bethlehem was overlooked, “forgotten,” ignored, even despised.
    (b) Micah underlines Bethlehem’s unimportance and insignificance by adding “little among the thousands of Judah.” Literally, the Hebrew reads, “Little to be among the thousands,” that is, “too little to be among the thousands”–that means Bethlehem-Ephratah was too small, too insignificant, and too unimportant to be mentioned.

    Point:

    Micah teaches us that the Messiah, according to the flesh, will have humble origins, a very unimportant beginning, and will be born in an insignificant place.

    a. First, he tells us that the Messiah will be born when the line of David is also brought low (Micah 5:1). Micah tells us that the judge (or king) of Israel will be humiliated and Zion (Jerusalem) will be besieged.

    But from there Micah moves to a humble town or village called Bethlehem. Bethlehem tells God’s people that David’s line shall be preserved. Every Jew knew that Bethlehem-Ephratah was the humble beginning of David himself.

    But Bethlehem also tells God’s people that David’s line will no longer flourish in Jerusalem to receive the Messiah. Here, Micah is quoting 1 Samuel 16:1, 11. Just as in Bethlehem God provided for himself a king of humble origins, the youngest and most insignificant of Jesse’s sons, so God will provide for himself a king from Bethlehem again. This is the wonder of God’s providence.

    b. We are told that the Messiah will have a very lowly beginning. He will not be rich, or be born in a palace. Instead, the promised ruler will not even look like a king. Isaiah 11:1 speaks of a “rod out of the stem of Jesse, and the Branch shall grow out of his roots.” Isaiah 53:2 proclaims a “root out of a dry ground” that hath no form or comeliness.” Zechariah 6:11 prophesies that the Messiah shall be “the man whose name is THE BRANCH where the meaning of the word  translated “branch” is “twig or sprout.”

    Point:

    God arranged this in His providence deliberately for our salvation. Messiah’s lowly birth in Bethlehem is part of the humiliation of the Son of God (Philippians 2:5-11), part of His suffering.

    Why does the Messiah choose to be born in the obscure village of Bethlehem instead of in the royal city of Jerusalem? The answer is that Christ was born in Bethlehem because we are sinners. That is a sign to us of the depth of our sin and that we must be humbled that the Son of God was so degraded and humiliated as to be born in Bethlehem. His sufferings in Bethlehem culminated in the cross, where he suffered the full burden of the wrath of God for our sins. In Christmas seasons we hardly hear about the “sin” of the suffering of our Savior. We must see Bethlehem-Ephratah in Judah under the shadow of the cross.

    II.  HIS ETERNITY

    Did the origin of the Messiah begin in Bethlehem?

    In fact, the Messiah, strictly speaking, does not have an origin, for He is eternal. Micah 5:2 is not speaking only of the Messiah’s birthplace according to the flesh. Behind His incarnation and His lowly birth are what Micah calls Messiah’s eternal “going forth.”

    a. The phrase “from of old” is used elsewhere in scripture, and it means not only a long time go, but refers to “eternity itself.”

    In Deuteronomy 33:27 we read the following:  “The eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

    In Psalm 74:12 we read, “Yet God my king is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”

    Psalm 90:2 declares “from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

    Psalm 93:2 says, “Your throne is established from of old, you are from everlasting.”

    b. The phrase “from everlasting” means literally “from the days of eternity” and is a very strong expression of eternality. The prophet Micah does not teach merely that the Messiah has a very long family tree but that the Messiah is eternal, and that is saying that the “Messiah is God,” possessed of the same attribute of eternality as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

    This Savior promised by God through Micah is an “eternal” divine Savior, the Son of God.

    We sinful people need a Savior who has come to seek and to save us, the rotten humanity deep in sin. We need a Savior who has almighty power, because only almighty God can deliver us from the power of sin and death.

    The text (Micah 5:2) promises exactly that kind of Savior. Therefore, such a text as this should be of great comfort to us.

    c. We need to examine the words “goings forth.” Micah does not merely teach that the Messiah is eternal, but he writes about the Messiah’s “goings forth,” “whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting.”

    A “going forth” refers to the place, the times, the mode, or the act of going out. In other words, the Messiah’s going forth refer to his activity.

    (1) We see this as we compare other examples of the word translated “going forth.” In Daniel 9:25 there is a “going forth” of a decree to build the city of Jerusalem.

    In Deuteronomy 8:3 there is the proceeding (going forth) of a word of the mouth of God.

    In 2 Samuel 3:25 there is a going out (going forth) of David to do something.

    We learn from this that the activity of the Messiah is constant and eternal: there are “goings forth” (plural) and these goings forth are “from of old, from everlasting.”

    (2) This is a reference to the truth that the Son is eternally begotten of the Father (John 1:1-18) within the being of God, which truth theologians call “the eternal generation of the Son.” This refers to the eternal works of the Son: the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son and the eternal decree of election and reprobation. This is also a reference to the works of the Son in time. His first work was his work of creation in which he, as the eternal Word, spoke and brought all things into being.

    His work includes all his works of providence and all the goings forth of the Messiah in the Old Testament (as the Angel of the Lord). God underlines here an eternally prepared and promised salvation. Our deliverance from sin and misery is not an afterthought, for the Messiah who is decreed and promised is from eternity, and from the beginning this Messiah has been active (in creation) preparing by his many goings forth for his own coming to save his people. We can surely trust such a God.

    III. HIS RULE:

    a. Micah 5:2 tells us that the Messiah will be a “ruler in Israel.”

    First, this means that the Messiah will be the Messiah for the Jews. It was to the Jews that God first promised a Savior. The Jews had come to expect one who would come from the line of Judah and of David, and that the Messiah would deliver them from their enemies and especially from sin.

    (1) That Messiah is the Lord Jesus Christ, who even today sits on David’s throne. About Jesus the angel Gabriel said, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:31). As Peter in Acts 2:30, 31, 32, declared on the day of Pentecost as Peter declared who Jesus Christ is, Peter declared His resurrection, that God has raised Him up, He being exalted at the right hand of God. This does not mean that Jesus will be a merely Jewish king over an Israelite nation. Micah 5:3 tells us that when He is born, “the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel” and Micah 5:4 declares, “Now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.” Christ  is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is sovereign, powerful.

    (2) The New Testament teaches us that the children of Abraham and of Israel are all who believe in Jesus Christ, whether ethnically Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:29).

    b. Second: The Messiah will be the ruler for God himself. We see that in Micah 5:2 in that significant phrase “unto me.” The Messiah does not belong to Israel or to you and me. We often say that Jesus is “my Savior,” but really, we must say that Jesus is God’s Savior.

    POINT:

    This does not mean, of course, that Jesus saves, delivers, or rules over God. It means that Jesus comes in the decree of God, to serve God, to reveal God, and to glorify God. This was always Jesus’ own confession: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).

    Again we are reminded of Jehovah’s words concerning David in 1 Samuel 16:1, “I have provided me a king among his (Jesse’s) sons.” God was never at  loss, who will be the king, where will the king come from, or where can I find a king? God’s king was ordained in eternity,  prepared throughout the Old Testament, and finally revealed and given in the New Testament.

    Jesus, the Messiah from Bethlehem Judah, rules by delivering his people from sin and death. The rest of Micah 5 will describe in some detail the rule of the Messiah. He will be a shepherd who delivers and preserves his people.

    He will save his people by the Incarnation. That will be His great “going forth.” He will become a man with our nature (His humanity is seen in Philippians 2:1-10), born in Bethlehem. He will redeem us by His death on the cross. For that very reason He will be born into this world.

    If sinners [we are all sinners because we are born in sin (Romans 3:2-26)]. For us to be saved and delivered, the Messiah must die. Furthermore, He will accomplish our salvation by the glorious resurrection, for death will not be the end of the one whose goings forth are from everlasting (Micah 5:2).

    Most of the so-called  religious leaders died, such as Mohammed, Buddha, and many gurus who worshipped many gods but they all died and will never be resurrected.

    Those who are celebrating Christmas, do you understand why Christ came into this world? Have you been saved by this Messiah? Recognize and confess your sins. If Jesus has  come forth to rule over you, your life will reflect that. Jesus does not rule over us with a rod of iron and smash us into pieces like the potter’s vessel. Today, Jesus rules us by His word and the Holy Spirit and He subdues our hearts to Himself. Is Jesus your king, do you love Him? If He truly is your king, will you obey Him and serve Him?

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Daily Bible Nugget #496, Acts 17:11

The Nugget:

Acts 17:11  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (KJV)

Acts 17:11 The people in Berea were much nicer than those in Thessalonica, and they gladly accepted the message. Day after day they studied the Scriptures to see if these things were true. (CEV)

Acts 17:11 The Jews there were better disposed than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the message with all eagerness and carried on a daily study of the Scriptures to see if Paul’s message was true. (Williams NT)

My Comment:

In my last post (Daily Bible Nugget #495, 2 Peter 3:18), I mentioned that I had learned that there are “three legs” that are necessary for us to grow in our Christian life:  (1) Bible reading and study, how God talks to us;  (2) prayer, how we talk to God;  and (3) fellowship, witnessing and soul winning, how we speak for God to others and others to us.

A stool requires at least 3 legs to stand up. That is an illustration of how the Christian life requires the three elements of Bible reading and study, prayer, and witnessing in order to fulfill the command of 2 Peter 3:18 to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just as our physical body requires proper food each day for us to be healthy, so our spiritual life requires the food of God’s word found in the Bible on a daily basis.

In my experience, I found reading the New Testament for at least twenty minutes a day ultimately changed my life. I attended a rigorous high school for the talented and gifted, and I had three hours of homework nightly. I determined to read the Bible for twenty minutes before starting on my homework each night. I remember watching the hands of a large green alarm clock with its two bells and clappers. When twenty minutes was up, I wrote down on a paper book mark the chapter and verse where I left off, and continued from that point the next day.

My point is, I made time for Bible reading every day no matter how busy I otherwise was, and that determination is what led to my experience of accepting Christ as my Savior while delivering papers on Saturday, November 7, 1953.

As I read my Bible, concentrating at first on the New Testament, I noticed a number of very striking verses. I had a New Testament that I marked these verses by underlining them. I also marked in the margin verses on particular topics, using a simple system of using letters for subjects, like “P” for prayer, “F” for faith, and so for many other topics. Then I sometimes went through the pages of my pocket New Testament and read all the verses I had marked for a particular topic. This became a way for me to do topical Bible study, and it helped me understand the message of the New Testament better.

So, I would encourage you to read the Bible daily, and also study the Bible by topic from time to time, just as I did. If I could do it as a teenager, surely anyone reading here can do the same today.

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Daily Bible Nugget #495, 2 Peter 3:18

The Nugget:

2 Peter 3:18  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

My Comment:

Once a person understands who Jesus Christ really is and has put his or her faith in what Jesus has promised (see the previous Daily Bible Nugget #494 on John 5:24), what steps should be taken next to grow and continue to grow in the Christian life?

I first believed and understood the promise Jesus made in John 5:24 when I was a student in high school. One of the members of the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) that I had just begun attending also attended Cass Technical High School. She invited me to attend the Voice of Christian Youth (VCY) Bible club that met after school every Tuesday, so I began attending.

One of the guest speakers brought a simple message about how to grow as a Christian which I have never forgotten. The speaker spoke of three things required for spiritual growth. He compared these three things to three legs of a stool. If any one of the three things is missing in a Christian’s life, the person will not grow or stand up as a Christian anymore than a one or two-legged stool could stand up.

Here are the three things:

(1) Bible reading and study:  God speaks to us as we read the Bible daily (Acts 17:11).

(2) Prayer:  We talk to God as we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

(3) Fellowship and soul winning:  We share our faith with others (Proverbs 11:30).

These three things if practiced regularly, even daily, will result in the spiritual growth we read about in 2 Peter 3:18.

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Daily Bible Nugget #494, John 5:24

The Nugget:

John 5:24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 

My Comment:

What is the most important thing I can tell you? I think the most important thing I can share with you is how you can know you truly have eternal life, how you can know that you truly belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.

These things are not talked about today as much as they were when I was much younger. That is the primary spiritual reason why this country has largely departed from its original moral and Christian foundation. To solve the spiritual problems now experienced in this country and by this country, as partly evidenced by yesterday’s midterm elections nationwide, we need to experience for ourselves a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and then share with others how to do the same.

I began this spiritual journey for real on Saturday, November 7, 1953, while delivering the Detroit Shopping News. This was a five-mile walk each Wednesday and Saturday when I distributed the newspaper to about 300 customers. I was not allowed to use a bicycle. I was required to walk my route.

I had begun to read a pocket New Testament from my Grandma Smith’s farm in Belfield, North Dakota. It had belonged to my Aunt Norma. I read the New Testament through about two and a half times between August and November. While walking the five mile paper route that grey Saturday in November, I had the opportunity to think about the content I had been reading and rereading from the New Testament. I realized that though I had gone to church since my parents carried me there as an infant, I knew I was not saved.

I stopped at a point on Lumpkin Street where I usually crossed the street in the middle of the block, and while folding the next paper for delivery, stopped and prayed silently under an oak tree and asked the Lord to forgive my sins and save me for Jesus’ sake. From that time until today I know I have eternal life and am rightly related spiritually to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I believed the promise that Jesus gave:

John 5:24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Surely you can do the same! The promise is still valid.

Now how hard is that? 

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Hidden Features in my Bible Cross Reference Books

Bible study is very exciting and spiritually profitable. Bible reading is wonderful, but Bible study is much more fruitful.

I have written three cross reference resources:  (1) The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge; (2) Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible;  (3) The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury.

I wrote the following note to my twin nephews about ten years ago upon their high school graduation. The note pertains to my second resource, Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible, but equally applies to each of my other two collections of cross references. Using any of these resources to study any of the topics listed below should prove very informative.

12/27/08. Some otherwise “hidden” features of the Cross Reference Guide

 

This is a Bible study resource you can never exhaust! The more you use it to study the Bible, the better it gets. I spent over 26 years doing the research for this book, followed by five years to type it up, and two more years to put it in this format after 15 more years of research.

 

To use the book, look up a favorite verse, or select a verse you want to understand better, and look up its references. Favorite verses of mine include 2 Timothy 1:7; Colossians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 6:9, 10; Psalm 34:4; 40:17; 1 Peter 3:15; Romans 15:7.

 

Don’t miss the following special notes and references on:

 

Guidance, 1 K 12:7, 10. 13:9, 18, pages 339, 341;

 

Prophecy Index, Isaiah 11:11, pages 725, 726;

 

Bible study methods (cause/effect relationships), Psalm 9:10, pages 535, 536;

 

Special note on the use of “all” in the Bible, Genesis 41:56, page 59;

 

The use of “soul,” Genesis 2:7, page 4;

 

The use of “spirit,” Genesis 6:3, page 11;

 

Significant references to “If,” Genesis 4:7, page 8;

 

Four kinds of “if” in the New Testament, Matthew 4:9, pages 1017, 1018;

 

Attributes of God prove the Trinity, Matthew 28:19, pages 1075, 1076.

 

“Jehovah” of Old Testament passages applied to Jesus in the NT, 1 Peter 2:3, pages 1457, 1458.

 

Jehovah titles of the Old Testament, Exodus 15:26, page 87.

 

Prayer, major key reference to, Luke 11:9, pages 1129, 1130.

 

Reasons behind unanswered prayer, Psalm 66:18, page 583.

 

Instances of answered prayer, Psalm 99:6, page 611.

 

God punishes evil now, Genesis 6:13, key word destroy, page 12.

 

Imprecatory prayer, Jeremiah 10:25, page 807.

 

Receive one another, Romans 15:7, page 1298.

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Daily Bible Nugget #493, Psalm 27:12

The Nugget:

Psa 27:12  Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

My Comment:

Satan is ever playing his same old tricks, and unwary people fall for them. We must learn to tell the difference between truth and falsehood, between fact and fallacy, between right and wrong, between news and propaganda.

False witnesses can be detected because their stories don’t line up with the facts as they stand.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was confronted by false witnesses at His trial. The witnesses brought forward against Him were sought for by the religious authorities who were against Jesus from the very start of His ministry.

Notice these texts:

Mat 26:59  Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 

Mat 26:60  But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 

Mat 26:61  And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. 

Notice that we have in the New Testament record what it was that Jesus did say:

Joh 2:18  Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 

Joh 2:19  Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 

Joh 2:20  Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 

Joh 2:21  But he spake of the temple of his body. 

Joh 2:22  When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. 

I have placed the following note and cross references at Matthew 26:61,

I am able. See Joh 2:19, the words of which, however, they both misapplied and misquoted; see **Mar 14:58 (De Burgh). This was false; He had said “Destroy ye.” The false witnesses helped to fulfill it (CB). Note: The words of our Lord were widely different from this statement of them; so that the testimony of these witnesses was false, though it had the semblance of truth. Mat 27:40, *Psa 56:5, Jer 26:8, 9, 10, 11; Jer 26:16, 17, 18, 19, Mar 15:29, +*Joh 2:19, 20, 21, 22, Acts 6:13.

The passage cited above, John 2:19 and context, greatly troubles false witnesses even today. I have had Jehovah Witnesses visit me, and when we discussed this passage, they denied that the Scripture says that Jesus spoke of His own physical body. Yet, Jesus spoke these words in answer to the challenge of the Jews asking by what authority Jesus cleansed the Temple, and what sign would Jesus show as proof of His authority to do these things. The sign Jesus announced was His physical, bodily resurrection from the dead “in three days.” Scripture explicitly says, “But he spake of the temple of his body” (John 2:21), further adding, “When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said” (John 2:22). Most clearly, therefore, Jesus affirmed and predicted His own bodily resurrection from the dead, which Jehovah Witnesses resolutely deny, showing that they, too, are false witnesses.

Mark writes in his Gospel:

Mar 14:55  And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. 

Mar 14:56  For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. 

Mar 14:57  And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, 

Mar 14:58  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. 

Mar 14:59  But neither so did their witness agree together. 

And that is the problem with all false witnesses: “But neither so did their witness agree together.”

Just a short time ago, Judge Kavanaugh faced several false witnesses, whose falsehood likewise was revealed by the fact that their testimony could not be substantiated. The tactic of bringing forward false witnesses to derail his appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States is clearly a very old one, for our Lord Jesus Christ Himself faced such treatment.

It is my belief, based upon Scripture, that it would be the height of unwisdom to support the political party in any way that employs such dastardly tactics against innocent persons. We should, instead, vote against them whenever we can, for they are traitors to our Constitutional Republic! Do not neglect your responsibility to vote on election day!

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Daily Bible Nugget #492, John 7:51

The Nugget:

John 7:51  Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? (KJV)

Joh 7:51 “Our Law doesn’t let us condemn people before we hear what they have to say. We cannot judge them before we know what they have done.” (Contemporary English Version)

My Comment:

When we go by the “rule of law” rather than by the “rule of men” or biased political parties, we adhere to the principle that a person is presumed innocent when faced by charges made by any accuser. We commonly say that a person is “innocent until proven guilty.”

We have lately seen, here in America, two gross perversions of law and justice in the scurrilous attacks upon the character of two great men, Judge Roy Moore and Judge Bret Kavanaugh.

Those who make accusations bear the burden of proof. Accusations must be backed up with credible evidence. An accuser’s account or story of what happened must be consistent with all the facts in the case. One witness must not be permitted to single-handedly condemn the innocence of the person they would accuse.

In the recent case that occupied the news cycle for nearly three full weeks (while other very important news items failed to make the news at all–a very handy cover-up procedure that is frequently employed), the emotional story of the accuser, Dr. Ford, failed to set forth verifiable facts to support her charges against Judge Kavanaugh. By her own testimony, she could not specify precisely where the alleged event took place. She did not know how she got there. She could not tell how she got home. None of the alleged witnesses were able or willing to verify her story. Dr. Ford was not able to produce any contemporary evidence in the form of testimony of persons to whom she told her story at the time. And in any case, there is no contemporaneous written testimony to back her story.

The sign on the security office door at the high school where I was a teacher says it best:

“If it is not written, it did not happen.”

The Bible has much to say about this issue. To find the places in the Bible that speak to the problems of properly hearing the charges of an accuser, of evaluating those charges, and of honoring the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty, read the Bible texts that are pointed out by the cross references given for John 7:51.

John 7:51

our law. Exo 23:1, Deut 1:17; +*Deut 13:14; Deut 17:6; Deut 17:8, 9, 10, 11; Deut 19:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, Prov 18:13, Zec 7:9, Acts 23:3.

before it hear him. FS184C, +Mat 4:9, +*Joh 7:24, Deut 1:16; *Deut 13:14; *Deut 17:4, **Jos 22:10; **Jos 22:11; **Jos 22:12 note, Jos 22:21 note, Jos 22:30, 1Sa 20:32, Ezr 10:16, +*Job 29:16, Psa 94:16, Prov 17:15; +*Prov 18:13; *Prov 31:8, Act 26:1, +**1Ti 5:19 note.

and know what he doeth. +*Deut 13:14, Acts 25:16; Acts 25:27.

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