Reading Ladder for Classic Novels

Mr. J. H. Smith Selection Number: 2201

Special Skills File

Classroom Use Only Copy Number:

Please DO NOT write on this page. Handle this material very carefully as more students need to use it after you. Sign this material out and check it back in yourself.

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Treasure Island. Robert Louis Stevenson

The Secret Garden. Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Call of the Wild. Jack London

Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain

Black Boy. Richard Wright

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Mark Twain

Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte

Silas Marner. George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Robert Louis Stevenson

Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoe

Animal Farm. George Orwell

Looking Backward. Edward Bellamy


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain

Puddin Head Wilson. Mark Twain

The Pathfinder. James Fenimore Cooper

Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll

Far from the Madding Crowd. Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge. Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Thomas Hardy

Green Mansions. William Henry Hudson

The Jungle. Upton Sinclair

  1. George Orwell

The Red Badge of Courage. Stephen Crane

The Scarlet Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wuthering Heights. Bronte

Great Expectations. Charles Dickens

Woman in White. Wilkie Collins






Mr. J. H. Smith Selection Number: 2201

Special Skills File

Classroom Use Only Copy Number:

Please DO NOT write on this page. Handle this material very carefully as more students need to use it after you. Sign this material out and check it back in yourself.

F#2201.doc of 3/31/01 modified from CTHS/LP of 9/19/72. page two



Billy Budd. Herman Melville

Crime and Punishment. Dostoyevsky

Dr. Zhivago. Boris Pasternak

Father and Sons. Turgenev

Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad

Lord Jim. Joseph Conrad

An American Tragedy. Theodore Dreiser

Madam Bovary. Gustav Flaubert

Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen

Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens

Les Miserables. Victor Hugo

The Count of Monte Cristo. Alexander Dumas


The Brothers Karamozov. Dostoyevsky

The Invisible Man. Ellison

The Idiot. Dostoyevsky

Moby Dick. Melville

Nostromo. Joseph Conrad

Notes from the Underground. Dostoyevsky

Penguin Island. Anatole France

Resurrection. Tolstoy

Souls of Black Folk. Dubois

Tristram Shandy. Sterne

Vanity Fair. Thackeray

War and Peace. Tolstoy

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How to know who is right about Bible prophecy

The Nugget:

Act 1:6  When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (KJV)

My Comment:

When Jesus answered the question posed by His disciples as recorded in Acts 1:6, He did not deny or correct their faith in a literal restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Many modern commentators do deny this faith expressed by the Apostles, and fault them for asking the question. Those commentators are wrong in their interpretation of Acts 1:6.

Acts 13:34  And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

Just what are the “sure mercies of David”?

I have asked this of Jehovah Witnesses who have come to my door. So far, none of them have a clue. But they are not the only ones. I have asked this question of many Christians, and with very few exceptions, if any, they do not have a clue either!

I have noticed just this past week or so as I have been reading the New Living Translation day by day which places the text of the Bible in chronological order arranged in 365 daily readings, that the translators of the New Living Translation had no clue either, for they have so worded the translation in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 55:3) and the New Testament’s citation of that verse in Acts 13:34 in a manner that completely obscures the connection.

The reference is to the Davidic Covenant provisions, which contain “Sure mercies,” that is, promised and guaranteed benefits, which will come to pass when the unconditional  provisions of the Davidic Covenant are ultimately fulfilled.

Now, “So what?” you might ask.

Consider one more prophetic passage taken again from the Book of Acts:

Act 15:13  And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 

Act 15:14  Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 

Act 15:15  And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 

Act 15:16  After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 

Act 15:17  That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 

Act 15:18  Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

Note carefully the succession of ideas in this prophecy:

(1) God is now taking out a people for His name from the Gentiles (Acts 15:14).

This process is still going on in our own day.

(2) “After this” I will return. This refers to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 15:16).

(3) Upon His return, our Lord Jesus Christ will build again, that is, restore the Kingdom of David (Acts 15:16).

Scripture elsewhere teaches us that our Lord Jesus Christ will Himself sit on the Throne of David forever (Luke 1:31, 32, 33).

(4) This will be done, as the very purpose of God, “that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things” (Acts 15:17).

By the way, James is quoting Old Testament prophecy from Amos 9:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, which is most clear indeed in declaring what God is going to do:  He will re-establish the nation of Israel in their own land permanently, never to be removed again.

This passage of Scripture in Acts 15:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 is one of the most important prophetic passages in the New Testament. I have spent the last month studying it in great depth and detail. I began this study because of a question that was asked, which I answered, on Facebook.

The Question:

Where does the New Testament ever indicate that the Jews are to literally return to their own land?

The poster thought, I believe, that there is no such verse or passage.

I posted Acts 15:13-18 as the answer, for this passage expressly declares that Israel will be back in the Land of Israel when the Messiah restores the fallen tabernacle of David, meaning the Kingdom of David.

The group where this question was raised is called “Anti-Zionist Christians for Truth,” a group  to which I was invited to join by a fine Christian lady who respects my scholarship and knows I will not intentionally “rock the boat.”

But here on my own site I have now “rocked the boat.” Anyone, or any theological system, that denies Israel belongs on the land today that it occupied at the time of Christ must be wrong in terms of what the Bible teaches and predicts.

Anyone who denies that Israel today has a divinely established right to the land of Israel they occupied at the time of Christ is clearly mistaken about what Bible prophecy teaches. This is one sure way to detect teachers, preachers, and even theologians who are wrong in their understanding of Bible prophecy.

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Daily Bible Nugget #487, Proverbs 11:4

The Nugget:

Pro 11:4  Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death. (KJV)

Pro 11:4 When God is angry, money won’t help you. Obeying God is the only way to be saved from death. (CEV)


My Comment:

In the light of eternity, riches here on earth will not profit. Riches will not profit in the day of wrath. What is the day of wrath? The “day of wrath” may have more than one meaning in the Bible, but here in the book of Proverbs “day of wrath” may well refer to the eternal day of wrath that represents the final destiny of all who are not saved. It is a reference to spiritual death. This interpretation is reinforced by what is said at the conclusion of this verse: “righteousness delivereth from death.” Naturally, this cannot be a reference to physical death, for even good people experience that.

In this life, make sure that in addition to your pursuit of wealth and riches that you do not miss out on the spiritual riches available through genuine faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Learn more about that by reading the New Testament for yourself. Yes, you can understand it.

Cross References for Proverbs 11:4

Riches. *Pro 10:2; Pro 13:11; Pro 18:11, *Job 36:18; *Job 36:19, *Psa 49:6, 7, 8, Ecc 5:13, Jer 9:23; Jer 48:36, *Eze 7:19; Eze 27:27, +*Zep 1:11; +*Zep 1:18, +*Mat 6:19; *Mat 16:26, *Luk 12:20, Jas 5:1.

day of wrath. Job 20:28; +*Job 21:30, Isa 10:3, **Eze 7:19, +*Zep 1:11; +*Zep 1:18, Zec 9:4, +*Rom 2:5, +*Jas 5:1.

but righteousness. Pro 11:19, Pro 8:18; *Pro 12:28, Gen 7:1, 2Ki 20:3, 4, 5, 6, Eze 14:20; Eze 18:27, Rom 5:17, +*1Ti 4:8.

delivereth. Pro 11:6, Pro 10:2, Gen 7:23, Psa 49:9, Ecc 7:12, Eze 14:14, +*Jas 5:20.

from death. Psa 49:10, Eze 18:4; Eze 18:21, Jas 5:19, 20, 1Jn 5:16, 17.

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Daily Bible Nugget #486, Proverbs 11:1

The Nugget:

Pro 11:1  A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. (KJV)

Pro 11:1 The LORD hates anyone who cheats, but he likes everyone who is honest. (CEV)

My Comment:

Anyone who has experienced the feeling brought on by realizing he or she has been cheated should be able to appreciate the fact that God does not like cheaters.

The use of “false balances” and unjust weights not only applies to business transactions but to many other areas of life.

This ties in to the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”

I suspect this may well include stealing the reputation of someone by saying or reporting things that are not true about the person. I believe this is done in the news every day by journalists who seem not to know the difference between news and opinion, much to the disadvantage of those not skilled in seeing the difference between news and propaganda.

I heard the report of a poll mentioned in the news today about 54% of the people polled disapproved of President Trump’s Helsinki performance, while 34% approved. Those results suggest to me that too many people get their opinions by listening to or watching news from what I call the “poisoned wells of misinformation.” Such sources fail the test of “fair and balanced reporting.” When 90% and more of the news is negatively slanted against the President, but fails to report anything of significance about the flaws displayed by the political groups that oppose him, you ought to recognize the bias immediately.

We would be far better off if we lived up to the moral standards of the Bible and carefully reported the truth. Failure to report the whole truth is contrary to good journalistic practice as well as contrary to the Bible.

At Helsinki, President Trump was a peacemaker. President Putin was a truth-teller when he reported that $400,000,000 was escorted out of Russia with the help of American intelligence assets and made available to the Hillary Clinton campaign. You may not have read or seen much about Putin’s revelation in any of the major news media. That is an example of a current instance of failure to report the whole truth.

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Neither side is always right or always wrong

On a Facebook discussion last night, those who support President Trump were asked to defend him if they could!

I wrote some comments in response. I seem to be the only Trump supporter who did. I guess now I am in the proverbial “dog house.”

But it was all in good fun, I trust.

One person asked:  “Jerome, why do you people always bring up President Obama? It’s about the Trumpster right now. He brought up Hillary today, anyone to get the heat off of him. Did anyone ever call Mr. Obama a racist?  Did President Obama push his people under the bus? Oh well. You know if it wasn’t for him, Trump wouldn’t have pushed them under the bus.”

I wrote the following in response:

President Obama is an honorable man. He was elected as our first black President. For that, I give him honor.
I have written about President Obama on my own website under the category “Politics and the Bible.”
Read what I wrote and judge for yourself.
I will try to post links to some of my articles, but please understand that I am not skilled at using this modern technology the way many younger people are.
It looks like I have mentioned President Obama a few times in my posts about “Politics and the Bible.” I have said some nice things about President Obama. Anyone who takes the time to read carefully will notice I have criticized Republicans in no uncertain terms as well. Neither side is always right or always wrong.
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The Language Enrichment Program now available

For the benefit of everyone who reads here, I am letting you know that my book, The Language Enrichment Program is now available through Amazon. It may be purchased as a 350-page printed paperback book 8 by 10 inches in page size ($19.99), or may be purchased as a Kindle book ($9.99).

Several very careful readers of this Real Bible Study site have noticed that I mentioned this book from time to time and asked how to get a copy for themselves or their children. I have not been able to share this resource until today. But now it is available to everyone worldwide through Amazon. You can search for it by the title, The Language Enrichment Program, or by my name as the author, Jerome H. Smith.

Who needs this resource?

  • Anyone who needs or wants to improve his or her reading ability or reading comprehension.
  • Anyone who needs to improve his or her knowledge of English, especially those for whom English is their second language.
  • Parents who have children or students who need to improve their grades in academic subjects.
  • Parents whose students are struggling to meet standards in order to advance to the next grade level.
  • Parents who homeschool their child or children. This self-instructional resource would make a very helpful resource to further boost the academic achievement and motivation of your student. This program also prepares anyone who uses it to study advanced material with much greater success.

Here is the text of my informal announcement of this resource that I wrote today with the link to where to get it:

The Language Enrichment Program by Jerome H. Smith is now available for purchase from Amazon in the Kindle and also printed book format.

Any person of any age who needs or wants to improve reading ability should make use of this book.

Need reading help for your child, for your student, or yourself? Get this book and use it. This book works!

Read the full description at the Amazon link.

Don’t miss this opportunity to help yourself or your child to get ahead. Even if you don’t need help yourself, share this information with anyone who does.

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The Biblical View of Incarnation, Part 2


by Vijay Chandra

The Bible teaches that the reason that the Son came into the world was to save sinners (1Timothy 1:15). The salvation of souls was the reason the Father sent the Son into the world (John 3:16, 17). The giving of the only Son clearly embraces both incarnation AND vicarious death; it is the entire mission of the Son that is in view. Paul writes, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).


If a man had never sinned there would have been no reason for the Son to assume a human nature. The coming of Christ is always proposed in Scripture as a mission of salvation or as something connected to man’s deliverance. In the proto-evangel of Genesis 3:15 immediately after the fall, a promise is made to send a Savior who will crush the head of the serpent. Jesus’ mission of salvation is prominent in the birth narratives (Matthew 1:21, 25, Luke 1:31, 54, 67-70, John 1:12, 29, 36). It is the central message in our Lord’s first teaching in the synagogue (Luke 4:16-21); His one stated purpose in coming to earth (Matthew 9:13, 20:28)—to give His life a ransom for many. By typology, it is presented in the Old Testament as the very foundation of redemption [the word means ‘to buy back with a price’ (Genesis 4:4, Exodus 12:13, Leviticus 16:6-28)]. The prophets teach that the only path to salvation and victory for God’s people is the Messiah’s sacrificial death (Isaiah 53:1-12, Daniel 9:24, 25, 26). The epistles present Christ’s redemptive work as the foundation and axis of everything in the believer’s deliverance (Romans 3:21-28, 4:22, 23, 24, 25; 5:1, 2, Hebrews 2:14, 1 Timothy 1:15).


Although Jesus’ role as King and prophet is also emphasized in the Scriptures (Acts 3:22, Psalm 2:6, Luke 1:33), these aspects of His mediatorial work cannot be separated from His priestly work—His vicarious atonement. Christ does establish a kingdom as the God-man. He is the exalted king. The mediatorial kingdom, however, is a kingdom of grace. He directly governs His people by His Spirit and law-word. This governance, however, flows from His redemptive work. He was exalted at the resurrection as a reward for His redemptive obedience (Matthew 18:18 ff., Romans 1:4, Revelation 5:2-10). The Great Commission, the sending of His Holy Spirit and the spread of the gospel into all the world could only take place after the Savior’s suffering, death and resurrection. As a king, Jesus defends His people against the world, the flesh, and the devil. He rules the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27) for the sake of the church and the people (Ephesians 1:22).


The Mediator is also the prophet. Truth and Knowledge of the Father come directly from Him (John 1:17-18, 6:63, 7:17, 8:12, 14, 19, Hebrews 1:2). In Him, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). However, saving truth and a true knowledge of God cannot be separated from His redemptive work.

Because of man’s fall into sin, men are dead

  • Spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5), including Muslims, Hindus, etc.
  • Men cannot repent of their sin (Jeremiah 13:23, 2 Peter 2:13, 14, 22).
  • Cannot please God (Rom.8:6-8), do not seek Jehovah (Psalm 14:2, 3) and are under the power of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4, 2 Timothy 2:26), men dwell in darkness (John 1:45, 3:19-29) and are spiritually deaf and blind (Isaiah 6:9, 10) and are totally unable to understand or receive spiritual truth (John 3:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 6:44, 45, 47). Christ’s redemptive work achieved the foundation or ground of salvation and its application to the sinner. That is why faith and repentance are gifts from God (John 3:3-8, 6:44,45, Ephesians 2:8, Philippians 1:29, 2 Peter 1:2). It is only because of our Lord’s life, death, and resurrection that men can have their eyes and ears opened by the Holy Spirit and can be enabled to embrace the person and the work of Christ. The Mediator came into the world to free us (Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikh’s Atheists, etc.) from the guilt and penalty of sin, to place us in His own family and to present us spotless before God (Ephesians 5:27). Men have only one hope and that is Christ Jesus.

Why was incarnation necessary for God to save people (His people who believed). There are some reasons.

  1. For God to justify sinners–i.e., save a vast multitude of men guilty of breaking the moral law who are therefore under curse, a sentence of eternal death (the whole world is under the death sentence), the penalty of their sins must be paid in full and a perfect righteousness imputed to their account. God cannot simply overlook sin and forgive it in an arbitrary manner because of His own nature and character – God is righteous (Genesis 18:25, Exodus 23:7, 34:7, Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 89:14, Zephaniah 3:5, Romans 9:14, 1 John 1:5). God is holy (Exodus 15:11, Leviticus 11:44, Isaiah 6:3. God hates sin (Psalm 5:4, 5, 6), condemns all sinners to death and hell (Genesis 2:17, Deuteronomy 27:36, Ezekiel 18:20, Romans 1:18, 32, 6:23, James 1:15, Revelation 20:14, 15) and cannot have fellowship with anyone guilty of sin (Hebrews 1:13; Psalm 5:4, 5, Isaiah 59:1, 2). Therefore Paul says (Romans 3:23, 24, 25, 26) that it was necessary that Christ should be offered as an atoning sacrifice for sin in order that God might be just while justifying the sinner. In other words, God had to forgive sinners in a manner that maintained His own justice. God’s infinite holiness, justice or righteousness of necessity demands the infliction of punishment on the sinner himself or on an appropriate substitute— Jesus.
  2. In order for this substitute to eliminate the guilt and penalty of sin and provide a perfect righteousness for a vast multitude of people, he must be both fully God and fully man. Jesus had to be a man because it was man who as guilty of sin and deserving of punishment. The penalty for sin was death and the suffering of the body and soul. The Son had to assume a true human nature, without sin, yet liable to the infirmity and sufferings after the fall in order to suffer and die as a man (John 12:27, Acts 3:18, Hebrews 2:14, 9:22). The Bible teaches that the blood of bulls and goats cannot atone for sin (Hindus offer animals as a sacrifice to atone for their sins, they offer chickens, goats, etc.). The offering of clean animals, ‘without spot’ (Numbers 19:2, 28:3, 9, 29:17, 26 etc.) and ‘without blemish’ (Exodus 12:5, 29:1), Leviticus 1:3) typified the moral perfection of Jesus Christ. Christians are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19, Hebrews 7:25, 26, 27, 9:14). Further, as Christ is a Mediator between God and man he ought to be between both and, like Jacob’s ladder, join heaven and earth by a participation of the nature of both. There is only one Mediator—it is only the Son of God who can reconcile men to God—not Mohammed, none of the thousands of Hindu gods or goddesses or any kind of rituals or good works. These self-righteous efforts will not reconcile men to God but only Christ Jesus the Son of God.


The Messiah also had to be God. A mere man could not render a sacrifice of infinite value from God, that could atone for millions of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue (Revelation 5:9). A mere man could not have withstood the assaults of Satan, the constant temptations and the immense suffering and agony that Jesus endured. A mere man could not intercede or mediate between God and man. Who, but the Lord of glory, the God-man could endure the unmitigated wrath of God that millions deserved in a space of a few hours? Who but God’s only begotten Son could now intercede simultaneously for millions of believers twenty-four hours a day (Colossians 1:19, 20). There is no other name under the heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12). Animals, prophets, gurus and mighty angels cannot save. ONLY JESUS CHRIST, WHO IS BOTH GOD AND MAN IN ONE PERSON, MEETS ALL THE EXIGENCIES ARISING OUT OF GOD’S NATURE AND MEN’S PREDICAMENT.


We must look to Christ of the Bible alone if we are to be saved from sin. We must believe that He is both God and man in one person (Isaiah 9:6). He is a child born in time as man, but also a Son who is the Father of eternity. The offspring of David according to the flesh, but Jehovah our righteousness according to the Spirit (Jeremiah 23:6), a son to be born of a virgin, but whose name would be Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14). The Angel of the Covenant sent by God for the work of salvation, but the same one, the Lord who comes into the temple (Malachi 3:1).


Trust Him and you will have eternal life.

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The Biblical View of Incarnation, Part One

by Vijay Chandra


When we speak of Christianity (or the true gospel!) we must not only examine and understand what Jesus did but also who he was and is. He is not just a prophet or good man. But who is he? For, just as a trust or belief in the historical events in our Lord’s life (e.g, the virgin birth, His sinless life, His sacrificial death, His resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand) are necessary for salvation, so is belief in the person of Christ. The Lord Jesus emphasized the central importance of His own person when He asked the disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of man am?”(Matthew 16:13). The question continues to divide men throughout history. The different answers to Jesus’ question are what separate the saved from the lost (apart from Christ men are lost), the sheep from the goats, the orthodox from the heterodox. Given the importance of who Christ is for an understanding of the gospel and our own salvation, we will turn our attention to the doctrine of incarnation (not reincarnation as Hindus believe).


How does the Bible define the mediator, the redeemer of God’s elect [people]? How did the Savior come to dwell among sinful creatures [humans]? Why is the remedial definition of the hypostatic union of the two natures in one person so important for understanding the gospel? While the doctrine of Christ is one of the most difficult and perplexing teachings in all of the Scriptures, it also the most rewarding. There is nothing better in life or death than to know, love and serve Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only Savior and Lord (John 14:6).


The virgin birth is an essential belief of the Christian faith that gives us some very important information regarding the mission and the nature of Christ. The doctrine of the virgin birth is based on two gospel accounts (Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38); is found in the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 and is seen in Paul’s epistles (Romans 1:3, Galatians 4:4, Philippians 2:7).


The birth narratives emphasize the following teaching:

A. The virgin birth is presented in Scripture as a great miracle or sign. “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel”(Isaiah 7:14). Although there are accounts in scripture of births that are result of supernatural intervention [i.e., of God miraculously enabling women who were infertile and /or past the age of childbearing to conceive and give birth to sons, e.g. Sarah (Genesis 17:17-19, Genesis 21: 1-8); Hannah (1 Samuel 1:5-11); the wife of Manoah (Judges 13:2-24); and Elizabeth (Luke 1:7, 13-25, 57), the conception and birth of Jesus is totally unique. The conception of Jesus did not even involve a human father. The salvation of sinners is to be supremely supernatural. Redemption can only be accomplished through the God-man. The supernatural virgin birth of Christ was an announcement to the Jews and the whole world that this child was like no other child. He was not simply a man of God or a prophet or a leader but God of very God. God Himself, the second person of the Trinity had come to earth to redeem people throughout the whole world. Many modernist biblical scholars and many non-Christian scholars reject the virgin birth of Christ and some modernist scholars argue that the underlying Hebrew word simply designates an “unmarried woman” or a “young maiden.” The “Christian” liberal interpretation of the incarnation must be rejected for the following reasons:

  • While an argument can be made that ‘almah’ does not necessarily refer to a virgin but simply an unmarried young woman, further revelation in the New Testament has settled the question once and for all. Mary was a virgin when the child was conceived and the baby was born. Modernist scholars are imposing their unbelieving naturalistic presuppositions upon the text of scripture and so are many Islamic and Hindu scholars. The virgin birth is a fact of God’s word that cannot be denied without also denying everything we need to know and trust to be saved. Pagans and atheists make very poor interpreters of the Bible.
  • If Mary was not a virgin (as Modernists assert) then the conception and birth of Jesus could not have been a sign. In ancient as well as modern times, if a woman had committed fornication and became pregnant, neither the Jews nor anyone else would have regarded the event as significant at all.
  • If Mary had not become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit then Joseph, a godly man, should have put her away. Unfaithfulness on the part of a betrothed woman could be punished with death (Deuteronomy 22:23). Because the Jews were under Roman law on the matter of adultery, divorce was Joseph’s only option. Note, however, that God communicated the truth to Joseph that the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). Joseph responded to this revelation by taking Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:24). It is typical of the Modernist, Hindus, and Muslims who just as the enemies of God long ago chose, choose to side with the Pharisees who accused the sinless Son of God of being a bastard (John 8:41). Their judgment will be just.

B. Mary was enabled or caused to conceive the Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). The Holy Spirit came to Mary and worked the conception by His almighty power. Because the Messiah had to be divine it took a special divine action to accomplish the incarnation. How this exactly occurred (i.e., the scientific details) we are not told. We can surmise, however, that the human nature of Jesus came directly from Mary while the second person of the Trinity was united to the human nature at the very moment of conception. Theologians refer to this moment as the assumption. God the Son took upon (or assumed for) himself a true human body and a rational soul. When speaking of the action of the Holy Spirit in the conception of Jesus, Luke uses terminology that calls to mind the special Shekinah presence of God— “the power of the highest will overshadow you” (Exodus 40:34-38).

C. The narratives which speak of the virgin conception and birth of Jesus give the unborn child titles of essential divinity.

  1. He is called, “ the Son of the Highest” (or Most High, Luke 1:32); “the Holy One” (Luke 1:35); “the Son of God” (Luke 1:35), who is to be called “Emmanuel,” i.e. God with us (Matthew 1:23). Although the expression “Son of God” is sometimes used in Scripture as a messianic title (e.g. Luke 4:4; Acts 9:20,22), it often does not simply refer to a title of office but of nature (Matthew 11:27, 14:28-33, 16:16; 21:33-46, 22:41-42, 26:63). The name “Emmanuel” which literally means “God with us” is a doctrinally descriptive appellation. To be with Jesus is to be with God. The expression “Holy One” is often interpreted as a reference to our Lord’s sinlessness or moral perfection. The phrase, however, may only mean in this context that Jesus is separated or set apart. From the moment of conception, the Son of God was set apart for special service. The gospel narratives exclude all adoptionist conceptions of Christology for they teach that the human nature of our Lord never existed for a single moment without the divine. From the moment of conception, Mary was a God-bearer.
  2. The manner of the incarnation as well as the incarnation itself teaches us that the second person of the Trinity’s coming into the world and assuming a human nature was a voluntary condescension, a submitting in humiliation on the part of the Son. This point is taught most clearly in Philippians 2:5-8. In the midst of some practical exhortations where Paul is emphasizing Christian unity, love, and humility, the apostle turns his attention to the incarnation as the supreme example of humility and self-renunciation. Although the passage is difficult and sometimes ambiguous in English translation, this teaching is of great importance. Note the following observations:

a. Paul asserts that Christ is truly God and continues to be God. “When the apostle says that Jesus was ‘in form of God’ he does not mean that the Son was like God or only appeared as God but that He had the specific character of God. Our Lord had everything (nature, attributes, essence, character) that makes God God. In Classical Greek and the Greek of Paul’s day, ‘a thing cannot be said to be in the morphe [form] of another unless it possesses the essential qualities of that other’. Paul could not have chosen any other words which would more explicitly or more directly assert the deity of Jesus Christ— He who is in the form of God is God.” The verb used by Paul in this sentence is unusual. It “denotes that both the previous existence of Christ and His continued existence was ‘in form of God. ’”

b. Paul teaches that the incarnation which brought the Son into the state of humiliation was a conscious choice on the part of Christ, “Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation” —(Philippians 2:5-7). Jesus was free as God to maintain His state of supreme glory in the throne room of God surrounded by myriads of worshipping angels. But for our sake, He did not regard the state of supreme glory as a valuable possession that must be retained at all cost. On the contrary, because of His love, grace, and mercy toward His sheep, He entered into the state of humiliation, a state of servitude, suffering, and anguish.

c. Paul teaches that in the incarnation our Lord emptied Himself. The apostle wrote ‘Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God, but did empty Himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made, and in fashion having been found as a man, humbled Himself’ (Philippians 2:5-8, Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible). The central question of interpreters of this section of Scriptures is: ‘Of what did our Lord empty Himself’?


When answering this question two things need to be kept in mind.

  1. First, the broad context of Scripture and the systematic theology derived from this analogy of faith must be considered when defining the kenosis or emptying of Christ. If Bible teaches (as it indeed does!—Exodus 3:14; Psalm 102:26-28, Isaiah 41:4, 48:12, Malachi 3:6, Romans 1:23, Hebrews 1:11,12, James 1:17) that He cannot grow or diminish in His Being or attributes, then the second person of the Trinity cannot set aside or empty Himself of any of His attributes. He would have to deny himself and cease to be God to do so, which is impossible. Further, the divine attributes are not characteristics that are separate and distinct from the divine essence so that God can set them aside as one might remove a pin from a pincushion and still have the pincushion. Rather, the divine essence is expressed precisely in the sum total of His attributes. To hold that God the Son actually emptied himself in his state of humiliation of even divine characteristics is tantamount to saying that he who enfleshed himself in the incarnation, while perhaps more than man, is now not quite God either. Anyone who asserts that Christ set aside all or even some of His divine attributes even temporarily has gone beyond the pale of CHRISTIAN theology.
  2. Second, the verb ‘emptied’ is defined by the immediate context. The Son emptied Himself not by subtraction (i.e., not by divesting Himself any divine attributes such as omniscience or omnipresence) but by addition. Richard Malick, Jr., writes “Two ideas modify the verb ‘made himself nothing’. They are taking the very nature of a servant and being made in human likeness. These statements explain both how this took place and what it means. Paradoxically, being ‘made nothing’ means adding humanity to deity rather than subtracting deity from his person. How, then, did Christ empty Himself? He assumed a human nature by taking the form of a servant. Jesus came not to be served but to serve. He was not revealing Himself on earth in glorious or glorified human form, but the humble form of a servant. The expression ‘form of a servant’ denotes more than just the ‘form of man’, it depicts servitude and subjection, unattractiveness and lack of distinction, which were essential characteristics of the humanity which Christ adopted” (Robert I. Raymond. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub. 1998).
  3. God the Son concealed the divine glory under the veil of the flesh and as it were laid it aside, not putting off what he was, but by assuming what he was not. From the supreme position of glory our Lord voluntary humbled Himself and became the suffering servant, a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), despised by His own people (Psalm 22:6, John 1:11; Isaiah 53:3) obedient to the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8).


The best way to understand the biblical concept of kenosis is to distinguish between the existence of the divine nature in the person of the Mediator and the manifestation of this existence. Christ was fully God with all the attributes of God. However, in humbling Himself and becoming a servant he voluntarily restricted the exhibition of the attributes which He had.


Christ is the Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), the Savior of the world (John 4:42); he is God of gods and every knee will bow to Him (Philippians 2:10). Believe on Him and you will have eternal life (John 5:24; Acts 16:30, 31). No other religion promises ‘eternal life.’ Only Christ Jesus does.



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Daily Bible Nugget #485, Hebrews 12:14 Part 8

The Nugget:

Heb 12:14  Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (KJV)

Heb 12:14 Try earnestly to live at peace with every one, and to attain to that purity without which no one will see the Lord. (TCNT)

My Comment:

The Twentieth Century New Testament gives “purity” as the translation of the underlying Greek word that the King James Version translates as “holiness.”

Matthew 5:8, one of the “beatitudes,” records that Jesus said “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” The writer of Hebrews may have had this text in mind when he spoke of “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

Jesus stated this truth positively, whereas the writer of Hebrews stated it negatively. This illuminates an interesting principle of Bible study: when reading a text that presents a positive truth, consider re-framing the truth as a negative statement. So, when Jesus says “blessed are the pure in heart,” think: what if a person is not pure in heart? Then follow with “for they shall see God,” and clearly those who are not pure in heart shall not see God, which is just what Hebrews 12:14 states.

Note also that what Jesus said is stated as a cause/effect relationship:  “Blessed are the pure in heart” is the cause; “for they shall see God” is the effect or result. Watch for this kind of statement; it is found all through the Bible. I have listed all the cause/effect verses that I have found in an extensive note about Bible study at Psalm 9:10, a verse which is a very striking and instructive example, in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, in Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible, and most completely in The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury.

I have been illustrating how to apply in a practical way the truth about holiness expressed in Hebrews 12:14 by explaining and applying the words of the great Gospel hymn, “Take Time to Be Holy.”

The third and final stanza of this hymn reads:

Take time to be holy.
Let Him be thy guide;
And run not before Him,
Whatever betide.

In joy or in sorrow,
Still follow thy Lord
And, looking to Jesus,
Still trust in His Word.

How may we “Let Him be [our] Guide”? The words of the hymn that follow explain just how to do that:

(1) “run not before Him” –don’t go off on your own tangent without seeking and following His guidance. Sarah made that serious mistake when she, impatient and not waiting on the Lord to fulfill His promise of a child to Abraham by her, directed Abraham to have a child by her handmaid Hagar, and we are still suffering from the consequences of that bad decision very much even today. So, no matter what befalls you, “whatever betide,” don’t repeat the mistake Sarah made! Study the subject of Divine Guidance in the Bible by looking up the cross references given for such a verse as Psalm 32:8. Consult my extensive notes about Divine Guidance as they are given at 1 Kings 12:7 and 1 Kings 12:10; 1 Kings 13:9 and 1 Kings 13:18 in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, or Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible, or The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury. These notes are also posted here in the October, 2017 archives. I wrote a full article titled “Divine Guidance” on October 27, 2017. This is a most important study. Be sure to look there to study this subject more fully! Link:

(2) “In joy or in sorrow, Still follow thy Lord” –No matter what you face in life, remain faithful and follow the Lord. In Bible doctrine this is known as the “perseverance of the saints.” That means we stay faithful to Christ, no matter what comes our way. Those who truly continue to believe on Christ and in Christ continue to persevere. See Philippians 2:12, 13, and many other related passages, including Hebrews 10:38, 39.

(3) “And, looking to Jesus, Still trust in His Word” –“Looking to Jesus” includes continuing to hear His voice (John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”). And where do we hear His voice? Only in the Bible. We must continue to not only read but actually study His Word to be grounded securely in our faith (Colossians 1:23; Colossians 2:7).

This completes my informal exposition of Hebrews 12:14 by means of explaining the words of the hymn, “Take Time to Be Holy.” I trust you have gained new insight into what is involved in pursuing holiness, “without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

It has taken some time for me to write this entire series in eight parts. I know my wife will be glad to have her favorite hymnbook back so she can play the hymns she likes on her piano once again!

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Daily Bible Nugget #484, Hebrews 12:14 Part 7

The Nugget:

Heb 12:14  Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (KJV)

Heb 12:14 Try to live at peace with everyone! Live a clean life. If you don’t, you will never see the Lord. (CEV)

My Comment:

I have been using the words of the hymn “Take Time to Be Holy” to help explain what it means to be holy and how to be holy. I have begun to explain the second stanza,

Take time to be holy.
The world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret
With Jesus alone.

By looking to Jesus,
Like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct
His likeness shall see.

What does it mean, “By looking to Jesus”?

There is much in the Bible that sheds more light on what it means to look to Jesus. A study of Hebrews 12:2 and its cross references will lead you to what the rest of the Bible says:

Heb 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Looking. or, Looking away from (these witnesses). Gr. aphoraō (S# G872, only here), to consider attentively (Strong). Looking away translates aphorōntes from aphoraō, compounded of apo, from, and horaō, to view with undivided attention; thus to look away from all distractions and problems with eyes fixed on Jesus. Cf. Heb 10:32 showing the reason for their persecution and the need to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus (LNT, fn z). T1369, *Heb 12:3, +*Heb 9:28; Heb 11:26, 27; Heb 13:8, Num 21:8, 9, Job 19:26, *Psa 17:15; Psa 34:5; Psa 123:2; Psa 130:6, *Isa 8:17; *Isa 31:1; *+Isa 45:22, *Mic 7:7, *Zec 12:10, Mat 10:24, *Joh 1:29; *Joh 1:36; *Joh 3:14; *Joh 3:15; *Joh 6:40; *Joh 6:65; *Joh 8:56; Joh 10:4; Joh 13:14; Joh 19:5, Rom 8:34, 1Cor 13:12, 2Cor 3:18; *2Cor 4:18, Php 2:23; *Php 3:13; *Php 3:20, +*2Tim 4:8, **Titus 2:13, *1Jn 1:1, 2, 3, *Jude 1:21.

If we truly look exclusively (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) to Jesus for our salvation, and continue doing so on a daily basis, then His likeness will be seen in us by others.

One of the clearest and most striking verses in the Bible about this is 2 Corinthians 3:18,

2Co 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Notice the expression “are changed.” Literally translated, this text reads “are transformed.” The Holy Spirit transforms the life and character of each person who truly believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit produces in each believer the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22, 23, 24, 25).

The Bible explains itself to a far greater degree than most Bible readers are aware. Studying the cross references for a word or theme in the Bible will lead to many other related verses you might not ever think of on your own. Here are the cross references for 2 Corinthians 3:18, “are changed.”

are changed. or, transformed. Gr. metamorphoomai (S# G3339). 2Cor 5:17, Psa 85:13, %+*Jer 2:5, Ezek 36:26, Mat 17:2 g (transfigured). Mar 9:2 g. *Joh 17:17, Rom 5:5; *+Rom 8:29; Rom 12:2 g (transformed). Rom 13:14, +*1Cor 6:11; 1Cor 15:49, Gal 6:15, Eph 4:22, 23, 24; Eph 5:8, Col 3:10, +*1Th 2:13, Tit 3:5, **2Pe 1:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, *+1Jn 3:2; *+1Jn 3:6.

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