What the cross tells us

Posted by admin on 22 February 2021 in Good News |

Message to Youths

Posted by admin on 14 February 2021 in Ecclesiastes |

WHAT REALLY MATTERS

Posted by admin on 31 January 2021 in Acts, John, Leviticus, Mark |

Mark 7:14-19

We studied what really defiles them (Mark 7:20-23) and the background event of this teaching (Mark 7:1-13).

The Law teaches not to eat unclean creatures but to eat clean ones (Leviticus 11:1-46). The problem was that the religious leaders focused on the following: To keep this law better, they created more rules to follow (Mark 7:1-13).

People could try to live like the Parasees and the teachers of the law – creating and keeping more rules. Many religious people may belong to this category. But, Jesus loves us and His grace and truth help us free.

Today, let us study WHAT REALLY MATTERS (Mark 7:14-19).

I. Listen to me, everyone, and understand this (Mark 7:14)

Jesus called the crowd to him and said: “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this” (Mark 7:14).

I don’t remember any other occasion that Jesus emphasized saying “Listen …. understand this.”. We may think about why he emphasized this way. When we consider the previous event in Mark 7:1-13, Jesus must want us not to live like them in spiritual blindness and hypocrisy, but to live in wisdom and truth.

II. What really matters (Mark 7:15-19)

See Mark 7:15a.

15a Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them.

 This is explained in Mark 7:19a.

19a For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.’

In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19b).

Without this declaration of the truth, they would have no way to understand this truth and welcome the Gentiles who used to eat unclean animals. So we are blessed by the declaration of Christ Jesus, the Savior of the world (relevant message).

Jesus, the Son of God who was full of grace and truth (John 1:14), teaches that the food does not defile the heart of the person who eats it, but the evil that comes from the heart defiles the person (Mark 7:20-23).

Only Jesus saves (Acts 4:12, John 14:6). The salvation starts from our repentance in the heart and its subsequent rebirth by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5). Surely our heart won’t be renewed or forgiven by endlessly keeping more rules. No one can be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law, we become conscious of our sin (Romans 3:20).

 References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Mere rule creating and mere rule keeping

Posted by admin on 24 January 2021 in Isaiah, Leviticus, Mark |

Mark 7:1-13

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus (Mark 7:1).

The Law in the Old Testament teaches “uncleanness and cleanness” in Leviticus 11-15 (relevant message).

Based on the law, they even created more rules (the tradition of the elders) to follow (e.g., hand washing) (Mark 7:3-4). They saw the disciples of Jesus did not follow their rules (Mark 7:2), and they criticised (Mark 7:5).

Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy and quoted Isaiah 29:13 (Mark 7:6).

‘ “These people honour me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

They worship me in vain;

their teachings are merely human rules.”

The religious leaders’ outward appearance of piety was a lie. It was not accompanied by a lifestyle of true “heart” commitment to God. [2]

They were disobeying God’s commands in order to follow their own traditions (Mark 7:8-9, Mark 7:13). Jesus explained this with one example of ‘Corban’ (devoted to God) to disobey the 5th commandment (Honour your father and mother) among their many wrong practices (Mark 7:10-12).

The Mishna, a collection of Jewish traditions in the Talmud, records, “It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself.” This is a clear example of how the “traditions of the elders” had become more important than the law—God’s Word. [2]

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

[2] Cooper, R. L. (2000). Mark (Vol. 2, p. 119). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Jesus teaches what really defiles them

Posted by admin on 17 January 2021 in Leviticus, Mark |

In the past two weeks, we studied topics related to ‘uncleanness’ (Our guilt of uncleanness Jesus died for, Peter’s vision and its meaning). Mark 7:1-23 is also related to it. Let us study Mark 7:1-23 over the next few weeks. Today, let us briefly study key points only.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, ‘Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?’ (Mark 7:5)

Jesus teaches that a person is not defiled by unwashed hands or unclean food (See Mark 7:19a) but by evil thoughts (such as lust, hatred, covetousness, arrogance, and folly) that come from within, out of a person's heart (See Mark 7:20-23 for details).

 

Peter’s vision and its meaning

Posted by admin on 10 January 2021 in Acts, Leviticus, Mark, The Book of Romans |

Acts 10:9-16

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

14 ‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied. ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’

15 The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’

16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Message

We studied ‘uncleanness’ and ‘cleanness’ last week. In addition to this, let us learn Peter’s vision to understand the issue better.

I. Peter’s Vision

To understand Acts 10:9-16, Acts 10:1-8 and Acts 10:17-48 should also be read. However, let us start from verse 9 to kick-start the study today.

In Peter's vision, a voice told him to get up, kill and eat unclean animals (Acts 10:11-13). Peter refused (Acts 10:14). The voice spoke, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ (Acts 10:15).

II. The Meaning of the Vision

In the Law, the Jews are not to eat unclean creatures but to eat clean ones (Leviticus 11:1-46).

First, the above vision does NOT abolish the Law written in Leviticus 11:1-46.

This vision was shown to Peter to let the Gentiles saved. The meaning of the vision is shown in Peter’s statement in Acts 10:28.

28 He said to them: ‘You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.

So, this vision is not asking us to eat unclean animals. The vision is asking us not to call anyone impure or unclean.

The Law does NOT say whether a person would become unclean if he/she touches live animals unclean to eat.

But the Law says a person becomes unclean till evening if he/she touches or picks up the carcass of any of them (Leviticus 11:26-28).

The Gentiles eat them in their ignorance. However, we should not consider them unclean because of their food (Acts 10:28, Romans 14:14, Mark 7:14-23).

‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ (Acts 10:15).

Therefore, we should evangelise them regardless of their food as God enables this.

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Our guilt of uncleanness Jesus died for

Posted by admin on 3 January 2021 in Leviticus, Numbers |

Leviticus 5:2-3 ‘ “If anyone becomes aware that they are guilty—if they unwittingly touch anything ceremonially unclean (whether the carcass of an unclean animal, wild or domestic, or of any unclean creature that moves along the ground) and they are unaware that they have become unclean, but then they come to realise their guilt; or if they touch human uncleanness (anything that would make them unclean) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realise their guilt;

Leviticus 5:6 As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin.

(Message)

I. Uncleanness (Leviticus 11-15)

“Cleanness and uncleanness” is written in Leviticus 11:1-46 (food, carcass), Leviticus 12:1-8 (childbirth), Leviticus 13:1-59, Leviticus 14:1-57 (skin diseases, moulds), Leviticus 15:1-33 (unusual bodily discharge, emission of semen (men), flow of blood (women)). Uncleanness lasts till evening or more depending on the type of uncleanness.

II. Uncleanness that can cut them off from the holy community if without two purification rites (Numbers 19:11-21)

Numbers 19:11-21 is about uncleanness by touching a human corpse, a human bone, or a grave. Such uncleanness lasts seven days (Numbers 19:16). Note the difference: the uncleanness by touching the carcasses of unclean animals lasts till evening (Leviticus 11:24-25). They must also purify themselves with the water of purification on the third day and on the seventh day (Numbers 19:12-13). Failure to do this purification results in being cut off from the holy community (Numbers 19:20). The water of purification can be made by using of ashes of red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke (Numbers 19:1-10).

III. Uncleanness is transmittable

Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening.’ (Numbers 19:22, Leviticus 5:2-3)

IV. Our guilt of uncleanness

Bearing the above in mind, let us read Leviticus 5:1-6, which lets us know

(a) Uncleanness has to do with guilt (Leviticus 5:2-3, Leviticus 5:6).

(b) Uncleanness is transmittable and spreads (Leviticus 5:2-3, Numbers 19:22). Thus, guilt increases.

(c) Guilt by uncleanness requires confession of the sin (“they must confess in what way they have sinned” (Leviticus 5:5)).

(d) As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring a sin offering to the Lord (Leviticus 5:6).

V. Conclusion

Why is the above important to mention? Many people may not know that living their lives without knowing ‘uncleanness’ would be full of guilt before God.

Why do you need the sacrifice of Jesus (See (d))? When you first believe Jesus, what sin would you acknowledge? Not sure? Now you just learned the concept of the sin related to uncleanness in the above, which you can admit.

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition, Le 15:31). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Zaphenath-Paneah

Posted by admin on 27 December 2020 in Genesis, Hebrews, Matthew |

Exodus 41:45a Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah.

I. Background

Joseph was one of twelve sons of Jacob (Genesis 35:22b, Genesis 35:24). His brothers sold him to merchants for some silver due to their jealousy (Genesis 37:27-28). The merchants sold in Egypt Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard (Genesis 37:36). Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him after he refused to sleep with her, and Potiphar imprisoned him due to her lie (Genesis 39:1-23). The cupbearer and the baker of Pharaoh who offended him were imprisoned and had dreams. Joseph interpreted their dreams. The cupbearer was restored to his position, but the baker was impaled, according to the interpretation (Genesis 40:1-23). When Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret, the cupbearer remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him. So, Joseph got the opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. The dream was about coming seven years of great abundance and seven years of severe famine to follow after that. Joseph advised Pharaoh to collect all the food during the good years and use it during the famine. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of Egypt (Genesis 41:1-57).

As a result, Joseph saved Egypt and other countries during the severe famine.

II. Jesus Christ

The religious leaders were jealous of Jesus (Matthew 27:18). Jesus Christ sold for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). He was innocent but sentenced to die on the cross (Matthew 27:26). Jesus was raised back to life (Matthew 28:5-6) and became the Saviour of the world (Hebrews 5:8-9).

III. Zaphenath-Paneah

Finally, let us study the name of Joseph that Pharaoh gave. See Genesis 41:45a.

Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah.

This name is translated to be ’revealer of secrets’, ‘the man to whom secrets are revealed’, ‘saviour of the world’, ‘salvation of the age’, or  ‘the god speaks [and] he lives’ [2].

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition, Ge 41:45). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaphnath-Paaneah

From darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God

Posted by admin on 13 December 2020 in 1 John, 2 Timothy, Acts |

Acts 26:15-18

15 ‘Then I asked, “Who are you, Lord?”

‘ “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the Lord replied. 16 “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Paul was persecuting Christians (Acts 26:9-11). On a journey, Paul saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around him and his companions (Acts 26:12). They all fell to the ground and Paul heard a voice saying “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” (Acts 26:14)

When Paul asked “Who are you, Lord” (15a), Jesus answered him. See v15b ~ 18.

‘ “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the Lord replied. 16 “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Let us pay attention to the last part of the above paragraph, which is v17b ~ 18.

I am sending you to them

  • to open their eyes
  • to turn them
    • from darkness to light
    • from the power of Satan to God

So that they may receive

  • forgiveness of sins
  • a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me

Here, let us note “from the power of Satan to God”. Before saved by Jesus, people in the world are under the power of Satan.

Similar verses are in 2 Timothy 2:25-16.

25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Before saved by Jesus, people in the world are in the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

They need ‘rescue’.

This reality is also written in 1 John 5:19.

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition, Ac 26:15–18). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

God vindicates His servants

Posted by admin on 6 December 2020 in Colossians, Isaiah |

Scripture: Isaiah 54:1-17

Keyword: Isaiah 54:17

17    no weapon forged against you will prevail,

and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

and this is their vindication from me,’

declares the Lord.

It is good to learn the New Testament first if you are new to the Holy Bible. However, we should not neglect the Old Testament. The first part of the Old Testament is filled with real stories from which we can know God. Then the Old Testament continues with the books of prophets such as ‘Isaiah’, from which we can know God.

I. One of the key messages from God in the Old Testament

For example, we can frequently encounter the fact that idolatry and subsequent evil they commit brought God’s fierce anger and His judgement.

The New Testament teaches that ‘greed’ is ‘idolatry’ (Colossians 3:5b).

II. One of the verses of inspiration in the Old Testament

Isaiah 53 describes ‘Messiah’ and His sacrifice. Isaiah 54 is a subsequent chapter.

Isaiah 54:17 specially came into my heart while listening to “Bible.is” app. I close this short message after I leave it to the audience to read or listen to the Old Testament, including Isaiah 53 and 54.

 References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition, Is 54:17). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

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