Proverbs 2-21-23

I learned a new definition of “integrity” today. Or, should I say, I added another definition to the word.

36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:36-37

My definition of “integrity” has always been: Who a person is when no other human is around (the implication is that Jesus is always with us). The definition I learned today is: When the person we are on the inside matches the person we are on the outside.* If there is a gap between the two, then there’s a problem with integrity.

“The health of your soul determines your capacity for duplicity.”

This statement identifies the inner person (the soul) as the determiner of who we are and what we do. Our motives tell the tale of why we do what we do, which reveals who we are on the inside. Here is a passage that has helped me to close the gap between who I am on the outside and who I am on the inside,

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

When I turn away from who I was and focus on me being clothed with Jesus Christ–His righteousness–I begin to see myself as God sees me: A righteous child of God, dearly loved by Him, and being made holy day by day as I learn and grow in the Spirit. It’s this daily walk that is so difficult, but so important. Here are some good habits to safeguard our souls:

  1. Surrender your will to Jesus daily–the sooner, the better! I suggest between the time the alarm goes off and your feet hit the floor!
  2. Monitor your heart as you walk through your day. Make sure that you are thinking about the right things and not dwelling on the wrong things. Here’s a list of good things: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
  3. Open your hands and leave them open to whatever comes from the Father. John the Baptist is the one credited with this one: To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven” (John 3:27). We can trust the Father to give us what we need and what is good for us. Jesus said as much, ““Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11).

May we be known as people of integrity as we follow Jesus our Lord.

Abba, sometimes I just don’t care what people think about me, but then I hear Your voice saying that YOU care what people think about me. I am Your child, and representing You well is important, but You care because You love me and want the best for me. May I reconsider when I feel this way and understand that You and I both profit from having my integrity intact. Thank You, Abba, for being patient with me. Amen.

*”Living With Yourself”

Proverbs 2-20-23

Many people say that God cannot be known, yet Jesus came from heaven to earth to reveal the Father to us!

10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. John 14:10

God is knowable through Jesus Christ. Is there a desire in you to know God? Here is something to help you discover Him.

God is plural, three Persons in one. They are not separate, but they do have distinct characteristics. For us, we view Him/Them as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Take creation, for example. “In the beginning, God (Elohim-plural) created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1. As we read further, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” One of the names of Jesus is “Word of God” (John 1:1, 14). As we look at the creation, we see the Father as the initiator, Jesus as the spoken words, and the Spirit doing the work. They work in complete harmony with no division in their purpose.

Let’s apply the Trinity to us. God the Father loves us (John 3:16); God the Son came down in human form to draw us to Himself (John 12:32); God the Spirit comes to live in us (Colossians 1:27). If we believe that Jesus is God the Son and came from heaven for us, then we experience the love of the Father. When we do, it is the Spirit who rejoices with us and has sweet fellowship with us (Romans 5:5).

We can trust the Father; He loves us.
We can trust the Son; He loves us, too.
We can trust the Spirit; He loves us, as well.

Abba, to think about the Trinity blows my mind! Between the three of You, there is complete unity. What I don’t comprehend is that You are in perfect fellowship and need nothing–yet, You invite us to join You in that fellowship! Gladly, Abba, gladly! Amen.

Proverbs 2-19-23

Want peace and joy in your life? Trust the Father. He loves you.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

I was reading Psalm 139:23-24 the other morning and it occurred to me that I KNOW God loves me. Here’s the passage:

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

We who know Christ don’t have to worry about the wrath of God because of several things:

  1. Jesus introduced us to God as the Father. Here’s what He said, “In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
  2. We have passed from death to life and now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life(John 5:24). “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,(Romans 8:1).
  3. The Father is interested in training me in righteousness, not judgment. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

It dawned on me that I know God loves me. This knowledge fills my heart with peace, and joy runs out the top! I am fully convinced that He has me in the palm of His hand and will guide/carry me all the way to His side–in Person, as opposed to Him being in me now. It’s thrilling!

He loves you, too, so you can be filled with peace, and joy will flow out of you, too!

Abba, I am so thankful that You love me! I love that You are gentle and humble at heart, just like Jesus. Your teaching, rebuke, correction and training is for my good and my holiness. It is Your righteousness that is being brought out in me. Have Your way in me, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 2-18-23

Knowing about Jesus is good, but KNOWING Jesus is a whole different subject!

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:9-11

As we finish with science and Jesus, let’s see what J. Warner Wallace has to say about the many scientists who trust Jesus. In, “Person of Interest,” pages 209-211.

The central claims of Christianity related to Jesus can be reconstructed from the writings of these eminent scientists, including the following details,

  • The EARLY LIFE of Jesus
  • The TITLES of Jesus
  • The TEACHING of Jesus
  • The NATURE of Jesus
  • The MIRACLES of Jesus
  • The MINISTRY of Jesus
  • The MISSION of Jesus
  • The DISCIPLES of Jesus
  • The PREACHING of Jesus
  • The CRUCIFIXION of Jesus
  • The RESURRECTION of Jesus
  • The ASCENSION of Jesus

That’s what you would know about Jesus if every New Testament manuscript were destroyed and all you had were the writings of the most accomplished scientists in history. In every significant claim related to Jesus, the science fathers agree with the church fathers.

That’s right, men and women who founded the disciplines of physics and chemistry, biology and cosmology, evolutionary genetics and quantum mechanics also believed that Jesus performed miracles and rose from the grave. They were certain that the supernatural author of the laws they studied had the power to intervene in the natural world and that he had done so in the person of interest known as Jesus of Nazareth. As George Ellis, an astrophysicist who collaborated on the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems, once wrote, “God’s nature is revealed most perfectly in the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, who was sent by God to reveal the divine nature, summarized in ‘God is Love.'”

Knowing about Jesus is good, but there’s more–so much more! We have the opportunity to KNOW Jesus PERSONALLY! He has promised to give His Spirit to anyone who has faith: Believing that Jesus is who He says He is–the Son of God and the Jewish Messiah–and that He did what He said He did on the cross and then rose from the dead. All a person has to do is trust Jesus to know what is best for his life and for the world. Knowing Him personally is the best argument for Jesus being Lord that there is.

The book, “Person of Interest,” is one of the most interesting and informative books I’ve read in quite a while. We only touched on several aspects of J. Warner Wallace’s research. I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself. It’s great information!

Abba, thank You for J. Warner Wallace and the patient way You wooed him to You. May You be honored and glorified through his life and his work. Amen.

Proverbs 2-17-23

Future scientists are being born every day. Many will come to know Christ who will open their minds to new discoveries!

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

As we continue in, “Person of Interest,” we see evidence that Jesus had a great impact on science.

From page 196-200,

Whatever your fascination with science, your area of interest was probably founded by–or owes a huge debt of gratitude to–a Christian who worked during the scientific revolution. These founders and “fathers” transformed the landscape of scientific discovery, and many of them established the first scientific societies and academies. These societies eventually started issuing awards for excellence in science, and this continues even today.

The number of Christ followers who founded or pioneered scientific disciplines in the late modern period (and later became known as “fathers” of their areas of expertise) is staggering. The science “fathers” are too numerous to label here, and most of them earned the world’s most prestigious science awards. These award-winning “fathers” and “mothers” of science were raised as Christians and saw no contradiction between their Christian identity and their scientific endeavors, even though Darwin’s work was familiar to them.

And Christians’ enthusiastic involvement in the sciences continues to this day. This latest group (still living) is on pace to be the most awarded group of Christian thinkers (by percentage) in any area. They are founders of new disciplines and international award winners, such as:

Christ followers are still initiating, elevating, or perfecting every major field of scientific study. Christians excel in scientific disciplines, devoutly studying new chapters in the “book of nature” and, as Kepler said, serving as “priests of the highest God” and “thinking God’s thoughts after him.”

I was going to list the fathers of all the scientific disciplines including mathematics, philosophies, regional sciences, evolutionary theory, medicine, electricity- energy- and electromagnetics, driving-and flying, computer, engineering-and technology, and other cool stuff (the fathers of hydrogen peroxide, the barometer, the laser, the pendulum, the modern parachute, etc), but there were 230. You’ll have to look in the book on pages 200-207.

We have one more day on the subject of science on which we will discover why Christian scientists trust Jesus.

Abba, it amazes me how You open our minds to Your world when we trust You. Thank You that You inspire all of us to know You and Your universe better. May we not be afraid of new ideas and concepts as long as they stay true to the truth of You as we know You in Scripture. May Your Spirit lead us into new discoveries even as we spread the knowledge of You in our world. Amen.

Proverbs 2-16-23

To know more about God, we study His handiwork. The heavens and the earth ARE His handiwork.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

We continue our study of “Person of Interest” by J. Warner Wallace.

Igniter #1: Christ Followers Believed Matter Was Good and Worthy of Study.

Igniter #2: Christ Followers Believed Their World Was the Product of a Singular, Orderly, Rational God.

Igniter #3: Christ Followers Believed God Was Distinct From His Creation.

Igniter #4: Christ Followers Were Motivated by Their Desire to Worship the God of the Universe.

These igniters continue on page 188 through 190,

Igniter #5: Christ Followers Believed They Could Better Understand God by Observing His Activity in the “Book of Nature.” Christian scientists held both books in high regard (the book of Scripture and the book of natural revelation). They wanted to read these books correctly, understand them clearly, and share them precisely. They considered their scientific findings to be revelations about the nature and activity of God in the natural world.

Igniter #6: Christ Followers Pursued Physical and Intellectual Investigations of Their Environment. Most Greeks and Romans considered manual labor fit only for slaves. If ancient scientific theories were to be tested, empirical research (involving manual activity) would be required. This kind of empirical research (involving physical experiments) emerged quickly, however, in the earliest Christian educational facilities. The University of Bologna, for example, began dissecting human cadavers regularly in the Middle Ages. This shift from purely intellectual reasoning toward physical experimentation is unsurprising given that many of the earliest university professors and lecturers were Christian monks who had been steeped in a tradition of physical labor and didn’t view matter as inherently evil. These monks weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, and they saw empirical research as an extension of their physical work and divine duty.

Igniter #7: Christ Followers Created a Place to Advance the Sciences. Scientific experimentation and discovery blossomed when like-minded scholars and students gathered in the context of modern universities. These institutions were the invention of Jesus followers (see Proverbs 2-12-23). Without this educational advancement, scientific discovery would not have flourished, nor would scientific information have been transmitted effectively from one generation to the next. When Christians established modern universities, they ignited the progress of science.

These seven attributes (see yesterday’s post for the first 4) of the worldview Jesus initiated account for an obvious truth: Jesus followers have had an oversized impact on the sciences.

Tomorrow, we will take a peak at scientific disciplines that were begun by Christians.

Abba, our Christian forefathers took Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” seriously concerning the study of Your natural world. What I find most interesting is the advancement of technology and its propensity to prove Your Word is true. From the Telescope to the electron microscope, You are GOD, King of the Universe. Jesus, we praise You even as You hold the universe together! Amen.

Proverbs 2-15-23

Why do stars and planets hang suspended in space? Because the Lord holds them there!

 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3

Jesus ignited a scientific uprising. How? From, “Person of Interest,” pages 185-188,

Igniter #1: Christ Followers Believed Matter Was Good and Worthy of Study. As simple as this truth may seem today, ancient thinkers didn’t always hold matter (or the material world) in high regard. Jesus expressed a worldview that held matter in high regard and invited the study of the material world, even as an approach to studying the nature of God:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Paul, Romans 1:20

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. Hebrews 1:2

Igniter #2: Christ Followers Believed Their World Was the Product of a Singular, Orderly, Rational God. They believed one God ruled the universe in an orderly, rational manner and created us as rational beings in his image. This view led to the birth of science as Christians explored their world, identifying the orderly laws that governed the universe and employing the rationality they received from their Creator.

Igniter #3: Christ Followers Believed God Was Distinct From His Creation. Jesus taught that God transcended the material world, and endorsed a worldview that described God as greater than but distinct from his creation, working through predictable natural processes in such a way that humans could study these processes. This view of the world allowed Jesus followers to study and investigate their environment without simply attributing every phenomenon to an unpredictable deity, i.e. lightning–>Zeus, ocean storms–>Poseidon.

Igniter #4: Christ Followers Were Motivated by Their Desire to Worship the God of the Universe. Early Christian scientists saw their work as an act of divine devotion. Johannes Kepler (the German mathematician, astronomer, and theologian who was a key figure in the scientific revolution) described his work in the following manner, “I was merely thinking God’s thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature, it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God.” Jesus followers were driven by more than professional desire or personal interest. Their scientific enthusiasm was inspired by a holy devotion.

We will look at the last three igniters tomorrow. Suffice it to say that Christian scientists had no qualms about studying God’s natural world–ethically, of course.

Abba, thank You for our curiosity. Enjoying discovering how things work is inherent to humanity. We gain insight into why things–and people–work the way they do. Such knowledge helps us to encourage the best outcome according to Your leadership and instruction, and our capability to comprehend and willingness to obey. May we continually strive to learn, O God. Teach us through Your Word and through Your world. Amen.

Proverbs 2-14-23

There are people who say that science and Christianity are incongruous, but history says otherwise.

“A scientific discovery is also a religious discovery. There is no conflict between science and religion. Our knowledge of God is made larger with every discovery we make about the world. —Joseph H. Taylor Jr., Nobel Prize laureate in (astro)physics.

As we continue our review of “Person of Interest” by J. Warner Wallace, we find much information concerning scientific developments in the past 2500 years on pages 179-185.

There’s a relationship between the progress of science and the appearance of Jesus in history. First, let’s look at scientific developments and significant scientists from 2022 BCE to 2022 CE. Science advanced slowly in the first two thousand years, as the ancients laid the foundation for mathematics and natural philosophy. But in the next two thousand years, scientific developments progressed at an exponential rate, with several key “bursts” of activity, including the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Where does Jesus fall in this timeline? Interestingly, he appears right before the growth curve. Was this a coincidence or was Jesus somehow a catalyst?

The first small increase in scientific activity just happens to occur after the Edict of Milan (AD 313, Christianity was no longer an outlaw religion) and Edict of Thessalonica (AD 380, Christianity became the state religion of Rome). After the Roman Empire ended its persecution of Christians and adopted Christianity as the religion of the empire, science began to advance. The next increase occurred at the same time monasteries and cathedral schools were being established.

Another increase occurred, but not because of Christianity, but because of Islam, which lasted until sometime before the scientific revolution in the 1600’s.

The next major increase in activity happened to coincide with the Christian founding of the first universities at Bologna (1088), Oxford (1096), and Paris (1170). Another major increase occurred at about the same time as a Jesus follower (Johannes Gutenberg) invented the printing press (1455). The last impressive explosion of scientific activity occurred at the scientific revolution, and this historic period of discovery happened to coincide with the Protestant Reformation (1517).

Jesus followers dominated this burst of activity in which modern science emerged and developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, and chemistry changed the way humans thought about themselves and their world. Christian scientists dramatically outnumbered all other contributors combined. Why? Was it a coincidence or was there something about the worldview Jesus established that served as a catalyst for this historic Christian contribution? The latter seems to have been the case. Jesus matters to the progress of science, and scientific exploration as we know it is yet another piece of Common Era fallout pointing back to Jesus of Nazareth.

(from page 177) Christianity isn’t anti-science, but it is anti-scientism. Scientism is the belief that science is the only way to know anything. But there are many things we know without the benefit of science at all, like logical and mathematical truths, metaphysical truths, moral and ethical truths, aesthetic truths, and historical truths. Christians believe that science can tell us many important things but not all of the important things.

Tomorrow, we will look at how Jesus’s worldview ignited a scientific uprising.

Abba, everything I read about science makes me praise You all the more. From Creation to the Flood, from the ice age to the current age, You have always displayed Your glory in the heavens and in this world. We praise You, Abba! Amen.

Proverbs 2-13-23

Did you advance from grade to grade? use sign language or braille? go to school in a foreign country? If so, thank Jesus.

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

We left off yesterday with examples of the impact that Christians have had on the education system over the centuries. From, “Person of Interest,” pages 168-170,

If you found satisfaction in advancing from one grade to the next, you can thank Johan Sturm (1507-1589), the Lutheran layman who introduced the notion of grade levels to motivate students to study so they could earn the reward of advancing to the next grade.

If you had access to an education as a person with disabilities, you can thank:

  • Charles-Michel de l’Épée (1712-1789), the ordained priest (called the “father of education for the deaf”) who developed sign language for use in schools;
  • Laurent Marie Clerc (1785-1869), the committed Christ follower who brought sign language to the United States;
  • Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1797-1851), the Congregational clergyman who opened the first school for the deaf in the United States;
  • or Louis Braille (1809-1852), the Catholic priest (known as the “father of education for the blind”) who developed a system of reading and writing for the blind and visually impaired.

If you received an education in a foreign land, you can thank the inspiration of Frank Laubach (1884-1970), a Methodist missionary (known as “the apostle to the illiterates”) who traveled to more than 100 countries, developed primers in 313 languages, and created a literacy program that has been used to teach nearly 60 million people to read in their own language.

Jesus matters to the history of education. Jesus followers laid the foundation for schools as we know them today, from kindergartens to universities. Christians contributed to the progress of education and founded more universities and colleges than all their religious predecessors. Even though Hindus had a 2,300-to 1,500-year advantage, Jews had a 2,000-to 1,800-year lead, and Buddhists and Zoroastrians had a 600-year head start, Christians established more universities than all the other groups combined, by a magnitude of ten to one.

Tomorrow, we dive into SCIENCE. I think you will be amazed!

Abba, the Fallout of the life, death, and life of Christ is still going strong. The number of ministries that have reached out to Turkey and Syria are a great indication that the life and teachings of Jesus are alive and well. May we never lose our desire to help and serve in any way we can. Amen.

Proverbs 2-12-23

Christians led the way in education. Don’t believe me? Read for yourself!

Today we look at, School As We Know It, from, “Person of Interest,” pages 160-170.

The Education Revolution that Jesus ignited grew quickly.

  • People like Justin Martyr (100-165) established formal catechetical (relating to religious instruction given to a person in preparation for Christian baptism or confirmation) schools in Ephesus and Rome and became known as the first great scholar of the Christian Church.
  • Saint Pantaenus the Philosopher (130-200) established a catechetical school in Alexandria, Egypt.j
  • Origen (184-253) known as “prince of Christian learning” took over the leadership at the school in Alexandria and expanded its instruction to include mathematics and medicine.

As catechetical schools populated the landscape of the Roman Empire, they grew in stature and scope. They included universities and had three primary departments: Theology, Philosophy, and Medicine. Later on, the Imperial University of Constantinople (425) included departments for Law, Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, Music, and Rhetoric in both Latin and Greek.

We are going to skip a whole lot of history to get to our topic for today. Even if you haven’t attended a university, you’ve experienced the impact of Jesus followers at some point in your education. Christians have been educational innovators:

  • If you were asked to read books as part of your education, you can thank Johannes Gutenberg (1400-1468), devoted Jesus follower and the creator of the printing press.
  • If you benefited from an organized, public educational system in your community, you can thank Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558), a Jesus follower who pioneered the organization of schools, along with several others including Jean-Baptiste de La Salle (1651-1719), a French priest who promoted compulsory education and spent much of his life educating the poor.
  • If you had access to an education as a child, you can thank
    • Martin Luther (1483-1546), the German theologian and religious reformer who argued for universal education and literacy for children,
    • John Calvin (1509-1564), the French theologian and reformer who advocated for “a system of elementary education in the vernacular for all, including reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, and religion;” and
    • Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852), the son of a Lutheran pastor who is known as the “father of kindergarten education.”

There’s more, but we will have to wait until tomorrow. I don’t want you being late to church because you were reading a long post! May we worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in our respective churches today.

Abba, I realize that I owe my education to these men. I also know that many women were involved in the process. Most of my teachers were women. I know that many of them are/were Jesus followers. Thank You for the legacy. May I be faithful to pass on my faith to faithful people, who will then pass on their faith to faithful people, and so on. Amen.

Proverbs 2-11-23

Through the centuries, schools were started by Christians to teach the Bible, America included.

…the Bible was the reason public schools were founded in the first place. One of the earliest education laws in our country was passed in 1647 (called the “Old Satan Deluder Act”). To combat the religious ignorance of and persecution by their tormentors in Europe, the founders of America wished to counter the biblical illiteracy of the populace.
The Bible Was America’s First Textbook

Yesterday, we began looking in, “Person of Interest,” at the topic of Jesus being the Great Igniter of Education. We found on page 157,

IGNITER #1- Christ Followers Celebrated the Life of the Mind

IGNITER #2- Christ Followers Collected and Protected Knowledge

IGNITER #3- Christ Followers Were Called to Make Disciples

Today, we will look at Igniters 4-6 from pages 158-160.

IGNITER #4- Christ Followers Embraced a “Teaching” Culture. Jesus prepared his students and sent them to share the truth with others and even used teaching imagery in his illustrations and sermons: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Paul later affirmed the duty to educate the community of saints: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). So important was education to the second- and third-century Christians that new believers were “catechized” and educated for lengthy periods of time prior to their baptism. This training period was tailored to each baptismal candidate and could last from weeks to years.

IGNITER #5- Christ Followers Embraced Their Responsibility to Learn the Truth. Early Christians understood their personal responsibility as students. They were individually transformed by learning the truth and by using their minds to continually evaluate the will of God as it was described in the Book: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLV).

IGNITER #6- Christ Followers Educated the World to Share the Gospel. Jesus followers took seriously the command to “go therefore and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). They branched out into the world and immediately encountered a significant obstacle: Discipleship was dependent on the Book, but not every new people group could read. Some groups didn’t even possess an alphabet of their own. This didn’t stop Christian missionaries. Ulfilas (c.311-c.383 CE), for example, was born into captivity in a region that the Goths controlled (now known as Ukraine, Modova, and Romania), but he eventually became a Christian bishop and missionary to the region. He evangelized the Goths and invented an alphabet that would allow him to translate the Bible into the Gothic language. This invention made it possible for Goths to read, a foundational skill that laid the groundwork for higher education in the region.
Saint Syril did the same thing for the Slavic people in Eastern Europe in the ninth century. More than two hundred million people, representing more than one hundred languages spoken around the world, still use Cyril’s alphabet. The invention of an alphabet such as this (for the purpose of translating the Bible) opened the doors for education on a global level.

Christians are still translating the Book and creating alphabets, even today. According to the Wycliff Global Alliance, at least part of the Bible has been translated into 3,415 languages (representing 7 billion people), the complete bible has been translated into 704 languages (representing 5.7 billion people), and the New Testament has been translated into 1,551 languages (representing 815 million people). Jesus followers are largely responsible for advancing literacy across the globe.

Jesus said to a group of resistant leaders,

39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40

Doesn’t it make sense for us to diligently study the Scriptures, too? The more we know about Jesus and His mission, the more inspired we will be to further His Gospel, even if it’s just across the street–or in our own house!

Abba, set us on fire to spread the Good News of Jesus with everyone You bring our way. May we look for opportunities to share the Gospel. But, before we go, please prompt us to study Your Word so that we know what we are sharing and how to share it. Love is the key, Lord. May Your love overflow from our hearts to all around us. Amen.

Proverbs 2-10-23

Studying God’s Word sharpens our minds because Jesus calls us to use our minds for His glory.

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Today’s topic from, “Person of Interest,” is THE EDUCATION FALLOUT. Jesus ignited a revolution of education among all classes of people. The Gospel makes no differentiation between those classes, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” Galatians 3:28. Jesus is the CATALYST for the modern education revolution because His disciples “wanted to advance the values of their Master” (page 156). J. Warner Wallace lists six IGNITERS on pages 157-158:

IGNITER #1- Christ Followers Celebrated the Life of the Mind. Jesus was a thinker, and he encouraged his followers to be similarly committed to using their minds, even as an act of worship. See Mark 12:30, Romans 12:1-2, and Ephesians 4:22-24.

IGNITER #2- Christ Followers Collected and Protected Knowledge. Christians and Jews were students of Scripture. Moses started this educational emphasis many centuries earlier (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Christians continued this tradition of education. Paul reiterated this emphasis in a letter to his disciple Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

IGNITER #3- Christ Followers were Called to Make Disciples. From start to finish, Jesus and his followers held education in high regard. Jesus’s last words to his disciples made this clear: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples, and this required them to become teachers of the Word.

We will look at the other three IGNITERS tomorrow, but even now, it’s pretty clear that Christianity is not a mindless religion. Quite the opposite! We are called to control our minds and to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) to Christ, allowing Him to guide us in our next steps. What great assurance we have in Christ!

Abba, thank You for making it very clear that You love us and have plans for us. If we take You seriously and study Your Word, You will help us to understand Your truth and to share it with those around us. Help us to take each thought captive to You and allow You to help us sort things out. Amen.

Proverbs 2-9-23

Ever sung a hymn about Jesus? You’re in good company. Christians have been singing hymns about Jesus for 2000 years!

He appeared in the flesh,
    was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
    was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
    was taken up in glory.

1 Timothy 3:16
Possibly the text of an early hymn!

From, “Person of Interest,” pages 141-142

Jesus followers were inspired by Jesus to sing songs about Jesus to Jesus. They borrowed these songs from Old and New Testament Scriptures and quickly began to write their own.
Just as the fingerprints of Jesus can be found in the art of the earliest centuries of the Common Era, so too can they be seen in music. Hundreds of historic hymns were written in the first four centuries of the church, most well before Christianity was safe to sing about.

Embedded in these sacred songs were the simple truths about Jesus. The early church hymns are a rich evidential source of information about Jesus. The broad narrative of Jesus’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection can be heard in these songs, along with many rich theological truths that early believers affirmed. In fact, if all the New Testament manuscripts were destroyed, we would still know the following truths about Jesus from Christian hymns sung in the first four centuries.

  • The BIRTH of Jesus
  • The MINISTRY of Jesus
  • The MISSION of Jesus
  • The DEATH of Jesus
  • The BURIAL of Jesus
  • The RESURRECTION of Jesus
  • The RETURN of Jesus
  • The TITLES of Jesus

The Jesus described in ancient hymns matches the Jesus depicted by ancient artists and the Jesus described by the earliest authors of literature. The fallout in the earliest centuries of the Common Era pointed to the same Jesus described on the pages of the New Testament.

Throughout the centuries, Christian composers, singers, and players were involved with more than just Christian hymns. Because of their influence, “they pushed the envelope of their own contemporary forms of musical expression, making structural and compositional changes even as they invented (or added) new musical instruments” (page 143).

Historic Christian musicians, singers, and performers laid the foundation on which modern music stands. Thousands of years later, Jesus followers are still inspired to sing about Jesus of Nazareth. A brief internet search reveals the depth of the contemporary Christian music industry. In the past fifty years, over five hundred artists have contributed to this industry, recording songs numbering into the hundreds of thousands.

Even pop artists sing about Jesus. Just do a quick internet search and you’ll find singers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Smokey Robinson, Simon and Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Michael Jackson, Metallica, Guns n’ Roses, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, and many others–and we haven’t even listed country singers! “Some of these artists were inspired by Jesus, some were informed by him, and some were infuriated by him. But Jesus mattered to all of them. They saw Jesus as a person of interest, worthy of their attention” (page 151).

Tomorrow: Education.

Abba, for my prayer, I will quote an old hymn, “Why do I sing about Jesus?”

Deep in my heart there’s a gladness
Jesus has saved me from sin
Praise to His name, what a Savior
Cleansing without and within
Why do I sing about Jesus?
Why is He precious to me?
He is my Lord and my Savior
Dying, He set me free!


Proverbs 2-8-23

We can fixate on worldly passions, or we can focus on the love, joy and peace that Jesus offers us in a relationship with Him.

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. Psalm 33:3

What happens to worldly passions (desires) when we fixate on them? They become addictions, entanglements, snares, and eventually, our downfall. Without a focus, a target, so to speak, our passions will never reach their full potential; they veer off-track. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:4, “Through these [His glory and goodness] he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine naturehaving escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” God created us with unique talents and gifts, and He wants us to participate in His divine nature. When we allow Him to unlock those talents and gifts, we find true release and ultimate fulfillment as He says to us, “Well done!” The inspiration of the Spirit is a duet, a cooperative effort that creates something that no one has ever seen or heard or done. It may not get world-wide attention, but it is something that you and the Spirit create together. For this reason, Christians have drawn, painted and sculpted as outlets of their praise and worship, and to inspire other Christians to give praise to God.

From, “Person of Interest,” page 131,

The early Christians were immediately inspired by Jesus and eventually employed every art media at their disposal to draw, paint, sculpt, and craft images of their Savior. Even those who opposed Jesus and his followers were inspired to depict Jesus, if only mockingly. Perhaps the earliest image of Jesus was drawn in this way, illustrating him as as donkey. But shortly thereafter, emerging images of Jesus revealed the adoration of his followers as they illustrated episodes of his life and ministry.

Buried within this historic collection of inspired art is an evidence trail. The fingerprints of Jesus dominate the art of the earliest centuries of the Common Era. So much so that the truth about Jesus can be completely reconstructed simply from the oldest known Christian paintings and sculptures. Page 135

The renowned masters of every historic period, every artistic genre, and every region of the world painted, sculpted, sketched, or etched Jesus of Nazareth.
This did not have to be the case, and it cannot be said of the leader of any other religious movement. Art as we know it today was forever shaped by the inspiration of Jesus, even when those who were inspired didn’t claim a Christian identity. No other person in history has been such a person of interest to artists. No other historical figure has received this much artistic attention. No one has mattered like Jesus.
Page 138

Musicians have composed, sung and played music to Him and for Him since the very beginning of the Church. Philippians 2:6-10 may have been one of the first “songs” of the early church–but, music is tomorrow’s topic! Today, enjoy the artistry around you and allow it to help you praise our Lord.

Abba, I like looking at art; it inspires me to think of You. Dance moves me to tears of joy. Music–ah, music–gives me an outlet that soothes the savage beast within me. I identify with the words of praise or the melody of the instrument. Even now, as I listen to instrumental music, it resonates within me a calm and peace that I might miss without the music. I find myself talking to You easily as the music plays. I praise You for music and what it means in my life. Amen.

Proverbs 2-7-23

The coming of Jesus 2000 years ago is still having a major impact on our world today.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:6

We saw in, “Person of Interest,” written by J. Warner Wallace, that Jesus is the most written-about person in history. What about architecture? How did Jesus influence the way we build?

Churches in the first centuries of the Common Era were still relatively dark, uninspiring spaces, although they were much larger than their house church counterparts. But even in these heavy spaces, a simple architectural development would eventually point believers heavenward.
Domes were not unknown to the Greek and Roman world, or course, but they were mastered by Christian church builders who stretched the limit of the archetype.
These arched ceiling surfaces provided opportunities to paint images of the angelic realm, and architects designed them to be illuminated in heavenly ways with hidden light wells and strategically placed window openings. Many domes also allowed for the placement of statues, providing yet another artistic avenue for expression. The technology involved in perfecting dome architecture stretched the imagination and engineering skills of designers and builders. The dome at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in an excellent example.
Designed by Michelangelo, the structure of the dome is an artistic and engineering tour de force. He carefully controlled the way in which he allowed light to enter the space by building a double-walled dome with a light chamber. Windows along the base provided another source of controlled light. The result is nothing less than stunning.

Flying buttresses, visible in the pictures on the St. Peter’s Basilica website, were another invention by Christians that allowed architects to design and build windowed walls that did not bear weight inside the outer weight-bearing walls, thus allowing the inner space to be much larger than was formerly possible. Flying buttresses were used all over Europe thanks to the inspiration of Christians.

There was an unexpected inspiration that happened in the first three centuries during persecution. People began to draw and paint pictures of our Lord and to write songs about Him. We will look at these tomorrow.

Abba, when I think about Your love, mercy and grace, and when I experience Your peace and joy, my heart sings. Others express their adoration and praise to You in other ways. We are inspired to worship You in ways that are unique to each of us. May we not think down on ourselves for loving You as only each of us can. The songs I write to You and about You will probably never reach the masses, but You receive glory and honor through my meager talents. May I praise You with all my heart, O Lord, and with everything I have. Amen.

Proverbs 2-6-23

Jesus is the subject of more books than anyone else, 109,000,000 worldwide. Next is George Washington with 58,400,000.

25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25

Today, we look at literature and how Jesus impacted our world through it. From, “Person of Interest,” page 112,

The literary fallout Jesus created resulted in the formation of an entire industry. The Bible was the first book ever printed on a printing press, establishing Johannes Gutenberg (the inventor of the movable-type press) as the world’s first printed book publisher. Today, books about Jesus are published by nearly two hundred publishing houses, a large industry designed to meet the intense interest in Jesus. Compare the number of Christian publishers, for example, with publishing houses representing two religious systems that preceded Christianity by centuries: Hinduism and Buddhism. To these, let’s add major religions that followed Christianity: Islam and Baha’i. These four religious worldviews combined cannot boast the number of publishers that have emerged under the Christian banner.
Jesus matters to authors and publishers. He still dominates the publishing industry like no other person of interest. He’s inspired more writers–and been the topic of more literature–than any other person in history.

But wait; there’s more!

Jesus dramatically affected another literary genre in the Common Era fallout. As visual technology progressed, a new category of literature emerged: the screenplay. From the very invention of the “moving picture,” Jesus became the focus of writers who were inspired by his impact on culture.
Some of the earliest attempts to create motion pictures featured the life and activity of Jesus. In 1897 Albert Kirchner filmed La Passion du Christ, while Mark Klaw and Abraham Erlanger created The Horitz Passion Play. These primitive films started an explosion of cinematic activity depicting the life of Jesus. Page 114

The latest and ongoing cinematic feature of Jesus Christ is, The Chosen. While some artistic license is taken, the overall storyline comes straight from the Gospels. The stories of the disciples are fiction, but the writers maintain strict diligence concerning the character of Jesus. One of my favorite clips is from the very first episode portraying Jesus healing Mary Magdalene. It’s a little dark, so turn the lights down to watch it. It’s sequel is when Nicodemus, who tried unsuccessfully to cast the demons out of Mary earlier in the first episode, questions her about her healing. Each clip is about 4 minutes long, so it won’t take up much of your time. They are definitely worth watching!

One of these movies, The Jesus Film (created in 1979), depicts Jesus’s life based primarily on the gospel of Luke. It was filmed on location in Israel and adheres closely to the biblical text. Since its creation, this film has been translated into over 1,800 languages and has been viewed by over 8.1 billion people, making it the most-watched and most-translated motion picture of all time. page 116
So, without a single New Testament document or ancient text describing Jesus, you could still reconstruct every detail of Jesus’s life, ministry, death, resurrection–and his impact on the lives of believers–from the hundreds of screenplays that have been written and movies that have been made in just the past one hundred years. That’s the kind of impact Jesus had on our collective literary imagination.
page 117

“Jesus had more literary impact than any other person in all of history.” page 120

The next time you pick up your Bible, think about this statement and give thanks to our heavenly Father.

Abba, You fill our minds with thoughts of You even as You fill our souls with Your presence. You capture our imaginations and we look for creative ways to share Your story. Inspire us, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 2-5-23

Throughout history, even non-Christians who liked Jesus and non-Christians who didn’t like Jesus talked about Him.

41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah. Luke 4:41

We continue to study the Fallout of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension. Not only did Christians talk and write about Him prolifically, even people who twisted the truth or even denied it were party to proving the authenticity of Jesus. From, “Person of Interest,” by J. Warner Wallace,

Why aren’t the noncanonical accounts (the writings from non-Christians who liked Jesus) considered equally authoritative? Were they eliminated solely because they disagreed theologically with Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John? No. More than any other reason, they are disqualified as eyewitness accounts because of their late arrival outside of the region of Jesus’s life and ministry. True eyewitness accounts are written early and within the region, as were the four gospel accounts we have in the New Testament. Page 107

These details about Jesus and his followers come not from the church fathers but from the authors of heretical texts. Even if you destroyed every page of Christian Scripture and the writings of Christians who liked Jesus, you would still know a lot about him from these non-Christians who liked him. But the noncanonical authors weren’t the only non-Christians to talk about Jesus. There were others who interacted with Christians in antiquity, and unlike the noncanonical writers, they didn’t like Jesus at all. Page 107

From just this group of hostile non-Christians who disliked Jesus, a robust profile of Jesus can be reconstructed. Even though these historical figures typically slandered him, they based their attacks on a set of common claims. These foundational details related to Jesus (and his followers) can be heard from the voices of those who opposed him. Page 109

What are those foundational details?

  • The LIFE of Jesus
  • The MINISTRY of Jesus
  • The TRIAL of Jesus
  • The CRUCIFIXION of Jesus
  • The RESURRECTION of Jesus
  • The RETURN of Jesus
  • The TITLES of Jesus
  • The FOLLOWERS of Jesus

At a time when Christians were pursued, pillaged, and persecuted, we might not expect much information related to Jesus and his followers to survive. Instead, we can reconstruct every major claim of the New Testament without reading a single gospel or letter of Scripture, even though many of these non-Christian authors did their best to co-opt and twist the story of Jesus or were mockingly hostile toward the claims of Christianity.
There are more non-Christian voices in this extrabiblical collection (ninety-two historical figures) than Christian ones (just fifty-one), and regardless of their social stature, ethnicity, motivation, or region, the common description of Jesus (at their core) remained the same. At their foundation, they reiterated the claims of the New Testament authors long before these claims became popular or Christianity became the religion of the empire.
Page 110

It all points to this: We can trust the New Testament about who Jesus is, why He came, and what He said and did. And, we can trust the Old Testament because it told us ahead of time about Jesus, the Messiah. Tomorrow, we will look at some more evidence.

Abba, as we worship You today, may we all thank You for providing so much evidence for us. There should be no doubt in our minds that Jesus is who He said He is, that He did what He said He’d do, and that He will do what He told us He will do. We can trust Your Word, and that’s Good News. Amen.

Proverbs 2-4-23

Here is a quick history of the early Church, one that you might have never heard.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Timothy 2:2

On pages 102-105 of “Person of Interest,” is information about the early church that I had never heard or read. It is the first category at which we will look concerning how Jesus impacted the world. It’s a little long, but worth it! If you don’t have time, at least skip down to the ** near the end of the post and read to the end.

In the first three centuries of the Common Era (AD), early believers lived cautiously within the Roman Empire and–depending on the emperor at the time–experienced some form of hesitant tolerance, general disdain, or intense persecution. Roman authorities would have allowed their citizens to embrace Jesus as yet another regional deity, but Christians worshiped Jesus as the one true God, to the exclusion of other gods in the Roman pantheon. This refusal to worship the Roman deities often led to Christian martyrdom. But that changed when two edicts were issued in the fourth century.

In 313 CE (AD 313) emperors Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan, proclaiming religious tolerance and ending the persecution of Christians. By 380 CE emperors Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II issued the Edict of Thessalonica, declaring that citizens of the empire “should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter.” This edict firmly established Nicene Christianity as the religion of the empire, culminating in an amazing transformation of national worship.

Even before Rome embraced Jesus as God, Christians…were writing about their Master. The students of the apostles were the first to describe what their teachers told them about Jesus. Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp, for example, described the Jesus they learned about at the feet of the apostle John, and Clement of Rome described the Jesus he learned about from the apostle Paul. For the next two hundred years, even before Christianity was accepted as the state religion, Christian leaders reiterated the claims of Christianity in letters and manuscripts written to local congregations and to each other. From Barnabas in the late-first century to Arnobius of Sicca in the late third century, the ante-Nicene [before the Council of Nicene] church fathers wrote about Jesus, repeatedly citing the earliest descriptions offered by the gospel authors.

Unsurprisingly, the story of Jesus had a tremendous impact on early believers, resulting in a significant collection of early literature. While admonishing local congregations, encouraging one another, and writing about the impact Jesus had on their lives, these leaders often quoted from the New Testament. In fact, much of the data the gospel authors offered can be found in the early church literary fallout.

Letters from Christian leaders in the first three hundred years of the Common Era reveal 935 verse quotations from the gospel of Matthew (87.3 percent of the text), 453 verses from the gospel of Mark (66.9 percent of the text), 990 verses from the gospel of Luke (86.0 percent of the text), and 859 verses from the gospel of John (97.8 percent of the text). In addition, church leaders also quoted from many other New Testament documents.

Even without any details from the New Testament manuscripts from antiquity, we could reconstruct the gospel authors’ claims from the citations, quotes, and descriptions found in this ancient, explosive body of literature. In fact, if we limited our investigation to the earliest leaders who are believed to have had personal contact with the gospel eyewitnesses and authors (Barnabas, Ignatius, Clement of Rome, the Didache authors, Papias, and Polycarp), we could retrieve the important details related to the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

**A robust description of Jesus, his teaching, mission, and followers is available before the early second century, and by the end of the third century, Jesus followers would quote or reference 3,237 verses from the New Testament gospels. That’s the kind of early impact Jesus had, and this was before Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire.

If someone truly wanted to erase Jesus from history, they would have to do far more than destroy the New Testament; they would also have to destroy every copy of the many letters and books written in the early centuries of the Common Era by Christians who liked Jesus.

As we get to know Jesus and His importance to the world, I pray that He will begin to make more and more of a difference to you. If He is indeed Lord, then we must recognize Him as Lord of our lives every day and in every way.

Abba, the hunger and thirst for You and Your righteousness that I read about in the early church is something that I want for my life. May I hold as dear to my heart Your holy Scriptures as these men and women did. Even though my physical life is not threatened by upholding it, it is vital to my soul that I adhere to it just as faithfully. Keep us strong in the faith, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 2-3-23

When Jesus entered the scene, the whole world changed. We looked at the fuse; now, let’s look at the fallout.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection/completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 1 Corinthians 13:9-10

Over the last several days, we have looked at the fuse concerning the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, thanks to J. Warner Wallace in his book, “Person of Interest.”

What is the dogma (the absolute truth) about Jesus?

  1. He left His throne in heaven above to come to earth as a human.
  2. He was born of a virgin in order to be both human and divine.
  3. He lived a perfect life in complete fellowship and partnership with His Father and with the Spirit.
  4. He gave His life in place of ours on a cross.
  5. He rose from the dead three days later, thus defeating death.
  6. He ascended back to His throne 40 days later.
  7. 10 days after that, at Pentecost, He sent God the Holy Spirit to live in and empower His followers.

Jesus is who He said He is, and He did what He said He’d do. Therefore, we can trust Him to do what He said He would do, which is to come and live in everyone who will receive Him as Lord. What difference has Christ made in this world? From “Person of Interest” we have these summary statements:

The three-stranded [spiritual, cultural, prophetic] fuse that burned toward the Common Era [birth of Christ] seemed to make Jesus’s arrival inevitable. He met our human expectations, matched the Jewish predictions, and arrived at precisely the right time in the history of the Roman Empire to be shared with the entire known world…every explosion, whether a criminal act or an important historical event, has both a fuse and some fallout, and I still had more to investigate. If Jesus truly mattered, the fallout of history would be cluttered with evidence. Page 94

“…the evidence from the fuse and the fallout alone exposed two important truths: First, no person had the kind of impact Jesus had on history. Second, every reconstruction of the Jesus story from the literature, art, music, education, and science fallout describes Jesus as God incarnate.” Page 252

Over the next few days, we will be delving into the literature, art, music, education, and science of the last 2,000 years to see how Christ Jesus has influenced each of them. I think you will be more than impressed; I think you will be astounded! I certainly was!!!

Abba, I look forward to walking through the chapters about the fallout again. The information was overwhelming–more than enough for me to believe that Jesus influences EVERY area of our lives. May our study deepen our faith in Your faithfulness to us. Amen.

Proverbs 2-2-23

Daniel’s prophecies make it very clear that Jesus is the Messiah. He had it down to the day!

As we continue our walk through J. Warner Wallace’s book, “Person of Interest,” we delve into the prophecies of Daniel, who gave us a timeline for the coming Messiah.

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. Daniel 9:25-26

From, “Person of Interest,” pages 67-68,

Three things are clear from this prediction: First, the Messiah will come sometime after a decree is issued to rebuild Jerusalem. Second, the Messiah will then be “cut off” and “have nothing.” Finally, all this will happen sometime before Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed.

  1. The Temple was rebuilt by Herod. From “Over the next four hundred years, a series of Gentile rulers alternatingly built up and defiled the second temple. The cycle culminated in a 39 BC battle in which King Herod took control of the temple, slaughtering many of the priests and defenders in the process, but also keeping the Roman soldiers from entering the sanctuary. Herod proposed to renovate the temple in 20—19 BC, his reason being the post-exilic temple was sixty cubits shorter than Solomon’s original. Despite the Jews’ fears that he meant to tear it down and never rebuild, the main work on the temple was completed in one-and-a-half years, and the outer courtyard in eight years. Finishing touches continued until AD 63. Herod’s temple, then, was a restoration and expansion of Zerubbabel’s second temple.” The “time of trouble” was the occupation of the Romans during this time.
  2. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, was crucified in AD 30 – 33 (there is some discrepancy of the exact date).
  3. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Roman General Titus in AD 70 as per his father, Vespasian’s, orders.

The idea of weeks being seven years came from Numbers 14:34. The number of days the spies spent in Canaan (40) were multiplied by years (40) that they were to wander in the wilderness. Also, Ezekiel laid on his side for forty days, each day standing for a year (Ezekiel 4:6). The number of weeks in Daniel’s prophecy were 7 + 62 = 69, so, the number of days/years was 483, or, 173,880 days.

In 583 BC Daniel predicted a future decree to rebuild Jerusalem…Nehemiah, who described the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem issued “in the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes” (Nehemiah 2:1), which is March 5, 444 BC, according to our Julian calendar. Daniel predicted this decree 142 years prior to its fulfillment.”

I have seen calculations, like the one in this book, that put the fulfillment of the prophecy of the coming of Messiah as the day Jesus entered Jerusalem on the donkey. I have also seen calculations that place the fulfillment at the beginning of the Messiah’s ministry. Both have merit. The point is that we have seen all of Daniel’s prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah come true.

The information was now complete; they had an adequate description of the Messiah. They knew what he would do, where he would do it, why he was coming, how he would accomplish his task, and when it would occur. With Malachi’s final prophecies [Malachi 3:1, Jesus would appear in the temple before it was destroyed], the prophetic fuse burned to a close. Nothing more needed to be said; no additional description was necessary. There was enough information to answer the final and most important question: Who is the person of Interest? Jesus of Nazareth arrived in precisely the timeframe Daniel described.

The final sign was Jesus’ resurrection. Now, the question is: “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

Tomorrow: THE FALL-OUT!

Abba, I am with Simon Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” You are my Lord and my Savior even as You are Savior of the entire world. May Your name be proclaimed among the nations! Amen.

Proverbs 2-1-23

Jesus fulfilled over 350 prophecies. Some are clear and some are cloaked. What’s the difference? Let’s look!

J. Warner Wallace talks about “clear” and “cloaked” evidence in his book, “Person of Interest.” As a forensic investigator of cold cases, he works with “clear” evidence that “points specifically to a suspect with great clarity–fingerprints or DNA evidence, for example” (pages 50-51).

Some evidence, however, is less clear. “Cloaked” evidence is often confusing–it may not point to the suspect at all. Imagine finding a button at [a] crime scene, lying on the floor a few feet from the victim’s body. Does this belong to the suspect or to the victim? Did it arrive here as a result of the crime, or was it lying in the room before the crime occurred? The button may be useful evidence, or it may be a useless artifact. We won’t know for sure until we meet the suspect.
If one of the suspect’s shirts is missing a button that matches the one at the crime scene, this piece of evidence will become an important part of our case. While “clear” evidence points to the suspect from the onset (before he is contacted), “cloaked” evidence points to the suspect only in hindsight (after he is identified).

The same is true concerning prophecy. We have “clear” prophecy that speaks directly about Jesus and “cloaked” prophecy that is revealed in hindsight. Isaiah 9:6-7 is an example of “clear” prophecy:

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Isaiah 53:2-3 (and the entire chapter) is an example of “cloaked” prophecy:

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

  • The Isaiah 9 passage speaks in future tense while the Isaiah 53 passage speaks in past tense.
  • The Isaiah 9 passage speaks of government, God, and David’s throne while the Isaiah 53 passage speaks of the suffering of the Messiah–a message that was, and still is, rejected by Israel’s leaders, thus leading many Israelis astray.

The apostles used the Old Testament Scriptures to confirm their claim that Jesus is the Messiah. Peter said, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11). They used the prophets as their main argument. Those prophets were Moses, Samuel, Daniel, Isaiah, Micah, Hosea, Malachi, Zechariah, David and Jeremiah. They all prophesied about the coming Messiah (see Mission Addiction: Ten Prophets and Prophecies that Point to Jesus). ALL of their prophecies came true in Jesus. In fact, “the gospel writers cited OT prophecy fifty-six times to demonstrate that Jesus was the Messiah, with nearly 300 more they could have used.

Tomorrow, we will look at Daniel’s prophecies and how Jesus fulfilled every one of them.

Abba, each time I read the prophecies about Jesus, I am amazed at Your great love that You showed by telling us beforehand what was going to take place. I just wish more people would believe You! May Your Spirit move across our land and this globe and ignite a spark and fan into flame Your Church, O God. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done even as it is in heaven. Amen.

Proverbs 1-31-23

Jesus’ birth wasn’t supernatural; His conception was.

31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Luke 1:31-35

Many people say that Jesus was just a myth, that his character and reputation are based upon the myths of old. As we continue our investigation of Jesus and His imprint on the world, J. Warner Wallace, in his book, “Person of Interest,” pages 26-39, performed an investigation of the 16 top mythological deities of history. They are:

  1. Osiris
  2. Tammuz
  3. Shangdi
  4. Marduk
  5. Ind Ra
  6. Attis
  7. Thakur Jiu
  8. Adonis
  9. Dionysus
  10. Zoroaster
  11. Heracles
  12. Krishna
  13. Zalmoxis
  14. Mythras
  15. Buddha
  16. Serapis

All of these gods shared certain characteristics. These characteristics are:

  1. Inevitable- prophesied
  2. Imperial- from a royal heritage
  3. Inexplicable- born of unnatural means
  4. Insulated- protected as a child
  5. Inveigled- tempted
  6. Identified- associated with shepherds
  7. Incredible- possessed supernatural power
  8. Interactor- engaged humans directly
  9. Instructive- taught human followers
  10. Indemnifier- recognized the need for sacrifice
  11. Indicted- faced a judicial trial of sorts
  12. Inviter- established a divine meal
  13. Immortal- had the power to defeat death
  14. Intercessor- offered eternal life
  15. Indicter- would judge the living and the dead

J. Warner Wallace concludes:

As I finished my investigation of the mythologies, I recognized that there were similarities between Jesus and the mythological deities. The list of the most common attributes of these ancient deities sounded a lot like the Christian description of Jesus…At first glance, these common descriptions seemed surprisingly similar to characteristics of Jesus. But a closer examination revealed something entirely different. None of the ancient mythologies possessed all the attributes described on the list. At best, a handful of deities displayed ten of the shared characteristics. Most had far fewer (from five to nine)…When you examine the details related to each similarity between Jesus and the ancient mythologies, the resemblances begin to vanish. Jesus isn’t much like the other gods after all.

Jesus fulfilled ALL FIFTEEN attributes–and then some! We can trust Jesus. There is an ancient poem (possibly a song) in Philippians 2:5-10 that describes Jesus,

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

The greatest difference between myth and truth is in the fact that the events of Jesus are verified–they really happened! History has proven over and over again that Jesus is a historical figure, that the events of His life were real, and that He was crucified, buried, and rose again (verified by over 500 witnesses).

May we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord today!

Abba, You are my Lord. Jesus lives in my heart and guides my life by the Person of the Holy Spirit. I have sweet communion with You each day. THAT is all the proof I need! Amen.

Proverbs 1-30-23

Freedom of religion is a relatively new thing. Through the ages, the powerful set what religion the masses followed.

15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:15-18

As we study the “fuse” of history concerning the coming of Jesus to earth, we look at how the Romans used a different technique on the nations they conquered. From, “Person of Interest, by J. Warner Wallace, pages 20-22,

As they annexed another culture, they would also annex their languages, traditions, and gods. Rome’s early strategy was simple: allow each people group to retain its gods and traditions and embrace these deities as part of the larger Roman pantheon. Rome had done this earlier with the gods of Greece and had, in fact, adopted the Greek gods as their own, “Romanizing” the Greek pantheon.
All they expected in return was for the annexed groups to submit to Roman authority and to make offerings (however nominal) to the Roman gods.

There was an exception: The Jews. “The Romans allowed them to retain their monotheism, recognizing Judaism as a legal religion. The Romans allowed the Jews to coexist among the conquered people groups, even though they would not worship the Roman gods. Rome tolerated Judaism, even if it didn’t trust it.”

During the first years of Christianity, Rome considered it a branch of Judaism and did little or nothing to stop its growth.

“A thirty-year window of opportunity opened to spread the message of Jesus (prior to Emperor Nero’s maltreatment of Christians in AD 64). And even though some Roman emperors in the years ahead would persecute Christians, others returned to a version of Roman tolerance, allowing Christianity to flourish in every region under Rome’s control.”

Jesus arrived at this point in human history, when the Roman Empire embraced a version of religious tolerance unique to the history of the ancient world, providing a small window of opportunity. This window allowed Jesus to preach a message his followers could communicate to the world.

Tomorrow, we will look at Jesus Himself–and the major gods who came before Him.

Abba, You have always have the bigger picture in mind. Even though Your chosen people, the Israelites, were under the control of the Romans, You worked everything together to bring about the perfect conditions for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be spread quickly and efficiently. You are amazing! The more I learn, the more I am in awe of You, Abba. Praise Your name! Amen.

Proverbs 1-29-23

An ancient Pony Express? Absolutely! 1,677 miles in nine days is quite a feat–on horseback.

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.’ Exodus 19:4

We have been studying the “fuse” leading up to the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. On the world stage, God was working events to ready the world for His Coming. Even though most world leaders were not worshipers of YAHWEH, God still worked through world events to “prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3).

An interesting aspect to the spreading of the Gospel is the building of roads. There were three main roads across Europe and Asia: The Royal Road, the Appian Way, and the Silk Road. From “Person of Interest,” pages 17-19,

  • The Royal Road- The Persians were among the first to build significant roads. Darius the Great refurbished an existing roadway and created the “Royal Road” in 500 BC, connecting regions as far apart as Susa to Sardis (1,677 miles). This reduced travel from ninety days on foot to nine days on horseback.
  • Construction of probably the most famous of Roman roads, the Appian Way, was started in 312 BC. Called by Romans the “Queen of Roads,” it set the standard for the many famous roads Romans would build leading up to the lifetime of Jesus. From Wikipedia: The Appian Way (Latin and Italian: Via Appia) was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of ancient Rome. It connected Rome to Brindisi in southeast Italy (400 miles).
  • By 130 BC, the Silk Road was formally opened for travel by the Han dynasty of China. This ancient network of connected trade routes would be used to facilitate trade between the East and the West for many centuries.

As the Romans built the infrastructure of secondary roads and perfected the engineering of bridges and tunnels by 100 BC, the stage was set for the peacetime expansion of the Roman highway system that occurred as Jesus’ followers began to share his message and ministry. As this point in history, early in the first century, the Roman Empire had unified and refurbished the road systems of conquered nations, connecting the various systems into a network of roads that spanned the empire from Britain to Syria. This network provided a new opportunity to trade and share ideas, even ideas about Jesus.

The Egyptians had a postal service (of sorts) as early as 2000 BC, but the Persians are typically credited with the first true mail carriers. China had a system for delivering mail as early as 1122 BC, and the Greeks had a system, although they relied heavily on private couriers. The Romans advanced the concept greatly. 47,000 miles of new roads were built by Augustus and his successors. “Using the Persian system of ‘relays,’ the Romans built forts and stations on their exceptional roads, each positioned about one day’s ride apart.” The Pony Express was built on this very model.

As we can see, the stage was being set for the spread of the Gospel. An integral part of its success was the toleration of the Romans and even encouragement concerning the religions of the nations. We will look at that aspect tomorrow.

Abba, the forethought and planning on Your part for the success of the Gospel is amazing. I marvel at the wonder of it all. As I look at all that transpired to make the world ready for Your coming, I see Your loving hand in everything. You truly do love the world–You love us! Thank You!!! Amen.

Proverbs 1-28-23

Rome wasn’t built in a day–but it was founded in 753 BC. What did it take to build an empire and unite the “world?”

“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” Daniel 2:44

The kingdom to which Daniel is referring is the kingdom of God established by Jesus Christ. In the book, “Person of Interest,” by J. Warner Wallace, evidence is presented as in a cold-case file for the authenticity of Jesus as Messiah and Savior of the World. We continue our study of ancient times and how God directed nations–in spite of their unbelief and wickedness–to assist Him in preparing the world for the Coming of His Son and His kingdom. On pages 13-15, we find pertinent information about the Roman Empire:

  • Rome was founded in 753 BC as a monarchy.
  • Rome became a republic in 509 BC.
  • Rome gained control of the entire Italian peninsula in 264 BC.

“Had Jesus appeared at this point in history, his life and message (as he lived and traveled in what is now called Israel) would have been confined to the obscure language [Hebrew] and government of the Jewish region. But the growth of the Roman Empire would soon change that.”

  • By 149 BC, Rome controlled Sicily, the western Mediterranean, and a large portion of Spain.
  • By 146 BC, Rome conquered Carthage and as a result, controlled a portion of northern Africa.
  • Rome also conquered Macedonia, which was made up of today’s countries of Greece, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo.
  • In 27 BC, Gaius Octavius, later known as Caesar Augustus, became the sole leader (and first emperor) of Rome, and ruled until AD 14 (we read His name in Luke 2:1).

“At the pinnacle of Roman rule, most of Europe, Asia Minor, the Balkans, the Middle East, the coast of North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea were unified under the same economic, military, and linguistic systems. Had Jesus arrived on the scene prior to 27 BC, his impact on the “known world” would have been much smaller and more difficult to advance, especially beyond the boundaries of the empires that preceded Rome.”

We are reminded once again of Paul’s statement, “In the fullness of time, Jesus came…” Galatians 4:4. Tomorrow, we will continue our look at the events leading up to the “great explosion”, Jesus’ Arrival from Heaven to earth. Today, let’s stand in awe of Jesus, our King of kings and Lord of lords, and then kneel and worship Him.

Abba, You were making all things ready for the Advent. I should have been teaching this information in December! I believe I will next year. Thank You, Lord, for all the information that is now at our fingertips. May we use our knowledge wisely. Amen.

Proverbs 1-27-23

How do we know the Bible is true? Evidence. A good researcher would tell you to follow the evidence.

15 One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Deuteronomy 19:15

I found a good book a few weeks ago. It is “Person of Interest” by J. Warner Wallace, a detective specializing in cold cases who investigated Jesus and found Him to be who He claimed to be! Over the next several days, I would like for us to walk through his investigation and look at all the amazing discoveries he found. The book follows an actual cold-case investigation and how he and his partner solved it while applying the same principles and methods to Jesus.

The first thing we need to know is FUSE AND FALLOUT. Every crime/investigation has a fuse, the events leading up to the “explosion,” and then the fallout, the events and evidence left by that explosion. Let’s take a look at his summary of the results, and then we will look at all the evidence.

“But the evidence from the fuse and the fallout alone exposed two important truths: First, no person had the kind of impact Jesus had on history. Second, every reconstruction of the Jesus story from the literature, art, music, education, and science fallout describes Jesus as God incarnate.” pg 252

J. Warner Wallace is a man of details. In order to study Jesus, he went back in history to see what had to happen in order for Jesus to have the impact He did on the world. He covers:

  • Pictographs (3500 BC) – (proto-cuneiform) Symbols representing objects were pressed into wet clay with primitive writing tools. When dried, these clay tablets were used to retell events and to serve as trading documents between merchants. pg 11
  • Cuneiform (3000 BC) – the development of simplified cuneiforms allowed writers to communicate concepts by adding phonograms (symbols for vowels and syllables) to the communication palette. This allowed writers to better express themselves, but their surfaces (clay tablets) were still fragile and temporary. pg 11
  • Papyrus (3000 BC) – (a writing material made from a reed that grows around the Nile River) Around the same time that cuneiform writing emerged, Egyptians began pressing strips of papyrus at right angles, and this naturally bonding material, once it was exported, became the most popular writing material of the ancient Greek and Roman world. Papyrus, unlike clay tablets, could travel safely. pg 12
  • Early Alphabet (1000 BC) – The Phoenician alphabet is an excellent example of early efforts in this regard. Their alphabet is seen consistently in writings dated to approximately 1050 BC. pg 12
  • Greek Alphabet (800 BC) – By 800 BC, the Greeks, for example, added vowels to make their twenty0seven letter version of the alphabet, and for the first time, differences between words like sad, said, and sod were clearly understood. pg 12
  • Etruscan Alphabet (700 BC) – When the Romans conquered the Etruscans, they embraced the Etruscan alphabet…(the Latin alphabet is a direct descendant of the Etruscan). As the Roman Empire conquered the most expansive region of civilization, it also taught the world how to read and write using this alphabet. pg 12

The evolution of language culminated in “the Roman Empire adopting the Etruscan-modified Greek alphabet, embracing Koine Greek as a common language, and adopting the use of papyrus, thus allowing the message of Jesus to be effectively communicated with a shared language and letters. Had Jesus arrived prior to 100 BC, this would not have been possible” (adapted). pg 13

What is really interesting is the way he explains the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires extra-biblically, and yet provides the necessary groundwork for Jesus’ Advent. We will look at Rome tomorrow. For today, let’s ponder this verse:

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:4

As we look at “Person of Interest,” I believe that you will be encouraged, that the Scriptures will be exonerated, and our hope built up.

Abba, You are truly the Lord God, King of the universe. You really do rule the nations, setting up kingdoms and bringing down empires. Thank You that “in the fullness of time, Jesus came” (Galatians 4:4). Amen.

Proverbs 1-26-23

Jesus proclaimed He was the divine Son of God. He was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord of heaven and earth.

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. Hebrews 10:11-13, 18

If Jesus was a liar or a lunatic, then “we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19b). But, if Jesus is Lord, then what we read above is true and we have a great high priest in the heavens, and His name is Jesus Christ!

From, “A Grand Illusion,” pages 90-91

John explains it to us: “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). Jesus was not killed as a mere human martyr for social causes. He was killed as part of a divine plan: he came as God among us to take upon himself the price of our sins.
Thus, even though the Scriptures don’t work out all the implications for calling Jesus God, there are biblical texts that make it clear that both Jesus and the first Christians understood Jesus to be divine. Consider a few:

  • Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
  • John 8:58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
  • John 10:33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
  • John 1:1, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
  • Hebrews 1:3-10 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heavenSo he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire. But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. 10 He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands...”
  • Colossians 1:15-17 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
  • 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
  • Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
  • Romans 9:5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is non-negotiable for the Christian faith. To deny that Jesus is divine is to deny that he is the Son of God.

Some things we can leave open to interpretation; this is not one of them. The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is fact; it is reality. Jesus Himself said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). So, is He a liar? Everything He promised He would do He did: He healed the sick, raised the dead–and even rose from the dead Himself! Is He a lunatic? His speeches clearly indicate that He was in His right mind. Is He Lord? You bet He is! If someone is still doubting, consider what Jesus told the doubters in His day,

37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” John 10:37-38

Is that the talk of a crazy person? I think not!

Abba, it never ceases to amaze me that You would want to come down here to earth and be one of us in order to make us one of Yours. We have always been Your creations, but we wandered off, believed lies, deceived ourselves, and allowed the enemy to put chains on our hands and feet, blinders on our eyes, and mufflers on our ears. You came to strip us of our encumbrances so we can respond to You. May we trust You as our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 1-25-23

Was Jesus God? Was He human? Both??

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:34-35

“God became man so that man might become god.” Athanasius

This brilliant summary of the Gospel was written in the fourth century. The idea is that God cannot die, so He became a man in order to conquer sin and death by dying and rising again. If God only assumed a human body, then He is still God and could not die. If He chose a human, then he would not be able to beat the curse of death. God used His and Mary’s DNA to form a human body in which deity dwelled. It was the perfect synthesis! Jesus is both human and divine at the same time. Now, the passage in Hebrews 4 makes great sense:

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

From, “A Grand Illusion,” page 90,

Scripture is filled with references to Jesus’ divinity. Even if we didn’t have the Nicene or Chalcedonian Creeds stating the orthodox view on this point, Scripture is still sufficiently clear here. Every time Scripture calls Jesus “the Son of God,” it’s making a divine claim, for this is what the term meant in Greek. Herakles was “son of a god.” Various Semitic and Hellenistic kings referred to themselves as “the son of a god.” The Caesars took to calling themselves “sons of god.” Such titles did not simply mean “my daddy is a god.” Rather, one used the tile “son of God” to claim actual divine status.

Tomorrow, we will look at Scriptures that speak to Jesus’ divinity. Today, let us rejoice in Jesus’ humanity even as we rejoice in His divinity!

Abba, thank You for coming in Jesus. You became one of us so that we could become one with You. You are amazing! Amen.

Proverbs 1-24-23

The apostle Paul had a unique relationship with Jesus Christ. We have our own unique relationship. Are we cultivating it?

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:3-5

Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). From his testimony before the crowd in Jerusalem many years into his ministry, we learn that Jesus appeared to Paul in a trance telling him to leave Jerusalem (Acts 22:17-18, his first time back as a follower of Jesus). As Paul was taken into custody by the Romans, he had a visitation by the Lord who told him to “take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11). Paul understood that the Lord and the Spirit are synonymous. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit,” and in verse 18, “which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Luke mentions the Holy Spirit’s leading Paul on several occasions: Acts 13:2, 16:6-7, 19:1-7, 20:22-23, 21:4, and 11.

Paul met with the Lord on several occasions. In fact, Jesus told him, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16). We also know from Paul’s testimony in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 that he “was caught up into paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”

What did Paul think about his interaction with Jesus? “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 3:7-8a).

How are we in this department? Do we crave knowing Christ? Are we interested enough in His opinion to make it our own? Paul continues,

I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

May we begin today to seek Christ, to know Him in His power, His suffering, in His death, and ultimately, in His resurrection.

Abba, knowing Jesus better is my goal in life. The only way I know to achieve this goal is to spend time with Him: reading Your Word, consulting Him on every decision, seeking direction, obeying instructions, receiving guidance, and basking in His presence and participation in my life. Thank You, Jesus, for wanting to live in and with me. Amen.

Proverbs 1-23-23

Jesus is coming back to earth. He kept His promise to rise from the dead, so we can trust Him on coming back, too.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

This passage convinces me that Jesus is literally returning to earth. Zechariah (John the Baptist’s dad) doubted Gabriel’s words and wound up mute for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:18-20). I will not make the same mistake.

Concerning End Times, the Baptist Faith and Messages says this:

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

Its eschatology is pretty straightforward; it doesn’t include any details about when or how Jesus will return except that He will come personally and visibly. My eschatology is straightforward, too. I believe:

  • Jesus is coming back literally to earth.
  • He will pick us up along the way (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
  • God will judge everyone according to their relationship with His Son, Jesus (John 5:28-29).

There are a great many Christian brothers and sisters who read many Scripture passages as historical while many other Christian brothers and sisters interpret these same passages as future events. While it may seem that one must choose between the two, that is not the case. In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Paul calls Christ’s Coming a mystery. As I said in Proverbs 1-19-23, we need to be like the flat nails about core beliefs that cannot bend and are the driving force of the Gospel, but also like steel nails, which bend when needed, concerning beliefs and interpretations that go beyond the basic tenets of the truths stated in the Bible. We need to respect each other’s opinion over End Times and not present our opinions in a way that becomes divisive. This discussion has been going on for nearly two millennia, so there’s no reason to think that anyone has the corner on the market. In the words of my pastor, “It’s not a fellowship-breaker.”

Let us pray that as the time for Jesus’ Return draws ever closer, more and more people will turn to Him for salvation, healing, and freedom.

Abba, as I get older, the more I realize that I know far less than I thought I did. The more I study Your Word, the deeper are its depths. Take me deeper, Lord, until the Day that You take me home. Amen.

Proverbs 1-22-23

The New Testament is founded upon the Old Testament. One helps us to understand the other.

16 All Scripture [Old Testament-the new hadn’t been written yet] is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

When Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, he cited the Old Testament regularly (check the bottom of each page of his letter for an OT reference). There are several passages that have numerous OT verses quoted, such as:

Little did Paul know that he was in the process of writing more than half the New Testament! The mistake people make is receiving the righteousness of Christ, but then using the OT to “achieve” righteousness on our own. We are trying to obtain that which we have already been given! The Galatians had done exactly that, and Paul wrote in his letter to them,

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heardAre you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?

We know that Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets. We read about it in Matthew 5:17-18,

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

The phrase, “until everything is accomplished” leaves us with a progressive fulfillment. Jesus fulfilled much of the law and prophets, i.e. the sacrifices, the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah, the Passover Seder, but there are still prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled. These prophecies have to do with His return to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords,

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matthew 19:28

We have these prophecies to which to look forward,

The Lord says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”
Psalm 110:1

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. Zechariah 14:9

23 By myself I have sworn,
    my mouth has uttered in all integrity
    a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
    by me every tongue will swear.
Isaiah 45:23

The Bible: 66 books, written over 1500 years by 35 authors from various walks of life, written in three languages with 1,817 prophecies, of which Jesus fulfilled over 300 during His earthly life, death and resurrection, with one clear message, “For God so loved the world…”

Abba, as we worship today, may we give thanks for the written testimony of Your love, mercy, and grace. Amen.