Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment – Chapter 2 Unexpected Visitors and News

Imagine your surprise if you were the Roman appointed king over Judea and a spiritually elite, political group of highly educated individuals had traveled a great distance over an extended period of time to ask you, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?  For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.”  (Matthew 2:2)

In this chapter Matthew shows us that the prophet Micah, had disclosed 8 centuries before that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.   And something had happened in the sky / heavens that had gotten the attention of these individuals known as the magi – wise men specializing in astrology, medicine and natural sciences.   Daniel in the Old Testament was one of this elite group and it’s quite possible that they had become knowledgeable of the Scriptures as the Jews would have brought them with them.   They described what led them on their journey as a star, which eventually brought them to Bethlehem.   And there they fell down and worshiped a child, presenting him gifts of gold (a gift for a king), frankincense (incense only burned on the altar in the Temple – an offering by a Priest to God), and myrrh (a perfume used in embalming – a sign of a death / sacrifice).

The passage tells us they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy and returned to their country.   These men had traveled far and found what their hearts were longing for.  Have you?            

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment – Chapter 1 Credentials of the Christ

Pedigrees are important, especially when it comes to royalty.   Matthew begins his account by showing us there is no one like Jesus.   He traces Jesus human lineage back to Abraham (the one to had been told that all the people of the earth would be blessed through a descendant of his) and David (the great king of Israel who was told a descendant of his would reign on his throne forever).   After describing that Jesus was born into this world through a woman who had never “known” a man, Matthew indicates this was to FULFILL the promise God had made through the prophet Isaiah:

Behold, the virgin will be with child and bear a Son, and they will call His name                     Immanuel” which translated means, “God With Us.”(Isaiah 7:14 quoted in Matthew 1:23)

And this child born to Mary, who has engaged to Joseph, would be given the name Jesus, which means God is Salvation.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment

Michael Card has written a book on this Gospel, which he regards as the Gospel of Identity, as it would have spoken to early Jews who believed Jesus was the promised Messiah and were looking for His return.  This meant they were no longer welcome in the synagogue or their former Jewish community and now they were struggling to understand and live out their new identity found in Jesus.   This is a great observation for the first readers / hearers of this book, but what about the reader today? 

Perhaps more than any other of the Gospels, Matthew wants us to see the connection of Jesus to the Old Testament Scriptures and how Jesus is the FULFILLMENT of the promised Messiah / Redeemer / King.        

And God chose a man named Levi, who Jesus gave the name Matthew (meaning God’s Gift).   As a tax collector for the Romans, he would have been regarded as unworthy and a traitor (e.g., He spends his time with tax collectors and sinners…).  Yet, as an accountant, Matthew would have been detail oriented and kept careful records.    And he certainly had an excellent working knowledge of the Old Testament to point out the fulfillment to those like him who were looking for proof that Jesus is the Messiah.

Over the coming weeks we’ll look at the evidence this early IRS agent offers – a very compelling case.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

So What's the Difference - Atheism / Evolution

While not intended to be inclusive, the following chart provides a basic summary for comparison and discussion.  

                                         Worldview                             Atheism / Evolution

Authority              The Bible, the Word of God                  Science's observations from nature 
                           The only infallible source of truth            only.  Yet, 95% of all matter in the 
                                                                                      universe is not observable, so
                                                                                      conclusions are made on only the
                                                                                      5% that is.

Only source of       Bible, Word of God                            Bible is regarded as magic / super-
truth                       2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16                         stition resorted to in order to 
                              Romans 1:16                                   explain what we don't understand
                              John 1:1-5,14                                 
                              Matthew 4:4                                     

Core Beliefs         1 Corinthians 15:1-3  Jesus               No agent needed if mechanism of 
                                was crucified, died, buried              nature (life & universe) works.
                                & rose from the dead.                    
                           Ephesians 4:4-6 - one Body                  
                               (church composed of all                  
                                believers), one Spirit, one               
                                hope of your calling (heaven),         
                                one Lord, one faith, one baptism,    
                                one God & Father of us all.           

Salvation by          Faith in Jesus Alone                      Not applicable - you life your life  
                                John 3:16; 14:6                           to add to the gene pool and
                                Ephesians 2:8-9                          information of mankind.  
                                Romans chapter 3, 10:9,17          

Life of faith            Loving God & Others (Luke 9:27)    Naturalism - can only believe what   
 characterized by   Living for Jesus (the walk) &             can be observed.
                                imitators of His life                        
                                Ephesians chapters 4 thru 6       Focused on self / individual, since   
                                Colossians 3:1-4:6                       life is all about the survival of the
                             Telling others of Jesus 2 Cor. 5        fittest.

Afterlife belief       Millennial kingdom - Jesus will        None.
                              return & reign for 1,000 year as        
                              promised.   Revelation 20:4         A belief system without hope.
                            Heaven, paradise, the New             
                              Jerusalem - eternal                           
                              Philippians 3:20-21, Revelation        
                               chapter 21 & 22.                            
                            Hell - place of eternal suffering           
                              for those who rejected God &             
                              Jesus.  Revelation 20:10-15