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The Whole Gospel of Jesus Christ

from The Scholars Corner
First, I must ask you, “which is more real to you: your experience or the Word of God?” The Bible is full of stories of miracles, healings, the dead raised, and to top it all off, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. But how many of you have experienced these things? Even though you have not experienced miracles, if you have not, do you believe the Bible is true and that these stories are true?  Do you believe Jesus was raised from the dead even though you have never seen Jesus? So what if you experience of pain, suffering and disappointment in this life? Does that make the Word of God untrue? In other words, what is truth to you: your experience of what God says in his Word?

What I’m saying is that what I am about to preach to you, I could preach to you from a wheelchair. Even if I have never personally experienced God’s power, it would still be true because it is God’s Word. It is true because God says so, not because I have experienced it.

The message is this: Jesus died not only to set you free from sin but also to heal you of all diseases. For too long, we have preached a half gospel: the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of your soul, which has only to do with the spiritual. That is true enough, but Jesus also died to heal us of all our diseases and infirmities. His death on the cross was the atonement for our sins and broke the power of Satan over our souls and bodies. Let me say again, Jesus died to heal you of all your diseases as well as save your souls!

Let me lay out my case from God’s Word.

In the first Epistle of John, he writes:

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8, ESV)

What are the works of the devil? Sin obviously, but more than that. Jesus said, “The thief (the devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV)

So, the question is:  are sickness and disease from God or from the devil? Are they part of an abundant life, or are they meant to kill and destroy? Are sickness and disease a consequence of sin in this fallen world, or are they sent by God?   The scriptures do say that sickness and disease are a consequence of sin; they are part of the curse for rebellion against God.

In Deuteronomy, after recounting the blessings of prosperity and health for those who obey the Lord, Moses warns the people of the consequences for disobedience:

 “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. “The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. The Lord will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. The Lord will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. The Lord will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed. “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away. The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed. The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind, and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you.” (Deuteronomy 28:15–29, ESV)

We all know that none of us are without sin. We have all failed to follow the Lord’s statutes and obey him perfectly. We are justly under the curse of the Law for our sins.  If we lived only by our own merits, we would be in trouble. But we have a Savior! Jesus is our redeemer, who has redeemed us from the curses of the Law.

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:10–14, ESV)

Whatever sins we may have committed and whatever consequence might justly fall upon us for our disobedience, Jesus took our place. He sacrificed himself for us. He paid the penalty for our misdeeds.  He has redeemed us and saved us from the consequences of our evil behavior by becoming a curse for us.

In other words, the power of the CURSE is broken in Jesus when he went to be executed in our place. Satan’s legal right to punish us for our sins was broken when Jesus took our place and suffered for us. Satan could not afflict Jesus with death or disease because Jesus was without sin (John 14:30). Jesus had to give up his right, lay down his life for us of his own free will, (John 10:16–18). According to the Law, our disobedience gave Satan legal right to bring punishment upon us. But Jesus took our place and stood between Satan and us. Satan’s legal right and power to afflict us and condemn us was broken in Jesus’ body on the tree. He took the punishment for our sins in his flesh. That is what it means when it says, “By his stripes we have been healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24) The Cross broke Satan’s power. Jesus died to set us free!

Now if you owed the bank $10,000 on your car, but your father decided to pay it off for you, could the bank then come and ask you for that money? No, the debt has been paid. In the same way, Satan has no right to punish us for crimes we have no longer committed. What I mean is that because of Jesus’ blood, we have been declared innocent of any crime. Before God, we are sinless because of the blood of Jesus Christ. That is what it means when we sing “are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”  Jesus took our sin upon himself and suffered for us so that it would be as if we had never sinned. If we are innocent before the Law, Satan has no right to punish us and the curses of the Law have no effect on us.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27, ESV)

The Hebrew word for Peace is Shalom.  It means much more than internal, spiritual peace and rest, although we need that desperately. Shalom means being made whole.

Shalōm, the most prominent OT term for “peace,” held a wide range of connotations (wholeness, health, security, well-being, and salvation, freedom from stress and from enemies) The presence of shalōm in any of these contexts was not considered ultimately as the outcome of human endeavor, but as a gift or blessing of God. It is not surprising, therefore, to find “peace” tied closely to the OT notion of covenant. Shalōm was the desired state of harmony and communion between the two covenant partners its presence signifying God’s blessing in the covenant relationship. (Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible)

A bilateral “treaty of peace” (Josh. 9:15; 10:1) would mean that both parties promised to refrain from hostilities against the other and furthermore would seek the other’s welfare, including a pledge of aid if the treaty partner were attacked. To “go in peace” meant to go with an assurance of friendship and favor.  (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

In our half Gospel, we have divided salvation from healing. We have considered salvation only a spiritual matter having to do with salvation from sin. BUT the Greek word for salvation (sozo), like the Hebrew word shalom, also means to be healed AND delivered from oppression by your enemies. If your enemy is Satan, which it is, then salvation has to do with being removed from his grasp.  When Jesus said to those whom he healed, “your faith has made you well,” it also means “your faith has saved you.”

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well (sozo); go in peace.”” (Luke 8:48, ESV)

And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved (sozo)you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:48–50, ESV)

To be healed and be saved are the same word. Only in English are the words different. Only in English are healing and salvation divided. In Hebrew (Shalom) and Greek, salvation includes salvation of the body.

σωζω (sōzō). vb. to save. Denotes saving from death or harm.

This verb primarily refers to saving people from death or harm. In the Septuagint it is the usual translation of יָשַׁע (yāšaʿ, “to save”) and can thus also refer to giving victory (e.g., Psalm 98:1 lxx). (Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible)

Jesus died to give you VICTORY, not just relief.  He came to destroy the works and power of the enemy. And part of the enemy’s power is sickness and disease.

How do we know this? In the Garden of Eden, there was no sickness nor death. Sickness and death came after Adam sinned.  When Adam listened to Satan instead of God and ate the forbidden fruit, Adam gave over his dominion of the earth to Satan. Think about it.  Satan boasted to Jesus when he tempted Jesus that he could give him all the earthly kingdoms.

 

And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ ” (Luke 4:4–8, ESV)

It would not be a temptation if it were not true. Satan said,” it has been delivered to me.” Who delivered it to Satan? Who gave Satan the authority? Not God! Where did Satan get this power?  From Adam. Adam had dominion, but he became a slave to Satan’s power when he rebelled and listened to the Serpent.  In the beginning, God gave Adam dominion over the earth. It was ours!

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”” (Genesis 1:26, ESV)

In Psalms it says, “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” (Psalm 115:16, ESV)

When Adam sinned, he surrendered his dominion over the earth and gave it to his new master, Satan. Did not Jesus say that “everyone who sins is a slave to sin?” (John 8:34). Adam became a slave to Satan’s power through his sin. Before the Fall, Adam had dominion.  Satan was not his master.  Only after Adam sinned did Satan become prince of the power of the air and the “ruler of this world.”

Was there sickness and disease before Adam fell? No. So who is the author of sin, sickness and disease? Who wants to kill, steal and destroy humanity – to destroy those who are created in God’s image?  Who wants to murder as many unborn children as possible to thwart God’s plan for mankind?

There is a war between Satan and God over ownership of the earth. God gave authority over the earth to Adam and Adam gave it to Satan. God wanted us restored to our rightful place as his children and the earth restored through our fellowship with God. So, he sent his Son, Jesus to take from Satan his power and authority.  Jesus died not just to reconcile us to God but the entire creation to himself:

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16, ESV)

 “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:19–20, ESV)

Jesus died and defeated Satan with his sacrifice on the Cross. In this war with Satan, Jesus breached the gates of hell and took back from Satan any authority or power or legal right the enemy had to this earth or to you.

Do you think Jesus died to leave us in the enemy’s power?  Or did He die to make you free?

During WWII, the American army liberated prisoner of war camps and concentration camps. Did the American army leave the German prison guards in charge after they set the prisoners free? NO WAY.  Then why do you think Jesus would leave us as the mercy of the enemy after he DIED to set us free!??? Why would he leave us in the enemy’s power or subject to the enemy’s kingdom?

Finally, let me ask…  “Is there any sickness or disease in heaven?” No. What is God’s will for the earth?  We know it and have learned it as a child:

“Thy Kingdom Come. They will be done on earth as it is (already being done) in heaven!”
When Jesus sent his disciples to preach in the cities, he told them to heal the sick:

“Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you.  Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ “Luke 10:8–9

In other words, healing all the sick in the town is a sign of God’s kingdom; it is a sign of God’s Dominion where His will is done. In fact, Jesus has given us, his church, this very mission:

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”” (Mark 16:17–18, ESV)

“And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons…” Matthew 10:8-9

The Church’s commission was to advance God’s Kingdom by destroying Satan’s power over people and by delivering them from Satan’s slavery to fear, sin, sickness and death.  Notice we are not just to heal the sick but to raise the dead! In the Church, healings should be the norm, not the exception. But we are not yet experiencing that.

So, the big question is why are not more healed?  Well, there are two answers. In a war, there are always casualties. We are in a war with the evil one, who is called the “prince of the power of the air,” who is the great deceiver. He does not want us to know of Jesus’ mission. He wants us to believe that sickness and disease are sent by God. He is a liar and wants us to submit to that lie so that we will still live in slavery. Paul says, “we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.” We are in a battle with him who came to kill, steal and destroy. Why are we surprised then that the enemy throws hand grenades at us?  Does it not say that the devil roams about “like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour?”  His objective is to kill us. Sickness and disease are part of his arsenal.

The second answer is more profound. Healing is not common because we have preached a half gospel of Jesus as forgiver of our sins, but not as our healer and redeemer.  As a whole, we in the US do not expect Jesus to heal everyone or heal all the time. Our greatest weakness is that we think we know Jesus. Just like the people in Nazareth who thought they knew Jesus as the carpenter’s son, they did not expect anything from him. It says, “he could do no mighty work there” only heal a few sick people because of their unbelief…  (Mark 6:5). How can we look to him in faith for our healing if we don’t believe he does and wants to heal us ALL the time?    Yet even in our covenant meal, he said the cup of his shed blood is for the remission of sins, and his body was given in place of ours for our transgressions.  By His stripes we were healed. He took the curse in his body on the tree to deliver us from the consequences of our misdeeds.

Finally, when the devil sends sickness, we blame God instead of the devil. We think God caused it. How can you ask God to heal you if you think he sent it? No, Jesus came to heal and deliver, the devil came to destroy. We are blaming the wrong person.

Our expectations are formed by our familiarity with sin, with life’s disappointments, and by the battle, but not by the Living Word of God. We think God wants us to suffer disease and that is the devil’s lie.  God wants us healed and whole. He wants us to know his Shalom! In fact, he sent his Son to die to make us whole. He may call us to suffer for the Gospel’s sake, at the hand of others, but that is not the type of suffering I’m talking about. Sickness and disease are not ever God’s will for your life.

Is it surprising that in this world of medicines and doctors, we first turn to them? I come from a family of doctors, so I am not against medicine, because it is a gift from God and one way God heals. But in a world of constant bad news on television and distractions of entertainment and violence on screen, where we are focused on all the problems of the world and of our own, that we do not look to the heavens from whence comes our salvation. In other words, our familiarity with the ways of this world are blinding us to the ways and purposes of God. Our expectations, like those in Nazareth, are formed by our experience and not by the promises of God. Our focus is on the prince of the power of the air and not upon Him who came to deliver us.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23, NASB95)

Conclusion:  The WHOLE GOSPEL OR GOOD NEWS of JESUS CHRIST is that he came to set us free from the enemy in Body Soul and Spirit! He came to heal us as well as deliver us from sin and Satan’s power.  He came so that we might have real life and have it abundantly!

Now let us pray for one another to be healed!

Abundance:

    1. περισσός pĕrissŏs, per-is-sos´; from 4012 (in the sense of beyond); superabundant (in quantity) or superior (in quality); by impl. excessive; adv. (with 1537) violently; neut. (as noun) preeminence:—exceeding abundantly above, more abundantly, advantage, exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous, vehement [-ly].(Strong’s Greek)

Review:

  1. Sickness and Disease are a result of the fall. Sin gave Satan legal dominion over the earth through Adam, who surrendered his dominion when he rebelled against God. Sickness, fear, and death are a consequence of the fall and part of the way Satan exercises his power in this world.
  2. Satan’s mission is to kill, steal, and destroy humanity, which bears the image of God, and to thwart God’s plan for the earth.
  3. Jesus came to destroy the destroyer. He came to destroy the works of the devil, which include sin, fear, sickness and death.
  4. Jesus came to give us abundant life in place of death. His blood cleanses us from all our sins, and, in his body, he took into himself the rightful punishment for our sins. By his stripes, he purchased healing for us. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, ESV)
  5. Jesus, by his sacrifice on the cross, paid the penalty for our sins, and thereby took away from Satan his legal right to exact punishment on us for our sins, including his legal right to afflict us with diseases.
  6. Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead as part of his mission to establish God’s dominion on earth.
  7. As evidence of Jesus’ establishment of the Kingdom of God, he sent the Church out to heal the sick, raise the dead, deliver people from bondage, forgive sins, and bring the lost into the Kingdom of God through repentance and the Good News of the Gospel. Healing was a part of the Church’s commission and was evidence of Jesus’ Lordship.
  8. By dropping healing from our proclamation of Jesus’ saving power, we have preached a half gospel, which reduces Jesus to having no real impact upon this world besides the forgiveness of sins. As a result, our message does not lead to faith in Jesus as healer. Without expectation of Jesus as our healer, we become like the people in Nazareth.
  9. The remedy is to preach the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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Messenger virus. A new threat for Facebook users. (June 2019)

Seeing a lot of friends lately getting their Facebook accounts hacked and cloned!  Suddenly my friend will ask to friend me from their account. It looks just like them, but they are already my friends so it seems weird. The hacker has cloned their account to look exactly like the real one.

Or I get a stupid message, “how are you?”  from them in Facebook Messenger.   See the following article for more details!

Facebook Messenger virus continued the work of previous variants in 2017. Victims receive a fake YouTube link from their contacts.[10] Once a person clicks on it, the virus redirects to a fake website that looks identical to Facebook. Here people are asked to enter their login details. As a result victim’s account is taken over by the hackers and the malicious message is forwarded to the whole victim’s contact list.

Messenger virus — a malicious strategy used to infect devices via Facebook attachment spam. Facebook Messenger virus is a term used by users and security

Source: Messenger virus. A new threat for Facebook users. (June 2019)

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How God Uses Failure in Our Lives

How God Uses Failure in Our Lives

Sermon by Jefferis Kent Peterson, July 21, 2019

Note:  God does not cause us to fail; He uses our failures to expose what is already in us.

man on boat holding white mesh fishing net

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

A Man Called Peter:   a brash, impulsive, bold a fisherman with gnarled hands who worked hard for a living; muscular from hauling in large wet nets with fish; a tough hide from baking in the sun.

Peter’s mindset:  he was looking for an earthly kingdom with a David-like leader who would kick out the Romans. Everyone believed the Messiah would establish an earthly reign and restore the fortunes of Israel to its former glory. No one had a concept of a spiritual kingdom after death and resurrection. God’s blessings were material on this earth. So, the idea that Jesus might die before he established this kingdom on earth was unacceptable! Peter was so sure of this that he was not afraid of correcting Jesus’ mistaken understanding of his mission:

“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”” (Matthew 16:21–23, ESV)

The word for rebuke in Greek means: denounce, express strong disapproval. We are not talking about a mild disagreement. Peter is so certain of his opinion that he cannot comprehend what Jesus is talking about.  Peter’s whole worldview, his theology, his expectation is being upended. It would be like saying Jesus will never return.  That can’t be right! That is what Peter is thinking. It doesn’t make any sense.

Peter is so ready for a military revolution with Jesus as the head of the army that when the time right for a fight, he boasts of his commitment that he is ready to die for the cause!

“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.” (Matthew 26:30–35, ESV)

Peter dismisses that. He doesn’t believe he will deny Jesus. He is ready to die for him! So, when the time comes and Jesus is surrounded, he takes his sword and starts to attack:

“So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”” (John 18:7–11, ESV)

So, what happens?   Jesus is captured, put on trial and Peter’s whole world starts coming apart!!! Not only has Jesus not turned out to be a military leader, he now is going to die? Jesus is just giving up???  Peter doesn’t know what to do or where to put his faith now. He is struggling, disappointed, confused. Everything he has spent his life on for the last three years is now being destroyed. Remember he said earlier when Jesus asked if he wanted to leave when other disciples walked away, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”  In other words, where else. He said before, “we have left everything and followed you.”  We walked away from our business. We’ve spent three years on the road following you around. And now you are going to die??? What gives? Were we deceived???

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Remember, at this time, Peter and the disciples did not know that Jesus was going to rise from the dead!  In John, it says when they went into the empty tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there, “they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” (John 20:9, ESV) So, from Peter’s point of view, the show’s over! He’s dead. He’s gone and nothing’s going to bring him back. The vision of a new Davidic Kingdom can’t happen, and Rome is not going to be kicked out. Instead of fighting, Jesus is just surrendering and with his death, the whole last three years was a waste of time.

On a side note, the reason Judas betrayed Jesus was possibly the same motivation: he thought by turning Jesus in, he could force Jesus’ hand and start the promised revolution against Rome. But then, he was just using Jesus for his own agenda. He was not following him.

Well, Peter can’t handle it. It’s all over and under the confusion and stress of this explosion of his hopes, Peter is identified as a follower of Jesus. And Peter denies Jesus 3 times.

“Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:69–75, ESV)

…..Now Simon Peter sees himself as truly is: a weak man who in the face of death is a coward. He has failed miserably. He boasted he was not like the others and would be a hero, but he came to know himself as he really was. In fact, he has lived up to the curse of his own name, for Simon means weak! Something he had tried to live down and fight his whole life.  He felt so bad. He must have remembered the words of Jesus about being a disciple. “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32–33, ESV) “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24–26, ESV)

Peter must remember that he is now disqualified not only as being a leader of the disciples but even being a disciple…

And he is also looking around at the consequences of following Jesus and he does NOT want to go there. It is one thing to fight and die, but entirely another to go die without putting up a fight. It is against his nature.  He must have felt like the odd man out when Jesus appeared to all of them in the upper room, like he didn’t belong.  At least not anymore. He decides he’s had enough and he is going to go back to what he knows: Forget this!  He’s going fishing.

 “After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.” (John 21:1–3, ESV)

You know the story.  Jesus appears on the land, tells them to cast in their nets again and they do and pull in a great haul of fish. Peter jumps out of the boat and goes to see Jesus.

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Notice, the name Peter means the Rock. Rock Solid as we would say, but Jesus addresses by his given name Simon, the weak.  Simon, do you love me more than these?   What are these?  I believe Jesus was asking Peter if he loved his boat and nets and this lifestyle of fishing more than he loved Jesus? In other words: are you willing to follow me, knowing what the cost might be, or do you love the safety and predictability of being a fisherman?  And Peter answers:

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”” (John 21:15–23, ESV)

God uses failure to teach us that we are not in control of the universe. Failure shows us our weakness and our need for God. In fact, we aren’t fit to succeed until we have had major failures in our lives. Through failure comes humility. Through failure comes patience with and kindness towards others in their frailty.

Peter would not have been fit to be a leader unless he had failed. Knowing his personality, he would have been a harsh judge of anyone who was weak or failed. But having failed, he learned he must also extend mercy, patience, and forgiveness to the flock of God. For we all fail in many ways.

Like Peter, we must be broken to be fit for the Master’s use.

Moses was full of himself as a young man, when he slew the Egyptian. In Hebrews, it says he thought he was the one to deliver Israel. But Moses was sent into the wilderness for 40 years. He was so broken of confidence in himself and his own strength that when God appeared to him in the Burning Bush, he said, I can’t lead anyone.  I can’t even talk I stutter so bad.  His dream was there, his vision was there, but he failed in his own strength, and then God could use him. It says of Moses that he was the meekest man on earth. The word meek comes from the bit that is put in the horse’s mouth and makes it easy to guide them. Moses was broken to be a man God could lead and use.

There are many other examples in the Bible: Abraham, Joseph, David. We only come to our destiny when we are forced to recognize our weakness, and God shows us our weakness when we fail. It teaches us to rely  entirely upon him and show no confidence in ourselves.

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Modern-Day​ Witch Trials?

Do you remember the history of the Salem Witch Trials or the play The Crucible? Just being accused of being a witch was enough to get your stoned to death. You were presumed guilty. But how could you prove that you were not a witch? There was no evidence that you could provide that would prove you were not a witch. You cannot prove a nothing.

Listen to what happens to a woman and her husband’s business because she dared to question the due process of the #MeToo movement!
It is horrifying, scary and shows how far we have fallen as a culture…

A Dangerous Person See the Video Full Size at this link.

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Where is the God of Beauty?

Sharon Herald > The Scholars Corner

November 14, 1998

Where is the God of Beauty?

1998 by Jefferis Kent Peterson, I

Sometimes we Christians are a boring lot. With intense and focused zeal we pound the drum, driving home the point of our latest cause with rhythmic fury. Whether that issue is politics or doctrine, we sometimes become, to all appearances, one dimensional creatures lacking depth both of thought and heart. Rather than the message of Jesus’ love for all humanity, we carry with us the accusing finger of veiled anger.

That is not to say that the issues that face our culture are not life and death issues – they are. Injustice and the death of the innocent are the very real consequences of our selfishness, and a call to repentance needs to be heard in the land. But who will heed the call if the remedy is worse than the disease? I believe it was Rainer Rilke who said “The words of an unreformed reformer are seldom heeded.” Why indeed should the world heed the message of God’s love from those who have none to give?

St. Paul was a man who, in the fire of his conversion, saw the Risen Christ. He was by nature a zealous man. He had such hostility to his fellow Jews, who believed in Jesus as Messiah, that he traveled from town to town seeking to put the heretics to death. He was on his way to Damascus to further his cause when he was struck down by a blinding vision of Jesus [Acts 9]. After repenting of his former behavior, Paul began to preach the very Messiah Jesus he had formerly rejected. It says he was very successful in arguing and debating for the cause of Christ. He kept winning the arguments and so infuriated his opponents that they kept trying to kill him. Even though he won the debates, it doesn’t say he won many converts. In fact, he baffled people. Finally, Paul had caused so much trouble in Jerusalem that the Apostles sent Paul away from the city, and it says, “Then the Church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace,” [v. 31]. Paul leaves, the city has peaceful relations, and Paul is not heard from again for about 9 years.

What had happened? Why did God send Paul, his future apostle to the Gentiles, into a type of exile? It was because Paul was full of zeal, but he lacked grace and love. He now had the truth, but he still had the same old personality. He was an arguer and a debater. He was more interested in proving Christ than in loving those Christ died to save. Twenty years later, Paul reflects on his zealous addiction that lacked affection:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing,” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, RSV).

Like Paul, we often bang the cymbal of insistence with so little love for those who oppose us that the message we preach is our intolerant selves and not the love of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, for our own sakes and for the sake of the true Gospel, we need to take a break from our religious interests to appreciate and give thanks for the beauty of this life. Yes there is wickedness and evil in the land, but there is also the glory of sea and the sky and the field and the forest. There is music on which flows the melody of creation itself. There is fellowship and friendship and food for the table. There is this need within us to cultivate a thankful life and to know first hand the joy of the Lord. If we do not, then we fail to be God’s true representatives. Can you imagine Jesus not having times of song and celebration and worship? Can you imagine Jesus without laughter? These are not the images of the same God enfleshed whose first miracle was to create wine for a wedding feast in order to keep the party going.

You are the message God is sending into the world. You are his living letters. What people see in you is the Person you represent. Therefore, to be a true message from God, you are to live the love. Any less is a disservice to the One who sends you.

 

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Paul’s Weakness

A Sermon Preached by Jefferis Kent Peterson 3/17/2019 at Wimberley Christian Church

Summary of Paul’s ministry in Athens.  Don Richardson tells this story about Paul’s ministry to an unknown God in a book Eternity in Their Hearts:

In the 6th C. Athens was the subject of a terrible plague and the city elders were at a loss to know how to abate it. They believed the city was under a curse because they were guilty of treachery against the followers of Cylon,  who were slain after they had been promised an amnesty. They had tried sacrificial offerings but to no avail.  Turning to the Oracle for wisdom, the priestess said there was another god who remained unappeased for their treachery. Who was this unknown god? The priestess did not know but advised that they should send a ship to the island of Crete and fetch a man called Epimenides who would know how to appease the offended god.

Epimenides advised the elders to seek a sign from the unknown god. He told them to graze a flock of healthy sheep of different colors, some white, some black on the grassy slope of Mars Hill. He then prayed something on the lines of…

“O thou unknown god! Behold the plague afflicting the city.  And if indeed you feel compassion to forgive and help us, behold the flock of sheep.  Reveal your willingness to respond, I plead, by causing any sheep that pleases you to lie upon the grass instead of grazing…  And those you choose we sacrifice to you – acknowledging our pitiful ignorance of your name”

Although it was early morning when the sheep were at their hungriest and therefore unlikely to stop grazing, before long some sheep settled down to rest and these were separated from the remainder of the flock for the sacrificial offering. Epimenides ordered stonemasons to construct altars on each animal’s resting place.  On each, following Epimenides’ instructions, they inscribed the words “agnosto theo” meaning “to an unknown god”.

Within a week, the Athenians stricken by the plague recovered.

1. Paul was well educated, trained in argument and rhetoric.

2. Athens was full of philosophers, intellectuals,

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17:16–21, ESV)

3. Paul was greatly discouraged by the lack of response in Athens after giving one of the greatest reasoned and passionate presentations of the Gospel using the tools of rhetoric and argument.

4. He comes to Corinth,  where he isn’t having much success either with his own people, who know the word of God but refuse the Messiah.

Ac 18:5–11. (In Corinth) Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.   And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

His fellow Jews were well versed in the Scriptures, argument and debate. And Paul had ALL The Credentials. He studied under the revered Rabbi Gamaliel, the Grandson the famous Rabbi Hillel.

It was under the tutelage of Rabbi Gamaliel that Paul developed an expert knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. Paul’s educational and professional credentials allowed him to preach in the synagogues wherever he traveled , and his grasp of Old Testament history and law aided his presentation of Jesus Christ as the One who had fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17).

It was like having a PhD from Harvard or Dallas Seminary.   Acts 17:2said  he would regularly reason with the Jews from the Scriptures on the Sabbath days. He used his best gifts and natural talents, but found them NOT WORKING!  Ever been there??? His best STRENGTH was not working!!   He is ready to give up his ministry.  God has to speak to him to encourage him,  And the Lord said to Paul  one night in  a vision,  “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,  for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for  I have many in this city who are my people.”  And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

The Compression of Scripture: Paul’s ministry takes over 14 years but we see it as one great event after another. We forget the months of the MUNDANE. Paul had to work for a living in Corinth. He had to make tents and spend many hours just working without doing ministry. He would argue on the Sabbath days. What did he do the most of the week? Dye Leather. BTW, it was considered an unclean profession for a Jew because you had to tan with blood and urine.

5. He changes tactics after recognizing the failure of reason to persuade…

“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach THE MESSIAHcrucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:21–25, ESV)

He decides instead to rely upon the Spirit and the Anointing of God rather than his own strength… to become a fool, as it were, for Jesus.

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1–5, ESV)

6. What is Paul’s Weakness? Paul faced a real issue of credibility EVEN within the Churches he founded. He was not one of the original 12 disciples. He had not walked with Jesus. He may not even have ever seen Jesus before he was blinded on the road to Damascus. Plus his manner was so gentle that he did not present himself with commanding authority as did his enemies. No putting on airs or using titles.

“I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 10:1–2, ESV)

“For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”   (2 Corinthians 10:8–10, ESV)

7.  So what happens when others come in to his churches from Jerusalem and say he is not one of the true disciples and that his teachings are heretical, in error?

Background:  Men from James, called Judaizers believe that for Gentiles to be saved, they must also follow all the Hebrew laws, be circumcised, keep kosher food laws and keep the Hebrew calendar feasts. They are confident, legalistic, and self-important. And they are throwing fear into the hearts of Paul’s converts that they have missed God and God is not pleased with them.

Paul’s response is a defense of his “weakness!”

“I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.” (2 Corinthians 11:1–6, ESV)

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel (Greek: angelos – messenger) of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:13–15, ESV)

“For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weakfor that! But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that.” (2 Corinthians 11:19–21, ESV)

What is More, he compares God’s “weakness” to the might of men:

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weaknessof God is stronger than men  1 Co 1:25.

“For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weakin him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.” (2 Corinthians 13:4, ESV)

8. Paul’s use of the word Weakness is always in relationship to other men. It isn’t a confession of being sick.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger (Greek: angelos – angel) of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7–10, ESV)

Paul knew the OT and the use of “thorn in the side” as a term used for war.  

Numbers: 33: 55-56  But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as  y barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. 56And I will do to you     as I thought to do to them.

  Ezekiel 28:24  And for the house of Israel   there shall be no more a brier to prick or    a thorn to hurt them among all their neighbors  who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord GOD.

9. His Thorn, I believe was that everywhere he established churches, the Judaizers would come an attempt to undermine his ministry. What was the result of not having the thorn removed?  Out of his weakness, we have a major portion of the New Testament written for our benefit!  He is forced to defend the Gospel of Grace in his letters to Corinth and Galatia.

10.  Paul’s character was one of humility and gentleness, not one lording it over others. He gave an example of how we should be towards one another, and to be aware of others who would take advantage of us by religious legalism, pride in position (like being a pastor or boss or rank) or abusive put downs. His weakness led to charges that he lacked God’s authority. Yet he had to live that way to be an example of Jesus.

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Why Death Gives us Hope

Cythnia Gartland Funeral, Oct 20, 2013 from jefferis peterson

Funeral for Cythnia Gartland, Oct 20, 2013
Officiating, Jefferis Kent Peterson, I, her son-in-law

I had the privilege of doing a celebration of life for my mother-in-law.  The actual eulogy begins at minute 9.

Our hope in the face of death. God sets a limit on our estrangement and brings us back to Him by removing fear of Him through death.

From a The Scholars Corner post.

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