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FROM HIS BIRTH TO PENTECOST
(1) Behold, A Virgin Shall Conceive
The above Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 is probably the most famous ever spoken, and one of the most controversial. To this very day Israel, and even some Christians, do not believe it has anything to do with the birth of Christ. Many, however, do believe and find its fulfillment in the pages of the New Testament. An angel appeared to a troubled Joseph, saying:
Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which, being interpreted is, God with us (Matthew 1:20-23).
The setting for the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 goes back in ancient history, some 700 years before Christ was born. Isaiah 7 tells us King Ahaz and the people of Jerusalem were shaking like “trees” in the wind because of the threat from King Pekah of Samaria and King Rezin of Syria. But Isaiah told Ahaz to “fear not,” for Samaria would be broken “within threescore and five years” ( verses 1-8).
Of course, this was not much comfort for the young Ahaz, knowing he could cease to worry in 65 years. The Interpreter’s Commentary says, “The threat in vs. 8c . . . is very obscure, since a threat of disaster sixty-five years later would seem to have no precise relevance. An ingenious suggestion is to read, ‘yet 6, yea 5 years more.’ ”1
Even 5 or 6 years would be no comfort for Ahaz, for the two kings were knocking at his door. And besides, Isaiah said only Samaria would fall. The Broadman Bible Commentary says, “As the statement now stands it defies interpretation.”2
Since the early 70s I felt that the statement in Isaiah 7:8 meant something else than the various interpretations given, especially since it is tied in with Isaiah 7:14. In March of 1994, I woke up and wrote a note for the next morning: “Check and see if Samaria was destroyed about 65 A.D.” And it was. The New Bible Dictionary said, “The city of Samaria became a favorite seat of Herod the Great, and he renamed it Sebaste in honour of Augustus. In the revolt of AD 66 Sebaste was burnt to the ground.”
Not only was Samaria destroyed, Josephus says it was burned along with some Syrian cities. If our calendar is correct for this time frame, Jesus would have been 65 when all this happened in August of 66 AD. 3
After Ahaz was told Samaria would be taken care of, God, through Isaiah, told Ahaz to seek a “sign” that it would happen. Ahaz refused, but God gave one anyway, saying to the house of David, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Then it seems God deliberately obscured this very important prophecy, “For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken by both her kings” (verse 16).
The king of Samaria and the king of Syria died shortly after this prophecy was given, and the city of Samaria was destroyed long before the 65 years. It was destroyed again about 65 years after Christ’s birth, I believe fulfilling the long range view of verses 8 and 14. In other words, God was telling an unbelieving Judah that Samaria would be destroyed in the immediate future and again some 65 years after the birth of His Son. This final destruction of Judah’s ancient enemy, rebellious Samaria, should have been a “sign” for Judah that the Messiah had come. But they still did not “believe,” and Jerusalem was broken shortly thereafter (Isaiah 7:9-13).
(2) The Two Kings of Isaiah 7:16
About a year after my March awakening, I began searching for a Syrian king who died about the same time as Herod. But I found a better one. His name is Antipater, the son of Herod.
The life of Herod the Great paralleled David’s in many ways. One of David’s sons tried to kill him, as did Herod’s. David lived for 70 years, as did Herod. David was made king of Israel, as was Herod. David ruled 40 years, and so did Herod. David became sick and made his son king about three years before his death, and so did Herod. It is also interesting that Herod was a son of Esau and ruled over the sons of Jacob from “the land” that Judah abhorred, Samaria. And he was ruling when the “Star out of Jacob” came (Num. 24:17).
In 63 B.C., the Romans conquered Jerusalem and joined Samaria to the new Province of Syria. In 40 B.C., to Herod’s amazement, the Roman senate made him “king of the Jews.” Herod sided with Antony in the war between Antony and Augustus, but another amazing thing happened. Antony lost and Augustus extended Herod’s power. He made him king of Samaria and the head of Syria!4
Herod became angry and fearful of the people of Jerusalem. So he went up to Samaria and made it the favorite seat of his empire. My old Britannica says, “Herod the Great was its chief benefactor. . . . He made it his capital and it took the name Sebaste.”5
Josephus says, “[Herod] contrived to make Samaria a fortress for himself . . . to keep both the country [of Judah] and the city [of Jerusalem] in awe. . . . This he did, out of an ambitious desire of building a temple, and out of a desire to make the city more eminent than it had been before, but principally because he contrived that it might at once be for his own security, and a monument of his magnificence.”6
The Jews of Judah hated Herod, and when he made his son Antipater a king, they hated Antipater even more. “However,” Josephus says, “he governed the nation jointly with his father, being indeed no other than a king already . . . all the public affairs depended upon Antipater; and his power was such, that he could do . . . as he pleased.”7
These two kings, who ruled over Judah from hated Samaria, both died “before”Jesus was old enough to “know to refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15-16). Apparently Antipater was also worried about Jesus becoming King of the Jews, for Matthew 2:20 tells us: “they are dead who sought the young child’s life.”
In the days of Isaiah, Israel and Syria were two different nations; but Isaiah 7:16 speaks of one “land” being deprived of “both her kings.” I believe the two kings are Herod and Antipater rather than Rezin and Pekah. Isaiah 7:14-16 is speaking of Christ. Isaiah 8:1-7 is speaking about Isaiah’s second son and the kings of his day. If Isaiah’s wife of chapter 8 is the same as chapter 7, then she was no virgin and probably not very young. Mary is the virgin spoken of in Isaiah 7:14, and Luke gives us a beautiful account of her encounter with Gabriel:
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:30-35).
Commenting on Isaiah Chapter 7, The Abingdon Bible Commentary says, “The passage is immensely difficult to interpret, and no absolute certainty or generally accepted explanation has ever been secured.”8
The death of Anitpater and Herod shortly after the birth of Christ and the destruction of Samaria 65 years after His birth explains the difficulty.
(3) When Was Christ Born?
According to Luke 3:1-2, 23, John the Baptist began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius, and Jesus began sometime after John when He was “about thirty.” Tiberius began his 15th year in August of 28 A.D., which puts Christ’s birth in 2 B.C. or later. Some think Tiberius began some two years earlier when certain powers were conferred on him by Augustus. But it has been pointed out, “Nowhere in histories, or on monuments, or coins, is a vestige to be found of any such mode of reckoning the years of this emperor.”9
Another clue that Jesus was born during or after 2 B.C. may come from the moon. According to Josephus, Herod died shortly after an eclipse and before the Passover.10 William Whiston, who translated Josephus’s works into English, says, “This eclipse of the moon (which is the only eclipse mentioned by Josephus) is of the greatest consequence for determination of the time for the death of Herod and Antipater, and for the birth and entire chronology of Jesus Christ.”11
There was a partial eclipse on March 13, 4 B.C., and a total one on January 9, 1 B.C. Because of Luke 3 and a time problem with the 4 B.C. eclipse, Sir Robert Anderson says, “Many writers take the latter to be the eclipse of Herod, and assign his death to that year. That of B.C. 1 was a fine total eclipse . . . whereas that of B.C. 4 was but a partial eclipse.”12
There was another eclipse on December 29, 1 B.C., which could place Christ’s birth exactly where Dionysius placed it when he set up our calendar. If he is right, and Samaria was destroyed in 66 A.D., Jesus would have been 65 at the time.
Dr. Ernest L. Martin, Director of the Foundation for Biblical Research in Pasadena, and John Mosley, Program Supervisor for the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, commenting on Dionysius, says:
It is often claimed in planetariums that Dionysius Exiguus made an error of four years in calculating the date of Christ’s birth by forgetting to allow for the four years that Augustus reigned under the name of Octavian. . . . Although it is hard to know where this was first suggested, it appears to be a planetarium myth. Dionysius was a prominent scholar who lived in Rome and who had access to accurate records including many now lost to us. The reigns of the Roman emperors were well known and he was certainly aware of Augustus’ name change. Perhaps the reason for claiming that he made a four-year error is to move the date he selected to one that precedes 4 B.C. to conform with Herod’s stated death in 4 B.C. At any rate, Dionysius carefully selected the date of December 25, 1 B.C. for the birth of Christ and counted the commencing of the Christian Era with January 1, 1 A.D., six days later, to agree with the start of the ordinary Roman year.13
Martin and Mosley also believe that the end of Herod’s rule became confused with the beginning of Antipater’s co-rule in about 4 BC. (See note 7 this chapter.)
Just when the eclipse mentioned by Josephus occurred is a matter of speculation. Grant Jeffery says, “Astronomers in past centuries knew of a partial lunar eclipse in Jerusalem that occurred on March 13, 4 B.C.; therefore, scholars were certain this proved that Herod’s death and Christ’s birth both occurred in 4 B.C. Recently, however, additional astronomical evidence has revealed that the date of Herod’s death could have been as late as 1 B.C. or A.D. 1, allowing Christ’s birth to have occurred in 1 B.C....Astronomical records reveal that several eclipses of the moon were visible in Jerusalem during several years from 5 B.C. to A.D. 4.”14
Converting from B.C. to A.D. can be a little confusing and one year must always be omitted. Reader’s Digest explains, “That the new millennium actually begins on January 1, 2001, tends to have been ignored. An explanation is in order: there was no year zero. The world went from 1 B.C. to A.D. 1.”15 If Jesus was born after August in 1 B.C., this puts Samaria being destroyed within 65 years of His birth.
(4) The Star of Bethlehem
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him (Matt. 2:1-2).
There was a conjunction two planets three times in 7 B.C., Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter was considered by ancient stargazers to be the Star of David. Some believe this may be what the wise men saw. There has, however, been a fairly recent discovery of a double conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in 3 and 2 B.C. The encounter was in the constellation of Leo, the Lion of Judah. Martin and Mosley believe that these conjunctions may be what led the wise men to Jerusalem. They write: “On June 17, 2 B.C., Jupiter and Venus drew together in a dazzling conjunction . . . Observers would have seen these two objects merge into one as they approached the horizon, appearing as a single ‘star’ as they set.”16
It’s interesting to note that Venus is a very bright morning star, the very title given to Jesus in Revelation 22:16.
Luke 2:17 tells us after the shepherds saw Jesus they spread the word “abroad.” The Magi may have heard about His birth, and this, plus something in the heavens, may have inspired them to go to Jerusalem. After they arrived, Herod asked them “what time the star appeared.” Herod may have thought Jesus was born when the Magi saw the start, for he ordered all the children killed who were “two years old and under” (Matt. 2:7, 16).
When the wise men left Herod, they saw the star they had seen “in the east,” and it led them to Christ. Jesus had a supernatural conception and a natural birth. The star of Matthew 2 may have had both elements.
God, in His wisdom, did not give us the exact year or day Christ was born. He may, however, have arranged His birth on the very day we celebrate it. Hippolytus commentary on Daniel, written about 200 A.D., says Jesus was born on December 25th.17 Some have said Jesus could not have been born in December because of the cold. At times, shepherds still graze their flock in December.
Jesus may have been conceived the 1st day of the Jewish new year, born during Hanukkah, and circumcised on the 8th day, the 1st day of the Gentile new year. The number eight stands for a new beginning. And, like Moses, He may have come out of Egypt at the Passover, shortly after the death of Antipater and Herod (Matt. 2:19-20).
* * * *
Josephus wrote about the life and death of Herod. He was close by when Samaria was burned and was with Titus when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem four years later. He was commissioned by Vespasian to write about these events. He also wrote about many other things which happened in the first century. Our closest other sources are Cassius, Tacitus and Suetonius. Tacitus wrote his Annals of Imperial Rome after the turn of the 1st century, and much of it is missing. What we do have, says the translator Michael Grant, “is based on a single medieval manuscript” whose “rediscovery in the 14th and 15th centuries are veiled in obscurity.” Suetonius wrote The Twelve Caesars about 120 A.D., and a number of his numbers simply don’t add up.
(5) Jesus Begins His Ministry
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:16-19).
Jesus was God in the flesh, but when He came to earth He left all His supernatural power in heaven. When He was thirty years old, the Holy Spirit gave it back to Him, without measure.a He had lived among the people for thirty years. He had seen the oppression of Rome, the corrupt religious leaders, and a suffering humanity. Now He had the power to change it all—but He didn’t use it in this way. He could have easily destroyed Rome, the false religions of the world, and filled every stomach. He could have set up His kingdom of righteousness and brought peace and prosperity to the entire earth, and made Israel the example nation of all nations.
I believe the temptation in the wilderness was more than just to feed Himself by turning stones into bread. He was tempted to feed a hungry world and free an oppressed people, Jew and Gentile alike. But He knew it was not time to do this on a world-wide scale. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, taught by word and deed the right way to live, and He will do all this on a grand scale when He returns. But His primary mission on earth at His first coming was to die for the sins of man. Very few in Jesus’ day understood this. Even the twelve apostles did not understand His mission on earth and were baffled by the things He did and said.
(6) John the Baptist
There were many great men and women of faith in the Old Testament, Moses being held in higher esteem than any other. But like Abraham, Moses, and his own father,b John had his moments of doubt. He had been telling Israel that the Messiah was coming, and said, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”c When he saw Jesus, John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man who is preferred before me: for he was before me” (John 1:29-30).
Not long after this John was put in prison, and he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?” John may have thought that Jesus would establish the kingdom after the Passover, and when it didn’t happen, he began to wonder. Instead of condemning John for his doubts, Jesus made a most unusual statement. He said, “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (see Luke 7:19-28).
John had a very short ministry on earth. When we consider that he didn’t even do any miracles,d how could the Lord say there was no one greater than John? And stranger still, what did Jesus mean by the “least in the kingdom of God is greater than he”? I think if we look at what John understood and believed about Israel’s Messiah, we can see why Jesus said there was no one greater than John the Baptist.
(7) A Political or Spiritual Messiah?
The Old Testament paints a two-fold picture of Israel’s Messiah. One is pictured as the Lamb of God who would come and die for the sins of the world. The other is pictured as a ruling king who would come in power and glory and set up God’s kingdom here on earth. God did not give near as much information about the first coming of Christ as He did about the second coming. The first coming and its purpose has been made clearer with the revelation of the New Testament, but for the people of John’s day, all they could see was what the Scriptures said about the second coming.
When John was born, his father said to him, “He [the God of Israel] is sending us a Mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago—someone to save us from our enemies, from all who hate us. . . . And you, my little son, shall be called the prophet of the glorious God, for you will prepare the way for the Messiah” (Luke 1:69-71, 76, TLB).
John had heard how one day a Savior would come and deliver Israel from Rome. He would be the mighty Son of David—the King of the Jews. John probably read where the prophet Daniel said the Messiah would come in mighty power and glory and set up an everlasting kingdom, and where Isaiah said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
John probably studied earnestly to find out: When will the Messiah come? What will He be like? No doubt he read the prophecy in Genesis, where God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
Although this prophecy is far from being clear, apparently John saw that it spoke of someone coming and striking the serpent’s head, which represents the defeat of Satan and sin. There is something unusual about the prophecy of Genesis 3:15. It speaks of the “seed” of woman striking the serpent’s head instead of the seed of man. No doubt John wondered, What does this mean? And he found the answer in Isaiah 7:14. “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
The word “Immanuel” means “God with us.”
From reading the Old Testament, John could have concluded that the Messiah would be born to a virgin and God would be His Father. If he looked at Micah 5:2, he could have found out the very town where He would be born. “But thou, Bethlehem . . . though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
This was a well known prophecy. When the wise men from the East came to Jerusalem looking for the newborn King of the Jews, they went to Herod. “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet” (Matt. 2:3-5).
While John was in the Judean hills, he must have thought about many things and studied the Scriptures. He probably heard about Jesus’ unusual birth in Bethlehem and how Herod had tried to kill Him. John’s mother must have told him about the angel Gabriel telling Mary she would have a child by the Holy Spirit. This was the same Gabriel who told John’s father he would have a son, who would prepare the way for the Messiah. It was also Gabriel who told Daniel that the Messiah would come and establish His kingdom after a period of 490 years.
Apparently John did not know for certain that Jesus was the Messiah until the Spirit came upon Him as a dove,e but according to Matthew 3:13-17, John must have strongly suspected that his cousin Jesus was the One, even before he baptized Him.
I suspect John knew the 490 years mentioned in Daniel 9 were coming to a close. He could have concluded from Daniel 2 that Rome was the fourth empire which would be crushed by the Messiah, the “Stone” of Daniel 2. Then He would set up His everlasting kingdom. Way back in Genesis 49:24, we have a prophecy about a coming Shepherd, who is called “the stone of Israel.” John began his ministry with, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2).
John must have known from the Scriptures that it was time for the Messiah to come and declare Himself the King of the Jews, for in Jewish thinking the age of thirty was the age of maturity. Joseph was made ruler in Egypt at the age of thirty. The book of Numbers tells us that a Jew could not begin to serve Israel in a priestly function until he was thirty. King David, who was a conquering king and a type of Christ, was not anointed king until he was thirty.
(8) John’s View Different
At some time in John’s life, through a careful study of the Scriptures and probably direct revelation, he saw the Messiah was more than just a conquering king who would come and save Israel from Rome. God’s Anointed One would be more than just the Son of David; He would also be the “Son of God,” who would die for the sins of man.
John’s view of the Old Testament Scriptures was quite different from the majority of the people during his day. Most were looking for a political leader rather than a spiritual one. After Jesus fed the 5000, they wanted to make Him king.f They were more concerned about temporary things than they were about eternal matters.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people shouted, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.”g They thought Jesus was going to raise an army and free them from Rome. Even Peter was ready to fight and die for the nation of Israel. A few days later some of these very same people shouted, “crucify him,” and Peter denied ever knowing Him, three times. The people did not understand the purpose of His first coming and that this was all planned for their spiritual and physical salvation—before the world began. Peter Marshall said, “Their Messiah ended up—not on a throne, but on a cross, hailed as a king on Sunday, and died like a common thief on Friday.”
John must have known that Jesus would die for the sins of man. When Jesus came to be baptized, John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John was speaking of Jesus being the sacrificial Lamb, who would be slain. I believe he knew that the sacrifices in the Old Testament were only a symbol, a type of someone who would be sent by God.
No doubt John read many times where Daniel said the Messiah would be “cut off,” and where Isaiah said, some 700 years before Christ was even born, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. . . . He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter. . . . For he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of my people was he stricken” (see Isa. 53).
While the apostles and many of the Jews saw Jesus as a savior from poverty and Roman bondage, John saw that Jesus’ primary mission was to deliver men from their sins. He apparently understood for Jesus just to destroy Rome and set up His kingdom on earth would not solve the problem. He knew the trouble was with the heart of man and that this must be changed first. No doubt he read Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” and he found the solution in the prophecy of Ezekiel 36:26: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh.” Jesus told Nicodemus “you must be born again” and said he should have understood these things (John 3:1-10).
Jesus said there was no greater Old Testament prophet than John the Baptist, and it must have been because of his great faith and insight. He probably did not see the great gap of time between the first and second coming and that Jesus was going to return to heaven, but John must have known that Jesus would die, be resurrected, and then set up His kingdom. A dead king could not establish any kingdom and fulfill all the prophecies concerning Israel and the kingdom. John may have thought all this would happen that first Passover when Jesus was thirty.
John had second thoughts about these things while he was in prison, but it seems he had put a good portion of God’s puzzle together. The apostles had spent about three years under the direct teaching of Jesus, but they still had not figured it all out. In fact, when Jesus told them that He must be killed in Jerusalem and be raised the third day, Peter said, “Heaven forbid. . . . This is not going to happen to you!”h On another occasion, when He told the people that the Son of man, their Messiah, must die on a cross, they said, “We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34.)
The resurrection of Israel’s Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the foundation of the Christian faith—yet there is not one verse in the Old Testament which clearly stated that the Messiah would be raised from the dead. Psalm 16:9-10 says His body would not decay and Peter used these verses in his sermon of Acts 2, but even they are not crystal clear. There are many, however, which say He had to be raised from the grave. A dead corpse can not save anyone and establish any everlasting kingdom like the Bible predicts!
Daniel 9 said He would be “cut off,” but Daniel also said, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days. . . . And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14).
This was a problem for the Jewish nation of Jesus’ day, and the Jews to this very day can’t see it: that Jesus of Nazareth is their Savior— spiritual and physical. Many Jews today are still waiting for the Messiah to come and deliver Israel from all her enemies. They, and the world, cannot see that He has already come and made a way to deliver us from our worst enemy—a sinful heart. It is as though a veil is over their eyes when they read the Old Testament prophecies about His first coming—a veil that has been there since the days of Moses. Paul says, “Their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart” (2 Cor. 3:14-15). But Paul goes on to say in verse 16, “Nevertheless when it [the nation of Israel] shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.”
(9) The Gap
Isaiah 61:1-2 was a famous prophecy about the coming of Israel’s Messiah, the Anointed One. This is the prophecy He officially began His ministry with. He opened the book and read to the middle of verse two. Then “he closed the book . . . and sat down” and said to them, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:14-21).
Isaiah 61:1-2 is just one example of a verse or verses with a partial or dual fulfillment. The prophecy is about the first and second coming of Christ without any indication there would be a long gap of time between the two events. Not only did He preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, and deliver captives, He will do so again at His return. But His return will also be “the day of vengeance” on the wicked (Isa. 61:2b), which did not occur at His first coming. This is why He closed the book at that point. He came as a lamb the first time. He will come as a lion the second. (He still will be gentle as a lamb for those who turn to Him, and “comfort” them (Isa. 61:2c).
Zechariah 12:10 is another good example of a verse having a dual fulfillment with a gap of time. The context is for the second coming (Rev. 1:7), but it was first fulfilled at His first coming (John 19:37).
God, for His own good reasons, certainly did not make all this crystal clear in the Old Testament,
and we need to apply this same principle of how prophecy is written about His coming again.
(10) The Two Thieves
And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. . . . And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:33, 39-43).
First Peter 1:20 tells us the crucifixion of Christ was planned “before the foundation of the world.” The death of the two thieves beside Him was also planned for an example. Both deserved death but only one admitted it and turned to the Lord. The other had the same opportunity to be saved, but he refused to repent. According to Paul, God knew, before the world began, the choice the repentant thief would make ( see Eph. 1:3-5).
(11) Faith vs. Works
Some get the cart before the horse and believe you have to work your way to heaven. The Old Testament had many times more ordinances than does the New Testament, yet the thief on the cross did not keep the first one—of either period. He was saved by his faith and the grace of God.
Paul had worked all his life trying to justify a lack of love for other people. Only when he repented could he see that salvation is by faith, not works. He said, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10).
Notice Paul said that the newborn believer has been “created in Christ Jesus” for good works, not vice versa. Noah was saved from the flood by his works. He built the ark. But it was because he first had faith. His works were the consequence of his faith.
There are many so-called contradictions in the Bible. On the surface, faith and works seem to be one of them. But the problem is never with the Bible; it’s with our understanding of it. W. A. Criswell says:
James, in his letter (2:21), refers to Abraham as being justified by works whereas Paul in Romans 4 speaks of Abraham as being justified by faith. . . . When Paul writes, he refers to the fifteenth chapter of Genesis where it is recorded that Abraham, by faith, believed God and his faith was counted for righteousness. The illustration used in James, however, refers to Genesis 22 where it is described how Abraham offered up Isaac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. The illustration used by James in Genesis 22 is a confirmation of what Paul was speaking of in Genesis 15. There is no contradiction between the two, together they present the entire, full, rich life of a Christian. In our salvation we are justified by faith, having trusted in the Lord Jesus, and in our devoted works we give evidence of that commitment of faith that we have made to Christ. Faith without works is dead. That is true. If I am regenerated, I have a new heart and I will want to do good works for Jesus because of my love and gratitude to him.18
(12) The Blood of Christ
In the sacrificial system of the Old Testament God commanded that a lamb without blemish be sacrificed for sin. Hebrews 9:22 tells us, “Without [the] shedding of blood” there would be “no remission” of sins. But Hebrews 10:4 tells us it is impossible for the blood of animals to take away sin.
The sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed to the cross, when the perfect and sinless Lamb of God would be sacrificed. He was perfect in body and Spirit. He did not sacrifice a body that would have died, but He gave His life that we might live. He “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).
Before Adam sinned, he also had a body that was free from disease and death. When he sinned Satan apparently contaminated his blood which started the process of physical death, and every person who is a blood descendant of Adam will inherit Adam’s nature and die, “For as in Adam all die.”I Adam and Eve’s immunity system could no longer fight off disease which Satan created. AIDS, which is transmitted by blood and breaks down resistance to disease, is a good example of what sin can do. It started with perversion and now many innocent are dying.
In his book The Chemistry of the Blood, M. R. DeHaan, M. D., says, “Although we do not know the nature of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we do know that the eating of it caused ‘blood poisoning’ and resulted in death. . . . So potent was this poison that six thousand years after, all who are related to Adam by human birth still succumb to that poison of sin which is transmitted through the blood.”19
The shed blood of Christ paid for our sins. His resurrection insured that we who believe in Him would be resurrected also. Leviticus 17:11 says, “The life of the flesh is in the blood.”
When the body of Jesus was brought back to life, it was made alive by the Spirit.j I do not believe His resurrected body needed blood to sustain physical life and neither will we at our resurrection. It will be a literal body, but it will be what Paul calls a “spiritual body.” He says this present body of “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” It must first be “changed” (1 Cor. 15:50-51).
(13) The Broken Heart
Neither shall ye break a bone of it (Ex. 12:46).
This strange command was given at the Passover when God was about to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt. They were to sacrifice a lamb, but why would He specifically tell them not to break any of its bones?
God looked down through time and knew how His Lamb would die. He foresaw the Roman cross and its pain. But He also knew that Jesus would not die the normal death on the cross.
Death by crucifixion often took days, and to hasten death the Romans would break the legs so one would suffocate gasping for air. Jesus and the two thieves were on the cross but a few hours. So when the Roman soldiers came to break their legs so they would die quicker, they were surprised to find that Jesus was “already dead.” There was no need to break His legs. When His side was pierced, blood and water ran out. The Bible places special emphasis on this and says:
But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced” (John 19:33-37, NKJV).
I don’t believe the soldiers “pierced His side” to make sure He was dead, for they “saw that He was already dead.” What they may have seen is an unusual discolored swelling of His side, and when they punctured it, blood and water ran out.
The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says, “That Jesus’ side was pierced after his death . . . is another of the peculiar features of this account, one of great importance to the Johannine authors . . . The motive behind the soldier’s spear thrust is not clear. More mysterious is the issue of blood and water—as there is no adequate medical explanation for such a phenomenon.”
Think of the most anxious moment in your life and multiply it many times over. Billions will die, but none will ever experience His kind of death. Read Isaiah 53.
Jesus may have died of a ruptured heart, which would take an extremely great traumatic experience. He literally died of a broken heart. The more you care for someone, the more it hurts to be rejected. He was rejected by man and forsaken by God, and He knew He was facing hell itself. He was “made” to be the very thing He hated—sin (2 Cor. 5:21).
(14) The Three Days and Three Nights
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:40).
One Commentary says, “The period of three days and three nights does not fit the gospel tradition’s chronology of the Resurrection—that the interval in the tomb lasted part of 3 days, but not 3 nights as well.”20
Another commentary says, “The statement made is inaccurate, for Jesus was in the grave only from Friday evening to Sunday dawn.”21
Another commentary says, “Those holding to the traditional Friday crucifixion explain the time here as idiomatic for parts of three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Those holding to Wednesday crucifixion explain the reference literally as denoting seventy-two hours, from sundown Wednesday to sundown Saturday.”22
The Wednesday theory omits Saturday night, which would give us four nights and three days.
Matthew 12:40 has been called a “chronological difficulty.” Jesus said He would rise the “third day,” which poses no problem. The three days and three nights, however, does create a problem which I believe can be cleared up.
The Bible describes hell as a bottomless pit, a lake of fire. That is a good description of the heart of the earth, where there is a literal lake of fire with no bottom and the force of gravity is the strongest. One definition of the word gravity is: “The force that tends to draw objects toward the center of the earth.” This is exactly where Satan is trying to pull and keep every soul. But there is One that hell could not hold.
The body of Jesus stayed on the surface of the earth about 36 hours, and it was raised the “third day.” His soul stayed “in the heart of the earth” for about 36 hours, which viewed from the earth’s center would technically be “three days and three nights.”
Paul, in Ephesians 4:9, tells us before the Lord ascended to heaven, He “descended first into the lower parts of the earth.” Psalm 16:10 was a prophecy about this. “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer [permit] thine Holy One to see corruption [perish in the grave].” Peter, in his first sermon to Israel, quoted this prophecy and said God delivered His soul from hell, raised Him from death, and that His body did not decay while it was in the grave (Acts 2:22-32).
John 20:17 indicates Jesus did not go to heaven until the morning of His resurrection. When Mary Magdalene was about to embrace the Lord, He said to her, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” Psalm 22:1-2 indicates that Jesus was separated from God for more than just three hours. He said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season.”
Just as the Psalms used David’s troubles to describe the suffering Messiah, I believe Jonah 2 is more descriptive of the soul of Christ in hell than Jonah in the fish.
There is no contradiction between the verses above and Luke 23:43. The emphasis in Luke 23:43 is that a person can be saved on his death bed and go to heaven—that very same day, if he will only repent and put his faith in Christ. It has been said there is no punctuation in the Greek and Luke 23:43 could just as well be translated, “I say unto you today, you shall be with me in paradise.” In other words, the Lord told the man he would go to Paradise, and I believe he went that very day.
Many a sermon and much has been written about the physical sufferings of Christ, but little has been said about the spiritual part. No one likes the idea of dying, especially if he knew he could live forever. But when Jesus agonized in the garden to the extent His sweat was as blood, I do not believe it was over the physical pain He was facing. He knew for the first time in all eternity that He was going to be “cut off” from the Godhead. He was actually going to be made sin and was faced with something He had never experienced. He asked three times, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”k But He also said, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus went on to the cross, and it was here that He demonstrated He was truly human. When everything was dark, He said what everyone has said at one time or another, WHY?
When Jesus said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”L it was a genuine and agonizing question. The world He had made, the nation He established, the disciples He loved, and His very own Father left Him. He was cut off from God and I believe He went where anyone who dies in that condition goes, hell. But He didn’t deserve to go there. He went there to keep those who would believe in Him from ever having to go—even though we deserve it.
The Jews of Jesus’ day, and even today, could not imagine how God would allow their Messiah to die on a cross. Many Christians today don’t believe God would send His son to hell. But, according to the Bible, He did.
Jesus could have called on the angels and they would have saved Him from the cross, but He “finished” what He came to do and put His complete trust in His Father. Jesus believed He would deliver His soul from hell and raise His body from the grave. What a joyful and triumphant moment it must have been for Him that first Easter morning. I believe He had been looking forward to getting all this over with for a long, long time.
(15) The Resurrection
When the women came to the tomb early that Sunday morning and could not find the body of Jesus, they were “perplexed” and did not know what had happened. Two angels appeared to them and said, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:5-7).
After the women heard this, they ran and told the apostles, but “their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not” (Luke 24:11).
It is easy for us to say with hindsight, Why didn’t they see all this? The Old Testament gave an account of His life, from His birth to the parting of His garments at His death. Psalm 22, written about 1000 B.C., and Isaiah 53, written about 700 B.C., give a vivid picture of His death.
When the Lord was crucified they should have recognized Him as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”m Before the children of Israel were delivered from Egyptian bondage, they had to put the blood of a lamb on their door post. This began what is called the Passover, which they had observed for more than 1400 years. Christ’s blood was shed so that men might be delivered from the bondage of sin, and it was during the Passover.
After the children of Israel had come out of Egypt, they were bitten by serpents and many died. The Lord told Moses to make a serpent of bronze and hang it on a tree, and whosoever looked upon the serpent was saved from death. This also pointed to the cross. Jesus told them, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”n Daniel 9 even gave the year He would be “cut off.”
This doubting by the saints of God did not begin, or end, with the disciples of Jesus’ day. As we have brought out, the greatest characters of the Bible had their time of weakness and doubt.
I think a careful study of the Bible will reveal there are two kinds of unbelief. The account of the resurrection is a good example of this. When the secular and religious leaders heard about the resurrection, they tried to explain it away, whereas the doubting disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. They did not believe it until they saw Him, but at least they hoped it was true. Romans 8:24 says, “We are saved by hope.”
When Thomas saw the risen Lord, He said, “My Lord and my God.”o We have not seen Jesus with our eyes—yet. But we can know by faith that He was raised from death. Jesus told Thomas, “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”p The Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8:26-40 demonstrated more faith than the apostles, including Paul. Paul, like Thomas, did not believe until after he saw the risen Christ on the road to Damascus.
Not only can we know that Jesus was raised from the grave, we can know that our spirit and soul have a home in heaven at death and one day our body will be resurrected. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).
Many doubt the things of God because they seem too good to be true. I suppose heaven will be a beautiful surprise for many. They are like the man in Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief..”
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day did not want to believe in His deity or His resurrection. Many today deny that Jesus is God and say His body decayed in the grave. But Psalm 16:10 and Acts 2:22-32 tell us His flesh did not perish in the grave; it was raised from death.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim His body remained in the grave and has decayed. They say He was only a “spirit creature” on that third day. His disciples thought so too. When Jesus appeared to them “they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.” But Jesus told them, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:37, 39, NKJV).
(16) Could They Have Known?
Could the disciples in Jesus’ day have figured out God’s plan: that Jesus must first die for the sins of man, be raised from death, and then set up His kingdom? I believe they could have. After the resurrection Jesus was walking with two of the disciples. He acted like a stranger and wanted to know what all the talk was about. They said to Him:
“Are you the only one living in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive . . .” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:18-23, 25-27, NIV).
We can see from the Gospels that the disciples could and should have known the general time of His coming and its purpose. And we could ask: Can we know the general time of His second coming and its purpose? Are we seeing any signs?
I believe we are!
The fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, which predicted His virgin birth, was a sign for the first coming. Jesus called some of the religious leaders of His day “hypocrites.” He said they were good at discerning the signs in the sky about the weather, but they couldn’t interpret “the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:1-3).
The Bible gives us more signs about the second coming than it does about the first coming, and they are more easily understood. It has been estimated that the second coming of Christ is dealt with over 300 times in the New Testament and over 1500 times in the Old Testament. The return of Christ to earth is the dominant theme of 17 Old Testament books and seven out of every ten chapters in the New Testament make some reference to it. R. G. Lee has said, “It is the sum of all prayers, the coronation of all Christian endeavors, and the great hope of the true people of God. Only the doctrine of the atonement is a more prominent Bible truth than the return of the Lord Jesus.”23
The Lord said no one can know the day or hour of His return, but He also said there will be a certain generation that can know His return is near (Luke 21:25-32).
(17) Jesus Returns to Heaven
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5, NKJV).
The Lord had been with the disciples forty days since His resurrection. He taught them many things about the kingdom of God, the time there would be world peace and Israel would be a free nation again. He also told them they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. A few days after He said this, He led them to the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, and they thought: now’s the time! They asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:6-7).
Zechariah 14:1-4 is a prophecy that was well known in Israel. It tells us the Messiah will set foot on the Mount of Olives and “fight” against the nations which are gathered against Jerusalem. This is why the people shouted, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel,”q when He came down the Mount on Palm Sunday. The disciples were still thinking in terms of an earthly kingdom—the time the Messiah would destroy Israel’s enemies, poverty, and bring in true peace throughout the world. Jesus did not say He wasn’t going to do these things, He just said it was not for them to know when.
Daniel also asked about these things. He was told they would not be understood until the last days when travel and education had increased.r He was also told, “Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Dan. 12:9).
The disciples still did not understand that the spiritual aspect of the kingdom must be established first, and perhaps it would be years before the prophecies of Daniel and the famous prophecy of Isaiah 2:2-4 would be fulfilled. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established. . . . For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
After Jesus told the disciples it was not for them to know when the kingdom would come, He said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:8-11).
After this the disciples returned to Jerusalem, now thinking the Lord would return any day and establish His kingdom of peace and prosperity. They thought they were going to use all this power to help Jesus set it up when He returned. They did not understand that the power would be the Holy Spirit using them to preach God’s word so men might have “peace with God”s They did not receive power to destroy Rome but power to destroy sin in the hearts of men. This is what Jesus meant when He said they would do greater works than He.t And this is what Jesus meant when He said the “least in the kingdom of God”u would be greater than John the Baptist or any other Old Testament person; for we are made better by the new birth.
(18) The Coming of the Holy Spirit
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).
After the Holy Spirit came, Peter preached his first sermon to Israel and began to explain all the Old Testament prophecies; how the Messiah must be crucified by the nation, be raised from death, and then return to heaven for a time. Acts 2:37-38 gives us the results of his sermon. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
The day of Pentecost began the new covenant which was promised in the Old Testament. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.”v Anyone, Jew or Gentile, can enter into this new covenant by repentance of sin and faith in Christ. The nation of Israel as a whole has not accepted it yet—but they will.
It was not until the Holy Spirit came that the disciples really began to understand the things of God. They still had much to learn, but at least they finally had some idea of what was going on.
Jesus returned to heaven in a literal body. He is still there and will remain there until He returns to earth. Before He left, Jesus said He would send another person in His place. He said, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7-8).
When the Lord said the Holy Spirit would not come until He left, this doesn’t mean that He was not in the world before Pentecost. We see His works mentioned many times in the Old Testament, and He was here during Jesus’ ministry. Jesus said the Spirit was “with” the disciples before the cross but He would be “in” them later (John 14:17).
The Holy Spirit has always been in the world, convicting men of their sins and restraining sin from getting totally out of control, but when He came on Pentecost, He began a new ministry. Jesus had said, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified)” John 7:38-39.
Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. I believe this is when men began to be “born again.” This is what the Old Testament believers were saved for— a new spirit. They accepted Christ in heaven after He returned to heaven. This is what the cross accomplished. It made a way for the Holy Spirit to impart His very own divine nature and permanently unite Himself with the repentant—so that we could become the new sons of God, “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17).
When God told David that his son would build a house for Him to live in,w He was speaking of Jesus, the son of David, making a way for God to live in men. Paul says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16, NIV.) The whole purpose of the birth, death, and resurrection of the Lord was so that the Holy Spirit could give anyone a new spiritual nature and one day a new body, if they would only repent and turn to Christ. God created our spirit, but it must be recreated.
(19) The New Birth
The new birth is the beginning of the spiritual part of eternal life and can be compared to a mother giving birth to a child. Just as a new born child is not exactly aware of how he came into the world, so it is with “every one that is born of the Spirit.” In fact, Jesus compared the Holy Spirit giving spiritual life to the wind. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8). In his book Peace With God, Billy Graham says:
It is true that thousands of Christians do not know the exact day or hour that they came to know Christ. Their faith and life testify that consciously or unconsciously they have been converted to Christ. Whether they can remember it or not, there was a moment when they did cross over the line from death to life. . . . In reading carefully through the New Testament to see just what kind of an experience you can expect, I find that the New Testament sets forth only one. There is just one experience for which you can look—only one feeling you can expect—and that is the experience of faith. Believing is an experience as real as any experience, yet many are looking for something more—some dramatic sensation that will bring a physical thrill, while others look for some spectacular manifestation. Many have been told to look for such sensations, but the Bible says that a man is “justified by faith” and not by feeling. A man is saved by trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross and not by physical excitement or religious ecstasy.24
The “sons of God” had become lost and dead to the Father, but the cross paved the way back. In Luke 15:11-32 Jesus told a story about a lost son and a forgiving father. The story beautifully brings out that we are the sons of God gone astray and the Father waits for our return with open arms:
A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. . . . And when he came to himself, he said. . . . I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.(see Luke 15:11-24).
No doubt the story in Luke 15 is about a Jewish father and his son. In the time of Christ, and even today, some fathers would consider their son dead if they disobeyed and rejected their authority. But the father in Luke is different, and does exactly what the Father in heaven does when a wayward son comes to his senses and repents. The Father says, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; He was lost, and is found” (verse 24).
Just as the father in the story considered his son as dead, God does the same when a person becomes accountable for his sin and willfully breaks His law: “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” But He doesn’t decide whether it is forever or not—that decision is yours. God extends the open arms of forgiveness, awaiting our return.
The other son in the story (verses 25-32) is a good example of one who tries to follow the letter of the law and gives only an outward devotion to God. Although he didn’t go out and live with the pigs, he may have also been dead to his father. Paul says keeping the letter of the law and not the spirit of it will not result in eternal life, but death (2 Cor. 3:6).
All are “sons of God” by creation (see Job 38:4-7). But Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” James 1:15 says, “When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Paul says we were “dead” in our sins but have become “alive from the dead” (Rom 6:3, Eph. 2:1).
In the story Jesus carefully chose the words, “dead and is alive again,” to point out what happens when a person sins and becomes accountable to God, and what happens when he repents and turns to Him in child-like faith. Paul is a good example of the wayward son who came back to the Father. Paul says he was alive once but became dead to God.x When he repented he became a “new creature in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
When the lost son came back to his father, he entered into a new relationship, even better than the one he had before he sinned. This is representative of a person who comes to Christ. He enters into an eternal and secure relationship with God by choosing to repent. This new relationship begins with the new birth. You had no choice in your first birth, spiritual or physical. You do, however, have a choice in your new birth. Jesus said, “You must be born again” (John 3:7).
(20) The New Spirit and the Old Flesh
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh (Ezek. 36:26).
When a doctor performs a heart transplant, the new heart is not compatible with the patient’s body. There is a conflict between the two and this is why certain drugs must be used to try and keep the body from rejecting the new heart. This is the way it is with the new birth. When a person turns to Christ, the Holy Spirit performs a spiritual heart transplant but the patient has a body that is trying to reject it. He inherited this body from Adam, which Paul calls the “outward man.”y This is why Paul said that he still counted on the righteousness of Christ and not his own. He knew that he was not perfect and would not be perfected until his resurrection, but this did not stop him from pressing toward the mark of perfection (see Phil. 3:9-14).
The Bible brings out that a Christian still has problems because of his outer nature, which will not be changed until the resurrection. The problems come from the flesh rather than the regenerated heart. John writes concerning this. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). In his booklet The World, The Flesh, and The Devil, Richard DeHaan says:
A Christian has two natures, the new life which he received when he was saved, and his old nature, the flesh. The life imparted at the time of salvation makes him “a new creation” (II Corinthians 5:17), and partaker of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). What happens when his sinless new nature is placed along side a depraved “law of sin”? Conflict! The “law of sin in our members” resents the new nature as an intruder, and is not at all in sympathy with its holy desires. Paul wrote of this warfare, saying, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:16, 17). The Christian now possesses a nature which is born of the Spirit and controlled by the Spirit. Its wishes can’t help but come into conflict with the desires of the sin principle which are still present in the believer’s personality.”25
In his book The Spiritual Man, Watchman Nee says the mind is a battlefield where the Holy Spirit and evil spirits battle for control. He brings out that Christians may have a new heart but an old head. Paul says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).
Believers of the new covenant, Jew and Gentile alike, have already received the first part of the divine promises of God. We have by faith in Christ already become partakers of His divine spiritual nature and will in time receive the latter part of our salvation. Paul says we are already citizens of “heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).
Jesus said be perfect, but Paul said he wasn’t.z The word “perfect” can be translated “mature.” After the new birth some grow to a certain maturity, but none will be “perfected” until we are “changed” at the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:51-57).
(21) The Judgment Seat of Christ
When a person accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior, it is not a halfway affair. He must make a total commitment. Once he has done this, he becomes as a newborn babe and is faced with many growing up problems. The trouble is: Many never grow up. They always remain as Paul says, “Babes in Christ.” But Peter says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow by it” (1 Peter 2:2).
When a person turns to Christ he receives a new spirit but is left with an old flesh, which battle against each other. Some Christians lose more battles than they win, and they are not a very good example and influence in the world. One day, soon I believe, we will have to give an account for our works since the day of our salvation. Paul says, “For we [the believers] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
This judgment will not be for the sins committed before our salvation, for when a person comes to Christ, God wipes the slate clean. Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1).
You may ask, How can Paul say there is no condemnation to the believer and turn around and say that “we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ”?
The Greek word “bema,” translated “judgment seat” can be speaking of judgment or reward. The word was familiar to the church at Corinth. Just outside the city there was an Olympic stadium where the athletes would compete in foot races and other sport events, and the bema was a platform where the contestants would receive their reward.
If we examine the life of Paul, we can see that he wanted the prize of pleasing the Lord in all things. He said he had to be very careful and condition himself so that he could do this. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Every one who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9:24-25, NIV).
In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul symbolizes good Christian works as gold, silver, and precious stones, which will stand the test of fire. He also illustrates some Christian works as wood, hay, and stubble, which are materials that are easily consumed with fire. Christ has laid the foundation and we will be judged according to how we build upon it:
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:12-15, NKJV).
When Paul says some will be saved “as through fire,” I think we can picture a person escaping his burning house, but everything in it is lost. All their works will come to nothing. Many are busy building, buying and planning like the Lord will never come.
When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, it will not be so much what we have done that will matter—it will be the reason behind it that will count. J. Dwight Pentecost says, “An individual may have faithfully served God in an unseen and unrecognized place, yet he served in obedience to God and for His glory. When he will stand before the bema of Christ, the heavens will fairly radiate with the glory that comes to God because of that faithful service. But another one may have loved the place of prominence. When he comes to the Judgment Seat of Christ, God is going to reveal that all the glory that came out of his ministry came to him and there was no glory for God. And all will be swept away for the work was for the glory of the flesh. Again we affirm, it is not what, but why!”26
(22) The Gifts of the Spirit
Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. . . . To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; someone else may be especially good at studying and teaching, and this is his gift from the same Spirit. He gives special faith to another, and to someone else the power to heal the sick. He gives power for doing miracles to some, and to others power to prophesy and preach. He gives someone else the power to know whether evil spirits are speaking through those who claim to be giving God’s message—or whether it is really the Spirit of God who is speaking. Still another person is able to speak in languages he never learned; and others, who do not know the language either, are given power to understand what he is saying. It is the same and only Holy Spirit who gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have (1 Cor. 12:4, 8-11, TLB).
Paul named a number of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14. It seems the least of all gifts, tongues, was causing the most problems. Maybe I should say: Some of those who received this particular gift were causing problems. The problem is not in the Giver and His gifts, it’s in the receiving end.
Each year on the day of Pentecost the children of Israel who were still scattered would come to Jerusalem to worship. Acts 2 tells us there were a number of nations represented, each one speaking a different language. Acts 2 also tells us the Holy Spirit filled the 120 who were gathered in the upper room with a supernatural ability, enabling them to preach in many languages.
The event on Pentecost and the tongues mentioned in 1 Corinthians are different. On Pentecost the 120 didn’t speak in an unknown tongue, but in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and other foreign languages.aa Paul says concerning the gift of tongues, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him” (1 Cor. 14:2).
Some erroneously believe that speaking in tongues is the baptism of the Spirit. God gives different gifts to different people, but all true Christians have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). In Ephesians 4:4-5, Paul says, “There is one body, and one Spirit . . . One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”
Some of the Corinthians probably thought speaking in tongues was the baptism of the Spirit and they had arrived, whereas the other Christians were lacking because they had not received it. If you will read Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, you can see that this particular gift—or any other gift, except love—does not make superior Christians. In fact, Paul said to them, “I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Cor. 3:1-3.)
In his book 19 Gifts of the Spirit, Leslie B. Flynn, commenting on the baptism of the Spirit, says, “Nowhere are believers commanded to seek the baptism of the Spirit. At regeneration every believer is baptized in the Spirit into the body of Christ. . . . Though the baptism of the Spirit is a once-for-all occasion, the filling of the Spirit may be a repeated action. That’s why believers are commanded to be filled with the Spirit.”27
In his book The Holy Spirit, Billy Graham says, “All believers are baptized with the Holy Spirit. This does not mean, however, that they are filled or controlled by the Spirit.” He goes on to add, “ . . . nor do I see speaking in tongues is a necessary accompaniment of being filled with the Spirit.”28
Many today practice speaking in tongues and preach that tongues is the evidence of having been baptized in the Spirit, and you need it to be a spiritual Christian. Whether their experience is emotionalism, fake, demons, angels, or the Spirit, is beside the point. Speaking in tongues and being baptized in the Spirit is not the same thing. Many that preach this are living proof that speaking in tongues does not make anyone spiritual.
In 1 Corinthians 12:14-27, Paul uses the human body as an illustration of different members of the Church with different gifts working for a common purpose. In verses 28-30, he makes it very plain that God does not give certain gifts to all members. He says, “God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. [But] are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (NKJV.)
Just as Paul compared the different gifts of the Spirit to different members of the human body, we could compare the different gifts with a football team. The quarterback may not be very good at catching the ball, and the end may not be very good at throwing it. But when both are properly using their particular gift, it helps the team. What quarterback would boast to the end and say, “I have no need of you.”
In his book After the Spirit Comes, Jack R. Taylor says, “I found myself increasingly ‘hassled,’ unconsciously giving the whole matter of tongues undue attention. I was as far from one group as I was from the other. I could not agree with those who said, ‘Nobody will!’ and I could not agree with those who said, ‘Everybody must!’ I have spoken with those who have advocated both sides with convincing zeal and not until I honestly restudied the Scriptures and took my eyes off men did I come to a satisfying stance.29
(23) Majoring In Minors
God does not have any problem in giving anyone, even a lost person, certain gifts, such as preaching, teaching, miracles, etc. His problem is getting man to take, use, and grow in the ones mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Many desire His power, but they reject His best gift, which is love.
The Holy Spirit’s primary task is to convict men of their sins, point them to Christ, and help them grow with the gifts of love, faith, patience, gentleness, wisdom, understanding—the things the Corinthians were lacking. Some of the other gifts, such as tongues, may at times be the work of angels. Paul says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love.... I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:1-2).
Demons have supernatural powers which God allows them to use at times, and so do angels. And angels are not perfect. Paul says, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1 Cor. 6:3.)
At Corinth there was a wrong emphasis, doctrinal ignorance, immorality, and men praising men. We have this same thing today. Many worship the minister, and some ministers love the glory of their ministry more than those they are suppose to be ministering to.
(24) Faith vs. Presumption
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us (1 John 5:14).
When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he tried to get Him to take a presumptuous attitude toward the Word, but Jesus quoted him the Word: “It is written. . . . Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matt. 4:7).
In a Sunday School class sharing time, a young mother told us how she claimed Mark 11:24. She asked God to heal her father who was dying with cancer. He was not healed. Shortly after he died, her seven year old son was in an automobile accident. His head was crushed and the doctors and all who saw the child said it would take a miracle for him to even live. Many were praying, and the mother once again claimed God’s promise in Mark 11:24. But there was a difference this time. In her father’s case she presumed God would heal him, but this time God gave her a peaceful assurance that her son would live. Not only did he live, he has all his mental faculties, which is in itself a miracle.
At this same time, another couple shared how they had prayed that their only child would be healed from a terminal disease. After months of prayer, one night the mother prayed, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” Within a few hours the child died. Before the little girl fell asleep, she told her mother there was a man, in brilliant white, sitting on the bed. The mother said there was no one else in the room and wondered if her child had seen an angel, who was waiting to take her home. The doctors had told the mother she could never have another child. God did not heal her first child, but He gave her another one.
Until recent years many Christians totally ignored the miraculous power of God in today’s world. This has now changed to the other extreme in some cases. Some say God will do anything if you just have the faith, but we can see from Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane that this is not the case. Jesus prayed three times, “Remove this cup from me,” but He also said, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Paul asked the Lord three times to heal his “infirmities.” God had given Paul the gift to heal others, but he wasn’t healed. Like Jesus, Paul demonstrated what our attitude should be when God does not always answer our prayer the way we want, even though it is prayed in faith.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul said, “Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (NKJV).
Much of today’s health, wealth and prosperity message is a distorted message. God is able and on occasions blesses people with great wealth and perfect health all their days, but this is not the norm in this age. Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33).
Often it takes more faith to stand firm in the faith when we don’t receive an answer to prayer than when we do. Hebrews 11 is a good example of this. Billy Graham, commenting on this, says:
Hebrews 11 contains a long list of men and women of faith. For most of them God performed miracles, delivering them from disease, calamity, accidents and even death.... But the tempo changes in verse 35, with the opening words, “and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance.” Those now mentioned were of equal faith and courage: they had to endure the trial of cruel mockings and scourgings. They suffered bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword. They wandered about in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted and tormented. . . . In the sufferings and death of these great saints not physically delivered, God had a mysterious plan, and was performing His will. Knowing this, they suffered and died by faith. The latter part of Hebrews 11 indicates that those who received no visible help in answer to prayer will have a far greater heavenly reward because they endured by “faith” alone. 30
Down through the ages God has worked miracles among men. At some stages He demonstrated His power more than at other times. Even now He is working miracles in the physical realm. I think the reason He doesn’t do more is because it often produces a temporary and superficial faith and causes priorities to get out of order. Jack R Taylor, writing about priorities, says:
God will heal most by the normal procedure of recuperation in time. He will heal a few in a dramatic fashion. Some will die sick and pass on into glory. Some will live with illness and rise over every pain and circumstance to become living examples of the fact that there is victory in Jesus! I have prayed for people and they have been healed. I have witnessed the disappearance of growths that were awaiting surgery. I can confess to you the feeling of exhilaration that results from being used to pray for someone’s healing and watching it happen. I could very easily succumb to the desire to make physical healing more important than it is. While I still pray for the sick I affirm that the greatest endeavor among Christians is that of getting men with sin-sick souls to the Great Physician who heals for eternity. 31
Being able to do miracles by the power of God, speaking in tongues, preaching, being miraculously healed, understanding Bible prophecy, or whatever, is no sign that a person is strong in the faith. In fact, it’s not even a guarantee that one has been saved. When Jesus returns, many will say to Him, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” But Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22-23, emphasis mine).
Jesus gave the twelve apostles “power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” One of these was “Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him” (Matt. 10:1-4).
The names mentioned in Matthew 10:1-4 has 11 doubting disciples, and Judas. This shows us that miracles, even by the hand of God, do not necessarily mean a person is a mature Christian of great faith, or that he is even a Christian. If you are a true believer, Jesus said, “Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
When Peter and John healed the lame man at the temple, the people “were filled with wonder and amazement,” and rightly so. But their “amazement” was directed at the wrong person. Peter said, “Why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as through by our own power or holiness we had made this man walk?” (Acts 3:10, 12.)
Some misuse Isaiah 53:5, saying the cross was for temporary physical healing. God healed the sick before and after the cross. The cross made the way for man to have a “new heart” and one day a new body. “With his stripes we are healed.”
(25) Are You Filled With the Spirit?
There are many books telling us how to do this or that in the Lord, and some are helpful. But many are like a book on how to ride a bicycle. You don’t need it. Being filled with the Spirit and the Christian walk can be summed up in one word: Commitment!
In Ephesians 5:18, Paul says, “Be not drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit.” The more a person drinks, the more it influences his actions. Paul used this as an illustration of yielding to the Spirit so that we might bear the “fruit of the Spirit,” which is: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
Billy Graham says, “The Corinthians ‘came behind’ in no gift, but Paul called them carnal Christians. We can teach the Bible, have the gift of an evangelist, conduct a Sunday School class without necessarily being filled with the Spirit. . . . You may have any of the other spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament; you can have all of them and still not be filled with the Spirit.”32
(26) The Most Important Gift
There are three Greek words for love. There is “eros,” which is sexual love or a lust for things. There is “phileo,” a friendship love. And then there is “agape,” God’s love.
We are born with the inability to love with God’s kind of love, and because of this, “all have sinned.”bb When we acknowledge our sin and turn to Christ for spiritual healing, we receive this gift. How we exercise it from the point of salvation until we die determines how much we grow and mature as Christians. We will never in this life, and I doubt in the one to come, reach the capacity to love as much as God, but at least we can begin when we are “born again.”
Paul learned that the greatest thing is not doing mighty works for God—it’s listening to His “still small voice,” a voice that even the mighty Elijah had trouble hearing.cc Paul also learned that the gift of love is the most important gift:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
Romans 13:9 says the commandments of God are summed up in this saying: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the part of the Bible which I don’t understand which bothers me—it is the part that I do understand.”
Scripture References [a] John 3:34, [b] See Luke 1:13-20, [c] Matt. 3.2, [d] John 10:41, [e] John 1:29-34, [f] John 6-15, [g] John 12:13, [h] Matt. 16:22, TLB, [i] 1 Cor. 15:22, [j] 1 Peter 3:18, [k] Matt. 26:39, [L] Matt. 27:46, [m] John 1:29, [n] John 3:14, [o] John 20:28, [p] John 20:29, [q] John 12:13, [r] Dan. 12:4, [s] Rom. 5:1, [t] John 14:12, [u] Luke 7:28, [v] Jer. 31:31[w] 1 Chr. 17:11-14, [x] Rom. 7:9, [y] 2 Cor. 4:16, [z] See Matt. 5:48, Phil. 3:12, [aa] See Acts 2:1-12, [bb] Rom. 3:23, [cc] 1 Kings 19:12.
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