Who is my neighbor?

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:29-37

I have heard the Parable of the Good Samaritan since I was a child in Sunday school and it has always been one of my favorites. I think because it is straight and to the point. We don’t need to parse the words to see what Jesus really meant and there is really no need for clarification. The Samaritans and Jews had no love for each other. Both peoples believed theirs was the true religion of God and that the other had fallen away from the true faith. Jesus is trying to show the young lawyer that one’s brother has nothing to do with family or religion or ethnic group. In God’s eyes we are all each other’s brothers and sisters.

As I wrote yesterday it is likely that this lawyer went away and never looked back. Jesus had given him the answer to what we have to do to have eternal life. Of course that is impossible without Jesus. Jesus’ teachings however gave the people around Him who really would give them eternal life. Most people want a do it yourself plan to salvation. We want to earn our salvation and have a suspicion that anything free must be worth the cost.

I think the lawyer’s problem is the same problem that plagues most unbelievers; they just do not want to believe. What I have found when answering questions from unbelievers is they ignore what does not fit their world view, say whatever proof they are given is not strong enough or set up a straw man to counter. Basically they just do not want to believe and no matter how much evidence they are given it will never be enough. Still we must keep trying to reach them.

Love toward God and love toward each other is what is required. We will always fall short of God’s ideal. Fortunately we are not alone in our struggle. God have provided a way and that way is Jesus.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Do this, and you will live

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28

In today’s verses Jesus is asked what one needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answers this way “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” To which the lawyer responds “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Then Jesus tells the lawyer , “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

So all one has to do is love God and one’s neighbor and eternal life is there for the taking. The problem is that none of us is capable of doing so. If we could then Jesus would not have had to die on a cross. In fact if we could always “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” then Jesus would not have had to come to earth at all. The simple fact is we do not do as God commands all the time. I do not know anyone who has never gotten mad at God or their neighbors.

Before you say not me think a bit. Have you ever gotten mad when someone cut you off on the freeway? Have you ever used God’s or Jesus’ name in vain? Have you ever taken anything that was not yours, a pen, pencil or maybe extra change at the store? Ever lied? Of course you have, we all have. I hit my thumb with a hammer and before I can stop myself I have blurted out God or Jesus followed by an assortment of other words. I tell a little white lie in order not to hurt someone but it is still a lie. I get too much change and head out of the store without a second thought, Oh, maybe I tell myself that this makes up for the times they gave me back less change than they should have. Not only are these unloving to our neighbor but they are all unloving to God.

The simple fact is that no one has ever gone through life without sinning. For me, I cannot get through a day without sinning. Maybe you are like me. Maybe you can go a day, a week or even years without sinning but you have sinned and will do so again. We just cannot help ourselves. From Adam and Eve down to us we are poor retched sinners. The good news is that even while we are still in our sins God loves us so much He sent His only begotten Son to live the sinless life we could not and then become the perfect sacrifice needs to atone for all the sins of the world. All we have to do is accept Jesus’ sacrifice and place our faith in Him and His works.

I don’t know if the lawyer accepted Jesus as Lord, I guess from this passage in Luke that he did not. What Jesus told him was a hard thing to do. It was an impossible thing to do and the lawyer might have realized the hopefulness of this command. What he missed was God’s way out of the mess we have created, Jesus.

Have a blessed day,

David

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No one knows who the Son is except the Father

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Luke 10:21-24

Who in your life knows you the best? Your spouse? Maybe your parents? Possibly your children or maybe your best friend. How about yourself? Surely we know ourselves. Actually I don’t think anyone including ourselves really knows us. There is always a part of us that we keep hidden from everyone else. But do we really know ourselves? I find that at times I do something and I have no earthly idea why I did what I just did. It just happened. So how can any of us claim to really know Jesus?

We can know Him from what has been revealed to us in God’s Word and those who lived during Jesus’ ministry knew Him on a face to face basis but can anyone really know Jesus? In today’s verses Luke tells us the answer is no. Only God the Father know God the Son. The reason is that God is one essence with three distinct personalities. God is so awesome, so powerful so good and so all knowing that we cannot grasp who He really is. We can know God only in part because our finite brains cannot comprehend the infinite being that is God. Are we doomed because of our lack of understanding? No we are not.

We do not have to completely understand God because God has revealed enough of Himself through Jesus. While we cannot completely know Jesus we can know what He has chosen to reveal to us and that is enough. God knows out limitations and He provided a way for us to reach Him in spite of these limitations.

Jesus’ disciples were specially blessed as they got to see Jesus in the flesh. They were taught by Him and interacted with Jesus on a daily basis. Jesus said of them “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” From the time of Abraham through all the kings on down the Jewish people were constantly waiting to see the Messiah. Then for a short 33 years people in and around Jerusalem got to be eyewitnesses to Jesus and His deed and teachings.

Today we look back on that time and I imaging most Christians wish they had been able to see, hear and touch Jesus. But just like Abraham we too must accept on faith what God revealed to us. This is not a faith devoid of reality but a faith based on reality. The evidence for our faith is all around. From the complexity of life to the glories that are the universe to the eyewitness accounts of Jesus and His life all show the Christian faith to be based on reason and reality.

The disciples were blessed for what the witnessed. We are blessed because though we did not see we still believe.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Ben Witherington and Darrell Bock on the Rapture

dwwork:

Follow up on Veracity’s previous post. While there is disagreement on what and when of the Second Coming what is important to note is agreement that Jesus will return. Have a blessed day, David

Originally posted on Veracity:

If you were a bit intimidated by my last (lengthy) post regarding the Book of Revelation, including its connection to the Rapture, you might be more interested in the following less-than-seven minute video by Ben Witherington, New Testament scholar at Asbury Seminary. Witherington, who was highlighted before here on Veracity, gets to the rub of the history behind the Rapture.

Witherington, as you will see, concludes with a negative assessment of “Rapture Theology.” Contrast this with Dallas Theological Seminary’s Darrell Bock who accepts the “Rapture Theology.” For those of you not accustomed to big words like eschatology, you can think of it in this context as someone’s understanding or theology of the “End Times.” Bock, also a New Testament scholar and a favorite here on Veracity, follows his brief assessment with a very helpful, three-minute way of evaluating how Christians should handle important issues in the…

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Revelation … (and the Rapture Reboot)

dwwork:

Great summary of a difficult subject.

Originally posted on Veracity:

Clarence Larkin (1850–1924), a Baptist pastor, produced this intricately detailed chart showing the structure of the events described in the Book of Revelation according  to a dispensationalist system of Bible interpretation.  Note how Larkin splits the event of the Second Coming, into two parts: the first where Christ "raptures" the church and the second where the Christ comes in glory with his Church to begin the millennial reign. In between the two parts of the Second Coming is the "seventieth week of Daniel," which forms the basic narrative of the last book of the Bible.

Clarence Larkin (1850–1924), a Baptist pastor, produced this marvelously intricate and detailed chart showing the structure of events described in the Book of Revelation according to a dispensationalist system of Bible interpretation (Click to enlarge). Note how Larkin splits the event of the Second Coming, into two parts: the first where Christ “raptures” the church out of the world and the second where Christ comes in glory with his Church to begin the millennial reign. In between the two parts of the Second Coming is the “seventieth week of Daniel,” which forms the basic, if not sometimes terrifying, narrative of the last book of the Bible… You really need a chart to keep track of everything! (Source: clarencelarkincharts.com)

The subject of the End Times can be very daunting. Various places in the New Testament address the topic, but by far the most fascinating discussion in the Holy Scriptures that digs into End…

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Rejoice that your names are written in heaven

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20

Today’s passage from Luke is one of those that gets yanked out of its context and used by some to demonstrate how much faith they have all the while putting the spotlight on themselves rather than on Jesus where it belongs. Jesus did not do things to entertain he did them to prove to an unbelieving world that He was from God. Today people handle snakes and scorpions to entertain or prove they have more faith that the rest of those in the group.

When we read this passage we see that the seventy-two are rejoicing that even the demons were subject to them. Jesus lets them know that it was He who gave them the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, that is demons. Then Jesus follows up with this saying, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” What these disciples need to be rejoicing is not being able to drive out demons but being saved, having their names in the Book of Life. Their job was not to drive out demons or heal, even though Jesus gave them the authority to do both. Their job was to let the people know about Jesus.

The job has not changed in two thousand years. Our job is to let others know about Jesus and make disciples of them. Our job is not to entertain. It is not to willfully seek danger by handling poisonous animals. We are here not to make demons obey us but to circumvent Satan’s mission by turning those who might follow him to follow Jesus instead. We need to be careful when dealing with the demonic as we may be able to resist them but we are also capable of being deceived by them. Remember we are still in our sinful flesh.

We can get so caught up in the show that we forget the main reason we are here. We get so caught up in the here and now we forget what is really important. No matter what our gifts. No matter how much we do nothing is more important than where we will spend eternity. Jesus as always said it best, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Have a blessed day,

David

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You shall be brought down to Hades

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Luke 10:13-15

I cannot imagine being a Jewish city and being compared unfavorably to Tyre and Sidon Both Tyre was the capital of Phoenicia (modern Lebanon) and Tyre was also the capital of Canaanite culture and religion. Sidon was near Tyre and closely related to it by business and the Canaanite culture. The prophet Ezekiel prophesied about the destruction of both cities (Ezekiel chapter 26). Tyre was a great city built on land but the most important parts of the city were built on an island near the shore but far enough off to offer protection. Eventually Alexander the Great destroyed the island city by using the ruins of the land side city to build a causeway to the island. Then he completely destroyed the city.

Now we have Jesus telling these three Jewish cities that both Tyre and Sidon would have repented if they had witnessed was Jesus had done in Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum. Jesus spent most of His ministry in and around these three cities yet they refused to believe. Tyre and Sidon knew about the God of Israel because of their close proximity to Israel and the prophet Jonah but they did not have direct contact with God. Here we have three cities of Israel hearing Jesus teach daily and they could not believe.

The Jewish people had such a stubborn idea of what the Messiah was to be that they were unable to overcome that prejudice when the Messiah was in their midst. Here was a man teaching the Word of God, raising the dead, healing the sick and giving sight to the blind and even seeing all this they could not believe. They wanted a warrior king and God came down not the defeat Rome but death and sin. They could not wrap their minds around God’s plan.

Today we like Tyre and Sidon do not have God walking among us but we do have the complete Word of God and the Holy Sprite with us and today also many refuse to believe. Some just cannot accept that God is real. For others like the first century Jews Jesus does not fit their preconceived idea of what Jesus should be. The evidence is there for all to see and too many refuse to believe. Some complain that the evidence is not enough or not compelling enough and if only God would appear to them personally and perform some on demand miracle then they would believe.

But would they really believe? I think not. Jesus walked amount the Jews of the first century performing miracle after miracle and many on request and still most refused to believe. Some hearts are too hardened against God for them to ever believe. And unfortunately for them God will never force anyone to believe. He wants us to come willing to Him.

Have a blessed day,

David

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