Sunday, January 31, 2016

He Made the Stars Also

Psalm 19 is about the revelation of God to man in three progressive ways:
1) The Heavens (vs.1-6) – Partial (His Power) 
2) The Holy Scripture (vs.7-10) – Perfect (His Person)
3) The Heart (vs.11-14) - Personal  

The Bible says that Christ made all things and that He is the “true Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (Jn. 1:9). Every man knows that God is real through the light of creation and conscience (Rom. 1:19-20). God will send more light to those who respond to that light but those that reject His light plunge themselves into even further darkness (Rom. 1:21). It is only a FOOL that says in His heart, “there is no God” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). When the lost of all the ages stand before God at the great white throne judgment they will all be “without excuse.” The astronaut John Glenn, in referring to his view from the space shuttle Discovery said, “To look out the window… as I did that first day… to look at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible.” I have never been in space but I recall an amazing view of the stars from a tree stand in South Georgia. We are living in day in which everyone is constantly looking down at their phone. Man’s devices are nothing compared to what God has made and the book He wrote! When we consoder the stars we should stand in awe of God and yet His word simply says, “He made the stars also” (Gen. 1:16)!

Let's consider just one aspect of God’s mighty creation; the stars. The stars in the firmament of heaven have been a constant witness to all people about God. They declare His power, wisdom, and glory. One of the stated reasons that God made the stars was “for signs” (Gen. 1:14). For example, God used them to illustrate the steadfastness of His covenant (Ps. 89:34-37). There were signs in the heavens that illustrated divine truth (oldest book: Job 9:8-10; 38:30-33). The 12 signs of the ancient zodiac (all ancient civilizations drew the same basic pictures) illustrated prophecy. Astrology is a satanic corruption (spiritual wickedness in high places) that God condemns (Isa. 47:13; idolatry, 2 kings 23:5). With the perfect revelation of the Bible, there is no need for signs in the stars. 

The sun is mentioned in particular in Psalm 19. It is the only star in our solar system. It is a picture of the Godhead (3 distinct rays yet 1 sun). Think of the size and strength of the sun. It is so big that 1.3 million earths could fit inside it! It is 10,000 degrees on its surface and 27 million degrees at its core (our God is a consuming fire). The luminosity of the sun is as bright as 4 trillion trillion 100 watt light bulbs! Think of the glory of Christ (will light up New Jerusalem)! John saw Him glorified and said, “His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (Rev. 1:16).
Notice the attributes of God that are illustrated by the sun:
Omnipotence – strong man 
Omnipresence – goings forth 
Omniscience – nothing hid 

Notice that the sun is called a “bridegroom” and that in the heavens there is a tabernacle set for the sun. The sun is a picture of Christ who is the fulness of the Godhead bodily. He is called, “the Sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2), the “dayspring” (Lk. 1:78), the true Light, the light of the world, the “day star” (2 Pet. 1:19), and the “bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16). The sun appeared on the fourth day of creation and the word “life” is used for the first time on the fifth day (2 Pet. 3:8, Christ came into the world after 4,000 years of human history). The sun is the only star in universe that supports life. The sun dies blood red in the west every evening but is resurrected every morning and comes again from the east. The earth rotates AGAINST the sun. 

Consider some basic things about the stars God made:

I. Their Number (Ps. 147:4-5)
The Bible says that man cannot number the stars (Gen. 15:5; Jer. 33:22). Before the invention of telescopes men used to mock such statements. At the time of Jeremiah the latest science claimed there were 3,000 total stars. Astronomers now estimate there are over 300 billion stars in our galaxy. There are galaxies with more stars than ours and it is estimated that there are more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe (bubble of space 47 billion light years in all directions; 5.88 trillion miles is one light year). Only an infinite mind can count the stars. God not only knows the number, He has given them all names (Isa. 40:12-26). 

II. Their Diversity (1 Cor. 15:41)
All stars differ in color, brightness, and size. Color indicates the surface temperature (coolest to hottest: red, orange, yellow, white, and blue). The brightness of a star is determined by its temperature and size. The Bible says that the angels (called stars and associated with stars) are also innumerable (Heb. 12:22). I am sure they are all different and all have names. There are presently 7 billion people on the planet and each one is different (Ps. 139:14-16).  

III. Their Size (Ps. 19:5-6)
The sun is the only star in our solar system. It is 93 million miles away (light travels at 186,000 miles per second, it takes 8 minutes for the light of the sun to reach the earth). The circumference of the sun is 2,713,406 miles (earth is about 25,000 miles). If earth was the size of a golf ball, the sun would be 15 feet in diameter (1.3 million earths in sun, enough to fill a school bus). But the sun is small in comparison to other stars astronomers have discovered:
Betelguese – 427 light years away (light year is 5.88 trillion miles); if earth was the size of a golf ball this star would be the size of 6 empire state buildings stacked on top of each other (7,500 feet) in comparison (262 trillion earths inside, fill super dome 3,000 times). A million seconds ago is 12 days. A billion seconds ago it was 1984. A trillion seconds ago was about 31,688 years ago. 
Mu Cephei (the Garnet Star) – about 2,000 light years away; if earth a golf ball, the diameter of this star would be as wide as 2 golden gate bridges (17,960 feet) in comparison; 2.7 quadrillion earths inside (it would take 3.8 million years to count to one quadrillion). A quadrillion seconds ago was 30,800,000 years ago. 
Canis Majoris – 4,892 light years away; The circumference is 1,975,000,000 km (plane traveling 900 km an hour would take 1100 years to circle); if earth the size of a golf ball this star would be as big as Mt. Everest in comparison (6 miles above sea level); 7 quadrillion earths could fit inside (enough to fill state of Texas 22 inches deep). 

The whirlpool galaxy is 31 million light years away. It is a galaxy that contains 300 billion stars. NASA captured the following image of the black hole in the center of this galaxy. 

Laminin is basically a protein molecule that holds our body together (Col. 1:17). 

Practical applications:

That God made the stars is just one of many demonstrations of His infinite power (Gen. 1:16b)! How big is God (1 Kings 8:27)? Sin messes up our view of God. It shrinks Him down and puffs us up. It does us good to think about how great our God is (Job 42:5-6). 

How amazing that such a mighty God would take thought of us (Ps. 8:1-4; 33:6, 8, 13-14; 147:3-5)!

We will never face a problem too big for God (“is anything too hard for the Lord”)! Why worry? 

The One who created and upholds all things became a man and died on a cross for sinners (Phil. 2:5-8)! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Overview of the Bible

The Bible (Latin biblia, Greek biblios = book) is one book made up of many different books. It has unity and diversity just as its Author is one God in three persons. God used about 40 different writers (various backgrounds and locations) over a period of about 1,500 years to write the 66 books of the Bible. These books cover 7,000 years of human history and give glimpses into eternity past and future. The Bible is not everything God knows, but it is everything God wants us to know about Him and His plan and purposes. The revelation was given progressively. That 66 books make up one book without error or contradiction proves that the Bible is given by inspiration of God.

There are 1,189 chapters, 31,101 verses, and 791, 328 words in the KJB. Not only did God inspire and preserve His words so that we have a perfect copy of it today in our own language, He lead men in the proper arrangement of its books as well the chapter and verse divisions so that the Bible is laid out in a divine order perfectly designed for our edification. Chapter and verse divisions greatly enhance our ability to search the scriptures. With the invention of computers searching the scripture is easier than it has ever been and yet it is probably more neglected than it ever has been!  

The Bible is a big book, an inexhaustible gold mine of divine revelation. We could spend a lifetime studying it in detail and never learn it all but we should seek to learn as much as possible. The purpose of learning the Bible is not just knowledge, but the knowledge of God. The Bible is God’s perfect revelation of Himself to man. It is important in Bible study to have a basic overview of the Bible in our heart and mind because that will greatly help us in studying its details. Sometimes we can't see the forest because of the trees. It is best to start with a panoramic view of the whole Bible before we examine its books, chapters, verses, and words. A key in Bible study is to understand the larger context. In other words, a verse must be studied in light of the surrounding passage, the passage in light of the chapter, the chapter in light of the book, the book in light of the testament, and the testament in light of the whole Bible.

There is unity in the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16):
It reveals one God – Gen. 1:1; Jn. 1:1; 1 Jn. 5:7; Rev. 22:21
It reveals one main purpose – the glory of God
It reveals one main theme – the person and work of Christ
It reveals one main goal – the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth
It reveals one plan of redemption – by the blood of Christ 
It reveals one set of moral principles (Paul teaches 9 of 10 commandments, no sabbath)
It reveals one main enemy – Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:9
It reveals a harmonious unfolding of progressive revelation – changes, no contradictions 

There are divisions in the Bible (2 Tim. 2:15):
Failure to acknowledge the divisions God put in His word is the root cause of all manner of heresies (1 Cor. 11:19). The most obvious division is between the OT (39) and NT (27). However, it is not correct to say that the whole OT was the Law and the whole NT is grace or that the OT was for the Jews and the NT is for the church (only Rom. – Phil. Was written TO the body of Christ). The main division is not between the OT and NT but between the prophetic kingdom program of God’s earthly people (Israel) and the mystery program of His heavenly people (Body of Christ). The burden and emphasis of the prophecy spoken to Israel is the King and His kingdom. Prophecy concerns that which was SPOKEN since the world began through all the prophets (Acts 3:19-21). The burden and emphasis of the mystery revealed through the apostle Paul is the spiritual organism, the Body of Christ. The mystery concerns that which was kept SECRET since the world began (Rom. 16:25). The things that were SPOKEN by the prophets since the world began can not be the same things that were kept SECRET and hid from the prophets since the world began. 
Prophecy  - Earth, from the foundation of the world, Christ the King, Israel over the Gentiles 
Mystery - Heaven, before the foundation of the world, Christ the Head of one Body, neither  

Basic outline of the Bible according to its major theme:
The King and His Kingdom
OT – promised and prophesied 
Gospels –presented and rejected 
Acts – re-offered and rejected, transition 
Pauline Epistles –postponed, mystery of one Body revealed
Hebrew Epistles – kingdom program resumed
Revelation – kingdom established

The words “ covenant” and “testament” are related but distinct (for example a testament requires blood, but a covenant does not, Heb. 9:15-20). Technically, the OT began with the OC in Exodus 19. The NT began with the shed blood of Christ on the cross (Matt. 26:28). The NC which will be made on the basis of the NT will not be made until the 2nd coming of Christ (Heb. 8:6-13). Both covenants are made with Israel. Nowhere in scripture is the church said to be under a covenant. 

The four Gospels as well as the first part of Acts is not about this present age of grace because it was a mystery revealed through Paul. Christ conducted His earthly ministry under the Law. The disciples in early Acts lived by the law (Acts 21:20; 22:12). Though Christ abolished “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” on the cross, it was not revealed until Paul. However, beginning in Matthew 1 everything is moving toward the NT and therefore it is proper to begin the books of the NT with Matthew. Although the body of Christ is not under a covenant, we are saved by the blood of the NT (2 Cor. 3:6).

Genesis begins the OT because it preparatory to giving of the OT. Beginning in Genesis 1 everything is moving toward the call of Abraham and the formal giving of the Law in Exodus. It is proper to call the books written before Matthew the OT (2 Cor. 3:14). The OT is primarily about the nation of Israel. God devotes just 11 chapters to the first 2,000 of history. He gets to Abraham quickly and from Genesis 12 – Malachi, Gentiles are only mentioned in connection with Israel. We must not interpret this to mean that God did not care about the Gentiles. Though He “gave up” (Rom. 1) on the Gentile world in Genesis 11, He promised to bless them through Israel. Israel was to be a witness of the one true God in the midst of universal idolatry, be an example to the Gentiles of the blessedness of serving the one true God, be the instruments to receive and preserve the scripture, and produce the Messiah. 

Jesus Christ taught that the OT was inspired scripture (John 5:39) and He confirmed the 39 books of its canon. 
Matt. 23:35 – Abel was killed in Genesis 4 and Zacharias in 2 Chron. 24. In the Hebrew OT the first book was Genesis and the last book was 2 Chronicles. In this verse, Jesus confirms the whole OT canon. Same books, different arrangement and order. 
Luke 24:27, 44 – The Hebrew OT was divided into 3 groups. Paul refers to the law, prophets, and Psalms is his sermon in Acts 13 (v.26-41).  

There is nothing wrong with the order of OT books in our King James Bible. They are laid out in a practical manner for English readers (the layout of the KJB revealed in Isaiah): 
1) Law (5, Genesis – Deuteronomy) 
2) History (12, Joshua – Esther) 
3) Wisdom (5, Job – Song of Solomon)
4) Prophecy (5 and 12,  Isaiah – Daniel, Hosea - Malachi) 

Christ gave a pre-authentication of the NT (Jn. 14:26 = Gospels; 16:12-14 = Epistles). Peter referred to Paul's writings as scripture (2 Pet. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:16). 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Amazing Grace

The “God of all grace” (1 Pet. 5:10) has an endless supply of “manifold grace” (1 Pet. 4:10) for our many needs:

I. Saving Grace (Eph. 2:8-9)

II. Sanctifying Grace (Rom. 6:14; Titus 2:11-14)

III. Serving Grace (2 Cor. 9:8)

IV. Singing Grace (Col. 3:16)

V. Suffering Grace (2 Cor. 12:9)

His amazing and abundant grace will work for all who trust in Him (Jam. 4:6)! If it is not working in your life, perhaps you received the grace of God in vain (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 6:1). In other words, if God's grace is not bringing forth fruit in your life, maybe you do not know the grace of God in truth (Col. 1:6). Grace is not liberty TO sin (Rom. 6:1-2) but liberty FROM sin. It is false teachers that turn "the grace of our God into lasciviousness" (Jude 4). 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

With Christ

Dead with Christ, therefore:

I. Dead to the Flesh (Gal. 5:24)
II. Dead to Sin (Rom. 6:2, 11)
III. Dead to the Law (Rom. 7:4)
IV. Dead to Religion (Col. 2:20)
V. Dead to the World (Gal. 6:14)

We are dead and buried with Christ that we might be:

I. Quickened with Christ (Eph. 2:1) 
II. Raised with Christ (Col. 2:12)
III. Seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6)

How is this possible? Upon salvation we are baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) thereby identifying us with Him. Christ is the Head and we are the members of His spiritual Body.

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