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Thursday, January 6, 2022

God's wonderful grace

 

Grace is the  word of triumph in the Gospel of the New Covenant.

Grace is God's undeserved favour, in spite of who we are, or where we have been or what we have done. Grace is God's Holy Spirit giving us a new start (born again) on God's terms and by His strength.

It does not eliminate repentance – the need "to turn to God from idols".

It is not the modern psychology that says 'you are ok as you are'.

God's grace grants complete forgiveness.

     "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every wrong."       Bible – 1 John1

God's grace sets us free from Satanic domination.

      "By grace you are saved, through faith"   Ephesians 2

God's grace gives us the gift of eternal life without works.

     "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."     Romans 6

God's grace brings us into complete acceptance with a Holy God.

      "Accepted in the Beloved one"      Ephesians 1

A thinking person will ask – 'But how?  I must do my best for judgement day'  -      no.    Grace depends on God , not on us!!

How  can God forgive?    -   by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.

How can we overcome the Devil? – by the resurrection victory of Jesus.

How can God promise eternal life to stumbling followers? – because life is in His Son.

How can rebels become part of God's family? Because God is Love.

 

Because of God's activity in grace, we can choose to be more than conquerors through Him who loved us.   Romans 8

May encourage you to read the Bible references given, in their context, to discover the wonderful love, mercy and grace of God to us today. If you do not have a Bible , contact me   johnmckee@internode.on.net

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Totally up to date

 

Making sense of the Bible 5

New expectations:  Many wanted to make the Gentile converts into Jewish adherents. i.e.  committed to Torah laws and traditions. This wasn't working so the Acts15 conference was called. Paul and Barabbas described the transformation of ungodly heathens to Christ followers. Peter related to the elders how God taught him not to call God fearing Gentiles unclean (Acts 10). James connected the Divine interest in Gentiles from the Old Testament prophecies.

So the conclusion of the elders and apostles was to write the new terms and expectations of converted Gentiles.

1   "Abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols '   - worship

2   ' Abstain from blood and things strangled'   -   food

3   ' Abstain from sexual immorality '     - morals

These were significant in the  Gentile context, but please observe what was not included – Sabbath keeping, clean/unclean food, visiting the temple for festivals, offering sacrifices, vows, racial expectations, central government....

For many Jewish zealots, this was not good enough, and Paul was persecuted by them to the end of his life. Peter summarized the situation very well:-

"We believe that we will be saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus , just as they will"  (Acts 15:11)

Notice the word GRACE -  That means that Jews and Gentiles would be accepted on equal term by God and by one another.

Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ – faith in Him the Son of God.

They preached this good news throughout the world  even to Spain and India. The Gentile believers faced many problems, so Paul with others gave direct instructions that reflected the holiness of God (repentance) and the overflowing grace (undeserved favour and forgiveness) that changes an ungodly Gentile into a follower of Jesus Christ the Lord. This is not presented as a new set of rules, but a new life, led by the Holy Spirit to live and love as the Lord Jesus.

The same Holy God of the Old Testament, honoured in a different way – grace removing sin and radiating the glory of His Son (2 Corinthians 3)

May I now encourage you to read the history of ' Acts', followed by the explanation of the Gospel in 'Romans'.  Then read the instructions to these groups of believers who like us were living in an ungodly society. You will be blessed.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Bible - relevant ?

 

Making sense of the Bible 4

I trust the previous outline was helpful. You may well be asking – "what is in it for me?" or "what relevance does it have for today?"

If you were born Jewish, I might write about Torah laws.  But most of my readers are not Jewish, rather Gentiles, so what applies to us? In this brief introduction, I don't have space to give lots of proof texts. They are many and available on request.

Old Testament notes:-

1   Torah was given to Israel through Moses.

2   The Old Testament has many moral lessons to be learnt as well as comfort .  Comfort through relating to the struggles of God fearing people.

3   The prophecies concerning the Messiah are important to verify the claims of Jesus, and they give clarity to His person and mission.

4   Most of the general prophecies in the O. T relate to Israel in the past and the future.

 

New Testament notes:-

1   Jesus came to His own people, the Jews.

2   These privileged people rejected Him.

3   The Gospel goes out to all the nations.

4   He is believed on, in the world.

5   He will return, vindicating His honour and His people.

So where do we Gentiles fit into the plan of God?  After the resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit directs the apostles to reach out to the unlearned, uncircumcised Gentiles who are without God, without hope ( Acts 10 , Ephesians 2). Acts 15, along with the teachings of Paul (Apostle to the Gentiles), tell the terms of inclusion into the new Christian community. (Not converts to Judaism, not second class Jews as some taught). This community became known as the church or assemblies. This created some conflict and confusion about Law keeping, rituals, status, authority etc  . That is why a careful reading of the letter to the Romans and the ones following is so important.

The new terms of "grace' – a big subject for another day.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

An old /new book

 

Making sense of the Bible part 3

Looking at the New Testament, things change significantly. Jesus is born, as recorded by four different biographers (Matthew , Mark, Luke, John). Jesus goes from very humble beginnings to reach out to the common people to help, heal and teach.

After three years of reaching out to the Jewish people, they reject His claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God. All the biographies major on the fact that He was rejected by the Jews and crucified by the Romans. That was a significant turning point in the privilege of the Israelites. The history section of 'Acts' does record messages of possible restoration for the Israelites, but the leadership deliberately rejected Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and choose to persecute His followers. Eventually the temple was destroyed as Jesus foretold.

But in the record of 'Acts', God is seen as not defeated. He presents through the Apostles the bigger plan  - that God is going to gather together all people in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1).

The implementation of this new covenant is summarized:

·     *   God raises Jesus from among the dead, vindicating His claim to be the Son of God.

·    *    God the Father sends down from heaven the Holy Spirit to fill the believers, as never happened before.

·        * The Jewish believers are scattered to many countries spreading the Gospel.

·        * Then the Good News is shared with the Gentiles (non Jews), who previously were considered unworthy of any attention. (Acts 10-28)

·      *  Paul is converted and commissioned by Jesus in heaven to reach out to these Gentiles.

·        * New challenges arise and the Acts 15 conference gives the basis for new terms for serving God.

·       *  Paul writes many letters which were circulated for the teaching of those mixed Jewish/Gentile congregations. He explains with great clarity the new Gospel of Jesus Christ dying for our sins and rising again for our justification (Romans ++)

The later books of the New Testament give graphic descriptions of humans , religious and otherwise, rebelling against God.  Note : the Bible does not edit out the failure records to make Christianity a 'Best seller', but tells it as it is!

The Apostles who had seen and heard the Lord Jesus gave corrective teaching along with hope for the future (Peter, James, John).

The letter to the Hebrews is quite unique :- An outstanding presentation of Jesus Christ as connected to the Old Testament. Thus the whole Bible is bound together with one focus – Jesus Christ our glorious Lord.

The final Revelation presents the hope of final victory by Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of lords.  Most of it is yet future, when He will be seen as the Lamb upon His throne .

The good news of the new testament is that all people everywhere now have the opportunity to connect with God through Jesus Christ the Lord.


Enjoy reading this book of books.


John McKee

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Bible - Old Testament

 

Making sense of the Bible 2 (notes are intended for the many migrants I have taught Australian English)

The divisions of the Bible are important. The obvious division is Old Testament/New Testament. Testament means 'covenant, agreement'.  It is evident in the narrative of the Bible, that the unchanging God connects with different people in different ways at different times. (Hebrews 1)

The two covenants are summarized in John Chapter 1:

"The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ".

Looking at the Old, the first five books (Genesis to Deuteronomy) are called Torah. These were given to the Hebrews by Moses (Israelites later called Jews).

The second section is a candid record of the Israelite nation in the land of Canaan. It is not a very impressive story, but details the good and the bad.

Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of songs are prose, poetry, praise, wisdom and romance books.

Isaiah through to Malachi are the messages of the prophets who warned Israel and the nations to turn to the Lord. They often spoke into the future of both judgement and restoration. Included are many prophecies about the anticipated Messiah – Jesus.

I encourage you to look among the Psalms – they can cheer your day like nothing else.

Next time – New Testament

Monday, December 13, 2021

Can we understand the Bible?

 

Making sense of the Bible

    If you walked into a library, to which section would you go? To the non-fiction,  or the DVD's or the fiction or the encyclopedia, or the newspapers??

    If you opened the library of the Bible, what would you be looking for.?  The range is extensive :- History, poetry legal,  spiritual, romantic, life skills, futuristic.  These sections have been written by many different authors in various countries. The variety has a common theme – God reaching out to humanity. These books have come together over many years.

    It is not a book of science trying to prove the existence of God. Nor is it a simplistic 'how to manual'. Rather it is God revealing Himself  and connecting with different people at different times in history, connecting in different ways.

    The first section has the family of Abraham in focus. Much of it is written for and about the Israelite nation. The songbook  (Psalms) relates very much to the experiences, good and bad, of people of all times.

    The section that shines out as most relevant are the accounts of the life of Jesus Christ. These biographies are clear expressions of the ways God connects with both Jews and Gentiles (non Jews). Jesus is presented as very different from normal people , yet very real in human life. They also present different aspects of the person – The man Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. (written by Matthew ,Mark,  Luke, John)

    These four Gospel records are enhanced by the subsequent teaching of His Apostles ( Peter, James John , Paul etc). He commissioned them to teach the new Gospel by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  They were to unveil things about Himself that He had purposely hidden. (John 16)

    The history of 'Acts', shows the purpose of the Lord, that through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ , forgiveness of sins should be preached to the whole world.  The problems and failures in this endeavour are honestly recorded. The blessings to the whole world are recorded in the 2000 years of history since.

May I encourage you to go browsing, beginning with the contents page.


johnmckee@internode.on.net 


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The BIBLE

 

The Bible stands as the most unique book of all time. Many  have  tried to burn it, ban it, break it. It endures the test of time as God's word (His revelation to mankind).

It has been my privilege to give many Bibles to school students recently. But can they understand it?  Is it not a daunting history with Israelite laws? Which parts apply today and which don't?  Is it reliable to the originals?

All these are important questions, and that is one of the reasons why I write this blog. By the Lord's help I seek to make the Bible trusted and relevant. It helps people trust the book when they see it operating in a Christian's life.

So understanding the book is important, but living the truth revealed in it is vital. So many religions are a creed or ritual  to be assented to without a living connection with the true and living God. The Bible is a revelation  from God , for the purpose of connecting us with God,  Anything less is superficial and religion without the Bible is fake.

Jesus Christ the Lord , wants to live in our hearts by the working of the Holy Spirit.  (Ephesians 3)

 

"being born again , not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever"  (1 Peter1:23)