New Heaven and New Earth

June 28, 2014

(Teacher:Doug Batchelor)

Do I understand correctly that heaven, the home of the saved, will be right here on this earth?

That is correct. Although the holy city is now in God’s dwelling place, He is going to move it to this earth. Sin and sinners will be destroyed with fire, and the earth will be made new and given to the righteous in all of its Edenic glory and beauty. The holy city will be the capital of the new earth, and God will move His throne here (Revelation 21:2, 3; 22:1, 3) and live with the righteous right here on this earth throughout eternity. And where the Lord abides, that is heaven. God’s plan is to restore to man what Adam lost: the glories of a perfect life on a perfect planet. Satan and sin interrupted God’s plan, but the plan will be carried out. We can all share in this new kingdom–and we must! It’s too much to miss.

Why do so many teach and believe that the home of the saved is a misty place with ghostlike inhabitants who float on clouds and do nothing but play harps?

This teaching originated with the devil, the father of lies (John 8:44). He is anxious to distort God’s loving plan and present heaven as an unreal, “spooky” place so people will lose interest or become skeptical of God’s Word altogether. Satan well knows that when men and women fully understand the Bible truth regarding the home of the saved, his power over them is broken, because they will begin making plans to enter that kingdom. This is why he works so hard to becloud the issue and spread falsehood regarding that heavenly home.


Does James Contradict Paul?

May 30, 2014

James is not writing about how to become a Christian, but rather how to act like one.  Having all the correct beliefs about God will hardly suffice: even demons believe in God.  Real, life-giving faith should produce motion, and James minces no words in describing the specific spiritual actions expected of Christians.

Christian thinkers, notably Martin Luther, have struggled to reconcile the message of James with that of Paul, who so firmly warned against slavish legalism.  But Paul never belittled holy living.  When he wrote to carousers, such as in his letters to the Corinthians, he railed against immorality as strongly as James.

Evidently, Jame’s readers were not even flirting with legalism.  They lived at the other extreme, ignoring those laws God had clearly revealed.  James had a simple remedy: “Do not merely listen to the Word…do what it says” (1:22).

(The Student Bible-NIV)


Interesting Facts About Mark

October 30, 2012

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(Taken from “The Essential Bible Companion,” written by Walton, Strauss, Cooper)

•For its length Mark relates more miracles of Jesus than the other gospels.
•Mark delights in a literary device known as “intercalation,” where one story is interrupted by another and the two mutually interpret each other. See the examples in 5:21-43 and 11:12-25.
•The motif of amazement is common throughout Mark, as people marvel at Jesus’ astonishing words and deeds.
•Most scholars think that Mark was the first gospel written and that Matthew and Luke used his gospel and other sources when they wrote.
•Some think Mark himself may appear in this gospel, that he is the young man who fled naked in the strange episode related in Mark 14:51-52. Unfortunately there is no evidence to prove or disprove this.


When Bad Things Happen To A Good Person

October 13, 2012

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Introduction to Job
(From the NIV Student Bible)

When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person
Nobody suffered more; nobody deserved it less

“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8)

How could it happen? All at once the world came crushing down on a single innocent man, a man named Job. It was the ultimate in unfairness.

First, raiders stole his belongings and slaughtered his servants. Then fire from the sky burned up his sheep, and a mighty wind destroyed his house and killed his sons and daughters. Finally, Job came down with a horrible, painful disease. What did I do to deserve such suffering?, he wailed.

A Cosmic Contest
The book of Job reads like a detective story in which the readers know far more than the central characters. The very first chapter answers Job’s main question: he had done nothing to deserve such suffering. We, the readers, know that, but nobody tells Job and his friends.

Unknown to him, Job was involved in a cosmic test, a contest proposed in heaven but staged on earth. In this extreme test of faith, the best man on earth suffered the worst calamities. Satan had claimed that people like Job love God only because of the good things he provides. Remove those good things, Satan challenged, and Job’s faith would melt away along with his riches and health.

God’s reputation was on the line. Would Job continue to trust him, even while his life was falling apart? This is the crucial question of the book: Would Job turn against God?

Job’s wife mocked him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (2:9). His friends were even crueler: they argued that Job was being punished, that he fully deserved the tragedies crashing into his life. For his part, Job struggled to do what seemed impossible: to keep on believing in a loving, fair God even though all the evidence pointed against such a God.

Job on Trial
It helps to think of this book as a courtroom drama, full of long, eloquent speeches. For most of the book, Job sits in the defendant’s chair listening to his friends’ harangues. He knows no airtight refutations; what they say about suffering as punishment seems to make sense. Yet he also knows, deep in his soul, that they are wrong. He does not deserve the treatment he is getting. There has to be some other explanation.

Like all grieving persons, Job went through emotional cycles. He whined, exploded, cajoled, and collapsed into self-pity. He agreed with his friends, then shifted positions and contradicted himself. And occasionally he came up with a statement of of brilliant hope.

Mainly, Job asked for one thing: an appearance by the one Person who could explain his miserable fate. He wanted to meet God himself, face to face. Eventually Job got his wish; God did show up in person. And when God finally spoke, no one — not Job, nor any of his friends — was prepared for what he had to say.

When We Feel Like Job
Sooner or later we all find ourselves in a position somewhat like Job’s. Our world seems to crumble. Nothing makes sense any more. God seems distant and silent.

At such moments of great crisis, each one of us is put on trial. In a sense we become actors in a contest like the one Job went through. This book records every step in that process with unflinching honesty. Job’s life stands as an example to every person who must go through great suffering.


Questions, Anyone?

September 26, 2012

Questions, Anyone? (From the NIV Student Bible)

Romans 9:19

Frequently Paul interrupts his writing with a question or series of questions. In doing so, he is imitating the style he learned from rabbis in his earlier training. The story is told of one student who asked, “Why do you rabbis so often put your teaching in the form of a question?” The reply: “So what’s wrong with a question?”


Study Notes (1-5) For Matthew

September 10, 2012

(taken from Archaeological Study Bible)

1) The Hebrews kept extensive records of a family’s ancestory. These were used for practical and legal purposes: to establish a person’s heritage, inheritance, legitimacy and rights. Luke followed the traditional approach of tracing lineage through males, but Matthew included five women (Bathsheba is not named but is described), three of whom were outsiders to Israel.

2) In the New Testament the word “generation” translates four Greek words, all having reference to descent: (1) genea, most frequently found in the Synoptic (or parallel) Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), signifying the lines of descent from an ancestor (e.g., 1:17); all the people living in a given period (e.g., 11:16); a class of people characterized by a certain quality (e.g., 12:39); or a period of time (Ac 13:36; Col 1:26); (2) genesis, in Matthew 1:1, in a heading to verses 2:17, used to mean “genealogy;” (3) genncma, in the phrase “brood of vipers” (3:7; 12:34; 23:33; Lk 3:7); and (4) genos, meaning “race” (1 Pe 2:9; KJV “generation”).

3) Bethlehem (2:1), a village about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, is called “Bethlehem in Judea” to distinguish it from the town of Bethlehem about 7 miles northwest of Nazareth.

4) Originally a religious caste among the Persians, Magi were devoted to astrology, divination and the interpretation of dreams. This led to an extension in the meaning of the word, and by the first century B.C. the terms magi and Chaldean were applied generally to fortune tellers and to the exponents of esoteric religious cults throughout the Mediterranean world. “Magus” or “sorcerer” is the name given to Simon in Acts 8:9, to Bar-Jesus in Acts 13:6 and to Elymas in Acts 13:8. The legend of “the Three Kings” is late and medieval.

The Magi were likely from Persia or southern Arabia, both of which lay east of the Holy Land. Herod was “disturbed” (2:3) by the Magi’s announcement because he knew he was not the rightful heir to Israel’s throne, having usurped power by aligning himself with Rome. The Magi’s visit likely caused him to fear that invading forces from the east might join others within Israel to replace him with a king from the true line of the anticipated Messiah. The religious leaders had aligned themselves politically with Herod. If his power base were threatened, so was theirs.

5) The “star” (2:2) was probably not an ordinary star, planet or comet, though some interpreters have identified it with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn or with some other astronomical phenomenon.