Archive for the ‘E-Bible Studies’ Category

Stair-Master “Faith”

10/12/2011
Church of Christ at Wedderburn, Victoria

Image via Wikipedia

Today is part one of a two-part message, I put together to describe two different kinds of “faith” people like to follow, or tend to, and it is unfortunate that they chose either.

Have you ever been on a stairmaster? Ever gotten off of one, realized how much work you had just done, and acknowledged the fact that you are standing in the exact same place you were, pre-workout?

That is the crummy faith life that many in our modern society have. They show up for church on Sunday, maybe even two or three more times during the week, but as soon as the key is in the ignition and they drive out of the parking lot, followed by unlocking the door and walking into their homes, it’s over until next time.

They built up a spiritual sweat during service and worshipped with all of their hearts while learning with all their minds. But when the lights of the church go off for the day, so do those people’s faith.

The workout in the gym might be great, but living your faith life that way is absolutely counterproductive to what Christ instructed us to do. We are instructed to serve the purpose of Christ in all aspects of our lives, not only at church.

My advice for you today, if any of the above applies to you, as your personal spiritual trainer for the day, get off of the stairmaster, and hit the spiritual cross-country track of the world to share the love and redemption of Christ.

 

Chris

Advertisements

Women & The Gospel

09/01/2011
Jesus on the Cross

Image via Wikipedia

My current Bible studies have been based on a mix of Biblical, Historical, & Archaeological facts about the Apostle Paul’s life and ministry. For the women in ministry out there, and the men who arrogantly believe they have no place in ministry, the following is for you. An excerpt from the book The Life of Saint Paul, by Prof. James Stalker, D.D.

“A prominent feature of the work in Macedonia (Greece) was the part taken in it by women. Amid the general decay of religions throughout the world at this period, many women everywhere sought satisfaction for their religious instincts in the pure faith of the synagogue. In Macedonia, perhaps on account of tis sound morality, these female proselytes were more numerous than elsewhere.”

“They pressed in large numbers into the Christian Church. This was a good omen; it was a prophecy of the happy change in the lot of women which Christianity was to produce in the nations of the west (America). If men owe much to Christ, women owe still more. Christ (especially through Paul’s message) has delivered her from the degradation of being man’s slave and plaything and raised her to be his friend and his equal before Heaven.”

“While on the other hand, a new glory has been added to Christ’s religion by the fineness and dignity with which it is invested when embodied in the female character. These things were vividly illustrated in the earliest footsteps of Christianity in Europe.”

“The first convert in Europe was a woman, at the first Christian service held on European soil, the heart of Lydia being opened to receive the truth; and the change which passed upon her prefigured what woman in Europe (and eventually the rest of the world) was to become under the influence of Christianity.”

“In the same town of Philippi there was seen, too, at the same time an equally representative image of the condition of woman in Europe before the gospel reached it, in a poor girl, possessed of a spirit of divination and held in slavery by men who were making gain out of her misfortune, whom Paul restored to sanity.”

“Her misery and degradation were a symbol of the disfiguration, as Lydia’s sweet and benevolent Christian character was of the transfiguration of womanhood.”

You see, for my fellow-men out there, who make the mistake of telling women where there place should be in the church, this critical study from Paul’s travels tells us that if anything, women add to what Christianity is supposed to be and if they were still subjected to teaching Sunday School and keeping nursery alone and nothing more, our faith, our church, would not be what it is today.

God Bless

Chris

Correcting the month Jesus was born 2

08/31/2011

(immediately continuing from yesterday)

So, going with the calculations based on Josephus‘ words that the first division of priests had just taken office at the time of the destruction of the Temple, we can figure backwards to establish that Zechariah came off of duty on July 13, 3BC & returned home to Elizabeth (Luke 1:23). Elizabeth then conceived (Luke 1:24) probably within a week and John the Baptist would have been born 280 days later (on or around April 26, 2BC). Interestingly, this date marked the end of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that year.

Elizabeth secluded herself for 5 months (Luke 1:24) & at the beginning of her 6th month of pregnancy Gabriel appeared to Mary, Elizabeth’s cousin (Luke 1:26). The time was the 1st week of January, 2BC. Jesus would then have been born 280 days later on or about October 13, 2BC. This would have also been the 15th day of Tishiri, the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles. This may also be mysteriously supported or hinted at by John in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”.

This is where it gets interesting. The Greek word for ‘dwelling’ is skenoo, which means “to pitch tent, encamp, tabernacle, dwell in a tent.” So a more literal translation of John 1:14 would read: “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us”. Do you think that John may have been alluding to the significance of the Feat of Tabernacles in this verse?

Wrapping up, can we pinpoint the exact date of Christ’s birth? No, but it is very possible to identify the season fo his birth. The evidence strongly suggests that Jesus was born in September-October (the Hebrew month of Tishiri), during the celebrations of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Chris

Correcting the month Jesus was born

08/30/2011

Since we know, with very little doubt that Jesus was actually born 2 years earlier than once thought (2 BC) the question becomes, can we know the real month of his birth? Most would answer: “December 25 of course!”

According to Luke, that doesn’t gel. Luke 2:8 says “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night”. If it were December, the shepherds wouldn’t have been living in the fields. Not exactly warm, outdoor weather. Most likely, Jesus wasn’t born in the winter months. It is also unlikely that Joseph & Mary, being pregnant, would’ve made the 5 day trip in the winter. See the following quote from the Companion Bible (appendix 179).

“Shepherds & their flocks wouldn’t be found ‘abiding’ (or in Greek: agrauleo) in the open fields at night in December (Greek: Tebeth), for the major reason that there would be no grass for the flocks to eat. It was the custom then (as now) to withdraw the flocks during the Greek month Marchesven (our late October-November) from the open districts & house them for the winter.”

Question: How did we end up celebrating Christmas on December 25?

Answer: Early Christians didn’t celebrate Christmas. To them, the death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven of Christ was far more important and reason to celebrate. Consider that our holidays are reversed. Easter was the big deal then (and is my favorite now), and Christmas was barely, if at all celebrated. It was not until the 4th century that anyone was interested in celebrating Christ’s birth. The problem they had been that nobody knew the date exactly. There were many ideas of when it was, and this caused a ton of controversy in 4th century Christian church leadership.

In the year 440, during the pagan conversions to Christianity, it was decided that since they celebrated the birth of their “Sun God” on December 25th, that it would be easy to pick that date to make the transition easier to worshipping the Son of God, who is called the “Sun of Righteousness” as in Malachi 4:2.

So, is it then really possible to find the real month? The gospel gives us some clues, indirectly, but most likely intentionally. The gospel hints about the conception of John the Baptist that may help us figure this out. Luke 1:5 tells us that Zechariah was a priest in the order of Abijah. The priests were divided into 24 groups (1 Chron 24:7-19) of which Abijah was the 8th (Luke 24:10). Luke 1:8 says that it was while the Abijah division was on duty that Gabriel visited Zechariah in the Temple. So the question now becomes: When was the division of Abijah on duty?

(immediately continued tomorrow)

Chris

Why four gospels?

08/26/2011

Listen to Episode 17 of Inspired Audio by CLICKING HERE

Mary’s Song

08/22/2011

Listen to Episode 13 of Inspired Audio by CLICKING HERE

Correcting the year of Christ’s birth 2

08/19/2011
Christmas 2003: The Nativity

Image by DUCKMARX via Flickr

(Picking up IMMEDIATELY WHERE WE LEFT OFF YESTERDAY)

Let’s take a look at some evidence provide by early Christian writers provided by Chuck Missler’s “When Jesus Was Born”.

1.) Tertullian said that Augustus started ruling 41 years before the birth of Jesus and died 15 years after. The date of Augustus’ death was August 19, A.D. 14. This would put the birth of Jesus at 2B.C since we know there is no A.D. Zero. He also stated that Jesus was born 28 years after the death of Cleopatra, once again placing the birth of Jesus in 2 B.C.

2.) Irenaeus, born roughly 100 years after Jesus wrote “Our Lord was born about the 41st year of the reign of Augustus”. This does not contradict Tertullian’s 42 years, since Augustus’ reign began in the autumn of 43 B.C. This puts the birth of Jesus in the autumn of 2 B.C.

3.) Eusebius, in the fourth century, wrote “It was the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus and the twenty-eighth from the overthrowing of Egypt on the death of Antony and Cleopatra.” The 42nd year of Augustus spanned between the autumn of 2 B.C. and the autumn of 1 B.C. The overthrowing of Egypt took place in the autumn of 30 B.C. According to this, the 28th year from the subjugation of Egypt spanned from the autumn of 3 B.C. to the autumn of 2 B.C. The ONLY possible date for the birth of Jesus that meets both requirements would be the autumn of 2 B.C., two years before our records show. That would also make this year, 2008, by the way, since there is no zero year, and Jesus birth begins our way of counting the last 2,011 but he was born two years earlier. Our calendar is based on flawed math to say the least.

All evidence strongly points to 2 B.C. as the year Jesus was born, making Dionysius wrong by just one year. But again, what about the fact that Herod supposedly did in 4 B.C.? Historians calculate this date because Josephus reports a lunar eclipse occurring just before Herod’s death, and for some time, the only eclipse that fitted the evidence was in March 13, 4 B.C. Modern astronomical science, however, has since determined that a lunar eclipse was indeed visible in Jerusalem on January 9, 1 B.C.

Combined with the testimony of those early Christian historians and writers, the weight of evidence leans toward the autumn of 2 B.C., which also corresponds with Luke’s assertion that Christ was “about 30 years old” (Luke 3:23) in or just after “the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1), whose actual ascension to the throne was in A.D. 14.

So, now that we understand when Jesus was born, and have examined the strongest evidence, Monday we will look at what month Christ was born in a new study.

God Bless,

Chris

Correcting the year of Christ’s birth

08/18/2011
Birth of Jesus in a Kabyle Catholic book

Image via Wikipedia

Monday, we will be focussing on the correct month of Jesus‘ birth, but for today and tomorrow, first we need to correct the calendar.

As Homer Rhea notes: “The most outstanding record that is graven on the scroll of time the date of the birth of Jesus Christ. No issues document is legal, no signed check is valid, and no business receipt is of value unless it bears the statistical reference to this great historic event.”

Yes, every single time you sign a check or write the date and include the year, you are in fact acknowledging the birth of Jesus Christ, like it or not. We measure time itself based on the birthday of the Lord. Or do we? Of course, but you might be interested to learn that we are off by a year or two.

The Bible says that Jesus was born before the death of Herod at the time of the census, by decree of Caesar Augustus to be supervised by Governor Quirinius. So it seems logical to use these three men to triangulate the birth of Jesus right? It is not quite that simple. Back in the 1800’s scholars stated that Quirinius was a myth therefore the Bible was wrong. Luke was wrong. No, Luke was (as always) a historian of the first order. A discovery was then made of documentation supporting the fact that Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was indeed a Governor over Syria around the time of Jesus’ birth.

The issue then, was that the record that was found dated that Quirinius was governor in 6 A.D., after Jesus’ birth. Since that was found however, that argument was beaten as well, because new evidence showing that he had been elected to multiple terms earlier on.

Next problem, modern scholars state that Herod died 4 years before Christ was born. Since Matthew 2:1 says that Herod was ruling at the time of the virgin birth, that would mean Jesus was actually born four years earlier than we believe.  Or does it?

Our calendar divides history into B.C. and A.D., or “before Christ”, and “Anno Domini” which means the “Year of our Lord”. Our calendar is based on the calculations of a monk from the 500’s in Ukraine named Dionysius Exignus. Exignus calculated that the birth of Christ occurred in the Roman year  754. He counted 1 A.D. as beginning on January 1 of the year “AFTER” Jesus was born. So according to our calendar’s advent, Jesus was born in 1 B.C., a year earlier than we’ve been taught.

We need to understand that in the 500’s the concept of “zero” had yet to spread therefore there simply is NO A.D. zero year. Exignus based his calculations on historical records available to him in the Vatican Library in Rome as well as the records listed in Luke.

(Continued Tomorrow)

Rewriting “We Three Kings” 2

08/17/2011
A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

Image via Wikipedia

Many theories have proposed as to the nature of the star in the east that the Magi saw. Some believe it may have been a nova, and maybe a comet even. But, nothing quite fits the bill. What DOES seem likely is that the Magi interpreted an unusual stellar phenomenon, natural or supernatural. So they left for Jerusalem, since it made sense that the prophesied King of the Jews, would be born in its capital city.

We do know that they soon left Jerusalem to go to Bethlehem where they finally met Jesus as a child. How old was Jesus when they met him? We can’t say for sure but we can see in the gospel that their visit did not at all, take place on the night he was born.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.” Matthew 2:1

“Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared” Matthew 2:7

Based on this information, Herod ordered the killing of all boys 2 years old and under. See, Herod left himself room for error, therefore it is likely that Jesus was nearly 2 at this time. This is also supported by the fact that the Greek word the gospel uses for ‘child’ is not brephos, meaning a “newborn infant”, but it uses paidion, meaning a “young child”.

Chris

Rewriting “We Three Kings”

08/16/2011
A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

Image via Wikipedia

We all know the Christmas song listed above. It’s one of most of our favorites. But, it is not based on facts for the most part. The story of the wise men or magi visiting Jesus on the night of his birth are warm in all of our hearts, but factually, and gospelly incorrect. Our Christmas cards show magi standing under a bright star. Most of the story though, is based on fictional church tradition and nothing more.

These guys were not kings at all. Magi, in 1st century Israel were astronomers and magicians, not royalty. These guys are named Melkon, Bathasar, and Gaspar in the apocryphal books about Jesus’ childhood, but no gospel record verifies anything written in those books. Christian writer Tertullian called them kings in his writings in the 400’s, and the apocryphal books I mentioned were written in the 600’s.

We also don’t know that there were three. We assume this because they gave three gifts. Our image of wise men going into a stable to meet Mary and Jesus is wrong because Matthew tells us in 2:11 that they came to the house where the saw the CHILD and his mother. Notice child, not baby, and house, not stable or cave.

These men were most likely Persian magicians and astrologers, trained in interpreting star patterns. The Bible says they came “searching for the king of the Jews because they saw the star in the East”. As magicians, they probably studied the Torah, and knew of the books of Numbers and Daniel where these things were spoken of in prophecy because when they found the child they noticed not only his royal pedigree but his divinity as well.

Finishing for today, lets look at what The Interactive Bible tells us.

“There is no evidence that the Magi were led to Jesus by a bright low hovering star. Such a star would have been quite noticeable by many people. The fact that Herod had to ask the Magi when the star appeared, proves that the star was not out of the ordinary to the untrained eye. Only the Magi, who studied the stars would notice it.”

(immediately continuing tomorrow)

Chris