What Did JESUS Believe? (Twenty Non-Negotiables Our World Needs): Introduction

Introduction: Over the next few months, friends, I hope to tackle the question,Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 8.11.48 AM “What did Jesus believe?” In today’s post, let me introduce what I mean and don’t mean by the topic.

First of all, “believe” in the Bible is much more than a personal opinion. One can have a personal viewpoint that is of the nature of an opinion (“I believe the Cubbies will get to the World Series next year!”). But when we ask the question, “What did JESUS believe?”, we are not asking about personal opinions or educated guesses, but how did He affirm reality as only He knows it to be? In a sense, Jesus never expressed a mere personal opinion. When He spoke — if He indeed was the Son of God — the words were absolute truth as only GOD would know it. His “beliefs,” therefore, are not a matter of conjecture or open to debate. And His beliefs must be mine — and yours.

Second, liberal theologians have long accused the early Christians and the First Century church of interpolation. Interpolation is defined as “introducing (something additional or extraneous) between other things or parts; interject; interpose; to insert; to alter a text by the insertion of new matter, especially deceptively or without authorization.” Whew! The charge is that the Early Church invented the doctrines of the Virgin Birth, the deity of Jesus, the idea that He wanted to start a new religion, etc.  The first or second century Christians are accused of reading back those ideas into the teaching of Jesus.

We will see that Jesus’ emphases, those issues He stressed most in HIs teaching,  Screenshot 2015-11-06 07.58.01were clear, counter-revolutionary, and jeopardized His life.

Third, we are not saying that the only authority for the Jesus -follower are the words in red in the gospels. Some red-letter-edition Bibles have led some Christians to emphasize the words of Jesus over the black-lettered words of the Apostle Peter, the Apostle John, the Apostle Paul, etc. We believe, as Jesus promised, that much truth was going to be given to the Apostles by God the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended back to the Father.

1. When we apply the word “beliefs” to Jesus, what mistakes are we making (if we are not careful)?
2. How do we keep ourselves from becoming so familiar with the “beliefs” of Jesus that they no longer surprise or upset us?

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Posted by on November 28, 2015 in theology


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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 139)

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 7.08.32 AM

1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 7.11.27 AM
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

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Posted by on November 27, 2015 in the book of Psalms


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“My Heavens! There’s a Real Hell?!” (a sermon)


I recently had the privilege of preaching in a great church in Charlotte, Southbrook Church.Screenshot 2015-11-24 06.37.46

The pastor, Shane Freeman, has been doing an important series entitled “Under the Hood.”

Here’s the video of my sermon if you wish to watch it:

Comments welcome!

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Posted by on November 26, 2015 in hell


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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 138)

Psalm 138

Of David.Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 7.32.34 AM

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
    before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
    and will praise your name
    for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
for you have so exalted your solemn decree
    that it surpasses your fame.
When I called, you answered me;
    you greatly emboldened me.

May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord,
    when they hear what you have decreed.
May they sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for the glory of the Lord is great.

Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
    though lofty, he sees them from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
    with your right hand you save me.Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 7.34.41 AM
The Lord will vindicate me;
    your love, Lord, endures forever—
    do not abandon the works of your hands.


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Time for a Great Hymn: E.M. Sangster – “Saved me from Myself!”

1 You ask me, brethren, how I know that Jesus is divine:
The rather ask how I know that yonder sun doth shine;
Then rather bid me tell you how I know that billows roll,
Or winds sweep on from north to south!
Why, friends, “He saved my soul,”

Glory, glory to Jesus,Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 6.27.58 AM
Let the chorus roll!
Glory, glory to Jesus,
Because “He saved my soul.”

2 A wand’rer from my Father’s house, he took me by the hand;
A mariner on raging seas, he guided me to land;
A weary, storm-tossed man, he came, and made me like a child,
As hungry to receive the truth,
As gentle and as mild.— [Refrain]

3 He saved me! saved me from myself, and saved me from my sins,
And here, just in that precious truth, my paradise begins;
I know that Christ the blessed One is Man, and is Divine,
I know because—oh! brethren, hear!
“He saved a soul like mine.”— [Refrain]

What great lyrics on the deity of the Lord Jesus.  But I was moved by his line, “He saved me!  saved me from myself!”  Can you say “AMEN!” to that?

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Posted by on November 24, 2015 in deity of Christ


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Time for a Great Cartoon! (the afterlife)

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 9.26.24 PM
Don’t you love how Watterson brings up the most critical questions of life (and the afterlife) in his characters?  Several important theological points occur to me from this cartoon:

1. At least Calvin is thinking about the afterlife.  How many in our culture give little to no thought about life after death.

2.  As Hobbes looks around, he sees a beautiful creation that is to be enjoyed.

3.  Hobbes seems perfectly content to lie back against the tree and enjoy the present, good world.  He has no thoughts or worries about a next life.

4.  Calvin, who is always behaviorally challenged, worries about future judgment/rewards.  He wants to know for sure if he is going to be rewarded for his behavior, implying that if there is no judgment, he doesn’t need to be good.

How clear the Bible is about the afterlife.  And he has placed that wondering about eternity in the heart of man.  The central question is not, “How good or bad have you or I behaved?”, but “What have we done with Christ?”

Your thoughts?


Posted by on November 23, 2015 in the afterlife


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The Joy of Unit-Reading #9 (the book of Obadiah)

We are on a journey of unit-reading 65 of the 66 books of the Bible.  By “unit-reading,” we mean reading through the book at one sitting (I’m not sure the book of Psalms is meant to be read that way).  The overall theme or focus of many of the books of God’s Word will be readily seen when one sits down (with a strong cup of coffee or two) and reads straight through the book.

Today’s book is the one-chapter book of OBADIAH (I’m running Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.23.49 AMout of shorter books!).  Here’s a couple of notes I took on this prophecy against Edom:

The book of Obadiah — a challenge to man’s pride. 3- “Who can bring me down to the ground?”
15- “The day of the Lord is near for all nations.  As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.”
15-21 “But on Mount Zion will be deliverance. . . . The Lord has spoken. . . . And the kingdom will be the Lord’s.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.24.07 AMThe Lord promises to judge the Edomites — and to bring prosperity to His people Judah.  He is a God who keeps track of sins (“your deeds will return upon your own head”) and means what He says (“The Lord has spoken”).  I need to keep both those truths in mind — today!


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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in obadiah


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