Tuesday, September 29, 2009

54) Keep your eyes upon Jesus

Matthew 17:8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

Prior to verse 8 above, Peter had asked Jesus in verse 4 if he would like for him to make three tents, one for Jesus and one for Moses and one for Elijah. Then the voice of God said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” After the apostles fell on the ground face down in fear, Jesus told them to rise and have no fear. When they did this they saw no one but Jesus. For the apostles and for us the message is clear. Jesus is the one to listen to and He is the one to see. We should keep our eyes focused upon Jesus and listen to him and his revelation of fulfillment in the New Covenant and not Moses or Elijah [Heb. 1:1-2].

Focus on Christ #54

Monday, September 28, 2009

53) Listen to Him

Matthew 17:5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain where He was transfigured before them and his face became as bright as the sun. Moses received the law from God on Mount Sinai and here on the Mount of Transfiguration these three Jewish apostles, who were under the Law of Moses, were told by God to listen to Jesus Christ. John would later write: John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. The message is clear and that is to LISTEN to Jesus Christ who brought grace and truth to replace the law [Romans 7:6]. Jesus provides grace for salvation and truth as the new lawgiver for Christian discipleship.

Focus on Christ #53

Sunday, September 27, 2009

52) The Final Word in Jesus

Hebrews 1:1-2 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, (2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

The term long ago refers to the Old Testament and old covenant era where God’s revelation came in many ways through his prophets. The term last days refers to the new covenant era where God has spoken to us through his son Jesus Christ. This revelation from Jesus Christ was given to the apostles and has been recorded in the New Testament gospels and epistles for our enlightenment. In these gospels and epistles God’s completed plan of redemption has been made known. The Old Testament mystery that Paul talks about in Ephesians 3, has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ and the new covenant. These New Testament gospels and epistles interpret what was veiled in the Old Testament, and we would do well to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ and listen to this completed revelation.

Focus on Christ #52

Saturday, September 26, 2009

51) God’s eternal purpose realized in Christ Jesus

Ephesians 3:11-12 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, (12) in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

God had an eternal purpose that unfolded perfectly according to His plan. This purpose has been realized in Christ Jesus. It has been fulfilled totally and completely and there is nothing further for God to do for or through physical national Israel. Nothing further can be done for the dead, and those Jews who are alive have the same path to salvation, as do Gentiles. God’s way to redeem sinners is through faith in the completed ministry of Jesus Christ our Lord. This redemption of God’s elect from all nations including Israel will continue until Jesus returns and then the eternal kingdom of God will begin. As Jesus said on the cross, it is finished [John 19:30].

Focus on Christ #50

Friday, September 25, 2009

50) Fulfillment of God’s plan

Ephesians 3:8-10 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, (9) and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, (10) so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

Paul describes his mission as preaching the unsearchable riches of God’s grace to Gentiles. Then he states a purpose of bringing to light the mystery of God’s salvation that has been hidden for ages. This obviously means that Old Testament revelation did not bring this mystery to light to the extent that he was called to do. Paul states that God’s manifold wisdom might now be made known to the rulers in heavenly places through the church. This points to fulfillment through the Church of Jesus Christ of something that was not fully understood or complete in the Old Testament era.

Focus on Christ #50

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

49) Through God’s grace Paul was given the details of the gospel

Ephesians 3:7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power.

Through the power of God, Paul was given the details of the gospel. He was given and clearly understood the gospel that was fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. While the Old Testament reveals the promise and working out of God’s plan of redemption, the New Testament reveals the fulfillment of the gospel of God. The FOCUS of this fulfillment is about Christ and the glory of God’s grace. It is not about a physical nation that God used to bring about this fulfillment.

Focus on Christ #49

Monday, September 21, 2009

48) The mystery of the Gentiles

Ephesians 3:6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

The mystery of the inclusion of Gentiles was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets. The fact that Gentiles would be partakers of the promise through a new entity [The church] was not fully revealed to them. Nothing could be more inaccurate than to think of the nation of Israel as the Old Testament church, since they were not a spiritually redeemed people except for a small remnant. Israel was and is a physical nation of one people group, whereas the church is a spiritual body of all ethnic groups. Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2:11-22 that the church began with the new covenant and the new man in Christ, which precludes any possibility that the church existed in the Old Testament era.

Focus on Christ #48

Sunday, September 20, 2009

47) New Testament revelation is superior to Old Testament revelation.

Ephesians 3:4-5 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, (5) which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.

The mystery of Christ was not made known in the old covenant and Old Testament to the extent that it was revealed to the Apostles and prophets of the new covenant era by the Holy Spirit. That is why it is of prime importance to let the enhanced and more complete revelation of the New Testament be our guide in interpreting the Old Testament. To NOT do so would be like using a hundred year old physics textbook to study physics rather than a current book.

Focus on Christ #47

Saturday, September 19, 2009

46) Paul was given a revelation from God

Ephesians 3:1-3 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— (2) assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, (3) how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.

Paul’s primary ministry was to take the gospel to the Gentiles. He was given the mystery of the complete gospel message through direct revelation from God. This mystery was that the promise of redemption was to include people from all ethnic groups and not just Jews. The Abrahamic promise of a great nation was fulfilled in the body of Christ that Paul also calls Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Focus on Christ #46

Friday, September 18, 2009

45) The Holy Nation is not under law.

Ephesians 2:22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Each individual Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is a dwelling place for God. This is pointed out clearly in 1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? In Romans 8:2 Paul explains further that the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Therefore, Christians are a new creation in Christ and have been set free from the legalistic and external obedience to the law. Instead, Christians are empowered and enabled by the indwelling Spirit of life to have an internal obedience to the law of Christ as Christ and the New Testament apostles state it. That is why New Covenant Christians are not under law, but under grace. The old covenant required perfect obedience to the law through self-effort, but the new covenant provides the grace to meet all the requirements, and this grace is a free gift [Eph. 2:8].

Focus on Christ #45

Thursday, September 17, 2009

44) The Holy Nation Fulfilled

Ephesians 2:21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

New Covenant believers are joined together to form a holy temple in the Lord. This temple is made up of new creations in Christ and form the body of Christ. Christians are in Christ through faith and Christ is in Christians through the Spirit. This body of Christ is the fulfillment of the Holy Nation of Exodus 19:5-6 that Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 2:9-10.

Focus on Christ #44

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

43) The church’s foundation

Ephesians 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,

The household of God is the church of Jesus Christ and is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. If the apostles are part of the foundation, then it is obvious the church does not pre-date the life and times of the apostles. Christ Jesus is the cornerstone of the church and when he told Peter, upon this rock I will build my church, it is clear the church was still in the future. The Old Testament remnant was not in the church even though they were saved by the blood of Christ.

Focus on Christ #43

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

42) Only one household of God

Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

While Gentiles were strangers and aliens to the old covenant and its promises, they are included in the new covenant and are fellow citizens with Jewish saints in the new covenant. Although the new covenant promise is offered to all nations and people, only believers are included in the new covenant. The old covenant was made with an unredeemed people who had obedience requirements in order to receive the blessings. From this unredeemed people, God preserved a remnant that looked with faith to a redeemer. The new covenant is with regenerated believers only that are freely given everything that is required by God.

Focus on Christ #42

Monday, September 14, 2009

41) With a new covenant comes a new priest

Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

In the old covenant, access to the Father was for the Jewish people only and that was only through the mediation of a Jewish priest. In the new covenant, access to God has been opened to both Jews and Gentiles through Christ by one Spirit. Jesus is prophet, priest, and king for new covenant believers and He is our mediator. This is hardly a continuation of single covenant, but a new covenant founded on better promises such as this access. As Hebrews 8:8-9 states the new covenant is NOT LIKE the old covenant.

Focus on Christ #41

Sunday, September 13, 2009

40) Jesus preached salvation to both Jews and Gentiles

Ephesians 2:17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Jesus Christ came and preached peace with God [Romans 5:1] to those who were far off such as the people of Ephesus and also to the Jews who were near. This passage and the gospels make it clear that the Jews were NOT a spiritually redeemed people as a group and needed the gospel of salvation ever much as did the Gentiles. It is incorrect to think of Old Testament Israel as a spiritually redeemed people of God. They were physically redeemed and God worked through them in a powerful way to bring about salvation in Jesus Christ, but they were NOT a spiritually redeemed nation. Paul points this out clearly in Romans 9:27 where he affirms that only a remnant would be saved.

Focus on Christ #40

Saturday, September 12, 2009

39) Jesus purchased His Church on the cross with his blood

Ephesians 2:16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

The one new man is reconciled to God in one body. This one body is the church of Jesus Christ that Jesus Christ purchased on the cross of Calvary. Although there was a remnant saved by faith in the Old Testament era, there was no Old Testament Church. There was a dividing wall between Jew and Gentile in the Old Testament era, and Jesus removed the wall by his blood, thus killing the hostility. The new covenant replaced the old covenant because Jesus made it obsolete with the new body of Christ made up of believing regenerated Jews and Gentiles. (See devotionals #20 through #25 for more on the new covenant)

Focus on Christ #39

Friday, September 11, 2009

38) The new man is a new covenant believer

Ephesians 2:15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,

By perfectly fulfilling the laws and commandments that were given to Israel, Jesus effectively abolished them in order that he might create one new man in place of the two. This new man WAS NOT created simply by bringing Gentiles into the old covenant. No, the new man is a new creation in Christ, and is a new covenant believer regardless of whether he is Jew or Gentile. Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law for Israel and all of humanity in order that he might create a single new man saved by His grace. Salvation is all about Jesus Christ and not ethnicity. It is about the new covenant fulfillment of the Old Testament promise and not just another administration of a single covenant.

Focus on Christ #38

Thursday, September 10, 2009

37) There is no segregation of Jew and Gentile in the body of Christ

Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility

Jesus Christ brought peace with God for believers [Romans 5:1]. Both Jews and Gentiles are one in the true spiritual Israel, which is the church of Jesus Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile and all believers are adopted sons in Jesus Christ through faith [Galatians 3:26-28]. There is only one body of Christ and as equal parts of the body of Christ, there is no longer any wall of hostility between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.

Focus on Christ #37

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

36) The new covenant in the blood of Christ

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

With the inception of the new covenant, the people at Ephesus and all people on earth were included in the offer of salvation through the blood of Christ. The special role for national Israel in redemptive history ended with the beginning of the New Covenant. The promise of the Old Covenant was fulfilled in Jesus Christ and the new covenant. The church began with this new covenant and includes all ethnic groups including both Jew and Gentile. As Paul states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Focus on Christ #36

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

35) Gentiles were without hope in the Old Covenant era

Ephesians 2:11-12 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— (12) remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Gentiles were without God, had no hope for salvation in the old covenant era, and were alienated from the nation of Israel. In the law covenant, God himself placed a wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles. While there was a small remnant saved by grace, the Israelites were NOT a spiritually redeemed people. They were a chosen physical nation that had the advantage of the Abrahamic covenant of promise, the law covenant, and the gospel promise clearly presented. The gospel of grace was preached to Abraham [Galatians 3:8], but this gospel was not proclaimed to the Gentiles in the old covenant.

Focus on Christ #35

Monday, September 7, 2009

34) Abraham looked forward to the heavenly City of God

Hebrews 11:10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

In speaking of Abraham’s faith the writer of Hebrews states that Abraham was looking forward to the City of God. This meant Abraham was looking forward in faith to a heavenly fulfillment of the land promise of the Old Testament. Verse 16 of Hebrews makes it clear that a heavenly City of God was the object of faith for Abraham and his descendants rather than the physical land of Canaan. The gift of eternal life to the recipients of the new covenant fulfills the land promise made in the covenant made with Abraham.

Focus on Christ #34

Sunday, September 6, 2009

33) Who are God’s people and the true holy nation of Exodus 19

1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (10) Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

God promised Israel in Exodus 19:5-6 that obedience to His covenant would make them a treasured possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. While national Israel failed, Jesus Christ succeeded on the behalf of all who are in Him through faith. Peter explained in this passage that His treasured possession, royal priesthood, and holy nation promise had been fulfilled through God’s mercy. The holy nation of Exodus 19:6 is fulfilled in spiritual Israel, which is the church of Jesus Christ.

Focus on Christ #33

Saturday, September 5, 2009

32) The day the Old [Mosaic] Covenant ended

Matthew 27:50-51 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. (51) And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

At this moment the old covenant ended and the new covenant began. The way to approach God was now through the new covenant of Jesus Christ and not through the Mosaic covenant. The role of national of Israel ended with the replacing of the Mosaic Covenant with the new covenant. Reconciliation with God is now accomplished through the blood of Christ for Jews and Gentiles [Eph. 2:12-18]. Grace replaced law at the moment Jesus uttered, “It is finished” on the cross of Calvary.

Focus on Christ #32

Friday, September 4, 2009

31) The day the Old [Mosaic] Covenant began

Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; (6) and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.

”IF! If you keep my covenant, then you shall……… This covenant was a legal conditional covenant requiring obedience. The physical nation of Israel failed miserably in fulfilling the Mosaic Covenant, but Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled this covenant on behalf of New Covenant recipients [spiritual Israel] as well as the Old Testament remnant of the physical nation of Israel.

Focus on Christ #31

Thursday, September 3, 2009

30) Jesus fulfilled everything written about him

Luke 24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Before the foundation of the world, God’s plan was to redeem one people of God from all nations on earth. Jesus fulfilled God’s plan of redemption perfectly, and this plan did not fail at any point including the nation Israel. The covenant promise of Genesis 17:7-8 is for the spiritual seed of Abraham and not the physical nation of Israel. This is explained in Romans 9:6-8.

Focus on Christ #30

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

29) Let the New interpret the Old

Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Jesus interpreted the Old Testament Scriptures through himself. The Old Testament is best interpreted through the more complete revelation of the New Testament just as the prophecies about Jesus are seen more clearly through his ministry on earth. The principle that Jesus used on the Road to Emmaus is clear and that is to let the New Testament interpret the Old Testament.

Focus on Christ #29

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

28) Scripture alone must determine doctrine

Acts 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

While trained Christian pastors, teachers, and theologians are part of God’s plan for His church on earth, Scripture alone is sufficient and should be the guide for determining if the dogma contained in creeds and commentaries are so. Creeds and confessions of faith have great value, but they do not trump the teaching of Scripture. Logical theological deductions also do not trump Scripture. When Christians cannot reconcile creeds to Scripture, then Scripture must take precedence.

Focus on Christ # 28