First Pres Joliet

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Miracles In The New Testament

Nicodemus recognized Jesus’ miraculous from God (Jn. 2:11, 3:2) as did Peter (Acts 2:22). After Jesus’ departure, the early church, apostles, and others were administers of their share of miracles (Acts 2:43, 3:6-10, 4:30, 8:6-8, 9:40-42, et al.). Paul and his churches in Europe and Asia Minor experienced much the same (1 Cor. 12:4-31, Gal. 3:5).

A hallmark of the church of the New Testament is miracles after the ministry was gotten underway by Jesus (Luke 4:36-37). Jesus gave his authority to his disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons. These were administered not only by the Apostles but also by 70 others (Luke 10:1-19, cp. Matt. 8:10, Luke 9:49-50). This suggests their happening was also connected to the Holy Spirit that came after Pentecost. There is no reason to suspect that we have left the “age of miracles” behind us. They are reported every day.

In the Old Testament, miracles generally occurred in connection with a prominent leader – Moses, Elijah, Elisha as a sign and wonder to get Israels attention. And they succeeded, for a time.


Luke 20: 27-36

Ephesians 1:4

The Sadducees were descendants of Zadok, a chief priest during King David’s reign, and the one who anointed Solomon King after David. They believed that everlasting life was through their offspring, it was through their descendants that their name lived on. They were also the dominant party at the time of Christ.

Luke 20: 27- 32 ” Now there came to Jesus some the Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection), and they questioned Him, saying, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should marry his wife and raise up children to his brother. Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless; and the second and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children. In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.'”

V. 33. “Jesus said to them, ‘The son’s of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; For they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”

One of the unique things about our creation, life on earth, is death, since the fall of Adam. Therefore procreation is essential to life. Adam and Eve had no children until after the fall. Then it became necessary, for if with the fall Adam dies without heirs, then where does redemption fit in. Redemption being in Gods plan from the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” This word in Greek translated foundation, is ‘katabole’, which means specifically a “new beginning, a creation, a foundation”, as opposed to the other Greek word used in scripture “themelios’, which means ‘a substrate, a base, a foundation”.

In the heavens the angels were created everlasting, therefore there is no need for procreation. They also were created under a system of retributive justice, simply put: good is rewarded, evil is punished. While mankind was created under a system of redemption, where evil can be forgiven, and all who fail can be redeemed, they can be absolved of their sins within the proper guidelines. All that is required is a perfect substitutionary sacrifice, One who is sinless, and willing to offer Himself to take the punishment in place of the sinner. This is the Grace of God, available to all who will believe.



Build Houses

Luke 20: 21-26

Jeremiah 29: 4-7

John 17: 14-17

The scribes and chief priests are trying to catch Jesus in a statement that they may use against Him, so they sent spies who pretended to be righteous in order to do so.

Luke 20: 21 “They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. v.22 “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” v.23 “But He detected their trickery and said to them, v.24 ‘Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ v. 25. “And He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ v. 26. And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.”

Jeremiah 29: 4-7 Jeremiah the prophet has a word from Jehovah for Israel in their captivity.’ v.4. “Thus says the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. v.5. ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become fathers of sons and daughters,….and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.'”

This statement from Jesus is the same as the word from God to Jeremiah. When in captivity, or wherever you are called to live, seek the welfare of that land, for in so doing you are providing for your own welfare, yet do not compromise your standing with God. At the time of Jesus, Israel was occupied by Rome, so therefore “Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and unto God what belongs to God.”

John 17: 14-17 Jesus, in His prayer for all believers, says, “I have given them Your word, and the world hates them, because they are not of this world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the ‘evil one’. They are not of this world even as I am not of this world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is the truth.”

We, as believers, are in this world, not of this world, yet our prayers are for this world.




Miracles: Defined, Part 2

Can we consider unusual answers to prayers as miracles? Examples exist to answered prayers in the Old (1 Kings 17:1-21, 18:24-25, cp. James 5:17-18) and New (Luke 4:40, Acts 12:5-17, 28:8-9) Testaments.

Christians report answers to prayers all the time. We shouldn’t water down the meaning of miracles so that every answer to prayer is called a miracle. Nevertheless, when an answer is remarkable in an unusual way, it seems appropriate to call it a miracle. This is consistent with our original definition that started this all and is supported by the stated examples from Scripture – those works of God that surprised “with awe and wonder.”

Even so, all should agree that if God does not work to answer our prayer and we recognize and give thanks to him or ignore the response by assigning “natural causes” for it. Here, balance is called for not to exaggerate in our reporting the details of prayers answered or the opposite of failing to glorify and thank God for what he has done.

What’s Love Got To do With it?

Luke 20: 19-26

Luke 10: 27

Jesus gave a warning to the leaders of Israel in the form of a parable telling them that their abuse of the power, and their lack in spiritual insight to recognize Him as Messiah coming from Jehovah, was going to force God to take their authority away from them, and remove Himself from their nation.

Luke 20: 19. “The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them.

V. 20. “So they watched Him, and they sent spies who ‘pretended be righteous’, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so they could deliver Him to the rule and authority of the governor.”

What a sad state of religious disarray Israel has fallen into. #1. They understand the parable of warning that Jesus spoke to them, which predicted their demise as a nation chosen of Jehovah, because of their lack of spiritual leadership. #2. In response they have to find cohorts who will ‘pretend to be righteous’. #3. These spies then are searching out every private conversation Jesus has in order to ‘catch Him’ in making a compromising statement, anything to use against Him in a Roman court. #4 They don’t just differ in their understanding of the scriptures, they hate Him, and want to destroy Him.

Such is the nature of the difference of the will of man, versus the will of God. Jesus taught and exhibited by actions, the love, peace, grace, and compassion of Jehovah in all of His ministries. By virtue of His lifestyle people were drawn to Him.

The religious leaders of Israel promoted themselves, and used deception and corrupted values of the Law to enrich themselves at any cost, or loss of virtue.

We as believers are called to live lives of love, compassion, peace and grace, just as our Master did. The greatest commandment is ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and mind’. And the second is, ‘to love your neighbor as yourself.’

Let’s do it.



Miracles: Defined, Part 1

A miracle is a less common kind of God activity in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to himself.

One way to look at a miracle is “a direct intervention of God in the world.” This implies that God intervenes only occasionally. But, the Bible states his doings are continuous (cf. Ps. 104:14, Matt. 5:45, Heb. 1:3). Another definition is “a more direct activity in the world.” This implies providence is not direct or ordinary. This leads one to a more deistic view of life and living.

The Bible examples miracles to arouse people’s wonder and amazement. They are called out as a “sign” – as an indication of God’s power and activity. They are also termed “wonder” – something that causes people to be amazed and astonished at a “mighty work” where God’s power is fully displayed (Ex. 7:3, Deut. 6:22, Ps. 135:9, Acts 2:22, 4:30, 5:12, Rom. 15:19, 2 Cor. 12:12, Heb. 2:4, etc.).

Miracles are all directly attributed to God (cf. Ex. 15:11, Ps. 72:18). Moses turned his staff into a snake and then back into a staff (Ex. 4:2-8) as a demonstration to Israel that God had singled him out to lead. Similarly, the plagues against Egypt and Pharaoh (Ex. 7:12, 8:18-19, 9:11) were done as further evidence of Israel’s relationship with the one true God. Later on in the OT, Elijah confronts the priests of Baal at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:17-40) with fire from heaven as another demonstration of the LORD as the only one worthy of worship.

A Stone of Stumbling 2

Luke 20: 9-18

1 Peter 2: 6-8

1 Corinthians 10: 4

Daniel 2: 34, 45

Habakuk 2:11

Luke 20: 17

Luke 20: 18. Concerning the latter half of Jesus concluding statement and warning to Israel’s leaders: “But on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

Daniel 2:34. Daniel interpreted a dream of Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar: “You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.”

In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue, the gold is Babylon, the silver is the Medo-Persian Empire, bronze is the Greek Empire, and iron mixed with clay is the Roman Empire.

Daniel 2: 45. “Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron and the bronze, the clay, the silver, the gold, (All world kingdoms), The Great God, El Elyon, has made known to the King what will take place,…”

This Stone, cut out from the mountain, in the kings dream, is in fact Jesus Christ, who, in the culmination of time, will crush all the kingdom’s on earth, and will crush all upon whom it will fall, scattering them like dust, in the days of judgement.

Israel, as a nation, did not listen to Jesus, did not recognize Him as their Messiah, and were crushed as a nation in 70 A.D. Their Messiah was then introduced to the Gentiles, who accepted the truth as needing a Savior. Thus, Luke 20: 16b, “the vineyard was taken from the vine-growers and given to others.”

1 Corinthians 10: 1-4. Paul writes to the church, with a warning from Israels past, saying: “I don’t want you to be unaware that Israel was symbolically baptized in the cloud and the waters of the Red Sea, they all ate the manna which was spiritual food,” V. 4,” and they all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual Rock which followed them; and that Rock was Christ.” v.5. “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; and they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.”

Christianity is not adhering to a religious type, or a ritual of worship, but is in the person of Jesus Christ. In Israel’s history we have a myriad of Christological types, and Jesus revealed these often, for both Israel and for us to learn from. Moses regarded YHVH as a Rock, Habakuk referred, in a warning, to the stones of Israel’s house, bearing witness against them, and Jesus taught about building our house upon a Rock. Moses, Jacob, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the Psalmists, Daniel, Peter, Paul all refer to Jesus being the Rock of our salvation, to whom we cling, and in whom we find our firm foundation.

“Jesus is the Rock of my salvation, His banner over me is love”.



A Stone of Stumbling

Luke 20: 9-18

Psalm 118: 22

Daniel 2: 34; 45

1 Corinthians 1: 23

1 Peter 2: 6

1 Peter 6: 7-8

Jesus is addressing the chief priests, scribes, and elders when he tells this parable of the Vine-growers, which was first told in Isaiah chapter 5: 1-6. Verse 7 is the explanation: “For the vineyard of the LORD of Hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.”

Luke 20: 15. In this parable the owner has sent his son to the mis-behaving vine-growers, reasoning that surely they will respect him. But they did not, v.15 “So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?”

V. 16. “He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” “When they heard it, they said, ‘May it never be!'”

V. 17. “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘What then is this that is written: “The Stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief cornerstone?” (Psalm 118: 22).

V. 18. “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

Isaiah 8: 14, “Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both houses of Israel, (Judah and Israel), a Stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, …Many will stumble over them, then they will fall and be broken.”

1 Corinthians 1:23 Paul writes, “but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness.”

Jesus who became the chief cornerstone of God’s Kingdom, became a stone of stumbling for Israel, and all who trip over Him will be broken. The religious leaders of Israel, filled with their own pride, and greed for wealth, were using any means to sustain their position of respect with the people, and their supposed authority within Rome. All the while trying to maintain a ‘Holy’ standing with God.

Peter sums up this prophecy in 1 Peter 2: 6. “Behold I lay in Zion a choice Stone, a precious Corner Stone, and he who believes in Him, will not be disappointed.”

1 Peter 6: 7. “This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, ‘This stone which the builders rejected, this became the Very Corner Stone, v.8. “A Stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,” for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”

Part one of the conclusion: Summing it up: God is the vineyard owner. Israel ‘s religious leaders are the hired vine-keepers. The prophets are the servants sent, and mistreated. Jesus is the Son sent, as an act of Grace, cast out and killed. God, the owner, will come and destroy Israel, and give the vineyard to others. The Stone of stumbling is Jesus, whom Israel did not recognize as Messiah.

Still more to come!



A Programming Note – Miracles

Going along with providence, miracles are part of it. Previously, I have, Reformed Theology argued that God exercises complete control, at all times, over his creation and created. This control is at his sovereign pleasure. After reading up on this subject, it seems best to divide and conquer it, Caesar’s ideal not mine, in the following way…

I. Miracles Defined

II. Miracles in the New Terstament

III. The Reasons For Miracles

IV. Are Miracles Restricted?

Briefly, miracles can be defined as A miracle is a less common kind of God’s activity in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to itself. This definition keeps our previous definition regarding providence in God’s governance of it all.

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