The Truth About the Resurrection

Jesus ResurrectionMatthew 28:1-7
1     After the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
2    And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.
3    And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow;
4    And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
5    And the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
6    “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.
7    “And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

The testimony of these special women who were the first to know of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead is the founding tenant of the Christian faith.

“He is risen, just as He said!” the angel told Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary (Jesus’ aunt) as they hunted for His body once the Passover Sabbath passed. They didn’t understand it yet, but they had been with God’s Passover lamb during Passover in God’s Passover city, and the life changing epoch of the New Testament had just commenced.

“Look where He was lying to see He is no longer there,” the angel continued. “Then, quickly go tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and that He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him.”

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When the two complied with the supernatural messenger’s direction, they set out for Jerusalem and were the first to encounter the resurrected Lord.

Matthew 28:8-10
8   And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.
9   And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

I Am He”

Three nights earlier Jesus spoke “I am He” in response to His captors’ Garden of Gethsemane inquiry, and the entire cohort fell to the ground. Historians say a cohort was made up of 600 soldiers (something no Easter movie has captured yet).

John 18:6
6   When therefore He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back, and fell to the ground.
The next day at noon while Jesus suffered on the cross, pitch darkness enshrouded Jerusalem for three hours (a type in fulfillment of the ninth Exodus plague previous to the first born’s death [Exodus 10:22-23; 11: 4, 5]).

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At the end of that time, around 3 PM, Jesus cried out to God (in what scholars confirm was no known earthly language): “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (translated) “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Then God’s only begotten Son gave up His life (John 10:17,18) producing an outpouring of God’s Spirit that rumbled the hills of Jerusalem, tearing in two the holy of holies veil, and resurrecting many from the dead.

Matthew 27:45, 50-53
45   Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.
50   And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51   And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split,
52   and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;
53   and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

These events are rarely touched upon in pulpit sermons or Easter films. “The Passion of Christ” was the first to capture the temple veil’s tearing (signifying the entrance into God’s presence once Jesus made the way [Hebrews 10:19,20]).  The resurrected saints may have been departed relatives of those they appeared to. Wouldn’t that have been something to welcome dear departed Grandfather Mordecai or Aunt Esther to your Sunday evening door?

All of this to say the Bible’s “Easter” story is a holy, miraculous story, full of supernatural events and heavenly beings rarely touched upon.

The response of some witnesses present that day is recorded briefly in Matthew 27.

Matthew 27:54
54   Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Not long after, Jesus would appear to the two Marys, then to the twelve, and the world would never be the same.

03 Christ Amidst theLampstandsResurrection Change

Allasso is the biblical Greek word used for the change that will take place when the church is resurrected and raptured at the end of the church age.

1 Corinthians 15:50-55
50   Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
51   Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed (allasso),
52   in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
53   For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54   But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.

55   ”O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

Jesus experienced allasso that Sunday morning in the tomb. He was changed to another form of life that only God completely understands. In fact, Jesus was so changed, that in every one of His post-resurrection Gospel recorded appearances, no one recognized Him at first.

Mary thought Jesus was a stranger. When she finally realized who He was, she grabbed Him.

John 20:15-19
15   Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).

John 20:17,18
17   Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'”
18   Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

Remember, it was Mary who stayed by Jesus’ side throughout His crucifixion; it was Mary who was at the tomb; and it was Mary who Jesus appeared to and gave the first post-resurrection gospel message.

When Jesus appeared to the twelve He walked in through closed doors and gave them a brief demonstration of His new form of life. Once He revealed His wounds and form, the disciples rejoiced, but not before.

John 20:19-22
19   When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
20   And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

That same day, “two of them” who heard the testimony of  Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ aunt, the other Mary, were walking the road to Emmaus when Jesus walked up next to them (Luke 24:13-32). In this instance Scripture says, “their eyes were prevented from recognizing Jesus” (vs. 16). Both were confused over Jesus’ death, so the risen Lord set them straight. After explaining the events surrounding His crucifixion from “Moses and the prophets,” He accepted their dinner invitation, then disappeared in front of their eyes.

RembrantEmmausLuke 24:30-33
30    When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.
31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.
32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

John 21 tells us Jesus worked one last earthly ministry miracle the third time He appeared to the disciples on the sea of Tiberias beach. Jesus called out to Peter, Nathaniel, James, and John who questioned their catch as they returned from a fishing trip. When they acknowledged “none,” Jesus encouraged them to try again, and their nets were filled to capacity. To make an accurate account of His appearance, John even counted the number of their catch (153 fish). Jesus ate  with them, and still, none seemed to recognize Him, because He was apparently something altogether different following His resurrection from what He was before.

John 21:12
12    Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord.

The 40 Day Post-Resurrection Jesus Seminar

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One more regularly ignored Easter revelation involves a series of appearances the resurrected Christ granted hundreds over a period of 40 days. Only Luke tells us of this time period that spanned the Sunday morning Jesus rose from the dead to His Bethany ascension.

Luke 1:1-3
1    The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,

2    until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.
3  To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

Paul tells us Jesus appeared to more than 500 at one time.

1 Corinthians 15:3-6
3    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4     and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
5     and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
6     After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time.

Wouldn’t that have been a powerful seminar, crowded in with hundreds to hear the resurrected Lord preach? Taking into account the few teachings documented in His post-resurrection appearances, Jesus probably explained from Moses’ tabernacle that shadowed and typed Him, and the prophecies of David, Isaiah, Micah, and Zechariah, who He was, and why He came.

All of this should be fascinating to any Bible/history student. But you won’t hear much if anything of these Scriptures on any given Sunday in the church. In fact, the only time you typically hear anything about Jesus’ resurrection is on Easter Sunday, and then the usual fare deals ONLY with “the empty tomb.”

Why?

Immortality is both pneumatologcial (study of the supernatural attributes of the Holy Spirit), and eschatological (study of the prophetic scriptures), and it’s hard to understand in the modern church that doesn’t deal much with either of them.

Jesus said His redeemed will be like angels once resurrected.

Mark 12:25
25   “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

Does that mean we will be able to appear and disappear at will, and travel at the speed of light? Interesting speculation. (Hebrews 1:7; 12:22; 13:2; Revelation 3:5; 5:11; 7:11; 12:7; 14:10; 21:12.)

Paul said once we’re changed, the Millennial Reign will lead to a pristine era in which there will no longer be any death.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26
21   For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
22   For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
23   But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,
24   then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
25   For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.
26   The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

This is the truth about the resurrection. Praise Him this Easter for this supreme miracle of salvation…while the others hide their eggs.

He is risen!

Mark Norris, Publisher, Eschatology Today, M.A.

Mary Magdalene Was Not A Whore

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as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this Easter season the church will rehearse the great truths of our miraculous birthing. Included among them will be Mary Magdalene’s role in discovering our risen Lord. And once again in popular Easter movies, pageants, and sermons, she will be cast in the role of a whore.

Poor Mary. Mary Magdalene was one of the few bold enough to watch Jesus suffer and die on the Cross. She was one of only two to see Him resurrected at His tomb, and was the first to witness the truth of His resurrection. But how is she perennially remembered? Not as the hero of Christian faith she truly is, but as a “former” whore.

Hallelujah that God sets prostitutes and the rest of we misfits free to make us new creations in Christ. This is what the Gospel is all about. But I’ve found myself an advocate of Mary’s true legacy over the years, not only because of Mary  Magdalene’s interpritive misrepresentation, but because it robs the church every Easter of a heroic model of faith. 

Like so many other biblical revelations, the truth of Mary Magdalene has fallen victim to poor hermeneutics (prejudiced study methods). And because Eschatology Today is dedicated to rightly dividing God’s Word without predetermined bias, our Easter offering to you is a fresh, systematic look at this biblical figure who knew Jesus on a personal level few have ever known. As in every Eschatology Today study, examine the cited Scripture for yourself, then consider your findings.

                                                Rightly Dividing the Truth of Mary Magdalene’s Past

So here we go. Remembering hermeneutics’ maxim: Where the Word of God is bound, so are we; where it’s not, we are free, let’s see what Scripture literally says about Mary Magdalene’s world-renowned past.

Luke 8:1-3
1    And it came about soon afterwards, that He began going about from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with Him,
2    and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
3    and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.

Verse 2 of this passage tells us Mary Magdalene was among a remnant of certain women who “had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses,” and that seven demons had “gone out” of her. Mark 16:9 says Jesus “cast them out.”

These demons could have produced sickness or disease in Mary’s life (see Luke 13:10-13; Matthew 15:22-28). They may have even been idolatry, immorality, greed, sorcery, jealousy, or strife (see Galatians 5:14-21). Whatever they were, they certainly weren’t good. But to insinuate they directed Mary to sell her body for sex acts before her deliverance is a FREE INTERPRETATION. I’ll show you why.

The Four Gospel Marys

A systematic theology of the Marys in Scripture shows there were four in the Gospels, all of whom shared an intimacy with Jesus during His time on earth.

1.  Mary, the Mother of Jesus
The most famous Mary is the blessed virgin from the high priestly lineage of Aaron who was chosen by God tomary2 miraculously birth Jesus.

Matthew 1:16
16 …and to Jacob was born Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

2.  Mary Magdalene
Next best known is Mary Magdalene because of her relationship with Jesus, discovery of the empty tomb with the “other” Mary, and encounter with the angels and Jesus outside of the tomb.

mary6Matthew 28:1-20
1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.
3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow;
4 and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
6 “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.
7 “And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”
8 And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.
9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren.”

John Chapter 20 focuses on Mary Magdalene only.

John 20:11-18
11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;
12 and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.
13 And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'”
18 Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

3.  Mary of Bethany
Also famous in Scripture is Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who chose the better thing formary_magdalene_Da_Vinci_Code sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Luke 10:38-42
38     Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.
39    And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet.
40    But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”
41    But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;
42    but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

4.  Mary the Sister of Mother Mary

PassionPhoto6Lesser known than these three Marys is the sister of Jesus’ mother, Mary the wife of Clopas, mother of James and Joseph. The Holy Spirit ensured we understood this other Mary was Jesus’ aunt, and that she was with her sister, John, and Mary Magdalene during the last moments of Jesus’ earthly life. She was present with the three as witness to Jesus’ crucifixion, and encountered the angels and Jesus with Mary Magdalene during their visits to the tomb (John 19:25).

John 19:25
25 Therefore the soldiers did these things. But there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Matthew 28:1
28 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

Luke 28:9,10
9    And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
10  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren.”

Only one of these four biblical Marys is implicated in any literal way of living a sinful lifestyle, and it isn’t Mary Magdalene. In fact, it is Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha.

John 11:1 tells us this Mary “was [that] Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.”

Luke’s account implicates her simply as a sinner who was looked down upon by the religious elite.

Luke 7:36-39
36   Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him. And He entered the Pharisee’s house, and reclined at the table.
37   And behold, there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume,
38   and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume.
39   Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet HeWoman-Washed-Jesus-Feet-With-Her-Tears would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

The Greek word that describes Simon’s dinner intruder is the word we derive our English word “sin” from, hamartos, “sinful, to miss the mark”. When He forgave her, Jesus did acknowledge her many sins (vs.47). But there is no huge revelation about this woman’s true condition except to understand she lived a sinful life.

Nevertheless, theologians throughout history have presumed she was a prostitute and connected her with Mary Magdalene, while at the same time protecting Mary of Bethany from any infamous connection. Why? I suppose to keep a woman from taking biblical prominence in the resurrection account during a very misogynistic time period. Outside of that, beats me. Instead of making a John 11:1/Luke 8:36-39 key event connection of Mary the sister of Martha and the woman who barged into Simon’s house, an amazing conglomeration of commentators believe John 11:1 refers to Mary the sister of Martha’s John 12:1-3 anointing of Jesus at the feast of Lazarus. The principle of chronological ascent disputes this. Why refer the reader to an act committed by Mary before the act occurred? One way or the other, this is the only possible key word/event connection with any “sinful” Mary mentioned in Scripture. And it is revelation. So far as Mary Magdalene is concerned, there is none. 

Still, this year if “Jesus of Nazareth” (my favorite Easter film) airs viewers will see Mary Magdalene portrayed again as a neighborhood whore who is told about Jesus’ forgiveness by one of her customers…and later as the sinful woman who barges into Simon’s house. In Mel Gibson’s heroic triumph, “The Passon of Christ,” viewers will see Mary Magdalene cast as the John 8 woman caught in adultery. In this year’s exciting biblical semi-fiction “Risen”, when the Tribune is searching for Jesus’ body, a barracks full of Roman Soldiers is asked if  any know Mary Magadelne, and all raise their hands with smirks on their faces. Sheeessshhh. Seasonal magazine articles, Sunday School lessons, and books will also hype her misrepresention again.

Setting the captive free, from whatever pre-salvation station, is what the Gospel is all about. But Mary Magdalene’s historic casting is hermeneutically unfair. Not because her legacy surrounds this one aspect of her misinterpreted life, but because the veracity of her Christian faith and model have been historically marred.

 The Truth About Mary

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So consider this, if you will, concerning Mary Magdalene as you celebrate Christ’s resurrection this Easter Season.

Luke 8:1-3 tells us Mary Magdalene discovered the truth of Jesus early during His earthly ministry, and that she traveled with Him and others as He ministered in Israel. This passage also indicates she financed His ministry, and confirms, along with Mark 16:9, that she was delivered of seven demons. John 19:25 says Mary Magdalene maintained a fearless fortitude with John, Mary the Mother of Jesus, and the “other Mary”, to stay with Jesus through His execution. John 20:1-16 explains it was Mary Magdalene, not John or Peter, who had the faith to stay at the grave following their investigation of Mary’s empty-tomb report. Because of this, John 20:17 tells us it was Mary Magdalene who Jesus entrusted with His resurrection appearance and gave the first commission to tell of His raising from the dead.

Did the seven demons Jesus cast out of Mary Magdalene have her bound in life as a whore? Based on a literal observation of Scripture, it is a sound biblical interpretation to answer this question: NO! Mary Magdalene was not a whore. It is as hermeneutically equitable to freely interpret Mary Magdalene’s undisclosed past as a housewife or merchant racked with demonically produced disease or overtaken by devils of greed, jealousy, or strife.

Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus’ most intimate disciples who followed Him throughout His earthly ministry, to the Cross, and to the tomb. It was she who held the resurrected form of Jesus on the day He was raised from the dead. And it was she who was the first to be commissioned by Jesus to preach His raising from the dead.

Who else in Scripture can attest to this?

NO ONE.

Thank you Mary Magdalene for your heroic example of faith.

John 20:1-21:25
1     Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.
2     And so she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
3     Peter therefore went forth, and the other disciple, and they were going to the tomb.
4     And the two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter, and came to the tomb first;
5     and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.
6     Simon Peter therefore also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there,
7     and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.
8     So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed.
9     For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
10   So the disciples went away again to their own homes.
11   But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;
12   and she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.
13   And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
14   When she had said this, she turned around, and beheld Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was mary magdaleneJesus.
15   Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16   Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).
17   Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'”
18   Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.
19   When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
20   And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
21   Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
22   And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23   “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

By Mark Norris, Publisher, Eschatology Today, M.A.

God’s Richest Blessings on You this Year as You Celebrate His Resurrection!

Article photos from the Web, The Passion of the Christ, and Jesus of Nazareth 

Looking Back: The Glory Years of NASA – America on the Moon

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By Mark Norris

 Apollo 11 25th anniversary seal. Middle: Dr. Wernher von Braun; Mariner 10 space probe. Bottom: Apollo 11 navigator, Buzz Aldrin, on the lunar surface; Lunar mission view of earth from the moon.

“The earth is uncommonly lovely. It is the only warm living object that we saw in space on our trip to the moon” (Jim Irwin, Apollo 15).    

this July marked another anniversary of America’s greatest technological achievement. On July 20, 1969, 49 years ago, a manned spacecraft rocketed 240,000 miles out of earth’s atmosphere to land on the moon. One calculated thruster burn over the Pacific, and the three-spacecraft configuration of America’s eleventh Apollo mission coasted to, and landed, on the moon.

Moonwalkearth

The Apollo 11 mission was not without its technical difficulties. Twelve minutes away from the lunar surface, the Eagle landing module’s guidance computer failed, forcing a totally manual descent. Lunar Module pilot Neil Armstrong landed the craft blinded by its stirred up lunar dust with less than thirty seconds of descent fuel to spare. Five hours later, the former X-15 and Gemini test pilot stepped outside the fragile landing module to become the first of twelve Americans who would walk upon the moon.

Other technical difficulties lying along man’s lunar flight path took the lives of America’s first three Apollo astronauts, Gus Grissom (famed second American in space), Roger White (first American to spacewalk), and Ed Chaffee.

Despite Grissom’s many qualified criticisms of their craft’s incomplete design (he was a skilled engineer), the three suffocated to death as flames swept through their Apollo 1 capsule in January of 1967 during routine equipment checks.

But Apollo was the official undeclared war of the United States and Russia’s epoch Cold War Space Race. And wartime deaths, few though there were, were to be expected. It was Apollo’s mission to wage the culminating battles of these two greatest military powers ever formed on earth in their struggle for its highest ground.

Handed the technical baton from their Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo predecessors, Armstrong and Aldrin’s amazing lunar pictures televised 48 years ago achieved the conqueror’s end to the 12 year space epoch most of the world had watched.

“Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mankind’s greatest adventure reached its summit. The space race had a winner. America won. And there was more to the victor’s spoils than planted flags and bragger’s rights. Along the way to the race’s finish, modern space science grew in size and stature establishing American technology as preeminent on earth.

The powerful rocket engines and their successive missile casings that exploded America out of earth’s atmosphere were the brainchild of German rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun. Since surrendering his Third Reich V2 rocket team to America at the end of World War II, von Braun possessed the scientific expertise and vision to put America in space first. But he was denied his continued requests to do so by President Eisenhower, who disdained the thought of former Nazi functionaries putting Americans into space.

A generation earlier American rocket scientist Robert Goddard innovated many of the concepts incorporated by von Braun’s V2 team, and after Eisenhower’s election, he was hoping for a successor. The former Nazi rocket scientist worked with the Truman Administration to develop a nuclear ballistic missile. Beyond that, America had no special plans for space. But when Russia launched the first orbiting satellite in October of 1957, Eisenhower authorized and funded von Braun to produce every rocket in America’s arsenal and space program from the Redstone that carried Alan Shepard (first American into space), to the gigantic Saturn V that rocketed Apollo to the moon.

 first_seven_astronauts

NASA Langley Research Center located in Hampton,Virginia provided the burgeoning American space program with its technological base. It was at Langley that the “Right Stuff” Mercury astronauts received their training giving the Space Race its first dose of fame.

But there was more to these adventures than mere politics could see. There was discovery in the air, and a host of new space technicians endowed with exorbitant NASA funding to get America “up there” for a celestial look around.

Satellites, Robots, and Probes 

As soon as von Braun’s rockets would allow, America began closing Russia’s five-year race lead by blasting into earth orbit a 31 pound mini-laboratory devised to study cosmic rays. Launched on January 31, 1958, the satellite Explorer 1 measured outerspace temperatures and discovered two ring-shaped bands of radiation trapped by an earth encompassing magnetic field between 620 to 3,000 miles up.

Subsequent discoveries by NASA’s Pioneer space probe program proved this belt to be the innermost area of another magnetic band 40,000 miles out that served as a shield of the earth’s thin atmospheric envelope from the Sun’s solar winds. Discoverers awed at its precise purpose and placement, named it the magnetosphere (also called it the Van Allen Belt for its chief scientific discoverer), and American space science was birthed.

Focusmagplanets

Earth’s closest solar system planets, Mercury, Venus, and Mars soon became prime space probe targets as a host of elaborate space gizmos emerged from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories in the early ’60s and ’70s. Culminating with the amazing Viking Mars orbiter and landing mission in 1976, NASA’s Mariner explorations of these innermost planets showed them to be rocky globes similar to earth, but possessing very alien environments.

Mercury proved to have no measurable atmosphere at all, with surface temperatures ranging between 800F and -300 degrees. Venus’ poisonous atmosphere of carbon dioxide enshrouded by clouds of sulfuric acid proved to enclose constant surface lead and tin melting temperatures of 900 degrees. And Mars, though proving to possess a tilted axis and seasonal rotations similar to earth’s, exhibited a poisonous atmosphere of carbon dioxide with lifeless surface temperatures ranging between -240 and 32 degrees. 

The awesome wonders of earth’s outer planets, the four “gas giants” Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, were sensationally revealed as rocky-cored planets overlaid by magnificently colored spheres of hydrogen, helium, and methane gas. Wowing millions with their startling space images and data since 1977, NASA’s Voyager probes brought these enchanting ringed planets into the nation’s front rooms. But as for the search for other planetary life, and it was going on, the hunt drew a resounding nil. 

In truth, the farther away from man’s planet observable science would search, the more humanly uninhabitable and alien it proved. “No life here,” came the answer to NASA’s extraterrestrial life inquisitors as their fact-finding quest of science bore witness to an amazing earth life design.  

Earth itself would become a planetary discovery as manned space flight hurled men toward the moon. In fact, the most compelling of space experiences encountered by Apollo’s chosen few was their privileged view of earth from the lifeless vacuum of space. Some were changed forever.  

Commander of the Apollo program’s first mission to the moon, Frank Borman, related his view of earth’s living, blue image from the extraterrestrial darkness of space as being responsible for the “final leg” of his own religious experience of encountering Jesus Christ.

“When viewing the earth from space,” Borman said in reminiscences of Apollo 8, “the question of Christian belief becomes utterly absurd. The question from that point seemed more properly reversed. I saw evidence that God lives.” 

Jim Lovell, Borman’s Apollo 8 crew mate and the country’s first official moon guide described his view of earth from lunar orbit as “a grand oasis in the vastness of space.”

apollo11earthscape2
On the December 24th of their grand 1968 adventure, Borman’s third crew mate, Bill Anders, inspired the most memorable Christmas Eve the mission’s global TV audience would ever enjoy. In their book, “Moonshot,” former NASA manager/ astronauts Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton remember the event like this:

“Christmas Eve was like none other in the long history of celebrating that occasion. While millions of people brought families together in homes throughout the planet, the three men orbiting the moon continued taking sharp motion pictures and hundreds of clear color photographs that would later enable them to share with those on earth their fabulous adventure.

“Then Bill Anders spoke, not just to CapCom, but to all the world listening to his words from so far away. ‘For all the people on earth,’ he said, his emotions unmasked, ‘the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you.’ A brief pause, and then Anders stunned his audience as he began reading from the verses of the Book of Genesis:

‘In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth….’ As Anders concluded the fourth verse, Lovell read the next four. Borman concluded by beginning his reading of the ninth verse, and then sent to the world a special Christmas message: “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth…’ “

Focusmaggenesisreading
Official NASA Apollo 8 Dec 24 1968 Christmas Eve broadcast:

William Anders:

“For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you”.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Jim Lovell:

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

Frank Borman:

“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”

Borman then added, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.”

The crew’s joint reading of Genesis was a totally unplanned event. Borman would also read from Psalm 8 before leaving earth’s view from the moon:

“0 Lord…when I look at Thy heavens.., what is man that Thou art mindful of him?”

The view of earth from its Creator’s tapestry of oxygenless, colorless space was an overpowering experience for America’s star voyaging spacemen. Apollo’s astronauts of missions 8 and 10 through 17 had been afforded a special vantage point. They were privileged a view of the Bible’s stated “general revelation” of God’s creation (Romans 1:20) as none had ever seen it.

For since the creation of the world His invisible
attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have
been clearly seen, being understood through what has
been made, so that men are without excuse.
-Romans
1:20

**Houston Chronicle: Christmas Miracle from High Above
(Includes actual voice transmission of Christmas Even Apollo 8 reading.)  

24 Dec 2013-wjct News 

On Anniversary Of Apollo 8: How The ‘Earthrise’ Photo Was Made

In fact, though not a part of NASA’s official public record, one third of Apollo’s twenty-four astronauts, eight in all, would encounter differing spiritual experiences because of their missions to the moon.

The ordeal of the eight Apollo astronauts admitting spiritual enlightenments ran a gamut of experience. They ranged from the extemporaneous Bible readings of Apollo 8; to Apollo 15 commander David Scott’s simple action of leaving a Bible on his lunar moon rover; to Apollo 15 lunar module pilot Jim Irwin’s dramatic Christian re-dedication on the surface of the moon.

Very few knew of Buz Aldrin’s private communion service held shortly after Apollo 11 touched down. Or of Apollo 14 lunar module pilot Ed Mitchell’s “space epiphany” that led him into mind science in the hope of scientifically proving the existence of God.

Jimirwin

The most prominent of the lunar landing’s spiritual apologists was Apollo 15 lunar module pilot, Col. Jim Irwin, the astronaut turned evangelist upon his return from the moon. In his 1973 book, “To Rule The Night”, Irwin wrote:

“It is not an accident that the lives of the lunar module pilots have been more changed by the Apollo flights than the lives of the commanders or the command module pilots. The people in my slot were sort of tourists on these flights. They monitored systems that were, for the most part, not associated with control of the vehicle, so they had more time to look out the windows, to register what they saw and felt, and to absorb it.”

On the Moon
“I felt an overwhelming sense of the presence of God on the moon. I felt His Spirit more closely than I have ever felt it on the earth, right there beside me, it was amazing. When we were struggling with the difficult tasks on the EVA (extra-vehicular activity), a key string broke and I couldn’t get the science station up, I prayed. Immediately I had the answer. It was almost like a revelation. God was telling me what to do. I never asked Houston because I knew there would be a delay. I prayed, and immediately I knew the answer. I am not talking about some vague sense of direction. There was this supernatural sensation of His presence.”

On Earth
“The most important thing I can say to you today is not that Jim Irwin walked on the moon, but that the Son of God Jesus Christ, the Creator of the Universe,walked on the earth.” 

Regardless of any statements or the personal beliefs of his fellow moon voyagers, Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan probably summed up their exclusive views of earth best in a public statement made in 1985:

“When I was the last man to walk on the moon in December 1972, 1 stood in the blue darkness and looked in awe at the earth from the lunar surface.What I saw was almost too beautiful to have happened by accident. It doesn’t matter how you choose to worship God…He has to exist to have created what I was privileged to see.”

Of course the Bible that astronauts Borman, Lovell, and Anders read their 1968 Christmas Eve message from affirms the God you choose to worship does matter. The choice to worship mankind’s Creator revealed in the Bible is the most important choice men and women make during their time on earth. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was God incarnate and that He created mankind, our animal and aquatic co-inhabitants, the earth, heavens, sun, and moon (John 1:3). It affirms that Jesus is the only way to God through the sacrificial offering of His life (Romans 6:23). And it teaches that all men and women must accept His sacrifice to receive His life-giving Spirit to be reunited with Him (Galatians 3:13,14).

The Apollo astronauts saw His handiwork. And because they did, so did we.

After six successful moon missions Congress lost interest, canceling their last two scheduled moon flights in 1972. It was expensive to visit, and there wasn’t much to find there except dust and rocks.

But while we were up there, Apollo really took America on some kind of ride. We took on the Soviet Union in history’s greatest race and soundly defeated them with the brains and determination of what Tom Wolfe’s epic Space Race novel would later call, “The Right Stuff”. And we did it from a distance of five years back.

All the same, it makes one wonder, after our space probe missions that revealed the truth of our inner planets, what we were looking for up there once we planted our flag in the dust?

Maybe we were up there simply for the view.

The heavens declare the glory of God and their expanse declare His handiwork.
-Psalm 19:1

The Battle of Gog

magogThere is a prophesied end-times war in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel that will once again  unleash God’s divine power to utterly destroy an enemy that comes against Israel. Ezekiel says God will turn this enemy about and put a thought in his head to come out of the north to attack. He adds God will route this enemy (plant a maddening thought) causing its forces to turn their weapons on one another.  And he says a tremendous earthquake that crumbles surrounding mountains and fire from heaven will finish this enemy off. The enemy prophesied is Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Russia, who will deploy out of his country to partner with an unholy alliance to take Israel as a spoil.

Gog of the Land of Magog

Ezekiel 38:1-6
2  “Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
3  and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.
4  “And I will turn you about, and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding  swords;
5 Persia (ancient Middle East), Ethiopia (ancient Africa), and Put (northern Africa) with them, all of them with shield and helmet;
6 Gomer (Armenia and portions of Turkey) with all its troops; Beth-togarmah (Gomer’s son with him) from the remote parts of the north with all its troops-many peoples with you. See: Turkey Drawing Away from NATO – Warming Ties with Moscow.

KremlinredToday those on the Russia Gog watch are focusing on former KGB Colonel and current Russian President Vladimir Putin who continues to arm the radical factions of Islamic Jihad that will join Gog in his Ezekiel 38,39 battle. (See: Syrian official answers Netanyahu: We will use all available means to recapture the Golan; Iran Commander: We’re Getting Prepared to Overthrow Israel – Israel wary of Russian military build-up in Syria;  Putin’s Sinister Role in Failed Turkish Coup. If Putin is Gog, Ezekiel 38:3, 4 says God is “against him” and will “turn him about and put hooks in his jaws to bring him and his forces  into the land restored from the sword” (vs.8) where he and his allies will be destroyed. Revelation 16:13-16 gives more detail on this “hooking” of God’s prey as John reveals demonic influence that draws the victims of Armageddon to their doom. When God says, “Behold, I am against you,” and says it twice, that’s doom-frightening, because Peter says the “Lord is patient, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  Reference the Great Flood and decimation of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gem 7; 19). Zechariah 14:12 describes a last-days battle in which God’s enemies’ tongues rot in their mouths, eyes rot in their sockets, and flesh rots where they stand. Ezekiel says there will be a great earthquake that crumbles the mountains (Ezekiel 38:19,20) and describes a routing (God provoked thought-inducing madness) that will pit Gog soldier against Gog soldier (as occurred in Jehoshaphat’s war with Moab and Ammon [2 Chronicles 20]). Divine fire from heaven will finish Gog and his allies off (Ezekiel 38:21). After, their bodies will be offered to the birds of the air as a sacrifice (39:4), burial will take place for seven months in the valley of Hammon-Gog, and the battle’s weapons will be burned for seven years (39:11-16).

The prophet describes the battle’s end and purpose in the following verse:

Ezekiel 39:28-29
28 “Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. 29 “I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Lord God.

Russia’s had a murderous, strangling. stronghold throughout its history. The 1917 communist revolution was in response to theirPro-Russian-separatist royals’ tyranny. The Tsar was a murderous despot. The torturing, murdering, communist regime that followed made the Tsar look like an Eagle Scout as they terrorized and killed any who thought unpolitically correct thoughts. Like his 20th-Century predecessors, Putin is no one to be trifled with, and is having a heyday with the West’s weak resolve. He wants to conquer and reintegrate former Warsaw Pact countries they enslaved after WWII then lost when the USSR folded. And he viewed the past White House as a pawn on a chess board he could easily move. The Trump Administration is moving as quickly as possible to repair the situation. The Obama Administration’s astounding alliance with Iran at the expense of America’s historic pacts with Israel and Saudi Arabia produced Saudi Arabian airstrikes on Yemen. They are the inquisitive onlooking accusers in Ezekiel 38:13 who are identified as Sheba and Dedan (born to Abraham’s second wife Ketura). Today they are moving closer in alliance with Israel for their disdain of Iran. Prince Mohamed Bin Salman has made impacting nation changes moving them away from hardline Islam and recently called Iran’s leader the New Hitler. Very interesting. Also See New Saudi Prince Commits to Eradicating Terrorism and Revolutionary Guard-head Accuses Saudi Arabia of Treachery Against Islamic World. And see Saudi Crown Prince Says Iran’s Supreme Leader Makes Hitler Look Good and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince slams Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, backs Israel’s right to exist.

Ezekiel 38:13
“Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages will say to you (Gog), ‘Have you come to capture spoil? Have you assembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?'”‘

So eschatology is on the move.

Citizens on the ground today say there is no Russian nationalist threat in Ukraine, and never has been since the USSR disbanded. Putin’s propaganda plan states the opposite, claiming Russia’s nationalization of Ukraine, like Crimea, will bring protection and peace to the propagandized unrest. The drop of oil prices recently brought Putin to the UN negotiation table to stop his Ukraine invasion. The huge men in the black ski masks aren’t pro-Russian Separatists; they’re Russian Special Ops. Only the naive could think otherwise. Attacks continue after his agreement to cease. His alliance with the Syrian government just saw Russian troops deploy to that country Russia Puts Boots on the Ground in Syria. Once this all boils down, and it will, maybe Putin will have fulfilled his initiation as the Eschaton’s antichrist. Ezekiel’s battle is probably one in the same with John’s Revelation 16 and 19 Battle of Armageddon.  Let’s speculate. Why would there be a second battle after Ezekiel’s battle culminating words?

Ezekiel 39:28-29
8 “Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. 29 “I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Lord God.

The mushrooming alliance is staring us in the face, and anything could break tomorrow. Possibly Putin will fade from the scene before Ezekiel’s battle and a successor will fulfill the role. Regardless of his presence, hermeneutic key words and events of the two biblical battles certainly connect.

RussiaIran Possibly western mission creep will allow the former KGB colonel to evolve to a pinnacle of political power where he affects Daniel’s 9:27 week of peace  initiating the Abomination of Desolation (Great Tribulation). He has great influence with the anti-Israel nations of Iran and Syria. He recently forged a new military pact with Iran. See Russia & Iran forge military compact as Iran & Hezbollah vow massive attacks on Israel’s northern tier; and The Iranian Dream of A Reborn Persian Empire; Russian Missile Sales to Iran Cross “Another” White House “Red Line”; and  Iran is massively ramping up arming of Hezbolla in preparation for a major assault on Israel.  Also see my article: Iraq in Prophecy? the Iranian Dream …and now the President Trump has committed to moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Iran Commits to Defending Palestians. If Putin is able to affect such a covenant as foretold in Daniel’s prophecy, it won’t be by his own power, but by God’s who will be working His final move of worldwide salvation through His latest political tool.

The divine judgements that vanquish God’s foes in Ezekiel 38, 39, and Revelation 19 are definite key event connections. However, there are different events mentioned by Ezekiel and John. And to be theologically practical, any good eschtatologian must look at them.

First, unlike John’s Battle of Armageddon where the antichrist and false prophet are instantly cast into hell while their allies are killed by the sword of the Spirit in Jesus’ mouth (Revelation 19:20,21): Ezekiel predicts a seven month burial of Gog’s dead that will be conducted by Israel over a period of seven months (Ezekiel 39:11-16). The carcasses of the dead at Armageddon and Ezekiel’s battle are both eaten by the birds, but it is in Ezekiel only that the burial and, and burning of Gog’s weapons is mentioned (Ezekiel 9:9,10). Could this happen understanding John’s revelation simply kept it out? Though it seems strange, the first seven years of the Millennium that follows the Second Coming of Jesus could see the burial of the Second Coming’s dead over a seven-year period.  The Bible’s prophetic record has always flowed through human vessels, and like the Gospels, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John share the Holy Spirit’s account,10 Destruction in Nature but with differing events. Only in John do we see the resurrection of Lazarus. Only in Matthew do we see the resurrection of saints in Jerusalem when Jesus gave up His Spirit. The four synoptic Gospels also give different accounts of Christ’s miracles. And only Luke tells us of Jesus’ appearance on the shore of Galilee where he ate before the disciples and showed off His resurrection body.  This is why Ezekiel and John’s revelations of the Second Coming, each sharing differing events not revealed by the other, could be the same event. Again, hermeneutics, not special revelation, make sense of the texts.  Study the key events revealed by both prophets and judge for yourself. You do the study. You make the call.

Events are lining up in the Middle East that show the alliance of Gog with Persia (modern Iran, the former entire Middle East) as suggested in Ezekiel 38 building on front page news. The American Administration’s rejection of former strong ties with Israel in favor of its mortal enemy Iran further builds a case for Ezekiel’s coming battle. It is up to us, the church, to recognize and pray for God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. Yes, we do see through a glass darkly now in our present age. But we can see. The Battle of Gog is coming. Let’s keep looking up.

Eschatology Today Publisher, Mark Norris, MA

 

 

Forgive Everyone Always for Everything, and be Nobody’s Fool

ChristianFamily
the most beneficial, healing attribute of the Christian life is our capacity to forgive others who have sinned against us. When our spouse gets overbearing; our boss gets unfriendly; our friends get selfish; our children get obstinate; we can lash back – or we can forgive, because we have the promise of God’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness that He has commanded us to share with the world. And we can do it, because His Holy Spirit dwells within us, and Jesus first loved us:

1 John 4:19
We love, because He first loved us.

We often don’t feel like forgiving at first, because we as Christians are emotional flesh too.  But because our minds are renewed in the Word of God, we can obey God’s Word,  despite what we feel, and God’s Holy Spirit will confirm His presence in our lives.

In Mark 11:25-26 Jesus said:

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.  26 [“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]

Pre-Christian, self-absorbed Peter learned this, just like us:

1 Peter 4:8
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Peter grew to understand the same depth of forgiveness as the woman Jesus forgave who washed His feet with her tears: “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47, 48).

Jesus also taught us to ask for others’ forgiveness if in word or deed we advertently or inadvertently sin against them:

Matt 5:23-25
Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

And we can do it all, because we have the mind of Christ:

1 Corinthians 2:16
16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

Forgive Everyone Always for Everything, and Be Nobody’s Fool

A little maxim the Lord showed me years ago goes, “forgive everyone always for everything, and be nobody’s fool.” To be nobody’s fool is to be bold enough to caution others who mistreat us to respect us for who we are in Christ. We’ve all seen people at work who have no right to treat others the way they do. Whether they listen or not, there is a time of gospel witness to others when they choose to mistreat us and others in word or deed. Those in communist thought police gulags and in Islamic countries have already paid the price for obeying God’s Word, and will continue to pay the price. These are a special group of precious believers our free western lifestyle often forgets. The early church lived in such life-threatening conditions and understood the benefit of being home with the Lord if death for Christian obedience was their end.

Phil 1:21-24
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.

The burden of the deadly lifestyle of sin is on others, not us who are born again Spirit-filled believers. The physical sickness and disease released in the human body from hate and mental stress has been tested and documented. The peace that passes understanding inherent to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling cancels the degenerative deterioration brought upon by sin. Christians who choose to live in unbelief and unforgiveness forego the benefits of Christ’s forgiveness of their sins. I memorized Ephesians 4:31,32 years ago to fill my mind when I need to forgive someone for an offense.

Eph 4:31, 32
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

My sins were forgiven 35 years ago, but I’m still prone to sin with what I say, at times. My admonition against this is in the preceding verses to Ephesians 4:31 and 32.

Eph 4:29-30
29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

I’ve learned to be relatively quick to repent, and to believe God. My mind is renewed in the Word of God, and I pray daily, so I’m quick to repent when I notice that, and quick to believe God. If I say something unkind, rare that it is, it’s usually in relation to some situation with my lovely wife Alisa of 32 years. It’s usually a disagreement about something, and until I resolve that something, I’m stuck in that sin. This is nowhere anyone needs to be. So I place my gift at the altar, am reconciled to her, then move on with life. Sometimes a critical word is said in reference to a political situation or against the foolishness of the politically correct world mind when I’m home or in the car, or against other drivers when I’m alone in the car. Each time, I repent before the Lord, because I know the benefit and healing of walking in God’s calm peace. It is His calm peace that defines our Christian life.

Yes, Jesus is coming again. Until then there is abundant life to be lived on this earth that God created for us. Have you sinned recently against God or against others in word or deed?  Don’t get ensnared. Forgive everyone always for everything, and be nobody’s fool.

DSCN1987

Mark and Alisa