Jesus the Savior

Before Jesus was born, an angel from God spoke to Joseph concerning his future wife Mary:

“She will bear a son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)

This was not a common birth. The young virgin became pregnant miraculously through the Holy Spirit of God, fulfilling a 700-year-old prophecy (Isaiah 7:14). The news of this birth announced the expected arrival of the Messiah or Christ, God’s chosen ruler.

The angel also revealed His name would be Jesus. “Jesus” literally means “Jehovah is salvation,” an indicator of His mission in world: “it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).  Even from his birth, salvation through his death was promised for man. After the cross was accomplished, the apostles preached the same message, “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as Prince and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).

What do you think about Jesus? Was he a good man? Was he a great teacher and religious leader? Was he a humanitarian that sympathized with people in distress? He was all these things, but still much more. Our concept of Jesus must center on the primary reason he came to earth: to save people from their sins! He said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Since all of us “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), we all need to seek forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  He is our only hope of being saved from our sins.  The apostle Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  If you realize you are a sinner in need of salvation, we would like to help you learn more about Jesus the Savior.  Please call us today or enroll in the free Bible course below.

FREE BIBLE COURSE

Call 267-603-WORD or write to Philly Bible Study, PO Box 24038, Philadelphia, PA 19139. The course is also available online at www.PhillyBibleStudy.org/jesus-the-way.

Rejecting God’s Will

“Not everyoNot everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord'ne who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) It is human tendency to disregard God’s will. The Lord gave us the ability to think for ourselves, to make our own choices, and to set our own goals in life. Sadly, we often use these blessings to reject God rather than to chose him.

The Scriptures portray humanity as a wicked and ungrateful people rejecting God’s will. The apostle Paul wrote, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:21-22) Isn’t this an appropriate description our own society, as people turn to the gods of pleasure, sexual immorality, greed, deceit, and crime? For most people, God’s desires rarely takes priority over their own desires.

What underlies this rejection of God and His will? It’s a philosophy focused on this material world. Sometimes called humanism, this philosophy attempts to justify man’s rebellion against God. It teaches us and our children a distorted values that exclude God and His revealed Word. Religious denominations are also filled with attitudes, teachings, and practices far removed from the will of God revealed in the Scriptures. The sad truth is everyone has been been guilty of rejecting God’s will. In view of this, you and I must go back to the source to understand how God really wants us to live. If you are interested in learning about God’s will, we are offering a free Bible course to help you get started.

 

The Will of God

Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord'Jesus once said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) The truth of this statement is very clear. It defines a relationship we may have with the great God of heaven and informs us on what basis we may hope to enter heaven with Him. Jesus simply says we must do God’s will to enter the kingdom of heaven.

There is only one God, and there is no other. Long ago Paul the apostle introduced the people of Athens to the true God in this way: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.” (Acts 17:24).

Where are we in relation to the Creator and sustainer of all life? We are His created beings, made in His spiritual and moral image. We are dependent upon Him and accountable to Him. The creation cannot make demands upon the Creator; we can only approach Him on the terms and conditions He desires.

Are we mindful of God’s will? In the next verse Jesus foresees the following situation: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” (Matthew 7:22) This sounds like many modern-day claims, doesn’t it? Jesus continues, “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:23)

You and I must become serious about learning and doing God’s will as revealed in His Word. If you’re ready, we are offering a free Bible course to help you get started.


FREE BIBLE COURSE

Call 267-603-WORD or write to Philly Bible Study, PO Box 24038, Philadelphia, PA 19139. The course is also available online at www.PhillyBibleStudy.org/jesus-the-way.

Spiritual Conversion

Spiritual ConversionHave you ever been convicted to make a drastic life change? Perhaps poor eating habits were ruining your health so you completely changed your diet. Maybe you stopped smoking or drinking alcohol to improve your health. This process is a “conversion,”  a sincere change of thinking and living. But while a conversion to save our physical life is good, a conversion to save our spiritual life is the most important decision we could ever make.

Jesus talked to many people who needed spiritual conversion. When he spoke to the proud and stubborn Pharisees he said, “For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn (be converted), and I would heal them” (Matthew 13:15).

These people had closed their eyes, ears, and hearts to seeing, hearing, and understanding the truth Jesus was teaching. They held on to religious traditions and refused to change or be converted. The Pharisees loved their religion and didn’t want to be bothered. They were comfortable. In fact, God’s truth made them so uncomfortable that they shut their eyes, ears, and hearts to it. The result? They lost their souls.

Are you too comfortable in your spiritual life? Don’t be so committed to religious traditions that you are unable to accept what God is teaching through his word. We encourage you to begin reading the Bible daily and as you read be willing to change. We are offering a free Bible course to help you get started. If you’re ready for a spiritual conversion, start today.


FREE BIBLE COURSE

Call 267-713-WORD or write to Philly Bible Study, PO Box 24038, Philadelphia, PA 19139. The course is also available online at PhillyBibleStudy.org/jesus-the-way.

 

Not By Bread Alone

A loaf of bread

Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Have you ever been so hungry you would do anything for food? Food is one of our greatest needs. We eat every day – most of us eat several times a day. If we don’t, we get weak and eventually die. We need food, but we have a greater need.

After Jesus fasted forty days, the devil tempted him to selfishly use his miraculous power, “Turn this stone into bread” (Matthew 4:3). The Savior’s answer was profound. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Although Jesus was extremely hungry physically, his greater need was to receive God’s words in full. He was not satisfied with only some of God’s words. Jesus would live by “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

We expend much time and effort to get physical food for ourselves and our families, but have we given attention to our greater need – our spiritual need? We need God’s words to live and we need all his words, not just select words or thoughts that appeal to us (as if the Bible were a spiritual restaurant menu). We too must feed on “every word.”

Are you feeding on the words of God? If not, you are spiritually starving to death. Jesus offers “the bread of life” and “the water of life” (John 6:35). The New Testament scriptures are the only true source of His life and teaching. We are offering a free Bible course to encourage feasting on God’s Word. If you’re spiritually hungry, start today.


FREE BIBLE COURSE
Call 267-713-WORD or write to Philly Bible Study, P.O. Box 24038, Philadelphia, PA 19139. The course is also available online at PhillyBibleStudy.org/jesus-the-way.

The Bible on Trial

 

2016 Bible on Trial - listen now banner

“The Bible On Trial” was held at the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, April 16th, 2016. The audio recordings and presentation slides can be viewed below.

Do We Have A Reliable Copy? (View Presentation Slides)

Is The Bible A Historical Work? (View Presentation Slides)

Is The Bible A “Good Book”? (View Presentation Slides)

Does The Bible Present A Clear Plan? (View Presentation Slides)

 

The Story of the Bible – the Seed Promise

The Bible is one of the most well known books in the world. Publishers have sold more Bibles than any other book. It might be that one has not read it or does not believe it, but nearly every person has at least one copy of the Bible in his home.

Everyone knows something about the Bible. Perhaps he knows the story of Adam and Eve, of Noah and the flood, of Moses and the 10 commandments, or of Jesus and the cross.

However, while the Bible is well known by the world, at the same time, it is not known well by many. In reality, few know the message of the Bible

Many who call themselves “Christians” cannot put many of the major events of the Biblical story in order or may not even be able to remember all the books of the Old or New Testament.

For this reason, it is critical that we take some time to understand the overall story of the Bible.

The Old Testament

 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and put man in this creation (Genesis 1:1, 27). The earth was “very good” (1:31).

But everything changed with the sin of man (3:6). Man was thrown out of the Garden of Eden, far from the tree of life. Adam and Eve began to die physically and spiritually. With Adam and Eve began the problem of sin.

However, God had a plan. In Genesis 3:15, while cursing the serpent for his part in the rebellion, God predicted a war between the serpent (Satan) and the seed of woman: “He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” In this battle, the seed of woman would be wounded, but Satan would be given the fatal blow.

Essentially, in the first three chapters, we have the entire Bible story: man and his problem with sin, and God and his salvation brought about by the seed.

But who was this seed? How was God going to fulfill his promise of hope? This is the rest of the story.

After the first sin, the problem only got worse. Each man chose to sin – even to the point that “every intent of the thoughts [of man]…was only evil continually” (6:5). Only the family of Noah found favor in the eyes of God (6:8). God saved Noah from the wickedness of men by a world-wide flood (6:7).


 Through Noah and his sons the earth was repopulated, and through the coming generations (literally, his seed) arrived a man of faith, Abraham. To Abraham, God gave three promises (12:1-3):

The Promise

  • A nation
  • A land
  • A blessing
The Fulfillment
– Israel
– Canaan
– The seed

These promises were not just given to Abraham (22:17-18), but also repeatedly to his sons, Isaac (26:4) and Jacob (28:3-4, 13-14).

In the course of events, Jacob (Israel) had twelve sons. To each one, Jacob gave promises as well. The promise of Judah is especially interesting (49:10). Using the language of the seed promise, Jacob said, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah…until Shiloh comes.” The kings of the nation of Israel were to come from children of Judah.


 

 The children of Jacob were carried to Egypt and made slaves by Pharaoh. But God blessed them. Four hundred years later, at the beginning of the book of Exodus, the children of Israel had grown to be a great nation. God raised up a man, Moses, to save the people through 10 plagues. In the end, all of Israel crossed the Red Sea, and God guided them to Mount Sinai to receive the law and covenant with God.

Even during this time, God was thinking about his promise to man. Still at the foot of Sinai, in Leviticus 26:40-42, God affirmed he would remember the promise he made with Abraham, conditioned on the obedience of the people.

After Sinai, the Israelites passed forty years through the desert and arrived at the Promised Land, Canaan (Numbers and Deuteronomy). Under the direction of Joshua, they conquered the peoples in the land. The Israelites lived many years in Canaan, governed by God and his judges.


 

 However, the people were not content with the judges. Wanting to be like the other nations, they asked for a king. Saul was the first king, but he was not obedient to God, and so Jehovah replaced him with David, a king after God’s own heart.

During the reign of David, more or less five hundred years after the exit of Egypt, God gave David the seed promise (2 Samuel 7:12-13). He promised a son who would build a temple and would have power forever. David’s son Solomon did build a physical temple in Jerusalem during his reign. But this prophecy had a broader view than just the life of Solomon.


 The story of God’s people after Solomon is tumultuous. During the reign of his son Rehoboam, a division occurred between the twelve tribes: ten tribes to the north (Israel) and two tribes to the south (Judah). All of the kings of the northern kingdom were evil, not giving attention to the laws of God and serving the idols of the nations. So, God punished Israel, sending them to captivity in Assyria. The kings of the south were a little better. For a longer period of time, they retained their relationship with Jehovah. They worshipped in his temple in Jerusalem, but in the end, they sought after other gods, and Judah was carried away into Babylonian captivity.

Even in this dark time for Israel, with the physical temple destroyed and God’s nation carried into a foreign land, Jehovah remembered his promise to Abraham. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told of a “Branch” that would reign justly and would save his people (23:5-6).


 After many years of captivity, God permitted a portion of the Jews to return to their land. They rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple, but never attained the former glory of Israel. During this time God gave hope to Israel through the prophet Zechariah. Again, a “Branch” would govern as king and priest and rebuild the temple (6:12-13), this while the Israelites were currently rebuilding the physical temple.

And so the Old Testament ends: the mystery of the seed promise, the promised king, and the new temple still unresolved for the Jews. This mystery is not revealed until four hundred years later…

 

The New Testament

Matthew 1:1-17 – The first book of New Testament, Matthew, opens with a list of men, the ancestors of Jesus. The purpose of this list is also the purpose of the book of Matthew: to show Jesus as descendant of Abraham and David. Jesus is the promised king and the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham (1:1).

Luke 3:23-38 – Another gospel, Luke, also has a list of genealogy. This list does not merely trace Jesus’ lineage back to David or Abraham. This list goes back to the very beginning and reminds us of the promise first given to Adam and Eve; the seed of woman promised inGenesis 3:15 has come. The message of Luke is that Jesus has come as Savior of all – not just the Jews.

Galatians 3:16-17, 26-29 – The apostle Paul speaks in Galatians about the fact that salvation is not just for Jews only; it is also available to the Gentiles (everybody else). Christ comes as fulfillment of the promise of Abraham; Christ is the promised seed. Although we might not be sons of Abraham physically, we can be heirs of the blessings that God promises to all the families and nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3). See also Romans 4:16-18.

Ephesians 3:3-6 – In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks again about the opportunity for the Gentiles to be citizens of the kingdom of God without being Jews. This fulfills the promises of the Old Testament, a message that was a mystery to the Jews. Now, with new revelation through the apostles, we can understand this mystery.

Hebrews 2:14-16 – The writer of Hebrews says that finally, through the death of Jesus Christ, God cancels out the power of the devil, the power of death. In the cross, the serpent receives his fatal wound (Genesis 3:15) and all men are given opportunity to be freed from the power of sin and death.

The message of the Bible

Simply put the message of the Bible is Christ.

  • The Old Testament – Christ is coming.
  • The Gospels – Christ is here.
  • The Epistles – Christ is coming again.

–David Raif
info@phillybiblestudy.org

Is It Reasonable to Believe in God?

What is Faith?

Many people think believing in God means throwing out reason. They assume one who has faith in deity chooses to be blind to the facts. The God of the Bible, however, demands His followers be true to evidence.

In 1 Peter 3:15, the Bible says we need to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” God encourages us to have reason or evidence for our. In fact, faith without evidence is not the faith of the Bible.

Look how the Bible defines faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Although we cannot see God, we can have a conviction of his existence – but only after seeing the evidence.

But is it reasonable to have faith in something one cannot see? Do you believe in the existence of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France? Maybe you have seen it, but even without having seen it, one can still believe in its existence, can’t he? He can read the news about the Eiffel Tower. He can see pictures of Paris. He can listen to his friends about the tower. And, all of this information (evidence) leads a person to the conviction of its existence without ever seeing it with his own eyes. This is faith based in evidence, and this is how faith works in the Bible.

The Big Bang and Faith

Many today claim that the Big Bang and evolution are “scientific facts.” But what is a “scientific fact”? Usually we call something a “fact” when one can observe it and measure it. Can anyone today observe whether the Big Bang really happened with his naked eye? Not unless he’s really old. Many are convicted of the Big Bang…convicted in something they cannot see. That sounds a lot like “faith.”

Faith is a conviction that you arrive at from the evidence that is presented. That is much like what Paul had in mind in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Faith is seeing the evidence and becoming convinced that something is true.

So the question is, what does the evidence say about our origins?

Reasons for Faith in God

Let’s say you were hiking out in the woods and found several stones like the ones below. Would you say these stones’ unique shape was the product of time and chance or that these stones were made by someone? Or, let’s say you were walking on the same path and you came across a watch like the one below. Could I convince you that this watch was the result of several strange natural occurrences?

It is easy to tell when something has been made by an intelligent being or when something is the result of natural occurrences, isn’t it? We can see design in an object. Also, it is logical to say that if there is design, there has to have been someone to design it. The principal: design requires a designer.

Design in the Solar System

Psalm 19 begins, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” If there is a Creator, creation should tell us a little bit about Him, right? Taking a look at the solar system reveals great design.

For instance, we take life on earth for granted, but did you realize that the Earth hangs precariously in a balance between burning up and freezing. Notice the factors that play into this delicate arrangement.

    • Distance from the Sun
      The sun provides all the energy that the Earth needs to sustain life. But the Earth has to be a certain distance from the sun. If it were too close to the sun, it would burn up; if it were too far, it would freeze. There is a narrow life zone (the shaded area to the left) in which the Earth is neatly placed to sustain life.
  • The Speed of Rotation
    The speed at which the Earth rotates ___ is also a factor that contributes to its ability _ to sustain life. If the Earth did not rotate, one side of the Earth would bake while the other side would freeze. It can neither spin too quickly or too slowly. The Earthy rotates perfectly every 24 hours.
  • The Tilt of the Earth
    With reference to the Sun, the Earth is tilted at 23.5º. As a result, parts of our planet are seasonally farther from the Sun and some parts closer and receive more and less light respectively. This slight difference is enough to cause the Earth to have seasons. While the Northern Hemisphere is enjoying warm summers, the Southern population is bundling up for cold winters. If the Earth were tilted a little bit differently, the seasons would be too harsh to sustain life.

Our Solar System is perfectly designed to permit life on Earth. The probability of all these things happening by chance is staggeringly low.

Design in the Human Body

Even more intricate than the solar system is the human body. David, the psalmist, marveled at God’s power when he wrote, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well” (Psalms 139:14). Look at the design involved in our bodies.

  • We start as a single cell with one set of instructions, and as we grow into adults that same set of instruction in one cell produces an ear and in another, a nose. That’s design!
  • Our cells continue to divide replacing old cells and helping us grow. Modern science still cannot unlock all the mysteries of the cell.
  • Our hearts pump for a life time without resting. Though we have artificial hearts, engineers cannot replicate the human heart.
  • The nervous system, the lymphatic system, the respiratory system, the circulatory system, etc. are all working together at the same time to service the body.
  • Our skin repairs itself. It is water proof. It tans to protect from the sun.
  • Our eyes are made up several different parts that cannot work without the others. All parts would have had to evolve at the same time for the eye to function properly.

You Tell Me

If I had a paper bag with watch parts, what are the odds if I shook the bag for an indefinite amount of time that I would be able to reach into the paper bag and pull out a watch, fully wound, ready, and set to the correct time?

How can we say the universe, the Solar System, Earth, and people came into existence and into perfect working order by time and chance if these systems are designed far better and are far more complex than a simple watch? “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).

Design implies a designer. Creation implies a creator.

–David Raif
info@phillybiblestudy.org

Does God Speak Today? – Yes!

Obviously God spoke in Bible times. Jehovah used prophets like Moses and Isaiah and apostles like Paul and Peter through which the Holy Spirit spoke to the people of God. But does God speak today somehow? At the beginning of our study, I’ll tell you that the answer to this question is yes. God speaks today. But maybe not in the way you thought.

If man is going to come to know God, God has to reveal himself. In 1 Corinthians 2:11 & 16, Paul says that no one can know thoughts of another man unless he reveals himself. You cannot know what I believe or think unless I tell you or write it down. In the same way, Paul says that no one can know the thoughts of God. However, through revelation, we have the mind of Christ. Through this revelation we can know how to please God and how to be saved.

God has not rejected his people and still wants to be known today by all. So of course God speaks today, but the real question is how does God speak today? People have a lot of differing ideas and answers for this. Some say today God speaks through dreams or even through a person’s feelings. Others will even tell you they themselves are inspired by the Holy Spirit. But what does the Bible say?

How did God speak in the past?

Often, we take the Bible for granted. Today, the Bible is easy to find and read. Almost everyone has one. Even people who don’t believe in the inspiration of the Bible usually have a copy. If we don’t have a Bible, it’s easy to find one inexpensively or even free.

It wasn’t so easy for people in Biblical times. In general, books were very expensive. The first printing press was not invented until AD 1455 by Gutenberg, so before that, all books were written by hand, word by word. Imagine how much time it would take to write the whole Bible by hand!

Besides the cost, for several years after the beginning of God’s church, the New Testament did not even exist. While Paul was writing his letters to the Corinthians or the Philippians etc., the books we call the New Testament were being written and collected, and this process was not completed until more or less 70 years after Christ’s death.. During this time, a person wanting to know what Jesus said about a particular subject couldn’t just read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. When a Christian wanted to know how he should worship God, he couldn’t search all the scriptures we have now.

How did Christians in the first century come to know God if God has to reveal himself (1 Corinthians 2:11, 16)? The Bible speaks of miraculous spiritual gifts given to man as God’s chosen method to reveal himself. For example, in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, we have a list of some of these gifts. The majority speak about special or supernatural revelation: words of wisdom, of knowledge, of faith, and of prophecy, the discernment of spirits, and tongues (languages). Though the words of the apostles and through these spiritual gifts, the early Christians were able to know God and his will for them.

From what we read in the Bible, God gave miraculous power to man for two purposes: to reveal and to confirm.

  • To reveal – God used many of the miraculous spiritual gifts to reveal his will to man. They were needed when the books of the Bible had not been written. Jesus commented to his apostles that the Spirit would come to give them his words (Matthew 10:16-20). Later, Paul said that the things he spoke and wrote were inspired by the same Spirit (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 3:3-5).
  • To confirm – God also used spiritual gifts to confirm the spoken word. When a man came and said he spoke by the inspiration of God, how would one know if this were true? If the man truly were from God, he would perform a miracle in order to confirm origin of his words. We read in the account of Mark that Jesus promised spiritual gifts and that the miracles confirmed the words of the apostles (Mark 16:14-18, 20). Even in the written New Testament, the recorded miracles served to confirm the written word (John 20:30-31). If a stranger told you he talks to God, would you easily believe him? Would you believe him more easily if he could raise people from the dead?

How does God speak today?

Miracles and special revelation were useful and necessary to fill the space when the Bible was not available. When the Bible was finished, the necessity of these spiritual gifts came to an end. The Bible itself speaks of a time when special revelation and miracles would end (1 Corinthians 13:8). When was this time? The context gives us the answer.

In 13:9-10, Paul describes spiritual gifts as only part of something greater and says that when the perfect (the complete) came, the incomplete (that which was in part, miracles) would be done away with. This makes sense. If someone has a tool that only does half the job that is needed and then later buys a tool that does everything that is needed, he is not going to use the old tool any more. Why would he use the old tool, if the new one is better and does everything he needs?

Could he go back and use the old tool? He could, but the question is, why would he? If he has a perfect tool that does everything he needs, why would he go back to use a tool that only does part of the job? Does God have the power to use miracles after the arrival of “the perfect”? Of course. God is all powerful and can do whatever he wants, but again the question is, why would he use miracles among men if he already has his perfect tool and no longer needs the old one?

Paul uses the illustration of a growing child in v. 11. When a man grows, he leaves behind the childish things. When I was a child, I used to sit in a highchair, but now that I have grown up, I have left behind my highchair (childish things). Its purpose has been completed and there is no more necessity for it. As an adult, could I still go sit in my highchair if I wanted to? I guess I could, but again, why? I have no more need of it. Could God use miracles among men even after having the perfect if he wanted to? Surely God has the power, but Paul describes miracles as childish things. With “the perfect” God and man would have no more need of them.

In v. 12, Paul says that in the first century current situation, Christians saw dimly and knew partially, but in the future they would see clearly, face to face, and would know fully. In the first century, mirrors were not like the mirrors we have today. They were more like a piece of polished metal. One could see the face, but the image was not clear. Paul said they saw as if through a mirror, but later, with the perfect, would see face to face. Before marriage, my wife and I spent a lot of time talking on the phone because we lived in different states. Talking on the phone was something we enjoyed, but when we had opportunity to visit in person, I never said, “Wait a minute. I want to talk to you – I’ll get my phone and call you.” The phone was useful, but when were together, face to face, we had something perfect.

God used miracles as a tool to reveal and confirm, but they only did part of the job. When “the perfect” came (complete revelation), the incomplete was done away. God no longer gave men miraculous spiritual gifts or special, supernatural revelation.

The critical question is what is “the perfect”? What is perfect and complete revelation? Today, we have something that the early Christians did not: the complete Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that the scriptures are complete and that they give revelation that makes the man of God complete and equipped for every good work. In Ephesians 3:3-4, Paul says that through his letter, we can understand about the mystery of Christ. Jude 3 says that the faith was revealed once for all time. The Bible is complete. According to the word of God, in our hands we have the fullness of revelation, “the perfect”. Now, God has his perfect tool and through this book, we have everything he wants us to know. And now, what did he promise to do with that which was in part (miracles)?

Some today believe that God speaks to us through prophets, through other recent books, through dreams and feelings, etc. But we need ask, if we have the Bible, what else do we need? What is the Bible lacking? We need to be careful when a person says he has more revelation than is given in the Bible: an extra book that we have to read to be saved, or a modern-day prophet we have to hear to know the revelation of God. Let us understand and appreciate the blessing we have in the Bible, God’s full and complete revelation, and let us read the Bible and listen to the voice of God. Does God speak today? Yes! He speaks through his written word. In the Bible, “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

–David Raif
info@phillybiblestudy.org

An Invitation to Simple Christianity

The religious world can be a frustrating place if you are looking for the truth. There are so many denominations, each offering its own “truth” about important questions. With so much confusion, who should we trust? To which church should we listen?

Is God Confused?

Obviously the source of the confusion isn’t God. Paul said, “God is not the God of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). If religious confusion doesn’t come from God, then where does it come from? It must come from men.

The disorder in the religious world is not God’s fault; it’s man’s fault. Instead of simply following the Bible, man has introduced doctrines, opinions, and traditions. Today’s denominations do not respect the word of God; they have their own creeds, books, traditions, councils, and governments. This has resulted in the confusion and differences we see today.

This also produces a false religion that does not please God. Jesus said to the Pharisees about their own traditions,

“So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’“ (Matthew 15:6-9).

When we follow the traditions and doctrines of men, we serve man instead of God. Our worship is useless, and our souls are in peril.

What Does the Bible Say?

With all the confusion in the religious world, who should we trust? The answer might surprise you: no one. All men make mistakes, and if we trust in the wisdom of a human (even a scholar or a wise pastor), we are guaranteed for religious disaster. We can only confide in God and his word. Paul says, “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:4). We shouldn’t ask then, “what does my church say?,” but instead we should ask “what does the Bible say?” and study it for ourselves.

If we want a way out of the confusion in today’s religion, if we want to return to the intention God has had for man from the beginning, if we want to worship God in the simple ways he desires and if we want to go to Heaven, we have to return to the simple plan God left for us in the Bible.

Imagine a group of men and women devoted only to Christ and his word. Imagine religion without confusion of sects or traditions of men. Imagine Christians given to praise, prayer, service, and good works, in ways prescribed in the New Testament. Imagine a people who strive to live righteous lives, who care for their poor and sick, who teach others and teach themselves. This describes simple Christianity. It is the religion desired by Christ & his word and it’s still within our reach today.

We are a group of Christians striving to do the will of our Lord Christ Jesus. We do not belong to any denomination, sect, or church made by man. We belong only to Christ. We invite you to study the Bible with us so we can all better understand the will of God.