Jesus’ Call for Christian Unity

Are you discouraged by religious division among believers in Jesus Christ? Can this division be pleasing to God? Listen to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-23 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone (the 12 apostles), but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

The Savior’s prayer shows his desire for spiritual unity. Even on the night before His death on the cross he was thinking about unity among everyone who would later believe in Him through the teaching of the apostles. Jesus prayed for true oneness of belief and practice among all believers. Religious division is sinful; it violates the will of Jesus Christ. Church denominations are a constant reminder of our rebellion and lack of concern for Christian unity.

Furthermore, Christ’s church was never intended to be divided by other factors such as language, culture, or skin color. According to the Bible, there is no “white church”, “black church”, “Spanish church”, or “Chinese church.” Local churches ought to reflect the diversity of their communities: a diverse family united by God and his will for us. Differences in language, culture, etc. offer real and natural challenges, but unity among believers is one of the ways others will know that God is among us. The apostle Paul told the church in Ephesus “to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:3-6)

Listen to what Paul told the church in Corinth “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you speak the same thing, that there be no divisions among you but that you be perfected together in the same mind and the same Judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Unity and oneness in religion is not only right before God, it is commanded by Jesus. This spiritual unity is possible only through following His revealed truth. Would you like to be part of a local church striving for true Christian unity? We are offering a free Bible study course to help you learn more.

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.

The Need for Bible Study

Do you ever wonder where all the sin and moral decay around us is going to lead this country? Do you ever wonder how you and your loved ones can escape the moral pollution of our time?

The Bible has the answers. The Psalmist of Israel said “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against  thee”
(Psalm 119:11). Jesus said that when the seed of the kingdom (the word of God) is planted in a good and honest heart, it will produce fruit (Luke 8). God’s word can change us and protect us from sin if we keep it in our hearts.

Again Psalm 119 reads, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness, but, they walk in His ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed” (119:1-4). Verse 9 adds, “How shall the young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.”

God’s word has power. However, we cannot casually read it and expect an automatic change in our life. Like the Psalmist, we must carefully study it , meditate on it, and apply it. We should consider how it applies to what we will do today, and then go out and live it.

We would like to help you learn more about God and encourage you to study His word. It is the word that has power to change your life. Is your heart open to it? We are offering a free Bible study course to help you get started. “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Colossians 3:16).

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.

Are All Faiths True?

Many people say it makes no difference what you believe as long as your heart is right. In other words, one form of faith is as good as another as long as you love God and others. Let’s evaluate this for a few moments from the Scriptures.

Jude wrote in his short letter to Christians, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you, appealing that you contend earnestly for THE FAITH which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). In the context, this “faith” is not a reference to an individual’s personal belief in God or his Messiah, but a broad reference to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This faith was “once for all delivered to the saints.” That is to say it was delivered as divine revelation to the saints (Christians) once for all time. God did not give mankind some subjective, human system of denominationalism or religious pluralism; He delivered THE FAITH – not to be changed or twisted, but believed.

Paul affirmed “there is one body [the church] and one Spirit, even as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, ONE FAITH, one baptism; one God and Father of all…” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Please notice this divine truth: there is only ONE true faith. By consequence, all other faiths are not from God and are therefore false. While some say one form of faith is as good as another, the Scriptures teach there is but one faith, the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you would like to learn more about this one true faith, we are offering a free Bible study 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.

Jesus the Savior

Before Jesus’s birth, a messenger of God spoke to Joseph concerning Mary, his future wife, “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 long-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.

Bible on Trial 2016

 

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.

Reliable Copy? (View Presentation Slides)


Historical Work? (View Presentation Slides)


Good Book? (View Presentation Slides)


Clear Plan? (View Presentation Slides)


2016 Bible on Trial - poster

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