Web Site: http://www.ftbible.simplesite.com
Bio: Ross Thompson has over 40 years experience in Pastoral work, Evangelism and Teaching. He is a New Zealand citizen living in Melbourne, Australia. www.hebten.blogspot.com www.ftbible.simplesite.com
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THE GRAVES WERE OPENED part 2.
Imagine you happened to be walking past one of the cemeteries of Jerusalem when this event began: “Jesus when he had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit. And behold the veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many”. (Math 27:50-53)
What would your reaction have been? You don’t see people climbing out of their graves and begin walking about, every-day. If we ask some questions and consider this a little deeper it will help establish it in our minds as a real event.
The graves may have been opened during the earth quake and the splitting of the rocks. We can see Gods hand in this because only selected graves had opened. What would we have seen if we had been there? Did the ground open? Were the heavy stones broken in pieces? Did the doors on the tombs fall off their hinges?
This Scripture begins with Jesus on the cross and finishes after His resurrection. The raising of the bodies happened at the time Jesus yielded up His Spirit. They did not come out of the graves until after His resurrection. Jesus was raised on the third day; therefore, the graves were open many hours before the saints came out. They had been raised but continued to lie in the open graves until the third day. What form did this raising take? Were their bodies decomposed and reconstituted again by God into living bodies. We read they had fallen asleep – does that mean their bodies did not decompose even after years of being in the ground?
They finally came out of their graves after Jesus’ resurrection. Which ever way it happened they now had living bodies and were able to walk around. Who were these people especially selected by God to be witnesses of the power of Christs’ sacrifice? They seem to be forerunners – a sample you might say – of the final resurrection to come: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout……..and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds….”. (1Thess 4:16,17)
John Wesley thought this group may have included John the Baptist, Simeon and Zacharias who had recently died and would have been well known in Jerusalem. The early church believed many Old Testament saints who died in faith might be in this group. If that was the case how do we explain Moses and Elijah already risen and talking with Jesus on the mountain of transfiguration? The word ‘many’ describes this group – there was quite a crowd of them. Imagine the reaction of the people when these risen ones walked into Jerusalem showing themselves to many. What was distinctive about them that the people knew they had come back from the dead? It certainly would have had people talking for weeks afterwards. Where did this crowd of risen ones go after their appearances? Jesus told the thief on the cross he would be in paradise with the Lord that day. (Luke 23:43) Did this crowd of witnesses pass on to paradise or did they go to heaven? Are paradise and heaven the same place? Commentators such as Mathew Henry also asked some of these questions and were not able to answer all of them satisfactorily.
The thrilling thing is this is a record of a real event. It proves to us Jesus sacrifice on our behalf means we will not taste of death. (Luke 9:27) If we can’t get the questions answered here, I am sure they will be easily answered when we get to heaven. For more about the resurrection of the dead see the book ‘How to Raise the Dead’ by Tyler Johnson. Available on Amazon.
THE GRAVES WERE OPENED…part 1.
Have you read these few verses? – they are found only in Mathews Gospel: “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many”. (Math 27:50-53
This is a thrilling Scripture. Why? Because we see God wasting no time to display the result of Jesus suffering, death, burial, and resurrection. This actual event proves Jesus sacrifice of Himself met all the needs of mankind. The enemy to defeat was death. (1Cor15:26) Death had come to us because of sin. (Rom 5:12)) The devil had the power of death. Here we have proof Jesus took that power away from the devil. (Heb 2:14) Our biggest problem was death and the fear of death: “Since we, Gods children, are human beings – made of flesh and blood – He (Jesus) became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could He die, and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could He deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves of constant dread”. (Heb 2:14,15)
God was quick to make it known Jesus had indeed beaten the devil and death, by raising this group of people to life. This was His instant evidence – death and the devil were no longer a problem to those who believe in Jesus. The verses tell us as soon as Jesus came back from death – God raised these people. People who had died in faith, whose bodies had been lying in the graves – some for years quite probably – came to life. Notice it says, “The bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised”. And miracle of miracles their graves broke open and they came out of their tombs and walked into Jerusalem – showing themselves to many people. Never in human history have persons who died climbed out of their graves and walked away alive.
Each of us who have believed in Jesus have the same deliverance from death these people received. Think about these verses – meditate upon them – ask God to teach you what these Scriptures mean for you. If you would like to know more on this subject, this book – ‘How To Raise The Dead’ by Tyler Johnson – available in print and ebook on Amazon – will cause you to think differently about you and death.
The Proof You Are a Christian.
“We know, said John the apostle, that we have passed over out of death and into Life because we love our fellow Christians”. (1John 3:14) The question then arises; what is love? Jesus, in the book of Luke, gives us some ideas about that; “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinner’s love those who love them. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful”. (Luke 6:30-36)
God has given us one whole chapter in the New Testament to make it clear to us what love is. That chapter is 1Corinthians 13. If we do not take serious note of that information we will not be living as God expects us to. A warning: your flesh (humanity) will not like what God teaches us in that chapter. The New Testament says God is love (1John 4:8) As Christians, we have Gods love in us through the Holy Spirit. “Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given unto us”. (Rom 5:5) Love is a Spiritual condition. Like me, it probably did not take you long to realise that your humanity does a bad job of loving God’s way. Love is a choice to live from our spirits. “The fruit of the Spirit is love”. (Gal 5:22)
I encourage you to keep the importance of living in God’s love, first among your spiritual priorities. Here are two ways I have discovered that help me to be love minded: Many years ago, Edwin Markham, a poet, wrote these words. “He drew a circle that shut me out – heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win; We drew a circle and included him in”.
Jesus appeared to a man named Star Daily, while he was in prison and in solitary confinement, in the early 1900’s. He had been a gangster who worked for Al Capone. He became a writer and a man of love. He wrote these words about God’s omnipresence, in his book ‘Love Can Open Prison Doors’: “We swim in an infinite ocean of love. To become increasingly conscious of our oneness with love, is the mark of exercising intelligent self-interest. To this end, we do not labour and strain in our search for love. It is above, beneath, and about us. It is seeking us”.
The apostle Paul said,” Make love your great quest”. (I Cor 14:1)
Wisdom from Pinterest.
Christians have created some great quotes on their Pinterest pages. Here are six that point to handy truth for the Christian life.
‘Don’t worry about tomorrow, God is already there’. This is a reminder that God lives in Eternity and he sees all of our future. That’s why the book of Psalms 139:16 say’s all of our days are written in His book. The book of Revelation shows us that God knows exactly what is going to happen every day, for thousands of years into the future. It can be comforting to think on the fact that God is always aware of what tomorrow holds for us.
‘Feed your faith and your doubts will starve’.
Romans 1:16,17 tells us that faith builds upon itself. After we believe the Gospel we continue on from faith to faith. Faith comes from reading and believing the Bible. (Romans 10:17) Do you have some doubts? Keep your thoughts on what you already believe, and that will grow and doubt will gradually fade away.
‘We may ignore, but we can never evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito’. This one comes from C S Lewis in his book ‘Letters to Malcolm’. What we do with our mind greatly influences the quality of our Christian life. If, for example, we live with the idea that God is in Heaven and I am down here – we won’t feel close to God. God is in heaven, but the Bible shows us that He is also present everywhere. “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I will not see him”, said God to Jeremiah, “Do I not fill Heaven and Earth”? I do this often. Try going through one whole day reminding yourself that wherever you are, that place is crowded with God. First thing in the morning your bedroom is crowded with God. Your workplace, the Supermarket, the Coffee shop and anywhere else you find yourself, is crowded with God. You might not see it or feel it, but the Bible says it is a fact. That can change your life.
‘Every miracle in the Bible first started with a problem’. It can be life changing to develop the attitude that our problems are a chance for God to show himself strong on our behalf. All of the miracles Jesus did, started with a big problem. Somebody had died, somebody was demon possessed or very sick, there was big financial need, somebody was blind and many others. Jesus was always telling people to have faith in His ability to solve the problem. In fact He said,”All things are possible to him that believes”. (Mark 9:23) Try seeing all of your problems as a chance to experience God working on your behalf.
‘Never put a full stop (period) where God puts a comma’. A comma indicates a pause in a sentence. A period (full stop) indicates the end of a sentence. This quote means that we, as Christians who have a friendship with God, don’t have to accept what life sends our way as the end. Many things that happen to unbelievers mean the end for them. They have many unsolvable problems. Because we belong to God, who can do anything, our problems are not the end. They are just a pause until God meets our need. Never call the end what God calls a pause.
‘God is awesome. He doesn’t need you to be awesome; He needs you to be obedient’. If you want to please God, be obedient to Him. Jesus said, “Those who obey me are the ones who love me”. (John14:21) What is the difference between an unbeliever and a Christian? The unbelievers are called the children of disobedience. (Colossians 3:6) We have a great promise about obedience. “The one who obeys me (Jesus) is the one who loves me; and because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him”. (John 14:21)
Prayer can be an adventure if you have learned to pray in faith. On the other hand, we can hinder what God wants to do through us and for us if we are not praying in faith. Here is an example from my experience; At one point in my life I was a Taxi driver. I was parked in the city one day, waiting for customers. Two people walked up to the Taxi supporting an Indian lady, who seemed to be in a lot of pain. She wanted me to take her home, a journey of about 40 kilometres. I was reluctant to take her that distance in her distressed condition, and suggested she be taken to a doctor. She was insistent on being taken home first, and then she would see a doctor.
I was not comfortable with it, but finally agreed to her request. After a few minutes of driving it came to my mind that I should pray for her. I explained to her I was a Christian, and God has said if we lay our hands upon the sick He would heal them. I expected her to say no thanks, but she surprised me by thrusting out her right arm so that I could put my hand on it. I put my hand on her arm and asked God in Jesus name, to heal the trouble. Then I returned my full attention to driving. I was trying to see out of the corner of my eye if there had been any change in her condition. Then the Holy Spirit said to me in my spirit, “you are hoping she is healed, that’s not faith”. I saw my mistake and in my heart, I said, “OK Lord, I have obeyed your word, I receive her healing now, by faith”.
Within a few moments I heard her humming a song to herself, and I could see she was relaxed, smiling and looking out the window enjoying the ride. At the end of the journey she thanked me with a big smile on her face. I had a big smile on my face too. I knew about the importance of faith, but had forgotten it in that moment. That Hindu woman would not have experienced the reality of Jesus, and I would not have had the blessing of seeing her healed, if God had not reminded me about faith. If I had carried on hoping for her healing, nothing would have happened.
Jesus was always looking for faith in people, and He was greatly pleased when He met people who had plenty of it. Faith is simply believing what God has said, to be true, over and above everything else. Jesus gave us clear instruction on how to pray in faith; “For this reason I tell you: when you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for”. (Mark 11:24) Once God had reminded me to have faith, my prayer was an example of that verse.
I knew the New Testament says, “you will lay hands on the sick and they will recover”. (Mark 16:18) On the basis of that promise, I prayed for the Hindu woman and I received the answer before I saw it happen. That’s faith. If you want to please God, look for ways to have faith in all of the circumstances of your life, and especially in prayer. It will be an adventure. You and God working together to get results for His Kingdom.
YOU CAN BE HOLY.
If I asked you, ‘are you a holy person’? What would your answer be? I think most of us would hesitate and not be sure how to respond. Many Christians are not sure of themselves when it comes to holiness. That is curious if you think about it, because we are sons and daughters of the Holy God. The Spirit we have within us is the Holy Spirit. Here are 8 facts from the Bible too give you a better understanding about holiness.
God commands us to be holy: …’because it is written’, “Be holy for I am holy”. (1Pet 1:16)
Paul had no doubt that you and I are holy: ‘God chose us in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love’. (Eph 1:4) If you had asked him, “Paul are you holy”? “Yes, I am”, he would have replied, “come and meet some of my fellow Christians, they are holy too”.
A life of holiness has been prepared for us: God showed Isaiah a Holy Highway that had been prepared especially for Christians. ‘And a highway shall be there and a way, and it shall be called the holy way….it shall be for the redeemed….the redeemed shall walk upon it’. (Is 35:8,9)
It is not hard to be holy: God has something surprising to say about walking on the holy highway: ‘The highway shall be for the redeemed; the wayfaring men, yes, the simple ones and fools, shall not make a mistake in it and lose their way’. (Is 35:8) A simple minded person and even fools can succeed at holy living. Is God trying to tell us something here? I think so. It’s not hard to be holy.
Holiness is a gift to be received: ‘…much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ’. (Rom 5:17) The word translated as holiness in the New Testament, can also be translated as purity and righteousness.
Holiness is our reward for receiving Jesus as our saviour: ‘But now since you have been set free from sin and become slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life’. (Rom 6:22)
Holiness is a pure heart, freed from sin: ‘And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit as also He did to us; and He made no difference between us and them, but purified their hearts by faith’. (Acts 15:8,9) ‘To the pure in heart all things are pure’. (Tit 1:15)
A pure heart is received by faith: ‘And God….purified their hearts by faith’. (Acts
The New Testament has a lot more to say about holiness. I encourage you to spend time with God, asking Him to teach you all there is to know about holiness. We can be as certain as Paul was, that we are holy.