Persecution

What does it mean to be persecuted? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I wanted to save these verses in the Sermon for further looking. In these, Jesus talks about persecution, so let’s look at them.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

So many Christians I meet today too quickly throw out the word persecution. The insulting and saying things falsely can fit today, but persecution is something much more severe. Much of what we call persecution today does a disservice to those people who really are persecuted.

There are many countries today in the world where becoming a Christian is putting your life on the line. Think of places like Muslim countries or countries with a bent towards Communism, like China. If you become a Christian in those countries, you are putting a big bullseye on you.

Persecution is not someone making fun of you for being a Christian alone. That is not sufficient. It’s also not persecution if people don’t like you for other reasons, such as the manner in which you present the gospel. If you come across as a rude jerk and that’s not liked by some people, that does not equal persecution.

Now we are getting into this some, such as the florists and the cake makers who are not allowed to live out their conscience in their own personal businesses. I personally anticipate this country is going to become more and more anti-Christian if the tide is not turned around soon. However, we are nowhere near the level of a Muslim or a Communist country yet.

For people in those countries, we definitely need to offer our prayer and support and we need to consider if we take Jesus as seriously as they do. If your child goes down and kneels at the altar and accepts Jesus as their Lord and savior, you’re likely to go on Facebook and share the good news. Would you do the same in one of those countries if it meant that your child could become a target of the government for doing such? Probably not.

Do we take Jesus as seriously? Do we need to get to the point of persecution to do such? I’m one who thinks it could do the church good to get some persecution for what we do. We would get to see who’s serious about Christianity and who isn’t. It’s easy to state you’re a Christian when no one has a gun pointing at your head. It’s not so easy when they don’t.

Right now, we have it good if we live in America comparatively speaking. The question is what are we doing with it? Imagine if the apostle Paul had the access to all that we have today. What would he be doing with it? By contrast, what are we doing with it?

In many countries, people are willing to die for the gospel, which is excellent. We need that willingness. In this country, we don’t have that yet, at least not on a mass scale. So now, let’s ask ourselves a different question and this is one that’s actually much harder to ask than “Are you willing to die for Jesus?”

“Are you willing to live for Jesus?”

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Reversal In The Sermon

Who is blessed in the Sermon on the Mount? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Eschatology has brought us to looking at Jesus as king in the Gospels starting with Matthew and we’re looking at the Sermon on the Mount. If Jesus is stating His role in this sermon as laying down a new way of living, then who is it that He is going to include? The fascinating idea here is that Jesus goes for the ones that society rejects.

There’s a funny little saying that speaks of God’s choice in the Jewish people and says, “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” It goes on to say, “But odder still are those who reject whom God chose.” In choosing the Jewish people, God did not choose a grand and prestigious people. He chose an old man who while rich did not have an heir and through him began His plan.

Like Father, like Son. When Jesus goes through and announces His citizens in the Kingdom, He picks the ones that are rejected. The rich and elite are not mentioned in this list. The Pharisees and Sadducees are left out. Jesus welcomes the ones that are even outcasts in Israel.

We see this in His life in the Gospels. Who does Jesus choose to hang out with? Prostitutes and tax collectors. Most of his apostles are fishermen and other common men including one of those tax collectors. We don’t know of any of them being part of the elite.

Actually, all of these people will also get what they want. Are you mourning? You’re going to be comforted. Are you hungering and thirsting for righteousness? You’re going to get it. Are you one of the downtrodden, the meek? You’re going to get the whole world.

This is a major contrast to the Roman Empire of the time who would want the best of the best in their kingdom. Paul’s commander who had him flogged said he paid a lot of money for his citizenship. The Roman Empire didn’t take being a citizen lightly. You had to show you had earned it. In Jesus’s kingdom, it’s those who know they have not earned it who are the most worthy.

Think you’re not good enough for the kingdom? You’re right. You’re not. Jesus welcomes you into the kingdom if you come to Him. You don’t have to really do anything to enter the kingdom except acknowledge that Jesus alone can get you into it and come to Him for that.

This part does culminate in persecution. I want to save that for another time. It requires its own focus, but for now, I simply want us to remember that God has a habit of picking those who the world rejects. He hasn’t changed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Who Gives The Sermon on the Mount?

Who is it that is giving this sermon? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In looking at eschatology in the Gospels, one thing to establish is Jesus’s view of Himself as the king of Israel and yet also as the priest of Israel. I said last time that we would be looking at the Sermon on the Mount. Today, I am going to really start off by looking at that sermon.

Now the question of who gave it sounds like a no-brainer. Jesus gave it. If that’s all we’re really asking by the question, then this blog is pretty much done. The question though is more how did the person who gave it see Himself and also how is Matthew presenting Him?

Matthew constantly presents Jesus in a style that is very Jewish. His book is laid out in a fivefold format much like the Pentateuch would have been seen in. It’s split between teaching and acting. At the start, we have Jesus going to John the Baptist to be baptized going under the water. After going through the water, He enters the wilderness for 40 days and nights to be tempted.

Does this sound like any story a Jew would know? Definitely. It sounds like Israel passing through the waters of the Red Sea (In a miraculous way, of course) and then going into the wilderness where they were tempted for forty years. What comes in all of that? The giving of the Law. Lo and behold, what do we find in chapter five?

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

It might seem like a given to say He opened His mouth to teach them. What else is He going to do? Sign language? However, Matthew chose to point this out for a reason. What is that? To make us think about the Law coming from the mouth of YHWH in the Old Testament.

Jesus then gets up and He starts expounding the Law. He starts explaining what is meant by it. We can say this is consistent with Jesus because one thing historical Jesus scholars note about Him is that He never really pointed to anyone else’s authority aside from God Himself. Jesus did not need to address any other rabbis. If all you had was the Gospels, you wouldn’t even know other rabbis existed.

Jesus is treading on sacred ground. He is handling the Law and saying that He alone has the authority. He alone can go up on the mountain and deliver the law to the people. He is the new Moses leading His people. He is the new priest. He is the new king.

He will also speak as what He says has divine authority and if He really thinks that, then how does He see Himself? You could say that any prophet in the Old Testament would do the same, but Jesus never goes “Thus sayeth the Lord.” He says quite the opposite. He says “You have heard it was said…., but I say to you.” The prophets didn’t speak like that.

So as we go through the sermon, let’s remember this is the priest telling us how to live and this is the king looking at His subjects saying this is how my reign is going to be. What will it be like? Looking at the sermon in future installments will tell us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why The Sermon on The Mount?

What is the point of the sermon? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When looking at eschatology in the Gospels, one of the main points to establish is really the kingship of Jesus. For that now, we start a look at the Sermon on the Mount. Many of us look at the sermon and see a great list of ethical principles. It is that, but it is so much more.

We are in an election year and so this year, our candidates for whatever office will be going around stating what things are going to be like if they win their election. Jesus is doing the same kind of thing in this sermon. He is not just telling people how to live. He is telling them what matters most in the Kingdom of God and how you are to live in the Kingdom.

The sermon ends with the people being amazed because Jesus spoke with authority. How? He is a king and He is speaking as a king and He is laying down the law. This is quite literal. Throughout the sermon, Jesus is doing something radical. He is speaking on the Law and declaring what is really going to happen.

What’s so amazing about that? Didn’t the rabbis speak on the Law? Yes, but they always pointed to another authority. Jesus doesn’t do that. Jesus is basically getting up and saying “I’m in charge and I don’t need anyone else to back what I say.” He speaks from His own position and authority.

It’s so startling that a Jewish scholar like Jacob Neusner looked at it once and said, “Who do you think you are? God?” Well, yes. He did. He thought He alone had the authority to speak this way.

Jesus’s Kingdom is a reversal of what most kings would give. This is not about how to build up the best army to go after Rome. If anything, the only time Rome is spoken of, it is of how one can better serve a Roman soldier or how one should retaliate from an insult from a Roman soldier or any demand from such a soldier. This is not what you expect from your Messiah.

Furthermore, if you seek to follow the ethical principles, you are falling short if you do not follow the king who gave them. As Lewis said, Jesus is not just coming claiming to be a good moral teacher. He’s claiming to be the King of all. Besides, as Lewis said, we have had a penchant of not listening to our moral teachers and if Jesus was the best one, all the more reason for us to not listen to Him.

So over the next few days, I plan to look over the sermon and see it from a kingly perspective. I hope you’ll join me.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Vote For Jesus

What does it mean to repent? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Matthew, shortly after the baptism, Jesus is going around the area of Israel telling people everywhere to repent. After all, the Kingdom of God is at hand as is said in Mark. So what is Jesus telling the people to do with this?

Often, we think it means that Jesus is telling people to turn from their sins and accept Him as their Lord and savior. In an individualistic culture, that makes sense. He means something else though. What is He asking for is loyalty. He is the Messiah of Israel and is asking people to show that they are loyal to Him.

The message of the Kingdom of God includes the forgiveness of sins, but it is not limited to that. The message is about God in Christ and not about us. The emphasis on the Kingdom is not what God does for us, but rather it is what we do for God.

When we repent, we are really saying that we are in the wrong and Jesus is in the right and we are going to be loyal to Jesus. We realize that as Paul says, we are not our own but we are bought with a price. We belong to God in Jesus.

The closest parallel I can make is to a political campaign. Jesus is in essence going around asking people to choose Him as the Messiah of Israel. Of course, Jesus knows that this will not happen ultimately, but He still makes the offer.

Repentance is then realizing that God is proclaiming Himself king through Jesus and that we are to submit to Him. This entails forgiveness for we have to admit that we are in the wrong and God is in the right and come and side with Him. God will then pronounce us to be in the right. If God is our king through Jesus then, then we are to remain loyal to Him.

This is certainly eschatological. After all, the pronouncement of God’s king has ramifications for today. One of the main points of Preterism is that we are not waiting for Jesus to be the king. Jesus is already the king. We do evangelism to spread the message of king Jesus.

When you see a call to repent in the Bible, it is much more than just you. It is about the message that Jesus is King and we are to live in submission to Him. His kingship is not waiting for 2,000 or so years though. He is king right now. We are to submit to Him right now.

In other words….

Repent.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Brief Look At Psalm110:1

What does this verse have to do with eschatology? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Before going further in the Gospels looking at eschatology and verses relating to the topic, it’s important to consider a passage that shows up repeatedly in the New Testament, at least seven times quoted and several allusions. That is Psalm 110:1 and it could be the most important verse to understanding eschatology.

“The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

In this verse, David speaks about the coming Messiah and the Messiah is, as Jesus pointed out, David’s son and yet also His Lord. This verse also introduces a possibility of a multiplicity in the Godhead with two beings addressed as Lord. It doesn’t necessitate that, but it works just fine with it.

This verse is about the kingship of the Messiah. In this passage, when the Messiah begins His rule, He will sit at the right hand of God. While He is sitting, God will be in the process of making His enemies a footstool for His feet.

Note this about the passage. While the reign of Messiah is going on, Messiah will still have enemies that are active. This can be problematic for a position that says that Jesus cannot be king right now because of all the evil that is in the world.

However, from an orthodox Preterist perspective, this is entirely possible. Jesus can be reigning and evil can still be roaming about. Jesus is going to reign in the midst of His enemies.

As the passage goes on, we find that this king is also a priest and one in the order of Melchizedek. What’s interesting about this is that there is one book that presents all of this and that is Hebrews. In Hebrews, Jesus is king at the start because at the start of the book, Jesus sits down at the right hand of God. Later in the book, Jesus is said to be a priest in the order of Melchizedek, which is interesting since there is nothing supposedly about priests coming from the tribe of Judah.

Jesus is then our priest and king right now. What that means is that if Jesus is our priest who provides atonement for us right now, then He is our king right now. If He is our king right now, then He is providing atonement for us right now. Both of them have to be here. If we want to say we are forgiven but there is no kingship, then we have to say that Jesus is not really king right now and if He is not, then how can it be He has sat down at the right hand as Hebrews say, but yet is not king and is still somehow priest? It doesn’t fit.

As an orthodox Preterist then, I do see Jesus as king and priest right now and He is reigning. God the Father is bringing all the enemies of Jesus under His feet and this is what we see going on. The Kingdom of God is spreading rapidly more and more with Christianity reaching more people all around the globe.

This will be important as when we look in the Gospels, we will find numerous references to the kingship of Jesus Christ. Even secular scholars agree today that Jesus taught the Kingdom of God. We will see what is so important about this and if Jesus truly is king right now or not. Psalm 110:1 is central to this and if your eschatology doesn’t have a place for this verse, you need to change your eschatology.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Resurrected Judge

What does the resurrection mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I don’t post on Easter or do Facebook, so on that Sunday, I don’t contribute, but now that it’s done, I do want to say something about the resurrection that I said to a small group recently. As I thought about this, Acts 17 actually has well what I am wanting to say. You see, we often think that resurrection means we’re all able to be forgiven of our sins. Now I don’t deny this. Forgiveness is good and it’s important and we should celebrate it. To say that’s all it is though is like saying all that a college degree is about is getting to have a good job or all that getting married about is getting to have sex. Those are good and important things, but there is much more involved.

When we get to Acts 17, we see this taking place.

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Something to consider is that sins are never mentioned here. Ignorance is mentioned, but not sins. Is repentance mentioned? Yes. Repentance often has an overtone of forgiveness, but it can also be used of just changing one’s mind. Consider how it is used in the autobiography of Josephus.

I perceived … that there was a great many very much elevated in hopes of
a revolt … I therefore endeavoured to put a stop to these tumultuous
persons, and persuaded them to change their minds … [I] desired them
not … to bring on the dangers of the most terrible mischiefs upon their
country, upon their families and upon themselves.

[I told Jesus] that I was not ignorant of the plot which he had contrived
against me …; I would, nevertheless, condone his actions if he would
show repentance and prove his loyalty to me. All this he promised …

For more on this, please go here.

So what could we say the message is?

We could say the message is in the past you have been ignorant, but no longer. The great wrong here is idolatry. God let you go, but now He has truly spoken in a way that is unavoidable and He has shown that He will judge the world by the man He raised from the dead. Do note that. It is not that because Jesus has been raised, you are forgiven. It is that because Jesus has been raised, judgment is coming. Jesus is the king of this world and this resurrection is meant to be a public demonstration to the whole world that Jesus is indeed King. This is something I think we miss quite often. Jesus is the King. He’s not just a savior, although He certainly is. He is our Lord and Master and we are to live our lives in service for Him. The question is not “What is Jesus doing in your life?” The question is “What are you doing in His?”

Celebrate forgiveness and be thankful for it, but don’t stop there. You were forgiven not so you could receive a blessing for God, but that you could extend His blessing by serving others.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

There’s A New King In Town

Is someone else claiming to be in charge? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

There’s a Christmas song describing the birth of Jesus that says that there’s a new kid in town. A look at Matthew’s gospel would of course indicate that at one point Jesus was a new kid in town, but a look at the end of the gospel would indicate that Jesus is not the new kid but rather the new king.

When we get to the Great Commission, we are told that all authority in Heaven and Earth has been given to Jesus. Therefore, we are to go out and do all that He has commanded. This is usually seen as something to give us assurance. As we go out telling the good news of forgiveness, we can be assured of the presence of Jesus. Now I don’t deny it includes that, but it is so much more.

The old rule of hermeneutics is that whenever you see a “therefore”, you’re to look and see what it’s there for. The text says it’s based on Jesus having all authority. All authority does not mean just to forgive sins. It means just what it says. Jesus has all authority. In an age where the disciples would have been well acquainted with Caesar and the Roman Empire, they were to know that because of the resurrection, Caesar was no longer in charge.

Instead, it is Christ who is the King and Christ is the one who rules from Heaven. His scope then reaches even further than that of Caesar and unlike Caesar, Christ is an eternal king. His throne can never be taken by another. All the Caesars would come and go. Christ would live on.

In fact, what is it that Christ tells the apostles to do? He tells them to do what He has commanded them. This is not a call to evangelism! This is a king giving marching orders! This is a charge going out that the world is to know that Jesus is in charge now and you are to be the bearers of that message! You are to go out into the Roman Empire and tell them Jesus is Lord!

Such a message would have been practical suicide, and if church tradition is to be believed, it certainly was. The Roman Empire would not have been happy hearing that they were no longer in charge. Jews would not be happy knowing nothing was said about returning them to the glory days of David and Solomon. We today consider it good news in our context. In their day, the news would have been news the people would NOT have been happy to hear.

And yet, that news still thrived somehow.

The Great Commission is still for us today and let us get something clear. Jesus is still king and He has given His orders. There is no other path that we are allowed to take. The king’s opinion is not up for debate. Many of us can hear the question about those who never heard. The best way to handle this is to make sure that they hear. We are told what we are to do. We are not told what happens if we fail in our mission. Christ has not given us a plan B. If He is our king, we are to follow His orders. If we are not, are we really seeing Him as king?

In Christ,
Nick Peters