Titus: The Gospel Appeared To ALL Men? Mayans? Vikings? Seminoles?

I’m reading Titus and I see this:

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.–Titus 2:11

What did the Apostle Paul mean by “hath appeared to all men”? Was the Gospel presented to Scandinavian-Germanic clans in the 1st Century? The earliest records (so far) show that Willibrord first took the Gospel to Denmark in the 700’s.

This verse in Titus was written sometime around 66-67 A.D. which is only a few years before the fall and end of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Back then, Paul said that the Gospel had been shown to all men!

What else did Paul say in regard to the spread of the Gospel?

Somewhere around 60-62 A.D. Paul said that the Gospel WAS proclaimed in all creation under heaven…

This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.–Col. 1:23.

Christianity first came to China in the year 64 when the Apostle Thomas came to Sian, China. Previously he was in India around the year 52. Other believers are said to have brought the gospel on to Japan by the year 70 AD. That was awesome, but did it mean that the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia had also heard?

A few verses earlier, he said that the Gospel had reached “all the world”…

Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth–Col 1:6

So, had the Gospel already reached the Mayans in the “New World” in the 1st Century?

What do you think about this Gospel claim made by Paul?

But now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;–Rom 16:26

So how can Paul accurately assert that the Gospel was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, that it had appeared to all men, and that it had been made known to all the nations (every ethnic group), and all the world?

It’s called hyperbolic language. It is the same type of language that was used in the following Scriptures:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.–Luke 2:1. The Greek words are “πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην” which are literally translated “all the world”. So did Luke believe that Caesar would tax the natives of South America, the clans of Norway, the Seminole tribe of Florida? Of course not.

After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.–Daniel 2:39. So, did Alexander the Great rule the people living in Mexico and Central America at that time?

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven (or every ethnic people group)–Acts 2:5. Although Luke the writer of Acts states “every nation under heaven”, the detailed list (Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontus folks, Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans near Cyrene, Romans, Cretans, and Arabs) doesn’t go far outside of Roman influence.

And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.–Acts 11:28. If Luke the writer was literal, then “All the world” would literally mean that the swamps in Florida had a famine as well.

Whenever Paul and Luke said “all the world”, they were in complete agreement. Paul and Luke’s “all the world” consisted primarily of the geographic Roman Empire. HOWEVER, there were in those days many ethnic groups of people from outside of the Roman Empire that came to visit. A great example of this would be the Magi from the East who came to visit the young Jesus.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem— Matt.2:1

What Paul was essentially saying was that the Gospel had saturated the Roman World which would also mean that it had been presented to the multitude of Gentile people groups that had been passing through as well. He did not LITERALLY mean that it was proclaimed to EVERY creature under heavenIf you are going to stick with the claim that this is literal language, then you are going to have to also assert that Caesar was going to tax every Native American, every Asian person in the Far East, etc. You can’t have it both ways.

Here is where things get really interesting…

We know that the Holy Spirit allowed Paul and Luke to use “all the world” and “all nations” in a consistently hyperbolic way. So does the following verse break from the Scriptural pattern?

Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”–Matt. 24:14

Jesus sets forth the goal to be reached. Paul says, “Mission accomplished!”

This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.–Col. 1:23. Continue reading

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Titus 2: Is It Jehovah, Jesus, or Job?

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ–Titus 2:11-13

For me, Titus Chapter 2:13 is one of the clearest verses in Scripture stating that Jesus Christ is not just our savior, but that He is God. I realize that some folks, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, tend to disagree with this.

So what does the latest version (2013) of the Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation Bible say about Titus 2:13? It says, “while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” Jehovah’s Witnesses contend that the great God and savior are two very separate people. They believe that only the term “savior” refers to Jesus Christ. They do not believe that Jesus is the great God. They believe that Jesus is a creation of God, but that Jesus is not part of the Triune God.

So, according to the J.W.’s New World translation, Jesus Christ is the savior, but Jesus is not the great God. Interesting and mysterious…

Why?

The New World Translation of Isaiah 43:11 also states, “I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior”. That’s what my bible says too!

What???

If Jehovah is the Only savior according to Isaiah, and their translation also states in Titus that Jesus Christ is the Savior, then who is their savior? Jehovah or Jesus? Which one died in their place? This gets fun and interesting!

Continue reading

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Are Cretans Always Liars…Still?

One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith.–Titus 1:12-13 

The Canon of Scripture states that Cretans are ALWAYS liars…and then it confirms it by saying, “This saying is true”. This appears to be a double whammy against the Cretans. They look hopeless in the light of unchanging scripture.

Are Cretans still nothing more than Liars? According to most recent surveys, Crete is now a Christian-influenced culture. One poll said that the island is 95% Christian and that Church plays a major role in their lives. Easter is an even bigger celebration there, than it is here in the United States.

SAINT NICHOLAS CHURCH, CRETE

Obviously things have changed in Crete since the days of Titus. So how do we reconcile this change with unchanging Scripture?

When the Scripture said, “this saying is true”, it didn’t stop there as a final judgment. It went on to tell how the Cretans could change. It says, “Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith”. They were not doomed by Scripture to continue perpetually as being Liars. The rest of the Scripture passage gives them hope.

Do you see that? They had an opportunity to be “sound in the faith”. Being “sound in the faith” is a big turnaround from always being liars. Part of the reason why I felt compelled to write on this subject is because many of the other documents addressing this passage stop at the phrase “this saying is true” as the final word on the matter. Now we can see that they were offered a way to change. In light of this information, we must conclude that the word “always” which was used in the verse, was simply a generalization. If “always” was NOT a generalization, then the Cretan prophet who stated it would be a liar also, and it wouldn’t make any sense.

If you are being “rebuked sharply” like the Cretans were, then take heart. It can mean that there is still a chance that you can be changed. I am reminded of what Hebrews says about being rebuked/corrected. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”–Hebrews 12:11.

 

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Titus 1: Abraham is Disqualified!

“For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint Elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.”–Titus 1:6

“Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.”–Gen. 16:3

Disqualified! Godly men such as Abraham, Caleb, David, Ezra, Gideon, Hosea, Jacob, and others, if they were moved forward to New Testament times, would not qualify as Elders because they were polygamists.

Look at the irony in Abraham’s life:

Abraham was called “The Friend of God“–James 2:23

He was called “The Father of those who believe“–Romans 4:11

But, his past choices would have disqualified him in New Testament times from being called an “Elder among those who believe”.

In Abraham’s own time, his second marriage greatly hindered him; Yet Abraham persevered in faith, regardless of his own hindrances.

So don’t let failures and disqualifications behind you steal from faith choices before you. He may not have had the qualities of an Elder, but he was “the Friend of God” and the “Father of those who believe”. So don’t be sad, cause 2 out of 3 ain’t bad (A little Meatloaf Theology).

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Jesus and Ghosts

Jesus always spoke the truth, and He never confirmed a false belief.

Jesus gave His disciples a clear definition of what a ghost is when He said, “A ghost does not have flesh and bones…“–Luke 24:39. Instead of taking the opportunity to explicitly deny the existence of a departed spirit from ever reappearing on Earth, and proclaim it as a false belief, Jesus chose to clarify and define the properties of a ghost. What is going on here? The answers are revealing, confirming, and very  comforting.

According to Scripture, Jesus had at least THREE ripe opportunities to rebuke His disciples for expressing possible belief in ghosts. Whenever Christ’s disciples entertained the idea of their existence, Scripture shows that Jesus never fully repudiated this belief.

Why didn’t Jesus correct them? Why didn’t Jesus firmly rebuke this superstitious view?

Let’s look at the first opportunity Jesus had to correct their superstitions:

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”–Matt.14:25-27

In this instance the Scripture records that the disciples clearly said “It’s a ghost”. They didn’t say, “Could it be a ghost?” or “I wonder if that’s a ghost?” Notice that they didn’t have any questions about the possibility of ghosts. They were emphatic.

Jesus responded by announcing that it was Him and not to be afraid. Jesus did not take this opportunity to instruct them by saying, “There is no such thing as phantoms or ghosts. Beware of such superstitious beliefs.” He could have nipped it in the bud, but He didn’t.

After the Resurrection, Jesus had an even greater opportunity to rebuke this supernatural belief:

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”–Luke 24:36-39

Jesus knew they were fearful and He knew what they were thinking. Yet he once again did not flatly deny the existence of ghosts. Instead, He used the opportunity to speak the truth by defining what a ghost is, and how He Himself differed from that definition.

We have now seen two out of three ripe opportunities for Jesus to straighten out the minds of His disciples and teach them that there  are no such things as ghosts or spirits of the departed appearing on Earth. So why did the disciples believe that the spirits of the departed could reappear on Earth, and why didn’t Jesus correct them?

For one thing, they all knew that the Old Testament Scriptures told the story in 1 Samuel chapter 28 of how the ghost of Samuel reappeared on Earth. Many theologians try vainly to dismiss the ghost of Samuel as being a demon in disguise. Yet, it cannot be argued that the authority of divinely-inspired, written Scripture verifies three times that this ghost is indeed Samuel. In vs. 15 the Scripture itself states, “Samuel said to Saul“. Again in vs. 16 the Scripture is clear in stating, “Samuel said”. And finally in vs. 20, the authority of Scripture is definitive in saying that these words were assigned to no other than Samuel, “because of Samuel’s words”. It is written! It is written! It is written! Three times it is written in Scripture that this was Samuel. The witch of Endor didn’t raise Samuel (she was shocked it happened), God did it!

If Jesus had ever said, “No departed spirit has ever reappeared on earth. No ghost has ever existed”, He would have had to deny the Scriptures and therefore contradict the truth.

Did I mention that Jesus had three opportunities to instruct His disciples? A frightening event took place before the Resurrection. Continue reading

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Defrosting John 14:12

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father–John 14:12

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The carnal mind reads this passage and naturally thinks about jaw-dropping displays of great power and miracles. Viewing this verse in that manner has caused many believers to chase after signs and miracles instead of allowing them to follow us. For others, this verse has been a great obstacle.

This passage is often misunderstood by believers and unbelievers alike. Skeptics read this and call Jesus a liar because Christians aren’t walking on water across the English Channel. Many Theologians refer to this as a “difficult” verse, and struggle to explain it.

The problem is that we read this verse from our point of view, and we don’t stop to think about the viewpoint of the One who said it. To easily understand what Jesus was saying to us, we have to get out of our heads and look into the mind of Jesus to see what He was thinking.

Was Jesus primarily motivated by POWER, or was He primarily motivated by COMPASSION?

…If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.–1 Cor. 13:2

In the mind of Jesus, what did GREATER look like?

On the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”–Mark 9:34-35

What kind of WORKS did Jesus think He was doing? Based on Christ’s motives, did He PRIMARILY see them as works of great POWER ? Or did He PRIMARILY see them as works of COMPASSION by a humble servant meeting a need?

When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.–Matthew 14:14

Jesus did miracles, but they were motivated by compassion and a need to teach and edify others. They were works of compassion. That is the key to understanding John 14:12. Jesus saw His own works as works of humble compassionate service. Power was just the method, but not the basis. Jesus is not impressed by power. He is impressed by love and “faith which works by love”. He was greatly impressed by the lady who lovingly poured her perfume on Him and called that a “beautiful work”(Mark 14:6).

What does Jesus have to say about those who spend their life pursuing a lust for power and believing that “Greater Works” are necessarily works of power?

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’–Matt. 7:22-23

What does Jesus have to say about those who spend their life pursuing Him in humble compassion?

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’–Matt. 25:34-40

Jesus said, “they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”. How are we doing greater works?

Jesus held children, but many of you, by His grace, have gone further and adopted children.

Jesus did not get to see his cousin, John the Baptist, while he was in prison. But many of you have answered His call, and you gone further by visiting prisoners and sending support to others who do the same.

Jesus only had the clothes on his back and had no home to take anyone in. Many of you have gone further and given clothes, shoeboxes. You have opened your home and let folks sleep on your couch and eat your food.

I’ve been personally involved in praying and watching my friend see again after decades of blindness. My wife and I have witnessed another friend have her hearing fully restored in an instant. I believe in signs and wonders. They do happen and they FOLLOW them that believe. But we should never be deceived into lustfully pursuing them. We are called to pursue Christ and serve in love. There is nothing wrong in asking for God to work in power…Just don’t be deceived and go lusting after it. Be motivated by the things that motivated Christ.

 

 

Posted in Theology

How Could John The Baptist Be Filled With The Spirit From Birth?

How could John the Baptist be filled with the Spirit before he was born?

Baby John didn’t just have the Spirit come upon him or nudge him. The scripture makes it clear that John would be FILLED with the Spirit while he was in the womb.

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb”.–Luke 1:15

Several months later, we read the fulfillment of this prophecy:

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.–Luke 1:41

Elizabeth explains and clues us in on what caused the baby to leap and why the baby reacted this way.

But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.–Luke 1:43

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Baby John didn’t possess linguistic skills or analytical reasoning. But here are 7 things we know about Baby John:

1) He had limbs and a body which could express (confess). It is through his bodily action that we see what his heart was feeling and confessing…the baby leaped in her womb.

2) He already had a heart of emotion which could sense things and embrace them emotionally. He was capable of both possessing and expressing joy. For how can you express joy unless you have a heart that can emotionally embrace the cause of it? You cannot give what you don’t have. Baby John’s emotional heart was filled with joy…the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

3) Baby John was in the presence of Christ, which means Christ was presented to John. Babies are capable of sensing many things in the womb like music, smoke, the taste of carrots, and light. He may not have understood much, but that didn’t keep Baby John from emotionally embracing what he sensed in the presence of unborn Christ.

4) Baby John did not understand the death, burial, and Resurrection of the Messiah. The Thief on the Cross did not pray a sinner’s prayer; the Thief showed no knowledge that Christ was dying for his sins; the Thief  did not demonstrate that he knew Christ would rise on the 3rd day. Yet in spite of all this ignorance and all the overwhelming mockery around him, the Thief sensed something special about Christ and chose to go against the crowd and embrace what he did know and sense by saying, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”.

5) Baby John demonstrated faith in the presence of Christ. John rejoiced in Christ’s unborn presence. Baby John had just enough in his infantile state to emotionally embrace what he sensed in the presence of Christ, and God saw that as childlike faith! Emotional embracement is a symptom of faith. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. John had a reason for rejoicing.

6) I believe Baby John repented. How can anyone yield to the Spirit without turning away from the flesh? I believe that John sensed Christ’s presence as being something greater than himself. It was not something he knew intellectually; it was something he sensed while in the womb. In his own infinitesimal way, he repented and turned from himself, and embraced the idea that outside was someone greater. It is evidenced by his joy! John sensed he was in the presence of someone greater, someone that felt very good. It is later expressed by the words “I am not worthy to untie your shoes“. Therefore, I believe John emotionally turned from himself and embraced the presence of Christ as greater. That’s called repentance.

7) Baby John remained in Christ’s presence continually for three months.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.–Luke 1:56

You can correctly interpret that as saying, “Spirit-filled Baby John, who leaped for joy when initially encountering Christ, remained in the presence of Christ for three more months”. I can only imagine how that affected John the Baptist as he remained in the presence of someone greater who gave him such joy. Many years later, I believe that these feelings became words as John would so readily say, “One who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie”.

8) John The Baptist was “born-again”, but in a different order. He was first “filled with the Spirit” as evidenced by Joy while in the womb, and then he was born later. How is this possible? Like I’ve been saying, babies sense things and John was in the presence of Christ and He embraced it by reacting positively. You should read how Helen Keller knew God and His love before she knew words.

 

In summary, there is a verse which perfectly fits John’s experience in the womb

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,–1 Peter 1:8

God will take tiny mustard-seed faith wherever He finds it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s from a dying thief or an unborn baby. God looks highly upon child-like faith. Maybe that’s why Jesus said John was the greatest of those born among women. Why? Because he was born with faith! He was filled in the womb. He may have been the greatest case of child-like faith we’ve ever seen.

Be like John and embrace Jesus Christ with your heart. Don’t wait until you know and understand everything, just embrace Him with what you have. In the scripture, there was a man who still had doubts about Jesus. He said, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief”. If God can miraculously give me answers to questions like the one in this post, then I can know He can do something for you. Jesus said, “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

Prayer Requests/Comments? Send to: defrostingcomments@gmail.com

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