The Covenant-Victim

by William J. Stewart

Unless you are familiar with Young’s Literal Translation, the title of today’s article will be foreign to you. I believe Young’s (YLT) is a unique and excellent translation of the Scriptures, but seldom used.

One text in particular where the YLT rendering is perhaps better than any other is Hebrews 9:16-18. There, we read:

…for where a covenant is, the death of the covenant-victim to come in is necessary, for a covenant over dead victims is stedfast, since it is no force at all when the covenant-victim liveth, whence not even the first apart from blood hath been initiated…

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Strange Music

by William J. Stewart

Leviticus 10 tells of Nadab and Abihu, two of the sons of Aaron. Notice the first few verses:

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. And Moses said to Aaron, ’This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ’By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.’ So Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:1-3)

Despite the fact they died in this short context, I suggest to you these two young men were excited about worshiping God. One does not pick up a censer nor put incense upon it unless they are wanting to worship the LORD. They had zeal with regard to worship. The problem was they didn’t worship according to God’s instruction.

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God Talks To Me (3 of 3)

by William J. Stewart

We continue to look at the claim made by some that God speaks directly to them. Today, we want to consider some texts about the Holy Spirit, and the emphasis on the written word in the Bible.

John 14:26—But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

To many, this text is evidence that God speaks to them. Jesus said it would be so! Consider a few questions to help us understand the text.

Who was Jesus speaking to?
Some will boldly say He was talking to them. Let me state this as clearly as I can—Jesus could not have been talking to you, because you were not there. He was addressing the apostles.

What was promised here?
Let’s start with the latter portion of the text first. Jesus told the apostles the Holy Spirit would help them remember all that Jesus had said to them. Friend, you cannot remember something that you hadn’t heard in the first place. This is not about you or me. It is about the apostles.

If the latter clause is about the apostles, then so is the former. The promise that the Holy Spirit would “teach you all things” was made to the apostles and no one else.

If the Holy Spirit is teaching people all things today, then what purpose does the Bible serve? If knowledge is imparted to believers by direct revelation of the Spirit, then a written record is pointless. Below we’ll notice the emphasis placed on the written record.

John 15:26-27—But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

Again, many will claim this text for themselves. The Lord said that He was sending the Spirit to me!! Did He? I have another question to help us set this text into its proper context.

Were you with Jesus from the beginning?
Jesus plainly reveals that those He was speaking to had been with Him from the beginning.  The beginning of what? Creation? No. The beginning of His ministry. Were you there? Did you walk the dirt roads of Galilee with Jesus of Nazareth? Did you enter the gates of Jerusalem with the Son of God? The apostles did. That is who He was addressing.

Later, when it came time for another to be selected as an apostle, to fill the position vacated by Judas, Peter stated:

…of these men who have accompanied us all the that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection (Acts 1:21-22)

Of the 120 disciples who were with the apostles, it seems only a few met this qualification, Matthias and Joseph Barsabas. You and I do not meet the stipulation necessary to be an apostle of Christ, nor do we meet Jesus’ description of those whom He said the Spirit would testify to. As we shall see in a few moments, the Spirit testified to a select few, who became witnesses for Christ, and wrote down the message for us.

John 16:12-13—I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

Bear with just a few more questions.

Who was Jesus speaking to?
This is the same context as the previous texts we have looked at. We were not in Jesus’ presence hearing His teachings. It was the apostles who were not able to bear the “many things” He wanted to share with them at that time.

Do you know all the truth?
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. Can you quote the entire Bible? Do you understand every text in the Bible? Have you ever changed your belief on a Bible topic? If you answer these questions honestly, then you will come to the conclusion that you are not being led into all truth by the Holy Spirit. That promise was made to the apostles.

If the “guide you into all truth” clause was exclusive to the apostles, then so was the “things to come” clause. There is a long list of folks in our modern day who have claimed to know details about end time events, even to the point of declaring a date for the return of Christ. One by one, they have made their claims, attributed it to God, and then failed.

Emphasis On The Written Word

There are other Holy Spirit texts that have been misused, but these will suffice for now. Let’s turn our attention to the emphasis in the Bible on the written word.

Please take the time to read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Though Paul himself received direct revelation, he didn’t tell his readers they would receive the same or that it was even necessary for them. He exalted the written word. When we read the Bible, we are reading theospneustos—God’s breath. Further, he states we can be complete (whole, mature) and are able to do everything God expects of us based upon what is recorded in the Bible. It is our source of doctrine, it is able to bring to light our sins, and will direct us in the way we should go. He doesn’t say a thing about direct revelation, dreams or visions.

Again, Paul acknowledged to the Ephesians that he had received revelation from God, but told them “when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:3-4). He doesn’t say the Ephesians would receive divine revelation. In order for them to understand what Paul understood, they were given a written record. When they read it, they could understand it. The same is true for us.

Peter wanted to make sure the Christians had a continual reminder of the truth (2 Peter 1:12-15, 19-21; 3:1-2). If every Christian received direct revelation from God, it wouldn’t be necessary. The Bible makes no such promise, and so Peter emphasized the written word.

Finally, Jude spoke very plainly about revelation from God (Jude 1:3). It would not be an ongoing process, but a one-time for all time thing.

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God Talks To Me (2 of 3)

by William J. Stewart

Does God speak to folks directly, by visions or in dreams today? Many in the religious world will answer yes, citing personal experiences as evidence. As we noted last week, such claims cannot be authenticated, and the messages attributed to God by people are often contradictory.

There are several New Testament texts about communication from God. We want to look at some of those today.

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God Talks To Me (1 of 3)

by William J. Stewart

Occasionally I’ve studied with folks who claim God speaks to them. Typically their claim to divine revelation is made when something comes up in a Bible discussion they disagree with. The claim is essentially, “God said this to me, so I don’t have to obey that.”

Does God speak directly to people today? Does He reveal His will to individuals now using dreams, visions or even an audible voice? The claim itself is not proof that such has occurred. Many people in a wide variety of religious affiliations claim God has spoken to them, and often, said something contrary to the Bible.

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Will The Real Mom Please Stand Up

by William J. Stewart

1 Kings 3:16-28

There are several great texts and examples of mothers we could look at from the Scriptures for Mother’s Day. The text chosen may not be commonly used to discuss motherhood, but I believe there are some wonderful lessons for us to glean from it.

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Heavenly Hope In Christ

by William J. Stewart

The apostle Peter once inquired of the Lord, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” (Matthew 19:27) The question is valid. What benefit is to be derived from forsaking all to become followers of Jesus Christ? What do we receive in exchange for our commitment to Him? If nothing is to be gained, we might better go through life seeking our own will.

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The Son of Encouragement

by William J. Stewart

Most of us have had a nickname at some point in our lives. Generally nicknames are either a shortened form of our name or based on a characteristic that identifies us. The man we know as Barnabas from the Bible was actually Joses—Barnabas was a nickname given to him by the apostles. The latter part of Acts 4 reads:

And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement) a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36-37)

The apostles saw a man who was interested in others; who would do his best to build other people up. The name stuck! Barnabas was an investor in people. Let’s notice four instances in his life where he was indeed the Son of Encouragement.

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Our Passover

by William J. Stewart

This is Easter weekend, celebrated by many throughout the religious world as the memorial of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. The word “Easter” appears just once in the Bible, and that only in one translation—the KJV. It is an erroneous rendering of the Greek pascha, which is correctly translated Passover. Easter  was unknown to the early church; they had no annual observance of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. They observed the Lord’s supper as a memorial of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Interestingly, Passover also happened this weekend (Friday 6:00 pm to Saturday 6:00 pm). It is rare for Passover and Easter to coincide. Passover is based on the Jewish calendar and occurs on the same day each year, Nisan 14. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Spring Equinox.

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Let Him Sell His Garment, And Buy A Sword

by William J. Stewart

Luke 22:35-38 reads:

  And He said to them, ‘When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?’ So they said, ‘Nothing.’ Then He said to them, ‘But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.’ So they said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said, to them, ‘It is enough.’

Without doubt this is a challenging text. Especially as we consider the events recorded from Luke 22:49-51, where Jesus healed the severed ear of the servant of the high priest after Peter had cut it off (cf. John 18:10). Peter acted without authority, asking whether to strike or not (Luke 22:49), but not waiting for Jesus’ response. His response was clear when he restored Malchus’ ear.

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