With Easter approaching, as Christians celebrate the finished work of Christ — His death, burial and resurrection — it may increase our joy to see His earthly ministry in light of the Jewish feasts. In this post, we begin to look at the Passover, which foreshadows Jesus’ substitutionary and sacrificial death. For a free download of the complete study of Jesus in the feasts of Israel, click here.
When John the Baptist declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 KJV), every Jew knew John was referring to the Passover lamb. Jesus is called “a lamb” or “the lamb” 31 times in the New Testament, and Isaiah 53:7 refers to the Messiah as a lamb.
Every Christian can see Jesus in the Passover by observing the uniquely Messianic characteristics of the Passover lamb:
1. The selection of the lamb (Ex. 12:1-6; John 1:29; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; Rev. 13:8).
2. The slaughter of the lamb (Ex. 12:7-10; Isa. 53:6; Heb. 1:3; 9:12-14; 1 Peter 1:2; Rev. 1:5).
3. The salvation of the lamb (Ex. 12:11-13, 23; John 1:29; 1 Cor. 15:26; Eph. 1:7; 2:1; 1 Peter 2:24-5).
The feasts of Israel are religious celebrations remembering God’s great acts of salvation in the history of His people. The term “feasts” in Hebrew literally means “appointed times” and in Scripture the feasts often are called “holy convocations.” They are times God has appointed for holy purposes – times in which the Lord meets with men and women.
While there are many religious celebrations in Jewish history and custom, seven are most significant: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. God established the timing and sequence of these feasts to reveal to us a special story – most significantly, the work of the Messiah in the redemption of mankind and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth. Continue reading →
This is the fifth in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available in print and Kindle versions from Amazon.
As we pursue a biblically faithful understanding of the Trinity, it may help to sort through a number of false views of this crucial doctrine.
Some faulty definitions are grounded in misunderstanding, such as the Muslim view that Christians are polytheists for worshiping God, Jesus, and Mary. Others are subtler in that they properly identify the persons of the Godhead, yet reduce the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to pieces of a divine puzzle, or as three separate gods.
So, as we briefly explore these flawed depictions of the Trinity, it’s important to keep in mind that the Bible reveals one true and living God, who exists as three distinct, but inseparable, co-equal, co-eternal persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Continue reading →
Horatio G. Spafford was a prominent attorney in Chicago in the 1800s and a friend of evangelist Dwight L. Moody. While Spafford was both respected and comfortable, he was not free from severe hardship. First, he lost his four-year-old son to scarlet fever. Then his real estate investments along Lake Michigan literally went up in flames in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Not long after that, his four daughters drowned in a shipwreck, and his wife Anna survived the ordeal only because the ship’s debris buoyed her as she floated, unconscious, in the Atlantic Ocean.
Crossing the sea to join his bereaved wife, Spafford was called to the captain’s deck as the ship sailed past the foamy deep where his daughters were lost. The captain informed him that the waters there were three miles deep. Returning to his cabin, Spafford penned these words to the now-famous hymn:
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul
Why did such tragedy befall Spafford? He certainly wondered — and wrestled with the question the rest of his life — but in writing this poem, he rested in the sovereignty of God. Continue reading →
This is the fourth in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available in print and Kindle versions from Amazon.com.
Some critics of the Trinity doctrine protest that it is a late invention, formulated only after the Roman Emperor Constantine, a convert to Christianity, decreed an end to all persecution of Christians in AD 313 and convened the first ecumenical council at Nicaea in AD 325.
But the charge of doctrinal invention simply isn’t true, as we see from Scripture and the history of early Christians, who embraced both the deity of Christ and the deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit – although admittedly they often struggled to understand the mystery behind it.
Yes, the councils of Nicaea and Constantinople (AD 381) produced the Nicene Creed, but neither the councils nor Constantine manufactured the Trinity. Rather, the Nicene Creed settled the question of how Christians can worship one God and also claim that God is three persons.
It was also the first creed (a formal statement of Christian beliefs) to obtain universal authority in the church, and it improved the language of the Apostles’ Creed by including more specific statements about the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
As theologian Millard Erickson points out, there is no virtue in continuing to hold such a difficult doctrine as the Trinity if it is not actually taught in the Bible: “The church … drew the inference of the Trinity from two sets of evidence it accepted. On the one hand, the Bible taught that God is one. On the other hand, there were three persons whom the Bible seemed to identify as being divine.” Continue reading →