The Bible “Book” Case – New Testament

Published on 10/08/13

Bible Book Case

All contributions are the opinion and understanding of the author. None of the following views, or comments, necessarily reflects the beliefs or teaching of Sierra Baptist Church.

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Matthew

by Gus Buma

Technically the book of Mathew is entitled, “The Gospel ACCORDING to Matthew.” Mathew is one of the first four books of the Bible which I believe falls into the category of someone being a WITNESS to a special occasion. The other New Testament (Covenant) books are essentially letters (epistles) written to individuals or churches. I believe the main objective of these first four books is to tell Hebrew people the good news (Gospel) of the special occasion that their Messiah had come. These people only had what they have been taught relative to the Old Testament (Covenant) or actually their Jewish Bible: the Torah (Teaching = five books of Moses), Neviim (Prophets), and Kethuvim (Writings). This was their sole authority. The Gospel according to John has a slightly different approach, but there is this element in his AFFIDAVIT too.

The probability is that The Gospel according to Luke was the first written confirmation of Jesus as the Messiah. However, God in His providential will determined that Matthew would be the opening of the New Testament. In my mind this is perfect since Matthew focuses on Jesus Christ the King. Also, of all the books of the New Testament, I would guess this is the book that will have been read the most by the majority of people. In my opinion I believe this book is also the key to understanding the rest of the New Testament; everything from Acts to Revelations: especially Revelations.

I do not pretend to be a specialized academic scholar. My objective is to share a few blessings that are meaningful to me and a few of my views on some of the things I believe Matthew says. There will be sidebars here and there, however I’ll primarily keep to the book. All scripture references will be from the NKJV unless indicated.

For me Matthew is easily divided into sections.

Chapters 1:1-4:16 Introduction of the KING

......Underline: Matthew 1:1 – Jesus the Messiah

Chapters 4:17-11:19 Introduction of the KINGDOM

......Underline: 4:17 Jesus says – The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand

Chapters 11:20-16:20 Rejection of the KINGDOM

......Underline: 11:20 Jesus – denounces the cities

Chapters 16:21-28:20 Rejection of the KING

......Underline: 16:21 Jesus – prepares His death

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Chapter 1: Messiah has been born

As I start here I see there is this PERSON that has been born, and His name is Jesus (Greek Yeshua: Lord is Salvation, and Hebrew Yehoshua) Christ (Greek Christos: anointed one, and Hebrew Masiah). For the Hebrew, and me, the Messiah was just who they were looking for (John 1:41). And, for me, Joshua is just what I needed. Yes…Jesus is my salvation.

Most of us have studied Jesus’ genealogy enough to know the traditional view is Jesus’ legal right to the throne comes through David’s lineage (became legal son by adoption), and His birthright comes through Mary which follows Nathan. Satan thought he had thwarted God’s plan of redemption with Coniah, Jeremiah 22:24-30 (contrast Haggai 2:2-23), but was circumvented by God’s omniscience through Mary (actually Miryam).

For you that enjoy trivia…here’s one for you. Have you ever counted the names in the last set of fourteen, 1:17? Yes, there are a few differing explanations for this one but I won’t trouble myself over that here.

There are five girls I would like to point out, the first being Mary. In view of our Catholic friends’ having their understanding of Mary according to the Catholic Magisterial, I believe the Bible (God’s Word) is the only reliable source of information. I believe God’s Word teaches Mary was not a perpetual virgin. Just listing a few references: in chapter 1:25 it teaches she was kept a virgin until she gave birth, 13:55-56 states she had children (Galatians 1:19, Psalms 69:8), in Romans 3:10,12,23; 5:12 it teaches everyone born has been born naturally with a sin nature needing redemption (no immaculate conception regarding Mary’s birth). Mary is an earthly mom with no special saving abilities (not a co-redeemer with Jesus), or a receptor of prayer or an intercessor: Acts 4:12; John 14:6; I Timothy 2:5. Although I believe she is with her Son at the present time, just as my mother is, she no more “ascended” into heaven than my mother did. There is only one “Exalted Being”, and it is not Mary. Nor is she an “Exalted Queen”: Psalms 57:5; Philippians 2:9-10.

With that said; I do believe Mary has a special place in history, and shows God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary. There is usefulness for all of God’s children abiding in Him; even you and me : whether it is the capability to have a baby, or handing out tracts. Galatians 6:9: ”...let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Cf. Revelation 22:12

There are four other girls that were used in an extraordinary way: Tamar who engaged in incest, Rahab the harlot from Jericho, Ruth a gentile from Moab (Deuteronomy 23:3), and Bathsheba Uriah’s adulterous wife. Wow…I am so glad God is NOT a respecter of persons. If He were, I sure would be one He would have skipped over for adopting as one of His sons. But – I know when Jesus (the only one having experienced an immaculate conception) shall appear, I shall be like Him; for I shall see Him as He is. (I John 3:2 KJV)

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Chapter 2: Where is that King of the Jews

This chapter reminds me of fun we have had with the Christmas Nativity Scene. Some of the fun included sneaking baby Jesus from the stable until His birthday; Christmas Day. Another fun activity was to have the three Magi (Wise Men) in another room, or separated from the Nativity Scene some other way. There were three, right? That is all we ever received with our Nativity Scenes. Well, God did not tell us how many there were. The Bible does suggest, however, they did not see Jesus in the stable; just a house somewhere in that region. (2:11)

According to Herod and his timeline regarding the first observance of the star, Jesus could have been as old as two years by the time the Wise Men showed up. As you know the story, Herod proceeded on this information to post-birth abort all the boys two years old and under. The death total could have been around a dozen, or so. The Bethlehem region was not that large, and is where Rachel is buried just outside of town.

We see this as a sad scenario. Also deplorable, is how the nations eliminate unwanted children today. As of April 2013, since the mid40s, we have allowed {1}1.5 Billion children that we know of to have been arbitrarily put to death. That would take care of the population of China, plus. Just in our country alone we allow {1}1,220,000 to be killed annually. This is a little more than a dozen or so.

So far we have seen:

an angel (2:20) come to tell Joseph the PERSON was to be named Jesus (...told Mary in Luke. Interesting note…what happened to “The Angel” of the Old Testament? Was Mary carrying “The Angel”?),

they would call Him Immanuel (God with us; only time mentioned in the N.T.),

and now we are introduced to the “King” (2:2…THE MESSIAH (2:4 – NKJV states “Christ”).

Again, this is a primary objective of Matthew; the proof Jesus is in fact the anticipated Messiah. One will notice Matthew often mentions prophecies that have been fulfilled; prophecies that only could be fulfilled if the person was sent from God and was the Messiah.

Of the prophecies Matthew alludes to, the only one not appearing in the O.T. is found in 2:23, ”...He shall be called a Nazarene.” This does not mean there could not have been an oral one (note plural of prophets). Some scholars see this fulfilled prophecy possibly referring to Isaiah 11:1. Another possibility is a Nazarene was held in contempt and was despised, and considered ignorant people (John 1:46, “And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”) This association reminds me of Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Wow…Savior, Immanuel, King; What a Messiah! To think Herod the King, Chief Priests, Scribes, and other troubled people in Jerusalem did not even have the care to tag along with the Wise Men to find Him! I cannot imagine that!! However, if God had not bothered to find me…neither would I have cared to find Him (Romans 3:11). Thank you my heavenly Father! Thank you, too, for Christmas. May many come to seek and find you as the world will again be encouraged to sing, ”...let earth receive her King.”

{1}The Movement for a Better America

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Matthew 3a – Need to Repent

We are now introduced to Jesus’ second cousin, John, and the kingdom of heaven. John comes out as a forerunner to the Messiah anticipated by the Jewish nation. He would have been the Elijah from Isaiah 40 if the leaders would have believed and accepted their King (Matthew 17:11-12). But, He came unto His own, and His own received Him not (John 1:11).

John encouraged the people to get their hearts right for this kingdom of heaven that was at hand (near or imminent, 4:17). Worthy of note is this message, I believe, will undoubtedly be the similar as the one given during the great tribulation (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 24:14; Revelation 11:3).

John puts forth a prerequisite for entering this kingdom: REPENT. Essentially repent is a changing of one’s mind; to think differently. In this case changing one’s mind particularly in view of who they thought they were (3:9), as well as to change their life-style from the letter of the law (form of godliness) to guidelines such as given in Matthew 5-8. As a result from traditional teaching, the people developed a false hope of kingdom citizenship, (3:8). In their mind they qualified relative to the law, and being WHO they were. But their heart and practice was not in loving the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and their neighbor as themselves (Matthew 22:37-40).

An interesting side note, the Bible often makes mention of HIS PEOPLE to REPENT. However, John never uses the word repent in his gospel. He shows God extending His Grace to us through Jesus, how God created in us a new birth enabling us to be His children, and become citizens of the eternal kingdom. Paul, in Romans, other than the warning in chapter two, does not have a verb or noun suggesting this as a prerequisite for kingdom citizenship. Even in the very often misunderstood verse in II Corinthians 7:10, Christians are addressed. These books, and others, reference our salvation through Jesus…stressing the action of belief. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13; cf. 6:44).

In my opinion, this new birth will produce action of turning from evil, and from the ”...way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). But, this action is not successive stages of faith and repentance to be accomplished as a condition of salvation. This traditionally taught type of repentance, ”...is not the friend of the Gospel, but an enemy.” Robert Anderson.

‘I thank my Father in heaven that He saved me, and assures me of eternal life. It wasn’t so long ago that I was mired in that old stagnant life of sin. I let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell me how to live. I filled my lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. I did it, doing what I felt like doing, when I felt like doing it. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with me. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced me. He took my sin-dead life, and made me alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from me! Then he picked me up and set me down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Now God has me where He wants me, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon me in Christ Jesus. Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All I do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! I don’t play the major role. If I did, I’d probably go around bragging that I had done the whole thing! No, I neither make nor save myself. God does both the making and saving. He creates me by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for me to do, work I had better be doing’. (Ephesians 2:1-10, MSG edited)

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Matthew 3b – The Gospel

I knew a six year old when told she was going to Disneyland a great deal of energy was released with the excitement of anticipation. However, a second time came when told she would be getting to go back to Disneyland, and a lot more excitement was demonstrated. The reason for the increased excitement was because her anticipation was now based on experience vs. a preconceived idea of what Disneyland would be like.

I have a job where I get to think a lot. Sometimes when I think about my sooner-than-later trip I’ll be making to see my Savior, I get excited. I have a preconceived idea of what I’ll experience based on some knowledge of what heaven will be like. I know it will be more than Disneyland (Psalm 84:10)! ...I’ll get to see my parents and siblings again, will see relatives again, will see the streets of gold, will see my room that is being prepared for me, will see apostles and other historical people, maybe will get a glimpse of the vastness of the universe, and on and on. Of course, there is the excitement of seeing the grandest sight of all: Jesus the King sitting in all His grandeur on His throne. However, I am not able to conceive what my excitement is going to be like once my anticipation experiences the reality.

I have this blessed hope on behalf of the Gospel of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. God’s Word tells me in Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

This GOSPEL is heaven-centered with a heaven-centered citizenship. In my opinion it is extremely worthy to note that this Gospel is not authenticated by anything other than Romans 10:14 = HEAR; BELIEVE. Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (10:15) “…How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” [Tell me the story of Jesus; write on my heart every word] (10:17) “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Ephesians 1:13-14, “When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.”(HCSV)

Another truth that is extremely worthy to note is the OBJECT of my Faith: that is the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. I Corinthians 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

What’s my point? ...glad I asked!

Unlike the Gospel of Jesus with its object of faith, the Gospel of The Kingdom of Heaven’s OBJECT of Faith is in the Old Testament Covenants, and promises concerning the promised Messiah. And, in this case Jesus the Christ. This anticipated gospel is fully understood by the hearers and reader as a literal kingdom to be experienced on earth, and to spiritualize it will confuse an interpretation of the book of Matthew, Revelation, and the rest of the Bible. It is an earth-centered citizenship and NOT a heaven-centered citizenship. It is also the literal kingdom that will be experienced when Jesus comes to set up His rule (Romans 11). Note Romans 11:26-27, “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”

A worthy note is this Gospel, relative to the Kingdom of God, is focused upon by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and yes, Acts…the book of JOHN DOES NOT. John focuses on the Gospel of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. These essentials are immediately recognizable in his first three chapters.

With respect to the book of Acts, if you scrutinize the book and take it literally, I believe you’ll essentially see two Gospels being presented. One, the Gospel of The Kingdom of Heaven to the Jews where they still needed to, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”, Acts 3:19, and two, with many other words [words of a different kind, 2:40] people were encouraged be saved who were separated from God. Cf. Acts 4:10-12; 16:31.

I believe one function of Acts serves to record the transitional period from an offer of a literal kingdom to Jews, through which all the people of the world would (and will) benefit, to an eternal blessed hope through Jesus’ offer to as many who will receive Him as their Savior. I believe the book of Acts even ends with this concept. Acts 28: 28-31, “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves. Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.”

I believe one last note-worthy truth; the Gospel of the Kingdom was authenticated by miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit being the witness to the truth that Jesus is the anticipated Messiah. John 10:37-38, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” Also, these miracles and signs were given through the apostles to authenticate their message about the truth of Jesus as the Jews’ Messiah. Cp. Matthew 10:1-8 with Isaiah 35:5-6, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing.”

As previously considered, the Gospel of Jesus Christ death, burial, and resurrection is NOT AUTHENTICATED by and signs or miracles. Once the purpose of the sign-gifts ceased which were to authenticate the offer of the Kingdom of Heaven as seen in Matthew, I believe so did they.

I trust the above helps to know and understand a few truths regarding scripture. Bottom line, I focused an extra amount of time here since I believe these are crucial elements toward that end.

With respect to eternity, I’m excited to experience all God’s promises regarding the Kingdom of God. I’m looking forward to God’s fulfillment to Israel regarding this perfect kingdom on earth (Isaiah 65:20-25). I know I will get to be a part of that somehow, I Thessalonians 3:13.

Although I am already experiencing eternal life, I’m so excited for the day I’ll see Jesus in heaven. My room is going to be awesome too. What a day when my anticipated preconceived ideas turn into experience of heaven’s reality. I am reminded of the song, “What a day that will be when my Savior I shall see, and I look upon His face, the one who saved me by His grace; when He takes me by the hand, and leads me through the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be.”

Oh, no, I didn’t forget. This 50something year old daughter of mine who anticipated Disneyland, she too, is anticipating her conception of her heavenly home to be turned into experience of its reality.

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