Being in Christ

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

From the Scriptures we learn about the mind of Christ who is spiritually dwelling within. When we look to the Word of God, we will recognize that being in Christ is the foundation of continuous joy and spiritual growth. We have a real premise on which to invigorate our minds as we carry the Word in our minds and God’s love in our hearts ― then we will begin to understand God’s approval of us.

II Timothy 2:15 encourages believers to, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Some people think that the more they study their Bibles, the more they will become approved before God, but this is wrongly dividing the word of truth, because God has already approved us in Christ. If a premise begins in error, then the conclusions will be no closer to the truth than the original error. We cannot approve ourselves by works, for we are already approved by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:410) because we are accepted in the beloved, and the beloved is Christ; To the praise of the glory of his grace {God’s grace}, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved- Ephesians 1:6. II Timothy 2:15 is saying that when we study the Scriptures we will come to know just how much approval we have before God because we are in Christ, and this is rightly dividing the word of truth.

God does not shame us in the Scriptures; rather He encourages and builds us up because we have the God-given approval to have the mind of Christ ― daily. God’s Word indeed reveals the magnificence of the new man, the Christ within and in whom we may aspire to become like, as the Word says we are in “Christ’s stead” (II Corinthians 5:20). God approves of us through His grace, “To the praise of the glory of his grace {God’s grace}, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), and the beloved is Christ Jesus, and through him we are approved, and being with him in our understanding is being in Christ.

II Corinthians 4:15–16:
-15: For all things are for your sakes {all the things promised to us in the God’s Word}, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound {to give in thankfulness} to the glory of God.
-16: For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish {although we continue getting older}, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

The abundant grace we have upon our lives causes us to be bountifully thankful in our giving glory back to our God. We faint not means that we will never get tired of thanking God for His abundant grace. The greatness of being a believer is that no matter our current age, we can always aspire to His healing Word as we are continuously renewed in the spirit of our minds with truth. In the Bible, the children of God who walk before Him are never called “has-beens” or considered “over the hill,” for the inward man (the Christ within) can always grow as we think on and speak of God’s Word.

I Timothy 4:8 records, “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Bodily exercise profiteth little means that it primarily benefits oneself, but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Godliness is having a meaningful relationship with God as our heavenly Father. Godliness is enjoying the renewed mind, being spiritually fit. Godliness is learning how to be in Christ as an athlete of the spiritual realm. Godliness is proving the “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2), which brings profit into a believer’s heart, a heart that can then reach out of themselves and help others with God’s Word. Godliness is profitable, not only at any age in this life, but will be beneficial through all eternity. Everlasting rewards will be received by a life lived in godliness, and thus, I Timothy 6:6 expresses, “godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Galatians 4:19: My little children {from God’s point of view we are always His precious children}, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.

Having Christ formed in you represents the time span that it would take from the point of your salvation until you begin truly realizing your own spiritual light (the new man), and its source, “that the excellency of the power may be of God” (II Corinthians 4:7). After learning and knowing of the Christ within (created and placed there by God) comes your realization of this miracle of having Christ formed in you. When the Word of God really begins lifting your life up and out of the old nature and you begin relying on God’s Word as the words of life and your daily spiritual food, then Christ will be formed within your conscious mind and divine inspiration will direct your path into a life of godliness.

Galatians 6:15: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature {new creation}.

This “new creation” is the spirit that God created in us, it is our “new nature in Christ,” and this new nature places the Christian believers on a spiritual journey with God that continues until the return of Christ when we receive our new spiritual bodies that will be totally renewed in spiritual perfection. The word availeth literally means that we can become strong in our spiritual life, the new creation strengthens plus enhances our walks with the heavenly Father, for the new creation shows us the true strength that Christ within continues giving to us (Philippians 4:13). The phrases neither circumcision and nor uncircumcision refers to an outward appearance of the works of man, for our new creation is an inward gift received by God’s grace, and the best we can do is appreciate the work of God in that He hath made us accepted in the beloved and renew our minds to this inherent truth.

I could take the time to tell you how sinful the old man nature is, but I would not be telling you anything new (Isaiah 59:12), because we have lived with this nature our whole lives. Indeed, the world is full of very good people and kind deeds, but the nature of sin is also everywhere, just pick up a newspaper or watch the news and you know what you will find. Focusing on sin and its motions is the diet that the world feeds itself on, and the more they do the worse the outlook and apparent destiny of man looks. But because of the new creation there is an escape, it is in Christ, and it is much more profitable to tell you that most assuredly we have a getaway that leads us out from that old nature. We have a new and eternal nature in Christ, one separate from “the course of this world” (Ephesians 2:2); it is our promised emancipation to be in Christ, and he earned this for us in the first century! It is time that we accept it, it is time we, as the Apostle said, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40); it has been waiting in store, and all we need to do is believe to not only acknowledge it but to enjoy our heavenly nature. This is offered from above, from the right hand of God (James 3:17–18), and this is ours in the present now, in the perfect tense of every day till forever.

II Corinthians 5:21 reads that Jesus became “sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Jesus did not have to identify with mankind ― souls born into the nature of sin (Romans 5:12–14). Jesus was sinless, he was perfect, but for us he became sin, the righteous one for unrighteousness ones as he totally identified with man and literally tasted death for all (Hebrews 2:9). Jesus did this unselfishly because he loved you and me! We may now identify with him, yes we can ― we have been enabled to because of the love of God in us, which when applied will place us directly in Christ. We have been called to a new beginning, a rewrite of our personal histories that places us as being members in his-story, a new story of us in Christ that is being recorded down in the book of life, i.e., the living memory of God, for we have received a heavenly destiny in Christ. We will be in Christ in the eternity of heaven, as we can also be today, even though we live “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation” (Philippians 2:15). Jesus our Savior takes us to a whole new dimension as we begin fellowshipping with him, coming to know all that he delivered us from and rejoicing in all that he presents to us now in grace.

I Thessalonians 1:10 says that now we are to “wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” Our deliverance from the future wrath is thankfully based on the awesome grace of God and is received by answering the call of salvation (Romans 10:910). There will be wrath coming in the future; the Bible says so, so it must be true. However, and thank God that you are totally exempt from all that wrath and you will be rescued by God’s son from heaven who will take you back to heaven with him (I Thessalonians 4:1318). Romans 5:9 states, “being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him,” and since you are justified you are equally saved from wrath. In the meanwhile, you have the blessed opportunity to allow the reality of Christ to be formed in you, as you are evermore becoming a new creation in Christ, renewed by the Word and nurtured in the light of God’s unending love.

Now, at this moment in time, we are the recipient of a heavenly call to be in Christ that was first made known and answered in the first century by the Christian church. This is a call of unparalleled proportions as we become “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (see Romans 8:1617). Philippians 3:20 says, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word conversation means our citizenship (see Ephesians 2:1822). This is a call to daily walk in Christ, knowing we are saved forever. “For God hath not appointed {or called} us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us” (I Thessalonians 5:9–10). God has called you to Himself even before the foundation of this world.

Ephesians 1:4–5:
-4: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
-5: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.

II Thessalonians 2:13: But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

God has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, and He hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation! Could you have a greater calling? There is only one response to this calling ― answer! But how do you reply to such an awesome call? Paul wrote, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1) “That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory” (I Thessalonians 2:12). You answer the calling by first believing He called you to be His child. This is then fulfilled by believing in and loving His Word, by seeing your approval of God Almighty, and by enjoying the truth that this calling was and still is according to the good pleasure of his will. By not doubting that you are dearly loved by both your heavenly Father and your wonderful Savior and that you are exempt from the future wrath, this is walking worthy of your calling.

II Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature {creation}: old things {in the mind, the old nature} are passed {are passing} away; behold, all things are become {are becoming} new {in our understanding}.

God loves you so much that He calls you His Beloved in I John 3:2! Let us start from this perspective, let us realize His outlook, let us accept His viewpoint, and let us enjoy His approval as we accept His endearing love for us that is so enduring! Being in Christ is walking with the healing Word of God in our daily lives. As we continue aligning our minds with the mind of Christ, then the true impressions of Christ will rise to the surface of our understanding and reason, and this will present to us inspirations that will unmistakably reveal in our hearts that we truly are in Christ.

Ephesians 2:19–22 (The Amplified Bible):**
19: Therefore you are no longer outsiders (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household.
20: You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone.
21: In Him the whole structure is joined (bound, welded) together harmoniously, and it continues to rise (grow, increase) into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, consecrated, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].
22: In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you yourselves also are being built up [into this structure] with the rest, to form a fixed abode (dwelling place) of God in (by, through) the Spirit.

I John 3:1–3 (The Amplified Bible):**
1: SEE WHAT [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) us is that it does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him.
2: Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.
3: And everyone who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure (chaste, undefiled, guiltless).

**Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE.
The Amplified New Testament copyright (c) 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission.

Habakkuk – Revealing Our Joy in God

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

In the Book of Habakkuk, Jesus Christ is the marvelous wonder whom God would send to redeem, and he is our joy in God. The marvelous wonder of Jesus Christ’s life is so thrilling to our lives as we come to know him more and more, the greatest and most marvelous wonder of all is his Resurrection and our subsequent new and eternal life that we receive through him.

Habakkuk 1:4-5:
-4: Therefore {because of strife and contention} the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for wickedness doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
-5: Behold ye {Israel} among the heathen, and regard {look and behold}, and wonder marvellously {in astonishment}: for I will work a work {miraculous miracles} in your days {in the days that the Messiah would be present}, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

Israel was living among the heathen, i.e., the unbelievers, and they refused God’s Law that was written and spoken to them, and they refused the righteous judgment that only God’s Word could reveal.

Verse 5 is a prophecy regarding the coming of Jesus Christ, whom Israel would behold with their very eyes. They would see him and be completely astonished with utter amazement at the miraculous ways he presents himself and his Father to them, and still not believe that he was the Messiah.

This prophecy is also written in Acts 13:41 in the past tense, because Christ came, and today we can be astonished in his completed work on our behalf and rejoice in him.

Following are only a few examples of Israel’s astonishment in the miraculous work that Jesus would do.

Matthew 7:28-29:
-28: And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, {the Sermon on the Mount}, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
-29: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Mark 5:42 – And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.

The damsel in Mark 5 was dead and Jesus raised her, which was nothing short of a miracle. When the people saw this miracle they were greatly astonished.

Everywhere Jesus walked he gave infallible proofs that he was the true Messiah, yet in the end of his ministry they refused to believe on him, and so Israel as a nation rejected and crucified him. There were some who always believed in hope, but they were few, and the few had great joy because of their steadfastness in their believing God’s healing Word.

Habakkuk was a prophet of the Most High God, and Habakkuk in the midst of Israel’s unbelief received joy from his God because he believed.

Habakkuk 3:18-19:
-18: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
-19: The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

A hind is a deer that places his two back feet in the exact place his front feet were, and his front feet went first to check and make sure that the ground was safe.  What Habakkuk was saying is that when we believe and look to God through our Savior, then we will also be walking in the steps of Jesus Christ, who always walked perfectly with his heavenly Father.

Walking with God will always bring to us joy and rejoicing in the God of our salvation, and in our Lord who made our salvation a reality, and today our “high places” are at the right hand of God.

A Night’s Journey (A Great Example of a Biblical Harmony )

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

(An excerpt from the free e-Booklet, The Jericho Experience, this is a lengthy Bble study)

“. . . A great example of a biblical harmony can be seen when we compare the storm(s) Jesus and his disciples went through on the Sea of Galilee, as are recorded in gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and we will look at the three accounts separately, starting in Matthew.

Matthew 8:23-27:
-23: And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
-24: And, behold, there arose {or there became} a great tempest in {or within}, the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
-25: And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
-26: And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
-27: But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

To help us distinguish the timing of this event from another related one that we will look at momentarily, let us first notice that the placement of these verses above were before Jesus had called the Twelve Apostles. They were first disciples, i.e., disciplined and committed followers; and then they were chosen as Apostles commencing from Matthew 10:1-2, onward, and so the disciples in the verses above were not yet the Apostles. Let us further note that Matthew was not with Jesus and the other disciples until Matthew 9:9, which was after the crossing and storm that we just quoted above from Matthew 8:23-27.

“And, behold, there arose a great tempest in {within}, the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves” (Matthew 8:24). The word tempest is the Greek word seismos and means a shaking; we get our English word seismic from this word. Unlike a storm that is caused from approaching winds and rains of a formidable weather system and intensifying as it approaches, a seismos is an earth-shattering commotion that emanates up from underground or from beneath the sea floor and is caused from the vibrating and shifting to and fro of the earth’s crust along its fault planes. In fact, everyplace this word seismos is used in the entire Bible it is always translated as an “earthquake” except here in Matthew 8:24 (See Matthew 24:7; 27:54; and 28:2). Almost certainly, the translators of Matthew were trying to help clarify the harmonies of another storm in Mark and Luke by translating this Greek word seismos into the English word tempest, when it is obviously clear that seismos should have been translated into the word, earthquake, just as it was translated properly twelve other times in the Bible.

This particular earthquake, or seismos, recorded in Matthew was significantly amplified by the use of the word great!

Now the phrase insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves is interesting because it shows us that Jesus was not in a hollowed out or an opened-decked ship filling up with water, but in the hold below (downstairs) safe from all the goings on above on deck and fast asleep during this earthquake, whereupon his disciples rushed into him, “and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish” (Matthew 8:25). They asked Jesus for help because their faith was literally shaken at that moment. “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose” (Matthew 8:26).

Jesus first responds by questioning the fears of his disciples, and stating they combined have little faith, which, mind you, is some faith, but it is not a whole lot of faith. Then after this discussion on little faith Jesus arose, “and {then, he} rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:26).

I can just picture the stillness over the sea now peaceful and tranquil, and not only the environment was calm, but also the hearts and nervous systems of the disciples because the Physician of the heart was present and ministering to their immediate needs and fears, just as he is with us. So awesome must have been the contrast between the noise of the earthquake and swaying waters and then the complete silence of the sea that “the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him” (Matthew 8:27). The answer to What manner of man is this, is that he is perfect, and he is our personal friend and Savior!

When Jesus rebuked the winds and the sea, he worked two separate miracles. The calming of the sea that the earthquake stirred up into raging, topsy-turvy seas, Jesus rebuked as the first miracle. Miracle number two was the stilling of the wind. Of note is that the wind was not a windstorm of any kind; rather, the wind was whatever wind that happened to be blowing that night ― ceased.

The earthquake was over before Jesus actually woke up, but the aftermath of the tumultuousness still caused the ship to be covered with the waves and when Jesus ceased the wind and the sea, the night’s frights were over.

Let us now move over into the Gospel of Mark and look at a similar, though not identical event, as we just read in Matthew’s Gospel:

Mark 4:36-41:
-36: And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
-37: And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
-38: And he {Jesus} was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
-39: And he arose, rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
-40: And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
-41: And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Only with a hurried reading of these verses can one imagine this is the same story as we just looked at in Matthew’s Gospel, and the “harminators” (to coin a word), must be hoping that you will believe the two accounts are harmonized or their books will appear practically worthless. Although honestly they are not valueless, I use harmonies now and then to help me locate and study similar events that those books have produced and claimed to be identical. I should tell you that I have never seen a harmony that is completely accurate, but so long as we learn to separate truth from error, then those types of books do have something of value to offer. Often they are edited with great precision and care, and reveal inspiring details that we would perhaps miss on our own, and without a doubt, they contain valuable insights. However, the Word of God is our primary source to finding him who is the way, as the Scriptures are already synchronized to the nature and heart of our wonderful Savior.

“And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships” (Mark 4:36). They never sent away the multitude in Matthew’s Gospel as they did here in Mark. They took him (Jesus) into the ship, meaning the Apostles brought Jesus with them, while in Matthew’s Gospel, “his disciples followed him” into the ship (Matthew 8:23). Again, this is a difference in the order of events, plus here in Mark, there were also with him other little ships, but in Matthew’s account we read about one ship ― only.

“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full” (Mark 4:37). The Greek word for storm is laliaps meaning a squall, a tempest of wind and rain, a whirlwind or hurricane, but not a seismos, an earthquake, as we read in Matthew chapter 8. Now when someone attempts to make both the stormy tempest of wind and the earthquake into one and the same event, we are savvy and able to know the truthful and honest findings of the two separate passages at hand. Simply separating them brings clarity of thought.

To imply that the account in Matthew’s Gospel was an airborne storm just to synchronize it with Mark is only accepting someone’s hot air (Ephesians 2:2, 4:14), but it is not believing in the fresh air that is detailed in “Every Scripture is God-breathed” (II Timothy 3:16, The Amplified Bible **), of God’s perfect Word.

“And he {Jesus} was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). Here the Apostles did not ask Jesus for any help whatsoever; as they had asked before in Matthew 8:25 pleading, Lord, save us! Rather, in this circumstance they accused Jesus, saying in essence, “Don’t you care that we are about to die” ― perish. This is so typical of many people, they read that God is their refuge from the storms of life (Isaiah 25:4), they say it, they admit it to all their friends, shout it out to their neighbors, and preach it from teaching pulpits. But when they really need spiritual strength, help, and guidance, they all too often fall apart, confessing that they have been let down ― abandoned or punished by God, when neither are true as wrong thinking and believing is what manifest such thoughts that bring such fears into fruition. It is truth that makes you free, not error, “(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee” (Deuteronomy 4:31).

Hebrews 13:5:
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

James 1:13:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

“And he arose, rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4: 39–40). Notice in Mark that Jesus first arose while in Matthew’s account Jesus confronted the disciples unbelief before he arose (Matthew 8:26). The reason that Jesus first arose, rebuked the wind, and silenced the sea’s fury was because they were in much more dire need and in real jeopardy of sinking into the depths of the Sea of Galilee. Remember they were in an uncovered ship, and that ship was now full of water, and as well, the storm was still bearing its fury down upon them, and so the circumstances where much more calamitous.

In Mark, Jesus first rebukes the wind and calms the sea, and THEN he questions, Why are ye so fearful? Whereas in Matthew Jesus FIRST questions, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). But in Mark, Jesus questions, how is it that ye have no faith?

In Matthew 8:26 Jesus points out that they have “little faith,” and there is a difference between having “no faith” and having a “little faith,” because with just a “little faith” one can believe (Matthew 6:30).

Jesus said, “If ye have faith as {small as} a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20). But without faith, we can find no biblical promises to call to our aid in times of trouble and need.

In Mark, there was no faith – whatsoever – none to be seen, and thus, they had no faith to draw on in a moment of great terror.

Two Old Testament passage from the Amplified Bible come to mind:

Psalms 107:27-30 (The Amplified Bible): *
-27: They reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man and are at their wits’ end [all their wisdom has come to nothing].
-28: Then they cry {i.e., prayed} to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.
-29: He hushes the storm to a calm and to a gentle whisper, so that the waves of the sea are still.
-30: Then the men are glad because of the calm, and He brings them to their desired haven.

Proverbs 3:25-26 (The Amplified Bible): *
25: Be not afraid of sudden terror and panic, nor of the stormy blast or the storm and ruin of the wicked when it comes [for you will be guiltless],
26: For the Lord shall be your confidence, firm and strong, and shall keep your foot from being caught [in a trap or some hidden danger].

Unbelief and fear is the very reason why they accused Jesus of not caring about their immediate plight in Mark’s Gospel. Also, this is the reason they “feared exceedingly” (Mark 4:41), but in Matthew 8:27 they “marveled”; these are totally opposing emotions.

Now we will look at a comparable situation to Matthew and Mark in the Gospel of Luke to see if this third accounting lines up with either of the first two accounts, or if this Gospel reveals a third crossing.

We are still looking for Jesus who is the way and the more harmony that we can glean, the greater we will be able to recognize the perfection of both the Word of God and of His Son (John 1:14).

Luke 8:22-25:
-22: Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.
-23: But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.
-24: And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
-25: And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

The Gospel of Luke, even on the surface appears to be a record of the same night’s epic as we just read in Mark. If so, then combining the two recordings can only help supplement as well as harmonize the two accounts, adding supportive information to balance the twofold story God wanted us to understand. Plus, if the two recordings are about the same crossing, then this will help set apart Matthew’s detailed account to being one of a separate voyage altogether.

Now if Mark and Luke are truly about the same occurrence, the identical time, and the precise place ― then this would be a true, biblical harmony that combines at least two Gospel accounts together, unlike the Jericho story, which was a continuing event seen from the Gospels.

In Luke 6:13 we read, “And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.” This verse in Luke is chronologically set before the verses above on the lake and the storm from Luke 8:22-25, so that when Jesus was on that ship, his Apostles were with him. Plus, Luke 6:15 showed the Apostle Matthew present, whereas during the earthquake Matthew was unknown to Jesus and not present. Recall in Matthew’s Gospel, the earthquake happened before Jesus’ disciples were called to be his Apostles, further cementing the truth that there are at least two separate crossings on the Sea of Galilee from two different passages of Scripture and two unrelated times and events.

Now in Luke, we do not read “And there were also with him other little ships” like we read in Mark 4:36, but we also do not read anything that would dispute this addition, so if this is the same account, then Mark just reveals a detail that will perfectly fit without disputing anything Luke would reveal. “But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy” (Luke 8:23). In Matthew, the earthquake came up from the sea floor, but this storm came down. The Greek word for storm is laliaps, the same Greek word we read in Mark, and even though Mark does not say the storm came down as Luke does, Mark brought our attention to the rising seas, saying, “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship (Mark 4:37), thus filling the ship up with water as it was an uncovered ship without a hold beneath as we read the Gospel of Matthew. Is not the Word of God so precisely exhilarating when we observe how identical stories can augment and add to one another?

“But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy” (Luke 8:23). This flows with Mark’s account, but Luke also adds the word jeopardy to express the urgency of the sinking situation the Apostles were in, as this story still agrees with Mark without any contradictions.

“And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish” (Luke 8:24). Again, they do not ask Jesus for any help, as Mark also showed. “Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm” (Luke 8:24). This also coincides with Mark, that Jesus first arose and rebuked both the wind and the sea, making two miracles as Jesus did in Matthew’s Gospel, and thus Luke adds the words and they ceased (though we should note that in all we now have four miracles on the sea of Galilee and two separate voyages).

“And he said unto them, Where is your faith? (Luke 8:25). This is further testimony that these are the identical account that Mark reported, because the Apostles not only did not have any faith, but Jesus had to ask, where did it go, Where is your faith? It was blown away, gone out to sea, and dissipated out into the four winds. “And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him” (Luke 8:25). Here Luke adds the Apostles being afraid wondered, Mark includes they “feared exceedingly” (Mark 4:41), wonder and exceeding fear, what a mix of emotions to go through, what a relief it must have been to finally pass through this unharmed.

We can easily follow along with the two accounts of Mark and Luke as they continue to expand in the support of each other. Each additional verse contributes more colorful details while allowing the account to become vibrant and without error, as they help open up our understanding of what happened on that terrifying, blustery night.

This story is not over, there is so much more that we can learn from them, but let us read down a little further in the two identical accounts from Luke and Mark and see where they went, and what happened, and then we will go back to Matthew and bring out a few more details for you that are enlightening.

Luke 8:26 reads, “And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes which is over against Galilee.” The country of the Gadarenes is located at the southeastern borders of the Sea of Galilee, and extending over to a geographical area approximately six miles southeast from the Sea of Galilee (inland to the city of Gradara), and directly east of where the Jordan River exits down to the Dead Sea. Mark 5:1 also reads, “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.” In both of these accounts, Jesus heals one possessed man, and both descriptions divulge the same story, each adding separate details that combined make a complete narrative (See Mark 5:1-17, and Luke 8:27-37).

Now in Matthew 8:28, we will read about a different story and landing, “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes {notice the place we read in Mark and Luke was the Gadarenes, not the Gergesenes} there met him two possessed with devils.” The Gergesenes and Gadarenes are similar looking words with nearly the same number of syllables, but they are not identical words or the same place, and there were two possessed men in Matthew, but only one possessed man is seen in both Mark and Luke. The reason for this difference is (again) because this is a completely separate story and place altogether than the ones we read about in Mark and Luke.

Gergesenes is not a town but an area of small towns or seaside hamlets and villages located midway along the eastern banks of the Sea of Galilee north of the country of the Gadarenes, while the country of the Gadarenes is further south and east.

The Gergesenes is the reading of the vast amount of Manuscripts left to us (TCB Page 1325***), while there has been a longtime movement to merge the words Gergesenes and Gadarenes for the simple purpose of forcing the harmony of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Some scholars combine both places to read, “Gadarenes-Gerasenes” as though Matthew, Mark, and Luke actually meant both places (ZEB Vol. 2. Page 623****), but this attempt only leads away from him who is the way, and further away from the great truth of Jesus’ life and the two separate miracles as we learn of the very works sake, with the two separate crossings we have conclusively observed.

We have some similar-sounding towns in Maine such as Nobleboro and Waldoboro that are in close proximity to each other, but no one would even consider combining these towns into one! And, anyone living in the midcoast region can find Waldo! Just as true, the writers of the Gospels also knew the difference between Gergesenes and Gadarenes. Even with the stretch of our imaginations, we cannot honestly meld both regions into one or both separate stories into one, because they do not add up to the identical occurrence or place, so let us just allow them to be the way that coincides with the written truth – and – then, believe what is written in the Word.

Years ago, I was visiting a good friend of mine who lived on Staten Island in New York, and as I was leaving the city on my trip back up to the Portland, Maine area, I had planned on traveling as far up as Massachusetts before stopping for gas. It seemed to me that the night’s drive through New York went on for a very long time. The same scenery appeared to go on for miles and miles without changing as my gas gauge began running lower, so I stopped for some more fuel, and I asked the attendant, “How many more miles before I am out of New York?” and he started laughing. “What is so funny?” I questioned, and he replied “Well, you are almost in New Hampshire; this is the last stop before you leave Massachusetts.”

Perhaps I was just impatient and wanted to get home as quick as I could and I never bothered to read any of the road signs. On the road that night from New York, I could not tell when one city stopped and the next one began because I never saw a break in all the night lights and I felt a little silly when the attendant chuckled, but at least I was almost home. At the time, all I was concerned about is making sure that I stayed on Route One, which would lead me right home and to my front door. This is like the Word of God which confirms the truth; if the searcher will only look at all the road signs clearly marked throughout the Bible, they will see the very distinct path that leads directly to Jesus Christ, and further up to our future home in heaven.

Many of the harmonies and other Bible study aids and helps out there often do not delineate the signposts that distinguish the differences between Gergesenes and Gadarenes; they are all too hurried to follow through with the minute details. Thus, they do not take the time to notice if there is any difference between one or two crossings, or one or two blind men at Jericho, let alone four blind men, so they simply overlap them with jargon that confuses the subject for many a Bible student. Still, they trudge on through the divine narration and integrate the places, the towns, the people, and the separate events into unclear harmonies, and that at the expense of biblical illumination.

Have you seen the game that is shown on children’s television shows, or written in children’s puzzle books that you often find in doctor’s or dentist’s waiting rooms, where we see three or four objects or cartoons of people and one of them is different in one way or another? They then ask, sometimes in songs, “one of these is not the same; can you find the different one?” And you know the kids find the different one right away; they see, for instance, the puppet with only one eye, while the others have two eyes. They see the character that is wearing a blue and red striped sweater, when the others have on a solid red one. When they look even closer, they see that the one in the striped sweater also has only one eyebrow, only one shoe, only one button, etcetera. But when children grow up and go into the ministry, for some unknown reason they forget the lessons they learned as children. When it comes to the Bible, they forget what they learned in kindergarten and cannot see the one that is different, as if their common sense along with the rules of language and structure vanish from their heart’s foundation.

Matthew 18:4, and 19:14:
-4: Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
-14: But Jesus said, Suffer {allow} little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

I am certain that when Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote (for God, II Peter 1:20-21), they were certain about the places that wrote about, and as well, I do not believe they were trying to confuse the harminators or anyone else for that matter. You know, to me it often appears that sometimes people are more concerned with getting the minutest details correct when studying the confusing scrolls and writings and ramblings of the imaginations we have from such false prophets as Nostradamus and others, than when they are studying the true prophecy of all eternity. Jesus warned us about such false prophets: Matthew 24:23-26 reads, “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ {a messiah}, or there {he is}; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before {John 16:1-4}. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers {“store chamber” where blessings and rewards (from God) are given out (See Mathew 6:6 ― BUT}; believe it not.”

Luke 11:42:
But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint {sweet scents, used in biblical times to spread on the floors of synagogues, and in their homes} and rue {plants} and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment {justice} and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

There is a similar verse to this one in Matthew 23:32 and guess what? The harmonies combine the two verses, although this one in Luke is addressed to only the Pharisees, while Matthew’s is addressed to both Scribes and Pharisees, and was delivered at a different time, and is not an identical verse, or spoken for the same reasons. When Jesus used the word Pharisees, he literally was referring to people who conduct themselves in a strict manner and are bogged down in details that confuse them (II Timothy 3:7), and unfortunately, they are missing the true light that is trying to shine through.

Jesus, in Luke 11:42, was teaching how to receive the greatest blessings in life, and that people need a balance in their lives so as not to go so far overboard and forget the simplest matters of life like true spiritual justice. These biblical truths come to us when we simply walk in love and enjoy the wonderful details discovered in the Word.

In Matthew 7:14 Jesus said “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The way is Jesus Christ and he leads the few to an enjoyable life and the fullness of God.

The Bible never instructs believers to make harmonies out of the Gospels, but to see and acknowledge the way and then walk with him who walks with God.

Why are many of the events in the Gospels so similar? That is a very good question and I do NOT have all the answers. I would like to point out though that they only appear alike until one’s heart opens up in a sincere search to know his or her Lord and Savior, and then they become very different subjects that are detailed in meticulous ways that thrill and uplift the believing heart for guidance and daily inspiration. For then God in Christ begins pouring understanding into those hearts, and fills them with the warm light of the fullness of God.

God could have inspired a thousand Gospels or more that would be so completely different that no one would ever be able to confuse any one of them with another. After all, God has made no two snowflakes alike and no two people are the same, so our heavenly Father knows how to make things different. You may have noticed the countless variations of the color green in a forest; it is a most amazing array that He provided for our blessing. Have you seen how the morning or evening skies change into an infinite number of pastel colors ever so slightly with every moment and with every blink of our eyes? Still there are no two sunrises or sunsets alike. These are because our God is multifaceted, and so is the detailed life of Jesus that we are able to discover from the Gospels.

God certainly had enough material to work with to make many more Gospels, as John points out to us in his Gospel. “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25).

I say, let us begin by being thankful that God supplied us with only four short Gospels, and that you and I are some of the fortunate few who now know about the two separate lake crossings and how many blind men Jesus actually healed in his travels in the region of Jericho.

John 20:30-31:
-30: And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
-31: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Jesus did so much more in the presence of his disciples that is not recorded; he had done many more signs than what is written for us in the four Gospels, and still I propose that it would take more time than there is left in this world to actually see and understand all Jesus had done from what God revealed for us in those four little Gospels. For the Scriptures are alive, “they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63), and they are ever rejuvenating and growing in the believer’s heart. What is revealed to us is as the Apostle wrote, written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Hebrews 4:2 records, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” One can spend a lifetime, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7). When folks do not add their believing faith with what is written in the Word of God, then it is absolutely possible to imagine almost anything under the sun, but heavenly truth will remain veiled to them (See I Corinthians 1:18–31; and II Corinthians 3:12-17).

When we supply our own believing faith, we effortlessly will be “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), and then Jesus helps perfect our faith, for Jesus completes our believing faith.

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17), but when it is heard out of concert, read distorted from books, and preached inaccurately, then the Word cannot bring understanding, and the inherent profit is hindered from giving rest unto one’s soul, “For we which have believed {the Word} do enter into rest” (Hebrews 4:3).

In John 5:38 Jesus said, “And ye have not his {God’s} word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.” Believing in God’s Word ― is believing in Jesus Christ, and therefore, believing in Jesus Christ is believing in God’s Word, this is how the preached Word becomes mixed with faith and then effortlessly the living profit in the Word springs to life in one’s inner soul.

Matthew 11:27-30:
-27: All things {Jesus said} are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
-28: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
-29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
-30: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Jesus “saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29).

Today, we do not literally see Jesus; we have not walked and talked with him on the road to Emmaus or heard his teachings ― live.

We have not seen his miracles, but with our believing faith we have traveled with him, we have sailed across the Sea of Galilee twice, and we have seen him open the eyes of the blind on the waysides and highway of Jericho, and we have experienced these by our believing faith that Jesus performed such amazing miracles. Therefore, we certainly are blessed, because blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed!

We, as well as those in the Gospels, have been confronted with our faith to believe the Word. Jesus questions, where is your faith? This is still being asked, and is still a challenge from God’s living Word to us in grace. Jesus said learn of me, and have we? Have we found the promised rest unto our souls through Christ? Is our faith lost in the fog, carried away out into the storm and shaken up by the skepticism of the crowds, or is our believing faith being inspired to grow in the knowledge of the author and finisher of our faith, and are we walking with him who is the way as we enjoy the peaceful rest that Jesus gives to our soul?

The Bible is figuratively our burning bush, like Moses who saw the bush and heard the Word of God – the Bible is our evidence of spiritual matters – it is the connection point between that which is physical and that which is truly spiritual.

I Corinthians 2:9-10 records, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep {the spiritual depths of the true} things of God.” Through following Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, we are lead to the way that directs our hearts into the realities of our heavenly Father.

I Corinthians 1:18:
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The preaching of the cross is to preach the details of all that the cross of Christ made available to us, and is plainly seen in the Gospels as we continue learning more and more about our risen Savior and our faith is our window into the promises of God.

The word perish in I Corinthians 1:18 relates to those who have yet to be saved (but does not mean they never will be saved), as many unsaved people do think that the Bible is nothing but a bunch of foolishness or a book of condemnation; nevertheless, to those who are saved, they have begun to grasp the wonderfulness contained in the depths of Word of God.

Whenever we believers begin understanding the Scriptures, it is because the spiritual power of God is at work in our inner hearts, and because Christ is enlightening and is inspiring within, “Christ {is} the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:24).

Most assuredly, we have been drawn in closer to our Lord and Savior’s love through acquiring an understanding of the Gospels, and we are, as Jesus said to Thomas, blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

II Corinthians 9:15 cheers, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” The essence of the words unspeakable gift is that knowing and walking with God is beyond words, still faith is our connection to him, and we certainly may be thankful to have been able to spiritually see Jesus in the Word of life.

I Peter 1:8:
Whom {Jesus Christ} having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Hebrews 4:12 informs us “the word of God is quick, and powerful” and this can be translated as, “The Word of God is living energy.” The Amplified Bible** renders this to read as follows, “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective].”

Whenever there is a true harmony between different sections within the books of the Bible, they will never run at cross purposes or subtract from each other, but rather will highlight as well as supplement the details of divine light. They always will bring one closer to the Bible’s intrinsic subject ― Jesus Christ, who is not only the way, but also the complete tapestry of the truth. . .”

*Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE, Old Testament copyright (c) 1965, 1989 by the Zondervan Corporation.
Used by permission.

**Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE.
The Amplified New Testament copyright (c) 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission

***(TCB) Companion Bible, The. Reprint, Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1974.

****(ZEB) Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5 vols.
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972.

The Epistle of Christ

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

The Scriptures, especially the Epistles, are written to us and they fulfil a deep yearning that we have for spiritual wholeness and understanding. Often when people first come to the Scriptures looking for salvation and purpose in life they can sometimes overlook the Gospel (good news) written directly to them, which are the Church Epistles.

II Corinthians 3:2:
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

If we read the New Testament Epistles without heart and the quest for righteous judgment, then all we will ever find are the Epistles of Paul. However, as we earnestly search for real glimpses of divine truth, something of a supernatural nature begins to happen in our inner souls, because astonishingly we begin to realize that the Epistles are not only written to us, but they are also written about us! Knowing this we can begin to understand that the Epistles of Paul do become transformed into the living Epistle of Christ, and they are written directly to our hearts.

II Corinthians 3:3:
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

We can study and systematically learn the history of the Bible, or we can find the true heart of the Bible by way of God Himself teaching as the eyes of our own understanding become more in tune to the heart of God’s Word. When we were saved by confessing Romans 10:9-10, God placed in our very hearts the Epistle of Christ, written “in fleshy tables of the heart,” and what is written in our hearts is revealed to us in the magnificent seven Church Epistles.

II Corinthians 3:18:
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass {a mirror} the glory of the Lord, {we} are changed into the same image from glory {the glory of the Lord} to glory {the glory of Christ within and the glory of the Epistles that are now written on fleshy tables of the heart}, even as by the Spirit of the Lord {Who accomplished this}.

If these verses above are true, and I believe they are – then God truly gave us something special, creating nothing less than a miracle deep within our very own hearts. Our lives can and will spiritually reflect what is written in our hearts to the point that we become a genuine Epistle that is “known and read of all men.” The Epistles reflect like a mirror that which is currently in you — “the glory of the Lord” for you are “manifestly declared to be the Epistle of Christ.”

Born Again

“When we were born, we became the progeny of our mother and father; we can never change that fact. (The miracle of our birth is not that man created anything, but rather the God-given abilities that the Creator gave humanity were employed.) Oh, I know some parents would like to disown their children and vice versa; however, by virtue of birth we are the children of our parents. It is the same with God ― once we are saved (born again) we are children of our heavenly Father.” ~LMJ~