Home Bible Study

"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas 2014

Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4

Christmas 2014

Home Bible Study breaks from the regular routine during the Christmas Season.
Instead of producing the next Bible lesson in line, I write a lesson about the birth of our Savior.  I’ve been doing this for so long it’s become a holiday tradition around here.
We’ll return to the book of Romans after the New Year holiday.

Before I begin I want to take the time to wish each of you a Merry Christmas.
Please remember to be thankful to God 
for His gift of everlasting love, 
for His precious gift of grace,
 and for His gift of life, in Christ Jesus.

I’m going to visit Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth this year and the reason for this will unfold as the lesson goes along.   It’s necessary to fill in some details before I get started, “to properly set the scene.”  First, Luke was not an apostle.  Second, it appears that he wasn’t even an eyewitness to any of these events he writes about.  You pick up on this fact by the use of the pronouns “we” and “us” which he uses throughout his gospel. 

Basically, Luke was a reporter or better yet a bearer of good news.
Let’s see what he has to say about this.  Please turn to Luke, chapter 1.

Luke 1

1: Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,

2: just as they were handed down to us by those who from the (what) beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word (Jesus Christ),

3: it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus (a Roman official);

Luke doesn’t claim to be an eyewitness to any of these events, but he does claim to be a “careful investigator,” receiving eyewitness testimony and then writing it down. 
The reason for this is given in the following verse.

4: so that you may know the exact truth about these things you have been taught.

In short, Luke is saying that he carefully investigated everything (meticulously) regarding Jesus Christ from the beginning before he wrote all these events down in consecutive order so – that you (and the whole world) may know the exact truth. 

I added the words “and the whole world” to the text because the birth of Jesus Christ affects everyone from Adam to this age and beyond; and both Jew and Gentile alike.

The book of Luke is the first volume in a two volume set. 
The book of Acts is the second volume (Acts 1:1-2).

The book of Matthew, an eyewitness, was the first gospel written, as early as 50 AD.

The book of Mark, an eyewitness, followed between the years 55-70 AD.

The book of Luke, who was not an eyewitness or an apostle of Jesus, but he was a companion of the Apostle Paul.   Therefore, Luke had ample opportunity to meet the other apostles who not only knew Jesus but worked side by side with Him during His ministry here on earth.  This gospel was probably written around 62-65 AD.

The book of John, an eyewitness, was written between the years 80-90 AD.

Luke wrote his gospel account so that those who are interested may know with all certainty that Jesus was born of a virgin, in Bethlehem, just as God the Father promised and just as the prophets proclaimed to Israel (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; Micah 5:2).

Let’s read some truth together.  Please go to Luke, chapter 2.

Jesus Birth in Bethlehem

1: Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

2: This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3: And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

4: Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

5: in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

6: While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

7: And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in (swaddling) cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

This is how Jehovah, the Creator God, the Savior of the world arrived…unobserved. 

Jesus came but He didn’t descend from the clouds in a chariot of gold, leading an army of angels, nor did He arrive sitting atop a white stallion leading a vast Israelite army to overthrow Roman supremacy.   He came silently and simply just as Luke reports it; Mary gave birth, she wrapped Him in (swaddling) cloths, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them. 

Jesus came during a time known as Pax Romana or Roman Peace referring to the Roman Empire in its prime.  This term is a bit misleading because Roman expansion continued and Rome still had many enemies.   Rome had many gods and spirits and Augustus wanted to be counted among them.  The senate made him emperor of Rome, but he was determined that his people would see him as their supreme spiritual leader as well.   Early in his reign, Haley’s Comet passed over Rome, and since Romans were deeply superstitious, Augustus took advantage of this opportunity.  He claimed it was the spirit of Julius Caesar entering heaven.  If Caesar was a god then he, as his heir, was the son of a god!  In 27 BC, the Roman Senate granted Octavian the name Augustus, meaning the “exalted.” 

Our Savior was born in this environment.  The world was on the move…Augustus the god-man, the most powerful person on earth had spoken and the world responded.    Caesar Augustus had ordered a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.  Every male was commanded to return to their ancestral home to be counted.  This was required for two reasons:  for military purposes and for taxation.  Jews were not required to serve in the Roman Army but they were taxed.  This is why we find Joseph making his way up to Bethlehem from Nazareth.  Women were not required to go with them and they were not counted in the census, still we find Mary, with child, accompanying her husband on his journey.

Now we’re used to the Christmas story version where Joseph and Mary arrive in Bethlehem, just in the nick of time, to deliver her baby but that’s not what Luke says:

6: While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
The Bible doesn’t say how many “days” they stayed in Bethlehem until she gave birth.  It could have one or two or even a dozen.  We do know she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in (swaddling) cloths.

Most people overlook the significance of the “swaddling” cloths.  But if you read Luke’s account carefully starting at verse 12 we have this:  This will be a (what) sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in (swaddling) cloths and lying in a manger.”  (God used signs and miracles to validate His message or His messenger to the Jews.)

Jesus’ is proclaimed as the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of David, throughout the beginning of Luke’s gospel.  The angel Gabriel tells Mary that her Son, “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; (Luke 1:32).  The Davidic theme continues throughout the tale of Jesus’ birth.  He was born in Bethlehem, the city of David.  Even the angels speak of Jesus’ connection to King David in verse 11, “for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…

To locate the significance of the “swaddling” cloths you have to go back to King David’s first-born son, Solomon.  He was known for his humility (until he turned away from God).  Solomon prayed to God for wisdom; not wealth, not power, and not honor.

In Wisdom of Solomon 7, we have this:  And when I was born, I began to breathe the common air, and fell upon the kindred earth, and my first sound was a cry, like that of all. 4 I was nursed with care in swaddling cloths.  5 For no king has had a different beginning of existence;  6 there is for all mankind one entrance into life, and a common departure.  7 Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.  8 I preferred her to scepters and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her.  9 Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before her.  10 I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light...

Jesus’ humble birth is a “sign” to the nation of Israel that He truly is the Son of David, who like Solomon is not about wealth, power, or honor…and then there’s the “swaddling” cloth. 

Moving further along in Luke’s narrative to,”…no room for them in the inn,” this is better translated: no space available in the guest room.  There were no road-side inns in Bethlehem, folks.  Jesus' birth predates the Holiday Inn era by quite a few years.

The word, “inn” in the Greek is Kataluma (kat-al’-oo-mah) and is best understood as a “guest room.”  We find Biblical evidence of this at Luke 22:11 and Mark 14:14. 

Joseph returned to the home of a family member in Bethlehem and because of the census order this small dwelling was full of people…there was no room for them.  There is no lack of hospitality here.  There is no sinister inn keeper.  That’s the Hollywood version.

The guest room is already taken.  The host is not expected to ask prior guests (or a recently married son for that matter) to leave so they make suitable accommodations for them.  Now this doesn’t mean that Joseph’s family suggests they go find a stable or a cave to stay in while they’re in town.  Please don’t swallow that Hallmark view of the Christmas Story.  The homes of that era usually contained a place in the rear for their animals.  They brought them in at night and let them out during the day.  This was practical for a couple of reasons.  The closeness of the animals at night helped heat the home in winter and it kept them from being stolen (Luke 13:15). 

In all likelihood, this is where the holy family wound up.  This is certainly where you’d find a manger – not the kind you see pictured on most Christmas cards though.  A manger is an animal feeder that is made of carved stone; nothing cutesy about it.  In fact, it has been said by some that the manger is another "sign."  It's a foreshadow of the tomb, also hand carved, in which Jesus will one day be laid and buried.

So, after carefully investigating and interviewing eyewitnesses regarding Jesus’ birth Luke writes his gospel so that you may know the truth…

But truth today is subjective.  Case in point:  I was following a car that had four decals in its rear window.  In the upper corners, they had placed two Joy FM stickers, in the lower right-hand corner there was a decal of a child kneeling at the cross, hands folded in prayer.  I was thinking to myself this guys obviously a Christian and enjoys Christian radio.  But then I looked in the lower left-hand corner and saw he had placed an Obama/Biden decal there and I started to wonder.  Then I thought maybe he doesn't know this president supports the killing of unborn children.  He should.  It's the voters responsibility to know the facts.  It' also a Christian's responsibility to know what the Bible teaches and then support it.  The truth is abortion is at odds with what the Bible teaches.  God’s against killing unborn children.  There’s no debate.  It’s right vs wrong.  

Because we live in an age of Relativism people treat truth like a ping-pong ball.     
Relativism is a philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid, and that all truth is relative to the individual.  Meaning all moral positions, all religious systems, all art forms, all political movements, etc., are truths that are relative to the individual and constantly changing. 

This philosophy is pervasive in our culture today.  With the rejection of God and His Word in particular, absolute truth is being abandoned.  This pluralistic society wants to avoid the notion that there really is a right and a wrong. 

If you doubt me concerning this, look at our deteriorating judicial system that has increased difficulty in punishing criminals, in our entertainment industry which continues to push the margins of immorality and indecency; our educational system which is permitted to teach the theory of evolution as fact but bans the teaching of creationism outright; our society promotes the protection of animals but kills 1.5 million unborn children annually.  In addition, moral Relativism is encouraging everyone to accept homosexuality, pornography, fornication, pre-marital sex, drunkenness, same-sex marriage, and many other sins that were once considered “wrong” but are now deemed acceptable and promoted by our society (Romans 1:28-32; 2 Timothy 3:1-7). 

God has communicated His stance on all these subjects but people aren’t tuning in.
Society scorns God and His Word…and that’s a foolish activity (Proverbs 3:34); but we have this.  

Jesus was born!

Luke reports the truth.  He tells it just as it happened that night in Bethlehem.  
Jesus came serenely and simply, shining His Light into our darkened world.  He came in at our level, humbly, poor in other words.  He wasn’t born in a palace, amongst kings and rulers, such as Caesar Augustus, for no normal person could imagine themselves being united with a Prince of Rome.  No, Luke in his gospel conveys Jesus as the Christ, rich in mercy and grace. 

Our apostle Paul writes,“…although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.  For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11)

Jesus wants the world-at-large to know, I am the way, and the truth…”

Truth doesn’t change.  It stands forever.  Can you say the same of philosophy and Science?  Yet, this is where the majority put their faith and their hope.  Listen, when all hope is lost, in steps Jesus Christ not only saying I have the truth but also saying, “I am the truth!  Come as you are.”

That’s the point of this Bible lesson – that you may know the truth.

God’s Word says that without His forgiveness you are dead in your sins and you’ll spend eternity apart from Him and His love in a place of torment especially made for you called the Lake of Fire.  You have a decision to make.  No one can make it for you.
You’re either for God or against Him.  There’s no middle ground.

Jesus has already paid the penalty for your sins at the cross.  All you need to do is believe in His death, burial, and resurrection to be saved (plus nothing else).  It’s that simple.    

The Apostle Paul writes, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

If you believe that Jesus’ shed blood paid the penalty for your sins, past, present, and future, then you are saved and eternally secure, in Christ Jesus.  That’s the truth!

I pray you’ll take the time to “investigatethis matter and respond in kind.

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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