You are the Body of Christ

When the Lord Jesus confronted Saul on the Damascus road during his persecution of the Church, the Lord said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). He didn’t ask him why he was persecuting Christ’s people, but why was he persecuting Him? Those who belong to Christ have been brought into such unity in the Body of Christ, that when one of us is hurting, He is hurting along with us. If I bang my knee against the table, it may be my knee that is throbbing but the pain is felt in the whole body. First of all, Christ hurts when we hurt, but more than that, we should be so close in our relationships in the Body of Christ that each one of us feels what our brother or sister is going through, and hurts alongside of him or her:

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:24b-27).

Christ feels what we feel because we are one with Him. In another place, Paul the apostle also talks about this organic unity that we have with Christ, saying, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5).

What do you think Paul means by saying that we belong to one another? To be a disciple of Christ is to be aware that we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ and learn to live in relationship with others in the Body of Christ. True biblical Christianity is to be growing in relationship with others in the Body of Christ and sharing your life with them, under the direction and leadership of Christ. By saying that He is the True Vine, Christ is saying that He is not just the rootstock, but that He is the whole vine. He is the sum of all the parts of what the Father has planted. It is as if He is saying, “you have a part in me. You have a portion in the expression of My life. In fact, I have called you to be a fruit-bearing expression of My life.” Faith in Christ is the root. Discipleship is the fruit. Discipleship is the outward manifestation of our union and communion with Christ. He has made us organically one with Himself, so that we can be one in togetherness with Him, as He is one with the other members of the Trinity, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. The Tri-une God is in Himself a community of oneness. He wants us to know His community life.

Keith Thomas

Jesus’ Control of the Wind and the Waves

Jesus Still the Tempest
William Hole, 1908

22One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him” (Luke 8:22-25).

The Sea of Galilee is more than six hundred feet below sea level and famous for its sudden squalls. While visiting Israel in 1978, I had the opportunity to work with the local fishermen on their diesel –powered fishing boat one evening on the Sea of Galilee. I am an ex-fisherman from the east coast of England, so I found this experience very interesting, and the fishermen were happy to have me come along. We drank Turkish coffee all night, and compared our fishing methods. Even though they had modern electronic gadgets to find the fish, we caught little. The weather was fairly calm, but they did tell me that it can be a dangerous place when the weather worsens. Still, I am sure that the storms these men have witnessed in their lifetime was nothing compared to the storm that the disciples faced.

It is possible that the storm was not natural in origin. Satan is called, “the prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians 2:2. In another place, he is called the “prince of this world” (John 12:31). Does he have power to manipulate the weather? When Satan tempted Job, God replied to Satan by saying, “Everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” (Job 1:12). Being given permission, we read that the result was that fire came down from the sky, burning up the sheep and the servants, followed by a strong wind that struck the house where his sons and daughters were eating, causing the death of all. I don’t know if this incident we are studying today was of satanic origin, but let us not underestimate our adversary. He does have power, but the Spirit Who is in us is greater than the one who is in this world (1 John 4:4). It is possible that Satan tried to hinder the Lord Jesus’ mission of casting out the Legion demon on the other side of Galilee.

To back up my thought that maybe this storm was demonically inspired, is the usage of the word translated “rebuked” in verse 24. Jesus rebuked the wind and the waters. Doesn’t that sound strange to speak to the wind? The Greek word used is epitimao. It can be translated, “To blame, censure, chide, rebuke, warn or berate.” It is an abrupt, curt, and biting charge pointedly expressing disapproval and connotes a sharp or harsh tone. In Mark 1:25, the same word is used thus: 25But Jesus rebuked the spirit and said, “Be silent! Come out of him!” (The context is of a demon being cast out of a person in the synagogue in Capernaum). The same Greek word is used in another place while Jesus was casting out a demon from a boy. The Word of God says: 18Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out, and he was healed from that moment (Matthew 17:18). Jesus was not soft with demons. He spoke sternly, with authority, and with a strong command, and as strange as it may sound, this is the same way He spoke to the wind and the waves. A remarkable thing happened as He spoke curtly to the wind and waves, i.e. a complete calm came over the waves, and the wind absolutely stopped!

I can tell you, having been at sea for many years, that is not natural. I have never seen a complete calm come over the sea and cause immediate effect to the waves. A strong wind takes time to slowly die down. Even if it was of natural origin, waves cannot become calm in seconds. The swell of the waves carries on for some time after the wind dies down. The hardened fishermen in the boat had never seen phenomena like this. Luke tells us that they were struck with fear and amazement (v. 25). We are again struck with the power and authority of Jesus. If He can still the storms on the Sea of Galilee, He can certainly still the storms in your life.

Keith Thomas

The Rock and Light That Accompanied them Was Christ

1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

When God had begun to deal with the Egyptian nation because of their enslavement of the Israelites, He darkened all of Egypt, but where the Israelites lived, they had light (Exodus 10:21-23). After their deliverance from Egypt, when Pharaoh and his soldiers chased them to wipe out Israel at the Red Sea, God brought darkness to the Egyptians but to the Israelite side, there was light (Exodus 14:19-20). Christ Himself was the Angel of the Lord, a pre-incarnate appearance of Messiah, who watched over Israel providing them bread from heaven, water from the Rock and light in the darkness while they crossed the Red Sea:

12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:23).

No matter what darkness you have to walk through, Christ will be your light. Hopefully you have come to a point in your life where you have asked the big questions of yourself, “Who am I? What am I here for? What reason do I have for living? Where am I going?” These kinds of questions can be depressing if you do not know the Light of the World, Jesus the Messiah. When a person is in darkness, he cannot see the next step before him. One blunders around trying to find out where to go. In the same way, a person who comes to Christ begins to understand who he is, what he is living for and where he is going. Light is a picture of knowledge, whereas darkness speaks of ignorance and the things of this world. The more light or knowledge a person acquires, the less stumbling through life he experiences.

There are times in our lives, when we go through great difficulties, when everything seems dark. When we lose a loved one, it seems as if the darkness is crowding in. When we are sick, and want to just lie in bed, or even hope to die, it is often because we have no hope and no light—no reason to live. These are the times when God wants to reveal Himself to you in a special way, if you will seek Him and ask Him. He will not come where He is not invited. He has given each of us the will to choose to walk towards the light or to stay in darkness. Coming to Him and learning of Him will bring us much light to walk through difficult times—seek to know Him intimately. It is written of Jesus, “by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:11).

Many people experience darkness in their lives by not following Christ. Jesus said, “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness” (verse 12). We must follow hard after Him, for His light is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Often times, we would like to see far down the road of life, but God has only promised light for the next step, not the next mile or the next year, just the next step. Why is that, you may ask? The reason is that He wants us to trust Him in the difficult times of darkness.  Whatever darkness you may be in, it’s time to have the darkness of your life lit by the presence of the Lord within you. Call upon Him in the day of darkness and let Him shine on you.

Keith Thomas

Who Is the Angel of the Lord?

We are thinking of the fact that God has visited earth in the form of a man several times in the Old Testament, before He was born as the Man, Jesus. In a number of places in the Tenach, the Old Testament, He was called the Angel of the Lord, but make no mistake, this was YHVH in the flesh that visited. For instance, God was the One who was protecting the birth of Ishmael, because He was going to bring about the birth of the Arabic people. We are told that Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, when she was running away from her mistress, Sarah, was protected and cared for by the Angel of YHVH:

The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur (Genesis 16:7).

This was not a normal angel, He is called the Angel of YHVH in verses 9,10, and 11. But in verse 13, this angel is called YHVH:

Then she called the name of YHVH who spoke to her, “You are the God who sees me.” (Genesis: 16:13).

This was the same angel, the Angel of YHVH, that held Abraham’s arm as he was about to sacrifice Isaac. He spoke to Abraham in the first person, as if He Himself was and is God.

10Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:10-12).

Did you miss it? This Angel, the One in the form of a man, was speaking as if He was and is God. Again, further in the conversation between Abraham and the Angel of the Lord, the scriptures tell us:

15Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son (Genesis 22:15-16).

In the Old Testament, God Himself has visited earth in the form of a man. The same One who was born into the human race as a man to be a sacrificial Lamb, a holy offering for sin. God Himself came to the human race as a Man in order to take away and purge away sin, for every man that will take His substitutionary sacrificial offering as your own.

Keith Thomas

The God Who Comes to Lunch

I agree, it’s an awesome concept that the God who has created all things—the Lord of heaven and earth, should come down to earth and eat with human beings. But as amazing as it sounds, the great YHVH, the I AM That I AM, has visited earth in a human body. To the Jewish mind, that cannot be. They would remind us of what Moses, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, said:

19And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock (Exodus 33:19-21)

Yes, if we were to see God in the fullness of His power, it would kill us, but when we look at several scriptures in the Tenach, the Old Testament, we see that YHVH did visit in human form. Sounds incredible? God visited Abram, the one whose name was changed to Abraham.He and two angels came together and had lunch with Abram. Here’s what the Word of God says:

Genesis 12:7—Then YHVH appeared to Abram…

Genesis 15:1—And the word—YHVH came to Abram in a vision…

Genesis 17:1—And YHVH appeared to Abram…

Genesis 18:1—Then YHVH appeared to him at the oaks of Mamre

The verses above that have the word appeared in Hebrew is in the passive form of the verb to see. It means that Abraham saw someone—YHVH in human form. This becomes clear in Genesis 18:1-2. Just as a reminder to those of you not familiar with the English translation, when the word LORD appears in the text, the Hebrew word is YHVH—the creator God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:

1Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 2When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth (Genesis 18:1-2).

Christians believe this to be a pre-incarnate appearance of the Son of God, the One who is YHVH in human form. The text distinctly tells us that the He appeared with two others as men. Two angels were with Him that day that were to go down to Sodom and bring forth Lot from out of the city, while the LORD listened to Abram’s intercession. The three persons are called “men” three times, verse 2, verse 16 and verse 22. One of the three was called YHVH-Man:

Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD (Genesis 18:22).

As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the LORD departed, and Abraham returned to his place (Genesis 18:33).

This is none other than Yeshua, Jesus, the One who appeared to Abraham, He Himself said that He had met Abraham:

56“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple (John 8:56-59).

God has come to us in human form, and His name is: YHVH is salvation—which is the translation of the name Jesus.

Keith Thomas