Leviticus 23:1-44 (The Feast of Passover):
In Leviticus 23:1-44, we have numerous holy days or feasts referenced, such as, Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Wave-loaves, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. n The feast of Passover was celebrated to remember the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, in particular when all the Egyptian firstborn were killed. The angel of death "passed over" the Israelites because they sprinkled blood from a lamb on the doorposts of their homes (Exodus 12:1-28). Centuries late, while the Israelites were in Jerusalem preparing to celebrate Passover we find the LAMB, the LORD JESUS CHRIST, entering Jerusalem to be crucified. So what's the significance? Paul declares that Jesus is our PASSOVER, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be anew lump, as ye are unleavened, For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Numbers 15:1-31; Leviticus 8:1-36; 9:1-24 and 16:1-34 (Day of Atonement):
The Old Testament scriptures provide in Numbers 15:1-31, all the procedures that the Israelites and priests need to make their offerings to the Lord. In Leviticus 8:1-36, Aaron and his sons are consecrated by Moses to holy service to the Lord and his people as priests. We see their service in Leviticus 9:1-24, when Aaron and his sons make a sin offering, burnt offering, and peace offering on behalf of the Israelites. In Leviticus 16:1-34, we are given instruction regarding the Day of Atonement. This special day was cited by God to be observed on the tenth day of the seventh month. The high priest would first make atonement of his own sins and the sins of the other priests by sacrificing a young bull. The high priest would then enter the most sacred area of the tabernacle and sacrifice a goat as a sin offering for all the sins of the Jewish people. What is significant about the Day or Atonement is that this day NO LONGER needs to be observed. Paul, the writer of Hebrews tells us that these sacrifices were a shadow of better things to come because "those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually (can never) make the comers their unto perfect." Instead, the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, His precious blood was shed, as a permanent, once-for-all sacrifice to make atonement for our sins (Hebrews 10:1-10). Any attempt at works, including those in the form of sacrifices or observing certain feasts or days, can do nothing for our atonement...our
Numbers 21:1-9 (Moses and the Serpent):
In Numbers 21:1-9, we find the Israelites murmuring against Moses and God. They were complaining that they were set free from bondage to only die in the wilderness. The Lord becomes upset with them since this is their eighth complaint. The Lord then decides to judge them, for their murmuring, and he sends fiery serpents. Some of the people who are bitten die. Moses then forges a brazen serpent which is located on top of a pole. Anyone who looked upon the serpent would be healed from any bite and live. Bronze in the Bible symbolized sin that has been judged. John tells us in John 3:14-15, "And, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." The bronze serpent represented the sin of the people being judged; it is a picture of what Christ did for us by being crucified on the cross; "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).
Introduction to Second Chronicles:
It is believed that the scribe, Ezra, wrote the book of Second Chronicles, however, that has not been established with any certainty. Second Chronicles continues the history that was started in First Chronicles. In the Hebrew Bible both the first and second books of Chronicles are combined into one book. The book covers a period of 427 years. At the end of Chronicles we see the Israelites being exiled to Babylonia for 70 years. We also read about "Israel's story from Solomon's reign into the divided kingdom from a spiritual perspective." First, God's encompassing will for the Jewish people; secondly, we see how every action has an outcome; thirdly, the scriptures are the rule of faith which the Jewish people were to live by; fourthly, it reveals how God would bless those that wholeheartedly worship Him and how He would curse those that resist him; lastly it emphasizes the covenant between David and God which required obedience to the Law. One portion that stood out for me is 2 Corinthians 1:11-12, "And God said to Solomon, because this was in thine heart, and thou has not asked for riches, wealth, or nor the life of thine enemies, neither has thou asked long life; but has asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king" wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honor, such as none of the kings have had that have been before three, neither shall there any after three have the like."
Introduction to Ezra:
The Book of Ezra was most likely written by the scribe Ezra. Just like first and second Chronicles, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were actually one book in the Hebrew Bible. Ezra is the first book written post-captivity; other books written during the post-captivity include Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Esther detials two restorations from Babylonian captivity. The first restoration involved about 40,000 Israelites returning under Sheshbazzar (530 BC). The second restoration occurred when Ezra, under Zerubbabel by degree of Cyrus, took a smaller group and his goal was to teach the people the Law of Moses (458 BC). The first group restored worship of the Lord and the rebuilding of the temple; however, it was Ezra who guided the Israelites to live and obey the Mosaic Law and specifically to stop mixed marriages. It is important to note that the majority of Israelites remained either in Assyria or Babylon since they were prospering there. Those Israelites that returned did so because they "had a heart for God." Two passages that stood out for me were Ezra 7:27-28, "Blessed be the Lord God our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's hear, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem: and hath extended mercy unto me before the kind, and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me, and I gathered togethre out of Israel chief men to group with me" and Ezra 8:21-23, "Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava tha we might afflict ourselves before our God to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, 'The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this, and he was intreated of us."
Introduction to Esther:
The Book of Esther gives the account of the main character Esther and it covers a period of 12 years. The account takes place in Babylon, where the Hebrews were not slaves but rather forced immigrants; they were allowed to conduct business and live yet there were waiting to return home. In short, the Persian King Ahasueerus falls in love with a Jewish beauty named Ester and he selects her to be queen. An individual by the name of Haman plots to kill all the Hebrew people, in particular, a Hebrew by the name of Mordecai who is relative of Esther. Ultimately, Mordecai finds favor with the King and Haman is executed by hanging. The book gives a clear picture of how God is at work in everyday circumstances for those who love him. It teaches us that our lives are not dependent upon fate and chance. In this account, we see Jehovah watching over dispersed Israel. It is interesting to note that no where in this book is the name of God mentioned yet we clearly see His gracious and sovereign hand at work; He does this will all His children. A verse that stood out for me is Esther 4:14b, "...and who knoweth whether thou are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Introduction to Job:
The book of Job gives us the account of the life of its main character, Job. No one knows who wrote it but it may have been Job himself; it was written around 2000 BC before the giving of the Law. It was written in the form of a Hebrew poem (it doesn't rhyme) and the events cover a period of one year. It is believed to be one of the oldest books of the Bible. The question answered in this book is "Why do the godly suffer?" The Book of Job teaches us that when the godly suffer is not necessarily because they have sinned. More importantly, the book teaches us that regardless of why we are suffering God loves us and His Hand is over us. A second question that is answered in the book of Job is "is our God worthy of our worship and service, or must He buy us with His blessings?" Satan accuses God that if He did not reward followers they would not worship and follow Him and so we find Job tested. A verse that stood our for me is Job 1:21, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
Introduction to the Psalms:
The Book of Psalms is a collection of poems many of which are lyrics and can be sung as such. There are 150 songs in the Book of Psalms. They were written mainly by David; other writers included Asaph, Solomon, and Moses. David wrote seventy-three psalms, Asaph wrote twelve, the sons of Korah wrote twelve, Solomon wrote two, Ethan wrote one, and Moses wrote one. The word Psalms comes from the Greek word "psalmos" which is found in the Greek New Testament in 1 Corinthians 14:26, Ephesians 5:19, and Colossians 3:16. The Hebrew title for this book is "Sepher Tehillim" which means "Book of Praises." The topics of the Book of Psalms include anger, regret, fear, jealousy, enemies, praise, joy the wonder of life , God's goodness, and God's love. Psalm 104 thru 106 are historical in nature, and begin with creation and end with the captivity. Most importantly, their are Psalms which speak to the Messianic prophecy and the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross.
Introduction to the Proverbs:
The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings of which some are provided in the form of Hebrew poetry. Many of the proverbs are poetry in the form of couplets which means that two lines express the same thought in two different ways. The proverbs were written by Solomon and others such as Agur and Lemuel. Proverbs speaks to the following subject matters: God's perspective on sex, having friends, knowing God, leadership, loving things, loving people, marriage and family issues, money management, morality, time management, using words wisely, and working for a living.
Introduction to Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon and centers around wisdom. Scofield writes, "Ecclesiastes is the book of man 'under the sun' reasoning about life. Solomon was King David's son and when he was a young king, God asked him what he wanted and he responded "wisdom." Solomon lived a life that honored God until the end when he became complacent and allowed idolatry slip into the royal household along with his hundreds of wives and concubines. It is generally believed that it is at this point in Solomon's life that he wrote Ecclesiastes. In addition to using the phrase "under the sun" many times another phrase and theme used often is "everything is meaningless." In other words, even though Solomon had everything he could ever want he realized that it meant nothing without God.
Introduction to the Song of Solomon:
The Song of Solomon was written by King Solomon, it is a love poem. Solomon came from a very creative bloodline, his father King David was a musician and soldier. Although Solomon had many wives and concubines he also writes about his biblical love for his Shulamite bride. The passage is also a figurative picture of God's love for his people, Israel, the wife of the Lord (Isaiah 54: 5-6; Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 16: 8-14, 20-21, 32, 38; Hosea 2:16, 18-20). It is also an allegory of Christ's love for his heavenly bride, the Church (made of believers coming in faith), "Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly; and, indeed, bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:1-2).
Introduction to the Gospel of Matthew:
The Gospel of According to St. Matthew was written Matthew, also called Levi, around A.D. 60. Matthew was a tax-collector before he met the Lord and decided to follow Him. His calling is found in Matthew 10:1-4, where he is selected to be one of the apostles. The purpose of the book is indicated in the first verse, "Matthew is the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." Consequently, we find Jesus associated with two of the most important covenants, the Davidic Covenant of Kingship and the Abrahamic Covenant of Promise (2 Samuel 7:8-16 and Genesis 15:18). Hence, Matthew's gospel was written primarily to his own people, the Jews. Matthew consistently, quotes or alludes to the Old Testament when he is trying to make a point. Matthew portrays Jesus as the Messiah-King of the Jews. Matthew proves that Jesus is the Messiah-King by giving four pieces of evidence. The first relates to Jesus's legal right to the King's throne as seen in His genealogy (Matthew 1:1-17). In this genealogy we see our Lord a descendant from Abraham all the way to Joseph (earthly father). Therefore, this genealogy is not the bloodline but rather the royal line which carried with it throne rights. The second piece of evidence is found the six prophecies described in Matthew 1:18--3:17 (1st prophecy - 1:22-23, 2nd prophecy - 2:5-6, 3rd prophecy - 2:13-15, 4th prophecy - 2:16-18, 5th prophecy - 2:23, 6th prophecy - 3:3). The third piece of evidence is His morality as seen by His victory over the temptation brought to him by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). Lastly, Matthew describes His ministerial work in Matthew 8:1-9:38 and His teaching (Matthew 5:1-7:29) as proof that He is the Messiah King.
Introduction to the Gospel of Mark:
The Gospel of Mark was written by John Mark, who was not disciple of Jesus. John Mark's mother name was Mary (Acts 12:12) however, we do not know the name of his father. John Mark is not mentioned in any of the other gospel accounts but he does appear in the Acts of the Apostles when he an his Uncle Barnabas accompany Paul on his first missionary journey. In that journey, John Mark goes as far as Perga but then he turns back for reasons not given in the scriptures (Acts 13:13). Years later we find John Mark in the mission field (Colossians 4:10, Philemon 24, 2 Timothy 4:11). It appears that John Mark was Peter's spiritual son (1 Peter 5:13). John Mark uses a lot of action words, in this gospel, showing what Christ did. The Gospel According to Mark is the shortest of all four gospels and in it he presents Jesus as a servant. It is interesting to note that half of the Gospel of Mark covers the last eight days of Jesus's life where he gave himself for our salvation...the greatest act of servanthood. Mark's audience are the Romans and he focuses on Jesus' compassion for all humanity.
Introduction to Romans:
The Epistle to the Romans was written by the Apostle Paul between A.D 57-58. Paul was most likely in Greece (Achia) - the city of Corinth (compare Acts 20:1-3 with Romans 16:1-2) at the time he wrote this letter. Paul wrote it in preparation of his anticipated trip to them. According to C.I. Scofleld, the theme of the letter is the" Gospel of God" as seen in Romans 1:1, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God." The phrase Gospel of God is not a new law or a different gospel from the one that Jesus taught. It is not a gospel based on works, ethics, or morals. It is not advice or a set creed but rather a message concerning the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was manifested in the flesh in order that He might die for the sins of the world. Paul wrote Romans during his third visit to the city of Corinth (2 Corinthians 13:1 and Acts 20:2). The epistle provides a comprehensive look at all central truths of Christianity which apply to the entire world because there is no difference between Gentile or Jew since God is no respecter of men (Romans 2:1). These central truths include: all humanity is guilty (Romans 3:19,23); the result of sin is death (Romans 6:23); justification can only come through faith (Romans 3:28); and the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus (Romans 6:23)
Romans 1:1 - "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God." Another word for servant is bondman. Paul is not saying that he is in bondage but that he whole-heartedly desires to be obedient to the Lord and to serve Him. Paul recognizes that he was brought with a price, and that it is the blood of Lord Jesus Christ. He then goes on to say that he is separated, which means that he has been set apart to God to preach the gospel. Paul was specifically set apart to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, while Peter preached to the Jewish people. Just like Paul we need to recognize that we are a servant (bondsman) of Jesus Christ set apart to give out the Good News of salvation found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. May we like the psalmist say, "O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid; thou hast loosed my bonds."
Romans 1:16 - "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Why on earth should we be ashamed or embarrassed of the gospel of Christ? I must confess that there have been times that I have shied away from speaking out boldly or speaking out at all, but it should not be so. Paul is telling us in this verse that this gospel contains the "power of God" to save sinners. It doesn't matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, the color of your skin, or were you were born. The gospel of Christ has power!
Roman 3:23, 6:23, 8:1 - Romans 3:23, states "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 6:23, states "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord." In Romans 3:23, we are told that there are no exceptions, everyone born has sinned. In Romans 6:23, we are provided a description of the penalty of sin, which is death, there is no other option. However, a remedy is provided which is one, free, it's a gift, and secondly, comes from the Lord Jesus Christ and no other person or way (not by works). Thirdly, the gift if accepted provides eternal life! In Romans 8:1, we read, "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus..." Once we accept the gift not only do we have eternal life but we are no longer condemned. No one can condemn us for any sins past, present, or those that will be committed in the future.
Key verses in the Epistle of Romans underlined in my Bible - Romans 1:16-17, 2:11, 2:28-29, 3:20, 3:23, 3:28, 4:2-3, 5:7-9, 5:12, 6:1-2, 6:11-13, 6:16, 6:23, 8:1, 8:15-17, 8:18, 8:26, 8:28, 8:35-39, 10:9-11, 10:12, 10:17, 11:25, 12:1-2, 12:9-21, 13:14, 14:17, 14:21, 15:14 and 15:13-14.
Introduction to First Corinthians:
The First Epistle to the Corinthians was written by the Apostle Paul in A.D. 50. He wrote the letter near the end of his three year stay in Ephesus (Acts 20:31, 1 Corinthians 16:5-8). Paul founded the church at Corinth the beginnings of which are described in Acts 18:1-18. As background, Corinth was a very wicked city. In fact, during the time of Corinth there was a derogatory phrase commonly used to denote the wickedness found there, it was "to live like a Corinthian." According to C.I. Scofield the theme of this epistle is "Christian Conduct." The epistle centers on Paul teaching and correcting the worldliness/carnality of the Corinthians rather than addressing a particular heresy. The letter was written to teach of the life subjects or marriage and the eating of foods that were offered to idols (1 Corinthians 7:1, 8:1-13), as well as, internal problems that were leading to contention and divisions among the brethren. Additionally, there was a specific problem related to incest that needed to be addressed.
1 Corinthians 2:14 - This verse reads, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." This scripture teaches that the man who is unsaved, does not have the Holy Spirit indwelling in them, cannot understand the things of God to include the Word of God. Consequently, for non-Christians, the bible and the things of the Lord will appear foolishness to them. This verse brings some controversy because the question that one must ask is how can anyone be saved since they don't have the Holy Spirit living in them? This is a mystery our limited minds cannot grasp. Although we cannot understand it, the Holy Spirit must in some way "touch" a person in order for them to understand the Gospel message, yet on the other hand we know that salvation is a choice and that God does not elect anyone to hell either. I cannot reconcile these two things, all I know is that I am commanded to preach the Gospel and that "...whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16), that means anyone can be saved!
1 Corinthians 3:5-8 - These verses read, "Who, then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one; and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor." In the service of Christ there are many workmen and we each work in different ways and it is God who uses all these differences together. We each will be rewarded according to whether we did what God gave us to do. Also, we must remember that our jobs is not save anyone but only to preach the Gospel, it is God who "giveth the increase."
Key verses in First Corinthians underlined in my Bible - 1:11-17, 1:18, 1:27, 2:9, 2:14, 3:5-8, 3:11, 5:11-13, 6:1, 6:9-11, 6:18, 7:3-5, 7:10-15, 9:7-14, 10:4, 10:13, 10:23, 11:3, 11:24-25, 13:13, 14:34, 15:22, 15:51-57, 16:2, and 16:14.
Introduction to Second Corinthians:
The author of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians is the Apostle Paul who wrote in in A.D. 57. It was completed within one year after the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Paul mentions in the salutation a young brother who Paul had discipled, Timothy. Paul set up the church of Corinth on one of his missionary trips. Sometime after, he heard that there were problems (not heresies) due to the carnality of some at Corinth which caused Paul to write the First Epistle to the Corinthians which was confrontational and firm. Things appeared to calm down but then he heard some were criticizing him and trying to discredit his life and ministry. Consequently, Paul wrote this second epistle which unlike the first was less confrontational and more personal. It is a very emotional letter that is autobiographical. Paul is not bragging but he was simply telling them the truth. Although Paul uses a variety of different words to describe numerous sufferings he endured he also more than in any other letter uses more words of "comfort" and "comforted." Paul end his writing by expressing his live and commitment to them.
2 Corinthians 13:5-7 - These verses read, "Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves. Know ye not yourselves how Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are discredited? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not discredited. Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we appear as discredited." The scriptures encourages us to examine ourselves if we are in the faith. In verse six Paul examined himself, he made an inventory and he says that he is in the faith. In verse seven, Paul tells the Corinthian believers that he just wants them to be the type of believers that the Lord wants them to be. They should not be evil but instead be honest in all their dealings.
Key verses in Second Corinthians underlined in my Bible - 1:3-4, 4:5, 4:8-9, 4:17-18, 5:8, 5:10, 5:17, 5:21, 6:14-16, 8:9, 9:7, 12:9-10, and 13:5.
Galatians 5:17-26 - In Galatians chapter five we are given the traits that should characterize the person who has been saved by grace alone. In verses 17-26, there is a discussion on the works of the flesh in contrast to the fruit of the spirit. We are told that the flesh and the spirit are contrary to each other and that if we are living in the flesh (even though we don't have to be - it's a choice, we are no longer under the bondage of sin) we will manifest some, if not all, of the following: "adultery, fornication, uncleaness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, wrath, factions, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkeness, reveling, and the like." In contrast, the "fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law." In other words, believers have a choice; they can either walk in the Spirit or they can indulge the lust of the flesh. One thing is certain, the key to freedom from habitual sins (secular world used the word addiction) is, "walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not full fullfill the lust of the flesh." Believers need to walk in the Spirit!!!
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (The Rapture) - In this portion of the scripture we have the revelation of the translation of the Church (all believers). It is interesting to note that the word rapture is not found in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). Verse 13 speaks about those who are asleep. The word asleep has nothing to do with one's soul; it is the body that sleeps. The believer's body is put into the ground awaiting the rapture while the soul immediately goes home to be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). It must be noted that the Old Testament likewise spoke of the body going to the ground and turning to dust while the spirit goes up, see Ecclesiastes 12:7 and Genesis 3:19. When Jesus returns in the sky (Acts 1:11 - He went up to Heaven!), those believers who have died in the past, their bodies will no longer sleep but rather be raised up first; those believers who are still alive, at that time, will be caught up with the others in the air and we all shall be with the Lord forever (vv. 15-17). When a believer dies we don't have to mourn as others (non-believers) do, we still mourn but not like those who have no hope. This section ends with Paul telling us that we should "comfort one another with these words."
2 Timothy 3 (Church Officers) - The Bible is very specific in identifying church offices and those who should hold them. There are only two offices described in the New Testament and evidenced in the early New Testament church: Bishop (also referred to as Elder or Overseer) and Deacon. It is important to note that the work performed by the office of the Bishop/Elder/Overseer is that of pastoring the sheep of the local assembly. Some Elders have the gift of pastoring and some do not. Every pastor is an elder but not every elder is a pastor. In verse one, we are told that it is a good thing when an individual (does not include women) desires the office of Elder. Verses two to nine speaks to the qualifications that an Elder. They must be blameless, husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, good behavior, given to hospitality, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy, not a brawler, not covetous, rules his house and children, not a novice, and he must have a good reputation with others outside. It is appears that the most controversial requirement noted in this list would be verse two "...the husband of one wife..." In verses 9-12, we have the second office which is that of a Deacon and their related qualifications. Once again the most controversial disqualifying issue would be that of divorce. There are generally two arguments when it comes to the phrase, "the husband of one wife," it is referring to either polygamy or divorce. I do not believe this is an issue about polygamy hence the question to ask is if a divorced man could hold the office of Elder or Deacon? The next logical question would be can a divorced person, based on the grounds of infidelity, one of the exemptions allowing for divorce (though not mandated) and who remarries be an Elder or Deacon? What about a person who divorces because of infidelity and who does not remarry? Also, what about the person who got divorced before they were saved, who remarried and then got saved. These are difficult questions that we must seek the Lord's leading on. But let there be no mistake the answers are found in the Bible.
The Rapture of the Church:
The Bible teaches that there are two resurrections and they are 1000 years apart (Revelation 20: 4-15). One of the difficulties of studying the scriptures is that these two resurrections are seen together in many verses. In the first resurrection, the individuals will go unto an everlasting glory; those involved in the second resurrection will enter into everlasting shame. It appears from scripture that the first resurrection will take place in two stages. At the rapture only those who have died in Christ during the Church age will be raised. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16, we read that the "dead in Christ" shall rise first then those believers who are alive will be caught up together in the clouds to be with Him. The phrase "dead in Christ" never refers to believers who lived before the Church age. Some scholars believe that the reference to the "voice of the archangel" in verse sixteen speaks of Michael the archangel. It is Michael the archangel who is closely associated with Israel (Daniel 12:1, Jude 9, Revelation 12:4-7) that might suggest Michael is commanding the Old Testament saints to assemble. However, I disagree with this interpretation; the rapture does not include Old Testament saints. The Old Testament saints and the saint of the tribulation (after the rapture) will be raised some time before Christ's return to earth at the end of the Tribulation. After the Tribulation we have the second resurrection which involves only unbelievers, the unsaved will be raised after the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
The Second Coming:
In Acts 1: 9-11, "And when he had spoken those things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." The same Jesus, the one that the disciples ate with, fished with, prayed with and touched will return visibly. In heaven Jesus is not a spirit but He has the same body He had on earth. There are two advents or coming of the Lords: the first advent (coming) was when He was born in Bethlehem as a babe. The second advent (coming) takes place in two stages. The first stage involves Jesus coming secretly in the air and those who are dead in Christ (excluding Old Testament saints) and those who are alive in Christ will meet up together to be with the Lord. The Rapture occurs prior to the Tribulation. During the Rapture the Lord will meet up with the believers (His Bride). The Rapture is not visible to the unsaved (1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17). In contrast, the second stage of His second coming involves the visible return of Christ to the earth after the Tribulation. It is interesting to note that while the Rapture (1st part of the second coming) was unknown in the Old Testament (1 Corinthians 15:51 - "Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.") the second part of the second coming was predicted in the Old Testament: Psalm 2 and Daniel 7:13-14, "I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him, And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed." These verses in Daniel clearly show that the Lord Jesus Christ is vested with the authority to "take the kingdoms of this world from the Gentiles and establish his kingdom." Jesus quotes Daniel 7:13-14 in Mark 14:61-62, when He is on trial before the Sanhedrin. In contrast, Jesus never sets foot upon the earth during the Rapture while in the second stage of His return He stands on Mt. Olivet (Zechariah 14:4).
The Marriage of the Lamb:
The church is destined not for a place but rather a Person. The Church (made up of believers) is the Bride of Christ, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot" (Ephesians 5:25-27). We see two illustrations of this special love relationship between the Lord and the Church in the Song of Solomon where a poor Shulamite girl falls in love with a shepherd and later finds out that he is the kind; as well as when Eve is taken out of Adam while he was in deep sleep. The Church is also the result of His deep sleep of death at the cross. Adam could say, "this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Genesis 2:23). Likewise, the Church is both the body and bride of Christ. The Marriage of the Lamb...the wedding...will take place after the Tribulation, in heaven just before the return of Christ with His Bride. In order to understand the chronology we must study Revelation 19 and some of the Gospel parables. When Jesus returns to Israel He will come from having attended the wedding (Luke 12:26) the Israelites will then meet the Bridegroom because they have been invited to the marriage feast during the Tribulation. The children of Israel are not the bride but instead they are invited to the marriage feast, "After the wedding and the marriage supper in heaven (Revelation 19:7-9) there will be a marriage feast on earth. On that day the King will introduce His consort to the His earthly people Israel. The Church will then reign with Christ forever as kings and priests, glorified with Him (Revelations 1:6, Colossians 3:4).
The Judgment Seat of Christ:
We read in 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done; whether it be good or bad." Also, in Romans 14:10-12, "But why dost thou judge they brother? or why dost thou set at nought they brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." After the Rapture, believers will find themselves before the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Greek word that is translated as judgment seat is "bema;" the word "bema" does not have the connotation of judgment. Our sins are not going to be judged at this time since that judgment took place over 1900 years ago at Calvary (John 3:15-19, 1 John 5:13). Instead our service for the Lord will be examined; our quantity and quality. We read in 1 Corinthians 3:15, "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." A person might not have any works to be examined however, he will still be saved. Believers who have not been faithful in regards to serving him will suffer the loss of rewards. We find at the "Marriage of the Lamb" the Bride has already been rewarded (Revelation 19:8) hence, the judgment seat of Christ must take place after the rapture of the Church and before Christ's return to earth with the Church.
At the Judgment Seat of Christ, rewards will be provided called "crowns." The Greek word that is translated "crown" is not the crown we think of when we see aristocracy such as King of Queen. Jesus wears the royal crown while we wear victor's crowns. Five types of crowns are mentioned as rewards in the Bible. The first is an incorruptible crown for winning the race (1 Corinthian 9:25). This crown is not a specific reward but rather a description of the nature of the crown since they are all incorruptible. The second crown is obtained for winning souls (1 Thessalonians 2:19). The third crown of righteousness is obtained by those who look forward with love to Christ's appearing and for finishing the course that is set before the believer (2 Timothy 4:7-8). The fourth crown, a crown of life is obtained by those who endure testing (James 1:12) and for faithfulness unto death (Revelation 2:10). The fifth and last crown is a crown of glory for feeding the flock (1 Peter 5:4). It is important to note that these crowns are obtained as the believer serves Him however, the service is not from our fleshly works. It is as we abide in Him that we are able to perform the works that He wants to accomplish through us. Consequently, we see the elders in Revelation 4:10 worshipping the Lamb upon the throne by casting the crowns before the throne as they glorify the great works He accomplished in them.
The Lord's Supper:
We read in Romans 6:3-4, "Know ye not that, as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death, that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life." These verses can be confusing but we must understand that the baptism into Christ Jesus is NOT the same as the baptism in (or of) the Spirit. Christians are baptized by the Spirit when a person gets saved and it places that believer in the body of Christ; "For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Greeks, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit"- 1 Corinthians 12:13. When a person gets saved they are also "baptized into Christ Jesus" in the sense that the individual now identifies themselves with Christ in His death and resurrection. Both the identification and the baptism of the Holy Sprit occur at the same time. When we partake of the Lord's Supper we are reminded of His death and ours in Him as well as the fact that He will return and we will be joined together with Him forever; "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come" (1 Corinthians 11:26