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Proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.


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Does a woman have more ribs than a man?

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

QUESTION:
Does a woman have more ribs than a man?

ANSWER: No. Both men and women have exactly the same number of ribs which is 24 – twelve on each side. The first twenty are located on the front of the body, while the other 4 are located on the back (floating ribs), according to Matthew Hoffman, MD, Internist, Emory University.

The popular myth that a woman has more ribs than a man is probably founded on a wrong interpretation of Genesis 2:21-23:

“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,for she was taken out of man.”

Many have erroneously assumed that since one rib was taken out of Adam to form Eve, then a woman has more ribs than a man. But this theory falls apart very quickly when you study the original Hebrew in which the Old Testament Bible was written. The English word “rib” is the transliterated Hebrew word tsela. It means “side” – not an actual rib.

In other words, when God performed a miraculous surgery on Adam in order to create Eve, He took Adam’s entire side to do so – not just one rib. Afterwards, God also apparently re-created an entire new side for Adam to replace the void that was left and closed it up again in its place.

You may ask, “Why didn’t God just create Eve on her own without the need for Adam’s side?” I really don’t know. You will have to ask God that question yourself. My guess is that He wanted to emphasize the physical and spiritual significance of a man and woman becoming “one flesh” when they are married as stated in verse 24:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

God in the beginning ordained marriage and the family unit as the first and foremost institution on earth. When a man and a woman are united in marriage they are no longer two people, but one. One in mind, spirit, body and purpose. In my opinion, I can’t see a better way to symbolically convey this important message than having Eve created out of Adam’s own flesh and bones.

–         Luis Josephus

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Why did John the Baptist baptize with water?

In today’s Bible study, I want to teach on the true significance of water baptism in light of Hebraic thought and history, as well as the practice of the early Christian Church.

The Ministry of John the Baptizer

John was called “John the Baptist” – not because he was a member of the Baptist church, nor was he ordained in the Baptist denomination (thank God Christianity wasn’t divided into  denominations in those days), but because he practiced water baptism as an outward demonstration of a person’s repentance from sin and committing their lives to God.

John the Baptizer preaches by the River Jordan

John was a direct male descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses. He was a Kohen (or Cohen) the distinct priestly line of Kohenim that were only permitted to minister in the Old Testament Temple. Although John was raised in traditional Judaism and his father Zachariah (also a Kohan) served as a priest in the Jerusalem temple, John chose not to follow his priestly heritage. It was God’s will that John not be contaminated by the corrupt religious system of his day. He was a Nazarite from birth and was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb (Luke 1:15). Instead, he obeyed God’s call to be a prophet to the nation of Israel (The prophet Jeremiah was also a Kohenim and expected to serve as a priest after his father, but later became a prophet in obedience to God’s calling). But, John was not just a prophet; he was distinguished with the great honor of being the forerunner of Jesus Christ the Messiah.

John’s greatness cannot be denied. Every one of the four Gospels begins their account of the ministry of our Lord by recording some of John’s words of introduction. Jesus Himself spoke very highly of John in this manner:

“I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is”  – Matthew 11:11.

Water Baptism in the Early Church

The early church was first comprised of all Jewish believers in Jesus (Yeshua in Aramaic-Hebrew). The first apostles and their growing number of disciples were but one of many Jewish sects at that time (such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.) In fact, the first disciples of Jesus did not call themselves “Christians” (only years later was this term coined), but simply followers of “The Way” – a shortened version of “the true way” or “the right way” in comparison to traditional Judaism and other religions. These early believers in Jesus continued to worship in the Jerusalem temple and observe the laws of Judaism.

However, these early followers of The Way differed greatly from other Jewish sects in that they believed that Jesus is the Messiah, that He had died for the remission of our sins (as the Holy Lamb of God), and that His resurrection from the dead ushered in a new age of God’s kingdom rule in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Everywhere, they preached in Jesus’ name and water baptized all new converts into The Way. They grew into a community of believers in Jerusalem devoted to practicing Jesus’ teachings, prayer and fellowship.

Water baptism (by full immersion in living water) was not a new concept to Jews. It was actually a common practice in those times. All pious Jews frequently immersed themselves in ritual pools known as “Mikveh’s”* to spiritually purify themselves. So the idea of water purification was not foreign to most Jews when John the Baptist came on the scene. They understood his message of repentance from sin and the corresponding outward act of purification by washing and immersion in a pool of water or river.

The Forerunner of Messiah.

Jesus is baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness.

John the Baptizer began his prophetic ministry around A.D. 28. His body was lean and hardened by years of solitary desert life. His hair and beard was long and unkempt, and he dressed in a single garment made of rough camel’s hair bound by a leather belt. He traveled the land preaching a passionate message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Many responded to John’s call for repentance and spiritual renewal. They would immediately wade out with John into the Jordan River, and he would baptize them as an outward demonstration of death to the old life of sin and resurrection to a new life of righteousness in Christ. Unlike the frequent Jewish Mikveh washings, John’s baptism was a one-time event for a renewed people of God.

John was God’s true prophet who led the way for the beginning of the Christian Church. Although he admitted that he was not the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah had long ago declared him to be the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah: “[John was] the one crying in the wilderness, making straight the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3)

John the Baptizer’s prophetic message struck conviction of sin and fear of God’s judgment among his hearers, so much so that even the religious Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by him. On one occasion he thundered at these religious leaders, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come! Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’…” John dispelled their false sense of security: neither their birthright as Jews nor their religious heritage nor their important leadership positions, would save them from God’s wrath to come if they did not open their hearts in true repentance; they were just as spiritually condemned as non-Jews.

Jesus the Messiah was greater than John.

John himself admitted he was not the Messiah, but a humble messenger of God. When questioned about whether he was Elijah, or “The Prophet” (spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18-19), he told them “I am not.” “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he [Jesus the Messiah] is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. One day while John was preaching, he saw a figure approaching him and immediately stopped and cried aloud, “This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is mightier that I, for he was before me” (John 1:15) When Jesus asked John to baptize Him, he was astonished and said, “I need to be baptized by You!” But Jesus insisted, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:13-14).

So John obeyed Jesus and baptized Him (even though Jesus should be the one baptizing John). As soon as Jesus emerged from the water, everyone saw the heavens open up and the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus “like a dove” (not an actual dove, but the Spirit’s gentle presence), and a voice came from heaven, saying, “You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16).

The Christian Rite of Baptism

Water baptism by full immersion is the correct method.

John the Baptizer pioneered the rite of water baptism practiced in most Christian churches today. Although certain churches practice a “sprinkling” type of baptism, the correct way has always been by full immersion. The proper manner of baptism as performed by John, the twelve apostles, and the early Christians is the complete dunking method. The penitent sinner should acknowledge his repentance from sin and accept Jesus as his Savior while another believer or minister of God stands beside him or her, and extend God’s forgiveness and acceptance into the Christian family. According to Jesus’ command, the words should be spoken over the new convert, “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of your sins” (Matthew 28:18-19)

When I was a baby I was baptized by a Roman Catholic priest with the sprinkling of water on my forehead. But after I left the Roman Catholic Church and became a Born-Again Christian, I was baptized again. This second time it was by full immersion in a pool of water – just as Jesus and His disciples did.

If you have accepted Jesus the Messiah as your Savior and Lord and have never been water baptized (by full immersion), it’s time that you did so. You can be water baptized in a church baptismal, a swimming pool, a river, or even a spa – as long as you do it prayerfully with a repented heart towards God. Make sure you are able to go completely under the water; that’s how true believers have done it from the very beginning of the Christian church.

If water baptism was important to Jesus, it should be important to us. Don’t keep putting it off. I know God will bless you in a special way for honoring His Word.

–         Luis Josephus

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* The Jewish rite of water purifification in a Mikvah (pool) was known as Tevilah. Tevilah was by full body immersion with “living” water from a Spring. The Mikvah had the proportions 3 cubits long & 1 cubits deep and 1 cubit wide. This was done for purifications before certain events such as spiritual cleansing, coming into the presence of God, marriage, and also after certain events such as childbirth and disease. Tevilah was also one of three requirements for conversion of the Gentiles to Judaism. The washing of hands & feet commonly practiced was a miniature Tevilah.

FOR FURTHER STUDY:
“Do I need to be baptized to be saved?”


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Did Jesus Use Hyperbole?

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

QUESTION:

I was disturbed when I read Matthew 18:9, “And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” I don’t believe Jesus was teaching us that we need to literally pluck our eye out, was He? I assume it had to do with sin in our lives and doing whatever it takes to get rid of it. Am I right about this?


ANSWER:
Yes of course you’re right. We need to realize that Jesus used hyperbole in many of His teachings and these images were not to be taken literally. A hyperbole is a figure of speech that uses an exaggerated or extravagant statement to create a strong emotional response. Some familiar examples of hyperbolic statements would include:

“He’s got tons of money.”

“He is older than the hills.”

“I’m so hungry I can eat a horse.”

“His brain is the size of a pea.”

“My feet are killing me.”

In regards to Jesus’ statement regarding “plucking out your eye” (Matthew 18:9), we know the Lord did not intend this to be taken literally. The Bible condemns self-mutilation or inflicting woundHyperboles on your body, which is the temple of God. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, has encouraged the practice of self-flagellation (imitating the sufferings of Jesus) for centuries on their “Good Friday” holiday. They believe that scourging their backs with whips or placing a crown of thorns on their heads until their blood runs down is pleasing to God, when in fact He disapproves of it completely.

Other examples of the use of hyperbole by Jesus in His teachings are found elsewhere in the gospels. One involves His statement:

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ (You vain fellow) is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” – Matthew 5:22

Although we should most certainly avoid cursing other people or calling them harmful names when we are angry at them, I don’t believe that God would send you to hell for calling someone a “fool.” Neither is the sin of visually or intensely lusting after a woman (or man) the same as actually committing the physical act of adultery with her.

Jesus used exaggerated or extravagant statements (hyperbole) to emphasize the point He was trying to drive home in His teachings. They are not intended to be taken literally, in most cases, but analyzed in view of the essence of the message.

– Luis Josephus

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www.LuisJosephus.com
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comment_smCOMMENT FROM DONNA:

“Another great explanation of God’s Word. As I understand it, the word “fool” as used in the Bible would be best defined as someone who refuses to do as instructed. For instance, the five foolish virgins were foolish because they did not listen when they were told to bring extra oil. (Matthew 25:1-13). By using this definition of “fool”, (someone would have to be foolish not to listen to God’s wisdom), we can better understand what the Bible means when someone is called a fool. When we call someone a fool, it is equal to condemning that person, saying that we believe that person is condemned as a fool for not listening to God’s instructions.”

comment_smCOMMENT FROM BROTHER LUIS: “Amen Donna. A fool is indeed a fool for not listening to God’s instructions. God has given us His Word to provide wisdom and protect us from making mistakes. If we don’t take His fatherly advice, how foolish is that?”



FOR FURTHER STUDY:

The Use of Extreme Language By Jesus
http://www.voiceofjesus.org/extremelanguage.html


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What kind of Bible should I use?

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

QUESTION:

Dear brother Luis, I like to read the New International Version of the Bible (NIV)”. However, Geoffrey Grider of the blog “Now The End Begins” said this is  a “Satanic, trash” Bible. What kind of Bible should I use? – Brenda.

ANSWER: I’m sorry you have been offended and confused by someone who claims to speak with God’s authority and yet is so blatantly ignorant as to call the NIV Holy Bible “Satanic, trash”. He is obviously unaware of the impressive amount of work that went into translating the NIV (see the NIV history below*).

To answer your question, there is nothing wrong with utilizing the NIV translation of the Bible. It is one of the many modern translations that enable us to better understand the message of God’s Word. I use the NIV myself in my ministry as a valuable teaching and study resource. I also use other translations such as the King James Bible, the New King James Version, the Amplified Bible, the New Living Translation, and many others.

Regardless of your Bible preference, rest assured that the majority of the accepted translations are indeed reliable. Although some have minor differences in certain choices of words, the overall content of God’s message is trustworthy. To believe that the King James Bible is the only version that should be used reveals a narrow-minded and fanatical mindset. I also believe that anyone that labels the NIV as “satanic, trash” is committing blasphemy, I believe, and their ministry should be viewed with caution and suspicion.

 –         Luis Josephus

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www.LuisJosephus.com
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* History of the NIV Translation – The New International Version (NIV) is a completely original translation of the Bible developed by more than one hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The initial vision for the project was provided by Howard Long. Long was a lifelong devotee of the King James Version, but when he shared it with his friends he was distressed to find that it just didn’t connect. Long saw the need for a translation that captured the truths he loved in the language that his contemporaries spoke. In 1965, after several years of preparatory study, a trans-denominational and international group of scholars met in Palos Heights, Illinois, and agreed to begin work on the project – determining to not simply adapt an existing English version of the Bible but to start from scratch with the best available manuscripts in the original languages. The New International Version was finally completed and endorsed by a large number of church leaders who met in Chicago in 1966.



COMMENT FROM BRENDA
: “Thanks so much, Pastor Luis. After I asked Grider to stop referring to the NIV as ‘Satanic trash’, he responded: ‘I call it what it is, and neither u nor the hounds of hell possess the power to make me, a servant of the Lord, stop…’


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Starting a House Church

House Church Meeting

Everyone should participate in house church meetings with a teaching, a song, a scripture verse, a testimony, or some other word which will be of benefit to all.

A couple from Ontario, Canada, asked us the following question about starting a house church:

We live in a small town in Ontario Canada. We have been meeting in our home for 3 years now and have grown into a wonderful family. We are so tired of “church” as it is today and feel God is speaking to us about starting a home church. We are very interested how you are doing it and also how to include children into it as well. I would love any information that could help us. Thank you.” – Rob and Victoria

You mentioned that you have been meeting in your home for 3 years now and God has blessed your small group of believers into a wonderful spiritual family. That is commendable. If the Spirit of God were not behind it, it would not have lasted. But since it has, we encourage you to keep it going and continue to seek the Lord’s guidance for further development, maturity and growth.

Sharing a meal or snack and fellowship time afterwards.

Afterwards, sharing a meal or snack and fellowship time is very enjoyable and edifying.

The early Christian church started in very much the same way. The Book of Acts says that they met together from house to house and continued in the apostle’s doctrine:

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer…And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meals with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” – Acts 2:42-47

I believe that one of the reasons we grow tired of the institutional church, as it is structured today, is because believers are not encouraged to participate in the services and fully utilize their spiritual gifts. This eventually leads to boredom and stagnation. They are simply spectators rather than participators. Therefore, it is important that house churches avoid allowing individuals with the gift of preaching and teaching to become the dominant focus of your home meetings. Instead, everyone should be given equal time to bring a word or a song or revelation or testimony, according to the pattern we see in the early church meetings:

Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.” – 1 Corinthians 14:26

Pastors and other elders in the home church should only provide oversight and spiritual guidance to the flock – without drawing too much attention to themselves or monopolizing the time, as it happens in the institutional church today. In the Body of Christ there should be no “super stars;” everyone is on the same “level playing field,” and no pastor, preacher, or teacher should ever be elevated any higher in importance than any other believer, or worse yet, than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Tragically, this kind of idolatry, which is too often found in the traditional churches today, has shipwrecked many churches.

Regarding children, they should be encouraged to participate along with adults and taught to follow quietness, orderliness and respect during house church meetings. Unfortunately, hyperactive or undisciplined children must sometimes be taken outside the home by a designated child supervisor and teacher until they are trained to calmly participate with the adults.

For further study, we have included some links below that will be of benefit.


For Further Study:

The House Church Movement
https://yehudafm.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/the-perfect-church/

Boring Churches
http://wp.me/pVLmq-HS


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Boring Churches

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

QUESTION: Why are some churches so boring?

ANSWER: One of the reasons churches become boring is that they grieve the Holy Spirit and lose their anointing. Without the presence of God, attending church becomes a bland experience. Ritualism replaces spirituality, and the church becomes quite different from what God intended.

boring churchesAnother reason is that many pastors today are egocentric and want to be the center of everyone’s attention. They monopolize the spiritual gifts and do not allow the various members of the Body of Christ to contribute with their giftings. They are like prideful Diotrephes, who “lovetheth to have preeminence” (2 John 9). They turn their church services into grandiose shows (starring themselves), and members become spectators, rather than participators.

The early Christians met as a church much differently.

As the various parts of the human body have different functions and purposes, the Body of believers are to exercise their varying gifts, all working harmoniously together. We get a glimpse of what church was like in those days by studying the early writings. The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:26,

“When you come together, every one of you has a psalm (song), has a doctrine (teaching), has a [supernatural] tongue, revelation or interpretation. Let all thing be done unto edifying.”

Sounds to me like they had some very powerful and lively church services back then! When Christians came together everyone had something to contribute as the Holy Spirit moved upon each individual. Everything was done in an edifying and orderly manner too. The pastors and elders of the church gave everyone the time and freedom to use their spiritual gifts. The result was a vibrant church full of spiritual life and maturity; the work of the Holy Spirit unchained.

It is important for every Spirit-filled believer to realize he is responsible to use his gifts imparted by the Holy Spirit, for all of us must stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account. If you are attending a church that’s preventing you from using your gifts, then it’s best that you leave and find one that will give you the opportunities you need.

–         Luis Josephus

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Comment from Joy Payne Harris, Senior Pastor, Rising Son Ministries: “Pastors should be encouraging people in their congregation that have gifts or a calling that the Lord has given them. They should help them to grow in their spiritual giftings and not try to snuff it out. Many in the congregation have a call of ministry from the Lord. So Pastors, help them to understand the calling or giftings in ministry, help them to grow and be encouraging all along the way. You’ll be surprised at how your church will grow in more ways than one. Pastors can’t do it all and shouldn’t do it all, God is the head of the church, you are the leader, so start leading.”

Comment from Linda Lipscomb: “Amen to both of you. Unfortunately I know some of those pastors personally. It is such a shame they don’t see what they are doing to their people as well as causing confusion in God’s house.”


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Will Jesus fulfill each of the seven biblical feasts?

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

Yes. The Feasts of the Lord are a collective picture of God’s plan of redemption. The celebration of the Biblical Holidays are all strangely unfamiliar to many Christians nowadays but they were faithfully kept and honored by early Jew and Gentile followers of Messiah in the first century when Christianity was practiced in its purest form.

Please pray about joining the First Century Movement which, among other things, seeks to observe God’s ordained feasts instead of the pagan holidays that much of Christendom wrongly practices today.

– Luis Josephus

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Jesus has already fulfilled 4 out of 7 feasts

Four were fulfilled at His first coming, and the last 3 will be fulfilled when He returns again.

1. Jesus was crucified on Passover as the holy and sinless Lamb of God

2. He was buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread

3. He was raised from the dead on the Feast of Firstfruits, the firstborn from the dead

4. He sent the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost where 3000 souls were harvested in one day and the New Testament Church began

5. He will rapture believers – both dead and alive – on the Feast of Trumpets

6. He will sit on His throne in Jerusalem and judge the world on the Day of Atonement

7. He will establish His earthly kingdom on the Feast of Tabernacle where He shall rule and tabernacle with men forever.

Biblical Feasts Diagram