Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Abiding in Christ

John 15

The True Vine

 1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

[In the Old Testament the "vine" is a symbol of Israel planted in the promised land.

Psalm 80:8-16 (New King James Version)

 8 You have brought a vine out of Egypt;
         You have cast out the nations, and planted it.
 9 You prepared room for it,
         And caused it to take deep root,
         And it filled the land.
 10 The hills were covered with its shadow,
         And the mighty cedars with its boughs.
 11 She sent out her boughs to the Sea,
         And her branches to the River.
 12 Why have You broken down her hedges,
         So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?
 13 The boar out of the woods uproots it,
         And the wild beast of the field devours it.
 14 Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
         Look down from heaven and see,
         And visit this vine
 15 And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted,
         And the branch that You made strong for Yourself.
It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
         They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.

As we continue you will see the close parallel between John 15 and Psalm 80. In both cases it is God who plants the vine. Jesus as a son of Mary was a Jew and thus part of the Old Testament vine. But here he says he is the "true vine", think of true as sincere or faithful. Most of the time when you see the vine of Israel in the OT they are under judgment for their insincerity or faithlessness, when they stray away from God. Jesus on the other hand is sincere and faithful, holding fast to the Father, being at one with him, as we saw last week.

We see God at work with his vine, pruning the fruitful branches so that they will produce more fruit, and removing the branches that do not produce.]

3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

[At first this verse seems out of place because it breaks the vineyard analogy. However in the Greek, prune, and clean, come from the same root word katharos, from which we get the word catharsis meaning a cleaning emotional release. We saw this same word when Jesus washed the disciples feet, Peter said wash all of me, and Jesus told him he was already clean. So the first pruning or cleansing of a Christian comes through salvation. But we see that God's work is to continue our progressive sanctification throughout our lives. Not that we will ever be perfect here on earth but that we continue the process of repentance and forgiveness until the end.

1 John 1:8-10 (New King James Version)

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Sometimes those who have been saved a long time, stop repenting, stop confessing, as though they have somehow reached a certain level, and that that is where they stopped. But when we stop allowing the pruning or cleansing process, we stop bearing fruit.]

4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

[Verse 6 taken out of context, is often used as a evidence by those who claim you can lose your salvation. And it sounds simple, anyone who does not abide in Jesus is cast into the fire. But the Children of Israel would understand the OT symbolism, as any branch of Israel who did not repent and follow Christ would be subject to the judgment of fire like we read in Psalm 80:16.

In fact John the Baptist told this to the Pharisees in Matthew 3

9 and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

This came to pass in 70 AD when Jerusalem was under siege and those of Israel who rejected Christ as messiah saw their city, their temple, and all their religious symbols burned with fire. This passage does not say someone who trusted in Jesus, stopped following him, and went to Hell. But it does warn of a fiery judgment for those who refuse to repent.

But some have taken this passage, and 1st Corinthians 3 where it talks about the trial of works by fire, and created false doctrines that are not in the Bible, like the idea of Purgatory. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia Purgatory is derived from the Latin word for cleansing and describes a temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, yet without sufficient penitent works, including prayers, fasting, and almsgiving, to fully pay for ones sins. Now how you can twist grace, and forgiveness, into something that needs to be supplemented by penitent works in order to satisfy God's sense of justice, is beyond my understanding. But it got even worse as they added to this doctrine. Some Catholics were so distressed by the idea of their relatives in Purgatory that they asked to be allowed to do penitence for their dead relatives, to shorten the amount of time they would spend in Purgatory. As time passed when the church needed money they started allowing people to buy indulgences for the dead, with a big offering to the building fund. Then finally corrupt priest would personally accept cash donations and grant indulgences to people who were still living and thus be completely exempt from confession and penitence. This corruption, regarding indulgences, from Purgatory, is what drove Martin Luther to write his 95 theses or grievances against the church and nail them to the door of the church. This began the reformation and the creation of the protestant churches. So you can see how badly things can go when you build a whole doctrine out of a few verses taken out of context.]

7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

[Instead of penitent works as a condition of forgiveness, God ask that we pray, and study God's word, following God's will for our lives. Thus led by the Holy Spirit, we produce the fruit-of-the-Spirit, as evidence of being Christ's followers.

Galatians 5

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Ephesians 5

 1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit
is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.


[Since Jesus is the source of our salvation, doesn't it make sense that he will continue as the true source of our Christian life? So we abide in Christ, to bear fruit, to glorify God, and show evidence that we are true believers. We also to submit, to the pruning of the Father, cutting away the things that wander too far from the vine, that we may bear even more fruit.]



Friday, September 25, 2009

The Counselor – The Holy Spirit

John 14

[Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. These 3 chapters John 14-16 is really an essay on the Holy Trinity. Jesus speaks in depth about the relationship and the roles of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If anyone ever tries to dispute the divinity of Jesus or the Holy Spirit just tell them to read John 14-16, the evidence of Christ's narrative is really indisputable.

Jesus Opens with "Let not your hearts be troubled", then proclaims "I am the way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by me".

In verse 11 Jesus says "I am in the Father and the Father is in me", verse 9 "if you have seen me you have seen the Father."

Verse 12 Jesus says that whoever believes on him would do greater works than him. As we have said before that Greek word for believe is "pisteu├│" which means to trust in. Then he commands them to pray to the Father in the name of the Son, so that the Father would be glorified in the Son.]

15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

[Jesus calls the Holy Spirit by different names, Helper or Counselor the word means an advocate. Notice he says "another", indicating the Holy Spirit was to replace Jesus in presence, to continue the work of God with the disciples. He says the Spirit will "stay forever", this is different from the Old Testament where the Spirit would come upon men for a specific purpose then depart. This is to be a permanent indwelling of the Spirit.]

17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

[Jesus says the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. This is the same Greek word "al├ętheia" that Jesus calls himself in verse 6. Only the disciples of Jesus can receive the indwelling of the Spirit the world cannot, furthermore Jesus says you will know the Spirit, he will be familiar to you, because he already dwells with you and later he will be in you. Then he says I will not leave you comfortless, or fatherless, literally you will not be orphans, because the Spirit will be your guardian. "I will come to you" the word for come is "erchomai" we have seen this word before in the Healing-of-the-centurion's-servant, when he sent representatives to speak for him to be his proxy. The Holy Spirit is both the spokesman and legal guardian representing Jesus, to his disciples. Skip down to verse 25]

25 "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

[Jesus said after I am gone the Spirit will be sent by the Father in my name. He will be your teacher, he will cause you to remember my words. This is how the Gospels were written, the Spirit helped them remember all the things that Jesus taught them. I teach you for 30 or 40 minutes a week, Pastor Haley does the same. But as long as you read and study the Bible, the Spirit can teach you all the time. Knowing the Spirit is always there for us should give us peace. This is the continuing ministry of Jesus in our lives, how can we be fearful when we know this wonderful advocate, counselor, teacher, and guardian, representing Jesus, dwells within all who trust in Christ. Skip to the end of John 15]

John 15

26 "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

[Right before this Jesus tells his disciples how the world was going to hate them, just as it hated him. But notice how this works. The Spirit is sent by Jesus, From the Father. The Spirit testifies or gives evidence of Jesus to his disciples, and the result is for Jesus' disciples to be witnesses of all that Jesus has done.

My working definition for the ministry of the Holy Spirit is "the power of God to do the will of God". I think you can see how that applies here. The Spirit does not do the witnessing for us, but empowers us to share the impact of faith-in-Christ on our lives. ]

John 16

[At the beginning of John 16 Jesus is dealing with the sorrow his disciples were feeling from all the talk about Jesus going away.]

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

[While Jesus was alive in the flesh, the Spirit was always with him. But Jesus says here his going away through the death, and resurrection, will allow the Spirit to come into all of Jesus followers. Again we see the ministry of the Spirit in evangelism. To convict or convince of sin, righteousness, and judgment, the essential truths for fallen men so see their need of redemption.

Without Christ, we are all guilty of sin and are unable to escape it's hold on our lives. Righteousness is beyond our grasp, only God is righteous. In Judgment we understand the only way to escape our guilt, and obtain righteousness, is by surrendering to God's judgment, confessing our guilt, receiving mercy from the righteous judge Jesus Christ. None of this is possible without the convincing ministry of the Holy Spirit.]

12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

[Again we here of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were not yet ready to here all the things Jesus had to teach them. But through the Spirit he could continue to teach them. The Spirit though with us is still part of the Godhead communicating with the Father and Son. He teaches in will and knowledge of God so there is no contradiction between the Spirit and God's written word. Here Jesus even predicts his final Revelation to John when he say the Spirit will teach you of "things to come".]

14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

[The Spirit does not glorify himself, he glorifies Jesus, just as Jesus glorified the Father. Any ministry that glorifies the Spirit is not of God, because that is not the ministry of the Holy Spirit.]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

John 13

 1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

[Jesus' love is revealed by his devotion and service to his disciples. Though he knew his suffering was soon, he did not focus on himself, but on those he loved.]

2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him,

[Now where it says "supper being ended" the Greek word for ended means assembled or brought to pass, so I think the dinner preparations were ended, rather than the meal itself. After the anointing at Bethany when Judas criticized Mary, then Jesus rebuked him, Judas joined the conspiracy of the priests to kill Jesus. (Matthew 26)

14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him. ]


3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

[Most people, usually traveled by walking, and the shoes of the day were sandals. You can imagine walking in sandals on crude roads where animal droppings were common, would make for some very dirty feet. Furthermore the reclining position they used to sit at the table brought your feet much closer to the food than we are used to. This is why it was common for guests to wash their feet before eating. If the host had a servant they could wash the guests feet, if not they would provide the water basins and towels for each person to wash their own feet. But here everything is ready, but no one has washed their feet. So Jesus humbly takes the place of a servant and does the job himself.]


6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?"
7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this."
8 Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!"

[Peter speaks in the extreme "you will never ever, not in a 1,000 years wash my feet". Peter was offended by the idea that his Lord, would be his servant. Jesus was about to perform the ultimate act of service by dying in our place, but Peter did not yet understand, so he protests. ]


Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."
9 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"
10 Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean."

[Peter is still confused here. Jesus gives him an ultimatum here, telling Peter he had to let him serve in this way. Then Peter jumps to the other extreme and says wash my hands and head also. But Jesus is teaching an important lesson here. The Greek word for washing just your hands or feet is nipto. The Greek word for bathe a total cleansing is Louo. So we are to understand the need for complete cleansing by salvation only once, but the partial washing to remove the surface dirt, needs to be done through daily confession. (Titus 3:5)

5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,


The root word for "washing" here is Louo, the complete cleansing. Salvation brings the washing of regeneration. Those who are saved still need to purge the daily sins. (1st John 1)

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


1st John is written to believers, those who John says have fellowship with the Father and the Son. Yet John says we still need to confess our sin so we can be forgiven and cleansed.]

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.

[Jesus gives us this wonderful example that we should humble serve one another. Christ is the head of the Church; we don't have any rank, or hierarchy. Let no one call themselves a follower of Christ, if they are not willing to serve others in the Church.]


15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.


[Some Churches have elevated foot-washing to an ordinance like Baptism or The Lord's Supper. But the Greek word for "example" means a pattern. If you are making something you don't copy the pattern, you follow it to makes the parts needed for assembly. Jesus pattern for us is one of loving service and humility. Almost anything we make using that pattern will glorify God. ]


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Lord’s Supper

Luke 22 (Matthew 26, Mark 14, John 13)

Jesus and His Disciples Prepare the Passover

7 Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. 8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat."

[The Passover was instituted in Exodus 12 as the preparation for their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. As an act of faith each house was to kill a lamb, and mark the door frame of the house with the blood, to save the firstborn from the plague of death as foretold in Exodus 11

4 Then Moses said, "Thus says the LORD: 'About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals. 6 Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again.

As Al Reichman mentioned in his teaching on the Passover there was no Angle-of-Death as popular tradition holds, this was God himself executing judgment.

The Passover meal features the lamb described in Exodus 12:
Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Furthermore they are told to eat in haste with their sandals on, showing they were ready to leave Egypt, and not to break any of the lamb bones, and to burn the leftovers. From these simple instructions, the Seder feast and narrative, that Bro. Al demonstrates, were developed. We don't know if Jesus followed the elaborate order of the Seder meal, but we know he kept the Passover according to the instructions given by Moses.]

So they said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare?"
10 And He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. 11 Then you shall say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"' 12 Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready."
13 So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.

[As we near the time of Jesus' death this passage shows us how every detail was pre-arranged by God, nothing was left to chance.]

Jesus Institutes the Lord's Supper

14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."

[Moses instructed that the Paschal Lamb or "Korban Pesach" as it is known in Hebrew was to be killed at twilight, so the Passover meal we eaten after dark, as the plague of death descended on Egypt at night. Jesus longed for this intimate setting with his disciples away from the crowds. Here he would observe the past salvation of Israel, and begin the salvation of mankind. He makes it clear this was his last Passover until the meet again in heaven.]

17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

[Again you see the finality in his words. He would not drink wine again until the kingdom of God comes.]
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

[Here he takes the unleavened bread, divided it and said this is my body which is given for you, then the familiar words "do this in remembrance of me". Understand that the Lords supper is a memorial service. We are called to remember the sacrifice of Christ. His body offered for our sins. Now the Catholics teach that the bread actually becomes the body or flesh of Christ when it is consumed at communion. I think this is a bit of gratuitous mysticism as the scripture does not support that idea. First when Jesus said this his body was still whole not yet offered on the cross. Second he called it a remembrance, clearly indicating the symbolic nature of the bread. Third the scripture clearly tells us that Christ was offered once for sins in Hebrews 7

For such a High Priest was fitting for us,
who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

And finally God through Moses commanded that none of the lamb be left until morning. Jesus body was not some eternal meal of leftovers, being continually consumed for thousands of years. He was offered once, to be remembered forever.]

20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

[The covenant of the Law required a blood sacrifice to atone for the sins of man. But Jesus became a new covenant between God and man, a covenant or contract of faith. Jesus fulfilled the Law on our behalf, then took our place, accepting the punishment of death assigned to man after the fall.]

21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. 22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!"
23 Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.

[See the sovereignty of God in this passage. Even though Judas betrayed Jesus for his own selfish reasons, God had a purpose even in the deceit of a friend. Just as Joseph later said to his brothers that sold him into slavery, "you meant it for evil, but God intended it for good".]

1 Corinthians 11

Conduct at the Lord's Supper

17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

Institution of the Lord's Supper

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.

Examine Yourself

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

[There is no question that communion or the Lord's supper is intended to reinforce the unity of believers in one spirit, all saved by a common sacrifice, serving one Lord. ]

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bible Questions 1

Can God do Math?

1 Kings 7

The Sea and the Oxen

And he made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was completely round. Its height was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference.
24 Below its brim were ornamental buds encircling it all around, ten to a cubit, all the way around the Sea. The ornamental buds were cast in two rows when it was cast. 25 It stood on twelve oxen: three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; the Sea was set upon them, and all their back parts pointed inward. 26 It was a handbreadth thick; and its brim was shaped like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It contained two thousand baths.

[A lot of folks have looked at I Kings 7:23 and concluded the Bible is factually inaccurate because it says this bronze sea has a diameter of 10 cubits and a circumference of 30 cubits which means the value of Pi would have to be 3, when everyone knows Pi is 3.14 or 3.14159 for the math geeks. So if you had a completely round tub 10 cubits in diameter, the circumference would be 31.41 not 30, according to what we learned in geometry class. The difference between the two is 1.41 cubits or 4.7%. So if this is a Bible error the error rate is less than 5%.

This is the most common answer to Pi in the Bible. They would say the writers were not engineers. The cubit was just the length of your arm and hand below the elbow, which varied from man to man. Pi itself is an inexact ratio, so for the sake of the Bible narrative Pi of 3 is close enough. Now that sounds reasonable, an error rate of less than 5% is not bad, and it's a simple answer. I hate that answer. Look back at verse 13.

13 Now King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. 14 He was the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a bronze worker; he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill in working with all kinds of bronze work. So he came to King Solomon and did all his work.

This is why I hate the "close enough" answer. Solomon the wisest and richest King who ever lived, who spares no expense build his own house and the Temple of God, hires from Tyre the finest craftsman he can find. But Hiram can't do geometry any better than that? To me that answer is inconsistent with the scriptures.

What I think is a better answer requires a little work, and includes the complete description of the Bronze Sea, not just verse 23. If you look at verse 26 there is a critical detail for the Bronze Sea. "It was a handbreadth thick". The most common measure for a cubit is 18 inches, so the diameter from "one brim to the other" as verse 23 says, is 15 feet or 180 inches. The Hebrew word for brim is Saphah meaning the natural boundary or the outer edge of an object. So the diameter of the Saphah is 180 inches. Now the thickness of the Sea is a handbreadth, which measures 4 inches so the internal diameter is 172 inches. Now look at the end of verse 23.

"a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference" There is no Hebrew word for circumference, so the line that measures it's circumference in Hebrew is (Qav cabab cabiyb translated literally would be the "rim that that borders around". So if the inner rim is 172 inches and Pi is 3.14 then the inner circumference is 540.08 inches. Divide that by 18 to get back to cubits and you get 30.00 cubits which is exactly what the Bible says it is.

So how do we know that the Qav or rim and Saphaw or brim are two different things. Well for one they are different words. Secondly the 30.00 is pretty compelling evidence. And third the thickness would give you structural strength to hold 10,000 or more gallons of water in this bronze sea. So yes, God can do math]

Dead men walking

Matthew 27

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

[All 4 gospels record the death of Jesus but only Matthew has this detail about dead saints rising from the dead. So what do we make of this, what can we learn from it, and how does it fit in with the rest of Jesus' teachings?

First I think we need to understand the time-line. Even though verse 52 sounds like the graves were opened right after Jesus died, verse 52 makes it clear that the dead were raised after Jesus' resurrection. This is an important detail because it is consistent with 1 Corinthians 15:20 

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Second it seems that this resurrection of the saints we similar to the raising of Lazarus. Verse 53 says they went into Jerusalem and were seen and probably recognized by people who knew them in life, otherwise how would you know for sure that they had died? So these were contemporaries of Jesus', and it seems reasonable that the power that resurrected Jesus, spilled over to others, maybe they were buried nearby, but certainly these resurrected saints walking would strengthen the testimony of those who saw Jesus alive.

John 11

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.

It is because of the resurrection that Jesus and the apostles frequently refer to the death of saints as simply sleeping. What a incredible confidence. So the question is was this resurrection of the saints foretold anywhere in prophecy, and I think the answer is yes. Look at Isaiah 26:19

19 Your dead shall live;
      Together with my dead body they shall arise.
      Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
      For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
      And the earth shall cast out the dead.

Isaiah 26 is called "A song of salvation" and is part of a prophecy about Messiah.

Colossians 1

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

But we need to understand the difference between the bodily resurrection and the transformation or glorification that happens to the saints ascending to heaven.

1 Corinthians 15

35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain.
38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind
of flesh[c] of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41
There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being."[d] The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord[e] from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear[f] the image of the heavenly Man.   
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

John 20:17 (King James Version)

 17Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

[Though resurrected, Jesus was not yet ascended so he told Mary not to touch him because he was not yet ascended. Some teach that during this time Jesus completed his work as priest by carrying his blood into the presence of the Father, and during that ascension he was transformed. But later in the same chapter look at what Jesus said to Thomas.]

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" 27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

[8 days later he was more than willing for Thomas to touch him. Jesus has experienced more than a bodily resurrection; he had experienced a transformation, when he ascended to the Father.]