The Red Letters by Pastor Don
I am repeating this Bible study because it is one of my favorites. I ran across it looking for another study, and brought it forward.
I would give anything to be able to show you my next notes as a video. If it ever gets on In His Name’s Ministry site as a video I will let you know. No amount of notes will show you the passion, heart, and love with which this next part of the sermon was taught. I firmly believe no one walked out of the church believing that we can doubt the Red Letters.
THE RED LETTERS.
Pastor Don answered his wife’s question about John 17. Remember yesterday I mentioned Pastor Don’s wife sat in on a class at a conference taught by the keynote speaker, pastor/teacher, well-known personage who stated we can’t be sure the Red Letters (meaning those statements the Bible says were spoken by Jesus) were really spoken by Jesus. John 17 was prayed by Jesus when He was alone in the Garden, so how can John know what Jesus prayed?
John 20: 24-25 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
Some will hear the Word and believe, but Thomas needed more proof.
To come to a point of mental assent that Jesus was risen, he needed to agree with the information – and for Thomas that was to stick his finger into the nail print and his hand into Jesus’ side, then Thomas would be able to open his heart to believe.
We all have different criterion for belief. Often our unbelieving part says there needs to be some action, then I can believe.
The criterion Thomas picked to determine whether he believed was not based on truth. The TRUTH was Jesus was risen from the dead. This truth was in existence even if Jesus chose not to let Thomas feel his hands and side. The TRUTH is the TRUTH, no matter what lists we have in our minds about what it will take for us to believe.
The TRUTH is the Red Letters in the New Testament ARE the words that HE (Jesus) said. The truth of them is not determined by what feels good in our spirit, what irritates our spirit. Those feelings are not the correct answer for the truth of the Word.
Pastor Don said the fact that the Red Letters are the truth can be seen in the same way as in his relationship with his wife. He has been married over 20 years, and in that time she has not lied to him. When she reported this pastor’s words, showing him she wrote it down so she would remember them, then to hear similar words from the pastor’s mouth assured him the words his wife reported were true. It is the same with the red letters. The disciples spoke the truth and wrote down the words Jesus spoke, so we can trust them to be the true words of Jesus.
Pastor Don said when we meet a famous person, someone who is important to our lives, we are going to try and get their words accurate, to correctly quote them. Don’t you think the disciples, after they experienced Jesus, saw His miracles, saw Him die, saw Him raised up from the dead, would want to report Jesus’ Words accurately?
JESUS SAID WHAT THEY SAY HE SAID.
John 20:26-27 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!” 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.
We need to watch what unbelieving things we say or think because Jesus is here, supernaturally, and knows our unbelieving thoughts. He hears our doubt and unbelief. He wants us to believe and judges our unbelief. Far better to be like the father with the demon possessed son and say, “Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief.”
John 20:28-29 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
We often trust our intellect and our ability to understand, and that can lead us to doubt. When we are in a group that is teaching doubt and unbelief, our intellect may give mental assent to those unbelieving thoughts. We need to pray Jesus opens the eyes of our understanding.
DON’T DOUBT THE RED LETTERS, for that is doubting the witness of Christ Himself. Blessed are believers and those who do not doubt the RED LETTERS.
I would rather be a believer and not a doubter. God is willing to give proof to you to be a believer if you are willing to open your mind and heart to Him. As we walk in faith we will see the truth of what we believe, but he wants us to open our minds and hearts to believe, and we are blessed if we do this without having to have physical proof.
John 20:30-31 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
It is through believing that we have life in His name. The disciples saw what Jesus did, and believed. This is also for us because Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We haven’t seen with our eyes, and yet we are believers – this line was written for us.
How do we know the RED LETTERS are true?
1. We can test what was said to see if it happened. For example, Mark 16:9-18 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned, and these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
It is human nature that, when we are around a great person, we want to listen to what they say and write it down.
Pastor Don said he vividly remembers words his father, also a pastor, told him during specific times in his life. For example, when Pastor Don was wondering what to do when he had to pick between two things, his father would tell him, “Life is a mystery to be lived out, not a problem to be solved.” or “If you have a feeling or thought that you shouldn’t do something, don’t do it. It is better to err on the side of inactivity than to err on the side of action.”
Key people in our lives speak words that are indelibly printed on our minds. When a life-changer speaks, we remember their words.
After his death, when He appeared to His disciples, Jesus did not just stand there like a statue. He wasn’t silent. He taught His disciples, shared with them, answered their questions, and prepared them for their next step out in faith. Don’t you think the disciples didn’t ask him a million questions about His death and resurrection? They saw Jesus go heavy-hearted into that garden, saw the signs of blood around his head, saw him come out and face those guards with courage. They once before asked Him to teach them how to pray, don’t you think they would ask Him what He prayed in the garden that wrought such changes in Him? And knowing Jesus, He answered. The disciples would have hung on every word, and written it down. Wouldn’t you if someone you knew had died and rose from the dead? Wouldn’t you if you had spent three years in relationship with a miracle worker? Wouldn’ t the disciples?
The disciples were witnesses, and they told the truth, we can believe their witness and we can believe theRED LETTERS. Not only did the disciples write Jesus’ words, but they gave their lives for those RED LETTERS. They died for the truth of the RED LETTERS. They gave their all to give us the RED LETTERS.
Jesus told them to go out and share the gospel, preach the gospel. And the gospel bore fruit. We are to take the RED LETTERS into the world and apply them.
Pastor Don told us of a trip to Florida to a Christian theme park where he saw a Bible that had rust colored stains on it. When he asked, he found out it was a Bible being copied by someone, who was then killed in the midst of copying the Bible and the rust colored stains were the person’s blood. People do not die for lies. We can trust the RED LETTERS.
Mark 16:19-20 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
The disciples obeyed the RED LETTERS and did what Jesus commanded them to do, and then God confirmed their actions with signs. His RED LETTERS bring fruit.
Luke 24:36-45 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence. Then He said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the scriptures.”
Just like on the road to Emmaus, Jesus opened up the Scriptures to His disciples. What were the Scriptures then? The Old Testament – the Prophets, the Law of Moses and the Psalms. Jesus showed the disciples where He was depicted in the Scriptures. Jesus ate with the disciples. Did he eat in silence? No. Did he just sit in the room like a statue? No. He spoke with them, taught them, showed them the Scriptures. Wouldn’t they eagerly record his words, the revelation from one who rose from the dead?
Acts 10:39-43 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
Acts 13:26-33 Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings–that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.”
I Corinthians 15:5-8 “…and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me(Paul) also, as by one born out of due time.
Jesus was seen by many witnesses, and He interacted with them. During the forty days he talked, preached, answered questions, so these witnesses could write down the RED LETTERS.
And in verse 8 above, he was seen by all of us. We too, today, have been born out of due time. We all have our Damascus Road experience. We all have our blind areas that He heals, and after we see him, we can claim, 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly then they all, yet not I , but the grace of God which was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:19-20 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
We can trust the RED LETTERS. They are the TRUE WORDS of Jesus. Do not let anyone try to convince you otherwise. Our inner witness will be tweaked when someone speaks an untruth or tries to cast doubt on the truth of Jesus’ words. Jesus told us that, in the last days, many would come who would preach a different Gospel, who would try to discredit Jesus. We are not to believe them.
In these last days we need to pray his prayer for unity in the Body of Christ, and that will cause us to come out of our comfort zones. Pastor Don said, for example, different churches celebrate communion different ways. If they celebrate a way different from your tradition, look beyond the outward aspects to the COMMUNION. We are to be ONE as He and the Father are ONE. This may take us out of our comfort zones.
Pastor Don said that he hoped as we walk out of church today we have full confidence in the RED LETTERS.
Hoping you have a blessed day.
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