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Unleash the Power of Personal and Spiritual Growth: An Interview with Bill Purvis

Bill PurvisBill Purvis had to be at death’s door before he discovered that everything he was searching for could be found in Jesus Christ. As a teenager, he nearly died when he was stabbed three times by a pimp during an encounter with a prostitute. With his pericardium sac pierced, liver punctured, and jugular vein completely severed, he cried out to Jesus, who miraculously saved his life. In the more than 30 years since that day, he’s become a pastor, leader, and mentor to many.

Bible Gateway interviewed Bill Purvis (@Bill_Purvis) about his book, Make a Break for It: Unleashing the Power of Personal and Spiritual Growth (Zondervan, 2016).

Click to buy your copy of Make a Break for It in the Bible Gateway Store

What is the meaning of your book’s title?

Bill Purvis: Make a Break for It is a challenge to pursue God’s destiny for your life. The Bible is filled with examples of people who were called to “make a break for it” to a life of trusting God. From God calling Moses from a burning bush to lead His people, to Jesus calling James and John from their fathers fishing business, or Matthew from the tax office, we see God opening the door of our destiny at certain moments, and when that moment comes, we should make a break for it.

Briefly tell the dramatic circumstances of your first prayer when you were 17 years old and why you said it.

Bill Purvis: I was an aimless boy with no guidance or direction when a young Christian shared the gospel with me. Two weeks later, I picked up a prostitute and was stabbed three times with a butcher knife by her drunken pimp. With my throat cut, a stab wound one-eighth below my heart, and another in my liver, as I lay dying I recalled the words of the Christian witness two weeks prior. Praying and calling out to God not only began a series of miracles to save my life; it radically changed my heart and nature.

What role did the Bible play in your life after you faced death?

Bill Purvis: The first Bible I ever read was a Gideon Bible from the nightstand in the hospital room. I couldn’t get enough of it. Like 1 Peter 2:2 says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby”, I devoured it with an obsession. From that day forward, my preoccupation has been hearing from God through his amazing book.

Why do you ask people to decide if they’re “crabs or chameleons”?

Bill Purvis: In order to make a difference in this world we start with self-examination. A crab has to change if it’s to live. It’s a process called molting, and it must do it over and over to continue to live. A chameleon, on the other hand, only has to live by blending into the surroundings. Philippians 2:15 calls us to “prove yourselves blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as light in the world.” A believer whose primary goal is to blend in, loses their “salt” (effectiveness) and actually creates the problem (losing respect) that they think they are solving (attempting to gain respect with unbelievers).

How should people “dress for destiny”?

Bill Purvis: Just as you wouldn’t leave home without physical clothing from your closet, it’s crucial that we have a “prayer closet” to dress from as well. Jesus spoke of it in Matthew 6:6 when he said, “when you pray, enter into thy closet, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret, shall reward you openly.” Your prayer closet is where you dress spiritually for the day. It’s where you consider what you’ll need to face the day, whether wisdom, guidance, grace, discernment, your spiritual armor, clothed with love and humility and thanksgiving. Your prayer closet is where you properly dressed for your day.

What is the biblical foundation for your belief that “the way up is down”?

Bill Purvis: God will not bless a prideful heart. He resists; turns his face and favor from pride. The clear teaching and proven examples in Scripture teach us “the way up is down.” For example:
Proverbs 29:23—A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.
Matthew 23:12—Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
James 4:10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

What do you hope readers will do when they finish your book?

Bill Purvis: It has a two-fold purpose. First, people are putting it into the hands of people they love who need Jesus. It’s a perfect witnessing tool and conversation starter. Secondly, it’s a simple and practical book showing a Christian how to really grow in their faith, without getting lost in all the religious jargon, verbiage, and useless exercises that sincere believers sometimes experience. It’s a map to Make a Break for It when God’s opportunities come.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and/or the Bible Gateway App?

Bill Purvis: I LOVE Bible Gateway! If you check my laptop history, it’s always the most visited site. It’s the site that saves me time in research and I often use it in my daily devotionals to just read through books of the Bible in various versions. I’m honored that you invited me to do this interview, because I consider you one of my best tools for personal spiritual growth. I recommend this site to everyone!

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Bill Purvis: Some of the words that the young witness said to me, two weeks before I was stabbed and left for dead were, “Everything you’re looking for can be found in Jesus” and I would say the same to others. It’s in Jesus that I found forgiveness, peace, love, hope, and my purpose in life. And I know that what he did for this aimless and empty soul, he can do for anyone who comes to him.

Bio: Bill Purvis became pastor at Cascade Hills Church, Columbus, GA, with no salary and only 32 people in the pews on Easter Sunday. He now ministers to over 8,000 people locally and has an international television audience through Trinity Broadcasting Network. Purvis and his wife, Debbie, live in Columbus, Georgia.

Let Scripture Interpret Scripture

howtostudythebible

This lesson is part of Mel Lawrenz’ “How to Study the Bible” series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.


When you read a passage and wonder what “resurrection” really means or “the kingdom of God” or “sexual immorality” or “Passover” or “antichrist” or “marriage,” there is one place to turn: the rest of the Scriptures. Yes, archaeologists may have some relevant information, and there may be parallels in modern literature, science, or history, but Scripture is its own best interpreter.

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The New Testament passages about baptism are best explained by the other dozen or so passages about baptism and by the ritual of washing in the Old Testament, not by the use of water in the Egyptian cult of Isis. The Lord’s Supper is best interpreted by all the other passages about it and by Jesus’ “I am the bread” teaching, and by the meals like Passover in the Old Testament and the manna sent from heaven. Most of the incredible images and numbers from the book of Revelation, over which people puzzle, and which have produced wildly different interpretations going in every possible direction, have already appeared in the Bible before (e.g., the mark on the forehead, a beast rising up out of the sea, the numbers 1,000, 7, 12, etc.). There is a vivid meaning in each instance, and it is amazing how much easier it is to get at if we look up just one or two other passages that use the same language.

This “analogy of faith,” is the comparison and synthesis of the various parts of the faith. Art is about repetition and variation, and so too is history and theology. God gives us a truth like “I am your Savior,” and then he repeats it a hundred different ways throughout Scripture. Repetition and variation. The words change slightly, metaphors are used, and through it all—by the words of the prophets and the apostles—God’s word comes through strong and clear. We see the form of it all. Its lines become clearer and bolder. Conviction firms up in our minds and hearts.

And this is why we must read Scripture as a rhythmic discipline of our lives. It is a big book. It is full of epic stories, of oracles, sermons, prophecies, letters, songs, and proverbs that address the whole of life. It reveals God in all his actions and attributes. The Bible is a vivid mosaic of hundreds of personal stories where people are trying to find God, or trying to make or be their own god. It explains the issues of the 21st century as precisely as it does any other century. It is the best guide for life for men and women, boys and girls. It is the only direct and pure expression of God’s own mind.

When we read it as studying a tapestry we will be building a comprehensive structure of truth for our lives. We will see the patches of truth emerge and converge into a great patchwork. We’ll be able to say: “Oh, so that’s what joy means!” as we put together the pattern of what we get from Psalms and from Luke and from Philippians. We’ll be able to say: “I now understand temptation because this passage in James explains what I read a while ago in Romans and in Matthew.” We’ll know the difference between a major theme that God wants us to understand because it comes up so often (like sanctification, or forgiveness, or sin) and minor themes that should not be our focus (like “where was Jesus between his death and resurrection?”).

The Bible is God’s word about himself to us. It is the speech of a sovereign Lord and loving Father; it is the word about Jesus the Word; and it is the breath of the Spirit. This is not about literary criticism. It is an act of grace unfolding in our lives. When we read Scripture we can pray something like this:

Holy Spirit, you inspired the writers of Scripture. Now please illumine my mind that I may grasp the width, length, height, and depth of your truth and life.


Mel Lawrenz trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s minister at large. He has a Ph.D. in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, the latest, How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.

The Last Straw: A Guest Post by Nicki Koziarz

Nicki KoziarzHave you ever gotten to the place where you just couldn’t take it anymore? Dreams. Programs. Jobs. Relationships. There are so many different areas where we feel like calling it quits. It’s time for an honest conversation on how not to give in to the temptation to give up.

Nicki Koziarz (@NickiKoziarz) is a woman who has thrown in the towel a time or two. In fact, she’s quit just about everything in her life. But with God’s help, she’s discovered a few habits that have helped her and others conquer the choice to quit. In her book, 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit (B&H Books, 2016) (book website), she explains how to evaluate the internal personal struggles that make you want to quit, cultivate consistent habits to help you progress toward your goals and receive a fresh dose of perspective from the Bible that will help you develop perseverance.

Click to buy your copy of 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit in the Bible Gateway Store

The following article is excerpted from 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit (B&H Books, 2016) by Nicki Koziarz.

The Last Straw

We were driving down the road when our realtor called. It was the sixth time we had tentatively scheduled the closing for the Fixer Upper Farm. And of course, there was a problem and our closing was rescheduled again. I threw the phone down and said to my husband who was seated next to me, “This is NEVER going to happen. We just need to give this thing up. That’s it! I can’t take it anymore.”

And wouldn’t you know, there was this little eight-year-old girl sitting behind me who piped up her little voice and said, “Nuh uh Momma. Thoughts become words. Words become actions. Actions become reality. Don’t you speak that over our farm!”

My husband smiled and nodded his head. I was eating my own words. This season of learning to wait, to trust God and to believe was starting to mess with my thought process. It was refinement mixed with stress, anxiety and fear. A quitting formula for sure.

It required a transition in my thinking, my prayers, and my belief. I had to make this shift while not knowing the end of the story.

I know this whole buying a farm-drama-thing may sound incredibly juvenile in comparison with the “real” problems of this world, but trust me when I say the Lord used it to work in my life. I assure you there will be all kinds of seasons of refinement as we work to become women God and others can count on. Later you’ll hear more about the seasons of refinement I’ve gone through that were no laughing matter.

Some seasons of refinement will cause us to look back and laugh. Others may continue to produce an ache felt deep in our spirit for many years to come.

Maybe one day Ruth got to a place where she was able to look back on a few places of this horrible tragedy and smile about the refining process. But where we are meeting her right now, there’s nothing funny.

Her thoughts could have easily become clouded. But she seems to have so much clarity in her decision to stay. There’s not a hint of hesitancy to flee. It makes me think her desperation was creating a dependence upon God.

Thoughts are powerful when we are walking through refinement assignments. While we will never be able to control all the events that happen or hard situations we find ourselves wandering through, we have control over our thoughts.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
Proverbs 23:7a (NKJV)

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the LORD’s declaration.”
Isaiah 55:8 (HCSB)

Understanding how the Lord views us is foundational to viewing these seasons of refinement as assignments from God. There’s something He wants to shift in us, teach us and fulfill through us. As shown in Isaiah, we are different from God in both our natural thoughts and actions. In order for the shift to take place, we must spend time learning His thoughts and His ways. We have to allow Him (and His Word) into those deep places, our thoughts. The places where no one goes but Him.

Our thoughts become the words we speak. The words we speak become the actions we take. The actions we take determine our steps toward the future.

God is not a puppet master controlling our every move. The decision to stay with Him through our thoughts, words and actions will always be ours.

The above article is excerpted from 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit (B&H Books, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Nicki Koziarz. Used by permission of B&H Books. www.bhpublishinggroup.com. Pages 34-36. All rights reserved.

Bio: Nicki Koziarz is an author and speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. Each week she helps lead thousands of women through P31 Online Bible Studies. She and her husband, Kris, own a fixer upper farm just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. There they are raising their three beautiful [but hormonal] daughters, a barnyard of misfit animals, and one slightly famous pug. After a broken experience in the church, Nicki is consumed with learning to lead her generation on the pursuit of truth and love.

Bible Gateway March Mania Continues

As the NCAA college basketball tournament rolled along in the USA last week, we announced our own “competition”: #BibleGatewayMarchMania, which continues this week. Learn more about it, see the brackets, and cast your votes for your favorite Bible stories by reading our original Blog post. And see what Bible story will be voted the “champion!”

[Browse the Sports section in the Bible Gateway Store]

[See our Blog post, New Sports Devotional: Be Inspired by “Devotions for Die-Hard Fans]

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Death and Resurrection: Guest Post by Philip Johnston

Dr. D.A. Carson unpacked the biblical theology of the resurrection on Desiring God’s Ask Pastor John podcast.

Dr. Philip JohnstonThe New International Version of the Bible translation is available in a variety of editions, one of which is NIV Zondervan Study Bible (website). A team of more than 60 contributors crafted study notes, book and section introductions, a library of articles, and other study tools that specifically focus on biblical theology—the progressive unfolding of theological concepts through the Bible.

[See our blogposts, Accolades for the New NIV Zondervan Study Bible and The NIV Zondervan Study Bible: An Interview with Dr. D.A. Carson.]

Click to browse the many available editions of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store[When you purchase the NIV Zondervan Study Bible print edition: you’ll get a code to gain free digital access (a $19.99 value) to its comprehensive study notes, maps, charts, articles and more from your computer or mobile device through Bible Gateway and Olive Tree.]

One of the contributing scholars is Dr. Philip S. Johnston, Senior Tutor and Director of Studies in Theology & Religious Studies at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge, who wrote the article in the NIV Zondervan Study Bible on Death and Resurrection, which is excerpted here:

The resurrection of Christ is central to Christian faith (1 Cor 15), part of the radical newness of the gospel. Paul writes that “our Savior, Christ Jesus. . . brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim 1:10, emphasis added) — so before then the afterlife was an unknown quantity, in the shadows rather than the light. This is the key to a biblical theology of death and resurrection, affirming both the light shed by the gospel and the relative ignorance of earlier times (see Mark 9:10).

DEATH

God punished the first human sin with death. But humans were not created immortal since they had to eat from the tree of life to live forever and since the death sentence was fulfilled by their banishment from that tree (Gen 3:22 – 23). Sin is strongly linked to substitutionary animal death in the Levitical sacrifices but rarely to human death elsewhere in the OT (e.g., Ps 90:7 – 10), though the link is made extensively in the NT (e.g., Rom 5:12; 6:23; 1 Cor 15:21). Christ’s resurrection potently responds to death as punishment for sin.

Hos 13:14 envisages God ransoming Israel from the power of death, which Paul sees accomplished in Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor 15:55,57). God will “destroy the shroud” and “swallow up death forever” (Isa 25:7 – 8), and the NT cites this in relation to Christ’s victory (1 Cor 15:54,57; also Rev 21:4). For the Christian, death may be the last enemy, but it is also a glorious transition.

In the OT the above themes are rare, however, and death is generally presented as the natural end of life. Sometimes death is peaceful (e.g., Abraham, Gen 25:8), sometimes abrupt (e.g., Nabal, 1 Sam 25:38), but usually it is recorded without comment (e.g., Samuel, 1 Sam 25:1). The NT echoes the theme of peaceful death in describing the believer’s death as “sleep” (e.g., 1 Cor 15:51). However, the NT seldom portrays death as simply the end of life, partly because there are so few accounts of death, but mainly because of the new, distinctively Christian understanding of it.

THE DEAD

The Old Testament

Strikingly, the OT shows very little interest in the dead, and it mostly envisages one fate: the underworld. This is a realm of sleepy, shadowy existence in the depths of the earth. The most common term for the underworld is sheol, occurring 66 times and usually translated “realm of the dead” or “grave.” Two texts briefly describe it: the mighty king of Babylon becomes as weak as those he had conquered (Isa 14:9 – 11) and different armies lie separately in a vast cavern (Ezek 32:17 – 32). These descriptions are similar to those of contemporary cultures, but the disinterest in the dead is unique to Israel. For them, the Lord was God of the living, faith was for this life, and what followed was relatively unimportant.

While the underworld is the only fate described, it is envisaged mostly for the wicked rather than the righteous, and this is explicit in Ps 49:14 – 15. There are only four instances of righteous people fearing the underworld; but they all suffer extreme misfortune and probably interpret their current state and future fate as divine punishment. For instance, Jacob fears descent to the grave when separated from his favorite sons (Gen 37:35; 42:38; see Job 14:13; Ps 88:3; Isa 38:10). But years later, when his family is happily reunited, his death is recorded without mentioning the underworld (repeatedly from Gen 46:30 to 50:16). Only two texts seem to indicate that everyone goes to this place, and these occur in the somber contexts of divine punishment (Ps 89:48) and human futility (Eccl 9:10). The OT writers clearly view the underworld negatively.

Alongside this general picture, there are rare glimpses of a more positive afterlife. God “took” Enoch (Gen 5:24), and Elijah ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot (2 Kgs 2:11). However, these instances are unique; godly psalmists and prophets do not generally pray for a similar fate. A few OT passages envisage some form of continued communion with God beyond death, but this is ill-defined and unlocated (Pss 16:10; 49:15; 73:24). In Acts 2, Peter quotes Ps 16, though as prophetic of Christ rather than as personal to the psalmist. Job’s defiant wish in Job 19:25 – 27 may refer to the afterlife, but the severe textual difficulties in this passage make this uncertain.

Later Jewish Thought

Intertestamental Jewish literature displays a spectrum of views on the dead. In the Apocrypha, the traditional Ecclesiasticus (17:28 – 30) echoes the OT’s general perspective, while the Hellenistic Wisdom of Solomon affirms that “the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God” until “the time of their visitation,” i.e., resurrection (3:1 – 8). In the pseudepigraphal book of 1 Enoch the dead are in several separate groups in Hades awaiting judgment (ch. 22); in some texts the wicked will be punished with torment forever, as an eternal spectacle for the righteous (22:11; 27:3), and in others they will be “destroyed forever” (91:19).

The New Testament

The NT gives less attention to the preresurrection state of the dead. Jesus’ story in Luke 16 reflects one strand of Jewish belief: the nameless rich man is in Hades, while Lazarus is apparently in heaven (carried to Abraham’s side by angels, though still visible to the rich man).

In his early letters, Paul seems to expect the imminent return of Christ and focuses on the resurrection body (1 Cor 15; 1 Thess 4). Later he anticipates the present “earthly tent” being replaced with “our heavenly dwelling” to avoid being “naked” (2 Cor 5:1 – 4), i.e., in a disembodied intermediate state. Yet elsewhere Paul seems to ignore the state of believers between death and resurrection: he speaks of being immediately in Christ’s presence (Phil 1:23) or being brought safely to the heavenly kingdom (2 Tim 4:18) without further detail.

There are a few references in later NT books to the ungodly dead awaiting judgment (2 Pet 3:7; Jude 6 – 7). After his death Christ “made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits,” proclaiming their judgment (1 Pet 3:19).

RESURRECTION

The Old Testament

A few prophetic passages present resurrection as an image for national restoration after the exile (Ezek 37:11 – 14; Hos 6:1 – 2). Two texts go further and propose individual resurrection: God’s people (but not the wicked) will awake (Isa 26:19), and multitudes (but not necessarily everyone) will awake to everlasting life or contempt (Dan 12:2). These texts apply the ancient belief that God can raise the dead (e.g., 1 Sam 2:6) to situations where he will do so to vindicate his people. But they are at the edge of OT theology since the rest of the OT retains the traditional view of death outlined above.

Later Jewish Thought

In the mid-second-century BC persecutions, martyrs were bolstered by a growing belief in the physical resurrection with restored and rejuvenated bodies, though for their tormentor Antiochus “there will be no resurrection to life” (2 Maccabees 7:14, in the Apocrypha). A little later another text affirms a total resurrection: after the patriarchs, “all men will rise, some to glory and some to disgrace” (see the pseudepigraphal Testament of Benjamin 10:8).

By NT times, belief in resurrection was common among many Jews, including Pharisees (Acts 23:8). This resurrection was envisaged as God’s restoration of Israel in a transformed physical world, not an ethereal heavenly realm. However, some Jewish groups, like the Qumran community, were less sure (there is only one fleeting reference, in 4Q521.ii.12). The Sadducees denied resurrection altogether (Acts 23:8), ostensibly because it is not mentioned in the Torah, but also because such belief encouraged insurrection and martyrdom, which in turn threatened their establishment position.

Gospels and Acts

In Luke 20:27 – 38 and its parallels, Jesus categorically opposes the Sadducees’ trick question regarding multiple marriages and describes a resurrection state in which marriage is superfluous and death unknown. He then freshly interprets Exod 3:6: Israel’s God is the God of the living, so his relationship with the patriarchs is not broken by death and the dead must therefore rise. Elsewhere Jesus could speak of “the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14), but his teaching on final judgment clearly implies universal resurrection (Matt 25:31 – 46).

Jesus repeatedly tells his disciples of his forthcoming death and resurrection (e.g., Mark 8:31). John typically focuses on the implication of these events: Jesus himself is the resurrection and life, which implies resurrection and eternal life for all believers (John 11:25 – 26). From Pentecost onward, the center of apostolic preaching is Jesus’ resurrection, vindicating him as Messiah and necessitating repentance and faith (e.g., Acts 2:24 – 36).

The Letters and Revelation

For Paul, Christ’s resurrection is the foundation of Christian life and hope, as carefully explained in 1 Cor 15: Jesus’ resurrection happened; Christians universally believe it; death came through Adam and resurrection through Christ; this profoundly affects our lifestyle; the perishable “soul-animated” (psychikon) body will be raised an imperishable “spirit-animated” (pneumatikon) one; and so death itself is “swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:54). Christ’s resurrection is thus the prototype of Christian experience.

1 Peter echoes Pauline themes in grounding its opening doxology on Christ’s resurrection (1 Pet 1:3) and in contrasting the perishable and the imperishable (1 Pet 1:23). Hebrews similarly lists resurrection as a basic tenet of faith (Heb 6:1 – 2). Revelation, for all its apocalyptic imagery and eschatological focus, speaks only cryptically of a “first resurrection” of martyrs to a millennial reign with Christ (Rev 20:5 – 6). Different terminology is used for the final judgment: the sea, death, and Hades “give up” their dead to stand before God’s throne (Rev 20:12 – 13). Here death and the realm of the dead are not just defeated but are forced to surrender all their captives and are finally destroyed. The God of life ultimately triumphs.

Bible News Roundup – Week of March 27, 2016

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50 New Translations of the Bible Completed in 2015
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See multiple Bible translations on Bible Gateway

More Americans Agree Christians Face Intolerance But Complain Too Much About It
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Vast Majority of Americans Believe the Bible is Sacred Literature
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American Bible Society State of the Bible 2016

Tennessee Senate Committee Approves Bill to Make Bible State Book
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Diboll, TX Police Dept Hopes to Place Bible Verse on Uniform Shoulder Patch
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Read Matthew 5:9 on Bible Gateway

Incredible Proof for Why You Should Have Faith in the Bible
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The Undeniable Reliability of Scripture: An Interview with Josh McDowell
Why Trust the Bible?: An Interview with Greg Gilbert
Questioning the Bible: An Interview with Jonathan Morrow
Browse the Archaeological section in the Bible Gateway Store

University of British Columbia Acquires 13th Century Paris Bible
The Ubyssey
A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Bible Distribution in Abbotsford Canada Schools Draws Criticism
The Chilliwack Progress

Malaysian Court Upholds Right to Convert from Islam
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Interview: Nabeel Qureshi, author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

2 Million Scripture Booklets Sent to Rwanda
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Iranians and Israelis Are in a Battle Over History—and the Holiday of Purim
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Read the book of Esther on Bible Gateway

Bible Reading Marathon is a Success with Local Cumbria, UK Community
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78-Hour Bible Reading Marathon Completed in New Zealand
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Carroll County Arkansas Bible Reading Marathon April 28—May 5
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Welsh Bible in the Book-Collection of Elbląg Library
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Women in UK More Likely to Pray than Men
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He Is Risen!

Click to read Mark 16:5-7 (NIV) on Bible Gateway

Good Friday

Click to read Galatians 2:20 (NIV) on Bible Gateway

What Happened on Good Friday?

Browse resources for Easter in the Bible Gateway Store.

Today is Good Friday, the bleakest moment in the Gospel story. Reading the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion today, we have the benefit of knowing that it’s all leading up to the triumph of Easter. But to the Jesus-followers present at the scene, it must have seemed that the world as they knew it was falling apart.

To refresh your memory, see what happened on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of Easter week.

Today is the day that the events of Holy Week really begin to move. Our timeline shows the many different strands of the Easter story coming together on this day (click to see the full timeline):

goodfriday

If you haven’t read the complete story of the crucifixion recently, today’s a perfect day to revisit it. Here are the four Gospel accounts of the story:

One of the challenges of reading the crucifixion story two thousands years after the event took place is that it’s difficult for us to empathize with its participants. From our perspective, the Easter crowds seem insanely fickle; Jesus’ disciples seem utterly clueless; the members of the Sandhedrin contemptibly evil; Pilate laughably corrupt.

Those things are true. Nobody except Jesus behaves well in the Good Friday story. But it’s these very people—fickle, clueless, evil, corrupt—that Jesus died for.

The truth is that we have much in common with the fools and villains of Easter. The wonder is that Jesus loved them, and us, enough to submit to foolishness, injustice, and death. The miracle is that three days later, he rose from the dead to offer us salvation. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

What Happened on Thursday of Holy Week?

As we approach Easter Sunday, the events of Holy Week intensify. We’ve already looked at what happened on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Easter week. What about Thursday?

Thursday of Holy Week—also known as Maundy Thursday—witnessed several key events in the Easter story and set in motion the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. The events of this day, particularly the Last Supper, continue to be remembered and commemorated in Christian churches around the world today. Let’s take a look at these events as the Bible describes them by looking at the Thursday section of our Holy Week Timeline, which maps interactions between the important people and events of the Easter story:

Preparing the Upper Room

Where to read it: maundythursdayMatthew 26:17-19

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. (NIV)

The Last Supper

Where to read it: Matthew 26:20-35. The most well-known scene can be found in Matthew 26:26-29:

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (NRSV)

Jesus Prays

Where to read it: Matthew 26:36-46

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (ESV)

As you can see, the events of Maundy Thursday are integral to the Easter story. For more information about this day (including the story behind its unusual name), see this essay by Mel Lawrenz on the significance of Maundy Thursday.