Archive for the ‘Shared Thoughts’ Category

As I am working on my follow-up post to my last, which will be on “How Jesus Loved the Seven Churches,” I felt it would be helpful to re-examine how “God is Love.”  Because everybody enjoys hearing about how “Jesus is a God of love,” and undeniably many sermons entitled “God is love” have brought much needed comfort to the heart of the truly repentant. Nonetheless, while these statements are certainly true, as believers we must remember that they are not complete statements of truth. An unwavering truth is that God is no respecter of persons and sometimes the holiness and righteousness of God requires a change in His posture with individuals, a concept some believers have a hard time believing. But consider the following two verses.

“And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it,” (Deuteronomy 28:63).

“After the number of the days in which ye searched the land . . . ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise,” (Numbers 14:34).

Certainly, God is a God of love, yet in Rev. 2:6 Jesus said “. . . this thou hast that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” Again in Proverbs it says, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among the brethren.” Now, I am not trying to present God as a God of hate, just establish the fact that God is capable of hate.

If God’s people are to have true intimacy with Jesus Christ, coupled with a righteous boldness (not a religious cockiness), then we need a basic understanding of God’s precepts. Jesus conditionally told His disciples, “IF ye continue in My word, THEN are ye My disciples indeed; (THEN) ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:31, 32). Jesus was not referring to the truth as certain “facts” which could liberate them. The truth He was referring to was Himself. Jesus said “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father except by Me” (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is the polestar of all truth. If we are going to be “set” free then it is Jesus Christ personally who we must seek to know, not just mere biblical and historical facts. For “if the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36).

While God is perfect in the administration of His love, the Bible does say He still “judgeth the righteous, and is angry with the wicked every day,” (Psalm 7:11). It is this foundational precept that gives us understanding as to why, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” (Proverbs 1:7, 9:11).

Proverbs 8:13 says “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: [therefore] pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth do I hate.” Proverbs 16:6 says “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” Therefore, if believers are to live harmoniously with God they must strive to live according to the scriptures, “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” We must abhor sin and all unrighteousness, no matter how slight it’s deviation from the truth, for “ALL unrighteousness is SIN,” (I John 5:17). This at times is very hard to do since we are often so easily deceived by the pleasures of sin. Of course, this certainly does not mean we are to be hating “sinners,” but rather the sin that has found root in their lives and hearts as if it were hell’s own death grip on them.

To further clarify the attributes of “God’s love” a contrast needs to be made between our natural humanistic “love” and God’s “righteous love.” Humanistic love (due to man’s fallen nature) is both erratic and temperamental. It changes with circumstances or emotions and often ceases without any apparent reason other than loss of interest. Humanistic love rarely subscribes to logic and when found to be so; it is only aligned with the laws of God out of coincidence and not truly governed thereby. When shaken and unsettled, it usually can only be tranquilized by a self-favorable compromise.

Humanistic love usually has a high toleration of sin in another when something desirable for self might be obtained, or else their sins may not likewise be tolerated. If there is no personal profit to be had, then the response is usually judgment and criticism. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these not having a law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another” (Romans 2:14,15).

Contrary to fallen man’s own love, the love of God is not governed by His emotions, but is directed by His righteousness. This is clearly seen in Matthew 23:37, “0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often I would have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” Had God’s love been controlled and subject to emotions, He would have forgiven everybody. He would have gathered them (with all their wickedness) unto Himself whether they repented or not. But God’s love transcends emotions and is founded in holiness and truth.

Likewise, our emotions are God given and can work for good when they’re used correctly as the expressions of our hearts and not the rulers of our lives. Paul instructed the Corinthians saying “the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they have none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possess not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” Certainly Paul wasn’t forbidding marriage any more than he forbidding us to weep or rejoice. Rather, he was warning us not to allow ourselves to be controlled by our marital statuses, emotions, possessions, or the world.

If we are to fully answer God’s call to be holy as He is holy, we must cease to be ruled by our emotions and seek, ask and knock in diligent pursuit of knowing God and His will in our lives. We are to be ruled by His righteousness and live to fulfill His will, not our own. If we foolishly continue to indulge ourselves in the luxury of self-government we jeopardize our relationship with God an run the risk of being unfruitful.

2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Righteous love” in one’s life is evidence of a contemplated surrender to God and His will. Since true love is governed by the authority of the Holy Scriptures, it is not easily swayed by human emotions, but still enjoys full emotional expression. This kind of holy love is conceived in our minds as a result of a personal conviction and revelation of God’s love for us, and birthed into being through the surrender of our hearts.

1Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Jesus reminds us that true love is undeniably evident by our obedience as we see in John and carries with it the promise of reward.

John 14:21 He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Mme shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.
22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.
24 He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings . . .

Just like faith and hope, righteous love is based upon and therefore governed by God’s word, for God has said, “Come now and let us reason [intellectually] together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye are willing and obedient [surrender in your hearts], ye will eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye will be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”

Absolutely, God commands us to love one another and for that love to be effective it must be within the confines of God’s will as revealed by His word. We must remember that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” and that faith “works by love,” (Ro. 10:17, Gal. 5:6). While we are to be longsuffering with immaturity, ignorance and other human frailties and limitations, we must not and cannot tolerate willful sin in ourselves or in each other. If one is overtaken by a fault, then those who are able to instruct must go and do so. If such a one defiantly rebels against God, he is to be rebuked. Should he repent of his wickedness, then let him be forgiven and embraced as a brother. If he doesn’t, he should be removed from the fellowship of believers for he has obstinately forfeited his fellowship with God, for what fellowship has light with darkness? None.

Nowadays, too many believers are being seduced into accepting a “feeling” as love. Because they found acceptance in a church social circle, they are deceived into believing a spirit of churchianity as true Christianity. Love is more than a feeling of warmth, such a feeling is often no more than emotional satisfaction. Since they “feel” good where they are, they are persuaded this is evidence of righteous love. Yet righteous love is maintains an uncompromising commitment to God, His precepts and His church. Remember it is not what we “feel” at a church that confirms truth, but what we hear, “For the word of God . . . is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Likewise, Mercy is too often presumed to be something it’s not. Mercy is a fruit of love, yet, like love for mercy to be effective and redemptive it too must be founded in the righteous judgments of God. People often mistake mercy to be a softness or tenderness exhibited toward someone, or they mistake longsuffering for mercy. These are actually compassion, kindness and gentleness. Mercy is not suffering the consequences of one’s sins which they truly deserve. It is the pardon for an offence which as been exposed, acknowledged, and repented of.

Before the mercy of a pardon can happen however, there needs to be a conviction of righteous judgment first. This too is where many mistake God’s judgment for His wrath, but these are two distinctly different events. God’s judgment is the accurate evaluation of one’s life in light of His righteousness. Should one be found contrary to God as revealed through His word and yet truly repent, pardon is then possible inasmuch as the law was satisfied by the shedding of Christ’s blood. But, when one is evaluated to be a transgressor and refuses to turn from his wicked deed, Jesus Christ re-dying again on ten thousand crosses would not save him, all he has to look forward to is wrath, or “judgment without mercy.”

One must acknowledge his transgressions for what they are with a true godly sorrow and by departing from his sin. The only time an immediate departure from sin may not be required is if it is due to ignorance as a direct result of natural (not willful) Christian immaturity. Therefore, the believer is instructed to diligently seek the will of God in their lives.

2Pe 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that [or why] he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

If we are to effectively love one another so as to minister to and build each other up, we must each devote ourselves to the knowing of both God and His word. We must never compromise our convictions of truth for the sake of church unity, yet we must never cease to labor in love for it. We must dig deep and seek the solid ground of truth, not common ground. While we are commanded to be both submitted and committed to each other in the fear of the Lord, we are not to be not loyal. Loyalty to a man will eventually result in a sinful compromise. We can not afford to “love” anyone, family or otherwise, so much that we unwittingly cast away our pearl of great price. Yes, we can and should suffer long with the frailties of each other and/or with the fallen condition of one seeking the truth, but not with a stubborn hypocrite. Effective and redemptive mercy always requires a surrender to the true evaluation of one’s condition by both the Spirit and Word of God.

Remember,

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6)

“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” (Proverbs 28:23)

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.”
(1 John 5:1,2)

Peace

PREFACE

At a time when so much is rapidly happening in the world and everyone is trying to keep up and figure it all out, it is this message that God has put on my heart to share with His people. Because the only two things that ultimately matters is that God so loved the world that He made our redemption and reconciliation possible, and in response to that we are appropriately loving Him back. For with this age coming to its end means the Marriage of the Lamb is at hand; that the King of Glory is coming back for His reward, a glorious church; and He fully expects to be glorified in His saints. However, there will be many on that day who will awaken with overwhelming horror with the realization that they are not standing among the overcomers Jesus is coming for, and in desperation will cry out, “But Lord, Lord, did we not in Your name…?” Don’t be in that group.

“If he would only love me as Christ loves the church…”

Have you ever heard a woman say that about her husband? It is usually in response to her being presented with the scripture which states, “Wives, submit yourselves unto you own husbands, as unto the Lord.” More than once I have heard women state how easier it would be to obey the scripture if only their husband did truly love them like Christ loves the church. It is not undeniable that the biblical admonition concerning wives submitting to their husbands to many has become a huge stumbling block nowadays. So much so, that it has actually become generally dismissed as an outdated thing, the relativity of which was “back in that culture and time,” yet no longer applicable for our present evolved culture.

Now, before I continue, I want to stress that the first portion of this article is a prelude to “how” Christ loved the Church; which will be examined through the light of His letters sent unto the seven churches in Revelation. So, while the primary focus of this article is not about wives needing to submit to their husbands, such must still be mentioned since it is part of the context of this passage of scripture that with equal clarity and simplicity admonishes husbands to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the church.” So, stick with me as we wade through this and a few other passages till we get to where we have a biblical plateau from which we can more thoroughly examine Christ’s love for His church as revealed in His Holy Word.

But first, please take a minute to seriously pray that your heart might be opened up before God, that He may be able to speak to your heart as you read the entirety of this exhortation of scripture. For we all need to humbly acknowledge how this is His word written for His people; given for both our benefit and His glorification in His saints.

Ephesians 5:21 – Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the savior of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; 26 That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.

At the beginning, along with the title of the article, I mentioned how some wives might express, venting as it were, how easier it would be for them to submit if only their husband would indeed love them like Christ loves the church. But let’s be honest here, this kind of response actually exposes one’s heart; because such a statement for many women is nothing more than a reactionary and feeble excuse defensively given to justify why they aren’t resolutely trying to obey this exhortation specific to wives professing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is important that wives are honest with themselves here, because that’s often what it really is, right? An excuse that says, “I would if he did,” or maybe, “I could if he would?” Furthermore, if submission is mentioned or even lightly alluded to by their husband, some women become exasperated and resentful to their husband; for to even mention submission is too often received as a declaration of sin and condemnation against them.

Nevertheless, this particular instruction for wives does not come from their husband, but from the Holy Scriptures which were given unto us via God’s Holy Spirit. Yet, like the piercing sword of the spirit that exposes the heart and its true intents, this passage has been the cause of division and much contention among many professing Christians. This contention has actually led some to openly accuse Paul of being chauvinistic and an oppressor of women who regarded them as inferior beings. This assault on Paul’s authority as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ has actually been utilized by the adversary to convince some preachers to literally reject the whole of the Pauline Epistles as true Holy Writ given by God. Yet, listen to the words of the Apostle Peter, “Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands… For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husband. Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” And here again, it must be openly acknowledged how some women will not only become incensed, or sarcastic, but even exasperated at the idea of calling their husband “lord.” Why is that? Perhaps the following verse will shed some light.

Romans 7:8 – But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

Perhaps, the New King James says it clearer for some readers –

 (NKJV) But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all [manner of evil] desire. For apart from the law sin [was] dead.

What Paul is saying is that because flesh is carnal and the law “which was ordained for life, [being] holy, just, and good,” is spiritual. Thus, when confronted by the spiritual, the flesh becomes reactionary and pulls away from the truth contained therein. That should be enough evidence in itself for a woman truly seeking to be a godly wife, who as Peter put it, will so “adorned themselves” out of a true desire to be an heir together with her husband of God’s grace of life.

Titus 2:10 – Not purloining [or keeping back], but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

So, let’s read Peter’s exhortation to wives and husbands as well. But first, let me make just one more observation, which is how the Holy Spirit first speaks to the wives in both Paul and Peter’s epistles, and then He addresses their husbands. Perhaps that was to help the seeking woman see that her role as a wife is first as unto the Lord, and secondly for her husband. For are we not all, whether male or female, first His bride if we are truly His body and church, and whatsoever we do is to be for His glory?

1 Peter3:1 – Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters you are, as long as you do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. 7 Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, as this subject matter was impressed upon me today, I was directed to examine Jesus’s love for His church by reviewing His words to the seven churches in Revelation. However, before that, let’s first finish here by quickly reviewing some significant points Paul made concerning Christ’s love for the Church in his Epistle to the Ephesians.

 Christ’s love for His church

Emotional thinkers, who at times have a tendency to be self-centered, tend to view being “loved” as having someone that is eager to give them the things they want, who would always try to make them happy. But in reality, that perspective sharply contrasts with God’s view of love as revealed to us through Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:25 – …even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; 26 That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

In this passage we are given six definite truths worthy of our prayerful consideration; (1) the commitment of Jesus Christ’s love; (2) His purpose or determination; (3) to be accomplished through a specific method or process; (4) His motive; (5) the scope of the labor of His love; and (6) His reasonable expectation.

  • The Commitment: “…even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”

Here we can see that true, godly love is a commitment and not a mere emotion. However, this righteous and godly love, which in some scriptures is referred to as “charity,” will both endure and enjoy a wide range of emotions. For a righteous and godly love can be excited and joyful as well as disappointed and sadden; it can even be provoked to anger, though not easily. Furthermore, love, even God’s love, can be received in vain and thus frustrated to the point of its exhaustion; bringing it to a dangerous crisis point just like God’s sufficient grace which is an extension of God’s love and freely given.

Now, I am sure some won’t understand what I’ve just stated, since this is rarely taught in churches nowadays, but nonetheless is still biblical. Perhaps, this verse of which I am certain most have never heard a sermon preached from will shed some light on godly love being brought to a critical point.

Deuteronomy 28:63 – And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and you shall be plucked from off the land to which you go to possess it.

Many might attempt to dismiss the verse above and its hard message as a no longer relevant part of the Old Covenant by insisting that we are now under the New Covenant. But regardless, old or new, a covenant is a mutual agreement determinedly established upon defined terms and principles. So, let’s compare some of those old and new covenant constraints.

Isaiah 1:18 – Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.

Hebrews 10:28 – He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him that has said, Vengeance belongs unto Me, I will recompense, says the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 12:24 – And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel. 25 See that you refuse not Him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaks from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:  29 For our God is a consuming fire.

I have often stated that you can replace the word “love” in most passages of scripture where it is mentioned with the word “commitment” and not do any damage to the spirit of the text.  True commitment is not lawless, but rather adheres to specific guidelines and is made evident in that it will both guard and benefit others; either intellectually, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Is this not how we are to love, even our enemies? Not a love of warm fuzzy emotions, but with an actual commitment that ministers to other’s true needs.

But concerning Christ’s love for His church, we can see in Ephesians that the commitment of His love was absolute, for “He gave Himself for His church.” But we must realize that this act of love, which compelled Jesus to go to the cross for our sins and die in our place, was both carefully choreographed and orchestrated to accomplish a specific desired end. Christ death wasn’t just a grandiose display of love done merely to impress the angels and us, nor to give us artsy ornaments for our necks and church buildings. No, and furthermore, it must be noted that greater than Christ’s love for the church was His love for the Father, which is evident in His following words.

John 10:17 – Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. 18 No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father.

John 14:31 – But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

  • Purpose or determination:…that He might sanctify and cleanse it [the church]”

It was Jesus intent, yea even the Father’s intent through His Son, to sanctify a people unto Himself. Sanctify simply means to “set apart as holy for God,” which also requires “cleansing.”  Thus, we can see both the purpose and method of sanctification, to set apart and cleanse.

John 17:14 – I have given them Your word… 17 Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth. 18 As You had sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

II Thessalonians 2:13 – But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God from the beginning has chosen you to [obtain] salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

 II Peter 1:2 – Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

  • Method or process of cleansing: “…with the washing of water by the word.”

Faith comes by hearing, and that hearing of the word of God. But without FAITHfulness, or belief evident by response showing commitment to truth, God’s word cannot do anything other than define us as sinners who are dead in our trespasses and sins. This is why James states “as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Can a dead body bathe itself? No, yet through a belief which is evident by our response to God’s word releases His Spirit which enables us to both cleanse our hands and purify our hearts and souls.

John 15:3 – Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

John 17:8 – For I have given unto them the words which You gave Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from You and they have believed that You sent Me. 14 I have given them Your word… 17 Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth.

I Peter 1:22 – Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever.

  • Motive:That He might present it to Himself a glorious church…”

Surely, the ultimate force behind Christ’s motivation to endure the cross was His love for the Father; for faith works by love. But in the sense of achieving a goal, His motive was to attain for Himself a glorious bride. However, to complete all this requires the submission of the bride of Christ which both permits and enables Him to be unto her a refiner and sanctifier. For only when the people of God yield to His Spirit of Truth can He bring them to that place of having an unfeigned love for Him and each other.

Matthew 23:37 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, yet you would not!

Psalms 78:36 – Nevertheless, they did flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues. 37 For their heart was not right with Him, neither were they steadfast in His covenant. 38 But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath. 39 For He remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passes away, and cometh not again. 40 How oft did they provoke Him in the wilderness, and grieve Him in the desert!  41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Our salvation, the work of our sanctification, even our becoming “a glorious church,” is built upon the sole foundation stone of atonement; that by Jesus’s death and the shedding of His blood, we have a propitiation for our sins whereby we can be forgiven. But, though he clearly laid out this foundation, the Apostle Paul firmly admonishes all would-be teachers to take heed how they would build thereon.

I Corinthians 3:9 – For we are laborers together with God: you are God’s husbandry, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now at this point, some learned readers might be tempted to jump ahead, feeling they know all this already. But please, stay with me here. For again, while Paul laid the foundation, which is the only foundation for a saving faith; which is Jesus Christ crucified for our sins, we must not ignore the importance what was built thereupon. For three days later, Jesus Christ was resurrected alive “for our justification.”

Romans 3:24 – Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past [no longer presently being exercised], through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Romans 4:25 – Who [that is, Jesus] was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.

Now the verse above is important because it presents two absolute truths. First, Jesus was delivered to judgment for the penalty of our sins; and second, He was quickened by the Spirit and rose again for our justification. Now some might conclude that the final result of His judgment, death and resurrection is a packaged done deal; that simply since He died we’re forgiven, and simply because He rose from the dead we’re also justified. However, that is not what the verse is stating. Rather, we are being informed as to why He died, and why He was raised from the dead. For our forgiveness and justification, though inseparable, are still two distinct functions in the life of a believer working towards their glorification in Christ. Otherwise, there would be no necessity of the Spirit correlating forgiveness to Jesus’s judgment and justification to His resurrection.

Romans 5:8 – But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him [Who now forever lives]. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His [resurrected and Spirit] life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the [foundation of] atonement.

I Corinthians 15:17 – And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.

Hebrews 5:8 – Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; 9 And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.

So, what does this have to do with our being His “glorious church?” Everything. It is not God’s desire to merely forgive us, but to totally transform us. That we might no longer be wretched men, who like Paul attested he was when he was yet but a Pharisee and persecutor of Jesus Christ and those that believed in Him. For consider Paul’s testimony in Romans Chapter 7 where he states “I am carnal, sold under sin” and “for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do.” Is he not writing specifically here “to them that know the law,” his Jewish brothers who were maintaining a confidence in the law? Does he not ask them “who shall deliver me from the body of this death” and then declares “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord?”

Paul continues expounding upon his freedom from his previous “body of this death” in Chapter 8 of Romans. Paul straightway declares boldly that “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from [both] the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Are we therefore to believe after those words that the Apostle Paul was still a “wretched” man? He has just confidently declared his freedom from the law of sin and death, and that by the resurrected life of Christ he has now been enabled to obediently walk after the Spirit without condemnation? If so, then why does Paul state when defending himself before the high priest, Ananias, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day?” Does this sound like a wretched man? Or later when he is taken before the governor Felix and he declares “herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men,” does that sound like a wretched man? Paul clearly declares “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Now wives, think of your walk with your husbands, is it flesh or is it spirit? Husbands, remember that you too are part of the Bride of Christ; so, is your walk in the flesh or the spirit? For walking after the Spirit equals no condemnation, which equals justification. For the foundation of our justification rests in Christ’s death in obedience to the Father; yet the procuring of our justification comes to us via His Resurrected Spirit. Again, Jesus was delivered for our offenses, yet raised for our justification. With these truths, and what Jesus told the disciples before He was crucified, we can discover why and how His resurrection works toward our justification.

John 16:7 – …I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. 8 And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see Me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. 14 He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, did I say that He shall take of Mine and shall show it unto you.

How could we walk after the Spirit of Truth if Jesus (who is the Truth) had not risen from the dead? But since Jesus did rise from the dead, He sent His Spirit specifically to lead those who would follow Him into all truth. Therefore, if we walk after His Spirit by obediently following, are we not walking and living as did Jesus Christ?

John 5:19 – Then answered Jesus and said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do: for whatsoever things He does, these also the Son does likewise.”

As Christians, we are called to walk even as Christ walked, yet we can only do so by the empowering of His Spirit abiding within us. Therefore, if we are so doing His will, who then can condemn us? For it is He that justifies us in what we do because of our FAITHfulness; yet He could not place His resurrected empowering Spirit within us without the foundation of our atonement purchased through His death.

Romans 8:9 – But you [the true Christian following Christ] are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead [or will die and be replaced] because of sin; but the spirit is [alive] life [*and will be clothed with a new body with immortality] because of righteousness.  11 But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [empower] your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you.  12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, [but debtors] not to the flesh, to live after the flesh, [but debtors to His Spirit within us]. 13 For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you [being a debtor unto Christ] through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.

* (RSV) Romans 8:10 – But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness.

* II Corinthians 5:1 – For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle [our body] were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we [our spirit] shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

*I Corinthians 15:47 – The first man [Adam] is of the earth, earthy: the second man [Jesus] is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

*I Corinthians 15:52 – In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Thus, for us to become His “glorious church,” it is both a necessity and Christ’s desire that we are transformed and renewed in our minds so that in this life we might become partakers of the divine nature revealed to us through His incarnation.

John 1:14 – And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

I Peter 1:21 – Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22 Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently.

II Peter 1:3 – According as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the [faithful] acknowledgment of Him that has called us to glory and virtue:  4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by them you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

However, we can only be so changed by yielding to and walking after the Spirit of Christ; only then can He cause the fullness of His stature to be formed in us if we faithfully walk according to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. This is the call to be “overcomers” that Jesus admonished the believers of the seven churches in Revelation to become, and in so doing inherit all the promises given therein.

  • Scope or extent: “…not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing…”

Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:  7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace 8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness [holiness; divine nature], which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

  • Expectation: “…but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

The glorious news of the Gospel is that God gave us His Son that we might be forgiven and freed from our sins, thus suitable for the indwelling of His Holy Spirit to teach, lead, and enable us in the understanding and execution of His will, that the very divine nature of His Son might be formed in us. For there is no other way for us to be holy even as He is holy.

Ephesians 4:13 – Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

 “Unity of the faith”; works of righteousness, to fruit unto holiness, to unity with God and all other holy beings. All only through Jesus Christ’s atonement and Spirit working within us to bring us unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

I Peter 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you… 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as He which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be you holy for I am holy.

We must be holy, because God is holy. But this holiness is not just imputed holiness such as that which was attributed to inanimate objects like the utensils used in priestly duties within the tabernacle and temple. No, this holiness is the virtue of the Spirit that is to grow in our lives via our labor of love and faithful obedience to our Saviour. Now before reacting to all this sounding like salvation by works, read the following passage.

Romans 6:16 – Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, His servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

The evidence of the resurrected Christ’s Spirit working in us is that we having been “made free from sin” have “become servants to God” and thus have “fruit unto holiness;” the end of which is “everlasting life.” This is the reason why Jesus warned His disciples that “except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Their righteousness was not yielded His Spirit, nor their fruit unto holiness, for “they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and [were therefore] going about to establish their own righteousness, having not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

Yet for us who believe, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believe” because He being the Lamb of God became our propitiation and the securer of our atonement, that He might dwell in us by His Spirit; not just so we can be forgiven, but that we could become justified and partakers of His very nature.

II Peter 1:3 – According as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the earnest expectation of Jesus Christ for all wives and husbands; for this is His earnest expectation for His Bride, that she should be “holy and without blemish.”  Then shall it be said of them, “These are they that feared Him and faithfully served Him. These are the overcomers. These are the holy people of God.”

Revelation 21:3 – And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.

Malachi 3:16 – Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name. 17 And they shall be Mine, said the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that served him. 18 Then shall you return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that served God and him that served Him not.

 

God’s people need to redeem the time and settle it in their hearts to be the living sacrifices that God’s called us to. We are not our own, we have been bought with a price so that we can literally be the Children of God and partake of all His divine virtues. So whether we are wives, husbands, daughters, sons, servants, masters, bond or free, let us serve our Redeemer acceptably. The Lamb deserves His full reward.

Live for the King!

 

Note: I am working on the letters to the seven churches and I hope to post soon. Stay blessable, on fire, and unburnable.

Black and White.

There is a sharp and blaring contrast that divides the blackness of the deceitfulness of sin from the bright white of truth which alone serves as a sure foundation for virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, kindness, godliness, and charity, or the defining characteristics of true and living righteousness which comes through faith in, and faithfulness to, the living God. For faith without faithfulness is merely a personal deception.

When men fail to see the sharp and distinct line, which is unmistakable to the seeing, it is for one of two reasons. Either they are ignorant or they have allowed their own hearts for self-serving reasons to mingle the two together. Like it or not, only in Truth can men truly be free. But that becomes the defining point of when, where, and why evil in the hearts of men compel them to reject the truth of what freedom is, triggering in them a desperate need to redefine it into something it is not.

Black and White Gradient

Freedom is not the liberty to do whatsoever one may want, for in a world where two or more motivations exist, strife and contention would abound and anarchy would rule. No, true freedom exists in the knowledge and ability to do what pleases the Creator who established harmony and not chaos, by defining righteousness as opposed to the unrighteousness of sin. Thus freedom is the “white” power of knowledge and understanding that clearly exposes the “black” deception that kills through sin. It is an understanding that empowers one to walk in righteousness, living by and through oneness with God. But this freedom, true freedom, is only obtainable through a surrendered heart to Jesus who redeems men from sin.

Jesus warned us, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” That narrow path can only be navigated when one sees the sharp contrast that divides the blackness of the deceitfulness of sin from the bright white of truth, for when they are allowed to be mingled in a doubled minded heart, man will always walk in the grey thickness of fog and lose their ability to see whether the ground upon which they stand is surefooting or not.

Therefore, let him who thinks he is safe where he stands take heed lest he fall. For in Christ, everything falls to one side or the other, into the white or the black. There is nothing neutral, nothing, where things of God and the things of the world have merged together into agreement and harmony.  Such is why we pray, “Lead me not into temptation” and “Deliver us from evil,” for unless He guides us by His Spirit of Truth we will surely fall.

This is why we are warned, “There is a way that seems right to man, but the end of it is death.” If you have to ask, or make feeble attempts to defend things in your life with the age old argument of “What is wrong with…?” Then you probably are already deep into the grey fog and should stop and pray that God might graciously restore you to the path of righteousness. For only there can you answer with conviction of truth “What is right with” what you are saying and doing.

Does this offend you? If so you need to ask yourself why.

Fog

.“The one who is not with Me is against Me, and the one who does not gather with Me scatters.”

Jesus taught us that “all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.” This is one of the great distinctions from those of other belief systems clarified by Jesus’ teachings on the oracles of God. Many religions out there aggressively preach messages of constraint, i.e., don’t treat people the way you don’t want to be treated. Often such religions and institutes affix to their messages oppressive obligations of repetitious prayer, have vain ceremonies and require their followers to maintain a cultural appearance of (perceived) piety.

Here Jesus takes us immediately into servitude to others, “Do for others what you would want them to do for you.” All those out there who continually harp on the difference between the law and grace, they would do well to pause and consider Jesus words here “for this is the law and the prophets.” Jesus wasn’t throwing away the law and saying, “From now on, this is what we do.” He was actually warning everyone not to get caught up in mere religion, that this is what God has always really required.

In the Old Testament when Balak, king of Moab, consulted with Balaam what he needed to do that he might know the righteousness of the LORD. Being ignorant to the righteousness of God, he asked what was it he had to give. Listen to his question and Balaam’s reply –

 Micah 6:6 Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? Should  I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?  7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what the LORD requires of you, do justly and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

Sadly, because the churches are no longer teaching from the whole Bible, many people nowadays fail to understand the distinction between the two separate aspects of “The Law,” that part which was fulfilled and done away with, and that part of which not one jot or tittle will pass away until after all is fulfilled.  Let’s look at Jesus words –

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Transplanted…

Posted: October 28, 2017 in Shared Thoughts

Just a quick observation while reading Psalm 1 –

1 – Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.
4  The ungodly are not so…

It is both interesting and noteworthy that the Hebrew word “planted” in verse 3 actually has the suggestion of being “trans-planted.” In Psalm one, we see it as the grace and mercy of God literally taking the sinner, who was living in a parched placed and deprived of the refreshing grace and mercies of God, being now transplanted “by the rivers of water, that [the “sinner” now having been made “saint” may] bring forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither.”

All this we know from the first 2 verses is true, the rebellious sinner repented and now having affection gives glory to his God. For clearly, such affection has one who has acknowledged his sins and turned from them; and now being upright of heart hungers and thirsts for God’s righteousness. This is incontestably evident in that his “delight is in the law of the LORD” and by his separation from the sinners among whom he did once walk, stand, and sit.

But please, bear with me as I ask for your consideration, should we preach only the goodness of God and not the severity? No, God forbid. May we never so fail as to not give the whole counsel of God to sinner and saints alike.

Romans 11:21 – For if God did not spare the natural branches, know then that He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness. That is if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

Please note that huge word, I dare say even the biggest word found in Holy Writ (apart from the various holy names given of our God and Savior). That word being “if,” signifying a term or condition not unlike all those in Deuteronomy 28, or I John 1:7,8. For where there is an “if” there is always a “then” –

I John 1:7 -But IF we walk in the light as He is in the light, [then] we [us and God] have fellowship with one another, and [then] the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 IF we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

For I often tell people, it does not matter how powerful the detergent is you take down to the pig pen, you will never get the pig clean until you take them out of the mud. All you accomplish is making the mud sudsy and wasting the detergent. Grant it, you might manage to get a few pigs to tear up from the soap in their eyes, but a “crying pig” doesn’t translate to a “clean pig.” Therefore, we must acknowledge our sins for what they are, an offensive odor in the nostrils of God and assault on His sovereignty. Only then, after we have confessed our sin in wholehearted agreement with His righteousness, will He forgive us and free us from its bondage so we can begin to walk Him and learn of Him.

We see all this in God’s desire to “trans-plant” His people who cried out unto Him, out of their slavery in Egypt and plant them in the Promise Land. Hence also, Jesus exhortation for us to take His yoke upon us that we might walk with Him, learn of Him, and ultimately become like Him; meek and lowly of heart. But, with many of those, who by the blood of the lamb to the door posts and lintel, that were brought out and baptized unto Moses in both the cloud (spirit) and the Red Sea (water), that many of them still failed to enter in because of their unbelief and murmuring hearts. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11.

So, is there a flipside to this being “transplanted,” where contrasting with the goodness of God we can see His severity? Yes.

Ezekiel 19:10 – Thy mother was like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters. 11 And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches. 12 But SHE WAS PLUCKED UP in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them. 13 AND NOW SHE IS PLANTED IN THE WILDERNESS, in a dry and thirsty ground.

Brothers and sisters, our joy in the Lord is inseparable from our fear of Him; for it is based on the unchanging truth that God will do all that He has said. It is like one coin with two sides; joy/fear. One side with judgement that leads to mercy; hence goodness and joy. The other side being judgment that leads to His wrath for having His goodness and forbearance frustrated. Hence, fear and severity of judgment.

It is an incredible thing to fall into the mighty hand of God, for He alone can save men from their sins and enemies. But we must never forget, our God is a consuming fire. So beware of the divine end-time delusion sent upon the religious hypocrites which have no true delight in the law of the Lord; but rather delightfully walk in the ungodly counsel of false teachers, and stand with popular heretics who not only fear not God, but arrogantly sit in scorning judgment against the righteous.

Isa 66:4 – I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spoke, they did not hear: but they did evil before Mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. 5 Hear the word of the LORD, you that tremble at His word; Your [false] brethren that hated you, that cast you out for My name’s sake, saying, “Let the LORD be glorified.” But He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.

Malachi 3:15 – And now to us the men of pride seem happy; yes, the evil-doers are doing well; they put God to the test and are safe. 16 Then those in whom was the fear of the Lord had talk together: and the Lord gave ear, and it was recorded in a book to be kept in mind before Him, for those who had the fear of the Lord and gave thought to His name. 17 And they will be mine, says the Lord, in the day when I make them My special property; and I will have mercy on them as a man has mercy on his son who is his servant. 18 Then you will again see how the upright man is different from the sinner, and the servant of God from him who is not.

 

Bottom line? Prove all things and live for the Resurrected King of Glory… it will make it easier to die for Him.

 

There was a time when I honestly thought I was a Christian, meaning, that I was a real “follower of Christ.” But like so many others professing Christ nowadays, I believed what so many religious leaders nowadays teach as the Christian’s dilemma, that we will always be stuck in doing those things we hate and many times completely unable to do those right things we want. My question was and still is, just how is that being “free indeed?”

John 8:31 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed ;32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Romans 7:19 – For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

So, how are we supposed to reconcile those words of the Apostle Paul with the words of Jesus? Are we “wretched men,” or are we “free indeed?” Like so many, I was taught that Bible states sin was in me, and therefore, evil was always going to present with me. Thus, like Paul himself supposedly admitted, I too was always going to be sinning, and that like it or not, I am therefore incapable of ever becoming the person I pray to in Christ. That if I want any real peace of mind and heart, I just needed to accept all that as fact and quit being so hard on myself’ I simply need to just accept who I was “in Christ,” otherwise I would never have any peace. To this day I am continuing meet believers who wholly accepted it as sound doctrinal fact  and therefore teach it as so. Consequently, many of these have absolutely no real motivation to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” To me, that is both alarming and frightening, since without holiness no man shall see God on favorable terms.

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Holding the truth in love

Posted: October 2, 2017 in Shared Thoughts

Many sincere Christians have been provoked into righteous indignation by those who reduce what Paul referred to as “the Power of God unto salvation,” the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to nothing more than mere theology. In doing so they rendered it a non-effectual redemption message, because it allows people to hear about God in the flesh dying on the cross for their sins without clarifying the necessities and biblical requirements for a personal willingness to change, obey, follow, and even die to self.

When for the sake of “unity” and “harmony,” true believers make concessions with others  who make a profession of Christ, they allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ is reduced to a mere theology. However, the end result can only be that people will most likely just become members of a congregation rather than maturing members of the Body of Christ. What a snare we fall into when men care about people’s feelings and how big, “successful” and “growing” the congregation is growing, if the precepts of righteousness are having to be cast aside, the Kingdom of God is neglected, and the righteousness of God is not being properly adorn by the body of Christ?

The answer is, carnal people care, people seeking acceptance by other people care, selfish and egotistical people care.

The purpose God has committed the Gospel into the hands of His people is that they might bring the glory due His name through its power to set captives free. However, it is the TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH, and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH of the Gospel that sets men free. For if a person truly believes and obeys the Gospel, it places them in the “congregation of the righteous” and makes them members of the Body of Christ. Thus, true Christians are to be as the Apostle Paul said “faithful stewards” of the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 4:1 – Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

1 Peter 4:17 – For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

Yet, today there are many liberal preachers who are growing mega churches by generating feel-good-about-yourself religious social centers. Such men, and the growing number of women preachers too, are guilty of allowing the biblical requirements of true discipleship to become lost or discarded historical facts instead of present-day necessities for godly Christian lifestyles and fellowship with God.

John 8:31 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered Him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: why do You say, You shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abides not in the house for ever: but the Son abides ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

Luke 14:27 – And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.

Unless believers become true disciples of Christ, (or willingly come under the discipline and chastisement of Christ,) we are not children of God, but bastards (Heb. 12:5-8). Now this is not merely my personal commentary or opinion; this is what the Word of God says, and if we are not disciples, then we’re bastards which have no rightful inheritance to God or His Kingdom.

Hebrew 12:5 – And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of Him: 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives. 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chastens not? 8 But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards and not sons.

Now consider also these words –

Matthew 23:13 – But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

In Jesus’ statement, we can sense His disgust towards the hypocrisy of that the leaders of that present day religious system. It was a corrupt system whose leaders were failing as mediators and intercessors for people unto God, and that because its primary concern was to further their ministries at the expense of other people who were seeking God. Listen carefully to the certain fate of such hypocrites who keep back the truth – theirs is a greater damnation. And please, don’t be so naive as to think that the same hypocritical system isn’t flourishing today in the world’s present religious systems?

Servants of the Lord Jesus Christ who find themselves frustrated with this facade of Christianity being promoted by this pseudo religious system should find some relief in those words of Jesus that such shall receive the greater damnation.” Although God is indeed long-suffering with the misplaced sincerity of the ignorant, He is “angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be” (Psalm 37:9, 10).

While true believers will often be provoked to anger by these hypocrites who keep others from coming to a saving knowledge of the truth, God’s word tells us not to “fret” over these wicked, (Psalm 37:7).

Psalm 37:7 – Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. 10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

However, we must not “give place to the devil” in our frustrations.

Ephesians 4:26 – Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.

We give place to the devil is we engage in open slander or attack these hypocrites in a personal manner. That is not to say we shouldn’t mark these people as those “transgresses, and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, [and therefore] have not God” (II John 9). But we need to be cautious because there is a point when flippant comments become nothing more than a person attack on others. At that point, such words not only cease to benefit the body of Christ, they can and often do cause damage to those who are young in the Lord.

Therefore, don’t neglect your responsibilities as a mature Christian to both God and His Church. As true believers and disciples of Christ we must both in wisdom and with restraint “mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). BUT careful not to do so with any form of self-gratifying, personal vengeance such as slander or even an abusive rebuttal — even though you are correct. Truth must never to be used as a means of personal vengeance for the enemies of the Gospel are actually opposed to Jesus, not us. Their seeming opposition to us is only because they in opposition to the true God – just as they should only receive you IF they truly receive Jesus.

Jesus said, “If the world hate you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me” (John 15:18-21).

We must hold forth the truth in love and only use it as a weapon “against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We are never to use the truth to viciously lash out at flesh and blood. Yes, many who hear it will discover the truth is in opposition to what they are doing, but we should never stand in physical opposition waving as it were the truth as a sword in the face of our neighbors. Remember, the truth is for men is intended to be a lamp unto their feet and a light for their path. For it is given to be the power of God unto salvation for those that believe  and follow it. It is meant to bring life through redemption and deliverance available in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, let’s earnestly, yet humbly, contend for the faith and expel the lies by presenting the truth in love for the King who has saved us, and in love for those who have yet to hear and believe.

Live for the King!

 

 

Are you looking to improve your walking with God?

Here is an old book called “Walking with God” well worth reading. It was written Richard Baxter and first published in 1825. I had ordered this book since I was familiar with Richard Baxter’s work, having read “The Reformed Pastor,” a book which in my opinion is a must read for every man who has taken to himself the position of a “pastor,” or aspiring to be a leader or watchman in the church.

1Timothy 3:1 – This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

However, when I got my copy of “Walking with God,” the print was very small and poor, making it difficult to read. So, I determinedly searched, found, and downloaded the book in order to have ease of reading. Naturally, the book, due to its era of being written utilized words and scriptural references in archaic formats, which I have no issue with. But wanting to make the book available to others which might be burden down by such, I slightly edited these aspects so as to provide family members, friends, and other readers a more contemporary format. Don’t worry, the book is in common domain.

Examples of editing: knocketh/knocks;  obeyeth/obeys;  shalt/shall;  seeketh/seeks;  saith/said/says; etc., etc.

Again, I lightly edited the book solely for added ease of reading and studying and can assure you that Richard Baxter’s original message and intent remains spiritually unchanged, solid, and intact. I know this book will greatly benefit, convict, instruct, challenge, and generally will just greatly bless anyone truly desiring more “meat” in their spiritual diet.

You should be able to download the PDF to your own device for further convenience.

WALKING WITH GOD

Format for your iPhone or other smart phones.

WALKING WITH GOD for Phone

Enjoy!

A short sermon I preached from about 5 years ago…

 
“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (1 Corinthians 16:22)

Whom shall God teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breast. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. (Isaiah 28:9, 10)

 

In order for anyone to understand anything, they must first be made aware of some basic principles. In math, for instance, one could not very well understand multiplication without first understanding addition.

True understanding can only come from knowledge founded upon God’s precepts. Therefore, this post is an effort to present those precepts that are necessary to know in order to understand the role of male and female, and “why” God created us such.

God created humanity to be both male and female so they could “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.” In Titus chapter 2 there are many examples for this are given, husbands and wives, masters and servants, young to elders. We especially can even see it in children honoring/obeying their parents according to the commandment with the promise of a long life and how as God’s children if we honor/obey Him through our faith then we too have the promise of eternal life.

To begin, we must first acknowledge how it was the male who was first created in the image of God with a position on the earth similar to God in the heaven. Even nowadays, when in a right relationship with God, a man will faithfully represent God in all his dealings, both in his own household and with his neighbor.

Since true love and commitment must be of one’s free will, God designed humanity with the ability to choose to be either His glory or His shame in the earth. When a man (male) humbles himself and chooses to submit to the precepts of God, he becomes the glory of God in the earth. His life will then both affirm and reflect both the righteous judgments and attributes of God.

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That’s what God’s word tells us.  But many today aren’t “fleeing” from it, rather they are for all intents and purposes running madly to it. For some insane reason people are literally racing to expose and open themselves up to everything and anything sexual, as if somehow it is going to be the answer to their loneliness or boredom or their oppressive sense of rejection and insignificance. It has become so maddening that even some so called friends frequently engage in sexual immorality and openly make and accept challenges to do the most profane things with as many partners to see who can outperform the other. This is not only madness; this is as close as a society can get to mass suicide. Yes, you read it right, mass suicide.

Perhaps it is because people are just so willfully ignorant of God’s word or so insecure having grown up in such a self-centered generation where almost everyone seems infatuated with seeking their own gratification at the expense of whoever and/or whatever. The thought of it almost no longer shocks some people that there are those who are literally drugging their supposed “dates” and then raping them and then allowing others to rape them as well. These human beasts are literally doing this openly amongst their select group of perverted friends in a celebratory fashion. Packs of humanity who outwardly look like everyone else while actively preying sexually on others, and we’re not even off the subject of “straight sex!” All the while there are others in more acceptable positions that have established themselves as “respectable” in the community who are so slavishly engrossed in their own sexual decadence that they cannot but run to every opportunity of fornication regardless the risk to their families and careers . . . all for a moment of unbridled indulgence that promises only to send their world crashing to the ground all around them while the whole world sees and continues to be none the wiser. Do you really think these people started off this enslaved and wicked?

If this is touching you then please listen, God’s word tells us as plainly as it can, “Can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.” Man cannot indulge in sexual sins and not do serious harm to his own self, physically (STD’s), emotionally and spiritually.

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Jesus Christ the man

Posted: April 29, 2017 in Shared Thoughts

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

It’s that time of year again when beleivers celebrate the Lord’s resurrection and the events ocurring there about. One of the techings that seems connected with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is how “he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” However, many believers miss what Peter was actually referring to in that verse, and that my firends is the topic of this post. But first, let’s start this topic off with looking at a few verses concerning God’s prophets and the Spirit of Christ for some context and supportive references –

II Peter 1:21 – For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

I Peter 1:10 – Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

“Holy men of God” were “the prophets” through which “God spoke” as they “were moved by the Holy Ghost,” and they were only speaking that which “the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify.”

Such is why the Apostle Paul made his statement to the Galatians that, as a minister of the Gospel, he was crucified with Christ and thus Christ lives in and through him. But Paul doesn’t stop with applying this principle only to himself, for later he stresses how this principle applies to all who are Christ’s. For if we are truly “in Christ Jesus,” it is only because His Spirit lives in us; and if we are ever to truly be ministering life through the Gospel, it is because Christ is ministering it through us.

Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 5:24 – And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

For this reason, Paul testified to both the Thessalonians and the Corinthians that what he preached unto them was not merely the word of a man, but rather the very word of God. For Paul testifies what he had spoken was through the leading of the Spirit of Christ that dwelt within him.

I Thessalonians 2:13 – For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

II Corinthians 13:3 – Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Below another passage further establishes this truth that it was Jesus Christ himself, who by His Spirit, was ministering through the prophets of old. Unfortunately, this passage has also been greatly misunderstood by many throughout the centuries. Sadly, this confusion has given way for many erroneous teachings to creep into the church about Jesus, His death, and the completeness of the work of the cross.

I Peter 3:18 – For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which [Spirit] also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The “popular” understanding of this verse is that after Jesus died, He then went to hell and preached to the spirits/souls that were in prisoned there; and some believe and assert/teach that of those in hell that “believed” what Jesus preached unto them were then set free. Added to these interpretations are other assertions such as Jesus had to die spiritually, taste hell itself, and be born again in order to defeat the devil on his ground, all this so that Jesus could take back from the devil the keys of death and hell. All of which are false.

Many believers raised in traditional churches assume these beliefs to be credible because they lack an understanding of the scriptures and the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed they may have been compelled to memorize. For when it states that Jesus was “crucified, buried, descended into hell and rose again the third day,” they assume it means Jesus literally went to hell, the place prepared for the angels that had sinned. However, this reference to the death, burial, and resurrection which is a true tenet of the Christian faith actually refers to Jesus’ body being crucified, prepared for burial, and placed in the grave for three days after which He resurrected.

Psalms 16:10 – For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

This psalm is speaking about the physical body of Jesus not being left in the grave to decay, or “see corruption.” It is not speaking about Jesus going, either physically or spiritually, into the hell which was prepared for the devil and his fallen angels. The word here translated “hell” in English is the Hebrew word “sheol” which was used sixty-five times in the Old Testament; thirty-three times implying the “grave” and thus correctly translated.

Adding to the confusion is how many people falsely believe that Hell is the headquarters of Lucifer, when actually it is a prison God made for the fallen angels and those who would imitate their lawlessness. The fallen angels and demons are terrified of hell. For when Jesus cast out demons out of the possessed Gadarenes man, they were terrified of hell and fearfully inquired if He had come to torment them before their time by sending them there.

Matthew 8:29 – And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?

Except for those fallen angels which were long ago cast down for their particular sins and are already bound in chains of darkness in Tartarus, the remaining principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world are still loose and share the sentiments of demons having a fear for the torment of hell, for they know this prison was created for them.

II Peter 2:4 – …God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.

Since Jesus created all things it would be foolish to assume He needed to go to hell in order to get the keys of death and hell, for He has always possessed them.

Psalms 68:20 – He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.

Revelation 1:18 – I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

One only needs to listen carefully to what Jesus is saying to correctly discern what He is not saying. For many have become so affixed by popular theology that they can only read the Holy Scriptures in the light of the theology they were taught: rather than proving their theology by the light of the scriptures.  For in Revelation 1:18, Jesus clearly says “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” That is because once again to “confirm the covenant” He tells us that it is He who has “the keys of hell [meaning the grave] and death.”  After His death, Jesus ripped the veil of the Temple in two and “the graves were opened.” However, it was not until after His resurrection that “many bodies of the saints… came out of the graves… and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

Matthew 27:50 – Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Ezekiel 37:12 – Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put My spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

While there are conflicting opinions on just who those saints were that “came out of the graves… and went into the holy city and appeared unto many,” I do not believe that these were the old patriarchal saints. The scripture plainly states that “many bodies of the saints which slept arose,” making it evident that not all of “the saints which slept arose.” Thus, I am persuaded these were probably saints who had recently died; for the patriarchal saints would not have been known by their appearance as there were no photos of them whereby the townspeople would have readily recognized them. Rather these were saints who like Lazarus were brought back to life in their mortal bodies. Incontestably, Jesus was the “firstfruits from the dead,” which means that all those who have died in faith are still awaiting the fulfillment of the covenant to be resurrected with their own glorified, immortal bodies at His return.

Hebrews 11:39 – And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

So let’s look afresh once more at that greatly misunderstood passage in I Peter and see if we cannot properly discern the apostle’s meaning.

I Peter 3:18 – For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

First it is clear how Jesus suffered and “was put to death in the flesh,” but was then “quicken by the Spirit.” That phrase means His body was not resurrected by the power of that earthen vessel of humanity, rather by the Spirit of Christ that dwelt within. Paul had stated virtually the same thing in his Epistle to the Romans, which again can also be viewed as “confirming the covenant.”

Romans 8:11 – But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Next, take notice in I Peter 3:18 how Peter states “by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison.”  What Peter is saying is that it was by the Spirit that Jesus once went and preached to the spirits in prison and not in His bodily form. This reveals that it was not Jesus the “Son of man” which went somewhere and preached, but rather the Spirit of Christ.”

Also, unless we pay careful attention to just whose “spirits” these are that are “in prison,” then like so many others have we too will run the risk of jumping to all sorts of erroneous conclusions; which is completely unnecessary since Peter clearly states who they are. These are the spirits of those “which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”

Therefore, these spirits are not all the lost souls of humanity which died from the time of Adam to Christ; rather these are only the spirits of those who were alive during those the days “while the ark was a preparing.” This is an excellent example of how we must be careful not to apply content beyond what is written to the scriptures. So why then does it say it was Christ who preached to those souls which were alive in those last days of Noah while the ark was being built? Perhaps it will help to review what Peter said earlier in the context of this very epistle.

I Peter 1:10 – Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

Not only was Noah a preacher of righteousness, he doubtlessly was one of these prophets Peter was referring to who preached by “the Spirit of Christ which was in” him. Thus it was Noah who preached unto them “which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah,” but the people rejected what the Spirit of Christ had preached to them through the Prophet Noah and therefore they perished; their bodies decayed and returned into the earth but their “spirits” are now “in prison.”

No, Peter wasn’t saying after Jesus died that He went to hell to preach, for anyone entering into hell and offering any hope to those spirits would immediately find everyone grasping at any possibility of escape. Rather, Peter was affirming the omnipotence of Christ, that though He was a man who suffered and died in the flesh, He was much more, He was a quickening Spirit in Noah through which He warned the world that then was to flee the wrath to come, of which only the few righteous were spared while the disobedient perished.

Thus, we have a sound scriptural account of Jesus preaching before Israel was a nation or there was a Holy City of Jerusalem and Temple, even before the time of His own incarnation. Why then would we fail to believe that the Spirit of Christ will again be there in like power and authority via the Two Witnesses at the next coming end of the world which is now cresting our own horizon?

II Peter 3:5 – For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

These Two Witnesses will know exactly who they are; and by “the Spirit of Christ which is in them” they will testify in the last days how they are going be martyred and how they too, just like Jesus, will be raised from the dead. Though their ministry and testimony of Jesus the Christ will absolutely infuriate the world and most of the Jewish people, a remnant of the Jews will nonetheless believe and having been pierced in their hearts and convicted by the Sword of Truth will be watching there slain bodies and witness their resurrection from the dead. This remnant are those who will give glory unto God after their resurrection once again confirms the covenant of God, perhaps for the very last time before the whole world.

Revelation 11:7 – And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. 11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

The only way these Jews, or any one, can give glory unto God is to honor the Son, even as they would honor the Father. Thus, this remnant gives glory unto the Son as their Redeemer, Christ the Lord. The fulfillment of this will be the prophesied in-grafting of the Jews back into the vine, resulting in the completion of the angel Gabriel’s prophecy to Daniel by ushering in the fulfillment of the covenant, the resurrection of the dead.

Romans 11:15 – For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

It’s time to be looking up, for our redemption draws near…

 

(Sadly, many are completely ignorant of the extent of the various rebellions and sins of the fallen angels, including their taking daughters of men for wives and their offspring, the nephilim; a subject far too vast to cover here. I would simply recommend two books on the subject which are available online in PDF format for those interested. The first would be “The Fallen Angels and the Heroes of Mythology” by Rev. John Fleming, A.B., published in 1879. The second would be “Earth’s Earliest Ages” by G.H. Pember, published 1889.)

Part 2 of 2  of my series on hell 

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

God’s word is more glorious than even the wonder of birth; for in it He has given us some incredible insights into His own heart’s desire. His word is not merely a bunch of rules and laws made to regulate every aspect of men’s behavior and to oppress their freedom in life. No, God’s word is actually the only true wellspring of life, in addition to the only effectual means for guarding what He gives unto His people. Some may immediately feel compelled to challenge that statement, but I am not speaking about the bible you have on your shelf, I am speaking of that which came by unction of God’s Holy Spirit unto His prophets and apostles, that which is spirit and not merely “letter.”

The bibles we have are but books made of paper and ink, filled with letters that cannot do anything of their own, there is no power in them anymore than a flashlight has the ability to illuminate without batteries being in it. It is only a means, a tool whereby the supremacy of God’s spoken word which is ultimately spirit can be revealed unto us . . . that is if and when our heart is in the right condition.

Through God’s holy word comes first the revelation of His supremacy and preeminence, that “God is,” meaning there is in fact a God to whom all men are accountable. Secondly it teaches us how He has created all things in a state of “good.” God created the realms for life to flourish, the sea, the air and the land and then brought forth all manner of life and gave them not just the command to be “fruitful and multiply,” no much more than that, God gave forth the blessing of life.

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My Greatest Prayer…

Posted: August 8, 2016 in Shared Thoughts

My greatest prayer is that all the members of my family would come to a personal revelation of not only God’s great love for the world, but for each of them individually. That even if it was only them, God would have still sent His son and Jesus would have given Himself for them with no less resolve then He did for the whole world.

So while alone watching last night a display of God’s majesty in a lightning storm off in the distant sky I begin to think of that GREAT love wherewith He has loved me and faithfully continues to reveal Himself to me. As I sat alone in the dark I began to think on those two words, “Great Love,” and as I did with each letter in the word “great” I began to how they define that love God desires to share with those who would only stop and listen to Him.

For the letter “G” it was obvious that God’s love is most evident in that He “gave” His Son, but also in that He gave us life, and the ability to learn and love. With that I thanked God that He gave me a wife where I might grasp the both the joys and sorrows of love, in having become one with my wife in so many ways that I only feel fulfilled as a man with we’re side by side and the sorrow of having to be apart, be it circumstantial or because of a disagreement that needs to be worked through and resolved.

I also love the fact that God designed us male and female and that the celebration of our love results in the growth of our family and that God has blessed us with our four sons. Each of them unique and special, stirring with in my heart a special pride and joy in each of them, which helps me to realize how God is able to appreciate all of us as well as delight in everyone who comes to Him in faith in a personal and intimate way.

With the letter “R” there were many aspects of His love that came to mind. The first is that while I was dead in my trespasses and sins He still “reached” out for me and like a loving shepherd He lifted me out of a pit of despair and set my feet back on solid ground. After making so many mistakes and having endless regrets, He was faithful to “repair” so many things and relationships that I was sure had been hopelessly damaged, likewise He gently began to “restore” my soul by showing me the things in my heart that were so contrary to Him and life, so that I could see the destructive attitudes of my heart and the deceitfulness of my old desires.

It was only then that I could cry out in agreement with His judgments which enabled me to yield myself wholly to Him at which point He mercifully began to change my heart into one that truly hungered and thirst for His will to be done in my life. But of course there have been countless times I have failed Him and have wept before in anger at myself, only to have Him “renew” me with His presence afresh as He “replaced” my sorrow with gladness time after time.

With the letter “E” comes the revelation, or “enlightenment” that God’s in His love has given me. So many things were so beyond my comprehension that I couldn’t even have asked the proper question to get the answers He has given me to so many problems in my life. He truly knows my needs before I do and in His love has given me “everything” I need. In those trying times of temptations and hardship, God has often “enabled” me to endure such trials patiently, teaching me that I can trust Him always to see me through to where He desires to lead me.

With the letter “A” my first thought was how He has “always” loved me and been there calling me unto Himself. Yet in my old pride of life I stubbornly went my own way struggling to get by and often had to do without even the basics at times struggling to make ends meet. But having come to a personal realization of His great love for me I have learned that He truly does desire to give me “abundant” life, but that it is wisely hidden within Him and His great love. Sadly, so many cannot see what I now see with crystal clarity, that if God has given me His Son, He will also freely give all things that pertain to life and godliness.

Last, but no least, the letter “T.” I have learned God’s love always comes through for His children perfectly on “time.” That so many times I was impatiently wondering where God was in a situation in my life, and just when I was about out of hope and confidence, He was there right on time meeting the situation with precision in both time and substance leaving me ashamed I had been so weak in my faith. But through it all He “taught” me that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I’ve learned His ears hears my cries and in His great love for me He even saves my tears, for even they are precious to Him: especially when they are tears of sorrow shared by His own heart for those who do not know Him as I do.

However, what would probably be greatest thing about God’s great love for me, He constantly works in His grace to “transform” me into the very image of His only begotten Son. To me it is absolutely inconceivable, yet God in His great love for me has allowed me a few precious moments of seeing how Christ is being formed in me; and I am confident what He has begun in me, He will complete.

So, I will again say, my greatest prayer is that each member of my family is that they too will come to their own personal revelation of God’s great love. I earnestly pray that a thousand years from now we will all be standing together worshipping our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Oh God, I pray Lord Jesus, let the circle be unbroken…