Archive for the ‘Shared Thoughts’ Category

.The is a lecture by Charles Finney originally titled with the verse below.

“Can two walk together except they be agreed?”

 

In the holy Scriptures, we often find a negative thrown into the form of an interrogation. The text is an instance of this kind; so that we are to understand the prophet as affirming that two cannot walk together except they be agreed.

For two to be agreed, implies something more than to be agreed in theory, or in understanding; for we often see persons who agree in theory, but who differ vastly in feeling and practice. Their understandings may embrace the same truths, while their hearts and practice will be very differently affected by them. Saints and sinners often embrace in theory the same religious creed, while it is plain that they differ widely in feeling and practice.

We have reason to believe that holy angels and devils apprehend and embrace intellectually the same truths, and yet how very differently are they affected by them.

These different effects, produced in different minds by the same truths, are owing to the different state of the heart or affections of the different individuals. Or, in other words, the difference in the effect consists in the different manner in which the person receives these truths, or feels and acts in view of them. It is to be observed, also, that the same things and truths will affect the same mind very differently at different times. This, too, is owing to the different state of the affections at these times. Or rather, this difference consists in the different manner in which the mind acts at these times. All pleasure and pain–all happiness and misery–all sin and holiness–have their seat in, and belong to, the heart or affections. All the satisfaction or dissatisfaction, pain or pleasure, that we feel in view of any truth or thing presented to our minds, depends entirely upon the state of our affections at the time, and consists in these affections. If it fall in with, and excite, and feed pleasurable affections, we are pleased of course; for in these pleasurable affections our pleasure or happiness consists. The higher, therefore, these affections are elevated by the presentation of any thing or any truth to our minds, the greater our pleasure is. But if the thing or truth do not fall in with our affections, it cannot please us; if it be aside from our present state of feeling, and we refuse to change the course of our feelings, we shall either view it with indifference, our affections being otherwise engaged, or if it press upon us, we shall turn from and resist it. If it be not only aside from the subject that now engages our affections, but opposed to it, we shall and must (our affections remaining the same) resist and oppose it.

We not only feel uninterested or displeased and disgusted when a subject different from that which at present engages our affections is introduced, and crowded upon us, but if any thing even upon the same subject that is far above or below our tone of feeling is presented, and if our affections remain the same, and we refuse to be enlisted and brought to that point, we must feel uninterested, and perhaps grieved and offended. If the subject be exhibited in a light that is below our present tone of feeling, we cannot be interested until it come up to our feelings; and if the subject in this cooling, and to us degraded point of view, is held up before our mind, and we struggle to maintain these high affections, we feel displeased because our affections are not fed but opposed. If the subject be presented in a manner that strikes far above our tone of feeling, and our affections grovel and refuse to arise, it does not fall in with and feed our affections, therefore we cannot be interested; it is enthusiasm to us, we are displeased with the warmth in which we do not choose to participate, and the farther it is above our temperature the more we are disgusted.

These are truths to which the experience of every man will testify, as they hold good upon every subject, and under all circumstances, and are founded upon principles incorporated with the very nature of man. Present to the ardent politician his favourite subject in his favourite light, and when it has engaged his affections, touch it with the fire of eloquence, cause it to burn and blaze before his mind, and you delight him greatly. But change your style and tone–let down your fire and feeling–turn the subject over–present it in a drier light–he at once loses nearly all his interest, and becomes uneasy at the descent. Now change the subject–introduce death and solemn judgment–he is shocked and stunned; press him with them, he is disgusted and offended.

Now, this loss of interest in his favourite subject is the natural consequence of taking away from before the mind that burning view of it that poured fire through his affections; this disgust that he feels at the change of the subject, is the natural consequence of presenting something that was at the time directly opposed to the state of his feelings. Unless he chooses to turn his mind as you change the subject, he cannot but be displeased.

A refined musician is listening almost in rapture to the skilful execution of a fine piece of harmony. Throw in discords upon him; he is in pain in a moment. Increase and prolong the dissonance, and he leaves the room in disgust. You are fond of music; but you are at present melancholy–you are in great affliction–you are inclined to weep–the plaintive tones of an Æolian harp light softly upon your ear, and melt around your heart–your tears flow fast–but now the din of trumpets, drums, and cymbals, and the piercing fife in mirthful quicksteps breaks upon your ear, and drowns the soft breathings of the harp–you feel distressed–you turn away and stop your ears. The plaintive harp touched you in a tender point, it fell in with your feelings; therefore you were gratified. The martial music opposed your state of feeling; you were too melancholy to have your affections elevated and enlivened by it: it therefore necessarily distressed you.

Your heart is glowing with religious feelings–you are not only averse to the introduction of any other subject at that time, but are uninterested with any thing upon the same subject that is far below the tone of your affections. Suppose you hear a cold man preach or pray; while he remains cold, and you are warm with feeling, you are not interested, for your affections are not fed and cherished unless he comes up to your tone; if this does not happen you are distressed, and perhaps disgusted with his coldness. This is a thing of course. Suppose, like Paul, “you have great heaviness and continual sorrow in your heart” for dying sinners; that “the Spirit helpeth your infirmities, making intercessions for you, according to the will of God, with groanings that cannot be uttered:” in this state of mind, you hear a person pray who does not mention sinners–you hear a minister preach who says but little to them, and that in a heartless, unmeaning manner; you are not interested–you cannot be, feeling as you do, but you are grieved and distressed. Suppose you are lukewarm, and carnal and earthly in your affections; you hear one exhort, or pray, or preach, who is highly spiritual and fervent and affectionate; if you cling to your sins, and your affections will not rise; if, through prejudice, or pride, or the earthly and sensual state of your affections, you refuse to kindle and to grasp the subject, although you admit every word he says, yet you are not pleased. He is above your temperature; you are annoyed with the manner and fire and spirit of the man. The higher he rises, if your affections grovel, the farther apart you are, and the more you are displeased. While your heart is wrong the nearer right he is, the more he burns upon you; if your heart will not enkindle, the more you are disgusted.

Now, in both these cases, they whose affections stand at or near the same point with him who speaks or prays, will not feel disturbed, but pleased. Those that are lukewarm will listen to the dull man, and say, “‘T is pretty well.” Their pleasure will be small, because their affections are low; but, upon the whole, they are pleased. Those who have no affections at the time, will, of course, not feel at all. All who have much feeling, will listen with grief and pain. These would listen to the ardent man with great interest. Let him glow and blaze, and they are in a rapture. But the carnal and cold-hearted, while they refuse to rise, are necessarily disturbed and offended with his fire.

From these remarks we may learn,

First, why persons differing in theory upon doctrinal points in religion, and belonging to different denominations, will often, for a time, walk together in great harmony and affection. It is because they feel deeply, and feel alike. Their differences are in a great measure lost or forgotten, while they fall in with each other’s state of feeling; they will walk together while in heart they are agreed.

Again–We see why young converts love to associate with each other, and with those other older saints who have most religious feeling; these walk together because they feel alike.

Again–We see why lukewarm professors and impenitent sinners have the same difficulties with means in revivals of religion. We often hear them complain of the manner of preaching and praying. Their objections are the same, they find fault with the same things, and use the same arguments in support of their objections. The reason is, that at that time, their affections are nearly the same; it is the fire and the spirit that disturbs their frosty hearts. For the time being they walk together, for in feeling they are agreed.

Again–We see why ministers and Christians visiting revivals, often, at first, raise objections to the means used, and cavil, and sometimes takes sides with the wicked. The fact is, coming, as they often do, from regions where there are no religious revivals at the time, they frequently feel reproved and annoyed by the warmth and spirit which they witness. The praying, preaching, and conversation, are above their present temperature. Sometimes, prejudice on account of its being amongst a different denomination from them, or prejudice against the preacher or people, or perhaps pride, or envy, or worldliness, or something of the kind, chains down their affections that they do not enter into the spirit of the work. Now, while their hearts remain wrong, they will, of course, cavil; and the nearer right any thing is, the more spiritual and holy, so much the more it must displease them, while their affections grovel. *([footnote]We do not mean to justify any thing that is wrong and unscriptural in the use of means to promote revivals of religion. Nor do we pretend that every thing is right, that may, and often does give offence. We know that many things may exist, and while human nature remains as it is, will exist in revivals, that are to be lamented, and ought, as carefully as possible, to be corrected. But we do hold it as a certain truth, that while any heart is wrong, any thing that falls in with it, and pleases it, must be wrong also, as certainly as that one false weight can be balanced only by another just as false: and while a heart is in this state, the best things will be the most certain to offend. And if this heart, remaining wrong, could be brought in view of a state of things as perfect as heaven, it would blaspheme, and be filled with the torments of hell. The only remedy is to call upon him to “repent and make to him a new heart;” and when he has done this, right things will please him, and not before.)

Again–We see why ministers and private Christians differ about prudential measures. The man who sees and feels the infinitely solemn things of eternity, will necessarily judge very differently of what is prudent or imprudent, in the use of means, from one whose spiritual eye is almost closed. The man whose heart is breaking for perishing sinners, will, of course, deem it prudent, and right, and necessary, to “use great plainness of speech,” and to deal with them in a very earnest and affectionate manner. He would deem a contrary course highly imprudent and dangerous and criminal. While he who feels but little for them, and sees but little of their danger, will satisfy himself with using very different means, or using them in a very different manner, and will, of course, entertain very different notions of what is prudent. Hence we see the same person having very different notions of prudence, and consequently practising very differently, at different times. Indeed, a man’s notions of what is prudent; as to means and measures in revivals of religion, will depend, and, in a great measure, ought to depend, on the state of his own affections, and the state of feeling with which he is surrounded. For, what would be prudent under some circumstances, would be highly imprudent in others. What would be prudent in one man, might be highly imprudent in another. What would be prudent for a man in a certain state of his affections, and under certain circumstances, would be the height of imprudence, in the same person, in a different state of feeling, and under other circumstances. It is, in most cases, extremely difficult to form, and often very wrong publicly to express, an opinion condemning a measure as imprudent, (which is not condemned by the word of God,) without being in a situation to enter into the feelings and circumstances of the individual and people at the time the measure was adopted. If Christians and ministers would keep these things in mind, a great many uncharitable and censorious speeches would be avoided, and much injury to the cause of truth and righteousness would be prevented.

Again–We see why lukewarm Christians and sinners are not disturbed by dull preaching or praying. It does not take hold on their feelings at all, and therefore does not distress nor offend them. Hence we see that if, in a revival of religion, when cold and wicked hearts are disturbed with plain and pungent dealing, a dull minister is called upon, and preaches to the people, the wicked and cold-hearted will praise his preaching. This shows why, in seasons of revival, we often hear sinners and lukewarm Christians wish that their minister would preach as he used to; that he would be himself again. The reason of this is plain; he did not use to move them, but now his fire and spirit and pungency annoy them, and disturb their carnal slumbers.

Again–We may here learn how to estimate the opinions of ministers and Christians, and our own opinions, when our affections are in a bad state. How does such a man approve of what was said or done? What is his opinion as to means and measures? &c. are questions often asked, and answered, and the answer depended upon as high authority, without any regard to the state of that man’s affections at the time. Now, in most cases, we do utterly wrong to place much confidence in our own opinions, or in the opinions of others, as to prudential measures, unless we have evidence of the right state of our or their affections; for it is almost certain, that should our affections alter, we should view things in a different light, and consequently change our opinion. Christians would do well to remember and adopt the resolution of President Edwards, “that he would always act as he saw to be most proper when he had the clearest views of the things of religion.”

Again–We learn why churches are sometimes convulsed by revivals of religion. In most churches there are probably more or less hypocrites, who, when revivals are in a measure stripped of animal feeling, and become highly spiritual, are disturbed by the fire and spirit of them, and inwardly, and sometimes openly oppose them. But when a part only of the real Christians in a church awake from their slumbers and become very spiritual and heavenly, and the rest remain carnal and earthly in their affections, the church is in danger of being torn in sunder. For as those who are awake become more engaged, more spiritual and active, the others, if they will not awake, will be jealous and offended, and feeling rebuked by the engagedness of others, will cavil, and find themselves the more displeased, as those that are more spiritual rise farther above them. The nearer to a right state of feeling the engaged ones arrive, the farther apart they are; and as they ascend on the scale of holy feeling, if others will not ascend with them, the almost certain consequence will be that these will descend, until they really have no community of feeling, and can no longer walk together, because they are not agreed. This state of feeling in a church, calls for great searchings of heart in all its members, and although greatly to be dreaded and deeply to be lamented, when it exists, is easily accounted for upon these plain principles of our nature, and is what sometimes will happen, in spite of the sagacity of men or angels to prevent it.

Again–We see why ministers are sometimes unsettled by revivals. It will sometimes happen, without any imprudence on the part of the minister, that many of his church and congregation will not enter into the spirit of a revival. If his own affections get enkindled, and he feels very much for his flock and for the honour of his Master, he will most assuredly press them with truth, and annoy them by his spirit, and pungency, and fire, until he offends them. If they feel wrong, the more powerfully and irresistibly he forces truth upon them, so much the more, of course, unless their feelings alter, he will offend them, and in the end, perhaps, find it expedient to leave them. All this may happen, and be as right and necessary in a minister as it was for Paul to leave places and people, when divers were hardened, and contradicted, and blasphemed, and spoke evil of this way before the multitude.

Another case may occur, where the church and people may awake while the shepherd sleeps and will not awake. This will inevitably alienate their affections from him, and destroy their confidence in him. In either of these cases, they may find themselves unable to walk together, because they are not agreed. In the former case, let the minister obey the command of Christ, and “shake off the dust of his feet, for a testimony against them.” In the latter, let the church shake off their sleepy minister; they are better without him than with him. “Wo to the shepherds that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye feed not the flock. Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I am against the shepherds, and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock, neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.” Ezek. xxxiv. 2,3,9,10. President Edwards says–

“Though ministers preach never so good doctrine, and be never so painful and laborious in their work, yet if they show to their people that they are not well affected to this work, but are doubtful and suspicious of it, they will be very likely to do their people a great deal more hurt than good. For the very frame of such a great and extraordinary work of God, if their people were suffered to believe it to be his work, and the example of other towns, together with what preaching they might hear occasionally, would be likely to have a much greater influence upon the minds of their people to awaken and animate them in religion, than all other labours with them. Besides, their minister’s opinion will not only beget in them a suspicion of the work they hear of abroad, whereby the mighty hand of God that appears in it, loses its influence upon their minds; but it will also tend to create a suspicion of every thing of the like nature that shall appear among themselves, as being something of the same distemper that is become so epidemical in the land. And what is this, in effect, but to create a suspicion of all vital religion, and to put the people upon talking against and discouraging it, wherever it appears, and knocking it on the head as fast as it rises. We, who are ministers, by looking on this work from year to year with a displeased countenance, shall effectually keep the sheep from their pasture, instead of doing the part of the shepherds by feeding them; and our people had a great deal better be without any settled minister at all, at such a day as this.

“We who are in this sacred office had need to take heed what we do, and how we behave ourselves at this time; a less thing in a minister will hinder the work of God, than in others. If we are very silent, or say but little about the work, in our public prayers and preaching, or seem carefully to avoid speaking of it in our conversation, it will be interpreted by our people, that we who are their guides, to whom they are to have their eye for spiritual instruction, are suspicious of it; and this will tend to raise the same suspicions in them; and so the forementioned consequences will follow. And if we really hinder and stand in the way of the work of God, whose business above all others it is to promote it, how can we expect to partake of the glorious benefits of it? And, by keeping others from the benefit, we shall keep them out of heaven; therefore those awful words of Christ to the Jewish teachers, should be considered by us, Matt. xxiii.13. ‘Wo unto you, for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.’ If we keep the sheep from their pasture, how shall we answer it to the great Shepherd, who has bought the flock with his precious blood, and has committed the care of them to us? I would humbly desire of every minister that has thus long remained disaffected to this work, and has had contemptible thoughts of it, to consider whether he has not hitherto been like Michael, without any child, or at least in a great measure barren and unsuccessful in his work: I pray God it may not be a perpetual barrenness, as hers was.”

Again–We may see that carnal professors and sinners have no difficulty with animal feeling. It is not uncommon in revivals of religion to hear a great deal of opposition made to what they term animal feeling. That much of this kind of feeling is sometimes excited in revivals of religion is not denied, nor is it strange, nay, it is impossible that real religious affections should be excited to any considerable degree, without exciting the animal sympathies and sensibilities; and to wonder at this, or to object to a revival on this account, is palpably absurd. But, in most cases, it is not the animal feeling that can give offence, for so far as these feelings are concerned, there is a perfect community of feeling between saints and sinners, and carnal and spiritual Christians. Sinners have as much animal feeling as saints: cold professors have as much of the animal as warm and spiritual Christians. So far, then, as animal feeling goes, they can all sympathize, and indeed we often see that they do. Adopt a strain of exhortation or preaching that is calculated to awaken mere sympathy and animal feeling, and you will soon see that there is a perfect community of feeling among cold and warm hearted Christians and sinners; they will all weep and seem to melt, and no one will be offended, and I may add, no one will be convicted or converted. But change your style, and become more spiritual and holy in your matter, and throw yourself out in an ardent and powerful manner, in direct appeal to the conscience and the heart–their tears will soon be dried, the carnal and cold hearted will become uneasy, and soon find themselves offended. So far as animal feeling goes, they walk together, for in this they are agreed; but as soon as feeling becomes spiritual and holy, they can go together no farther; for here they are not, (and while sinners remain impenitent, and cold hearts remain cold,) they cannot be, agreed.

Again–We may see why impenitent sinners cannot like pure revivals of religion. It is because God is in them. They hate God, and this is the reason why God commands them to make to themselves a new heart. This is the reason, and the only reason, why sinners need a new heart. Now, while they are under the influence of “a carnal mind, which is enmity against God,” they do, and must, self-evidently, hate every thing like God, precisely in proportion as they see it to bear his image. Hence we see, that the more a revival is stripped of animal feeling and of every thing wrong, the more it will necessarily offend wrong hearts. The more of God, and the less of human imperfection, there is to be seen in them, the more they will and must excite the enmity of carnal hearts.

Again. We learn how to estimate apparent revivals where there is no opposition from the wicked. If persons under the dominion of a carnal mind do not oppose, it must be owing to one of three causes. 1st. Either they are so convicted that they dare not openly oppose; (and even then they are opposed in heart;) or, 2dly, there is nothing of the Holy Spirit in them; or 3dly, which often happens, from an injudicious application of means to the sympathies of the multitude, the operations of the Holy Spirit are kept out of the sinner’s view and covered up in the rubbish of animal feeling. Any thing that keeps out of the sinner’s view the work of the Holy Spirit, tends to prevent opposition. And every thing that exposes to the sinner’s view the hand of God, will certainly excite the opposition of his unregenerate heart. That excitement, therefore, which does not call out the opposition of the wicked and wrong hearted, is either not a revival of religion at all, or it is so conducted that sinners do not see the finger of God in it.

Hence we see, that the more pure and holy the means are that are used to promote a revival of religion, the more they are stripped of human infirmity and sympathy, and the more like God they are, so much the more, of necessity, will they excite the opposition of all wrong hearts. For, while a man’s heart is wrong upon any subject, it is self-evident that he cannot heartily approve of what is right upon that subject, for this would involve a contradiction. It would be the same as to say that he could feel both right and wrong upon the same subject at the same time.

Hence it appears, that other things being equal, those means, and that preaching, both as to matter and manner, which call forth most of the native enmity of the heart, and that are most directly over against wrong hearts, are nearest right. *([footnote]Let it not be thought that we advocate or recommend preaching, or using other means, with design to give offence. Nor that we suppose that the gospel cannot be preached, and that means cannot be used in a wrong spirit, and in a manner that is highly objectionable, and may justly give offence. All such things are to be condemned. But still we do insist that holy things are offensive to unholy hearts, and while hearts remain unholy, they cannot be pleased but with that which is unholy like themselves. The understanding may approve, the conscience may approve, but the heart will not, and, remaining unholy, cannot approve of that which is holy. If, therefore, a sinner who is under the dominion of a “carnal mind,” which is “enmity against God,” is pleased with preaching, it must be either because the character of God is not faithfully exhibited, or the sinner is prevented from apprehending it in its true light, by inattention, or by being so taken up with the style and manner as to overlook the offensiveness of the matter. If, therefore, the matter of preaching is right, and the sinner is pleased, there is something defective in the manner; either a want of earnestness, or holy unction, or something else, prevents the sinner from seeing, what preaching ought to show him, that he hates God and his truth).

Hence, we see the folly of those who are labouring to please persons whose affections are in a wrong state upon religious subjects. They cannot be pleased with any thing right and holy while their hearts are in this wrong state, for this we have just seen would involve a contradiction.

This shows why so much wrong feeling is often stirred up in revivals of religion.

It is the natural effect of pure revivals to stir up wrong feeling in wrong hearts. Revivals of religion on earth, stir up wrong feeling in hell; they will disturb the same spirit, and stir up the same feelings, whenever they come in contact with rebellious hearts, whether in the church or out of it. Wherever the Holy Spirit comes, or is seen to operate, the opposite spirit is disturbed of course. A great degree of right and holy feeling among saints, will naturally stir up a great degree of unholy and wicked feeling in all those hearts that are determinately wrong. The more right and holy feeling there is, the more wrong and unholy feeling there will be, of course, unless sinners and carnal professors bow and submit. They cannot walk together, because they are not agreed; and the more holy and heavenly the saints become in their affections and conduct, the farther apart they will be, until the light of eternity will set them in feeling and affections, as far asunder as heaven and hell.

This shows that the difference between heaven and hell, as it regards moral character, and happiness and misery, consists in the different state of the hearts or affections of their respective inhabitants.

This demonstrates, beyond all contradiction, that sinners cannot be saved unless they are born again. In other words, it is plainly impossible, in the nature of things, that sinners should walk and be happy with saints and holy angels, without an entire change in their affections. Sinners cannot walk with the saints here. As soon as the saints cease to walk “after the course of this world,” sinners think it strange that they run not with them to the same excess of riot, “speaking evil of them.” As soon as Christians awake and become spiritual and active, holy, and heavenly, and break off from their vain and wicked associations with the world, sinners are uniformly distressed and offended. They try to imagine that it is something wrong in the saints, and in revivals, that offends them. But the truth is, it is the little that is right in the saints, and that in which there is the most of God in revivals, that offends them most. And were the saints as holy as angels are, or as holy as they will be in heaven, sinners must of course be so much the farther from having any community of feeling with them; and as saints rise in holiness, and sinners sink in sin, they will go farther and farther apart forever and ever.

I remark, lastly, that this shows why the lives and preaching of the prophets of Christ, and his apostles, and the revivals of the early ages of the church, met with so much more violent opposition from carnal professors of religion, and from ungodly sinners, than is offered to preachers and revival in these days.

It is not to be denied, that the saints in those days “had trials of cruel mocking and scourging, yea, of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy;) they wandered in deserts, in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

It is not and cannot be denied, that the preaching of the prophets, of Christ and his apostles, and of primitive ministers, was opposed with great bitterness by many professed saints, and by multitudes of ungodly sinners, more than that of any preacher of the present day. Nor is it to be concealed, that professors of religion were often leaders in this opposition–that they stirred up the Romans to crucify Jesus, and afterwards to persecute and destroy his saints, and crucify his apostles. That even the religious teachers, and learned doctors of the law, endeavoured to prejudice the multitude against the Saviour, and to prevent their listening to his discourses; “He hath a devil and is mad,” said they, “why hear ye him?” They led the way in opposing the apostles in the revivals in which they were engaged. We must admit, too, that those revivals made a great deal of noise in the world, insomuch, that the apostles were accused of “turning the world upside down;” and that sinners were often greatly hardened by the preaching of Christ and his apostles; “were filled with great wrath,” and opposed with such bitterness, that Christ told his apostles to “let them alone.” In some places where the apostles preached, “divers were” so “hardened,” that they “contradicted and blasphemed, and spake evil of this way,” insomuch that the apostles were forced to leave, and go to other places, and sometimes to leave under very humiliating circumstances, but just escaping with their lives. Now these are facts that we need not blush to meet, as they are easily accounted for, upon the principle contained in the text, and illustrated in this discourse. All these things afford no evidence that the prophets, and Christ and his apostles, were imprudent and unholy men; that their preaching was too overbearing and severe; or that there was something wrong in the management of revivals in those days. The fact is, that the prophets were so much more holy in their lives, and so much bolder, and more faithful in delivering their messages; that Christ was so much more searching, and plain, and pungent, and personal in his preaching, and so entirely “separate from sinners” in his life; the apostles were so pungent and plain in their dealing with sinners and professed saints, and so self-denying and holy in their lives, that carnal professors and ungodly sinners could not walk with them. The means that were then used to promote revivals were more holy and free from alloy than they now are. There was less of mere sympathy, and of that hypocritical suavity of manner, and of those embellishments of language, that are calculated and designed to court the applause of the ungodly. “Renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully,” they preached, “not with the enticing words of man’s wisdom,” but “with great plainness of speech,” so that the ungodly, in the church and out of it, were filled with wrath.

Stephen was so holy and searching in his address, that the elders of Israel “gnashed upon him with their teeth.” But this is no evidence that he was imprudent. The fact that the revivals of the present day are much more silent and gradual in their progress, than they were on the day of Pentecost, and at many other times and places, and create much less noise and opposition among cold professors and ungodly sinners, does not prove that the theory of revivals is better understood now than it was then, nor that those ministers and Christians who are engaged in these revivals are more prudent than the apostles and primitive Christians; and to suppose this, would evince great spiritual pride in us. Nor are we to say that the human heart is changed, or that the character of God is become less offensive “to the carnal mind.” No! the fact is, the prophets and Christ and his apostles and the primitive saints, were more holy, more bold and active, more plain and pungent in their preaching, less conformed to this crazy world; in one word, they were more prudent and more like heaven than we are; these are the reasons why they were more hated than we are, why their preaching and praying gave so much more offence than ours. Revivals, in their days, were more free from carnal policy, and that management that tends to keep out of the sinner’s views the naked hand of God: these are the reasons why they made so much more noise than the revivals that we witness in these days, and stirred up so much of earth and hell to oppose them, that they convulsed and turned the world upside down. It was known then, that “men could not serve God and mammon.” It was seen to be true, that “if any man will live godly in Christ Jesus, he shall suffer persecution.” It was understood then, that if “ministers pleased men, they were not the servants of Christ.” The church and world could not walk together, for then they were not agreed. Let us not be puffed up, and imagine that we are prudent and wise, and have learned how to manage carnal professors and sinners, whose “carnal mind is enmity against God,” so as not to call forth their opposition to truth and holiness, as Christ and his apostles did. But let us know that if they have less difficulty with us, and with our lives and preaching, than they had with theirs, it is because we are less holy, less heavenly, less like God than they were. If we walk with the lukewarm and ungodly, or they with us, it is because we are agreed. For two cannot walk together except they be agreed.

By the Rev. Charles G Finney – August 14, 28, 1861

 

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18)

 In speaking from these words I inquire,

  1. What is ungodliness?

The original word means, primarily, to neglect God. It is the omission of duty to God; the withholding from him of worship, love, confidence, obedience. It is the withholding from God that which is his due.

  1. What is unrighteousness in the sense here used?

The original word properly means, neglect of duty to man, as ungodliness implies neglect of duty to God.

It is an omission of duty, a withholding from man his due.

Unrighteousness, as the term is evidently here used in distinction from ungodliness, means the withholding of that equal love to man which is his due; that regard for his interest, and feelings, and character, and whatever is to him a good.

Withholding this from man is unrighteousness, as withholding it from God is ungodliness. Unrighteousness, in the broader sense, consists in withholding either from God or man, whatever is their due from us.

But as the terms ungodliness and unrighteousness are here both used, we are undoubtedly to understand unrighteousness here as having reference particularly to the omission of duty to our fellow men. Everything then, is unrighteousness, which is short of doing our whole duty to our fellow men; and everything is ungodliness which is short of doing our whole duty to God.

III. I inquire in the third place, What is it to hold the truth in unrighteousness?

  1. The word rendered hold in this case, means to restrain, to hold down, to hold back. To hold the truth in unrighteousness, is, for selfish reasons, to refuse to obey the truth.
  2. When duty is once known or seen, indifference is impossible. Truth is the natural stimulus of the mind, and especially truth that reveals moral obligation.

When moral obligation is perceived, the mind cannot remain inactive. The perception of moral obligation forces the mind into a state of activity. The freedom of the Will does not imply, that in such circumstances the mind can remain inactive altogether.

But the freedom of the Will implies, that in every case of perceived moral obligation we have power to act one way or the other, to comply or refuse compliance with moral obligation.

When, therefore, moral obligation is perceived, passivity becomes impossible. The mind must act; it must either comply with the obligation; or it must refuse.

This should always be remembered; that indifference, or a state of non-activity, becomes impossible in the presence of perceived obligation. In such circumstances truth must be embraced or rejected; obligation must be accepted or rejected; duty must be performed or neglected.

To hold the truth in unrighteousness, then, is to withhold the heart, and life from obeying it; it is to persist in neglect of duty when convinced, and when obligation is seen.

  1. To hold the truth in unrighteousness, is to refuse to perform duty when it is known. Neglect in these circumstances, is real refusal. There cannot be neglect in the sense of no action at all. The mind must act in opposition, must gird itself and refuse, in order to neglect when obligation is seen.

To hold the truth in unrighteousness, then, is precisely this: when obligation to our fellow men is perceived and admitted, to selfishly refuse to meet the obligation.

  1. To hold the truth in unrighteousness is to unjustly neglect or refuse to perform our duty to God or man. Ungodliness, or withholding from God, is injustice or unrighteousness toward God.

All, then, who neglect to perform their duty either to God or man, are guilty of holding the truth in unrighteousness in the sense of this text.

  1. What are we to understand by the wrath of God in this text?

I reply, not a selfish anger such as selfish men exercise; but a benevolent, holy indignation, such in kind as a benevolent father or ruler might exercise toward injustice, selfishness, and madness in an undutiful child or subject. The term is a strong one, and is rendered wrath, by which we mean something more than mere anger in a low degree; it implies an intense indignation.

  1. I inquire, against whom is this wrath of God revealed from heaven?

I answer,

  1. Against all persons who do not act upon, and up to their conviction in respect to their duty either to God or man. It is a very common thing to find persons admitting that such and such things they ought to do, and there they stop. They seem to make a virtue of admitting their obligation in words, while they deny it in action.

You press them with their obligation, and they will say; “O yes, I know that I ought; but what then?” There they stop and do not lift a finger to perform their duty.

Now against all such persons whether they be professors of religion or non-professors, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven.

  1. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all who allow themselves in short-comings. I say allow themselves in short-coming, in respect, either to God or man. It is not an uncommon thing for persons, in looking back, to accuse themselves of short-comings, when after all they are not aware of having deliberately and knowingly, at the time, fallen short of their duty.

But observe, I say that the wrath of God is revealed against all who allow themselves in short-comings; who are aware of their duty and really indulge themselves in neglect and short-comings; as if a man owed a debt to a neighbor, and knowingly and deliberately neglected to pay him; or when an individual admits his obligation to love, to confide in, to worship and obey God, and indulges himself in disobedience, or allows himself to neglect to perform his duty to God; against all such, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven.

  1. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all who stop short of living up to their privileges, as well as their duty.

It is really a man’s duty to live up to his privilege; and a man cannot allow himself to live below his privilege, without at the same time allowing himself to live below his duty. It is certainly a man’s duty to avail himself of all the means within his reach of promoting his own holiness and usefulness in the highest degree; and to stop short of this, for selfish reasons, is a great crime against God; and therefore, the wrath of God is revealed against all such as do this.

  1. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all who rest, and stop short of full sanctification, full obedience to God as they understand their duty. I say, rest short; by which I mean that they knowingly quiet themselves in this state of short-coming.

There are a great many professors of religion who seem to have very little anxiety about being entirely sanctified, and fully obeying God. If they can believe themselves safe, they seem very well satisfied; although they know they are indulging in more or less sin from day to day.

It is not with them a matter of intense struggle and effort, to render to God full obedience. It is enough for them that they think themselves justified; the question of sanctification they are very willing to postpone.

They say they do not believe in sanctification in this life. They seem to throw up the reins and live on loosely, talk about continually sinning and repenting; while it is evident enough that they do not care to render to God a full and continued obedience. They care but little for sin if they can be forgiven.

They care but little about sanctification if they can ensure justification. Now it is perfectly plain that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all such persons who are living on in known and allowed short-comings in regard to sanctification; sinning and sinning and caring little about it; being anxious only to know that they are safe.

The fact is, such persons are not safe. You should understand this at once, that you are as far as possible from being safe.

You are under the wrath of God which is revealed from heaven against you. You are knowingly and carelessly withholding from God his due; you are allowing yourself in sin, caring more for your justification than for your sanctification.

What is sanctification but full obedience to God? And can you make God believe that you are a sincere Christian, while you are careless about rendering to him, in all things, a full obedience?

  1. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all whose religion is of the negative rather than of the positive kind.

The law of God is positive. It requires supreme love to God and equal love to man. It requires action toward God and man, intense action, energetic devotion to God and man. Now there are many who seem to suppose that this is the doing nothing bad, as they say.

They run hither and thither, and indulge themselves, and live in most things like the world around them. Their way of spending their time, of spending their money, of using their influence, is such that you enquire, why they do this, and why they do that. “Why!” they reply, “what harm is there in it?”

With them the question is, what harm is there in this or that course of life and not what good will this do? If they live without committing flagrant sin they think they do well. It does not seem so much as to enter into their designs to do all they can for the promotion of God’s glory, but only to avoid doing such things as will be an open disgrace to religion. Their religion is a mere negation, if it may be called religion; which, indeed it cannot properly be, for all true religion is love, confidence, worship, obedience. Let all such, then, as are satisfying themselves with this negative form of what they call religion, remember that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against them.

Indeed, there are some whose history seems to be one of omission. They are continually neglecting many forms of duty; and they know it. Perhaps some of you here are admitting from day to day that this, and that, and the other thing is your duty; and yet you never address yourselves seriously to the performance of it.

Some of you are perhaps neglecting secret prayer; are neglecting your Bible; are neglecting to pay your debts; are neglecting in the outward life a great multitude of things, but in regard to God and man, and in your inward state you cannot but know that you are really neglecting to render to God all the love and confidence that are his due, and that you are neglecting to love your neighbor as yourself. Your history is one of omission. You seem to overlook the fact, that omission is the very thing against which this text is arrayed; that this ungodliness and unrighteousness are omissions of duty to God and man.

Again, you seem also to forget that omission is a real withholding, a real refusal; that it is not a state of inaction, but of contrary action; a girding yourself to resist the claims of God and the claims of duty.

Your omission is not a mere passive state, but a state of selfish activity; the omitting to perform your duty to God and man for the sake of gratifying yourself.

Now can you not, some of you, right here, accuse yourself of living a life of omission? Is not this the history of your religion?

Are you not acknowledging from day to day in your conscience that you owe this, and that, and the other duty to God and man; while you are neglecting to perform these duties? Now remember, if this is so, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against you. If you are neglecting any heart duty, or any outward duty; and if you allow yourselves in this neglect or continue to indulge in this omission, you are as far as possible from being safe. I pray you, lay it to heart.

  1. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all sinners who neglect repentance and faith; in other words, who neglect to become Christians.

(1.) The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all sinners who neglect God, who neglect prayer, and who neglect to perform all the duties enjoined upon every son and daughter of Adam.

(2.) The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all procrastinators, whether in or out of the church. By procrastinators, I mean, those who have it in their mind at some future time to perform their duty; and who for some reason put it off for the present. This is the great sin of many persons. They know their duty; they know that now is the accepted time and now is the day of salvation; but for unrighteous reasons they continue to procrastinate, to put God off.

(3.) The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all sinners who neglect to do and be what God requires Christians to do and be. All men to whom the Gospel is preached are bound to be Christians immediately.

A great many sinners are constantly watching Christians and accusing them, but they seem not to understand that God requires of them what He requires of Christians, and that in condemning Christians they only condemn themselves; in pointing out the short-comings of Christians they only point out their own. Now sinners, what you suppose God requires of Christians, you are bound to perform yourselves. For you seem to know what the Christian’s duty is; you continue to judge the Christian, and therefore you show that you know what he ought to do and what he ought to be. But if you neglect to do and to be what you require of him, then you fall short of your known duty, and the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against you for not doing what you exact of Christians.

(4.) The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all who know better than they habitually do. Now all sinners are in this state; and this is what constitutes them sinners. They know better than they do; they know their duty but they do it not. And this is that for which the wrath of God is revealed against them.

Impenitent sinners are very apt to think of their sins only as commissions of something outbreaking in the outward life; but they seldom think much of their neglects of duty either to God or man. But it should be understood that all sin resolves itself into either neglect or refusal to render to God and man their due. Indeed, there are many, both professors and non-professors, who allow themselves to live habitually in opposition to their convictions of duty. Now let it be understood that this is the very essence of sin; and against all such persons the wrath of God is revealed from heaven.

  1. Why is the wrath of God thus revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men?
  2. Neglect of duty implies a knowledge of duty. A man cannot be said to neglect a duty of which he has no knowledge.
  3. Neglect of duty implies ability to perform it. A man cannot be truly said to neglect that which he has no power to perform.
  4. Neglect of duty, as I have already said, implies a refusal to do duty. Indeed it involves it. A state of passivity in the presence of perceived obligation being impossible, neglect of duty must involve deliberate and persistent disobedience to God.
  5. Neglect of known duty to God or man, involves a rejection of God’s authority, as not a sufficient reason for action.

It is virtually saying, “What if God does require of me such and such a thing? That is no good reason why I should do it. Who is God that I should obey Him, or what profit should I have if I should pray to Him?”

It involves a most insolent and contemptuous rejection of God’s command as being a sufficient reason for action in that direction.

  1. Holding the truth in unrighteousness involves a deliberate rejection of moral obligation as constituting an influential reason for action.

Observe, in this case the sinner knows his duty, he admits the obligation in words but rejects it in practice.

Now what is this but saying, “What do I care for moral obligation? To be sure, I admit that there is a moral obligation; but what do I care? Do you suppose I am going to be influenced by moral obligation? If you do, you do not know me. I hope you do not think that I am so weak as to yield to a mere moral obligation; to a mere command of God; to a mere sense of duty. Not I.”

  1. Holding the truth in unrighteousness involves a contempt for the idea of duty as being of no real practical account.

“Duty?” says the sinner; “do you think I care for duty? What! my duty to God, and my duty to my neighbor? Talk not to me of duty. What do I care for duty?”

This holding the truth in unrighteousness is a real contempt for duty. It is virtually saying; “You never need expect me to be influenced by that consideration. You never need to tell me of my duty, for I care not for it. I will pursue my inclination, duty in any wise to the contrary notwithstanding. Why do you come to me whining about the idea of duty, and tell me it is my duty to do thus, and thus, and thus? Away with your cant! I will have nothing to do with duty.”

  1. This holding the truth in unrighteousness, involves a real ruling down of all moral considerations. The consideration of duty to God; the consideration of God’s authority; the consideration of God’s rights, of man’s rights, and of all rights; it is just ruling them down; putting the foot upon them; trampling them under the feet; and saying; “These considerations shall never influence me!”
  2. This course of conduct in holding the truth in unrighteousness, in holding the mind back from obedience, is of course decisive of the moral attitude. It is taking a deliberate stand against God. It is taking a deliberate open stand before all his subjects, and pouring contempt upon his authority, upon his moral government, and upon all the moral considerations with which he attempts to enforce obedience. It is then taking the attitude of an open rebel, an open enemy, a persistent opponent of God.
  3. Holding the truth in unrighteousness is decisive of moral character. It is a state of total depravity, of total dishonesty in regard both to God and men. While the debt is admitted in words, and the obligation both to God and man in words is admitted, yet practically it is a denial of the obligation. The sinner virtually says; “I know I ought to obey God, but I will not. I know I ought to love my neighbor as myself, but I will not. I know I am indebted to God, but I will not pay him. I know I am indebted to man, but I care not for it; I will not pay him.”

This, then, is making an open issue with God before the entire universe. It is a deliberate, known, practical, persistent rejection of his authority. Again, it is setting the worst possible example before God’s subjects. Suppose a subject of any government to stand forth in the presence of all the subjects, and deliberately refuse to obey the laws; not merely to obey some one law, but to obey the laws in general and universally. Suppose the subject to admit the obligation, to admit the wisdom and justice, and equity, and necessity of the laws, but for unrighteous reasons to refuse to obey them; to take a course directly opposed to them; to persist in that course, and to hold fast his persistent resistance to the authority of the government; should not the wrath of the government be revealed against such a character as that?

But again;

  1. Holding the truth in unrighteousness, is the deliberate refusal to pay an acknowledged debt to God.

Suppose that some one is indebted to you. You greatly need your pay, and you go to him and demand it. He acknowledges the debt in terms, and you request him to pay it. He has the money; but he prefers to use it in some other way, to promote his own interest. You urge his obligation upon him; you tell him he ought to pay it, and he laughs you in the face, and says, “What do I care for that? Do you suppose I will be influenced by such a consideration as that? Oughtness! shall that influence me? Never!” But you remind him of the authority of God, and of his command to pay his debts. He laughs again, and says; “And who is God? And what do I care for God’s commandments? Do you suppose I am to be influenced by such a consideration as that? Never!”

Now you would feel, in such a case as this, that such a deliberate refusal, and such a contempt of obligation, was a dreadful sin against you.

But just see that negligent professor of religion, see that impenitent sinner, deliberately refusing to pay an acknowledged debt to God; virtually saying to God, “What do I care for your authority? What do I care for my obligations to thee? I will not be influenced by an obligation to pay my debts either to God or man.”

But again, suppose a child should take such a stand, and deliberately, and habitually, and universally neglect obedience, refuse, omit all obedience; what would you say of such a child? Should not the parent be angry? Should not he reveal his indignation against that child?

And what would you say of your debtor, in case he should treat you in such a way? Would you not feel yourself called upon to put him in a way to pay you, if he deliberately contemned all obligation for selfish reasons, and deliberately refused to pay an acknowledged debt?

Suppose in this case you should go and sue him, and bring him before a court, and he should say, “Why, you appear to be displeased, you appear to feel indignant that I do not pay you.” Would you not reply, ” I have reason to be indignant. You are a scoundrel; you are a dishonest man; you contemn all moral obligation, and I will see what I can do by enforcing legal obligation.”

“You treat all moral obligation with contempt; and what is left to me but to compel you to pay your debt?”

So in the case of holding the truth in unrighteousness: obligation to God is treated with contempt; God himself is treated with contempt; his authority is treated as a mere trifle; his feelings are outraged and contemned, and is it not appropriate that God should be “angry with the wicked every day,” that He should have a benevolent indignation toward those who thus contemn their obligation? And is it not appropriate in Him to express or reveal this indignation, this wrath from heaven against such conduct as this? What would you think of a human ruler, who should let such conduct pass without manifesting the least displeasure at it? Or a parent, who should let such conduct pass without manifesting any displeasure at it?

The fact is, God has infinitely good reasons for being highly displeased. His wrath must be enkindled against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.

Now what will be said of Him if He does not manifest this wrath? What will his subjects think of Him? Can they maintain their confidence in Him? Will He not forfeit their confidence? Will He not inevitably lose the confidence of all his faithful subjects, if He neglects to manifest or reveal his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness?

REMARKS.

  1. From this standpoint we can see the awful delusion of mere moralists.

There are many men who totally neglect God, and are, therefore, in the sense of this text, emphatically ungodly. They withhold from God the love, confidence, obedience, and worship which is his due, and still imagine that they are doing nothing very wrong. You speak of their danger of being lost; they are ready to say, “Why, what have I done that is bad? Whom have I wronged?” Now the answer is plain, in the light of this text; you have wronged God out of his whole duty; you have never performed your duty to him in any sense or degree. What if you should refuse to pay your debts to men?

Suppose you were indebted to many persons, and never paid them the first cent; habitually and universally neglected to meet their just demands; and then you should set up for a moral man; should ask, “What evil have I done?”

Suppose these creditors of yours should often demand their pay, and you should as often acknowledge in words that the debts were just, and you ought to pay them, but still you should neglect and refuse to pay them, and never pay them at all; and then suppose they should complain of you, and you should say, “Why, what have I done?”; would not this be ridiculous?

But this is the manner in which you treat God; and you make little or no account of your neglect to pay what you owe to God. You would feel intensely if anybody owed you, and they should treat their obligation as you treat your obligation to God.

But just think! you are perfectly ungodly, and yet laying the flattering unction to your soul that you have done nothing very bad.

But again, you have neglected your whole duty to man as well as to God. The law of God and the law of your own conscience, requires you to love your neighbor as yourself; to regard and treat his interests as your own; to be careful of his reputation as of your own, of his feelings as of your own, of his interests as of your own. Now, have you done this? You satisfy yourself by saying you have not wronged him.

Wronged him! Have you not withheld from him that which is his due? Have you not refused to love him? refused to be interested in his welfare? Have you cared for his soul? Have you done anything to save him?

Suppose you had seen him asleep in his house, and the house on fire, and you had suffered it to burn down and consume him, and had given him no warning; and then you should say, “Wherein have I wronged him?”

The fact is, you have wronged both God and man. You have withheld from both their due, and you have no more right to claim to be a moral man than Satan has to claim to be moral. For, a mere moralist, an unconverted man, a man that neglects his duty to God and his fellow-men, as all unconverted sinners do, is void of all moral honesty; and must be, of course.

Why, how ridiculous it is for you to pretend to be morally honest, when you refuse, universally, to pay your debts. You do not hesitate to treat the claims of God, which you admit to be just, with utter contempt in your practice. You withhold from him all that is really valuable to him. For if you do not love him, if you do not regard his interests, your outward life, if it appears to be an honest and moral life, is a mere hypocrisy. Your kind treatment of your fellow men is not, and cannot be, because you love them; for if you are a mere moralist, an unconverted man, you do not love your neighbor as yourself; you must, therefore, have some other reason than love to your neighbor for treating him kindly; it must be some other reason than real honesty of heart, and uprightness before God and man, that leads you to any appearance of honesty.

But suppose some individual owed you, and was under every possible obligation to you and yet should contemn and despise the whole, and never perform his duty, or pay you a debt, or discharge any obligation, could you believe him an honest man? No, you could not believe that he had one particle of moral honesty in him.

But suppose you should see a son who treated his own parents as you treat God; would you believe that son an honest man, however much he might boast of honesty? Would you not be convinced irresistibly that any man that could treat honorable and upright parents with the contempt with which you treat God, could not be an honest man? Would you not regard him as void of all moral honesty? Would you not say irresistibly, a man that can do that can have no honesty in his soul? I beseech you to lay aside the claim of honesty and morality, and take home to yourself the charge that you are a totally dishonest and base man, one who has no real claim to be regarded as anything other than as a wicked, unprincipled, selfish being.

  1. The same must be said of many professors of religion. What an awful delusion they are under! Supposing themselves to have been converted, they live on in habitual and known transgression. Many things which they acknowledge to be their duty, they never pretend to perform.

They allow themselves all the time to live in the neglect of what everybody knows, and they themselves acknowledge to be their duty; and yet they think they are justified; think they are penitent. But what idea can they have on repentance? Is not repentance the renunciation of sin?

But what is sin but withholding from God and man their due? Here then is a professor of religion that habitually withholds from God and man their due, living on in known omissions; and confessing his omission, and will continue to confess them without end, and never address himself to the performance of these duties. Now what a delusion is this! Why, on the very face of it, it is hypocrisy and a fatal delusion.

  1. This text does not agree with the doctrine of inability, about which we hear so much.

There are many who are continually ready to acknowledge their short-comings, and acknowledge in words their crime; but they plead their inability to obey. Inability! and does this text teach or imply any such doctrine as that? Why, this text assumes the very opposite of the doctrine of inability. It takes the ground that men, so far from being unable to obey the commands of God, are positively resisting them. And this is in fact true.

I have already said that truth, and especially the truth of moral obligation, is the natural stimulus of the mind. It wakes it up, and compels it to act in one way or the other. Moral obligation will at once enlist and engage the energies of the soul; and unless they be actively and positively withheld, unless the truth is held back, restrained in unrighteousness, the mind will surely obey it. Here then, instead of being unable to obey, the individual is obliged to gird himself to resist, in order to prevent obedience. Truth is a mighty impulse to draw him into conformity with itself; but, for selfish reasons, he girds himself and holds it back, restrains it in unrighteousness.

This then, is your inability, sinner, and professor of religion.

Truth, if you did not restrain it, would at once quicken you into activity, and into obedience. But you harden your heart, and you stiffen your neck, you resist the claims of truth and of God.

This is plainly the doctrine of this text, as it is of the Bible universally when it is properly understood.

  1. Men feel that neglect is sin, when self is the object of this neglect. Parents feel that the neglect of their children is sin; husbands and wives feel that the neglect of the other party is sin; men in business feel that it is sin in their debtors to neglect to pay them, especially where this neglect is owing, not to inability, but to selfishness, or carelessness of the rights of others. Selfish men are loud in their complaints of others who neglect to pay their debts to them; but it would surely be more consistent for them to cease complaining of anybody’s neglecting them, while they are neglecting to pay their debt to God. Thou that complainest that others neglect to pay their debts to you; dost thou neglect to pay thy debts to God?
  2. How little stress is laid upon the neglect of duty as a sin. Now it should always be remembered that the law of God is positive. God is never satisfied with a man’s doing nothing; He requires him to act, and that with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And now when God is totally neglected, when men are ungodly and unrighteous, neglecting their duty both to God and man, how strange it is that this neglect should be so little regarded as a great and abominable sin against God, and as indeed the essence of all sin.
  3. Church discipline is often a great stumbling block on this account. Men are allowed to live in fellowship with the churches, and neglect their duty habitually and notoriously; men who neglect their duties to the church and their duty to God, and live cold and formal lives, and do not hesitate in words to confess it, while they do not reform.

How strange it is that persons are allowed to remain in the church as accepted members, who so neglect their duty both to God and man.

  1. Sinners are greatly misled by the church in this respect. Children in Christian families see that their parents are living in constant neglect of duty; and if they attend meetings, they hear Christians confessing that they are constantly neglecting duty, and they know very well that they expect to continue to neglect their duty. Yet very little stress is laid upon this by the church or by the ministry. Now this fatally misleads many sinners. They come to think but very little of omission of duty. The example of the church on this subject is the greatest stumbling block to them. They hear their parents say that they neglect God, and they neglect duty. Very well how little, then, do they think of neglecting their duty!

It has come to this, that the example of the Church in this respect has completely stumbled the world; so that sinners are living for scores of years in the neglect of all their duty to God, and yet do not consider themselves as very bad sinners. They say they have done nothing very bad. Now how came they to this idea? The fact is, they have learned it from the church. They have been in the habit of hearing the church members speak of the omission and neglect of duty as a thing almost of course.

  1. Orthodox neglectors of duty are the greatest sinners in the world. I have said that neglect of duty implies a knowledge of duty. Now the more orthodox in sentiment men are, and the more enlightened men are, the greater, surely, is their obligation. Those, therefore, who are truly orthodox in sentiment, but heterodox in practice, living in the neglect of their known duty, are the greatest sinners in the world.
  2. From this stand-point we can also see the actual difference between real saints and sinners.

I have just spoken of professors of religion who live in the habitual neglect of duty; and of the church, which is so largely composed of mere nominal professors, as being a stumbling block to the world. Remember, then, that I am now about to speak, not of nominal professors, of negligent souls, but of real saints and sinners. But I also wish to be understood as meaning by enemies all who live in the habitual neglect of known duty. Saints are converted persons; sinners are unconverted. Saints are penitent souls; sinners are impenitent. Saints are obedient; sinners are disobedient. Both know their duty; saints do their duty; but sinners omit theirs.

With the true saint, God’s will being known, is reason enough; he wants no further reason to influence his conduct. It is just this state of mind that constituted him a saint. He has given up his spirit of disobedience; he has ceased to hold truth in unrighteousness; he has yielded his mind to the influence of truth; God’s will has been accepted by him; he has laid aside his rebellion and become an obedient subject of Christ.

Now mark! he wants no better or higher reason for any course of conduct than to know that such is the will of Christ.

But with the sinner, the opposite is true. He knows his duty, but this is no influential reason with him at all. He has not accepted the will of God as his rule of life. He affirms it to be his duty to do so; but he does not do it. And it is this which constitutes him an impenitent sinner.

The revealed will of God is with him no sufficient reason at all to induce obedience. He knows his duty, perhaps as well as the saint does; but he does not do it. He holds the truth in unrighteousness. Again, with the true saint, the omission of any duty is a dreadful thing. What! to disobey a command of God!

To know that God requires of him a certain course of action, and for him to refuse! Why, it is a dreadful thing! a thing not to be thought of! But with the impenitent sinner, the omission of duty is a mere trifle, a thing scarcely worth considering. He goes forward omitting all his duty, and all with as little consideration, or fear, or regret, as he would have in view of any trifle that you can name.

  1. This text is more frequently suggested by facts around us than almost any other in the Bible. It is so very, very common to find persons neglecting what they know and even confess to be their duty, and it is utterly amazing when we consider that so many of these confessors are really professors. They confess themselves to be in the habitual neglect of some duties, and perhaps of many, and yet they profess to be the children of God; they profess to be converted, to be God’s saints, his holy ones. Now who can live with such surroundings without being constantly reminded of this text; “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”
  2. The announcement of this text ought to shock such persons like a thunder bolt. See these dreamers! this multitude of souls that are crying peace, peace, when there is no peace! neglecting their duty to God and to their fellow-men! Hark! hear the thunder of this text, and let your nerves tremble!
  3. Ministers have reason to tremble for their hearers. How perfectly common it is for ministers to preach and hold out the claims of God, while their people will confess that it is truth, and that so they ought to do, but do they do so? Let such a minister watch his people. He holds out to them on the Sabbath the claims of God, and they go away, perhaps eulogizing the preaching, at any rate, they confess that they have been instructed in regard to their duty; but does he find them the next day, and every subsequent day, addressing themselves to this duty? Does he expect them to do it? Does he even expect his own church to do it? I should like to ask ministers, how many members of their church they have reason to believe, from acquaintance with them, will do their duty as soon as they are instructed in regard to it.

And I should like to ask them if it is not true that in a great multitude of instances, they have no expectation at all that the members of their church will wake up and be influenced by the truth, and will do what they know to be their duty. After preaching on the Sabbath and holding out to the church the claims of God, would they not be surprised on Monday to see the church all astir, and full of energy and vigor in carrying out the instructions of the Sabbath? How common it is for ministers to hold out the claims of God, to pour the truth upon their hearers; and then to see, right before their faces, that they hold the truth in unrighteousness. They know and acknowledge their duty, but they do not do it.

  1. Let us reflect that it is the wrath of God that is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. It is the wrath of God, and therefore it cannot be resisted. It is the wrath of God, and therefore it cannot be endured. “Can thine heart endure, can thine hand be strong in the day that I shall deal with thee, saith the Lord? What then wilt thou do in the day when I shall punish thee?” Sinner and negligent professor, have you really considered what it is to have the wrath of an Omnipresent and Almighty Being revealed from heaven against you? Revealed from heaven! See, the holy mount is covered with dark clouds, the batteries are charged, the match is lighted‚ and the Almighty is there!

Are you not afraid to pursue your course of neglect of duty, holding truth in unrighteousness? In just such a time as you think not, and when you are crying peace and safety, these batteries of Omnipotence will open upon you; the discharge will wither you in a moment; and you will sink down, down, down in the blackness of darkness forever!

What then shall you do? I answer, immediately discard this spirit of delay; lay hold upon eternal life; let your heart go to Christ; no longer hold the truth in unrigheousness. Arise, and what you do, do quickly. Lay hold upon eternal life; for “now is the accepted time, now is the day of Salvation.”

 

 

 

 

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 was believing what so many religious teachers out there 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 teaches that sin “dwells in me,” and therefore, evil is 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 become 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. If I did not simply accept who I was “in Christ,” 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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Capture

For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head . . . because of the angels.

In the last few decades there has risen much confusion around this particular verse, as well as the whole of the subject matter being addressed here by Paul to the Corinthians. All the same, this verse is part of God’s Holy Word and is intended to be both informative and instructive, though tucked neatly away here in a very illuminating passage of scriptures.

Since it is part of God’s Word that never changes, believers today are still obliged to give the utmost prayerful consideration as to its application to their lives. So as lights in the midst of a dark and blind world, they may properly “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” that they say and do, to give the glory and honor due to the Blessed Name of our Glorious Savior Jesus Christ.

Nonetheless, for a variety of reasons “believers” nowadays simply choose to ignore Paul’s two hundred and ninety-eight instructive words, (counted in the King James prior to verse sixteen) and imprudently conclude “we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” In so doing, they treat Paul’s instruction here as completely irrelevant to them, as if it was written without reason, a complete waste of time and parchment.

Nevertheless, up until the last 40-50 years the majority of “the churches of God” did keep the custom of women wearing head coverings to some degree. This shows that most believers in today’s Church have lost the very attribute for which Paul was praising the Corinthian church in the first place, “I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

So, what was Paul saying, “we have no such custom, neither the churches of God?” Well, what was the beginning of that verse?

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Two types of Christians…

Posted: September 10, 2018 in Shared Thoughts

There have basically only been two types of Christians in the world.

One type has lots of convictions, at least in the beginning. That is basically because when they first hear the Gospel and come to Christ they ask Him to please help them be the kind of Christian they should be. Naturally, He does. He begins by opening up and illuminating His word to them, showing them His will and what He expects of them. Thus, they come under conviction of His Spirit as He begins to point out those things in their lives that are not compatible with His holiness and consequently need to be forsaken if they are to continue to both walk with and grow in Him. This shows the critical “relationship” necessary in Christianity as God endeavors to make us His people.

At first, there is usually an attempt to do the right thing, but because many have not fully surrendered to Christ He won’t empower them so as to have victory over their sin. For if He did, it would in truth be disregarding their freewill, because in their hearts they don’t really want to resist the temptations in their lives. Their hearts actually want to commit the sin. This is actually the purpose of temptation in our lives; it proves to one’s self the trueness of their heart. See, as long as Adam didn’t eat of the forbidden tree he would have always known he loved God. But by doing so, he showed his love was greater for something or someone else.

Even though these types of Christians are convicted, they’re still attracted to their sins and don’t really want to give them up. So, with time, these people will either fall away completely from Christ, or they will adapt their faith and just become religious like the Pharisees were, and they will simply begin to justify themselves by comparing themselves to others which they deem are worse people than they are, or distract themselves by spending their life away arguing about doctrine.

This type of Christian struggles with their commitment and thus will often try to negotiate with God, to reach a compromise so to say, where they give some of their time and money to good causes or deeds. They might even make a manageable commitment to their church to oversee something for a season to show they’re seriousness and to prove their faith. But that is where we leave the struggling Christians and go to the other type of Christian… the one with true faith, the overcomers.

The one with true faith understands the truth where the Apostle John warned them to be not deceived; “He that sins is of the devil, and he that works righteousness is righteous even as He [Jesus] is righteous.”

Because God’s word is hid in their heart, they cannot consent to sin because they understand the offense it is to the Holy Savior. Therefore, they can resist temptation for they are empowered by His Spirit to be overcomers of all pressures and temptation the world throws at them. This is always done at a cost to themselves, for Jesus warned them that they cannot be His disciple unless they freely choose to pick up their own cross and follow Him. He makes this requirement because it is the only way He can fully restore their souls. But this too often takes them down a path of righteousness that winds through a dark valley haunted by the Shadow of Death, their death. See this type of faith lays hold of salvation because it perseveres and works by love.

They understand they were once dead in their trespasses and sins, so now they trust Him knowing that not only has He given them life, but that He is in truth their life. They realize that to trust and obey Him is the only way to their realizing the fulfillment of His exceeding great and precious promises of being partakers of His divine nature. Thus, they walk in the light just as He is the very author and means of that life; therefore, they have holy fellowship with their Father and Savior. Their hearts are settled and hence resolved to give heed to the purifying of their souls by obeying His truth, which is possible only through the empowerment of His Spirit within them. This is both believing unto salvation and working out salvation. These Christians, though always fully capable of yielding to sin, nevertheless purposely out of love for God and others now walk with conviction of righteousness and not under the conviction of sin.

Sadly, Jesus said there were going to be many, many more of the first type of Christians. Those who will be found guilty of taking His name in vain. For scripture plainly say that they who call themselves Christians “ought to walk even as He walked.” These Christians will only be “overcomers” in that they have overcome the conviction of sin; for while professing Christ as Savior, they are again entangled in the depth of sin because their conscience has been so seared so as to permit them to freely continue in their willful sin. They now choose to ignore that Jesus came and died and rose again so that He might save them from their sins and change their nature. But how, if they will not let His save them from their sins, can He truly save them from their sin’s reward of death and hell?

The latter Christians are indeed very few, Jesus said so. That is because they understand The Gate is a strait, and not straight. It is a path fraught with dangers whereby they must always be clothed with the armor of God and yielded to the commands and orders of the Captain of their Salvation. They understand He alone knows the narrow path that leads to eternal life, and being His sheep, they have learned to trust His voice as the Great Shepherd of their souls. Thus, they have tuned their ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches and will be overcomers of both their carnal nature and adversary.  Why? Because they have come to love God with all their heart, mind, and strength, and have experienced through all their hardships that He is indeed able to sanctify them wholly, so that their whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of their Lord, Jesus Christ. He is faithful.

So, which kind of Christian are you?

Jude 1:24 – Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

“Do you love me more than these,” Jesus asked of Peter who had not too long before boldly stated before all the disciples “Though all men forsake Thee, I will not.”

Here Jesus was graciously administering some much needed comfort and healing to Peter because of his earlier three denials with three precious opportunities to confirm his love for Christ. Yet Jesus takes Peter further as He continues with His instruction to Peter as to how He wants Peter to love Him; 1. Feed my Sheep and 2. Follow me. What a blessing it is that the Lord instructs us how to pray, love, serve and worship Him.

Certainly nobody could deny Peter loved Christ in view of the fact that he had been willing to lay down his life for Jesus who tells us there is no greater love than that . . . however, love needs to be . . . no, actually love must be given to the honoring of its proclaimed point of affection. Godly love doesn’t merely seek its own expression; rather it pursues the gratification of the other. (more…)

New Book Release

Posted: June 16, 2018 in Shared Thoughts

Available on Amazon

Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.

A brother and I were praying for another person a while back when he quoted parts of the  verses above in his prayer. That got me to thinking about how these two verses are possibly the ones which I hear taken out of context most when praying with others. Each verse seems to have their own catch phrases that tend to be quoted by young or untrained believers. Even believers who appear mature and seasoned are still only repeating without evaluating what they’ve heard from some preacher, trying to “claim” the promises of God. However, I need to ask, is that really Jesus’ intent here? Was He merely trying to teach us the formula of what and how things need to be done so we can then successfully claim His promises and get our prayers answered?

So, wen I hear people misused verse 19, it is actually quite troublesome to me, because they really believe that by getting me or another to stand in agreement with them that they’re more likely to have their prayer answered. This flawed understanding literally keeps these believers in a position of trying to perfect the way they do things so they can have faith for their prayers… rather than simply praying because of faith.

Sadly, I am absolutely certain there are many Christians out there who cannot even understand what I just said. Because they been taught things incorrectly, they are left believing “faith” is something they must somehow muster up to compel God to move on their behalf, or even to hear their prayers.

We often witness another naive, though popular tactic to apply faith to prayer. This happens when people conclude their prayer request with that notable fluctuation in their tone as they say, “In Jesus name!” It kind of reminds me of when I was a kid and we would see another kid aspiring to be a magician wave his plastic wand and say “Abracadabra!” That’s because that was the magical word that was going to make the magic trick work.

However, scripture says faith comes by hearing and that hearing the word of God, so obviously many are hearing the word of God incorrectly and are failing to discern when they do. Faulty hearing leaves people trying to apply another kind of “faith” to their prayers, rather than permitting the word of God to be the vehicle whereby true faith is given unto them. That is why scripture states over and over, “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear.”

Regarding verse 20, it is evident it is being misunderstood by someone when you can sense they feel the need to verbally remind the Lord that there are “two or three are gathered together” in the His name. When I hear such usages of the scriptures it saddens me; because these are not the context in which the scriptures are given. Therefore I am writing this post to go over these verses to show how they are misused and address an error that is too common among those professing to know and walk with the Lord of Glory.

First, let’s look at this belief that if “two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything” then they will get whatever they are praying for. This misunderstanding is one reason why a lot of Christians hold hands when praying corporately. That doesn’t mean holding hands is wrong, but rather believing there needs to be “touching” is wrong. Most believers have witnessed this on religious TV shows, and perhaps that is where they were taught this erroneous belief.

While I discourage viewing the whole video, this is an example of  what many preachers do when they call on the people and those out in the viewing audience to come into an agreement together. Sometimes they will use the added touch of encouraging the people to reach their hands forward towards the pulpit and those at home to lay hands on their TV sets, as they pray for everything from financial prosperity, a revival, the salvation of family members, physical healing, and once again, some more financial prosperity.

It seems the more people can “do” while they are praying the more likely they are to have the faith for what they are praying about. What these preachers are doing is literally asking the people to make a conscious decision to willfully consent to surrender their minds and use their bodies to accept whatever is being told to them to do.

However, Jesus’s reference to “agree . . . as touching anything” is actually to imply an indication that such faith is authentic; and was not issuing an instruction to make physical contact. “As touching” is the proof faith is already present in their hearts; the kind of faith spoken of in Hebrews-

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Substance is tangible; it can be held and thus touched. Such is the gravity of true faith, evidence that has undeniable weight with God. But this faith comes only by correctly hearing, or rightly dividing, the word of truth. A hearing that receives understanding into the heart whereby we firmly lay hold of the promises of God.

Heb 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

When “two of you shall agree ” it is an indication that there exists a like-mindedness and unity of faith. Jesus wasn’t teaching us that we should solicit others to agree about issues of prayer so it will be more likely they will be answered, He was explaining when believers truly come together in a unity and faith regarding something (to be discussed later) then He will hear and their prayers will be answered by Him. Of course, the “agree as touching” or unity of faith will be dependent on each yielding to the Holy Spirit as He imparts to them a correct understanding of a matter through their”hearing” of His word.

Which brings us to verse 20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Perhaps what I would like to do first with this verse is address what it is not saying. It is not saying that there needs to be “two or three gathered together” to have Jesus in our midst. His promise to all His children is evident in the verses below–

Ge 28:15 And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in all places whither you go, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you of.

Mt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

There are many other passages that confirms the Lord is with each of His children. Remember, we are the temple of God, so to think Christ would not be with us when alone would be a rejection of the greatest promise of God to never leave or to forsake us. So then, if we are to be good “workman that needs not to be ashamed” and rightly walk in the light of this word, we must determine what Jesus was in fact speaking about.

To start, keep in mind the whole of Matthew 18 from verse 7 to the end is dealing with “offenses.” However, from verses 15 to 35 Jesus begins dealing specifically with one  “brother” or believer being offended by another. When that happens we are instructed by the Lord Jesus Christ here to go and “gain” our brother back. That is because sin separates men from God and each other, causing a breach in the unity of faith and the bond of peace to be broken. Jesus begins by telling us to first go privately and explain to our brother how he has “trespassed” against us.

Matthew 5:23 – Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you; 24 Leave there your gift before the altar, and go make your way to first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 18:15 – Moreover if your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone:  for if he will hear you, you have gained your brother.

 

Sometimes people don’t even recognize that the thing they did offended someone, or perhaps know what they did or failed to do was actually a sin. This instruction of scripture requires us to be willing to humble ourselves and to go seeking to remedy the situation by lovingly reasoning with our brother regarding the nature of their offense. Should they fail to hear us individually we are further instructed to take another brother with us so that these truths which are given to guide our love and behavior towards each other “may be established” according to God’s word.

If the brother continues to be unwilling admit or unconvinced that they have truly sinned, then Jesus says we are to tell it unto the whole church so that the whole body can judge the matter and together attempt to persuade the transgressor of his sin. However, the success of this will only be achieved through unfeigned love together with fervent prayer and often times requires fasting; thus placing the whole focus on restoration of unity and the bond of peace so the body might remain fitly joined together in service and worship to the glory of God.

Again, this all comes down to the transgressor humbling himself to correctly hear the word of God regarding the nature of his actions (or lack thereof). If he hears you, or the multitude of witnesses, then we have gained back our brother. If not, then we are clearly told that a willful sinner who continues to reject God’s word is to be unto us as “an heathen man and a publican.”

This “retaining” of their sin isn’t placing the brother in a state of condemnation, for his own continuance in sin has done that. Rather it is the churches responsibility to not enable sin by allowing people to continue in a known sin by permitting them to continue with us in a false fellowship. Yet this is what churches do all the time under the banner of “Love the sinner, Hate the sin.” Light and darkness have no meeting place for godly fellowship. However, if he acknowledges the truth and repents of his sin, then we can “loose” him from his sin with prayer and forgiveness.

When the sinner acknowledges their offense, it is here that we see the agreement “as touching anything” that Jesus was speaking of. All the parties involved have come to an agreement and a unity of faith regarding both sin and righteousness; the issue having been rightly divided and the offender humbled thereby and now seeks forgiveness. It is here at this precious moment we truly see how “two or three” are gather in Jesus name for righteousness sake and the petition that would be foremost upon their lips and hearts is for the Lord of Glory to forgive and heal the body of believers by strengthening the bond of peace and increasing our passionate charity one for another. Jesus’ promise assures us that He is there in our midst to heal us and bind us together in His Spirit, for He loves when we acknowledge His word and repent of our sins.

To take these verses and reduce them to a willful consent to accept another’s notion or desire about anything else and to pray holding hands to accomplish such, does enormous damage to the true intent of Jesus’ words. He has instructed us to love one another as He loves us and to humble ourselves, even when we are in the right. We are to go seeking restoration of that one who has perhaps ignorantly slipped out of the path of righteousness. Brothers and Sisters, what incredible healing God could work in His church if only they would correctly hear His words that were sent to heal us.

Concerning our praying “in Jesus name,” we do so as the qualifier of the object and reason of our faith; for it is because of Him and what He has done that we can exercise faith and come boldly before His throne of grace in our times of need, such as a holy reconciliation. We know “as touching” that we have our petitions because what we ask is according to His will and not our own, for His glory and not our wants. And thus faith does work, for faith works by love. It comes from hearing and that hearing the truth of God’s heart, love and will for us.

Therefore, faith’s focus is always God and His steadfast faithfulness to His word. Faith exists solely because of what He has wrought for us and desires to complete in us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Faith finds rests only in His word and believing what He has done and what He has said He’ll do; never depending upon anything within or from ourselves. Faith is given to us simply because we believe what “He has said…”

Heb 13:5 – Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

1 Peter 1:13 – 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.” 17 And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 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 God22 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 for ever. 24  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: 25 But the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Jesus is always with all His Children. But He is especially there in their midst as a healer to strengthen and bond us together again when in love we strive for the unity of the faith, confess our sins and pray for one another; for this is truly one of the greatest witness of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the LORD.

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.

So, go and “gain” back your brother…

Trips to the Tomb

I have posted this before, but since it is Easter this coming Sunday I figured it would be a good repost for those who may have missed it. I hope it blesses you.

For centuries there has been much confusion when people try to reason the different accounts of Jesus’ resurrection as recorded by the apostles. The fact that they all seem to have a different story to tell does not help. Perhaps, a good way to consider their seemingly different reports is to view them like transparent overlays, similar to the one’s we have seen in books showing the skeleton, then the nerves and blood vessels, organs, muscular and finally the skin and hair.

The Gospels, similarly, are each reporting different events which had taken place around a major singular occurrence, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The fact is that these different events are recorded in God’s word and are therefore true. Perhaps the answer to the confusion is to consider that there were multiple trips made to the tomb.

The best way to determine the possible order of these trips to the tomb is to consider the different details that have been given about the time of day and light of the sun. Was the sun going down or coming up? These questions are actually quite easy to answer. However, we must remember that the Sabbath, like all the other biblical days, began and ended with sundown, see Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31 and Lev. 23:32.

(more…)

…as filthy rags…

Posted: March 5, 2018 in Shared Thoughts
If you are a Christian, I am sure you’ve heard someone say, “All our righteousness is as filthy rags.”
 
Did you know that is a misquote?
 
It’s “all our righteousnesses [note: plural] are as filthy rags.” Meaning, all our self-righteous good deeds that are not in obedience to God are “as filthy rags.”
 
Do you fully understand the “filthy rags” part? It just doesn’t mean “dirty clothes,” though that is how it has been translated in some versions. It actually means a “soiled menstrual clothe.”
 
Why is that significant?

Well, consider these verses below –

 
1st 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 [i.e., semen], but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever.
 
See, God’s word is, as it were, the holy semen of truth, which when acknowledged and accepted by faith quickens us, or makes us alive, enabling the divine nature of Christ to be fully formed in us.
 
James 1:18 – Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures.
 
1st John 3:9 – Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
 
The reason Isaiah told the people that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” was because the people, like a menstruating woman, had reject the seed [word] of God and it did not bring forth His life in them.
 
Therefore Isaiah continued with saying, “…and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7 And there is none that calls upon Your name, that stirs up himself to take hold of You: for You have hid your face from us, and have consumed us, BECAUSE of our iniquities.”
 
Jesus told us, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
 
Because they were hypocrites. Faith, saving faith, comes by hearing of God’s word, brings repentance, gratitude, and love; because true faith works by love… which is simply known as FAITH-fulness, or to be full of faith.
 
The just shall live by faith… that too is an Old Testament verse and reality….
 
Revelation 3:4 – You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: FOR THEY ARE WORTHY.
 
Are you going to be found worthy?
 
2nd Peter 2:2 – Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath 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.
9 BUT… he that lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten why he was purged from his old sins.
 
2nd Corinthians 6:1 – We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that you RECEIVE NOT THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN.
 
It is time to awake unto righteousness and put on Christ Jesus.
Be holy.
Live for the King!

(NOTE: I am still working on my study of Jesus’ love as revealed to us through His letters to the seven churches… This post is just a heart rant that needed to be vented)

Good News! Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

Bad News…  Jesus Christ is still the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

Why is that good and bad news? Because it is established upon the truth that God never changes, and that not one word He has spoken will ever fail. Hence, like a coin with one side being “heads” and the other side “tails,” so is this truth; which gives men a definite cause for both the “Joy of the Lord” and “The fear of God.” For God will do all He has said He will. A day of reckoning is coming.

Listen people, it is time to put away your neat little boxes with all the pleasant sweet “promises of God for the day,” each written on their own colorful little cards, and begin to seek out and walk in the whole counsel of God. Quit your picking and choosing from God’s word, for Jesus said we live by every word that God has spoken. You cannot ignore the parts you don’t like to hear… that’s why they stoned the prophets. Wake up, and don’t be a hypocrite! Away with the artsy colorful memes with their sweet words on them… obey the Gospel!

Revelation 14:6 – And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, HAVING THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL TO PREACH to those dwelling on the earth, even to every nation and kindred and tongue and people, 7 saying with a great voice, “FEAR GOD AND GIVE GLORY TO HIM! For the hour of His judgment has come. And WORSHIP HIM who made the heaven and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

Romans 1:3 – …Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name.

Romans 16:25 – Now to Him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.

It’s great that you believe in Jesus, but God has commanded ALL MEN everywhere to repent, not just to believe. It is really simple people, belief and faith are simply not the same thing. You can believe without faith, but you cannot have faith without absolute belief. True saving faith requires a response from you; a purposeful taking of action to the acknowledgement of God’s will; it’s called “Obedience.” That is how we are saved by Grace, THROUGH FAITH.

Acts 6:7 – And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it [faith] is the gift of God [which is offered with the hearing of the gospel].

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

2 Thessalonians 1:7 – And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; 10 When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

Remember, Jesus said even the demons believe, but mere belief is not enough. God requires our faith to have works, or actions of love and faithfulness. As James, the Lord’s brother said, “Faith without works is dead,” just as your body without your spirit is dead. It is faith that enables overcomers to “lay hold of eternal life.”  So wake up to righteousness and seek fruit unto holiness. Turn from your wicked ways, humble yourself before Him and seek His will; it might be He will still forgive you and restore you unto Himself.

Have you never read what Paul wrote to the Jewish believers about faith?

Hebrews 4:1 – Therefore, a promise being left to enter into His rest, let us fear lest any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For also the gospel was preached to us, as well as to them. But the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

Faith produces faithfulness, you know a tree by its fruit. So, if you claim to be a Christian, then you you must realize that you are claiming to be a steward of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who is obligated to the whole counsel of God… not just the pleasant and pretty parts. Wake up! and pick up your cross, deny yourself, seek first His kingdom and righteousness and follow Christ’s Spirit of Truth which He sent to set you “free indeed.”

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.

Now, I am certain that you will never see the following promise of God in any little religious and cute, yet marketed for profit and sale, box of promises-

Deuteronomy 28:63 – And it shall be, 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 nothing. And you shall be plucked from off the land where you go to possess it.

If God so judged Israel, do you really think that He is going to spare America? Did you forget that Jesus said when they say “Peace and Safety” that is when sudden destruction will come? Or a nation divided cannot stand? God is no respecter of persons or nations. God kept His all His words towards Israel; and because His word is founded upon His righteous precepts, His judgment will likewise be visited upon other nations as well. Listen to His word to Ezekiel… and realize that not one of these words failed to come to pass…

Ezekiel 8:17 – And He said to me, “Have you seen, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they do the hateful things which they do here? For they have filled the land with violence and have turned to provoke Me to anger. And lo, they put the [pleasant and odorous] branch [that they carry to offer to their idols] to their nose.” 18 And I will also deal with fury; “My eye shall not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.” 9:1 And He cried in my ears with a loud voice, saying, “Let the Overseers [the angels] of the city draw near, even each with his destroying weapon in his hand.” 2 And behold, six men came from the way of the Upper Gate which faces north, and each had his shattering weapon in his hand. And one man among them was clothed with linen, and a writer’s inkhorn by his side. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar. 3 And the glory of the God of Israel had gone on from the cherub, where it was on it, to the threshold of the house. And He called to the man clothed in linen, with the writer’s inkhorn by his side. 4 And the LORD said to him, “Go through in the midst of the city, in the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark on the foreheads of the men who are groaning and are mourning because of all the abominations that are done in her midst.” 5 And He said to those in my hearing, “Go over in the city after him, and strike. Let not your eye spare, nor have pity.” 6 “Fully destroy old men, young men and virgins, and little children and women. But do not come near any man on whom is the mark. And begin at My sanctuary.” And they began at the old men who were before the house. 7 And He said to them, “Defile the house [the Temple, for judgment begins in the house of the Lord], and fill the courts with the slain. “Go out!” And they went out and killed in the city. 8 And it happened as they were slaying them, and I remained, then I fell on my face and cried, and said, “Ah Lord Jehovah! Will You destroy all the remnant of Israel in Your pouring out of Your fury on Jerusalem?” 9 And He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is great, and the land is full of blood, and the city is full of perversity. For they say, The LORD has forsaken the land; and, the LORD does not see.” 10 “And even I, My eye shall not spare, nor will I have pity, but I will put their way on their head.”

Who was to be spared the judgment of destruction? The people whose hearts were heavy with sighing, “groaning and mourning because of all the abominations that were done” in their country.

Ezekiel 21:1 – And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem, and drop a word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel.” 3 “And say to the land of Israel, So says the LORD: Behold, I am against you, and will draw out My sword out of its sheath and will cut off from you the righteous and the wicked.” 4 “Since then I will cut off the righteous and the wicked from you, therefore My sword shall be drawn from its sheath against all flesh from the south to the north,” 5 “so that all flesh may know that I the LORD have drawn out My sword from its sheath. It shall not return any more.” 6 “And you, son of man, groan with the breaking of your loins; and grown with bitterness before their eyes.” 7 “And it will be when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ You shall answer, ‘Because of the news that it is coming; and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water.’ Behold, IT COMES, and IT SHALL BE,” says the Lord Jehovah.

Wake up people…

Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised), 24 and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He who despised Moses’ law died without mercy on the word of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will be thought worthy to receive punishment, the one who has trampled the Son of God, and who has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who has said, “Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, 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.

Time is running out. Soon the promise below which has never made it’s way into a “Promise Box” will become reality…

Revelation 22:10 – And He said unto me, “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. 11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whore-mongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.”

 

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, a 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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