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Posted: June 16, 2018 in Shared Thoughts

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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.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember,

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

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

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

Peace

PREFACE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Christ’s love for His church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Live for the King!

 

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

Black and White.

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

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

Black and White Gradient

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

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

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

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

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

Fog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Transplanted…

Posted: October 28, 2017 in Shared Thoughts

Just a quick observation while reading Psalm 1 –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Holding the truth in love

Posted: October 2, 2017 in Shared Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now consider also these words –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live for the King!

 

 

Are you looking to improve your walking with God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

WALKING WITH GOD

Format for your iPhone or other smart phones.

WALKING WITH GOD for Phone

Enjoy!

A short sermon I preached from about 5 years ago…

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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