Posts Tagged ‘repent’

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

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

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

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…

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 –

(more…)

A timely re-share:

Hallowed Be Thy Name

This was a message God laid on my heart concerning the deity of Jesus the Christ, the Lord’s Prayer and its exhortation for us to petition that God’s name to be hallowed, revered and feared in this fallen world. God’s people need to recognize the necessity to daily seek first His kingdom and righteousness while the long-suffering of God’s waits as with one hand he holds His love and mercy while with the other hand holding back His coming wrath and judgment on a wicked world.



Part 2 of 2  of my series on hell 

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

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

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

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

(more…)

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

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

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

A couple of years ago I had written an article about the unfaithful steward who wasted his master’s goods, I discussed the attitudes of the Pharisees that were there listening. Amazingly, instead of agreeing with Jesus that the steward’s behavior was sinful, they instead began to deride Jesus to publicly mock Him. The more I ponder this reactive attitude towards Christ the more I am amazed at just how hard an arrogant and religious heart can be. Not only were they failing miserably at being faithful stewards of the oracles of God which they openly boasted to be the keepers and teachers of, they failed miserably in their living by them. Such is why all who will live godly for Jesus will not only be rejected, but likewise persecuted by today’s arrogant religious leaders.

Jesus said such men were “those who justified yourselves before men,” but warned all that God knows the hearts of all men. But what was it the Pharisees had been “justifying” themselves about? They were the prominent religious leaders of the day . . . that is up until the Light of the world appeared unto men exposing them for what they really were. They were covetous not only of worldly things, but also of the praise and admiration of men. No wonder Jesus spoke such sharp condemning words to them that what they “highly esteemed” was an abomination in the sight of God.

If you are an America Christian who is faring well and yet yearn for, or look for the praise and approval of men, then I strongly urge you to listen to Jesus words against these religious men  –

Luke 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

 In the Gospel of John it was recorded how many of the chief rulers actually believed on Jesus, but only two of which are mentioned in scripture and eventually came forward and stood for Jesus, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea. However, many of them would not openly confess Jesus because they feared the Jews, i.e., the Pharisees –

John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:  43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (more…)

I am sure must have heard already that the original handwritten lyrics to Don McLean’s legendary song “American Pie” recently sold at an auction for 1.2 million dollars.

When I heard this the other morning I was struck with the feeling that the significance of this sell is that America has truly been sold out; the handwritten constitution, the bill of rights….  it’s all gone. I couldn’t reason away the thought that we have just crossed a threshold were all prospects of turning America around are gone. Though individuals may still find life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and personal repentance, I was  left with the depressing feeling that the nation of America has officially been spiritually given over into captivity, with the physical soon to follow…

Below is one of the passage of scripture that I regrettably feel finds application to America today…

Ezekiel 16:35 – Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD:
36 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them;
37 Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.
38 And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.
39 And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare.
40 They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.
41 And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more.
42 So will I make My fury toward thee to rest, and My jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry.
43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted Me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.

It grieves my heart to say these things…

Brothers and sisters, hide yourselves in the Most High.

I know I have written several times on grace in the past, but we must be obedient to what we feel the Lord gives us to share. So, whoever you are, maybe this is just for you.

The follow list contains three things that God’s word not only fundamentally teaches about God’s grace, but biblical history affirms over and over again to be true as it records without partiality the triumphs and failures of those who believed in God.

  1. Grace is sufficient.
  2. Grace can be frustrated.
  3. Grace can be received in vain.

First, regarding grace’s sufficiency in the life of the believer, Paul was assure by God that His grace would be adequate to see him through whatever temptations he would endure or the trials and persecutions he must suffer for the cause of Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul learned his confidence was only to be in God’s grace, and that he could not depend on his own strength or power. For it was in his weakness where Paul found he was able to experience God’s fullness in a way he couldn’t in those areas where his own strength or wisdom were adequate, such as making and mending tents. But when it came to his salvation, doing the work of the ministry, fighting the fight, or running the race, Paul knew full well he could not do those things apart from the grace of God given unto him.

Furthermore, the fact that God had given such empowering grace unto Paul, he was fully aware he must take full advantage of it so as not to frustrate it, lest he fall short in the calling God had given unto him.

1 Corinthians 9:16 – For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

I often use the following example when speaking of God’s “sufficient” grace. Someone needs to get somewhere but they have no means to get there. They are at an impasse and do not know what they are going to do because they have to get there or the consequences will be severe if they fail to do so. Upon hearing of their plight I offer them the use of my car, to which they say, “Great, but I have no money for gas.” I tell them no worries, I will fill up the tank and that will be more than sufficient to get them there.

Being greatly relieved, they are now confident that they can safely make the trip because they have been given all they need for the journey, but while on their way they get to thinking they have more than enough time and there is “more than sufficient” gas, so they take the liberty to go sightseeing to other places along the way. Getting caught up in their new found liberty with my car and gas, they carelessly are driving around exhausting the gas. Soon they turn around towards their original destination and suddenly to their surprise the car abruptly stops out of gas!

Is this is not like the parable of the ten virgins Jesus gave us? Or the warning in Hebrews 4-

Hebrews 4:1 – Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (more…)

(Timely re-post) 

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 when he quoted parts of these verses in his prayer. It got me to thinking about how these two verses are possibly the ones 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.

(more…)

A couple of years ago I had written an article about the unfaithful steward who wasted his master’s goods, I discussed the attitudes of the Pharisees that were there listening. Amazingly, instead of agreeing with Jesus that the steward’s behavior was sinful, they instead began to deride Jesus to publicly mock Him. The more I ponder this reactive attitude towards Christ the more I am amazed at how just how hard an arrogant and religious heart can be. Not only were they failing miserably at being faithful stewards of the oracles of God which they openly boasted to be the keepers and teachers of, they failed miserably in their living by them. Such is why all who will live godly for Jesus will not only be rejected, but likewise persecuted by today’s arrogant religious leaders.

Jesus said such men were “those who justified yourselves before men,” but warned all that God knows the hearts of all men. But what was it the Pharisees had been “justifying” themselves about? They were the prominent religious leaders of the day . . . that is up until the Light of the world appeared unto men exposing them for what they really were. They were covetous not only of worldly things, but also of the praise and admiration of men. No wonder Jesus spoke such sharp condemning words to them that what they “highly esteemed” was an abomination in the sight of God.

If you are an America Christian who is faring well and yet yearn for, or look for the praise and approval of men, then I strongly urge you to listen to Jesus words against these religious men  –

Luke 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

 In the Gospel of John it was recorded how many of the chief rulers actually believed on Jesus, but only two of which are mentioned in scripture and eventually came forward and stood for Jesus, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea. However, many of them would not openly confess Jesus because they feared the Jews, i.e., the Pharisees –

John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:  43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (more…)

I would like to share a quote with you by John H. Leith. John is a brother whose book is titled appropriately by its contents, “Creeds of the Churches.” This quote comes from his preface an serves well as a reminder of our obligation to God to prove all things and to hold fast to that which is good.

 “. . . the nature of man is an intelligent being. Just because of intelligence the Christian, of all men, has to learn to discern with agonizing clarity what is conceivable by him about God Himself. What cannot be thought through critically and expressed with reasonable clarity cannot demand the allegiance of man’s whole being. Understanding is necessary for man’s full commitment. Hence faith must be spoken and made intelligible. That is not to say faith must be enclosed within the limits of reason, but it does mean that faith must never require neither the closing of the mind nor the sacrifice of the integrity of the mind.”

This statement has possibly encouraged me more than any other man’s personal words of wisdom for the sake of Christian unity, to be willing to spend whatever time and effort required, without concern or measure, to labor in love to understand another man’s personal profession of faith. Likewise, it has compelled me to be as clear and thorough as possible when sharing my own convictions concerning the things that pertain to God, our virgin born, crucified and resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus and the precepts of pertaining to His judgments and eternal Kingdom. For if I am not willing and careful to invest the time in others, seek God’s truth with prayer and fasting, than I too will doubtless be found guilty of being a slothful servant and therefore a willful hindrance to fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for the glory and unity of His church. (more…)

CaptureAnd you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. (Colossians 2:13,14)

Those who have been “churched” for a while are likely to have heard this verse interpreted as the whole of God’s law being nailed to the cross as being now null and void, or no longer relevant in the life of a believer. That once we “accept” Jesus’ death as a payment for our sins, we have no further obligation than to just accept His wondrous grace by faith . . . and accept that we are always going to be messing up and still sinning all the days of our lives. But because of “grace,” no worries.  I fear that many such believers have been duped into swallowing a grace that cannot effectually save them from their sins; while at the same time have been convinced into casting away God’s provisional lamp for their feet.

I ask the reader to be prayerfully open minded and to consider, what if what was nailed to the cross as “handwriting of ordinances that was against us” was not the ceremonial law of Judaism, but something else? That is not to say the ceremonial law did not fulfill its function and therefore has completed its course in God’s plan for humanity, for in Roman’s 7 Paul labors to persuade his Jewish brethren to acknowledge that they were now free from ceremonial rites because that which they pointed to had come, the Lamb of God which not only bore the sins of the world, but ended the sin-offerings as well. For all those were merely shadows of Christ body as an offering to come.

Certainly it was not the moral aspect of God’s law which was nailed to the cross and taken out of the way, for consider how the scriptures bare witness that Law was “perfect, converting the soul . . . making wise the simple . . . rejoicing the heart . . . pure and enlightening the eyes.”  Furthermore the scripture also records in Psalms the prayerful request that God would “grant me thy law graciously,” which seems to be an interesting twist to much that is preached today against “The Law,” that the law could actually be given in grace.

Psalm 19:7 – The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Psalm 119:29 – Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.

The ceremonial law has by God’s design expired in as much as it fulfilled its prophetic purpose of proclaiming the sacrificial death of Jesus and therefore has ceased, just as the silhouette of shadow created by the light above becomes covered by the arrival of the object that cast it. Such have the ceremonial/sacrificial laws fulfilled their purpose and are done away with by the offering of the body of Christ, as is witnessed in verse 17.

 Colossians 2:16 – Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

However, that does not mean they cannot be recognized and kept as unto the Lord as we see in Roman 14, but they are no longer a basis for defining sin in the life of the believer. It is only when they return to sacrificing animals as sin offerings again that they began to crucify Christ afresh by rejecting the finality of the Cross.

However, one should acknowledge that Paul was writing to the Gentiles here whose sins were not based upon any of the things mentioned above in verse 16, but are more clearly established in Paul’s teaching in Roman’s chapters 1-3 that all men had sin. Therefore, we must recognize that the Gentiles too had sin, not because they failed in their improper dietary habits or their uncircumcised flesh, for they too like the Jews had transgressed God’s moral laws and sinned and being obstinate had as did the Jews failed to circumcise their hearts, to expose themselves in broken nakedness and honesty before their Creator as transgressors of His righteousness.

The Jews and Gentiles alike had accrued a long record of all their sins that was cried out against them as debtors, which bore witnessed that they all had failed to love God and worship Him as such. These offenses and transgressions were recorded as evidence that they had not only failed to love God, but also defined their failures to love their neighbors as themselves. These two commandments are the foundation for the defining guidelines of righteous-love given us in the Ten Commandment; the moral law of God and witnessed to as well by His holy prophets, whereby all men have failed.

There is a distinction between the moral and ceremonial parts of God’s law. One shines light on God’s expectations of holiness for His created beings and the other prophetic of events to come. God never was appeased or  had pleasure in the sacrifice of animals, the shedding of their blood, nor could they ever remove sin our purge the conscience from sins, they merely prophesied of the coming of the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. This we can clearly see from the OT verses as well –

Micah 6:6 – Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall 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? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

What was nailed to the cross was the “the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us,” that legal affidavit recording our failures to love God and our neighbor, defining our debt of sins against God Himself. I wish I still had original resource at hand, but years ago I ran across a historic tradition the Jews had in those days that was not unlike our present day “legal notice” section of the paper. It seems that if a person had a debt they could not pay that they were in danger of ending up in a debtor’s prison whereby they had to stay until the debt could be satisfied. (We know of this from Jesus’ own teachings in Matthew 18:23-35). However, if a man was destitute and had no means to pay, he could go to the town center and there was erected a community pole where he could take a piece of sheep skin and write a public “legal notice” of all the debts he had outstanding against him. There he would publicly acknowledge (confess) all his debts.

If he owed money to the butcher, he would openly note it, as well as that which was owed to the candle maker, carpenter or whoever. Anyone going by could stop and read his debts; they were public information now for he in desperation for mercy he had so confessed his poverty openly. If anyone was thereby moved with compassion they could take and write their name beside a particular debt and then the creditor could come to that person for payment. If anyone was able and compassionate enough, they could simply fold it up covering the list of debts leaving the debtor’s name exposed and sign his own name to it so all the creditors would know they could go to one person to receive full payment.  Look again at the verses –

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Nowhere else in scripture has the Law of God been called a “handwriting of ordinances.” Interesting too is that the Greek word translated “handwriting” is only used this one time by the Apostle Paul here who wrote much in other epistles of the law and grace. Yet nowhere else did he use this Greek word in reference to it or this also once used expression of “nailing it to His cross” when addressing the law. Yet here it is neatly tucked between forgiving us of all our sins and the defeating of our accusers and tempters. For the Greek word used here only once in scripture and translated “handwriting” also means “a manuscript; specially, a legal document or bond.” Now a bond is written evidence of debt recorded by a creditor with the terms of payment spelled out, such as the “wages of sin is death.”

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Such is what Jesus did, He took the record of all the sins of mankind and nailed it to the cross stating “Paid in Full.” Nevertheless, such forgiveness of debt can only only be applied to each sinner by their faith, which faith is evident by their confession of debt with a surrender to His Lordship at their realizing that by such payment of the blood of the Son of God they have been purchased from a debt that demanded their death and have become debtors unto Christ and are longer their own. These are the believers who answered the call to be bond-servants unto righteousness and joyfully heed the admonition to go and sin no more.

For that reason and more, the how and why the Spirit of Christ is given to now work in us, that I continually stress how the grace God’s given us in Christ Jesus is much more than just “unmerited favor.” Certainly, we cannot be what God requires or do the things he asks of us alone in our own strength; we need the grace of God, Christ in us to enable us. The truth and power of the Gospel is that we can do as Paul, Peter, James and John say we must, purify ourselves and make ourselves ready . . . because He will enable us to do so.

II Corinthians 6:17 – Wherefore come [you] out from among them, and be you separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

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.

James 4:8 – Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.

1 John 3:3 – And every man that hath this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.

One who is truly “born again” by the grace of God will by their faith[fullness] be evidently shown to be such, alive unto God. Consider the profoundly simple and clear teaching of Christ of how a good tree brings forth good fruit and evil tree brings forth evil fruit, likewise we can know what manner of tree we are by our fruit. By such a scriptural witness we must also acknowledge not all confessors of Christ are true believers, for if one confesses Christ in word only but by their actions denies Him . . . are we to conclude to the contrary that profession outweighs fruit? To be saved is to be set free from sin, not merely forgiven, even though that is in fact a growth and refining process the Spirit of God works in repentant believers. But those who are obstinate and justify their continuance in sins are goats and not sheep, tares instead of wheat.

Paul also tells us in I Thessalonians, “Quench not the Spirit.” The word quenched doesn’t simply mean to grieve or offend; it means to extinguish (literally or figuratively): to cause to go out, quench. The same Greek word is used in these verses as well –

Matthew 12:20 – A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Matthew 25:8 – And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

Mark 9:44,46,48 – Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.

Ephesians 6:16 – Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Hebrews 11:34 – Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Certainly in all the above verses we would acknowledge an absolute extinguishing as the intended meaning of the word quench. That being understood, we can also see how scriptures tell two things about God’s creation of man’s spirit –

Proverbs 20:27 – The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

Proverbs 24:20 – For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

The reader would do well to consider the meaning of these verse in light of the Gospel of John concerning Jesus –

John 1:3 – All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.  4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  5  And the light shined in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.  8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  9 That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.

Our spirits were created for a unique union with the Spirit of God; just a candle has neither function nor life unless it is united to a flame. It is Jesus’ light which is the true life of man, which gives meaning and purposes to man’s being. But the candle/spirit of the wicked shall be extinguished, unacceptable for the presence of Christ Spirit.

I know the following  is an OT verse, but it still conveys the equity and righteousness of God who changes not-

Ezekiel 33:12 – Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turns from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sins. 13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. 14 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. 16 None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. 17 Yet the children of thy people say, “The way of the Lord is not equal,” but as for them, their way is not equal. 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, he shall even die thereby.

However, no man can repent or turn from his sins but by the grace of God, meaning the granting of forgiveness upon the transgressor’ confession and his receiving empowerment from God to turn from and overcome his bondage of sins. But be not deceived, no sinner can repent just whenever they want to; they are enslaved by their sin. God must grant repentance if they are to be freed.

Acts 3:26 – Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

Acts 5:31 – Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 11:18 – When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Such was working of God’s grace was lawfully accomplished through the work of the blood and cross of Jesus which works to cleanse us that we might receive His Spirit within us which enables us.

1 Timothy 1:12 – And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, Who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;  13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Some will still say, “However, it is still my opinion, that even those of us who are more carnal in their walk, they will still receive some form of salvation,” and would confidently point to 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 for scriptural confirmation. –

1 Corinthians 3:13 – Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Once again I would encourage open and prayerful reconsideration of what Paul is indeed saying here. Paul addressed the Church of Corinth in I Corinthians 3 to deal with the carnal nature of certain believers in Corinth who were attempting to validate their relationship with Christ via their affiliation with certain teachers. Because of their carnality they were foolishly not walking according to the truth of the Gospel; for instead of identifying themselves with Christ and walking in obedience to the leading of His Spirit, they were identifying themselves with Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, and therefore were having “envying, and strife, and divisions” in the church.

In an attempt to correct their departure from the truth of walking with Christ, Paul clarifies that preachers and teachers are nothing more than “but ministers by whom you believed.” He stresses to them that it was God alone and His Spirit which gives life and increase. Paul then strongly warns that whoever would make himself a “teacher” needs to take heed what they teach, for God will hold them accountable –

1 Corinthians 3:8 – Now he [Paul] that plants and he [Apollos] that waters are one: and every man [teacher] shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.  9 For we [teachers] are laborers together with God: you [the believers] are God’s husbandry, you are God’s building.  10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder [teacher], I have laid the foundation, and another [teacher] builds thereon [in you believers’ lives]. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon.

Discerning each reference and understanding who it is Paul is speaking about is crucial for rightly dividing the verse, otherwise it easily becomes a false the bases for the erroneous belief that “those of us who are more carnal in their walk, will still receive some form of salvation.” We cannot take verses out of their context and rightly understand them alone. This verse does not support such a position, but actually works against it. Paul is addressing how teachers have a responsibility before God not to be handling the Word of God deceitfully, which is which Paul states, “But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon” the foundation of Christ crucified and resurrected for our sins and justification.

1 Corinthians 3:15 – If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Many have taken the verse above and foolishly concluded it really doesn’t matter what we do as Christians once we accepted Christ, because we are saved grace.  That is because they think this verse is speaking of the same one man throughout.  People who teach such are teaching “wood, hay, stubble.” Even though the word “he” is mentioned twice in verse 15, it is not addressing only one person in its string of thought. One needs to follow the text all the through and keep Paul’s addressment of the teachers and those being taught by them separate and distinctly identifiable while reading through the passages –

1 Corinthians 3:11 – For other foundation can no man [teacher] lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  12 Now if any man [teacher] build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  13 Every man’s [teacher’s] work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s [teacher’s] work of what sort it is.  14 If any man’s [teacher’s] work abide which he [teacher] hath built thereupon [in a believer’s life], he [teacher] shall receive a reward.  15 If any man’s [teacher’s] work shall be burned, he [the teacher] shall suffer loss: but he [the believer] himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

I know this might not be easy to receive if you are one who has always believed the other way, but I urge you to continue in prayer and consider Paul’s following words and ask why he would have stated them if what I am saying is not correct.

1Corinthians 3:16 – Know ye not that ye [believer] are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  17 If any man [teacher of false things] defile the temple of God [with teachings of wood, hay and stubble], him [that teacher] shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple [believers] are.  18 Let no man [aspiring teacher] deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.  19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness.  20 And again, The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.  21 Therefore let no man [teacher or student] glory in men [with whom they foolishly identify themselves with]. For all things [of Christ] are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;  23 And you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

So, if you have truly humbled yourself and repented of your sins, understand that Christ has blotted out the record of your offenses by nailing to His cross as a legal notice, “Paid in Full,” and now go and sin no more. Having been cleansed by His blood from the guilt of sins, He can indwell you and empower you to walk as He walked. Rejoice that God has given us a light for our path in His glorious word whereby we might align ourselves in perfect agreement with our God and Savior and be empowered to lovingly walk by/with/in His Spirit victoriously in these last days.

Live for the King.

An added end-note – I was thinking while holding my grandson about Psalm 119:29, “Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.” The Lord impressed upon me in a clear and simple way how without godly instructions we would have no hope but to go our own way and as mere brute beast only do what is right in our own eyes. That if I love my grandson I would teach him and live so as to be an example for him. I  saw for that moment so clearly that the most gracious thing God could have ever done was to give us His Logos; His holy Word, in letter, spirit and Flesh. For as Christ is grace and power of God,  He is still our God’s Plumb-line whereby we are to walk even as He walked. Flesh cannot do this, it must be brought under the subjection of the cross that Christ in us may work through us mightily.

Hallowed Be Thy Name

This was a message God laid on my heart concerning the deity of Jesus the Christ, the Lord’s Prayer and its exhortation for us to petition that God’s name to be hallowed, revered and feared in this fallen world. God’s people need to recognize the necessity to daily seek first His kingdom and righteousness while the long-suffering of God’s waits as with one hand he holds His love and mercy while with the other hand holding back His coming wrath and judgment on a wicked world.



There was a time in my life as a believer where my walk was very far removed from the Lord. I had found myself more than entangled in several sins. I remembered one night being so overwhelmed and burdened to the point of utter despair, literally fearing that I could die in my sleep and would be forever lost. I cried out to what seemed to be heavens of brass, my prayer barely out of my lips only to be falling to the ground. All this after only a couple of years  after having been promoted through a local church fellowship to be a deacon, then elder-ship and then shortly before leaving the church I was made assistant pastor.

My last message I shared with the church before I left (to the surprise of many) was about Paul’s exhortation in Galatians to those who are spiritual to restore those who were overtaken by a fault. However, at the time I wasn’t preaching to the congregation, rather I was crying out against my fellow leadership. My emphasis wasn’t about restoring the one overtaken, but rather whether those who were leaders were “spiritual” enough to even discern when a brother was over taken. There I was discourage, oppressed by the adversary, walking with sin in my life and about to begin what was to be a dark journey that almost ended in my destruction . . . and they didn’t even know it.

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