Posts Tagged ‘repent’

Just a re-post reminder that hell is real. This is actually 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.

He created every “herb bearing seed upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree for food which also has yielding seeds.” God also spoke into existence things that were not and gave them life that they might live and move within God’s very being. After God created man He declared that the result was “very good,” or what the Hebrew would convey as extremely good.

Thirdly, we can see, and learn from God’s holy word, that through it comes both the revelation and foundational teachings of righteousness. We also see creation set into motion with harmonious order, established cycles and rhythms whereby all things would thrive and flourish. It reveals boundaries for man’s protection whereby he could grow, learn and experience the joys and liberties given unto him. What God created was good, not evil; life and not death. This does not mean He failed to make provisions for such, which is far from the truth.

Just as certainly as God flawlessly fashioned all creation for life, He knew that giving His creatures the facilities and means to enjoy it, would also mean His perfect creation could be polluted and therefore most certainly would be. God knew from the beginning when He first put into place the harmony of creation that His creatures would eventually fall into disharmony with Him through exercising their ability to choose.

But that does not mean God created sin, for I would ask how could there be sin without first the establishment of righteousness? Disharmony and sin are not God’s creation, nor are they a state or condition that can exist alone; rather they are measured and established only by their contrast with God’s original harmony and righteousness. There can be no disharmony without harmony, nor sin without righteousness. These two things cannot exist by themselves, for they are nothing more than witnesses to the absence of their counterpart, just as darkness is measured by the degree of light present, likewise cold in regards to the presence of heat.

Now when I said God didn’t create “evil” I know many are going to throw the following verse at me,

 Isaiah 45:7 – I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

 One would do well to investigate the intent of this verse; for it is God’s forming of the light that created darkness, just as “the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” meaning without light and void of illumination. Likewise God’s desire and establishment of peace is what creates the possibility for evil. However, the “evil” of this verse is not moral; rather it is the contrast of peace, i.e. war, which cannot exist without willful disharmony to God’s formerly established harmony. Others may want to debate that God Himself does evil and they may seek to prove it by submitting verses similar to the following scriptures –

 Jeremiah 26:3 – If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent Me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.

 Jeremiah 42:10 – If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent Me of the evil that I have done unto you.

  What is paramount is to understand is that the “evil” in these verses is not synonymous with sin, wickedness or unrighteousness. This evil is best understood as a required action that is contrary to God’s preferred will. God never wanted to punish, but His holiness and righteousness demands it because God will not forever endure with that which refuses to live and exist in accordance with His word. Yes, God is longsuffering, but there is a limit to God’s willingness to wait for repentance, which when exhausted then obligates God to act contrary to the blessings He desires to give. If we will not comply with the conditions of His blessings, we are only left with the repercussions of His curses. But never, never does God commit wickedness or unrighteousness for He is holy.

  Isaiah 30:18  – And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.

 Lamentations 3:31 – For the Lord will not cast off for ever:  32 But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. 33 For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

 Ezekiel 18:23 – Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? . . . 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

 Ezekiel 33:11 – Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

 Romans 2:2 – But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

 1 Timothy 2:4 – Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

 It has always been the desire of God that what He created as “good,” even “very good,” that it should continue as such forever. However, because sin entered, disharmony was created when His creatures made the fatal willful choice to cast away His word. Nevertheless, He has long sought to make available to all the remedy that was prepared from the foundations of the world to reconcile all things back unto Himself. For more on this plan of reconciliation please see my old post “Justified in the Spirit.

In continuing with the topic of hell, let’s now look at a little discussed passage of scripture –

 Deuteronomy 23:9 – When the army goes forth against your enemies, then keep yourself from every wicked thing. 10 If there is among you any man who is not clean because of an accident at night, then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp. 11 And it shall be as evening turns, he shall wash with water. And when the sun is down, he shall come into the the middle of the camp. 12 You shall also have a place outside the camp where you shall go forth. 13 And you shall have a paddle on your weapon. And it shall be, when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it, and shall turn back and cover that which comes from you. 14 For the LORD your God walks in the middle of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you. Therefore your camp shall be holy, so that He may see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you.

This is one of those passages that many Christians just read over and rarely gleam anything from. However, there is much here that we should be giving our focus too, for we are talking about going to battle and having the certainty that the Lord will be with us. What is the underlying principle in these verses is the requirement for us to be holy for He is holy. That is why it is absolutely clear that since everyday we are waking up afresh, we therefore need to be daily putting on the whole armor of God, . . . because every minute, of everyday, our adversary is seeking to devour all he can. Therefore we must keep ourselves “from every wicked thing.” These truths should be clear and evident even to the young in faith.

However, the passage also warns against those who are “not clean by reason of uncleanness that chances him by night.” Now what does this passage mean? These verses in Leviticus help to bring clarity–

Leviticus 15:1  – And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying,  2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean. 3 And this shall be his uncleanness in his issue: whether his flesh run with his issue, or his flesh be stopped from his issue, it is his uncleanness. 4 Every bed, whereon he lays that hath the issue, is unclean: and everything, whereon he sitteth, shall be unclean.  5 And whosoever toucheth his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.

Leviticus 15:16 – And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the evening. 17 And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the evening. 18 The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the evening.

The light shed by these verses clearly indicate that the concern of the Lord is the uncleanliness, associated with either genital disease, or a “copulation,” meaning an ejaculation of semen. Now, some might readily see the problem with disease rendering one unclean, but an ejaculation? How would that defile a man? Whether we understand it or not it is still in God’s Holy Scriptures and is given as an admonition to His people and therefore requires our prayerful consideration. But this is also why I selected to entitle this post with the opening verse –

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.

 The “corruptible seed” Peter is alluding to is the seed whereby we were originally born, our father’s semen. Yet in this verse Peter is also stating how we are in fact “born again” by incorruptible seed, even the word of God. Furthermore, the beloved Apostle John tells us that true Christians cannot sin because His seed is in us –

1 John 3:9 = Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.

Now when John says one who is “born of God cannot sin,” he is not saying they are incapable of sinning. He is saying that because God’s “seed remains in him” that he cannot accept the pleasures of sin in the light of the cost of sin. It would be similar to me offering any of you $5.00 for your car or perhaps a gold watch. Certainly you could foolishly accept the $5.00, but if you truly understand the worth of what you have then you “cannot” accept my offer without abandoning what is reasonable. That is why Paul pleads with us to present ourselves as living sacrifices unto God.

Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

How do you know “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God?” Only by God’s word. That is why John stated that “His seed remains in him,” which may help to shed light on  some other passages of scripture regarding uncleanliness –

Leviticus 15:19 – And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the evening. 20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. 21 And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. 22 And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. 23 And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the evening. 24 And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.

Leviticus 20:18 – And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.

Now why would it be inappropriate for a man to lie with a woman while she is menstruating? Apart from the normal responses regarding hygiene, it is because the “seed” placed in her would not remain; her body will naturally cast it forth from her. When a woman’s body is menstruating it is going through the process of expelling her last egg that wasn’t fertilized. Since at this point most eggs are no longer alive, in the normal situation the male sperm will therefore never penetrate a viable egg but it too will only be flushed out as waste.

(Now before I am dismissed because of accuracy regarding the chances of a woman becoming pregnant even though she has had her normal cycle, the chances are very, very rare and could only most likely happen if prior to the menstrual cycle some sperm from an earlier relation managed to enter the fallopian tubes and was not flushed out. This unlikely event would create an opportunity for them if they are still alive to encounter a new egg during the next ovulation if for some reason it was hastened from irregularity in the cycle. But again this is going outside the norm and stretching normal limitations. Please remember that I am not a gynecologist and that I work with wood)

What is important is that we see the correlation the Apostle Peter makes between the “corruptible seed” whereby we were conceived and the “incorruptible” whereby we are born again, even the word of the Lord. This shows us the significance of our design and Why God Created Us Male And Female. Symbolically the male’s semen represents the word of God which is not cast to the ground. To do so is prophetic action showing disrespect for that which has holy symbolism. Think of the anger the Lord had towards Onan who was told by his father Judah to go and “raise up seed” for his dead brother with Tamar –

Genesis 38:6 – And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. 7 And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. 8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. 9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. 10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore He slew him also.

 This displeased the Lord on at least two counts, first, a lack of love for his brother and second, the intentional spilling of his semen on the ground. Since we are created in the image of God and are to be His glory, then it is conceivable that our seed, i.e. semen, represents His holy word. Thus it was important to God that Onan’s seed should have remained in Tamar, just as it is important that God’s seed remain in us, and that as children of God, we be able to impart His seed unto others. Perhaps part of this can even be our love of Christ and evangelistic willingness to go and “raise up seed” for our Brother and Savior Jesus Christ by being instant in season and ready to give and answer for the hope that is within us.

Again, these are but prophetic imagery given unto us to teach us greater lessons from our Lord, just as circumcision of the flesh does in regards to circumcision of the heart. But look at the verses in Duet.23 before this –

Deuteronomy 23:1 – He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

It is important to the Lord that we know in whom we believe and are able to procreate with our faith by His seed, i.e. word which remains in us. Those not having seed or unable to impart it “shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” Also, since Paul tells us we’re to be living sacrifices, we should be able to appreciate that animal sacrifices were not acceptable unto the Lord either if they were born or rendered impotent.

Leviticus 22:24 – Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.

Those who have truly been quickened by God’s word have hidden His word in their hearts and are desirous to share it. That is because God’s word is the only solution for uncleanliness in the heart and lives of His children, now please don’t confuse that with the purpose of Christ’s blood for our atonement and forgiveness. We know that all things were sanctified and consecrated unto the Lord with both water and blood. Consider how the Apostle Paul speaks of husbands loving their wives “even as Christ also loved the church” and the correlation of the water of the word and the blood of atonement and their applications as to why Jesus laid down His life for us. –

Ephesians 5:26 – 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.

Consider also the words of Peter –

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 hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

We are to be holy, not just because we have been washed by His blood, but also because we have renewed in our minds. As if the very loins of our minds were girded with the girdle of truth and walking in obedience to our Lord and Savior. That is why we are forgiven by His blood, so we can be freed from sins and indwelt by His Spirit and empowered to walk in His word whereby we are to be changing daily, our old carnal nature decreasing while the nature of Christ is being formed in us.

1 Peter 1:18 – Forasmuch as ye know that ye 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 spot:  20 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 God.  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.

We are given the responsibility of purifying our souls by obeying His truth, but thank God for the grace and empowering by His own Spirit within us which enables us and labors with us to perfect our love for Him and each other… if we remain willing. It is this Gospel, this incorruptible seed that causes us to be born again and quicken and changed.

1 Peter 1:24 – For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:  25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Let look back now at our text in Deut. 23 –

Deuteronomy 23:12 – Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad:  13 And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:  14 For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

After the instructions regarding, “uncleanness that chances him by night,” as it said in Leviticus concerning if “any man’s seed of copulation go out from him,” the Lord now moves to another topic concerning keeping the camp clean because the Lord walks in the midst of the camp. This shows both the responsibility for personal cleanliness, and the individual and corporate responsibility to keep the camp clean as well. Therefore if any man has to “ease” himself he is to go outside the camp and so do. By the words “thou shalt have a place without the camp” it is indicated that this would be a designated place, not just every man running off to wherever, but a specific place known to all.

Therefore, instruction was given that every man should have a “paddle upon they weapon,” whereby they could dig a hole and ease themselves in it, and “turn back and cover that which cometh from thee.” Again, regardless the apparent subject matter, we are actually being given glorious imagery here. Placed upon the weapon was a paddle, designed specifically for digging of a hole to accommodate that which is expelled from the body. Sadly we cannot see these weapons, but one of the weapons of choice which could be so equipped with a small spade is a sword. Again, symbolically the sword represents two things in scripture, God’s word and His judgment. Not just judgment in the sense of determining right and wrong, but in the sense of judgment coming upon a people for their rejection of His holy word, casting it, as it were on the ground.

 Deuteronomy 32:41 – If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me. 42 I will make Mine arrows drunk with blood, and My sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.

Now one thing we must remember, our Lord is a warrior, the ultimate warrior . . . and He is mighty in battle.

Psalm 24:7 – Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

Our God has graciously given us His word and by it quickened us, it is His “seed” whereby we are born again. But be not mistaken, it is also the sword He will whet and take hold of, it is His sword of judgment against the wicked who “will not stand in the congregation of the righteous.” Consider also these verses in Isaiah –

Isaiah 1:16 – Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil;  17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith 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 ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:  20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

But as Jesus said, broad is the path which leads to destruction and many will choose it by casting God’s word behind them. These are wicked men serving their own lusts and not honoring God who gave to them both the blessing of life and the honor of being created in His own image. Instead they defiantly turn away and lived their lives refusing and rebelling, doing so regardless of the Spirit of His Grace. Therefore they are unclean, defiled, sold under sin and foolishly boasting in their own shame.

Isaiah 1:21 – How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.  22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:  23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.

God will not always strive with mankind, He will soon avenge Himself of His adversaries.

Isaiah 1:24 – Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease Me of Mine adversaries, and avenge me of Mine enemies.

Yes, as God commanded the host to keep the camp clean, and just as a man who needed to ease himself was to go to the designated place and there with the paddle on his weapon dig a hole. Likewise God has prepared a place in His judgment where He too will ease Himself. Listen to the word of the Lord; listen to His cry, “Ahhhh!” This is the groaning of the pain within His bowels of mercies after continually being frustrated, grace extended in vain to a rebellious, stubborn and stiff-necked people. It is as if God is cramped over in anguish and heartache by the very presence of the wicked within Him; all creation as well is groaning for the manifestation of the sons of God and the removal of the wicked. Mind you though, all the evil men and all the demons and devils which hell currently awaits cannot weaken or abate one iota the strength of God. Still nevertheless He has long-suffered while warning the wicked, endeavoring to rescue the lost and to offer repentance to the broken and contrite ones. His omnipotence cannot be weakened by the sins of men, but His heart is nonetheless pained and vexed by their sins.

All who have rejected God’s word, those from the very beginning who have lived and moved and had their very being within Him, will one day be expelled out from His presence for all eternity as waste out the draught and into the pit. The Gospel makes it evident it is the responsibility of every person to take full advantage of the exceedingly great and precious promises of God’s word, whereby we can be made partakers of His divine nature. Therefore, we are commanded to be what He fully enables us to be. Therefore we must be holy, because He is holy, or be expelled.Only by purifying ourselves by obeying the truth through His spirit, can we perfect this holiness in the fear of God. For He will not be mocked. He will repay who reject what He went through great lengths to provide, a remedy for our sin and sinful nature.

Psalm 62:11 – God has spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. Also unto You O Lord belongeth mercy: for You renderest to every man according to his work.

Deuteronomy 7:9 – Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, which keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations; And repays them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hates Him, He will repay him to his face.

Yes, there is a hell, Rob Bell and all the other universalists are wrong. It is the eternal place of torment for all those who would not be assimilated unto God, refusing to be purified, sanctified, consecrated and made holy by yielding to the working of the Spirit of Christ within them with and through the power of His seed/word. All those unclean, rebellious and wicked will not only fail to be able to stand in and with the congregation of the righteous, God will treat them as the filth they are and ease Himself of them in a place He has prepared outside the camp. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Isaiah 66:22 – For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the LORD. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

Psalm 119:11 – Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Yoy.

John 3:17 – For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

 

Peace to those who love the Lord, and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

“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.”

Capture

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.