The Great Meeting In The Air

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1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

The Bible Is Filled With Wonderful Meetings That
We Can Read Of, But Could Not Be At

I wish I could have been at that camp meeting when Israel passed through the Red Sea as if on dry land. I wish I could have been there when Miriam, Moses’ sister, led Israel in song:

Exodus 15:21 Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath {God} thrown into the sea.

That must have been magnificent! I would have loved to have been at the meeting when Moses received the Law, or when Jericho fell as God’s people marched around it. There are so many wonderful meetings in the Old Testament I would have loved to have been at.

Wouldn’t you have loved to be at that meeting at the empty tomb when the Angel told the women:

Matthew 28:6-8 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Wouldn’t you have loved to have been at that meeting when the disciples huddled together, fearful, in a locked room? I would have loved to be there. I can imagine the conversation, the sadness, as we spoke of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus had told His disciples that “after three days He will rise” (Mark 9:30-32; Matthew 17:22-23). Jesus told them (Matthew 26:32) “after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee”. They heard His words, but the words didn’t register. In that locked room 11 defeated men gathered – oh, how I wish I could have been there – when suddenly and miraculously Jesus appeared. Can you imagine it? It would have made me shout. Jesus has conquered death. He passed through a locked door to see us, saying:

Luke 24:39-43 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

What a wonderful meeting that must have been! Then Jesus “shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). What a wonderful series of meetings this must have been. The Sermon on the Mount was well attended, and a great blessing – but just imagine the meetings with the resurrected Jesus! Praise God!

On the fortieth day following His resurrection from the tomb, Jesus commissioned His Apostles. He told them – and us – to carry the Gospel message into the world. How it must have moved their hearts when they saw Jesus – defeating gravity – ascend to glory:

Mark 16:19-20 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

What a powerful meeting that was! Neither you nor I could be at any of those wonderful meetings. I read of them, and believe that they happened just as they said. But I can only read of them, and imagine the joy of seeing Jesus – the resurrected Jesus – face to face. I was born in the wrong time to see those wonderful meetings. But there is a meeting that will be greater than that first meeting with Jesus was. This meeting is a meeting that every Christian will attend. The old time Evangelist Billy Sunday said of this coming meeting:

… “no meeting has ever been held anywhere or in any time that could begin to compare in importance with the greatest of all meetins that is to be held in the air, when our Lord comes to make up His jewels. That meeting is the one for which all others have been preparing the way. It will be the crowning meeting of all history. The purpose of all that has been done in this world up to the present times has been prepared for that great meeting in the air.”

Jesus is Coming! Jesus said He would be crucified. He said that He would lay His life down for us. He said that He would die, and rise again on the third day. But Jesus also said that He is coming again. Jesus said that His coming would be like lightening, quick and unpredictable. He said:

Matthew 24:27 as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Jesus told His disciples that the day of His Second Coming is known only to the Father. He said:

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Matthew 24:42-44 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

The Second Coming of Christ is referred to over 350 times in the New Testament.

Water Baptism is an important Biblical truth. The Apostle Paul refers to Water Baptism about 13 times. But the Apostle refers to the Second Coming of Jesus 50 times. Our Jesus is coming again. He is coming to save, and He is coming to judge and rule. If you are a child of God by faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26) then you WILL be at this great meeting, one way or the other.

All Christians Will Be At That “Meeting In The Air”

Word Study In 1 Thessalonians, we see the Apostle Paul use the word “sleep” in two different technical ways.


1. The Apostle uses the word “ASLEEP” {Greek κοιμάω koimáō, [pronounced koy-mah’-o], meaning “to be in a state of rest or sleep”} in chapter four to describe the saved Child of God who is physically dead.
2. The Apostle uses the word “SLEEP” {Greek καθεύδω katheúdō, [pronounced kath-yoo’-do], meaning “to fall asleep”} in chapter five to describe the lost child of Adam who is spiritually dead.

This morning we are going to talk of the “Meeting In The Air”, the first phase of our Lord’s Second Coming. Let’s begin.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

When an unbeliever in Jesus physically dies, it is called “die” or “death”. But when a believer in Christ physically dies, the Bible refers to this as “sleep” or “asleep in Jesus”. Why is this? Because our Lord Jesus said:

John 11:25-26 …. I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

Again, “whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”. The Christian does not DIE. The Christian SLEEPS. The body of the believer RESTS in repose. The body of the Christian in that casket looks like it is sleeping. Death is but a sleep for the genuine believer in Christ. When the Evangelist Stephen was being stoned to death by the Pharisees the Bible says:

Acts 7:60 {Stephen} kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Stephen did not drift off into normal sleep while his body was being beaten with stones. His body died – but to him it was like drifting off into sleep. “He fell asleep”. When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, our Lord told His disciples:

John 11:11 … Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

The disciples did not understand. They said:

John 11:12-15 … Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

For the Christian, death is but a sleep.

When the Apostle Paul wrote of the some 500 brethren who saw the resurrected Jesus, he wrote:

1 Corinthians 15:6 … {Jesus} was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

The Apostle was speaking of the believers who had physically died. They were “fallen asleep”. Death for the Christian is indeed much like sleep. Both death and sleep are inevitable. Everyone must die, and everyone must sleep. When you as a Christian die, you do not cease to exist, no more than you cease to exist when you sleep. When you sleep, you awaken to a different time. When you as a Christian die, you awaken in glory, in a different time. Both death and sleep sneak up on us. When I lay in bed at night thinking about going to sleep, I cannot sleep. But when I think on other things, sleep sneaks up on me. It is a surprise, albeit a pleasant one. Death and sleep for the Christian are the same.

When the Bible refers to the Christian sleeping, this sleep refers to the body, not the soul. When the Christian experiences physical death, the believer’s soul goes to be with the Lord. The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

When we are “absent from the body”, that is, my soul departs this vessel, then we are “present with the Lord”. Believers go to be with Jesus, where Jesus is. When John the Revelator looked into Heaven, he said:

Revelation 6:9 … I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

He did not see their bodies. He saw their SOULS. He said the same thing in Revelation 20:4, “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God …”. When the believer in Christ dies, their BODY sleeps “in the dust of the earth” (Daniel 12:2). The Apostle, writing to the Church at Philippi, said:

Philippians 1:21-24 … For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Physical death for the Apostle was GAIN, not loss. Why? He said “I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ”. Paul rightly saw that physical death for the believer was when our bodies sleep, but our souls go to be with Jesus, to see Him face to face.

Christians Sleep And Have Hope.
Unbelievers Die Without Hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

The Apostle did not want the Thessalonians to “sorrow as others which have no hope”. When unbelievers die, their souls go to a place of TORMENT (Luke 16:22-23). “The rich man lifted up his EYES IN HELL, BEING IN TORMENTS”. Lazarus, on the other hand, was “being comforted”.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

Here then is the great news of salvation. The Christian who “sleeps” or physically dies prior to the return of Jesus Christ, then “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him”. Those loved ones who have gone on ahead – who have “fallen asleep in Jesus” – when Jesus comes back God will bring them – their souls – WITH HIM. Our loved ones – my grandma and grandpa, my momma and daddy, the loved ones who were “in Christ”, and who “fell asleep in Christ”, or have physically died, these precious souls will come back with Jesus when He returns.

1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

Word Study Those Christians who are alive when Jesus returns in the air “shall not prevent them which are asleep”. The word translated “prevent” is the Greek φθάνω phthánō, [pronounced fthan’-o], which means “to come before or precede”. When Jesus returns, He brings the souls of those who have believed in Him with Him, like a mighty cloud of witnesses.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

At this wonderful meeting in the air that some call “The Rapture”, the souls of those who departed this life, “asleep in Jesus”, will be given resurrected bodies FIRST. Those who go the sleep first receive resurrected bodies first. What a blessing this is!

1 Thessalonians 4:17 … Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Word Study The words “caught up together” is the Greek ἁρπάζω harpázō, [pronounced har-pad’-zo]. This is a very interesting word, as it means “to seize, to carry off or be claimed eagerly for one’s self”. After Jesus unites the believers who have previously “fallen asleep” with glorified bodies, He takes those Christians who are alive and remain off of this earth. What great news! “And so shall we ever be with the Lord”. Christ’s Church, the believers of every age, will forever be with Jesus. The Apostle of love said:

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

“when he shall appear, we shall be like him”. What a glorious truth this is, dear Christian. As you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, one day – and we do not know when that day will be – Jesus will come back to receive you to Himself. If you “fall asleep in Christ” prior to His second coming, then He will bring you back with Him when He returns “in the air”. Jesus is coming – we do not know when. The Moody Bible Institute notes:

“Before He establishes His kingdom on earth, Jesus will come for His Church, an event commonly referred to as the “Rapture.” At that time the dead in Christ will be raised and living Christians will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him forever. In this resurrection, those who have died in Christ will have their redeemed souls and spirits united with a body similar to Christ’s glorified body. Christians living at the time of this event will not die, but will be changed to be like Christ. This expectation is a motivation for holy living, as well as a source of comfort.”

If You Plan On Meeting Jesus In The Air
You Will Live For Jesus On The Ground

Knowing that the Lord shall return at any moment – and we do not know when that moment will be – we as Christians are to live expectantly and in a holy manner every moment of every day. When we started this message we read:

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep

We skipped over that little word “But”, but that word is important, too. Preceding this teaching on the Second Coming of Christ the Apostle said:

1 Thessalonians 4:1-4 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor…

If you are a Christian, and are expecting to one day to “fall asleep in Jesus” and not to die, then you should “know how to possess {your} vessel in sanctification and honor”. The lives that God has given you are stewardships. “You are not your own, but are bought with a price, the Blood of Jesus Christ. Glorify God in your BODY, and in your SPIRIT, which are God’s!” (1 Corinthians 6:20). You are to be living your lives as if Christ might come at any moment. You are to live your lives to please Jesus.

Understanding the Second Coming of Christ should spur us into actively serving Jesus. We do not know when Jesus will return. If you are saved, and looking forward to SLEEP and not death, then:

1 Thessalonians 4:7 … God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

We are to be a holy people. God tells His Children:

1 Peter 1:15-16 as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of {your way of life}; 16 because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

We are called as believers to holiness, to living our lives so as to please our Lord. Knowing that Christ is returning without warning, the Apostle exhorts us:

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; 11 and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

The Second Coming of Christ is in two phases. In phase 1, Jesus saves His Church from the Great Tribulation. The Church goes with Jesus to glory for seven years, while the judgment of God and the rule of the Antichrist grips the earth. At the end of that seven year period Jesus returns to the earth with His Church to save Israel, and to judge sin. Jude wrote of this in:

Jude 14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

There is a Second Coming “In the Air” and a Second Coming “On the Ground”. The first is to save the Church from Tribulation. The second is to save Israel, and establish the Kingdom of Christ on the earth. What wonderful truths!

Will you be at this meeting? Will you be at the Second Coming of Christ? You will be, but only if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You will be, but only if you have been born again of the Spirit, and are Children of God by spiritual adoption. You will be, only if you love Jesus, and follow Him. Jesus will not return for a stranger. He is returning for those He loves. Will you be at that great Meeting in the Air? May God the Holy Spirit draw you to call upon Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. The Bible says:

John 3:15-18 … whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Amen and Amen!

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The Day Of The Lord

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Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 5. As you are turning, I will give you an introduction to Chapter Five.

Rapture (Second Coming Phase 1) &
Great Tribulation (Time of Jacob’s Trouble)

This morning we studied the Second Coming of Christ when we “meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Jesus will return from Heaven to take His Church from this earth. We saw this morning that:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 … the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The Church has historically referred to this text as “The Rapture”, or what I call “The Second Coming Phase 1”

Jesus is coming again. In His Second Coming in the Air the Bible says:

1 Thessalonians 4:14 … if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

You cannot be saved unless you believe that Jesus died and rose again. Dr Charles Stanley notes:

Believing that the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead is essential for Christians. Merely recognizing that He died for our sins is not enough; we must accept His resurrection in order to receive eternal life. Christ paid our debt, but His sacrifice on the cross means nothing if He possesses no power over the grave. In vanquishing evil and death, the Lord made our salvation possible.”

The Bible says in Romans 10:8-11, “what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

You must believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead if you would be saved. Period! If Jesus did not die on the Cross, then our sins were never paid for. If Jesus died and did not resurrect, then His promise and performance were all lies. The Bible says in

1 Corinthians 15:13-17 … if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

The resurrection of Christ shows us that it is God’s intent not only to forgive our sins, but to give us resurrected bodies in the future. The souls that have gone on to be with Jesus before the Rapture, Jesus will bring them back with Him, and they shall be given glorified bodies first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. Why does Jesus do this? Because God never does things halfway. The salvation we have in Jesus is a complete salvation. What did the Apostle say?

Colossians 2:9-10 For in {Jesus} dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in {Jesus} …

Jesus returns to save His Church from the coming Great Tribulation in Phase 1 of His Second Coming (the Rapture).

I believe that the Scripture teaches while the Great Tribulation unfolds, during that 7 year period the Church will be with Jesus in Heaven. Jesus warned of this Great Tribulation in:

Matthew 24:15-22 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 then let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains: 17 let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

As Jesus addressed this warning He was talking to Israel, not to His Church. The Great Tribulation is known as “The Time Of Jacob’s Trouble”. This is from the Prophet:

Jeremiah 30:7-9 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. 8 For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: 9 but they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.

The Great Tribulation is the time of Jacob’s trouble. The name Jacob is the name of the lost man who would one day be named “Israel”. Out of “Israel” would come twelve sons that would be the twelve tribes of Israel, God’s Chosen nation. The Great Tribulation will be a seven year period where Israel (who is now acting like Jacob) will look for and receive the Lord Jesus Christ. Dr Adrian Rogers said of the Great Tribulation:

It is the last seven years of God’s dealing with the nation of Israel before they are brought to a final crisis—and prepared for receiving their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this because of many Scriptures connecting the Great Tribulation to the nation of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 4:39; Jeremiah 30; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:22) … “Another purpose of the Tribulation is to punish the Gentiles for their arrogance, rebellion and godlessness. Isaiah 24 and Jeremiah 25 beginning with verse 30 describe the Great Tribulation coming upon the Gentiles. God will pour out His wrath upon a world that has spurned Him, that has laughed at and ridiculed His precepts and principles and said, “We don’t want any God to rule over us” (Psalm 2:3). ”

The Great Tribulation is a time for Israel to be tried, so that God’s people might return to Him and be saved. The Bible says in:

Romans 11:26 … so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

The “Day Of The Lord” Is When Jesus Saves Israel, And Establishes His Kingdom On The Earth

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

The day of the Lord is when God the Son returns to this earth – not “in the air” but ON THE GROUND. Jesus Christ returns to the earth with His Church. Jesus overthrows the world powers, and sets up His Throne in Jerusalem. Jesus will come as a thief in the night. No thief ever phones ahead, texts, or emails you to say “I’m going to come to your home at such and such a time”. That wouldn’t make sense. When Jesus comes again with His Church it will be a surprise to the lost world. It will not be a happy event. The Apostle writes:

2 Peter 3:9-11 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. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

The Second Coming of Jesus for Israel will be a cataclysmic event! God our Savior will be judging sin on the earth. Can you imagine it? I was watching a somewhat comical show the other day called Third Rock From The Son. In that show they had an office party for Christmas. In that party, the song “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was playing, while they drunkenly did a conga line in mockery to it. Jesus is coming again! He is coming with His Church.

The first time Jesus came, He rode a donkey into Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-11). During His Second Coming (Phase 2) John writes:

Revelation 19:11-16 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

The KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS will come and take back His world. The entertainment industry which, through movies, internet, radio and television has gotten rich selling sin – Jesus will crush it. The colleges, filled with professors who teach Marxism and godlessness to our children, will be destroyed. The Bible says sudden destruction cometh upon them. God will directly intervene in human history. The world at present ignores the Lord, and His Word. But Jesus will come, and change all things.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

The “Day of the Lord” is when God will righteously judge those who have rejected Gods our Savior. The Prophet writes of the Second Coming:

Isaiah 2:11-12 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. 12 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:

God will send His Son Jesus to reclaim the earth, which belongs to Him, from those who have used it in godlessness. Those who have rejected the Lord are told:

Isaiah 13:6-9 Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand;it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: 8 and they shall be afraid:pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them;they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. 9 Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate:and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

Jesus came to this earth the first time to save sinners. As He returns to earth with His Church He comes not to save, but destroy, to rid the earth of those who will not hear His Word, to rid the world of those who have hardened their hearts to the Gospel. The Prophet said:

Joel 2:10-11 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: 11 and the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

Is there any hope for salvation during the Day of the Lord? Yes, according to Peter there is. He preached on the Day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:17-21 it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20 the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

If people would repent, God would yet save them. Yet few will be saved because of the hardness of their hearts. During the Great Tribulation some will take the Mark of the Beast upon themselves (Revelation 13:1-2, 11-18). Those who are so marked will be under the wrath of God forever (Revelation 14:9-12). Salvation is possible, but in order to be saved those who are saved during the Great Tribulation must suffer for their faith.

Those Who Are Believers Prior To The Second Coming (Phase 2) Will Not Be Overtaken By God’s Judgment

1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Those who will be overtake you as a thief by the Day of the Lord are those who are in darkness. The Second Coming of Christ (the Day of the Lord) will be a direct judgment of God on the lost people of earth. It is not for us to go through. We have

John 12:36 … believe(d) in the Light, that (we) may be the Children of Light

We “were at other times darkness, but NOW are Light in the Lord. We are to WALK as CHILDREN OF LIGHT” (Ephesians 5:8). As we are told, Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. We are not under the wrath of God, for we have received Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. Jesus said:

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The lost person is in a state of CONDEMNATION right now. If Jesus returned for His Church, the lost would go through seven years of hell on earth, culminating with the Judgment of the Son of God. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7). Jesus will come and conquer the sinful, who hold His creation in slavery. Knowing this, the Apostle says:

1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Word Study This morning we saw the word “sleep” used by Paul to describe the physical death of the Christ follower. In the Greek text Paul uses the word κοιμάω koimáō, [pronounced koy-mah’-o] in Chapter Four. But in our text above the Apostle uses the Greek καθεύδω katheúdō, [pronounced kath-yoo’-do], which means “to fall asleep”. Unbelievers have “fallen asleep” from the presence of God, being lulled by Satan’s song and being comforted by the night. The Apostle charges us who are believers to be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. The words be sober is the Greek word νήφω nḗphō, [pronounced nay’-fo] which means “WATCH”. We as believers in Christ are to daily put on faith and love, faith in God and love for our Lord and those around us. We are to make sure we slip on – every day – the head covering, the hope of salvation. We know that any day now our Lord Jesus Christ could come back and take us in Rapture. He will take us from this earth, for …

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

The future hell of the Great Tribulation is not to be mine. The Lord saved me so that I can be with Him every day of my life. As Christians, whether we wake, that is, live our lives in Him, or whether we sleep” (καθεύδω katheudō), that is, physically meet death, we should live together with him. I am a living creature that can never die BECAUSE OF JESUS. So I want to live my life in the light, in Jesus, living for Him.

The Apostle closes with:

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, you should be living your lives, looking for Jesus to come and Rapture you at any moment. You are under the promise Christ made to the Church of Philadelphia:

Revelation 3:10-13 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, today would be a great day to receive Him. If you are merely religious, a “Church going” person, you fall under the promise Jesus gave to the Church at Sardis:

Revelation 3:2-3 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Do not wait for Jesus to “come on you as a thief”. Give yourselves to Jesus, and be saved by faith in Him. Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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The Church Is Not Like The World

Light of the world - the Church
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Colossians 2:1-3 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; {2} That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; {3} In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I remember my Grandma Elma telling me that she was a little girl when the unsinkable ship called The Titanic sunk. She couldn’t remember a lot of the details as she was in her late 90s at that time. She did remember the adults being so upset because so many people died. What caused the deaths of more than 1500 people? No one is certain of any one cause, but all the causes related to human error. The ship was traveling at high speed – 22 knots – in waters known to harbor icebergs. The wireless radio operator received a warning an hour before the accident. Another ship close by named The Californian radioed to say it had been stopped by dense ice. The operator did not pass the information on to the Captain of the ship. There is also the possibility that the builders of the Titanic cut costs by using lower quality rivets than they should have when constructing the ship. When the accident occurred, the Titanic only had the bare minimum of lifeboats, and in the panic many of these lifeboats were launched at less than their capacity.

Human error. Though it was claimed that the Titanic’s Captain Edward John Smith said, “Even God Himself couldn’t sink this ship”, I don’t believe God did it. I believe human error did it. Human error brought sin into this world. Human error is responsible for much of the evil found in the world today.

As the Apostle addresses the Churches of Colossae and Laodicea, he says:

Colossians 2:1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

Word Study The words great conflict are very interesting. The Apostle uses the word ἀγών agṓn, {pronounced ag-one’}, which was often used to describe the Greek Olympic games. You could say that Paul is saying “there are forces within me, emotions, competing with one another because of my love for you”. He knows that the Churches at Colossae and Laodicea are located in areas where they can be overcome with human error. As he writes this letter to the Colossians, he directs that this letter be read in the Church of Laodicea:

Colossians 4:15-16 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. {16} And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

Both Colossae and Laodicea were in danger of shipwreck. Many local Churches today are shipwrecked because of these factors.

Biblical Love Binds The Church Together

Colossians 2:2-3 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; {3} In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The Church can get off course in love. Jesus made love one of the great focuses of our faith. Jesus was asked, “What is the Great Commandment in the Law”? Jesus promptly answered:

Matthew 22:37-38 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

God is to be loved ABOVE all others and ABOVE all else. God is to occupy FIRST PLACE in our hearts. Not our spouses, not our children, nor even ourselves. God.
God is to be first.

Our Lord was quoting the Law of God. The Second giving of the Law states:

Deuteronomy 6:5 thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

What God has said takes precedent over what others have said. What God has recorded in Scripture is what we are to give preeminence to. Those who are saved by the Blood of the Lamb are to love the God Who demands the Lamb. We are to hear what our God says and obey it. The Scripture says:

1 John 5:2-5 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I am told that there are preachers who have backed away from the truth of the Scripture because one of their children or one of their relatives has “come out”. What has God told us?

1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

God must be loved first. He must have our hearts above all others. Jesus said:

Luke 14:26-27 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

The believer in Christ must hate, the Greek μισέω miséō, {pronounced mis-eh’-o} their loved ones! That word miséō literally means “to hate, detest, by extension, to love much less”. Now did Jesus mean for us to literally HATE our offspring and those closest to us? No, absolutely not. We will see in a few moments that we are to love even our enemies, and do good to those who do bad to us. What was Jesus saying? He was saying that, when we compare the love we have for Him and His commandments with the love we have for others, that our love for Christ will be much, much greater in scope and drive than our love for other humans. God must occupy and rule our hearts.

Our love for God must be greater – much greater – than any love we have for those who are NOT God.

As much as I love my wife and children, I love my God more. This is natural. This is for what I was created. The Christian faith is a supernatural faith. When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit comes to that person and causes them to be “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:3, 7; 1 Peter 1:23). God then causes a change of that person’s heart. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:12-17 but this man {Jesus}, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Salvation from sin is always accompanied with a great l.ove for God and His Word. Jesus asked His disciples:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

God must be premier in our hearts and minds. We must love Him IF we are saved. The Apostle said:

Romans 8:5-9 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Right after Jesus said:

Matthew 22:37-38 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

He continued with Matthew 22:39-40 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Love for God must be premier. Following love for God, we are to love people made in the image of God. We are to treat others the way that we want to be treated. This even applies to our enemies. We are told in another place:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Love is the driving force of God’s Church. Believers in Christ are follow Jesus’ command:

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The sacrificial love that Jesus showed to us, by which we are saved, is the same sacrificial love that we are to show to one another as His Church. It is this love that causes their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2).

Passion For God’s Truth Empowers The Church

Colossians 2:2-6 … to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ 3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

The wisdom and knowledge that we find in Biblical truth is called a “treasure”. The Apostle said in another place:

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

What God has said is true, and has established is true, is true even today. God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge. The Church must always be careful to cherish and feed from the Word of God, and to never accept the lesser word of man in it’s place. The Apostle says:

Colossians 2:8-9 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. {9} For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily

When philosophy and vain deceit from the world enter into the congregational thought, it is not long before the traditions of men rather than the Word of God reign. Jesus excoriated the Pharisees – the religious conservatives of His day – for departing from the Word of God in favor of the word of man, or the traditions of the elders. He said:

Mark 7:6-13 … Well hath {Isaiah} prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

I have seen this first hand in churches I have pastored. In one Church, two deacons – who should have been filled with the Spirit – were filled with hatred for one another. Their constant battling caused the Church to divide, and eventually collapse. Though I spoke to these men frequently on the subject of love and forgiveness, they rejected God’s Word, to the damage of their own souls and the life of the church. The Bible warns us:

Galatians 6:6-10 Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17). The word of man may or may not be valid truth, but what God has said will stand forever. When we allow the Word of God and our love for it to be replaced with worldliness, it will not be long before Christ leaves the Church. In the Book of Revelation Jesus warned the Church at Laodicea (as well as the Church at Colossae):

Revelation 3:14-20 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; {15} I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. {16} So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. {17} Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: {18} I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. {19} As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. {20} Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

The Church at Laodicea had so rejected the Word of Christ for the word of the Lord that our Lord was literally locked outside of the church. Sadly, this is true in much of the Church in the world today. Jesus rebuked them, and called them to return to Him. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. The Church must get back to the Word of God.

The Church of Christ is to be IN the world, but not OF the world. We are to cling to the Scripture, the Holy Bible. God saved us through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son so that He might bring us into HIS Kingdom. We are His, and He is ours.

Galatians 4:3-7 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: {4}But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, {5} To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. {6} And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. {7}Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Dear Church, we do not belong to the world, but to God our Savior. We are adopted Children of the Most High. Let us not act like children of Adam, nor children of the devil, but like Children of God. Let us “follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness … laying hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:11-12)”.

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him ..

Have you received Christ Jesus the Lord? If you have, walk in him. Jesus said:

John 8:12 … I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

We were at one time darkness. But having received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, we are LIGHT IN THE LORD (Ephesians 5:8). We do not belong to this world. We belong to Christ. We belong to God. If we say we have fellowship with God and yet walk in the darkness of this world, then we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:6). We are children of God, children of the light.

May God draw you close to His side as you walk before Him in love. Amen and Amen!

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Elijah and Prayer

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Turn with me in your Bibles to James chapter 5.

I came across the works of a Puritan Preacher named John Bunyan. One of his most famous works was a book called Pilgrim’s Progress. What impressed me most about Bunyan is that, when God called him to preach, he was warned not to preach because his preaching was not authorized by the state. Wikipedia notes:

Bunyan was arrested under the Conventicle Act of 1593, which made it an offense to attend a religious gathering other than at the parish church with more than five people outside their family. The offense was punishable by 3 months imprisonment followed by banishment or execution if the person then failed to promise not to re-offend.”

Imprisoned for 3 months, Bunyan refused to stop preaching the Gospel, and eventually ended up imprisoned for 12 years. Though his imprisonment caused a great hardship to his family, Bunyan continued to share the Gospel, and wrote 60 titles until his death 31 August 1688 at the age of 59. Bunyan said of prayer:

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to the Word of God, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God.”

If the Church will stand as America goes through the shaking of satanic darkness, then God’s people must be a praying people. Solomon once noted “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The darkness that grips America today is the same darkness that gripped England during John Bunyan’s day, the same darkness that gripped Israel during Elijah’s time. The forces that are pushing so called sexual freedom and gender fluidity are the same dark forces that have always been, from the time that Adam listened to a serpent and unto today. When John Bunyan was afflicted, he immersed himself in God’s Word and prayer.

James 5:13-18 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias {Elijah} was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Word Study James encourages us to effectual fervent prayer. The words effectual fervent is the Greek verb ἐνεργέω energéō, {pronounced en-erg-eh’-o}, a word that means just like it sounds. Doesn’t this sound like energetic? That’s what it means. “Energetic, active, not complacent, to be mighty in, to work hard at”. For prayer to be effective, you need to lose yourself in it. Prayer must be a daily, moment by moment, focus on the God Who loves you. The word translated prayer is the Greek δέησις déēsis, {pronounced deh’-ay-sis}, which means a “seeking type of prayer. Before the Holy Spirit came to the early Church, that small congregation of 120 were in an upper room:

Acts 1:14 … with one accord in PRAYER {déēsis} and supplication

Prayer is to be energetic. Prayer is to seek God. What does the Scripture say? We read:

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please {God}: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Prayer that is infrequent, half hearted, or double minded will not be blessed of God. The Bible says:

James 1:5-7 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

The energetic prayer pursues God, seeking His blessing, and will not cease until an answer is found. God will not bless the half hearted prayer!

Effective prayer is energetic, seeking God. But further, the prayer God answers must come from a righteous person.

James 5:16 … The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

When Jesus healed the man born blind, the Pharisees claimed that our Lord was a sinner. The healed man told them:

John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

This is a clear principle in the Scripture. Listen:

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

The only prayer that God will hear of the son of Adam is the prayer seeking salvation. Sin corrupts our ability to communicate with God. The Psalmist said “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth” (Psalm 34:15-16). Sin must be confessed to God. God has promised “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Only the prayers of the RIGHTEOUS, that is, those in a right standing with God, shall be heard. This is “the prayer of faith”. The Scripture says:

James 5:15-16 … the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.

An Example Of A Righteous, Praying Man Is Elijah

James 5:17-18 Elias {Elijah} was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Though James was not acquainted with John Bunyan, he knew of Elijah. Every Jew knew about Elijah. During the Passover meals the Orthodox Jew would pour a cup and set a place for Elijah at the table. Elijah was a powerful Prophet. Why? Elijah was a praying Prophet.

Word Study The King James says Elias {Elijah} was a man. The more modern versions replace the word Elias with Elijah, and that is perfectly appropriate. The King James translator did not translate, but rather transliterated the Greek word for Elijah (which is Ἡλίας Hēlías, {pronounced hay-lee’-as}). Hēlías is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew nameאֵלִיָּה ʼÊlîyâh, {pronounced ay-lee-yaw’}, or the English Elijah. Elijah’s name means “My God is Yahweh”.

Elijah was no superman. The Bible says that Elijah wassubject to like passions as we are. This is the Greek ὁμοιοπαθής homoiopathḗs, {pronounced hom-oy-op-ath-ace’}, which means “to suffer like others, to have like feelings and affections as others have”. Elijah was not a special person, like the Nazarite Samson, whose power was in his hair; or like the Nazarite John the Baptist, filled with the Spirit from birth.

Elijah was just like us.

Turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Kings 17

1 Kings 17:1 Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead

Elijah was not famous. He was not born in a mansion. He was an unknown country boy!

Elijah was from Tishbe, a place that no one really knows where it is today. It would be like Sawdust or Glendale, Tennessee, or Climax, Georgia. Elijah was just one of the inhabitants of Gilead – a plain man. But Elijah was a believer in God. He lived his life trusting in God’s provision.

Background: Elijah lived in the time when Israel was divided by civil war. King Solomon’s son Rehoboam raised taxes on the ten northern tribes of Israel, and these tribes broke away from Judah, setting up their own king and their own religion. Jeroboam was the first king of these ten tribes. To keep the people of the ten tribes from going to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam set up two golden calves and a priesthood to serve them. By the time Elijah began to prophesy, Ahab was the seventh king to rule Northern Israel.

1 Kings 16:30-33 Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. 32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

It was during this terrible time when Israel was divided, and the nation was far from God, that the Lord called Elijah. Beloved, America is in a similar state today.
Oh, how we need prayer warriors!

1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

Notice Elijah’s statement. As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand. He didn’t say, “I came FROM God”, now did he say “I was talking to God YESTERDAY”. Elijah said “I am standing before God right now”. Beloved, if you are standing BEFORE God right now, then GOD IS BEHIND YOU AS YOU SPEAK. Elijah stood BEFORE God. He represented God. He didn’t even say “I’m standing BEFORE you, Ahab”. Ahab was inconsequential. Ahab was a nobody, a nothing. God was everything!

James 5:17 Elias {Elijah} … prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

Word Study{Elijah} prayed earnestly. These are two Greek words, προσεύχομαι προσευχή proseuchomai proseuchē, which literally means He offered prayers with prayer.

Elijah prayed as John Bunyan said, “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God. Elijah’s prayer was not a selfish prayer, but a prayer that God be glorified and man be afflicted. This is Elijah’s recorded prayer:

As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word

Elijah represented God, and prayed in accordance with God’s will. Elijah put his entire trust in God his Savior. If Elijah’s prayer was to be answered as he prayed it, then not only would King Ahab and Northern Israel experience a terrible drought, but Elijah himself would suffer along with the people. Elijah did not pray that God stop all rain and dew everywhere but where he was. His prayer glorified God, and showed his trust in the Lord.

When you do God’s business, God takes care of you!

1 Kings 17:2-4 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, 3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

Word Study Elijah did as God told him. He went to the brook Cherith. Cherith is an interesting word, because in the Hebrew it means “cutting, piercing, or slaying”. That is certainly a scary name for a place of rest. And yet, Elijah did as God directed. Prayer is not one sided, but COMMUNICATION with God our Savior.

1 Kings 17:5-7 So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. 7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

Elijah had a perfect place to hide from Ahab. Who would expect him to go to such a terrible named place? As it got dryer in Northern Israel, the brook Cherith dried up. And yet, God looks after His children.

1 Kings 17:8 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, 9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

To Pray is not just to talk with God,
but to LISTEN to God.

Beloved, the word of the Lord came unto Elijah because he was seeking God’s direction through prayer. God said in His Word:

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.

How does one diligently seek God? This is done by prayer. Prayer is communication with the Lord Who loves us, and has given Himself for us. We seek God by being available to Him, by heeding His Word. Elijah lived his life available to the Lord. He was receptive to the Word of God. He loved God above all else, and God loved him. As the Brook Slaying dried up, God told Elijah “Go to the widow of Zarephath … I have commanded her to sustain you”. Elijah does as God says. He came to Zarephath and, seeing the widow gathering sticks for a fire, asked her to do two things:

1 Kings 17:10-11 Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11 … Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.

God told Elijah that this widow was supposed to “sustain” him. He took God at His Word. He asked her for water, then food. The widow tells Elijah:

1 Kings 17:12 As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

But Elijah was not deterred. He told the widow:

1 Kings 17:13-14 Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.

The widow went on to do as Elijah said, giving water and bread to him as God so commanded. The Bible tells us:

1 Kings 17:16 … the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

The story doesn’t stop here. Elijah’s prayer stopped the rain and dew for 3 years and 6 months. Elijah’s prayer led him to Cherith and the ravens, and then to the widow of Zarephath. But God will test both Elijah and the widow of Zarephath.

Prayer warriors do not WORRY, but
WORK AT PRAYER when afflicted.

1 Kings 17:17-19 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? 19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.

Why did God allow this sickness to come into Elijah and the widow’s life? To test and strengthen Elijah’s faith. It won’t be long before Elijah will stand on Mount Carmel, facing a multitude of false prophets in the name of God. Faith must be exercised, and trials come our way to exercise and grow our faith. God is able to defeat anything – even death. The Bible says:

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

Elijah had been staying in an upper loft at the widow’s house. Note that Elijah did not take the boy to his own room, but to Elijah’s room. God had been faithfully looking after Elijah throughout this drought. Elijah put the dead child in Elijah’s place of rest – then Elijah himself rested in prayer.

1 Kings 17:20-21 {Elijah} cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou ALSO brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

Elijah’s prayer is simple, and in two parts. He first asks God a question. O Lord my God, hast thou ALSO brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son. Note the use of the word ALSO. What Elijah is asking is, “Lord, you have brought a bad drought on Israel – did you ALSO bring death to this child?” Elijah is seeking clarification. If it is the will of God that the child be dead, Elijah was not going to pray outside of the will of God. Elijah is not accusing God, but seeking clarification. “Lord, is it your will that this child remain dead?” Receiving an answer from God, Elijah

1 Kings 17:21 … stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.

Elijah laid hands on the childthree times, and prayed simply O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. In the Bible only nine named individuals are ever raised back to life after death1. This is the very first time anyone was ever raised from the dead, so there was no precedent for this. Elijah just trusted God. We “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Elijah’s prayer was very simple. When we pray, we do not need to make long, rambling prayers. We are to pray simply, sincerely, and within the will of God to glorify God.

1 Kings 17:22-23 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.

Before rain would come on the earth, God would use Elijah to destroy the 400 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, demonstrating once more the wondrous power of God. Once the false prophets were destroyed the Bible says:

1 Kings 18:41-45 Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 43 and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. 45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.

Though Elijah’s prayer is not recorded, we know that he prayed because of what James tells us:

James 5:18 And {Elijah} prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

It is God Who brings the rain, and God Who blesses us with fruit. God used a man named Elijah to get it done. The Lord blesses us by allowing us, through prayer, to do great things for Him on this earth. God expects us to pray. Let us follow Elijah’s pattern, and diligently seek God in prayer. And dear one, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please seek Him in prayer today. Those who are in Him will survive the coming days. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

______________ Footnotes ________________

1 Elijah raised the son of the widow of Zarephath from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22). Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35). A man was raised from the dead when his body touched Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20, 21). Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead (Luke 7:11-15), the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Luke 8:41, 42, 49-55), and Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44). Jesus Himself rose from the grave (Matthew 28:5-8; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:5, 6). Peter raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-41). Paul raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9, 10).

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The Cure For Very Dry Bones

Dry bones
Photo by Trollinho on Unsplash

Ezekiel 37:1-3 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.

Before I was called of God to pastor, as a young Christian I sat under several preachers who loved to preach from this text. I have heard this text preached from different perspectives.
1. Some speak of these dry bones, and tell us that it speaks of the Resurrection of the Christian. The bodies that we have are but “earthen vessels” that will one day pass away (2 Corinthians 4:7). When the Christian dies, the body goes into the ground, but the soul goes to be with the Lord. Our Lord Jesus said:

John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

For the believer in God, death is but a momentary veil. When we are absent from the body, we who have Christ are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Jesus said,

John 11:26 … whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Though one day we will all pass through physical death if the Lord tarries (for I believe that some, like Elijah and Enoch, will pass into glory apart from death), that those dead bones shall live, for God shall make them live. What a wonderful truth our faith has in the resurrection of Christ. However, this text does not actually deal with the glorification and resurrection of God’s children.


2. I have heard this text preached to revive dead and Laodicean churches. One pastor, the late Frank O’Brien, often used this approach when challenging Loch Laurel Baptist to stir itself, and reach out to a lost and dying world. Though there are many local churches that are filled with “dry bones” today, this text is not addressing the Church of Christ when it asks “Can these bones live?”. It is certain that the Church in America is lethargic, entertainment driven, and in many cases indistinguishable from the darkness. But there are better passages that would rebuke the spirit of Laodicea. In particular, I think of the words of our Lord Jesus:

Revelation 3:15-18 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

No, our text today doesn’t speak of the wayward Church in America. There are other texts that address this sad truth in a direct way.


3. I have heard this text used to encourage those who are discouraged, who have lost the zeal for life because of dark days and trials. I must admit that there are days in my life when it is hard for me to get up and go – that I feel like a bunch of dried up bones! It seems as if God is miles away, though I know that He is not, for He has promised

Hebrews 13:5 … I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

No, rather than preach this text on depression, there are better and more appropriate texts that address this. Texts like:

Psalm 80:19 Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

Or Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

What is this text specifically about? When you are reading your Bible, always read the context. The context will often answer the questions you have much better than the best commentary will. God tells us what these bones are. He says:

Ezekiel 37:11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel:

This valley of dry bones is a picture of Israel, which has departed from following the Living God. God gives this vision to Ezekiel, whose name means “The Strength of God”. Ezekiel was a pastor in Israel, a Levite Priest, the son of Buzi (Ezekiel 1:3). We know little about “Buzi” except that his name means “My Contempt” or “Condemned of Jehovah”. Ezekiel is a picture of the Grace of God. Born in sin, of a father called “Condemned of Jehovah”, grace made him “Ezekiel, the Strength of God”. Chuck Swindoll tells us:

“Ezekiel lived among the Jewish exiles in Babylon at a settlement along the river Chebar called Tel-abib (Ezekiel 3:15), less than one hundred miles south of Babylon. The invading Babylonians brought about ten thousand Jews to the village in 597 BC, including Ezekiel and the last king of Judah, Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:8–14).”.

This text is addressed specifically to Israel, an Israel that had wandered away from God. Though addressed to Israel, there are many truths in the text that apply to us.

Israel Was Started From Dry Bones

Ezekiel is given a vision from God. Notice the first few verses:

Ezekiel 37:1-2 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

Ezekiel is not given the vision because he is better or worse than anyone else. Ezekiel is given the vision entirely by Grace. Notice how Ezekiel opens the vision: “the hand of the Lord was upon me”. God grabbed hold of Ezekiel. He lifted Ezekiel’s spirit up. God “carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones”. God did not ask Ezekiel “Where would you like to go today?” No, there was no free will involved in this. God grabbed his soul. God moved him to a valley. God “caused me to pass by them round about”.

Our God is the Sovereign God. He has a right to do with what He created as He wishes. God is not apologetic or politically correct when He says:

Isaiah 45:7-9 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. 8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it. 9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

Our God is sovereign! I am glad our God is sovereign, because Ezekiel saw:

Ezekiel 37:2 … there were VERY MANY {bones} in the open valley; and, lo, they were VERY DRY.

These are not fresh bones, nor bones with a little flesh on them. These bones were VERY MANY: more than Ezekiel could number. These bones were VERY DRY: absolutely dead – there was nothing of life in them. As Ezekiel views these bones, God asks Ezekiel a very simple question:

Ezekiel 37:3 … Son of man, can these bones live?

These bones are VERY MANY and VERY DRY. It is an overwhelming darkness, a place where there was absolutely no light. What can we do? Can we form a committee and look into this thing? Can we hire some specialists who know about reconstitution? What can we do? Ezekiel gives the only sane reply that anyone can give. He tells the Lord:

Ezekiel 37:3 … O Lord GOD, Thou knowest

Ezekiel addresses God as אֲדֹנָי יְהֹוָה or Adonai Yahweh. Only the Creator God can take the “dust of the ground” and make a person (Genesis 2:7). Only God can take dry bones, very dry bones, and bring life to them.

Israel the nation came from dry bones, very dry bones. An old man named Abram was childless (Genesis 11:30), and at the age of 75 years old (Genesis 12:4) was well past child bearing years. Abram was a “very dry bone” when God reached out to him, saying:

Genesis 12:1-2 … Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 and I will make of thee a great nation…

God was going to do something fantastic with Abram – one day to be Abraham. God would take a man who could not bear children, and bring life out of him. God offered this by Grace. God in essence told Abraham:

“Follow Me, and I will make you live, and bring forth life
where there is no possibility of life”

When Abraham was 100 years old Isaac was born to him (Genesis 21:5). This is Grace. God brings life out of death. Thank God for His unspeakable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

But Abraham and Isaac are only the beginning of God’s Grace. God would allow a child of Abraham named Joseph to be sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Joseph was 17 years old (Genesis 37:2) when his brothers betrayed him.

Genesis 41:46 Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

Joseph – the apple of his father Jacob’s eye – was made a very dry bone. Imprisoned for 13 years, first as a slave, then as a prisoner, God gave life where there was death. Joseph rose up to be the right hand man to Pharaoh. God used Joseph to make

Israel the family become Israel the nation. It was God Who grew the very dry bones into Israel.

Over time, Israel the nation, like Joseph before her, became slaves, a nation of very dry bones. The Bible says:

Exodus 12:40-41 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

Over 430 years Israel the family became Israel the nation. God took that very dry bony nation called Israel out of Egypt. Again, we see the Grace of God. Israel was in an impossible place, but as our Jesus said:

Matthew 19:26 … With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

It is by Grace that very dry bones are brought to life. It is by Grace that life comes out of death. Only God can bring forth this Grace. “Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest”.

God offered free Grace to Abraham, offered to bring life out of death to Israel. God did not choose Israel because she was a great nation. She was nothing before God called her in an old, wore out Chaldean. God reminded His people:

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Israel was Israel because of God’s Grace. She did not earn it, nor deserve it, but was brought from a state of very dry bones because she responded to the offer of God’s Grace.

The Word Of God Brings Life Out Of Death

Ezekiel 37:4-6 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

How does life come into very dry bones? It comes only by the Word of God. The Lord GOD – Adonai Yahweh – told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 37:4 Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord

In order for life to come into these very dry bones Ezekiel had to so something that looked foolish! He was to PROPHESY (Hebrew נָבָא nâbâʼ, {pronounced naw-baw’}) – to speak the Word that God says. Ezekiel was to say to the very dry bones, “HEAR” (שָׁמַע shâmaʻ, {pronounced shaw-mah’}), which means “listen to and OBEY”. This is an impossible thing that Ezekiel is to do. He speaks to dry bones, to very dry bones. But not his word, but HIS WORD, God’s Word. It is the Word of God that gives life. Ezekiel cannot give life, but he can do what God says, and God will cause life.

We see this amazing thing frequently in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus told the man who had been crippled for 38 years – THIRTY EIGHT YEARS –

How can one who was crippled 38 years do this? Is this not cruelty? No, it is the Word of the Lord. “Immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked” (John 5:9). The God Who commanded creation into existence can certainly cause dry bones to live. The God Who told Moses, “Stretch out thy hand over the sea, and divide it” (Exodus 14:16) is the same God Who told the man with the withered hand:

Mark 3:5 … Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other ..

John 5:8 … Rise, take up thy bed, and walk!

Israel is now a alley of very dry bones, but if she will hear the Word of God, the Lord will restore her to power. Salvation comes by Grace.

Life comes by the Word of God.
Death comes as the wage of sin.

To be reconstituted, to be made more than a valley of very dry bones, Israel must remember and return to the Word of God. God told His people:

Deuteronomy 7:9-11 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10 and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. 11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.

Salvation is by Grace, but blessing by obedience to God.

Israel must return to the Word of God if they will be blessed. The Psalmist said

Psalm 119:25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me {give me life} according to Thy Word.

It is God’s Word that can make these very dry bones live. Only God’s Word can do this. Ezekiel can do nothing but

Hebrews 10:23 … HOLD FAST the profession of our faith without waivering (for He is faithful that promised)

It is the Word of God that gives life. Though the world itself considers the Word of God to be foolish – it is the Word of God that will bring life to death. God said:

Ezekiel 37:5-6 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

So what did Ezekiel do? He did as God said. And as he did what God said, miraculous things occurred:

Ezekiel 37:7-8 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Ezekiel spoke the Word of God, and the dry bones came together. The skeleton assembled, and the sinews, the flesh and muscle, along with the skin came on the bones. But there was a problem. “there was no breath in them”. The Word of God alone did not bring life. There must be a connection with God. God tells Ezekiel:

It Is The Word of God AND The Holy Spirit
That Brings Life

Ezekiel 37:9-10 Then said {the Lord GOD} unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

Ezekiel was to prophesy or speak the Word of God to the dry bones. But he was also to prophesy or speak “to the wind”. The word translated “WIND” is the Hebrew רוּחַ rûwach, {pronounced roo’-akh}, which indeed means “WIND” but can also be translated “SPIRIT”. The Blue Letter Bible notes that rûwach can refer to “{the} Spirit of God, the third person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, co-eternal with the Father and the Son”. It is not just the Word of God that brings life, but THE SPIRIT OF GOD MUST BE INVITED INTO THE PROCESS.

Many followed after Jesus when He walked this earth. But one day as He preached a hard truth the Bible says:

John 6:60-65 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

God the Holy Spirit must be involved in the salvation of very dry bones. The Apostle Paul told the Church at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 3:3-6 … ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

It is “the spirit {that} giveth life”. Life comes when the Word of God is spoken in the power of God. Paul warned in another place:

Galatians 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Israel sowed to the flesh, and reaped corruption as a nation. But God promised to bring life back to the very dry bones of that nation. How would He do this? Only by Ezekiel doing as he was told. Ezekiel must speak the Word of God, partnered with the Spirit of God – and those very dry bones can live. The power of salvation is totally in God! God told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.

Is There An Application For Us In Today’s Text?

Absolutely! I hear so many Christians bemoan the fact that America has fallen far from God, and it seems as if only darkness reigns. America is in no worst a state than Israel was in under Babylonian captivity. We are captured today by cancel culture, political correctness, extreme leftism, and our culture as well as our children are being taught that God’s design in gender is totally optional, based upon the desire of a person. What is the solution to our country’s woes? It is to share the Word of God in partnership with the Spirit of God.

When Christ ascended into Heaven He told His little Church of 120 souls:

Acts 1:4, 8 … that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but WAIT FOR THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me .. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy {Spirit} is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Our God is able to bring America – and the Church in America – back from the brink of destruction. But we must adhere to and share His Word in the power of His Holy Spirit. The true Christian, like the true Jew:

Romans 2:29 … is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so, you have the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9, 11). The Holy Spirit is in you. The only way we will reverse the fall of America is to, as Ezekiels, speak to the very dry bones the Word of God in the power of God the Holy Spirit. We need to be a Bible believing, Bible living, Spirit empowered Church to be the light of the world. This begins by each one of us committing to love God with all that we are, and to love our neighbor – even our enemies – the way that we want to be loved. We can no more rely upon someone else – we must be someone else. Our God is able! Let us not despair, but rise up, and share Christ in the power of God’s Spirit with those around us. May God give us the strength and faith as His Church to do this – for Christ’s glory! Amen and Amen!

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The Marks Of The Christian

Child walking in lion's prints
Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (22) In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: (23) If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled,and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel,which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

What marks a Christian, a Christian? What are the signs or evidences in the life that stand as proofs that you are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus? It is not the man made denomination that makes a Christian, but God does this when we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Apostle of Love wrote:

John 1:12-13 But as many as received {Jesus}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The Position Of The Christian Is Different To
The Position Of The Lost

A Christian is distinctly different to a non-Christian. A Christian is a “Son of God”. Someone once asked, “But doesn’t God have any daughters?”. Well yes, He does. But “Son of God” is a technical term for the genuine Christian.

When Jesus Christ was incarnate, He became the Son of Man. But Jesus is eternally THE Son of God. Satan acknowledged this.

Matthew 4:3 And when the Tempter came to {Jesus}, he said, if Thou be THE Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

Satan addressed Jesus two times in the wilderness as THE Son of God (Matthew 4:6). When Jesus walked on water to His disciples, the Bible says:

Matthew 14:33 … they that were in the ship came and worshiped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

When on trial before the Sanhedrin, the High Priest Caiaphas asked Jesus,

Matthew 26:63 … I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be THE Christ, THE Son of God.

The Messiah, the High Priest knew, was prophesied to be THE Son of God. When Jesus affirmed that He is indeed the Son of God, the High Priest pronounced Jesus guilty of blasphemy, “He is guilty of death” (Matthew 26:66).

Jesus Christ is THE Son of God. We who believe on Him are born again of the Spirit of God, and are ourselves sons of God, different from the lost world.

Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works..

Let’s see how the Apostle develops this. And you, that were sometime. The word rendered “SOMETIME” is the Greek particle ποτέ poté, {pronounced pot-eh’}, which means “in past time” or “at one time”. There WAS a time that the Christian was alienated. This is the Greek παλλοτριοω, apallotrioo, {pronounced ap-al-lot-ree-o’-o}, which means “to be permanently separated from [God]”. You were far from God because you did not view sin as God did.

To the world, the son of Adam, sin is anything that we do not like. But to the son of God sin is anything that God does not like.

Sin takes us positionally far from God. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 59:1-3 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 BUT your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

The lost person does not have the same frame of reference that God has. What God considers “sin”, the lost consider “free choice” and “human rights”. The sons of Adam are apart from God in [their] minds by wicked works. When God corrects them, they will not heed God, because they put themselves and their desires above God. A good example of this is found in the life of Cain and Abel. Both Cain and Abel brought an offering to God.

Genesis 4:3-5 … in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.

What was the difference between Cain’s offering, and Abel’s offering? Cain was a farmer, so he brought the fruit of the ground to God as an offering. Abel was a stockman, so he brought the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof, or an animal sacrifice. They both brought a tithe of their increase to God. But God only received Abel’s offering. Why? At this point I can go into detail and tell you that God taught Adam and Eve that only an offering of blood would cover or atone for sin (see Genesis 3:21). This shedding of blood taught Adam and Eve the severity of sin, and how only an innocent outside of the sinner could make payment for sin. God would later tell Israel:

Leviticus 17:11 … the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

The offering of blood in the Old Testament was symbolic, and looked forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament we are told:

Hebrews 9:11-12 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Under the old Covenant until Christ was crucified, God demanded that there be shedding of blood. The Bible says:

Hebrews 9:22 … almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission {of sins}.

That is why God received Abel’s offering, and not Cain’s offering. Abel was a son of God by faith, and brought the blood offering that God showed his parents in Eden. Cain, however, brought what he thought was best. When God rejected his offer, Cain’s response was just like every son of Adam’s response:

Genesis 4:5 Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Rather than repent, and do what God said, Cain got angry.

If he had a social media account, Cain would have unfriended God, and blocked Abel.

God encouraged Cain to do the right. God said:

Genesis 4:6-7 … Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Cain was alienated and enemies in [his] mind by wicked works. The word translated enemies is the Greek εχθρος, echthros, {pronounced ekh-thros’}, which comes from a word εχθωechtho which means “to hate, to be hateful or actively hostile to”. When God corrected Cain, Cain did not repent, but his hatred of God spilled over onto Abel, so much so that he murdered his own brother. The son of Adam is mentally and positionally far apart from where the mind of God is. The Bible says that:

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

The lost person or the son of Adam not only sins, but comes short of the glory of God. The lost person has no desire to bring glory to God, but wants to bring glory to themselves. When corrected by God, the lost respond with negative emotion, being hateful toward God and toward the sons of God. They do not love God, especially when God rejects their standard of living. They reject the Law of God, preferring instead to be a law unto themselves. The Christian is in a different position:

Colossians 1:21-22 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (22) In the body of his flesh through death,

The Christian is no longer a son of Adam, but is reconciled to God. The word translated reconciled is the Greek ἀποκαταλλάσσω apokatallássō, {pronounced ap-ok-at-al-las’-so}, which means “to bring into harmony with God”. Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary to provide a permanent covering for our sin, thereby making us at peace with God. When we receive Christ as Lord and Savior the Bible says:

Ephesians 2:14-16 For {Jesus} is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between {us and God}; 15 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 and that he might reconcile both {us and God} unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

The Christian is reconciled or at harmony with God. We are no longer in the position of enemies, but are NOW sons of God. We were permanently separated from God and enemies in our wicked works. This was a permanent and total separation, and we could do absolutely nothing about this. Then God made a way.

God the Father sent Christ to give His life for us, and once we receive Christ as Savior, God the Father sends God the Holy Spirit to bring us new birth and a new position in God. We are positionally reconciled!

Because Of Our Positional Change,
We Now Pursue What Pleases God

Colossians 1:21b-22 …yet now hath He reconciled, {22} In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Because the Christian is no longer a son of Adam, but a son of God because of THE Son of God, our outward expression changes. The Apostle said in another place:

2 Corinthians 5:21 {The Father} hath made {Jesus} [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

The Christian is no longer HATEFUL to God in works, but is HOLY unto God. When God called the ancient Israelite out of Egypt, He told them:

Leviticus 20:7-8 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I [am] the LORD your God. (8) And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I [am] the LORD which sanctify you.

The Israelite position was changed from that of a slave to Egypt, to that of a servant of God. They were called into a new position and a new relationship with God. God fed them in the wilderness, loved them, cared for them. They were a people reserved unto Himself – therefore God required that they remember this and follow Him.

In like manner you are holy, dear believer. You are holy because the Blood of God was shed for you. You are holy, set apart for God’s own use. You are His purchased possession –and you are therefore to serve Him with all your hearts. The devil will – just as he did with Jesus – tempt the believer to wander away from God our Father. The devil will do with us as he did with Jesus, saying:

Matthew 4:9 … all these things {the kingdoms of the world} will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me …

Our answer must be like the Master’s answer:

Matthew 4:10 … Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

As sons of God, we are to live our lives to please and glorify our Father. We do not belong to the sons of Adam. We are God’s cherished possession. The Scripture says we are not to follow in the pathway of sexual sin as the sons of Adam do:

1 Corinthians 6:17-20 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Dear Christian, we belong to God. Let us Flee fornication”, πορνεία porneia, that is “sexual sin”. Many Churches today encourage sexual sin by minimizing it or normalizing it. It is certain that the lost will visit our local Churches. However, we are to stand firm in what God has said is true, and not accept into the membership of the Church those engaged in open sexual sin. The Apostle said in another place:

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Sexual sin is incompatible with holiness. Son of Adam freely engage in sexual sin, but sons of God do not. We live as those who belong to God. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 7:22-23 … he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. 23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

Because of the Blood of Jesus and because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, every believer lives so as to please God, and not man. We are, in God’s sight:

Colossians 1:22 … holy and unblameable and unreproveable

Jesus took the blame for my sin on the Cross. I am unblameable, the Greek ἄμωμος ámōmos, {pronounced am’-o-mos}, which means “without spot or blemish”. Because Jesus was:

1 Peter 1:19 … a Lamb without blemish and without spot

and I have received Him as Lord and Savior, I am without blemish and without spot. The blood of animals only provided a temporary covering for sin. But Jesus Christ came, being a permanent solution for our wayward position.

Hebrews 9:14 … How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The Christian is not a Pharisee, outwardly righteous but inwardly dead (Matthew 23:27-28). The Christian is a good tree that brings forth good fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).

Time Will Tell Your Position

Now we come to one of the Ifs of Scripture:

Colossians 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel …

The proof of the Christian is that the Christian abides in Christ. The Bible makes it very clear that you become a Christian by the operation of the Spirit of God, by “new birth” or “being born again” (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23). The Christian has encountered “the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Ephesians 1:5). The Christian has received the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15), the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:5). We are internally and positionally changed from sons of Adam to sons of God.

The faith that saves cannot help but endure, for God is in it. False faith falls away. Genuine faith “overcomes”.

The Apostle warns:

1 John 2:18-20 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (19) They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (20) BUT ye have an UNCTION from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

The child of God has an UNCTION, a χρῖσμα chrîsma, {pronounced khris’-mah} or ANOINTING from God. The Holy Spirit has touched the genuine son of God, and in that touch has permanently changed us. Genuine faith endures. The Christian is HOLY and UNBLAMABLE and UNREPROVABLE in God’s sight. We live our lives pleasing our Lord and Savior. When we err and sin, we confess our sins to God, knowing that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Dear Christian, we live our lives as sons of God. We live our lives to please God. If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I plead with you, call upon Him today. He can change you, and make you into one of God’s sons. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. Amen and Amen.

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Jesus Unclothed So We Can Be Clothed

Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John 19.

Last week we looked at the crucifixion of Jesus. Darkness was over all the earth from the sixth to the ninth hour.

Luke 23:45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

In the midst of the darkness the veil of the Temple was torn into from the top to the bottom. The Evangelist Mark tells us:

Mark 15:37-39 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

The Centurion in charge of executing our Lord had seen many men and women executed by crucifixion in his lifetime. Most died begging for mercy. Some begged that their lives be ended quicker, for the agony of crucifixion is horrid. This Centurion heard Jesus as He quietly hung on that Cross. He heard Jesus tell the thief to His right, “Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). He heard Jesus, caring for His mother Mary, put her in John’s care (John 19:25-27). This hardened soldier heard Jesus say “It is finished” (John 19:30). But what moved that soldier’s battle hardened heart was our Lord’s final words:

Luke 23:46 … Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Jesus’ last words were not the words of a defeated Man. They were those of a soldier Who had fought and died on a battlefield for His nation. The Centurion said:

Truly this Man WAS the Son of God” (Mark 15:39)

Jesus Christ, Clothed In Humanity
Became An Unclothed WAS For Us

The Bible tells us that God made man:

Hebrews 2:7 … a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

Humanity was made in God’s image, and in God’s likeness (Genesis 1:26). Humanity was placed in a perfect Garden, in a perfect world, to follow a perfect and loving God. But Adam sinned, and caused humanity to fall. But God was not satisfied to leave us alone and undone. Jesus Christ, Himself infinite God (John 1:1-3), was made like us. Jesus “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death … that He, by the Grace of God, should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).

Jesus WAS born of a Virgin. Jesus WAS a man, a Perfect Man, Who died for our sins. The crowd looks on the body of Jesus. To them, Jesus WAS.

John 19:37 … And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced ..

The crowd which earlier called for Jesus’ crucifixion now are awakened by God. God prophesied:

Zechariah 12:10 … I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Jesus has become a “WAS”. The Centurion speaks again, glorifying God,

Luke 23:47 … saying, Certainly, this WAS a righteous Man

Satan’s fever had passed from the people. God opened their eyes. Here was Jesus, a Man Who only did good to others. Because of Jesus …

Luke 7:22 … the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

The ones who drove the nails into Jesus now are awakened. He was innocent, righteous. Jesus is now a “WAS” because of them. And the people? The Bible says:

Luke 23:48-49 …. all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. 49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

Preach It! It amazes me that today some so called scholars believe that Jesus did not die on that Cross. He was pierced, and blood and water ran from His side (John 19:34), a clear sign of death. The Centurion had killed many – was he now stupid, uneducated on the nature of death? He did not achieve his rank by being sloppy. Jesus “WAS”. He is no longer. He is dead. All that is left is the cleanup.

What do you do with a naked Someone Who WAS?
You bury Him.

John 19:38-40 And after this Joseph of Arimathæa, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

As God moved in the hearts of the people, He changed the heart of Joseph of Arimathæa, a wealthy man who was secretly a disciple of Jesus. A naked, bloodied Jesus who WAS hangs on the Cross. Joseph’s fear is gone. He goes to Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. Jesus WAS. There’s only a broken, empty shell of the Messiah. Another man, Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, comes out of hiding. Jesus’ body is unclothed. Look to John 19:23-24!

John 19:23 … when they crucified Jesus, took His garments … and also His coat … that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots …

Jesus’ body is naked. He was unclothed for our sins. He, the Son of God, became a WAS so that we could become Sons and Daughters of God.

1 Peter 3:18 … For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh…

Jesus WAS. His body is naked. He must be clothed for burial. Nicodemus comes, bringing with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. What is this myrrh and aloes for? The Jews used this paste on a person who WAS to wrap the body for burial. As Mary His Mother helped wash and wrap her Son’s body, I imagine her tears mingled with the wash water. Mary would remember her little baby boy, Jesus, on the day that the Wise Men came bearing gifts (Matthew 2:11), ONE OF THOSE GIFTS BEING MYRRH. As Mary His mother helped wrap the Jesus Who WAS, she would be reminded how, the night when He entered this earth, she …

Luke 2:7 … wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger

The body washed, John 19:40 … Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Word Study The phrase in linen clothes is the Greek ὀθόνιον othónion, {pronounced oth-on’-ee-on}, which means “strips of linen cloth used for swathing the dead”. As the body was wrapped with strips of linen, the paste of myrrh and aloe was used on those strips to bind them to the body. The Free Bible Commentary states, “This was according to Jewish customs described in the Talmud (i.e., Betsah 6a).”

Jesus’ body, now clothed for burial, is laid to rest …

John 19:41 … in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, “Whereon never a man set” (Mark 11:2). Jesus’ body was carried to a tomb, “Wherein was never man yet laid” (John 20:41)!

The stone of the tomb was put in place, sealing the Jesus who WAS into that place. That should have ended things. But the Pharisees and Chief Priests were not done with Jesus. Matthew, a Levite, tells us:

Matthew 27:62-66 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can..

The Jewish Leaders who sought Jesus’ execution wanted to make sure that the Jesus Who WAS would be kept in the Tomb. Jesus had told them that He would stay in that Grave “for three days and three nights, just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40; Jonah 1:17). They wanted to make sure that this Jesus Who WAS stayed in the WAS state. They wanted to ensure that His disciples would not come along and steal the body and say that He had risen. Jesus must remain a WAS. Armed guards were placed on the Tomb.

Matthew 27:66 So they went, and made the sepulcher SURE, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Jesus WAS. He was going to stay WAS. But He didn’t.

Three days and three nights have passed, and the women go back to the Tomb of Jesus. The Evangelist tells us:

Mark 16:1-4 … when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

This was not what the women expected. They expected to get to the sealed Tomb, and hoped that they could get someone to roll the stone from the doorway so they could further anoint the Jesus Who WAS. Mary Magdalene was most heartbroken over the discovery. We read:

John 20:1-2 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher. 2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.

Mary believed that They have taken away the Lord, supposing a final act of cruelty by the Jewish Pharisees and Priests. While the Disciples of Jesus were in the Levitical Sabbath (that Sabbath day was A HIGH DAY1) Mary assumed that the enemies of Christ had come and taken Him away.

John 20:3-4 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. 4 So they ran both together …

The commentaries notethat other disciple is traditionally believed to be John. Peter and John had a foot race to the tomb, and John got there first.

John 20:4-5 and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. 5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

This part of the Scripture is very important. Jesus’ body had been wrapped with strips of linen, secured with about 100 pounds of a myrrh and aloe paste. When John looked into the tomb he saw the linen strips “lying” there. Had Jesus’ body been stolen, as Mary supposed, then they would have taken the body with the strips, as the myrrh and aloe paste acted as a glue.

John 20:6-7 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Though John was the first to the tomb, he waited until Peter went in. It was well known that Peter was the Chief Apostle, and I believe John was deferring to him. Peter saw the linen strips, and saw the head covering rolled up neatly, and in another place in the tomb.

Jesus was wrapped, as a baby, in swaddling clothes. When He ceased to be a baby, these wrappings were removed. Jesus’ body was wrapped with strips of linen and a hundred pounds of embalming paste. Had grave robbers taken Him, the head covering would not be rolled up, nor the linen strips present. The Soniclight Commentary notes:

That Person who had “rolled up … the face-cloth” had apparently been the resurrected Jesus. A grave robber would not have taken the time to fold the head covering neatly, but would have left it lying in a heap. Neither would friends who might have removed the body done this; they would have hurried away from the tomb as quickly as possible to avoid being apprehended. It is not clear whether the head covering lay where Jesus’ head had lain. What is clear is that someone had folded (“rolled”) it up carefully.

Why did the grave clothes lie as they had been before the body of Jesus exited them, and why had the face-cloth been carefully folded and laid aside? One explanation is that these were deliberately given as two different witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.”

John 20:8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

The Apostles knew that Jesus said He was going to rise from the grave, but knowing a thing and actually believing are two different things. John saw the two mute witnesses – the burial clothes and the face covering – and believed that Jesus rose from the Grave. Jesus passed through the grave clothes and through the rocky tomb. An angel rolled back the stone so the disciples could see that Jesus had risen (Matthew 28:2), not to let Jesus out!

Over the next 40 days Jesus will appear again and again to His disciples. Jesus has defeated death, and the devil. Beloved, in order to be saved you must believe in the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Jesus Christ “bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). He died on Calvary making payment for our sins. But Jesus went farther than this. The Bible says:

Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Jesus died on Calvary to save a wretch like me. But He rose from the grave, and is at the right hand of God the Father, making intercession for those who are His people. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is absolutely integral to the salvation of the believer. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 15:14-23 … if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

The empty tomb of Christ tells us as believers that:

  • Jesus Is Who He Says He Is:The Bible says in Romans 1:4, “Jesus Christ … {was} declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, BY THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. Death cannot hold Jesus. Since He has defeated death, and told us whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall NEVER DIE” (John 11:26), I know His guarantee is true. Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah 25:8, saying “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the lord hath spoken it.”
  • The Afterlife Is What Jesus Says It Is: There is indeed a Heaven and a Hell, and Jesus alone leads the way to God. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; No One cometh to the Father but by Me”. Jesus is the Door to Heaven. He said in John 10:7-9, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
  • Proper Life Is What Jesus Says It Should Be: No person is sinless but Jesus (John 8:7; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 9:28). No Christian is sinless. But once we are saved by faith in the resurrected Christ, we are born again of God” (John 3:3,7; 1 Peter 1:23), “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. We who are saved are resurrected creatures, heading toward a future resurrection. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 tells us “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ”. The “born again” believer views sin differently from the lost son of Adam. It is sin that killed our Master. It is sin that Jesus paid for, very painfully, on the Cross. When a “born again” believer sins, he or she are convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, and will repent, confessing that sin unto God for Christ’s sake. The Apostle was quite adamant on this. He said in 1 John 2:4, “He that saith, I know {Jesus}, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him”. Our Lord Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. Jesus Christ was unclothed on Calvary so that we could be clothed in the light and righteousness of God. We used to be children of darkness – now we are to walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “Our old man is crucified with Jesus, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Romans 6:6).

Do you know Him? Do you know my Jesus? He gave His life for you and I, so that we can begin to live life the way the Lord intended. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I beg you, receive Him today. We who are Christians now serve an amazing Savior, and are headed toward a wonderful eternity, filled with “joy unspeakable”. May God the Holy Spirit use His Word to move your hearts to Christ. Amen and Amen!

___________________Note On The “Sabbath”_____________________

1 “High Days” are annual holy days or annual Sabbaths as defined in Leviticus 23:7, 8, 21, 25, 28, 31, 32, 35, 36 & 39. These are special Sabbaths not to be confused with the weekly Sabbath. There were seven annual Sabbaths in addition to the weekly Saturday Sabbath:

  • The first and seventh days of Unleavened Bread
  • Pentecost
  • Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew)
  • Atonement (Yom Kippur)
  • The first day of Tabernacles (Succoth)
  • The Last Great Day.

The “High Day” of John 19:31 is the first day of Unleavened Bread, which falls the day after the Passover (Nisan 15).

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Touch Me Not

Sunrise
Photo by Lefty Kasdaglis on Unsplash

In our 8:30 service today we’re going to be looking at the empty tomb of our Lord. We’ll be in John 19:38-20:10. For our Sunrise Service I wanted to look at the verses that come after this. Having seen the burial clothes of Jesus in the empty tomb, Peter and John go back home:

John 20:10-13 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. 11 But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, 12 and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers!

But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping”. Peter and John saw the empty tomb and the clothes left behind, but Mary lingered. When she first found the tomb opened she ran back to the disciples, telling them:

John 20:2 … They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.

Mary had not found Jesus’ body, so she was not satisfied. Someone must have taken Jesus’ body!

Mary was often found sitting at the feet of Jesus, hearing Him teach (Luke 10:38-39). When Mary’s brother Lazarus died she told Jesus, while weeping,

John 11:32 … Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Her weeping and hurt caused Jesus Himself to weep, though He would raise Lazarus from that grave in short order. Mary wanted Jesus. Peter and John looked in the tomb and saw Jesus’ grave clothes, but Mary looked in the tomb and saw “seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain”. They ask her “Woman, why weepest thou?”, to which she replies “they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him”.

God has promised in His Word:

Jeremiah 29:13 … ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Mary sought Jesus with all her heart. Peter and John were happy with empty grave clothes, but Mary wanted Jesus. So Jesus came! We read:

John 20:14-15 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

There is Jesus! Mary is being driven by FEELINGS right now, and she does not recognize that this is Jesus speaking to her. How is that possible? It is very early in the morning, and waning darkness is difficult on the eyes. I also believe it is because the resurrection body is so glorious, so different than the earthly bodies that we now have, that it will amaze us when the Lord gives them to us. The last time Mary saw Jesus He was beaten so badly that the Prophet said:

Isaiah 52:14 As many were {astonished} at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:

Isaiah 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

The Jesus that stood before Mary now was in His glorified eternal state. She supposed He was the gardener. But then, Jesus called her name:

John 20:16 … Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

When God the Son called her name, the tears were chased from Mary’s eyes. Mary knew this was Jesus. It is such a blessing when God calls your name – that is, when you are seeking him. In the Garden of Eden …

Genesis 3:9 … the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

On that day Adam and his wife hid from the Lord, knowing that they had sinned against His command. On that day Jesus told the serpent, that old Devil, also called Satan (Revelation 12:9):

Genesis 3:15 … I will put enmity between thee {you old Serpent} and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

This was the very first prophecy that a Messiah would come, being born of the woman. This Messiah would be bruised by the devil – and oh, how our Savior was bruised! But this Messiah would also crush the head of the serpent. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel, but only His heel would be hurt. Jesus is alive.

Jesus appears to Mary early on so that we can see that God always keeps His promises! What God said in Genesis is fulfilled in John. Our God is faithful!

Touch Me Not, For I Have Not Ascended

John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Why did Jesus tell Mary Touch me not? One of the stupidest explanations I ever heard was that “Jesus’ wounds were still sore, and He didn’t want to be touched”. Let’s look to the text rather than to fantasy.

Word Study The word TOUCH is the Greek ἅπτομαι háptomai, {pronounced hap’-tom-ahee}, which means “to fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to”. Mary wasn’t just touching Jesus – she grabbed Him and held on! In Matthew 28:9 we are told “they came and held him by the feet, and worshiped him”. Mary grabbed hold of Jesus and didn’t want to let go. But Jesus had to go. His mission was not fully completed. Jesus said I am not yet ascended to my Father. The Resurrected Christ must ascend to the Father. For what? The Book tells us:

Hebrews 9:11-14 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Our Jesus, a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 6:20-7:3; Hebrews 7:17, 21), entered into the Heavenly Holy of Holies by his own blood. It is His Blood that and His Blood alone that was accepted by the Father God as payment for our sins (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 2:13). The Lamb of God paid our sin debt in full. The Scripture says:

Romans 4:20-24 {Abraham} staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.

Jesus Christ was delivered to the Cross “for our offenses.
Jesus Christ was delivered from the tomb “for our justification”.

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15). The grave could not hold Jesus, so Mary must not hold Him now. But He will return many times over the next 40 days showing us that death and the grave are defeated, along with sin, for all who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit this wondrous Resurrection Sunday. Amen and Amen!

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The Praying Christian

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A little boy went to Church with his mamma and daddy. He promised his parents he would behave if he could sit in the “big” service, rather than go to the Children’s Church he usually attended. As the little boy watched the service unfold, the preacher began to pray. As the preacher ended the prayer, he said “We ask this in Jesus’ Name”, and sat down. Without thinking, the little boy blurted out:

You didn’t say AMEN”!

Does Your Prayer Hang On An “Amen”?

There’s really nothing in the Bible that says “you must say ‘Amen’” for your prayer to be acceptable to God. The word “amen” comes from both Greek and Hebrew. In Greek it is ἀμήν amēn (pronounced am-ane’), and the Greek itself came from the Hebrew אָמֵן ʼâmên, (pronounced aw-mane’). The word means “this word is true, this is sure, so be it, of a truth”. The Greek Lexicon states:

At the beginning of a discourse – surely, truly, of a truth. At the end of a discourse – so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled. It was a custom, which passed over from the Synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own.”

Jesus often used a double amen in His sermons, quite apart from prayer. The King James often quotes Jesus’ amens as “verily”, as in:

John 1:51 … verily, verily (amen, amen) I say unto you …
John 3:3 … verily, verily (amen, amen) I say unto thee …

Jesus uses “amen, amen” some 25 times in the Book of John alone. The doubled “amen” makes what Jesus says emphatically strong. So “amen” does not have to be in a prayer, but is a statement of affirmation. What DOES have to be in prayer?

Healthy Christians Frequently Pray

Prayer should not be something you do just every now and then, or only during special times (like before a meal or prior to bed). Prayer should be frequent. In fact, the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17,

Pray Without Ceasing

The Christian’s lifestyle should be thoroughly interlaced with prayer. We live in a rough, fallen world. Beloved, if we would pray more, we would worry less. Prayer reminds us that not only is God in control, it tells us that we are weak, and desperately need His presence in our lives.

When Peter was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, the Bible says that:

Acts 12:5 … prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him …

The Church prayed together, remembering that Jesus promised “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). When God’s people come together and pray, the power of God comes to earth. The Church prayed for Peter, and called an angel from Heaven to let him out of prison.

Prayer moves mountains.
Prayer calls angels.
Prayer stirs the heart of God.

The Apostle Paul had power with God because he prayed. He told the Church at Rome:

Romans 1:9-10 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you

Paul also prayed for his disciple Timothy, telling him:

2 Timothy 1:3-4 … without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4 greatly desiring to see thee

Defining The Concept: When the Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing”, I do not think that it means we should never stop praying. There are times when we must interact with other people, at the store, at work, and in our homes. Though Paul said he “prayed without ceasing”, we know that God used him to write scripture, and to preach the Gospel. So it is certain there were times when Paul was not praying. I think the intent of “pray without ceasing” is that we should never be far from our God, and never be lacking in addressing Him. The praying Christian is the joyful Christian.

When we pray, we are not doing so for show, or to be seen of men. We are praying to our Heavenly Father. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:5-6 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

When thou prayest”. Jesus doesn’t say IF you pray,
but WHEN you pray.

Prayer is something that every Christian should do. Jesus tells us that when we pray, we are not to be praying so as to impress a fallen world. Prayer is communication with the Almighty God. Do not pray just so that others can hear you.

Some have taken Jesus’ statement, “when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door”, to mean that no one should ever hear us pray. This is not the Lord’s emphasis. He doesn’t mean that we should never pray publicly, but that we should never pray to be seen of others. Prayer is not a stage performance.

However, there are times when public prayer is perfectly acceptable. Herbert Lockyer’s “All The Prayers Of The Bible” notes there are 650 prayers listed in the Bible, and that Jesus Himself prayed 25 different times during His earthly ministry. One of Jesus most well known prayers is recorded in John 17, often called “Jesus’ Priestly Prayer for the Church”. Jesus obviously prayed publicly, else the prayer would have not been recorded in the Bible. We may pray publicly, but only if we can do so and keep our mind focused on God and not on those who might be around us.

Prayer speaks to God.
Good prayer always has a purpose.

Jesus tells us:

Matthew 6:7-8 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

What Jesus calls vain repetitions is a reference to just mouthing words, over and over, thinking that this serves some purpose. God knows what our needs are, and yet wants us, as His children, to ask Him for things. James said:

James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

We who pray are not to use words with no purpose, but are to always remember we are speaking to a Person in prayer. God is Almighty, but He nonetheless is a Person. He does not want us to say just a mouthful of words without purpose. Let us “ask in faith, nothing waivering” (James 1:6).

Pray Specifically and Purposefully

When we pray, let us pray specifically and purposefully until we get a definite answer from God. Jesus illustrated this in:

Luke 18:1-8 {Jesus} spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

There are times when we pray that God does not answer our prayers immediately. What should we do? We should keep approaching the Throne of Grace. We should pursue God in prayer just as this widow pursued the unjust judge. God will answer our prayers, but we must seek His face until we get an answer. In the Garden of Gethsemane our Lord Jesus prayed three times:

Matthew 26:39 … O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Jesus knew that the Cup of Divine Judgment would be poured out on Him at Calvary. Jesus prayed three times that this cup pass, if it were possible. It was not possible. After the third prayer (Matthew 26:44) Jesus got up, and with purpose told His disciples:

Matthew 26:46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

Once the prayer is answered, Jesus goes on to do the Father’s will. We should do like Jesus. We are to pray, knocking on the door of Heaven, until we get an answer. Once we get an answer, let us move forward, crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land. Let us live for God!

Jesus’ Model Of Prayer

It was after a session of prayer that:

Luke 11:1-4 … one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Matthew records the more familiar format of the Lord’s Prayer we are acquainted with:

Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Proper prayer always honors God first. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus started by emphasizing that “Our Father God is in Heaven – and we want to hallow or glorify His Name”. Many times when we pray, we immediately turn to our needs. Jesus tells us that before we address our needs, we are to address God’s glory. We pray that Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. We acknowledge that we will receive God’s answer to prayer and rest in that answer, whether it is according to what WE think it should be. God is ultimately in control – that is His nature. If it is God’s will that we suffer, then it is for the best that we suffer, for God always knows best.

The Apostle Paul recounts this time in his life:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 … lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 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. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

We do not truly know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me was. We know that Paul sought God three times that this thorn be removed. God’s response? My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. God told Paul that he would have to live within this valley. Paul, rather than being bitter, recognized truly that what God was doing was for his own good. The Apostle then began to praise God for the thorn in the flesh, as well as for other “infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, {and} distresses for Christ’s sake. Paul truly believed the Scripture that:

Romans 8:28 … we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

After seeking the glory of God in prayer, the believer is supposed to pray for his needs. Jesus simply said:

Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

This part of the prayer focuses on our present needs. Notice that this part of the prayer is very short, and to the point. We pray directly to God our Father, asking Him for our needs for that day. But we also pray for our yesterdays.

Matthew 6:12-13 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil …

We pray for our failures before God. We all fall short of His glory, of His desires for our lives. So we ask our Lord to forgive us, in Jesus’ name.

Prayer Demands A Forgiving Spirit

But our forgiveness is conditional on how we ourselves have forgiven others. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

If we are carrying grudges or hardness in our hearts toward others, then we will not be forgiven. God wants us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Though we fail daily, our God never fails. We are to forgive even our enemies. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:44-45 … But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

If we want our prayers answered, we must be sure to forgive those who have wronged us. This includes – but is not limited to – our spouses. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Carrying grudges against anyone, especially toward a spouse, definitely hinders our prayers before God. The marital relationship is supposed to reflect the same love that Jesus Christ has for His Church, and the Church has for Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:25-28). The Bible says:

Colossians 3:17-19 whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. 18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

After praying that God will forgive our sins against Himself just as we have forgiven sins against ourselves, we close our prayers by acknowledging our desperate need of the Lord’s guiding hand (13) “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Some versions read “Deliver us from the Evil One”. As believers we need God’s daily intervention in our lives. I am so frail and subject to failure that I feel like that old song said:

Oh Lord, I can’t even walk without you holding my hand
The mountains too high and the valleys too wide
Down on my knees that’s where I learned to stand
Oh Lord, I can’t even walk without you holding my hand

Christian, Pray With Confidence, For God Is Faithful

Our God is faithful to His promises. He tells us:

1 John 1:5-9 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God is faithful to forgive sin, but only when we confess sin in Jesus’ name. God is faithful to bless His children, but only when we pray in Jesus’ name. Jesus said:

John 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Some people believe that this means to just tack a “in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen” at the end of a prayer. It means much more than that. To pray in Jesus’ name is to love and believe what Jesus has said about Himself. Jesus told the Pharisees,

John 8:42 If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

God the Father sent Jesus to be the payment for our sins. He also sent Jesus to be our King and Lord. Jesus said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). When you hear the Word of Jesus and do not do it, you are not living in Jesus’ name. Jesus said:

John 14:21, 23 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. … 23 … If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

You are praying “in Jesus’ name” when you are living according to His Word and His directives. Jesus said, “he that loveth Me NOT keepeth NOT My sayings” (John 14:24). When we as believers live in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, then our prayers will be heard of God. When you, dear Christian, depart from the Way of Truth, repent! Confess your sins to your Father above, and ask forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Live your lives walking the path of righteousness, doing as Jesus has told us. Practice praying as you go through your day – “{constant} in prayer” (Romans 12:12). If you keep God close to you as you move through the day, He will be close to you when you pray.

God honors the one who prays while sitting (2 Samuel 7:18), standing (Mark 11:25), kneeling (Daniel 6:10; Luke 22:41), laying prostrate (Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:35), or with uplifted hands (1 Timothy 2:8). God honors the humble prayer that honors the name of Jesus Christ. God honors the prayer that is submissive to His glory. But God cannot honor the prayer from a sinful son, nor from a procrastinator who will not take the time to pray. Christian, we desperately need to be people of prayer. Let’s make a commitment to seek our God’s Face daily, “without ceasing”, for the glory of the Father and the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen!

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What Love Looks Like

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Turn with me to Matthew 27.

The world struggles to see what “love” is. You hear it’s cry in secular songs. The Rock Group Foreigner sang, “I Want To Know What Love Is”. Tina Turner sang “What’s Love Got To Do With It? What’s Love But A Second Hand Emotion?”. Elvis Presley “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. Dolly Parton sang “I Will Always Love You”. For Willie Nelson, “You Are Always on My Mind”. Heavy D is happy, “Now That We Found Love”.

If you want to see what true love is, then you need to look at Jesus Christ. Look at Him as He willingly laid His life down for us. Jesus said in:

John 10:17-18 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.

God laid His life down willingly for us, that we might be saved. This is love. We see what love is when we look at Jesus, and how He responded to the Cross.

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

As Jesus laid His life down, He calls us to lay our lives down. He laid His life down for us on Calvary. He expects us to lay our lives down for Him. If we are to be friends of God, we must have this type of love. A sacrificial love. A willing love. Jesus said:

John 15:13-14 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Love is not about me, and getting my way. Love is to sacrifice myself for the blessing of another.

I heard a worship song the other day where they kept singing:

And oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh how He loves us
How He loves us all.
Yeah, He loves us.

It is true that God loves us. And we are to love Him as He loves us. We are to love others as He loves us. That is what love is. It is not a carnal satisfaction found in a feeling. Love is defined by the Cross. Love is a willing surrender to elevate another. “To us there is but One God, the Father, OF WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, and we in Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, BY WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, and we by Him” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Jesus willingly chose to “bring many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10) by going to the Cross for us. Let’s look to the Cross.

Love QuietlyDied Took My Cross

Matthew 27:21-26 The governor {Pilate} answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. 26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Barabbas had previously been found guilty of both insurrection and murder (Mark 15:7). An insurrectionist is someone who violently rebels against lawful authority, and Barabbas had done it and got caught. We don’t know much about Barabbas. His name means, according to Hitchcock’s Bible Dictionary, “a son of shame”. Barabbas may not be a name, but a description of this terrible sinner. He was a prisoner, a number, a nameless criminal, a murderer. Stripped of his name, the “son of shame” waited to be executed.

Matthew 27:16 and they had then a NOTABLE prisoner, called Barabbas.

The Romans – and in particular Roman soldiers – took great pleasure in public executions. Barabbas was waiting for death in a dank cell.

According to Roman custom, the accused was
made to create his own cross.

Though he had not wanted to make it, I am sure the soldiers scourged Barabbas, and beat him, until he made his cross. Now he waited to be nailed to it, to die for taking another’s life. Someone comes to the door of the cell. It is a soldier. “Barabbas, get up! It is time.” He comes out of the darkness, and hears the cry of the crowd.

Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

I’m sure Barabbas thought it was for him they cried. But as he came into the light, Pilate asks, “We have Barabbas, the son of shame, and Jesus. Which shall I release?” The crowd, egged on by the Jewish Court called the Sanhedrin, says “Let Jesus be crucified”. Pilate cries out, “What evil has He done?” The crowd does not answer. They just shout, “Let Jesus be crucified!”. When Pilate saw that there was no way to do otherwise, he washes his hands of the verdict, saying

Matthew 27:24 {Pilate} took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Focus It is interesting that only Matthew records Pilate “washing his hands” when passing verdict on Christ. Matthew was Jewish, and the Priests washed their hands before making a sacrifice.

When the Pharisees were debating whether to betray Jesus to Pilate, the High Priest Caiphas said in John 11:50,{It is} expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” This was an inadvertent prophecy that Jesus Christ would be sacrificed for the greater good of humanity. When Pilate washed his hands before sacrificing Jesus, it was an eerie parallel to the priest who would kill a lamb for the people. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God! (John 1:29).

Throughout this entire episode our Jesus does not complain nor defend Himself. This is as the Prophet some 700 years before wrote:

Isaiah 53:7-8 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Jesus was innocent of any sin, and yet He willingly went to the Cross. He had every right to complain, and yet did not. Jesus knew before He ever went to Jerusalem that last time that He was going to be sacrificed – and yet, He went anyway. He had earlier told His disciples:

Matthew 20:18-19 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19 and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Jesus died instead of Barabbas. Remember the cross that Barabbas made? On that day, Barabbas was set free, and Jesus took Barabbas’ cross. The Jewish court unlawfully denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life” (Acts 3:14-15). As it was with Joseph in the Old Testament, “they thought evil against Jesus, but God meant it for good, to save many people to life” (my paraphrase of Genesis 50:20).

Jesus died for Barabbas. We are all Barabbas.

We are all, like Barabbas, guilty of sin. The Bible says:

Romans 3:23 … all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

Now you might say, “But wait a minute, preacher. I’m a sinner – but I never murdered anyone.” You may not have physically murdered anyone, but we are all guilty of sin. Jesus said, “anyone who looks at another with lustful intent has already committed adultery in their heart” (Matthew 5:28). Sin is not always an action. It is a thought. “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21-22). Sin is anything that is against the order or design of God. Sin starts in the heart, then moves outward from there. We are all born sinners. The Bible says:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is DEATH

God warned Adam in Genesis 2:17, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The wages of sin is death. Adam sinned, and brought spiritual death on himself, and on all his progeny (that’s us). We are all Barabbas. Our hands formed the crosses that will kill us. But Jesus took our cross. He took our penalty on Himself. We stand, in our own selves, condemned before God, sinners, lost and undone. But Jesus, in His great love, took Barabbas’ cross. He died in our place. What a wondrous love this is! The Bible declares:

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

2 Corinthians 5:21 For {God} hath made {Jesus} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

That day an incredulous Barabbas walked free. He should have died for his sin, for God said in Genesis 9:6, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. ” Barabbas deserved death. But he was freed because Jesus took his place. We are freed because Jesus took our place.

John 6:29 … This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Love Does Not Strike Back, But Trusts God

Jesus is delivered to the soldiers to be crucified – but they must first have their sport. The Bible tells us:

Matthew 27:27-31 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Jesus Christ as the Son of God is indeed the King of Heaven,

1 Timothy 6:15 … the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords

It is Jesus Who, “in the beginning was with God, and was God” (John 1:1), alongside of Father and Holy Spirit, created all things. The Bible says of Jesus:

John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ is the revealed Member of the Godhead. God cannot be seen by man, but Jesus is God manifest and seen. Jesus is:

Colossians 1:15-17 … the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

The word “CONSIST” in our above text is the Greek συνιστάω synistáō, {pronounced soon-is-tah’-o}, which means “to pull together” or “constitute”. Jesus not only made all things, He designed all things. He knows their order. He is the Ultimate Ruler. When the Sanhedrin came to get Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told Peter that He did not need his sword:

Matthew 26:53 {Peter}, Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

Jesus had an immense force waiting for His beck and call. Considering that it took but one angel to kill 185,000 armed men in one night (2 Kings 19:35), had Jesus called 12,000 angels to His side, the earth itself would have been destroyed. Here is immense power in the Person of Christ.

And yet struck, He did not strike back. He was capable of striking back, more than capable. But He did not. They clothed Him on as scarlet robe so as to mock Him, and crushed a crown of thorns down on His precious Head. All of Heaven watched, and waited for his call. And yet, love bore up. Scripture must be fulfilled. The Promise of God must be kept. As Jesus said,

But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”

The Lord told us to

Matthew 5:44-45 … Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The Son of God could easily have struck back. But He loved the soldiers. He loved us and loves us even when we are unlovable. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Jesus “bore His own Cross” (John 19:17), but at one point fell under the load. The soldiers “found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” (Matthew 27:32).

Matthew 27:33-38 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34 they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. 35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. 36 And sitting down they watched him there; 37 and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

As they nail a naked and beaten Jesus to that terrible tree, the soldiers gather at the foot of the Cross. They are not there to look upon Him Who is dying for them, but to game for His clothing. The Bible tells us that this was yet another fulfilled prophecy, spoken of in:

Psalm 22:14-18 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

Jesus is thirsty before He is nailed to the Cross. As a “kindness”, they offer Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. His tongue stuck to the roof of His mouth. As He is nailed to the Cross and dropped into the socket of the earth, His dripping blood makes His thirst more acute. Yet Jesus says nothing. He does not cry out for mercy, nor curse His tormentors.

Love Becomes A Curse For Our Sake

Pastor R.C. Sproul wrote: “When on the cross, not only was the Father’s justice satisfied by the atoning work of the Son, but in bearing our sins the Lamb of God removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He did it by being cursed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). He who is the incarnation of the glory of God became the very incarnation of the divine curse.”

In Psalm 22, often called “The Crucifixion Psalm” or “The Psalm Of The Cross”, we have a very vivid description of what our Lord went through as He hung, naked and bleeding, for us. Jesus was mocked by those who watched Him suffer.

Matthew 27:39-44 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

What happens to Jesus is again prophesied in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22:6-8 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

They mock Jesus. They spit on Jesus. Again, Jesus could have come down from that Cross. But had He done so, we would yet be dead in our trespasses and sins. As Jesus suffers, He says not a word. Peter says of our Master:

1 Peter 2:22-24 {Jesus} did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus has said nothing. No groans are even recorded. But suddenly, the atmosphere of Golgotha (aka Calvary) changes. The sun blots out. Darkness falls in the midst of the day.

Matthew 27:45-46 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

After three hours of darkness – unnatural darkness – Jesus cries out. The words that Jesus says were prophesied over 1000 years before this moment. My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?. If you remember, this is not the first time we see Psalm 22, often called “The Crucifixion Psalm” or “The Psalm Of The Cross”, fulfilled. The first words of Psalm 22 are:

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

Jesus knows why the Father has turned His back on His Son. Our sins are being poured out on Christ. Jesus – dying for Barabbas – dying for us – hangs on a borrowed Cross. He dies not for His sins, but for ours. Pastor Jon Courson says “Great is the mystery (of godliness) that God became a man (1Timothy 3:16). But greater still is the mystery that the MAN became a LAMB (Jn 1:29) and the LAMB became a WORM to save you and me!” That is so very true!

Beloved, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I beg you to come to Him this very day. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation”? (Hebrews 2:3). Jesus Christ went through hell on earth so that you can inherit God’s Heaven beyond time. Will you not believe on Him. I close with this little poem I found in the devotional Streams In The Desert by L.B. Cowman:

The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew He came but to atone
That day “He held His peace.”

They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
“But Jesus held His peace.”

They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
“But Jesus held His peace.”

My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?
Your Savior “held His peace.”

–L. S. P.

Jesus suffered and died for us, so that we might live. Let us live through love of Him.

Surrender your souls to Jesus, for
He surrendered His soul for you.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Holy Spirit. Amen.

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The Eyes Of The Lord Do Not Change

Photo by Ankhesenamun on Unsplash

1 Peter 3:12-20 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The Whole Bible Is The Christian’s Moral Guide

Many professing Christians today refuse to read the Old Testament. They think that the Old Testament is obsolete, no longer valid, because of Jesus Christ. Many preachers believe that the various statements made in the New Testament, statements like …

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace.

Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the Grace of God: for if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.

… erase the Old Testament. They do not. The Old Testament is the foundation upon which the New Testament rests.

We who are Christ followers are no longer under the portions of the Law that relate to animal sacrifices, special feast days, dietary laws, or laws determining cleanliness.

We are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)
Jesus is our High Priest and we are a Kingdom of Priests
(Revelation 1:5-6)

Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial and symbolic aspects of the Law
(Matthew 5:17)

The New Testament believer is freed from the law of circumcision, because we are “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of our sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11).

The New Testament believer celebrates the Sabbath on the day Jesus rose from the grave, Sunday (the first day of the week), the same day the early Church worshiped (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10).

Yet Christians are STILL under the moral codes
found in
BOTH Testaments.

When our Lord Jesus and His Apostles referred to sinful or godless behavior, they used the Old Testament moral codes as the standard. The New Testament writings frequently refer back to the Old Testament. In fact, our focal text today reminds those who profess Christ as Savior that we are under the SAME MORAL STANDARD the Old Testament believer was under.

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

For instance, this statement from the Apostle Peter. Did he just make this up? No! Peter is quoting:

Psalm 34:15-16 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

The words are not exactly the same, because Peter is writing in Koine Greek, and quoting Old Testament Hebrew. But the words are evidently a quotation from the Old Testament.

What was morally evil in the Old Testament is
still morally evil in the New Testament.

God is watching ALL of us. Though it may seem at times that God is absent, the Bible is very clear that He watches, and He will intervene when He believes the time is right. Solomon wrote:

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

God is there, and He is not silent. The witness of creation shouts that He is there, ever watching, ever ordering. Humanity has, from Adam’s day, often walked far away from God, justifying and excusing sin and evil. The ostrich buries its head in the sand, and the unbeliever buries his head in the sands of time, saying:

Psalm 14:1 … there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works. There is none that doeth good.

Whether Old or New Testament, God hears those who walk with Him, who walk RIGHT or RIGHTEOUSLY. God hears the prayers of the RIGHTEOUS. But to those who reject His moral design, His face is against them.

1 Peter 3:13-14 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer

The believer will suffer for Christ, for to walk in the light of God is terribly offensive to the darkness. We who are God’s Children are to …

Ephesians 5:1 … followers of God, as dear children …

Whether Old or New Testament, the Lord tells us to …

1 Peter 1:15-16 … But as He which hath called you is holy, so BE YE HOLY in all manner of conversation {or way of life}; 16 BECAUSE IT IS WRITTEN, Be ye holy, for I am holy …

Once more the Apostle quotes the Old Testament (Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 19:2). As we serve the Lord we are “be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts”. Our driving force must not be political correctness nor cancel culture nor the fads of the social justice warriors. Our driving force must be to please the Lord. We as Christ followers need to

1 Peter 3:15-16 … be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good {ἀναστροφή anastrophḗ, [pronounced an-as-trof-ay’] way of life} in Christ

Word Study Our answer to the dark world is not to be characterized by arrogance or superiority, but is to be “with meekness and fear”. The word translated “meekness” is the Greek πραΰτης praÿtēs, {pronounced prah-oo’-tace}, which means “a gentle spirit, or a spirit of humility, not of superiority”. When Jesus told the disciples that they would all betray Him, Peter said “though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended!”. This is not praÿtēs, which Peter later found out. We are all broken – we need not brag that we have been changed, but we are to glorify the God Who changed us. We are also to respond in “fear”. Not in fear for the darkness, but in fear of God. Jesus said “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

If we are reviled by the world, we are still to do good toward those who do badly toward us. The Scripture says:

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Do the right thing, even though you are the only one doing it.

1 Peter 3:17-18 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit

Jesus suffered for doing good so that He could bring others to God. When we suffer for doing good, we are imitating Jesus at the highest level. This is true whether in the Old or New Testaments. As believers in Christ, we are to cling to Him. If we suffer for Him, we will ultimately be blessed.

The Old Testament Gave Shadow Teachings
Related To Jesus Christ

Jesus told the Pharisees who constantly hounded Him:

John 5:39-40 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

As Jesus said these words, THERE WAS NO NEW TESTAMENT. “the scriptures” that Jesus referred to was the Old Testament. Jesus said the Old Testament TESTIFIES or IS A WITNESS to Him. Jesus went on to say:

John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

It is MOSES who wrote – under the inspiration of God – the foundation of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Jesus said that Moses’ writings “wrote of me”.

This is why much of the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament writings. This is why much of the Old Testament history is recounted in the New Testament writings. For instance:

1 Peter 3:20 … which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The Bible tells us that, in the days of Noah,

Genesis 6:5 God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

God determined that the best way to act would be to destroy His creation. And yet, the scripture says:

Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD Genesis 6:8.

Noah saw God in creation, heard the call of God, and was saved. After being saved by faith in Him the Lord told Noah “Build a large boat, an ark, and get ready – for judgment is coming”. Noah had a relationship with God by faith – but he proved his faith by his works. He immediately began to build exactly as God directed. God’s design was going to be turned upside down. Water would drown all who would not get on the boat, judgment would claim any who rejected that which God said. Noah built a boat, an Ark, and got on the boat.

My friends, those who are going to Heaven do not just say “Lord, Lord”. The saved are those who repent, who turn away from their old way of life and turn strictly to Jesus Christ by faith. The saved are those who – like Noah – find Grace in the eyes of the Lord. But after they find Grace the saved do as God their Creator directs them to do. When God says “build a boat” they build a boat. When God says “get on the boat” they get on the boat”. They do not merely mutter the words “Lord, Lord”. The Christian believes what God the Creator has said. The Christian trusts the God Who has made all things to get him to Heaven. The Christian, like Noah, lives his life under the Lordship of God his Savior, doing as God has directed no matter what the world may say.

God established a covenant of faith with Noah and his family. Those who believed would get on the Ark. Those who believed had a relationship with God. They were in covenant with Him. In a covenant two parties are in relationship with one another. God said, “You believe Me, Noah – a flood is coming. I know you’ve never seen rain. I know you’ve never seen a flood. The ground is watered by the dew – but I’m going to show you a new thing. Believe Me, build the Ark, and get on it and you will be saved.

Noah’s Ark is an Old Testament shadow of the New Testament Jesus. God judged sin, and promised to rain down destruction on the world. But God gave people plenty of time to repent. God said:

Genesis 6:3 My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

For 120 years while Noah built the Ark, the Spirit of God through Noah called the world to repentance. The Spirit of God strived with man – but people rested in their sins rather than in God. God offered mankind ONE WAY to escape condemnation, and that way was to GET ON THE ARK with Moses and his family. In the same way, God today offers ONE WAY out of eternal condemnation – and that way is by faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said:

John 14:6 I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No {one} cometh unto the Father but by Me.

Noah was raised above Divine Judgment and certain destruction because of a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. God commanded the Ark, and Noah made the Ark his own. He trusted in God, and got on the Ark, which lifted him and his family above divine judgment. Those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have the promise of God:

John 3:15-18 … whosoever believeth in {Jesus} should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

To Be Saved, You Must Get On The Ark

It is so terribly important that you get on the Ark if you will be saved. Noah’s Ark was a shadow of what Christ has now done on the Cross. The Ark was man made but God directed. The Cross was man made but God directed. When you believed in Noah’s day, you got on the Ark. You made the Ark your own. When you believe today, you get on the Cross. You make the Cross your own. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:38 … he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

And Matthew 16:24 … If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Noah could have chosen his own path, but had he done so, he would have perished with the rest of creation. The saved get on the Ark. The saved take up the Cross. The saved follow the Lord.

But what about those who are too young to follow the Lord? What about the children who do not understand? In today’s world, the youth have departed the Church and the Christ because their parents have not been faithful to follow the Lord. Oh Beloved, the Bible warns the parent:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

God’s earliest commands to His people was that they train their children to love Him. God told His people:

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 … thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…

Parents, you must put your children on the Ark. You must teach them the things you have learned of God. God illustrates this great truth in the life of Moses.

When Moses was a baby, the Egyptian Pharaoh decided that he would have all male Israelite babies killed. Pharaoh was determined to do this! But little Moses’ mother made up her mind that she wanted her child saved. When he was born, his mother Jochebed kept him hidden. But in time babies cannot be hidden. The Bible says:

Exodus 2:3 And when {Jochebed} could not longer hide him, she took for him an ARK of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.

This is the Second Ark we see mentioned in Scripture, the Ark that saved baby Moses.

Noah’s Ark saved mankind from God’s judgment.
Moses’ Ark saved God’s people from man’s judgment.

Had Jochebed listened to Pharaoh and allowed Moses to be aborted from the womb or murdered after the womb, God’s people Israel would have never come out of Egypt. Had Moses never been born, we would not have our Bible as we know it today. Oh Beloved, the children are so precious, with so much potential. Love your children enough to put them on the Ark. Love your children enough to train them in the ways of Jesus Christ.

It was Godly parental training that led Daniel to believe in God. Cast into the Lion’s den, Daniel rested in Jesus, and trusted God for life. It was Godly parental training that led the Hebrew Children to trust in Jesus, even in a fiery furnace. It was Godly parental training that gave the Shepherd David the courage to face Goliath. While others though Goliath too big, David believed God was bigger, and that Goliath was too big to miss.

Have You Trusted In The Ark That Is Christ?

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

The greatest Ark in the Bible is Jesus Christ. God is going to judge this world one day. If you have believed in Jesus, if you have a relationship with Him by faith, you will be above the judgment of God. Jesus Christ the Just suffered for the unjust. He hung on a wooden Cross to make payment for our sins that He might bring us to God. Put to death in the flesh, He was quickened by the Spirit. Those who have believed in Him shall rise above the judgment that God has – in righteous wrath – reserved for this world.

If you are in Christ then you are in the arms of Jesus.

John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

God’s watches over His little lambs with as much care – nay, with more care – than Jochebed watched over little Moses. If you are in Christ The Bible says:

Matthew 10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

No matter what the world will throw at you, be it Pharaoh or even someone more evil, God is in control! If you are His, you are guarded. Christ is your Ark.

And finally, dear Christian, as Christ is your Ark, follow Him all of your life.

If you are in the Ark, you are with the Ark no matter where you go. Are you in the Ark that is Christ?

Follow God first, live under His Lordship, and no enemy can conquer you.

C.H. Spurgeon said:

From whom did Christ suffer? Mark how unlimited is the text: “Christ also hath once suffered.” From men falsely accusing him, and slandering him? Yes; and that is the comfort of his slandered people; but he suffered not from wicked men alone, but even from good men; the best of his disciples cost him many pangs, and sometimes made his heart ache. He suffered from devils, he suffered from the Father himself. There it stands, — a sky without horizon, — a sea across which I look, and see no end or bound: “Christ also hath once suffered.” I think that Joseph Hart spoke well when he said that Christ — “Bore all incarnate God could bear, With strength enough, and none to spare.” So we leave this part of our theme; it is a statement without any limit: “Christ also hath once suffered.”1

If you do not know Him, then come to know Him today. May God the Holy Spirit compel you to surrender to Him, the last Great Ark of God, and so be saved. If you are saved I beg you to let your lives be so bound up in God that He is more real to you than those around you are. Follow Christ in your heart first, then in your actions. If you do so, you are bound to Infinite God. You can never be defeated while trusting in Him.

Like Noah’s Ark, cling to Jesus.
Like Moses’ Ark, rest as a child in His arms.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

1 UNPARALLELED SUFFERING. NO. 2573, INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S-DAY, JUNE 5TH, 1898, DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, MARCH 4TH, 1883.

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The IF Of Salvation

Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Colossians 3.

Colossians 3:1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

We often skip the little words in the Bible – but these little words add so much to the text. Take, for instance, the word “IF”. The dictionary says that the word “IF” imposes a conditional clause. When I told mama “I wish we weren’t eating liver tonight”, she replied, “IF wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. I didn’t know what that exactly meant when I was a kid, other than the fact was I was to shut up and eat the liver. Daddy would say, “IF you’d study harder, your grades would be better”. Then I’d be sent to my room to study – a room that had no television, no radio, no internet, nothing but two twin beds and a table and a chair to use for study.

The word “IF” occurs in the King James Version of the Scripture 1,595 times in 1,420 verses. The first use of the word “IF” occurs when Cain was upset that God would not accept his sacrifice. God told Cain:

Genesis 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

God was emphasizing to Cain that He expected Cain to bring an animal sacrifice, not the fruit of the field. Had Cain done that, the Lord would have accepted it. God demanded animal sacrifices because, as we later learn in Scripture, these animal sacrifices pointed out that human works cannot permanently cover our sins in God’s eyes. We all needed Jesus Christ as the “Lamb of God” to come and give His life for us. Jesus is “the Lamb without spot or blemish (John 1:29), “Christ our Passover sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Cain refused to listen to the IF of God, and murdered his brother Abel. Cain not only lost the possibility of salvation, but lived the rest of his life a marked man for the evil he did.

IF is used so many ways in the Scripture:

Noah released a dove to see IF the waters were receding (Genesis 8:8)
Abraham by IF gave grace to Lot, allowing him to choose (Genesis 13:9)
IF God found just ten righteous in Sodom, they would live (Genesis 18:32)

Some of the great IF statements come from Jesus.

Matthew 16:24 … If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Matthew 18:8-9 if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Or one of my favorites:

Romans 10:9-11 if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

The Christian faith is built on an IF. It is certain that Jesus is the Lamb of God that “taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:26). But to be included in this saved group you MUST have a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. You MUST repent, and come to Him and Him alone to be saved. You MUST follow Him if you are saved. One of the great Evangelists, Billy Graham preached at Earl’s Court (in London, England, On June 27, 1966):

Religion without a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ will not save the soul, and will not bring the peace that your soul longs for. … You’ve got to know Christ for yourself. And when you come to know Christ for yourself, there is a peace and a fulfillment, and life takes on a purpose, and there’s a sense of forgiveness of your sins, and there’s a joy unspeakable, and full of glory..”

I had the privilege of hearing a young man’s testimony just last Sunday. In it, he said he “walked the aisle” at the age of 9, but it was not until just before his 16th birthday that he was actually saved. The same was true of me in my life. “Saved” and baptized at 9 years old, there was no change in my life. I walked the aisle, but never committed my life to Jesus. It wasn’t until I was 17 years old that the Lord spoke to me during a youth service at a Church I was visiting, and I gave my life to Jesus. Beloved, you need to …

Take Heed Of The “IF” Of Salvation

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ

The Apostle, as he writes the Church at Colossae, does not assume everyone at that Church is saved. He uses the DIVINE IF. The lost person is a lost person because they have wandered from God. God made everyone in His image – we are all His creation. But Adam brought sin into the world. All of Eve’s children have one thing in common, and that is SIN. Whether you are red, yellow, black, or white, the universal truth is …

Romans 3:23 … for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

We humans are born into this world “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in us” (Ephesians 4:18).

We are all quite naturally broken. Apart from Christ we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Humans are born believing themselves complete in themselves, but we are not. We are broken, and in need. The animal sacrifices – performed over and over – reminded ancient humanity that we are broken, and cannot fix ourselves.

We need God.

We were made to walk with God, but are born walking away from God. But, praise God, when we were unable to fix ourselves ….

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

He died on Calvary for the sinner. He died for people like you, and people like me. God loves His creation, but cannot draw us into union with Himself unless our sins are covered. Since we were unable to save ourselves, the Lord made a way through Jesus Christ to save us. The Bible promises:

Romans 5:8 … God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

But here is the IF of salvation. We must receive Him as He is.

John 1:10 {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The IF of salvation is “Have YOU received Him?” Not the Church, not the denomination, not me, but HIM. He is to be RECEIVED as both SAVIOR and LORD.

Jesus as Savior died for our sins.
Jesus as Lord
roseto commandHis people.
The Saved OBEY The Savior!
Jesus SAVES
us, as Savior.
Jesus LEADS us as Lord.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living.

Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Jesus did not die on Calvary, and rise again to no reason. He died for our sins, to cover our sins, to make payment for our sins. Then He rose again from the dead that He might calls us to Himself, a people who are risen from the dead.

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, that were {in past time} alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard

Because you have had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, you are now in God’s eyes holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. God sees you as His Child. But this is only true if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard.

True salvation has permanence. Judas Iscariot followed Jesus for 3 ½ years, but was never saved.

Genuine faith OVERCOMES THE WORLD.

1 John 5:4-5 For whatsoever (πᾶς pâs, {pronounced pas} literally whosoever”) is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

The day the Christian is saved, that old lost person DIES. The IF of salvation says:

Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ

The Christian is a person who died with Christ. On the day I was saved, the old David died with Jesus on Calvary. Sin is no longer a joy, but it was sin that drove the nails that killed my Savior. I hate my sin, because I hate those nails!

Illustration I am sure you all heard of the terrible shooting that was perpetrated by Robert Long in Atlanta, Georgia on March 17, 2021. One of the headlines I saw was, “Christian mass shooter Robert Long was tired of ‘temptation’ posed by massage parlors: police”. Something is missing from this headline. It is the word “PROFESSING”. The 21 year old who murdered eight people is scripturally NOT a Christian, regardless as what he may say. He is no more a Christian that Judas Iscariot was. If you are saved, you walk in the light with Christ. The Bible says:

1 John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Again, you see the IF of salvation. IF you are saved, then you walk with Christ, loving others, loving even the unlovable. The old you dies the day you are saved. We say, along with the Apostle:

Galatians 2:19-20I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

The Christian loves Jesus. The Christian walks with Jesus. The Christian may sometimes step into the darkness, but God is in us, and will not leave us in that dark, evil place.

The Christian Is Quickened TOGETHER With Christ

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

When the Christian believes on Jesus Christ, God causes us to be “risen with Christ”. We are “quickened” or made alive by God. The Christian is no longer spiritually dead to God, but is now alive to His leading.

The spiritually dead person follows darkness.
The spiritually alive person
follows Christ.

The day you called upon Jesus the Holy Spirit of God visited you and made you spiritually alive. The Bible calls this “quickened” or “quickening”. We read:

Ephesians 2:2-6 …. in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

The believer is QUICKENED by God, RAISED UP with Christ. The Christian is called into a “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20). God the Holy Spirit indwells us. We are no longer dead in our trespasses and sins, but are “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath {God the Holy Spirit} quickened together with {Jesus}, having forgiven you all trespasses …

Yes, you are still enclosed in this “body of sin”. Yes, this weak and mortal flesh still holds us. But Beloved, the God “Who searcheth the hearts” (Romans 8:27) no longer considers you a child of hell, but willingly and freely accepts you as a Child of Heaven, an Eternal Son, one who has been promised a great promise:

1 Peter 1:4-5 … an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

You belong to God, dear one, if you are indeed saved.
Sin nor Satan is your master.

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 … {you have} turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven…

The living should not walk with the dead.

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, SEEK those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Word Study The word translated “SEEK” is the Greek ζητέω zētéō, {pronounced dzay-teh’-o}, which means “to make a priority, to pursue until you reach it, to set your mind on to get”. The same word was used by Jesus to explain what He expects of us. He said:

Matthew 6:31-34 {Do not worry about} what shall we eat? Or, what shall we drink? Or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (for after all these things the {lost} seek:) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. 33 But “SEEK” ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

We as believers are to passionately pursue the things of God. Where is our passion? Too many who profess to be Christian have turned from a passionate seeking of God. We are to:

Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

We are to be like old Enoch. Do you remember Enoch? Enoch had a living relationship with the Living God. Enoch walked with God until he was …

Hebrews 11:5 … translated, that he should NOT SEE DEATH; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation {Enoch} had this testimony, THAT HE PLEASED GOD.

Living Creatures are supposed to serve the Living Lord. We are to live for the Lord, to please Him in all that we do. We are to be like Jesus, who was always “about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). Jesus passionately served the Father. His love for the Father exceeded even His desire for food. “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34).

Jesus took the high road so that we might be saved. We are to take the high road so that others might find Christ through us. The Bible tells us:

Ephesians 5:7-10 Be not ye therefore {partners} with {the lost world}. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

Our God is watching. Our God will judge this world. Let us live knowing that Jesus could return at any time, taking the Church from this earth.

1 Thessalonians 5:2-5 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

The Lost Are Dead To God, But Alive To Sin
The Saved Are Dead To Sin, But Alive To God

Colossians 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

The lost person pretending to be saved will have an inordinate affection for the things of this earth. The saved person will have affection for some of the things of this earth, but their greatest affection will be on God and the Word of God. The saved person is a different person than a lost person is. The saved person is different in their spirit. The Apostle said in:

Philippians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Before the Apostle Paul knew Jesus Christ, he was very religious. His focus was on pleasing the Pharisees, and on following the traditions of men. But once he was saved, life changed for him. He said:

Philippians 3:7-10 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death

Christian, you will stand before Jesus one day, and your works will be judged. You will not be judged for salvation. If you are a Christian, your salvation is secured by the Blood of Jesus Christ. But your works will be judged. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no {one} lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any {one} build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 every {one’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 {one’s} work of what sort it is. 14 If any {one’s} work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any {one’s} work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Your salvation is a FOUNDATION, a very important foundation. God gave you the riches of Grace in Christ. You have been given eternal life if you have received Christ as Lord and Savior. But another great gift was given. God calls you to partner with Him in this life, sharing Christ with others. How you live your lives will impact the Kingdom of God on this present earth. People watch the Christian. You are the Bible that the unsaved will read.

Chuck Swindoll told this story in his book, The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart:

After His Sunday messages, the minister of a church in London got on the trolley Monday morning to go back to his study downtown. He paid his fare, and the trolley driver gave him too much change. The minister sat down and fumbled the change and looked it over, counted it eight or ten times. And, you know the rationalization, “It’s wonderful how God provides.” He realized he was tight that week and this was just about what he would need to break even, or at least enough for his lunch. He wrestled with himself all the way down that old trolley trail that led to his office. And finally he came to the stop and he got up, couldn’t live with himself, walked up to the trolley driver, and said, “Here you gave me too much change. You made a mistake.” The driver said, “No, it was no mistake. You see, I was in your church last night when you spoke on honesty, and I thought I would put you to the test.”

The Christian is being put to the test in America and throughout the world, much more today than ever. The darkness looms. Will we shine for Jesus? What we do today will effect the state of our nation tomorrow. May God lead us all to live as risen creatures, saved by the glorious power of our God. May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts with His Word this very day. Amen and Amen.

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Being A Sober Minded Christian In A Sin Soaked World

Photo by Nick Rickert on Unsplash

1 Peter 4:1-7 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer …

Being A Sober Minded Christian
In A Sin Soaked World

I want to start out by focusing on verse 7 of our text. The Apostle says, “The end of all things is at hand”.

Romans 6:23 … For the wages of sin is death …

The Roman Empire, much like America today, had given itself fully over to sin. The wages of sin is death. Sin unconfessed, sin renamed, sin justified by humanity, sin is a disease much worse than the Coronavirus ever was. It was sin that brought about a world wide flood in the days of Noah, sin that caused Adam and Eve to leave Paradise.

America shares much with the ancient Romans, as sin is cherished by many in our nation. We are today living in a post-Christian America. As a nation our leaders are making bad decisions, decisions that are not supported by the God of the Scripture. I believe, as Peter believed, that “the end of all things is at hand”. Believing this, Peter exhorted the Church that Jesus loves to

be ye therefore SOBER and WATCH unto prayer”

Word Study Let’s focus on these key words. Be “SOBER and WATCH”. What do these words mean? The word translated SOBER is the Greek σωφρονέω sōphronéō, (pronounced so-fron-eh’-o), which means “to be in the right mind, to be sane, of sound mind”. The word translated WATCH is the Greek νήφω nḗphō, (pronounced nay’-fo), which means “to not be drunken, be discreet, calm and collected, temperate, careful in disposition, watchful”.

Christians Are Not To Be Part Of The Problem,
But Part Of The Solution

Christians are to be “of sound mind”. The Bible says, “we have the mind of Christ”. To be “of sound mind” or “in your right mind” is to share the same mind that Jesus had.

Christians are also to be “temperate, not drunken, or controlled by outside influences”. Believers are to “walk in the Spirit of God” (Galatians 5:16).

Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit

Christians are not to be controlled by outside influences, but by the Word and the Spirit of God. This command to be sober minded is not just in Peter, is a theme carried by other Biblical writers.

1 Thessalonians 5:5-11 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober {nēphō}. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober {nēphō}, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Though the Greek “nēphō” can be used to address those intoxicated with alcohol, neither Peter nor Paul are using it the word in that sense.

Paul tells us to “be sober”. We are “sober” when we …

Recognize WHOSE We Are

The Christian belongs to God. We are by nature different from the non-Christian. If you are saved by faith in Christ, then,

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”

Though all people are broken, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ brought us out of the darkness of this lost world, and into the Kingdom of God. Last week we heard that:

Colossians 1:13 {God the Father} hath delivered us FROM THE POWER OF DARKNESS, and hath TRANSLATED us into the Kingdom of His dear Son

We belong to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, not the Kingdom of Adam or the Kingdom of Satan. We are translated, what we call positionally sanctified. God has, because of Christ, given us “the adoption of children” (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:15). We are called, as God’s Children, to be

putting on the breastplate of faith and love;
and for an helmet, the hope of salvation”

The “breastplate” of the Roman warrior protected his heart, lungs, and stomach from damage. Our faith in Christ and in God’s sure Word, the Holy Bible, covers our hearts. We love God with all our hearts, and love Jesus more than anyone else. The “helmet” that covers the head – and the brain from damage – is the “hope of salvation”. We who are saved have a KNOW SO salvation. If I KNOW that I am saved, then I am to ACT as if I am saved. The Apostle tells us:

1 Peter 1:13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober (nēphō), 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.

The sober believer strives to be like the One Who save him, to be like Jesus. We do this by focusing our minds on what Jesus did for us on the Cross. We meditate on Him Who died for us.

1 Peter 4:1-2 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

When tempted to follow the crowd, fill your mind with the picture of Christ on the Cross. See Him …

Isaiah 53:3-5 … despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

It is the “blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). See Him hanging on that Tree called a Cross. See Him, “smitten of God, afflicted, wounded for OUR transgressions, bruised for OUR iniquities”. It was His “stripes” that healed us, His suffering, His torment. Knowing what it cost Jesus to make payment for our sins, to bring us into the Family of God, then we …

no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God”

We who are saved are “bought with a price”!

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

We are to serve God, not the world. We all know that:

1 Peter 1:18-21 … 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.

As Pastor John Piper said:

We were not bought with the wealth of nations,
but with the wounds of love!”

Jesus Christ came in the flesh to “give Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). Jesus “loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Recognize WHOSE You Are Not

1 Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

There was a time when we all walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:”. We walked according to the direction of the darkness. We went along with the ways of the world. However, we have changed because of Jesus Christ.

1 John 5:19 … we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

We no longer walk with the darkness, but wrestle against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12-13). At one time we followed “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), but now we follow Jesus. We do not lust, but love. We walk in peace with God. A judgment day is coming. The lost will consider the Christian peculiar …

1 Peter 4:4-5 they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead

… but a Judgment Day is coming for all. Are you ready? Peter warns us:

1 Peter 5:5-9 God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober (nēphō), be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

We are not to give in to the devil, but are to resist him in the faith. We are not to give in to the things that the world promotes. The world did not die for my sins. Jesus Christ died for my sins. I belong to Him, and to none other.

Let Love Reign In Your Lives

1 Peter 4:7-9 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

Love is more than just a word. Love is a verb. To be sober minded is to love on another in practical ways. Your salvation is a stewardship, not something to be used selfishly. We are saved from the Law of God so that we might serve God. The Apostle said:

Romans 6:12-18 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

As servants and sons of God, we are to serve God by love as Christ served God by love. We are not to live selfishly, but selflessly. Our salvation and our lives are gifts from God. We represent God on this planet earth. Live so as to please the God Who saved you. Jesus told us:

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The Christian is supposed to be different than the non-Christian. We are to love one another as Christ loved us. This is a sacrificial sort of love. The Apostle says:

1 Peter 4:10-11 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

How we live our Christian lives are to bring glory to God Himself. “We are His people, the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Pastor John Piper again notes:

The sober minded recognize and embrace the costs along the path of love. They expect to be disappointed, offended, betrayed – and they keep loving anyway. They keep showing hospitality, even when it is inconvenient …

1 Peter 4:9 Use hospitality to one another without grudging …

They keep speaking the truth in love, even when it would be easier to say nothing (1 Peter 4:11). They keep serving, even when it costs them far more than they receive”.

We who belong to Christ keep on loving others, even when we are hurt in the process. Jesus Christ kept on loving, even though He was betrayed by all. We are to love others, and leave the judgment and the vengeance to God. It ruins the sober mind to carry a grudge against another. Instead we are to trust in our God, and do good to those who do badly to us. The Apostle said:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Do good to those who do bad. Love as Jesus loves. Trust that, in the final analysis, God will make all things right. Stay in your right mind. Be sober minded. Do not take of the accursed thing. Achan dishonored God by taking of the accursed thing (Joshua 7:1), and brought disaster upon Israel. Turn from what God has rejected, and toward what God endorses. Fill your minds with the Word of God, and do the things that Christ has commanded. Remember the Word of the Lord:

Romans 13:12-14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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Failing Forward

Photo by Hugo Fergusson on Unsplash

After Jesus had celebrated the Passover Meal with His Disciples, and instituted the “Lord’s Table”, we read:

Matthew 26:30-32 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. 31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

All shall be offended”? Not just Judas Iscariot, but all the disciples who followed Jesus for 3 ½ years shall be offended”. This is an interesting word our Lord used here. It is the Greek σκανδαλίζω skandalízō, (pronounced skan-dal-id’-zo), from which we get our word “SCANDALIZED”. It means “to be morally offended, shocked at, to be brought into reproach, or to be maliciously or falsely spoken of”. We have all seen scandals in the world, and even in the Christian community. Not too long ago we learned that a noted Bible Scholar and Preacher was involved in a scandalous relationship with women. A well respected Pastor I knew many years ago was accused of, and convicted of, child molestation. That was a scandal. We have all heard of scandals. Jesus said, “All will be scandalized because of Me this very night”.

Jesus’ Ministry Was Scandalous

From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was known as a scandalous person. Those who did not believe in Him thought Him to be a mad man. Hear a few of His statements:

John 6:38 … I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him (the Father) that sent me.

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

John 18:37 … for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Mark 2:17 They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Nearly every word that Jesus spoke scandalized the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Priests, and the Lawyers. Jesus spoke as if He were somehow preexistent with God. Jesus was not secretive about His mission. “I CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38). What! The Pharisees said, “This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know His mother and father. What does He mean by “I came down from Heaven” (John 6:42).

Throughout His ministry, Jesus sought to change how people thought of God. He knew that His time was at hand. Jesus always knew – and told His disciples – that as Messiah “he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21). He would do this for our salvation. And Jesus would walk this path alone. Jesus knew that each and every one of these men, men who ministered alongside of Him for 3 ½ years, every man would abandon Jesus. Jesus knew that He would betrayed because “it is written”. He quoted the prophesy of …

Zechariah 13:7 … smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered…

Jesus must go the Way of the Cross, for this is what God has decreed in His Word. The Old Testament wrote of the coming of Christ, as Jesus told His disciples.

Luke 24:44-46 … These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. … Thus it is written, and thus it {was necessary for} Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day…

Jesus is going to be falsely judged by man, but appropriately judged by God the Father. Jesus will be “the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And Jesus will go to the Cross alone, God the Son giving Himself for the sons of Adam. Why? Isaiah said it this way:

Isaiah 59:15-16 … the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. 16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.

Humanity was fallen, and there was none who could help it back up. A sinner cannot make payment for sin before an immortal and everlastingly Holy God. So God must clothe Himself with flesh. God must come down from Heaven, a one Man Calvary to save “whosoever believeth on Him” (John 3:15-16; 11:26).

We Are All Broken, Like Peter

Matthew 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

There is a little Peter in all of us. We think we are strong enough. We think we are good enough. “Though every one else betray You, Jesus, I will NEVER be scandalized”. We all nurse this self righteous, “I am good enough” mentality. I always hear it when someone public falls. The self righteous amongst us take shots at the fallen because, after all, “I would never do that!” Beloved, we are all broken. We all fail.

The beginning of spiritual power with God only comes when we realize I AM BROKEN and I DESPERATELY NEED JESUS. Not just every now and then – but daily. Daily!

  • It was self righteousness that caused Sarah to send Hagar into her husband Abraham, so she might have a surrogate child. No need to wait on God. Let’s “do it yourself”. It was self righteousness that later caused Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, to brag to Sarah how much better she was because she had a child. Self righteousness! Oh, how horrible it is.
  • It was self righteousness that led to the first murder in humanity. Abel offered an appropriate sacrifice to God, but Cain did not and would not. Rather than repent, he murdered his brother – and Abel’s blood cried out to God!
  • It is self righteousness that is evident when people will not repent, and turn to Jesus for salvation. Self righteousness is a “smoke in God’s nostrils, a fire that burns all day long” (Isaiah 65:5). The self righteous person is warned of God:

1 Corinthians 10:12 … let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

We all desperately need Jesus to be both our Lord and Savior. We need not be self righteous. It is foolish. Let us look to Him Who loved us, and gave Himself for us (Galatians 1:4; 2:20).

Jesus tells Peter:

Matthew 26:34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

You ought to be happy when Jesus reminds you that you are NOT perfect! Jesus knew the nature of humans. Not only is Jesus Creator God, but He is God become Man. He has lived among humanity for some 30+ years from His incarnation. Jesus knew what was in mankind” (John 2:25).

Jesus knew my heart before He called me to salvation. He knew I was imperfect, and would remain broken until the day I see Him face to face. And yet He loves me anyway. Jesus loves Peter, and all His disciples. When Jesus told Peter and Andrew his brother:

Matthew 4:19 … Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.

He knew that Peter and Andrew were imperfect. When Jesus told the Tax Collector Matthew:

Matthew 9:9 … Follow Me ..

He knew Matthew was imperfect. But this is the reason Jesus called the broken. Jesus does not call “many wise people after the flesh, many mighty, many noble ones” (1 Corinthians 1:26). Jesus calls the broken. The marred. The sick. The sinner. He calls us from our brokenness to follow Him.

But Peter wants to argue with Jesus:

Matthew 26:35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Peter was leading the “Holier Than Thou” Choir – and after he sings, the Choir backs Him up!

None of us will fail You, Jesus. You just wait and see!”. But they do fail – they fail in first of all the simplest thing they can do.

The Disciples Fail Jesus In Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-38 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

When Jesus prepared to do a hard thing, He prayed. He sought the Father’s will and the Spirit’s power. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with Him into the inner part of the Garden. Jesus needs their companionship as He prays. So Jesus asks them to Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. This is not a hard thing. And yet, they cannot do this simple thing. We read:

Matthew 26:40-41 And {Jesus} cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Jesus has prayed about an hour – and Peter, James, and John are fast asleep. Our Lord tells them to “Watch and Pray”. The word “WATCH” is the Greek “γρηγορεύω grēgoreúō, (pronounced gray-gor-yoo’-o)”, which means “WAKE UP!”. They were supposed to be vigilant.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant {grēgoreúō, “Wake Up!”}; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

After rebuking them, Jesus goes back to pray, and returns a second time.

Matthew 26:43-44 … {Jesus} came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed …

Jesus didn’t wake them up this time, but returned to prayer once more. After He has finished praying, Jesus wakes them, and they are immediately betrayed by Judas, and surrounded by the Chief Priest’s men. Jesus is taken, for we are told:

Matthew 26:56 … all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

It was just as Jesus predicted. His men all betrayed Him, and ran away. But we are told:

Matthew 26:58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

What caused Peter to follow at a distance? Could it be that he remembered Jesus’ words:

Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

And guilt drove him? Some commentaries say it is because Peter was curious, and wanted to see what happened to Jesus. I don’t think so. I think Peter was regretting abandoning Jesus, and so he decided to follow, but from a distance. But as Jesus told him before:

vs 41 the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak

Peter, James and John should have spent more time praying in the Garden, and less time relying on their swords. As Peter watched, he saw the priest’s followers:

Matthew 26:67 … spit in {Jesus} face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,

… making a game of tormenting Jesus. Who slapped You, Jesus? Prophesy this!” Peter, who said he would never deny Jesus, stood in the darkness. But Jesus knew. Peter has given the devil a foothold – and now he will be stepped on. We read:

Matthew 26:69-70 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

A young girl was the first to test Peter. “I saw you with Jesus of Galilee”. In the first denial, Peter says “I don’t understand what you mean”. Strike One, Peter! You have denied the Lord for the first time. Peter quickly moves to another area, a porch.

Matthew 26:71-72 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

A young girl accused Peter the first time. “You were with Jesus of Galilee”. Now a young woman accuses Peter. “You were with Jesus of Nazareth”. Notice the difference in their words. One saw Peter with Jesus while He ministered in Galilee, the other in Nazareth. Peter’s betrayal becomes stronger:

Matthew 26:72 … again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

Jesus told His disciples to never take oaths:

Matthew 5:34-37 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Peter has begun to drift into sin, and the farther he drifts, the darker he will become. To the young girl he said, “I don’t know Him”, but now his denial is stronger, an oath, taking God’s Name in vain. In addition, Peter says,

I don’t know – and here he uses the Greek ἄνθρωπος ánthrōpos, which means “that person” or “the human”!

This is the same Peter who, in Matthew 16:16 said to Jesus, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God!” See how far he has fallen! Meyer’s New Testament Commentary states, “Alas, such is the language, cold and distant, which Peter uses with reference to his Master!” The Pulpit Commentary notes, “He calls his Beloved Master ‘the man’!”, and Vincent’s Word Studies notes, “As if he did not know Jesus’ name”. But Peter’s test is not done.

Matthew 26:73-74 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

Pinned down, this time Peter “curses and swears” as he says “I know not that person (anthropos)”. The Bible says that with this denial, the cock or rooster crows. What makes this more tragic is, that as the rooster crows …

Luke 22:61-62 … the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly (see also Luke 22:62).

Peter wept bitterly {πικρῶς pikrōs, [pronounced pik-roce’]}, “with great grief”. What is interesting is that this word is only used here, and in Luke 22:62, which also speaks of Peter’s bitter grief. Peter denied the Lord, but had a singular repentance over this denial. Peter is now brought to the realization that he is broken, just as we all are broken.

When you repent and acknowledge your brokenness, it is then and only then that God can work in and through you. The Bible says:

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

We are all subject to fall. God knows this. This is why Jesus Christ came. He did not come to us because we have it all together. He came to us to give us the treasury of salvation. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:5-7 …For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We do not preach ourselves. We preach Jesus. We are all broken, like Peter – and we are but jars of clay. What Peter did was awful, and he grieved over it. But even in Peter’s failure we see the sovereign Grace of God. Peter’s failure became a part of the story of the Cross, teaching us that the Grace of God is limitless.

The Aftermath Of Failure, Or, Failing Forward

What happened to Peter after this gross betrayal? Was he now unusable by God? Well, let me ask you – what happened to King David after he took another man’s wife, and had that man murdered? David repented, and God used him in a mighty way. And so it is with Peter.

After Jesus died and was buried, three days later He rose from the Grave. When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus with Mary the mother of James and Salome,

Mark 16:4-7 … they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

Did you get that? “Tell his disciples and Peter”. Peter has been beating himself up for three days, in misery over his betrayal of Christ. The Lord told His angel to make sure that Peter specifically knew that he was still in the plan of God. When the Apostle Paul talks about the resurrection appearances of Jesus, he says:

1 Corinthians 15:5 … {Jesus} was seen of Cephas {a name Jesus gave to Peter}, THEN of the twelve:

Jesus appeared to Peter FIRST following His resurrection. One of the most beautiful pictures we have of the Resurrected Jesus is when He ate fish with His disciples. Following the meal, Jesus asks Peter:

John 21:15-17 … Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 {Jesus} saith to him again the SECOND time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the THIRD time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the THIRD time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Jesus never directly confronted Peter for his betrayal. But, as Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” When Peter said, “Yes, Lord, I love you more than anything”, Jesus told him “Feed My sheep”. Do what God has called you to do. If you are saved by faith in Christ, but have failed Him, may I say His Grace is sufficient to cover your sins. Run to the arms of the Savior. Love Him above all else. And do as He commands you to do, for the glory of God. Returning to Jesus, strengthen your fellow believers (Luke 22:32). May God’s Word and His Holy Spirit drive this message deep into your hearts this day. Amen and Amen!

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Faith – Hope – Love

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Colossians 1:1-5 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, [2] To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [3] We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, [4] Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, [5] For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

What Is The CAUSE Of The Christian?

Every Book in our Bible serves a Divine Purpose – and that is to teach us more about Jesus, more about living as Kingdom People, more about living life as our Heavenly Father designed it to be. The Book of Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul during his first Roman Imprisonment. The proof of this is found in the last verse of this Book, which reads:

Colossians 4:18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.

Paul is imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God

God said of Paul, “he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and

kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul was to focus on sharing the Gospel with the Gentiles first, but also to “kings” and “the children of Israel”. Paul was not arrested for preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. He was arrested and bound over to Rome for trial because he preached the Gospel to the Jews of Jerusalem.

Paul had never been in Colossae, nor amongst the Christians in the Church there. Easton’s Bible Dictionary notes:

It does not appear that Paul had visited this city when he wrote his letter to the church there.”

Paul did not have to visit this Church to write to it. As an Apostle, God the Holy Spirit worked through Paul to address the Church in that city. The Bible says that:

2 Peter 1:20-21 no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul knew that what he wrote was God’s Words, not his opinion. He said in another place:

1 Corinthians 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

Word Study Paul is an APOSTLE of Jesus Christ. The word apostle, the Greek αποστολος, apostolos, ap-os’-tol-os), is a word that comes from the Athenian or Greek Navy. The apostolos was, in the Navy, similar to the rank of “Admiral” in our Navy today. Just as the

“Admiral” relays the orders of a greater authority to the ships under his control, the Apostle relays the directions of God Himself to the Church. Paul is addressing the :

Colossians 1:2 … saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse

Who Are “Saints”? The word translated “SAINTS” is the Greek αγιος, hagios, (pronounced hag’-ee-os) , meaning someone who is “set apart for specific use by God, someone who is sanctified”. Who is a “Saint”? The Bible says:

1 Peter 1:15-16 but as he which hath called you is HOLY, so be ye HOLY in all manner of {living}; 16 because it is written, Be ye HOLY; for I am HOLY.

The Christian, called of Christ and saved by the Blood shed on Calvary, is to be HOLY. The word translated “HOLY” in our 1 Peter text is the same αγιος, hagios translated “saints” in our Colossian text. In short, the Christian is supposed to be a “Saint”, or set apart for God’s glory. How does one become a “saint”? By receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The members of the Church at Colossae heard ….

vs 5 … the word of the TRUTH of the GOSPEL

They heard the preaching of the Gospel from someone – I do not know who. But they heard that they needed to repent, and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. They acted on what they heard ….

Romans 10:8-13 … the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

They heard the Gospel – and Paul, though imprisoned, heard of them.

Colossians 1:3-5 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, [4] Since we heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus, and of the LOVE which ye have to all the saints, [5] For the HOPE which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

What is the CAUSE of the Christian? Is it our works, our goodness, how we inherently please God? NO! The CAUSE of the Christian is God Himself. Three words are emphasized in our text:

FAITH in Christ Jesus
LOVE toward all the saints
HOPE laid up for us in Heaven

All of the things we have in this life will one day erode away. Our bodies fail us. Our property leaves us. Our jobs, and our talents, will one day be gone. Our loved ones are as fragile as we are. What does the Bible say?

James 4:14 whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

What you have in life is but an early morning fog. As the day grows, the fog dissipates. But the Bible says that three things abide: FAITH, LOVE, and HOPE (1 Corinthians 13:13).

The Christian Puts Their Faith In The Right Place

I came across an interesting article today as I prepared for this message. What grabbed my attention was the title of the article:

The Soul Crushing Legacy of Billy Graham”

This article, written by Bob Moser for Rolling Stone Magazine (February 23, 2018), raged against Evangelist Billy Graham. The author was a gender confused individual who, throughout the article, slammed the Evangelist for speaking out against same sex marriage. It’s not my intent to plagiarize that article, nor to spend much time focused on gender dysphoria. What I do want to focus on is five words that begin the article:

Billy Graham saved my soul.”

Billy Graham cannot save a soul, no more than David Buffaloe can save a soul. God must save a soul. Faith put in the wrong Person will not save anyone.

We All Have Faith In Something Or Someone. This is true of the Christian, and true of the lost person. The Bible defines “FAITH” as …

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

Saving faith is to believe in the unseen God, to trust what He has said in His Word, the Bible. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, belief that there is a future world called Heaven. Faith is to believe the evidence of things not seen, to believe that Jesus Christ did indeed come from Heaven to save sinners such as us. There is no faith when you can clearly see and possess what you desire.

Faith is to believe something that isn’t right there in front of you.

  • Evolutionists have faith. Evolutionary Scientists – relying on carbon dating – believe that the earth is billions of years old. They were not here when the earth was made, but they use methods to check fossils then declare truth based on what they find. They have FAITH in their carbon dating methods. They have FAITH in what they call the fossil records. They believe in a “Big Bang” that they have never seen. They believe in a concept that has never been proven, that something as complex as this planet and all that is within it can just accidentally come to be. Evolutionary Theory is not science. Science is provable and repeatable. No, they have “faith in the unseen”.
  • Abortionists have faith. The Abortionist believes that life does not actually begin until the baby leaves the womb. The Abortionist places FAITH in human emotion over actual scientific fact. Medical science now knows and can prove that the fetus in the womb is, indeed, a living creature. The baby in the womb reacts to pain and to other stimulation. Yet the abortionist believes that the life of the mother is much more important than the life of the child with. They have “faith in the unseen”.
  • Socialists and Humanists have faith. Both believe that all people are at heart just good, even though you only need to turn on the television for a moment and watch the news to realize the fallacy they believe. Every Socialist society has eventually faltered and fallen, for the reality is that no one is inherently good. It is as the Scripture says:

Romans 3:22-23 … there is no difference: 23 for ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

  • Atheists have the same faith that Humanists and Socialists have. They believe there is no Creator God, though His Divine Design is seen all throughout nature. The faith of the Atheist is so foolish that God designates them as “Fools”:

Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

Where else do people misplace their faith? Some place their faith in MONEY, though “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Others place their faith in BEAUTY, though the Bible warns “beauty is vain” (Proverbs 31:30). Some put their faith in IDOLS, which can do nothing at all for you.

Psalm 115:3-8 our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 they have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

When you put your faith in the wrong thing, the wrong Person, the wrong Kingdom, the wrong Book, you waste your life. Jesus told us exactly where to put our faith. He said:

Have FAITH IN GOD” (Mark 11:22)

The one that God uses to write this letter we are now studying once had faith in the wrong place. As Saul, he studied at the finest schools of his time. He was well pedigreed. He came from the finest family. He was super conservative, and well to do. The man worked for the highest office in his nation, and was a type of detective with wide reaching powers. When he was told that a terrorist organization had arisen that was committing acts of treason against his beloved people he went out, broke up many of these groups, and was responsible for “neutralizing” many. As he was heading down an ancient interstate road one day something happened. Saul met Jesus.

SAUL had his faith in the Statutes, the Sanhedrin,
the Sacrifices, the
Scholars.
PAUL put his faith in God. He put his faith in Jesus Christ.

Saul was knocked down on the Damascus Road, but it was Paul who stood up and asked,

Acts 22:10 …. What shall I do, Lord?

Paul would later say,

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

God will not save those who put their faith in the wrong thing. God will not bless those who invest their faith in anyone outside of Christ. For faith to be valid and valuable it needs to be solely vested in Christ!

We are all broken things. The Bible declares:

Romans 3:23 For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

That is the BAD NEWS. But the GOOD NEWS is this:

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Think on this, dear ones, and let it sink deep within your soul. “When we were yet without strength”. None have the power to save themselves. Have faith in yourself to be saved, and be ye damned! But like the leper come to Jesus seeking cleansing. Like the blind man come to Jesus seeking sight. Like the cripple come to Jesus seeking legs. Like the deaf come to Jesus seeking sound. When we were without strength – unable to help ourselves – unable to get in the healing waters on our own – Jesus passed by. He said take up your bed and walk. And being saved, we did!

The Saints Of God Are Called To A Ministry Of Love

Colossians 1:2, 4 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. … [4] Since we heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

Once a Christian is saved by faith in Christ, God commands us to love. Love is the natural fruit of a properly placed faith.

The Scripture says:

1 John 4:7-13 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. [8] He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. [9] In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. [10] Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. [11] Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. [12] No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. [13] Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

Outward love is the proof of an inward faith. Periodically I have people call me up and say “I’m just not satisfied with my life. Are you living your life as Jesus commanded? If not, you will never be happy. While you are being waited on rather than waiting on others, you will never be blessed.

In John 13:17 Jesus said, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. What was Jesus talking about? Our Lord knelt down, and washed the feet of the disciples. He told them:

John 13: 13-15 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

The most miserable people I meet are those who are always being waited on, but never serve anyone else. The Christian – once saved – is called to a ministry of loving service. We are called to:

Matthew 22:37-39 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

God is to be loved FIRST and FOREMOST. We are to love Him with our ALL. But after this, we are to love our “neighbor”, that is, those in proximity to us, as we wish to be loved. Jesus even carried this further. He said in:

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. [35] By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

We are to love even the unlovable, for we ourselves are often unlovable. We are to love as God has loved us.

of the love which ye have to all the saints,

We are to love without qualification. We are to love without prejudice. As the Apostle said:

1 Thessalonians 4:9 … ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

Love is the proof of our salvation. A compromised love, a love that is racist, white only, or specific to a certain type of person is not the love that Christ bestows on us. The Apostle says:

1 John 2:9-11 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. [10] He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. [11] But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

The grand Preacher C.H. Spurgeon said:

We have a common hope, let us have a common affection: we are on our way to God, let us march in loving company; we are to be one in heaven, let us be one on earth. One is our Master and one is our service; one is our way and one is our end; let us be knit together as one man. We all of us expect to see our Well-beloved face to face, and to be like him; why should we not even now love all those in whom there is anything of Christ? Brethren, we are to live together for ever in heaven: it is a pity we should quarrel. We are for ever to be with Jesus Christ, partakers of the same joy, of the same glory, and of the same love; why should we be scant in our love to each other? On the way to Canaan we have to fight the same enemy, to publish the same testimony, to bear the same trials, and to fly to the same helper: therefore let us love one another.”

Proper Faith Produces Love, Which Reminds Us Of God’s Promise

Colossians 1:5 .. For the HOPE which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

We who are Christians, saved by faith in Christ, have a sure promise from God that we have a place reserved for us in Heaven. Jesus said:

John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. [2] In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

You see, there is a place beyond this place that our Jesus has gone to. He died on that Cross of Calvary, rose again the third day, and ascended unto the Father in Heaven. Jesus died for us. And this same Jesus that we place ALL our faith in has promised us that there is a blessed hope LAID UP FOR US IN HEAVEN. Jesus does not nor cannot lie.

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.
Not a perfect people, but a prepared people.

It is a place where those who have surrendered to the Lordship of Christ will go. Those who are in Heaven love God and love one another. Hope is not a make believe, should have been steak but is only liver place. Hope is the certain promise of God. We don’t have it yet. We must walk and live through this veil of tears first. But one day we who are His will receive that Blessed Hope.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; 14 who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Faith, love and hope. Faith saves. Love proves. Hope is our promised Destination, a Heaven where love, peace and joy rule. Praise the name of the Lord! May God the Holy Spirit plant this Word deep into your hearts, for the glory of Christ. Amen and Amen!

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Dead With Christ

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Colossians 2:20 … Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ …

How many of you are DEAD? Raise your hands! Did you know that the Apostle Paul called the genuine Christian “dead”. I’m sure you have all seen someone physically dead. They cease moving about. The dead body is put in a beautiful casket. It is made up, and often dressed in what was once favorite clothing. The dead body is placed in a casket, and loved ones stand about it, weeping for the soul that has departed.

The body, being dead, knows nothing of this. The soul has departed to be with Jesus. Whether dressed in a three piece suit or a formal gown, that body does not know nor experience what the living are experiencing all around it. The corpse is dead!

The Christian is dead. Oh, we are alive in so many ways. I personally do not believe you begin living until you meet and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But we who are Christ’s are DEAD:

The Christian Is Dead To Self

Look at Colossians 2:6-7 … As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Have you received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? No person can be saved without receiving Christ as He is. Jesus Christ is the Savior of Sinners. He is the Messiah Who came to save a people for Himself.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus often “sat at meat” with great sinners, fellowshipping with them (Matthew 9:10). “Jesus, Why do You eat with publicans and sinners?” Oh, but Jesus knew why He came. Our Lord said:

Matthew 9:13 I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus came to this earth for sinners like you and I. But not all sinners will be blessed of Jesus. Jesus came calling SINNERS TO REPENTANCE. Repentance of what, you might ask. REPENTANCE OF SELFISHNESS. We are born into this world self driven, selfish, me first, always me. That is the basis of all sin.

The VERY FIRST SINNER was Satan. Beautiful as he was, he stared at himself for too long. His heart stopped serving God, and started serving self. He said in Isaiah 14:13-15:

I WILL ascend into Heaven
I WILL make my throne over all others like me
I WILL sit where I want to sit
I WILL ascend above all creation
I WILL be God

When Satan fell, he slithered into Eden, carrying his “I WILL” platform with Him. When addressing Adam and Eve, Satan, that Old Serpent (Revelation 12:9), said:

YOU shall not surely die!
God knows the day you eat the forbidden,
You will be like God!
Join me … be like God! (Genesis 3:4-5, paraphrased)

The Christian can only become a Christian, “not by works of righteousness which we have done” (Titus 3:5), but by bending our knees to Jesus Christ. We admit that we are sinners, and that we need Him as Savior. We die to self and do the hard thing – we cease being the center of our own universe, and acknowledge Him as both Savior and Lord.

Matthew 1:21 And {Mary} shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: For He SHALL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS

Jesus did not come to save “people” from sins. He came to save “HIS people”, those who will bow the knee, dying to self, and come to Christ as He is. To show this change of allegiance, from the KINGDOM of ME to the KINGDOM of GOD, the Christian is publicly baptized in water. The Apostle said:

Romans 6:1-11 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are DEAD to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his DEATH? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into DEATH: that like as Christ was raised up from the DEAD by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his DEATH, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is DEAD is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be DEAD with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he DIED, he DIED unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be DEAD indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In water baptism we are “buried” under the water, showing that the old me DIED with Jesus and is buried. We are raised out of the water, signifying that just as Jesus was raised, so are we raised TO WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE. The Christian is not a dead soul following a dark lord called Satan. The Christian is dead to self and selfishness, and alive unto God because of Christ.

It is unnatural and sinful to live for self. All of creation cries out that life is about loving and giving of self, not about receiving and taking. I was listening to a mega-Church Pastor, who said:

Get up in the morning and invite good things into your life. ‘I am blessed. I am strong. I am talented. I am disciplined. I am focused. I am prosperous’. When you talk like that, talent gets summoned by almighty God”

This is no more than an echo of Eden. The only “I AM” is God Almighty – we are not to be “I AM”, but we are to point to Him Who is “I AM”, and serve Him.

The Christian lives for God, and lives for others. Rivers do not drink their own water. Trees do not eat their own fruit. The sun doesn’t shine to light its own path. Flowers make fragrance and color so that their pollen can be shared with others, bringing life. Birds sing early in the morning to bless us. It is unnatural and Satanic to live for self. The I AM of me died the day that I received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

Two thieves died next to Jesus, as He suffered on Calvary. The thief on the left cried out to Jesus:

Luke 23:39 … If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

This is the worldly religion of convenience that has invaded many local Churches today. IF you are the Christ, WAIT on me! But this is not the Christianity that Jesus Christ came representing. No. No, this is not the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is represented in that thief not on the left, but on the right:

Luke 23:40-42 … Don’t you fear God? We are dying. We deserve this death for what we did. But Jesus, He is innocent. Jesus. Jesus, LORD, will You just remember me when You come into Your Kingdom? (paraphrased)

The thief on the right was saved. He died with Jesus. He died to self. He acknowledged his sin, and sought Him as both Lord and Savior – to which Jesus replied, “today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (paraphrased vs 43).

The Christian Is Dead To Worldliness

Colossians 2:8-9 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

The purpose of the Christian is to shine for Christ, not for the world. The Christian is called to love everyone, and to do good to everyone. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:38-45 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy clokel also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

We are to love the sinners around us, but we are NEVER to justify nor help support their sin. I am sometimes shocked at the things that go on even amongst our Baptist family. In 2016 Russell Moore and Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention got involved in a legal battle defending Muslim rights to construct mosques in the United States. Moore likened his and the ERLCs stance to standing up for the “invisible”, like the unborn child. Personally I believe the ERLC went too far.

As Christians, we are to love and do good to our enemies. But we are always to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), even when that truth is abhorrent to the world. As a military man I fought for, and retired from active duty with 20+ years of military service. I believe in the First Amendment right of every person. However, I will do nothing as a Christian to further the building of Mosques, Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall, Mormon or Buddhist Temples, nor any other religion. As Christians we are to shine for Jesus. We are to affirm that there is but one Way to God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to stand first on what our Lord said:

John 14:6 … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

I will preach alongside of the Church fathers:

Acts 4:10-12 be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

What good is done by a Christian in helping build a building unto idols? None! Though we are to love all, as Christians we must not, as many other Churches have, baptize and endorse members into the flock who are actively participating in things which God considers abhorrent. The Christian is to be dead to the world, and alive unto Christ.

I do not understand why Southern Baptists, or any Baptists, are making public statements on things like “Critical Race Theory”. Frankly, I do not understand it. It seems confusing, and our God is NOT the Author of Confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Christians, “our God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11-16). All people are created in the image of God, and those saved by faith in Christ are my brothers and sisters. Heaven will be populated by people of all colors who have received Christ:

Revelation 7:9-15 I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

The color of a person should not make a difference to anyone. If you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, if you died with Him on Calvary, then you are part of God’s Family, and my kin. That is enough.

We must love others, but not aid philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. We must not justify sin, but reject it, and point all toward Christ. Shine for Jesus!

2 Timothy 2:11 It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with {Jesus}, we shall also live with {Jesus}

And closer to our current context: Colossians 3:1-4 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

The Christian is DEAD to SELF. The Christian is DEAD to WORLDLINESS. And thirdly,

The Christian Is Dead To Phariseeism

Colossians 2:16-22 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, 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. 18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. 20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

The Law of God often confuses the Christian. The Bible tells us that God gave us the Law,

Galatians 3:24-25 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Some have taken these verses to mean that the Christian can do ANYTHING he or she wants without repercussions. Yet this is not what the Bible tells us. As Christians, we are no longer under the SHADOWS of the Law. God gave some Old Testament SHADOWS that foretold the coming of Christ.

Once Christ came, “the Light of the World” (John 8:12) chased away the shadows!

The Christian is no longer under the dietary laws (meats). “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts 10:15, 19). God used clean and unclean animals in the Old Testament to foreshadow the coming of “The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). We no longer sacrifice animals for sin, because Christ took their place:

Hebrews 10:8-10 … Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 then said {Christ Jesus}, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first {covenant}, that he may establish the second {covenant}. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

We do not sacrifice animals, so we may eat all good things. The holy days or feasts no longer are applicable to the Christian. New moons mean nothing. Our Sabbath is no longer the seventh day, but the first day of the week. Why?

Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared …

The Sabbath the early Church adopted was the first day of the week, the day our Lord Jesus rose from the grave.

We are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10).

We make every special day about our Jesus. We no longer are under a mandate of circumcision. The Old Covenant shadow of circumcision showed that a male was of the family of Israel. The New Covenant circumcision is not done on the male penis, but on the believer’s heart.

Colossians 2:11 … in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

What makes us members of Christ’s family? It is not the outward ritual of circumcision, but the inward circumcision that occurs when God enters the believer’s life.

Romans 2:28-29 … he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The “Circumcision”, or those who are of the Household of Christ (Hebrews 3:6), are not those who are outwardly religious or followers of ritualism. Those who are of the Household of Christ are those who …

Philippians 3:3 … worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

So many people put their confidence in the flesh. Beloved, we died with Him. When He died on Calvary, I was nailed to that cruel “T” with Him. We who are saved have no confidence in the flesh. We trust neither denomination, nor Church affiliation, nor ritual, nor holy day. We are complete only in Jesus. He is our Peace (Ephesians 2:14). I do not trust myself to get myself to Heaven. I trust Jesus, and cast off anything which does not honor Him daily. As the Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 15:31 …. I die daily

There is not a day that passes that I do not see sin me, and, by the Grace of God, cast it off. I am freed from sin so that I might serve my Savior and Lord. Beloved, the Church God needs in America today, needs to be the Church that serves Jesus. Let us daily put away the old sinful clothing: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene speech, and lying (Colossians 3:5-9). Let us instead daily be more like Jesus. Let us put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love as Jesus loved(Colossians 3:12-14).

We are dead to the darkness, alive and in the Light.
We are dead to self idolatry, but alive unto God.

In closing, I was reading a devotional the other day that spoke of God’s version of E=mc2. This was a theory of special relativity that Albert Einstein developed. If you are a scientist, you know that E=mc2 means “energy E of a system is equal to its mass m multiplied by c2, the speed of light squared” (Scientific American). In the devotional, the author equated “E”, energy or the Christian’s ability to overcome to “mercy” + “c2” or Christ squared. If you’re going to make it through this life, remaining faithful to your God, you must have His mercy daily, and Christ squared. We need more and more of Jesus. Oh Beloved, cling to Him Who will cling to you. Let us be dead to self, dead to worldliness, and dead to Phariseeism – but alive unto Christ! For God’s glory, I pray, that His Holy Spirit and His Word would be driven deeply into our consciousness this very day. Amen and Amen!

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What Is Truth? God’s Word Is Truth!

Jesus, Lion of Judah
Photo by Kazuky Akayashi on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John 18:28. We are going to look at our Lord Jesus, and Pilate’s response to Jesus, as He stood before that Roman Governor to be judged.

John 18:28-38 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. 29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? 30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. 31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.

33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? 34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? 35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?

Our Lord Jesus knew that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21). Jesus knew He was going to Calvary. He knew His betrayer – Judas Iscariot. He knew the time.

Before Jesus stood before Pilate, He was examined by a crooked, untruthful the Jewish Court called the Sanhedrin (the Seventy). Matthew tells us:

Matthew 26:59-61 the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 60 but found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 61 and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

Jesus was struck when He attempted to speak. False witnesses came in, all given bribe money by a corrupt system. But finally the High Priest accused Jesus of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65-66) when Jesus claimed to be “the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, coming in the clouds of Heaven”. After further abusing Jesus, the Jewish court took Jesus to the Gentile Court of Pilate. Pilate asks:

John 18:29 … What accusation bring ye against this man?

The Jewish Court knew, in their conscience, that the way they handled Jesus was dishonest and ungodly. They do not respond clearly. When truth is twisted, people try to hide what they are doing. They respond:

John 18:30 If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee”.

An honest court would have explained the charges, but evil does not like the light of truth. Pilate was having none of it. Take ye him, and judge him according to your law(31). They hid behind Roman Law. It is not lawful for us to put any man to death” (31). That never stopped them before. Evil uses confusion. Satan loves confusion.

Pilate extensively examined Jesus. Jesus was no threat to the Roman empire. My kingdom is not of this world” (36). Pilate asked Jesus if He were a king. Jesus refused to assume the title at this point in history. Jesus is indeed “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (1 Timothy 6:15), but His primary role at this time is “to bear witness to the truth”:

John 18:37 To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Our Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth to “bear witness to the truth”. Those who are of the truth hear Jesus. Those who are of the world ignore Jesus, judge Jesus, mock Jesus. Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (38). Jesus is truth. God’s Word is truth.

The trial of Jesus gives us an insight into the eternal struggle between “Truth” and “truth”. The religious court, which was suppose to support God’s Truth, ignored the truth. Pilate, a career politician, ignored Capital “T” Truth. If you ask people about truth today, they will tell you:

Truth is what you make it.
Truth is based on what you feel.
Truth varies from person to person.

If truth is little “t”, constantly variable, then a young child born biologically male can self identify as female, regardless as to their genetic equipment. If truth is little “t”, constantly variable, then marriage does not have to be male to female, but it can be same sex, or even animal to human, adult to child. If truth is little “t”, then feelings are what matter most. Feelings define facts, not the other way around.

Pilate examined Jesus stringently, and even had Christ beaten. After a thorough examination, Pilate told the waiting Jewish Court:

John 18:38 … I find in {Jesus Christ} no fault at all.

That should have ended the matter. Jesus was acquitted. But the crowd was operating on feelings, not facts. They cried out for Jesus’ death. Reason had no place in the matter. They were feeling hatred and feeling rage, so they demanded His death. Pilate knew why they wanted Jesus dead.

Matthew 27:18 {Pilate} knew that for ENVY they had delivered {Jesus up to die}. (also Mark 15:10)

Crucify Him! the crowd yelled! Pilate asked,Why, what evil hath he done?” (Mark 15:14). The Court cared nothing for Capital “T” Truth. They were being driven by emotions. Crucify Him! Pilate tried again. The Romans had scheduled a murderer named Barabbas to be executed. Pilate now gives the crowd a choice.

Matthew 27:17 … Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?

Barabbas was a known murderer. No charges could be found against Jesus. The Capital “T” Truth would have released Jesus. The crowd yelled out. Release Barabbas, destroy Jesus (20). Having Jesus beaten, and mocked by the soldiers, a crown of thorns on His head, Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd.

John 19:4 I find no fault in {Jesus Christ}.

Behold the Man!” Pilate told the Jewish Court,

John 19:6-7 … Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. 7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.

And so Jesus was crucified. His crucifixion was necessary and foreordained by God. “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). Jesus Christ came to this earth on a mission to save sinners. “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom God hath sent” (John 6:29). God is calling people into His Family. “This is life eternal, that they might know the ONLY TRUE God, and Jesus Christ, Whom God hath sent” (John 17:3). The crucifixion of Christ was by divine design, accomplished to cover our sins so that we might know God. Jesus told Pilate:

John 19:11 … Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from Above

God allowed the deceptive and corrupt Jewish Court, the False Witnesses, the Politically Correct Pilate, and human “feelings” to accomplish His greater purpose. Praise God that “Jesus Christ came to this earth to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Praise God that:

1 Peter 3:18 … Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God….

Praise God for Jesus! But I also want you to see another thing at work here. When there is no Capital “T” Truth, but truth is little “t”, and feelings have preeminence over facts, then justice is miscarried. When truth is fluid, ever changing, then we put ourselves in the position of Adam in the Garden of Eden. “Hath God really said that?”, the serpent asked. If truth is defined not by facts, but by my feelings, then there is no truth at all.

Jesus Endorsed The Bible As Truth

How did our Lord Jesus define “truth”? Jesus believed the written Word of God to be Capital “T” Truth. In His final prayer for the Church, given just before He went to the Cross to die for us all, Jesus said:

John 17:17 {Father}, Sanctify {or, “set them apart from the world”) them {your believers} through Thy Truth. Thy Word is Truth.

God the Father has a Word for us, and this Word is Capital “T” Truth. Jesus promised us that God would send forth “The Spirit of Truth”, the Holy Spirit of God. He said:

John 16:13 … when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…

The Holy Spirit of God would come and guide Christ’s believers into “all Truth”. Not into feelings, but into what God has said is fact. As Jesus told Pilate:

John 18:37 … Every one that is of the Truth heareth My voice

There is a Capital “T” Truth. It is the Written Word of God, the Holy Bible. Throughout Jesus’ ministry we find the words, “It is written”. When the Wise Men came seeking the Baby Jesus, Herod demanded of the priests and scribes where Christ was to be born. No one came back with, “Well, I feel. No, they said:

Matthew 2:5 … In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet

a quotation from Micah 5:2. When Jesus was attacked by Satan in the wilderness, our Lord replied to his attacks with:

Matthew 4:4 … It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3)

Matthew 4:7 … IT IS WRITTEN AGAIN, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16)

Matthew 4:10 … IT IS WRITTEN, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve (quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13-14)

When questioned about John the Baptist, Jesus said:

Matthew 11:10 … this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (quoting Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 40:3)

When Jesus ran the money changers out of the Temple, He declared:

Matthew 21:13 … It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (quoting Jeremiah 7:11 & Isaiah 56:7).

  • As Jesus prepared to go to the Cross, He said: “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him” (Matthew 26:24). Here He referred to the Old Testament texts that spoke of Christ being handed over for our sins (Isaiah 50:6; 53:2-12; Psalm 22:1-31).
  • When Jesus was asked about marriage, our Jesus said Have ye not READ, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4), a reference to Genesis 1:27.

Throughout Jesus’s ministry you read “it is written” or “have you not read?”. Jesus was speaking of our Bible.

Have ye not READ what David did…” (Matthew 12:3)
“Have you not READ in the Law ..” (Matthew 12:5)
“Have you not READ, out of the mouth …” (Matthew 21:16)
“Did ye never READ in the Scriptures …” (Matthew 21:42)
“Have ye not READ that which was spoken by God ..” (Matthew 22:31)
“Have ye not READ in the Book of Moses ..” (Mark 12:26)
“What is WRITTEN in the Law? How READEST thou?” (Luke 10:26)

It is impossible to read the Gospels, and not see the high standard Jesus held our Bible in. The Bible is God’s Word, written down, and preserved for us, Christ’s Church. Pastor Rick Warren wrote in “The Purpose Driven Life”,

What we need is a perfect standard that will never lead us in the wrong direction. Only God’s Word meets that need.”

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote:

Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

When the Apostle Paul wanted to encourage Timothy, and the Church so buffeted on every side by evil, he reminded Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:14-17 … continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The Scripture, our Bible, is theopneustos or literally “God Breathed”. It is the very Word of God. Some people would counter with this. They would say,

Every major and minor religion believe that their holy writings are God inspired, God breathed. The Muslims view the Quran (often spelled Koran) as the words of God dictated to their Prophet Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel. The Mormons view the Book of Mormon to be the words of God dictated to their Prophet Joseph Smith by the Angel Moroni. There are other religions, and other so called sacred writings that contradict the Christian Bible. How is the Bible a better religious “Word of God” than all these other religions?”

My answer is very simple. It is Jesus.

Jesus never quoted the Quran, the Book of Mormon, the Ramayana or Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism, or the Sutras of Buddhism. Jesus never appealed to feelings or wants when establishing truth. Jesus appealed to the Holy Bible the Jews received through Moses and the other Prophets.

The early Church Fathers, called “Apostles”, were quick to point out that our unique and true faith was …

Ephesians 2:20 … built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

The Way of Christ was “revealed unto {Christ’s} holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5). It is God Who “gave us Apostles, and Prophets, and Evangelists, and Pastors, and Teachers”…

Ephesians 4:12 … for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Every Spiritual Gift given by God is tied to the Bible,
the Word of God.

That which Christ refers to and we have written through the Apostles and Prophets is the Bible, the Word of God. The other holy books of the other religions do not prophesy the coming of Christ, nor are they quoted or upheld by Christ. Only the Bible has this as it’s main characteristic. Others say,

But this Book is so ancient. Surely it is out dated, out of touch with the 21st Century”.

If this Book was written by the whim of humans, by the creativity of people now long deceased, then this would be true. But the Scripture declares:

2 Peter 1:19-21 … We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Over and over again, Jesus endorsed our Bible, quoted our Bible. The Apostles whom Jesus called all wrote Capital “T” Truth. God’s Word is TRUTH. God’s Bible is TRUTH. As Baptists we believe:

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.”

What is Truth? Jesus said it in John 17:17, “God’s Word is Truth”. If the Bible is not valid for today, or if portions of it are invalid for today, then is Jesus Christ in any way a Savior? Jesus extensively quoted the Bible. If the Bible is wrong, then Jesus is wrong. Jesus said the Bible is true, and for me and my house, Jesus is never wrong. Jesus told the Pharisees who doubted Him as Messiah:

John 5:46-47 … had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

The Bible we have is “God Breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), a Truth that endorsed and was endorsed by Jesus. If the Bible is in error, then Jesus is in error – and we have no assurance of salvation. As Pastor Michael J. Kruger noted:

While a person doesn’t have to believe the Bible is true to be saved, the Bible has to be true for them to be saved.”

It is in the Bible we find the precious promises of God, promises to save the sinner if they but believe in Christ. We read the wonderful message of Scripture:

Romans 10:8-13 The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

How can we know this is Capital “T” Truth? Because Jesus came to endorse the Truth – and He endorsed His Apostles, the Old Testament Writings, the Bible itself. We can rest in God’s Word.

May God touch your hearts with His Word, and bring you to Christ for salvation if you are yet without Him. Amen and Amen! For the glory of God, we pray. Amen!

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Humans Are Not Nor Will Ever Be Angels

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Humans Are Not Nor Will Ever Be Angels

Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings”. A six year old Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu Bailey, said these words in that classic 1946 film, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. The film was cute. Over the past many years as a Pastor, I have read obituaries written by well meaning people who sought to honor a deceased loved one. One of the phrases I often read are either:

Heaven gained another angel today”
or
“___ earned his wings, and is in the Presence of the Lord”

I am sure the writer of the obituary means well, and is sincere. But does the Bible teach the deceased Christian becomes another “Angel”? No, it doesn’t.

In the Book of Hebrews we are told that believers in Christ are not brought to Mount Sinai, but by the Blood of Christ are brought to Mount Zion.

Heaven is our home, Christian, if you have received Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. As God describes Heaven through the writer of Hebrews, He says:

Hebrews 12:22-24 ye {Christians} are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men {Greek δίκαιος dikaios, literally “of the Justified”} made perfect, 24 and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

As we read about Heaven, we see that there is an innumerable company of angels, but there is also the spirits of THE JUSTIFIED made perfect. There are three types of beings in Heaven. There are ANGELS, which are created by God, there are those who have been JUSTIFIED or made right with God BY FAITH IN JESUS, and there is Creator God Himself, uncreated and eternal.

Romans 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

When the Christian gets to Heaven, we will be given some of the attributes that angels now possess. Jesus told us in Matthew 22:30 that in the resurrection there will be no marriage as we know it today, but we will be “like” the angels of God in this perspective. Angels never were given the power to reproduce. Humans, however, are given the ability to reproduce NOW, because it was the will of God for us to “be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). This earth was to be populated by humans who, loving one another, made more humans.

The earth is populated by physical birth.
Heaven, however, is populated by spiritual birth.

Those who are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23) are the ones who will populate Heaven. “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Humans are created in the image of God, and are given the ability to reproduce. Angels have NEVER had the ability to reproduce.

Humans Are “A Little Lower Than The Angels”

The Bible says in Psalm 8:3-8, When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

Though humanity is made “a little lower than the angels”, both angels as well as humans were made perfect.

Genesis tells us “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Humanity fell from perfection through the failure of Adam. Angels fell from perfection through the failure of the Archangel Lucifer, also known as “Red Dragon”, “The Old Serpent”, “Satan (or Accuser)”, and “The Devil”. Lucifer’s fall is partially chronicled in:

Revelation 12:3-4, 9 … there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth…. 9 the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

The reason Lucifer, a Chief Arch Angel, a General of the Angels in Heaven, revolted against God is PRIDE.

What both Adam and Lucifer had, they received from God. Pride caused them to create the false narrative that they somehow deserved more. Adam chose a forbidden fruit. Lucifer chose a more direct approach. He wanted the Throne of God. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 14:12-14 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

When Lucifer could not get the throne of God by direct revolt, he entered the Garden of Eden to try and steal God’s glory through Adam. This is why he is called “that old serpent”. It was Lucifer, the Devil, the Serpent who tempted Adam, defying what God said.

Genesis 3:4-5 … Ye shall not surely die: 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

You know the rest. Adam ate that which was forbidden, following Lucifer rather than the God Who loved him. Here we come to a key difference between humans and angels.

God sent His Son Jesus to give His life a ransom and an atonement for humanities sins. God did NOT send Jesus to die for the Angels. Fallen angels cannot be saved.

Since mankind is made “a little lower than the angels”(Hebrews 2:5-8) , our

Hebrews 2:9-11 … Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.; that he by the grace of God should taste death for {Greek πᾶς pas, for every one [lower than the angels]}. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren

Jesus, by the grace of God {tasted} death for every EVERY ONE. Not for the Angels, but for every one of us who are “lower than the angels”. Jesus did not come to pay for the sins of Angels, but for the sins of humanity. When Jesus spoke of the Final Judgment, the time that God separates His people from the evil, the evil went into everlasting fire. Jesus said:

Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels

Eternal damnation, that place we call “The Lake of Fire” or “Hell”, was designed with the devil and his angels in mind. Jesus was made lower than the Angels so that He might redeem believing humanity. The Apostle spoke of …

1 Peter 1:7-12 … Jesus Christ: 8 whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: … 12 … which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

The Angels do not understand the salvation we are offered through Christ. When Satan walked away from God with 1/3 of the Angels in Heaven, God made no effort to offer them Grace. Yet God did offer us Grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Why did God offer to save us, but not to save Angels? The Bible does not say. And yet, God did. The Bible says that Angels watch humans – and rejoice when a human repents and believes of Jesus. Our Lord said:

Luke 15:10 … I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

As the Apostles went about – under the power and authority of Christ – establishing Churches, Angels watched their progress (1 Corinthians 4:9). The Bible calls Angels “Principalities and powers in Heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10), and these superior beings watch the Church of Christ on the earth. Angels watch how saved humanity obeys the will of God in the creation and maintenance of the family (1 Corinthians 11:9-12). Bible Teacher Don Stewart writes:

Though there are some things that angels and humans have in common, there are many things that separate them. Humans have been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). They are able to bear children and have family relationships. Though sin entered into both the angelic and human sphere, only the sin of humans can be forgiven (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ came to die for the sins of humanity, not of angels. Those humans who have trusted Christ as their Savior will eventually judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). Because of these things, the humans who have believed in Jesus will have a superior position to the angels in the ages to come (Ephesians 2:6). ”

Angels Are Not Humans, But Often Look Like
Or Interact With Humans

Angels can assume the appearance of a human. Scripture says:

Hebrews 13:1-2 … Let brotherly love continue. 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Angels walk among us, and watch us. Throughout the Bible God used Angels to carry messages to and to interact with humans.

  • Angels met Jacob (Genesis 32:1) in the wilderness.
  • When Daniel was thrown in the lion’s den, he was not eaten. Why? Because, he said, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me” (Daniel 6:22)
  • An Angel brought “Israel out of Egypt” (Numbers 20:16).
  • In the birth of Christ into this world, Angels were very active (Mathew 1; Luke 1,2).
  • An Angel sent Philip to share the Gospel with an Ethiopian Eunuch of great authority (Acts 8:26-28).
  • It was an Angel that rolled back the stone of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 28:2).
  • When Jesus returns to this earth to rule and reign, our Lord said, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory” (Matthew 25:31).

There Are Many Different Types Of Angels In The Bible

Among the Angels, the Archangels are the highest rank. The Bible reveals three Archangels: Lucifer who has fallen away from God, Michael, and Gabriel.

The Archangels rule all the other angels under the authority of God. Michael is a warrior Archangel, who will – with the other warrior angels – cast Satan out of Heaven just prior to the Tribulation:

Revelation 12:7-9 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Michael often fought for Israel (Daniel 12:1). Gabriel is an Archangel, but he is more of a Messenger than a warrior. Gabriel and the other messenger angels …

  • announced the coming birth of Christ to Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:26-27)
  • prophesied the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias his father (Luke 1:19)
  • heralded the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem to the Shepherds (Luke 2:9ff)
  • warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with the baby Jesus and Mary (Matthew 2:13)
  • rolled the stone from the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:2)
  • and was very active in the early Church guiding and protecting God’s people (Acts 5:19; 10:3; 12:7).

Among the Angels, there are Cherubim and Seraphim.

  • The Cherubim had four faces: a man’s face, a lion’s face, an ox face, an eagle face. They had four wings, with a human hand protruding from underneath the wing. They had cloven calves feet that were shiny like brass (Ezekiel 1:4-28; 10:1-22). Lucifer the fallen Archangel was “the anointed cherub that covereth” (Ezekiel 28:14).
  • The Seraphim or “The Burning Ones” have six wings. Two covered their face and two covered their feet, while two wings were used to fly. The Seraphim are in charge of leading the worship of God in Heaven. (Isaiah 6:1-7)
  • The Four Elder Angels, also called “Beasts”, are around the Throne of God in Heaven. Revelation 4:6-9 tells us “round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honor. and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever.” Their focus is to worship God (see also Revelation 5:8; 6:1, 3, 5, 7).
  • The Guardian Angels watch over believers in Christ (Matthew 18:10). The Bible says that they are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation”. Those who have trusted in God, “making the Lord their refuge”, have been assigned Guardian Angels by God Himself. The Psalmist said, “he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11-12)
  • A Water Angel is mentioned in Revelation 16:5. This angel controls the flow of the seas and the tides.
  • A Abyss (Deep Pit) Angel guards the prison where some fallen angels are bound. (Revelation 9:1).
  • Revelation 14:18 speaks of “another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire”, a Fire Angel.
  • God uses Angels to dispense judgments on the earth during the latter half of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 8:1; 15:1).

Angels are not like us humans. Peter said “angels are greater in power and might” (2 Peter 2:11). Angels are not composed of the dust of the ground of this earth, but are beings of light. Zondervan Academic notes, “The author of Hebrews suggests that all angels are “spirits” (Hebrews 1:13-14). When Jesus appears to the disciples, he asserts that “spirits” don’t have bodies like he does (Luke 24:39). In the Bible, angels can’t usually be seen by humans unless God reveals them (see Numbers 22:31, 2 Kings 6:17, Luke 2:13).” Angels are immensely powerful.

  • It was two angels that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah: “we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it” (Genesis 19:13).
  • God sent one angel to destroy the Assyrian Army, as it was encamped against Israel. 2 Kings 19:35 tells us that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
  • When Peter was imprisoned by King Herod, sleeping chained to two soldiers (Acts 12:6), with guards on the locked prison door, “the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. 8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. 9 And he went out, and followed him” (Acts 12:7-9). The Angel caused the guards all to sleep on, even while freeing Peter to return to ministry.

In his book, Angels: God’s Secret Agents, Billy Graham wrote:

““We may not always be aware of the presence of angels. We can’t always predict how they will appear. But angels have been said to be our neighbors. Often they may be our companions without our being aware of their presence. We know little of their constant ministry. The Bible assures us, however, that one day our eyes will be unscaled to see and know the full extent of the attention angels have given us (1 Corinthians 13:11, 12).”

Christians Will One Day Be Greater Than The Angels

Dear one, if you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you will not one day leave this life to be an Angel. When you get to Heaven – if you are a believer – the Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:3 … we shall judge angels

While we are on this earth we are “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7). But in Heaven, we will be a little higher than the angels. Why? Because of Jesus. Because we have received salvation by faith in Him. Receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we are made “Sons, or Children of God”. We who have received Christ have this promise:

John 1:12-13 … as many as received {Jesus Christ}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Upon your outward profession and confession of Jesus (for no child of God is ashamed of Jesus), God brought you into His Family. You are born again – not of blood nor of the will of man, but by the will of God! The Bible says of us, dear Christian, that:

Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit {Himself} beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

We are no longer sons of Adam, but sons of God because of what the Son of God did for us. We who are Christians are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14). We are not perfect by any means, for we are yet in our human frail but broken flesh. But we are, according to the Apostle:

Philippians 2:15 … blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world

When we get to Heaven, praise God, “we shall be like Jesus; for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). This is not because we have either earned nor deserved it. This is because we, broken as we are, received the Grace of God by “calling on the name of the Lord Jesus”.

Do you know my Jesus? If not, I beg you, call upon Him today. The Bible promises:

Romans 10:9-13 …. if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

May God the Holy Spirit move His Word into your hearts this very day! Amen and Amen. For the glory of Christ I preach this! Hallelujah! Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Maranatha!

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Judas Must Leave The Table!

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Mark 14:16-26 And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover.

17 And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. 18 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? 20 And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. 21 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.

22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

What Is The “Feast Of The Passover?”

The Feast of the Passover was an annual celebration held in Israel, a celebration commanded by God. It commemorated the night that God “passed over” Egypt, looking for the Blood of the Lamb. The Israelis were to take, “on the tenth day of the month, a lamb without blemish, a male of the first year. The lamb was to be kept until the 14th day of the month, when it was then killed. The Blood of the Lamb was to be put on the sidepost and upper door post of the home. The lamb was to be roasted with fire, eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs” (see Exodus 12:1-10). God told Israel:

Exodus 12:12-14 I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. 14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

God did exactly as He promised He would do. He “passed over” Egypt, looking for the Blood of the Lamb.

Where God found the Blood of the Lamb, God did not execute judgment, but mercy.

The Passover commemorated the judgment of God on sin. The Passover celebrated the mercy of God to sinners. The Passover was also a foreshadowing of what God would one day do in Jesus Christ. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he saw the Passover. He said:

John 1:29 … Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (also vvs 36)

The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 … Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: 8 therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The Passover lamb was pierced, and it’s blood drained.
Jesus was pierced on the Cross, His Blood shed.
The Blood of the Passover was put on the doorway of the home.
The Blood of Christ is applied to the heart of the person.
The Passover Lamb was mounted on a stick, roasted on fire.
Jesus was mounted on the Cross, roasted by God’s judgment on sin.
The Passover lamb was eaten fully – (Exodus 12:10)
.
Jesus Christ is to be received fully, both Lord & Savior.

Jesus said:

John 6:53-58 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

There are many who want Jesus as Savior, but not as Lord. They say, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it” (John 6:60). They walk away from Jesus.

John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Jesus as the Lamb of God, “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). But Jesus is also Lord of His people. “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever” (Revelation 5:13; 6:16; 7:10). See His Throne! “For the Lamb which is IN THE MIDST OF THE THRONE shall feed them; and lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17). Jesus is both Lamb and Lord. He must be received AS HE IS, or not at all.

The Lord Prepares To Become The Lamb,
While Judas Prepares To Betray The Lamb

Every one of the Gospels tell us more about Jesus’ final preparations to fulfill His duty as the Lamb of God. For instance, John tells us:

John 13:1-5 …. before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; 3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4 he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

Jesus wanted His disciples to remember that Love is the mark of His Kingdom. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, a job that only a servant would do. Jesus modeled the love that He wants us to have. We are a people SAVED TO SERVE. We are to GO OUTSIDE OUR COMFORT ZONE, and love. Jesus said:

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

You must HAVE love. Not RECEIVE love, but HAVE love. Jesus modeled how to HAVE love. Jesus also began to expose what FALSE LOVE LOOKS LIKE.

Six days before the Feast of the Passover

Mary took “a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair” (John 12:3). This is Christlike love. This is what God through Christ saves us to do. Not to be served, but to serve one another, just as Christ serves us. The King in the Kingdom of God is not ME, but Christ. When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated to be our 35th President (January 20th, 1961 … I was 3 years old!), part of his speech had the famous line,

Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”

Selfishness and a “me first” attitude has, in the last 20 or so years, taken over our country. God the Son is calling a people to HIS Kingdom, not to OUR kingdom.

In stark contrast to what Mary did to Jesus, Judas Iscariot stood on the outside looking in, complaining …

John 12:5-6 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

Jesus gently rebuked Judas for his murmuring and selfishness. What was his response? The Bible says:

Matthew 26:14-16 … Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

Jesus knew the state of Judas’ heart. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, – Judas included – our Lord said:

John 13:10 … ye are clean, but not all. 11 For {Jesus} knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

Jesus told His disciples:

John 13:15-18 I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. 18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, {Jesus now quotes Psalm 41:9} He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me”.

Happiness is what our Savior and Lord wants for us. We will only have this when we emulate Jesus, not Judas.

Jesus “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of NO REPUTATION, and TOOK UPON HIMSELF the form of a SERVANT, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). Judas, on the other hand, chose to serve not God but money. In Luke 16:13 Jesus said Ye cannot serve God and mammon”. Jesus knew who Judas was. He knew from the beginning. He said:

John 6:70-71 … Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

In Grace, Jesus calls Judas. Will he repent? Will he turn to God? No, Judas had a god. He had himself.

Jesus goes to the Cross, He once more wants to show us what love is. He wants to show us His love for us.

Judas Iscariot Must Leave The Room

I have not forgotten our focal text, but had to go to the other Gospels to give you the background. Now we return to our focal text. Jesus and the disciples – all twelve – are celebrating the Passover meal. Then Jesus drops a bombshell on the little group. Jesus exposes evil at the table. We read:

Mark 14:18-21 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? 20 And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. 21 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.

When Jesus declared that one of those at the table with Him would betray Him, several disciples started to ask, “Is it I?” We at the Table should “examine ourselves, whether we are walking by faith or not” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Am I in Jesus, or am I in Judas? The Gospel of John gives us another view of the Table. When the eleven asked “Is it I, Lord?”, Jesus tells them:

John 13:26-30 He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

It was normally a great honor – like a modern “toast” – to be given the sop. It is not an honor today. It is a sign, a trigger.

Judas must leave the Table. Jesus is going to give us another example of love, a perpetual Feast that will replace the Feast of the Passover.

Beloved, Judas Must Leave The Table

In a moment we will celebrate “the Lord’s Table” (1 Corinthians 10:21), also called “Communion” (1 Corinthians 10:16), and “The Lord’s Supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20). Before we celebrate, Judas must leave the Table. I tell you, dear ones, a lost person who partakes of the Bread and the Cup will eat a cracker and drink an unsatisfying amount of grape juice. If you come to the Table lost, you will leave the Table lost. You who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior are welcomed to partake, but it will mean nothing to you. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is IN YOU, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). I am not your judge, nor am I called to be. But Judas must leave the Table. Judas will not understand nor enjoy the Table. Come to Jesus if you do not know Him as Lord and Savior. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus said,

John 10:10 … I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

If you but confess with your heart that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. You need to leave Judas and come to Jesus. Judas must leave the Table.

And CHRISTIAN. If you have examined yourselves, if you are in the faith, have you active sin in your life. Jesus said to us who believe:

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

Do you have sin in your life? JUDAS MUST LEAVE THE TABLE. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 11:28-32 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

Confess your sins unto God. Not to a Priest, for YOU are Priests, YOU are Kings and Priests unto God because of Christ (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). Jesus Christ is your HIGH PRIEST (Hebrews 2:17). Confess your sins unto God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Judas must leave the Table. He must. Now, will our servers come forward as we celebrate the Lord’s Table.

Mark 14:22-26 And as they {the eleven} did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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Abiding In Christ IS Christianity

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Tonight I want to talk about “abiding in Christ”. Turn with me in your Bibles to John 15.

The Bible makes it clear that the Christian is called to abide in Christ. When Jesus spoke of our abiding in Him, He used the illustration of the grape vine, something all Jews were familiar with. Jesus said:

John 15:4-8 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

The Normal Or Natural State Of The Christian
Is To ABIDE In Christ

Jesus uses the word “ABIDE” seven times in this short text. The Lord God RESTED on the 7th day, the first time 7 is used in Scripture. God RESTED because creation was complete. We find our completion in Christ!

When we come to Jesus in faith, surrendering our lives to Him, we begin to “ABIDE”. But “ABIDE” refers to more than just resting. The Greek Lexicon tells us the word translated “ABIDE” is the Greek μένω ménō, {pronounced men’-o}, which means:

  • To REMAIN
  • To REST on or in
  • To DWELL in or on
  • To WAIT for
  • To ENDURE or CONTINUE with

The branch, the Christian, is spiritually attached to the Vine, Who is Jesus. The branch does not attach itself, but grows out of attachment to the Vine. Before salvation, we were not branches from Jesus – we were detached from Jesus, and under condemnation of sin. The Scripture says:

John 3:18 … He that believeth on {Jesus} is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Before you received Christ as Lord and Savior, you were not attached to Jesus Christ. Once saved by faith, God the Father “qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). The Bible says:

Galatians 5:1 Christ has MADE US free
Ephesians 1:6 God has MADE US accepted in the Beloved (in Jesus)
Ephesians 2:6 God has raised us up, and MADE US sit with Him
Revelation 1:6 God has MADE US kings and priests unto the Father

The Christian is not self made, but God made. When we call on Jesus, we are “brought into union with Christ”. Transformed, we are branches, and are attached to the Vine. When Jesus commanded:

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you.

This “ABIDING” is mutual. The Christian ABIDES in Christ, and Jesus ABIDES in us. His life essence flows through us. When a person is saved by repenting of their idolatry, and by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-13), the Holy Spirit of God acts to cause us to be “born again” (John 3:3, 7). The Apostle said:

1 Peter 1:18-23 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.

You cannot make yourself “born again” no more than you made yourself physically born. You call upon the Lord Jesus, believing and receiving Him, and God causes your new birth. When you are born again, God brings you into union with Christ. The saved person is “in Christ”:

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The Christian is not as they were before. “In Christ”, we are new creatures. If you are IN CHRIST, attached to Jesus, you are guaranteed eternal life.

John 10:28-29 … I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

The believer is spiritually bound to Christ. He becomes part of us, and we become part of Him. It is the natural state of the branch to abide in the Vine. The Apostle John further clarifies “abiding” this way:

1 John 2:1-6 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 and he is the propitiation {the covering that satisfies God the Father} for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

If we are “abiding” in Christ, then we are keeping Christ’s commandments. If we are “abiding” in Christ, we are to walk as Jesus walked.

Those IN CHRIST Follow The Same Law Jesus Followed: The Royal Law

Jesus gave His Church – those believers gathered together in His name – a Royal Law that we are to follow. The Royal Law has three parts. We studied this last week when we started our study in James. The first two parts were given by Jesus when He was asked, “Master, what is the GREAT COMMANDMENT in the Law?” Jesus answered:

Matthew 22:37-40 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The first part of the Royal Law (Christ our King’s Law) is that we love God with our ALL. God is not a leftover, but we are fully dedicated to live for His smile. The second part of the Royal Law is that we love those near us as WE want to be loved. Jesus said that these two commandments are the PRIMARY PRINCIPLE of the whole of Scripture (called “the Law and the Prophets” by the Jews).

As Jesus prepared to go to the Cross, He gave His disciples a “new commandment”, the third part of the Royal Law:

John 13:34 A new Commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Jesus restated this in John 15:12, “This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you”. This is a sacrificial love, a love toward even our enemies. This is how Jesus loved. So the Royal Law is:

  1. Love God with your all
  2. Love others the way you want to be loved
  3. Love sacrificially the way Jesus loved

Abiding in Christ is the normal state
all true believers seek.

What We Learn From Judas Iscariot: Those who do not “abide” in Christ are, according to the Apostle John, NOT saved. Pretenders to the faith act as if they are attached to the Vine. But in time, trials and tests will come, and they will fall away. They are like Judas Iscariot. Judas was called by Jesus to be an Apostle. Judas followed Jesus. Judas was loved by Jesus. Judas fellow-shipped regularly with other believers. Judas outwardly kissed Jesus, but deceptively denied Jesus. Jesus was not in his heart. Though Peter and the other disciples also denied Jesus, those who were in Christ, attached to the Vine, returned to Jesus after He resurrected. Judas did not. Judas killed himself! The Bible says:

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

The saved person who has indeed been saved will return to walk with Christ, even when sorely tried.

God will COMPLETE His Work in the saved one. He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Acts 6, where we will see …

Iscariot Teaches Us False Faith,
Stephen Shows Us Abiding Faith

There are a lot of men and women that we can refer to when we talk about ABIDING in Christ. There are Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Deborah, David, Jeremiah, Daniel …. I can name many names. But one of the great ABIDERS was a man called Stephen. Turn in your Bibles to Acts chapter 6.

The early Church took care of “widows” by feeding these poor women daily. The early Church did not sit, soak, and sour – but it SERVED. The Apostles were busy sharing the Word of God and preaching as the Lord led, so they encouraged the Church to find and find from ….

Acts 6:3 … among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy {Spirit} and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Full of the Spirit, not full of OURSELVES. Iscariot was full of himself. Stephen was full of God!

To Jesus Christ was given the Holy Spirit without measure” (John 3:34), and if you are abiding in Christ the same Spirit is in you. Those who are filled with the Spirit will also have wisdom, the wisdom to learn from Scripture (James 1:5). Stephen was FULL!

Acts 6:5 … they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy {Spirit} …

There is no glamour in tending to widows. The mega Church Pastor loves the crowds, not the widow. But God is glorified when the least and the lesser are loved. Stephen abided in Christ. He loved the widows, and loved the Lord!

If you will serve God in the small things first, you will be blessed with the greater gifts later! Stephen …

Acts 6:8 … full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

When you are living for and in Christ, you will often go against the powers the be. Those who were enemies of the Cross “were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke” (Acts 6:10). Stephen stood up for Jesus, even when it went against the thought process of the world he was in. Jesus told us who love Him:

John 15:18-20 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;

A Christian who is spiritually lazy or passive, turning a blind eye and giving a mute testimony to the darkness, will never be persecuted by the world. It saddens me when “Christian artists” come into the spotlight during a worldly interview, and will not stand up for Christ. Beloved, there is a cost to paid in pleasing God. When Jesus came, the Bible says “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8). Those who are abiding in Christ, attached to Him as a branch is to a Vine, will “love the Lord, and yet hate evil” (Psalm 97:10a). We are to remember that “the Lord loves the souls of His saints; He delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10b). Jesus loved and forgave, but Jesus NEVER justified sin.

Biblical Illustrations: To the woman taken in adultery Jesus said in John 8:11 … “Neither do I condemn thee: GO and SIN NO MORE”.

To the man Jesus healed at the pool of Bethesda, our Lord told him in John 5:14 .. “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. ”

When asked about the Galileans who Pilate killed, if they died because of their great sins, Jesus said in Luke 13:3 … “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”.

Beloved, neither God the Father, God the Son, nor God the Holy Spirit has ever justified sin. Jesus Christ died to make payment for sin – but sinners must REPENT!

Stephen abided in Christ. This world was not his home – he lived his life for Jesus. Back to Stephen’s story. As he stood for Christ, the Bible says:

Acts 6:11-15 … they suborned {literally, bribed} men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. 12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 and set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. 15 And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Those poor, lost souls SUBORNED or bribed liars, willing to violate God’s 9th Commandment (Exodus 20:16). They STIRRED UP the people, for “hatred stirs up strife; but love covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12). The dark troops SEIZED Stephen, and SET UP false witnesses to SLANDER dear Stephen. The hiss of the serpent was in what they did that day. But as they looked at Stephen, they SAW as it was the face of an angel. Stephen is in union with Christ. God is with Stephen as He is with all His children.

Jeremiah 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

Stephen saw this moment in front of the Jewish court not as a trial, but as an opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ. Stephen, on trial for his life, did not even attempt to defend himself. In the power of God the Holy Spirit, Stephen preached perhaps one of the finest sermons ever recorded from the early Church. In Acts chapter 17 Stephen recounts the history of Israel. Stephen started with God calling Abraham from Mesopotamia (Acts 7:2), and spoke of Israel’s history as Joseph was sold into Egypt (Acts 7:9), and how God used the great famine and Joseph to bring Jacob and his twelve sons to Egypt. If you do not understand the history of Israel, the founding of that great nation, I highly recommend you read Stephen’s sermon. Oh, what a God honoring text it is! He told of Moses, his calling from the wilderness of mount Sinai, and how God used Moses to redeem Israel from Egypt. Stephen spoke of Israel’s wandering for 40 years, the Tabernacle of God in the wilderness, of the calling of King David, and Solomon building the Temple.

Oh, how I wish you would read all of Stephen’s sermon! It is a perfect Word from God. After Stephen reminded the court – occupied by Pharisees, Sadducees, and Chief Priests who should have known the history of their nation – of Israel’s blessings and failures, Stephen spoke harshly and clearly. Beloved, if a sermon has never REBUKED you, then you are either perfect (which you aren’t), or you have REFUSED to listen. Stephen preached:

Acts 7:51-53 Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy {Spirit}: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Stephen did not mince words. I inherited high blood pressure and diabetes from my father. Stephen told the court that THEY inherited stiff necks, uncircumcised hearts, a desire to resist God. Stephen called them prophet killers and betrayers. This court should know the Law of God, but instead has conspired against the truth, entertained false witnesses, and is guilty of destroying the nation of Israel. When the leadership of a people begins to compromise the truths of God, it is not long until the nation falls. This court was corrupt. “The Law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth”. Stephen stood up for Jesus. Stephen was abiding in Jesus.

When the court heard these things, it did as the darkness always does. “They were cut to the HEART, and they GNASHED on Stephen with their teeth” (Acts 7:54). Stephen was surrounded by wild dogs. They literally bit at him, like a rabid dog will bite. But Stephen was abiding in Christ.

Acts 7:55-56 … But {Stephen}, being full of the Holy {Spirit}, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Jesus told the High Priest at his own trial, “ye shall see the Son of Man SITTING on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven” (Matthew 26:64). The Bible pictures Jesus “SEATED” on the right hand of God, interceding for us (Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1). Jesus is “SEATED” at God’s right hand as both Judge and Intercessor. Jesus said:

John 5:22 … the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

When You See Jesus, Will He Be
SEATED Or STANDING?

The High Priest would one day see Jesus “SEATED” as a Judge is “SEATED”. The Judge never judges while he is standing. Even in our courts, when the Judge walks in, you hear “All rise”. This is to honor justice. Then when the Judge is seated, you hear “Be seated”. Judgment has begun. The Judge is ALWAYS SEATED when he sets the sentence.

For the Christian at present, Christ is SEATED at the right hand of God, making intercession for us. He is not our Judge insofar as salvation is concerned. But the unrepentant sinner will see Jesus SEATED one day, and that will not be a wonderful day.

As Stephen prepared to die, he saw JESUS STANDING at the right hand of God. Jesus STOOD as the only True Witness for Stephen on that dark day. Jesus STOOD because Stephen was abiding in Him. Jesus “is the Faithful Witness” (Revelation 1:5), and “the faithful and true Witness” (Revelation 3:14). He stood up for Stephen. As this dark court:

Acts 7:57-58 cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 and cast him out of the city, and stoned him …

Stephen died … but his legacy lived on. Someone other than Jesus was standing while Stephen was being killed. Saul, who would become the Apostle Paul, stood watching Stephen die. And as Stephen died, branch that he was, connected to the Vine, prayed simply:

Acts 7:59-60 Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

What a blessing to abide in Christ! Oh Beloved, look up. Do not be a Laodicean Christian, passive in your faith. Abide in Christ! Jesus expects this of you. Abide! Abide! Abide every day, until the day you head homeward toward yonder Heaven. Abide, and see Jesus standing, ready to receive you into His glory! May God the Holy Spirit write His Word upon your hearts this very day. Amen and Amen!

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There Came A Lion And A Bear

Photo by Adam King on Unsplash

1 Samuel 17:32-37 And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. 33 And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. 34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 35 and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. 37 David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee.

Life Is A Gift From God

Life is a gift from God. The Lord does not want us to waste the life He has given us, but to live it fully WITH Him. This Sunday night I’ll be talking about abiding in Christ, and how the is the normal state the Christian is supposed to be in. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 90:12 {Lord}, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Illustrate A believer died, and entered Heaven’s Gate, there meeting Jesus. Jesus said to him, “I gave you Grace, and called you into my family. Your sins are forgiven you. Your life was a stewardship, and as I told you through Paul, “every one of {you} shall give account of {themselves} to God” (Romans 14:12). What noble things have you done in My Name while on this earth?” The man replied, “I heard a woman in distress, and found a biker gang attacking her. I jumped in, and allowed her to get away.” Jesus said, “When did you do this?”. The man replied, “About a minute ago”.

I commend that fictional man for intervening – but I hope he, and every believer listening to me, do more than just ONE THING for Jesus. You were saved by the Grace of God in Christ to be light in the midst of a dark world. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

You, along with other believers in Christ, are to be the “light of the world”. You are not darkness. You walk before God the Son. Jesus said:

John 8:12 … I am the Light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

If you’re walking BEFORE THE LORD, and the LORD IS LIGHT, then you are light. Light is only light when it shines. When light does not shine, it is no longer light, but darkness. We are to live before God the Son daily. DAILY. Are we living for Jesus daily? Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Life lived in the presence of God is amazing, and every day an adventure.

So many Christians live as if they are not Christians at all. Dear ones, to do so is to rob yourselves of joy. We are to live our lives in the Presence of God. God told Abraham:

Genesis 17:1 … I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect

God said, “Abraham, you walk before Me – not ahead of Me, but BEFORE Me, in My Presence – and you will be {and here God uses the Hebrew תָּמִים tâmîym, (pronounced taw-meem’) COMPLETE or WHOLE”. The late C.H. Spurgeon wrote in his devotional Morning and Evening:

No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one saint, He has said to all. When He opens a well for one, it is that all may drink … Whether He gave the word to Abraham or Moses, matters not, O believer, He has given it to thee as one of the covenanted seed …”

We are to walk BEFORE God – in His Presence, under His gaze. We are to build this habit into our lives. God has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you are saved. You are in the family of God. You are no longer a part of the darkness, but you belong to the Kingdom of light.

Ephesians 5:8 … but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

Walk With God, Even If You Walk Alone

Very few people live what my daddy called “The Life Of Riley”, or my mama called “in high cotton”. There have been times when you, like I, have been devalued, treated as “less than”, or abused.

David was often devalued and demeaned. A young David tells King Saul

1 Samuel 17:34 … Thy servant kept his father’s sheep…

David was devalued and treated as “less than” his whole life. David was the youngest son of a man named Jesse. As the youngest son, David was given the job of tending the sheep. Now, tending the sheep is a lot like cutting the grass with a push mower. When I was a kid, I took turns with my other siblings cutting the grass. I always admired other kids whose parents had riding mowers. To mow the grass with a riding mover would not be bad, but a treat, as I wanted to drive a car. But no, I had to push a mower about.

David was the lawn mower.
He was the least of Jesse’s sons.

He was devalued and treated as “less than”. Unlike King Saul, who was movie star handsome and at least a head taller than anyone else, David was young, short, and a cast off.

But David walked before God. He loved the Lord.

King Saul had disobeyed God more than once, and God decided it was time to replace him with a better person. He told Samuel:

1 Samuel 15:11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments.

Saul is not walking BEFORE the Lord. He is walking WITHOUT the Lord. So God sent Samuel to Bethlehem “to sacrifice a heifer to the Lord” (1 Samuel 16). God told Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:3 … call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.

When Jesse was called to the sacrifice, Jesse brought his sons (1 Samuel 16:5). Now, he did not bring ALL his sons. Jesse brought the sons he thought a lot of. Jesse had some wonderful, handsome sons. He had some strong sons. One by one Jesse trotted his seven “good” sons before Samuel. As each son passed, Samuel thought, “surely this is the one!” God told Samuel,

1 Samuel 16:7 … Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

The seven sons were not necessarily evil – but their hearts did not belong to God. Beloved, if you will be blessed of God, you must walk before the Lord. The Lord must have preeminence in your life. One by one God rejected these seven, strong, handsome men. Then there were none. So Samuel asks Jesse:

1 Samuel 16:11 … Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.

Word Study There was one son that Jesse described as “the youngest”. This is the Hebrewקָטָן qâṭân, {pronounced kaw-tawn’}, which means “the lesser, the least, the insignificant, the unimportant”. David was the forgotten child. He was the youngest, and had not proved himself to his earthly father. But David had proved himself to his Heavenly Father. Samuel says Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.

Jesse sends for David. Now David was a handsome young boy – and his heart was with God. The Lord said, “Arise, anoint him: for this is he”. David was “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). David knew the primary spiritual law that all believers are to follow. Jesus said:

Matthew 22:37 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

David loved God with his ALL. God saw his heart. Though David was the least important of all his sons, David was most important to God. “Arise, anoint David: this is the next King of Israel” (1 Samuel 16:12). David was anointed, and “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13).

William Cowper wrote the hymn, “God Moves In A Mysterious Way”. The lines I love best are:

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.

Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

David, undervalued David, was anointed to be the next King. He no longer belonged in a field watching sheep. So God put him … in the palace, playing the harp for the outgoing King!

King Saul from the day that David was anointed was plagued with an “evil spirit from the Lord” (1 Samuel 16:14). King Saul’s doctors thought that music would calm Saul’s suffering. So the doctors said:

1 Samuel 16:16-18 … Let our {King} now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. 17 And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. 18 Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Beth-lehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.

Now David had never been tested in battle. Perhaps these words are exaggerations, or perhaps they are prophetic – but in reality David was not known as “a mighty valiant man” not “a man of war”. David had been keeping the sheep of his father. David played a harp, and David loved the Lord. So Saul sent for David, and David came to play the harp for King Saul.

  • When David was devalued and made to stay with the sheep, he could have done a sloppy or half hearted job. David live his life before the Lord. If you are in a bad place, or are devalued, know that God values you. Bide your time. Wait upon the Lord. Remember the Scripture admonition:

Colossians 3:23-24 … whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

David could have chafed at being a lowly servant to an outgoing King. David did not. God put him in the palace, playing harp for the king. David honored God where he was.

Beloved, the grass is NEVER greener somewhere else. Honor God where God has placed you. Serve Him with all your might. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time! (1 Peter 5:6)

Walk With God In The Valleys Of Life

1 Samuel 17:34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:

David was not only the least among his brothers, doing a job that no one really wanted to do, but trials and tests came his way. David says: there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock. Think about this for a moment. David is watching his father’s sheep, while his brothers are off doing whatever the favorites do. And sudden there came a lion AND a bear. Both of these creatures are carnivores, top level carnivores, and David is in a miserable job. He is by himself with nothing but a sling and a few stones. The lion AND a bear. Took a lamb out of the flock. Do you get that? A lamb. This may have been a newborn lamb. It wasn’t a full grown sheep, valuable for it’s wool. It, like David, was the least of the flock. David could have turned a blind eye to it. David could have reasoned it out, like many of us would do:

It’s just a lamb – who will miss it?”
“There’s
both a lion and a bear – and I am by myself.”
“Who will know? I hate this job anyway.”
“Just let them have it.”

Let’s think about the lion and the bear for a moment. I believe David fought real creatures here, but I think something else. I believe the Lord sent the lion and the bear to test and strengthen David’s faith. David loved the Lord. But God had future plans for David’s life. God has future plans for YOUR life. So God sent the lion and the bear.

God sends trials to His children, not to break us, but to GROW us into what He will one day use us for.

The stepbrother of Jesus writes in James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing”. Trials grows the believer’s faith. The Bible tells us over and over:

Romans 8:28 … all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

If you are a Christian, saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are called for a purpose. And everything – ALL THINGS – work together for good if you love God. All things are not good, but all things work together for good. The Bible says:

Ephesians 2:10 We are {God’s} workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them

We are told in Isaiah 64:8, “O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou {O Lord} our Potter; and we are the work of thy hand”. Trials come to shape us, to make us into what God will one day use us for. Consider this: if David had run from the bear and the lion, would God ever called him to be King of Israel? I don’t think so.

David was confronted with a bear and a lion which took an insignificant part of the flock. It was David’s duty to guard the flock as a son, not of Jesse, but of God.

1 Samuel 17:34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 35 and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear

David did not run from his trial. He ran WITH GOD toward the trial. David slew both the lion and the bear. Now, is David bragging on himself? No! He tells Saul:

1 Samuel 17:37 David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.

David was devalued by his father. He was devalued by his brothers. He was even devalued by King Saul, who previously said “Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” (1 Samuel 17:33).

I was reading my devotions for Tuesday, February 23rd, and read from “Streams In The Desert” (by L.B. Cowman). I read this wonderful quote:

Through faith in God {David} conquered a lion and a bear, and afterwards overthrew the mighty Goliath. When that lion came to despoil that flock, it came as a wondrous opportunity to David. If he had failed or faltered he would have missed God’s opportunity for him, and probably would never have come to be God’s chosen king of Israel.

Walk with God daily, especially in the trials that will come. Trust Him and Him alone. He will see you through.

Do Not Let Others Rob You Of Your Faith

As we read this account in the life of David, it is easy to see the lion is emphasized over the bear. David said,

1 Samuel 17:35 I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear

Now only a LION has a beard. A bear doesn’t have a beard. But David killed BOTH lion and bear. Why did David emphasize the lion? I believe it is because the Scripture tells us:

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

God sends trials, but there are other times when God sends US to the trial, and the trial is the devil, a roaring lion. The Bible tells us that:

Matthew 4:1 … Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Trials sometimes come to us. Sometimes, as we follow God, trials come our way. Yet we are to keep our eyes on Jesus. Beloved, the devil will often “try and help you out”. He will whisper a “common sense” solution to you which, if you take it, you will regret it. Right after Saul told David, “Go ahead and fight Goliath”, we read:

1 Samuel 17:38-39 … Saul armed David with his armor, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 39 And David girded his sword upon his armor, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it.

Now Saul is a head taller than anyone else in Israel – and is certainly a lot taller than David. David politely tried on the armor Saul gave him. But David said, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.” (1 Samuel 17:39). David had proved the Lord, but he had not proved this equipment. I believe the devil, that old roaring lion, whispered in Saul’s ear,

Don’t you think it would be a good idea (and look good for your PR) if David wore your fine armor into battle?”

That battle armor looked fantastic! It was the best in the land. It was high tech for that day. But the armor David wore when he killed the lion and the bear was the armor of God, not of Saul. While David did a rough job in a tough place, the armor he put on daily was the armor of God. You know that armor?

Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The armor of God is the truth, God’s truth, the breastplate of His righteousness. Your feet are shod with the glorious Gospel that saves even the lowest person. There is the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Ephesians 6:14-16). As you go to battle, all eyes are “looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of out faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

David put to the side what he had not proved. The Bible says he instead went out to battle simply:

1 Samuel 17:40 And {David} took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, {“even in a scrip” is the Hebrew יַלְקוּט yalqûwṭ, {pronounced yal-koot’} a traveling pouch}; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

David took what he killed the lion and the bear with, and went out to meet Goliath. He had his shepherd’s staff, five smooth stones, a traveling pouch, and a leather sling. Oh, and he went with God. The battle was won before he even spoke a word. The Bible tells us:

Jeremiah 17:7-8 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

David ran toward Goliath and killed Goliath – but the battle was the Lord’s. What Goliath are you facing today? Take the Lord with you into battle. Trust Him. Serve Him with all your heart. He will defeat the roaring lion. He will defeat the bear. Let Him have all of your life, in Jesus name I pray. Amen and amen!

Posted in 1 Samuel, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Royal Law

Photo by Henrique Malaguti on Unsplash

James 2:1-13 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 8 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: 9 but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

To Understand And Apply The Bible,
You Must Consider Your CONTEXT

Today we are looking at the writings of James, the stepbrother of our Lord Jesus. People often get confused when they compare Jame’s writing to Paul’s writings. You need to understand that, though both Paul and James are Holy Spirit inspired writings, each Bible writer addressed different situations that was hindering the Church.

Strong Emphasis Here! The Apostle Paul wrote to Gentile Churches being attacked by Pharisees in his absence. The Pharisees were telling the Gentiles that we needed to be circumcised, to follow the Jewish Feasts, and the Jewish dietary restrictions. We are NOT under the Mosaic Codes that were shadows of the Coming Christ. We are NOT under the RITUALS of the Mosaic Law. Our Priests do not come from the Line of Aaron, but from the Order of Melchizedek (Melchisedec in KJV NT). Our High Priest is not from the Tribe of Levi, but from the Tribe of Judah. Our High Priest is Jesus Christ (Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:15-17, 21). We who are Christians are NOT under the Levitical Priesthood. We are under the Order of Melchizedek, and are ourselves are made kings and priests unto God (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). This is why the Apostle Paul declared:

Romans 6:14-15 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

and, Galatians 3:23-26 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s point was that the Christian is no longer under the Mosaic Law insofar as the rituals, feasts, sacrifices, and priesthood are concerned. But the Christian is still under the moral codes of God’s Law.

Jesus often referred to the Ten Commandments when speaking. For instance, when Satan tried to get Jesus to worship him, Jesus quoted the Old Testament Moral Commandments:

Matthew 4:10 Get thee hence, Satan: for IT IS WRITTEN, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

A quotation from both Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:7. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth, he quoted numerous parts of the moral code in the Law.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

The Apostle declared that those who violate the 7th commandment of “thou shalt not commit adultery/ sexual sin” {Exodus 20:14}Paul specifically addresses those involved in single heterosexual sin (fornicators), married heterosexual sin (adulterers),transsexuals (effeminate),and homosexuality (abusers of themselves with mankind). The Apostle also addresses violators of these commandments:

2nd Commandment (Exodus 20:4-5) (idolatry)
8th Commandment (Exodus 20:15) (thieves)
10th Commandment (Exodus 20:17) (covetousness or greed)

It is clear that the Apostle meant we are still under a moral Law of God. Though drunkenness and wild revelry, as well as extortion are not covered in the Ten Commandments, they are found within the framework of the Law of God. Believers in Christ are freed from all ritualistic or dietary portions of the Law. We do not sacrifice animals for sins. We do not have to be circumcised to be entered into God’s family. Jesus Christ, dying on the Cross, fulfilled all of the ceremonial and ritualistic parts of the Law. We are Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). However, as Children of God we do righteousness. The Apostle John stated:

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever DOETH NOT RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT OF GOD, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Christians “do righteousness”. When the Apostle Paul spoke to the Church telling us “you are not under the Law”, what he was saying (as God led him) that we do not have to be circumcised. We are free to eat all meats. We do not have to keep the ceremonial feasts. We do not participate in animal sacrifices. But the moral codes, we still uphold them.

James’ Context Is Different: He Deals With Prejudice

James pastored the the Church at Jerusalem as it transitioned from a wholly Jewish population and began to receive Gentiles like us. James conveyed God’s message to “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (1:1). Paul’s Churches were dealing with Pharisees trying to push Old Covenant Law on New Covenant Believers. James was dealing with Jewish believers who were trying to be sectarian, prejudice, and in turn were not living up to God’s standard for love.

When Jesus Christ came, He changed not only how the Christian treats the Law, but also how believers should should treat others around them.

James addresses prejudice and preferential treatment of others. James tells his Jewish audience (and us):

James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

The Jews had, over time, developed prejudices, just as we all have prejudices. This is a part of the sin nature we inherited from Adam. The Jews often discriminated against non-Jewish peoples. James reminds them – and us – that “the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ” does not allow for “respect of persons”. The Apostle Paul said:

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Word Study James speaks of “respect of persons”. This is the Greek προσωποληψία prosōpolēpsía, pronounced pros-o-pol-ape-see’-ah), which means “favoritism or partiality”. It is to look at someone and judge them based on their skin color, clothing, or outward appearances. People give what the King James calls “respect of persons” by making judgments about people and their station in life without getting to know that person. This is a horrendous sin in the eyes of God. The Bible says that:

Acts 17:26 {God} hath made of ONE BLOOD ALL NATIONS OF {people} for to dwell on the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation ..

God our Father does not judge people based on their outward appearance, nor on the basis of their melanin. We all bleed red. Every person has value. Every person is made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27).

The believer in Christ is not to show bias based on COLOR, CULTURE, or CASTE. A Jew died for our sins.

Prejudice has NEVER been acceptable with God, in neither Old nor New Testaments. God despises prejudice! God told His nation Israel (and us):

Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but IN RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALT THOU JUDGE THY NEIGHBOR.

Deuteronomy 1:17 Ye shall NOT RESPECT PERSONS IN JUDGMENT; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.

Deuteronomy 16:19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a {שַׁחַד shachad, [pronounced shakh’-ad] = bribe}: for a {bribe} doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.

The Lord tells us “to have respect of persons is not good” (Proverbs 24:23; 28:21). People are called to Christ to love as Christ loves. What James saw among believers was CASTE bias – and he called it out.

James 2:2-4 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 and ye have RESPECT to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

Illustrate The word RESPECT this time is not what was in verse 1, but the Greek ἐπιβλέπω epiblépō, (pronounced ep-ee-blep’-o), which means “to stare at and have admiration for, to look up to”. This is actually a form of idolatry, and is wide spread throughout America today. In my lifetime I have seen Christian Celebrities raised up to be almost idols – only to come crashing down. From Jim & Tammy Faye (Messner) Baker to Jimmy Swaggert, and most recently the late Ravi Zacharias, we endanger ourselves and put too much faith in broken humans when we elevate the messenger above the message. The fallen Mega Church Pastor today is no worse that, truly, each and every one of us are. As the old saying goes, “There but for the Grace of God go I”.

Illustrate No person should ever be regarded by themselves or others as better thanbecause of their COLOR, CASTE, or CULTURE. I remember an episode of M*A*S*H (a very old TV show. The episode was called Strange Bedfellows) where Major Charles Winchester was snoring. He refused to admit that he snored, though the whole camp could hear him snoring at night. Finally Winchester goes to the camp Chaplain, and tells him he is concerned about snoring “because then I’ll be as common as the rest of the camp” (my paraphrase). Charles, you ARE just as common as the rest of us! COLOR, CASTE, or CULTURE does not make someone better than someone else. The Bible paints us all with the same brush. We are all born into this world fallen creatures. Listen to God’s Word:

Romans 3:23 for ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God …

We all fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved BOTH JEWS AND GENTILES, that they are ALL under SIN.

and, Romans 11:32 God hath concluded them ALL in UNBELIEF, that He might have mercy upon all.

As the Bible says in Galatians 3:22, “the Scripture hath concluded ALL under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. None of us are better than the other. We all need the salvation that God offers in Jesus.

Sometimes the least among us are the blessed. James says:

James 2:5-7 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

What did our Lord Jesus say about the poor? Do you remember when He spoke of His ministry:

Matthew 11:5 the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

In this world there will always be poor people (Matthew 26:11), but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Affluence often blinds people to the glorious Gospel of salvation. Do you remember Jesus telling the rich man:

Matthew 19:21 … go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

That man walked away from Jesus that day, for he had great wealth, and loved it more than God. “What is a person profited, if they gain the whole world, but lose their own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Riches often diverts a person away from the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, and leads the wealthy to a sham faith that will not save. Remember this:

God never knew the name of the rich man, but He loved the impoverished Lazarus. The poor, the Lazarus’ of this world, are often quicker to find and be found of Christ than the rich are.

The Christian Is Called To Fulfill The Royal Law

James 2:8 If ye fulfill THE ROYAL LAW according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:

The Christian is under what James calls “The Royal Law”. Why is it “The Royal Law”? Because it is the Law as defined by Jesus Christ.

Word Study A “Lawyer” came to Jesus one day and asked, “Master, which is the Great Commandment in the Law?” The word “GREAT” is the Greek μέγας mégas, {pronounced meg’-as}, which means “the most important, the key, the overwhelming principle”. This “Lawyer” studied, not human laws, but the Law of God. He was testing Jesus to see if Jesus, known as a Great Teacher, understood the primary principle or the driving force behind the Law. Jesus did not hesitate. He said:

Matthew 22:37-38 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the FIRST and GREAT commandment …

Word Study Jesus said that this commandment is not only the MEGAS commandment, it is also the πρῶτος PRŌTOS or “first in time or place, first in rank”. The commandments of God are built on this one principle – we are to love God with our ALL. Not of HALF, but our ALL. When you look at the Ten Commandments, the FIRST FOUR deal with love for God. If you do not love God primarily, then you will not love others – the other 6 commandments. Then Jesus continued:

Matthew 22:39 And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

The GREAT commandment is the basis of the Law. The SECOND GREAT commandment follows the first. These two principles are called “The Royal Law” because they are given to us by God our King in both Old and New Testaments. Jesus said:

Matthew 22:40 On these TWO COMMANDMENTS hang all the Law and the Prophets

The entirety of God’s Law hangs on these two nails. They hold up the Law.

James 2:9 but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are CONVINCED of the law as transgressors.

If you are prejudiced toward people, then the Royal Law rebukes {ἐλέγχω elénchō, pronounced el-eng’-kho} you. It admonishes you. You are supposed to treat others the way you want to be treated. You would not want to be pulled over and stopped just because you are black. You would not want to be shunned because you are brown. You would want others to treat you with respect, even if your clothing shows evidence of poverty. You would want to be treated like Jesus treated you. Now this next set of Scripture are often taken out of context, and misapplied. We read:

James 2:10-11 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

James is NOT telling us that we do not need to keep the Law. He is telling us we NEED, as believers, to follow the Royal Law. It is Jesus Christ Who gave us these Laws. We honor Him when we follow them. We dishonor Him when we treat others with prejudice, regardless as to it’s flavor.

If you do not commit adultery (which would be a violation of the second great Law), but you murder someone (a violation of the second great Law), then you have broken God’s Law. And yes, we are under these two great Laws. We as believers are to love God our Savior, Father, and Lord, with our ALL. We as believers are also to cherish our neighbor, and treat our neighbor as we would be treated.

“But”, you might ask, “what about those who have done wrong to me”? Jesus gave us a third Royal Law. Jesus said:

John 13:34-5 A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.

The believer in Christ is under three Royal Commandments. We are to love God with all that we have. We are to love and so treat others as we want to be loved and treated. But the New Commandment, this is a doozy! We are to love one another as Jesus loved us. This is a sacrificial type of love.

Let’s suppose someone has hurt you. Are you free to hurt them back? Well, what did Jesus do?

1 Peter 2:22-23 {Jesus} did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously …

This is what Jesus told us to do. We are to have a sacrificial love toward others. When we are treated badly – and it happens to me weekly – we are to obey the Third Great Commandment:

Matthew 5:44-48 I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

We who are Christians are not under the Yoke of the Law as the Old Covenant believers were. We do not have to sacrifice animals. We do not have a priesthood we kowtow to. We do not have to keep the Feasts, the moons, and the special days that the Israeli had to do. We do not have travel to Jerusalem once a year, nor to Mecca. We are under a Royal Law – a Law of Liberty. We are freed from sin so that we can serve the Lord. We are priests together, and Christ our High Priest – blessed be the name of the Lord. We will be judged one day on how we fulfilled these three great laws.

James 2:12-13 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Love God with your all. Treat others the way you want to be treated. And love even those who mistreat you. Do good to them who hurt you. Pray for those who treat you badly. Jesus prayed from the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Let love accompany us as we move toward Heaven. May God the Holy Spirit and His Holy Word touch our hearts and minds, honor Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen and Amen!

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We Walk By Faith

Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 5:7. As you turn there I want to make a universal application.

As humans, we all can be terribly obtuse.

Did everyone understand what I just said? Probably not, because I used a word you may not have all recognized – “obtuse”. When I say “as humans, we can be obtuse”, you may not understand what I’m saying. But if I speak the plain language, I would say “as humans, can be DENSE” or “DOPEY” or “DUMB” or even “SLOW ON THE UPTAKE”, you now understand my words. Words should be used simply, so that all can understand them. Someone once said, “If you can explain it to a six year old, you can explain it to everybody”.

The Apostle Paul, though highly educated (for he studied under the Rabbi Gamaliel – see Acts 22:3), used language simply so as to be understood. The Apostle tells us in our focal text today …

(for we WALK by faith, not by sight:)

These are very clear and simple words. Some other versions of the Bible that are out there manipulate the text, translating this as “For we LIVE by faith, not by sight”. That’s not a good translation. The word “WALK” is the Greek περιπατέω peripatéō, {pronounced per-ee-pat-eh’-o}, meaning “to walk, to move about”. The word peripatéō is found in verses like:

Matthew 4:18 … Jesus, WALKING by the sea of Galilee …
Matthew 9:5 … {Jesus said} Arise, and WALK.
Matthew 11:5 The blind receive their sight, the lame WALK …
Matthew 14:25 … Jesus went to them, WALKING on the sea.
Matthew 14:29 … {Peter} WALKED on the water …

Why did the Apostle use the word WALK to describe the Christian way of life? It is because GOD uses the word WALK to describe how believers are to live.

Walking Itself Is An Act Of Faith

How many of you “walked” today? I suspect most of you walked, and were not carried or wheeled into the congregation. Have you ever thought about walking?

Most humans are born with the ability to see, to breathe, to vocalize, to feel pain. We are born with emotions. We are NOT born walking, talking, or reading. We have the POTENTIAL to do so, but these things must be learned. From our earliest stage of development we have had parents or guardians who taught us how to walk and talk. Walking is an act of faith. The baby holds onto the elder’s hands, and trembling, falteringly, makes one step, then another. The baby can’t stand, doesn’t have the strength nor the balance to stand. But as it grows, it begins to partially walk by holding onto furniture or an elder’s hand. In time the child is released, and it makes a few faltering steps in faith. The child may not know it’s called FAITH, but it is FAITH. It takes faith to walk.

Walking is scientifically complex. If you ask a doctor or a medical scientist to explain the act of walking, they would explain how all the muscles in the feet and legs are precisely adjusted and corrected in order to keep us upright. It doesn’t make sense that such a small base as a human foot can hold up such a large, vertical frame as the human body is. The inner ear, the nerve endings, the bones, the impulses that come from our minds, the whole of the human body is elegantly designed by our Creator God. Most of us are able to learn to walk, but it starts with faith, and with practice.

Walking is something we learn to do – and something we do every single day that we are not stopped by infirmity.

Walking is a normal part of the human experience. It is something we should do. Walking moves us from one place to another. It was by walking you got to Church today. It is something you do not want to be without.

God designed us all with the potential to walk. Not just to walk, but to walk with Him. God created Adam and Eve, and ordered Adam against eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16-17). When Adam sinned and ate of that which was forbidden, what happened?

Romans 5:12 … by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned

Adam’s sin not only caused sin to enter his life, but it caused “death”. Adam killed himself – and us – in two ways. Adam first died to the Presence of God. When the Lord God came into the Garden of Eden, how did He come?

God came WALKING!

Genesis 3:8 {Adam and Eve} heard the voice of the Lord God WALKING in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Our God made Adam and Eve to WALK with them every day. The Creator came WALKING in the Garden. He came to talk to those whom He made in love. But where were they? They hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God. This is abnormal, wrong. God made humanity to walk with Him. Adam allowed another love to supplant his love of God. We are to love God with all our hearts, to WALK with Him daily. This is how we were designed, how things were meant to be.

God was not meant to be an afterthought or a leftover, nor even an accessory we tack onto our lives to give us “Our Best Lives Now”. The best life is the one in step with the Creator. The best life is the One that daily walks with Him, regardless as to our situations. God called out to Adam,

Genesis 3:9 … Where art thou?

Adam did not admit his sin. He blamed his sin on the woman Eve. Then he blamed his sin on God. “The WOMAN whom THOU gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12). Don’t we use the same excuses today? “God made me this way – so I’m not to blame!” As Greg Morse wrote in his article Forsake Your Favorite Excuse,

“What {Adam and Eve} had never seen practiced became natural. The first man and woman, our parents, discovered in the forbidden fruit the idea to cover up their evil. And this knowledge was passed down to their children … Humanity’s mind became well stocked with fig leaves to cover our sin’s nakedness. All of us have become tailors and seamstresses, dressing up our failures in fine clothing.”

We were made to walk by faith with God daily. No matter where we go, or what we do, God is to be in it. This is how we were designed.

2 Corinthians 5:7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight:)

We were designed to walk by faith in God, trusting that what He said was true. When we are told in …

Genesis 3:6 … when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The first sin has been reproduced many times. God says one thing, but we think another. We look and experiment, and inevitably fall into a horrible situation. We are to daily walk by faith in God – not by what we think or see!The human mind is corrupted by the fall of Adam, immersed in sin. We as humans seeks to be our own gods and goddesses, to set our laws of right and wrong. That is not what a Christian is to be.

Before you can walk, you must be born.

Before a baby walks, it must be born. Beloved, in order to walk with God, you must be born again. You must be changed from a child of Adam to a child of God. God must come into your heart. You must stop holding onto the fruit of the forbidden, and release it. You must grab the hands of the Master, Jesus Christ our Lord. Our Lord Jesus came preaching,

Matthew 4:17 … Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

There is a life beyond the life that walks by faith in the gods and goddesses of this world. We are to repent of the idols, and turn to Jesus. God calls all to come to Him by faith. “The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus Christ came to this earth to save sinners, broken people like you and I. I along with the Apostle say with joy:

1 Timothy 1:15 …. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief

I speak not to just the faithful tonight, but to the seeker as well. If you are a sinner, Jesus Christ came to save you. He will save you, just as He saved – and keeps on – saving me. You must be born before you can walk. You cannot make yourself be born. Birth is a thing that comes from God. But when you hear His Word – Oh how I pray that God would open your eyes as He did with Elisha’s servant – when you hear His Word, and run into His arms, God will take care of the rest. The Law trumpets:

Isaiah 1:28 … the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.

Destruction does not need to be yours. Oh, how He loves you and me! When Jesus walked this earth, “many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him” (Matthew 9:10). The religious Pharisees asked Jesus, just as the self righteous do today. They ask, “Why, Jesus, do you eat with these sinners, these broken people?” And Jesus, with love in His voice and joy in His eyes says, “I am not come to call the righteous, the well, those who think they have it all together. I have come to call sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:13). Do you labor? Is life hard for you? Do the things, the terrors of life, bear you down? Come to Me. I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). Beloved, you must be born before you can walk. You must repent of your idols. Lay down that god who looks at you from the mirror. Put away that self and selfishness. Cry out to Jesus, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

Acts 16:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

When you turn from yourself, from the nature of Adam so natural in all of us, and turn to Jesus, He promises to save.

Repent.
Receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Rest in Him.
God will cause you to be born again (John 3:3,7; 1 Peter 1:23)
Then you can begin to walk with God.

The Normal Christian Walks With God

Just as Adam walked daily with God, the Normal Christian is to walk daily with God. Walking with God is not a chore, but a pleasure. Walking with God is what the believer is designed to do. One of the first believers to walk with God was a man by the name of Enoch. The Bible tells us that:

Genesis 5:24 … Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him.

Enoch walked with God daily. Let me ask you. How many of you walked today? Walking is a normal part of your day, isn’t it. Well, walking with God is to be a normal part of your day. Enoch walked with God for 365 years until one day God told Enoch, “Come on. Let’s just walk into Heaven”. And Enoch did. The Bible tells us that:

Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that HE PLEASED GOD.

The reason we are given the twin gifts of physical life and eternal life is so that we can walk with God every day.

Enoch walked with God, having none of the blessings that we have today. Thank God for the walkers! Thank God for those who walk with God every day. These people may be unknown in their age, but God uses them to save the world.

  • If NOAH had not “WALKED with God” (Genesis 6:9), the flood would have destroyed us all.
  • If ABRAHAM had not walked with God, there would have been no Israel, no Messiah, no salvation for any of us. God told Abraham, just as He tells us, dear Christian,

Genesis 17:1 … I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect {תָּמִים tâmîym, [pronounced taw-meem’ means COMPLETE or WHOLE]}

Walking with God completes us. It repairs our brokenness daily. Walking with God, we are available to the Potter’s hand:

Isaiah 64:8 … we are the clay, and Thou art our Potter (O Lord), and we are all the work of Thy hand

When you walk with God, He completes our brokenness. He repairs us. He makes us into what we should have been but for sin. When you give your life to God, walking with Him daily we become:

Ephesians 2:10 … His WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before {ordered} that we should walk in them.

Those who have met & received Jesus
are no longer spiritual cripples.

When you meet Jesus “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up” (Matthew 11:5). Without Jesus, you are “blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14). Without Jesus, you cannot walk with God. But with Jesus, you are given the ability to walk with God everyday. The Master bids us, “Rise, take up thy bed, and WALK” (John 5:8). Jesus tells us, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worst thing come upon thee” (John 5:14). Walk with God. Christians, we MUST walk with God daily.

I have known professing Christians who refuse the ordinance of water baptism. If you are saved, if you “walk by faith, and not by sight”, then you should honor Jesus and do as His Word commands. We are not rebellious like Adam. We are Children of God, Christ Children. We walk honoring Jesus.

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so WE ALSO SHOULD WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE.

We no longer walk after the ways of the world. We, like Abraham, walk before God and are complete. We do not follow the ways of the world. We do not cherish the ways of flesh as the children of Adam do. We are God’s Children, born to walk with Him daily.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who WALK not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

The “righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us, who WALK NOT after the FLESH, but AFTER THE SPIRIT” (Romans 8:4). Christ is our completion, our Savior, our Lord. We walk with and in Him daily. The Apostle tells the Christian:

Romans 13:13 Let us WALK honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

God walks with us – every day. We are to consciously walk with Him. Has He not said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5)? He is always by our side. Let us walk before Him, knowing He is there always. Let us please God, as Enoch, Noah, and Abraham did. If you are a Christian, then:

2 Corinthians 6:16 … ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I WILL DWELL IN THEM, AND WALK IN THEM; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

WALK in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). If we live in the Spirit, LET US WALK IN THE SPIRIT (Galatians 5:25).

The Christian Walk Is Far Different
From Adam’s Walk

2 Corinthians 5:7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight:)

There was a time when every person “WALKED according to the ways of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the devil” (Ephesians 2:2). Christians, we are not that way anymore. We WALK worthy of the vocation we have been called to (Ephesians 4:1). We do not WALK as other Gentiles WALK, in the emptiness of their minds (Ephesians 4:17). We walk before God. Christians, we are strangers and foreigners in this world.

We are Children of Love.
We are to love our God Who saved us.
We are to love others as Jesus loved us.

Ephesians 5:2 WALK IN LOVE, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.

We are Children of love, Children of God. We are to WALK in love. To WALK in the Light of God. We are to …

Colossians 1:10-11 … WALK WORTHY of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God 11 strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

If you are walking with God daily – DAILY – then your life will not fall apart when your life falls apart!

I have often talked with dear Christians who have lapsed in their faith. Sickness has caused them to lose their former strength. Perhaps they are unable to physically walk now. I had one lady ask me if God hated her. I had another gentleman ask me if God was punishing him for an indiscretion in the past. No, I do not believe this. When God forgives, He forgives completely. We are told that when we repent,

Micah 7:19 …{God} will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities, and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Billy Graham wrote in his book Peace With God:

“Your sins have been forgiven. God has buried them in the depths of the sea and placed them behind His back of forgetfulness. Every sin is completely wiped out. You stand before God as a debtor, and you have received your discharge, you have become reconciled to God. You were actually an enemy of God before. The Bible says, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

But more than all of that, you have been adopted into the family of God. You are now a child of God. “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Ephesians 1:5). You are now a member of the royal family of heaven. You have royal blood in your veins. You are a child of the King.”

Christian, you are not what you were before Christ. You are changed by God, indwelt by God, and destined to live with God forever. This world is not your home. This body is not your eternal body. It was designed by sin to be temporal – but there is another body coming. This world is marred by sin, but there is another world coming. If we groan, let us not groan faithlessly, doubting the love of God. Let us groan as the Apostle groaned. Let’s end with the words that God gave Paul before this blessed focal text we have studied today:

2 Corinthians 5:1-6 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

While we Christians are in this body, we are not home. Oh, God is with us. His Spirit indwells us. But our Jesus is in yonder, on the right hand of God the Father. Daily I groan. I am a son of God. I am a soldier of the Lord on temporary assignment.

I am not home.
I will not be home until the day I see my Jesus face to face.
Until I kneel before Him, and cling to Him as Mary did at the Tomb.
Until I see Him on Heaven’s shore, and I cast myself
naked into eternity’s sea.

We who are Christians walk by faith, not by sight. We walk toward our Jesus. One day we will walk from this place, to another place, blessed and prepared for us by our Jesus. Let us be faithful to Him until that day comes. If you cannot physically walk, you can still “walk by faith”. You can read the Word of God daily. You can be a witness to those around your sick bed. You can “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and “in everything – even your infirmity – give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Walk by faith. Walk as Job walked, honoring the Lord though you have lost all. For beloved, when you have Jesus, you can never lose all.

May God touch your hearts, and open your eyes, through His blessed Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen!

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Then Everyone Ran Away

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Matthew 26:46-56 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? 55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

This coming Sunday morning we will once more celebrate the Lord’s Supper at our Church. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for us on Calvary. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus said:

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man IS COME to seek and to save that which was lost.

Mark 10:45 … the Son of man CAME NOT to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Mankind was lost because of Adam’s sin. Jesus Christ came to redeem us, to bring us from the Kingdom of darkness, and into God’s marvelous Light (1 Peter 2:9). There was only one way for Jesus to save us and bring us into God’s Kingdom. Jesus had to take our place. He had to stand in the dock, being judged for our sins, the perfect for the imperfect, that He might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).

God the Father sent His Son on a mission to come to lost souls, and to invite the lost into the Kingdom of God. But this invitation came with a great price. Jesus would have to die a horrid death on Calvary.

Jesus Is Betrayed So We Can Be Blessed

Adam betrayed his Creator in the Garden of Eden. Now a son of Adam will betray Jesus in another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane. Was Jesus surprised at Judas’ betrayal? Let’s see. Our Lord said:

Matthew 26:46-48 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. 47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

  • JESUS KNEW WHAT WAS IN THE HEART OF PEOPLE. When Jesus washed the feet of His disciples Peter initially refused to be ministered to. Jesus said,

“If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me”

The child of God is the one who has received Jesus as BOTH Lord and Savior. The child of God does not reject the Master, but obeys Him, whether we fully understand His Word or not. Peter replied, “Lord, don’t just wash my feet, but my head and hands, too!”. Jesus told him, You are clean, BUT NOT ALL. The Bible said:

John 13:11 For {Jesus} knew who should betray Him; therefore He said, Ye are not all clean.

Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him. Jesus knew, because He knows the heart of man. As God, Jesus looks not on just the outward. God sees the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus knows what was in man (John 2:25). When Jesus chose Judas Iscariot to be one of His core disciples, He would later say:

John 6:70 … Have not I chosen you twelve, and ONE OF YOU IS A DEVIL?

Jesus knew that Judas was “a devil”, a man who was lost. Judas Iscariot “was a robber and a thief” (John 12:6). Why in the world did Jesus choose him, knowing that he would betray Him? It was because of Christ’s HIGH VIEW of the Bible.

  • JESUS KNEW SCRIPTURE MUST BE FULFILLED. Judas Iscariot was prophesied by Zechariah over 600 years before Jesus was incarnate as perfect Man. Let’s take a moment to look at this amazing prophesy.

Zechariah 11:12-13 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.

God knew and foretold the betrayal of Judas over 600 years before the acts occurred. What is fascinating is how precise the Word of our Lord is. The Prophecy tells us that Judas would haggle over the price to betray Jesus. If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear is perfectly fulfilled in

Matthew 26:14-15 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? …

The Gospel of Luke tells us:

Luke 22:3-6 … Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. 4 And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray {Jesus} unto them. 5 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. 6 And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.

The devil entered into Judas – though this was not an actual “possession”. Judas was well aware of what he did.

The Bible tells us that “your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Judas had been with Jesus – among the Master’s inner 12 – for over three years. At any time he could have given his heart to the Lord. But he hardened his heart, rejecting Jesus as Lord and Savior. When the time was right Satan – watching Judas – moved to indwell his heart. And Judas went and made a covenant with other evil men to betray Jesus our Lord.

Though this was prophesied, this does not remove responsibility from Judas. Jesus made this clear when He sent Judas out from the Lord’s Table:

Matthew 26:23-24 … He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

It would have been good for that man {Judas} if he had not been born. Judas is being held accountable for his actions, as he should be. But all this is happening as the Scripture foretold. Jesus said, “The Son of man goeth AS IT IS WRITTEN of him. Jesus was operating according to the Script that God the Father foreordained, as did Judas. But Judas served Satan, whereas Jesus served the Father.

Zechariah also prophesied they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver” (11:12). The exact amount of money, in the exact TYPE of currency, was prophesied. Jesus was betrayed (again, 11:12) for thirty pieces of silver. Not gold, not copper, but silver. In our context we read:

Matthew 26:15 … they covenanted with {Judas} for THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER.

Why did God foreordain that Jesus be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver? This goes back to the Law of God. As God laid out the Law for Israel, His Old Testament people, God established rules by which His people should live. God told Israel in:

Exodus 21:28-29, 32 If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be {acquitted}. 29 But if the ox {was known to gore people}, and it hath been testified to his owner, and {the owner did not keep the ox from people, which lead to the ox killing}… a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death. … 32 If the ox shall {gore a male or female servant}; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

The Israeli was responsible for even the behavior their oxen. If an ox killed a person, but had never done so before, the ox was to be killed, and it’s meat not eaten. God considers human life to be very valuable! From the earliest time in humanity God said “the blood of your lives will I require, at the hand of every beast will I require it … whoever sheds the blood of a human, then his blood shall be shed – for humans are made in the image of God” (Genesis 9:5-6). Life is precious to God, because He made us in His image. You were held accountable for what your ox did. But once the ox was killed, you were acquired – your payment for the death was the death of the ox. UNLESS the OX was KNOWN to gore people! If an ox gored and killed a person in that case, BOTH the ox and his owner was stoned to death. Life is precious.

If an ox gored and harmed (but did not kill) one of your servants, then there was a fine of THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER paid to the master of the house. This ties in to what Jesus did for us. The Bible tells us that:

Philippians 2:7-8 {Jesus} made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him{self} the form of a SERVANT, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross …

Jesus Christ came to minister, not to be ministered unto (Matthew 20:28). Jesus Christ lowered Himself from the throne of Heaven, to come to this earth for us. He became the Servant of God, and willingly lays down His life for our lives. Jesus was not gored by an ox, but He was gored by the Cross.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Just as 30 pieces of silver was given to the master of the house when a servant was gored, 30 pieces of silver were given for the goring of Jesus Christ. Our Jesus was “disallowed of men, but Chosen of God, and Precious”. To us who believe in Him, He is much more precious than 30 pieces of silver. But to Judas, who had no love for Jesus, this was his contract price.

Zechariah also tells us I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord” (11:13). Judas Iscariot would take the 30 pieces of silver, then betray Jesus. Matthew tells us:

Matthew 27:3-10 Then Judas, which had betrayed {Jesus}, when he saw that {Jesus} was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. 9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.

The Prophet foretold that Judas would get buyer’s remorse over what he did, and that he would take the 30 pieces of silver back to the house of the Lord (the Temple). It was exactly as Scripture said. Judas threw the money to the potter – God calls Himself the Potter, and we the clay (Isaiah 64:8). Judas did not repent before God. The Scripture says “he repented HIMSELF”. He was upset with himself. Going into the Temple, he tried giving the money back to the priests that gave it to him. When they would not receive it back (they “washed their hands of Judas”), Judas threw the money toward the Potter. One commentary I read said that he threw the money toward the Holy of Holies, trying to make restitution toward God without genuinely repenting. The priests took up the money and purchased a piece of land, a “Potter’s Field”, a type of “Boot Hill” where “strangers” or unknown and unJewish people could be buried. It was not considered hallowed ground, as it was purchased with blood money. When Peter later spoke of Judas and his horrible death, he said:

Acts 1:17-20 .. {Judas} was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

Judas “hung” himself. His death was, by his own hand, very violent. He burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. What a horrible way to die! No wonder it was called a “field of blood”. The Bible warns us,

Hebrews 10:31 It is a FEARFUL THING to fall into the hands of the living God!

Just as Jesus said, it would have been better that Judas had never been born. But all that happened, happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Matthew 26:48-50 Now he that betrayed {Jesus} gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

Jesus is betrayed with a kiss. This is not a romantic kiss, but a kiss of respect given to teachers and friends. We today shake hands (or because of the Coronavirus, bump fists). In Jesus’ day believers “greeted one another with a holy kiss” (Romans 6:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26). David kissed Jonathan his friend (1 Samuel 20:41).Judas used this act of love to betray our Lord. Again, this is all in accordance with the prophecy of Scripture.

Jesus Said The Scripture MUST Be Fulfilled

As Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter showed the opposite extreme. He drew his sword and struck the ear off of one of the soldiers who grabbed Jesus. We read:

Matthew 26:51-54 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

Jesus had earlier told His disciples:

Luke 22:36-38 But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.

Jesus told His disciples to buy a sword. I believe He was telling them to get ready, that persecution was coming. The swords were perhaps for defensive use, but NOT for offensive use. Perhaps Peter remembered Jesus’ words. Misunderstanding, he drew one of two swords, and cut the ear off of Malchus, a servant of the High Priest (see also John 18:10; Luke 22:50-51). Jesus told Peter:

Matthew 26:52 Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Jesus did not want His disciples to offensively attack the enemy. I believe that it is appropriate for a believer to defend his or her home from intruders. But as saints of God, we are called to be patient, and not aggressive toward evil. The Bible says:

Romans 12:19-21 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Jesus always put the Bible first. He cherished the Word, for I believe He wrote the Word. Our Jesus Christ is the Living Word who was in the beginning with God – and was God (John 1:1-3). Jesus had a HIGH view of Scripture, of our Bible. Jesus told His disciples:

Matthew 26:53-54 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

Our Jesus “laid His life down for His friends, for those who would believe in Him” (John 10:15, 17). Peter had promised to lay his life down for Jesus (John 13:37-38), but failed. Jesus did not fail. Jesus never fails! Jesus also laid down His life for the Scriptures, for the Bible that God has given us. The Bible said it had to be done, so Jesus did it. Beloved, should not we do the same? We will close with this:

Matthew 26:55-56 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

When Jesus went to the Cross, it was exactly the right time, fully in accordance with God’s will and God’s Word. The Bible says,

Galatians 4:4-5 when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Jesus came at the right time, in perfect sync with the Bible, the Word of God. Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, the disciples running away from Jesus, everything that happened, happened in accordance with God’s Will and God’s Word. Let us cherish and hold on to God’s Word. It was accurate, though written hundreds of years before Christ, and it is accurate today.

May God through His Spirit and His Word touch your hearts and grow your faith today. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Speaking The Truth In Love

Ephesians 4:15 … but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ …

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

We live in a day where the truth is very scarce – even rare. The big thing we hear today is “Follow the Science”. Mike Huckabee recently stated on his February 7, 2021 show:

..when I’m told that a biological boy can declare himself to be a girl, and even participate in girl’s sports, I’m wondering what the science is that says that makes sense. … How is a woman’s health protected by conducting an unnatural, irreversible, surgical procedure that results in the death of a baby? Especially when the baby is a girl … a future woman?”

That is a very truthful statement. What does the Science say? But here’s a better question. What does the Bible say? What does Jesus say? When Jesus was questioned about marriage, His response was:

Matthew 19:4-6 … Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

In today’s world we are being told to go along with the crowd. We are being told as God’s Church to use gender neutral pronouns, and to recognize that biological men are women because to do otherwise will be to offend them, and hurt their feelings. We are being told to redefine marriage as Jesus and our Father has said it should be, to toss away Biblical definitions, and go with what others feel. Truth today is relative, variable, based upon what the crowd says.

When Jesus prayed for His Church, He prayed that we would be “sanctified through God’s Truth – God’s Word is truth” (John 17:17). Throughout the Bible one of the most used phrases is “It is written”. God’s Word is TRUTH. When Jesus Christ left Heaven to come to this earth, He did so to reveal the TRUTH to us all. Jesus said:

John 18:37 … To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Jesus bears witness to the TRUTH. God’s people, heeding Jesus, HEARS His truthful voice. Though the world, just like the Governor Pilate in John 18:38, asks the question:

What is TRUTH?”

Truth is not fluid, changeable based upon what we feel!

Illustrate I remember an old Andy Griffith show called Mr. McBeevee. It first aired on October 1, 1962 when I was but 3 ¾ years old! Opie Taylor begins to tell his dad about a man named Mr. McBeevee that he met in the woods. Opie did meet such a man, a fellow that was a lineman, someone who climbed trees to reach power lines that were near the woods the child played in. His dad Andy, good natured, goes along with Opie’s stories of Mr McBeevee – that is, until Opie starts coming home with gifts from what Andy believes is an imaginary friend. Andy tells Opie if he doesn’t start telling the truth, he will be spanked – but Opie, though tempted, refuses to change his story. Mr McBeevee “walks around in the trees”. He “jingles as he walks” (this is his tool belt making noise). He “wears a shiny hat on his head” (this is his helmet). The man is real, though Andy has never met him. At the end of the episode Andy decides not to punish Opie, but in frustration goes out to the woods where his son often plays. As he, frustrated, cries out “Mr McBeevee!”, above him in the trees a man hollers, “Hello!” He comes down from the lines via the trees, much to Andy’s surprise and relief, proving Opie was telling the truth all along.

Beloved, God’s people are to “speak the truth IN LOVE”. There is a truth, a truth that transcends all others, a truth taught in this glorious old Book we call the Bible. We are to – like Opie – speak the truth in love, even if it means getting a whipping from others who – like Andy – misunderstand us. It is only by speaking God’s truth – His Bible – that others are led to Christ. It is only by speaking the truth that other believers in Jesus near us may grow up into {Christ} in all things, which is the head, even Christ. God saved us, and wants us to be like Jesus. God wants others to come to know Jesus. We MUST speak the truth IN LOVE.

We Are To Be Like Jesus, Not The Devil
Speak THE TRUTH in LOVE

God despises lies. It was a lie spoken by the serpent Satan that led Adam to eat that which was forbidden. The devil said in Eden:

Genesis 3:4-5 … Ye shall not surely die: 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Lies and liars pull people away from God! When you lie, and do not speak the truth of God’s Word, you imitate the Devil!

The Psalmist declared:

Psalm 5:4, 6 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. 5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. 6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak LEASING {leasing is the Hebrew כָּזָב kâzâb, pronounced kaw-zawb’ which meansdeceitfully or dishonestly”}: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

We are to speak the truth in love. Not harshly. Not vindictively, nor pridefully. But in LOVE. We are to be kind in our speaking. We are to remember that we “once were lost, but now are found, were blind, but now we see”. Love should be in our hearts and our voices when we reject the world’s lies. Yet we ARE to SPEAK THE TRUTH. We are not to lie to either saved or lost people. If you are saved, you are commanded to “put off” that old way of life Jesus saved you from.

Colossians 3:8-9 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

Fear may tempt us to lie. Look to the Lord!

Abram, who is also Abraham the father of faith, allowed fear to lead him to lie. As Abram went where the Lord told him to go, he and his family had to pass through Egypt. Abram told his wife Sarai:

Genesis 12:11-13 …. Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: 12 therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. 13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

What Abram did at this point was NOT a noble, faithful thing. He had Sarai lie in order to protect his own life. Fear rather than faith was driving him. I have heard some excuse Abram’s behavior by saying, Well, Sarai was Abram’s half sister, so he really wasn’t lying. He was just hiding part of the truth out of fear for his life”. Beloved, Abram was lying. A half truth is a half lie. God never justified Abram’s action in Egypt, neither does He justify Abraham when he does the same thing with Abimelech king of Gerar. God has to intervene, and warn Abimelech that Sarah is Abraham’s wife. Abimelech chastises Abraham, saying:

Genesis 20:9-10 …. What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. 10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?

Abraham justifies his action by saying “I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. 12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife” (Genesis 20:11-12). Abraham bore false witness to Sarah, and by his actions nearly led an innocent but lost man into sinning against God. Beloved, lies are dangerous. To give a half truth is to give a half lie.

The Worst Of All Lies Is The False Witness

When people think about the Ten Commandments, they think that one of those ten is “Thou shalt not lie”. That’s not true. The Ninth Commandment states:

Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

To bear FALSE WITNESS is to make a statement about another person’s person that is not true. This was done to Jesus at His trial.

Matthew 26:59-63 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 61 and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. 62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 63 But Jesus held his peace.

God despises the false witness, the person who speaks lies about another’s person. God tells His people:

Exodus 23:1 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.

God’s people are to be salt and light. We are not to bear false witness against anyone. The Bible does not restrict this just for fellow believers, but speaks of your neighbor. Your neighbor is whoever is near you at any time. “Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor (Deuteronomy 5:20). The Bible tells us a shocking thing about God – God does HATE. What does He hate?

God HATES The False Witness!

Proverbs 6:16-19 says,These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 a proud look, a LYING tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A FALSE WITNESS THAT SPEAKS LIES, and he that sows discord among the brethren …

Two of the six things that God hates is LIES. The LYING tongue, and the false witness speaking LIES.

Have you ever heard that often quoted Scripture text, Deuteronomy 19:21? How many have ever heard someone say,

Deuteronomy 19:21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

This verse is usually quoted out of context. The context has to do with FALSE WITNESSES. The whole of the text is:

Deuteronomy 19:16-21 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; 17 then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; 18 and the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; 19 then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. 20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. 21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

That “eye for an eye” thing is tied to the FALSE WITNESS. Whatever judgment would have been made against the accused would instead be made against the FALSE WITNESS. God said that by doing this, “you would put away this evil from among you”. God despises the false witness, the one who tells lies about another person’s character.

Why Doesn’t The Ten Commandments Say
“Thou Shalt Not Lie?”

Let’s look at the 9th commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor”, through Jesus’ eyes. Jesus said that “the GREAT COMMANDMENT in the Law” is…

Matthew 22:37-40 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Jesus made these two commandments the core of the Law of God. Every part of the Law must be interpreted through the lens of these two commandments.

When Abram, and later Abraham bore false witness about his wife in order to save his own life, he was violating the Ninth Commandment as well as the general principle, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. Sarai was Abram’s neighbor, as was the Pharaoh who chastised Abram, saying:

Genesis 12:18-19 … What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.

Abraham would later also be in the wrong when he did the same thing to Sarah and Abimelech (Genesis 20). The son born to Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, would follow in his father’s footsteps when he went through Gerar.

Genesis 26:6-10 Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7 and the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. 8 And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. 9 And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her.

First Abraham, now Isaac! Though Abraham had the excuse “Well, she IS my HALF sister”, Isaac had no such excuse. Abimelech chewed out Isaac, saying …

Genesis 26:10 … What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us.

Isaac and Abraham hiding the identity of their wives in order to protect their own lives shows us all that FEAR can rule us. It shouldn’t, but it can. Later on after these events their wives would make demands of them, or misuse them, because they had not been treated with love. What a horrible thing it is to bear false witness against another! The Bible tells us that in Heaven there will be NO ONE who “loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 22:15). Love does not bear false witness. God’s people are to “speak the truth in LOVE”.

So why doesn’t the Ninth Commandment say “Thou shalt not lie”? It is because there are times when love will demand we carefully use deception for a greater good.

A good example of this is in the Book of Joshua. Before Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, we read:

Joshua 2:1-6 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. 3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: 5 and it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.

Somehow the King of Jericho heard of these spies, and knew they went to Rahab’s home. The King told Rahab to “bring those men forth”. Rahab hid the spies on the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. Rahab said (and I’m going to put this in modern English so you can understand it):

Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. It came about, when it was time to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.”

Rahab lied. She used deception for a greater good. So what does the Bible say about Rahab?

  • First, Rahab is in the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5). Rahab married Salmon, an Israelite from the tribe of Judah. She and Salmon bore a child, Boaz, the husband of Ruth. Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather, is a direct descendant of Rahab.
  • Second, Rahab hid the spies out of faith in our God. The Bible commends her action of hiding the spies in Hebrews 11:31, which says “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” Rahab had faith in God, saving faith, and her actions in hiding the spies and yes, lying, were acts of faith. Rahab told the two spies, “the Lord your God is God in Heaven above and on earth below” (Joshua 2:11). Rahab agreed to save the spies if her family was protected (Joshua 2:12-14). Rahab “bound a line of scarlet thread in her window” (Joshua 2:18, 21) as the spies asked, and she and her family were saved.
  • Third, the stepbrother of Jesus, James, commended Rahab for receiving and hiding the spies. “In the same way, was Rahab the prostitute not justified by works also when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:25-26).

Illustrate 1: We can see from the story of Rahab that there are times in life when deception must be used to save life. Suppose you were a Christian in Germany during World War II hiding Jews. In a recent Breakpoint Daily article John Stonestreet wrote: “Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village in south-central France. Back in 1940, the total population of this area, including the surrounding villages, was only about 5,000. Sill, under the leadership of their Protestant Pastor André Trocmé and his wife, Magda, the residents of these villages were responsible for saving up to 5,000 Jews from deportation to Nazi concentration camps during World War II”. The only way these Christians could do this was by deception. The Pastor and his Church created an underground network to help Jews travel safely across the Swiss border. When the local officials found out what Pastor André was doing, they demanded he stop helping the Jews. The Pastor said, “These people came here for help and shelter. I am their shepherd. A shepherd does not forsake his flock. I do not know what a Jew is. I only know human beings”.

The Lord Jesus told us in Matthew 22:39 … Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself…

Would you be “loving your neighbor” if you aided the Nazis in putting the Jews on the cattle cars to Auschwitz? No, you wouldn’t. Love would dictate I hide that innocent from the concentration camps and nearly sure death.

Illustrate 2: In 2 Kings 6 there is another interesting Biblical account where deception is used, this time by the Prophet Elisha. The King of Syria was upset with Elisha because each time the King planned the capture of the king of Israel, Elisha would reveal the plan to the King of Israel, and the King of Israel would be protected. The King of Syria decided to capture Elisha. He sent a mighty force down to Dothan to take that precious old Prophet. When Elisha’s servant woke up, he saw that Dothan was surrounded by the Syrian Army. “What shall we do?”, he cried out to Elisha. Elisha simply said:

2 Kings 6:16-18 … Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. 18 And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

After Elisha had God blind his enemies, he used deception, and led them to Samaria where the Army of Israel was. We read:

2 Kings 6:19-20 … This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria. 20 And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria …

Elisha did not tell the truth. He told them that he would lead them to Elisha, and led them to Samaria and certain capture. Elisha deceived, but did so for a higher good. When the King of Israel had the Syrians surrounded he asked Elisha:

2 Kings 6:21-23My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them? 22 {Elisha} answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master. 23 And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.

Elisha used deception. But his deception saved his and his servant’s life. His deception also caused a bloodless battle, and life was saved all about. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”!

Conclusion Of The Matter

It is tough being a Christian in a lost world. Jesus told us that we would be hated – and even tried – for our faith in Christ. Jesus told us to remember:

Luke 6:22-23 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

The Christian has been “chosen out of the world” to follow Jesus, and “the world will hate us” (John 15:19; 1 John 3:13). Let us speak the truth in love to our neighbors. Let us not compromise the integrity of God’s Word, nor of the truth found in His Scripture. Let us stay the course, no matter how hard it might be. But also let us remember, we are to never bear false witness against anyone. We are to love God with our all, remembering that our God is the Lord God of TRUTH (Psalm 31:5). We are to love our neighbor as we would be loved. But if we must deceive, let us do so not to harm others, but to help others. Let us live wholeheartedly for Jesus in this lost and dying world.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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There Are friends And There Are Friends

Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

We Were Designed To Have Friends

Humans were designed by Gods to be relational, to care for someone besides ourselves. When God created Adam it was never with the intent that Adam be alone. God declared his intention, however, before He did it. The Lord said:

Genesis 2:18 … It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Though God said this, He did not immediately create a companion for Adam. God wanted man to know that singular solitude was not what we are created for. Our God “formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them” (Genesis 2:19). God did not do this because He Himself couldn’t think up names for His creation. Our God,

Psalm 147:4 … telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names

God brought the animals to Adam so that Adam would see every creature had a counterpart, a mate. After Adam named all the creatures the Bible says “for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:20). Adam had to recognize he needed a companion, someone to relate to. It was then that God formed Eve out of Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:21-22). The Bible says that:

Genesis 1:27-28 God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it …

In our current chapter, just above our focal text, we see these words:

Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.

The first “friend” God created for man was woman, and for woman was man. Men, if you are married, you are to cherish your wives. The Bible says:

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

As Jesus loved us – and died for us – the man is to love and give his life for his wife. Brothers, you are to DIE for your wives. This is a command of God. The Apostle tells us in:

1 Peter 3:7 … ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Pastor John Piper said that “When we have HORIZONTAL problems we have a VERTICAL breakdown”. God will not hear our prayers when we mistreat our wives. And wives are commanded,

1 Peter 3:1-4 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the {way of life} of the wives; 2 while they behold your chaste {way of life} coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

God did not create humans to be solitary creatures. We are created in the “image of God”. God Himself is One, but He is Three. The Bible says that our God – which the Scripture names in Genesis 1:26 as אֱלֹהִים ‘ĕlōhîm – is an “US”. “God said ‘Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness’”. God is a compound unity.

God is ONE in essence, but THREE in Person.

The Father is God. Galatians 1:1 speaks of “God the Father”. The Son, Jesus Christ, is God. In John 20:28 Thomas called Jesus “My Lord and My God” – and Jesus did not correct him! The Holy Spirit is God. In Acts 5:3-4 the Apostle Peter asked Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? … You have not lied to men, but to GOD”. Our God is relational, not solitary. He made us relational, and not solitary.

I genuinely believe that Satan is doing all he can to make us solitary creatures, shunning friendship and embracing technology. Beloved, everyone needs a friend. Everyone needs a companion to speak to, relate to, share you heart with.

We Should CAREFULLY Pursue Friendship

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:

Just as it is good to find a wife, it is a great thing to find a friend. We find friends by being friendly. Believers in Christ should be friendly and kind to others – but we should be careful in the friends we actually make. The Apostle Paul warns the Corinthian Christians:

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

When you read this in the King James the archaic language may cause you to miss the point. “Evil communications corrupts good manners” is the Greek

kakos homilia phtheirō chrēstos ēthos”, which is better translated as:

Wicked or evil COMPANIONSHIP destroys good CHARACTER”

Who you choose to make a friend or a wife will effect your walk with God. It will effect your very life. I know of a young man now who was in a great position. He had a grandfather that was going to leave him substantial properties and quite a bit of money in his will. The young man, ignoring the advise of his pastor and of his family, began to hang around with other men who were abusing drugs and generally were godless. The young man – once so full of promise – is today disinherited, and in a perpetually drugged up state. “Wicked companionship destroys good character”. The Bible tells us that, in choosing friends, we are to remember:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

The Christian is to be friendly toward all. We are to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and are to “be kind one to another” (Ephesians 4:32). Like the Quakers of old, we should be friendly toward all. The Apostle said,

I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23). We are to be friendly. But Beloved, we are never to be FRIENDS to the WORLDLY. The stepbrother of Christ, the Blessed James wrote:

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Friends are people who help one another with their burdens. Friendship is a YOKE, a bond. If you choose the wrong friends, when you are in a bind and in need of help, these wrong friends can hurt you. The Apostle Paul spoke of two “fair weather” friends who abandoned him – but one good friend who stood by his side:

2 Timothy 1:15-18 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. 16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: 17 but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. 18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.

While Paul was writing his second letter to Timothy, he was in a Roman prison cell. Phygellus and Hermogenes were “fair weather friends” who turned away from Paul when he needed them the most. But there was one good friend named Onesiphorus who stood by Paul’s side. The name “Onesiphorus” literally means “one who brings profit to another”. We don’t know much about Onesiphorus, as he is only mentioned in 2 Timothy. We do know this, though. As a good friend, Onesiphorus:

  • Often refreshed Paul (vs 16). The word for REFRESHED is the Greek ἀναψύχω anapsýchō, {pronounced an-aps-oo’-kho}, which means “to recover one’s breath, to cool off or revive a sagging spirit”. When David was but a shepherd, and an evil spirit was upon King Saul (1 Samuel 16:23), “David took a harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him”. Being imprisoned, and hindered from preaching the Gospel, had to be a heavy burden on the Apostle Paul’s spirit. Onesiphorus did not add to Paul’s burden, but obeyed the command of 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Comfort yourselves TOGETHER, and BUILD UP one another” (my paraphrase).
  • Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul’s chain” (vs 16). When Onesiphorus was in Rome, Paul said he sought me out very diligently, and found me. It was not SAFE to be a Christian in Rome at this time, but Onesiphorus did not hide from Paul. He sought Paul out. Why? Because Onesiphorus loved Jesus. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed” (Mark 8:38). Onesiphorus loved Jesus, and as a good friend loved Paul. A good friend is not ashamed of your infirmities or needs. Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of salvation. Rather than run away from Paul, Onesiphorus ran toward Paul. He acted as Christ unto his friend.
  • Onesiphorus was not stingy with his love. The Apostle said, many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus” (vs 18). The Bible tells us in Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity”. Fair weather friends only want you when they can use you. Good friends will stay by your side, through thick or thin. B
  • Because Onesiphorus loved Jesus and loved Paul, for he modeled Christ, his entire family was saved. As Paul closes this letter he writes, “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus” (2 Timothy 4:19).

There is nothing better in this life than a good and godly friend. A friend will tell you the truth, though may hurt:

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Several years ago I approached a cross road in my ministry, and was uncertain as to the path I should take. I had several other active pastors that I prayed with every week, men I thought were my friends. The Bible says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). I shared my dilemma with my friends, they agreed together with me that I should take a certain path. Later, when that path turned out to be disastrous (though God meant it for good – Genesis 50:20), one of my friends wrote to me, saying, “I thought it was a bad idea – but I didn’t say anything”.

Choose your friends wisely, dear friends. Be friendly to all, but choose your friends wisely!

There Is One Friend Who Is Always Faithful

Proverbs 18:24 … there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

It is good to have a good friend. Not a fair weather friend. Not a worldly friend. But a friend sent from God. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Friends help one another out of trouble. They help one another with burdens. Our Lord Jesus is “A Friend that sticketh closer than a brother”.

When we choose good friends, do not forget that the BEST friend you can have is God Almighty. When you believe God, and prove your belief by listening to and doing His Word, He becomes our Friend. When God told Abraham to “offer up Isaac on the altar” (Genesis 22), that old man did not hesitate. He immediately set out with his son and all that he needed to sacrifice Isaac upon that altar. The Bible tells us that God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac – it was but a test of his character. The Scripture tells us:

James 2:23 … the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

The best Friend you can have is a friendship with God. What was the most amazing miracle that happened in the lifetime of Moses? Was it:

– the pillar of fire and of cloud that led Israel (Exodus 13:21)
– the water parted at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21)
– the manna that God fed Israel from Heaven (Exodus 16:4 ff)
– the water that God gave Israel from the Rock (Exodus 17)

No, the most amazing and miraculous thing was when …

Exodus 33:9-11 … the Lord talked with Moses. 10 And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshiped, every man in his tent door. 11 And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

Our God is looking for people who will receive Him as Friend. Jesus Christ left the glory of Heaven and came to this earth to save sinners, and to call people to friendship with God. Jesus told His disciples:

John 15:9-15 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

True friends lay down their lives for one another. Jesus laid down His life for us. He died on Calvary “to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). As Jesus laid down His life for us, we who believe in Him lay down our lives for Him. We heed and do His commandments. We are Christ’s friends if we abide in His love.

  • Jesus is our Friend Who will always give us good counsel. The Prophet Isaiah said “His name shall be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus never gives us bad advise, or poor recommendations. As eternal God in the flesh (John 1:1-3, 14) He has the perspective of our Creator. He knows what is best for us. We are wise to heed His direction.
  • Jesus is our Friend Who will never forsake us. He is no fair weather friend. Jesus has promised “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). He has said, “fear not, for I am with thee” (Genesis 26:24). “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee” (Jeremiah 1:8). “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20).

The genuine Church that represents Jesus is filled with friends of Jesus, working together, honoring Him Who is our Friend. Where “two or more are gathered together in Jesus’ Name, there Jesus is in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

Galatians 6:1-2 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Friends lift one another up when hurt comes, and rejoice together when blessings come:

1 Corinthians 12:24-27 … God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: 25 that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

As friends we are to lift one another up to Jesus, our Best Friend. If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, may I introduce you to my Friend? He is the Best Friend you can have. He gave His life for you, and rose again so that He can represent us before God the Father. I close with those wonderful words of that grand old song:

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

May God touch your hearts and minds with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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Remember Lot’s Wife

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Last week we talked about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel that saves you from sin is also the Gospel that brings you into the Kingdom of God.

Luke 17:20-21 … The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Is your heart submitted to Jesus Christ and his Word? Then you are in His Kingdom. God has always had a people in His Kingdom on this earth. God calls out a people to live for Him, to shine as …

1 Peter 1:14-16 … 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.

What has God said of those in His Kingdom, His children saved by faith in Christ?

2 Corinthians 6:16 …. ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

God’s people are called to follow God in love. We are to be ready, and help others to be ready. Jesus is coming again. In our text today Jesus tells us that He will come and the judgment of God will fall. Jesus compares this future judgment to Noah and Lot.

Luke 17:26-30 And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

I believe the latter days are upon us. I believe Jesus could come at any time. When He does, it will be QUICK. Like in the days of Noah, God has allowed the world to hear the Gospel. Much time has passed since Christ ascended to Heaven. There will come a day – maybe today – when the Father says, “Son, go get my children!” When that happens it will be quick. Noah was preaching, then he and his family got on the Ark, and GOD CLOSED THE DOORS. Judgment had come. The rains fell. God’s grace was locked on board the Ark, and if you were on it you were saved.

Do you have Jesus in your lives?

As we are reading about Jesus’ return, our Lord gives us a short command.

Luke 17:32 Remember Lot’s wife.

Word Study What a tiny verse this is! We might consider it so small, that we should skip it, and go read those larger texts. But our God often conveys great truths in short texts. They are no less important. Our Jesus tells us “Remember Lot’s wife”. The verb “REMEMBER” is the Greek μνημονεύω mnēmoneúō, {pronounced mnay-mon-yoo’-o}, which means “to say over and over mentally, to fill your mind with, to dwell on as a child might dwell on a primer, to hold it in your memory”. Jesus did not often tell us to REMEMBER other people. Jesus said of the woman who washed His feet with her tears, and anointed His head and feet with ointment from a precious Alabaster box:

Mark 14:9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

The glorious faith of this unnamed woman with an Alabaster box so impressed our Lord that her wanted her remembered. This is a standard we are to follow. But now Jesus says “REMEMBER Lot’s wife”. This is unnamed woman sets a standard that we are NOT to keep.

Who In The World Is “Lot”?

Go with me to Genesis 12. It does no good to tell you about Lot’s wife, if you don’t know who Lot is. Lot’s story begins with ABRAM, who would later be renamed ABRAHAM. To avoid confusion, I’ll use ABRAHAM as I speak of this great old man of faith. God came to Abraham, telling him:

Genesis 12:1-2 …. Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee …

Jesus said of Abraham, “Father Abraham rejoiced to SEE MY DAY, and was GLAD!” (John 8:56). I believe that Abraham was saved by faith in Christ. That the pre-incarnate Jesus presented Himself to Abraham, and called him to the Kingdom of God. Abraham was given a free choice. “Leave all you hold dear and follow Me, and I will bless you, or NOT”. Abraham did not hesitate. He heard the call to salvation, and moved. Jesus prayed for His followers:

John 17:16-17 They {who follow Me} are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

The Lord told Abraham “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred” (Genesis 12:1), and we read Abraham …

Genesis 12:4-5 … departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: … 5 … Lot his brother’s son …

Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Abraham was not supposed to take his kindred with him, but he took Lot. Beloved, no believer is perfect, not even Abraham. We are flawed. We grow. At this moment, Abraham is only Abram, a young believer. Why did Abraham take Lot with him? I think that – and this is my opinion, and not Scripture (though it seems to fit the context) – Abraham witnessed to Lot, and Lot was saved by faith in Christ also. Haran was a pagan land, as in this area was ancient Babylon. I suspect that Uncle Abraham did not want to leave his nephew, a believer in Christ, in that place. We know that Lot was saved because of what the Apostle wrote in:

2 Peter 2:6-8 … {God turned} the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes {, He} condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 {God} delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds😉

Word Study The Apostle calls Lot “JUST” and “RIGHTEOUS”, signifying he was saved. The Bible says:

1 Peter 3:18 … Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just {díkaios} for the unjust, that he might bring us to God

If a person is JUST or JUSTIFIED, it is because God has done it to us. “The JUST shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11).

Romans 3:24-26 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Lot was JUST and RIGHTEOUS, and he traveled with a JUST and RIGHTEOUS Abraham. But there’s one problem. When you disobey God, it will not be long before trouble comes.

If You Try Living Without God & His Kingdom
Trouble
Will Come

It wasn’t long before there was strife between Abraham’s herdsmen, and Lot’s herdsmen. God had blessed both Abraham and Lot for following him, so much that their herds were too much for the land they were on. Abraham told Lot:

Genesis 13:8-10 … Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

Genesis 13:12 … Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

Word Study The name “Lot” means “a searcher”. Lot was saved by faith, blessed by God, but as “a searcher” he began to believe “the grass is greener over on the other side”. Lot’s eyes wandered, then he wandered, and strayed from God. Lot is like the compromising Christian who drifts away, little by little, from God.

Beloved, if you wander from God, you will fall!

Lot wandered to Sodom, married a wife, and set up a nice home in that area. But God wasn’t in it. If God isn’t in it, you are at risk! Enemy armies from five nations, led by Chedorlaomer, the King of Elamraided Sodom and Gomorrah. The destruction was overwhelming. We read:

Genesis 14:11-12 they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

Had Lot been following God and not on bivouac in Sodom, he would not have become a casualty of war. But Abraham got word that lot was captured. Without hesitation, this grand old man of faith …

Genesis 14:14-16 … {Abraham} armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

Bear in mind that Abraham – with God’s blessing and just 318 men – defeated a five nation army. Oh, what a blessing it is to live in God’s Kingdom, heeding His Word!

Did not Jesus tells us to seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”.

When we live in God’s Kingdom, we will be blessed as Abraham. When our hearts depart from God, we enjoy the curse of Lot. Oh, it is so much better to live in God’s Kingdom, heeding His Word.

There is power in walking with God, obeying His rule over your life, in “imitating God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1). The Psalmist cried:

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the {one} that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

You would think that Lot, being rescued by Abraham, would leave Sodom to follow God. But no, he went back to that foul place. Lot “pitched his tent toward Sodom”, and conformed to the world around him. He has placed himself and his family in the pathway of destruction. But Abraham has once more interceded for him, begging God for his salvation. So God sends a delegation to Sodom to rescue foolish Lot.

Genesis 19:1-2 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; 2 and he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways.

Sexual sin had taken over Sodom, so much so that an angel could not even walk down the street without being accosted. Men of the city saw Lot take these angelic beings (who looked like men) into his home. The men of Sodom stormed Lot’s home, demanding that these “visitors” come out to them so they could be sexually molested. Lot refused to do this, and the angels confused the men at the door so they could not get in the house. The Angels tell Lot:

Genesis 19:12-14 … Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: 13 for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it. 14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

Now We Meet Lot’s Wife

Genesis 19:15-16 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. 16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

This is the first mention of Lot’s wife. The Angels told Lot to move, but Lot dragged his feet – HE LINGERED. So the Angels grab hold of Lot, his wife, and his daughters. They literally drag them out of the city. The Angels then give them the COMMAND OF GOD:

Genesis 19:17-22 Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. 18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: 19 behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: 20 behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. 21 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. 22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

God told Lot (through the angels) to escape to the mountains. But Lot still drags his feet, resisting God. Lot wants to go to Zoar. Zoar was one of the cities that God had planned to destroy, along with Sodom and Gomorrah. God in His grace spared Zoar for Lot’s sake. As Lot and his family entered Zoar:

Genesis 19:23-25 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; 25 and he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

God’s destruction on those cities was complete. Now God had told Lot and his family:

Genesis 19:17 Escape for thy life; look not behind thee…

What did Lot’s wife do? The Bible says:

Genesis 19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

The Bible warns us that “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Lot resisted God. He lingered. Now his wife, following his example, lingers. She crept along, and got far behind the Angels, and far from God. She toyed with sin.

So many professing believers are like this. They creep along slowly, getting farther and farther from God. “Look not behind you”, the Lord warns. Jesus said:

Luke 9:62 … No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Lot’s wife looked back. Certainly she had a poor example in Lot, but Lot kept his eyes on the Angels as he ran. Lot’s wife looked back. She did just as the first generation of Israel did when they left Egypt – they kept looking back. “The children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full” (Exodus 16:3). We are not to look backward to Egypt. We are not to look backward to Sodom. We are to look forward.

Hebrews 12:1-2 let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith

Faith looks to Jesus – it does not look backward to the old way and the old life. God would not allow Israel to enter the Promised Land because of unbelief. Lot’s wife was not able to enter Zoar because of unbelief. She looked back.

Lot’s Wife Brought A Terrible Doom On Herself

Genesis 19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

Sin in the life, even in the life of the Christian, destroys the joy of living. It can lead to a horrific loss of life.

Ananias and Sapphira “lied unto God” (Acts 5:4), and they both died.

Wicked Queen Jezebel was thrown from the palace, and dogs ate her
(2 Kings 9:33-37)
.

Corinthian Christians “are sickly, and many sleep in death”
(1 Corinthians 11:30)

As I dwelt on Lot’s wife as my Master commanded, I asked my God: “Why was Lot’s wife turned into salt? What is the significance of this?” It is because

The Christ Follower Is To Be Salt And Light

  • Salt was one of the most valuable minerals in the ancient world. Soldiers were paid in salt. Salt was also very valuable in the Old Testament Kingdom of God.

Leviticus 2:13 states “with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt”.

The Prophet Ezekiel said of the sacrifices made to God, “thou shalt offer them before the Lord, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering unto the Lord.” (Ezekiel 43:24). Salt was part of the sacrifices made unto God.

  • In the New Testament Kingdom of God our Lord Jesus made His people out to be salt. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Beloved Christians, we are to be salt for God while on this earth. Lot’s wife should have been salt. Salt flavors. Salt blesses. Salt preserves. Salt was given in sacrifice. We are to live as “living sacrifices unto God”.

Romans 12:1-2 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.

If you are a child of God by faith in Christ, you are called to be salt. You are God’s salt. You live for Him. You live in Him. Our hearts belong to God. Our bodies belong to God. We are God’s people, children of His Kingdom. We are not to look back, to the world, to give our hearts to Sodom or anywhere else. God owns our hearts. Look unto Jesus! Live for Jesus!

If you are not a Christ follower, today is a wonderful day to come to Him. Jesus is coming soon. The Judgment of God hangs over the world. Will you escape like Lot, or will you be judged like Lot’s wife? The choice is yours. Receive Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior, and begin visibly living in His Kingdom this very day. Oh the blessings you will have when you have Jesus! May God the Holy Spirit drive this message into the hearts of both saved and lost. Maranatha! Come quickly Lord Jesus! Amen and Amen!

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The Faces Of Genuine Faith

Luke 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Do you have faith in Jesus?
If you do, you are in Christ’s Kingdom.

In Luke chapters 17 and 18 Jesus has been talking about the Kingdom of God. Jesus told the Pharisees:

Luke 17:20-21 … The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU.

The Kingdom of God comes within you, within your heart, when you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This Kingdom spans the earth, as

every believer that follows Jesus by faith is in
the Kingdom of God.

After talking about the PRESENT Kingdom of God, Jesus began to speak on the FUTURE Kingdom of God. Beloved, Jesus is coming soon! We do not know when, but we know He is. Today Jesus asks us a question:

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh,
shall he find faith on the earth?

When the “Son of Man” – that’s a title of Jesus as Messiah – “when the Son of man cometh, will He find faith on the earth?”. I believe Jesus will find some faith on the earth, but I also believe Jesus will find false faith.

There is a true faith that saves, and a false faith that damns.
There is a true faith from the Savior, and a false faith from th
eSatan.
There is a true faith given by God, and a false faith manufactured by man.
What does genuine, saving faith look like?

Genuine Faith Is An OVERCOMING Faith

The Bible tells us that those in the Kingdom of God, those justified by faith in Christ, must “live by faith”. This principle is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments:

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

This principle is repeated in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11.

The Bible declares “no one is justified by the law”, and {it is} not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which {God} shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Jesus Christ is the One Sent from God the Father
Who is the Key to Heaven!

When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, He sends the Spirit (John 15:26)

The Holy Spirit causes us to be “born again” (John 3:3, 7; 1 Peter 1:23).
We are reborn as children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).
We are “transferred from the darkness into God’s marvelous light”
(1 Peter 2:9)
.
We are not what we were, but are now “new creatures in Christ”
(2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15)
,
“predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son” (Romans 8:29)

Illustrate Our lives are radically changed by God when we surrender to His Son. A man came eagerly but very late to a revival meeting. He found the workmen tearing down the tent in which the meetings had been held. Frantic at missing the Evangelist, he asked one of the workers,What can I do to be saved?” The workman, also a Christian, said, “You can’t do anything to be saved. It’s too late.” Horrified, the man said, “What do you mean? How can it be too late?” The believer told him, “The work has already been done. Jesus Christ died on Calvary for your sins. He rose again, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. You just need to believe and receive this. JESUS is THE ONE SENT from the Father, the Key to Heaven.

Because Genuine, saving faith is GOD MADE, it is PERSISTENT. Jesus illustrates this.

Luke 18:1-8 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily….

This is a beautiful picture that compares a lost judge to the Holy and ever faithful Judge of all creation. The lost judge cared nothing for the widow. What had happened to the widow? Perhaps she had been robbed, as people stalk and rob senior citizens today by telephone scams, or shoddy workmanship. This widow had been done wrong. She went to the judge, and demanded that her adversary be punished. The lost and uncaring judge at first would not hear her. But as she came day by day, eventually he was wearied to the point where he decided to do his job, and punish her adversary. would do his job. Jesus asked:

Luke 18-7-8 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily…

God’s Chosen – the Saved – cry DAY AND NIGHT to Him. Genuine faith OVERCOMES. It looks to Jesus.

This is a concept that we see carried forward from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 7:6-8 the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. 7 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers

God calls all to salvation. He doesn’t call us because we are worthy. He calls us because WE NEED HIM. God chooses to save us, though we are broken. I love what the Apostle wrote, because it is so much like our Deuteronomy passage:

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 … God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: 29 that no flesh should glory in his presence.

God chose to love us.
God chooses to call us.
Once we are saved, we REST IN HIM.
God indelibly marks us by inhabiting Us.
We look to Him NO MATTER WHAT.

This widow kept on calling on the unjust judge. She persisted, though there was no indication that the judge would ever do anything for her. Beloved, the faith that saves is persistent.

  • When we are tried by the adversary the devil (1 Peter 5:8), cry out to the Father.
  • When we are tried by the adversary of sickness or disability, cry out to the Father.
  • When attacked by the world, we cry out to God in Jesus’ name. God loves us. He shed the blood of His Son on Calvary for us. God will hear us. God loves to hear us, and will avenge us. God fights for me!

Time may pass, but let us rest in Jesus’ work. We are now God’s for Christ’s sake. Be persistent in prayer. If you are the elect, the chosen of God, then you are to cry out to Him DAY AND NIGHT. Neither prayer nor God is not a spare tire, but is a daily way of life for the Christ follower.

Genuine Faith Not Only OVERCOMES,
But It RESTS In Jesus, The One Sent

Luke 18:9-14 And {Jesus} spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Two men went to the Temple to pray. One man had a proud focus on himself. Let’s break down the Pharisee’s position and prayer. First we read,

Luke 18:11 … The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself

The Pharisee did not kneel, but stood up. He made himself equal to God. He was too good to bend the knee – after all, he was a great and godly guy! He “prayed with himself”. His prayers went no farther than his own ears. God was not listening to Him. The Pharisee was not relying of God as he prayed. Notice how many times he uses the word “I”:

I thank Thee,
I am not as other men are,
I fast twice in the week,
I give tithes of all that
I possess.

The Pharisee started his prayer right. He said “I thank Thee”. But even his thanks was defiled. He was thanking God for making him better than those around him. As a Pharisee, he looked good on the outside. Jesus said of the Pharisees, the self righteous:

Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

If you’ll notice, the Pharisee uses the pronoun “I” FIVE TIMES. In the Bible FIVE is the number of GRACE. The Pharisee traded his works for the Grace of God. He was not relying on Jesus, the One Sent.

God does not judge us based on how others around us are. God judges us based on how we compare to HIM. This is why salvation MUST be by Grace. We are to rest in Christ, trusting Him and Him alone for salvation.

Hebrews 4:9-11 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Why does the text say “LABOR to enter into THAT REST”. Because our own worst enemy is ourselves, our pride, our self sufficiency. We have to battle that BAD ME, and force ourselves to rest in Him. God told Israel:

The LORD God of Israel has given rest unto His people” (1 Chronicles 23:25 See also Exodus 33:14). Jesus Christ is the One Sent to give us rest.

Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Compare the PUBLICAN to the Pharisee. The Publican humbled himself. We read:

Luke 18:13 … the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner

The publican (someone who collected taxes for the Roman Empire), was totally focused on his inabilities and sinfulness. He was NOT presumptuous with God, but prayed God be merciful to me a sinner. He was relying on the One Sent to save us. Jesus says:

Luke 18:14 … this man {the Publican} went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The Justified) shall live by faith! You cannot be made right before God by your own works. You must Rest on the Lord Jesus. As the late Andrew Murray said:

Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.”

Genuine Faith Not Only Overcomes and Rests,
But It Is Obedient To the One Sent From God.

Luke 18:16-17 Jesus called them unto him, and said, {Allow the} little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for OF such is the kingdom of God. 17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

Many churches today have internal problems because they are not representative of the Kingdom of God. The Pastor is the king, the deacons are the kings, or certain well placed families are the kings, or the flock itself is the king. Beloved, the Kingdom of God has only ONE King, and that is God. It is not a democracy, but a monarchy. We are to become like little children. What God has said, we receive. What God has rejected, we reject. We base our beliefs on the Bible, not on what our opinions are. This is certainly not popular in our current politically correct, cancel culture – but it wasn’t popular in Jesus’ day, either. What does the faith of a child practically look like?

Almost before Jesus finishes speaking “a certain ruler” asks Jesus:

Luke 18:18 Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Jesus tells the man:

Luke 18:19-20 … Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. 20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother.

When Jesus quotes the commandments to this man, He quotes the second part of the ten commandments. The first part of the ten commandments relate to loving God, i.e.

  1. God will be first in your life (Exodus 20:2-3)
  2. You will not worship anyone but God (Exodus 20:4-6)
  3. You will not take the Name of God in vain (Exodus 20:7)
  4. You will dedicate one day in seven to worship God (Exodus 20:8-11)

You can sum up these first four commandments as “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). This man was not doing these things. He was following an idol. So Jesus starts out with the second part of the ten commandments, which is to “love others the way you want to be loved” (Matthew 22:39). Of course, the man easily passed that part of the text. The man honored his parents (5th commandment), had murdered no one (6th commandment), had committed no sexual sins (7th commandment), had not stolen property from others (8th commandment), nor had he slandered anyone (9th commandment). The man replied, “I’ve done all these things from my youth up”.

But the man had committed idolatry. He put THINGS in front of God.

Luke 18:22-25 … when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. 24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

This man had made an idol out of his stuff. He was not following God as a little child, but had surrounded himself with stuff that he loved more than God. Genuine Faith rejects the golden calf, and looks to the One Sent from God.

Jesus told him “sell it all – give it away – and come follow Me”. We, as God’s children, are to love our Heavenly Father more than anything else we have.

Back in 1852 Pastor John Angell James preached a message entitled “What is the Idol of our Day”. In that message he noted three things as the idol of our day: Love of pleasure, Excessive worldliness, and Wealth. Truthfully, this has always been our problem. We place our trust in the wrong things – often to our damnation.

We called to put away our idols, and trust in the One Sent. The Apostle Paul tells us:

Philippians 3:49Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Do you have the faith, saving faith, the only faith that comes from God? Have you believed on the One Sent, Jesus Christ our Lord? Oh, what a blessing it is to have Him in your life, to be a part of His Kingdom. Come, and give yourselves to Him this very day. For the glory of God, for your earthly peace of mind, and your heavenly destination. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen and Amen!

Illustration Prior to the message I passed out Cross Pennies from the Cross Penny Ministries. Jesus Christ is the ONE SENT from God. You can order 500 stamped Cross Pennies by sending a check to Steve Petty/ Cross Penny Ministries. Details are at https://www.crosspennyministries.com/

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Harden Not Your Hearts

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Hebrews 3:7-11 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

I want to talk today about hardening of the heart. I’m not talking about

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a hardening of the physical heart. We have had people in our Church afflicted with congestive heart failure. I myself take statins to keep my cholesterol levels down and so protect my physical heart. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries (this is called atherosclerosis), which hurts that muscle in your chest that they call “the heart”. The “heart” I’m talking about today is not the pump in your chest that causes your blood to flow, but the spiritual center of your soul.

The Bible Considers The Spiritual Heart To Be The Driving Force Of Our Lives With God

What is in the heart, the spiritual heart, determines what type of person you are. Solomon said:

Proverbs 23:7 for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:

God looks at the heart of a person to determine whether they are His, or whether they are lost. God told Samuel when He rejected Saul as King of Israel:

1 Samuel 16:7 … Look not on {Saul’s face}, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

When God chose David to be King over Israel, the Scripture says “the LORD sought a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). “I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after mine Own heart, which shall fulfill all my will” (Acts 13:22). God has a heart, a spiritual heart, and He looks at our spiritual hearts.

The Bible tells us that the source of all sinfulness is the wayward heart. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote:

Proverbs 14:10 … the heart knoweth his own bitterness …

BITTERNESS comes from the heart, as does PRIDE:

Proverbs 21:4 An high look, and a PROUD HEART … is Sin

WORRY and SORROW come from the restless heart:

Ecclesiastes 2:23 For all his days are SORROWS, and his travail GRIEF, yea, his HEART taketh not rest in the night …

REBELLION against God comes from the heart:

Jeremiah 5:23 … But this people hath a REVOLTING and a REBELLIOUS HEART …

Our Lord Jesus told us that what defiles people is what comes out of the mouth:

Matthew 15:18-20 … those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

The Spiritual Heart of a person is very important. A person without Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will have a lost heart, filled with sin. But praise God, Jesus came to save sinners. The Bible says:

Romans 10:9-10 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

It is the HEART that must repent and believe on Christ. The HEART must be surrendered to God for salvation to occur. What are the two greatest commandments? Jesus said:

Matthew 22:37-40 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

We are to love God with ALL OUR HEART. Our hearts are to be devoted to Him. When God has ALL of our HEART, and ALL of our SOULS (the life essence of humanity), and ALL our MINDS (our intellect), then we are where He wants us to be. When we love God with our ALL, then we will love the others around us as we want to be loved.

A person who treats those around him like furniture has a heart problem.

Illustrate I hate to text! I do, if I must, but I hate to text. Just yesterday someone texted my little flip phone, “This is Susan”. I texted back, “Who R U?” The text returned, “Don’t you know Susan?” My reply was, “If you don’t tell me who u r, I will block your number”. The message that returned stunned me. “I’m Susan’s husband, and I found your name and number in HER phone.” I still don’t know who this is, so I texted again, “Who R U?” He started texting more gibberish, and so I blocked his number. When I got home I told Sherry my wife about it, and she said “Don’t you remember you helped someone named “Susan” with groceries and gas money?” Well, then I remembered. Listen, I help a lot of people, and I can’t remember everyone who comes by needing help. But I digress. My question is this: WHY wasn’t this man asking his WIFE about my name and number? And WHY is he snooping in his wife’s phone? He obviously has a HEART problem, as well as a marital problem. If he loved and trusted his wife with his heart, he wouldn’t be snooping and irritating me with needless texts!

The heart needs to be given to Jesus.
The heart needs to be focused on serving the Father.
The heart needs to heed God’s Word, to be conformed to God’s heart.

God said “Let thine heart retain MY WORDS: keep MY COMMANDMENTS, and live!” (Proverbs 4:4). The Psalmist said:

Psalm 28:6-7 Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. 7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

When the heart trusts in God and His Word, there is joy in the heart. When the heart is focused Christ-ward,
there are songs on our lips!

The Heart Can Be Hardened To God

What you pursue is what you will become. You become a Christian by surrendering your heart to Jesus. You grow as a Christian by reading and studying God’s Word, by feeding your heart the Scripture. God said “Let thine heart retain My Words” (Proverbs 4:4). Jesus prayed for His Church.

John 17:5-6, 8, 14 … O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. … 8 .. I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. … 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. … 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

When the Word of God is heard and received into the heart by faith, then the heart drives the hand of the believer to do what God has said do. The healthy heart is open to God’s Word and His guidance.

The hardened heart rejects the Word and
the leadership of God.

Hebrews 3:7-8 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness …

The Holy Spirit saith. This is a word and a warning from God, and a quotation from

Psalm 95:7-8 … For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

What caused the hardening of the hearts of Israel? There were several things.

  • To day if ye will hear his voice”. They hardened their hearts because they would not listen to what God was saying. God was talking, but no one was paying attention. God showed them grace, but no one was looking.

Israel’s FIRST failure was at Marah:

Exodus 15:23-25 … when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. 24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? 25 And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

The people complained instead of going to God in prayer. They grumbled, and murmured. God showed Moses a tree to drop in the bitter waters, and they became sweet. After this God told Israel:

Exodus 15:26 … If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

God told Israel, “Do what I tell you to do. Hear what I command you to do. I am the YAHWEH Who will heal you – UNLESS”. God is to be honored by His people. We are to trust Him, and trust that He knows what is best for us.

Israel’s SECOND failure was at Rephidim:

Exodus 17:1-2 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?

When Israel got to Rephidim there was no water there. Rather than pray, and seek God’s face, they murmured at Moses. Now Moses was God’s spokesman. As soon as they murmured (complained), Moses warned them: “Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?”. Moses has no power to give Israel water – Moses is not God. They need to be seeking God in prayer. God took Israel through the Red Sea – surely He can provide water.

When Moses asks “why do you TEMPT Yahweh?”, the word “TEMPT” is the Hebrew נָסָה nâçâh, (pronounced naw-saw), meaning “to put God to the test, to provoke Him”. The warning should have sufficed. But Israel ignored the great miracle at the Red Sea, and ignored the pillar of cloud that guided them by day and the pillar of fire that guided them by night. Israel ignored the lessons learned at Marah. They allowed their thirst and their opinions to drive their demand.

Moses went to the Lord in prayer, and the Lord told him:

Exodus 17:5-7 … Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah (means temptation), and Meribah (means strife), because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?

God had the elders – the leaders – stand up front while Moses struck the rock. The Bible tells us “that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). Israel saw Moses pray. They saw God’s provision. They were to watch and learn from this, to draw this lesson into their hearts. Yet they would not learn.

Hebrews 3:10-11 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Israel refused to cross over the Jordan and enter into the Promised Land. They sinned repeatedly against God, but never really repented. God told the first generation of Israel that:

Deuteronomy 1:35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers

God did not punish all of Israel. He allowed Joshua and Caleb to enter the land 40 years later. God also said:

Deuteronomy 1:39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

Unconfessed and unrepented of sin causes the heart to harden, so much so that God cannot bless you. Taking advantage of the grace of God can also harden your heart. God punishes the hardened heart!

How Do I Avoid The Hardened Heart?

Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

How do I avoid a hardened heart? First of all, I need to examine myself daily. Take heed, brethren. Look at my own life. Examine myself. Am I living in the Kingdom of God. Is God my Father. Am I a brethren? Many Christians are like Pharisees, comfortable with their status in life, and always looking for fault in others. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote {speck of dust} that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam {the 2×4} that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote {speck of dust} out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam {the 2×4} is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam {the 2×4} out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote {speck of dust} out of thy brother’s eye.

Jesus is NOT saying that we are not to tell others that they are in sin when they indeed in sin. No, for later in our text we will see that we are to:

Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

The word exhort is the Greek παρακαλέω parakaléō, (pronounced par-ak-al-eh’-o), which means “to call to the side so as to encourage, admonish, console, or beseech, to teach”. In the Church we are to encourage one another to put away sin. However, we are not to be like the Pharisees, who judged everyone else, but never themselves. The Bible tells us:

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Examine yourself daily. Ask the hard questions. “Am I in the faith? Is God the Father in my life? Is my daily goal to exalt Jesus, and to honor my Father? Am I devoting enough time daily to read and heed God’s Word?”

There is no such thing as a part time Christian. You are either dedicated to God and His Kingdom, or you are not. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end

Those who continue to look to God daily, trusting in Him, are those who are partnered with Christ. God will not bless a part time, spare tire sort of faith. As God wrote to the Churches in the Book of Revelation, one word stands out. See if you can find it:

Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: (see also Revelation 3:5; 3:12; 3:21; 21:7)

Do you see a pattern here? What does it mean “he that overcometh”? It refers to the person genuinely saved by God. The Apostle John said it clearly:

1 John 5:4-5 For {whosoever} is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior look to Him one day at a time, one step at a time. We live as Christ’s Kingdom people. We live by faith in Him. We are to look unto Jesus. We who are saved are of the House of Christ. The faith that saves is the faith that endures. I’ll end with these words:

Hebrews 3:6 but Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

May God the Holy Spirit fasten His Word into your hearts this very day. God bless you all. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Hebrews, Sermons Preached | Tagged | 1 Comment

Christians Are To Be Vessels Of Grace

Photo by Balaji Malliswamy on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians 4:29.

Last week we studied the miracle of the Christian. We were in Ephesians 2:8-10, which tells us:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The Christian is saved by grace, not by works. Before being a Christian we were all dead in trespasses and sins. We were alienated from the life of God. We were followers of the world, and of the darkness. We were in a spiritual condition where we were lost, and could not save ourselves. Then God in Grace stepped in. He called us to salvation. He opened our eyes by His Spirit, and beckoned us to Him. We, like Lazarus, stumbled out of the tomb of our lives at Jesus’ call. We were saved by Grace.

Then by Grace God begins to work on us. “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works”. God did not save us to abandon us. He saved us to shape us. To make us. To work on us. You are God’s Masterpiece. You are not done, but God is working in you.

It is by Grace the Word of the Lord came to you.
It is by Grace that God called you.
God now calls you, as His people, into the ministry of Grace.

Christians Are To Be Vessels Of Grace

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister Grace unto the hearers.

The Bible says that Christians are earthen or clay vessels, called by and inhabited by God (2 Corinthians 4:5-7). We are jars of clay filled with Grace!

God calls us by Grace to minister with Him, sharing the Grace of God with others. We who are His people are to be focused on “ministering Grace unto the hearers”.

Who Are The “Hearers”?

God hears us. God indwells the Christian. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9). God indwells us. He is inside us. “The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17). “God is in you” (1 Corinthians 14:25). God is not in some distant place, far from His children. He has promised …

Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

The Author of Eternity – the eternal and Great I AM – has said “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”. Our Lord has said in:

Matthew 28:20 … I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

God is with us. He is ever with us. He listens to the words we say every day. He listens for us to speak Grace to others. God hears every word you speak. God hears the kind words, and the unkind words. God hears everything. But God is not the only One Who hears. Our other “hearers” are those in proximity to us.

Our wives,
Our husbands,
Our children,
Our fellow believers,
Our enemies,
Our friends,
Our employers,
and every stranger we meet.

Whoever is close enough to hear our voice, as vessels of Grace we should be speaking Grace. We are God’s Workmanship, not the devil’s dupes. We speak Grace, not corruption.

Ephesians 4:29 Let NO corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister Grace unto the hearers.

Word Study This is not a command given to the lost, but to the saved. The plowing of the wicked is sin” (Proverbs 21:4). If even the most mundane act of the wicked is sin, their every godless word is sin. No, this command is not to the lost, but to those “saved by Grace” (Ephesians 2:5; 2:8). What is this corrupt communication we are to avoid?

  • The word translated “CORRUPT” is the Greek σαπρός saprós, {pronounced sap-ros’}, which means “rotten, putrefied, poor quality, worthless, unfit for use”. Jesus uses the word saprós in

Luke 6:43-45 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt {saprós} fruit; neither doth a corrupt {saprós} tree bring forth good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

“Good” trees – those saved by the Grace of God – are made alive from the inside out. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The lost person speaks without grace, speaks rotten words. The believer in Christ – the workmanship of God – is called to speak Grace, to speak Life, to speak Love.

One day Jesus’ disciples were following our Lord, and at that moment happened to pass a corn field. The disciples reached out, and in accordance with the Law of God, took an ear of corn to feed themselves. The Pharisees saw this, and asked Jesus, Why don’t your disciples wash their hands when they eat? This is the tradition of the elders!” (Matthew 15:2, my paraphrase). Jesus told them:

Matthew 15:10-11 … Hear, and understand: 11 not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Graceless or rotted words defile a person. Graceless talk hurts others, drives people away. Graceless talk labels others. It is in the Congresswoman who calls another a “White Supremacist”. It is in the media talking heads that slaps labels on people, like “Homophobic”, “Transphobic”, or “Racist”. An old saying is:

What’s down in the well, comes up in the bucket!

Jesus said in Matthew 15:18-20 … those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defileth not a man.

If you have been born again, you have been born of Grace. The lost know nothing of Grace. But we are not to be like the lost.

Ephesians 4:17-24 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

The world walks “in the vanity (the emptiness) of their mind”. They follow nothingness. Their “understanding is darkened” because they are “alienated or separated from the life of God”. God is not in them. They are yet in darkness. They are afflicted with “blindness of the heart”. They need Jesus. They need to be saved. They speak as they speak because they are bad trees – but God would make them good. We are to put off that old way, and put on the new man – put on Christ. We are to remember that we are vessels of Grace. Praise God!

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation

We have the “ministry of reconciliation”. We are to speak Grace, to share Grace, to be Grace oriented in act and speech.

Corrupt Communication Always Departs
From The Written Word Of God

The reason that we come together as a Church is to grow to be more like Jesus. We are to be like God’s Kingdom on this earth. When God established His Church, He gave the Church His Word through certain offices.

Ephesians 4:11-12 {God} gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

And God set in the Church Apostles and Prophets” (1 Corinthians 12:28). The Apostles and Prophets were used by God to write the Scripture, this Holy Bible, that we cherish. When you enter this Church, the first thing you see is the Communion Table, and on it, elevated, the Bible. This is the Prophets and the Apostles. The Bible says that the Church is …

Ephesians 2:20 … built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone ..

It is the Bible that is true. When Jesus prayed for His Church, our Lord said:

John 17:17 Sanctify them through Thy truth {o God}: Thy Word is truth

The Bible is true. God gave the Scripture to us, His Children by faith,

Ephesians 4:12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

  • This Bible “perfects the saints”. Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Christ, you are a saint. You are set apart for God’s use. But you are – as we studied last week – God’s Workmanship, God’s Masterpiece. The Bible was given to shape you, and make you more like Jesus. WE MUST UNFLINCHINGLY SPEAK HIS WORD AND LIVE HIS WORD IF WE WILL GROW, being what God wants us to be.
  • This Bible is also “for the work of the ministry”. How is a person saved? By being good? No! By being saved by faith in Christ. By repenting of sin, and seizing the Savior in love.

Romans 10:9-13 if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I have seen famous “Christian” music artists and actors, famous “Christian” preachers interviewed who were asked, “Do you believe that faith in Jesus Christ alone is the only way to be saved?” Several years ago Larry King (now deceased and standing before the righteous Judge of all) asked a famous preacher questions. King said:

We’ve had ministers on who said, your record don’t count. You either believe in Christ or you don’t. If you believe in Christ, you are, you are going to heaven. And if you don’t no matter what you’ve done in your life, you ain’t.”

King asked this preacher if someone who rejected Christ as Savior would go to Heaven. The preacher choked. He spoke corrupt communication. He said,

You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know …”.

This is contrary to what Jesus said. He said:

John 14:6 … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

To be fair, this same preacher later posted on his web site an open apology for that interview. I commend him for his retraction, and his apology. There but for the Grace of God go we. But corrupt communication kept Larry King from hearing the Gospel message before he died, and kept millions of Americans from hearing about the Grace of God only available through Christ. How many people will leave this life without Jesus because of corrupt communication?

Ephesians 4:12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

  • The Bible also edifies or builds up the Body of Christ. When God’s Church departs from the Bible, or begins deleting sections of the Scripture, then the Church is no longer the Church but the world. It is the devil that twists the Word of God. He did this in the Garden of Eden, and does it today.

Genesis 3:1 … Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? … {you may eat of that forbidden tree} … 4-5 Ye shall not surely die: 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Just as the self righteous Pharisees and the corrupt Politicians struck at Jesus, they will strike at us. We will be tempted and pressured to go the way of the world, to get off the path of righteousness. Jesus said,

John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

The Church is not to be like the world. The Christian is not to be like the lost. The standard that God has for His Church is that …

Ephesians 4:13-15 we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

The Church is the Kingdom of Christ. The believer is to be like Christ. We are not to be like the world, tossed about, confused and frightened. Corrupt communication leads to this type of instability. We have the Word of God. We Cherish the Word of God. We live the Word of God.

We Are Called To Speak The Truth In Love
Not Hatefully, Nor Vengefully, But Lovingly

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

You tell a lie when you do not say that marriage is what God says it is. You tell a lie when you condone aberrations from the Divine Design of human sexuality. Beloved, speak the truth, speak the Scripture … for it is true! Jesus declared God’s Word is truth” (John 17:17).

Psalms 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalms 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

Beloved, the truth is in Jesus (Ephesians 4:21). We are to let the Word of God be in us, and flow from us. We are to affirm what God affirms, and reject what God rejects. Corrupt communication will never bless others. It always tears down. “We are members one of another”. If our nation keeps drifting from the Word of God, our nation will collapse. Christians, we must speak His truth in love.

Ephesians 4:28 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 neither give place to the devil.

Guard your tongue when you are angry. When you are angry you are often going to say something that you will later regret. Before you say it, ask “Does this build up or does this tear down? Is this true to God’s Word, or is it my emotion talking”. Be like Jesus in your anger.

Ephesians 4:29 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Quit living your lives to satisfy yourselves. Live so as to satisfy the Lord Who saved you. Live so as to lead others to Christ. Live so as to lift others up to the Grace of God.

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Remember, God is listening. God the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian. We are to love God with all our hearts, so live and speak so as to please the Lord Who saved. To sum it up, Christian,

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

John Piper put it this way:

…it is not Christian just to stop stealing. It is not Christian just to work honestly in order to have things. It is Christian to work to have in order to give {to those in need} – to meet needs. All our work is to be a display of Grace. It is Christian to ask the deeper, internal question: am I speaking now to edify? … It is out of hopeless hearts of discouragement and frustration and anger and bitterness and resentment that all rotten and hurtful language comes … Is your mouth a means of Grace? … all our speech is to be a display of Grace.”

When we speak without Grace, we do not lead to Christ, nor do we build up the Kingdom of God. We must speak the truth in love. We must love God, and love our neighbor for the glory of God. Beloved, let us shine for Jesus in these Pandemic addled days. Let us grow in His Grace, and speak life to those around us. America needs Jesus. Let us lead others to Jesus.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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The Kingdom Is Where The Eagles Are Gathered

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Luke 17:20-21 And when {Jesus} was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 17:37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

WHEN Will The Kingdom Of God Come In?

The Pharisees – constantly at war with the Lord Jesus – wanted to know WHEN the Kingdom of God would come. Why did they ask Jesus this question with such force? Because Jesus had previously presented Himself as the Messiah. Jesus called Himself “Son of Man”. Our Lord told people:

Matthew 8:20 The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

In Matthew chapter 9 Jesus told a crippled man,

Matthew 9:2 … Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

The Scribes on hearing this said “this man blasphemes God, for only God can forgive sins” (also Mark 2:6-7). Jesus told them:

Matthew 9:6-7 … that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house.

The phrase “son of man” was used in prophecy to describe the Messiah’s earthly Kingdom. The Prophet Daniel – of whom the Pharisees were well acquainted – wrote of the Messiah:

Daniel 7:13-14 … I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Jesus repeatedly, in His ministry, referred to Himself as “the Son of man”. When the Pharisees were upset that Jesus’ disciples picked corn to eat on the Sabbath, Jesus told them:

Matthew 12:6, 8 …. in this place is one greater than the temple. … 8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

If Jesus is the Messiah then WHEN is He going to bring in his kingdom? They DEMANDED Jesus answer this. Jesus replies:

Luke 17:20-21 … The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

The kingdom of God is within you”. God will one day send Jesus back to this earth. He is coming again. He may come tonight. Oh, how I wish He would. But the Kingdom of God is NOT just when Jesus returns. The “kingdom of God is within you”. When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you become a part of His Kingdom. After John the Baptist was imprisoned, our Lord …

Mark 1:14-15 … Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

The kingdom of God is at hand”. To enter His Kingdom you must repent and believe the Gospel. Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:4; 19:16). He is the King of His Church, the King of the Christian, the King of our hearts. His Kingdom at this time does not “come by observation”. The Scribes and Pharisees carefully watched Jesus, observing Him, waiting for Him to stumble, finding fault. They would not see His Kingdom because they would not believe. Those who will not believe Jesus, those who will not “keep His commandments”, will never be a part of His Kingdom.

Oh Beloved, there are so many “pretend Christians”, much like these Pharisees, in the world today. They hear His Word, but never DO it. Did not Jesus say:

John 14:15-17 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

If you will not love Jesus, the King of the Kingdom, then you will not receive God’s Spirit. But if you love Jesus, the Kingdom of God is within you. The Pharisees cannot know nor understand this. If Jesus is not King of your heart, you are not in His Kingdom. Religion does not make you a part of His Kingdom. Jesus said:

John 15:9-11 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Where Jesus is, the Kingdom of God is. If Jesus is in your heart, you are in His Kingdom RIGHT NOW. Just prior to this query by the Pharisees we read:

Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as {Jesus} went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

Jesus went through the middle of Samaria and Galilee. As Jesus was moving southward, the text should say “Jesus went through the middle of Galilee and Samaria”. But it doesn’t. It lists Samaria first. Now Galilee was an area that was thoroughly Jewish, but Samaria, oh, that was a different story! Samaritans were despised by Orthodox Jews. Samaria was an area that had been occupied by Assyria many years before. Many of the Jews that lived in Samaria intermingled with the Assyrians. Why would God give Samaria first billing in the text? It is because faith was found in a Samaritan. Read with me:

Luke 17:12-14 And as {Jesus} entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

The ten men, lepers, stand far off. God told Moses “Command the children of Israel to put out of the camp every leper” (Numbers 5:1-2). Those who were lepers in the Old Testament were often afflicted with the disease as a punishment from God (see 2 Chronicles 26:16-23; 2 Kings 15:5; 2 Kings 5:25-27). This group of ten men were Jews as well as Samaritans, all bound together by one common affliction. They cry out to Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. The word Master is the Greek word ἐπιστάτης epistátēs, (pronounced ep-is-tat’-ace), which means “overseer, boss, the One in charge”. Jesus’ disciples often called Him “Master” (see Luke 5:5; Luke 8:24, 45; Luke 9:33, 49), recognizing that He was in charge. These men recognize Jesus – at least outwardly – as the Lord. He is our Master. He is our King. Jesus is our Messiah.

The lepers asked the Master for mercy.
Mercy is
to we receive that which we do not deserve.

Jesus does not hesitate. He tells them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests”. When Jesus came, He did not come to eradicate the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:18). The Law of God said that when a person was healed of leprosy, they were to go to the priests to diagnose their healing, as well as to make a sacrifice in thanksgiving to God (see Leviticus 13:1-46; 14:2-32). Jesus came to fulfill the Law. “Go, show yourselves to the priests”. They were healed at that very moment, but needed to be diagnosed healed, and to make sacrifice to God.

Luke 17:15-16 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

The ten men were healed. The priests diagnosed their healing. They made their sacrifices before God as the Law commanded. Then the nine went home. But one, the Samaritan, the hated Samaritan, the half breed Samaritan, he came back to the Master. This man did not just give Jesus lip-service – he honored Jesus with his life. He fell down at Jesus’ feet – Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus says:

Luke 17:17-18 … Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

Where are the nine? Jesus knows where they are, but He speaks so we can know this truth. Ten lepers went to the priests to be diagnosed, according to the Law. Ten lepers offered sacrifice to God at the Temple, according to the Law. But only one leper gave glory to God. Only one leper came and bowed down to Jesus, worshiping at His feet. Only one leper came to the King of the Kingdom of God, and honored the Son of God. Jesus told that Samaritan:

Luke 17:19 … Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

To HEAR Jesus and not HONOR Jesus is not faith.
Saving faith receives Jesus Christ as
both Savior and Lord.

John 5:22-24 … the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Beloved, the faith that saves is the faith that, from the heart, honors the Son. The Kingdom of God is within you – or it is not. Do you love Jesus? Then do as Jesus said. Do you love the King? Then you are part of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God Will One Day Be Over The Earth

The Kingdom of God is within you. But there is a future Kingdom of God that will come. Jesus tells His listeners:

Luke 17:22-25 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. 23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. 24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. 25 But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

Jesus told those listening, “There will be a day when you will want to see the Son of Man, the Messiah, but won’t be able to. I must suffer many things and be rejected by Israel.” Jesus was living under the shadow of the Cross. He was getting ready to die for your sins and mine. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). The Pharisees will not miss Jesus, but His disciples, members of His Kingdom will. “Jesus is the satisfactory payment for our sins, and not just for us, but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2, my paraphrase).

But Jesus is coming again.

Luke 17:26-27 And as it was in the days of {Noah}, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

When Jesus returns for His Church, it will be just like it was in the days of Noah. People will eat, and drank, and marry wives, or be given in marriage. People will live their lives without God, and consider life normal. God’s Word will be preached. It will be available. God’s Word is available in our Church in person, or in the parking lot, or on Facebook, or by mail. In our world today you can heart the Word of God. In Noah’s day, there was only Noah preaching the coming judgment. God was going to judge the earth because of sin, because of trespasses against his person and His Law. What was true in Noah’s day? The Scripture says:

Genesis 6:2 … the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

  1. God’s people stopped caring about the Lord. It has always been God’s commandment that

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Believers in Christ are to love unbelievers, but are not to form an intimate bond – like marriage – with an unbeliever. When light marries darkness, the light dims. The beginning of the judgment of God on the world was when the sons of God (the saved) married the daughters of Adam (unbelievers). This is what has happened in America today. Christians and Churches have made covenants with those who are lost and without Christ.

When the Light becomes dark,
the judgment of God is not far off!

2 Peter 2:5 {God} spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

  1. When God’s people ignored God’s warning, it brought rampant evil on the earth – evil so great that God decided to wash it all away.

Genesis 6:5 God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Can we not say that this is true in America today? Everywhere you look, evil abounds. The Bible says in …

Isaiah 5:20-21 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Our God is not mocked – what you sow, you shall reap (Galatians 6:7). When you dabble in sin, it isn’t long before judgment finds you.

  1. However, God did not destroy the world immediately. He made Noah a preacher of righteousness, and allowed him to preach. God said,

Genesis 6:13 … Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make thee an ark

God gave mankind time to repent, and a way to escape judgment. This way was narrow and specific. There was only one way to life – and that was God’s way. In our world today, just as in Noah’s day, the lost believe there are many ways to salvation. They think they can build their own boat and escape the judgment of God. But beloved, there is but one way, and that narrow way is through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

There was no way of salvation in Noah’s time but the Ark.
There is no way of salvation in our time but the Cross of Christ.
Noah manned the Ark. Jesus died on the Cross.

The Scripture without shame declares:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other {but Jesus}: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

It is Jesus only who suffered for our sins, one time only, on Calvary. The Righteous Jesus died for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:15). There was no other way to be saved, then our now, but by the means that God has given. Ark or Christ? Have you been saved?

  1. When judgment came, it came suddenly and unexpectedly. God told Noah:

Genesis 7:1 … Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

Jesus warned us in:

Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Our Lord told us in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

Sudden destruction will come. Beloved, we do not know when Jesus is coming for His Church, but once He takes His Church from this earth the Great Tribulation will come. There will be seven terrible, frightening years on the earth as Satan’s son the AntiChrist reigns. Judgment is coming. It is certain. But we do not know when. God says over and over again “the day of the Lord will come as a thief” (2 Peter 3:10). Will you be ready? Are you on the Ark that is Christ? Oh Beloved, do not wait. You do not know when Jesus will return – but He will! You do not know when the last day of life is, when you yourself will leave this body. God knows, but you do not. It is appointed to each person a time to die, and after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? Oh Beloved, today is the day of salvation:

2 Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I {helped} thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

Have you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If not, now is the accepted time – now is the day of salvation.

When we started our sermon today, I quoted two texts. They were:

Luke 17:20-21 And when {Jesus} was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 17:37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

In the first text we talked about WHEN the Kingdom of God would come. But we never examined the second text. The Pharisees asked Jesus “WHEN is the Kingdom coming?” The disciples asked Jesus “WHERE is the Kingdom of God?” Jesus’ response sounds cryptic, but it’s not. Jesus said, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together. What is this “BODY” Jesus is speaking of? It is simple – He is still discussing the Kingdom of God. The Bible calls the believers, united together by faith in Jesus, the “Body of Christ”:

Romans 12:4-5 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

God’s people are those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. God’s people are united, loving God with all their hearts, all their souls, and with all their minds (Matthew 22:37). God’s people are those who, loving God most, obey His commandment:

Matthew 22:39 … Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

In fact, God’s people are those who obey the new commandment Jesus gave us,

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Where the Body gathers, the Eagles are. Eagles are often presented in the Scripture as believers who rest on the Rock of Christ. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 40:31 … they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Eagles escape those that would prey on them by making their nests high up in the rocks. That Rock is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). If you are in Christ, you are not the devil’s prey. You are an eagle. You are to soar on wings of faith, looking to the One Who saved you. Eagles soar without flapping their wings, being lifted by the wind. The Christian soars by spreading the wings of his faith, and by resting on God’s Spirit and His Word. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). Are you resting on Jesus? Are you obeying His Word? Oh Beloved, I pray you will. May God’s Holy Word and His Holy Spirit draw you to Him this very day. Amen and Amen.

Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear
Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake
Humbling your hearts to God saves from the chastening rod
Seek the way pilgrims trod, Christians awake

Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon
Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound
All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies
Going where no one dies, heavenward bound

Amen and Amen!

Posted in Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Battling Anxiety The Jesus Way

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Sometimes I will have bad nights where I toss and turn rather than rest. You probably never experience that (yeah, right), but I do. What keeps me up at night? Anxiety. I’ll get something on my mind that I can’t get off of it. What about this? What about that? I contacted my tax preparer H&R Block yesterday to set an appointment when I was told they do not do “walk ins” right now because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The office manager sent a link to my email account that I was supposed to use to “upload” my files. I lay down last night, wondering how I was going to scan these documents into the computer. It’s not something I usually do. So anxiety and worrisome thoughts got in my head. I began to overthink what I had to do.

Worry. Anxiety. It Comes To Every Human

Even our Lord Jesus was afflicted with anxiety. As He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to His betrayal and crucifixion we read:

Matthew 26:37-39 … {Jesus} took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

What Jesus was preparing to do for us is certainly a greater matter than are my taxes. But I want you to notice that our Jesus was not at peace as He entered Gethsemane. Look at the way that Matthew describes our Master.

  • Jesus was sorrowful (λυπέω lypéō, [pronounced loo-peh’-o]), which is literally “was in distress, filled with sorrow”. Jesus was going through what one preacher called “a dark night of the soul”.
  • Jesus was “very heavy” (ἀδημονέω adēmonéō, [pronounced ad-ay-mon-eh’-o]), literally “to be troubled to the point of depression”.

Jesus knew what the Cross would entail. Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him, and shared His burden with them, saying My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. He was hurting emotionally so much that He felt like He was dying. Three times Jesus prayed:

Luke 22:42 Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

As Jesus prayed, you could see the struggle on His very person. The Bible says that:

Luke 22:43-44 there appeared an angel unto {Jesus} from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

What a battle Gethsemane was for our Jesus!

Our Jesus never sinned, and never could sin. Jesus was tempted in all points as we are tempted, yet He never sinned. As our High Priest, Jesus suffered as we suffer.

Hebrews 4:14-15 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus agonized and suffered anxiety. Yet He did so without sin. Anxiety and worry are conditions that come to all humans – it is a part of our human nature. Yet anxiety and worry should not keep us from doing what God calls us to do. I want to look at anxiety tonight, and examine how our Lord and His Word tells us to continue to move forward in spite of our fears.

Jesus Did Not Hide His Anxiety From The Father

Anxiety and worry can become sins if we do not handle them correctly. One thing that people often do about anxiety is they hide it, or try to deal with it by themselves.

Too often we hold anxiety in, hiding it in shame, or trying to overcome it by spiritual pride.

Jesus told us:

Matthew 6:31-34 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Do not let worry consume you. Look up. Look to the
Father.
Submit to the Father’s Kingdom.

Jesus said, “when you are anxious, seek FIRST the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness”. That is exactly what Jesus did. He came into Gethsemane with the express purpose of telling the Father of His anxiety. But Jesus did not just demand that the Father take away the anxiety by taking away the trial. No, what Jesus repeated three times in His prayer to the Father was:

Matthew 26:39, 42 … {Jesus} fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. … 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. … 44 … And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Jesus was focused on obedience to the Father’s will. In Mark we see Jesus praying:

Mark 14:36 … Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Jesus’ prayer was proper before God. He did not just demand that the Cross be removed from His life, but He prayed “if it were possible, that the hour might pass from Him”. Lord, is it possible? Lord, is there any other way I can secure the salvation of your Beloved?

Jesus Christ, Eternal God of Eternal God, the One Who “Was in the beginning with God, and was God. Of Whom all things were made” (John 1:1-3), this Jesus humbled Himself before the Father and the Spirit.

He did not demand, but requested. The Apostle Peter put it this way:

1 Peter 5:5-7 … God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Jesus “cast His care – His anxieties upon God – knowing that God cared for Him”. And God certainly cared for Jesus. Several times the Father said:

Matthew 3:17 … This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 17:5 … This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

The Father loved the Son, and expressed His love numerous times in front of witnesses. The Son knew and knows that He is loved of the Father. As He cries our from Gethsemane, He does not doubt the Father’s love. He asks. He seeks the face of the Father’s will. Jesus cast that anxiety on the Father, not once, but three times, resting in the love of Yahweh. Jesus humbled Himself under the will of the Father.

When God took His Israel, Whom He loved, to the Promised Land, He allowed them to send one man from each tribe of Israel into the land to do reconnaissance. God wanted His people to know how wonderful the land was that He was giving them. When the twelve spies returned, they all said:

Numbers 13:27 … We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.

Had they stopped here they would have been fine. But then ten of the spies said:

Numbers 13:28-29 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.

Joshua and Caleb encouraged the people. “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” (vs 30). But the majority “brought an evil report of the land” (vs 32), and convinced Israel to abandon the will of God. THIS IS SIN. Though Joshua and Caleb encouraged the people, the damage was done. Israel rejected the rule of God. And thus that generation wandered in the wilderness for forty years, until all died – and God’s will was done.

Beloved, we are to do as Jesus did. We are to “cast our anxieties on our Father”, but are never to rebel against His rule. As Jesus said,

Matthew 26:39 … nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou
{o Father} wilt.

Tell the Father your anxieties. Cast them upon Him – but do not doubt His love nor His plan for your life. The Apostle said:

Philippians 4:5-7 The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The “Peace of God that passes all understanding” only comes when we cast our anxieties of God. In Philippians we see the Apostle using three words:

prayer and supplication with thanksgiving”

Prayer” is our unburdening to our Father, communicating our hearts to Him. But “supplication” is a word that notes we must be surrendered to God, as Jesus was surrendered to God. “Nevertheless, not My will, but THINE be done”. Father, if You desire this of me, then strengthen my heart, and give me the courage to receive Your Word. And never forget thanksgiving. Praising God, because our Father is always near to us. If you are a Child of God, then even in the midst of trials you should be thankful. The Scripture says:

2 Peter 1:3-4 his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

We are “partakers of the divine nature”. We are “children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). God will not abandon His children in the valley, no more than He abandoned Jesus in Gethsemane.

Jesus Did Not Hide His Anxiety From His Companions

Matthew 26:38 Then saith {Jesus} unto {Peter, James, and John}, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

Jesus shared His anxiety with His followers. He did not hide it, but asked them to stand with Him as He went into this terrible valley. Sadly, the disciples kept going to sleep, and were no help at all for the Lord.

I had someone ask me once if “watching preaching on Facebook, or watching Charles Stanley, was a good replacement for Church attendance”. My answer is, absolutely not! When we go through trials, we need the touch of other believers, encouraging and helping us. The Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 12:24-26 … God hath tempered the body {the Church} together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: 25 that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.

When we go through our valleys, we need our fellow brothers and sisters helping us, encouraging us. The Scripture commands:

Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

We are to “provoke or encourage one another to love and good works”. We are to “exhort or encourage one another”. What agony it must have been for Jesus to go through Gethsemane by Himself, with only an angel of God to minister to Him! As we go through trials and tribulations, it is our Church Family that can help us.

As the Apostle Paul ended his letter to the Philippians, he writes:

Philippians 4:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. It was written to the Philippians from Rome by Epaphroditus.

Who was this disciple Epaphroditus? He was a brother in Christ who ministered to Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome. His name, Epaphroditus, means “lovely, agreeable”. As Paul was not able to come and go as an Apostle, he used Epaphroditus as his messenger and clerk. Epaphroditus wrote the letter to the Philippians as Paul dictated it, and then used him to carry the letter to the Church. We see him mentioned in:

Philippians 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

Paul uses several words to describe Epaphroditus.

  • He says “he is my brother”. Epaphroditus was a Christian, saved by faith in Jesus.
  • Paul calls him “a companion in labor”. He was willing to do whatever Paul asked him to do – nothing was beneath him.
  • Epaphroditus was a “fellow soldier”, a term that means he was willing to die for the faith.
  • Epaphroditus was also “your messenger”. He was a conduit between Paul and the Church at Philippi, working as an intercessor to bless the Apostle, though he was imprisoned. Paul wrote in:

Philippians 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.

He was comforted because of this dear Christian brother. May God encourage us to do the same one with another as we travel through this life. We cannot make it by ourselves. We need the love of Christ, and the love of our fellow believers.

When The Father Answered Christ’s Prayer,
Jesus Willingly Moved To Obey The Father

Matthew 26:44-46 And {Jesus} left {Peter, James, and John}, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

Jesus was willing to accept the will of the Father.

Casting all His anxiety on Him, our Lord now moved confidently forward into the plan of the Father. There are times when the trials must come, and we must go into the fiery furnace of affliction. When those times come, know that God is with you. The Father numbers the very hairs of our head (Luke 12:6-7). The Father knows what we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8). The Bible tells us that:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

God has a purpose and a plan for our lives. When the trials come, we are cast our anxiety on our Father. But we are also to rest in the calm assurance that He loves us, and has our best intentions in His heart.

The Apostle Paul recounted a time when he was afflicted by a “thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Corinthians 12:7). What did Paul do when this happened? What he did is very similar to what Jesus did in Gethsemane. He writes:

2 Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

Three times Paul asked for relief, sharing his heart with the Father. What did the Father say?

2 Corinthians 12:9 … My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. ..

Receiving this answer the Apostle did not pout or murmur against God. No, his response was “this, then, is the will of God”. He writes:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 … Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Paul accepted the purpose of God in his life, knowing that this was ultimately the best for him. Dr. Joe Pettigrew writes:

God changed Jacob’s name, which means “deceiver”, to Israel, which means “a prince with God.” He did it through crisis. Realizing he had to go home and face the wrath of his brother Esau, whom he’d mistreated, Jacob became desperate. That night in his tent he wrestled with the angel of the Lord. And the change in his life didn’t come quickly or easily, because we’re told he wrestled until daybreak. But suddenly it dawned on Jacob that he was wrestling with God, and it was a fight he couldn’t win.

Likewise, God will let us wrestle with an issue we can’t resolve, to get our attention. He’ll bring us to the place where we must concede, “I can’t handle this situation. It’s too big for me. I need God!” If that’s where you are today, you’re on the cusp of a breakthrough. If you’re asking God to make you comfortable in the mess you’re in, forget it—it’s not going to happen.”

Sometimes God sends us through trials so that we can grow in faith. This is what He did with Paul. This is also what the Father did with the Son. We are told in:

Hebrews 5:5-9 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. 7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Jesus in Gethsemane offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. Those are powerful words. Trials teach us all the faithfulness of God. Let us not let anxiety turn into sin. When tried, let us do as Jesus did. Let us cast our anxiety on our Father. Let us call on our brothers and sisters in Christ for strength. And let us accept the eternal purpose of the Father in what we are suffering. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged | 1 Comment

Unprofitable Servants

Photo by Alexis Antoine on Unsplash

Last week we saw Jesus’ illustration of Heaven and Hell in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Lazarus relied upon God for life – the rich man relied on his riches. When Lazarus died the angels of God took him to Abraham’s Bosom, symbolic of paradise. But when the rich man died, in hell he lifted up his eyes. He lived a life without God on the earth, and now was confined – and in torment – in a place that he could not leave. The rich man’s heart was hardened by sin. Though in hell, the rich man still saw Lazarus as a thing to be used. Remember what he said?

Luke 16:24 … send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

This man has no love for anything or anyone but himself. Send Lazarus from the glory of Paradise, to this flame where I am, and have him wait on me.

No, rich man, this is not possible. There is a great gulf fixed (Luke 16:26) where no soul can cross. Then the rich man shows concern for his brothers.

Luke 16:27-28 {send Lazarus} to my father’s house: 28 for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

This is the first evidence of any love at all in this man. Though it is a selective love, the rich man is concerned about his brothers. He does not want them to enter the same hell he is in. Since he can’t go to them, he wants Lazarus to go, and warn them of hell. Abraham replied:

Luke 16:29-31 They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

It is the Bible that the rich man’s brothers need to heed. Lazarus cannot go to them. But I want to focus on this again: the rich man did care for his brothers. But he can no longer do anything good for these brothers. He can no longer tell them about Heaven or Hell, as he is trapped in Hell. Beloved, the time to tell others about Jesus is while we are on this earth. Abraham was not insensitive to the brothers of the rich man. He just is not able to witness from Paradise, no more than the rich man can witness from Hell. As the Scripture says:

2 Corinthians 6:2 … behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation

God Is Driven By Love – And We Should Be, Too

Luke 17:1-2 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! 2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

Do you notice how our text starts: THEN said he unto the disciples. Even though this starts a new chapter in our Bibles, this THEN ties what Jesus is now going to say back to the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This rich man – in hell – finally cared for his brothers. Though it was a case of too little, too late,

God expects those who are His Children to care about His family. We need to care about adding to it, and lifting up one another. The Light of Christ’s Kingdom must grow.

Jesus cautions His disciples – that’s us – against offending “one of these little ones”. Who is He talking about? Jesus is talking about younger, less mature Christians. In a parallel text Jesus calls these “little ones” …

Matthew 18:6 … these little ones which believe in me ….

If you are a Christian, you were saved by the unmerited mercy of God’s Love. No one deserves salvation – we are all fallen creatures, far, far from God. The Bible says:

Romans 3:10-12 … There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Vs 1 “It is impossible but that offenses will come”

We are all sinners, but God in His infinite love reaches out to us. He touches our hearts, and calls us to salvation in Christ. The Bible says that “we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).

Standing before Jesus as He speaks are two groups of people:

  1. the Pharisees who were more concerned with religion and ritual than they were about their relationship with God. Jesus often called these people “hypocrites”.
  2. the disciples of Christ who believed in Him for salvation. Jesus cherishes the souls of those whom He has saved. He cherishes them, because He shed His blood for them, as He has for us. Jesus says, “do not offend the little ones – the young Christians – who believe in Me”.

Jesus wants us to be better than the lost rich man. We are to be concerned about our brothers and sisters NOW, not LATER when we leave this life.

The rich man wanted to be responsible for his brothers after he ended up in hell. The lost person only wants what they have for themselves. The lost person defines life by what they can get out of it. The Christian is called to LOVE – to LOVE God and LOVE those around him.

Illustrate An angel came to a rich man and asked, “What can I do for you?”. The rich man, caring only for his wealth, said: “Show me the Wall Street Journal one year from today. I can use it to invest my money, and become even richer!”. The angel handed the man the Wall Street Journal, just as he asked. The man flipped to the stock exchange report, and quickly noted the best stocks to buy. He then turned one more page, and tears began to roll down his face. In the obituary section there was his picture – he had died!

The Riches Of The Christian Is Our God And
Our Family In Christ

The “Apostle of Love” wrote:

1 John 3:10-12 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

The true Christian does the works of God, and loves his brother. He does not love as the rich man loves, only when he leaves this life. He does not love as Cain loved. The Christian is called to love as Jesus commanded. The faithful believer will love! Jesus said:

Matthew 22:37-40 …. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Love, as Jesus loved, is commanded to every believer in Christ. We are to care for our brothers and sisters. We are to care for the lost.

Luke 17:3-4 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

Jesus tells His disciples – that’s us – Take heed to yourselves. We are to examine our lives. We are to …

Philippians 2:12-13 … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Is God working in you? Then it will show in your life when your brother or sister offends you. It will show in how you resolve conflicts. Jesus said:

Luke 17:3 … If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him

Word Study The word REBUKE is the Greek ἐπιτιμάω epitimáō, {pronounced ep-ee-tee-mah’-o}, which means “to censure or admonish”. We are to tell our brothers and sisters when they have offended us. We are not to gossip about them, but to tell the offense to the offender alone. This is where you start. You do not bear a grudge, nor allow the offense to fester, but seek reconciliation NOW. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Once you tell your brother what he did, THEN …

Luke 17:3 … If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

If the offending party changes their attitude – asks forgiveness – then you are to forgive that person. How often? Jesus said:

Luke 17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

So often we are offended, then carry grudges. Sadly, many times people who profess Christ as Savior have arguments and breaches, then one will move to another Church without doing what Christ has commanded. Jesus said that forgiveness in non-negotiable. We are to love one another. And if one offends us, we are to seek to mend the rift. We are not to cherish a grudge. When Peter heard this teaching from Christ, he sought a loophole, saying:

Matthew 18:21-22 … Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Doesn’t God forgive us when we repent, confessing our sins? The Bible says:

1 John 1:9 … If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God does not place a limit on His forgiveness of our breeches against Him. He does not place a limit on the number of times we are to forgive. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Colossians 3:12-13 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Don’t Make Excuses – Just DO It!

When the disciples hear what Jesus said, they reply in an almost comical way. They said:

Luke 17:5-6 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. 6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

The disciples felt that what Jesus was asking was so hard, so impossible, that they asked that He increase their faith. Jesus said, “All you need is faith the size of a grain of mustard seed”. It doesn’t take much faith to forgive your brother or sister.

When you do what Jesus says, you prevent a mountain of trouble in your life, and in the life of the Church.

Just do what Jesus said do. Unity is so important in the life of the Church. It is only when two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20). A disharmonious Church cannot be empowered of God. When others fail you or hurt you, remember this.

We are all UNWORTHY servants.

Jesus uses this simple illustration to make His point. He says:

Luke 17:7-9 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? 8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? 9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I {think} not.

Do you get the picture? The SERVANT (that’s us) has been plowing all day. Now it’s supper time. When we come in from the field, do we tell the MASTER (that’s God), “I’m going to sit down and eat. YOU feed me, then YOU feed Yourself”. Absolutely not! When the servant comes in from the field, that servant FEEDS THE MASTER FIRST, and then sits down to eat. DOES THE MASTER THANK THE SERVANT? Absolutely not!

Illustrate Every month I pay my mortgage. My bank doesn’t thank me for paying my mortgage. I owe the mortgage. I owe what I borrowed back to the bank.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, you have received the greatest of all gifts. You are of the Family of God. You owe God everything. God has given you not only life, but has given His life for you. He has prepared a place for you in Heaven, a glorious place that we neither have earned nor will ever deserve. We fail God daily, and yet, He loves us as His children for Christ’s sake. Jesus said:

Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things {forgiving your fellow believers. Loving the unlovable} which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

We who are Christians have a duty we owe toward our Master. As we have been loved of God, we are to love others. We are to forgive offenses, knowing this is the will of our Master. Jesus warned us:

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

We are expected to love one another as Christ has loved us.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

The Church of Christ is called to be filled with love: love toward God, and love toward one another.

Romans 12:1-2 … 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.

Our love is to be like Christ’s. Not like the world’s love, but like Jesus’ love. Let us love and serve one another. Let us be the Light that Christ has called us to be. May God touch our hearts with His Word and by His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

For By Grace

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Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Today we’re going to look at one of the most profound Scriptures in the Bible. I love this verse! If you can understand this verse then you can begin to appreciate the richness of God’s blessings in Christ.

Salvation Is By Grace Through Faith

For by GRACE are you saved through faith”. It is GRACE that saves the sinner. The Apostle says in another place:

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Word Study I have heard GRACE described as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. That’s a good definition, for GRACE comes to us because of what Jesus did for us – praise His holy Name! A more proper definition is found in the Greek text. GRACE is the Greek χάρις cháris, {pronounced khar’-ece}, which means “unmerited favor, unearned love”.

A beautiful picture of GRACE is found first in the Bible in Eden. Though the Law of God demanded Adam’s death “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God had warned Adam:

Genesis 2:17 in the day that thou eatest {of that forbidden fruit} thou shalt surely die.

It was the LAW that rightly said to Adam,

Genesis 3:17-19 … cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

The Law of God must fulfill what it said. “By one man sin entered the earth, and DEATH by sin, for all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Spiritual death came on Adam, and physical death became a part of life. “In Adam, all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22). It was the LAW that pronounced rightful death on Adam and his children.

Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

But it was BY GRACE that God allowed Adam another day of life. It was by GRACE that God clothed Adam and Eve by killing the innocent creature. Pastor John MacDuff said:

No sinner would have sought God – but “by grace”. The thickets of Eden would have proved Adam’s grave had not grace called him out.”

Saul would have never become Paul
had it not been by GRACE.

Saul the Pharisee would have continued killing Christians had not God by GRACE reached out on Damascus Road and said, “Saul, Saul, you persecute Me! I am the Lord Jesus!”. Had it not been for GRACE, two thieves would have died next to Christ, and would have ended up in hell forever! It was GRACE that opened the eyes of one of those thieves, GRACE that caused him to say:

Luke 23:42 Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

It was GRACE that called Abram from Ur of the Chaldees, saying:

Genesis 12:1-3 …. Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

It was GRACE that tolerated the failures of mankind year after year, until God reached out to Jacob and bestowed GRACE on him to turn him into ISRAEL. The Lord told Israel:

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

It is the Grace of God through the preaching of Christ’s Gospel that reaches out and brings the dead to life. “By Grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves”. God must reach out and open our eyes.

Before Christ We Were Spiritually Dead

Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

The Christian is a person who has been “quickened” – made alive from the dead. Prior to salvation the reality of every person is “you are DEAD in trespasses and sins”. All Children of Adam are born physically alive into this world, but are spiritually dead. A person without Christ is spiritually dead. The Apostle Paul said of the lost that …

Ephesians 4:17-19 {they walk} in the VANITY or EMPTINESS of their mind, 18 having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.

The person without Christ is spiritually dead. They are separated from God. Isaiah 59:2 “your sins have made a separation between you and your God. Your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear your prayers” (my paraphrase). The lost person does not follow the God Who created them. Dead in trespasses and in sins, you follow not God. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 2:2 wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world,

Before you were saved, dear Christian, “you walked according to the course of this world”. What the world said was true, you were in step with it. You had no use for the Bible, the Word of God. You went along with the crowd. You did not choose the narrow way of salvation. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the {narrow} gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 because {narrow} is the gate, and {tight} is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

A person without Christ is spiritually dead. You must be quickened. You must be raised from the dead. A fellow by the name of Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, flattering the Master. Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3:3 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:5-8 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

God must work in a person’s life to open their eyes to their need of Jesus. Prior to Jesus, we all follow the crowd. We all follow the devil himself.

Are You Following A Prince, Or The King?

Ephesians 2:2 wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Lost people cannot save themselves. They walk – live their lives – according to the Prince of the Power of the Air. The devil has power over Adam’s children because of Adam’s sin. “The whole world lies in the power of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). Satan, also known as Lucifer, leads the world into darkness. But note that he is ONLY A PRINCE. He is not KING. God is KING. Jesus Christ is …

1 Timothy 6:15 the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

Prior to meeting Jesus (blessed be His Name forever) we followed the crowd, the fallen crowd:

Ephesians 2:3 among whom {these lost people} also we all had our {conversation – WAY OF LIFE} in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

We were “by nature the children of wrath”. The Apostle puts it this way in another place:

1 Corinthians 2:9-14 as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The LOST or NATURAL MAN cannot receive the things of God. Their eyes are blinded to it. What people – dead in trespasses and sins – need is Jesus. Our Lord Jesus told His disciples while He walked this earth:

John 5:24-25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

It is by Grace that God calls us to salvation. He opens our eyes by His Spirit, calls us to repentance, and then raises us from spiritual death. The Scripture says:

Colossians 2:13-15 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 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; 15 and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

By GRACE are you saved THROUGH FAITH
and that NOT OF YOURSELVES”

Jesus reached out to us. He reaches out to sinners today. When you repent, and by faith reach out and grab that nail scarred hand, we come into a new state, a new place of life.

Quickened Together With Christ

Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Because we called upon the name of Jesus to be saved we are “quickened” or “made alive together with Christ”. The Apostle goes on to say that God the Spirit made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. What does this mean? It does not mean that we are now LITERALLY sitting with Christ, but that we are LEGALLY seated with Christ (Pastor Jeremy Treat). We are united to Christ, not to this world. We are bound to Jesus, not to the darkness. We are “in Christ”, united to Him both now and forever. Jesus’ perspective is our perspective.

Beloved, we no longer belong to the devil. We no longer are as we were. We are now Children of the King. We have a place in Heaven. God has called us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18).

Ephesians 2:7 that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

We are trophies of God’s Grace. “By GRACE are you saved THROUGH FAITH, and that NOT OF YOURSELVES: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast”. It is not through the “deeds of the Law” that we are saved. The Law of God gives us knowledge that we are sinners (Romans 3:20), but it is the Grace of God that saves the sinner. The Bible declares:

2 Timothy 1:9 {God} hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Titus 3:3-5 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Praise God for His glorious Grace!

God Works In His Children

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

If you have been saved by faith in Christ, you are God’s workmanship. God is working in us and through us. We have been brought near to God. God the Holy Spirit indwells us, and guides us, and uses us for the glory of God.

Because of Christ our spiritual position has changed. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 2:11-12 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

When we were without Christ, we were cut off from the blessings that God offered Israel. We were without promise from God. We were in a helpless and a hopeless place, “without God in the world”. But now?

Ephesians 2:13 but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

We as Christians are brought near to God, so that we can walk with God daily.

  • We are brought near to God literally, for God the Holy Spirit indwells our bodies.

Romans 8:9-11 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

  • We are brought near to God, being adopted as His sons and daughters. We are no longer sons of Adam, but are children of God.

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit {Himself} beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

  • We are brought near to God in our behavior.

1 John 4:11-13 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

1 John 4:20-21 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

If you belong to God in Christ, your behavior toward God and others is now more like Christ’s. The stepbrother of Christ Jesus, James, wrote:

James 2:17-20 faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Faith is a verb, but it is also a noun

When you “have faith” in Christ (the verb), then the “faith you profess” (a noun) will be evidenced by your works. The whole point of salvation is to bring us to God:

1 Peter 3:18 … Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God

God the Son died for our sins so that He might “bring many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). Because of Jesus, our Father is now God, not Adam. Because of Jesus we are now sons and daughters of God. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 5:17 … Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

You are called to be like Jesus. You are called to live close to God. Let us end with these wonderful words:

Ephesians 2:14-18 For {Jesus} is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 for through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

You are the people of God, if you are saved by faith in Christ. You are to be imitators of God, children of light, a city set on a hill that cannot be hid. You are the “children of Abraham” that the Lord foresaw in Genesis 12:1-3. Let us live for Jesus! Let us live in His Kingdom. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit this very day. Amen and Amen!

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Giving God What God Is Owed

Photo by George Potter on Unsplash

Today our country swore in our 46th President, Joe Biden. This is following one of the most divisive and vicious campaigns for president that I have ever seen. I’m not going to talk about the campaign, or give my opinions. Tonight I want to talk about what Jesus expects of His children.

We’ll start reading in:

Matthew 22:15-21 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Cæsar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way.

Jesus, Not Caesar, Is Our King

In order to understand the Bible texts, you have to start with the CONTEXT, the background to what you read. You can follow the background with me. The day before Jesus’ questioning by the Pharisees and the Herodians our Lord rode into Jerusalem. Just before entering Jerusalem Jesus told His disciples:

Matthew 21:2-5 Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet {Zechariah 9:9-10} saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, He rode as a King, seated on a white donkey. The crowd that went before Jesus treated Him as a King. They cried out:

Matthew 20:9 … Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

Hosanna” means “all glory to God our Savior”. The crowd calls Jesus the “Son of David”. In the Old Testament God told King David that:

2 Samuel 7:12-13 when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

The rightful Ruler of Israel is not Caesar nor Rome, but Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is the One “born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Jesus Christ is the “Son of David” that God sent to Israel. Jesus is the Overcoming Lamb of God:

Revelation 17:14 … for He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings …

When Jesus rides into Jerusalem the crowd cries out, “Hosanna to the Son of David”. They give Jesus the accolade that the King of Israel should have. As King Jesus rides to the Temple, and casts out the money changers,

Matthew 21:12-13 {saying unto them} It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.

Jesus Christ is not only the Son of David, He is also the Son of God. Jesus is the King of Israel, and the King of Heaven. His “House” the Temple Will Not Be Defiled.

As Jesus healed the blind and the lame in the Temple (Matthew 21:14), the children cry out:

Matthew 21:15 … Hosanna to the Son of David …

Jesus leaves Jerusalem to rest overnight in Bethany, but returns the next day to find His enemies waiting for Him. Jesus tells the Pharisees:

Matthew 21:43 … The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

The King of Israel will move His seat of government from Israel to another nation Jesus called “My Church”. The Church would be built …

Ephesians 2:20-23 … upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

The “House of Christ”, the Church, Christ’s new nation, would be focused on worshiping and serving the Lord God. We are of His House if we hold fast – to the end – our confidence and rejoicing in Christ (Hebrews 3:6). Those who are “born again” of the Spirit (John 3:3, 7),

1 Peter 1:23 … born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever

are “members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Ephesians 5:30). We are built by Christ. The Church is Christ’s holy nation, and we cherish Him as our King, our Savior, and our Guide (Matthew 16:18).

The King, our Jesus, is teaching in the Temple when the Pharisees and Herodians came to “entangle Him in His talk” (Matthew 22:15).

Enter The Herodians

The “Herodians” are those Jews who support King Herod as the monarch of Israel. Most of the Jews did not Herod. Herod himself was an Idumean or a descendant of the Edomites, the children of Esau, not of Jacob. Herod was not only NOT from the line of David (the ruling line of Israel), he was NOT a Jew. He was a cousin to the Jews.

The Pharisees generally did not care for the Herodians, for they did not care for Herod. Yet their hatred of Jesus led them to band together with the Herodians. Luke tells us that these men were …

Luke 20:20 … spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.

The Herodians and Pharisees hoped to entrap Jesus, to get Him openly to say or do something that would upset Herod and Pilate. Neither Herod nor Pilate wanted another “King” in Jerusalem. If they could get Jesus Jesus to stumble, then they could have the state soldiers take Him and imprison Him.

They start with flattery.

The Bible says in Proverbs 29:5, “A man that flattereth his neighbor spreadeth a net for his feet.” They want to trip up our Jesus.

Matthew 22:16-17 … Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not?

These men are lying. They don’t believe what they are saying about Jesus. But their words – which others are hearing – make it sound like they are on Jesus’ side. Their question is a hidden bomb. “Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar or not?” When they ask “is it LAWFUL”, they are not talking about Roman, but Biblical Law. What does the Torah say?

The Jews themselves despised paying “tribute” or taxes to Rome. In 6 A.D. the Romans imposed a “census tax” on Israel. If you were with me on Christmas you know that this was why Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth (see Luke 2:1-5). The Jews saw the Romans as invaders. A man by the name of Judas the Galilean led Israel in a tax revolt, with Rome retaliating by killing many Israelis. Pilate himself was the Chief Tax Collector and head of the Roman Judicial system. No, the Jews despised paying taxes to Rome.

So the Pharisees and the Herodians think they have trapped Jesus. If He answers, “Of course, we should pay taxes”, then the people who the day before welcomed Jesus as King would turn on Him. If Jesus replies, “No, we shouldn’t pay taxes to Rome”, the Herodians will carry this back to Herod and Pilate, and Jesus would be tried for insurrection.

Matthew 22:18-19 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

Jesus knows what they are doing, and calls them “hypocrites” or “people of two faces” right to their face. Jesus turns the tables on them. He says,

Shew me the tribute money

A Graven Image In The Temple

They brought to Jesus a penny. All of this is very interesting. Let’s see if we can break it down. The tribute money is a Roman coin called a denarius. The denarius was a silver coin that was roughly one day’s wages of the common laborer. The front of the denarius had an image of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, and around this image the Latin words “TI CAESAR DIVI AUG F AUGUSTUS”, which means “Tiberius Caesar, Worshipful Son of God, Augustus”. The coin makes Caesar out to be a god, and a son of God.

What is interesting about this is that Jesus and His detractors are in the Temple, and Jesus Himself DOES NOT have one of these coins on Himself. They brought unto Jesus the denarius. It was a violation of God’s Law to Israel for anyone to even bring such a coin into the Temple. In the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses, the Lord said:

Exodus 20:2-6 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Caesar had his image placed on the coins to teach each person who used that coin that HE HIMSELF WAS A SON OF GOD. The Jews were supposed to acknowledge but one God, the God of Scripture. The Shema, a Jewish prayer based on Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21; and Numbers 15:37-41, starts out with these words:

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad”
Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone

By producing this coin in the Temple the Pharisees and Herodians were showing that they had no concept of respect toward God. This is holy ground. Jesus simply asks:

Matthew 22:20-21 … Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Cæsar’s.

It was Caesar who ordered this coin made, not God. It was Caesar who declared himself God, not God. So Jesus replies:

Matthew 22:21 Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

Does God want us to worship Caesar? Absolutely not! As Jesus told Lucifer, that old devil,

Matthew 4:10 … Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Only God is to be worshiped. The Bible says that our first duty to God is:

Matthew 22:37 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

God Our Father Deserves Our All

Our Father God deserves ALL of our adoration, ALL of our obedience. God is to be first in our affections, first in our hearts. What Jesus is saying is the same thing that Joshua said before he retired:

Joshua 24:15 … choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Jesus was saying the same thing that Elijah said on Mount Carmel:

1 Kings 18:21 How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.

We as God’s Children are to give to God what He is owed. God deserves all of us, not just part of us. King Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

We are to give to the government what is due to the government. We are to obey governmental laws insofar as they do not circumvent our allegiance to God. In the formation of the early Church Peter and the other Apostles were imprisoned by the order of the High Priest of Israel. The Scripture says:

Acts 5:17-21 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. 19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. 21 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught.

The next day the Apostles were once more brought before the High Priest and the Sadducees, who demanded of them:

Acts 5:28 Did not we straightly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Peter replied:

Acts 5:29 We ought to obey God rather than men …

If God Is First, The Work Will Continue

As the Jewish Council debated on whether to kill the Apostles or not, the Rabbi Gamaliel told them:

Acts 5:38-40 Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught: 39 but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. 40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

The Apostles went forward, sharing the Gospel, and obeying Jesus Christ our King and His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). We are to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

Our God is due all our obedience. We who are saved by faith in Christ are first and foremost citizens of Heaven. But we are also citizens of this earth. Insofar as the government requires our allegiance, we should give our allegiance as long as our allegiance does not violate the Word and Will of God. When the government steps into the place of God, then that government has gone too far.

The Apostle tells us:

Romans 13:1-3 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

The powers that be are ordained of God. As long as the “powers that be” do not exceed their authority, then as good citizens we who are Christians should be obedient to them. God establishes nations, and sets up and destroys rulers. God even controls the hearts of those ruling:

Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

When our Lord Jesus would later stand in front of Pontius Pilate to be judged, Jesus would not defends Himself. Pilate told Jesus:

John 19:10 … Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?

Jesus’ reply was simple, and to the point. He said:

John 19:11 … Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above

Our God reigns! Our God is to have our first allegiance in everything. Yet we are to obey our governmental leaders insofar as they do not violate the will and the Word of our God. As we are coming into a new chapter in America, let us follow our Lord Jesus. Let us remember to pray daily for those in authority over us. The Lord commands:

1 Timothy 2:1-4 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Pray that God will restore peace to our land. Pray that God will use us as His Children to share His Gospel and His Word, and that this seed planted will bring a Christlike revival to our nation and His Churches. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word draw your hearts close to Him this very day. Amen and Amen!

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The Identity Of The Church

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 1. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians. As you turn, let’s review from last week.

Review And Introduction

Last week we studied in the Gospel of Matthew the words of Jesus:

Matthew 21:42-43 Jesus saith unto {the Scribes and Pharisees}, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

The “Builders” of Israel were the Scribes and Pharisees. They adhered to and taught the Law of Moses to the people. But these “Builders” disparaged Jesus Christ, God’s Sent Messiah. The Scribes and Pharisees forgot that they were supposed to stand up for God and His Word. When “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), the Scribes & Pharisees did not support the Messiah, but fought against Him.

Israel lost their stewardship of the Gospel. God moved the stewardship of His Kingdom to “a nation bringing forth the fruits of His kingdom”.
This nation is the Church.

The Church is a new nation – created by God – in which believers in Christ are granted citizenship and purpose greater than any human purpose. The Church – God’s nation – is

Ephesians 2:20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone

The God given Constitution of every Church is the Bible. The Bible is the foundation of our identity in Christ. The Prophets wrote of the coming Jesus. The Apostles wrote and witnessed the Jesus Who had come. And Jesus Christ is our chief Corner Stone.

Let Us Avoid The Errors And Know Our Purpose

When God raised up the Church, He did not bring another brand of Judaism in. In order to develop this new Nation whose allegiance is to God Almighty, God took a Pharisee who was well known to the ruling board of Pharisees. God knocked this man down on the Damascus Road, this Chief Pharisee named Saul, saying:

Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Saul replied, “Who are You, Lord?”

And Jesus, the One Who was founding a new Nation of people called the Church, said “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Get up, go into the city, and I will tell you what to do” (Acts 9:4-6). From that point, the resurrected Jesus sent a believer named Ananias to Saul. The Lord told Ananias:

Acts 9:15-16 Go thy way: for {Saul} is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

God the Son gave Saul a higher purpose, and a new name. Saul – also known as Paul – began to go about telling others of Jesus. He did not just reach out to Israel as did Peter and the other Apostles, but Paul understood that God was bringing forth a new nation, a people united and focused on Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. In this nation of light, racism and misogyny has no hold. In this nation – governed by Christ – “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Paul writes to the Church – God’s nation – saying:

Ephesians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is an Apostle of Jesus Christ because God willed it. He is careful not to use his old, Jewish name as he writes the Church. Saul died on the Damascus Road, and was reborn as Paul, which is a Gentile name.

Word Study Paul uses two words to describe the citizens of God’s Kingdom, the Church. He calls them “saints” and “faithful”. The word “saints” is a spiritual word, whereas “faithful” is a practical word. The word “saints” is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, which means “to be set apart or chosen out for God’s use”. If God has touched you and called you into His Church, then that which He has done on the inside will reflect on what you do outwardly. If you are a saint, saved by faith in Christ, then your fruit will reflect that salvation. If you are saved then you are no longer a bad tree. You are to bear good fruit for the One Who saved you.

Matthew 7:17-20 … Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Good Fruit Is Holy Fruit, Jesus Honoring Fruit:
We Are Planted In God’s Garden

Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

The Apostle is careful not to say that the Christian will be blessed, but rather we have been blessed. Before you were saved by faith in Christ you were a Child of Adam. You walked according to what you wanted to do. You lived your life according to darkness. The Lord called you out of darkness:

Acts 26:18 … to turn {you} from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that {you} may receive forgiveness of sins

The Christian is no longer a son of Adam, but is now a son of God. The Christian no longer lives for self, but for the smile of the Savior!

1 Peter 2:9 … a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

We are a chosen people, set apart by God through Christ to be

Ephesians 1:4-5 holy and without blame before him in love: 5 having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will

The Christian is a saint – “holy”, set apart for God’s Kingdom. We as Christians are “without blame” before Almighty God. Why? Because Jesus Christ took our blame. Jesus Christ took our blame when He died on Calvary for our sins. We are told in another place:

Philippians 2:13-16 it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 holding forth the word of life

Because the Son of God died on Calvary for us,

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

We are predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. On the day that you heard the Gospel of Salvation, and repented, turning to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, God sent His Holy Spirit into the framework of your lives. We no longer are children of Adam because of the work of God in our lives. The Scripture says:

Romans 8:15-17 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit {Himself} beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

The Blood of Christ has paid for our sins. The Spirit of Christ has indwelt us, and marked us as Children of God. And one day we shall stand in glory with our Savior Jesus, and receive the fullness of our Adoption. It was “the good pleasure of God’s will” to do this.

I Am “Accepted” In The Beloved

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

As believers, we are “accepted in the Beloved”. What does this mean? When our Jesus walked this earth, numerous times God the Father spoke, saying of Jesus:

Matthew 3:17 This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Luke 9:35 This is my beloved Son: hear him.

In our world today, as in the ancient Roman world, it is popular to say “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam”. But this is not what the Bible teaches. God told Israel in the Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:2 You shall have no other gods before Me …

God declared that the worship of other gods was the same as worshiping demons. God told the Israelite who worshiped false gods that “they provoke Me to jealousy with abominations: they sacrifice the devils, not to God (Deuteronomy 32:16-17; Leviticus 17:7). When Jesus was tempted to worship Satan by Satan, our Lord responded:

Matthew 4:10 … Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

We are only made acceptable before God the Father “in the Beloved”. Because Jesus died for our sins, and His sacrifice was accepted by the Father, when we receive Him as Lord and Savior God looks at us and says, “I accept them for My Beloved’s sake”. Jesus Christ is “the Way, the truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father but by Him” (John 14:6). The early Church preached:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Ephesians 1:7 in {Jesus} we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Those who are saved “in the Beloved” are redeemed from condemnation from God and are purchased possessions not of Satan, but of God Himself. We are no longer slaves to this fallen world. We are members of Christ’s Kingdom, and prized possessions of God. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

God “bought” you with the Blood of Jesus Christ. You are His purchased possession. You do not belong to the devil any more! It’s like that old song we sing:

Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.
Redeemed, redeemed,

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child, and forever, I am.
Redeemed and so happy in Jesus,

No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

Ephesians 1:8-10 wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Think of Christ this way: He is God’s Vessel, God’s Bucket. God is gathering together in ONE vessel, in Christ, all that believe. The Old Testament Saint and the New Testament Saint are gathered into that vessel called Christ. This is God’s purchased and precious possession! God is continually drawing people into this Kingdom, His Kingdom. The Prophet wrote:

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

It is God the Father’s will that as many as will come into Christ’s Kingdom. The Kingdom of Christ will stand forever.

The Triune Godhead Brings The Christian
Into The Family

Ephesians 1:11-14 in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

In verse 3 we read how the Father and the Son worked together to bring the Christian into the Kingdom of God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”. The Son accomplished our Salvation, but the Father planned it. In these next verses we see that God the Holy Spirit SEALS us. The Christian is indwelt, marked by God, and preserved by the power of God.

It is the will of the Father that all be saved.
It is the sacrifice of the Son that insures our salvation.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit that secures our salvation.

The Bible says: John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

If you believe on the Son of God, the SPIRIT of God abides on you. But if you believe not on the Son of God, the WRATH of God abides on you. A person without Christ looks at God as an enigma, perhaps as a consuming fire. But the person who has received Christ as lord and Savior sees God not as a consuming fire, but as a Pillar of Fire, a Guide, a Protector, the Father. C.H. Spurgeon said:

Another man with unforgiven sin about him stands afar off and if he thinks of God at all it is as a consuming fire. But the forgiven Christian looking up to God, when he sees the mountains and the hills, and rolling streams and the roaring flood, he says “My Father made them all;” and he clasps hands with the Almighty across the infinite expanse that sunders man from his Maker. His heart flies up to God. He dwells near to Him, and he feels that he can talk to God as a man talketh with his Friend.”

We are saved from sin, and given destinies as Children of God. We are now free to lovingly serve within the Kingdom of God. As Paul finishes the introduction to this letter, He writes:

Ephesians 1:15-18 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

God wants us to know our purpose in Him. We are not as we were before, but are Children of God, adopted of the Spirit, blood purchased possessions.

Though the Apostle was not with the believers in Ephesus, their loving nature toward one another had been spread abroad. The Apostle prayed that they would not lose their purpose, but would continue to love God and love one another as the Scripture commands.

You have an inheritance, and are an inheritance, if you belong to Jesus Christ by faith.

The reason that Jesus Christ became incarnate, entering this world through a virgin and a manger, was so He could bring…

Hebrews 2:10 .. many sons unto glory

He gave Himself for you, so that you could not only one day be brought into Heaven, but that through you God can bring Heaven to earth. The local Church fulfills the Law of God when it loves God with all its heart, and loves others as we wish to be loved. May God touch your hearts and “that you might know the hope of His calling”. God expects His people to be:

Matthew 5:14-16 the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We who are saved by faith in Christ are saved to serve God, shining for Jesus in this dark and lost world. We are to look unto and to live for Jesus.

Ephesians 1:19-23 and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

Jesus Christ now sits at the right hand of God the Father. He is above all things, all powers. He is the Head of His Church, and we are His Body – if we are indeed saved. We need to know and claim our identity – especially in these dark days of America. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word lead each one of us to “make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). Amen and amen!

Posted in Ephesians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Final Destination

Photo by Arūnas Naujokas on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 16.

We All Have A Final Destination

Several years ago there was a series of scary movies called “Final Destination”. In that movie, death stalked – and usually got – the characters. What made the movie interesting is that it made death out to be an entity, and evil being that chased and tried to destroy people. Death is not an entity. Death is a reality of life. It is human to be born, to live your life, then to die physically. When you die physically, your soul goes to another place, another state, another home. Death is not the cessation of life, but a door by which you enter another place. The Bible says:

Hebrews 9:27-28 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many

Everyone has an appointment that we must make. That appointment is the time of our physical death. Yet this physical death is not the end of life itself, but the transfer of our souls from this container we call a “body”, to another place. Jesus Christ died, bearing our sins on His body on the tree of Calvary, so that after our physical death we can go and be with God our Father. No one ever actually ceases to be. You cease to be HERE, but if you are a Christ follower, as Jesus said,

John 12:26 … where I am, there shall also my servant be …

When you leave this life, your soul will have a final destination, a final judgment. If you are in Christ your works shall be judged by Jesus. If you are NOT in Christ, your works shall be judged by God. Out west there is a tombstone, and on it the words:

Pause, stranger, when you pass me by,
For as you are, so once was I.
As I am now, so you will be,
Prepare to die, and follow me.

Next to this tombstone someone erected another sign that said:

To follow you I’m not content,
Until I know which way you went!

Luke 16:19-21 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

Does Jesus Know Your Name?

What did Jesus believe about Heaven and Hell? We’ll see that today in this message, direct from our Master’s lips. Jesus begins by telling us about two individuals. The first is “a certain rich man”, and the second a “certain beggar named Lazarus”. These two people were in two very different situations in life.

Luke 16:19 … There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day

The rich man was clothed in purple and fine linen. This was not the day of Walmart, nor of mass production. There were no Ritz Die companies. Back in these days purple was a color that could only be obtained by crushing a tiny sea snail known as Bolinus brandaris. The snail was harvested at only one place, the Phoenician city of Tyre – and it was so rare that it was worth it’s weight in gold.

Purple clothing was worn only by great dignitaries, politicians, lawyers, and kings. Fine linen was, again, exceedingly rare.

In the Old Testament Pharaoh raised up Joseph to be his right hand man, and