Being A Sober Minded Christian In A Sin Soaked World

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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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Christ Before All Things

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Colossians 1:9-18 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might 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; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is 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. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Big Idea: The Church Exists To Please The Lord

Tonight we’re in the Book of Colossians. Colossians is an interesting Church, for it was one that the Apostle Paul wrote to, but never actually went to. The Apostle spent two years establishing a Church in Ephesus…

Acts 19:10-12 … this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. 11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

The Church at Colossae was a Church Plant from Ephesus, probably started by …

Colossians 1:7-8 … Epaphras our dear fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; 8 who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

Colossians 4:12 … Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

Colossae was a major commercial center, known for the production of colossinum, a beautiful dark red wool cloth. The Church at Colossae was predominantly Gentile, a gathering where Christ was worshiped though all about it pagan religions and philosophies abounded. The Apostle from prison …

Colossians 1:9-10 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord

If the Colossian Church would reach Asia Minor, it had to be filled with the knowledge of HIS will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. The same is true of this Church. We must be filled with the knowledge of HIS will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. We must not be filled with the false teachings and creeds that the lost follow. We as God’s people are not to walk

Ephesians 4:17 … as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity (or emptiness) of their mind, having their understanding darkened … alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them …

But to walk worthy of the Lord. Pastor Michael Youssef (Church of the Apostles, Atlanta, Georgia), recently stated in a Christian Post interview:

Bowing to woke culture allows you to avoid rejection by culture and society. It’s a very, very popular message that is now being preached from many evangelical pulpits… I believe people are in a state of confusion and need a clear word from Scripture.”

Saved by grace, we as God’s people are to walk worthy of the Lord. You can only walk worthy when you understand the Word of God, and apply it to your life. We are to

Colossians 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing

Unto all pleasing”. Who are we to be pleasing? We are to be pleasing our God first and foremost. We are not to be ugly to those around us, nor are we to be self righteous. But we are to:

1 John 1:7 … walk in the light, as HE {God} is in the light …

Heaven is a place where “those which are saved walk in the light of it” (Revelation 21:24). We do not compromise with the darkness, but walk as God directs. Jesus said:

Ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22)

Compromising with the world will not bring more blessing, but less. When we compromise in order to please others, we add to the darkness. Jesus Christ Himself was hated for preaching the truth. He told us:

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

We are to love our enemies, to do as the Apostle did.

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

We are not to be warlike or hateful to the darkness – but we are never to say what God said is right is wrong, nor to say what God said is wrong is right. God establishes the standards by which we live. The Gospel message must not be modified in order to please people. Those who would enter the Kingdom of God must repent, and receive Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. Receiving Him, you begin to do as He says, as He has directed. The Apostle said:

Galatians 1:9-10 … If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

When a false Gospel or a false message is preached in the Church, it robs God of His glory, while diminishing Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Proper Preaching & Teaching Puts Jesus Christ
BEFORE All Things

Colossians 1:17 And he {CHRIST} is BEFORE all things …

The Greek text is καί αὐτός ἐστί πρό πᾶς which is He IS before ALL. Jesus Christ is before all. He should be before all in the life of every person. God said through the Prophet:

Isaiah 45:5, 21-23 … I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me … a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. 23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

Only God is able to save, for only God can forgive sin.

Sin is an affront to an eternally holy and righteous God. Sin offends God, and only God can forgive sin. So what did God do? God sent His Son to this earth to make payment for our sin. Had God not done this, there could be no salvation. “Look unto Me, and be saved”, God has said. No one can save but God. It is God Who delivers from sin.

Colossians 1:12-14 … giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Word Study God the Father delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. The word deliveredis the Greek ῥύομαι rhýomai, pronounced rhoo’-om-ahee), which means “to rescue”. The same word is used in:

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 … ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

God DELIVERED or RESCUED us from darkness, and TRANSLATED us into the Kingdom of His Son. How? Through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is in Jesus we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins”. Why does God forgive us when we receive Christ Jesus the Lord? Because Jesus Himself is God, revealed God, manifest God.

Colossians 1:15 {Jesus} is the image of the invisible God, …

Jesus Christ is eternal God the Son. The Father, Who is God, sent the Son, Who is God, to make payment for our sins. Christ is before all things because Jesus is Creator God. Jesus is not just a man, He is Perfect God become Perfect Man. The Bible says:

Hebrews 1:1-3 God … hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high

Jesus is the heir of all things. Jesus is the One BY WHOM God made the world. Jesus is very God of very God, the express image of God. Return to our context for a moment:

Colossians 1:15-16 {Jesus} is 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:

All things were created by him, and for him”. The world was not created for us, but for Him. We were created for Him. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. The Father said of Jesus:

Hebrews 1:5-6, 8 Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. … 8 … unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

Jesus Christ was not just a Rabbi. He is God incarnate, God in the flesh. John said of Jesus:

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. God sent. God redeeming. God Who came to be the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). When John saw Jesus, it was with wonder and awe he said:

John 1:36 BEHOLD THE Lamb of God!

Jesus Christ, God the Son, redeemed us by dying for us. Jesus Christ is …

…loved of the Father before the foundation of the world (John 17:24)

Chosen of God to die for us before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20)

For Whom did Jesus come? For sinners like you and I.

Romans 5:8 God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 …. we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Jesus was not born exactly as others are born. The baby born normally begins its history with its first breath. But Jesus Christ was made. The humanity of Christ is a product of the Holy Spirit. The Angel Gabriel told Mary:

Luke 1:35 The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Jesus was made. He Who made all things allowed Himself to be made. He was not made for a palace. He was made low, little esteemed, so that He might reach the lesser and the least.

The Christian Is SANCTIFIED/ Set Apart By Christ Jesus

Jesus Christ is God. The Father hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son(vs 13) because our sins are covered. Not by our works, but by His work of Calvary. The Bible says:

Hebrews 2:9-10 But we see 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 every man. 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,

Let’s talk about SANCTIFICATION for a moment. SANCTIFICATION means to be “set apart by God, for God”. Before we were saved by faith in Him we were:

Colossians 1:21 … {“sometime” the Greek ποτέ poté, [pronounced pot-eh’], better “in times past”} alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works …

Before you met Jesus, and received Him as Lord and Savior, you were “alienated from God by wicked works”. But now, because of Christ, you are SANCTIFIED. You are SET APART from the world to serve the Living God. When you find the words

Holy
Sanctify
Saint
Sanctification

in your Bible, these are derivatives of the Greek hagios. The Christian is SANCTIFIED in three ways by the Blood and the Spirit of Christ:

  1. The Christian is POSITIONALLY Sanctified.Because of Christ’s Blood you are no longer seen by God as a sinner. Your position has changed. You are now a SON of God. You are now a SAINT of God. You are set apart by God in His eyes because of Christ’s Blood. Though the Church at Corinth had a number of carnal Christians, they were nonetheless POSITIONALLY Sanctified.

1 Corinthians 1:2 … to them that are SANCTIFIED in Christ Jesus, called to be SAINTS …

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 (malakós, [pronounced mal-ak-os’] “those soft to the touch”, catamites), nor abusers of themselves with mankind {arsenokoítēs, [pronounced ar-sen-ok-oy’-tace] “homosexuals”}, 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.

  1. The Christian is PROGRESSIVELY Sanctified. The Holy Spirit of God begins working in the life of the Christian, making the person more like Jesus. We become, as we are told in:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). As the believer interacts with God through prayer and reading of His Word, the Holy Bible, we become more and more like Jesus, more and more sanctified (John 17:17). We who are saved by faith in Christ DO that which Christ says to DO. The believer is to take off the old man, and put on the new man. We are not to be like the world.

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. 2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

If you are saved, “your old man was crucified with Christ, that THIS BODY OF SIN MIGHT BE DONE AWAY WITH, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin (Romans 6:6). When the Christian sins, the Christian acknowledges the sin to the Father, and forsakes the sin as being unworthy for a child of God. We do not justify nor hide sin.

POSITIONALLY or in the eyes of the Father, we are children of God.
PROGRESSIVELY or to the eyes of others, we are manifested as children of God.

  1. PREVAILING or PROSPECTIVE Sanctification is what each Christian looks forward to. This is when we are once and for all cleansed of sin, and stand before our Lord in Heaven as His Children. We are told in:

1 John 3:1-3 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. 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. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

We are sons and daughters of God, heading toward Heaven. We shall never die! Jesus died on Calvary so I will not have to die! The Scripture says:

John 3:15 Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 11:26 Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die!

We are accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6-7). We belong to God. And God will ultimately possess us as His own, for He is ours and we are His.

The Christian Is Now Member Of Christ’s Kingdom – Forever

Colossians 1:18 And he {Jesus} is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

The Christian is an AMBASSADOR for Christ! 2 Corinthians 5:20

The focus of the Christian is the Kingdom of Christ. Not what the world thinks, but what our Redeemer has said. We are to follow Christ Jesus first and foremost. HE is the Head of the Body (the Church).

The false “Progressive” argument often raised in our world today is, “Jesus never addressed homosexuality – not even one time – in the Gospels. I thought you Christians were suppose to follow Jesus!. But Jesus did address homosexuality. He addressed homosexuality in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19 when He spoke of Marriage. Jesus told the Pharisees:

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.

Jesus quoted the Book of Genesis, noted that God made them “male and female”, and said that marriage was when “man left his father and mother, and cleaved to his wife – they became one flesh”. That is a very clear teaching on marriage, and on homosexuality. Jesus said, “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder”. God is the Author of Marriage – not mankind, but God.

Further, you cannot separate the Father from the Spirit. I have proved from our text that:

Colossians 1:16-17 … all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

If “ALL THINGS” were created BY Jesus and FOR Jesus, as our text tells us, then Jesus was there when Adam and Eve were made. Jesus had a hand in creating Adam from the dust of the ground. It was Jesus Who took a rib from Adam, and made woman, or Eve. It was Jesus Who made man/ Adam the leader of the family, not Eve. If Jesus is God the Son,

Colossians 1:15-16 … the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created

…then Jesus was involved in the writing of both the Old as well as the New Testaments. Jesus authored the Book of Leviticus. The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Spirit. The Apostles were Christ’s Apostles, and their writings were written as “holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit”.

Beloved, we must not back away from the Gospel truths in order to be pleasing to the lost world, the dark world. God’s Word is truth. Jesus is before all things – and we are to love Jesus more than anything or anyone. Do you remember this?

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Why would Jesus, if He were but a Rabbi, make such a bold statement? It is because Jesus is much more than a Rabbi. Jesus Christ is God. And you all know, the greatest commandment, the commandment that is before all others, according to Jesus 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 Christ is God the Son. We are to follow Him, if we are indeed saved by faith in Him. We belong to His Kingdom, not to another. Christ is before all things! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Colossians, General, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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

Photo by Rhodi Lopez on Unsplash

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
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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!

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