The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Like

Photo by Emmanuel Hernández:

Matthew 13:44-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

America Is In A Bad Place

Two years of the Covid pandemic brought out the worst in Americans. We watched Americans take over city blocks, while politicians told the police to stand down. Racism, rampage, and rioting was out of control, while well meaning (I’m sure) people talked about “defunding” the police. An article in the publication “The Atlantic” said:

Bad behavior of all kinds —everything from rudeness and carelessness to physical violence—has increased … Americans are driving more recklessly, crashing their cars and killing pedestrians at higher rates. Early 2021 saw the highest number of “unruly passenger” incidents ever, according to the FAA.”

The American Medical Association issued a brief on May 12, 2022 that noted:

The nation’s drug overdose epidemic continues to change and become worse. The epidemic affects every state and now is driven by illicit fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, methamphetamine, and cocaine, often in combination or in adulterated forms.”

What is going on in our country? Commentator Paul Harvey said a long time ago, “If America ever fails, it will be an inside job”. America is failing, and it is an inside job. We are doing it to ourselves. We are treasuring the wrong things, grasping at the wrong things. We as Americans need a new King.

We need Jesus.

When Jesus came into this world, He came from above. John the Baptist told us that Jesus is distinctly different from us. John said:

John 3:30-31 {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

Jesus is the Messiah, God Who came from above. Jesus is The Son of God, and He came to call whosoever will into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus Came Emphasizing His Kingdom As A Treasure

Jesus is The King, and so it’s no surprise that He emphasizes His Kingdom. In the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) the “Kingdom” is referred to 121 times, most of those by Jesus. The word “Kingdom” is only used 25 times in the rest of the New Testament. The “Kingdom” was a major theme of our Lord’s earthly ministry. Jesus preached …

Matthew 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure …

Word Study: The word translated “treasure” is the Greek θησαυρός thēsaurós, {pronounced thay-sow-ros’} – which means “a place where the greatest and most precious things are kept, the treasury or storehouse”. What is interesting about this word is that thēsaurós is where we get our word “Thesaurus”, which is a collection of words. The most valuable treasury in the world is not gold, silver, precious stones. It is not diamonds or rubies. It is not beauty, nor intelligence. It is not position or fame. The most valuable treasury in the world is words, and among the words that are valuable the most valuable Word is THE Word of God, the Bible.

The Bible is a treasury because is shows us the One Who came from above. The Bible is the greatest treasury because it leads us into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Kingdom of Heaven itself is a Treasure – that’s what Jesus said. When people hear about “Heaven”, they think of another place far from here. Heaven is where we will get the Mansion Jesus promised us (John 14:2-3). We are exuberant when we sing about Heaven:

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His Grace;
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place.
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

The “Kingdom of Heaven” is not something over yonder. Jesus said:

Matthew 13:44 … the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field

The Kingdom of Heaven is hid in a field. Well now, when we think of Heaven we thing of “up there”, not in a field. You see, Jesus used the phrase kingdom of heaven, but He also called that place the “Kingdom of God”. You see this in:

Matthew 19:23-24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

The “Kingdom of Heaven” and the “Kingdom of God” are virtually the same thing. These phrases do not refer to a PLACE, but to a STATE OF BEING. Jesus is the King of Heaven, and He is calling whosoever will to walk with Him in His Kingdom.

Pastor John Piper writes, “The kingdom of God is … the saving reign of God. It is the saving reign of God that is partly present and partly future. And it is the present and future saving reign of God and of Christ.”

We enter the Kingdom of Heaven, also known as the Kingdom of God, by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. When John the Baptist, the Herald of Christ, was arrested and imprisoned by King Herod, Jesus began preaching:

Mark 1:15 (ESV) … “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel”.

The gospel or the good news of God is that the Lord loves us. He loved us so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son to this earth. Jesus came and showed us the life God expects us to live in HIMSELF. Then God promised us that – if we repent, that is STOP TRYING TO BE OUR OWN GODS, and turn to Jesus Christ, believing He is both Savior and Lord – then we are made part of the Kingdom of God. The miracles that Jesus did proved He is the One and Only Savior, the King of Heaven. Jesus said:

Luke 11:20 (ESV) … if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

In Every Age There Has Been A Battle
Between The Kingdoms

Matthew 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field

Word Study: When Jesus Christ came from Heaven to this earth, it was (and is) with the intent of building HIS KINGDOM in the now. Yet the Devil battles against Jesus. The treasure” is “hid in a field. The word translated hid is interesting, as it is the Greek κρύπτω krýptō, {pronounced kroop’-to}, from which we get our English word “Crypto”. The word krýptō means “to hide, to encode, to conceal”. This is what the devil does with Jesus’ Gospel. The Bible says that the devil is …

Revelation 12:9 … the deceiver of the whole world …

Word Study: The verb that God uses the describe that fallen Angel Lucifer is the Greek πλανάω planáō, {pronounced plan-ah’-o}, which means “to cause to stray, to lead astray, to lead from the right pathway, to wander away, to be led into error or from the path of righteousness”. The devil has learned how to be a master of disguise.

2 Corinthians 11:14 … Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light ..

The devil has been excellent at concealing darkness by making it look like light. To the addict, that drug or alcohol looks like a treasure. To the lonely, that sexual liaison looks beautiful. The most beautiful snakes and reptiles are filled with the deadliest poisons. As Satan “beguiled or tricked Eve through his slyness”, he today confuses and hypnotizes sincere people into putting their hopes and dreams into spiritual black holes.

The Pharisees, rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, clung to the rituals of religion. Jesus was blunt when He told them:

John 8:43-44 (ESV) … Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.

If you are in the Kingdom of God/Heaven, then your heart is attuned to:

  1. Loving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37-39, ESV). You love God with your ALL because He, in love with you, has saved you from eternal punishment, and walks with you daily while on this earth. You are in the Kingdom of God NOW, and will one day be translated into the Kingdom of Heaven. Praise Him! Praise Jesus!
  2. Loving your neighbor as yourself”, and beyond this Loving one another as Jesus Christ loves us” (John 13:34; 15:12, ESV). The person who lives under the direction of King Jesus are to “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). We who are saved want to “imitate God, as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1).

In the Kingdom of Heaven, your “preferred pronoun” of “I” is ALWAYS in the lower case (“i”)

This is absolutely contrary to where the devil wants you to be. The devil says, “If you put yourself FIRST above all others, you will be most happy”. No, no. When you put yourself first, you will end up miserable. If you put Jesus first, and submit to His rule, you will discover Heaven on earth! The Scripture illustrates this when it compares following Satan to death, whereas following Christ is life. Read with me:

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) … you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Those who put themselves first are sons of disobedience and children of wrath. God wants us to be sons of God and children of Heaven. But so many more want to be their own god. This explains the madness we see in our America today. Satan is crafty. Satan knows that sin enslaves. Satan even blinded the theologically conservative Pharisees so they could not see Jesus as the Messiah. Our Lord told them:

John 8:47 (ESV) Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.

Jesus said, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). What is truth? It is God’s Word, without compromise or embellishment. Jesus prayed for His Church before going to the Cross, saying, “Sanctify or set Your People apart from the world by giving them truth; Your Word, O God, is truth” (my paraphrase of John 17:17).

Though Satan is the strong man who deceives the whole world, our Lord Jesus is much stronger. The Bible says:

1 John 3:8 (ESV) Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Jesus did not come to this earth to enable the devil, nor to cloak sin in religious garb. Jesus came to defeat the selfishness and egocentric ways of Lucifer. Those who follow the ways of Satan, rejecting the Word of God, will eventually will destroy themselves. Again we read:

Hebrews 2:14-15 (ESV) Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, {Jesus} himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

To Be In Jesus’ Kingdom Is To Have Joy Unspeakable,
And Full Of Glory!

Matthew 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth

When the man in this parable found the Kingdom of Heaven, he had JOY. Jesus restates the parable this way:

Matthew 13:45-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

We are – truthfully – all like this “merchant man”. We are “seeking goodly pearls”, and in the course of “seeking goodly pearls” we often fall into Satan’s fake pearls. When I was in Korea, the black marketers would often take a “good” bottle of whiskey, drill a small hole in the bottom of the bottle, then drain out the “good” whiskey. They would then replace it with wood alcohol, which can not only blind you, but can kill you. Satan’s ways are destructive, no matter how good they appear. Let us seek the Lord Jesus. It is the Lord Who …

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV) … has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart …

All things were made by Him, and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). Jesus Christ is that “Pearl of Great Price”.

Illustrate: I love the music of Brooks and Dunn. They sing one song called “Believe”. Part of the song says this:

I can’t quote the book
The chapter or the verse
You can’t tell me it all ends
In a slow ride in a hearse
You know I’m more and more convinced
The longer that I live
This can’t be (no, this can’t be),
No, this can’t be all there is.
Lord, I raise my hands
And bow my head,
I’m finding’ more and more truth
In the words written in red
They tell me that there’s more to life
Than just what I can see, I believe.

God has written in every person’s heart the need for Him. Life is incomplete until we have Jesus in our lives. Jesus’ rule, His Kingdom, is a Pearl of Great Price.

Why Is Jesus’ Kingdom A “Pearl Of Great Price”?

When you repent, and give your life to Jesus, you begin to really live. Jesus said that – if we both hear and do the things that He said, then our lives will be like a House upon a Rock:

Luke 6:48 (ESV) … when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

Our God is the Rock” (Deuteronomy 32:4). The Lord is King over His people. The Lord is “our Shepherd, we shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters”. God is faithful to His people. He cares for us. Jesus Christ gave the most for us on the Cross of Calvary – will He give nothing to us now? What can you do to be saved? You believe in King Jesus.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

We are saved by “confessing with the mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believing in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9-10). But once we are saved, God is our God, our Father, the Head of our lives. We give ourselves to the Lord, and He gives Himself to us. God works in His Children, works in His Kingdom. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We are the workmanship of God. As God, the Lord takes hold of our lives. Though we may go through dark times, no matter what we go through is because God has ordained it for our good.

  • When Job lost everything of earthly value, his wife told him to “curse God and die”. But Job replied, “The LORD gave and the LORD hath taken away, blessed be the name of the LORD”. Job knew that the setbacks of this life are nothing compared to what he has in Christ. The Apostle said, “all things are yours” (1 Corinthians 3:21). Though we go through bad spots, the “Kingdom is the Lord’s: and He is the Governor among the nations” (Psalm 22:28).
  • When Eli the Priest was tried, he cried out “It is the LORD: let Him do what seemeth good” (1 Samuel 3:18). Our God is good and faithful, but also all powerful. What He chooses to do is always for our best.
  • When King David was tried, he hushed his spirit by reminding himself that God Who is good allowed it. “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because Thou {O Lord} did it” (Psalm 39:9).
  • King Hezekiah kissed adversity, trusting in the goodness and omnipotence of God. “Good is the Word of the LORD which Thou hast spoken” (Isaiah 39:8).

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

Come to Jesus. Hear His call to you today. Jesus said:

John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

It does not matter who you are – regardless of reputation, riches, refinement, religion you must receive Jesus in order to receive the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. The commentary “Got Questions” notes:

Jesus spoke of Himself as the only way to heaven in several places besides John 14:6. He presented Himself as the object of faith in Matthew 7:21–27. He said His words are life (John 6:63). He promised that those who believe in Him will have eternal life (John 3:14–15). He is the Gate of the sheep (John 10:7); the Bread of life (John 6:35); and the Resurrection (John 11:25). No one else can rightly claim those titles.”

The Apostle Peter preached to the Jewish Ruling Council (the Sanhedrin):

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

The Apostle Paul told the Synagogue at Antioch:

Acts 13:38-39 I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin.

Give yourself to Jesus today. What did the man in Jesus’ parable do? He …

Matthew 13:44, 46 … selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. … 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Give Jesus all that you have. Give Him all your idols, all your life. Put yourself in His hands, and believe He can save you. He not only can, but will. Will you hear His Voice, and run to Christ today? May God the Holy Spirit guide you to do so without delay. Amen and Amen!

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The Kingdom of God Is ..

Photo by Ray Bilcliff:

Romans 14:17-18 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

I want to start the message today with a question we all need to ask ourselves. The question is …

Are We Following The King Of The Old Testament,
Or The King Of The New Covenant?

The Christians at Rome had a major problem in the Church. They were fighting over food.

The Jewish Christian, raised up in the shadow of the Temple and animal sacrifices, believed that certain foods were clean and other foods were unclean. The Gentile Christian, however, was not raised up under the Law of Moses, and saw all foods as clean. This caused friction in the Church. To be fair, the Jewish Christian did not make up these taboos. When God gave Israel the Law through Moses, He established lists of “clean” foods and “unclean” foods. Why did God do this?

  • First of all, because God is the King of His people, a people that He loves. Our God is immense in knowledge. He knows all things from the beginning to the end. God is never surprised. 1 John 3:20 states “{God} knows everything” (ESV). God said:

Isaiah 46:9-10 … I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ …

  • Secondly, nothing surprises God. When God chose to save Israel from Egypt, He knew in advance that the people would be difficult to deal with. God knew that this first generation of Israelites would reject His leadership, continually murmur, and that He would have to let that generation die in the wilderness over 40 years until it was gone. God knows. God knows. God knows our very thoughts before we speak (Psalm 139:4).

When Israel gathered at Sinai – gathered by the Grace of God – and God gave the Law to Israel, He knew that Israel would fail Him. Yet God loved them.

Dr. D. Lance Waldie of Harvest Bible Church writes:

The Jews were given many dietary restrictions by God upon their release from Egypt under Moses (cf. Leviticus 11). God gave these restrictions to Israel not only to keep His people healthy (for many of the animals He restricted them from eating were, unbeknownst to them, disease carrying animals) but also to separate His people from the rest of the world. Though the Jews did not understand bacteria and its harmful effects in those days, God did. … abstaining from those foods did not make them holy”.

When the Lord Jesus came to this earth from Heaven, He explained God’s intent when He made certain foods unclean. It had nothing to do with making God’s people holy. Jesus said:

Matthew 15:10-12 (ESV) … “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”

The Pharisees – traditional Jews – were offended because they thought keeping the kosher laws made them holier than others, like those “pig eating Gentiles”. Mark recorded these words of our Lord Jesus:

Mark 7:18-23 (ESV) … Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And {Jesus} said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

It is not food that defiles the Christian, but evil acts
that come from the unregenerate heart.

Under the Old Covenant foods were strictly regulated because God wanted His nomadic Israelites to be healthy. His prohibitions stemmed from His omniscience as well as His love. The Apostle says:

the kingdom of God is NOT meat and drink

The King in the Old Testament restricted the foods of His people out of love. But under the New Covenant, foods are not restricted. What you eat or drink does not impress God, because, as God told Peter,

Acts 10:15 (ESV) “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

  1. The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament was clean and unclean foods.
  2. The Kingdom of God was animal sacrifices.
  3. The Kingdom of God was the feasts that commemorated moments in Israel.
  4. The Kingdom of God was circumcision of the male child on the eighth day after birth.

But the Kingdom of God changed when Jesus came. When Jesus came – when God became Man –

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,
and shall call His Name Immanuel (God with us) – Isaiah 7:14

The position of the King changed. In the Old Testament the King spoke from Sinai, directing His people in what they must do. Under the New Testament or New Covenant, the King came from glory to walk among us. The first sermon Jesus preached, recorded by Mark was:

Mark 1:14 (ESV) … the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.

The “Gospel or Good News of God is that the King has come. Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom of God. God reigns over all things. The Scripture says:

Psalm 24:1 (ESV) The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,

Everything belongs to God. Jesus is God. Jesus said of the Godhead:

Matthew 28:18 (ESV) … All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

And John 5:22 (ESV) … the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son

Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom of God. This is fitting, because the Godhead created all things THROUGH JESUS:

Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV) For by {Jesus} all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom of God. He is the Ruler of His people. He is the Savior of His people. The Angel said:

Matthew 1:21 … you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins..

The New Covenant King saves His people
from their sins

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness

The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness. The word translated righteousness is the Greek δικαιοσύνη dikaiosýnē, {pronounced dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay}, which means “the state of being as one ought to be, as God has decreed; the condition acceptable to God; to walk in a manner pleasing to the King of the Kingdom”. God’s people are called to a standard of righteousness. Righteousness means to please God.

When Jesus Christ – God in human form – went to John the Baptist to be baptized in water, John initially refused, saying “I have need to be baptized by YOU!” But Jesus said, “Please do it now, for it is necessary for US (both John and Jesus) to fulfill all RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Matthew 3:15). God demanded that Christ be baptized in water before His ministry began. Jesus as the Son of God sought to please the Godhead, and did so when He did as was required.

The subjects do not set the standards of the Kingdom, but the King sets the standards of the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is NOT meat or drink, but RIGHTEOUSNESS. In the Kingdom of God (and Jesus is the King of Kings – see 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16) there are TWO TYPES of righteousness.

  • There is the IMPUTED righteousness that we have been given by faith in Christ Jesus. When we received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit moved on our lives and gave us spiritual life. God the Father now views us through the sacrifice of our King and Savior. The Scripture says:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake {God the Father} made Jesus to be sin, who knew no sin, so that IN HIM we might become THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD.

The Apostle Paul – once a high ranking Pharisees – after salvation wrote:

Philippians 3:8-10 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith …

When you believe on Jesus, your sins are forgiven. You are freed from the Egypt of this world, and are adopted into the family of God. You become a part of Jesus’ Kingdom, living to please Him and not yourselves.

  • There is also an ACTUAL RIGHTEOUSNESS that Christ expects of His people. Entering the Kingdom of God by faith, we PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS. We strive to be like Jesus is. We strive to please our God in all that we say and do. The Bible says:

1 Peter 2:21-25 (ESV) For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

The Christian is to die to sin and live to righteousness. This is frequently alluded to in the Scripture. The Apostle writes:

Romans 6:1-2, 11-14 (ESV) 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? Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 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.

The Christian is to “walk in the light as Christ is in the light” (1 John 1:7). The BLOOD of Jesus Christ covers your sins. The INDWELLING SPIRIT guides you to walk with Jesus, not with sin.

We live our lives to please Jesus, our King and Savior. As recipients of IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS, we also PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS. What did Jesus say? seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

You, dear Christian, are saved to serve, not saved to sin. We are to live our lives to please our God, to honor King Jesus.

Where The Kingdom Of God Is, There Is
Righteousness, Peace, And Joy

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Some false teachers in the Church today are telling us that you can be a Christian and pursue things that God clearly labels as “sin” or “wickedness”. This is not true. Where God has IMPUTED righteousness, He expects us to love Him enough to pursue ACTUAL righteousness. The Scripture says:

1 Timothy 5:20, 22 (ESV) … As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. … 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). When Jesus imputed righteousness to us, His imputation did not remove the destructive power of sin. “The soul that sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). And again, “He that sins against Me, says the Lord, wrongs his own soul (Proverbs 8:36).” Sin is a destructive thing. The Bible is quite clear:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Timothy 1:9-10 (ESV) … the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine

To those who have IMPUTED righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus, we are also called to PURSUE ACTUAL RIGHTEOUSNESS, that is, to do as Jesus did. We are to love God and avoid those actions that He calls “sin” or “abomination” or “wicked”. We are to love God more than anyone else. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind” (Matthew 22:37). We are not to play with that which God has said is sinful. {Jesus} gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4). When we sin, we do not normalize it, but confess our sins to our Lord and King. When we confess our sins, the Bible says:

1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Righteousness is not just avoid sin.
Righteousness is doing the right thing to others.

Our King Jesus lowered Himself, living His life sacrificially so as to bless us. We who are Christians are to imitate Christ – not just in avoiding sin – but in loving others. The Apostle told the Church at Rome:

Romans 14:14-15 … I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

Paul tells us that he agrees with Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself. But he tells the Church to realize that there are still some Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ that believe they must continue to be KOSHER in their diet. To eat that which was formerly forbidden in their presence is to fail to consider their growing faith. To knowingly offend a brother or sister in Christ in areas like this, food or drink, is to behave unlovingly. Or as Paul writes, now walkest thou not charitably. We are to walk in love, just as Jesus walked in love. What did our Lord say?

John 13:34 (ESV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

This is a commandment that our King has given us. When we violate the commandment, we are in fact being unrighteous. To be righteous is to DO what the King said do, and NOT DO what the King has forbidden. We are to obey our King in all things for our own sake, and for the sake of those around us.

Proverbs 11:19 (ESV) Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die.

Proverbs 15:9 (ESV) The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but {God} loves him who pursues righteousness.

Proverbs 21:21 (ESV) Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.

1 Timothy 6:11 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV) So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

The Kingdom of God is NOT meat and drink, BUT righteousness (doing what Jesus said do, and avoiding sin), and peace (the lack of war), and joy in the Holy Spirit. We are a saved people. We are to …

Colossians 1:10 (ESV) … walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Where there is a lack of peace in a Church, this is a sure sign that righteousness is not being observed. Where there is a lack of joy in a Church, this is a sure sign that God the Holy Spirit is not present in its meetings. But where the Kingdom of God IS, there will always be RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, and JOY in the Holy Spirit. Let us, as God’s children, reckon ourselves in the Kingdom of God. As good citizens of that kingdom, let us live so as to honor our Lord. We are called to serve Christ in these things, in RIGHTEOUSNESS, and PEACE, and JOY. We end with the Apostle’s words:

Romans 14:19-21 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

May God the Holy Spirit drive these truths deeply into our hearts. Let us live so as to please our King Jesus. Amen and Amen!

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Mislabeling Jesus

Photo by Rodolfo Clix:

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Mark chapter 3.

This world has lost its mind
and Satan is Driving The Bus

In 1970 the State of California passed The “California Endangered Species Act”, which protects certain plants and animals species. Section 45 of that Act defines fish as “mollusk, crustaceans, invertebrate, amphibians”. On May 31, 2022, California’s 3rd District Court of Appeals declared that – since bees are invertebrate – that bees are in fact fish, and are a protected species under this act. Though I understand the intent is to protects bees (and I’m all for protecting those little pollinators), to relabel “fish” as “bees” makes absolutely no sense. Or maybe it does. The Bible says:

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places

Lucifer, also called “The Great Dragon”, “The Ancient Serpent”, “The Devil”, “Satan” (which means “the Accuser”), and “The Deceiver of the Whole World” (see Revelation 12:9) is constantly at work in this world, twisting and relabeling truth so as to increase the power of darkness.

Satan’s game is confusion. Just today I passed a rainbow colored flag with the words, “Love Always Wins” in the middle of it. Love does always win – but only love as God defines love wins. The devil is famous for twisting God’s truth. After all, it was He who told Adam, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’? You will not surely die. God knows that when you eat of the forbidden tree your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5).

In other news, people are leaving folded dollar bills on the ground in Giles County, Tennessee. If you see one, don’t pick it up. The Sheriff’s Department said that people are lacing the bills with Fentanyl and Methamphetamine. Why? So you can pick it up, and get hooked on these drugs. They can be absorbed through the skin. Satan is driving the bus! Are you at Mark 3?

Mark 3:1-2 And He {Jesus} entered again into the synagogue {the “sunagoge” or gathering of Jews at Capernaum}; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And they {the Pharisees and Scribes} watched Him, whether He would heal {this man} on the sabbath day; that they might accuse Him.

The Pharisees Labeled Jesus As Evil, Worthy of Death

Already we see Satan’s hand at twisting the truth. The Pharisees and Scribes are at the Synagogue with Jesus not to worship God, but to find something they can use to accuse Jesus. These people have redefined religion, redefined Judaism. The Great or Primary Commandment of the Law (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:29-30; Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 30:6) is

Matthew 22:37 (ESV) … You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

The second pillar of the Law is:

Matthew 22:39 (ESV) … You shall love your neighbor as yourself ..

Jesus said On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40). That is, if you were to take the Law of God and condense it, these two commandments are the foundation upon which the Law rests. God’s faith is relational, not ritual. This unnamed man with the withered hand is suffering. If the Scribes and Pharisees were in the same position, they would want to be healed – even on the Sabbath Day. Redefining religion, they make it more ritualistic than relational. The Psalmist knew this, and said You, O God, do not delight in sacrifice … you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings” (Psalm 51:16). God wants a relationship with us, with His people. He wants us to be in union with Him, loving Him and others.

When Jesus healed this man, the Bible says:

Mark 3:6 … the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

The Pharisees (the religious) and the Herodians (the political) wanted to destroy Jesus. This is the Greek ἀπόλλυμι apóllymi, {pronounced ap-ol’-loo-mee}, which means “to destroy, to render lifeless”. They wanted to murder Jesus. But this is no surprise that the Herodians wanted to murder Jesus, for when Jesus was born “Herod sought to kill {apóllymi} the young Jesus” (Matthew 2:13). Herod and his followers, along with the Pharisees and Scribes saw Jesus as the enemy. Throwing the Law of God away, they plotted to murder Him – but cloaked their sinfulness as “for the good of Israel”.

The Pharisees and Herodians saw Jesus as a nuisance, but the crowds saw Jesus another way.

Mark 3:7-10 But Jesus withdrew Himself with His disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judaea, 8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him. 9 And He spake to His disciples, that a small ship should wait on Him because of the multitude, lest they should throng Him. 10 For He had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon Him for to touch Him, as many as had plagues.

The Crowds Labeled Jesus As “A Miracle Man”

Word went out from the Synagogue that Jesus healed this man with the withered hand … and the crowds took over. Jesus came to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom:

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (John 3:2)
“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17)
“the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.”
(Mark 1:15)

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth to win souls to the Kingdom of God. Yet because people sought Him for healing, He was swamped by suffering and hungering people. They pursued Jesus, so much so that He went out into the wilderness. Jesus got on a ship, and moved out to the Sea of Galilee. The people pursued Him. Jesus went up into the Mountains, and the people chased Him.

The crowds loved the MIRACLES of Jesus,
but not the MESSAGE.

What is interesting is that the crowds mislabeled Jesus, but not the demons. The demons knew Jesus!

Mark 3:11 And unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down before Him {an attitude of worship}, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.

The fallen angels knew Who Jesus was. When Jesus was in the “country of the Gergesenes” the demons cried out upon seeing Jesus, What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). The demons know Jesus. Satan knows Jesus. Dr. Ligon Duncan of Reformed Theological Seminary preached :

The first time the term “Son of God” is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, it comes from the lips of Satan himself. It is in the temptation in Matthew chapter 4 , verses 3 and 6, where, Satan himself tempts Christ using the term applied to him as “Son of God.” Matthew does not record that to cast into doubt whether the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but to point out to you that even Satan knows the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. There are very many enlightened people today who will suggest to you that is like believing a fairy tale, to believe the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. In the Bible, only humans are stupid enough to deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Even the demons in the Bible acknowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the divine Son of God.”

The crowds got overwhelmingly out of control, so much so that Jesus began to heal people and then tell them to not testify or tell others about the healing:

Mark 3:12 And {Jesus} straightly charged them that they should not make him known.

Don’t tell anybody that I healed you”, Jesus told them. But people don’t listen. Once healed, they told others about Jesus the Healer. Jesus goes up into a mountain to get away from the crowds. He cannot share the Gospel for the noise of the multitude. There are no “sound” rooms. There are no microphones, nor speakers on the walls. There are no Power Point screens, nor hymnals. There is just Jesus, with all the limitations that the human body has. Jesus cannot speak above the noise of the crowds – and people need to hear the Gospel.

People need to know what the demons know,
that Jesus is the Son of God.

Jesus goes up on a mountain, and chooses 12 Apostles. The crowd follows Him. To alleviate the crowds, Jesus gives His Apostles power to heal:

Mark 3:14-15 And {Jesus} ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, 15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:

The Apostles were to go forth and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, and to heal the sick, and cast out demons. Jesus gives this power to each and every Apostle – including Judas Iscariot who will betray Him (Mark 3:19).

Jesus next travels to Simon Peter’s home. At this home we’re told that Jesus gains another two new labels.

Jesus Is Either Crazy, Or Demon Possessed

Mark 3:20-22 And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. 22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.

The demons know Jesus as the Son of God, but Jesus’ friends believe that Jesus is crazy. The word translated friends is the Greek παρά pará, {pronounced par-ah’}, which literally means “those nearby”. Those who were closest to Jesus thought He had lost His mind. The Apostle said, “For even His own brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5). We read later in our text:

Mark 3:31 There came then His brethren and His mother, and, standing without, sent unto Him, calling Him.

This is the “Rescue Committee”, come to save Jesus from His folly. Don’t Jesus know that He is inciting a riot? Don’t Jesus know that the Pharisees and the Herodians are plotting His death? We love Jesus, and don’t want Him hurt. So we want to step in, to intervene, to shut that Boy up before He gets Himself into a mess we can’t get Him out of.

Then you have the scribes which came down from Jerusalem. They followed Jesus to Capernaum with the intent of defaming Him. The scribes are Bible scholars, and when they spoke, they spoke with authority.

Jesus’ family thought Jesus was “Out of His Mind”.
The Scribes thought Jesus was just Demon Possessed:
Out of His Body. The Light’s on, but Jesus isn’t home.

Jesus hasn’t had time to eat anything, the press of the crowd is so great. But Jesus now calls His Apostles, and opens the door of Peter’s home in Capernaum. Jesus speaks a series of parables. Jesus always spoke in parables when He was giving information to His followers, but hiding spiritual truths from unbelievers. Jesus said:

Matthew 13:13 (ESV) This is why I speak to them {the lost} in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

The lost world cannot understand the deeper truths of the Kingdom of God. They see Jesus healing, and chase Him as a Healer. Jesus is much more than a Healer. The lost world misunderstands Jesus. He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth He out devils. Jesus is crazy, or He is demon possessed. Jesus replies to these charges with three simple but similar parables:

Mark 3:24-26 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

Jesus Christ Is The Son Of God’s Kingdom,
The Head Of The House Of Christ,
The Sender Of God’s Holy Spirit

Jesus Christ came preaching The kingdom of God, not “The Kingdom of Satan”. Jesus said, I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43, NKJV). Jesus did not come to this earth to just give temporal healing. We are all dying creatures, broken creatures. Jesus came to this earth as the Son of God, bidding us to believe on Him, to receive Him as Lord and Savior. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Healing is a part of Jesus’ Kingdom. “Jesus sent His Apostles to preach the Kingdom of God AND to heal the sick” (Luke 9:2). Jesus Christ called people into His Kingdom through repentance and belief in the good news of Christ. “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).

Salvation comes by receiving Jesus Christ as THE King of the kingdom of God. We are to REPENT, to turn from self and worldliness, and to turn TO Jesus as our Prophet, Priest, and King. We are to live our lives to please Him, not ourselves.

Jesus cast out demons because He is establishing the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of Satan. Those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are a part of His Kingdom, a Kingdom that shall never end.

Jesus came preaching the house of Christ. When people were saved under the Old Covenant, they were considered of the house of Moses”. The Pharisees and Scribes are of the house of Moses”. They are focused on the rituals, the

rite of circumcision,
ritual of animal sacrifice
rules of clean and unclean animals
requirements of special feasts and sabbaths

Those who are saved are not of the house of Moses”, but are under the New Covenant. We are of the house of Christ. We are saved by faith in Jesus. We are saved because we KNOW Jesus. We have a RELATIONSHIP of LOVE with Jesus. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 3:4-6 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. 5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 But Christ as a Son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Moses was a servant unto God. The House God built through Moses was the House of Servants. But Jesus Christ is THE SON OF GOD. The House that Jesus presides over is not a House of Servants, but a House of Sons and Daughters. We are the House of Christ, “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Our hope is not based on our strength, or our abilities to keep the rituals. Our hope is in Christ Jesus. Our love is to Jesus. Our completion is not in our ability to keep the Law of God flawlessly, but that our trust and love is in Jesus. The Apostle said:

Colossians 2:10-11, 13-14, 16-17 And ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power: 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: … 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; … 16 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.

When you receive Jesus Christ as He truly is – our Lord and Savior – God the Holy Spirit enters your life and effects a change in you. Jesus cast out devils not by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, but with the Holy Spirit of God. Once you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you begin to follow Him in love. Do you know why I love Jesus? Heed this next parable:

Mark 3:27 No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

This is a very simple parable, but on that is often misunderstood. The strong man’s house is the life that has not received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Lucifer, also called “The Great Dragon”, “The Ancient Serpent”, “The Devil”, “Satan” (which means “the Accuser”), and “The Deceiver of the Whole World” (see Revelation 12:9) is constantly at work in this world, twisting and relabeling truth so as to increase the power of darkness. The Devil is the strong man, and no one can enter the strong man’s house unless Someone stronger enter that house first and bind the strong man.

Jesus is the One Who – accompanied with the Holy Spirit of God – enters the strong man’s house. Jesus is stronger than the devil. He is stronger than evil.

Jesus Christ is God’s invading force. He and the Holy Spirit work together to bring believers into the House of Christ and the Kingdom of God. Those whom God saves, God will sanctify. Those whom God saves, He will change their hearts, writing His Law in their heart. We who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are under a New Covenant. God says:

Hebrews 10:16-17 (ESV) “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Pastor John Piper said:

Hebrews is teaching that, when we are born again, God gives us a new heart and a new spirit, and the result is that the law of God written in Scripture is no longer offensive to us. We are no longer hostile to it like Paul says in Romans 8:7. We are not hostile to the word of God, but rather, we are submissive. We delight to do God’s commandments. It doesn’t mean that we know them all by heart, because they are written on our hearts. It doesn’t mean that. It means that, when we read them in the word, the inclination to do them is in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This is a great work of the Holy Spirit, purchased by the blood of Christ called the new covenant.”

When the Scribes attributed Jesus’ work to that of Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons, Jesus warned them. He said:

Mark 3:28-30 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. 30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

What damns a soul to hell? Rejection of the call of Christ. To turn away from the call that God is putting your hearts right now, to reject Jesus by mislabeling Him as Evil, the partner of Beelzebub, or the Miracle Man, will only bring you condemnation. You need Jesus. You need Him Who gave His life for you. You need to receive Him. Confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the grave, and you SHALL be saved. May God touch your hearts with His Word! Amen and Amen!

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Being A Good Soldier Of Christ

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Timothy Chapter 2.

We Must Pass On Bible Truth To Others

Unless believers pass on Bible truths to the next generation, the Gospel light cannot continue to burn. The Books of Timothy were written by the Apostle Paul to pass on Biblical truths in a world covered with darkness.

Paul met Timothy (or his Roman name, Timotheus) in Acts 16 during his second missionary journey. We read:

Acts 16:1-3 Then came {Paul} to Derbe and Lystra: {located in Southern Asia Minor & Turkey} and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, {or Timothy} the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, {Eunice} and believed; but his father was a Greek: 2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

Timothy gave his life to the Lord, and committed to following the Apostle Paul as he moved to start new churches. Though Timothy’s mother Eunice and grandmother Lois were believing Jews (see 2 Timothy 1:5), Timothy’s father was a Gentile. Because of this Timothy had never been circumcised. Though the Apostle believed that:

Colossians 3:11 … there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Circumcision is not necessary for salvation. Nonetheless, Paul asked Timothy to be circumcised since he had a Jewish mother, so that his lack of circumcision would not hinder his ministry among the Jews. Many of the Pharisees would not even listen to an uncircumcised person. There’s a principle in this that we need to understand.

The most important thing we do as believers is to win converts to Christ. Timothy was willing to go through the very painful and inconvenient procedure of circumcision to aid in reaching the Jews with the Gospel.

Because Timothy, like Paul, was willing to go the “extra mile” to share the Gospel, Paul had a very close relationship with him. Paul refers to Timothy as:

A Co-worker” (Romans 16:21; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Philippians 2:22)
A Son in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2)
A Brother in the Lord (2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1)

Timothy was Paul’s emissary to the local churches:

1 Corinthians 4:17 … I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

The Gospel Driven Christian Is Grace Oriented

What does God expect of the believer in Christ? Paul told Timothy…

2 Timothy 2:1-3 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Every Christian should strive to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. As Children of God, our strength comes from a perpetual union with Christ. As fallen creatures we sometimes sin, emulating the darkness around us. But this is not the proper place for a Child of Christ. When we fail in holiness, we should not wallow in guilt, nor seek penance as if catholic in faith. We instead should realize that Jesus Christ is our High Priest, and we should approach Him in prayer with empty hands:

Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We are called to be strong in the Grace of God … but we are also to do all we can to bring others into the Kingdom of God. What we have been taught, we are the same commit thou to faithful men. What we learn, teach others around us as God opens the door. We are also to:

2 Timothy 2:3 endure hardness, as a good soldier
of Jesus Christ

We are in a battle for the souls of men, and this battle is being hard fought by Satan and his forces of darkness. The soldier enjoys times of peace where he trains for battle. But the soldier always realizes that there is a battle coming. That’s why the soldier trains.

What Does Our Battle Ground Look Like?

The Apostle considered the Church Age to be in the beginning of the “Last Days”. Jesus said,

Matthew 24:37 (ESV) For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

In the days of Noah there was widespread wickedness and evil on the earth, so much so that the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:6). Noah stood alone against the evil of his day, preaching the Gospel of salvation, and building an Ark. We are in the last days where the wickedness of man is great on the earth, and every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Paul tells us:

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

Paul wanted Timothy – and us – to know how difficult the battle would be for the Kingdom of God. We read This know also. Paul wanted Timothy to be aware of what comes with ministry. In Chapter 2 the Apostle told Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:23-26 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

The devil will do all that he can to destroy the work of God. Paul encourages us to keep our eyes on the Word of God with the intent of patiently enduring the power of darkness. We are not to become lifted up or proud in what we teach, for we teach the Word of God, not our word. In verse 25 Paul makes an interesting statement:

2 Timothy 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth

Word Study: The word meekness is the Greek πρᾳότης praiótēs, {pronounced prah-ot’-ace}, which means “in humility”. We are not to be arrogant as the Pharisees were in addressing the sinner in their sins, but we are to remember that “there but for the Grace of God go I”. Those who are in sin – that do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, are those that oppose themselves. They are like the proverbial snake eating it’s own tail. Sin is destructive, poisonous, evil. Sin destroys what it touches. The devil often pulls out philosophies and twists the truth by giving an opportunity to foolish and unlearned questions that have nothing to do with the Gospel. If the devil can get us to chasing rabbits, we’ll never do that which God calls us to do – to be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).

The devil will do anything he can to keep a lost person in a lost state. We must ignore the devil and his plots, while we patiently continue to present the Gospel. No one will recover themselves out of the snare of the devil unless God intervene, speaking to the hearts of the lost. It is God Who will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.

How does the Apostle characterize these “last days” lost people? He says:

2 Timothy 3:2-4 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God..

Is this not our age? People are lovers of their own selves. The mother loves herself more than she loves her baby, and aborts that child because “it’s MY body, and I’ll do as I want to with it”. The father drops his seed without care that a child might be made, then moves on to the next flower, like a wandering bee. People are covetous, another word for greedy and insatiable. The Tenth of the Ten Commandments – the basis of all human law – states:

Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.

Coveting is what leads to fighting and war. Wanting to take what belongs to another leads mankind to murder. The terrible war going on in the Ukraine today can be attributed to Russian Leadership coveting more land and more power. Coveting destroys natural order. The Child of God is not to covet, nor to fall into sexual sins. We read in:

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication {sexual sin}, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

We who are saved by faith in Christ are saints, that is, a people set apart for God. We belong to Jesus. God is our Father. We should covet God and His Word, not the temporal things around us. The way to blessing in life is to walk with God daily. As that old warrior Joshua said:

Joshua 1:8 (ESV) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

And God promised through the Prophet:

Isaiah 48:17 (ESV) Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.

With covetousness as the Locomotive pulling the train, the cars that follow are boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. The covetous are vocally and loudly proud, putting themselves first over their neighbor and over civil law. We saw this type of behavior during 2019 as “peaceful but fiery protests” destroyed property and lives in America. These were blasphemers, caring little what God in His Word has said. They were disobedient to parents as children, and ever unthankful and unholy.

As the Apostle describes the latter day human, he says that they are:

2 Timothy 3:3 … Without natural affection …

This is a reference to the deviant pursuits of human sexuality we see so commonly today. Natural affection is the divine design of male and female in marital union. The Apostle tells us in

Romans 1:21-22, 24, 26-27 (ESV) For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, … 24 God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, … 26 God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

God meant for us to desire, but we are to
desire according to His design

God made Adam, then made Eve out of Adam’s rib. Man should desire woman as his missing part. But when humanity turned away from God’s design, and in covetousness sought out self pleasure rather than the pleasure of the presence of God, then God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done(Romans 1:28).

When God’s most basic design is rejected, humanity goes into a tailspin from morality. A recent poll by Summit Ministries found that “Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Believe Transgenderism Isn’t Healthy, But One-Third Keep Views to Themselves”. The article further noted that “90% Oppose Gender Alteration Procedures for Minors, and 72% Oppose Gender Identity Curriculum in Classrooms”. Yet few say anything against it. The Christian, however, is called of God to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). This is not a popular thing to do. But if we love others as we should, as Jesus does, we will speak the truth while holding forth “the Word of Life” (Philippians 2:16; 1 John 1:1). It will not be easy, because all around us we see …

2 Timothy 3:3-4 … truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent {ἀκρατής akratḗs, {pronounced ak-rat’-ace}, without self control}, fierce {ἀνήμερος anḗmeros, {pronounced an-ay’-mer-os}, savage}, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, high minded {τυφόω typhóō, {pronounced toof-o’-o}, to be wrapped up in smoke or in a mist, clouded in their thinking}, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Several denominations of churches have responded to the darkness in America by compromising Biblical truths. The Gospel has the power to change a soul, no matter how that soul is enslaved. We are not to compromise the truths of the Scripture, but are to rest on them.

2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

John Stonestreet of Breakpoint Daily notes:

What can we do if a civilization is disintegrating around us? … rather than withdraw from the challenges around us, we continue to give whatever good we can to the world. William Wilberforce, for example, not only lobbied against the slave trade but also fought to advance moral values in a corrupt nation. Our best efforts may not succeed, but that’s not why we do it. We do it out of love for God and neighbor. … we must reject small compromises. Hannah Arendt wrote about the “banality of evil,” how in certain cultural moments, evil advances in mundane and seemingly harmless ways. … We must be faithful to what {God} asks us to do, to what {God} asks us to believe, and to how {God} instructs us to live. In all of these things, we take up life at this moment as part of our calling. We are here because it is the time and place He ordained for us. And so, we move forward, keeping our eyes on the One who perfects and finishes our faith, Who will bring history to its final culmination.”

We Must Not Be False Prophets

No matter how enticing it may be, we as believers must not be false prophets, kowtowing to the whims of our age. Jesus was most critical of the …

Matthew 7:15 … false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

True Children of God have love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith(1 Timothy 1:5). The false prophet serves neither God nor their neighbor, but their own belly, their own fame. Paul indicts the false prophets of his day, saying …

2 Timothy 3:6-8 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

False prophets always stand in the way of the growth of God’s Kingdom. When Moses went to Pharaoh with the message, “let the people of Israel go out of his land” (Exodus 6:11), Pharaoh refused to hear Moses because he had false prophets at his side. When Aaron threw down his staff so that it became a snake, Pharaoh called for the false prophets Jannes and Jambres”. They threw down their staffs, which in turn became snakes. But Aaron’s staff turned snake ate the snakes of Jannes and Jambres. God’s power is forever superior to the powers of darkness! Paul said:

2 Timothy 3:9-11 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. 10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

Though the false prophets may appear to win for a time, in the end God and His people will stand victorious. Consider the Apostle Paul’s life. He ministered faithfully for God, and saw many local Churches established to the glory of God. But Paul suffered persecutions and afflictions throughout his ministry. Paul told the Church at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 11:24-27 (NIV) Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

Outwardly Paul’s ministry looked like a failure. He ended up in Rome, and was ordered beheaded by the Roman Caesar. Yet in the end God used Paul to do great things for the Kingdom of God. Evil cannot win this battle, for evil and godlessness eventually spins downward into rot and destruction. The Apostle ends with these words:

2 Timothy 3:12-17 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But 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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

That which brings blessing to us, and to this world, is the Word of God. Let us stand firm on its teachings, trusting in the God Who wrote the text through 40 different Prophets and Apostles. It is faith in the teachings of the Word of God that brings salvation to a soul. It is faith in the teachings of the Word of God that brings light and blessing into this world. May God draw us close to Him through His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen.

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The Faith That Perseveres

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This morning we talked about “Walking Worthy Of The Gospel”. We focused on 1 Thessalonians 2, verses 1-13. Walking worthy of the Gospel – the Good News of salvation – begins when the Bible, the Word of God, has preeminence in your life. We read again verse 13 nof this text:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

The Thessalonian believers received the Word of God, the Bible that the Apostles shared, not as a work of man but as THE Word of God. To those who see the Bible as just “another book written by old dead men”, the Bible has no power. But when we see the Bible as precious as Jesus saw it, then God the Holy Spirit uses that Scripture to make us more like Jesus. The Bible will not effectually work in the lives of those who do NOT believe it.

Israel Lost It’s Place Of Blessing Because She Did NOT Believe the Word Of God Was The Word of God

The early Church suffered intense persecution because the leadership of Israel did not believe the Word of God. We read:

1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: {these are Churches located at ground zero, where the resistance is the greatest}for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

The religious leadership of Israel had gradually moved away from God.

The Pharisees placed more emphasis on being physically born a Jew, and on knowledge of Scripture rather than application of Scripture.

The Pharisees, Scribes, and Priests of Israel gathered together in conspiracy, we are told in …

Matthew 26:3-5 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty {conspiracy}, and kill him. 5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people {political conspiracy}.

As Paul said,

1 Thessalonians 2:15 {they} both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets…

The Jews plotted against Jesus. They hired men to tell lies about Jesus at His trial. They held Jesus’ trial at night so there would be few witnesses to what transpired. In short, those who should have known better violated numerous teachings in God’s Word in order to get rid of Jesus. They did the same thing with the Prophets that God sent to them. Jesus said of these pitiful religious lost people:

Matthew 27:29-37 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

God cannot save any people who wander away from His Word. When evil invaded Israel, it was only a matter of time until Israel fell. God’s people must stay profoundly attached to God’s Word. The Apostle said:

1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 … they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

God will destroy the Temple and scatter the Jews in 70 AD, fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy (Mark 13:1-2). The wrath of God was poured out on Israel because they rejected not only God’s Word, but they rejected God’s Messiah.

The Word of God cannot fail. God has promised through Abraham that Israel will one day occupy the Promised Land in full. God’s Word never fails. We are told in

Joshua 21:45 There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

And in Isaiah 55:10-11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

God’s Word cannot fail. These words are echoed throughout Scripture:

Proverbs 30:5 (ESV) Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Isaiah 40:8 (ESV) The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Matthew 24:35 (ESV) {Jesus said} Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV) … if we are faithless, He remains faithful — for He cannot deny himself.

All Israel will one day inherit the Promised Land, but only when all Israel submits to the Word of God and trust in the Savior that God has sent. As Paul writes this letter, Israel is not representing God, but Satan. They have wandered away from God’s Word.

Believers Are To Stand Firm On The Word of God

Though Paul, Timothy and Silas were being persecuted on every side, and the Church at Thessaloniki was being equally persecuted, the Church was standing firm on the Word of God. This is a main reason that we who are faithful and trust in God’s Word are to stand firm. We dare not drop the flag of the Holy Scripture, or the enemy will overrun us. The Apostle tells the Thessalonian believers:

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. 18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and joy.

Nothing weakens a believer like seeing another believer fall away from God. But nothing strengthens a believer in his faith more than seeing other believers standing firm, trusting the Word of God. Though Satan hindered the Apostle Paul in returning to Thessaloniki, Paul was encouraged because the believers of Thessaloniki refused to quit the faith.

Illustrate: There was a movie years ago that starred Mel Gibson called “The Patriot”. One of the scenes that sticks to my memory is when the British Army is defeating the American Army, and the Red, White and Blue – our glorious flag – is dropped. Seeing the flag dropped, the American Army started retreating, running away from the enemy. Gibson saw the flag drop and ran against the tide of retreating soldiers to pick up and hold the flag high. As he waved the flag in the air, shouting to the soldiers to return to the line, first one soldier, then another turned around and rejoined the fight. At the end of the day America won that battle because a few faithful stood strong.

Beloved, we must stand strong,
trusting in the Word of our Lord.

The Apostle Paul was getting discouraged, standing against so much opposition. He tells the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 3:1-8 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain. 6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.

Paul sent Timothy to Thessaloniki to check on the condition of the persecuted Church. When Timothy returned, Paul was delighted to learn that the Church continued in faith and charity. By standing under duress, the Apostle said we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith. Then Paul says a most amazing thing:

1 Thessalonians 3:8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.

The Church can withstand a lot of stress and persecution as long as it stands unified in love one toward another. The Apostle said, We Apostles – We Missionaries can continue to live, though terribly afflicted. Why? Because YOU STAND FAST IN THE LORD.

Genuine Salvation Will Persevere
For It Seeks Jesus

Our Lord Jesus said in:

Luke 9:62 (ESV) … No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

Illustrate: A young man was being taught by his father how the plow a straight furrow. He would plow a “back furrow” in the middle of the field. If this furrow was straight, then all the other furrows would be straight. He told his son, “I’ll stand at the other end of the field. Don’t look back. Don’t look to the side. Look at me. Keep your head up, and plow focused on me”. This is the Christian way of life. Saved by Grace – the free and glorious Grace of God – we are to keep our eyes on Jesus. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Do Not Grow Weary 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Encourage one another to focus on Jesus. Jesus said:

Mark 13:13 ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

Those who are genuine Christians, are genuine Christians because of the preaching of the Word of God. A Christian cherishes God’s Word, for it is what made us alive, and what keeps us alive. Salvation is a free gift from God. But once saved, the Christian becomes “the workmanship of God” (Ephesians 2:10). Paul now emphasizes this to the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? 11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

When a person is saved, then the Lord will cause that person to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men. A Christian will grow in love toward other Christians and the lost themselves. A Christian will not avenge themselves, but trust in God, and love others with all their hearts. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:43-45 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, 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 sons of God because THE Son of God gave His life for us. We are to “do good” always. We are called to not repay evil for evil, but

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.

Evil cannot be destroyed by evil, but only by good. Let us keep doing good for the glory of God, and the advancement of His Kingdom. May God touch your hearts through this His Word. Amen and Amen!

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Walking Worthy Of The Gospel

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Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians chapter 2. As the Apostle addresses the Church at Thessaloniki, a Church surrounded by pagan temples and Caesar worship, he exhorts the Church – every Christian in the Church – to do the right thing. This is a lengthy section, so I’m going to read a bit, then expound on that bit before I read onward. I pray that god the Holy Spirit would impart this great truth to your lives.

Our Introduction Is The Glorious Gospel

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: {Paul, Timothy and Silas had been told that the city of Thessaloniki was too corrupt, that a Church would never be built there. And yet, as God has promised, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (ESV)} 2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, {it was at Philippi that Paul and Silas were imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. Having suffered that, it would have been natural to avoid Thessaloniki lest it happen again!} we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. {Paul, Timothy & Silas preached the Gospel “with much contention”, πολύς polys ἀγών agōn, “as if in a great conflict or contest”. It was not easy to preach the Gospel, but they were resisted at every point, as Satan and every force of evil pushed against them} 3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, {To be “put in trust” is πιστεύω pisteuō, that is, their faith was in the Gospel, not in themselves} even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: {Paul, Timothy, and Silas did not try and please the crowd, but preached the Gospel} 6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. {It was out of great love – not self seeking glory but love – that Paul, Silas, and Timothy spoke} 9 For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. 10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: {Paul, Timothy and Silas not only preached the Gospel, but lived by the Gospel} 11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. {Not only did Paul, Timothy and Silas preach and live the Gospel, but they commanded God’s people “walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory”}

Humanity Has A Sin Problem

It shocks me, but doesn’t surprise me when the lost do terrible things. This past Tuesday, May 24, 2022 an 18 year old man named Salvador Ramos went into Robb Elementary School and killed nineteen children and two adults. Seventeen others were wounded. The young man earlier that day shot his own grandmother in the face, severely wounding her.

What creates such a horror? People are quick to blame guns, and call for gun control and additional laws, including enhanced background checks prior to the sales of guns. Sadly, there’s no easy answer that government can give us to the problems we face in our nation. The first murder in the Bible was not committed with a gun, but an unnamed weapon (Genesis 4:1-10). The horror is not in the weapon, but in the heart of the one who murders another.

Had Ramos gone into that classroom and killed 21 people with a machete, or a stick of dynamite, or a poison gas, it would be just as horrible. The horror is that his heart could yield a weapon to destroy lives made by God.

What are the first causes of this terrible behavior? Bloodshed, murder and mayhem are pushed through network media and the larger movie screens and streaming services, along with sexual perversity of every kind. Children are allowed to play video games where they participate in bloody mayhem. The Bible says:

Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.

When children are raised up with little regard for life and little regard for God, they become adults who do horrible things. When the heart departs from the Lord, sin blossoms. What fixes sin? More laws? No, but the glorious Gospel of salvation. The human heart is born into this world filled with evil. The Scripture says:

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Our hearts need the Lord. Ramos needed the Lord. No law can force this, but this world desperately needs Jesus. It is Jesus Who, through the glorious Gospel, can fix the wayward heart. Our hope is in the Gospel.

1 Thessalonians 2:4-5 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, {To be “put in trust” is πιστεύω pisteuō, that is, their faith was in the Gospel, not in themselves} even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness:

Paul, Timothy and Silas put their trust not in themselves, nor in their abilities, but in the glorious Gospel of salvation. They did not speak with an eye to pleasing people, nor did they flatter the listeners. They told whosoever would hear that there is no grace nor peace without the Gospel of Christ. It is only by changing the heart – the rot at our core – that darkness is abated.

Sin Destroys What It Touches,
Like A Fire Out Of Control

When sin is given its head, it burns and spreads like a fire, consuming even the innocent in its path. When Jesus Christ – Eternal God become Perfect Man – came to this earth, it was with the intent of destroying sin. Jesus did not come to just cover sin, but to eradicate it. Pastor Kevin White in his book “Get To The Point” (page 60) wrote:

Salvation is a MEANS to God’s Presence, and not a SUBSTITUTE for God’s Presence. Salvation is what makes it possible. God’s power is in His Presence. Without God’s Presence in our lives moment by moment, we remain powerless. Satan is the enemy of God. It is better for Satan if you flat out reject God, but it’s not a problem if you accept God as long as you don’t value God’s Presence. So salvation is the means to the point and is not the point. The point is God’s Presence. Salvation is what gives us access to God’s Presence within us.”

When Jesus Christ became flesh, became incarnate, and came into this world, He came to show us how to walk with God and for God. “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus loves His creation, but despises sin. The Bible says of God:

Psalm 5:5 (ESV) The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes {O Lord}; You hate all evildoers.

Psalm 11:5 (ESV) The Lord tests the righteous, but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

God hates those who do evil, but loves His creation.

He loved His creation so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son to this earth to pay for our sins. Jesus was often found with sinners, so much so that the self righteous Pharisees mocked Jesus, saying:

Matthew 11:19 (and Luke 7:34) (ESV) … ‘Look at Him {that Jesus}! A Glutton and a Drunkard, a Friend of tax collectors and sinners!

Jesus often sat with sinners, eating and drinking with them. But Jesus NEVER condoned sin. EVER. Those who proclaim Jesus looked the other way at sin are liars and antiChrists. Pastor and Theologian R.C. Sproul rightly said,

the smallest sin is an affront to the holiness of God and brings down the thundering wrath of God upon us.”

Why does God despise sin so? Because sin is like a lit match I a barn filled with dry hay. Sin is never a little thing. Sin is a destructive thing. Sin destroys families. Sin plants wickedness in the heart, and then waters that wickedness until it becomes the horror of 21 deaths in Uvalde at Robb Elementary. The Apostle writes in another place:

Galatians 1:3-5 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Grace and peach come not from more man made laws, but from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ. Where salvation is, God is, God is PRESENT. Jesus Christ is LORD over His people. Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins. Why? Was it just to get us into Heaven. No, though that is one result. But Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father. The Christian is saved to walk in the Presence of God daily, moment by moment. The Christian is saved not to be part of this present darkness, but to be the light of God, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.

Sin in every form is a destructive force that must be eradicated by the Gospel of Salvation. The Apostle said:

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: 11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

The Apostle said, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe. As Paul, Silas and Timothy preached the Gospel, they were convicted in their own lives to live by the Gospel they preached.

Each Christian should ask themselves daily:

– Am I HOLY, that is, living my life as God’s possession.
– Am I JUST, that is, outwardly imitating Jesus in my life.
– Am I UNBLAMABLE, that is, casting my sin to the Cross of Christ.

With the horror of Uvalde Texas still a raw wound, we who are Southern Baptists were confronted by another horror this week.

Our leadership, those in the highest places in our Southern Baptist Convention, have allowed sin to fester and remain in their lives. Men that I looked up to and studied under, Johnny Hunt and Paige Patterson, have been exposed in sexual sin against the flock of Christ. In the 1990’s the Catholic Church had a number of Priests that were exposed in sexual sin. We are all broken. But those in leadership should not, must not allow themselves to capitalize in that brokenness. The Bible says,

Numbers 32:23 (ESV) … you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out

As humans, we may be adept at hiding our sins – but in time unconfessed sin and evil will be exposed. In 1998 our Convention passed a Resolution that stated:

Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of the culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in God’s judgment.”

As Paul, Timothy and Silas preached the Gospel, they did not do so self righteously. They recognized that sin is a fire, a destructive force. The Apostle Peter wrote that we who are Christians are to …

1 Peter 2:16 (ESV) Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants[a] of God.

Sin is not to be winked at, but rejected as a poison that leads unto death.

Romans 6:23 (ESV) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sin always pays off or gives wages that are DEATH. Sin is deceptive. At first, it will seem as if that “sin” is nothing. A moment of pleasure. But it is sin that leads to greater horrors, like abortion. The Bible says:

1 Thessalonians 4:1-5 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence {ἐπιθυμία epithymía, that which is “forbidden”}, even as the Gentiles which know not God:

A Christian is saved, not to walk in sexual sin (which is what “fornication” is), but to walk with Christ. We walk apart from sin. We do not pursue our lusts, but our Savior. We who are saved by Grace are to “walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory”. The Christian is not lost, but saved. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 5:8 (ESV) for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light..

and again,

1 Thessalonians 5:5 (ESV) For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness….

We belong to Christ. We belong to Jesus.

The Christian Is Not Drawn To Sin, But
To The Presence Of God And His Word

In this confusing world today, where do we look for direction? As Christians, we look toward Christ, toward what God’s Word says. We read:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

It is not the word of man nor the law of man that will fix what ails us, but the Word of God. The Word of God only works “effectually … in you that believe. You can hear the Word of God spoken, but if to you it is only a word of man, then it has no effect on you. If you are saved by faith in Christ, then God is at work in you making you MORE like Jesus. If you are saved by faith in Christ, then you WILL NOT walk in darkness, but in the light of God’s love. You are as God’s children:

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) … called out of darkness into {God’s} marvelous light …

You cannot be a Christian and walk in darkness, for God never walks in darkness. As we come to the Lord’s Table today we as Christians remember what our Jesus did for us. The Apostle warned the Christians at Corinth against partaking of the Lord’s Table with active sin in their lives. He wrote:

1 Corinthians 11:26-32 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 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.

God despises sin.

Another item from the news this week is that:

The Catholic archbishop of San Francisco says that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is no longer allowed to receive Communion because of her vocal support for abortion rights.”

Though we are not “Catholics”, I believe that the Catholic Archbishop made a right call. God warns against taking the Communion of our Lord while you have active and unrepentant sin in your life. The Apostle told the Corinthians that to harbor sin while seeking the Presence of Christ in the Communion is to invite physical death. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep is a reference to physical death. Sin is abnormal. Sin is against God. I beg you, confess any open sin in your lives before taking of the Communion Table. The Table reminds us that Jesus’ Body was terribly broken because of sin. The Table reminds us that Jesus’ Blood was shed, bearing the Judgment of God in our place, as He hung on Calvary. You cannot come to the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Table with active sin in your lives. It is very dangerous.

Sin is very dangerous. Put it away from you, coming fully to Jesus Christ. Lean fully on Jesus for salvation. Heed the Gospel, which is to repent and turn from sin and to the Savior. Receive Jesus Christ as the Only Lord and Savior. And Commit to following Jesus and His Word one moment at a time, one day at a time. Believe that Jesus rose from the grave to lead you both now, and into eternity.

May God use this His Word to draw us all close to His Presence. In these latter days those who are Christians must stand firm on the truths of Scripture, rejecting godlessness and sinfulness as acceptable lifestyles. We cannot be divided in our allegiance to God in Christ.

In Christ’s name and for His glory I pray, stand firm. Amen and Amen!

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The Church We Strive To Be

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Tonight we’re going to look at 1 Thessalonians Chapter 1, but we first need to look at Acts 17. So please turn with me in your Bibles to Acts 17, where Paul, Silas, and Timothy enter Thessalonica.


Thessalonica was the second largest city in Greece. A free city with an independent government, Thessalonica was named after Alexander the Great’s sister Thessaloniki. The Roman Imperial Cult operated out of Thessalonica, teaching that the Caesars were actually “gods” over Rome. In addition, there were numerous idolatrous Temples dedicated to the service of other “gods”. When Paul, Silas, and Timothy came into Thessalonica to found the Church (see Acts 17:1-9), the Church was just considered one more cult worshiping one more god in a city packed with Temples, gods, and goddesses. On the way to Thessalonica, Paul met Timotheus (Acts 16:1) and helped establish Churches at Lystra and Iconium (Acts 16:2), Phrygia and the region of Galatia (Acts 16:6), Mysia (Acts 16:7) and Troas (Acts 16:8). God gave Paul a vision of Macedonia, and leaving Timothy behind he carries Silas with him to Philippi of Macedonia (Acts 16:12).

It was at Philippi that Paul and Silas were cast into prison for preaching the Gospel of Christ (see Acts 16:22-40). Though an angel opened the prison at Philippi, neither Paul nor Silas tried to leave, but not only led the prison, but the prison guard and his family to salvation in Jesus. You cannot lead people to Christ and stay in your comfort zone. You have to be willing to follow Jesus – even to the Cross – if you want others to be saved.

After establishing the Church in Philippi (and being imprisoned for it), Paul, Silas and Timothy go together to Thessalonica.

Acts 17:1-11 Now when they {Paul, Silas, and Timothy} had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. 5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. 8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. 10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Timothy – being a Greek – did not speak in the Synagogue, but Paul and Silas did. Paul preached Jesus as the Christ reasoning with them out of the scriptures. Some believed, but we are told the Jews – that is, the Pharisees, did not believe in Jesus. Paul, Silas and Timothy were all staying at the house of Jason. Though Jason himself was brought before the magistrate, Paul, Silas, and Timothy left Thessalonica, and headed toward Berea and Athens, Greece.

While Paul and Silas stayed in Athens, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to help establish the Church there (see 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2).

When Timothy returned to Paul, he brought back good news. Though the Church was in a terrible place, it was thriving, not dissolving. Attacked by idol following crowds, the Church was not just alive, but healthy. Now let’s look at 1 Thessalonians Chapter 1:

1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The three names Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus are the Roman forms of the names for Saul of Tarsus (see Acts 13:9), Silas (see Acts 15:22,27,32; 1 Pet. 5:12), and Timothy (see Acts 16:1-3). The Church at Thessaloniki is located in an area that is predominantly Gentile in its culture. When Saul took on the name of “Paul”, he abandoned his Jewish privileges in order to reach out to the Gentiles in the name of Jesus. The name “Paul” in the Greek actually means “a little one”. The Apostle Paul did great things for Jesus because he minimized himself, but maximized serving the Lord. Paul was “little”, not “big” headed. Paul wrote of himself in humility, saying …

1 Corinthians 15:9 … I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Paul the Apostle not only minimized his office as Apostle, but also wrote:

Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Though Paul considered himself a saint” (the Greek ἅγιος hagios, which means “a person set apart for God’s use”), he considered himself to be less than the least of all the Saints. On the other hand, when Paul considered his brokenness as a sinner, he wrote:

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Paul did not see himself as someone “special”, but as a terribly broken person. His acceptance of his brokenness made it possible for God to use him in a mighty way. When we humble ourselves, Jesus can do great things for us. As the Apostle addresses the Church at Thessaloniki he says:

1 Thessalonians 1:1 … unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ

The Church Is Called And Chosen

The word church is the Greek ekklēsia which means “those who are called out”.

The Church is called out of darkness:

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;

The Church is also called out of the world:

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

The Church is called to walk with God, not with unbelievers:

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.

God is IN the Church at Thessaloniki. Jesus Christ is IN the Church at Thessaloniki. The Spirit of God is IN the Church at Thessaloniki. Why? Because as Paul was humble and submitted to God, the Church at Thessaloniki was humble and submitted to God. Those who were saved in the Church at Thessaloniki were under a great deal of stress because of the worldliness that was all around them. The Church at Thessaloniki was not a Bible compromising Church like many are today. They put their faith in action.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

The Church was not located in an area where the Bible had much validity. When Paul and Silas passed through Thessaloniki they discovered that the high number of false religions and pagan temples had hardened the Jewish Synagogue against the Holy Bible. When the Apostles moved from the Synagogue at Thessaloniki and into Berea, we read:

Acts 17:10-12 … when {Paul and Silas} arrived {at Berea} they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed…

When the heart of the local Church is hardened against the Bible, the Word of God, then there will be few conversions to Christ. Though the Church at Thessaloniki started out of the Synagogue in that same place, it was not nearly as successful as the Church plants in Berea. People were saved in Thessaloniki, gloriously saved, for they showed the marks of the genuine believer in Christ:

1 Thessalonians 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith,

Where salvation is present, God will cause the believers to work in faith. Jesus told the Church at Thyatira:

Revelation 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

A saved people are expected – even driven – to do good for the glory of God. We are to work for the glory of the Lord Who saved us. What matters to God is NOT whether we are ritualistic in our faith, but that we are relational – like Jesus in how we live out our faith. We are told in:

Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 … and labor of love

The Church at Thessaloniki was not working for God because they HAD to, but because they WANTED to. They loved the Lord. Jesus said:

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

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

We love God because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). We do what God bids us do because we love Him for all His faithfulness. God is faithful! Even when we are unfaithful, God is faithful.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 … and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

The Lordship Of Christ And The Fatherhood Of God
The Two Wings On The Upward Moving Church

As believers in Christ, the Thessalonians never gave up hope, though they were sorely tried by the pagan world around them. They had a deep appreciation of two things:

The LORDSHIP Of Jesus, and

Jesus Christ Is Lord!

One of the key truths that kept the Church at Thessaloniki going was the certain knowledge that “Jesus is Lord”. There is no salvation to a person unless you acknowledge Jesus as LORD. The Apostle wrote:

Romans 10:9-13 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.

The knowledge of the Lordship of Christ Jesus comes only by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. We are told:

1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

It is in the decree of God that Jesus is Lord:

Philippians 2:9-11 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted {Jesus}, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

If Jesus is “Lord”, then He is certainly “Lord” of whatever comes my way. As my Savior and Master Jesus uses the events of each day to shape me, and mold me, to be more like Him. When Jesus is recognized as “Lord”, we are making Him equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. In the Ten Commandments, God told Israel:

Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Jesus was repeatedly referred to as Lord in the early Church. The Apostle Peter preached:

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

And the early missionaries who planted Churches said:

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Jesus is Lord, and watches over His people.

God is our Father

The Father watches over us who are His. We are to imitate our Heavenly Father in how we live our lives:

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

You belong to God. The Thessalonians understood this, so they clung to the Lord no matter what trials came their way. The Thessalonians were the purchased possession of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.

You are as Christians “elect of God”, that is, chosen and called by God to salvation. The word “election” is the Greek ἐκλογή eklogḗ, {pronounced ek-log-ay’}, which means “the act of picking out or choosing”. God chose to offer salvation by faith to the Christian – and that Christian responded. When we were lost and undone God the Holy Spirit came to us, and opening our eyes, eyes bound by sin, we were made able to see the glorious message of the Gospel. The proof of our salvation is that …

1 Thessalonians 1:6 ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.

The Christian and the Church that lives under the Lordship of Christ and the Fatherhood of God will live so as to please Him Who saved us. Though afflicted in Thessaloniki, the Church flourished. Why? Because the Church was focused on Jesus, focused on God.

1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. 9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how 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.

The Church at Thessaloniki broadcast the Gospel by how they lived for God their Savior. They rejected idols, and pursued the living and true God. This Church also lived as if Jesus could return at any moment. Oh, that God would bring this type of faith into our churches today. May God make us useful and blessed like the Church at Thessaloniki.

For the glory of Christ we ask this. Amen and Amen.

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Justification Leads To Sanctification

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Turn with me in your Bibles to the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus Christ our Lord. This is in John chapter 17. This morning we discussed answered the question,

What Is Eternal Life?

According to Jesus, Eternal Life is to know Him (God the Son) and the Godhead (the Father and the Spirit). A person enters Eternal Life by knowing Jesus and being known of Jesus. The technical term for this is “justification”. The word “justification” is found three times in the King James Bible:

Romans 4:25 {Jesus} was delivered {unto death} for our offenses {or sins against God}, and was raised again {from the dead} for our JUSTIFICATION ..

Had Jesus died for our sins but NEVER rose from the grave, we would yet be condemned by God for our sins. It was necessary – according to God Who sets the standards – that our sins be fully paid for. Had Jesus only died on the Cross, our sins would only be half paid for. Jesus Christ is BOTH the sinless Lamb of God as well as our Perfect High Priest, representing us who are saved to the Godhead. We are forever saved because of Jesus. The Bible says:

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

Jesus died for our sins – but we are still sinners, prone to failure, even after salvation. But we are JUSTIFIED (δικαίωσις dikaíōsis, [pronounced] dik-ah’-yo-sis) because Jesus died, rose, and still stands up for us before God the Father.

We are saved by GRACE, and are
kept by Christ’s FAITHFULNESS

In John 17 the Lord Jesus prays for His Church:

John 17:9-11 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

Salvation can only be achieved – not through our works – but through the finished work of Christ. But once saved by justification, the Christian is to actively participate in his or her SANCTIFICATION. Once saved, we are not what we were. Before we were saved, we belonged to ourselves (or so we thought). Once saved, we belong to God. God is our Father. Jesus Christ purchased us by His Blood. Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father, making intercession for us.

We are not what we were, but are now – by the Blood and Intercession of Christ – SONS OF GOD.

As Jesus prays for His Church, He prays:

I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

Christian, you were GIVEN to Jesus. Christian, you BELONG to God. You are “not your own … you are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23)

Christians are both JUSTIFIED as well as SANCTIFIED. Pastor and Bible Teacher Chuck Swindoll wrote:

{The Bible’s} message emphasizes the gospel to the lost and grace to the saved. … Just as the lost don’t understand the gospel, the saved rarely understand grace.

Have you ever heard of a man named William Cowper (1731-1800)? Though it looks like his name would be pronounced COWper, it is actually pronounced KOO-pər. Who is William Cowper? He was an internationally known poet, who wrote a volume of poetry that was reviewed by Benjamin Franklin. Raised in a religious household, his father John Cowper was the Chaplain of King George II. William though he knew God. But,

William tried to kill himself three times.

After his third attempt at suicide, William was committed to Nathaniel Cotton’s Asylum at St. Albans. While in the Asylum he wrote a dark poem called:

Hatred And Vengeance, My Eternal Portion”

Hatred and vengeance, my eternal portion,

Scarce can endure delay of execution,

Wait, with impatient readiness, to seize my

Soul in a moment.

Damned below Judas: more abhorred than he was,

Who for a few pence sold his holy Master.

Twice betrayed Jesus me, this last delinquent,

Deems the profanest.

Man disavows, and Deity disowns me:

Hell might afford my miseries a shelter;

Therefore hell keeps her ever hungry mouths all

Bolted against me.

Hard lot! encompassed with a thousand dangers;

Weary, faint, trembling with a thousand terrors;

I’m called, if vanquished, to receive a sentence

Worse than Abiram’s.

Him the vindictive rod of angry justice

Sent quick and howling to the center headlong;

I, fed with judgment, in a fleshly tomb, am

Buried above ground.

Consumed by depression, William’s doctor Nathaniel Cotton – a devout Christian – read the Word of God to him every day. It was during these readings that William Cowper was introduced to justification by faith in Christ Jesus. William wrote:

Immediately I received the strength to believe it {justification by faith in Jesus}, and the full beams of the Son of righteousness shone upon me. I saw the sufficiency of the atonement Jesus had made, my pardon sealed in His blood, in all the fullness and completeness of His justification.

Later on in life William met John Newton, a former captain of slave ships that gave his life to Jesus. This is the same John Newton who wrote “Amazing Grace”. Newton asked William if he would to contribute to a hymnal that he was writing. Cowper contributed two songs found in our Baptist Hymnal. The first, originally entitled “Praise For The Fountain Opened”, is found on page 142 of our hymnal. You’ll recognize

There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;

And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,

Lose all their guilty stains:

Lose all their guilty stains,

Lose all their guilty stains;

And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,

Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see

That fountain in his day;

And there may I, though vile as he,

Wash all my sins away:

Wash all my sins away,

Wash all my sins away;

And there may I, though vile as he,

Wash all my sins away.

William understood JUSTIFICATION, and wrote of it in the first part of the song. William also understood SANCTIFICATION, and wrote of it:

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood

Shall never lose its pow’r,

Till all the ransomed Church of God

Be saved, to sin no more:

Be saved, to sin no more,

Be saved, to sin no more;

Till all the ransomed Church of God

Be saved to sin no more.

E’er since by faith I saw the stream

Thy flowing wounds supply,

Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be till I die:

And shall be till I die,

And shall be till I die;

Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be till I die.

The other song in our hymnal is on page 73, “God Works In Mysterious Ways”. I don’t know this one, but it’s beautiful. Throughout his life William battled with depression, but finding Christ he no longer attempted to kill himself. Saved by faith – justified by the Blood of Christ – the believer is SANCTIFIED daily, working with God to honor the Lord Who saved us.

Sanctification Means We Live To Bring Glory To Jesus

John 17:10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

Many profess to be “Christian”, but the mark of the “Christian” is that we bring glory to Jesus, not to ourselves. We magnify Jesus in our lives. We live so as to please Him. The Bible says of the Church:

1 Peter 2:5-12 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Saved entirely by Grace, we live entirely to please our God. We are a Kingdom of Priests, satisfying Him by being living sacrifices. We do not pursue the things of this world, but submit our lives to the One Who saved us. Whereas the world says:

My body, my life”
“Just do YOU”
“You do you and I’ll do me”

we who are JUSTIFIED live our lives SANCTIFIED unto Christ. We are sons and daughters of God.

It saddens me when I see the Sunday night and Wednesday night gatherings of our Church getting smaller and smaller. Why is it? It is because too many “Christians” in this Church are living their lives based on what THEY WANT TO DO rather than what JESUS wants us to do. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying these people are not saved. But if you’re more concerned about watching a rerun on television than you are in hearing God’s Word and loving your fellow believer, then you have DRIFTED OFF COURSE OF YOUR SANCTIFICATION. This has always been a battle in the Church. The Apostle told the Church at Rome:

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

When we as Christians come together, it is so that we can learn to be more like Jesus. When we as Christians gather, it is so that we can learn to love like Jesus.

Sanctification as a Christian only comes about by ABSORBING the Word of God into our souls. Jesus prayed:

John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

Jesus kept every believer that followed Him but one – the son of perdition. Why was Judas Iscariot lost? Because he was never really saved. But also because the Bible foretold Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. God spoke through the Prophet

Zechariah 11:12-13 I said unto them, If you think good, give me my hire; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my hire thirty pieces of silver. And Jehovah said unto me, Cast it unto the potter, the goodly price that I was prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them unto the potter, in the house of Jehovah …

God knew that Judas Iscariot would betray Jesus to the Roman authorities. Other prophecies of Judas were in Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8. Jesus knew that Judas would be His betrayer (see Matthew 26:23-25). Jesus was lost that the scripture might be fulfilled.

It is the Bible that SANCTIFIES the believer. It is the Word of God that filters into our hearts, changing our worldview, that makes us more like Jesus. Sadly, too few Christians understand this.

Sanctification Is Living According To
God’s Word, The Bible

Jesus continues to pray:

John 17:13-17 … now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

The Christian is NOT to be like the world, but like Jesus. The Christian cannot find the joy of Christ unless we absorb the Word of Christ, the Holy Scriptures. Pastor John Piper writes in his message, “Christ Died To Make Us Holy”:

We must have more than the message of justification. We must have more than that: No condemnation. No hell. No guilt. Justification by faith is a means to something more and greater. The propitiation of God’s wrath is a means to something more and greater. Forgiveness of sins is a means to something more and greater. Redemption from slavery is a means to something more and greater. Ultimately, finally, that “more and greater” is God Himself. First Peter 3:18 puts it like this: “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.” To see God. To know God. To have God as a Companion. To enjoy God. To be irradiated with the glory of God. To finally, in some suitable measure, reflect God. To become at last a fitting echo of the excellence of God. … Just as walking into Heaven is a million times greater than walking out of hell. Because God is there. There is no comparing the pleasure of walking out of prison and walking into the arms of your wife.”

Grace does not only PARDON, but it EMPOWERS. It JUSTIFIES but also SANCTIFIES. It makes us more like Jesus. This is why we gather to hear, heed, and absorb the Word of God. God’s Word will NOT come back void.

Ignorant Christians Act As Ignorantly As The World

Jesus prays for His Church:

John 17:17-21 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Jesus came into this world, carrying with Him the Word of God. Jesus said, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus said, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me” (John 14:11). Jesus said, “I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49).

As the Son of God carried the Word of God into a fallen world, we absorb and carry the Word of God into this fallen world. We live so as to please our Savior. The world does not understand the Christian’s heart – and we cannot make it understand. All we can do is stand firm in what the Bible says. God loves the world, but does not love sin. And we, who love Jesus, are to “speak the truth in love”. Let us pursue the mind of Christ by learning and living by His Holy Scripture.

May God the Holy Spirit help us to do so. Amen and amen!

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Eternal Life Is “This” Not “That”

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 17. Jesus is getting ready to go to the Cross, making payment for our sins. In the Old Testament the Jews made payment for their sins by taking an animal without spot or blemish (Exodus 12:5; 29:1; Leviticus 3:1, 6; Leviticus 5:15-18) to the High Priest. The Priest would tie the animal to the four corners (horns) of the altar, and killing it, would take its blood and sprinkle it on the people. “Apart from the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). God does not forgive sin that has not been paid for. The animal temporarily paid for the sins of those it was sacrificed for.


Only Jesus Has Authority To Completely Forgive Sin

But God had a better way. God sent His Only Begotten Son into this world. Jesus Christ – eternal God Who, “In the beginning was with God, and was God” (John 1:1-3), took upon Himself humanity. God lowered Himself to be like us – with one distinct difference. Jesus Christ is without sin. He is – like the Old Testament sacrifices – without spot or blemish. Jesus came to this earth – not to make another animal sacrifice for our sins – but to BECOME the perfect Sacrifice for our sins. The Bible says:

1 Peter 1:18-20 (ESV) …. you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you

When Jesus came to this earth as Perfect Man and Eternal God, He came to offer HIMSELF for our sins. Jesus came to “lay down His life for His sheep, for those who follow Him” (John 10:17-18). Jesus said, “No one takes My life, but I lay it down of my own accord”. It is not a High Priest that makes sacrifice for our sins, but only Jesus. It is not an animal that is sacrificed for our sins, but only Jesus. Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest.

Are you at John 17? John 17 is the last prayer Jesus will pray before being nailed to the Cross for us. Many have called John 17 the “High Priestly Prayer of Jesus”. Our High Priest has committed Himself to giving His life for us. Let’s look at this wonderful prayer.

John 17:1-3 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

God Is Triune: Jesus does not address God as “God” nor “Lord”, but Father. One of the mysteries of the Godhead is that God is ONE, but THREE. Israel was taught to consider God as But One. One of the greatest declarations found in Scripture is:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is ONE” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

Only One God created all things. In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). But God – this wonderful God we love and follow – is in THREE PERSONS. The Bible says that Jesus Christ was in the beginning with God (John 1:1), and that:

Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV) … by {Jesus} all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through {Jesus} and for {Jesus}. 17 And {Jesus} is before all things, and in {Jesus} all things hold together…

God is Father. But God is also Son. But God is also SPIRIT, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moved on the face of the waters at creation (Genesis 1:2). The Holy Spirit is called God in Acts 5:3-4. When we as Christians baptize believers in water, we follow the formula our Lord Jesus gave us:

in the NAME {ὄνομα ónoma, [pronounced on’-om-ah]} of the Father AND of the Son AND of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19-20

Three Persons, but One Name. God is One, but Three. We do not understand this, but we receive this by faith.

C.H. Spurgeon noted, “I would not worship a God that I could fully understand. I do not know how I would feel devout over a faith which I perfectly comprehended. If I could put my religion in my pocket, like a box of lozenges, I would sooner suck it all away. .. I find it a blessed thing in life, when troubled with all these difficult problems … to fall back upon the fact – ‘There is a God Who will overrule it all and, from the seeming evil, will produce a good: and from that good something better, to His own praise and glory!’”.

Jesus Christ, Who is One with God, speaks to God the Father. Jesus Christ, Who was born of a Virgin through the operation of God the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), prepares to God to the Cross as the Lamb of God that “taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Earlier as Jesus surveyed the Cross, and dwelt on the sacrifice He must make, He prayed:

Christ’s Earlier Prayer: John 12:27-28 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. 28 FATHER, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

Jesus prayed to the Father – and the Father answered the Son. Jesus came to this earth from the Godhead for a wonderful reason. Jesus Christ was born into this life to die for us. Jesus Christ was born to cover our sins with His Blood. Now the time has come. Jesus prays:

John 17:1-2 … Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him POWER over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

Word Study: Jesus and Jesus alone has POWER over all flesh. God the Father gives God the Son POWER over all flesh. The word translated POWER is the Greek ἐξουσία exousía, {pronounced ex-oo-see’-ah}, which means “authority, the ability to rule over, jurisdiction over”.

God the Father gives Jesus Christ exclusive authority to forgive sin. Sin is an offense against the Eternal God Who made all things. Sin is a rejection of God’s authority and design. Sin says, like Lucifer, “I am my own god”, and is a terrible offense to God Himself.

Only Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, has “the POWER” (exousía), the AUTHORITY to forgive sins on this earth (Matthew 9:6)

Jesus told us:

Matthew 28:18 … All POWER (exousía) is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

ALL POWER”. No one has power to forgive sins on this earth but Jesus. No one has the authority to cover our imperfections before Almighty God. No preacher, no priest, no pope, no one can do what Jesus does. Jesus has power – AUTHORITY – on earth top forgive sins (Mark 2:10). Because Jesus has the Sole Authority to cover and forgive sin, Jesus has the sole ability to give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

Eternal Life Is “This”, Not “That”

When we hear the words “Eternal Life”, we think it means to live forever somewhere else. Today we sang:

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun;

Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care.

Then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done,

And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there”


When we all get to Heaven,

What a day of rejoicing that will be!

When we all see Jesus,

We’ll sing and shout the victory!”

When we think of “eternal life”, we think it means to live forever and ever, to never die. Yet that’s not what Jesus means by “eternal life”.

Jesus does not call eternal life THAT but THIS.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

When we think of eternal life, we think THAT is eternal life. THAT. THAT over YONDER. When the Roll is called UP YONDER. THAT IS ETERNAL LIFE. The other side of this life is eternal life. That’s not what Jesus said. What did our Lord say? Not THAT over yonder, but THIS, right now. Eternal Life begins when you come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Eternal Life begins when you give your temporal and fallen life to the Lord Who loves you, and believe on Him for salvation. The Bible says:

Romans 14:17 … the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

The world thinks of “Heaven” as something over yonder, a “that”. But the kingdom of God belongs to those who belong to Jesus. That’s what Jesus said. He told the Father:

John 17:2 … Thou {O Father} hast given Him {Jesus} power over all flesh, that He {Jesus} should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

If you have been “given” to Jesus by faith, then you have eternal life NOW. THIS is ETERNAL LIFE. You have entered eternal life. OK, I can see some of you aren’t following me, so I’ll go another route.

The Devil Doesn’t Want You To Know That

Everyone lives forever.

Hitler is still in existence.
Stalin is still animate.
Molesters of children and murderers executed are still conscious.
Serial killers who died in prison are in agony right now.
The soul of every human is indestructible and eternal.

Everybody lives forever because EVERYONE
is made “in the image of God”.

When God made the animals, He spoke them into existence. But when God made humanity, He made us special. Every human has something that no animal has. The Bible says:

Genesis 1:27 (ESV) God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Humans are made in the “image of God”. The Bible says that we were formed from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), and God breathed into man the breath of life. Humans are made – by creation – to live forever. Oh, our bodies break down, but our souls continue on. In Luke chapter 16 our Lord Jesus told us this story:

Luke 16:19-21 (ESV) There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.

We have two people here. One, and unnamed rich man, had all the best of everything. He had all the food he needed, all the housing and clothing that anyone could want. Every day when he came into his home, this rich man stepped over the body of a poor man named Lazarus. Lazarus was made in the image of God, just as the rich man is made in the image of God. Yet the rich man treated Lazarus like a dog.

When people treat other people like dogs (like the rich man did Lazarus) they are FAR FROM GOD. If you look at a black person and can only think the “N” word, you are FAR FROM GOD. If you look at a white person and can only think “He must be racist”, you are FAR FROM GOD. People are precious.

Luke 16:22-23 (ESV) The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

There came a time when poor Lazarus’ life ended on this earth. But Lazarus is STILL CONSCIOUS. He still is Lazarus. Though he is unclothed of flesh, his soul goes to be with Abraham, the father of faith. And what of the rich man? The rich man ends up in HELL, in HADES. He is in a place of TORMENT. He is conscious of suffering, of agony without hope of relief. Jesus said that the rich man cried out:

Luke 16:24 (ESV) … ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.

The rich man is not burning up. He is in anguish in this flame. He is suffering. The rich man was made immortal, in God’s image. God says in another place:

Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

God made us ALL immortal. We were made to walk with God – not just in Heaven, but RIGHT NOW. We were made to be part of God’s family. We are made in His image, and in His likeness. We are not animals, but are something much. Much greater. The proper place for an immortal soul to go is to be with the God Who made that person. But you cannot go and be with God if your sins are not covered. You cannot go and be with God if God is not your Father NOW. If you leave this life estranged from God, your immortal soul will live forever apart from God. Forever. I am told there are “over 162 references in the New Testament alone which warns of hell. And over 70 of these references were uttered by the Lord Jesus Christ!”. When Jesus taught of eternal punishment, Jesus called it a …

Matthew 13:42 (ESV) … fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus spoke of those who rejected Him as Messiah, and said that He will tell them:

Matthew 25:41-46 ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Those who treat others like dogs, who are hateful to God’s creation, who reject Christ as Lord and Savior, are cast into eternal punishment. Jesus told us all:

Mark 9:43-48 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Jesus said that their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. When the rich man cried out to Abraham for relief, Abraham told him:

Luke 16:25-26 (ESV) ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.

Hell is a place where those who reject Jesus Christ as God’s Son go when they leave this life. The Bible tells us that – though the rich man – and every rejector of Jesus Christ will still live on – their souls will be eternally separated from God. Why? Because they have rejected the only One Who has the power to save them. They have rejected Jesus Christ.

When You Know Jesus And Jesus Knows You
You Have Eternal Life With The Godhead

John 17:3 And THIS is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

To have eternal life we must KNOW Jesus. We must KNOW Him as Lord and Savior. We must come to HIM and HIM alone for life, confessing ourselves to be far from God, unable to save ourselves.

Some say, “I’m going to Heaven because I do so many good things”. Yet the Bible says that – as fallen creatures – our own goodness falls far short of that which impresses God the Father. The Prophet wrote:

Isaiah 64:6 … we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

The Pharisees and Scribes who followed Jesus around criticizing the Lord thought that they were going to Heaven one day. But Jesus warned us:

Matthew 5:20 … except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The scribes and Pharisees had memorized vast portions of Scripture. They never committed sexual sin, never sought out to violate the Law of God. And yet Jesus said to these scribes and Pharisees:

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

Salvation is to come to Jesus with empty hands, and plead His healing on us. Salvation is the blind asking the Master for eyes. Salvation is the cripple asking Jesus for feet. Salvation is the leper begging the Savior for cleansing. Salvation is entirely a gift from God, given by Jesus Christ to those who come to Him. The Bible says:

Romans 10:9-13 (ESV) … if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Once You Are Saved By Calling On Jesus,
God Works In You To Make You More Like Jesus

When Jesus came into the world, He was incarnate through the operation of God the Holy Spirit. When you come to Jesus to be saved, God the Holy Spirit comes to you. He changes your heart. You go from rich man to Lazarus. You begin to love others as Jesus loves others. The Bible says:

1 John 2:1-6 (ESV) My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

We are not saved by our works, but once saved, our hearts are changed. We begin to learn more of Jesus. We grow to be more like Jesus. We learn to love as Jesus loves. We walk in the same way which Jesus walked. We do this because we are no longer lost, separated from God by our sin, but we have our sins covered. The word propitiation that you see in our text is the Greek ἱλασμός hilasmos which means “the covering or atonement for sin”. Because the believer receives Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the High Priest, the Sacrifice for our sins, our sins are covered. We are members of God’s family, covered by the Blood of Christ. We know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true, and that we are oin Him that is true, even in His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the True God, and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20).

How does the Christian KNOW he or she is saved? Because we KNOW Jesus as He is. There are some who profess to know Jesus, to be Christian, but they live in the same darkened state that all unbelievers live in. The Bible says:

Titus 1:15-16 (ESV) To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

If you profess to know God, then your lives will reflect this profession. Saved by faith, God will move into the framework of your life. The question is, do you KNOW Jesus? The Prophet said:

Jeremiah 9:24 … let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Do you know Jesus? Does Jesus know you? Again the Prophet said:

Isaiah 53:11 … by his knowledge shall My Righteous Servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Jesus came to this earth to do the Father’s will. He prayed, I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). Do you know Jesus? Does Jesus know you? Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:14). If you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, I beg you to come to His embrace today. Trust in Him. Come to Him with empty hands, and commit your life unto Him. Jesus died and rose again so that we might all have eternal life.

Closing Illustration: We’re all going to live forever. Make sure you choose to live your life with Jesus. In 1980, a man named Harry Randall Truman had a sportsman’s lodge on Mount Saint Helens. When Truman was told the mountain was about to blow, he said “If this place is going to go, I want to go with it”. On May 18, 1980 Mount Saint Helens blew its top. This was the most powerful volcanic blast in U.S. History – and Truman’s body is lost under tons of hardened volcanic rock. But his soul lives on. Where did he “lift up his eyes”. As Jesus headed toward the Cross, He “lifted up His eyes to Heaven” (John 17:1). He came from Heaven to earth to bring us life. When you leave this life, will you lift up your eyes to Heaven, or in Hell? The choice is entirely yours. May God lead you to call upon the Name of the Lord today. For His glory we pray. Amen and Amen.

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The Cure For Murmuring Hearts

Turn with me in your Bibles to Philippians chapter 3.

I had a very interesting meeting with local Mayoral Candidate Sheila Butt this past Monday. As it’s getting into “election time” I see candidates from time to time, particularly when we have special events at the Church like our Youth Fish Fry. Sheila walked into my office and said, “I’m here for my ham”.

Sunday night we celebrated the baptisms of our newest members, Sheila Watson, Nikki Watson, and Kynslee Staggs. As Christ’s Church we always bring finger-food and celebrate when God adds to His Kingdom. Since Jesus said “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents” (Luke 15:10), we feel there should be joy in the Church as well. The “finger-food” Sherry and I brought for the celebration was homemade soup and HAM. Well, when Sheila said “I’m here for my ham”, I was confused, thinking, “but I took that ham home last night after the celebration”. Noticing the look on my face, Sheila said “You called and said I won the ham”. Now I was really confused. I know I’m getting senile, but I don’t remember calling Sheila … I don’t have her phone number.

Once we figured out what happened, we both had a good laugh. Sheila had won a ham from Riverside Methodist, not from Riverview Baptist. She was in the wrong place. People get our Church names mixed up all the time. Before Sheila left we had prayer for our nation, and our city. I believe that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

Is there an application here? Yes. If you’re looking in the wrong place, you can’t get your ham. If you’re looking in the wrong place, you can’t get your blessing.

We As Christians Are To Pursue The Mind Of Christ

Last week we talked about how the Christian is to have “the mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5). The “mind of Christ” does not seek to be first, to seek self promotion, to be a “braggart” or self centered. The “mind of Christ” is to do what Jesus did. The Christian – if you are a Christian – is to lower themselves just as Jesus lowered Himself. We are to love others – even our enemies – by doing good to those who do bad to us (Matthew 5:44-46). “That you may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven” you are to do good to those who hurt you. The Christian is called to a life of holiness or separateness, wherein we imitate Christ. We read:

Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

The Church in America is filled with Christians who are suffering an identity crisis. We are to be like Christ.

Word Study: We as Christians are to look UPWARD, not INWARD. When we look UPWARD we praise God. When we look INWARD we tend to MURMUR. “Murmuring” (γογγυσμός gongysmos) and “disputing” (διαλογισμός dialogismos) are damaging to God’s people.

Murmuring is like cancer – it spreads.
murmured at Moses when they feared (Exodus 14:10-12)
then murmured against Moses and Aaron (Exodus 16:1-2)
Israel then murmured against God, and He punished them (Numbers 11:1)

Bible teacher Neal A. Maxwell wrote:

A basic cause of murmuring is that too many of us {particularly Christians} seem to expect that life will flow ever smoothly, featuring an unbroken chain of green lights with empty parking places just in front of our destinations.”

Beloved, we live in a fallen world, where trials are apt to hit at any moment. The lost person tries to navigate the fallen nature of our world by technology, by medicine, by government, and by every human means they can invent. Beloved, we live in a broken world. The world is broken and marred by sin. Children suffer terrible diseases not because God doesn’t care, but because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin is the reality we live in.

  • Spiders are poison because of sin.
  • Ivy is poison because of Adam’s fall.
  • Mosquitoes bring sickness because of the forbidden.
  • Snakes carry venom because man walked away from Eden.
  • HIV and AIDs plague us because we reject God’s design.

Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. …

Rejoicing In The Lord Crushes Murmuring

Not all of the Church at Philippi had drifted into murmuring. This is why Paul says “FOR THE REST” (λοιπόν loipon), that is, “For those of you who are NOT murmuring – my brethren in Christ, REJOICE IN THE LORD”.

Illustrate Superman: When I was growing up, I used to read Superman comics. There was one thing that could hurt Superman, and that thing was called Kryptonite. Kryptonite could cause Superman to stumble and fall. Murmuring in the Christian’s Kryptonite. How do we eradicate murmuring? We rejoice in the Lord.

What does it mean to “rejoice in the Lord”?

  • It means to take our brokenness and hurts to God FIRST, honoring Him in our hurt.

Illustrate Hannah: In the Book of 1st Samuel we read about a woman who, though she was well loved by her husband, she was barren and unable to have children. Her husband “loved her, but THE LORD HAD SHUT UP HER WOMB” (1 Samuel 1:5). This woman named Hannah was persecuted by others because she was unable to bear a child. Hannah was in bitterness of soul …

1 Samuel 1:10 … and PRAYED {not murmured, but PRAYED} unto the Lord, and wept …”

God heard Hannah’s prayer, and gave her a child. When Hannah had her baby, she raised him up until she weaned him ….

then she gave her baby back to the Lord! She took little Samuel to the Temple, telling the High Priest:

1 Samuel 1:27-28 … For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. …

What does it mean to “rejoice in the Lord”?

  • It means to PRAISE our God, because HE is our Greatest Treasure. We who are saved, are saved because God sent His Only Begotten Son to die for our sins. We are Children of the Most High God. We are not to waste our time complaining, but praising Him.

Psalm 33:1-2 (ESV) Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. 2 Give thanks to the Lord

Psalm 97:12 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to His holy name!

Bad things will come to us all. Rather than murmur, and risk murmuring against God, embrace the Lord Who loves you when troubles come.

Psalm 64:10 (ESV) Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!

We who are Christians are no longer lost and undone. We are not children of darkness and wards of hell. We are children of the light, of “the Father of Lights” (James 1:17). We will inherit the earth and Heaven, not hell.

Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

What does it mean to “rejoice in the Lord”?

  • It means to understand that troubles are but momentary – but God our Father oversees everything that happens to us. He causes all things to work out for our good (Romans 8:28).

The Prophet Habakkuk said in 3:17-18 (ESV) Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

The Apostle Paul said again:

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Word Study: We erase murmuring and it’s dangers by Rejoice in the Lord always, where the word “” is the Greek πάντοτε pantote meaning “at ALL TIMES” or “in EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE”. We are to praise our Lord Who saved us when the bad stuff happens and the good stuff happens. Returning to our focal text:

Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

The Apostle says in effect, “I’m telling you these things because THIS IS THE WAY OF SAFETY”. When the Christian murmurs, the devil watches. Murmuring is like a cancer – it will grow till it destroys your life.

Every marital disruption starts with murmuring.
Every Church disturbance starts with murmuring.
Every battle between parent and child starts with murmuring.
Every addiction or abuse starts with murmuring.

Murmuring is a heart problem that Can Lead To Death.
Put In The Stent Of PRAISE!

Illustrate: When the physical human heart murmurs, it is when the valves of that heart do not close properly, and blood leaks around the valve. This happens when the valve begins to harden. I myself have aortic stenosis, where my aortic valve is not fully closing, causing my heart to “murmur”. The doctors say they will watch this and monitor it closely. When necessary they tell me that they can go in through my leg and slide a heart stent in place that contains a new aortic valve. The old valve – once replaced – will not be a problem. If your spiritual valve has a murmur, you need to replace your spiritual valve with something else – a spiritual stent of rejoicing in the Lord!

The Devil Will Send An Unholy Trinity Of Evil Your Way When You Open The Door By Murmuring

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

Warning us to avoid murmuring, the Apostle tells us to beware of three things. Beloved, the devil watches the Church. Jesus promised us that “where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). This is very true. But it is equally true that – when the Church gathers and murmurs, the devil also watches.

It was when Satan saw Eve looking at the forbidden fruit that he slithered up and said, “has God really said you shall not eat of every fruit of this garden?” (Genesis 3:1)

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs

When the Bible talks about dogs, it’s not talking about house pets or your beloved critters. In developed countries like America we domesticate animals like dogs and cats because we can, and because we can afford to feed them. In third world countries, dogs are simply FOOD or PREDATORS. In Bible times dogs wandered through cities in packs, and would attack the weak. God told the Israelite:

Exodus 22:31 (ESV) You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

One of the worst deaths was to die and be eaten by dogs (1 Kings 14:11; 16:4; 21:19; 21:23-24; 22:38; 2 Kings 9:10). The term DOG came to refer to the unbeliever who, totally divorced from God, began to act like an animal and not like God designed us to act. The Bible tells us that those who behave likeDOGS” will NOT be in Heaven (Revelation 22:15).

OUTSIDE are the DOGS and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

When you murmur, you will not attract righteousness, but darkness. The devil who watches you will send unbelievers your way who will justify and encourage your doglike behavior.

Philippians 3:2 … Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers

As murmuring brings dogs, it also brings “evil workers”- people who will teach you to do wrong.

The Bible says that God saves us through faith in Christ from our sins, not in our sins. The Angel told Joseph:

Matthew 1:21 (NASB) {Mary} will give birth to a Son; and you shall name Him Jesus, for He WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS

The Christian is saved FROM sin, not IN sin. The intent of salvation is to make us as believers more like Jesus Christ our Savior and Elder Brother. We are told:

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (ESV) … we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake {God the Father} made {Jesus} to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We who are Christians are dead to sin. Sin is no longer our master, but God is our Master. We are to live righteously, loving God and others in our hearts and through our hands. The Scripture says:

Romans 6:6-11 (ESV) We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Sin does not rule the Christian. But when we begin to murmur, the devil sees this, and will send evil workers to us to draw us deeper into sin. Though it is true that Christians are not perfect, it is equally true that God changes our hearts once we are saved. We no longer desire to pursue sin. We desire the company of Christ. Therefore we are told:

Romans 6:12-14 (ESV) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Murmuring is the dog whistle that attracts the dogs. Murmuring is the honey that attracts the evil wasp.

Murmuring Also Attracts False Teachers

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

Word Study: The word translated concision is the Greek κατατομή katatomḗ, which means “those who cut off or mutilate”. When murmuring came into the Church of Philippi Judaizers came in who taught falsely that you have to BE CIRCUMCISED in order to be saved. Wherever you hear of people talking about things you have to DO to add to the work of Christ in salvation, it is certain this is a messenger of Satan.

Salvation is entirely a gift of God, received ONLY by faith in what Jesus Christ has done. A clear presentation of salvation is found in:

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Salvation is the broken person in this broken world coming to the healing Savior. Salvation is my coming to Christ with empty hands, asking that He fill me up. Salvation is the leper unclean, calling out and being cleansed by Jesus. Salvation is the cripple and the blind, touched by the Master, hearing His Word to “take up your bed and walk with Me”. Beloved, we cannot earn nor deserve our salvation.

But once saved, we walk not with the devil nor with his henchmen, but with Jesus. The entire text of Ephesians reads:

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

A person is not saved by their works, but by our Jesus. But once a person is saved BY Jesus, we walk WITH Jesus. We are created IN Christ Jesus to DO GOOD WORKS. God has ORDAINED or ORDERED that we WALK IN GOOD WORKS. We are to be the LIGHT OF THE WORLD (Matthew 5:14), not part of the current darkness.

SALVATION is not gained by works. But once saved, SANCTIFICATION demands that we work.

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

In the Old Testament, God told the children of Israel that they were to be “circumcised” if they were to be counted as Israelites. This ritual cutting was only in place until the Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to this earth. The TRUE CIRCUMCISION are those who are distinguished by three marks:

  • Which worship God in the Spirit”.

When the Christian receives by faith Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God (Who looks on the heart [1 Samuel 16:7]) sends His Holy Spirit to us. “God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32). Because we have called upon the Name of Jesus, “God gave us the Holy Spirit as a pledge or a proof of salvation” (2 Corinthians 5:5).

1 John 4:11-13 (ESV) Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

Jesus promised that His people would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26). The Scripture declares:

Romans 8:9 … Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

You cannot be a Christian and NOT be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

Confusion comes to God’s people when we drift into murmuring and infighting. The Christian worships God in the Spirit. The Christian also:

  • Rejoice(s) in Christ Jesus”. Rejoicing keeps the murmuring away, but is also proof that you have been saved. We celebrate Jesus every moment of every day. We cling to Him, our Savior and Lord. And finally,
  • {We} have no confidence in the flesh”. We are broken creatures who are only safe in the embrace of God. The Apostle tells us:

Philippians 3:4-11 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

If salvation were a matter of works, the Apostle Paul would have never sought to be saved by Christ. Few have as many “works” qualifications as Paul had. Yet Paul said, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. Paul clings to Christ, and bids that we also do the same. Paul said:

Philippians 3:12-14 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul realized, as do we all, that he is not perfect. But he continually pursued Jesus, seeking out the Master’s company. He strove to be like Jesus, to be possessed of Jesus, to do our Lord’s will. When Paul fell, and you will fall, he confessed his sin in Christ’s Name, and trusted in the salvation that God brings to us by faith.

And he continued his pursuit of Christ. Let each and every one of us who are saved by faith in Christ do the same. May God the Holy Spirit teach us the truths of salvation and sanctification, and make us more like Jesus every day. To God be the glory. Amen and Amen!

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