Monday, August 15, 2022

God's Giants

After Israel was supernaturally delivered from the bondage of Egypt by the mighty hand of God we see something very notable that took place at their departure.  "He (God) also brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes." (Psalm 105:37) Not only did they leave Egypt with great wealth but their was not one person lacking in physical or mental strength and vigor. While Israel made their way through the wilderness, God not only led them, but provided for their every need. Finally, they reached the wilderness of Paran where the Lord instructed Moses to send out twelve spy's, one from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Numbers 12:16, 13:1-3) Upon the return of the twelve spy's we see that the report of ten was, "...we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants)..."(Numbers 13:33) These giants were giants in the physical sense. But God has raised up other giants. Men and women who were giant (so to speak) in the spirit. 

Looking back at the history of man in the Old Testament, we see the Lord revealing Himself supernaturally through frail, imperfect people. The earth walk of Jesus reveals God the Father's will again through the supernatural. The gospels reveal numerous miracles through Jesus that, like in the Old Testament, it was God the Father's way of revealing Himself. Also, during His earth ministry He gave this supernatural power to His Apostles as well as seventy other disciples. Finally, the earth ministry of Jesus ended, but it was not over. In the Book of Acts and on the Day of Pentecost the ministry of Jesus continues to be carried out in the church. We get to see some of these spiritual giants such as, the Apostles Peter and Paul as well as Stephen and Philip. We also see the supernatural power of God working through them. Men who were by no means perfect in the natural sense, but who were being perfected through their faith, love and desire to serve the Lord Savior, Jesus Christ. 

From the Day of Pentecost and continuing to present (until the return of Jesus), we find documented evidence of men and women who decided one day to believe the Scriptures rather than the doctrines of man and were used of God in the realm of the supernatural. These spiritual giants were no different than those in the early church. They also were frail and imperfect, but they also had an affinity for God above all else. Like their predecessors, they also lived with persecution, not just from the world, but unfortunately, from the religious within the church. Some finished their course well and others not so well. Yet the impact that they had globally, especially in the church still lives today. 

Church history reveals many of these giants of faith were raised up by God to bring reformation and restoration to the church which also impacted the world. Shortly after the civil war, once again God raised up many of these giants of the faith. The impact they they brought is what we call revival. Millions gave themselves to the Lord. Countless numbers received miracles and some raised from the dead, just like the ministry of Jesus and the early church and yet they were greatly criticized by the faithless religious. Some of these giants are, John Alexander Dowie, Marie Woodworth-Etter, Evan Roberts, Charles F. Parham, John G. Lake, William J. Seymour, Smith Wigglesworth and Aimee Semple McPherson.  

The Lord used these believers and others to usher in one of the greatest moves of the Holy Spirit since the Day of Pentecost. In fact, this move of God was named the Pentecostal movement. It was a reflection of the daily activities of the early church with the glory, presence and power of God manifesting, which brought much of the church, in a sense, back to its beginnings. Unfortunately, ignorance, unbelief and complacency has once again crept back into the church to where the supernatural works of God are once again downplayed, despised and rejected by another generation of the religious in the church. But the good news is, the supernatural has not left the church. The Apostle Peter tells us, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21)   

The times of refreshing and restoration will come to the church before the Master returns. He is coming back for a church filled with faith, fully dedicated to Him. A church that is sanctified and cleansed by His Word (not mans doctrine). A glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but a church that is holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:26-28) So, if need be, let us repent from our lack of faith and be like John the Baptist and prepare the way of the Lord. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

The Battle Is Ours

The Bible makes it quite clear, that the church is in a battle against darkness. However, it is important for believers to see their position in Christ so that they can "fight the good fight of faith." (1 Timothy 6:12) Typically, there are three views that believers have of the church…

The Defeated Church: This view is based on experience, on what the five senses can comprehend and assimilate. Even though the Bible says it to be true, if I don’t experience it, then no matter what happens, good or bad, it must be God’s will. It comes out of ignorance of the believer’s position in Christ. When a believer does not know their position in Christ, their faith is neutralized.

The Militant Church: This view depicts the church as still battling and trying to gain our victory over an enemy. It acts as though the enemy has not been fully defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ. This view comes by taking Matthew 11:12 out of context and producing an unscriptural meaning or interruption.   

The Triumphant Church: This view is the Biblical view of the church. Believers know their position in Christ; that they are seated with Christ in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:20-21, 2:6) The believer who knows their position in Christ is not defeated nor do they need to be militant. They simply uphold and enforce their redemptive rights and privileges in Christ.      

To some, this may be easily said, but most often difficult to carry out. Believers need to be fully convinced that what God’s Word says is absolutely true now and forever. "My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips." (Psalm 89:34) "Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89) "The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

God's Word is just as powerful today as it was when it was first spoken. However, Satan does not want the church to know this fact. So, he uses the same tactic today as he used in the Garden of Eden, “Did God Say?” (Genesis 3:1) His tactic is for believers to question the integrity of God’s Word by getting them to reason, “Did God really say…Is it really God’s Will…You do not deserve God’s promises…If God really loved you this would not have happened…No matter what the devil says or how he says it, it is always an attacked against the integrity of God’s Word.

With all the demonic activity that goes on, it is vital that believers know what their redemption in Christ entitles them to. Believers need to be fully convinced that they have been given the same authority over all the works of the devil in the same manner and level that Jesus had when He walked this earth. "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:19) Matthew tells us what Jesus said after His resurrection and before His ascension. "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Matthew 28:18) If all authority has been given to Christ, then it stands to reason His church also has authority because we are His body.

The Bible lists 30 names given to Satan which reflects his nature, such as…
The adversary (1 Peter 5:8); A Thief (John 10:10); A murderer and liar (John 8:44); The accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10); The ruler of this world (John 12:31); The prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2); The god of the world system (2 Corinthians 4:4) It is Satan who is the author of all sin, all sickness and disease and all manner of evil, not God! Unfortunately, many believers have accused God of being the author of evil based on one verse of scripture."I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7 KJV) This tells us that God directs judgments, disappointments, trials, and calamities; he presides over adversity as well as prosperous events. The passage does not prove that God is the author of moral evil or sin, and any teaching that promotes such attacks the character and nature of a Holy God.

The Bible tells us that God is…
The God who sees (Genesis 16:13); God Almighty (Genesis 17:1); The Lord who provides (Genesis 22:13-14); The Lord who heals (Exodus 15:26); The Lord our Banner (Exodus 17:15); The Lord who Sanctifies (Exodus 31:13); The Lord who does not lie (Numbers 23:19); The Lord is Peace (Judges 6:24); The Lord who does not afflict (Job 37:23); The Lord our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1); The Lord who is good (Psalm 34:8); The Lord our deliverer (Psalm 34:17); The Lord who is merciful and gracious (Psalm 103:8); The Lord who is full of compassion and good to ALL (Psalm 145:8-9); The Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6); The Lord who does not change (Malachi 3:6); The Lord who gives good things (Matthew 7:11); The Lord of life (John 10:10); The conqueror of Satan (Colossians 2:15); The Lord who is faithful (Hebrews 10:23); The God of love (1 John 4:16)…The conqueror of death and hell (Revelation 1:18)… To name a few…

Jesus said, "And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)
The church has the keys; the church has the authority; the church has the name above all names, Jesus; the church has been endued with the power of the Holy Spirit; and the church has God's Word that is living and powerful. So, let’s take our position as the triumphant church and uphold and enforce all that Jesus did. Let us never again give Satan even an infinitesimal amount in our lives, our families nor the church and take our position in Christ as the triumphant church that we are…     

Monday, July 25, 2022

Sanctified By Truth

The Bible tells us that man is a triune being. "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23) However, most people tend to find this difficult. They can accept a dual nature, that is, the body and soul (mind, will and emotions) because these entities are obvious and easily recognizable. Nevertheless, the scriptures do not reveal man as a dual being, but a triune being like God Himself. (1 John 5:7)

What the Apostle Paul is talking about in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is sanctification. As defined by Noah Webster, sanctification is, "The act of making holy. In an evangelical sense, the act of God's grace by which the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love to God. The act of consecrating or of setting apart for a sacred purpose; consecration." One of the issues that many believe find when looking at the subject of sanctification is that in the common translation of our English Bible, there is very little distinction made between soul and spirit. However, the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus reveals the fine distinction of the soul and spirit. The writer of Hebrews tells us, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

Until one is born again, the human spirit lies dormant and under the sway of the soul and body. "And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:3) The Apostle Paul reveals the works of the flesh and shows us the war between the flesh (the five senses) and the recreated human spirit. "For the flesh (senses) lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." (Galatians 6:17) But, when the human spirit is touched by the Spirit of God, a quickening immediately takes place. The dead human spirit comes alive and begins to operate within. It begins to discerns the things in this present life like never before, but even  more exciting, it reaches beyond this life and becomes the avenue by which the believer touches God and God moves upon the believer. This gives the believer the ability to comprehend and know heavenly things. PTL "But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding." (Job 32:8)    

The believers sanctification is a process of God working in us our entire life which began the moment of becoming born again. It is a real conversion that awakens the unbeliever to a consciousness of the Fatherhood of God through faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." (Romans 8:16) However, in order to become more aware of this beautiful union with God, it is necessary that everything be removed that hinders this new consciousness and dulls the understanding and knowledge of God. It is sin in the life that hinders the process of sanctification. "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2)   

Notice that Paul tells us, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23) God is at work in the believer (Philippians 2:13) transforming us into the image of Christ from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18) The Apostle Paul tells us how we can askew sin and let the work of God prevail in our lives. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2) 

Believers are to dedicate their body to the service of God as well as renew their mind (with the Word of God) so their recreated spirit dominates their life. This has absolutely nothing to do with rules and regulations, but the believers continuous response to God's grace. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age." (Titus 2:11-12) The greatest struggle that the believer faces is not one with Satan, Jesus defeated him and gave authority to the church to uphold and enforce that defeat, (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:19; Ephesians 1:19-23; Colossians 2:15), no, it is the believers mind where the greatest struggle exists. This is why we are to renew our mind with God's Word. Our minds must stay fixed on Christ, so that we reflect His glory, show forth His love and evidence His power. 

It should be a wonderful thing for believers to know that if we are willing to sell out to God and let Him complete the work (sanctification) that He started in us the day we were born again, He will purge and drive out every particle of evil and every sensuous or lustful thing in our thoughts so that we become on earth, what Jesus was on earth. We should think on terms that sin soils and defiles us. It is an unholy thing that waits at the door and has a desire to keep us from fellowship with God. So, let us take a stand and know that "...we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Monday, July 18, 2022

The Greatest Is Love

The idiom, "water off a duck's back" refers to any criticism or something similar that is spoken by one person and directed at another. If the person to whom the criticism is directed does not let it affect them in the slightest, it would be like water off a duck's back. Unfortunately, many in the church today have given the world ammunition with which to mock Christianity. Due to the wrong example that many Christians have set, it has opened the door for many people of the world to be harsh in their criticism of the church. Sadly, many in the world have witnessed believers, lying, backbiting, gossiping, speaking negatively and even evil against another believer or congregation. This is in direct violation of the command that Jesus gave to us, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) 

The world is not impressed with believers confessions of faith when they see believers mistreat one another, especially when the world looks at the church and sees the many denominations that keep it divided. When you think about it, there would never have been splits in the church, if ALL believers would love one another with the God kind of love that has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who dwells in the believer. (Romans 5:5) By not operating in love, believers have opened the door to the accuser of the brethren, Satan and in all honesty, he has capitalized on it. Also, by not operating in the God kind of love, it reveals just how carnal many believers are. When the world cannot see the difference between the Body of Christ and other non-Christian organization, it is truly a poor testimony of the Love of Christ. 

One of the big reasons why many believers become so easily offended, is because they are too focused on the things of the world. Instead of doing what the Apostle Paul tells us, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8) and "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2), their is an acceptance of the ways of the world. Unfortunately like the world, they are always concerned about what someone else may say or do to them; what they think someone thinks about them; and or they are so hurt, they are always looking for someone to offend them no matter what they may say or do. They unknowingly live in constant torment and bondage because they have not received healing for their soul.     

One of the greatest examples in the Bible of this, is found in the life of Israel's first king, King Saul. "Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom? So Saul eyed David from that day forward. And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice." (1 Samuel 19:6-11)

Jealousy was the root of King Saul's offense against David. David the shepherd boy had defeated Goliath the giant and had been promoted to commander of the army. David's only crime was his faith in the Lord who gave Goliath into his hands. When David returned from battling the Philistines, the women were singing songs about him due to his military accomplishments. When King Saul heard it, he chose to be offended. To him, he was no longer number one in the eyes of Israel. Due to this, he gave himself over to jealousy, anger and destructive behavior. Though David fled from King Saul's presence, King Saul chose to pursue David in the wilderness. David was now constantly on the run to avoid King Saul from killing him. Now let's look at how David chose to handle the offense.

"Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, take note! David is in the Wilderness of En Gedi. Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats. So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.) Then the men of David said to him, This is the day of which the Lord said to you, behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you. And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. And he said to his men, the Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord. So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way. David also arose afterward, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, saying, My lord the king! And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed down. And David said to Saul: Why do you listen to the words of men who say, Indeed David seeks your harm? Look, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed. Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it. Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? Therefore let the Lord be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.” (1 Samuel 24:1-15)

As we see, David refused to retaliate. He chose to walk upright before the Lord and let the Lord be the judge. The Apostle Peter tells us, "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For he who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (1 Peter 3:8-12)

Like David, we are all faced with choices when it comes to offenses. We can chose to let them be like water off a ducks back or we can let them become a root of bitterness that promotes the works of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19-21) The Apostle Paul warns us, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." (Galatians 6:7-8) So, if someone offends you, let us do what Peter said,  "...but on the contrary blessing..."  or in other words, let the offense be like water off a ducks back and make the God kind of love our greatest aim. Amen? (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-8)    

Monday, July 11, 2022

Promises That Are Sure

Many times we hear of the promises of God. Many in the church are divided as to whether the promises revealed in scripture are for the church (every believer) today, if they were only for the start of the church, or if they are for the believer when they get to heaven. Well, let's face it, when believers leave this life for the next, they certainly will not need any of the promises that are revealed in the scriptures. Why? The Apostle John tells us, "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever." (Revelation 22:1-5) Believers will not need the promises of God in eternity. They are all insignificant and useless because we will be in the presence of God basking in His glory. PTL

Did the promises of God fade away when the apostles of the early church went on to glory? In a sense, we can say that His promises are gifts. Therefore, the Apostle Paul tells us, "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:29) The gifts of God are not revoked, changed or undone. What He has given to the church He does not take back. Also, "Abraham, being fully convinced that what He (God) had promised He was also able to perform." (Romans 4:21) Even Balaam's report to Balak points this out, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19) 

So, the promises of God are for every believer today because, "But now He (Jesus) has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises." (Hebrews 8:6) When looking in the Old Testament, we find numerous examples of God making promises to Israel, especially in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. The only condition of walking in these promises was they would have to " what is right in the sight of the Lord, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes..." (Exodus 15:26) Today, through faith in Jesus Christ, the believer is made righteous. This means that do to God's amazing grace and through faith in Christ the believer fulfills the law. It is the believers faith that releases the promises of God in their life. This being so, then it stands to reason the the believer today can also receive the same promises and even greater based on Hebrews 8:6.

Think about it. Under the Old Covenant, by doing what is right in the sight of the Lord, giving ear to His commandments and keeping all His statutes, Israel had the potential of living in the promises of God continually. Well, if the promises that God gave to Israel are not for us who are under a new and better covenant, then it would mean that we lost benefits (promises) when the new covenant was established through Jesus Christ. But that is not what the Bible says. It does not say that we have a worse covenant established on worse promises. No, it say that we have a better covenant established upon better promises. PTL So,  "Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23) and receive the promises that God has for us through faith in Jesus Christ. "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." (2 Corinthians 1:20)        

Monday, July 4, 2022

Free Indeed

One of the highlights of summer in the USA is the celebration of Independence Day. From 1776 until the present day, Independence Day has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues. Although the United States celebrates Independence Day as a day of freedom from Great Britain's oppression, there is a freedom that is far superior, far greater than any freedom that man can provide. This freedom only comes as one confesses with the mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him as Savior.

It has been said, "To be born free is a privilege; to die free is an awesome responsibility," yet freedom is never free. It always and only comes at great price. The greatest price ever paid for freedom, was paid at Calvary nearly two thousand years ago by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So, let's take a moment and look at some of the events that took place to purchase mans true freedom. We begin in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is arrested and taken down to the hall of Caiaphas the High Priest. He is then blindfolded and spit upon, insulted and struck in the presence of the very High Priest of God, and then you witness the long, cold, weary hours until He is taken before Pilate and then eventually to Herod to be mocked and jeered, to be clothed with the mock garment of kingly authority, a mock crown of thorns placed upon His brow, the mock badge of kingly authority placed within His hand, and then the long weary march back to Pilate, where He faces the trial, proceeding with bitterness and jealousy.

We then find Jesus standing calm and quiet with no part in this unnatural scene, except that of the innocent victim of jealousy and hate. We see Him scourged, His back laid open by the awful Roman lictor. Blood flows, and flesh is torn as the cruel blows fall mercilessly upon His bare back. Then His clothes are thrown roughly about Him, and He is started out for Golgotha, staggering beneath His cross. We see Him fall under its weight, and Simon of Cyrene is compelled to bear it. Then we see Him staggering up the mountain side, surrounded by soldiers. He is laid roughly down upon the cross on His back, and the Roman soldiers with cruel hate drive the spikes into His hands and feet; then He is lifted up naked, and the cross is dropped into the socket in the rock. Jesus of Nazareth is crucified!

We watch the mob as it surges backward and forward about the cross. We hear the High Priest hurling his bitter taunts at Jesus, as He suffers unmercifully nailed to the cross suspended between heaven and earth. We hear the mob in their bitter denunciation, led on by their religious leaders, the very priesthood that was looking for their Messiah. It was a hideous and horrific thing that was taking place. The Son of God hanging on the cross was not a sight for angels, nor for men, but for demons only.

However, the vision I want you to have is not of the physical suffering of Jesus, not what man has done as that is only a means to an end, but come behind the scenes and see the agony of the Son of God, and see Him smitten by God, His Father. The Apostle Peter tells us on the day of Pentecost that He was delivered up by the determinate counsel and the foreknowledge of God. (Acts 2:23) It is here that we see Father God taking our sin nature and spiritual death, and placing it all upon Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus has taken man's place, and the whole human race is now represented in Him, as He hangs there under judgment on the accursed tree. God takes your sin and mine, yes, the sin of the whole world and lets it fall upon His Son and as God turns His back to Him, He cries out, "My God, Mu God why have you forsaken Me." (Matthew 27:46) Not only did Jesus go to the cross to acquire mans freedom, but also descend into hell itself to pay the penalty of Man's high treason. He took upon Himself the awful guilt to pay man's penalty, because God could not, nor would not pardon man until an adequate sacrifice had been made. (Romans 3:21-26)

He died as Jesus our Substitute, the Lamb of God who bore the sin of the world. But Peter tells us, (quoting David) "For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." (Acts 2:27) After three days and nights in hell, Jesus arose as Lord, as Master of death, of hell and of the grave. He speaks to the Apostle John, "I was dead and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Hades and of Death." (Revelation 1:18) The matchless, mighty Christ had gone into the strong mans house and plundered his house and his goods. (Matthew 12:29; Luke 11:21-22) He had conquered Satan completely in honorable combat; He had taken from him his authority, his dominion; He brings it back and offers it to fallen man through His matchless name and grace.

What does this mean to us? It means that every person who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and takes Him as his Savior, stands legally acquitted in the presence of God. It means Satan is defeated, and man can be free. This is independence, this is freedom and there is no other freedom from the foundations of the world that has or will ever surpass the freedom the our Heavenly Father has provided for all men through Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." (John 3:16-17) PTL...

Monday, June 27, 2022

Gifts For The Church

Christianity is not a mere philosophy, obedience to commandments nor the acceptance of God's promises. It is much more. Christianity is the appearance of God to man in time and space. The significance of Jesus' death, not only His physical death on the cross, but what He accomplished for man in the spiritual realm especially in the regions of death, which is beyond what we could ever comprehend. He took death captive. The reality of His death is this. When death slew Him, death slew itself. "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil." (Hebrews 2:14) "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." (Revelation 1:18)  

Jesus liberated those, who in death, waited His coming. Jesus took them from the control of Satan and in His triumphant victory over sin, death and Satan, transferred them to glory. David the king prophesied this very thing one thousand years before it came to pass. "You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, even from the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell there." (Psalm 68:18) The Apostle Paul reiterated the same and then tells us the gifts that Jesus gave to men, "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers." (Ephesians 4:11)

Jesus is not only the founder of the church, "...I will build My church..." (Matthew 16:18) but He is the foundation of the church, "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:11). The Bible gives a further revelation that Jesus wanted His followers to understand concerning Himself and the foundation of the church. "...the household of God (the church) having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone." (Ephesians 2:19-20) 

Most in the Protestant Church, from seminary to the pulpit, have been taught that the apostles and prophets were only given to get the church started and after that, they were no longer needed. That once the New Testament was completed and accepted by the church, the foundational role of the apostles and prophets was completed. Therefore, all biblical references to apostles and prophets should be understood as a historical record rather than a continuing reality for the church. Any teaching today contrary to such is to be considered heretical. But, is this kind of teaching consistent with scripture or is it presumption?

First, there is not one verse of scripture that can support the the departure of either the apostle or prophet from the church because they were only needed to start the church. Think about this from this perspective. When a builder builds a house, the foundation is the first and most important part for the structural integrity of the entire house. Is there any builder that would build the foundation, complete the rest of the construction on the house, and once it has been accepted by the building inspector and the owner as completed, remove parts of the foundation? Absolutely not! If the foundation loses structural integrity then whatever is placed on top is in jeopardy of failure and even collapse. It is the same with everything that is build, even the church. Jesus warns, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." (Matthew 7:24-27)

The Apostle Paul tells us, "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:29) In other words, the Lord is not going to revoke, change, undo or alter the gifts that He has given to the church.  Paul also tells us, "And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:28) Notice, "God has appointed these in the church" not man. If God appointed, then how can man un-appoint without any scriptural foundation to do so? Also, notice in this verse, the absence of evangelist and pastor and yet today the church has placed a higher premium upon them than the Lord. Also, and equally unfortunate, a greater portion of the church has also un-appointed "...miracles, gifts of healings, and varieties of tongues."

Now, let us look at the following passage of scripture to see the reason why these gifts were given to the church. "And He (the Lord) Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Notice, "till we all (the entire church) come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect (mature, complete) man." Very few, if any Christian leaders would dare claim that the Body of Christ has reached the stage of perfection described in this passage. This being true, not only would it be right, but it would also be logical that there is still a need for apostles and prophets in the church until Jesus returns. Could the rejection of the apostle and prophet in most sectors of the church be one of the main reasons why the church is so fragmented with its numerous denominations and doctrinal differences? Could this be why the church is not knitted and working together? Could this be why there is a lack of growth of the Body of Christ? Could this be why the church lacks in loving one another as brethren?  Maybe it is time for those who reject the gift of the apostle and prophet to reconsider their position and let the Lord do what He said He would do, "...I will build my church..." The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you...