Monday, May 10, 2021

Sons and Daughters

One of the greatest misunderstandings concerning how God deals with the believer comes from the writer of Hebrews, "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons, My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:5-11)

To understand what the writer of Hebrews is conveying we must define the word chasten. Chasten is defined as: To train up a child; instruct; educate; teach; discipline. Where we tend to go wrong is when we look at the word discipline. Discipline to most means punishment. Although the word discipline has the word punishment in its definition, it also means to correct; to instruct; to chasten. As we can see the words chasten and discipline are synonymous words. Now let's look at what it means for God to chasten or discipline the believer, His child.

First and foremost, God loves us and His chastening is always immersed in His love. Next, He deals with us as with sons and I might add daughters. This is very foreign to most peoples thinking. For many parents, when it come to disciplining their children there is a tendency to punish the out of frustration, disappointment and even anger, rather than through love. This has nothing to do with the method in which parents chasten their children but the attitude of the heart when bringing discipline. Gods most potent characteristic is love and we must always keep in mind that He chasten His children through His abounding, surrounding love.

Next, we see that the chastening of the Lord is for the believers profit. Honestly, how can the believer profit from chastening? We profit because it is always for our good. It is always to promote our welfare. Look at one of the benefits that we profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. The believers becomes so holy that it may be said that we are partakers of the very holiness of God. "And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:24) Now for some this may be hard to believe, nevertheless it is fact. However, finding such a claim hard to believe actually reveals doubt in the believers heart. The evidence that the new man, New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness has nothing to do with how we feel or our performance, but faith in Jesus Christ and the integrity of God's Word.

Next, we see what else the believer profits from the chastening of the Lord, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness. What is the fruit of righteousness? To determine this, we must look to Jesus. The prophet Jeremiah refers to Christ as the "Righteous Branch." (Jeremiah 23:5) At His death, a Roman centurion glorified God by saying, "Certainly this was a righteous man." (Luke 23:47) The apostle Paul states, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus tells us,  "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit..." (John 15:5) The fruit of righteousness is doing the works that Jesus did and speaking the Word of God in the same manner as He walked the earth as the Son of Man. It is carrying out the will of the Father as Jesus did. Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." (John 14:12)

As parents, so also the methods to which God chastens His children may vary. The misunderstanding concerning the chastening of the Lord come from such phrases as, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him, He scourges every son, If you endure chastening, Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful. Unfortunately, believers take these phrases and twist them to mean that God chastens His children with financial struggles, sickness, disease and so on. If this is true, if God truly uses financial struggles, sickness, disease and so on to chasten His children, then one of two things come into play. First, we do not truly know Him (Job 42:1-3, Hosea 4:6) or we believe that He does these things contrary to His Word which is so very far from the truth (Psalm 89:34, 107:20, 119:89, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, John 1:1)

In fact, God punished Jesus (Isaiah 53:4-10) so that those who confess and believe that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9) could enjoy all the benefits and privileges of being sons and daughters. (Romans 8:15-17, 32) He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses so that we are healed (Matthew 8:17, 1 Peter 2:24) He came to give us abundant life here on earth. (John 10:10) He died in our place to give us eternal life (1 John 2:25) He was made sin to make us righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21) He was condemned so that we could go free. (Matthew 27:22-23, 34-35, Galatians 5:1) We also must realize that the believer is a member of the Body of Christ. If we truly believe that God chastens His children with financial struggles, sickness, disease and so on, then we must also believe that Jesus Himself, the head of the body deals with the same. We must also believe that the Holy Spirit who dwells in the believe has no problem with sickness or disease defiling our body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) No, God child trains; instructs; educates and teaches His children through love.

Always remember that no one has a better new birth, a better righteousness, a better Savior, a better Healer, a better Provider, a better Father, a better right standing with the Father than the believer. No one can get closer to the Father's heart than we His children. So when the Lord chastens us, let us stand in the confidence that it is for our profit because God loves us and wants to reproduce Himself in us.  

Monday, May 3, 2021

Thank you Mom

Mother's Day is a celebration honoring motherhood and the influence of mothers in society. In the USA it is always celebrated on the second Sunday in the month of May. The modern Mother's Day began in the United States, at the initiative of Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century. It is not directly related to the many traditional celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have existed throughout the world over thousands of years, however, in some countries, Mother's Day is still synonymous with many older traditions. The American version of Mother's Day has been criticized for having become too commercialized. Even Anna  Jarvis herself regretted this commercialism and expressed that this was never her intention. In response, Constance Adelaide Smith successfully advocated for Mothering Sunday as a commemoration of a broader definition of motherhood in many other parts of the English-speaking world.

Mother's Day marks an important holiday to honor the woman who raised you. I believe in the of God, mother's hold a special place. There are numerous scriptures concerning mother's so let look at some that you may want to share with your mother...

"The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." (Genesis 3:20)
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."
(Psalm 139:13-14)
"Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice." (Proverbs 23:22-25)
"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." (Proverbs 31:25)
"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."
(Proverbs 31:26)
"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." (Proverbs 31:28–29)
"Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." (Proverbs 31:31)
"Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?"
(Isaiah 49:15)
"As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you." (Isaiah 66:13)
"You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." (1 Peter 3:4)

Of course we will always remember a woman named Mary who was the mother of our LORD. "But when Mary saw the angel, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:29-34)

So, as we close in on Mother's Day, let us be mindful of the woman who birth us, nursed us, changed us, fed us, nurtured us, coddled us, had sleepless nights for us and so much more. Let us be thankful and honor our mother's. For without them, we would not be here today. Thank you Mom...

Monday, April 26, 2021

Gifts To The Church

Last time, we looked at the real reason as to why 20% of church members actively function in the work of ministry while 80% sit idle. We saw that it is due to the erroneous philosophy accepted in the church that once the last of the apostles, like Peter and Paul died, that the gift/office of apostle and prophet as well as miracles faded away. That we have no need of them because we have the Bible and yet there is not one verse of scripture (unless taken out of context to agree with certain man made philosophies) that says the gift/office of apostle and prophet has faded away and with them the miraculous. So, how do we know that apostles  and prophets (although maybe not recognized) along with miracles are still alive, well and needed in the church today?

The Hebrew usage of the word apostle is to "send away; one who was commissioned and authorized by God." The ancient Greek usage refers to "a personal envoy, emissary or ambassador; a delegate." The Koine Greek usage (Greek language commonly spoken during the time of Jesus' earthly ministry) refers to, "a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders." In other words, the word apostle simply means "a sent one, an ambassador, a delegate, one who is sent forth, one commissioned and authorized by another to represent another and carry out his will and purposes.

To say that Matthias and Paul were the last apostles chosen by the Lord a part from the original twelve and that there is no apostolic secession is not a valid statement. (For the sake of space, I will list others that were apostles after these two men, based on the definition shown above.)

  • James, the Lords brother (Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 15:7, Galatians 1:9, 2:9)
  • Barnabas (Acts 4:36, 11:22-30, 14:1, 4, 14, 1 Corinthians 9:6)
  • Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:6-9) 
  • Andronicus (Romans 16:7)
  • Junia (Romans 16:7)
  • Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25)
  • Titus (2 Corinthians 8:23)
  • Two unnamed brethren (2 Corinthians 8:23)
  • Timothy Acts 19:22, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:6)
  • Judas (Acts 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 2:6)
  • silas/Silvanus (Acts 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:6)
  • Erastus (Acts 19:22)
  • Tychicus (2 Timothy 4:12)
God has appointed in His church , first apostles (1 Corinthians 12:28) They are gifts from Christ to His body and they have not ceased in God's eyes even though a portion of the church refuses to recognize and receive them.

Along with the gift of apostle, the gift of prophet has also been rejected by many sectors of the church today. Keeping in mind that the church has been in the last days since Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, the prophetic ministry of the prophet is still a much needed gift to the church  today. One of the signs of the last days is the prophetic word coming as a result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh. (Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:14-21) Notice that neither the prophet Joel nor the apostle Peter quoting the prophet Joel say anything about the prophetic fading away or ceasing in operation, on the contrary. The word says, that these things would come to pass in the last days. The last days are those which continue until the return of Jesus.

The misunderstanding of the prophets (prophetic) role in the church is one of the main reasons why it is rejected as a viable ministry to the church. The word prophet is defined as, "to foretell events, to speak under inspiration, to proclaim a divine revelation, and to break forth under sudden impulse into inspired discourse." The nature of prophecy is two fold; forth-telling, which comes in the form of preaching. It is to speak for God to the people, communicating the mind of God. Often the past (prophecy) will be used to deal with the present. This comes in the form of exhortation, reproof, warning, edification and comfort. This is seen in the New Testament prophets. New testament prophets are also considered non-writing prophets because they confirm the Word of God through guidance, words of wisdom and words of knowledge.

The other is fore-telling, which comes in the form of prediction. The prophet speaks for God, communicating His mind for the future. Often both the past and the present will be used to deal with the future.  This is seen in the ministry of the Old Testament prophets. The Old Testament prophets were chosen, inspired by God and their words became scripture. There were Old Testament prophets that wrote historical books, poetical books and prophetical books. It can then be said, that the major difference between the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament prophets is writing scripture (Old Testament prophets) and confirming scripture (New Testament prophets) Unfortunately, many in the church have misunderstood the difference between the two and have rejected prophets/prophecy today believing that it is extra-biblical because it adds to scripture when in fact it is very biblical because it only confirms scripture.

Another aspect of the gift/office/ministry of the apostle and prophet is that they generally work closely together in the Body of Christ. For instance, Gods divine order in the church states, "First apostles, second prophets..." (1 Corinthians 12:28) We also see that the church is "built on the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone." (Ephesians 2:20) We see an example of this as the apostle Paul and the prophet Silas worker together (Acts 15:22-40, 16:6-7) Although there is opposition to these gifts/offices/ministries functioning in the church today, we will see the Lord bring all of the ascension gift/office/ministries together. We the will once again work in unity of heart, mind, spirit and faith for His glory. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen...  

Monday, April 19, 2021

Building Together in Love

When we observe how the local church functions and how many people are functioning in some capacity what do you see? Do we see all the members actively working with other members building up the church? Do we see 75% of the members actively working with other members building up the church? Do we see 50% of the members actively working with other members building up the church? How about 25%? No, statistics reveal that regardless of the size of a local church, less than 20% of the members actively get involved with its function and many of them are heading towards burnout. Why is this happening? Why does it seem to be almost impossible to mobilize the members of the local church? I am sure that there are numerous reason such as, a lack of leadership, a lack of vision, a lack of discipleship, people are to busy, and so on. But I believe the primary reason behind the limited mobilization of the members of a local church comes down to one thing. Swapping the Lords ingenious plan for man's faulty plan(s). Let's look at what the Holy Spirit spoke through the apostle Paul.

"Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Ephesians 4:8) "And He 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)

Many church leaders for centuries have rejected the idea that the ministry gifts of the apostle and prophet have continued beyond those of the early church. Their thinking is that the gift or office of apostle and prophet have faded from the scene when the apostles and prophets of the early church died. This thinking goes even farther by saying that along with the passing of the apostles and prophets miracles, signs and wonders have also passed away. They site 1 Corinthians 15:8 which says, "Then last of all He (Jesus) was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time" to mean that Paul was the last of the apostles appointed by the Lord. They also use Ephesians 4:13-14 (shown above) along with 1 Corinthians 3:10; 13:11 to say that these gifts along with the miraculous only functioned as scaffolding while the church was under initial construction, and were removed or faded away once the structure had been completed because the book we call the Bible is the totality of God’s written revelation to the human race. Consequently, people now have access to everything they need (2 Peter 1:3) to enter into a right relationship with God via Christianity and the church of Christ. Without doubt, the Bible is the totality of God’s written revelation to the human race. However, if we look at Ephesians 4:8 again, some light will shine upon us revealing the truth, "Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men."

First, notice that it does not say that Jesus gave temporary gifts to men or that He gave gifts to men only for a season or a certain period of time. Paul tells us, "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:29) James tells us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." (James 1:17)  The Lord does revoke the gifts and calling that He gives to His church, because His gifts are good and perfect. Also, notice that James reveals to us something about God that Malachi also reveals, "For I am the LORD, I do not change..." (Malachi 3:6) The writer of Hebrews puts it this way, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) In other words, from eternity past to eternity future there is no change in Gods character, nature, purposes, plan or his mode of being. What He says is what He means, period. "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)

If we say that the gift/office of apostle and prophet have faded away and have no need for them because we have the Bible, then we also have to conclude that the gift/office of evangelist, pastor and teacher have also faded away for the same reason. If we also say, "But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" meaning that the gifts of the Spirit, especially miracles have also faded away, because we have the Bible, then we also have to conclude that knowledge has also vanished. (see 1 Corinthians 13:8-10) The context of what Paul is conveying in 1 Corinthians 13 has nothing whatsoever to do with the fading away of gifts and the miraculous that Christ gave to His church. Paul is telling the church to grow up or come into maturity, especially to mature in love because without love the gifts will not function properly. He is telling the church that when Christ returns, "that which is perfect" there will be no further need for any of the gifts that He gave to the church. So, how do we grow up and mature especially in love until Christ returns? Let's reread Ephesians 4:11-16

Another thing that we must consider is found in Paul's description of the church, "And He (Jesus) put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23, also see 1 Corinthians 12:12-27) The church is describe as a body filled with the fullness of Christ the Head. So with this in mind, how would a person operate if two of their fingers, say their thumb and index finger, were missing from both hands? They could function, but they certainly would be limited. What about if a person was missing any two of their five senses? Again, they could function but they would be limited. With that said, how can we logically believe that the Lord would limit His body by removing two important gifts/offices along with the miraculous?
How can we honestly think this especially when he gave all five of these gifts/offices for maturing the church? His would not do such a thing! Do we honestly believe that for the last seventeen hundred years the church has reach or surpassed the maturity that Ephesian 4:1-16 is talking about? Do we suppose that the last seventeen hundred years of the church is more mature than the first three hundred years?

Many proponents of the extinction of the apostle, prophet and miracles will say to those who know that the Lord has not removed from His church apostle, prophet and miracles , beware "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works"  (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) not even considering that it is they that Satan has deceived. Certainly the church must beware that false apostles and prophets can appear, but the context in which this passage appears is Paul defending his apostleship. He is not insinuating or alluding too at all that when he leaves this life there will be no more apostles.

Next, we also see another fact that sheds light on the existence of apostles (maybe not recognized) today. Paul, tells us the all of the ascension gifts were given "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." How can any church leader look at church history for the past 1700 years and honestly believe that the church. has arrived any time, "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." Do we honest believe that what we call the church is unified? That the church operates in the full knowledge of the Son of God? That the church completely functions in the fullness of Christ? Let's be honest. What we call the church today is not even close to just being united, let alone these other important issue that makes the church one in Christ.

So, why do statistics reveal that less than 20% of the members of most local churches do all the work while 80% remain idle? I truly believe it is due to eliminating the gift/office of the apostle and prophet by church Pharisees who have embraced the philosophies of men over the word of God. They have been blinded by the god of the world, Satan, who is still at work against the church to do what he did in the beginning, that is, discredit God and His Word. (Genesis 3:1-5) Jesus gave to the church "some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, to work together,  "for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry." Their is not one verse of scripture (other than ones taken out of context) that says that the gift/office of the apostle and prophet have faded away and are of no long any use once the early church apostles and prophets died  We do not seem to understand the harm that we have done to ourselves by eliminating these key gifts/offices for our "better ideas." Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Thank You Lord Jesus

Once you have been in the church enough years and are exposed to Christians from the many denominations that exist, you will find that not to many of them realize the oneness that we have with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For most, Jesus was beaten, condemned, crucified, died and raised from the dead and by confessing Him as Lord and accepting Him as Savior who paid for our sins one escapes judgment and will spend eternity in heaven. Although this is true, what most believers have missed is what happened in the spiritual realm. It was what Jesus did for humanity in the spiritual realm far surpasses what happened to Jesus in the natural. All the people who surrounded the cross could only see the physical man Jesus, hanging on the cross, beaten, bleeding and physically dying. In the same way, all the people who watch movies depicting the life and death of Jesus only see the same. However, man is a spirit with a soul in a body and in the spiritual realm God the Father, the angels and demons could see the real man hidden in His body. So let us look at what took place beyond the beating and crucifixion of His physical body. 

"He has made Him who knew nothing of sin to be sin for us..." (2 Corinthians 5:21) But he was wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins; the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him, and by his bruises we are healed. We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to his own way; yet Adonai laid on him the guilt of all of us." (Isaiah 53:5-6) "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree") (Galatians 3:13) On the cross not only did Jesus become sin, but He became a curse also. Is it any wonder that the Father had forsaken Him, "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46)

As this awful drama continues we see that, "Surely He has borne our sicknesses and carried our diseases..." (Isaiah 53:4) Another translation says, "In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered..." Laid upon Jesus as He hung on the cross was the sin, diseases and sicknesses of the human race. Through the years the ignorance of some would blame the Jews or even the Romans (Gentiles) for what had happened to Jesus. But we see that, "it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief." (Isaiah 53:10) another version says, "it pleased Jehovah to crush Him; He has made Him sick." Finally, upon the cross Jesus' physical life was extinguished, "And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit." (Matthew 27:50) Notice that He yielded up His spirit, not the Spirit. All of the sin, sickness, disease and pains were not place on His physical body, but upon His spirit. Once this happened He became mortal, that is, subject to death. Remember what Jesus said,  "...I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again..." (John 10:17-18)

No one could take His life from Him, He could not be killed. This may be hard for some to believe, but even after He turned Himself over to be put to death, His body could not die until sin had been placed upon His spirit making Him mortal. In other words, Jesus had to die spiritually, as Adam did, before He could die physically, as Adam also did. Once He became one with fallen man in weakness, in sin, in disease and spiritual death, He physically died and His spirit went to hell for three days and three nights. (Matthew 12:40) Now let us look at what this all means for the believer. To do this we must look beyond the natural realm and think on terms of the spiritual realm.

The apostle Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ..." (Galatians 2:20) This means that Paul (all believers) were judged, condemned, stripped naked and nailed to the cross with Jesus, "knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." (Romans 6:6) Next, Paul also tells us, "do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death..." (Romans 6:3-4)  When Jesus died and His spirit went to hell, we died and went to hell. "For my soul hath been full of evils, and my life hath come to Sheol. I have been reckoned with those going down [to] the pit, I have been as a man without strength. Among the dead -- free, As pierced ones lying in the grave, Whom Thou hast not remembered any more, Yea, they by Thy hand have been cut off. Thou hast put me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in depths." (Psalms 88:3-6)

Now look at the reality of what took place at the end of the three days and nights that Jesus spent in hell, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit" (1 Peter 3:18) In the dark regions of hell Jesus was made alive by the Spirit. Concerning the believer Paul tells us, "even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ..." (Ephesians 2:5) "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him" (Colossians 2:13) When Jesus was made alive we were made alive.

Next, we see another incredible truth concerning the believers identification with Christ, "and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand 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 1:19-21)  "and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6) When Jesus was raised from the dead and sat down at the Fathers right hand 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, we too were raised from the dead and sit together with Christ.

For Christ to sit down at the Fathers right hand after being made sin and for the believer to be seated with Christ in the heavenly places could never happen for Christ or the believer if something miraculous did not happen first. "For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:17-19)  "God has fulfilled this for us their children, (the seed of Abraham) in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm, You are My Son, today I have begotten You. And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption..." (Acts 13:33-34)  Jesus became mans substitute and was declared righteous because He had satisfied the claims of justice. He was made so righteous, that He could enter into the presences of the Father as though He had never been made sin. But it doesn't stop there. 

"Therefore, having been justified (declared righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1) "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21) Because Jesus was made righteous, then all who confess Him as Lord and accept Him as Savior are automatically made the righteousness of God in Christ. We also become completely new, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17) This all means that Satan and all of his forces of darkness no longer have dominion over the believer. The believer is a partaker of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and therefore sin, disease and sickness no longer belong to the New Created, Born Again believer. The Father has made us one with Christ. (John 15:5) Hallelujah!

So, if you have been told or are still being told things such as, you are still a sinner who was saved by grace; that you do not have the ability to please God; that you have a dual nature, one of sin and one righteousness; that God does not heal, deliver and make one whole today, then you are struggling with "The Doctrines of the Dark Ages" and do not live the abundant life that Jesus said He came to give. (John 10:10) Paul tells us, "And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is  liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17) and "It is for freedom that Christ set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not again be held under the yoke of slavery." (the fallen nature that you had before you were born again, Galatians 5:1) Also, "For you learned with regard to your former way of living that you must cast off your old nature, (the fallen nature that you had before you were born again) which, yielding to deluding passions, grows corrupt; That the very spirit of your minds must be constantly renewed; (with God's Word) And that you must clothe yourselves in that new nature (the born again nature) which was created to resemble God, with the righteousness and holiness springing from the Truth (God's Word) (Ephesians 4:22-24)

It is OK to listen to what others say, but every Christian must do what they did in the City of Berea (located in southwestern Macedonia) where Paul and Silas preached the gospel, "...they welcomed the Message with great readiness, and daily examined the Scriptures to see if what was said was true." (Acts 17:11) May the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion with the Holy Spirit, be with you all.    

Monday, April 5, 2021

A Blessed Freedom

Freedom is defined in many ways, but I like to define it from the position of what Jesus announced as His mission on earth to those in the synagogue in Nazareth, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:18-19) In other words, to be free is to be released or rescued from being confined, enslaved, captured, or imprisoned either physically, emotionally or spiritually. Many believers talk about their freedom in Christ without having a true biblical understanding of it. Many seem to think that freedom in Christ is to cast off all restraint and do whatever they "feel" like doing once they have made a profession of faith. This means only obeying the scripture that they "feel" they should and or that they can continue in their sin because after all "I am free." Freedom is not based on our feelings or what scriptures "I" decide to obey. Freedom finds its anchor through faith in Jesus Christ.

In Luke 17:1-4 Jesus teaches the apostle about offenses. He says, "It is impossible that no offenses should come..." The apostles response should not only be a learning experience for every believer, but also something that should be applied daily due to what Jesus said. Their response was, "Increase our faith." (Luke 17:5) This is the only place in the New Testament where the apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. They were not asking for more faith to heal the sick, cast out demons or preach, but the faith to not offend as well as the faith to deal with offenses when they come. Remember, Jesus said that offenses would come and then He them the power of faith, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you." (Luke 17:6)

Next, Jesus continues to speak to the apostles by asking them three questions, "which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, come at once and sit down to eat? But will he not rather say to him, prepare something for my supper and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterwards you will eat and drink? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him?" (Luke 17:7-9) What does this have to do with dealing with offenses? Much, if you understand that "the Spirit of God dwells in you." (1 Corinthians 3:16), that "you are not your were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), that "you are a new creation; old things have passed away..." (2 Corinthians 5:17), that "you are a  new creation created according to God in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:24) (for the lack of space I will not site the numerous verses of scripture that reveal who the believer is in Christ)

Finally, Jesus concludes this matter, "I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which are commanded, say, we are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty." (Luke 17:10) What does Jesus mean, "We have done what was our duty?" When it comes to dealing with offenses, what is the believers duty? If we know who we are in Christ, we won't offend others nor will we become offended by others, even if the offense comes from another believer. Look what the Holy Spirit speaks through Peter, "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, (and sisters) 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." (1 Peter 3:8-9) 

This is the believers duty when it comes to dealing with offenses. First, we should never offend another person, period! Our duty is to have compassion for one another; love as brothers, (and sisters) be tenderhearted, be courteous. If we do our duty as shown here, we will never offend another person whether a believer or unbeliever. Next, if you are offended by anyone, your duty is not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this.  Believers are not to claim, receive or hold on to an offense. If they do, and unfortunately many do, they will fail doing their duty and unfortunately, open the door of their heart for the devil to hold them captive which prevents God from blessing them.

In Matthew 18 Jesus tells us what believers are to do when someone brings an offense. No matter how small or large the offense is, believers are to forgive, period. (Matthew 18:21-27) As Peter said, believers are to bless (forgive) not curse (hold unforgiveness). Jesus also tells us what happens when a believer holds on to unforgiveness. The believer is tormented because he/she has given place to the devil (torturers). (Matthew 18:28-34) The sad thing is Jesus' conclusion to this matter to believers who have unforgiveness, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." (Matthew 18:35)

If you have been offended and are dealing with unforgiveness, you can be totally free from the hurt, torment and or ill feelings that you have towards another person right now. First, let the offense out by speaking what the offense was and who it was that offended you. Secondly, you must completely forgive them no matter how difficult it may seem. (Colossians 3:13) Next, purpose not to think (2 Corinthians 10:5) or speak (Ephesians 4:29) anything concerning this matter ever again. In doing so, you will not "give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:27) Also, ask the Lord to forgive you for holding on to unforgiveness (1 John 1:9) Finally, let 1 Peter 3:8-9 have place in your heart and speak blessings over the one(s) who have offended you. In doing these things, you not only release the one that you have held captive in your heart through unforgiveness, but you also will free yourself from being tormented due to unforgiveness. Although Jesus said, "offenses will come" by applying these simple principles by faith you will walk in freedom overcoming all offenses. With that said, I have one final thought. Time does not heal wounds, only forgiveness from the heart does. So let it all go and become the blessing that you are called to be to others, so that you may inherit a blessing.  

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Perfect Mediator

Now that resurrection Sunday 2015 has been celebrated, let us live everyday never forgetting where we came from and mostly let us never forgot what Christ did for us. Due to the fall of man in the Garden, all mankind has paid the price for Adam's act of treason, "just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men." (Romans 5:12) Man has lost his approach to God and is described by Paul as "without Christ...having no hope and without God in the world." (Ephesians 2:12) Think about this. Man without Christ is hopeless, Godless, and in the world where Satan has the power of death. (Hebrews 2:14)

To take this sorrow even further, man is described as having become a partaker of Satan's nature. He is not only a subject of Satan politically, but he is vitally united with him. Jesus pointed this out to the Pharisees when they feverishly tried to defend their self-righteousness, "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." (John 8:44)

Job had a startling encounter that also reveals man's state without a mediator before God, "Now a word was secretly brought to me, and my ear received a whisper of it. In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair on my body stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence; then I heard a voice saying: Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?" (Job 4:12-17) 

This is the age old problem. This is the eternal problem that has confronted the thinking man of all ages. Can mortal man be justified or acquitted before God? Shall fallen man be pure in the presence of his Maker? Job also paints  a graphic picture of an aged man on his death-bed facing eternity and the approach of judgment. Job continues and speaks out of the agony within his soul. "Now my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good. They pass by like swift ships, like an eagle swooping on its prey. If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face and wear a smile, I am  afraid of all my sufferings; I know that You will not hold me innocent. If I am condemned, why then do I labor in vain? If I wash myself with snow water, and cleanse my hands with soap, yet You will plunge me into the pit, and my own clothes (self-righteousness) will abhor me." (Job 9:25-31)  

Job knows that he cannot face God, for God is not mortal and He is not under the bondage and guilt of sin as Job is. Job then utters the saddest words that ever fell from the lips of a human. "There is no mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both." (Job 9:33) In other words, there is no Mediator between man and God who has a legal standing with God and at the same time can sympathize, understand and represent man. This is Job's cry for a mediator. But it is not the cry of Job alone. It is the age old cry of man, who in vain has worked hard to sooth their guilty sin laden conscience by creating various religions and or acts of the flesh. Some of the ways man has tried to appease his conscience come in the form of so called Christian cults such as Russelism, Mormonism and Christian Science. Others such as, eastern religions of idolatry, human and animal sacrifices and the beating of the flesh. Worshipers of Satan as well as others who go about committing murder and mayhem in the name of Allah which are considered good works. 

All of these twisted means are an attempt to get right with God. However, even in all of these things, God's character has not changed and man's fallen nature is still the same. Man today can no more approach God without a Mediator than he could throughout his entire history. Some men will even tell us that if they live a good moral life, that this is all God can require of them, and that if there is a heaven they have as much right to it as those who trust in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth, the one and only Mediator. Paul tells us, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:5-6) Peter tells us, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

Only the people who have welcomed Jesus Christ as Savior and have received the life that He brings from God, have an assured confidence that they can once again can approach God without guilt, condemnation or inferiority. Let no one deceive you. It is only by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone that one can, "...come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) "...and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:3) The writers of the Bible all teach one great truth, "Man needs a Mediator." Today, scholarship if it is scholarship, knowledge if it is real knowledge, should lead all minds to the same goal. "How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?" (Job 25:4) As with Job, it is still the cry of the human heart, man needs a Mediator and that Mediator is Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.

Please take some time to ponder the words written here. There are people that you know who need Jesus the Mediator. He is the only one who can set people free from the guilt of sin. He is the only one whose sinless blood has paid in full the crimes of humanity. He is the only one who came to give life and give it more abundantly. Never forget what He has done for you. So, now go and tell another person the Good News, Jesus is alive and "this is the promise that He has promised us, eternal life." (1 John 2:25) May the grace and peace of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all...