Monday, October 4, 2021

In His Unchanging Fulness

Unbelief is the greatest culprit behind a hardened heart and a hardened heart lowers the character, quality, and value of God's Word. Either way it has caused many in the church to suffer. They have been taught that somehow God has brought suffering upon them for some mysterious reason that only He knows and if He decides to heal, deliver or remove the suffering or not, well it's fine with me, God's will be done. Yet in the midst of the suffering that supposedly God has given they will seek relief from a physician or some other person that can help them alleviate the suffering. There is certainly nothing wrong with most physicians. They do help people and have saved lives. However, logic asks, if the suffering is from God, who is all powerful, all knowing, and sovereign, then why doesn't the person go to God for the deliverance? (When I speak of suffering, I am speaking of sickness, disease and pain)  

How it must grieve the heart of our heavenly Father when His children have been trained to believe that He would strike one of them with pain and suffering. How it must grieve the heart of our heavenly Father when His children blame Him for something Satan has done. How it must grieve the heart of our heavenly Father when His children do not believe His Word. A look at the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Peter will shed some light on these things, "In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered; yet we regarded him as punished, stricken and afflicted by God. 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." (Isaiah 53:4-5 CJB) "He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24 AMP)

Jesus was made sick with our sicknesses. He was made sin with our sin. This was God's method of dealing with suffering and sin that came upon humanity due to the fall of man. In the mind of God there is no sin problem. Christ put sin away and satisfied the claims of justice for man. The real problem is that there are sinners. In the mind of God, there is no sickness or suffering problem. The problem lies in the lack of believers understanding the fullness of redemption and a failure to act upon their rights, privileges and inheritance in Christ that is clearly shown in the Word of God. Of course this takes faith in the integrity of the Word of God.

Did you ever give someone your word? Did you ever tell someone, "I give you my word?" What did that mean to you? It meant that with everything in your power you would make good on what you gave your word for. Well, the Father has given us HIS WORD! Not only will He make it good, but I assure you that He has far greater power to make it good than any person. He also tells us or rather appeals to what we believe about Him, "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) Sin and suffering come from the same source, Satan, not the Lord.

It was the plan of the Father to lay mans sin and sickness upon Jesus, "It pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief..."
(Isaiah 53:10) He did this to free humanity from the tyrannical power of Satan. He did this "to open our eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. " (Acts 26:18) Notice that these things only become a reality to people when they receive them by faith, that is, believing and acting upon God's Word. God wants us to know that when He laid our sins and sicknesses on Jesus it was to the end that sin and disease should no longer have dominion over us. If there is any sickness in God's children, as I had previously mentioned, it is because of a lack of knowledge of our rights, privileges and inheritance in the redemption that we have in Christ.

Look at some passages that reveal the purpose and ministry of Jesus...

  • Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 
  • Hebrews 2:14-15 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, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 
  • 1 John 3:8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
  • Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, TODAY, and forever.
Logic must ask, if this was God's purpose in Christ and Christ has not changed, then why would these things not be for today? Has the devil ceases to be? Has his evil stopped on the earth? Not at all. Jesus did His part of destroying the works of the devil and when He departed earth to sit at the right hand of the majesty on high, He sent the Holy Spirit, gave us His Word and the use of His name so that the church would uphold and enforce what Jesus did, that is, continuing to destroy the works of the devil. The sin, sickness and diseases that are in the church today are there because we are not taking our place in Christ, we are not using the Name of Jesus and we have little to no faith in God's Word. God has not changed! His Word has not changed! His power is still available to those who believe and as Jesus said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23) "Do not be afraid; only believe..." (Luke 8:50)

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all...

Monday, September 27, 2021

God and His Word Are One

The Apostle John tells us, the Word became flesh (John 1:14) and His name is Jesus. The Word is God speaking. God and His Word are one. The Word is the will of the Father, just as Jesus, the Word made flesh was the will of the Father. What God says, is. What God says, will become. If He did not want it to be so, He would not have said it, He would not have sent it. The Word is always now, it is a present tense fact because God is always now. In this part we will see the reason why so many in the church struggle with the questions, as to whether or not what God says in His Word is for today? Does God really do today what He did through the early church? Is what God did in the early church to be expected in the church today?

In Matthew's gospel we see a scene where Jesus is with the twelve apostles and makes a statement concerning the events that awaited Him in Jerusalem, "From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (Matthew 16:21) After Jesus gives His apostles some final instructions, He once again tells them what is about to happen to Him, "You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified." (Matthew 26:2) In the minds of the apostles they may not have been able to process this or they may wonder why Jesus would even want to go to Jerusalem if this were going to happen, nevertheless, what Jesus tells them, happens exactly as He said it would.

After the resurrection, Jesus appears to His apostles. John's gospel singles out the apostle Thomas and reveals why so many in the church today question whether or not what God says in His Word is for today? Does God really do today what He did through the early church? Is what God did in the early church to be expected in the church today? "Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." (John 20:24-25) Notice that the only way that Thomas was going to believe that Jesus rose from the dead was to see and touch Him. It did not matter to him that Jesus told him that it would happen and then reminded him again that it was about to happen and it did happen. The only way Thomas was going to believe the Words of Jesus was to physically see Him and touch Him.

Unbelief is one of the reasons why some many in the church today reject the fact that God and His Word (which are one) still do today what we see recorded in the New Testament. The power of God in the Body of Christ has not passed away with the apostles or in any dispensation. What most call faith today is no more that a mental assent to the Word of God. Mental assent acknowledges the truthfulness of God's Word, but never acts upon it. It's like standing outside of a bakery desiring to have some of the fresh baked goods but never going into the bakery to purchase or possess them. You see them, you smell them, you think just how great they will taste. Your brain acknowledges these things but you do not act upon the truthfulness that brain has made real through your senses. Just like Thomas, you can only believe God's Word based on sense knowledge, what your five senses can make real and never act on what God said. This is the kind of faith that every human has, but it is not the faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6)

John continues to record, "And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him,  "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." ( John 20:26-29) True Bible faith, the faith that please God, is to accept and act on God's Word regardless of the things in the natural. It is accepting and acting on God's Word only because God said and because He said, we do not need physical proof. This is the very way that one is saved. You accept Christ as Lord and Savior without physically seeing Him. It is the same principle across the board when it comes to everything else that God's Word says. We do not need physical proof, what God said is proof enough!

Although John's gospel singles out Thomas, Mark's gospel reveals another issue that keeps most in the church today in bondage to these erroneous teachings that what God did in the ministry of Jesus and the early church passed away with the apostles because we have the Bible and do not need these things today. Mark records, "Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen." (Mark 16:14) Notice that not one of the apostles believed what Jesus told them concerning what would happen to Him in Jerusalem.

We saw in the life of Thomas that unbelief was why he would not believe the Lord's Word. Here in Mark's gospel not only is unbelief a problem but the other reason why so many in the church today do not believe and act upon God's Word is due to hardness of heart. Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21) and "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." (Mark 7:21-23) To defile means to debase the pureness or excellence of something. A hard heart lowers the character, quality, and value of God's Word. Unbelief is the culprit behind a hard heart.

Now that the reasons why so many in the church today doubt the integrity of God's Word has been exposed, my prayer is that you no longer let the doctrines of man sway you from truly believing that God's Word is God speaking, now. God and His Word are one! The Word is the will of the Father, just as Jesus, the Word made flesh was the will of the Father. What God says, is. What God says, will become. If He did not want it to be so, He would not have said it, He would not have sent it. The Word is always now, it is a present tense fact because God is always now. Amen... 

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Same Forever

One of the greatest hindrances that most people struggle with in the church today is believing whether or not what God says in His Word is for today. Does God really do today what He did through the early church? Is what God did in the early church to be expected in the church today? Well, I want to start by answering YES to both of these questions. How do we know this to be true? Through His Word. Here are some passages of scripture that we must consider...

  • Psalms 89:34 No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said. 
  • Psalms 119:89 Forever, O LORD, your word stands firm in heaven.
  • Psalms 138:2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I will give thanks to your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness, because your Word is backed by all the honor of your name
  • Isaiah 55:11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
  • Jeremiah 1:12 Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word."
  • Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I do not change...
  • Romans 4:17 Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who brings into existence what didn't exist before.
  • Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful…
  • Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds came into being, and still exist, by the Word of God.
  • Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever…
All of the above passages show us something very specific concerning God and His Word. Time does not change Him or His Word! The only thing that we can remotely consider changing for a lack of better words is that God spoke His Word in a progression of revelation to man. In other word, He revealed His will, character, nature, purposes and plan in a progressive manner. This does not change His Word, it is only the manner in which God chose to reveal Himself to man. We also see this in His Word, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Hebrews 1:1-3) 

God revealed His will, character, nature, purposes and plan in a progressive manner.though the Old Testament, but now has revealed Himself in full revelation through Jesus Christ. Keeping in mind the above passages, let's look deeper as to what this means. To do this we will consider the following passages of scripture...
  • John 5:19-21 Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.
  • John 6:38-39 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
  • John 8:28-29 Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.
  • John 10:37-38 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.
  • John 12:49-50 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."
We can clearly see in these passages that Jesus only said and did the will of the Father. He even gets a little more personal as He reveals the unique and special relationship that He has with the Father, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him. Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us. Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves." (John 14:7-11)

The Bible clearly shows us that God and His Word does not change. We also see that Jesus perfectly reveals the Father's will, character, nature, purposes and plan through everything that He says and does. If we read the gospels, we will also find that there is absolutely no evidence that Jesus ever said that what He was doing and saying would ever come to an end or that it would only be for a specific dispensation. On the contrary Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." (Luke 21:33) Another thing that we can see revealed in scripture is...
  • 1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
  • John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
  • John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 
  • John 10:30 I and My Father are one.   
With all we have seen through God's Word, we can clearly see that the living Word became flesh. His name is Jesus. The Word is God speaking. God and His Word are one. The Word is the will of the Father, just as Jesus, the Word made flesh was the will of the Father. What God says, is. What God says, will become. If He did not want it to be so, He would not have said it nor would He have sent it. The Word is always now, it is a present tense fact because God is always now. Let us simply apply our faith to His Word and watch it accomplish what is was sent to do. Amen...

Monday, September 13, 2021

Believers Are Giants

When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt by the mighty hand of God their faith in God became the biggest issue that they faced. After seeing God's hand of protection while Egypt struggled under the plagues we see something in the scriptures that reveal God's true nature even before Israel began their journey to the Promised Land. First, we see God provision and favor on His people, "Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold. And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians." (Exodus 11:2-3) Next, we see God's desire and power to heal, "He also brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes." (Psalm 105:37) 

Take a moment to think about these things. Israel spent 430 years in Egypt (Exodus 12:40-41) were oppressed for 400 years (Acts 7:6) at the hand of Egyptians taskmasters (Exodus 1:11-14). Yet when they departed Egypt they left with the silver and gold of the Egyptians and not one person was lacking in physical or mental strength; none were frail or weak in any way. In brief, during their journey to the Promised Land, God leads them, protects them and preserved them from hunger and thirst, yet their faith or trust in God was little at best. The apostle Paul tells us that during their journey, Israel lusted after evil, some became idolaters, some committed sexual immorality, some tempted Christ and some murmured against God. Paul also tells us that these things should be examples that believers should not follow. (1 Corinthians 10:6-11)

There is one particular account of Israel's travels in the wilderness that I want to focus on. It deals with the twelve spies that were sent to spy out the land. Numbers 13 tells us that after 40 days of spying out the land they returned to the camp to give their report. (Numbers 13:25-26) At first, the spies report sounded exciting, "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit." (Numbers 13:27) This was the report that came from God even before Israel's deliverance from bondage in Egypt. (Exodus 3:8) However, ten of the spies rejected God's report and gave a report based solely upon what their senses understood rejecting God's Word, what He had said, "Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan." (Numbers 13:28-29) "...We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (Numbers 13:31-33)

The results of this bad report were the cries of doubt, fear and unbelief and the idea that being in bondage in Egypt or dying in the wilderness was a better alternative than believing that God was able to give them what He had promised. (Numbers 14:1-3) The sad thing concerning this entire account is that God's will for them was life and blessings not death and curses, (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) and in an unfortunate way, God permitted them to have what they asked for, "And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Say to them,'As I live,' says the LORD, 'just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you..." (Numbers 14:26-28) Finally, the ten spies that gave the bad report were the first to die, but two of the twelve spies who believed God, Joshua and Caleb, remained alive. (Numbers 14:36-38) Remember, the apostle Paul told us, all that Israel did in the wilderness were examples so that believers do not repeat their mistakes, more importantly, that believers do not live in fear, doubt and unbelief as Israel did.

What giants do you face that seem to be so ominous in the natural that have robbed your faith in such a way that you also give a bad report as the ten spies? I hear church leaders all to often give a bad report that somehow God Himself has brought a trial such as sickness, disease or some sort of trauma into their life or the life of someone in the congregation that they serve. There are several reasons why this happens. I believe the main reason was spoken by the prophet Hosea, "My people are destroyed because they don't know me..." (Hosea 4:6 TLB) John's gospel reveal an important key to knowing God, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also..." (John 14:7) "He who has seen Me has seen the Father..." (John 14:9) "God has in these last days spoken to us by His Son...who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person..." (Hebrews 1:2-3)

Jesus is God in the flesh. Everything He did or said is an exact representation of the Father's will, nature, character, purposes and plan. (Hebrews 1:1-4) There is not one time revealed in the ministry of Jesus shown in the Gospels that He ever brought a trial such as sickness, disease or some sort of trauma into the life of anyone. As a matter of fact He did the exact opposite, because He was doing the Father's will, "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 proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." and "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." (Acts 10:38) If you look deep enough into the scriptures you will see that God's Plan of Redemption began immediately after the fall of man (Genesis 3:15) and His redemptive plan was progressively revealed throughout the Old Testament until it was fulfilled through the meritorious work of Christ's death, resurrection and glorification.

If the Father's redemption of humanity began at the fall and was fulfilled in Christ and Christ did nothing but reveal the Father's will, nature, character, purposes and plan, how can anyone honestly believe that our heavenly Father would bring a trial upon one of His children especially in the form of sickness, disease or some sort of trauma? The fact is, trials are either brought on by the believer (James 1:13-18) or by the devil (Job 1:6-19, 2:7) not God! God however will permit these things happen because believers still have the freedom of choice plus the devil looks for opportunities to get place in the believers life although Paul warns us not to give him the opportunity (Ephesians 4:27) A trial is a place where the believer rises up as a giant in the land, believes and acts upon God's Word and in the name of Jesus stands victorious filled with joy. (James 1:2).

I myself have prayed the Word of God over a situation many times and believed for the answer only to see things grow worse. Did God do this? Certainly not! I know that I have an adversary that tries to oppose me and sway my faith. (Ephesians 6:12) However, I know that faith is not confessing and agreeing with the problem, but confessing and believing that God gave His Word and the blood of Jesus to overcome every circumstance no matter how large or small the circumstances may be. (Revelation 12:11) Sometimes our prayer may not see immediate results, but it certainly does not mean that God did not hear our prayer or that He has not sent the answer, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15)

The question comes down to, where is our confidence, in ourselves, in the problem, in others or what God said? Are we doing what Jude exhorts us to do, "...I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend (to strive for the mastery) earnestly for the faith..." (Jude 3) You see these things come down to an individuals faith. Have you contended earnestly for the faith, that is believed God's Word without contradiction, without question? Honestly, sometimes what we have asked of God comes immediately but sometimes it doesn't. When it does not manifest immediately, you must continue thanking and praising God for the answer even though it has not manifested. When we thank Him we are acting in faith, believing that His Word is true and that we have what He has promised even though we have no tangible evidence, "Abraham not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." (Romans 4:19-22) We are acting like Abraham.

What I am revealing is true faith as the scriptures teaches. We are to believe God's Word even when there is not one shred of evidence in the natural. We believe because God said! This is what makes a believer a giant in the land. This is what makes a believer refuse sickness or disease to ravage their body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is what separates Christianity from every other religion on earth, we believe and act upon God's Word period! "And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed and therefore I spoke, we also believe and therefore speak." ( 2 Corinthians 4:13) I want to encourage you that no matter how long you have been struggling with the issues that try our faith in this life, simply go to the scriptures. For in them you will find the solution to every problem. Then do as the apostle Paul said, "I believed and therefore I spoke, we also believe and therefore speak." So speak to that mountain. (Mark 11:23) Call those things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). Then begin to thank the Lord that He has not only heard your prayer but has answered it even if you do not see the evidence immediately. Let's do as Abraham. Do not consider the natural although it is real, but "give glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." Amen...            

Monday, September 6, 2021

Laboring Together in Love

According to the United States Department of Labor, Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. From a life perspective, Labor Day for most means, summer vacation is over, students return to school, college and universities to begin a new year of learning, which labels Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer.

In a similar way, believers are called also too celebrate Labor Day but for more than one day a year. The Apostle Paul tells us, "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves." (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) Who they were is not mentioned. However, it is evident that the church was not left without appointed persons to equip the saints for the work of ministry. We know that there were elders ordained over the church at Ephesus, and over the churches in Crete (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5), and that there were bishops and deacons at Philippi (Philemon 1:1), and here, "who are over you in the Lord" would lead us to believe that similar leaders would have been appointed in every newly organized church. 

In the King James Version of the Bible the phrase "recognize those who labor among you" is "know them which labor among you." This gives the idea of not only church leaders, but also those who labor as coordinators or head over ministries, those active in ministry, as well as elders, bishops and deacons. The word “know” carries with it the idea that the believers in the local church were not to make themselves strangers toward those who labor in ministry or to be ignorant of their needs. They should also seek to be personally acquainted with them and trust them concerning their own personal life as well as spiritual matters.  

"And admonish you" means, to put in mind; and then to warn, entreat, exhort. It is a part of the duty of church leaders to put the people in whom they serve and lead in mind of the truth; to warn them of danger; to exhort them to perform their duty; to admonish them if they go astray. As those who labor perform these duties, believers are to respond by "esteeming them very highly in love." Church leaders who are faithful in their office and function, can expect high regard from the believers they lead and serve, not because they deserve it, per se, but because of their unwavering labors. The Apostle Paul tells Timothy something similar, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." (1 Timothy 5:17)

Paul tells, of these laborers, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) Here is a striking illustration of what church leaders are to do concerning the people they lead and serve. Church leaders are to labor over the people until Christ reigns wholly in their hearts. Church leaders who are truly called into the ministry will labor over the people they lead and serve not as a labor of struggle or because it is their "job," but as a labor of love. Paul tells us, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves." (Romans 15:1) The phrase "who are strong" means the strong “in faith” not limited to, but most likely church leaders who should not be novices, but be mature, strong in faith. They ought to bear; to lift up; to bear away; to remove; to bear with; to endure patiently, the weaknesses of the weaker believers. Church leaders should be willing to deny themselves to promote the happiness of others. 

So, this Labor Day let us be mindful, that as Christians, especially those called into the ministry, we are not to observe a day free of labor, but we are called to labor with one another in love, until Christ is formed in you. Happy Labor Days...    

Monday, August 30, 2021

Revelation Knowledge

Strength training is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles.Other benefits of strength training are, develop strong bones, control weight, boost stamina, manage chronic conditions and sharpen your focus. It is estimated that Americans spends around $2.6 BILLION! per year on gym memberships. Another type of strength training so to speak is developing the mind. According to statistics, the USA spend approximately $809.6 BILLION per year on education. There is nothing wrong with strengthening our body and our mind, but when the rubber meets the road, both of these areas are limited. How so? Well, if a portion of the body (an arm or a leg for example) does not function then the entire body suffers loss. In the same way, if one of the five senses does not function, then knowledge also becomes limited.

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Thessalonica writes, "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) We see that man is not only body and soul (mind, will, emotions and intellect) but he is spirit. Man was made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26) and God is Spirit (John 4:24). If man is indeed spirit with a soul in a body then a dilemma exists. The part of man that is most important and needs to be strengthened, the spirit, becomes the part that is most neglected. It's not that we haven't tried to develop the spirit. We had thought that the only way to do this was through religion or religious education. Interestingly enough, most Bible Colleges, Seminaries and Local Churches only teach knowledge and tend to fail at bringing students and or congregants to a place of understanding spiritual things.

The knowledge obtained tends to become the only thing that is important, but again it is limited. This is why the apostle Paul warns us, "Knowledge puffs up..." (1 Corinthians 8:1) Paul was explaining to the church that their knowledge of things had filled them with pride and self-sufficiency, which could lead them to stray from the truth. The knowledge that they had filled their minds with was sense knowledge. Knowledge that comes through ones senses. This is the type of knowledge is the type of knowledge that fills the mind of every person. However, the Bible does exhort the believer to grown in the knowledge of the Father and Jesus the Son. (Ephesians 1:17, 2 Peter 3:18) This type of knowledge only comes through revelation by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables the believer to use the wisdom of God to use knowledge wisely.

Jesus tells us, "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." (John 14:16-17) and "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." (John 16:13) Here Jesus tells us that the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit would come and take Jesus' place after He had fully completed His work of redemption. Unknown to most, the Holy Spirit does not communicate knowledge to the intellect, except in rare cases, but communicates with our spirit. Until we know this fact and act upon it, for most there will be no development of faith nor will we come into the knowledge of our rights and privileges as God's children.

We must also keep in mind that the spirit will never grow and be strengthened in the things of God until it receives eternal life through "confessing with the mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the heart that God raised Him from the dead." (Romans 10:9) By new birth, the Holy Spirit recreates our human spirit and imparts to us the Father's nature. With the Father's nature comes the Father's wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). This is the process by which the believer uses knowledge wisely. In fact, God imparts His entire nature within the believer (2 Peter 1:4). We may not have worked fully with the Holy Spirit in developing His nature in us, nevertheless it does exist within our recreated spirit. This is why it is so important for believers to grasp the fullness of redemption.

It takes faith to come to the place where our spirit become so developed that it dominates the soul and body. Once this happens I believe that the believer will walk in the same limitless life that Jesus walked in His ministry on earth as the Son of Man.    

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Real Person

In Paul's first letter to the church at Thessalonica he reveals an important piece of knowledge concerning the make up of man, "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). Modern psychologists do not understand this so they do not really know man. Their problem is they cannot get past the realm of the senses. We see that man is a spirit with a soul inside a body. We see this further carried out when we look back to the creation of man, "Then God said,"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..." (Genesis 1:26) Finally, we see what being created in the image and likeness of God actually mean, "God is Spirit..." (John 4:24) So, behind the sense ruled soul (mind, will, emotions and intellect) is the real person (man), who is spirit.

Most of the church for centuries has been unfamiliar with this fact. They have not understood the full depths of the new creation, that is, mans recreated spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God..." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) What an incredible fact! Just think if believers could learn to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit in their recreated spirit and keep intimate fellowship with the Father, there would be no limitation to where we could go in spiritual things, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us..." (Ephesians 3:20)

The Holy Spirit was given to believers to guide us into all truth or reality, "when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth..." (John 16:13) However, the Holy Spirit has a difficult job at best trying to lead believers who live by their reasoning faculties. Therefore, truth seems to allude them and they tend to never move beyond the regeneration experience. Peter refers to the recreated spirit as, "...the hidden man of the heart." (1 Peter 3:4) For many, this has a somewhat literal meaning in that the recreated spirit within the believe is concealed rather than seeing it as an open avenue to receive all of the inheritance that we have now through Jesus Christ,  "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ..." (Romans 8:16-17) and "Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." (Colossians 1:12)

The reality of the new creation, the recreated spirit of man was foretold through the prophet Ezekiel, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26-28) Notice the extremes that God said that He would do. He was not going spiritually heal man as some have been erroneously taught to believe. Nor was He going to fix-up or renovate man. No, He said, "I will put a new spirit within you; I will put My Spirit within you..." God said that He was going to give man a new spirit. He is going to make a new man out of him. This is the reality of the new creation.

What a wonderful promise that has come to pass on all who are in Christ. The new creation means that the old sin nature has been taken out and replaced with God's divine nature. Man is no longer called the "old man" but the "new man, created in the image of God in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:24) As a sinner, the old man could not approach God, but now through faith in Jesus Christ, God has performed a miracle. He has recreated man. The old man has stopped being and the new man has taken its place. The "hidden man of the heart" is now born by the very Spirit of God and has access to "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3) Now that we know these facts, we should see just how imperative it is to develop our recreated spirit by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. In doing so, believers will walk a daily victorious life knowing that "God always leads us in triumph in Christ..." (2 Corinthians 2:14)