High Water, Bridges, Concrete And A Witness

We have a long gravel driveway at our home, with a small wooden bridge about half way down the drive. Having been raised in a small rural town, I like the sound of tires on gravel and the rumble of the bridge decking when a car goes over.   The songbirds appreciate the very small gravel for their crops.

During the recent rainy weather, the high water eroded fill behind the retaining wall under the bridge, creating a void that, if left unattended could render the bridge inoperable. After moving our vehicles to the road side of the bridge, I consulted a former co-worker and a plan was formulated to plug the hole with two yards of concrete. I rented a concrete vibrator to insure the concrete filled all of the crevices we could not see. After the vendor loaded the vibrator in my truck, I gave the two gentlemen a gospel tract and encouraged them to read it.

Last Friday we made the repair as planned and judging from last night’s rain, it is working.  When I returned the concrete vibrator, one of the same gentlemen assisted me. When he gave me my proof-of-return slip, I asked him if he read the tract. He said it was in his truck and he would. I asked him if he was a Christian and he replied he was a Catholic. As it turned out, he had not been to church since he was a young child. I witnessed to him briefly about Jesus and encouraged him again to read the tract.

As I drove around the building to turn in the proof-of-return form, it dawned on me that this was a divine moment orchestrated by God for this man’s sake.  So I drove back around the building to the “Returns” area and gave him a Gospel of John and a different gospel tract.  Realizing what was happening,  I also took the opportunity to give a more in-depth witness about Jesus Christ. I closed by saying that we would pray for him.

As my wife and I drove back around the building again to leave I told her that evidently the bridge had to be damaged so we could witness to this man.

We always want to know “why”. Why this happened and why that happened. The lesson I took away from this small incident, is that God is concerned about people first, not bridges, concrete or high water. So whatever “crisis” is going on in Carl’s life, Carl needs to be redeeming the time by looking for opportunities to be a witness for Christ with the people the “crisis” brings into my path.  The crisis will ultimately be dealt with and solved but we may never have the opportunity again in our lifetime to witness to that person and everyone deserves a chance to believe in Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus came to seek and to save those that are lost.  Let us be doing His ministry.

Be a witness….everyday…… somehow.

“…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.   II Peter 3:18

Carl

Clear & Uncomplicated: Gladys Aylward

Her theology was the same, clear and uncomplicated. There was a living God, and she was His servant. There was a loathsome Creature called Satan, and she was his enemy. There was an immortal soul in every human being proceeding to an eternity in either Heaven or Hell.  Her job in life was to convince people that if they would but put their trust in Jesus Christ her Lord, who had died on the cross for them, they would get straight on the road to Heaven. And since Jesus Christ had come to life again, and had promised to be with those who trusted and obeyed Him, however beset with trials and temptations the road to Heaven might prove to be, they need fear nothing, for He would never let them down.”

The Transparent Woman – Phyllis Thompson in Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God – Noel Piper

The life story of Gladys Aylward  is well worth your time if you have not already read it.  In 1932, at the age of 31, she left London, England with no money to speak of and traveled across Europe and Russia all by herself to be a missionary in China, all because she knew that God had told her to go to China, even though the missionary society ruled that she was not qualified.  It would be seventeen years before she would see her family again.

What a beautiful quote about her theology. All the side issues have fallen away and her beliefs are distilled down to this clear and uncomplicated view of herself in God’s mighty work in the earth.

May she be an example to us. Thank you for your time.

Carl

Root of All Evil

IMG_0831

This tip jar is at a south Louisiana convenience store.  The clerk modified the scriptural message to fit her need. Some people were taking advantage of her offer.

This image reminds me of the apostle Paul’s instructions to Timothy in I Timothy 6:9-10:

“…but they that after giving the matter mature consideration desire to be wealthy, fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful cravings which are of such a nature as to drown men in destruction and perdition; for a root of all the evils is the fondness for money, which certain ones, bending their every effort to grasp, have been led astray from the Faith and have pierced themselves through with many consuming griefs.  (Wuest Expanded Translation – added emphasis)

May money have the proper place in our lives and not be an idol.

“Let your manner of life be without love of money, being satisfied with your present circumstances. For He himself has said, and the statement is on record, I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you.  I will not, I will not, I will not let you down.”  (Hebrew 13:5 Wuest Expanded Translation)

Bless be God The Father who has redeemed us out of the slave market of sin by the precious blood of Jesus His Holy Son and transferred us into His eternal kingdom in-Christ!

Keep yourself from idols.

Carl

Advice From George Mueller

We should always read and meditate over the Word of God with reference to ourselves and our own heart. This is deeply important, and I cannot press it too earnestly upon you. We are apt often to read the Word with reference to others. Parents read it in reference to their children, children for their parents; evangelists read it for their congregations, Sunday school teachers for their classes. Oh! This is a poor way of reading the Word; if read in this way, it will not profit. I say it deliberately and advisedly: the sooner it is given up, the better for your own souls. Read the Word of God always with reference to your own heart, and when you have received the blessing in your own heart, you will be able to communicate it to others.
Whether you labor as evangelists, as pastors, or as visitors, superintendents of Sunday schools, teachers, tract distributors, or in whatever other capacity you may seek to labor for the Lord, be careful to let the reading of the Word be with distinct reference to your own heart. Ask yourselves, “How does this suit me, either for instruction, for correction, for exhortation, or for rebuke (2Ti 3:16)? How does this affect me?” If you thus read and get the blessing in your own soul, how soon it will flow out to others!
–George Müller

George Mueller (1805-1898) founded Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England where 10,024 orphans were cared for during his lifetime. He also founded 117 schools where more than 120,000 children received a Christian education. He did all of this without letting the financial needs be known to anyone except God. He met all his needs.

Regarding his quote, remember that pride always sees the faults of others. Therefore, when Carl is walking in pride, the truth seen in the reading of the Word or the preaching of the Word can easily be applied to someone else. And I miss out on what God wants to do in my own life. Not good!

Carl will be better off if he humbles himself and submits himself to God and His Word. Then I am open to receive what truth the Lord is trying to show me in His Word.

Let us receive Brother Muller’s instructions.

May His sanctifying grace and tranquilizing peace be upon you.

Carl

“Throw A Little Sugar On It.”

I once hired the grandson of a local evangelist to work in the department I managed. I was a new Christian and enjoyed the tales about his grandfather’s ministry.  Later I had an opportunity to visit with the retired evangelist and hear more stories. One was about a revival where he was preaching hard about sin and the need for people to get right with God. Suddenly, one of the evangelist’s friends begins to shout out, “Throw a little sugar on it. Throw a little sugar on it.” In other words, lighten up and give the saints some encouragement.

I share this because we have been studying the Book of Jude and false teachers, for some time. Not necessarily the lightest or most positive subject matter. One of my friends who reads the blog once told me, “It is not light reading.” Therefore, I thought we would “throw a little sugar on it” and post some lighter, interesting fare for awhile, before returning to Jude. Following is the first of such blogs. I pray you find it interesting and edifying.

SUMERIAN KING’S LIST AND NOAH’S FLOOD

The Sumerians are thought to be the earliest civilization along with Egypt and Indus Valley. Their kingdom, Sumer, was located in southern Iraq in the Tigris and Euphrates River valleys. They invented cuneiform writing. Cuneiform writing used clay tablets as the medium with wedged shaped “letters” pressed into the clay.

Around 1900, archeologists found the ancient library in the temple ruins of Nippur, an ancient Sumerian city. On a clay tablet, they found what has come to be known as The Sumerian King’s List. The interpretation of the tablet was first published in 1906.

Of interest to Christians, is the fact the clay tablet lists kings, duration of reign and where the official location of the kingship was BEFORE NOAH’S FLOOD and AFTER NOAH’S FLOOD. It uses the term “The Flood swept thereover.”

Thus, we have proof  from what is thought to be the most ancient of Mesopotamian civilizations, bearing witness to Noah’s Flood.  If you would like to read more about this archeological find, please click here.  You may want to scroll past the abstract to the introduction.

Do you believe in Noah’s Flood as recorded in Genesis?  The Lord Jesus did.

You can trust God’s word. May He richly bless you as you live for Him.

Carl

Payday for Jezebel

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.”   Jesus  Rev. 3:19 NASB

“…but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.” Hebrews 12: 10 NASB

Welcome back as we continue our study of the Book of Jude in the New Testament. We are reviewing what the Lord is doing in the Thyatira church (Rev. 2:18-29) which has been deceived by a false prophetess named Jezebel.  Our opening scriptures give us two reasons why the Lord  disciplines His children, first because He loves us and, secondly, because it makes us share in His holiness.  As we will see, He is going to discipline His mislead bond-servants in Thyatira. They needed to quickly repent of their involvement in immorality and idolatry.

Now we come to the false prophetess, Jezebel’s, payday. She is going to receive from the hand of the Lord what she has sowed.  He is going to protect His Bride from this ambassador of satan.

Notice first, though, the mercy of our Lord. Even in His wrath, He is merciful to this person:

” ‘And I gave her time to repent…’ ”  Lord Jesus, Rev 2:21

Unfortunately,

” ‘…and she does not want to repent of her immorality.’ ”  Lord Jesus, Rev 2:21

I believe this person was not a born again person who had been deceived, but was a false brethren who had “crept in unnoticed” as Jude warned.  I like to believe that if she had been indwelled by the Holy Spirit, she would have repented.

Because she would not repent, wrath has come. Lord Jesus said:

” ‘ Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence…”    Rev 2:22-23

Her sin of immorality was carried out in a bed and there, she would experience judgement, “great tribulation”.  As far as “killing her children with pestilence”, all the commentaries I reviewed said these were her followers. Just as Timothy and Onesimus are described as Paul’s children in the faith, she had “children” in her idolatrous faith.  Some thought “death” referred to the “second death” at the great white throne judgment where people are cast in the lake of fire.  But if pestilence is the correct word, that speaks of death associated with earthly disease.  Since the believers that had been misled by her, were technically her “children” also, it must have applied to them also, IF THEY DID NOT REPENT.

The phrase, “…and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation…”, includes the Lord’s misled bond-servants. “Adultery” speaks of the spiritual adultery like the nation of Israel committed by going after other gods.  Of course, it may speak of physical adultery also.

Here are Christians who are participating in immorality and idolatry. And they are about to experience “great tribulation unless they repent of her deeds.”  They needed to quickly “change their mind” resulting in righteous behavior or suffer the wrath of God.

Paul has warned us in Ephesians 5:5-6

“For this know with certainty, that no immoral, or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers  with them. (Emphasis mine)

Paul says almost the exact same thing in Colossians 3:5-6.  Notice also the following statement that Moses made to the children of Israel concerning the dangers of going after other gods:

“And it shall come about that as the Lord delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the Lord will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you shall be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it.”  Deuteronomy 28: 63

Moses was warning Israel that this is what would happen to them if they went after other gods and forsook their Savior.  This is what we see happening in Thyatira to the misled New Testament believers, if they do not repent.  As Paul said in I Cor. 10:20 they were sharing in demons, by eating food sacrificed to demons (an idol) and participating in fornication, adultery, and other sexual vices. And the Lord hated it. And He still hates it today.

Dear Reader, as Paul exhorted us, do not let anyone deceive you with “empty words”.  There are many “empty words” being spoken today by people who claim to be believers.   Paul told Timothy to watch out for those who did not advocate “sound words”, which are “those of the Lord Jesus Christ and with the doctrine conforming to godliness” (I Timothy 6:3) So called “spiritual truths” that do not conform the saints to Christ likeness are “empty words”.

The Lord Jesus said all the churches would realize the following when they heard what He said and did in the Thyatira church situation.  You and I are to realize this.

” ‘ …and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” Lord Jesus, Rev.2:23

May the eyes of our heart be open and illuminated by His Holy Spirit concerning what is hidden in our hearts and minds!  Thank you for your time.

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.  Apostle John, I John 5:21

Carl

Provoking The Lord To Jealousy

“…But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” (Rev. 2:20 KJV)

In the last two posts we have looked at ancient society and idol worship. Now we want to discuss Jezebel, the false prophetess.

Like Balaam and the Nicolaitans, she was responsible for seducing the people of God to participate in the idolatrous feasts of pagans and to participate in immorality.

Two blogs back we looked at the importance of the pagan sacrifices in ancient cultures. Not only were they important in a religious and civil sense but also socially. The early Christian’s daily life was spent in the midst of a society saturated in idol worship and immorality. This is why Paul said to the Corinthian Christians:

“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a SHARING in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a SHARING in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices SHARERS in the altar? What do we mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want you to become SHARERS IN DEMONS. You CANNOT drink the cup of the Lord and the CUP OF DEMONS; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the TABLE OF DEMONS. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?”

(I Corinthians 10: 14 – 22 emphasis mine)

If the Old Testament children of Israel, who did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, provoked the Lord to jealousy with idols; HOW MUCH MORE the New Testament believers who have the indwelling Holy Spirit in them and are becoming sharers in demons by eating the sacrifices to these demons. This is why James 4: 5 says

“Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealousy desires the Spirit which He made to dwell in us?””

As we will see, Jezebel, and these New Testament Christians who followed her, DID provoke the Lord to jealousy. What was written in Deuteronomy, still applies to us and the bond servants in Thyratira:

“They made Him jealous with strange gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New gods who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread.” (Deut. 32: 16-17)

And in another place it says:

“They have made Me jealous with what is not God. They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. (Deut. 32: 21a)

Paul warned us in I Corinthians 10: 11 that:

“Now these things” [what happened in the Old Testament] “happened to them” [the Old Testament children of God] “as an example” [to New Testament believers] “and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (Emphasis mine)

In other words, we, the New Testament Christians, like the children of Israel, can provoke the Lord to jealousy and anger by getting involved with idols, gods of other religions, or other abominations; such as witchcraft, divination, sorcery, spells, mediums, spiritist, necromancy (Deut. 18: 10-14), astrology and other evil practices. Paul instructed us to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. John told us to keep ourselves from idols and there are still plenty of idols around today. For example, do you know that a

“…covetous man, ….is an idolater…..’ (Ephesians 5:5)

Mammon or worldly riches is the idol of today’s covetous man and he is bowing down to and sacrificing his life to mammon. Jesus said you can not serve Him and mammon!

Also listen to what Samuel told Saul when Saul failed to obey the Lord’s command to exterminate the Amalekites:

“For rebellion is as the sin of divination” [or witchcraft] “and insubordination is as iniquity and IDOLATRY.” (I Samuel 15:23 addition and emphasis mine)

In the Lord’s eyes many things are idolatry, not just worshipping an idol in a pagan temple.

Jude said in verse 21:

“..keep yourselves in the love of God…”

The Lord Jesus said

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. (John 15: 9-10)

When we came to Christ we had to repent or change our mind and behavior toward sin. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, He spread the love of God in our hearts and gave us wonderful promises that, by renewing our mind, we can escape the corruption that is in the world through lust and order our daily behavior to imitate Christ. This is Truth but we throw a wrench in the gears of these Truths by not maintaining our initial repentance or turning away from sin.

Dear Reader, let us press on in imitating Christ by keeping His commandments, walking in agape love toward our fellow Christians and all men. Pay close attention to yourself. The deceitfulness of sin makes you believe that the sinful act will bring you true happiness. Our true joy, happiness and fulfillment lies only in our relationship with the Lord Jesus. Your life is hid in His.

Don’t let the deceitfulness of sin lull you to sleep and you awake to find yourself in darkness enslaved to practices that are an abomination to the Savior. Do not provoke Him to jealously. Repent if you need to and get up from defeat and go on in overcoming victory in the power of His Spirit. May God richly bless our obedience!

Carl

Christ verses Ancient Idol Worship

In light of what we shared on idol sacrifices in ancient societies, I thought we should show the influence Christianity had on the Gentile pagans that were offering these sacrifices.

Our source for this information is Pliny, The Younger. He was the Roman governor from 111-113 AD in Pontus and Bithynia. Both of these areas are north of the seven Revelation churches in what is modern day Turkey. We will quote from his correspondence with Emperor Trajan concerning Christian persecution.

“I therefore postponed the investigation and hastened to consult you. For the matter seemed to me to warrant consulting you, especially because of the number involved. For many persons of every age, every rank, and also of both sexes are and will be endangered. For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and farms. But it seems possible to check and cure it. It is certainly quite clear that THE TEMPLES, WHICH HAD BEEN ALMOST DESERTED, have begun to be frequented, that the established religious rites, LONG NEGLECTED, are being resumed, and that from everywhere sacrificial animals are coming, for which until now VERY FEW PURCHASERS could be found. Hence it is easy to imagine what a multitude of people can be reformed if an opportunity for repentance is afforded.” (Emphasis mine)

As you can read, so many people had accepted the Lord as their Savior, the pagan temples were almost deserted and revenue from the purchase of animals for pagan sacrifices was way off. Idol worship was no match for the power of the Gospel. It is only when the government starts killing the Christians that some deny Him. Let me share part of what preceeds the above quote. After telling Trajan how he had dealt with the Christians up to that time, he says the following:

Soon accusations spread, as usually happens, because of the proceedings going on, and several incidents occurred. An anonymous document was published containing the names of many persons. Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ–none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do–these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.

They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food–but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive superstition.

God has blessed our brothers and sisters who did not deny Him in the face of death. They are with Him. Pliny on the other hand, if never came to Christ, has spent the last 1900 plus years in the place of torment. I wonder what he thinks of Christ now?

In closing, we heard Pliny’s testimony that so many people believed the gospel that hardly anyone was going to the temples. Such is the power of the Gospel!

Through Roman government eyes we can see how Christians were viewed and, in times of persecution, were murdered. The persecution usually stopped for a while when an emperor died and a new one assumed office or for some other reason. It was during these times after persecution that the church had to decide on what to do with all the people who denied Christ and now wanted to come back to the church. It was a big dilemma for the church leaders who, if they survived the persecution, normally bore the scars of persecution.

Paul shared this saying with Timothy and I think it deserves our reflection:

“It is a trustworthy statement:

For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;

If we endure, we shall also reign with Him;

If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.” (II Tim 2:11-13 NASB)

May you and I be faithful unto death, whether due to old age or persecution for Christ’s sake.

Carl

Ancient Society and Idol Sacrifices

“…so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” (Rev. 2:20)

Jude warned about the grace of god being turned into licentiousness or wantonness (Wuest). The fruit of this is what the opening verse is talking about. To understand what this meant to a first century Gentile Christian, we need to understand sacrifices in ancient societies.

“The eating of idol meats, which was not a temptation to the Jewish Christian, was quite otherwise to the Gentile. The act of sacrifice, among all ancient nations, was a social no less than a religious act. Commonly only a part of the victim was consumed as an offering, and the rest became the portion of the priests, was given to the poor, or was sold again in the markets. Hence sacrifice and feasts were identified. Thucydides enumerates sacrifices among popular entertainments. “We have not forgotten,” he says, “to provide for our weary spirits many relaxations from toil. We have regular games and sacrifices throughout the year” (II., 38). So Aristotle: “And some fellowships seem to be for the sake of pleasure; those of the followers of Love, and those of club-diners; for these are for the sake of sacrifice and social intercourse” (“Ethics”, viii.,9,5).

AFTER CONVERSION, what did this mean for the Gentile believer? We see the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) forbidding the eating of meat offered to idols, not because of the Mosaic law, but due to the possibility of occasioning of sin to weak Christians. In Corinthians, Paul teaches the same thing and for the same reason:

“…he dissuades from it on the ground of its dangerous consequences to weak consciences, and as involving a formal recognition of the false worship which they had RENOUNCED AT THEIR BAPTISM.” (Vincent)

Vincent describes the effect of this on the believer:

“Thus, for the Gentile, “refusal to partake of the idol-meats involved absence from public and private festivity, a withdrawal, in great part, from the social life of his time.””

Now you can imagine the hard feelings that were created when new believers had to tell their still pagan friends that they could not party with them after the sacrifice. Plus, Thyratira and Ephesus both were cities with temples to Roman emperors and Goddess Roma, the personification of Rome. Not worshipping the emperors was perceived as not being loyal to the ruling government.

To sum this up, Vincent compares the believers in Asia Minor with those in Corinth:

“Christians and heathen were no longer dwelling together [in Asia minor], as at Corinth, with comparatively slight interruption in their social intercourse, but were divided by a sharp line of demarcation. The eating of things sacrificed to idols was more and more a crucial test, involving a cowardly shrinking from the open confession of a Christian’s faith. Disciples who sat at meat in the idol’s temple were making merry with those whose hands were red with the blood of their fellow-worshippers, and whose lips had uttered blaspheming scoffs against the Holy Name (Plumptre).” (Emphasis mine)

“In times of persecution, tasting the wine of the libations or eating meat offered to idols, was understood to signify recantation of Christianity.”

One possible explanation for the “line of demarcation” Vincent refers to was the martyrdom of Antipas (Rev 2:13) who, tradition says, the apostle John appointed overseer of the Pergamum church. Before John wrote Revelation, Antipas was killed on a pagan altar in Pergamum. The seven churches are all in the same area in what we know as Turkey; therefore, the other six churches would of been aware of this murder and other martyrs. The letter to the Smyrna church also has reference to on-going persecution at this time.

In closing, this discussion has made me realize what our brother and sisters were up against in the early church. There was an immediate cost to saying “Jesus is Lord”.

With the resurgence of paganism in our day, a lot of these old demonic gods are being worshipped again.

Thank you for your time. I hope you are staying free from the flu. God bless!

Carl

The Lord’s Bond-Servants

“…she teaches and leads my bond-servants astray… (Rev.2:20)

We are continuing our study of the Book of Jude by looking at examples of false teachers in the Book of Revelation. In our last post we discussed the false prophetess Jezebel, whom the Lord identified in the Thyratira church. She was teaching and seducing the Lord’s bond-servants with the result that there was a fundamental departure from the truth.

Notice the Lord Jesus calls His followers “bond-servants” which is the Greek word doulos. It is translated servant, bond-servant or slave. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament explains the term as follows:

“Paul applies the term to himself…and frequently to express the relation of believers to Christ. The word involves the ideal of belonging to a master and of service as a slave. The former [Master] is emphasized in Paul’s use of the term, since Christian service, in his view, has no element of servility, but is the expression of love and of free choice. From this standpoint, the idea of service coheres with those of freedom and of sonship.”

“On the other hand, believers belong to Christ by purchase (I Peter 1:18) and own Him as absolute Master.”

Wuest’s Word Studies From The Greek New Testament draws out the following points from doulos:

“Thus the word in Romans refers to one who is bound to another, a slave. There are two words in Greek referring to a person in slavery. One speaks of a slave taken in war. The other refers to a person born into slavery. The latter is the one used in Romans. It presents the slave in various aspects.”

  • “He is one bound to his master.”
  • “… is in a permanent relationship to his master which only death can break.”
  • “…is one born into slavery.”
  • “…one whose will is swallowed up in the will of another.”
  • “…is devoted to the interests of his master to the extent that he disregards his own interests.”

“Bond-servant of Jesus Christ” was Paul’s favorite designation for himself . As American’s, we do not think of being slaves or having a Master. Home of the brave and land of the free. But we do have a Master and, as Christians, we are his bond-servants. Let us serve Him.

In closing, I am reminded of Luke 17: 1-10 where the Lord is teaching on forgiveness and, upon hearing the Lord’s instructions about forgiving multiple times, the disciples say to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”. The Lord replies with a story about a master and slave. At the conclusion of the story, the Lord Jesus tells them:

“So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, “We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.”

Forgiveness was not a matter of “more faith” but of just “obeying” what the Master had commanded.

The question for me in 2018 is: is Jesus really Lord of my life? Is He the Master? Am I His bond-servant? If we say yes, then we should have the fruit of obedience to prove it. Let us start where we are today spiritually and grow in obedience. Paul exhorts us to “Work out your own salvation” which means to bring our salvation to it’s ultimate conclusion. The ultimate conclusion is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Phil.2:12 & Romans 8:29).

What a blessing to be the bond-servant of the Most High God! Thank you for your time.

Carl

Jezebel

” The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this…” (Rev. 2:18 NASB)

In this scripture, the Lord is telling the apostle John what to write to the Thyatira messenger. He emphasizes two personal characteristics regarding his eyes and feet. Vincent says regarding the “eyes like a flame of fire”:

“Fire, in scripture, is the expression of divine anger. The figure may include the thought of the clear and penetrating insight of the Son of Man; but it also expresses His indignation at the sin which His divine insight detects.”

The Moody Bible Commentary says the following about “His feet are like burnished bronze”:

“His bronze feet were ready to trample His enemies should they not be devoured by the sword in His mouth.” (Isaiah 11:4 says about The Lord Jesus, “…He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.”)

Dear Reader, what an awesome and Holy God we serve. Jude exhorts the believers in Jude 21 to “keep yourselves in the love of God..”. Pay close attention to yourself and never be found involved in anything that is an abomination to your God. Instead,

“…let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12: 28-29 NASB).

After He commends the church messenger on several items, He tells him:

” ‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eats things sacrificed to idols. (Rev. 2:20 NASB).

I have read that Benjamin Franklin was a Deist. A Deist believes in a Creator who, after creating, does not interfere in His Creation. Mr. Franklin must have never read the seven letters in Revelation. Here we see the Lord being intimately involved in the lives of His people. He is correcting the messenger in Thyatira for tolerating a woman in the church who said she was a prophetess but was not. She had turned the grace of God into licentiousness in some of the unsuspecting. This is exactly what Jude and Paul were warning the churches about.

The Lord uses the name “Jezebel” to identify the woman. It is not known if this is just a symbolic name or her actual name. If it is symbolic, it is referring to the notorious OT Jezebel (I Kings 16:31). She was the daughter of pagan King Ethbaal of Sidon and with her marriage to King Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel, Israel’s apostasy became more decided and deadly. She attempted to kill all the prophets of God. She was a priestess of Astarte (or Ashtaroth) and also worshipped Baal the Sun-god. She built a large temple to both in Israel. One had 400 priest to Astarte and the other had 450 priest to Baal. Even Israel’s King Ahab offered sacrifices in person at these temples. In the end she was killed by being thrown out an upstairs window and dogs consumed her corpse. (Vincent)

We will have to wait until heaven to find out if her name was symbolic or was her actual name. Either way, by using the name, I believe He was telling the church she was not born again but a worshipper of a pagan deity. Eusebius’ early church history tells us that Simon the Magician (Acts 8:9) faked his conversion recorded in Acts and was a false Christian who seduced God’s bond-servants. Many years ago, I had a former high school friend tell me that the only reason he had attended a certain church was to seduce the young ladies there. He and I had walked the aisle to receive Jesus at the same time when we were pre-teens. Paul had talked about being in peril from false brethren. Dear Reader, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Through the woman’s false spiritual gift, she “…teaches and leads my bond- servants astray…”. In the Greek, what she was teaching lead to a fundamental departure from the truth (Vincent). This is the changing of the grace of God into licentiousness that Jude warned about. In Roman 1:1 Paul calls himself a bond-servant; therefore, we know these are born-again people. The deception she spread caused these people to believe it was okay to “commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols”.

We will discuss these two acts in our next post. Hopefully we have a renewed vision of our Lord and an appreciation for the need to be vigilant in our Christian walk. Thank you for your time.

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (I John 5:21)

Carl

Lord Jesus Deals With False Teachers

“But I have this against you…” Jesus (Rev. 2:20)

Welcome back in 2018! I hope you had a wonderful celebration of the Lord’s birth and a safe and happy New Years celebration. May you bear much fruit for the Lord in 2018; thereby, glorifying the Father.

We will now return to our study of the book of Jude. Before Christmas we had concluded our study of Jude’s description of false teachers. Now, we will look at our Lord’s reaction to these false teachers.

In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John records how the Lord Jesus appears to him and, among other things, gives him a message for seven churches in Asia Minor.

In the letter to the “angel” or messenger (pastor or elders) of the Thyatira church, the Lord Jesus identifies a false teacher tolerated by the church:

” ‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.'” Rev. 2: 20-23 NASB

In the letter to the Pergamum church, He identifies those who hold to false teaching:

” ‘But I have a few things against you, because you have there, some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality. Thus you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth.’ “. Rev. 2: 14-16 NASB

In the letter to the Ephesus church, He commends them because:

” ‘ …you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false. (2: 2) Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.’ ” (2:6 NASB)

In the letter to the Sardis church, sin had made such inroads into the church that He tells them

“…I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up…If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.” (3: 1-3 NASB)

Paul says we were “dead” in our trespasses and sin before we were born again. I think this describes how far Sardis had backsliden in their Christian walk. If you looked at their deeds, they evidently were like the deeds of those who had no reverential awe of God, the ungodly. He tells them to “Wake up…”.

In the letter to the Laodicea church, they had reached such a state of deception, that He told them:

” ‘ I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because year are lukewarm and neither hot or cold, I will spit you out of my mouth…(v 3: 15-16) Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent’ “. (3:19 NASB)

So we see that five of the seven churches had false teachers, had people in their congregation who believed false doctrine or were in a corrupt state brought on by error. We also know that Peter, John, and Paul warned about these false teachers that were deceiving the early church. Today, you only have to read your Bible and look at Christendom to realize that the false teachers are still hear today.

The next post will expand on the Lord’s comments to Thyatira and how this corresponds to what Jude has warned us about. In the mean time,

“keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21).

Sanctifying grace and peace be upon you.

Carl

Hidden Reefs

“These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves;…  Jude 12

We continue our discussion of Jude’s false teachers:

7. Jude says these false teachers are deadly like hidden reefs in the sea that sink ships drowning the occupants. They are merchants of death while they partake of the Lord’s Supper with the unsuspecting children of God, giving the impression they are servants of God. Instead they are satan’s ambassadors bent on destroying the church of the living God.

They appear to have spiritual gifts but actually are like clouds without water, and autumn trees without fruit. They seemly offer something spiritual and good, but in reality do not have anything from the Lord.

8. “…and perished in the rebellion of Koran.” (Verse 11) – they reject the God given authority like Koran did Moses.

9. “…grumblers, finding fault,…” (verse 16) – they discontentedly complain about God but not in a loud, outspoken manner; instead in a muttering undertone lest they become obvious.

While visiting a church decades ago, as we were preparing to leave at the end of the service, an acquaintance took me by the arm and whispered in my ear, “Do these guys (the preacher and staff) really believe God is going to put all these people (lost sinners) in hell?” That was all he said and walked into the exiting crowd. I was shocked by the question and what it exposed about him. He had been deceived by a co-worker who was a false teacher who taught everyone gets to heaven in the end, even the devil.

This guy was a hidden reef, in rebellion like Koran, and a grumbler.

This concludes our discussion of the false teachers in Jude.  There are no doubt false teachers are in the visible church today. I hope this gives you some insight into what to watch out for in your and your descendants Christian experience.

Our next post will look at what the Risen Lord Jesus said and did about this.

May your love abound for the brethren and all men,

Carl

Woe to them!

“Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain,…” Jude 11

Thank you for joining us again as we continue our discussion on Jude’s false teachers.

5. “For they have gone the way of Cain,…” The false teachers’ beliefs on salvation were like Cain’s, the son of the first man, Adam. Like Cain, they were religious but did not believe in the blood atonement; therefore, these false teachers had to explain it away.  Let us be reminded that He, Jesus,

“…through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. ” Hebrew 9:12

6.”…and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam,..” (verse 11) – Balaam, a prophet, was enticed by a heathen king to curse Israel for a price. You may remember him as the person the donkey talked to. Though God did not allow him to curse Israel, Balaam was later responsible for Israel being seduced by Moabite women, leading to idolatry, which caused the wrath of God to come upon the nation and kill a good number of men. And he did it for his financial gain.

Like Balaam, these false teachers use their prophetical gifts for the purpose of self-aggrandizement, and endeavor to make their services attractive by EXCLUDING FROM RELIGION ALL THAT IS STRENUOUS AND DIFFICULT, AND OPENING THE DOOR TO EVERY KIND OF INDULGENCE.” (Wuest – emphasis mine)

A wise man once told me, if you want to know if Jesus is present in a church meeting, just watch and see who gets the glory, man or Jesus. False teachers like the glory.

Thank you for your precious time. We hope you have been built up spiritually through this study. Our next post will be last on the descriptions of the false teachers.

Blessings on You,

Carl

Flattery

“…they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage…” Jude 16b

Welcome back. We continue with Jude’s description of false teachers:

4. Though evidently these false teachers had not reached Rome yet, Paul issues a similar warning to the Roman disciples:

“Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Jesus Christ but of their own appetites; and by their SMOOTH AND FLATTERING SPEECH they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” (Romans 16:17-18 emphasis mine)

The false teachers, needing to gain the trust of Jesus’ unsuspecting bond servants, used flattery to entrap them.  A review of Proverb will show you how the enemy uses flattery to deceive people.

Along this same vein, Dear Reader, be very careful of those who try to make the gospel mysterious by talking about this mystery and that mystery, making themselves out to have some deep private revelation, drawing people to themselves instead of Jesus, and complicating the gospel with their great swelling words.

“But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your mind should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” 2Cor. 10:3 emphasis mine

Carl

Dreaming in Jude

“Yet in the same manner these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh,…” Jude 8

Welcome back as we continue our study of the false teachers in Jude:

3. Our opening scripture means they indulged in what we would call pornography.   “Dreaming” means metaphorically “to be beguiled with sensual images and carried away to an impious course of conduct” (Thayer). As a result they were defiling their physical bodies with acts of immorality.

The term “in the same manner” refers to verse 6 – 7 where Jude compares them to the fallen angels who left heaven and committed fornication with the wicked women of the earth (Genesis 6) and to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah who committed “gross immorality” (NASB) or “fornication” (KJV). God has the fallen angels in prison for their sin TODAY awaiting the final judgment and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah are still “undergoing the punishment of eternal fire” TODAY. Both are held up as an “example” which means “something held up to view as a warning” (Wuest). Jude holds both of these exhibits up to the brethren as a warning that God will not be mocked, He will not be “outwitted or evaded”. They are still a warning to us today.

These false teachers, while claiming to be God’s spokesman, were participating in fornication and adultery.  Not only them, but, as we will see,  the Lord’s bond servants they deceived.  Thank you for your precious time.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification, that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;…” (I Thess 4:3-5)

Carl

Jude’s False Teachers

“…ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4b)

Today we begin the first of several posts describing the false teachers in Jude:

1. They are “…ungodly persons…”  (asebes) – means they are “destitute of reverential awe toward God, impious”. In other words, there is no fear of God in them; therefore, they have no real knowledge (Proverb 1:7) and they do not keep away from evil (Proverb 16:6) but instead spread pernicious opinions and immorality.

As ungodly persons they are “following after their own ungodly lusts”, in other words their evil passionate cravings dominated them mentally and physically. They follow these impulses instead of being led by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.  They are also “worldly minded”, in other words they consider the world and the things of the world precious instead of forsaking them and having a renewed mind. (v 18-19)

2. They have apostatized – they do not follow the commands of God the Father or Lord Jesus. Jude compares them in verse 5 to those who God saved out of Egypt but had to be destroyed in the wilderness because they refused to obey Him and possess the promise land. The refusal to obey is apostasy.

See you next post when we will continue this subject. Thank you for your precious time.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:21

Carl

Jude’s Coming Judgement

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“And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgement upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”” Jude 14-15

(Today we begin the posting of shorter posts for the convenience of our readers. Please let us know if this works better for you. Thank you.)

In our opening scripture Jude is quoting a prophecy from the apocryphal Book of Enoch to show that these false teachers will be punished by God. This book  was known to the second century Church Fathers but was lost for centuries except for fragments until a full copy was found in an Ethiopic Bible in 1773. It consists of revelations purporting to have been given to Enoch and Noah.  Yes, the Noah that was on the Ark.

In the next post we will look at Jude’s description of the false teachers. Remember these people were in the midst of some early church fellowships and were able to lead some of God’s bond servants (aka Christians) into immorality and apostasy. If they could do that then, what does that say about today?

Thank you for your time. God bless you and yours!     Carl

 

Jude: A Serious Warning From Jesus’ Half Brother

Jesus family

“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude v4 NASB)

The Book of Jude in the Bible was written by the Lord Jesus’ half-brother Jude (Judas in the Greek), who is named among the Lord’s brethren in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. He is also the full brother of James, the head of the early Church in Jerusalem. Jude warns that certain people in the early church were perverting the grace of God. His message is needed today because the grace of God has been and continues to be perverted.

In verse 3, Jude says he set out to write about our common salvation, when the Holy Spirit burdened him to exhort true believers to earnestly contend for The Faith, once delivered to the saints. The term “faith” does not refer to individual faith, but to The Faith, Christianity itself, in its historic doctrines and life-giving salvation. There is only one Faith and another will not be given. Understanding this, highlights the serious danger these people presented.

In Part One, we will look at the two things the false teachers were deceitfully propagating.

In verse 4 he writes:

“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed….ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

  1. They turned the grace of God into licentiousness (NASB).

We first need to look at what the “grace of God” is to understand what the false teachers corrupted.

God called us in the sphere of grace. That is when He effectually summoned us to a participation in the salvation procured by His Son on the Cross. It was on a basis, not of works, but of a salvation unmerited by us and freely bestowed with no strings tied to it, offered as a free gift to be accepted by the outstretched hand of faith. God’s ultimate purpose in offering this grace is to conform a group of people to the derived image of His Dear Son, Jesus. God said this through Paul in Romans:

“And we know with absolute knowledge that those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to HIS PURPOSE. Because, those whom He foreordained He also marked out beforehand as those who were to be CONFORMED TO THE DERIVED IMAGE OF HIS SON, with the result that He is firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8: 28-30 Wuest ET Emphasis mine)

Wuest explains this beautifully:

“…in the process of sanctification, the saint is transformed in his inner heart life to resemble the Lord Jesus, which inner change results in a change of outward expression that reflects the beauty of the Lord Jesus. The word “image” is eikon, a derived likeness. The image of the Lord Jesus in the saint is not accidental but derived, as the likeness of a child is derived from its parents. Through the new birth we become children of Jesus Christ (Hebrew 2:13) and thus inherit his image. This image, indistinct in the new convert, becomes progressively clearer and distinct as that believer grows in the Christian life.”

By exercising our faith to receive this “grace of God” we become partakers of the promises of God (II Peter 1: 3-4); whereby, we can walk in agape love for our Father,  Christ Jesus and our neighbor (kingdom duties) which will mature us in agape love (I John 4) making the image of Jesus more distinct in us. Paul’s instructions to the Philippians talks about our “duties”:

“Only [since my only reason for remaining on earth is for your pioneer advance in the Christian life], see to it that you recognize YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS CITIZENS [OF HEAVEN] and put yourselves to the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PERFORMING THE DUTIES DEVOLVING UPON YOU IN THAT POSITION, doing this in a manner which weighs as much as the good news concerning the Christ… ” (Phil.1: 27 Wuest Emphasis Mine)

Therefore, I believe, the term “grace of God”, as used by Jude, is another way of saying The Faith or Christian system of belief (which is what Jude wants us to earnestly contend for) and all that it entails, including the change in our character/behavior, that results in this image of Jesus being developed.

In the place of His holy grace, these false teachers, through their deception, convinced some of the Lord’s bond servants that they could be their own lord and do what they wished including being immoral. Wuest says that the best English word to translate aselgeia (licentiousness) is wantonness” which is “being without check or limitation” and “the meaning of the word partakes of the spirit of anarchy….which refuses to acknowledge the authority of God’s Word, and itself sits in judgement upon it.” This brings us to the second point.

2. They denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In the original language of the NT, “deny” was “used of those who deny God and Christ, who by cherishing and disseminating pernicious opinions and immorality, are judged to have apostatized from The Father God and Christ (Thayer).” When someone is apostatized they have chosen to refuse to continue to follow or obey God’s commands. As redeemed people in God’s kingdom, we have to obey the authority of the Kingdom. The false teachers did just the opposite by leading those that they seduced in the visible church to do things directly opposite to what God The Father and the Lord Jesus commanded by His apostles. To them there was no need to seperate from the things of the world and sin, but instead they encouraged a “if it feels good, do it” attitude. Some scholars believe this may have been the forerunner of the Gnostics that believed that the spiritual was good and matter evil; therefore, what you did with the human body was not important; hence, immorality was rampant.

Therefore, in conclusion, God saved us for a purpose and it is our responsibility to be conformed to the image of Jesus in our inner being. The false teachers taught no restraints, no Father or Lord, no commandments, you could do what you wanted including immorality; thereby, changing the grace of God into wantonness or licentiousness. As we shall see, our Lord did not tolerate this. If this is not clear to you now, it will be abundantly clear as our study progresses.

Did they come into the early church and preach this openly? No, they did not because the leadership would have put them out immediately. As we look at the false teacher’s character in the next post, we will see how they manipulated Jesus’ bond servants.

Please join us as we continue our study. Thank you and let us thank Him for all the blessings He has blessed us with! Comments and questions welcome.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lust which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY.”” (I Peter 1: 15-16 NASB)

Carl

Need A Little Motivation In Your Christian Walk?

“But my heart stands in awe of Thy words. I rejoice at Thy word, as one who finds great spoil.” (Psalm 119: 161b-162)

We all need motivation sometimes. One of my son-in-laws and I have recently been discussing scripture memorization. Something I used to do a lot of but over the years had gotten away from.

I recently found the above scripture while studying I John 2:14 and thought it was the perfect motivation to restart scripture memorization.  If the psalmist could say this of the Old Testament, how should we, born again believers, feel about the New Testament’s

“…precious and exceedingly great promises…” that are given us “…in order that through these you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped by flight the corruption which is in the world in the sphere of passionate carvings.” (II Peter 1: 4 Wuest)

If need be, may these scriptures motivate you like it did me  to restart hiding the Word of Life in your heart. It is eternal and unchanging because He is eternal and unchanging. And you and I as born again believers are eternal! Think on that today.

Have a blessed day.

Carl