The Refiner’s Fire (Part 2)

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“And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.”

The question to answer today is: Who are the “sons of Levi” that the Lord is going to refine and purify in Malachi.
When the Lord Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, God, The Father, abrogated (formally ended) the temple sacrifices.  He did not accept or require them anymore. Jesus’ death on the cross settled the sin question once and for all.  God evidently also did away with the Levital priesthood and established another priesthood with the Lord Jesus as the High Priest (Hebrew 4:14).  I Peter 2:5  says “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.  All born again believers are members of a “holy priesthood”, not a defiled priesthood as in Malachi, and are believer-priests to God through Jesus Christ.  The spiritual house is the mystical Body of Christ that includes all born again believers on earth.
Therefore, I am of the opinion that we born again believers are the “sons of Levi” referred to in Malachi 3:3 since the refining and purifying takes place after the Lord comes to His temple suddenly and in 70 AD the Roman general Titus destroyed the temple including the sacrificial altar.
The purpose of this new priesthood is to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  Just as the Old Testament priests walked up the incline to the brazen altar and laid the animal sacrifice on the altar to be consumed by fire,  we New Testament believer-priests “offer up” our spiritual sacrifices upon the altar of our consecrated, dedicated heart.  The spiritual sacrifices are the activities of the human spirit energized by the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul throws light on this truth in Romans 12:1 when he says  “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  How do you make your human body a living and holy sacrifice?  Listen to what our brother Chrysostom (Archbishop of Constantinople – 349-407 AD) wrote:
“How can the body become a sacrifice? Let the eye look on no evil, and it is a sacrifice. Let the tongue utter nothing base, and it is an offering. Let the hand work no sin, and it is a holocaust.” (Holocaust is a sacrifice totally consumed by fire.) “But more, this suffices not, but besides we must actively exert ourselves for good; the hand gives alms, the mouth blessing them that curse us, the ear ever at leisure for listening to God.”

Another example of spiritual sacrifices is given in The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. He tells the true story of Russian pastor Dmitri who was imprisoned by the government for teaching  the Bible. For seventeen years he would rise every morning and offer a sacrifice of praise by singing his “HeartSong” to Jesus as the other inmates cursed and jeered at him. The next discipline that helped him to survive the isolation from the Body of Christ and torture was that whenever he found a scrap of paper, later in his cell with a stub of a pencil or a piece of charcoal he had saved, as tiny as possible, he would write every Bible verse,  scriptural story and song he could remember.  When finished he would put it on a damp pillar in his cell as a “praise offering to God”.  Of course, when discovered by the authorities, they would read it and beat him severely and threaten him with death.

In conclusion, I am of the opinion that the “sons of Levi” are us, the believer-priest. Secondly, we have looked at three examples of how we can offer sacrifices. One by obeying the commandments of God, another by doing good words (Ephesians 2:10) and another by praising or giving thanks to God (Hebrews 13: 15-16). The Body of Christ is now the holy priesthood. The actual “sons of Levi” as a functioning priest class,  do not exists anymore.  They had to be born again just like you and I (Acts 6: 7).  The believer-priest now  offer up spiritual sacrifices  on the altar of their dedicated heart.  May we today offer up spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God.  We can make the Creator of the universe smile.

The next post will discuss this refining process and the purpose of it.  Hope to see you then. Thank you for your time.

Lets Pay Close Attention To Ourselves For The Purpose of Holiness (I Timothy 4:16)

Carl

P.S. Pastor Dmitri was eventually released but not before the  prison population was singing his HeartSong in the morning with him. His witness had prevailed!

The Refiners Fire (Part 1)

Old smelter

 

And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.”  Malachi 3:3
Malachi is God’s  last recorded message to the nation of Israel until the New Testament period 400 years later. He  corrected the backsliden priests of Israel who despised His name and, among other things, offered blemished animals upon the altar.  They wearied Him with their words in that they said, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them” (2:17) They also said, “So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up, but they also test God and escape.” (3:15). He told them “…I am not pleased with you…” (1:10).  What a fearful sentence to hear from holy God.
In chapter 3, He transitions into the New Testament era. He states that He is sending “My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me”.  This was John The Baptist, preaching “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)  He then says, “And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple;”.  This is the Messiah they were looking for but did not recognize; the Lord Jesus.  And when the Lord comes, “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver,…”.  Since they were defiled by evil practices,  He would have to bring them to repentance and change their hearts “so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. 

Today, may we be just the opposite of these wicked priest.  In Hebrews 13: 15 we are instructed to offer up a sacrifice of praise (thanksgiving) to our God and that He is pleased with such sacrifices.  Let us verbalize our thanks today for all the blessings God has bestowed on us.

This background information is setting up the next post concerning who the “sons of Levi” are and how this Old Testament prophecy applies today.

Thank you for your patience and time.  Hope to see you tomorrow.

Carl

 

 

Isolation

This is another MD Anderson scene that brought a spiritual truth to my mind. 

Isolation. 

One of Satan’s favorite schemes. Take the coal out of the fire and put it to the side by itself and what happens? It goes out. No fire. The same is true of the Christian. Take him/her out of church and isolate them from other believers and their spiritual zeal will diminish or go out entirely. He that wanders from the sheep fold becomes easy prey.

 The church is the Body of Christ and Jesus is the Head. He instituted the local church as a place for His children to be taught truth and be built up spiritually to carry on His work in the earth until He returns.  Through the writer of the Book of Hebrews, the Lord says:

[25] not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

One of the many benefits of obeying this command and assembling together in church, is the encouragement we give and receive from one another.  We need courage to face our daily battles and challenges that we might not feel isolated and slip into fear.

He also warned that there would be tares, false Christians, in the visible church. Not all church goers that claim the Name of Jesus are born again believers.  There are also Christians who are walking in the flesh (controlled by indwelling sinful nature). Satan uses both, to say things or do things in congregations that ultimately hurt or injure hearts of others and make them never darken the doors of church again.  If you currently are, or have been a member of a church, you may possibly be able to identify with this.  

There are those, through no fault of their own, who are unable to attend church due to jobs, illness or disabilities.  In those cases the church can reach out to them and bridge the gap with visits, internet, prayer and other means.

Let it suffice to say, DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE ISOLATED FROM THE BODY OF CHRIST.  If you know someone who is isolated,  reach out to them and encourage them to get back into a church where there is fellowship in the Lord, the Word of God is preached and people are encouraged to read the Bible themselves.  If you know an isolated shut-in maybe the Lord is showing you a place to pour out the grace He has bestowed on you.

Thank you for your time.

Let’s Pay Close Attention To Ourselves.

Carl

Good Advice

While recently at MD Anderson in Houston I noticed that the signage in some departments held a message applicable to Christians.  This one was in a patient’s room and the normal meaning is obvious.  The spiritual message is:

Call (for the Helper), Don’t Fall (into Satan’s snare). Stay safe (in the Grace of God). Call for help (when under attack).

The Lord Jesus, after He went into Heaven, sent the mighty Spirit of God to be the believer’s Helper, Comforter, Teacher and Sanctifier.  Each born-again believer is sealed in Christ Jesus with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13).  Jesus knew we would need a Helper.  Sometimes The Helper in us is all we need to overcome sin and the devil.  At other times we may need the prayer, advice or encouragement from the Helper in a brother or sister in-Christ.  Avail yourself of the Holy Spirit’s assistance if you need it.

Remember:  Call. Don’t Fall. Stay Safe. Call for help.

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”  Jesus (John 16:7)

And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…”. (Acts 2:2-4)

….but be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18)

May it be so for all of us!

Carl

Soul Purification: Hypocrisy vs True Love 

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls…”  (I Peter 1:22 NASB)

“….just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5: 25-27 NASB)

The second verse talks about the church in all her glory, “having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing”.  A “spot” or “wrinkle” used metaphorically in scripture means a moral blemish.  The church Jesus is coming back for will have  no moral blemish; i.e. the sinful nature of these people will not have dominion over them; therefore, they are NOT habitually walking in sin.  We will have more to say about spots, wrinkles, stains, etc. in a later post.

Today’s “spot” or moral blemish is hypocrisy. 

In the book of I Peter, Peter is addressing this habitual sin in the believers.  There were two reasons for it.  First, from Peter’s letter it is intimated that some in the church had returned to their old associates who they loved and therefore they did not love their fellow believers but they acted like they did. Secondly, in the early church you had a membership made up of everyone from slaves to the very rich. As you can imagine it was an odd social/economic/status mix of people and nationalities. People who did not have a lot in common except for the Lord Jesus and did not socially mix.  Maybe like the church you go to now.  In both cases, the church members where faking their brotherly love for each other; therefore, being hypocrites.  The word was used of an actor on Greek stage; someone speaking from “under a screen or mask”, concealing his real identity.  When used in the New Testament it refers to “one who assumes the mannerisms, speech, and character of someone else, thus hiding his true identity” (Wuest).  They did not really love one another so they put on a fake face and mannerisms and acted like they did. 

But when the Lord looked at them He saw a spiritual garment with a “spot” or moral blemish on it and the “spot” was hypocrisy.

In I Peter 1:22 Peter is noting that they had repented of this sin and, as a result of their change in behavior, he says they had purified their souls from this sin by obeying the the word (“obedience to the truth”) and truly showing “brotherly love” for one another. “Brotherly love” here is the Greek word phile which is “a love called out of one’s heart by the pleasure one takes in the person loved”. “It is an affection or fondness, a purely HUMAN attachment for another, and perfectly legitimate”. (Wuest) 

 In the second half of verse 22, God through Peter exhorts His children to go even further than brotherly love and to “fervently love one another from the heart,…” The word for love here is agape.  Agape is different from phile in that it means ” an reciprocal love that springs from your hearts because of the estimation of the preciousness of the brethren, and which is DIVINELY sacrificial in its essence”.  It is the love of John 3:16.  And note that God thru Peter says “from the heart” or from the true “you”. No hypocrisy.  In our true inner man, the real us, we love our fellow Christian with agape love. We agape our Christian brother not only because we take pleasure in him (phile), but because he is precious to God and, therefore, we love him with a love that is willing to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of the brother.  A blend of the phile and agape.

You see the same progression from brother love to agape love in II Peter 1:5-7 and is a natural progression in the Christian life.

If it stays brotherly love only it could degenerate into an attachment to another that becomes very selfish and smothering. If the two loves are blended it becomes a heavenly love that blesses both parties and the body of Christ. And pleases Jesus Christ. 

The Expanded Translation says:

“Wherefore, having purified your souls by means of your obedience to the truth, resulting in not an assumed but a genuine affection and fondness for the brethren, an affection and fondness that springs from the hearts by reason of the pleasure you take in them; from your heart love each other with an intense reciprocal love that springs from your hearts because of your estimation of the preciousness of the brethren, and which is divinely self-sacrificial in its essence,…”

In closing, I confess that I had to repent of hypocrisy.  After studying this, I was convicted that I was like these Christians Peter was writing to. Not showing true phile love and, surely not showing agape love for all my brethren.  A few, yes; all, no. And from what I have seen in the visible church since I was a child, this message is sorely needed for the church.   May the Lord show you what is truly in your heart. 

The question becomes how to have such heavenly love for one another.  I quote Wuest: 

“The answer is simple. This love is produced in the heart of the saint who is definitely subjected to the control of the Holy Spirit. This love is one of His fruits (Gal. 5:22). Thus God exhorts the saints to love one another with a divine love, and then produces that love in their hearts as they trust Him to do that for them and by the action of their free will choose to be loving and exert themselves to act in a loving way towards their brethren.”

This truth about hypocrisy and true love is a crucial piece of our growth as Christians AND practicing apape love brings assurance of our salvation.  II Peter 1: 8-10 says:

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance in to the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. ” [emphasis mine]

The qualities referred to here are in II Peter 1: 5-7:

“Now for this very reason” (becoming partakers of the divine nature, verse 4) “also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self control, and in your self-control, perseverance; and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness” (phile) “and in your brotherly kindness, love”  (agape). [emphasis and inserts mine]

All of these qualities lead us to agape love in the progression of our Christian growth.  Hypocrisy is an anomaly (sin) and has no place in our growth to more Christ likeness. 

If this applies to you, like it did me, repent and begin to practice agape love and wash your soul with the pure water of obedience and remove this “spot” from your garment.
“…and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men,…”…so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (I Thessalonians 3:12-13)

Carl

Source of True Happiness 

While visiting with relatives, I read Greg Laurie’s new book Steve McQueen: Salvation of an American Icon. Book is about the famous actor’s life and how he came to salvation in Jesus Christ prior to being diagnosed with a terminal disease.

The following C. S. Lewis quote was shared in the book:

“God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”

May you find your “happy” and peace today as you fellowship with the Father and the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit!

Carl

P.S. If your old enough to remember Steve McQueen, I recommend the book. 

“…Fragrance of Christ…”

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.” (II Corinthians 2: 14-16)

Our last post was about bringing our salvation to its ultimate conclusion which is for us to become more Christ like in our earthly life.  And how this Christ likeness needs to affect our family, friends, and others. 

 The verse says a born again person is the fragrance of Christ among both the people “who are perishing” (a lost person)  and “those who are being saved” (born again person).  This “sweet aroma” is sensed by both classes as we interact with them in our daily lives. Those who are perishing are described by the Holy Spirit as ‘dead” in the sense of “dead in your trespasses and sins”. Their human spirit is dead and that is one reason they need to be born again.  Ephesians 2:1-3 describes people in this state and includes us prior to coming to Christ. 

Following is a note my wife had written in the page border to accompany this scripture.  May it bless and encourage you:

“I am not just the bearer of the aroma or incense but I am the incense myself. I am the means by which the effect is registered on both classes if the knowledge of Christ is going forth thru my life. I must move amongst men , in Christ (walking in the experiential knowledge of the truth) having learned the truth of the knowledge of Him thru various trials, tests, fires and experiences and thereby becoming a living expression of it.  A ministration of Christ comes as a result.”

May you leave the aroma of Christ where ever you go today and every day.  May God’s children be encouraged by interacting with you and may those that are perishing see something that is missing in their lives.

Carl

“…Constantly…”

“Wherefore, my beloved ones, as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry to its ultimate conclusion [likeness to the Lord Jesus] your own salvation with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling, for God is the One who is constantly putting forth His energy in you, both in the form of your being desirous of and of your doing His good pleasure.”  (Paul writing to the Philippians in 2:13)

Amazing! Today. All day today.  Everyday. God is CONSTANTLY releasing  His energy into our lives — in our decisions, in our battles, in our relationships, in our work, in our ministry, in our idle time, in our busy time, in our trial, in our victory, in our suffering, in our joy, in our sickness, in our vigor, in everything — for the purpose of bringing OUR salvation to it’s ultimate conclusion:  more likeness to the Lord Jesus….NOW, not when we get to heaven, NOW, while we live on earth, NOW, while we can still make an eternal difference in our family, our friend’s lives, and lives of others. NOW, before I die and I am ashamed to stand before Him at the Judgement Seat of Christ. 

What an awesome God we serve. What provisions He has made for His children. How He is committed to His Purpose for you and me!

Enjoy walking with God today!

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, ….” (II Peter 2:14)

Carl

Two Things God Cannot Do

There is a place on our property where two wet weather creeks merge. From a vantage point you can view the water moccasins hunting prey. Once, I watched one tightly coiled up adjacent to where the water rippled over some debris and fell into the main channel. The snake laid in ambush for some poor victim, just as that ancient serpent Satan does today.

 Apostle Paul told us Satan walks around as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour in Ephesians 5:8. Paul also wrote the Corinthians (II Corinthians 2:11) about the schemes of the devil:

“But whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, in order that no advantage be take of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

In the spirit of Paul’s statement about not being ignorant of Satan’s scheme, I want to share two things God can not do.

In Romans 8: 33 Paul wrote concerning the blessedness of the “chosen out ones”:

“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.”

The first thing God can not do is He can not ACCUSE you and JUSTIFY you at the same time.

In Romans 8:34 Paul continued:

“Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

The second thing God (Christ) can not do is He can not CONDEMN us while He is always MAKING INTERCESSION for us.

Even God cannot do these two things: accuse while justifying and condemn while always making intercession for us. KNOWING THIS HELPS US DISCERN THE ATTACKS OF SATAN.

We know the human mind is a spiritual battlefield and is one portal through which Satan attacks us. Not all of our thoughts originate with us. That is why Apostle Paul said “…and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5)

In 2 Corinthians 11: 3 Paul says to the believers in Corinth the following about Satan’s schemes:

“But I am afraid lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (NASB)

And how did the serpent spring his craftiness upon these believers MINDS? By using words and thoughts from the serpent and his servants. In the very next verse Paul says this:

“For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.” (NASB)

There is a tremendous amount of Truth that could be shared on the subject of spiritual warfare. But let it be sufficient for this post, to say that we need to be aware that accusing and condemning thoughts are not from God The Father or the Lord Jesus Christ, nor are thoughts that are contrary to what the Word of God (The Bible) teaches. If we read and study the Word of God (The Bible), we will begin to understand what the Lord Jesus would say and do and the same for God the Father. Then, when we have thoughts or reasoning that is questionable, we have a backdrop to hold it up against and evaluate if it is from the Holy Spirit, ourself or Satan. Doing this, we will not be deceived by another Jesus, another spirit, nor will we be deceived by a different gospel.

The Lord Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:19 how he deals with us:

“As for myself, as many as I am fond of, I reprove so as to bring out conviction and confession, and I discipline, correct, and guide.” (Wuest)

Reprove means “to criticize or correct (someone) usually in a gentle way.

Conviction means “the state of being convinced of error or compelled to admit the truth.

Confession means in this context “to confess our sins”.

He corrects us to convict us of our sin so we will agree with Him, that it is sin and repent of it so our fellowship with Him and The Father can be restored and we increase in personal holiness. The Lord goes on to say that He will “discipline, correct, and guide.” Hear what the Holy Spirit says in Hebrews 12:7-11 (Wuest Expanded Translation):

“And you have completely forgotten the exhortation which is of such a nature as to speak to you as to sons,…..stop making light of the Lord’s discipline, correction, and guidance. Stop fainting when you are being effectually rebuked by Him. For the one who the Lord loves, He disciplines, corrects, and guides, and He scourges every son whom He receives and cherishes. It is for the purpose of discipline, correction, and guidance that you are enduring. As those who by nature are sons is God dealing with you. For what son is there whom the Father does not discipline, correct, and guide? But if you are without discipline, correction, and guidance, of which all [sons] have been made partakers, it follows therefore that you are bastards and not sons.”    
“Furthermore, we have been having indeed fathers of our flesh as those who disciplined, corrected, and guided us, and we have been in the habit of giving them reverence. Shall we not much rather put ourselves in subject to the Father of spirits and live? For on the one hand, they disciplined, corrected, and guided us for a few days upon the basis of that which seemed good to them, but He disciplines, corrects, and guides us for our profit, to the end that we might partake of His holiness. In fact, all discipline, correction, and guidance for the time being does not seem to be joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields a return of peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised by it.”
In conclusion, Satan is the one who accuses us and condemn us and not God the Father or Lord Jesus. The Father has justified us in Lord Jesus at a great cost and He, Lord Jesus, is interceding for us before the throne of God. Satan wants to bring us to depression, hopelessness and defeat, believing we are forsaken by God. Whereas, God wants us in fellowship with Him walking in the light and growing in personal holiness, forsaking sin. He reproves and disciplines because we are His children and He loves us. Bless His Wonderful Name. If God is for us, who can be against us?

Let Us Pay Close Attention to Ourselves for the Purpose of Holiness,

Carl

Real Evidence That You Love Lord Jesus

“…, that one is he who is loving me…”

Note: this post was accidentally published Wednesday morning around 5 a.m. and then promptly removed. I apologize if you have already read this or had problems with the link.

If you ask people if they love Jesus and what is the evidence of their love, you would get a variety of answers.  Some would say that they go to church frequently or are church members.  Others would say that they love their fellow man and do no harm to others; maybe some would say they fast certain things during the year or that they pray.  Some would say they go on pilgrimages to holy sites, give of their money or keep their denominational traditions.

In the Gospel of John, the Lord Jesus told us how He determines if we really love Him or we are just honoring Him with our words, but our hearts (who we really are) are far from Him.  Listen to what He said in John 14: 21 (Wuest Expanded Translation):

“He who has my commandments and habitually keeps them, that one is he who is loving me with a divine and self-sacrificial love.”

On this blog we have quoted the Apostle John in I John numerous times writing about habitually practicing righteousness.  John was at the last supper when Jesus said this. That is where he received this truth.

Lord Jesus goes on to describe what happens when we habitually keep His commandments:

“And he who is loving me thus, shall be loved with this same kind of love by my Father, and I shall love him with a divine and self-sacrifical love, and I shall disclose myself to him.” (22)

God the Father poured out this kind of love on the world (John 3:16) when He sent His Son to the cross to bear the guilt and penalty of our sins.  And He continues to do so when we are obedient to the gospel and are born again.

But there is more. His disciples thought that Jesus was about to “disclose” Himself as the conquering Messiah to the nation of Israel.  The mother of James and John had already approached Jesus about her two sons being seated in places of honor in His messianic court. So one of the disciples asked Him why He was going to disclose Himself to them and not the whole world. Here is His reply:

“Answered Jesus and said to him, If anyone as a habit of life loves me with a divine and self-sacrificial love, my word he will keep, and my Father will love him, and to him we shall come, and an abiding place with him we shall make for ourselves. He who is not habitually loving me with a divine and self-sacrificial love, my words he is not keeping.  And the word which you are hearing is not mine but belongs to Him who sent me, the Father.” (23-24)

Now this is very amazing! The God of the universe is going to come and abide in us. How does this happen?

“This things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. And the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my Name, that One will teach you all things and recall to your mind all things which I spoke to you.” (25-26)

In Acts 2: 38 the people cried out , “What shall we do”, after hearing the first gospel message.  Peter told the Passover crowd to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  These people were obedient to the gospel message and the Holy Spirit set them apart (i.e. sanctified them) to the Lord Jesus and they were sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1).  In other words, the Lord Jesus and The Father came and made their abode with these converts through the Holy Spirit.  And God does the same for us when we are obedient to the gospel message.

This is what the Apostle John is telling us in I John 1: 3-4 when he writes:

“…what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (NASB)

Amazing! We born again believers in Jesus Christ have the privilege of fellowshipping  with God Almighty today and everyday.   John goes on to tell us how our behavior affects this fellowship.  I John 1: 5-10 says the following:

“And it is the message which we have heard from Him and at present is ringing in our ears and we are bringing back tidings to you, that God as to His nature is light, and darkness in Him does not exist, not even one particle. If we say that things in common we are having with Him, and thus fellowship, and in the sphere of the aforementioned darkness are habitually ordering our behavior, we are lying, and we are not doing the truth.  But if within the sphere of the light we are habitually ordering our behavior as Himself is in the light, things in common  and thus fellowship we [the believer and God] are having with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son keeps continually cleansing us from every sin.”

“If we say that [indwelling ] sin we are not having, ourselves we are leading astray [nobody else], and the truth is not in us. If we continue to confess our sins, faithful is He and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned and are now in a state where we do not sin, a liar we are making Him, and His word is not in us.”  (Wuest Expanded Translation)

The reason John is telling us this he states next in I John 2: 1:

“My little children … these things I am writing to you in order that you may not commit an act of sin.  And if anyone commits an act of sin, One who pleads our cause we constantly have facing the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One. ” (Wuest Expanded Translation)

In closing, two things.

First, is there enough evidence in my life to convict me of really being in love with Jesus, per His definition, or am I a hypocrite like the people in Mark 7:6 to which the Lord said:

“And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.

In Luke 6:46 Jesus asked the question “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?

Secondly, the Apostle John is telling the born again believer that our indwelling sinful nature, though we are dead to it, has not been eradicated from our being.  Therefore, we will occasionally sin and, when we do, we need to confess that sin to maintain fellowship with our Father. (Notice I said fellowship and not relationship. Because of our faith in the work of Christ on the Cross, our relationship is secure with the Father.)

He not only immediately forgives us

but the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness, i.e. habitual sins of ignorance that we are walking in but are not aware of yet.  What a merciful God!!!

My friends, it all boils down to a simple question for everyone: Is Christ Lord of your life?

I hope you enjoy the fellowship with your heavenly Father and His Holy Son today.  Walk in the light as He is in the light.

Carl

 

Soul Purification: Malice

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Today is the first post in a series called Soul Purification.  The purpose is to highlight certain sins that the Holy Spirit tells us to cleanse ourselves from.   If applicable, repent of the sinful behavior and purpose in your heart to forsake it by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Don’t get bogged down in self introspection. This is the sanctification component of our daily walk and nothing new.  Keep your eyes on the Lord and REJOICE in becoming more Christ like.

Our scriptural basis for this is in I John 3: 2-3 where the Holy Spirit through Apostle John says:

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (NASB)

“Him” in the scripture being the Lord Jesus and “when He appears” is  when He comes for the Church at the Rapture and the Judgement Seat of Christ takes place. We do the purifying. 

Why is this important?  The scripture (verses 4-8) goes on to say

“Everyone who habitually commits sin, also habitually commits lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.  And you know absolutely that that One was manifested in order that He might take away our sins; and sin in Him does not exist. Everyone who in Him is constantly abiding is not habitually sinning. Everyone who is constantly sinning has not with discernment seen Him, nor has he known Him, with the result that that condition is true of him at present. Little born-ones, stop allowing anyone to be leading you astray. The one who habitually does righteousness is righteous, just as that One is righteous. The one who is habitually committing sin is out of the devil as a source, because from the beginning the devil has been sinning. For this purpose there was manifested the Son of God, in order that He might bring to naught the works of the devil.”  (Wuest Expanded Translation)

And verse 10 wraps up the discussion by saying:

In this is apparent who are the born-ones of God and the born-ones of the devil. Everyone who is not habitually doing righteousness is not of God, also the one who is not habitually loving his brother [Christian] with a divine and self-sacrificial love.” 

In other words, born again believers are not to walk in habitual sin, governed by our indwelling sinful nature which we were freed from when we where spiritually baptized into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection by the Holy Spirit.

Some may say, “This sounds like salvation by works.” Let me assure you it is not.  The Lord,  in John 3 said unless you are born again, you can not “see” or “enter” the Kingdom of God. It is the born again process that frees you from the power of the indwelling sinful nature, gives you a new godly nature, and brings the Holy Spirit into your person and He supplies the desire and power to do God’s will.   The Apostle Paul explains all of this in Romans chapter 6 through 8. You can not walk habitually in righteousness unless you are born again or, as we say, saved.

If you have any questions about this, please contact me via this site or give me a call.

So let’s get started with our first sin:

Wickedness (Malice)

“Wherefore, having put away once for all every wickedness and every craftiness, and hypocrisies and envies, and all slanderings, as newborn infants do, intensely yearn for the unadulterated spiritual milk in order that by it you may be nourished and make progress in [your] salvation…” (I Peter 2: 1-2) (Wuest Expanded Translation)

Here Wuest uses the word “wickedness” and in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) the word “malice” is used. Vines Greek Dictionary says the Greek word means “badness in quality” and is the opposite of excellence.  In the New Testament it is translated “malice”, “maliciousness”, and “wickedness”.

In the English dictionary malice means ” the desire or intention to do evil, ill will”.  Synonyms would be “revenge, rancor (i.e. Bitterness or resentfulness, esp. when long standing), spite, cattiness (i.e. deliberately hurtful in one’s remarks, spiteful), vindictiveness, vengefulness, malignant (i.e. very evil)”, animus (i.e. a strong feeling of dislike or hatred), enmity (i.e. a very deep unfriendly feeling).” 

The source of this, like other sins, is man’s heart:

“And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness….”

The heart of man is defined in Vines Greek Dictionary:

“By easy transition the word came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements.  In other words, the heart is used figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life.  The Bible describes human depravity as in the ‘heart’ because sin is a principle which has its seat in the center of man’s inward life, and then “defiles’ the whole circuit of his actions,… On the other hand, Scripture regards the heart as the sphere of Divine influence.  The heart, as lying deep within, contains the hidden man, the real man. It represents the true character but conceals it. 

That is why Scripture says that if you want to really know what is in a person, listen to what is coming out of his mouth for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

In the Old Testament, there are several words that are translated “wickedness” but we will only say the following:

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines wickedness as follows:

“The state of being wicked; a mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, honor, virtue, evil in thought and life; depravity; sinfulness; criminality.” “Pride and vanity lead to it.”

Few examples of “wickedness” (malice) would be as follows:                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. The desire to hurt someone, either with words or physically .                                                                                                                                                                                                           2. Desire for revenge because someone did something to you or said something about you.                                                                                                                                                           3. Expressing ill will toward someone: “I hope he ends up in hell.”                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Thinking or expressing hate to someone: “I hate your guts and always will.”                                                                                                                                                                                5. Of course, we can lump adultry, fornication, homosexuality, and other sins into this                                                                                                                                                                  6. Any desire to do evil or what is contrary to God’s Word.

In closing, habitual sin is progressive. Stay trapped in it long enough and you will call good, evil and evil, good and light, darkness and darkness, light.  As we go on in habitual sin our minds become more and more deceived. Remember, that pride and vanity lead to wickedness.  Humility is the opposite of pride and  brings  the essential grace of God.

It is God’s will that you and I not walk in wickedness and repenting of any wickedness He reveals to us is the first step to overcoming this sin. Listen to what He showed Paul so he could escape the clutchs of the old sinful nature and Paul share it with the church in Rome in Romans 6:11-14:

“Thus also be constantly counting upon the fact that on the one hand, you are dead ones with respect to the sinful nature , and on the other, that you are living ones with respect to God in Christ Jesus.  Stop therefore allowing the sinful nature to reign as king in your mortal body with a view to obeying it (the body) in its passionate cravings. Moreover, stop putting your members at the disposal of the sinful nature as weapons of unrighteousness, but by a once for all act and at once, put yourselves at the disposal of God as those who are actively alive out from among the dead, and your members as weapons of righteousness at the disposal of God, for (then) the sinful nature will not exercise lordship over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”  

As we do what these verses say and excersise our free will to say NO to sin, the Holy Spirit’s power will give us the victory over the temptation to sin. 

 May God bless you as you purpose to get wickedness out of your life and please the Lord.  Be encouraged and strengthen your heart with these precious promises from the Word of God.  May He perfect us in love (agape) for others; especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.  See I John 4: 11-12.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”  (I Thessalonians 5: 23-24)

“Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness”  (II Timothy 2:19)

Carl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World and Us

  1. I found this note while reading Luke 16: 13-15 the other day.  As born again believers, the Lord Jesus Christ is to be “Lord” of our lives.  The world system, which is controlled by Satan, is continually trying to impose its value system on us. In James 4:4 the Bible tells us that friendship with the world is hostility toward God. He compares it to a wife or husband having an affair thereby being an adulteress.  James goes on to say that he who wishes to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God.

Sometimes we are so entangled in the affairs of the world that we do not recognize it for what it is. The kingdom of the enemy of God.  May the Holy Spirit show us today if we are in an adulterous affair with some aspect of the world.

In closing, I share Luke 6:46 with you. The scripture that God used to rip the deception off our minds and show us we were lost and bound for hell. The Lord Jesus said “Why do you call me Lord Lord and do not do what I say?

Pay Close Attention To Yourself

Carl

Part II: “Pay Close Attention To Yourself…”

Why it is important to heed Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy about conforming to godliness.

Dear Reader: Following is the conclusion to the previous blog entitled Part I: “Pay Close Attention To Yourself….”.  To read Part I please scroll down to the previous blog.  Thank you for your time.  Carl

In closing, three reasons as to why Paul’s admonishment to “Pay close attention to yourself…” is needed:

1. Personal Godliness is the believer’s responsibility.

This personal holiness is not vicarious. It cannot be transferred or imputed; in other words, the Lord Jesus cannot give you His personal holiness. It is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God and of following the example of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

God the Father has given us His written word, a new nature and the Holy Spirit at salvation. He also broke the power of the indwelling sinful nature. The Holy Spirit will give us the desire and the power to do God’s will but we have to cooperate with Him. We do not need to ask Him to fall on us or come like a might wind because He is already in all born again people, Ephesians 1: 13-14.

2. Personal Godliness is the evidence that you have been born again and received a new nature.

The visible evidence of the new nature you received at salvation is obedience.

Psalm 81:15 states “Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him; and their time of punishment would be forever.” (Emphasis mine)

Do not confuse this with salvation by works. A person cannot escape the kingdom of
Satan and the hold of the fleshly, fallen nature unless he is born again by the Holy
Spirit.

The Apostle John says it as follows in I John 2: 4-6 and I John 3:10:

“The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

“In this is apparent who are the born-ones of God and the born-ones of the devil. Everyone who is not habitually doing righteousness is not of God, also the one who is not habitually loving his brother [Christian] with a divine and self-sacrificial love.” (Wuest Expanded Translation)

When you measure yourself against John’s words, what does it say about your conduct?

3. The Judgement Seat of Christ is coming for all born again believers.

Concerning the Judgement-seat of Christ, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5: 10

“For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Vine’s Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says the following about the Judgement-seat of Christ:

“It is the divine tribunal before which all believers are hereafter to stand. The Father has given all judgement to The Lord Jesus. Here all believers are to be made manifest, that each may “receive the things done in (or through) the body”, according to what he has done, “whether it be good or bad.” There they will receive rewards for their faithfulness to the Lord. For all that has been contrary in their lives to His will they will suffer loss, I Cor. 3:15.”

“This judgement is separate from His premillennial, earthly throne, Matt.25:31, and the postmillennial “Great White Throne” in Rev 20-:11. The judgement seat of Christ will be a tribunal held “in His Parousia”, i.e. in His presence with His saints after His return to receive them to Himself.”

In my point of reference, this occurs after the Rapture of the church.

Paul gives us a glimpse into the judgement-seat in 1 Corinthian 3: 10 – 15 where he is dealing with a problem in Corinth, Greece and he states: no foundation can be laid in a believer’s life except Jesus Christ:

“…..but let each man be careful how he builds upon it.” “Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood , hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’ work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved yet so as through fire. “

One of the New Testament words translated “holiness” in the English translations is the Greek word hagiosune and denotes the quality of “holiness” in personal conduct. Paul used it in 2 Corinthians 7:1:

“….let us cleanse ourselves from all contamination which may defile the flesh [the human body] and the [human] spirit, progressively accomplishing holiness in the fear of God.” (Wuest Expanded Translation)

Notice who is to do the cleansing. Us. The believer.  We are cleansed by obeying His word.

I Thessalonians 3:12 -13 says:

“…and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (I Thessalonians 3:13).

Hogg and Vine’s Notes on Thessalonians throw much light on I Thessalonians 3:12-13 and the importance of personal holiness with their expanded Greek paraphrase:

“The Lord enable you more and more to spend your lives in the interest of others, in order that He may so establish you in Christian character now, that you may be vindicated from every charge that might possibly be brought against you at the Judgement-seat of Christ.” (Emphasis mine)

Notice in this scripture that it is through love for others that we increase in Christian godliness. It is hard to sin against someone when you “regard one another as more important than” yourself. In Philippians 2: 3-5 we are exhorted to “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”

One day we will stand before the One who spilt his precious blood so we could have forgiveness of sin and be reconciled to God the Father saving us from the wrath of God which will come “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (II Thessalonians1:8) Let us do it with joy and not fear. Let our love for our brothers and sisters and all people increase. Let us be able to say with the Apostle John:

And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of Judgment [Judgement Seat of Christ] because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is not fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” I John 4:16-19

Dear Reader please be honest with yourself as I have had to be. Does the thought of the Judgement Seat of Christ fill you with dread and fear or do you rejoice at having your life reviewed? Are you being perfected in love? Are you anxious to see Him seated on His throne of glory or will we be like the people in Revelation 6 that cried out for the rocks to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him who sits on the throne.

I, the writer, have written this to record what the Holy Spirit was showing me for myself and to be a good steward. This is not written to bring condemnation to the believer but to exhort them to “…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;…” (Colossians 1:10) My trust is in The Lord Jesus that He will bring it to pass in my and your life.

In conclusion, let us pay close attention to ourselves with a view to being pleasing to God who has blessed us so greatly. Let us fulfill our born again responsibility to grow in personal holiness and to be found without spot or blemish at the Judgement Seat of Christ. Let us cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He works in our life and we learn what is pleasing to God.

If repentance is needed, repent. Tell God you agree with Him concerning the issue and turn away from it. Ask Him to help you stay free from it. Remember, in Roman 6: 11 -14 Paul tells us how this walk of victory happens:

“Thus, also, as for you, you be constantly counting upon the fact that, on the one hand, you are those who have been separated from the sinful nature, and on the other, that you are living ones with respect to God in Christ Jesus.

Stop therefore allowing the sinful nature to reign as king in your mortal body with a view to obeying it [the body] in its passionate cravings.

Moreover, stop putting your members at the disposal of the sinful nature as weapons of unrighteousness,

But by a once-for-all act and at once, put yourselves at the disposal of God as those who are actively alive out of from among the dead, and put your members as weapons of righteousness at the disposal of God,

FOR [THEN] THE SINFUL NATURE WILL NOT EXERCISE LORDSHIP OVER YOU, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Wuest Expanded Translation) (Emphasis mine)

Let us put this into practice in our daily lives and our sinful nature will not exercise lordship over us. What a great plan of salvation God has given to the Church. Be encouraged saint!

Now may the God of peace himself consecrate you, every part of each one of you, to His worship and service, and may your spirit, and soul and body be preserved in their entirety blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who gives you the divine summons [into salvation], who also will do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24 Wuest Expanded Translation)

Pay Close Attention to Yourself   

Carl

Part I : “Pay Close Attention To Yourself…”

Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy concerning the born again person conforming to godliness.

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul tells him “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…” (I Timothy 6:3) [Emphasis mine]

The Apostle Peter writing to believers stated the “doctrine conforming to godliness” as follows:

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the formers lusts, 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.” And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (I Peter 1: 14-19)

In other words, after a person is born again, if he is properly instructed in the truth, they, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will begin to purify their souls of defilement (sin):

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (I John 3:3)

Over a period of time they will become more and more Christlike in their manner of living or conduct.

This process is known as progressive sanctification. Sanctification is the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. The Greek word from which sanctification comes from means “to make holy”. This sanctification is God’s will for the believer and His purpose in calling him by the gospel. It must be learned from God as He teaches it by His Word and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, cooperating with the Holy Spirit who gives the desire and the power to accomplish it. The following scriptures witness to these truths:

I Thessalonians 4:3 says “This is the will of God, your sanctification…”

I Thessalonians 4:7 says “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.

I Thessalonians 4:4 says “…that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor”

The Lord Jesus said in John 17:17 as He prayed for His followers “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.”

Philippians 2:13 says “…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Some who claim to be born again take the teaching on the grace of God too far. They believe that willful sinning is okay after salvation because “it is all under grace”. That they can live in fornication, impurity, immorality or other habitual sin and still be in fellowship with the Holy Lord Jesus and the Holy Father God is in direct opposite to what the Word of God teaches. Concerning these believers, it is truly as Paul told Timothy in the opening verse, “….he is conceited and understands nothing;…”. The Apostle John warns the recipients of his letter known as II John to “Watch yourselves that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God;…” (II John 1:8-9)

Our brother, the Apostle Paul, told Timothy to “Pay close attention to yourself” (I Timothy 4:16a) and “….discipline (i.e. train) yourself for the purpose of godliness;…” (I Timothy 4:7b).

Concerning godliness and after exhorting Timothy to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness…” Apostle Paul said “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (I Timothy 4:10) The man who the Lord Jesus used to write a large portion of the New Testament and He sent to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (that is you and me) was daily laboring and striving to be godly in his conduct. He knew the struggle and the temptations that come our way and learned how to overcome them with the Holy Spirit’s help.

Paul advised Timothy to “Pay close attention to yourself…”. We would be wise to heed his advice to Timothy. Apostle Peter exhorts us:

“Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (I Peter1:13)

Let us keep sober in mind and spirit and not be drunk on the spirit of this world (Satan’s kingdom) where anything goes, no boundaries; as long as it makes me look good, meets my emotional needs, it is okay. Where, in a deceived state, I can act like a god (make my own rules) and walk in pride and arrogance toward God and His Word; be wise in my own eyes. Grieving the Holy Spirit by whom we were sealed for the day of redemption.

Instead, let us examine ourselves and see if there is any wicked way in us when compared with God’s Word and the Lord Jesus’ life. Not in a condemning way. “There istherefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. (Romans 8:1) If we find ourselves in sin or with unconfessed sin, let us repent (i.e. agree with what God says about it and turn from it) and purpose not to do it again. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us. (I John 1:9-10)

Paul’s experience birthed this advice: “Pay close attention to yourself…”
My thoughts.
My words.
My actions .
What I am listening to.
What I am watching.
What I am entertained by.
What I am laughing at (a type of approval).
The motives behind my actions.
Is there any malice, wrath, anger?
Am I speaking truth or a lie?
Am I slandering someone?
Am I acting as a judge?
Am I walking in Pride? (Pride always sees the faults in others)
Am I being jealous?
Am I a manslayer? (“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer…” I John 3:15)

And we could go on and on with this list. Each of us has areas we need to bring into submission to the Word of God. And as we study God’s word, He will reveal sin we are not even aware of.

In closing, three reasons as to why Paul’s admonishment to “Pay close attention toyourself…” is needed:

This concludes Part I of this post.  Please return for Part II in the next post.  Thank you!

The Big Difference

How does keeping of the Old Testament Law and walking in New Testament grace compare?

Do this and live, the Old Testament Law demands, but gives neither feet or hands.

A better word the Gospel brings. It bids me fly and gives me wings.

Author Unknown

Born again believers get their “wings” by understanding the truths found in Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter six through eight.  Listen to what Apostle Peter said about these truths in II Peter 1: 3-4 (Wuest Expanded Translation):

“Seeing that all things to us His divine power has generously given, the things which pertain to life and godliness, through the experiential knowledge [which the believer has] of the One who called us [into salvation] by means of His own glory and virtue, by means of which [glory and virtue] there have been generously given to us the precious and exceedingly great promises in order that through these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped by flight the corruption which is in the world in the sphere of passionate carvings.”  [emphasis mine]

I hope you have your “wings” mentally on today.  Have a blessed day walking in the Spirit!

Carl

 

Seeing Lord Jesus

Knowing More To See Him More

“Do not get knowledge for knowledge sake but so you can see and love to a greater degree the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Kenneth Wuest

The Bible has a lot to say about gaining knowledge and about wisdom, how to use the knowledge you obtain.  It also warns that knowledge can make you prideful.

“Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”

Therefore, our desire in gaining biblical knowledge should be to gain a clearer picture of the Lord Jesus Christ so we can love Him more. Since He said, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me;…” (John 14: 21a), loving Him more means we will be more diligent in our obedience.   That is how the “love of God” is manifested in our life.  Words play a part but actions speak a lot louder.

We need to realize there are millions of people, right here in the U.S., that have never mentally “seen” Jesus.  They have no Bible knowledge and have no concept of what Jesus looks like.

Lets  put our Bible knowledge to use today and let someone “see” Jesus in us through our obedience to Him.  It may be their first time to “see” the Lord Jesus.

Pay Close Attention to Yourself….   (Paul to Timothy)

Carl

What Is God Looking For ?

God is looking for “good and faithful”  servants; not necessarily gifted, educated, or cultured ones.

Author Unknown

The Lord Jesus, when discussing the end of time and His second coming, told a parable about a master going on a trip and leaving different amounts of his possessions with different servants while he was away.  Upon His return, he calls the servants in to give an account of what they did with his possessions while he was gone.

The first had been given five talents and upon questioning  he shared that he had made five talents more.  As a result the master said this:

“Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25: 21)

Now we know this is a picture of Jesus going away to receive His heavenly kingdom and, while He is gone, He has given gifts (talents) to every Christian for edifying  his fellow Christian and the Church.  Upon His coming for the Church, there will be the Judgement Seat of Christ where the Christian will receive rewards for what he has done with these gifts. (More will be shared in future posts about this.)

Today, let us be found to be good stewards of whatever gifts God has entrusted to us.  Let our goal be to please our master and serve our fellow Christian so we can hear Him say of us “Well done, good and faithful slave”.  Amen.

Carl

 

 

Who Are “Those That Do Not Obey The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus”?

Who are these people who will suffer the eternal wrath of the Lamb at the end of time?

In II Thessalonians 1: 6-10 our brother Paul writes the following to the Christians at Thessalonica:

“….For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed –for our testimony to you was believed.” [Emphasis mine]

In this scripture, Paul uses two different terms to describe the people who will suffer eternally the Wrath of the Lamb.

The first is “those who do not know God”. These are people who have no biblical, saving relationship with our God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Hindus, Islamics, Buddhist, Jews, all of the different world faiths, non-religious, atheist, humanist, and others will make up this group. A vast group of people. You shudder at the thought of what is going to happen to them.

The second is “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”. Now a casual reading of this could lead some to wonder or believe that self-effort or works may be involved in salvation. Or that a born again person can fall away due to not doing something that the Lord required. While studying sanctification, I found a verse that explains who these people are. I put my thoughts before you for your consideration.

In I Peter 1: 1-2 Peter writes about the three things that happen in the salvation of a sinner.

“…who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood:…”

The first is that the sinner is “chosen” by God and then, secondly, the Holy Spirit begins the “setting apart” or sanctifying work that brings the sinner to the point where they “obey” or, another way of saying it, express their faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We see this in Acts 6:7 where it says;

“And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”

Then, thirdly, as the result of the sinner’s obedience/faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus, he is “sprinkled” with the Lord’s blood. Salvation is complete.

The second step concerning the work of the Holy Spirit sanctifying someone is also known as positional sanctification. Sanctify means to “set apart”; to set apart from the sinful nature and the world to serve God. At the point of salvation, God the Father moves the saved sinner from the dominion of Satan to the kingdom of His beloved Son. The sinner is in a new position. In Christ. After salvation, the believer begins a process known as progressive sanctification where little by little with the help of the Holy Spirit; he begins to get the sin out of his life and grows in Christlikeness. This Christlikeness, ABOVE ALL, is what God desires for the believer.

Therefore, in II Thessalonians this descriptive term, “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” refers to a LOST person who the Holy Spirit tried to draw to Christ but the person resisted His ministry and never exercised their faith in the gospel presentation they heard. This person was never born again. They remained in their original state of a sin.

The following Book of Hebrew scriptures show people doing this. The text is Hebrews 3:7 -4:2 and I will only quote pieces to give you the overview. Read the entire section when you can.

“Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEART AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,….. (v7-8)

“Take care brethren lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God, “ (12)

“Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also, but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” (3:1-2)

We see the writer of Hebrews using Old Testament examples to exhort the Jews who are seriously considering the claims of Jesus as the Messiah to go on to put their faith in the good news (gospel) that is being preached to them. If they do not put their faith in the good news being preached to them and return to the abrogated (formally ended by God) temple sacrifices, they will not enter the Sabbath rest, i.e. salvation. Notice in the scriptures above that God is speaking to them, unbelieving hearts are in the people; therefore, they do not unite faith with the word preached. They are not saved. They do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Another example is found in Acts 7:51. We find Stephen before the Jewish Council addressing the High Priest and other leaders of Israel. He says the following to them:

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in the heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. “

It is interesting to note in the account of the Pharisee Nicodemus coming to the Lord at night in John chapter 3, when he said to Jesus “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do the these signs that You do unless God is with him.”, the “we” in the original Greek grammar refers to this Council that Stephen was speaking before and Nicodemus was a member of. My point here is that the High Priest and the leaders of Israel knew that Jesus had come from God because of the multitudes of miracles (signs) He had done. Yet, they resisted the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying ministry of bringing them to faith in the Son of God. Instead, they killed him.

Of this group, the Bible tells us that only Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38) exercised faith and believed or obeyed the gospel.

It is sobering to know that according to what Jesus told the disciple about being brought before kings and courts, that the Holy Spirit is giving Stephen what to say to these men and He is telling them that you always resist Me like your fathers did.

For a positive example of this, listen to what Peter told the Pentecost crowd when he concluded preaching the gospel after the Holy Spirit fell and they wanted to know what they should do. Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, said:

“Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts2:38)

Their obedience is recorded in verse 41:

“So then, those who had received the word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

Here you have about 3000 Jews receiving the word (i.e. gospel that Peter preached) and obeying what he said (i.e. exercising their faith in what they heard) and being born again. Just opposite from what the leaders of Israel did.

Therefore, in conclusion, the people referred to in Thessalonians are people who had the opportunity to hear the gospel (good news) but rejected it. They never united the word preached with faith to come to salvation. They resisted the sanctifying work or “setting apart” work of the Holy Spirit.

The only seemingly contradiction to this view is this: did God the Father make a mistake in choosing some people before the foundation of the world because these people rejected the gospel? Now, we know He does not make mistakes; therefore, there is an explanation.

The Word says God “is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9) He is delaying the end of time so people can be saved.

The Lord Jesus said about the Holy Spirit that “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement: concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world has been judged. (John 16:8-10)

These two verses show that the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to the whole world and, of course, the Lord Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. So these verses show that God desires that all men come to salvation but since He will not violate a person’s free will, some will reject the gospel and others will unite their faith with the gospel preached and be saved.

Let us leave the choosing to Him and let us be about the reaching out to all men.

Thank you for your time. Please forward any comments or thoughts concerning this matter.

“Pay close attention to yourself…” (Paul to Timothy)

Carl

Apostle Peter’s Advice On How To Have A Good Life

“For he who desires to be loving life and to see good days, let him stop the natural tendency of his tongue towards evil, and the natural tendency of his lips to the end that they speak no craftiness, but let him rather at once and once for all turn away from evil and let him do good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, because the Lord’s eyes are directed in a favorable attitude towards the righteous, and His ears are inclined into their petitions, but the Lord’s face is against those who practice evil things.”  (I Peter 3: 10-12 quoting Psalm 34: 12-13) (Wuest Fuller Translation)

A Prayer: Father God I present myself to You as one alive from the dead and the members of my body as instruments of righteousness.  Forgive me where I have sinned with my mouth.  Thank you for your Spirit which gives me the desire and power to obey your Word.  By your power I purpose to glorify the Lord Jesus today and everyday  with my words and actions.  Thank you my old sinful nature will not be master over me because of what You and the Lord Jesus have accomplished and my faith in what you have done. In Jesus’ Mighty Name.  Amen

My first blog post!

Welcome. I started this blog as a means of sharing what the Lord is showing me in His Word (The Bible) concerning the born again person and his relationship and fellowship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  As the Holy Spirit leads us into truth, we will grow in Christ likeness, learning to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects,..” (Colossians 1:10)  I hope you will join me on this pilgrimage and share your feedback, both positive and negative.

Today the post is the result of a question from one of our relatives concerning what did Jesus do while His earthly body was dead in the grave.   Hope you find it interesting.

I close with Paul’s advice to Timothy concerning becoming more Christ like.  Thank you for visiting.

“Pay Close Attention To Yourself…”

Carl

What Did Jesus Do Between His Death On The Cross and His Resurrection

As best I can tell by searching the scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ went to the following two places after His physical death. The reader is encouraged to look up the scriptures noted and read them. A New American Standard Bible was used for this study.

1. PARADISE: In Luke 23: 39 – 43 we have the story of the two criminals being crucified with Christ. One of them rails against Him and the other stands up for Him saying that “this man has done nothing wrong”. This second criminal tells the Lord “Jesus, remember me when you come in Your kingdom!” And the Lord replies “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Paradise in the New Testament is the same as Abraham’s bosom mentioned in Jesus’ story in Luke 16:19-31. The term “Abraham’s bosom” represents blessedness after death. Because Abraham was the founder of the Hebrew nation, to be honored with his intimacy was the highest bliss. The term “bosom” is derived either from the Roman custom of reclining on the left side at meals, Lazarus being in the place of honor at Abraham’s right, leaning on his breast; or from its appropriateness as expressing closest fellowship (see John 1:18, 13:23). (Source: Pictorial Bible Dictionary)

Here The Lord tells a story concerning a rich man and a beggar that both die. Abraham’s bosom is where the righteous Old Testament people went when they died. As I understand it they could not go into God’s presence since the sin question had never once-and-for-all been settled. The Lord’s death for our sins and His resurrection settled the sin question once-and-for-all; therefore, in Hebrews 12:22-23 when it describes our new home it says “you have come to””…..the spirits of righteous men made perfect,…”. This statement refers to the occupants of Abraham’s bosom being made perfect because of what the Lord did and they are now in God’s presence.

The Old Testament Jew believed in Sheol (the grave) which was divided into Hades where the non-righteous person (a.k.a. the lost) went and Abraham’s bosom where the righteous Old Testament dead went. In the story the rich man died and “lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom”. He wanted Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his figure in the water and put it on his tongue since he was “in agony in this flame”. But since a great chasm is between the two places, he could not. The beggar was being comforted since he had suffered much in his earthly life.

You are encouraged to read the story in Luke 16 for yourself. I believe it is an actual true story in the sense that the people are real people who had lived and tells what happened after their death. It also sheds light on the importance of God’s Word as far as salvation is concerned.

Evidently, The Lord and the just-saved criminal both went to Abraham’s bosom/paradise after dying. Though it is not clearly stated anywhere that I know of in the scripture, the Lord could of revealed to the righteous dead the gospel; i.e. what He had accomplished through the substitutionary atonement, future resurrection and that He was the promised sacrifice that all of the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to and that these people were trusting in for their personal salvation. It is interesting to note that Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration to talk with a glorified Lord Jesus about His coming death and resurrection; therefore, maybe the people in Abraham’s bosom were already enlightened about the gospel.

2. TARTARUS: In I Peter 3:18-22 it says that the Lord went and “made proclamation to the spirits now in prison who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah…”

The Greek scholar Wuest tells us there are just two prisons in the unseen world where evil spirits are confined. Tartarus is where fallen angels are kept and the Bottomless Pit in Revelation 9:1-12 is the prison of demons.

In I Peter 3:19-20 and II Peter 2:4-5, Peter associates these spirits (a.k.a. fallen angels) with the period before the Flood mentioned in Genesis 6: 1-7. These are fallen angels who committed fornication with human evil women and created a hybrid race part angel and part man. It is suggested that Satan intended to wipe out the human race and thereby foil God’s plan of redemption. In regards to this “wiping out”, remember that there were only eight people on the ark during the flood. All the other righteous people on earth had died naturally, been murdered or died in some accident. If they would have been alive, they would have been on the ark with Noah. They would not of suffered the wrath of God; i.e. the flood.

God would not have incarnated Himself in a race of part angel and part man. Therefore, the divine plan of the incarnation and substitutionary atonement of the Son of God would not have happened. This is probably why God destroyed the whole world with the flood except for Noah and his 7 family members. The New Testament tells us that God put these fallen angels into a prison that they will never get out of until they are cast into the lake of fire with death, hades and Satan at the end of time. See Revelation 20:10. Some authors state that the demons are the disembodied spirits of the fallen angels’ hybrid children and some say they are fallen angels.

The Lord went to this prison and made a proclamation to these fallen angels. Though it does not reveal the text of this proclamation in the New Testament, it is thought to be a proclamation of victory over Satan’s scheme to stop God’s plan of salvation. Praise His Mighty Name!

The End!