Absent From The Earthly Body

Oh! what a glorious thing it must be to get out of the body, — I mean, a body that has grown to be sixty years of age, and that has been stricken with paralysis, and that has been upon the verge of death for many a month, — what a joy it must be to be quite clear of it! We do not know what it is to be undressed of this body; but there must be a wonderful freshness to the unclothed spirit! And what must it be to be free from all doubts and fears, and all tendencies to sin of every sort, and to be absolutely perfect? And then, what must it be, in the midst of ten thousand times ten thousand kindred spirits, all joying and rejoicing in one common, glorious God, and in the Christ whose life shall be the light that shineth over all? I warrant you that five minutes in heaven is better than Methuselah’s life on earth, even if spent in the highest happiness that life here below can afford. Oh, how our brother Mills would chide us if he could look back, and see us weeping! How he would reprove us, and tell us that the best thing that could have happened to him had happened, and ask us wherefore we deplored it. —C.H. Spurgeon (from a sermon he preached at the funeral of Mr. Mills) Source: Berean Call

Apostle Paul was looking forward to this day when he wrote: “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (II Corinthians 5:8)

Earthly pilgrim, are you looking forward to that day? We are just passing through this old world on our way to the new heavenly Jerusalem where God, the holy angels and all the saints dwell. The precious blood of Jesus has made the Way for us.

We will arrive there on His schedule. The apostle John said “and everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (I John 3:3)

Let us be purifying ourselves in body and spirit.

Look forward to seeing you on that day.

Carl

Does One Replace The Other?

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,

“I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE, THEREFORE, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPERATE,” says the Lord. ‘AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.

THEREFORE, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (II Corinthians 6:14 thru 7:1 NASB -emphasis added)

Please note in the proceeding scriptures, that faith and hope in these magnificent promises of God does not replace or destroy our fear of God, who taketh pleasure in those that fear him and hope in his mercy.

The healthy, overwhelming, profound, adoring, awed respect (aka fear) of God prolongs life (Proverb 10:27), is a fountain of life that one may avoid the snares of death (Proverb 14:27), causes one to sleep satisfied untouched by evil (Proverb 19:23), is the beginning of wisdom (Proverb 9:10) and causes numerous other blessings to occur in a believer’s life.

So hold on to His wonderful and magnificent promises but also walk in that reverence toward Him that only He is deserving of.

Thank you for your time. May His blessing rest upon you.

Carl

Singular Fruit

“Someone has beautifully analyzed the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5: 22, and shown that all the graces there mentioned are but various forms of love itself. The apostle is not speaking of different fruits, but of one fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, and the various words that follow are but phrases and descriptions of the one fruit, which is love itself. Joy, which is first mentioned, is love on wings; peace, which follows, is love folding its wings, and nestling under the wings of God; longsuffering is love enduring; gentleness is love in society; goodness is love in activity, faith is love confiding; meekness is love stooping; temperance is true self-love, and the proper regard for our own real interests, which is as much the duty of love, as regard for the interests of others.”

― Albert Benjamin Simpson, (December 15, 1843– October 29, 1919, founder of The Christian Missionary Alliance, The A.B.Simpson Collection).

Berean Call

How We Should Handle A Compliment

Roses For Jesus

(The following true story is from our first pastor’s wife.)

Roses For Jesus

Around 1975, during one of his visits in our home, Dr. Charlie Culpepper * noticed that I stumbled awkwardly when I was given a compliment. He gently exhorted me to think differently. And he couldn’t have used an example that would have left more of an impression on me because I loved “The Hiding Place,” Corrie Ten Boom’s story of her years in Holland and prison during World War II.

Having been a personal friend of Miss Ten Boom, Dr. Charlie said she told him that after returning from the Nazi prison camps, she was taken aback by the overwhelming response that she received from those with whom she shared her testimony. She found it difficult to accept the admiration or praise of others for herself, and so she would turn away with no response when complimented.

Her reasoning was that she must remain “humble” for she unmistakably knew that it was the grace of God that had sustained her through those most difficult years.

But she realized that she was offending those who had offered her their appreciation. So, she asked her heavenly Father what she should do. And the Lord said to her, “Corrie, you know it is Me they see in you. So, take their compliment as a 🌹rose, and tell them ‘Thank you!’ And then as you walk through your day, gather the roses you are given, and at the end of the day, bring your bouquet to Me.”  🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹

From that day forward, she said she was excited to have a bouquet of roses to bring to her Lord, full of rejoicing that He had been evident in her life!

Oh my! How many times have I been reminded of that story! You see, the passage in James 4:10 says, “Humble yourself before the Lord – and He will lift you up in honor!” He’s not trying to “bring you down” – No! He will lift you up!

True humility is recognizing that He has given you His Authority in this earth, and that everything you are is because of Him! Yes! Jesus deserves all the “glory” the “honor” and the “praise!”

Today, I say to you my friend, receive the “rose” when others see “good” in you and remember that they are simply seeing “Jesus in you!” No need to make a speech about it! Simply say, “Thank you,” and save the rose for Him!🌹

The Apostle Peter, who went through it all – pride, defeat, suffering, discipline from the Lord and from Paul – learned true humility and wrote at the end of his life, “Praise God for the privilege of being called by His name!” (1Peter.4:16).

Shelia Hart Artt

*Dr. C. L. Culpepper was a Southern Baptist missionary in China in 1920s and 40s who was a leader in the Shantung Revival. In 1971 he wrote The Shantung Revival detailing how God prepared the missionaries for the revival and then used them and the Chinese Christians to bring revival to the precious people of China and Korea. The book is available on Amazon. You would be blessed by what God did. He would like to do the same today with you and me.

The More We know

The more we know of God, the more unreservedly we will trust him; the greater our progress in theology, the simpler and more child-like will be our faith.

― J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937, New Testament scholar and educator in the early 20th century) – Berean Call

Paul rebuked the Corinthians for their willful ignorance that kept them from understanding the resurrection of our earthly bodies. Throughout the book of 1st Corinthians he uses the term “do you not know” nine times and he uses it twice in Romans 6 plus he uses other terms in his writings to ask or imply the same question.

What am I missing in my spiritual walk because I give large chunks of time to unprofitable things, interest that will not build me up spiritually? For example, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I need more faith, then I should be spending more time knowing God as revealed in His Book, the Bible.

God, please forgives us for our willful ignorance.

Man has made it complicated to understand and follow Jesus but it is not so. Paul warns us not to be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ (I Cor. 11:3).

Therefore, keep learning about your mighty God and amazing Savior Jesus. Keep growing. Get yourselves in order spiritually. Build yourselves up in Christ.

For He is coming back to get you or you are going to Him. Let us purify ourselves therefore.

Blessing on you,

Carl

A Small Portion

If God has given you but a small portion of the world, yet if you are godly He has promised never to forsake you (Heb. 13:5). Providence has ordered that condition for you which is really best for your eternal good. If you had more of the world than you have, your heads and hearts might not be able to manage it to your advantage.

— John Flavel (1627-1691, English Presbyterian clergyman)

What Constrains Us?

For the love which Christ has [for me] presses on me from all sides, holding me to one end and prohibiting me from considering any other, wrapping itself around me in tenderness, giving me an impelling motive, having brought me to this conclusion, namely, that One died on behalf of all, therefore all died, and that He also died on behalf of all in order that those who are living no longer are living for themselves but for the One who died on their behalf….

(II Corinthians 5: 14-15 Wuest Expanded Greek Translation (Emphasis added))

“What such should do, for whom Christ died; namely, that they should live to Him. This is what Christ designed, that those who live, who are made alive unto God by means of His death, should live to Him that died for them, and rose again for their sakes also, and that they should not live to themselves, v15.

We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions: and it was one end of Christ death to cure us of this self-love, and to excite us always to act under the commanding influence of His love. A Christian’s life should be consecrated to Christ; and then do we live as we ought to live when we live to Christ, who died for us.”

(A Commentary of the Whole Bible – Matthew Henry, 1700s)

In Matthew 23:25, the Lord rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for being self-indulgence. Will He have to rebuke us, His children, for our excessive or unrestrained gratification of our appetites, desires or whims? Let us be diligent to examine ourselves and repent of this sin, if we find ourselves guilty of it.

Let us thank Him for His great love for us, which was revealed on the Cross, and rejoice in it.

May His mercy and grace be abundant to you in this New Year!!

Carl

When Thou Risest…..

(The following is an excerpt from a tract written by Reformer John Wycliffe (1324-1384); hence, the ole English vocabulary. Hope you are built up and encouraged by the words of this precious saint. Carl)

“First, when thou risest, or fully wakest, think upon the goodness of thy God; how for his own goodness, and not for any need, he made all things out of nothing, both angels and men, and all other creatures, good in their kind.

The second time, think on the great sufferings and willing death that Christ suffered for mankind. When no man might make satisfaction for the guilt of Adam and Eve, and others more, neither any angel might make satisfaction therefore, then Christ, of his endless charity, suffered such great passion and painful death, that no creature could suffer so much.

 Think the third time, how God hath saved thee from death and other mischief, and suffered many thousands to be lost that night, some in water, some in fire, and some by sudden death, and some to be damned without end. And for this goodness and mercy thank thy God with all thine heart, and pray him to give thee grace to spend in that day, and evermore, all the powers of thy soul, as mind, understanding, reason, and will; and all the powers of thy body, as strength, beauty, and thy five senses, in his service and worship, and in nothing against his commandments, but in ready performance of his works of mercy, and to give good example of holy life, both in word and deed, to all men about thee.

 Look afterward that thou be well occupied, and no time idle, for the danger of temptation. Take meat and drink in measure, not too costly, nor too lickerous, and be not too curious thereabout. But such as God sendeth thee with health, take it in such measure, that thou be fresher in mind and understanding to serve God. And always thank him for such gifts.

 Besides this, look thou do right and equity to all men, thy superiors, equals, and subjects, or servants; and stir all to love truth, and mercy, and true peace, and charity; and suffer no men to be at dissension, but accord, if thou canst, in any good manner.

Also, most of all, fear God and his wrath; and most of all, love God, and his law, and his worship: and ask not principally for worldly reward, but in all thine heart desire the bliss of heaven in mercy of God, and thine own good life and think much of the dreadful doom of pains of hell, to keep thee out of sin; and on the endless great joys of heaven, to keep thee in virtuous life; and according to thy skill teach others the same doing.

 In the end of the day, think wherein thou hast offended God, and how much, and how oft, and therefore have entire sorrow, and amend it while thou mayst. And think how many God has suffered to perish that day, many ways, and to be damned everlastingly, and how graciously he hath saved thee; not for thy desert, but for his own mercy, and goodness, and therefore thank him with all thine heart. And pray him for grace that thou mayest dwell and end in his true and holy service, and real love, and to teach other men the same doing.”

Excerpt from A SHORT RULE OF LIFE, FOR EACH MAN IN GENERAL, AND FOR PRIESTS, AND LORDS, AND LABOURIRS IN SPECIAL, HOW EACH SHALL BE SAVED IN HIS DEGREE Reformer John Wycliffe (1324-1384)  (paragraph structure added)               

Faith Under Fire: Are You Growing In It or Fleeing From It

By Cedric H. Fisher – From Lighthouse Trails

God’s Word gives us examples of faith in the fire, faith in the flood, faith when outnumbered by the enemy, faith when facing an indomitable foe, faith in prison, faith during torture, faith when destitute, hungry, and thirsty, faith on stormy seas, faith to lose everything and faith to receive it all back again, faith to procreate though infertile, and faith to die. Every instance of faith thus described is manifested in adversity or great need. To find examples in Scripture of faith operating in a peaceful and bountiful climate would be a difficult task. I’m not sure there are any at all.

The Bible likens God’s way of purifying the faith of a believer to the refining process of gold. Peter writes:

. . . that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:7)

The refining process of gold requires that it be heated to a molten condition whereby the impurities (dross) float to the top and are skimmed off. The prophet Malachi describes this process as an illustration of how God purifies the believer:

[A]nd he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)

Some might contend that the peaceful climate is the result of faith. That may be true, but it is not faith in operation. Good health is the result of exercise, but it is not exercise. If our comfortable status is faith, then the testings of faith would not require adversity. Further, there would be no biblical examples of godly men and women exercising faith to overcome adversity.

The obvious truth is that the appearance of faith tends to be relatively dormant in times of peace. We are sustained by the benefits of our relationship with God. However, when a true Christian believes he can go through life without any adversity, such a person is being set up to be “channeled.” Now, what I am referring to by “channeled” is this: when someone tries to avoid adversity, he is actually setting himself up to be manipulated and channeled by Satan who is always at work to make it difficult and painful for devoted believers to obey God’s will.

Let me elaborate on this line of thought. If a Christian believer intends to be a light that shines in darkness, he becomes a target of evil entities. If he stands up for and speaks the truth, he will suffer. If he accepts, assimilates, and defends the values of godliness, he will suffer. If he refuses to go with the flow of nominal Christianity or worse, apostasy, he will suffer. If he refuses to deviate from God’s Word in a time of great compromise, he will suffer. If he has a prophetic calling, he might even lose his life for Christ’s sake.

Consider this scenario: A professing Christian has witnessed the suffering of a fellow believer who is being a true witness for Jesus Christ. The professing Christian has tried to do the same and experiences similar sufferings and consequences. As a result, he decides to avoid manifesting any fruit of Christianity that causes contention, rejection, or persecution. He is considered one of the nicest, most gregarious, kindly, friendly, and positive people. Everyone loves him and speaks well of him. What’s more, he is flexible and capable of mingling with any belief system. Nearly everyone enjoys associating with him, and he has excellent rapport with all of them. Secular and religious people of all stripes laud him as an example of a true Christian. And he does not want to lose that status, so he makes every attempt to make sure he doesn’t end up suffering again.

However, such a Christian does not match the examples of what the Bible describes as true Christianity, nor does he match the example of Christ Himself. In reality, such professing Christians, in their efforts to avoid the consequences and sufferings of true Christianity, are being “channeled” by Satan and his imps. Upon seeing this compromising attitude, these adversaries of our souls can re-circumvent lives (i.e., change the direction one is going) by causing situations that re-direct that person in his walk because he wants to avoid suffering, ridicule, and rejection for standing in and defending the faith.

These re-directed channeled Christians have, in effect, turned down their light to a non-offensive level. In fact, they are not actually lights at all, but shadows; they lie somewhere between light and darkness. The path they walk weaves around every uncomfortable and inconvenient situation; they walk in a state of delusion because deceit has become the norm for them. Christ warned about this type of fruitless follower.

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)

The apostle Paul described what would befall the ones who truly desire to live godly in Christ. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Peter also wrote about the suffering of true followers of Christ. He mentioned the suffering of believers eighteen times in his first letter.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Isn’t it interesting (and tragic) that so many modern-day Christians believe it is strange to suffer and that it is not God’s will. They believe they are supposed to be constantly happy, blessed, healthy, wealthy, and peaceful, while enjoying life in this temporal realm. The terms “happy,” “blessed,” “peaceful,” etc, are relative. Those emotions are based on a life ordered by them, not by God. They avoid all negativity. They have no productivity because it is inconvenient.

Heretics find a willing audience in these individuals because they never resist darkness. To do so would be too uncomfortable and painful. Their lives are empty, swept, and ordered (Matthew 12:44).  They’ve maintained a shiny neon shell of godliness, but there is no substance inside. The will of God is not included in their order. Standing up for truth, being a true light that exposes evil, obeying God when the price is rejection, or worse, harsh persecution, are not in their order of things to do.

The focus of that type of professing Christian is on milking God’s Word and kingdom of all the benefits without incurring the costs of genuine relationship. They are “professors,” but not possessors. They never exercise faith because they avoid the situations where faith is needed. There is no sense of true victory in them. There must be constant stimulation from a source other than God and His Word. . . .

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he so eloquently describes the role and the results of our willingness to suffer for Christ’s sake:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings. (Philippians 3:7-10)

Christians who do not exercise their faith but rather run from it end up in a miserable and decrepit spiritual condition. And allowing such a thing to happen does not honor God at all. For one thing, it ignores and rejects all He has given us for victory, the “precious promises” He gives us for living godly lives consecrated to Him. To such people, the substance of faith is more a happy thought or luck charm than it is a supernatural infusion of iron will to fight the good fight and win:

[W]hereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:4-8)

The damage of the so-called “positive confession” aka “Word of Faith” heresy has been to strip out the heart of a warrior and replace it with the heart of entitlement-mindedness. Even committed followers of Jesus Christ can be affected by this fallacy if they are not watchful. When they suffer and feel alone and rejected, they wonder if God has abandoned them. That is actually an opportunity for faith to go from embers to blazing brilliance.
As long as we are humans and children of God, we need the trials. When distraction and disfocus dim our view of God’s glory or our humanity incrementally cools us to a temperature less than hot, we need the fiery trials. In essence, we must embrace them. Paul said he actually took pleasure in them (because he knew the benefits of them):

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

From my own experiences during fiery trials, I can testify that the pain, the angst, and other suffering are conquered the instant I surrender to the flames. It is like falling backwards off a steep cliff into the hands of God. There is no parachute and no stopping halfway. If He doesn’t catch you, then you will hit the bottom and die. That is literally the goal of faith—to trust God with your life and everything in it. All that is not put into His hands is unprotected and causes us angst and suffering. However, when all is surrendered, we receive a deep serenity that the fire will not burn anything except what needs to be consumed. That’s when the gold shines.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9; emphasis added)

Remember, the destiny of Christ was a cross. Our destiny is also a cross. Only when we accept that destiny, will we understand. Newness of life has its birth and growing pains. But the heart of a believer in Jesus Christ holds this proverb by its roots:

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18; emphasis added)

In the meantime, let us not grow weary of the trials and tribulations of this life, knowing that God is doing His work within us for His glory:

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)

How The Christian Life Works.

“I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking God to do His work through me.”

Hudson Taylor (21 May 1832 – 3 June 1905, British Christian missionary to China, founder of the China Inland Mission, now OMF International)

Source: Berean Call

As The Shining Moon and Glittering Stars

Even as the shining moon and the glittering stars give the most light and adorn the blue expanse of heaven the most gloriously, in the darkest nights, so it was also after A. D. 1000, as regards spiritual matters, which concern the honor of God and the salvation of the souls of men.

For, about the year 1000, as well as many years before and after but particularly then, the world lay sunken, as it were, in an arctic, six-month’s night, through the thick, and palpable darkness, which had arisen, with heavy vapors of superstitions, from the Roman pit. Yet, notwithstanding the state of the times, some undefiled persons, as bright heavenly signs, and stars, began to shine forth the more, and to let their light of evangelical truth illumine the dark nights of papal error. Yea, some, like the polar star, served as a sign to sail by; I mean, to accomplish safely and in a godly manner, through the turbulent waves of perverted worship and human inventions, the journey to the heavenly fatherland. Others, like the morningstar, or the lovely, blushing Aurora, announced the approaching day; we mean, they pointed to the true day of the Christian and evangelical worship of God, and revealed it, as much as they were able, to those who sat in the darkness of error.

We will no longer speak by simile; what we mean is this: That there were men in those dark times, who maintained God’s truth, in various points, according to the needs of that time, and bore witness to and sealed it not only with the mouth, but with the deed, yea, with their blood and death.

Martyrs Mirror – from chapter: AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY: SUMMARY OF THE MARTYRS IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY – page 265 -266, compiler T.J. Van Braght, 1660

May we, like the martyrs of the 1100s, stand for God’s truth as found in the Holy Scriptures; not only with the words of our mouth but with our actions, for the commandments and teachings of men continue today to produce a spiritual darkness that blinds the souls of men to eternal destruction. Let us be light in the darkness and guide others to the only safe harbor of Jesus, the Savior and Lord of Lords.

Carl

Thou art Coming

“Thou art coming, O our Saviour!
  Coming, God’s anointed King!
Every tongue Thy Name confessing,
  Well may we rejoice and sing.
Thou art coming! Rays of glory
  Through the veil Thy death has rent,
Gladden now our pilgrim pathway,
  Glory from Thy presence sent.
”Thou art coming! Thou art coming!
  We shall meet Thee on Thy way;
Thou art coming! We shall see Thee,
  And be like Thee on that day.
Thou art coming! Thou art coming!
  Jesus, our beloved Lord; 
Oh, the joy to see Thee reigning,
  Worshipped, glorified, adored!
”Thou art coming! Not a shadow,
  Not a mist, and not a tear,
Not a sin, and not a sorrow,
  On that sunrise grand and clear,
Thou are coming! Blessed Saviour,
  Nothing else seems worth a thought:
Oh, how marvelous the glory,
  And the bliss Thy pain hath bought.
”Thou are coming! We are waiting 
  With a ‘hope’ that cannot fail,
Asking not the day or hour,
  Anchored safe within the veil.
”Thou are coming! At Thy table
  We are witnesses of this,
As we meet Thee in communion,
  Earnest of our coming bliss.”

Frances Havergal

In The Heavenlies [Ephesians Bible Study] --H.A. Ironside, LITT.D

Awake Up

“Awake up righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame.” 1st Corinthian 15:34 (KJV)

Paul is writing to the Corinthian believers about the Corinthian believers. The “some” are not the unbelievers on the streets of Corinth who do not know God and run to idols but Paul is addressing those in the church who were teaching the error of no resurrection of the believer’s physical body.

Amid the assembly of believers there were those who had “no knowledge of God”.  Sounds like an oxymoron, a Christian believer with no knowledge of God.  In the Greek “no knowledge” does not mean “mere ignorance” (agnoia) but “reprehensible ignorance” (Vines).  They were not just lacking facts, but they were guilty before God for their own sloth (spiritual apathy and inactivity) and slight of God.

How do we slight God? They were guilty of treating God with indifference, treating His revealed will and ways as something of truly little importance, and pursuing their spiritual growth and relationship with Him in a careless manner.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

“…for some of you have not the knowledge of God [ you are utterly and willfully and disgracefully ignorant, and continue to be so, lacking the sense of God’s presence and all true knowledge of Him]. I say this to your shame.”  (emphasis added)

Denying the resurrection was giving evidence of this type of ignorance in some of the people.

Are we guilty of slighting God?  Are we living our lives in a manner that displays indifference to God’s will and ways, considers them of little importance and pursuing our spiritual growth and our Kingdom of God responsibilities in a careless manner?  Are we “gathering” with the Lord Jesus or “scattering”?

Not everyone in the Corinth Church believed this error. The “you “ in the latter part of the Scripture refers to the whole body of believers in Corinth. Paul is saying that because they pride themselves on their wisdom and intelligence, the spread of this error in their midst “displayed their culpable inability to recognize the character and power of God” (Henry). For this, the whole body should be ashamed, experience grief or inward pain because they now realized that they did not measure up to what they thought they were, in God’s eyes.

And herein is the danger of our walking in pride.

 In the first half of the Scripture Paul tells them “Awake up righteously, and sin not…”.

Their pride, rooted in their perceived wisdom and intelligence, had put them in a state of spiritual stupefaction. A state where the saint experiences a profound spiritual drowsiness or stupor. They had drunk deeply of the poison, their delusional pride, by comparing themselves among themselves and measuring themselves by themselves and not measuring themselves against God’s standard. Oh, how we need to heed Paul’s admonition in 1st Corinthians 10: 12 “…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”.

This produced in the church a state of spiritual lethargy where they were devoid of spiritual energy and interest. They had grieved (Ephesians 4:30) and quenched (1st Thessalonians 5:19) the Holy Spirit with their pride.  He is the Giver of the desire and will “to work for His good pleasure”.  (Philippians 2:13) His ministry was stopped by the pride in their lives. Now the Church was not a place of spiritual edification but a place of danger for the saints.  God now opposed them (James 4:6)!!!

Therefore, Paul commands them “Awake up righteously and stop sinning…”. The NASB says “Become sober minded as you ought and stop sinning,”. The Amplified Bible says “Awake [from your drunken stupor and return] to sober sense and your right minds, and sin no more.”

 Matthew Henry (1700s) says:

“Rouse yourselves, break off your sins by repentance: renounce and forsake every evil way, correct whatever is amiss, and do not by sloth and stupidity, be led away into such conversation and principles that will sap your Christian hopes, and corrupt your practice.”

This is what the Holy Spirit is telling the Corinthians through the pen of Paul.

What saith we? Do we see ourselves in Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthian believers? Oh, Father God remove the blinders of pride from our understanding that keeps us in darkness.

Do we need to wake up, to rouse ourselves, to become sober minded about our spiritual state?  Have we quenched and grieved the Holy Spirit in our life?  Have we stopped the rivers of living water (John 7:38) that are supposed to flow out of our innermost being and replaced it with a muddy slough of arrogance, self-indulgence, and worldly ways from our carnal nature.

Are we slighting God?

If the rapture of the believers happened today and we, in the twinkling of an eye, went from earth to His presence, what would be in our hand, in our mind and in our heart?  Would we be ashamed of what He caught us doing, thinking about, and craving for?

 It is going to happen one day. Let us be sober minded. Get right (with God) and ready (to stand in His Presence).

Believer, the Judgement Seat of Christ is also drawing closer. Are you ready to stand before your Savior and give an account of what you have done in this earthly life? Are we ready to receive our rewards or will we suffer loss ….for eternity?

Will He have to “wake us up” for the momentous occasion?

May Paul’s words to Timothy move us to self-examination in the light of His Word:

“Pay close attention to yourself…” (1st Timothy 4:16)

With repentance, love, and concern for the Church,

Carl

Chinese Proverbs

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. –I CORINTHIANS 15:58

Chinese proverbs are common and often have stories behind them. The proverb “pulling up a crop to help it grow” is about an impatient man in the Song Dynasty.  He was eager to see his rice seedlings grow quickly, so he would pull up each plant a few inches. After a day of tedious work, the man surveyed his paddy field.  He was happy that his crop seemed to have “grown “ taller.  But his joy was short-lived.  The next day, the plants had begun to wither because their roots were no longer deep.

In 2 Timothy 2:6, the apostle Paul compares the work of being a minister to the gospel to that of a farmer.  He wrote to encourage Timothy that, like farming, making disciples can be continuous, hard labor. You plow, you sow, you wait, you pray. You desire to see the fruits of your labor quickly, but growth takes time. And as the Chinese proverb so aptly illustrates, any effort to hurry the process won’t be helpful. 

As we labor faithfully, we wait patiently on the Lord, who makes all things grow (I Corinthian 3:7).

Source: – Poh Fang – author

Heavenly Minded

“Those who are the most heavenly minded are also of most earthly use.”

William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833, British politician, philanthropist, and one of the leaders of the movement to ban the slave trade).

Source: Berean Call

Fellowshipping With Your First Love

“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Lord Jesus in Revelation 2:4

I have a book, Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians, that has a story about Billy Bray, one of God’s quaint vessels. He would offend some Christians today, but he had a real experience of salvation and he did not know what to do except express himself. They made fun of Billy Bray and laughed at him. “Why, Billy Bray, you are so happy, so joyous, all the time. Suppose you discovered you are not saved at all, you are really not a child of God, and suppose when you die you go to hell?” Billy Bray said, “Well, I suppose if I die and I discovered I am not a Christian and I go to hell, Jesus has been so real and wonderful and precious to me in life I will just have to shout all the way to hell. When I get down to hell I will have to run up and down the streets of hell shouting ‘Hallelujah, praise the Lord.’ The devil will come over to me and say, ‘Billy Bray, we cannot stand that down here; we cannot put up with that. We will just have to send you to heaven.” That is the joy of salvation.

Exploring 1.2.3 John – Jerry Vines (1989)

Dear born again Christian, how is your joy level right now?

 Is it full and overflowing? Maybe it has been a while since you had fellowship with the Joy-Givers, our Heavenly Father and His Mighty Son Jesus, your First Love. There is real, deep joy around their throne and, as His child, He wants our joy to be made complete. Why not “wash your feet” in the precious blood of Jesus (John 13:3-10) and get rid of that unconfessed sin in your life which prevents your fellowship with the Joy-Givers. After that, spend some time in prayer and Bible readings in His presence. Read I John 1: 4-10 for example and think on the awesome privilege you have in being called into fellowship with the Creator and Sustainer of all things, including you.

 In your First Love’s presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Return to your First Love today! Do not be a carnal Christian who is running around on his First Love, loving the devil’s world and their old, stinking, fleshly, sinful ways.

Instead, may rivers of living water, the Holy Spirit (John 7:38), flow out of you today and every day and may the people around you be watered by this spiritual, life-giving, river of God.

Carl

Who Is Jesus?

Jesus died. He rose from the dead. And the world changed forever.

But what’s the significance of these events? Why did Jesus die, and what does His resurrection mean? How has the world changed?

When we think about someone’s death, we can’t really appreciate its significance unless we know who we’re talking about. The significance of Abraham Lincoln’s death can only be fully felt when we understand who Lincoln was—and the same goes for other historical figures. Their lives changed the world, and their death did too.

From a purely historical point of view, there’s no one in human history whose life changed the world more than Jesus. More biographies have been written about Him than any other person (Lincoln is second). Indeed, the original four biographies of Jesus, collected together in the New Testament gospels, are a large part of why the
Bible is the number-one-selling book every year. In fact, The New York Times Best Seller ignores the Bible; otherwise, it would top the list every week.

No one’s teaching has had a deeper impact on culture, politics, morality, justice, philosophy, and human character than Jesus Christ’s. Two thousand years later, He’s regularly quoted (consciously and unconsciously) even in our increasingly secular world. His moral teaching likewise forms the bedrock for billions around the world –such as the Golden Rule and the importance of compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Indeed, Jesus continues to set a standard that our modern world fails to live up to.  How well do we love our enemies? Do we pray for those who persecute us?

And all of that is only taking into account the Jesus of history. What about when we consider who He was according to His own claims? According to Jesus and His first followers, He wasn’t an ordinary man. He was God’s appointed king who came in fulfillment of promises made centuries before. He came to reveal God to us through His own embodiment of the divine nature. He was, and is, God the Son, who by His own claim existed  from the very beginning. He’s the One through whom His Father created the entire cosmos – including the humanity of which Jesus Himself chose to partake. If these claims are believed, there can be no question that Jesus was the most significant man who ever walked the earth.

When we realize that the One through whom humanity was crafted died as a man, we begin to see the depths of this event. In fact, once we understand who Jesus is, we shouldn’t at all be surprised that He would rise again from the dead. The truly remarkable thing is that He died at all! How could the Author of life be put to death? How could the Creator be killed by His own creation?

The answer is love. As the Apostle John says, “God is love.” (I John 4:8) and the gift of His eternal Son is the ultimate demonstration of His love. Jesus chose to take up human life and to lay down His life so that we broken, rebellious, proud human beings might be brought into loving relationship with our heavenly Father –our Maker and our Judge. If Christmas celebrates God’s gift of Jesus into our world, Easter celebrates what that Gift came to do. He came to die that we might live. His death spells our life because of who He is. He’s God Himself come to us as one of us so that He might bring us home with Him.

If Christ’s death can only be appreciated by understanding who He is, so too His resurrection from the dead. Lazarus was raised from the dead (by Jesus), but his resurrection did not change the fate of humanity. So why did Christ’s change humanity? For starters, Lazarus had to die again one day. His resurrection didn’t permanently overcome death. It didn’t destroy death. But when Jesus was resurrected, He overpowered death. He conquered the last great enemy of humanity—death itself. That is why Jesus will never die again, unlike Lazarus. He rose victorious over death, and death no longer has any claim on Him. Death could literally not hold Him down.

While death still has its way with us, Jesus promised through Him death would not have the last word. No one who hopes in Jesus will stay dead. He promised that one day He’ll call each of us by name. He’ll call us out of our graves, and we’ll literally live again. Our bodies will be resurrected like His. Death will have no further claim on us. Death will die.

That is why that first Easter was the most important weekend in human history. God remade humanity in three days through the death and resurrection of one man. The ultimate man died the ultimate death so that our ultimate fate would be eternal life with Him.

This Easter let’s pursue Jesus, the One who first came in pursuit of us. 

Source: Con Campbell, vice-president of global content, Our Daily Bread

Dear Reader, this article was written for Easter but I encourage you to pursue Jesus today. If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, ask Him today to save you from your sins, to forgive you, and become your Lord and Savior. He will not fail you or reject you.  Enter His rest and cease from your works to be good enough or religious enough to earn His favor.  We all are sinners in need of His mercy. He will not reject you.  Turn to the Living Son of God today and be saved for eternity.

All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.    Quote from Jesus — John 6:37

Carl

Hypocrite vs True Christian

“The hypocrite is like the waterman*, that looks one way and rows another; the true Christian like the traveller, that has his journey end in his eye. The hypocrite soars like the kite**, with his eye upon the prey below, which he is ready to come down to when he has a fair opportunity; the true Christian soars like the lark, higher and higher, forgetting the things that are beneath.” A Commentary On The Whole Bible – Matthew Henry (1721)- Vol. 5, page 81

“If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Paul in Colossians 3: 1-3

Carl

*The person rowing a boat ** Eagle-like bird of prey feeding predominately on fish

Have A Desire For God?

Desire is not merely a simple wish; it is a deep seated craving; an intense longing, for attainment. In the realm of spiritual affairs, it is an important adjunct to prayer. So important is it, that one might say, almost, that desire is an absolute essential of prayer.

A sense of need creates or should create, earnest desire. The stronger the sense of need, the greater should be the desire, the more earnest the praying. The “poor in spirit” are eminently competent to pray.

Hunger is an active sense of physical need. It prompts the request for bread. In like manner, the inward consciousness of spiritual need created desire, and desire breaks forth in prayer. Desire is an inward longing for something of which we are not possessed, of which we stand in need –something which God has promised, and which may be secured by an earnest supplication of His throne of grace.

Desire is the will in action; a strong, conscious longing, excited in the inner nature, for some great good. Desire exalts the object of its longing, and fixes the mind on it. It has choice, and fixedness, and flame in it, and prayer, based thereon, is explicit and specific. It knows its need, feels and sees the thing that will meet it, and hastens to acquire it.

Spiritual desire, carried to a higher degree, is the evidence of the new birth. It is born in the renewed soul:

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

The absence of this holy desire in the heart is presumptive proof, either of a decline in spiritual ecstasy, or, that the new birth has never taken place.”

Bless are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

These heaven-given appetites are the proof of a renewed heart, the evidence of a stirring spiritual life…spiritual desires belong to a soul made alive to God. And as the renewed soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness, these holy inward desires break out into earnest, supplicating prayer.

One might well ask, whether the feebleness of our desires for God, the Holy Spirit, and for all the fulness of Christ, is not the cause of our so little praying, and languishing in the exercise of prayer? Do we really feel these inward pantings of desire after heavenly treasure? Do the inbred groanings of desire stir our souls to mighty wrestlings? Alas for us! The fire burns altogether too low. The flaming heat of soul has been tempered down to a tepid lukewarmness. This, it should be remembered, was the central cause of the sad and desperate condition of the Laodicean Christians, of whom the awful condemnation is written that they were “rich, and increased in goods and had need of nothing,” and knew not that they “were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind.”

Again: we might inquire–have we that desire which presses us to close communion with God, which is filled with unutterable burnings, and hold us there through the agony of an intense ands soul-stirred supplication? Our hearts need much to be worked over, not only to get the evil out of them, but to get the good into them. And the foundation and inspiration to the incoming good , is strong, propelling desire. This holy and fervid [i.e. very hot] flame in the soul awakens the interest of heaven, attracts the attention of God, and places at the disposal of those who exercise it, the exhaustless riches of Divine grace.

The dampening of the flame of holy desire, is destructive of the vital and aggressive forces in church life. God requires to be represented by a fiery Church, or He is not in any proper sense, represented at all. God, Himself, is all on fire, and His Church, if it is to be like Him, must also be at white heat. The great and eternal interests of heaven-born, God-given religion are the only things about which His Church can afford to be on fire. Yet, holy zeal need not to be fussy in order to be consuming. Our Lord was the incarnate antithesis of nervous excitability, the absolute opposite of intolerant or clamorous declamation, yet the zeal of God’s house consumed Him; and the world is still feeling the glow of His fierce, consuming flame and responding to it, with an ever-increasing readiness and an ever-enlarging response. ” Source: The Necessity of Prayer – Edward M. Bounds, p. 44-48

Father, we praise your name. Please increase our desire for You. Set our souls aflame for You and Christ. Forgive us for our coldness and lukewarmness. Forgive us where we have let the “worry of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things” choke out your word in our lives and make us unfruitful. Cause us to be consumed with your zeal so that we may be pleasing to you and effective in witnessing to this lost and adulterous generation. We ask this in the precious Name of Jesus. Amen.

“Secrets for Sufferers” From A Sufferer

Dear Reader the following was written by Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001) who was imprisoned in communist Romania for fourteen years because of his faith in Christ. In 1965, he and his family was ransomed out of Romania for $10,000 and eventually moved to the U.S where he started a global ministry that became known as The Voice of the Martyrs. He testified before the U. S. Congress to the cruel treatment of Christians under communism. Removing his shirt, he showed the Senators and Representatives the stripes and wounds he received from the communist. Pray for those who are suffering everyday for Christ. Pray that the comfort of the Holy Spirit would be with them and they would be faithful unto death if need be. Be encouraged, do your part for the church, and prepare yourself. Carl

“Jesus promised “not peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34), and ever since He uttered those words, committed Christians have been targeted relentlessly by pagan and religionist alike: crucified, burned at the stake; tortured on the rack; hunted in mountain passes, forests and caves; starved; beaten; brainwashed; tormented.

Only a devil could brew the consummate evil that has been meted out to Christ’s humble disciples over the centuries, reaching a horrendous climax in our own bloody era.

Is suffering, whether intended or circumstantial, a waste, or can it be redemptive? How should Christians respond? Jesus said, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) — but can you love the devil incarnate in another human being, evil personified?

I would like to propose that today’s Christians in repressive countries can provide a model for those of us in the free world.

Christians in the West often quote the text, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), giving it a positive spin. But Paul had just said he had learned to endure all things –humiliation, hunger and want, as well as the satisfaction of his needs. Persecuted believers take Paul’s words as a promise that Christ will strengthen them to endure suffering, because they know a Christian can’t escape tribulation.

I think of a young girl of our Romanian underground church whose activities were discovered by the secret police. She had been guilty of secretly distributing Gospels and teaching children about Christ. To make her arrest as painful as possible, they decided to wait a few weeks for her wedding day.

When she dressed for the event every woman looks forward to, the police suddenly broke in. Anticipating their intentions, she held out her hands, which they handcuffed roughly, looked lovingly at her groom, then kissed the chains, saying, “I thank my heavenly Bridegroom for this jewel He has presented to me on my marriage day. I thank Him that I am worthy to suffer for Him.”

She was dragged off to prison, leaving behind weeping Christians and a weeping bridegroom. Five years later she was released, haggard, broken, looking 30 years older. She had remained faithful. And her intended had waited for her.

A Soviet prisoner who was mocked unmercifully said, “Many fear suffering: in the past, I too feared. But the presence of the Lord in jail has given me so many happy experiences that I would not have changed them for years of easy living in freedom.”

How impressive is the prayer of a woman in a Siberian camp: “O God, accept all my sufferings, my tiredness, my humiliations, my tears, my nostalgia, my being hungry, my suffering with the cold, all bitterness accumulated in my soul….Dear Lord, have pity also on those who persecute and torture us day and night. Grant them, too, the divine grace of knowing the sweetness and happiness of Your love.”

How do the persecuted view their torturers, who often take fiendish delight in inflicting maximum pain? May are able to look at them with love, knowing that without Christ they are eternally lost. Believers exemplify what Jesus preached: “Love your enemies … pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” And they practiced what He taught: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Once when I was in prison, a pastor was thrown into our cell. He had been horribly beaten and was covered with blood. Some prisoners cursed the communists. Half dead, groaning in pain, he said, “Please don’t curse them. Be quiet! I want to pray for them.”

Once I was in the same cell with a man I had brought to Christ. He left behind a wife and six starving children. I asked him, “Have you any resentment toward me for bringing you to Christ and for the fact that your family is in such misery?”

His reply typifies the attitude of so many martyrs down through the centuries: “I have no words to express my thankfulness that you have brought me to the wonderful Savior. I would not have it any other way!”

In Ukraine, the Christian Terelya was put in a psychiatric asylum. The sadist psychiatrist told him, “The fact that you call yourself a Christian shows already you have a serious and irremediable sickness. Faith in God is a mass psychosis, a kind of schizophrenia.”

But instead of brooding about his suffering, Terelya brought officers of the secret police to Christ. They provided him with paper and pencil and smuggled out a whole notebook of his with joyous poems praising God.

Out of the mire of suffering grows the lily of joy in the Lord. ”

Richard Wurmbrand–faithful witness and pastor under Stalin’s communism, founder of The Voice of the Martyrs