The Refiner’s Fire (Part 3)

smelter

Note: This, the last in three posts concerning The Refiner’s Fire. If you missed the first two posts, please scroll down to the end of this post, to read first two.  Thank you.

“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.” 

In the last post we showed that each born again believer is a priest to God, The Father through Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:5) and that the “sons of Levi” are actually a type of us and that we, as believer-priests, now offer sacrifices on the altar of our dedicated, consecrated heart.

Since every believer is a priest to God The Father through Jesus Christ, this purifying and refining process applies to you and me. The Lord Jesus is going to purify and refine us so that we offer to God unblemished sacrifices which is our reasonable service, since we are recipients of His many mercies.

Just as the smelter would scoop the impurities off the hot liquid, looking for a clear reflection of his face in the purified gold or sliver,  so the Savior is looking for the reflection of His face in our hearts, the real you and me. A reflection of Him in the “hidden man”. The characteristics of His Personality.

Another scripture states this a little differently. Speaking of the Lord Jesus it says:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so 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 would be holy and blameless.”  (Ephesians 5: 25-27)

Instead of the using the metaphor of a smelter, the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul states that Jesus is going to sanctify or set apart the believers from the world, to Himself, by washing them with the Word.  In other words, as the believer obeys the commandments of God, they will purify their souls (mind, will and emotions) becoming holy (more Christ like) and blameless (practicing righteousness).  Peter said in I Peter 1:22 “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls…”. 



In respect to this purifying and refining, this is why in James 1:2 it says “Consider it all joy,…when you encounter various trials…” because they are refining and purifying events, with the goal of making us more like Jesus and providing proof of our faith. Satan may mean to use the trial for our destruction but, by us remaining faithful during the trial, Jesus will redeem it for our good.   James 1:3 explains the good: “…knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  

The end result of various trials is to make us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  “…perfect” means mature.  Ephesians 4:13 says, the goal of the operation of the Holy Spirit gifts within the church is: “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  Trials, whether disciplinarian (Hebrew 12: 5-11) or adversarial (I Peter 1:6), mature us into more Christ likeness by stopping us from practicing sin and replacing it with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Ignatius [Bishop of Antioch, martyr; first century believer] said it this way:

“None of these escape your notice, if you are maturing in faith and love towards Jesus Christ. For these are the beginning and end of life: faith is the beginning and love is the end, and the two, when they exist in unity, are Godlike. Everything else that contributes to moral beauty follow from them.”

The “…complete, lacking in nothing”, does not refer to worldly things like money, cars, food, shelter, etc. but refers to not lacking in the characteristics of Jesus’ personality in our lives.  The Apostle John refers to this as being perfected in love. Some of these characteristics are listed in Galatians 5:22:  “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”.  The fruit of God the Holy Spirit.  Three more can be added from II Peter 1: “moral excellence”, “knowledge“, and “perseverance”.  “…humility of mind…” would be another. This is what the Father desires for His children.  Christ likeness.  To be more like His Son.

Colossians 3:1-2 tells us

“If you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above where Christ is…” “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

What are these “things” we are to keep seeking for? A mansion in Heaven? A cloud to sit on? A throne like James and John sought for? No! I am not certain what all “things” entails, but I know they include Jesus’ personality traits because our life is hidden in Him.  He is our life.
Therefore, the Lord Jesus is the smelter and the washer in our born again lives, with the end result being, we can offer spiritual sacrifices to God the Father through Him that are unblemished and righteous. This is only possible because we are alive from the dead and He loves us enough to purify and cleanse us so we can “share in His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). This is the sanctification process in our lives.  Psalms 149: 4 says:

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” 

In closing let me say this about trials.  There are disciplinary trials that come from our heavenly Father who disciplines each child for their good so they can share in His holiness (Hebrew 12:4-11). There are adversarial trials which come from the world and Satan.  The world hates Christians. The world is controlled by Satan; therefore, we should expect adversarial trials to come.  Jesus said they would come.  As a born again child of God, we are pilgrims in the earth heading toward our new, heavenly home. (See Hebrews 13) We need to “gird our minds for action and keep sober in spirit..” as Peter said and expect trials.  It helps me to know that Jesus is my smelter and washer and that whatever comes my way He is using it for my ultimate good.

Remember, our brother and sisters in other countries whose trials include imprisonment and even death.

So let us rejoice NOW and ALWAYS in our Great Savior and God, Jesus Christ, and thank Him for His watch care over us. Because of this refining and purifying, the Word says that we will be so joyful one day that, “you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

Thank you for your time.

Let us be paying close attention to ourselves,
Carl

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!

“…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

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

 

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