I will seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them. —George Müller
Three unidentified men shot and killed a pastor in the east Indian state of Jharkhand while he was returning home with his wife after baptizing new believers, according to a report.
Pastor Salim Stephen Surin, a part-time evangelist in Rania village of Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district, was killed on Dec. 8, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported Friday.
“They killed my husband in front of my own eyes,” Tarsis, the wife of the slain pastor, was quoted as saying. “I was terrified seeing my husband collapse having been shot in the chest. I started to think about my children and loudly cried out to God to save me and take care of my [two] children.”
Tarsis said she pushed one of the three men who shot her husband, after which he pointed the gun toward her. “I ran into the thick bushes and the nearby forest. I probably walked for more than 10 hours to reach my home. I purposely did not take the road to avoid the attackers.”
At the time of the attack, the pastor and his wife were on the couple’s motorbike returning from Putikda village where the pastor baptized five people.
Later that evening, local travelers discovered Surin’s lifeless body lying on the road.
To read the rest of the story, click here.
Dear Reader: Please pray for the Christians in India who are experiencing persecution. Thank you. Carl
We all feel this way at times. The way out of the valley is to start giving God thanks; remembering all the good He has done for you. That will lead into praising and worshipping Him for who He is and how great He is. Soon you have risen to an elevation above the worries of this world. Remember, you are not alone. The Holy Spirit has not left you and the world is full of your brother and sisters who are going through the same things you are. Refocus on the Father and Jesus and away from the worries of the world. Click on the following link to join in with Maverick City Music, a Christian music group, as they extol God’s miraculous love for His children: Love Is A Miracle.
“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
*The person rowing a boat ** Eagle-like bird of prey feeding predominately on fish
A Christian apologist who once believed in New Age spirituality criticized Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson’s teachings about Jesus Christ.
In a video posted to his YouTube channel Wednesday, Steven Bancarz — whose story of leaving the occult and turning to Christ was reported on by The Christian Post in September 2016 — unpacks the central error of the New Age philosophy espoused by Williamson, which is that accepting Christ is merely “a shift in self-perception.”
Promoted as a favorite author of Oprah Winfrey, Williamson is among the most visible New Age teachers in the world and has authored several New York Times best-sellers.
In the Democrat presidential race, she currently stands in the bottom tier among the top 13 candidates, less than 1% nationally, according to today’s RealClearPolitics average of polls.
Williamson has received positive reviews and heightened interest due to her debate performances, however. According to Google, Williamson was the most internet searched candidate during CNN’s July 30 debate. During that debate, Williamson used the phrase “dark psychic force,” which also trended in Google searches.
“If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days,” Williamson said in response to a question about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.
In a 2016 interview with BeliefNet, Williamson said Jesus was a human who “completely self-actualized and fulfilled in all ways the potential glory that lies within us all” when he was on Earth.
“To say there is ‘only one begotten son’ doesn’t mean that someone else was it, and we’re not. It means we’re all it.”
“Jesus actualized the Christ mind, and was then given the power to help the rest of us reach that place within ourselves. He was sent down by God — as we all are.”
Bancarz says that while Williamson’s words are a distortion of the real Jesus, her teachings fulfill some prophetic utterances Jesus made about the end times.
Dear Reader: the following is an question concerning the authenticity of the Bible that was received by The Berean Call. Dave Hunt, the author of the God Makers, The Mind Invaders, and The Woman Rides The Beast, gives an excellent answer. I pray you are blessed by the discussion. Carl
February 1, 2019 Dave Hunt – Berean Call– February Newsletter
What about Satan as Serpent?
Question: I think one of the great evidences against the authenticity of the Bible is its treatment of the serpent. In the Bible, the serpent is the embodiment of evil, whereas ancient myths and religions give exactly the opposite view. The Bible equates the serpent with the devil, but the most ancient religions, some of which are even practiced to the present time, almost universally identify the serpent as the Savior, or at least as benevolent and to be worshiped. How can the Bible be true at the same time be so much out of touch with what is clearly the common intuition of humanity?
Response: This is a fascinating subject, and its implications go beyond our ability to understand fully. There is no doubt that the Bible repeatedly identifies Satan both as the serpent and the dragon, not only in Genesis 3 but elsewhere. For example, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation:12:9 – “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”)
In view of the usual human revulsion and fear of both dragons and serpents, one would think that Satan would do everything possible to deny such a connection, yet the opposite seems to be the case, for some strange reason. How intriguing it is that both are so closely associated with nearly all pagan religions. The dragon is found on thousands of temples throughout Asia, while the serpent permeates and even dominates the religion of India.
Serpent Worship Everywhere
In the temples of ancient Egypt and Rome the body of the god Serapis was encircled by the coils of a great serpent. In Hinduism one of the three chief gods, Shiva, has serpents entwined in his hair. Yoga is symbolized as a raft made of cobras, and its goal is to awaken the kundalini power coiled at the base of the human spine in the form of a serpent. Numerous other examples could be given, from the plumed serpent Quetzalcoatl, the Savior-god of the Mayas, to the annual snake dance of the Hopi Indians. One of the greatest authorities on the occult (himself a practitioner of occultism) has written:
“Serpent worship in some form permeated nearly all parts of the earth. The serpent mounds of the American Indian; the carved-stone snakes of Central and South America; the hooded cobras of India; Python, the great snake of the Greeks; the sacred serpents of the Druids; the Midgard snake of Scandinavia; the Nagas of Burma, Siam, and Cambodia . . . the mystic serpent of Orpheus; the snakes at the oracle of Delphi . . . the sacred serpents preserved in the Egyptian temples; the Uraeus coiled upon the foreheads of the Pharaohs and priests—all these bear wintess to the universal veneration in which the snake was held. . . .”
” The serpent is . . . the symbol and prototype of the Universal Savior, who redeems the world by giving creation the knowledge of itself. . . . It has long been viewed as the emblem of immortality. It is the symbol of reincarnation.” (Manley P. Hall, The Secret Teachings or all Ages: An Encyclopedic outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Sybolical Philosophy (The Philosophical Research Society, Inc, Lost Angeles, CA 90027, 1969)
In Greek mythology a serpent was wrapped around the Orphic egg, the symbol of the cosmos. Likewise at Delphi, Greece (for centuries the location of the most sought-for and influential oracle of the ancient world, consulted by potentates from as far away as North Africa and Asia Minor), the three legs of the oracular tripod in the inner shrine of the temple were intertwined with serpents. As one further example, consider the Greek and Roman god of medicine, Aesculapius, whose symbol of modern medicine, the caduceus, was derived.
In the temples erected in his honor, Aesculapius was worshiped with snakes because of ancient myth that said he had received a healing herb at the mouth of a serpent. Here again we have the Genesis story perverted: The serpent is not the deceiver and destroyer but the Savior of mankind, replacing Jesus Christ. At graduation ceremonies of medical schools around the world, where prayers to the God of the Bible or to Jesus Christ would not be allowed, graduates, upon receiving their MD degrees, still repeat loudly in unison the Hippocratic oath. It begins, “I swear by Apollo, by Aesculapius, by Hygeia and Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses. . . .”
Surely the Bible’s depiction of Satan as a serpent and dragon, the deceiver and destroyer of mankind, and then as the god of this world who originates pagan religions, fits the evidence. Furthermore, the very fact that the Bible stands alone against all ancient religions provides further evidence that all of them have a common source and that the inspiration behind the Bible is, exactly as it claims, independent of theirs. In fact, the two sources of inspiration are obviously diametrically opposed.
8. Believers in Yemen Especially Vulnerable in Civil War and Famine
An ongoing civil war in Yemen has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent memory, making an already difficult nation for Christians to live in even harder. The chaos of war has enabled radical groups to take control over some regions of Yemen, and they have increased persecution of Christians. Even private worship is risky in some parts of the country. Christians are suffering from the general humanitarian crisis in the country, but Yemeni Christians are additionally vulnerable since emergency relief is mostly distributed through Islamic organizations and local mosques, which are allegedly discriminating against all who are not considered to be pious Muslims. Converts to Christianity from Islam face additional persecution from family and society. In Yemen, the small church is composed mostly of Yemeni Christians with a Muslim background who must live their faith in secret. They face persecution from the authorities (including detention and interrogation), their families, and radical Islamic groups who threaten converts with death if they don’t denounce Christ and re-convert.
9. IRAN: Illegal to convert, illegal to preach
In this gateway to the Middle East, Christians are forbidden from sharing their faith with non-Christians. Therefore, church services in Persian, the national language, are not allowed. Converts from Islam undergo persecution from the government; if they attend an underground house church, they face the constant threat of arrest. Iranian society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and job possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted. The government sees them as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran. Leaders of groups of Christian converts have been arrested, prosecuted and have received long prison sentences for “crimes against the national security.” In December, to crack down on Christians sharing their faith, Iranian police arrested 100 Christians in one week, making a blatant statement to both Christians and Muslims. Iran is also infamous for its prisons and inhumane treatment of Christians in places like Evin Prison where well-known house church pastor Yousef Nardarkhani is serving a 10-year sentence.
Dear Reader: Let us remember our brothers and sisters in prayer as they suffer in Yemen and Iran; especially those imprisoned for their faith. May the Holy Spirit fill them with boldness and confidence in Christ, as they live as sheep among wolves. May grace upon grace be upon them.
Thank you for your time spent educating yourself on the state of the Body of Christ in the earth.
The Christian Post (CP) reported last week that Christians in Vietnam are suffering persecution for the testimony of Jesus. I encourage you to keep the global Christian community in your prayers, as Christians in many nations continue to suffer, even to the point of death, for the cause of Christ. Persecution is projected to increase in 2019. Excerpts from the CP article follow. Carl
Several Hmong Christians were beaten and arrested by Vietnamese government officials after they refused to renounce their faith and worship a Buddha statue, a pastor has revealed.
Pastor Hoang Van Pa told persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern that government officials threatened 33 Hmong Protestants in Phá Lóm village in November if they refused to renounce their Christian faith.
Police reportedly gathered personal information about the 33 believers and carried out an open trial before the community. The officers presented an image of the Buddha and tried to force the Christians to abandon their faith and worship the Buddha statue instead. Four of the Christians were arrested and beaten, and government officials continued to harass Protestants in several other raids throughout November and December.
As Dzung, the representative of the Interdisciplinary Inspection Team, explained that Vietnam has banned the Protestant Christian faith and seeks to expel those who refuse to renounce their faith in Jesus. In 2018, more than 100 believers were expelled from Yen Bai province and Lao Cai province.
Due to its ethnic background and high percentage of practicing Christians, Vietnam’s Hmong community is often targeted and harassed by both the government and neighboring communities,” wrote ICC’s Regional Manager Gina Goh.
In a Communist country where Christianity is often seen as unpatriotic or a threat to the regime, Hmong Christians constantly face discrimination, harassment, land grabs, torture, and imprisonment.”
(Pastor John Lindell of the 10,000 member James River Church in Ozark, Missouri recently preached a sermon on New Age practices including yoga. I applaud Pastor Lindell for having the conviction to address New Age or New Spirituality practices that are deceiving Christians and our fellow Americans. Following is a booklet entitled YOGA: Is It Exercise or Religion – Does It Matter by Ray Yungen from Lighthouse Trials. I pray the article answers questions some are having about this seemingly innocent practice. God Bless. Carl)
“It is a moment that troubles me even now. Once, when I was giving a presentation at a Christian college about New Age spirituality, I noticed a student roll her eyes when I mentioned the term, Yoga. It was a small gesture, yet it spoke volumes—as if to say, “Give me a break! It’s just exercises!” I surmised from her response that she was a Yoga practitioner or had at least been exposed to the subject and believed that participation in Yoga had no negative impact on one’s spiritual life. After all, the young lady was attending a Christian college, so she likely presumed she was discerning enough to know whether a practice was pagan or not. But she gave no biblical evaluation of Yoga, and rather wordlessly defended it. Unfortunately, this trend to accept Yoga and other New Age practices has only continued to accelerate within Christian colleges, ministries, and even churches.
Currently, an estimated 24 million people in the United States are regularly involved with some form of Yoga.1 In the town where I live, the high majority of health clubs, including the YMCA, YWCA, and the local community college, offer Yoga classes. According to a new survey by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease and Prevention, nearly ten percent of U.S. adults and three percent of children participated in yoga in 2012.”2 Most of these adults may be vaguely aware of the Hindu component of Yoga but see that as being irrelevant to taking Yoga classes. Many people doing the asanas, or postures, seem to feel that these exercises are devoid of any religious connotation.”
This tip jar is at a south Louisiana convenience store. The clerk modified the scriptural message to fit her need. Some people were taking advantage of her offer.
This image reminds me of the apostle Paul’s instructions to Timothy in I Timothy 6:9-10:
“…but they that after giving the matter mature consideration desire to be wealthy, fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful cravings which are of such a nature as to drown men in destruction and perdition; for a root of all the evils is the fondness for money, which certain ones, bending their every effort to grasp, have been led astray from the Faith and have pierced themselves through with many consuming griefs. (Wuest Expanded Translation – added emphasis)
May money have the proper place in our lives and not be an idol.
“Let your manner of life be without love of money, being satisfied with your present circumstances. For He himself has said, and the statement is on record, I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you. I will not, I will not, I will not let you down.” (Hebrew 13:5 Wuest Expanded Translation)
Bless be God The Father who has redeemed us out of the slave market of sin by the precious blood of Jesus His Holy Son and transferred us into His eternal kingdom in-Christ!
Keep yourself from idols.
“C.S. Lewis takes a lesson from the same observation: “If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.”
“In other words, my behavior, when caught off guard, is the best evidence of the sort of person I am. That being the case, I should never excuse my bad behavior simply because I’m suddenly prodded or provoked. What I am under unexpected pressure is what I am. There’s no way around it.”
Teach Us To Number Our Days —-David Roper
“Grace is perverted today by teaching people they can continue to practice sin.”
False Teachers and The Sin Unto Death —- Milton Green
(Note: For Part one and two, please scroll down to the bottom of this post or use the search bar. Thank you.)
In our last post we spoke about being “before Him” (Ephesians 1:4) and what that meant, how the Holy Spirit was gazing NOW, into our innermost being to see the reflection of Jesus in our character. After finishing that post, I felt compelled to share the following.
In James 4: 4 Brother James tells the recipients of his letter “…do you not know that your friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore would desire after mature consideration to be a friend of the world is [thereby] constituted an enemy of God.” (Wuest).
God The Father sent Jesus to the Cross to rescue us from this present evil age (Gal. 1:4) and since the world is Satan’s kingdom (John 14: 30), He, God The Father, is VERY SERIOUS about us not loving the world and the things of the world. (See Rev. 2:20 – 23)
Through I John 2: 15 (Wuest) He tells us to “Stop considering the world precious with the result that you love it…” The people James is writing to evidently still considered the world precious and their indwelling evil nature was fulfilling its passionate carvings through the things of the world. The Holy Spirit was not in control of their life but their evil nature was.
This why James tells them in verse 5:
“Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: The Spirit which He has made to dwell in us jealously desires us.” (NASB margin note)
Wuest’s Expanded Translation sheds light on what the second half of that verse means:
“The Spirit [Holy Spirit] who has been caused to make His permanent home in us has a passionate desire [to control us] to the point of envy [of any control indwelling sin may have over us]?
Now take a moment and let that sink in. Read it again.
Now, listen to the Holy Spirit through Paul in II Cor. 11: 2-3
“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin…”
And why was he jealous?
“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.”
He, the Holy Spirit, has a passionate desire to sit on the throne of our hearts, giving us the desire and power to say NO to enticements to sin. As we say NO to temptation, He provides the power to follow through and manifest Jesus in us in the process. He wants us to stay faithful to our bridegroom Christ Jesus and not be an adulteress by loving Satan’s world. “Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we? (I Cor. 10: 22) says Paul to the Corinthians.
Rick Renner in his Sparkling Gems From The Greek summons up how He feels about us very nicely:
“The Holy Spirit is not a passive Partner. He aggressively and actively pursues you. He fiercely wants more of you. When you give part of yourself to something or someone else’s control, the Holy Spirit wants to seize that part of your life and bring it back under His divine control….So make your relationship with the Holy Spirit your top priority. Don’t give Him a reason to feel betrayed by or envious of other things in your life that have taken His place. Get to know the Holy Spirit’s voice in your spirit so He can help you set your life in order. Make sure every area of your life is under His loving control!”
The crowning purpose of salvation is for us “to become conformed to the image of His Son,..”. That, I believe, is the main purpose the Holy Spirit indwells us. Is that not what this sick and wicked society needs to see? JESUS IN ALL OF HIS LIFE-CHANGING GLORY!
II Corinthians 6: 16 -18 tells us that the Holy Spirit is none other than the Lord Almighty. Oh, how we need to let Him OUT for the lost masses to see! Let that be our purpose in life every day we arise.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with GREAT JOY, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24 – 25 NASB emphasis mine)
Appian Way south of Rome – one location of Christian catacomb burials
“Atheism (i.e. Christian faith) has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.”
Roman Emperor Julian (332-63) – Church History in Plain Language – Bruce L. Shelley
Emperor Julian, after Roman Emperor Constantine, was attempting to bring revival of the traditional Roman pagan religion when he made this observation. He wanted to set aside Christianity and bring back the ancient faith, but he saw clearly the drawing power of Christian love. Christians were called “atheist” by the Romans because they did not believe in Emperor worship.
Mr. Shelley says the following in reference to early Christians providing burials for the dead.
“One expression of Christian love had a particularly far-reaching effect. The church often provided burial service for poor brethren. Christians felt that to deprive a person of honorable burial was a terrible thing. Lactantius, the North African scholar (C.240-320) wrote, “We will not allow the image and creation of God [the human body] to be thrown out to the wild beasts and the birds as their prey; it must be given back to the earth from which it was taken.””
This self-sacrificial love for people is said to be one of the reasons that the Gospel spread so fast in the beginning. The testimony of this pagan Emperor bears witness to the words of the Lord Jesus:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13: 34-35 emphasis mine)
May we manifest His love for others as we go about our days.
God Bless You!
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“…just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
Today while writing a another blog, I felt compelled to stop and write about how precious God’s children are to Him. I believe someone reading this blog needs this message today. One of Satan’s favorite accusations to use on the believer is: “How could God love you? Look what you have done or thought!” While the whole time Satan knows the opposite is true. He knows you are exceedingly precious to God.
God waited to reveal Jesus until the Greek language had become the language of trade around the Mediterranean basin and beyond so the gospel could be transmitted by a language that would be understood by many nations. The Apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 2: 12-13 the following, concerning the words He used to write and teach the good news taught to him by the resurrected Jesus:
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (Emphasis mine)
Paul says it was the Holy Spirit that taught him what words to use to bring the mysteries of God to light for His children.
We see the value of the Greek language when we see how specific it is. A good example is the number of Greek words we translate “love” in the English New Testament. One such Greek word is phileo which “is the response of the human spirit to what appeals to it as pleasurable.” (Wuest) This is translated in I Peter as “brotherly love”. An example would be that you find a person who has the same interest as you and you find it pleasurable to be around them because you both like the same things.
Another Greek word translated “love” is agapao and its meaning is different from phileo. “Agapao” is the Greek word selected by the Holy Spirit to use for God’s type of self-sacrificial love. Wuest says the following:
“Agapao speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. It is a love of esteem and approbation. The quality of of this love is determined by the character of the one who loves, and that of the object loved. ”
“Agapao is used in John 3:16. God’s love for a sinful and lost race springs from His heart in response to the high value He places upon each human soul. Every sinner is exceedingly precious in His sight.”
“….each sinner is most precious to God, first, because he bears the image of his Creator even thought that image is marred by sin, and second, because through redemption, that sinner can be conformed to the image of His dear Son. This preciousness of each member of the human race to the heart of God is the constituent element of the love that gave His Son to die on the Cross. The degree of preciousness is measure by the infinite sacrifice which God made. (emphasis is mine)
Each believer is so precious to God that while we were yet sinners, He sent His only Beloved Son to die on the cross so we could be free from the guilt and penalty of our many, many, many sins. While we were yet sinners, he deemed us exceedingly precious. This alone proves that salvation by grace is from God because the heart of man could never conceive of such self-sacrificial love.
The incarnation, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is proof that you are exceedingly precious to God. Don’t ever doubt it saint!
If you are someone who has not received Jesus Christ as your Savior, do not reject this great love He has for you lest you perish in your sins. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
Receive His Love For You
I found this sign in the MD Anderson Emergency Room. Only patients from the various MD Anderson hospitals are allowed admittance to this ER; therefore, the patients have already experienced the palpable fear of being diagnosed with a killer disease and the waiting, testing and surgery to save their lives. Having to rush to the emergency room due to some complication only adds to the fear.
From experience, let me say there is a lot of fear in such situations and, if it was not for the prayers of the saints for you and your loved one, you would be totally consumed by it. Satan wants to bring you to the abyss of hopelessness and chain you in it with the fear of death, but, bless God, the prayers and love of the saints keeps you free. I feel sorry for the individual who has to go through this alone, without God and His children interceding for them. Ephesians 2: 12 says before our salvation, we were “having no hope and without God in the world.”
Therefore, this little exhortation scribbled in marker on a dry erase board, speaks volumes to those going through these life and death struggles.
The Apostle Peter who knew about struggles and persecution tells us in his first letter where to put our hope about the future:
“Therefore, gird your mind 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 Peter 1: 13)
The “…at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” is when He appears in the sky to rapture the church out of the earth. This will include all born again believers alive and dead. Those who claim to know Him, but are just religious and not born again, will not be taken. Jesus told a leader of the Jewish nation “Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
The “… grace” to be brought to you refers to your inheritance that Peter referred to in verse 3 and 4 when he wrote “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,…” This inheritance, among other things, refers to our glorified bodies we will receive when He raptures the church. Our salvation will be complete. We are justified by faith in Christ’s work, we are going through sanctification now and then at the rapture we will be glorified. Our mortal bodies will be transformed into a glorified body just like the Lord Jesus’ glorified body.
Peter says “in this you greatly rejoice..” (verse 6). “Rejoice” is from a “Greek word speaking of extreme joy expressing itself externally in an exuberant triumph of joy. In verse 8 we see that it is a glorified joy made possible by our future glorified state, a joy not possible now in our mortal bodies. Tears of joy are just evidence of the inability of our present state to fully feel the joy that comes to us at times. But then in our bodies of glory we will be able to drink in and appreciate all the boundless joys of the Savior’s presence.” (Wuest)
Peter says this is what we should “… fix your hope completely on..” And this hope is not a mere wishing that something may happen. Hope here is a “complete hope, a perfect hope, wanting nothing, being in its character an assured expectation. Peter exhorts us to “set your hope perfectly, unchangeably, without doubt and despondency upon our future glorification.”‘ (Wuest) The phrase “…to be brought to you…” means that this grace or inheritance is already on its way. Wuest says you could translate it “which is being brought to you.”
Dear Pilgrim, just passing through this temporary earthly realm, don’t set your hearts on the trinkets of this existence but keep pursuing God until you experience His Glorious Presence at the Rapture and your mortal being is swallowed up in immortality. What a day that will be when we will see Him face to face. Are you ready? Praise His Name!!!
Thank you for your time.
“I will not, I will not cease to uphold or sustain you; I will not, I will not, I will not forsake someone in a state of defeat or helplessness in the midst of hostile circumstances.”
God (Hebrews 13: 5b Greek Amplification)
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Moses to all of Israel before entering Promise Land (Deuteronomy 31: 6)
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” Jesus (John 6:37)
This morning as we said goodbye to one of our precious daughters and her son returning to their European home, through tears, we shared the lead scripture with her. What a comfort to know that He is watching over us no matter where we are.
Scripture says that those who do not know God and Jesus, His Son, have NO HOPE and are WITHOUT GOD in a Satan dominated world system. What a stark picture that is.
What blessed promises God has given to His children; those He “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are PROTECTED by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1: 3-5 Emphasis mine)
Thank you Father God and Lord Jesus for your presence in our lives at all times by your indwelling Spirit. Bless your name!
“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.
“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)
While visiting withrelatives, 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!
P.S. If your old enough to remember Steve McQueen, I recommend the book.