The Christian and Beverage Alcohol

The following articles are not new.  I wrote them a few months ago at The Watchman’s Trumpet, and will be updating and moving them to this site.  They will be posted on Wednesday of each week.

Alcohol and the Christian

 

In the coming days, the Lord willing, I will be writing some articles of alcoholic beverage in the Bible. It is not, nor will it be, my purpose to condemn, but to inform and instruct.

With the way alcoholic drink is being almost revered, and then, accepted by many Christians as an acceptable beverage for having with a meal, or to cool down after a hard days work; is it any wonder that we have families falling apart, children on drugs, and a powerless church. A church who will not stand against the tide of immorality.

A few years ago I had started being more agreeable with many concerning beverage alcohol. After a few years of Bible study, and reading, and seeing the peril and moral dilemmas of beverage alcohol my views have changed. It will be my goal, however to be Biblical in this approach. I can guarantee that my belief will not change. I hate beverage alcohol. I will say too, that I will pray for the leadership of the Spirit of God. I fully know that I have brothers and sisters in Christ who will not view it as I do, but I do see their view as being wrong. They are none the less my brother and sister in Christ.

Let me say right hear. There is no commendation for drinking beverage alcohol in the Bible, but there is commendation given for not drinking it.

First, Let me give you…

A Logical Reason

 

Before I begin dealing with Biblical reasons for abstaining from beverage alcohol, let me give you just one logical reason.

There are many parents who warn their children to stay away from drugs. There are legal and illegal drugs that they have been warned of. They are warned not to have anything to do with them.

At the same time some of these parents are warning their children they themselves have the drug of beverage alcohol in their homes, go to bars and drink, to parties and drink. Maybe you say, “Well, I only drink one little wine glass”, and what does this say to your child about the doing of drugs?

When you have the most dangerous drug on the street in your house, can you honestly look your child in the eyes and tell him/her to refrain from using drugs. Your drug, Mom and Dad, has killed far more on the highways of our land, ruined more homes, broken up many more marriages, killed more spouses, than these other drugs have.

Now, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself, with that glass of wine in your hand, “Don’t use drugs”. Doesn’t that seem even a bit hypocritical? That is how your child will see you.

Just think about it.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Abraham, Friend of God

Abraham, Friend of God

Abraham has been called the Friend of God (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). Reading this story of Abraham leaves no doubt that his friendship with God was real. God came visiting him on the day we see before us in Scripture.

“And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,” Genesis 18:1-2 (KJV).

This is the fifth time, in Abraham’s journey of faith, which the LORD has appeared to him, since he came into the land of Canaan. There is a reason for God’s appearing to Abraham, and that is the “Friendship”. Would that we would be called the “Friend of God”? Can we? Indeed. And even more.

How does a friend respond to another friend, especially if that friend be the LORD? One thing about friends is they are welcome at any time. Most times out of courtesy they let the other know they are coming, and the one expecting the friends coming gets things ready. It seems that the LORD came unexpectedly, but Abraham was more than willing to receive his guests. This was his dearest friend and confidant. When it comes to an appearance of the LORD, one must always be ready, because we do not know when He will come. We ought always be expecting Him to show up.

Abraham had no trouble identifying his friend. There were three who had come, but Abraham quickly identified the one who was the LORD. The other two were angels who had came with him, but Abraham treated them to a feast as well; as we will see later. How would a friend feel if we forgot what they looked like and completely missed them in among other people? They would most likely be offended, and feel as though you had betrayed them, or maybe not betrayed but no longer close. The LORD appearing here was certainly the preincarnate Christ Jesus. You notice that Abraham worshipped the LORD as He came near him.

When the LORD comes to us will we, would we recognize Him? There is a day coming when He will be coming back to receive His bride to Himself, and take us to His home. All those who know His voice will arise from the grave, awaken from their sleep, look up, and rise to meet Him in the clouds.

“And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:” 18:3 (KJV).

When Abraham has the LORD at his home he desires that He stay. It is also the heart of those who have met the crucified, buried, and risen Lord Jesus Christ. Once you meet Him, and know Him you will desire for Him to stay and not leave. You find peace, fulfillment, joy, love, patience, gentleness, self-control in His presence. You have peace with God in His presence, power and glory. How is it that Abraham would have such a fellowship with God? Remember chapter 15 and verse six, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness”. It was not his works by which he had this fellowship/friendship; but rather the grace of God; and it is the same for all people in our day.

Having favor in God’s sight is a wonderful, marvelous thing. We do nothing to earn it. If it is earned it is not grace. If it is grace it is not earned, but freely given, that God might be glorified. By this grace we desire for Him to stay. He stays with every believer through the person of the Holy Spirit, which the LORD gives every believer as an earnest payment until Jesus returns.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus, The Greater

The Greater

“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.” Matthew 12:38 (KJV).

“But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” Matthew 12:39-41 (KJV)

What more could Jesus give as a sign? He had fulfilled every prophecy concerning himself. He had done many mighty deeds in their presence which should have no doubt in their minds, except for the cause of the blindness of their hearts. He has met all the Old Testament criteria of the prophets who fortold His coming to die for the sins of the people.

According to the prophet Isaiah (7:14) and in Matthew 1:23 Jesus was born of a virgin. According to the prophet Micah (5:2) and Matthew 2:6 He was born in Bethlehem. He was called out of Egypt according to Matthew 2:15 and the prophet Hosea 11:1. Innocent babies died for Him shortly after His birth according to Matthew 2:18, and Jeremiah 31:15. This is only a few samples of prophecies which Jesus Himself fulfilled. These religious leaders, full of themselves were so blind that they could not see the truth.

In their willfull ignorance they asked for a sign. “If You want us to believe you, then, you have to meet our demands”. In truth, no sign would have satisfied them. They would not believe even though He rose up from the grave. The challenge was actually an open challenge to the power and authority of God.

Note: Three times in this chapter of Matthew Jesus uses the words, “…One greater than the temple…” (v. 6); “…a greater than Jonah is here…”(v. 41), and “…a greater than Solomon is here…”(v. 42). The One Priest who is greater than all priests; the One Prophet who is greatest of all prophets; and the One King who is greater than all kings – even greater than Solomon is here. Seeking signs when you see the obvious comes of wickedness, and their hearts are wicked. Similarly, seeking for God’s guidance concerning His unknown will when we are not doing His known will. These people were laying claim to knowing the Scriptures and missed the obvious through willful ignorance; and a possible fear that their whole way of life and ministry was at stake.

The only sign given that should have opened their blind eyes was the sign of Jonah. Jonah having been cast into the sea due to His rebellious flight was swallowed by a large fish, which was prepared by God, for the prophet to get him where he was supposed to be. By the power and miraculous working of God Jonah survived the belly of the fish, and was vomited back out on land. For three days and three nights in the fishes belly he was dead to the world. I am sure the sailors who threw him overboard thought him dead. The sign Jesus refers to of course would be His own resurrection. The Pharisees seem to miss the point, since He is not yet dead. Even when they later do hear news of His resurrection they bribe the guards, saving their lives, and then propagate the story of the body of Jesus being stolen by the disciples.

Nineveh received no sign from Jonah, yet they repented. The prophet, cold heartedly, I might add; went through the city of Nineveh proclaiming, “40 days and this city will be destroyed; forty days and this city and its inhabitants will be destroyed…”, and the people repented. Jesus says that those who repented at the preaching of Jonah will rise up and “condemn” those who had the sign of the resurrection and did not believe.

Christians today need no sign of or from the Lord Jesus. We have His bodily resurrection, the promise of His soon return, and the world is growing worse and worse just as He said it would. He is the greatest Priest, Prophet and He is the King of Kings.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Walk of Faith

The Walk of Faith

“And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.” Genesis 17:23-27 (KJV).

Abraham follows the LORD in the obedience of faith. Faith is not to gain favor with God, but is the gift of God, and because of favor with God. God always takes first initiative. If it were left up to us we would never reach up to Him.

Abraham’s faith was an implicit obedience. He did as God had said to Him. He asked no reason why.

It was a speedy obedience. It was done “in the selfsame day”. Delayed obedience is disobedience. When we have God’s direction to do something that is the time to act, and do it. Do not let the sun set on your God given direction.

It was total obedience. He did not excuse himself – he too was circumcised. He passed the seal of the covenant of faith to the rest of his family and all those who would follow him.

The head of the Christian family, who is faithful to Christ, will lead his family, and his associates in the ways of the faith.

Walking with God is of great importance for the Christian. We can learn much about this walk by this portion of Scripture dealing with the eternal covenant of God. Earlier there was mentioned four different types of “Walking With God”. You can see them in this text. 1. Walk before God; 2. Walk after God; 3. Walk with God; 4. Walk in God. The first as that child running ahead of the father closely watched and protected, and the last being to walk in union with God – His thoughts being our thoughts, His ways being our ways, His desire being our desires. All Christians are somewhere in these walks with God. If you are not walking with Him you are not on His journey. Get on it.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Called To Return

CALLED TO REPENTANCE

 

The purpose and reason for this study is to give Biblical evidence and support for the restoration and renewing of the Nation of Israel. There are many prophecies throughout Scripture which gives this support, however, this one may be the strongest. I find it sad to hear Christians who would tell us and who are teaching the masses that “the Nation of Israel is no more” or “God is finished with the Nation of Israel”. My decree as it has been for many years, and as I search all of the Bible, and see all the promises starting with Abraham, then David, and Solomon is this; “If God falls short of fulfilling the promises to Israel, then, we as Christians have no sure promise of eternity either”.

It is certain; God falls short of nothing. His promises will be fulfilled, both to Israel and to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is promise from God even in Zechariah’s name; it means “YaHWeH Remembers”. He did not forget Israel in their exile to Babylon, nor will He forget her in the Last Days.

Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries. They both preached to the returning exiles to Jerusalem around the time of the rebuilding of the temple around 536 B.C., and had ceased due to the haters and critics, and then, around 520 BC they began to preach to encourage them to get with the rebuilding once again. Zechariah is most likely the younger of the two prophets. They were both sent by God to be encouragers of the builders, and to have them move their hearts and lives in repentance toward God. “Haggai’s primary purpose was to rebuild the temple; his preaching has a tone of rebuke for the people’s indifference, sin, and lack of trust in God. He was used to start the revival, while Zechariah was used to keep it going strong with a more positive emphasis, calling the people to repentance and reassuring them regarding future blessings. Zechariah sought to encourage the people to build the temple in view of the promise that someday Messiah would come to inhabit it.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE p.1337.

“In the eighth month, of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, The LORD has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus says the LORD of hosts; Return to me’, says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will return to you”, says the LORD of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts; Turn now from your evil ways, and your evil deeds”. But they did not hear, nor heed Me, says the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? Yet surely My words and My statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they returned and said, “Just as the LORD of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our deeds, so he has dealt with us.” Zechariah 1:1-6 (NKJV).

While the people have just returned from exile, as the prophet of God that he is, he calls immediately for repentance. This is usually the first message of the prophets of God. This is an observation which only the LORD could or even would give. No false prophet ever calls for repentance, or a return to God. Zechariah’s prophecy ministry begins around 520 BC.

God gives the message to this prophet, and the first word He gives is, “Return to Me, and I will return to you”. He had first reminded them of their “fathers” who had forsaken Him, and served idols. Even though the people of God often have forsaken the Lord, God still is merciful, and longs for His people to return to Him. That is true within the Church as well. There are Christians who are in the world and carnal [of the world], and not living or walking in the glory of the Lord of life. His call to them is, “Come out from among them and be separate”.

The evidence of God’s judgment upon those who will not hear and heed the message of God’s Word is the exile. The ‘fathers’ of the exiles had loved and enjoyed their comforts, their security, their economy had been good, or so they thought. There was an enemy lurking at their door, they turned a deaf ear to God’s prophets, and many died and many went into captivity, and many lingered behind in poverty. When things look good, peaceable, comfortable, and secure be careful it is about to change. “When they say “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NKJV).

What is applicable for Israel is applicable for the Christian as well. Repent. We must return to our God. The Psalmist has written, “It is time for Thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void Thy law.” Psalm 119:126. With our economy having been good for so many years, and the cows have all gotten fat, the eagles are no longer soaring through the air hunting their food but feasting on dead chickens; could it be that the judgment of the USA is not far around the corner? We are having our society saturated with false gods, false doctrines, and false security; and some are wondering, “Where is God in all of this?” The answer to that question is, He is near, and will soon be here. When a nation has gone from being the “bread basket” of the world, feeding the world, to a food to fuel consumer, making our own food prices skyrocket, then the judgment of God is already upon us.

The LORD would be Just in the destruction of Israel. And He would be just as Just if He were to destroy us all. However, He will not due to the promises of His Word, and the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. He has instead called for those who are His, “Return to Me; and I will return to you.”

-by Tim A. Blankenship

 

The Heart of Pretense

A Heart of Pretense

“Pretense” – a claim, not supported by fact; mere display or show. A false show. So is the meaning of the word. It would not be a pleasant or comfortable thing to be charged with. However, as we look into the book of Jeremiah we see that the nation of Judah, the Southern part of the divided kingdom since Rehoboam, is charged with this exact thing. “Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:10).

The Northern kingdom has been charged with adultery against God. God has called for their repentance (3:7), to return to the LORD. They had prostituted themselves against their faithful Husband and God, and become an immoral nation.

“…Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:8-10 (NKJV).

This was a prophecy given during the reign of Josiah (3:6), who was considered a godly king. Josiah became king at the age of eight years (Read 1 Chronicles 34 – 35). You will read of Josiah that he purged the land of Judah of the “high places”, of “carved images”, and of “molded images”, and that “He did what was right in the sight of the LORD…” However, it appears that much of what was done during Josiah’s reign was done with pretense. It does not seem to have been pretense on the kings part, but on the peoples hearts. Legislation, whether done by a monarch or a president cannot change the hearts of people. The hearts of the people of Judah were moved by Josiah, but not by God. Therefore, there was much pretense in the land of Judah.

Pretense or hypocrisy cannot be hid from the omniscient eye of the LORD. It is said quite often in Scriptures that “God looks on the heart”, and that seems to be something that all people tend to forget. Pretense and hypocrisy never fools, or deceives the Lord Almighty. It didn’t work in Judah or Israel, and it will not work in today’s world either.

If you will notice God even calls this act by Judah “treacherous”. Three times in verses seven through ten God calls Judah the “treacherous sister” of Israel. The word “Treacherous” is defined as ‘Characterized by treachery; untrustworthy, unreliable’ and “Treachery” is defined as ‘a violation of allegiance or trust’. According to Strong’s Concordance it is ‘to deal deceitfully’; and certainly the heart’s of the people of Judah were endeavoring to deal deceitfully with God.

At a time when our own nation is at war, and the hearts of people are growing more and more spiritual, but not according to the knowledge of God; there is much pretense and hypocrisy. There are religions on every corner that use the name of God, but know Him not. When religion denies Jesus Christ, they deny God. Jesus Himself said, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). There is truly only one true worship of God, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ, by His death, burial and resurrection. Any other presumed worship is a treacherous and pretentious worship.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Waters Cover the Sea

The Fourth Promise

 

I have written a little bit on this previously in the article on the third woe.

In chapter 2:12-14 I wrote of verse 14, “There is a prize in these verses. ‘For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’. The leaders and rulers of Babylon sought to build a great kingdom by the shedding of blood, and taking what belonged to others, and often at the expense of their lives. There is a Kingdom coming in which there will be no war, but only peace. The peace of God that passes all understanding. Notice the vastness of this “knowledge of the glory”; it is “as the waters cover the sea”. How much do the waters cover the sea? The sea is water, thus this filling with the knowledge of the glory covers the whole realm of the Kingdom. All the bloodshed, and such will have been done away. Jesus Christ will reign supremely. The knowledge of His glory will fill the earth.”

For the remainder of this article I want to place here the quotes from two Study Bibles. The first will be the MacArthur Study Bible New Kings James Version; and the other is Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible.

“2:14 filled. In contrast to the self-exaltation of the Chaldeans, whose efforts come to naught, God promised that the whole earth would recognize His glory at the establishment of His millennial kingdom (cf. Num. 14:21; Ps. 72:19; Is. 6:3; 11:9).” MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1320

“2:14. God’s future kingdom on earth will feature a reign of righteousness (see Is. 2:1-4; Mic. 4:1-5). All humanity on the renewed earth will know the Lord and live in accordance with His will. The structures of human systems, adequate as they are for the present, will fall under God’s judgment because they encourage a spirit of independence from Him. knowledge: What Satan fraudulently promised in Gen. 3:5, God will deliver. The glory of the LORD speaks of the full manifestation of His person, significance, presence, and wonder. The true knowledge of God in the time of His kingdom on earth will be like the waters–all embracing, inescapable, and fully enveloping.” Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible p.1523.

Loving the appearing of the Lord, we long for and expect His soon return in setting up His kingdom on the earth. It will be a wonderful and glorious kingdom where we will receive the knowledge of the LORD. That knowledge will be full. Longing for that day.

 

Legalism and Life

Legalism and Life

For the past four articles I have written on the matter of legalism, and that will be so of this article as well. This will be the final one on this matter.

Just what is legalism. It is the adding of requirements to grace for the matter of salvation. Grace becomes no more grace (Romans 11:6). When someone tells you that the way of salvation is by grace, but then, you must be baptised, keep the law, do sacraments, abstain from alcohol, homosexuality, etc. to be saved; that is legalism. Now before some of my readers hearing this fly off the handle, let me say this. When you have been saved by the grace of God you will desire to be baptised, keep the law, partake of the Lord’s Supper, abstain from every appearance of evil, and turn from all sexual sin. It is not a requirement of salvation. It is expected that a steward be found faithful.

Those who say, “But we have liberty in Christ Jesus”; just let me say this: When you were in your sins, ie., lost, condemned, and dying; you were enslaved to sin. Sin was your master. You believed you were at liberty to live as you pleased then, but you were really under the control of evil. Now you want to say “I am free, I have liberty in Jesus Christ. I can live as I please”. When you have been set at liberty in Jesus Christ you are free from sin, but you are not free to sin. The freedom/liberty you have in Christ is the power to live a righteous life that glorifies our Lord and Savior. You do not desire to live in sin and rebellion against the Lord.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” 2 Corinthians 3:17. Now, can someone tell me how the Spirit of God would lead anyone into sin? He will not. When we sin; He convicts us, and points us back to the forgiving, loving arms of our Lord and Savior.

Our Lord Jesus hates legalism. He despises it. He also hates sin, and does not want any of His disciples/followers bound up in it. Listen to the words He speaks to the scribes, and Pharisees. He first tells those who are following Him, “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not.” Matthew 23:2-3 (KJV).

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13.

Eight different times Jesus says, “Woe unto you”, and He is speaking of the same ones. These are supposedly the spiritual leaders of the Nation. Rather than shepherding they are condemning others and exalting themselves. Jesus’s words in this first woe is eyeopening itself. For these leaders Jesus says, “For you are not going in yourselves”, ie., the “kingdom of heaven”. OUCH!!! They are not going into the kingdom and they seem to want to keep their people from going in.

Each “Woe” which Jesus speaks in Matthew twenty three has to do with a different offense which these “Spiritual” leaders practiced. In the first one it seems the practice was one of condemnation. The second practice, is one of robbing widows, and pretending to be holy while they do it. The third is one of getting others to believe as they believe, and binding them in their condemning lies. Fourth, making loopholes around their “Oaths”. Fifthly, boasting of their tithing, but not practicing the other -”What does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8. Sixth, presuming a holiness they did not have; being clean on the outside, yet full of filth inside. Seventh, further clarification of the sixth – being full of “dead men’s bones; their lives and ministries are a stench in the nostrils of the Lord; and they certainly offer no hope or promise of the King of kings. The eighth, they make open portrayal of being in favor of the prophets of old, yet their hearts are more in line with their fathers, than with God or the prophets.

If they would have believed the prophets, they would have seen their King as He was teaching them. That is one of the saddest things about “Legalism”, and that is, that it blinds the eyes. The self-righteous are very legalistic, and are condemning of others whom they see in sin, and usually do not see their own. The legalist is dependent upon their own righteous conduct, and not the cross of Jesus. In Christ Jesus there is life. In legalism there is only death, tombs full of bones, and displeasure before our Heavenly Father. The only way of pleasure for the Father is through our faith in Jesus. Life in Jesus is a holy life.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Healing For Backsliding

In the previous writing we find a promise of God given to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel, and that promise is that they would both return to the land as one. Even in their backsliden condition they were to hear these words, and the prophet was to continue to proclaim their need of repentance, cleansing and healing for their backsliden condition.

How or why does one need healing from a backsliden condition. First of all backsliden as the prophet Jeremiah wants us to understand is referring to the people of God. Backsliden is a departure from a place or person you are supposed to be near; which in our case the person is God whom they have left. To backslide is almost always a slow deliberate departure. Slow because it begins with something that seems so small to begin with. “I am staying home from worship services this morning because I am so tired. I was up half the night enjoying family and friends”. Then, come Wednesday night and Bible Study time, “I am not going to Bible Study and prayer meeting this evening because it has been a long week already, and I can’t be getting home too late.” Or, how about this, “Just one peek at that site online won’t hurt. Afterall, I do need to be knowledgable about what’s going on.” Just one little step in the wrong direction leads to a slippery slope which slides you further and further away from God, His Word, and the gentle whispers of His Spirit.

“But I said: ‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ And I said: ‘You shall call Me, ‘My Father,’ and not turn away from Me.’ Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD. A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. ‘Return, you backsliding children, and I will hearl your backslidings.’ ‘Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God. Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth– Their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.” Jeremiah 3:19-25 (NKJV).

God sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to redeem the house of Israel. If you doubt that hear what Jesus has said, “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:6; “But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24; and it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was striken.” Isaiah 53:8. Even the high priest at the trial said, “…You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John 11:49-50, and the verse following says, “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together inone the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (vv.51-52).

It is because of their backsliding that God has scattered them across this world; has hidden them in the world; and called the Gentile nations to believe in the work of the Son of God on the cross.

Did God not see them those many years ago, even before Jesus became man, and give them these exceeding, precious promises? Of course He did. Our God is sovereign, and in control of every situation. He did not cause Israel or Judah to backslide, but in their backsliden condition the will of God was done, is being done, and will continue to be done. Every sinful act of a human being is known by the LORD of hosts, and not one of them will be held agains anyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation. Yet every sin which finds no repentance in the heart of the child of God, will be used to work in the sinning heart, mind and soul, to irritate, sting, and and stick until that sinning heart finds rest in Christ Jesus.

When I pray for a lost person to be saved here is what I pray: Father, in Your mercy, love and grace touch the heart of this individual (Using their name here). Open their eyes to see their lost condition; that they are condemned by their sin, and for them there is no hope apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Make them miserable in their sin, until they look upon Jesus Christ who gave His life’s blood so that we might be saved, that He was buried carrying all sin away with its guilt, and that He arose from the grave and is everliving interceeding for us all. Save him/her (name) O, LORD, for Your own honor, power and glory. Amen.

Jeremiah admits the sins of the people for the nation in verses 22b through 25. How can God bring them back to the land which has been left desolate and barren? When they can come to the place they will call God “My Father”, and will not turn away from Him. Marriage is meant to be a illustration of God’s intimate relationship with His people, and of Jesus Christ and His relationship with the Church. God uses the idea of marriage to speak of spiritual adultery, of which Israel
and Judah were guilty. The whole book of the prophet Hosea is concerning the relationship between that prophet and his wife. Gomer, if not previous to their marriage, then after marriage, became a temple prostitute. God used this to make a very good, and strong point to the nation. In the prophet’s love for his wife, and continually pursuing her; we see God’s wonderful, marvelous love for Israel, and ultimately for the Church.

There are not many men in this current time who would pursue a wife who has deliberately chosen to lie around with other men, profaning and making a mockery out of her marriage, and of her vows to God and her husband. But this was the love which God has shown those who are His. Just as Hosea paid to redeem his wife from the fringes of the debauchery of prostitution, so the LORD our God has paid for our redemption from sin. O, how the heart of Jeremiah must have grieved for the people. Can we see and feel the heart of the prophet as he proclaims the message of Healing for the people’s backsliden condition?. They will not listen to the Word of God.

The tragedy of our day is very similar to those of Jeremiah’s. While some of the so called experts are telling us to tone down our Biblical expository sermons, if not completely stop preaching altogther; no one is wanting to hear the Word of God. We are being told by those experts tune the message to the ears of the hearers. God’s Word still proclaims, “Preach the word. Be instant in season and out of season” 2 Timothy 4:2. Jeremiah didn’t have the ear of the people, as far as it leading them to repentance, but he did wind up in the dungeon. Does the preacher today preach what the people want to hear, or does he preach the very Word of God, what God wants us all to hear. If I ever walk into a church to worship the Lord and all I receive from that “Preacher” is a 10 – 15 minute sermonette, and never mentions the cross of Jesus, never mentions the burial and resurrection of Jesus, or His coming again; that is one church I will never enter again. If I were ever to become a part of a church which adopted such a mentality, and if after much prayer and work could not convince leadership to go back to God’s method, then I would leave it as quickly as I could. People need to repent, quit living in sin, and come out unto the Word and way of God our Savior.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Fruit of the Lips

The Fruit of the Lips

“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 (KJV).

Jesus is still speaking to and of the Pharisees. The hearts of the Pharisees are corrupt and their fruit is corrupt. A thorn tree cannot help bearing anything other than thorns. The fruit of their lips comes from their hearts, because their hearts are evil. Their hearts are evil because they know the Scriptures, but do not know the Truth when He stands in their midst. Their hearts are evil, because they are “full of dead men’s bones”, dead and profess to know God, but know Him not. They are evil because they lead blind men into the ditch with themselves. They are evil because they praise the godless and condemn sinners who seek a Savior.

Jesus uses imagery similar to that of John the Baptist, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” 3:7 (KJV). Slithering, sneaky, slothful serpents whose only mission is to lead people to destruction. It is almost an insult to the serpents. Because of the evil of their hearts they cannot produce good fruit. They cannot speak good and fruitful words. They condemn themselves. The only hope for these religious leaders is to deny themselves, their corrupt fruit, corrupt lips, and believe in Jesus.

People do not often think this way, but words often reveal the content of the heart. If, for instance, the first word to come to you lips and tongue when you smash a finger is a swear word, then you really do have a heart problem. The one whose heart is right when they smash a finger might be something along the line, “Lord help me”, but not to take His name in vain, or swear vehemently against Him. That comes from evil in the heart. By our words we will either be justified or condemned. Good words are spoken of our Savior and His work from the heart of those whom He has changed.

Guard your words, for they reveal the content and state of your heart.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Sin Unforgivable

The Sin Unforgivable

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Matthew 12:31-32 (KJV).

There are those who are continuing to scatter away from Jesus, and in doing so blaspheme that wonderful name. There are those who speak in the name of Jesus, but do not know Him, nor are they known by Him; and both of those are important points. They blaspheme His name today by speaking words for Him which He has not said. They blaspheme His name by proclaiming miracles which He has not proclaimed. The name of Jesus is the most precious name there is and it should not be blasphemed. Blasphemy is the act of slander against God. To blaspheme the Son is a forgivable offense. The Holy Spirit is the person who reveals the Son. To blaspheme the Spirit of God is unforgivable. This is the only sin mentioned in the Bible for which there can be no forgiveness. If attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil is blaspheming the Holy Spirit; what is it called to attribute the works of the devil to the Holy Spirit. A good example would be calling the “gospel of prosperity” the work of the Holy Spirit, and anyone who knows this message knows that it flat out denies the cross of Jesus, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus; and puts it in the category of a magic wand, a genie in a bottle, or three wishes. The “prosperity gospel” is a lie from the pit of hell, told again and again, as “You shall be like god”.

The guilty Pharisees were blaspheming the Spirit of God; by equating the work of the Spirit of God, in Christ Jesus, to the devil. Therefore, they will be found guilty before the throne of God, and their judgment would be eternal, and separated from the presence of God. To blaspheme the Holy Spirit of God is to deny the final access to the very way of grace. The only way of grace is through the faith of the finished work of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God is the way to the Father through the Son. To deny His work is to deny Christ. To deny Christ is to miss eternity with the Father. To blaspheme the Spirit of God means there is no forgiveness in this life or eternity to come. In rejecting Jesus and the work of the Spirit of God they condemn themselves to be without hope.

The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note of verse 31, “the blasphemy against the Spirit. The sin He was confronting was the Pharissees’ diliberate rejection of that which they knew to be of God (cf. John 11:48: Acts 4:16). They could not deny the reality of what the Holy Spirit had done through Him, so they attributed to Satan a work that they knew was of God (v. 24: Mark 3:22).” p. 1414.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

God Went Up…

And God Went Up…

“And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.” Genesis 17:22 (KJV)

God went up, because He had came down to speak with Abraham. We see in verse one that “the LORD appeared to Abram”, so the only way He would go is “UP”. How is it that the deist will believe in God, but refuse to see Him having anything to do with His creation. The Bible in so many instances shows God coming down to men and women, and this is only one instance.

In this case God came down to Abraham to reveal to him how he was going to carry out His plan. It was God’s plan and covenant, not Abraham’s. Salvation by grace through the shed blood of Jesus is God’s plan and covenant, not man’s.

Only after God had finished His business with Abraham, “God went up”. Only after Jesus finished His business for and with the Father and for our benefit did He ascend into the clouds. He has gone up, but He did not leave us alone – His Spirit lives in us keeping us until the day of redemption. He will be coming back just as the disciples saw Him go up (Acts 1:11).

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Israel’s Backsliding

Israel’s Backsliding

God is loving, merciful and gracious. He has been with the northern kingdom of Israel, and with the southern kingdom of Judah. In His love, and His pursuit of His people, the rebellion, coldness, disobedience, and rebellion continue.

It is a shame that those who call themselves the people of God cannot see that they have departed from Him. They are a backsliden people. Hear the words of the prophet from God:

“The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: ‘Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.” Jeremiah 3:6-7 (NKJV).

The sin of Israel was their turning away from their worship of God alone, and they had started developing patterns consistent with pagan worshippers of false gods, even including their worship to false gods in their supposed worship to God. God has given very careful guidance in the true worship of Him. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”, and that means the worship of God, YHWH [YaHWeH] alone. To include others is to destroy true worship of the one true God.

They in effect have worshipped demons, rather than God;

“They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot…” Leviticus 17:7 (NKJV).

Paul writing to the Corinthians says,

“Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” 1 Corinthians 10:18-20 (NKJV).

Worship directed to a Jesus who is not God is a false worship. Worship directed to anyone or anything that is not God is false worship.

Israel has sinned in their worship. It appears that there is more and more people who call themselves Christian who are also sinning in their worship. Their rebellion, disobedience, and adultery toward God must be repented of, seeking God’s forgiveness.

God has said to Israel, “Return to Me”. His call to the Church is the same; “Return to Me”. Be backsliding no more and return to God, and the holy and right worship through the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Just Faith

The Third Promise

“Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4 (NKJV).

The first promise is found in 1:5, the second promise is in 2:3. I have already written on those. The first has to do with God doing a work, “Which you would not believe, though it were told you.” The second of a vision for an appointed time, and “Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry”. When God gets ready to carry out the message and intent of His Word it will not tarry.

Our promise number three is a short one but so powerful. It deals with “Faith”. The first thing I see is concerning the “Proud”. According to Proverbs 6:16 & 17 “A proud look” is one of the seven things which God hates. It seems that the reason for that is; where there is a person full of themselves there is no room for God. Pride can lead to a multitude of sins.

QUESTION – Who are the “Just”? The word “Just” is often used as a synonym for “Righteous” or “Righteousness”. The “Just” are all those who have been declared just by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is said of Noah that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Noah had done nothing to deserve that favor. He was numbered among the wicked before the flood. God had seen that all mankind was wicked, but… One man, Noah, and his family were saved from the deluge by grace. God, by delivering Noah, has declared him “Just”.

Who are the “Just”? Those whom God chooses as His own. Because of God’s grace He chose Noah to build an ark and by doing that provided salvation for all mankind. In the New Testament is written, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” Titus 3:5 (NKJV).

Looking now at the phrase, “Shall live”. The implication is strongly made that those who are “Just” shall live. They shall live evidently by a certain way, and that way we will look at in just a moment. If we are declared “Just” by the living God, through His Son Jesus Christ and His payment for our sin on the cross, there must be something which happens to the believing individual. They “Shall live”. That in itself would be good enough to cause us to have joy and peace well up in our heart and soul, and that is great, however, there is more here than a simple emotional feeling. It is life that glorifies Jesus Christ, and magnifies the Father, and His Word.

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36 (NKJV).

Everlasting life is the gift of God to all who will believe – that is an action word – and believe solely in Jesus for salvation. When we come to believe in Jesus He gives us faith. There is the word that makes this the promise it ought to be. We are told in the New Testament, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV).

That certain way the “Just shall live” is “by his faith”. If you are a female it would be “by her faith”. “So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17. The apostle Paul also wrote by the Spirit of God;

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV).

It would seem that the one’s who have turned toward Jesus Christ and trusted His finished work on the cross, His death, burial and resurrection, and believe He is coming again have been given faith by God, and by that faith He gives us the means of living the life of grace He has called and equipped us to live.

It would also seem to me that anyone who teaches that you can be saved, and continue living a life contrary to Christ, His Word, and the Father is going to have a very hard time facing the Lord in eternity. The Third Promise is; “The just shall live by his faith”. This verse is found in Romans 1:17 as well. It is a New Testament principle, and practice. Believing Jesus, and living by the faith He gives us says we will live the life he has prepared for us beforehand; and by faith “We should walk in them”.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Whited Sepulchre

THE WHITED SEPULCHRE

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Matthew 23:27-28 (KJV)

The verses quoted are the words of Jesus to an unbelieving, hard-hearted, rebellious group of religious leaders known to Jesus as “Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites”. The words quoted are the seventh of eight “Woes” which Jesus himself voices against them. The scribes, the Pharisees, the hypocrites were the ones who were always condemning others. They basically had no good word to say about anyone, except themselves, and I would imagine if one of them violated their normal routine they would also be condemned.

The “Whited” is speaking of a whitewash which was often used for temporary covering. It was temporary only because it washed away in the rain. It only gave the appearance of being something it wasn’t. They purposely whitewashed the sepulchres to have them clearly marked, so as not to touch them and thus, defile themselves making themselves cermonially unclean.

Jesus likens them to these “Whited sepulchres”. The way they paraded themselves around as being the epitome of holiness and righteousness, and before God they have the stench of hell, the putridness of dead men’s decaying flesh and bones. This reminds me of the “Untempered mortar” of Ezekiel’s prophecy, “Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter: Say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it. Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it. So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered morter, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered morter, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it; To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 13:10-16 (KJV). Just as the false prophets of Ezekiel’s day were suring up the hopes of their people with promises, but not dealing with their sin, so too were the religious leaders of Jesus’s day offering a false hope in perfection, and the keeping of manmade ordinances, which they themselves were not practicing. The untempered mortar of which Ezekiel speaks is like a white wash substance to fill the cracks in the wall, but with no holding ability, to only be washed away with the rains.

Jesus speaks at the beginning of this discourse saying, “Whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do” (23:3). Jesus does not say a word about not obeying, but saying do what they teach and say. Just don’t practice their hypocrisy of saying and not doing.

Legalism is rules that are always made for someone else. It has no practical application for the one proclaiming it, or they have provided for themselves ways to bypass and get around it. They had made for themselves “Loopholes” to get around these rules of tradition, and in some cases of written law. Jesus condemns the actions of the hypocrites who boasted of their own good deeds, and by their own acts made it impossible for anyone else to actually believe.

Legalism is the denying of the power of God alone to save and adding to it the works of law, tradition, ritual, or sacraments. It has absolutely nothing to do with the call of the pastor, preacher, teacher, and God’s Word calling God’s people to live holy, righteous, temperate, lives of labor for the glory of the Lord. One is not a whited sepulchre when they too are walking in the Word of God, and following the practices of holiness, etc..

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The True Source of the Power

The True Source of the Power

“But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Matthew 12:28-30 (KJV)

The prophet Zechariah wrote, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6). It is sad that the ones who were responsible for the spiritual leadership of Israel were blind to the power of God when He was walking in their midst. When Jesus was walking with us on this earth He was the source and giver of power to cast out demons. Jesus lived in the power of the Spirit of God. He was and is the bodily manifestation of the power and presence of God.

Jesus overpowered the influence of the devil in the fourth chapter of Matthew. He bound the strong man, and spoiled his house. Jesus would not yield nor seek shortcuts around the will of the Father for his life.

There are still people who cannot see God as being benevolent, all powerful, all knowing, and all present. They equate Him as being an evil tyrant. They are the ones who are calling good evil, and evil good. God cannot be truly benevolent unless He is also all powerful, all knowing and all present. These same people are the ones who continue to reject Jesus and equate His power to evil as well. If you are not with Him you are against Him. If you gather not with Him you are scattering abroad.

Anyone who claims to believe in a god who created the world, but this god is not omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, as well as immutable does not believe in the true God who created the world from nothing. The God who created all things spoke it into existence. With the power of His Word it all came to be. With the power of His Word all evil will be put to its end.

When we see the words and life of Jesus we see the life of the Father, the Creator in Him. Jesus demonstrated that He was/is the power of God on earth, among men, by His power to bind Satan and his demons. Some want to say, but He died by the hand of the devil on the cross. It was not by the hand of the devil that He died on the cross. It was by the hand of His own Father, and He laid His own life down, humbled before His Father and God.

The religious leaders rather then drawing people to God, and the Son were pushing people away with their hard heartedness, their cold indifference and legalism; and the blindness of the heart. Let us never allow our hearts to grow hard, coldly indifferent, becoming blind and legalistic in the teaching of regeneration and justification.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Devil Against Himself???

Accusation – The Devil Against Himself

“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.” Matthew 12:25-27 (KJV)

What the Pharisees would have us believe is that the works of Jesus was the works of the devil. The works the Lord performed were works against the devil and all evil. Satan working against himself would be self-destructive. That is what is called civil war. Warring against oneself.

The devil can do things in counterfeit, but he never copies for good. A counterfeit is for the purpose of deceit, leading away from the true and the good. The devil himself is called as, “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Someone once asked me, “Can Satan heal?” My answer, “He can give the appearance of healing.” The woman who asked me this did not like my answer, and her and her husband never returned to our church. They had been going to so called “medical spiritist” and things like this. Those are tools of the devil, and it is connected to voodoo, and witchcraft. “Can Satan heal?” My answer to that question is still the same. He gives the appearance of healing, a counterfeit. The devil counterfeits to try and destroy the work of Christ with deceptive workers and their lies as well.

Satan will not do anything to destroy himself, or his legions of demons. Most of the counterfeit work he does is to call attention to himself. Like Jesus says, “If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself…”, and a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. The counterfeit work of the devil is to deceive, and attempt to destroy the works of God, even the child of God. Satan hates God and anyone who believes/trust in Him, and lives for Him.

The accusation the Pharisees bring is basically self defeating. If Jesus is casting out demons by Satan’s power, then, by whom are the Jewish exorcists casting them out? There is an example of Jewish exorcists casting out, or attempting to cast out demons, in Acts 19:13-17. “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” Acts 19:13-17 (KJV). We never see Jesus, His disciples, or apostles, using means of “exorcism” of demons. Everytime Jesus cast out demons He simply commanded them to leave. His disciples, and apostles much the same. There is no ritual or form for casting our demons. It is by the power of Christ Jesus and His Word they must leave. The gospel of Jesus Christ – the death of Jesus on the cross, His burial, and the resurrection is the power to rid a soul of demons. Where Jesus is in residence, the devil or his demons cannot remain.

Because these religious leaders were accusing Jesus of Satanic power they themselves would be judged by their own exorcists for their accusations. The house of the devil will one day be destroyed, and it will be by the hand of the One who does not deceive, counterfeit, or lie; but is just, honest and true.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus and Politics

There is a whole lot of politics going on. You know the idea, and ask the question, “How do you know a politician is lying?” The answer is… I will let you know a little later. That almost sounds like a good answer. That is not it, however.

How should Christians who are ‘followers of Jesus Christ’ be involved in politics, or should they be? Jesus said, “Render to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. It seems you could get a clear and distinct answer of being involved from that statement, “Render to Caesar…” When we are citizens of a Nation which has a democratic process of elections, then, we should participate in those elections and let our vote and voice be heard.

Should Christians try to get moral legislation for that Nation? That may be a little stickier. As Christians we understand that morality, nor legislation is going to change a nation. A nation changes as the hearts of the people are changed. That works in the positive and the negative. If the life changing message of the Gospel of Jesus is received by the populace, then there will be a positive change of hearts. If, on the other hand, society begins to turn more and more away from God, His Word, equal justice for all, giving of their resources to others in need, and morality, then there is the negative change and evil will increase. The streets will be filled with crimes such as street shootings, school shootings, robberies – banks, convenience stores, jewelry stores, churches, etc. Husbands killing wives, wives killing husbands, parents killing children, children killing parents, co-habitations, and all kinds of immoral sexual behavior.

Christians must have a voice, and that voice is in their church buildings and in the voting booth, and in the public forum. Christian, you have the right to vote: Use it or lose it.

I was behind a car from New Hampshire on the afternoon of Friday October 27, 2006 in Cassville, Missouri. I noticed something about that plate and the motto on the plate. It read, “LIVE FREE, OR DIE”. I thought when I saw it, “Now who ever came up with that one had a bold thought”. As long as you and I have the freedom to vote we have a say in the way things are run in our country.

If we get to trusting in the political process to save our Nation we are doomed. In the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ it speaks of a woman riding a beast. That woman represents religion, and the beast is – I believe – democratic government. I must say, has not religion in recent years been riding the beast of democracy? What follows is not pretty.

The Gospel of Jesus will change hearts and lives. No political process can do that. Legislate as you will.

Now to answer the question at the beginning. Their mouth is moving. But, you probably already knew that.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Jerusalem… The Throne of the LORD

The LORD in the previous verses has spoken through the prophet to plead with Israel to return to Him. It will require them to put away their idolatry, to renew their hearts and their lives in Him. The LORD even says, “I am married to you.” (v.14). The promise is for them when they return. The problem is they have not yet returned to Him. They one day will; by God’s own promise and assurances.

“Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,’ says the LORD, ‘that they will say no more, ‘ The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.” Jeremiah 3:16-18 (NKJV).

If you will note this promise is conditional upon their return to Him, from their state of a backsliding heart. I have stated it before and will state it again here, though this is not my own: I think Charles H. Spurgeon has been credited with this statement, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully.” The southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, since the reigns of Rehoboam and Jereboam, are the children of God, or the nation of God’s choosing. If you will read all of the Old Testament from the Exodus through the book of Malachi, you will find God’s hand of correction, and discipline on the two kingdoms. In them we have examples of what the Christian’s life should be like and God’s discipline upon us when we rebell and sin against Him.

The LORD’s words spoken through the prophet are spoken as an already completed thing. It is completed in the mind of God. When God says something is going to come to pass it is as good as done. You will notice that He says, “When you are mutltiplied and increased in the land…”. It is an already decided and an already accomplished event; it just needs worked out in the people’s hearts and lives. There would be coming a time when the people were going to be carried away to Babylon, and in 70 years they would return. It this return they would return as one nation once again, but this promise has much more prophetic influence that just that fulfillment. The children of the nation of Israel, are still missing the ark of the covenant; they are even looking forward to the return of the ark of the covenant.

Even when Cyrus king of Persia made proclamation for the “house of the LORD” to be built in Jerusalem, and after Nehemiah was given permission to go and rebuild the wall of the city of Jerusalem, the people were still in bondage to a foreign power. Even in the day of Jesus they were still under the powers of the Roman government. Since the Babyloninan captivity they have not really been free. In our day, though they are supposedly a free nation, they are still under the rule of Gentile governments. The United Nations and the United States of America are pretty much their ruling nations.

There will come a day when Messiah reigns in Jerusalem. That it the time and the day they will no longer be depending on the representative power and presence of the Lord, ie., the ark of the covenant; but they will have the real, full, and glorious power and presence of the LORD in person. He will be their king. How is it that some Christians want to take these promises and spiritualize them, and make them for the church? This promise has not happened yet. It has not been fulfilled. It is yet to be fulfilled and to the letter. The amillennialist would have us believe that these events have already occured and the promise is fulfilled in the Church. The thing is this prophecy had nothing, has nothing to do with the Church. It has to do with the people of Israel. It is dealing with a real people, in a real land, with a real city of Jerusalem; not a figurative one.

The children of Judah and Israel did come back from Babylon, after seventy years, just as Jeremiah had prophesied; but they have never had free rule of the land. It has been ruled by other nations for centuries. When, however, Jesus sits as king on “The Throne of the LORD, then will all the nations be gathered into it. It won’t be so that they can rule, but so that they can worship the King. Jerusalem will be The Throne of the Lord.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

God’s Love Is Pleading

God’s Love is Pleading

 

Even though Israel has been greatly polluted by sin, the LORD continues to plead with them. He urges them to return to Him at the end of verse one of chapter three.

There is much we as Christians can learn from God’s love for Israel. He never ceases loving His people. He has not, to this day, given up on Israel. They will one day believe in their Messiah who is Jesus.

Hear the Word of God through Jeremiah the prophet:

“Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them like an Arabian in the wilderness; and you hav polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot’s forehead; you refuse to be ashamed. Will you not from this time cry to Me, ‘My Father, You are the guide of my youth? Will He remain angry forever? Will He keep it to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, as you were able.” Jeremiah 3:2-5 (NKJV).

The prophet is still addressing the spiritual adultery of the people of Israel, and spiritual adultery most generally leads to physical adultery against those we love. When a Christian man who is a pastor falls in love with his position, power, and the attention which he gets rather than the God whom he is supposed to be serving; he has fallen into spiritual adultery, and is in the position of committing adultery against his wife. This is just a word of warning preachers.

The person in the pew can get into spiritual adultery by caring for his position in the “secular” workforce more than he does for his service to the Lord. When you get into spiritual adultery you are setting yourself and your family up for devastation.

Spiritual adultery pollutes our land, ie., our inheritance with God. The land is God’s inheritance for Israel, and they had polluted it with their departure from faith in Him, and of giving themselves over to other gods, which in fact, were no gods at all. Israel was like the harlot who waited by the roadside. It is written in the Liberty Bible Commentary,

In the ways hast thou sat. Like the prostitutes who enticed passers-by along the roads, so had Israel enticed other gods (cf. Gen 38:14; Prov 7:12). Idolatrous altars had actually been erected at road intersections and the gates of the cities (II Kgs 23:8; Ezk 16:25). Also like the Arabian, the Bedoin who lies in wait for travelers in order to plunder them, so Israel sought after idolatry and thus desecrated the land.” p. 1434.

PLEASE NOTE: “In the ways hast thou sat” is in the text printed above and in the NKJV as “By the road you have sat.

By God’s admission and the prophet’s there is no shame in the people for their adultery. When God’s people get out of His will we get into a horrible state; if we are not quick to do our accounting. Why would people, especially God’s people be surprised at the discipline or chastisement of the LORD? It is because we can get cold and callous when we do not walk with Him. We can begin thinking that He is the one who is angry, and He will keep on being angry with us; when in fact it is we who are in the wrong, angry with God, and will keep on to the end, except for the grace of the Almighty LORD.

Even with the cold, collous hearts God is still pleading for the return of His people. That should warm our hearts. His love is always pleading, always calling us to return.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

It Will Not Tarry…

THE SECOND PROMISE

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:3 (KJV).

 

Habakkuk is seeing a vision of God. He has had many a question. God wants to reassure the prophet that what He has told him will come to pass just as He has said. He must wait for it. It will come, and it will not tarry.

How many times do we grow impatient for the way of the Lord? We know He has promised something and we wonder, “When?” We even lose hope for a while, and we try to intervene, and then, that may end up delaying the promise because of our unbelief, or at least when it seems longer in coming we feel we are the cause of delay. We must learn and know God has an appointed time for every event. One day it will occur just as He has promised.

 

Think of God’s promise to Abraham for a son. For many long years he and Sarah waited, yet no son. Until, one day Sarah had this “brilliant” idea. “Why don’t you sleep with my servant girl, have a baby by her and fulfill God’s will for us”. Believe it or not Abraham conceded and they had a son. This was not in accord with the promise of God. Any time we try and jump ahead of God we bring trouble on ourselves.

God’s vision is for an appointed time. God will fulfill His promises. The following is a quote from my study of the first four verses of chapter two:

“Verse three tells the prophet that the vision God has given has an appointed time. It may seem as though it is being delayed, but it has a time of its own – by God. When its time comes it will not delay. It will not ‘tarry’. When God’s time for carrying out His promises come; they will be fulfilled, and to the letter. There are many who because, the rapture of the Church, or the glorious appearing of our Savior has not yet occurred think it is not literal, or that it has already happened. It will happen – in God’s time (His appointed time), and it has not happened yet. It will, and will not tarry. This is just as a means of illustrating, but it does make the point – God’s Word will be fulfilled completely.”

 

The Lord is merciful and gracious. That is something for which all people should be grateful. When God does judge sin He judges it completely. He will not leave any of it. When He judged the earth the first time by flood every soul of man was destroyed, except for eight. Except for those on the ark every flying fowl died, and every walking fowl. Every beast of the field. It was tragic to say the least, but God will not tolerate sin.

That same thing is true in His people. The word He has spoken will come to pass. He judged the Nation of Israel and Judah. They had turned their back on Him, worshipped other gods, lived in iniquity, and offered children in the fire. His promise is, “Write the vision… For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”. Note the emphasis put within this promise of the fulfillment of this Word from God. It is an appointed time – God’s time not ours. At its appointed time it shall speak, and then, no one will call it a “Lie”. This is an assurance of the truth of God’s Word. Though it may seem long in coming, “Wait for it” – in other words with enduring patience keep on living your faith (“But the just shall live by his faith”). Just because the promise seems long in coming does not give us license to live in rebellion against God and His Word. It should be motivation to live by faith. Again the assurance is given “It will surely come”. The fulfillment of God’s promise; both for cleansing judgment and for renewing. And, once again, the assurance that it does not “Tarry”. It will be at God’s “appointed time” – no sooner, no later.

 

Many of God’s promises that have not yet been fulfilled for Israel will yet be fulfilled. Yet, there are many who want to continue to tell us that God is finished with Israel as a Nation, and that these promises are for the “New Israel” meaning the Church. These promises to Israel the Nation will be fulfilled. They are not just spiritual promise, but literal physical promises of returning to the land of promise. Of a literal King who will forever sit on the throne in Jerusalem. Those promises will come, and they will not tarry. It will come in God’s appointed time. In the meantime keep living by the faith God has given you.

The greatest promise of all is the return of Jesus Christ.  Before He died on the cross for the sins of the world Jesus said, “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself…” (John 14:3).  On the cross He took the sins of the world, the sins of mankind upon Himself, became sin for us, was judged by His Father, enduring the wrath of sin that belonged to you and me, dying, forsaken by His Father, victorious over the enemy, was buried carrying our sins as far away as east is from west, and casting them into the deepest parts of the sea.  He then, after three days, rose bodily from the grave, then forty days later was seen ascending into the clouds, and those who witnessed were told, “…This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).  When He comes He will not tarry.  Even so, Come Lord Jesus. 

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Allegiance, License, and Legalism

ALLEGIANCE, LICENSE, AND LEGALISM

Matthew 5:17-20

We hear quite often that since Christ came, died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, and we put our trust and faith in Him we can live without the law. That seems to be growing in popularity. Let me add here that there are sins which the law of God does not directly address, but they are sins. When you live in a society where the drinking of alcoholic beverage is more than tolerated, but almost admired, and when you are encouraged to drink it when you are watching the television through the commercials, then, it is time to stand and say this is wicked, vile, and evil. When the society we live in practically worships sexuality, and indecent, adulterous, promiscuous sexual conduct; then, it is also time to declare to the world and society that pornography is wicked, and rebellion against God.

There are those in Christian circles who say to us, “We are free in Christ”. I would be the first to admit our freedom in Christ. However, that term freedom in Christ is too often taken our of the Biblical context. It has absolutely nothing to do with ‘Freedom to sin’; it has everything to do with living Christ like, holy, righteous, undefiled lives; it is, in fact, the “Freedom to live for Christ”. Being no longer against Him, but with Him how can any child of God believe that freedom to be freedom to live in absolut rebellion to His holiness.

Do we discount the law, especially because according to Jesus He did not come to destroy them, but to fulfill them? Did He fulfill them? Yes!!! Does that means we are unaccountable to the law?

Let me give the definition of the three basic words of our title. They all will be addressed in this message

 

ANTINO’MIAN

, a. [Gr. against, and law.] Against law; pertaining to the Antinomians.

ANTINO’MIAN

, n. One of a sect who maintain, that, under the gospel dispensation, the law is of no use or obligation; or who hold doctrines which supersede the necessity of good works and a virtuous life. This sect originated with John Agricola about the year 1538. OLD WEBSTER DICTIONARY e-Sword.

ALLE’GIANCE

 

, n. [L. alligo, of ad and ligo, to bind. See Liege and League.]

The tie or obligation of a subject to his Prince or government; the duty of fidelity to a king, government or state. Every native or citizen owes allegiance to the government under which he is born. This is called natural or implied allegiance, which arises from the connection of a person with the society in which he is born, and his duty to be a faithful subject, independent of any express promise. Express allegiance, is that obligation which proceeds from an express promise, or oath of fidelity.

Local or temporary allegiance is due from an alien to the government or state in which he resides. OLD WEBSTER DICTIONARY From e-Sword.

Legalism

 

Strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to the religious or moral code. THE MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY

The reason I use the word ‘antinomian’ above is because that is the word which best describes the lawless. The ones who want us to believe that we are above the law, because we have been saved through faith in Jesus.

If we are Christian, ie., ‘Christlike’, then we must behave like Jesus. That would mean fulfilling the law. He tells us, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.” We must put on a DEFINITE SPIRITUAL ALLEGIANCE to our Lord Jesus Christ. The Law and the Prophets is clearly the Old Testament Scriptures. It is the only Scriptures the people of Jesus’s day and the apostles had to read. It was the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah’s prophecy Jesus read from the day He declared Himself as having come. We often on certain occasions Pledge Allegiance to our Flag – the flag of the United States of America. When we talk of pledging allegiance to our Lord, we get to thinking it too costly. We owe fidelity to our King – King Jesus and His government. We were born under His government, thus, allegiance is owed to Him. When we received the covenant of salvation and baptism we pledged our allegiance to Him and His laws.

Jesus continues, then, by saying, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (NKJV). These laws are for the moral good of our society. It seems to be also, that, though there are not direct applications to certain aspects of sin having to do with certain societies, there is still an application of the morality God’s law establishes. Anything that is harmful to our fellow human being, fitting into the final six of the Ten Commandments, would be a violation of the law. There are some who will tell us, “If it is not directly named and forbiden by the law, then we cannot call it sin”. There are many sins not directly mentioned or named and forbidden in the Bible. Consider for example, pornography, gambling, beverage alcohol, and though it is mentioned in the Bible as sin this one is often overlooked, and that is gluttony. We live in a society which practically endorses these behaviors, yet they are clearly harmful to all those who practice them. The first three mentioned can and do destroy peoples homes; spouses, children, jobs; now someone please tell me I am being legalistic because of my concern for the destruction of homes and families. It is sin to destroy your home, because of your participation in these acts; thus I have no problem calling them sin. Does the fact of Jesus fulfilling the law mean that the law is disabled?

Jesus says, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Are we saved by the obedience to the law? Paul the apostle wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV). The law has been fulfilled, thus it lives in our changed hearts and lives. Our desire is no longer to follow the passions of lust, ie., the lusts and passions of the sinful world. We are free to follow the passions of Jesus. Jesus’s passion was to die for our sins. He calls His followers to “Take up your cross, and follow Me”. When He took up His cross it led to His death. Our cross leads to our death to sin; not to bask or relish in sins supposed, and short lived pleasures.

The words of Jesus in finishing this on the law are these; “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” v. 20 (NKJV). I have previously written of Matthew 23:3 where Jesus tells his listeners to do what they teach, but do not follow their works. These religious leaders were hypocrites. A hypocrite is an individual who pretends to be what they are not. There are far too many of these in churches today, because the local congregations have grown lax in thier discipleship, teaching and training, doctrine, and law of God, and the prophets. We applaud the works of people rather than the work of Christ. We fail to correct false teaching, and allow it to grow into a cancerous, disgusting, putrid, stink. We have failed to see the nation of Israel as our example; especially for the individual Christian. Every action of the nation of Israel and their departure from God can happen to the individual Christian. Just as God has chastised the Nation, and continues to do so; He also will discipline the individual who runs astray from God, His Word, His law, and the prophets; and away from God’s will.

The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was a self-earned righteousness. Their self-righteousness was a stench in the nasal passages of God (See Isaiah 64:6). They only supposed they had reached the level of the righteous God, but actually had failed, and prided themselves in their greatness. That shows you and I the truth of what the apostle Paul said to the church of Ephesus, “…Not of works, lest anyone should boast”. The only righteousness which exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees is the righteousness which God ascribes to us; and that is the Righteousness of Jesus Christ, which we receive when we have by faith been transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Without His righteousness there is no entering the kingdom of heaven.

Allegiance to Jesus Christ should be our only allegiance with eternal gain, and realize that our allegiance to our Nation is for the purpose of ascribing the worth of Jesus Christ in all that we do. The only license we have from God is by faith through Christ to live for Him, to glorify Him, to show forth the name of Jesus in all our work, and play. The life of the Christian is not “License” to sin, but license to live for Christ. As Christians we are to promote and encourage a life of holiness, righteousness, justice, and walk humbly with our Lord (See Micah 6:8); and as teachers and leaders of such; practice these things ourselves. Not to earn salvation, but because of salvation. Let me reemphasize that legalism is requiring more for salvation than grace. It is not legalism to expect, to teach, and require holiness in the people who follow Jesus. Much of the charges of legalism that is being thrown around today is only further license to sin in the name of “Freedom” or “Liberty” in the name of Christ. We are called to call harmful acts of behavior SIN. I say that any action which does not glorify Jesus Christ is an act of sin. I am in great need, and have received that grace which I need for life and living. How about you?

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Works

The King’s Works

 

“Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” Matthew 12:22-24 (KJV)

The man could not see, nor could he speak. It is highly probable that this man could not hear as well. Scripture tells us he was “Possessed with a devil [demon]”. Now we live in a sophistcated society which tries to deny the spiritual in many ways. There are people who see “ghosts”, who see “spirits” and all kinds of certain phenomena, but the thought of demons seems to elude people. Many refuse to see evil as it is often seen.

Whether this man who was brought to Jesus and possessed by the demon had been made mute and blind by the demon is not seen. At any rate when Jesus heals the one possessed he is no longer possessed. He had been shunned because of his condition. Unable, because of strict religious ceremonial laws to attend worship at the temple. Jesus simply heals the man.

Due to Jesus doing this miracle many began to see Him as “the son of David”. This title is a Biblical title for the Messiah. The long awaited promised son of David who would come and deliver God’s people from their sins.

Upon hearing the people saying, “Is this the son of David?” the Pharisees react without grace, without mercy, and begin condemning Jesus. They are blind to the works which Jesus has done and is doing. His works are evidence of who He is. Old Testament Scriptures tell of the Messiah/King doing mighty deeds. The question arose partly from doubt because of Jesus’s position in life – “Acquainted with grief” (Isaiah53:3), and the Pharisees and all religious leaders had no confidence that their Messiah could be suffering or be acquainted with grief. They missed the parts where God speaks of the Suffering Savior, by appointing those verses to themselves, rather than to He who was to come. They saw only one coming of the Messiah, and appointed these miracles of Jesus to acts of the devil. Thus they put themselves in the precarious situation of eternal condemnation. They would take the triumphant Scriptures and appoint them only to the coming of a ruling conquering King, thereby, missing the point of the coming suffering servant, dying for the sins of the world.

In rejecting His works they rejected their king. By rejecting Jesus and His works they condemn themselves by giving Satan the glory for these marvelous works (v. 27). They were more concerned with preserving their traditional laws, and especially their own interpretation of the laws, than they were with meeting the needs of the people. When the preservation of traditional interpretation of the law becomes more important than the saving of a soul, that is when we open ourselves to judgment, and being rejected by our Lord. We must always stand on the truth of the gospel, and stand for it. Without the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, ie., the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; we have no salvation.

These religious leaders were blinded by jealousy, rage, and just an out and out blindness for the truth, in order that Jesus might fulfill the very word of God, and glorify the Father, and provide salvation to a lost world.

When we appoint the works of God and His Son Jesus Christ as works of Satan we put ourselves in the spot of condemnation. No true child of God – follower of Jesus Christ – is going to be condemned; so no true child of God is going to equate the works of Christ to that of the devil. It is sad that people who seem to know the Scriptures will often twist them, or distort them to come to their own interpretation, and in their interpretation miss the whole picture of the Scriptures. The picture is of Jesus; the person is Jesus. John the Revelator wrote by the Spirit, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10b).

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The King Withdraws

The King Withdraws

 

“But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” Matthew 12:15-21 (KJV)

Jesus knowing the conspiracy going on among the religious leaders thought it wise to withdraw from the area, because He knew it was not the right time for His death. There were, however a great multitude of people who followed him, and this because they were fascinated with His gift of miracles. Jesus was not leaving because He was fearful, but knew full well He needed to be out of the reach of the vile and tormented hearts of the religious leaders.

We are told that, “He healed them all”. It seems that it was speaking of only those who were in the multitudes following. There was still multitudes of people through out all Israel who were not healed of their sicknesses and infirmities.

There are other points in the gospels where Jesus speaks to silence the desire to tell others of Him. Here is one of them. The reasons for the commandment of silence are probably numerous. One which might be so is that of being God’s will and timing is of the utmost importance. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus could not be done in haste, but it must be done in order. Jesus’s sole priority is to do the will of His Father, and it would be done. In one place Jesus told a healed leper, “See that you tell no one…” (Matthew 8:4); in Matthew 16:20 Jesus tells His disciples, “…that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.” After healing a deaf mute in Mark 7:36 we are told, “Then He commanded them that they should tell no one…”. For the most part it seems that this was so the Scriptures might be fulfilled. Jesus took great care to see that God’s Word was fulfilled to the letter. Some might see this as personal manipulation on Jesus’s part, it is not manipulation, but rather living it out to its fulness. He desires that His followers – disciples – have that same living out of the Word of God in our lives.

He gives us the reason for this commandment of not telling when He says, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet…”. God’s glory and God’s Word are very important to God and His Son Jesus. The Psalmist wrote, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” Psalm 138:2b (NKJV). The Psalmist also wrote, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89. Someone has said, “God said it; I believe it; so that settles it”. I think this way, “God said it; that settles it; and that is still true whether I believe it or not”.

Let’s examine what is meant by the prophecy of Isaiah in chapter 42:1-4, and is quoted here in Matthew. Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy as the Servant/Messiah. His coming the first time was not going to be like what the religious leaders had believed. They were expecting a politician, a general of war, a deliverer from Roman government. Jesus, as the fulfillment of this prophecy was quiet, peaceable, gentle, meek, etc. As the prophecy says, “He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.” That is not to say that people did not hear His teachings and preaching; many heard but did not believe. He did not try to stir up a revolution or force His power on any. As a matter of fact there is evidence that many tried to come to Him and force Him to be their king (John 6:15). There is coming a time when Jesus will rule and reign as King on the earth, but the time has not yet come.

Of the “bruised reed” and the “smoking flax”, The MacArthur Study Bible notes,

12:20 bruised reed…smoking flax. The reed was used by shepherds to fashion a small musical instrument. Once cracked or worn, it was useless. A smoldering wick was also useless for giving light. These represent people who are deemed useless by the world. Christ’s work was to restore and rekindle such people, not to ‘break’ them or ‘quench’ them. This speaks of His tender compassion toward the lowliest of the lost. He came not to gather the strong for a revolution, but to show mercy to the weak. Cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-29.” From p. 1414 New King James Version edition of The MacArthur Study Bible.

Our Lord Jesus Christ came the first time to give His life as a payment for the sins of mankind. He paid that debt in full. He will return a second time to take vengeance on those who deny Him, and the world will be once and for all delivered of all evil. The name of Jesus is the name in which all people and nations, tribes and tongues can put their faith and trust. The whole world can find peace in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Married To A Backslider

There has been many a father and mother who pleaded and pleaded with their children to return home, after they have ran away from home. Some children, after reaching the mid to late teen years, begin feeling they can run their lives without someone “telling me what to do”, and so they run away. It is sometimes by the deceptive words of a “friend” or an older individual persuades them to do so. These are heart breaking for every loving parent.

Questions like; “Where did I go wrong?”, “What could we have done different?”, “Why is this happening now?”, and feelings of being a failure with your family hit hard. Since I have never experienced the sorrow of a runaway child, I really don’t know all the questions asked, or the pain that it causes. I have known a family or two where the runaway scenario has happened.

You could call their leaving home, “Backsliding”. That is what has happened in the life of the divided nations of Israel and Judah. Israel left home and began worshipping golden calves in Dan and Bethel, set up by their first king Jereboam. The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Backslide” as “To lapse morally or in religious practice”. That, in my opinion, is a gross understatement.

Before we go on let’s hear the Word of the LORD from the prophet Jeremiah:

“Return, O backsliding children,’ says the LORD; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:14-15 (NKJV).

What does God mean by “Backsliding”? It is the act of apostasy, turning away from God, His Word, and sliding on a slippery slope to one’s lowest point. God is not pleased when His people turn their backs on Him and then, offer Him sacrifices which do not come from a heart of devotion and praise. Sacrifices offered with a backsliden heart are a stench in heaven and the nostrils of God.

Why people say that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament is beyond me. The means of salvation is by grace through faith. The Old Testament people were saved looking forward to the cross of Christ; shown in all the blood sacrifices offered with a clean motive, and the people from the cross forward are saved by looking back to the cross of Christ by faith.

This word from God through his prophet Jeremiah is given to His backsliden people. It is not to the heathen, unredeemed, but to the people of Israel and Judah. This says to us that God’s people can go astray. We can get out of the will of God, but that God will spare no grace to pursue us, pleading with us to get us back into our personal walk with Him; in completer agreement with Him; at peace with Him. The backsliden child of God is not at peace with God. The backslider is not even at peace with himself/herself. They want their own way, and they are going to have their way. Even if that way leads to the “pigpen”. Remember the Prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32. The father’s love seen for a rebellious son who had wanted to do things his way returns to the loving father, after realizing his own desparate plight. The writer of Proverbs says of the backslider, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” Proverbs 14:14 (NKJV).

It doesn’t matter what the child of God has done you have a loving Father who is pleading for you to return to His fellowship and enjoy the peace, comfort, love and joy that is found only in the presence and power of God.

For too long the nations had had shepherds who were “devouring their sheep”, and not teaching them the truth, or leading them in the true ways of God. They were self seeking. Read Jeremiah 23:1-2ff. The responsibility of the shepherd of people is an awesome responsibility. Those who preach, teach, and minister the word of God, are especially on notice to take great care in what they say, teach and preach. It seems quite clear that the priest, and other shepherds of Israel had gravely failed to lead in the way of God and His righteousness, grace and justification.

God now says to Israel and Judah, “I will give you shepherds according to My heart…” These will not be after the heart of man, but the heart of God. The true shepherd of God needs to know the heart of God. We learn that through His Word, prayer, and service for His glory.

The Christian of our day (2008) is living in times of great opportunity. Let us be devoted, committed, and crucified with Christ; being so will not allow us to backslide away from where God desires us to be, and that is with Him. Let us walk in His Spirit, His Word, and do things using His methods. Whether some want to admit it or not there are some methods that are being used to “Reach people for Christ” which are not after God’s heart. You know them. They give more glory to the program, the actors, the performers, the stunts, the numbers of people who are drawn to these events, and even to the numbers of “decisions”, than they do to the Lord for whom they are presumably there.

O, backsliding children God pleads for your return, “Return, O backsliding children…”

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Wonderful Love of God

The Wonderful Love of God

There are far too many times I have heard of people, even Christians, saying; “The God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament”, or they say; “People of the Old Testament were saved differently than the people of the New Testament time.” My usual response to that is; “That just isn’t so”.

In reading in the book of Genesis we find that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD”. He did not earn his salvation it was by grace (Genesis 6:8). We find again in Genesis, “And he [Abram, ie., Abraham] believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). That same phrase is used to assure us that Abraham was not saved by works but by grace in Romans 4:1-4.

In looking in the book of Jeremiah the prophet proclaims the love or our God and Savior:

“They say, ‘if a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; ‘Yet return to Me,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:1 (NKJV).

The prophet likens the people of Israel and Judah to a wife who has committed many adulteries, and abominations against her Husband who is God. According to law, Deuteronomy 24:1-4, it was an unclean act for a man to have his previously divorced, remarried, divorced and to take her back to himself. It was considered a defilement of the promised land. God, though, seeing the uncleanness of His people calls them to repent and return to Him. Despite the fact of their many acts of treachery, adultery and spiritual adultery, their murder of small children and elderly people; God says, “I still love you. Return to Me.’

That is the grace of God displayed in the Old Testament. Saved and restored by God’s amazing and wonderful love and grace.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Rejected Helpers

Rejected Helpers

There have been a few times that the Nation of Israel turned their backs on their God – YHWH – and in doing so committed harlotry against Him. Israel was the chosen wife of God, but they committed adultery against Him. God has not been pleased with them to say the least; when they committed this idolatrous act.

In their sin they have taught their young to despise the prophets, to practice idolatry, at least those who were not burned in fires offered to Baal. The LORD used various forms of judgment against them to bring them back to Himself, but they would always fall back into their disobedience and immorality.

Hear the Word of the Lord:

“Why do you beautify your way to seek love? Therefore you have also taught the wicked women your ways. Also on your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents. I have not found it by secret search, but plainly on all these things. yet you say, ‘Because I am innocent, surely His anger shall turn from me.’ Behold, I will plead My case against you, because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’ Why do you gad about so much to change your way? Also you shall be ashamed of Egypt as you were ashamed of Assyria. Indeed you will go forth from him with your hands on your head; for the LORD has rejected your trusted allies, and you will not prosper by them.” Jeremiah 2:33-35 (NKJV).

There was such adultery in the land that God hated it. He hates divorce [putting away] (See Malachi 2:16), and He would hate the putting away of His people. He does everything to woo them back to Himself. He warns, He woos, He judges. The nation even made themselves look more appealing to the neighbors, when asking for their aid against the common enemy. This was their adultery. This was their turning away from the LORD, and this led to their actually offering their children in the fire to the Baals of false religions.

When God’s people start to depend upon people, politics, power, and religion, then, they have forsaken the LORD God in favor of the favors of men.

When God says, “On your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents.” It seems that He would be referring to the lives of the children offered to the false religions in the fire. The blood of their innocent children are all over them, and cry out from the soil of the earth. God says, that it is plain to see. It is on your skirts. As one other prophet has said, “Be sure your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

One sad thing about this passage of Scripture is even though they have been caught in the act they deny their sin, and the responsibility of their actions, “I am innocent, I have not sinned”. There can be no repentance when they cannot see that they have sinned against God and His Word. God says, “I will plead My case against you, because you say, ‘I have not sinned.'” When God has a great love for His people, or an individual who is supposed to have a relationship with Him He will work to get them to the point of recognizing their guilt and sin. Why fuss and argue with God about your sin, just confess it and repent. That would be simpler, and much less complicated than arguing with God.

God assures His people that there is no prosperity to those who trust in foreign countries who will be their enemy, but you will leave “With your hands on your head”, surely indicating their captivity in the form of surrender. Most of the time when a police officer captures a fleeing criminal they order them to place their hands on their heads. This is surrender. They give it up. Any allies Israel or Judah trusted in has came to nought, and so will the allies we depend on other than God. God rejects the helper, and also rejects those who were dependent upon the helpers. It is because they have rejected God.

Christian brother and/or sister our only help is the LORD God through the Lord Jesus Christ; His cross, burial and resurrection. When we put more confidence in people, power, politics, wealth, fame, or anything other than God we too commit an act of adultery against God. God will also reject our helpers.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Though It Be Told You…

THE FIRST PROMISE

Habakkuk 1:5

“ Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.”

We have read and written a little of the five “Woes” of Habakkuk, and they are pronouncements of judgment against Babylon. They are not woes against Judah. The promises are for Judah, but this first one is probably not in the way one would hope.

Remember the prophet was questioning how God could use an unholy people to judge the people of God who were supposed to be holy.

We sometimes do not understand why there is such wickedness in the world and why such bad things happen to “good people”, while it seems that the wicked go without judgment, pain or sorrow. Some of them, as far as the things of the world are concerned have all their hearts could ever desire. My thought on that is – remember this will be the only place they can enjoy their life unless they come to faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They then, will be paying throughout all eternity.

When God’s people turn a disobedient ear to His Word and His messengers, ie., the prophets, then He will open the gates to let evil men, nations and influences come in and be a thorn in the sides of His people. When was the last time you turned a deaf ear to the Word of the Lord or His prophet? Has things changed since that time? Has it been for the better or the worse? I would imagine it was for the worse.

One problem I see with many Christians today is they are crying out to see the mighty hand of God; to see a mighty move of God; and they are not seeing it. He is working. He is moving. He is first of all calling those who say they know Him to be bold in their faith and convictions. He is calling us to stand bravely for Christ in a wicked world that is sliding into Hell and that slippery slope is getting more and more slippery, and they are sliding with great speed into the dungeon of death everlasting.

Those who hate God and His Son Jesus are called upon to “Behold… and regard, and wonder marvelously”. What do the unbeliever’s see in us? Do they see faith, hope, and love; or do they see bitterness, anger, wrath, malice, filthy mouths, lying lips, sowing of discord among brethren, etc.?

The first promise we hear is that God is going to work a work in those who hate God’s people. That God is going to work a work in His own people, even, which will be hard to believe, because it is so marvelous. That work will be the bringing of “Woes” upon them, and using them to accomplish His purposes in God’s people. That work will be worked in God’s people as well.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

What Is Legalism???

Just What is Legalism???

There are charges of “Legalism” being shouted, proclaimed, printed in meetings, in comments, and by email and other means. It seems to me, at least in some cases, that these charges are brought by those who are defending their own actions and/or the actions of others. The charge often cried against those who propose Biblical support for abstaining from alcoholic beverage, or gambling, and other things is, “That is legalism”. The charge says, if you espouse abstinence, then you are binding.

Is this charge accurate? There is a verse of Scripture in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus tells us, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” Mark 2:27 (NKJV). Jesus Himself had been accused of breaking the law of the Sabbath. He and His disciples had walked through grain fields and as they walked they plucked hands full of grain, rubbing it in their hands, thus, threshing it, then eating it; and being charged with laboring on the Sabbath day, breaking the law.

These accusers had taken the “Commandment of God” and added their “commandments of men”, making it a law that binds rather than protecting. They would charge Jesus many more times as well with breaking the Sabbath, because He healed on the Sabbath day. The Law was given for protection and good, not for keeping us from doing the good and right.

If we were looking at the Ten Commandments we could see that each of them are for the purpose of pointing us toward loving God and loving one another. Not one is binding. They protect and give respect to God and others, thus back to ourselves.

The first four are for the protection of the worth of God to be worshipped, and in keeping them, keep us from eternal death. The final six are for the protection of respect for one another, our relationships, our word, and our property. (Let me make it quite clear right here, We have not, nor cannot keep these laws in our flesh. Jesus died and fulfilled these laws, thus we obey them through Him.) These laws were meant to keep us from wronging God, and wronging our fellowman. When we are not at peace with God, we will not be at peace with our fellow man. When we are not at peace with our fellow man, we are probably not at peace with God. We must first have peace with God and the peace of God.

For the accusers of Jesus to accuse Him and His disciples was an act of self-righteousness, and could be called “Legalism”. If legalism is adding to the law of God, then, this was a case of legalism. There is, however, one thing for sure, and that is; adding to the Word of God is a death sentence (See Revelation 22:18-19).

Jesus’s words to His accusers puts a new focus on the whole law. His principles for living in His kingdom (Matthew 5-7) are much more eye opening than are the Ten Commandments. Will you accuse Jesus of “Legalism” because He says, “…whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28 NKJV)? I would dare to think not. I do not think that anyone would be foolish enough to even accuse Him of adding to the Word. That would be a foolish accusation anyway, because the Word was not yet complete, and He is the Word.

One of the arguments in charging legalism is, “If it is not named in Scripture, then we cannot call it sin; when we call it sin, that is legalism”. I think most who read this will agree that there are actions committed not named in Scripture which are clearly sinful. For example, the matter of pornography. Is that not a sinful behavior? Is it not sinful whether you produce it, practice it or view it? You answer. I have not seen this behavior mentioned anywhere in the Bible, yet I have no problem calling it immoral, sinful, behavior. The Bible does tell us, “Abstain from every form of evil” 1 Thessalonians 5:22. That includes a multitude of sins which are not named in Scripture – “Every form of evil”.

Just what is legalism? Legalism is the taking of grace and adding works to it for the basis of our salvation and/or the keeping of our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Grace and faith are the gift of God, not of works, lest we should be boastful, and steal the glory of God for ourselves.

When a group makes requirement for salvation to be grace, faith, and sacraments – that is legalism. When denomination requires grace, faith, and baptism for salvation – that is legalism. When someone requires grace, faith and abstaining from certain practices; such as gambling, drinking alcoholic beverage, or pornography, etc. for salvation – that is legalism. It is the adding to of grace in salvation that determines legalism.

To present these things of abstinence for sanctification, and holiness in Christian living has only to do with one’s growth in Christ Jesus, and protection from harm; not condemnation.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Withered Hand

The Withered Hand

“And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.” Matthew 12:9-14 (KJV).

Jesus went to their synagogue. Notice “their synagogue“. There may be no signigicance to that phrase, but it struck with me that Jesus was not associated with it. It could only be that it was the synagogue of those in the area. Yet, shouldn’t He have His part in the synagogue of His own people (“He came unto His own…”)? At any rate it somewhat reminds me of the Letter to the Church of Laodicea, and Him standing outside the door knocking on the door of His Church.

John Calvin writing on verse nine says,

“We see also, that it is usual with hypocrites to pursue what is nothing more than a shadow of the righteousness of the Law, and as the common saying is, to stickle more about the form than about the substance. First, then, let us learn from this passage to keep our minds pure, and free from every wicked disposition, when we are about to form a decision on any question; for if hatred, or pride, or any thing of that description, reign within us, we will not only do injury to men, but will insult God Himself, and turn light into darkness. No man, who is free from malice, would have refused to acknowledge that it was a Divine work, which those good teachers do not scruple to condemn. Whence comes such fury, but because all their senses are affected by a wicked hatred of Christ, so that they are blind amidst the full brightness of the sun? We learn also, that we ought to beware lest, by attaching undue importance to cermonial observances, we allow other things to be neglected, which are of far higher value in the sight of God, and which Christ in another passage calls the more important matters of the Law, (Matth.xxiii.23.)” CALVIN’S COMMENTARIES, Volume XVI, pp. 52 & 53.

The man with the “withered hand” was in the right place. The synagogue should have been a place for healing, or seeking healing at least. This “withered hand” could have been a hand that had been greatly injured in an accident at some time. It could have been a birth defect. It could have been the result of arthritis pulling the ligaments of the hand tightly forming a closed, un-opening hand. It could have even been the man’s right hand, the hand most common for use.

Jesus is still addressing the sabbath, and the teachings of the religious leaders. “What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?” With this question of Jesus it seems that all is quiet from the rabble. I would like to know one thing; Something to ask those who get hung up on observing certain days, and making the day more important than people. Is it ever wrong to do the right thing? To me, the obvious answer for that question is a very profound NO! Some have did what they considered the right thing, at the wrong time, and lost because of it. However, if it was not the right time it was the wrong thing to do. When I say that I am thinking of an incident in the Scriptures where they were moving the Ark of the Covenant, with the wrong method, and one man – Uzzah – thought it right to protect the Ark from falling to the ground, reached out and touched it, and God took his life (2 Samuel 6:1-11). If it is not done in the right time, in the right method, it cannot be the right thing. The right time for David to move the Ark would have been after he had read the writings of Moses, learned how it was to be moved, then proceeded to move it with the right method; on the shoulders of the priests, and not on an oxcart.

When you know the Law of God and do not recognize the Law in Person, then, you act out of hatred when you see Him doing the God things; and you condemn the One who deserves no condemnation. Their hands have been withered, are withered by callous hearts, and hands that will not labor for the King.

The hand is a powerfully important part of a man or a woman. It is with the hand a man can work, and make a living. Whether it is as a carpenter, bricklayer, stonemason, farmer, field laborer, factory laborer, the hands are a vital part of getting work accomplished. A withered, drawn hand could not get much done. He was in the synagogue on the sabbath. He was in worship. He was in prayer. It was at the synagogue where he met the Master/King of all kings. Think of this: The hand that cannot open cannot receive. The hand that cannot open cannot give. The hand of God is always open to receive the prayers and praises of those who give that to Him. His hands are always open to give to all who will receive Him. Too many times the hands of men are clenched tight in defiance toward God, asking nothing from Him; and giving nothing to Him. Are our hands clenched by disease of selfishness, sin, greed, and hard heartedness? There is healing in the place of Christ. He is waiting there, where you are right now.

-by Tim A. Blankenship