Established Churches in the Faith

“The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind!”  Proverbs 21:27

“And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.”  Acts 16:4-5

Seeing that God’s word tells us that the mind of Adam’s race is wicked continually and a sacrifice with wicked intent can only be further abomination, then let us pray that we come to God only through the sacrifice on God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Let those who profess His name believe His word, proclaim His word, and live His word by the power of the Holy Spirit within and glorify His name. No sacrifice we offer can ever bring glory to God.

Let us pray for the continuing establishment of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ through the Scriptures, teaching them, living out our lives for the glory of His name.

Come today to the One, the only One who can redeem You. He died on the cross for our sins (your sins and mine), He was buried taking away all our sins, shame and condemnation, and three days later He came out of that grave alive forever more. Call on His name today.

Grace in Dispute

“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, ‘Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.  And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.  Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.'” Acts 15:6-11  (KJB)

Justice for All that Were Slain Upon the Earth

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. Revelation 18:20-24 (KJV)

Remember what I said in previous posts, about the world’s rejoicing and God’s rejoicing.

He is speaking here to all the saints of God (“holy apostles and prophets”). Rejoice because God’s righteousness is being vindicated. We rejoice not over the condemnation of a lost soul, but for justice, and that God is glorified.

Babylon – religious, economic, and political – is utterly destroyed, to rise no more.

She will sink like the “great millstone” never to rise again. There is a similar story in Jeremiah 51:61-64. Jeremiah wrote against Babylon and had a young man read it to Babylon, and when finished reading the “book” to “bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates”. Jeremiah’s faith in God and His Word was sure. Babylon will fall. The Word of God continues.

The pronouncement of the angel, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen” is in the past tense. Just as surely as God said it, it shall be done.

The merchants will buy “no more at all” (v. 14); the city “shall be found no more at all” (v. 21); music “shall be heard no more at all in thee”; “no craftsman… shall be found any more in thee”; the work of the mill “shall be heard no more at all… (v. 22); “the candle… no more at all…”; wedding ceremonies “…no more at all…” (v. 23). Seven times is complete and final. God’s Word is true.

In looking at these verses we could have a very convincing description of our own nation. Capitalism, when not restrained by God’s Spirit, can breed greed, selfishness, and lust for power, yet, I believe it is the best economic system mankind has going for it when kept in check by the Spirit of God, not government. Babylon, very well, could be capitalism run amuck because of the absence of God’s restraining influence.

Because some chose to stand for Christ, the world of Babylon slew them. O, what a bloody city.

Here is a parallel to the Babylons of Scripture: The first is historical and found in Genesis 11 prepared to maintain the union of the world – overthrown by God through confusion of language and scattering of people. The second is ecclesiastical, symbolized by the woman of Revelation 17 proposes common worship and religion uniting all religions into one world church, and much advocated in our day by some of those in the reprobate church which will be destroyed by the beast in Revelation 17:16, thus fulfilling the will of God. The third is political, symbolized by the “great city” of Revelation 18, attempts domination of the world, by common market and world government. These are destroyed at Jesus’s second coming in power and great glory. EVEN SO COME LORD JESUS.

BABYLON IS FALLEN, IS FALLEN – Justice will come to those who have given their lives for the cause of God, His word, and His work. Stop trusting in the “Babylonish garment” (Joshua 7:21); the material things of this world, like gold, silver, garments, houses, and land, and trust the One who has already won the victory.

Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son is the One who died on the cross for us, was buried, and rose again.  He is the One who is now preparing to return and make all things right.

Ministry Led By the Holy Spirit

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4 (KJV)

In chapter six there was some contention over the neglect of some of the Grecians because their widows were not being cared for; at least the way the families thought they ought to be.

The Church in Jerusalem was growing.  People were being delivered from sin and condemnation.  The apostles were loaded with many responsibilities, thus the accusations of neglect.

The apostles were chosen by the Spirit of God to be preachers of the gospel; so in that they would, and should give themselves to the ministry of prayer, and the preaching of the word.  O that the preachers of God’s word today would get that burden; for if we are not in the word of God and prayer we will be powerless, and find ourselves struggling with emptiness of heart and soul, wondering about if we are doing what we are called to do or not.

It is not that the apostles, or the preacher today would be neglecting their duties of service, and ministry; they are rather giving themselves to the greater responsibility of calling people to Christ, and His work in and through them.

With every Christian gifted by the Spirit of God to serve one another, the Church is blessed and it grows as God blesses and leads.  See Romans 12:3-15;  1 Corinthians 12.

The Church chose seven men.  The most remembered one is Stephen.  These seven men were full of the Spirit of God, they did the work they were chosen to do, and the apostles were able to do the work they were called and chosen to do, and the Church was blessed…

“…Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:6-7

You will note also, that, many priests of the Hebrews became believers as well.  Is God good, great, marvelous or what? He is.  He is indeed.

The Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” Acts 3:6-8 (KJV)

Peter and John, the apostles of Jesus Christ were going into the temple at the time of prayer, and there was a lame; a crippled man, at the gate begging for money, in order that he might live.

Too many times emphasis is put on the miracle, rather than the Giver of the grace of the miracle.  In this case, as in the case of all true miracles the Giver is God in and through His Son Jesus; and in the above situation through the Holy Spirit in Peter and John.

The greatest miracle that has happened to me is the day Jesus became my Lord and Savior as He gave me grace to believe that His Son Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried, and arose bodily from that grave.  He lives today.

That is the message of this event in Acts.  Jesus is alive.  He is being preached to His own people, and some are receiving the gospel of Christ as the Spirit of God opens their blinded eyes, and heals their lame feet.

Note the words of Peter as he preaches…

Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Acts 3:25-26

See also Romans 1:16

Christian Persecution

There are a few people I know who have jail, and prison ministries. They do it because they believe God has called them to go to the places where men and women are incarcerated for crimes against God and humanity. Yet, these minister to the men and women who are willing to listen to the message of Christ; the hope for all mankind; even the murderers and rapist and child molesters.

The event from Acts which we read today is not of criminals who have violated God’s laws, but violators of men’s laws which are against God. The apostles had preached when they were ordered not to preach in that name of “Jesus”; yet, they did. Hear what they said:

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand, a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” Acts 5:29-32 (KJV)

This takes place following their arrest, and imprisonment. An “Angel of the Lord” has come to them in the “common prison” and opened the doors, and sent them to preach in the temple. They went, and that is where they are found the next morning. Doing as they had been told by God.

When men’s laws are against God’s law, then Christian men and women are to continue their practices of being Christian; obeying God’s Word, His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments. I do not think we Christians should be surprised by persecution in a dark world. We ought rather, be surprised that we are not; because the apostle Paul has written, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV). Now, I do not want to be persecuted, but really, if I am not; am I really living a godly life? The apostles were.

As Peter stated above; “We ought to obey God rather than men”. That begins through our faith; trusting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; obeying Him in our lives; being His witness.

One thing this passage of Scripture teaches is that the freedom of speech is from God, not men; therefore men cannot take it away. Let our speech be always with words that glorify our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Love Left

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; ‘These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”  Revelation 2:1-7 (KJV)

For further reading and study on these verses go read The Caretaker of the Light.

-T.A.

Pigs in the Pigpen

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Jude 3-4 (KJV)

Now when it comes to pigs, no one sees a thing wrong with pigs being in the pigpen.  That is pretty natural and normal; especially for the hog farmer.  He pens them to work, to raise them and get them fat ready for sale, or the market.  In the pigpen it gets pretty downright disgusting to see.  Mud and waste product, mingled with wasted feed, from the fights among the pigs for their feed.  It is pretty normal for pigs to be that way, live that way.

What does the pigpen have to do with Jude’s writing?  Notice it says that “Pigs have crept in unawares”.  NO!  It does not say that exactly; but that is what they are.  These that have “crept in” have taken the grace of God and turned it into a license to sin.  Just a few days ago on Peter’s epistle it was written,

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”

When we have these “Pigs” in the church we have chaos, unbelief, malicious conduct, selfishness, greed, lust, and all kinds of evil.  Is it any wonder the world wants to accuse us of hate; especially when they see it among us toward one another.  The pigpen is not natural or normal for the sheep.

Why is this happening?  Many of the one’s who profess Christ, and to be ministers of the Gospel are profaning the Gospel, denying the Scriptures, and living like the world.  Sir!  If you do not believe God and His Word get out of the Church, and back where you belong; and take the pigpen with you.

-T.A.

Reconciled By the Cross of Christ

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”  Ephesians 2:11-22 (KJV)

The only hope of the world, and its people is the cross of Jesus Christ.  It is the only means by which mankind can be or will be reconciled to God.

-T.A.

The Stone Rolled Away – Mark 16:1-8

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, ‘Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?’ 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, ‘Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him. 7 But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you.’ 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.”  Mark 16:1-8 (KJV)

Three ladies, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome come to the tomb where Jesus was laid.  Remember, they had witnessed where Joseph of Arimethea had buried Him (15:47).  There is no mistaken.  They went to the right tomb.  It was very early in the morning, the day after the Sabbath [Saturday], and so it was early Sunday morning the “First day of the week”.

These ladies had a very committed love, respect and awe for Jesus.  They, too had forgotten His words of resurrection.  The eleven apostles had forgotten and were discouraged, doubting, disabled, and in hiding.  For three days now, since the crucifixion, they had been without Jesus.

The “First day of the week” these three women have bought spices to anoint the body of Jesus.  The “First day of the week” they came to the tomb where they had witnessed Joseph lay His body.  They came with a question.  “How will we roll the stone from the door?  Will the guards roll it away for us?”  The stone had not only been rolled over the door, but it had also been sealed with the Roman seal (Matthew 27:66), so it is highly unlikely that Roman guards would have touched it.

Upon arrival at the tomb, they found the stone had already been rolled away, and that they could enter freely.  Upon entering the tomb, they see a “Young man” sitting there in the empty tomb.  They are “affrighted” which means, “G1568 ἐκθαμβέω  ekthambeō  ek-tham-beh’-o  From G1569; to astonish utterly: – affright, greatly (sore) amaze.”  This word means more than afraid, but rather, also “Amazed – utterly amazed”.   This was an angel, who Mark describes as a “Young man”.  He was probably youthful in appearance, but in reality he was an angel – a messenger of God.  His message to the ladies was for them to go and tell the disciples ‘and Peter’ that He had risen.

There is a particular message here for Peter.  Though, Peter was a disciple of Jesus he had denied the Lord during the trial, and was most likely feeling that the Lord would have nothing further to do with him.  This would have been an encouraging word for Peter, to let him know the Lord Jesus had not forgotten him, and that there was a place for him.  It is also an encouraging word for all Christians who, at one time or another have failed to be the Christians that we should be, that God is not finished with us and that, He still has a place for us.

When the ladies had heard the messengers words they left quickly with fear and trembling, and it says they told no one of what they had seen and heard.  Of course they went and told the disciples.

On this Resurrection weekend, remembering the day our Lord was raised from death; let’s commit anew to sharing with all whom God gives us opportunity that Jesus is risen; He is risen indeed.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Grace At Work

Ephesians 4:7-16

PURPOSE:  To teach that those who are in the one Body [the Church] are recipients of grace, demonstrated and shown through ministry gifts, also of grace, for the purpose of bringing the total Body to the maturity of Jesus Christ.

Grace does not stop with our initial repentance, faith, and confession of Christ.  Grace continues with every breath we breathe; every step we take; every morning we rise from our beds.  Grace is the continuing work of God in the Christians life.

The following are some works of grace which God has bestowed upon us.

THE WORK OF GOD WHICH DELIVERED US FROM THE CONDEMNATION OF SIN AND DEATH (v. 7).  Grace is the means by which we are delivered from the condemnation of sin and its death.  It is provided for us through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is only the propitiation or appeasement; God judging our sin [all sin] by placing it on the sinless, guiltless Jesus Christ.  Grace continues and becomes efficacious [effective] when we respond  to His grace by faith in Him.  That same grace provides not only salvation, but also gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit, for living by grace in His power.

“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 (KJV)

Just as every individual who is born again, by faith in Jesus, is in the one Body, so too, has everyone received a grace-gift(s) in which to serve the Body.  There is no one who is in Christ who is not also gifted to live for and serve Him.

All this is the “gift of Christ”.  We are brought into one Body by Christ; we are gifted by Him to serve in the Body as He [the Head] directs and leads by the person of the Holy Spirit.

THE WORK OF GOD ON THE CROSS WHICH DELIVERED US FROM CAPTIVITY (vv. 8-10).  Because of the cross on which Jesus bled and died God the Father was and is able to deliver us from the captivity of sin.  His resurrection gave us victory over hell and death.

If you watch  people; as I have a tendency to do; you will see many enslaved by sin.  Illegal and legal drugs, like cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, etc., and you know what I mean.  You see some captive by other things in their lives.  Men and women, married and unmarried, are enslaved to their lustful desires; whether those desires are greed for wealth, or sex; makes little difference; they are none the less enslaved.  Some are enslaved to their comforts and entertainments.

When Jesus arose from the grave He led those who were Old Testament  saints out of captivity.  I believe this is vividly illustrated in Matthew 27:51-53:

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

He then placed into captivity everything that places man in bondage – sin, hell, death, and Satan.

By ascending into heaven He opened the avenue for the Holy Spirit; in fact sent the Holy Spirit; to come and dwell within all who trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  The Holy Spirit would not have come to abide in all who know Jesus except He [Jesus] ascended into heaven first.  By ascending He not only gave us the person of the Spirit, but He also gifted us; gave us tools for ministry, and the Holy Spirit is the power of the gifts.

His descension is His incarnation [Jesus coming as God in flesh].  Because of His death, burial and resurrection His mortal body was changed into an immortal body.  The Scriptures  declare that there is a man (in bodily form) in heaven:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”  1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV)

Because of and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit the Church is the Body of Christ on earth.  It is being made more and more into the image of Christ in heaven, in every individual who abides in His Body  on earth.  This by no means implies that individual’s in His Church are sinless, but contrary to that, His working in us shows that we are needy of Him.

Jesus’s desire, His heart is to be the FULNESS of everyone who will come to Him.

THE WORK OF GOD IN THE GIFTS WHICH HE GIVES US; CONTINUING THE WORK (vv. 11-12).  God desires, and Jesus desires to continually be at work in us; fulfilling His will and glory.  The reason for the gifts of the Spirit is His grace.

The gifts listed are not natural talents, but special gifts of the Spirit for glorifying Jesus in the ministry.  The apostles and prophets are the one’s upon whom the church is built (2:20).  There is no such thing as “apostolic succession”.  At least not in the sense of the Roman Catholic religion.  Apostles are not declared or made by a local congregation, but they are called out individually by God for the purpose of going to an unchurched, unevangelized area, and doing the ground work; preaching the word and the gospel of Christ to establish a local congregation.  In the truest New Testament sense an apostle today could be a missionary.  There can be no more apostles because the foundation has already been laid; there are no more eye witnesses of Jesus Christ risen from the grave; there are no more disciples who personally walked with Jesus in the land where He walked.  Missionaries do the work that the original apostles did in going about, preaching the gospel to people groups who have not heard, and showing them the love of Jesus Christ.

The prophets were preachers who were gifted with a special understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures, and given the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit for the New Testament Church and Scriptures.  They were and are those whom are sensitive about sin and its destruction in human life.  They have a heart for hearing God and His Word.  The Church is built on the apostles and prophets.  The prophet today would probably be better known as  “Preacher”.  This is still how local churches begin.  The local church is where the gifts and power of the Spirit are demonstrated.  The Body of Christ is manifest in the local church.

Evangelists are gifted by God to seek out the lost and are particularly gifted at presenting  the gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear and understandable way.  They are also gifted to teach others how to be soul-winners.

Where the previous three are itinerant [traveling] messengers the pastor/teacher is one who sticks around awhile.  He loves the people as his own family.  He preaches the Word of God to them and teaches them how to apply  the Word to their lives.  He is one who is really more concerned about their spiritual walk, spiritual growth than numerical growth.  The pastor will leave the numerical growth up to the Lord.  The pastor simply sows the seed of the Word and the gospel and leaves the increase up to the Holy Spirit.  He teaches by word and example.

In verse twelve we see a twofold purpose for these spiritual gifts;

1. The perfecting of the saints to do the work of the ministry;
2. Edifying the Body of Christ.

Number one, the ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor/teacher is to equip the believers to do the work of the ministry.  These four are the equipping/leadership gifts of the Spirit.  There are other gifts listed in Romans 12:3-8;  1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-31; and here in Ephesians 4:11.  Each of these gifts of the Spirit are needed in the local church to for the people to grow and be healthy and powerful for the glory of Jesus Christ.  Number two, the equipped Body will be operating in the unity of the Spirit and truly “building up” the Body of Christ.  When everyone “in Christ” recognize their place of service, then, the Church has been built up and is honoring and pleasing to Jesus.

THE WORK OF GOD AND THE FRUIT OF THAT WORK (vv. 13-16).  When the Body of Christ is being equipped and built up there are four evidences of spiritual growth.

  1. We become more Christlike caring for the needs of others, experiencing others hurts and sorrows.  We grow in knowledge of Him and His Word and work of His Spirit.  We reach a place of maturity where we are not offended by truth; or the color of the carpet.  This lever of maturity is still seeking the fullness of Christ.
  2. We begin developing a stability of faith.  We begin to understand truth and are not tossed around by false doctrines and teachings.  We are learning to test all teachings by the Word of God.
  3. We have a love for truth, coupled with a lover for people, the lost, and even backsliden  When others are confronted with the truth love will not permit us to condemn, but we will admonish them by pointing to their real need; realizing from whence we have come.
  4. We realize that there must be a unified work.  We have purpose through cooperation.  By joining our hands, prayers, finances, families, ministries, and our hearts we are in cooperation with one another and ‘building up’ the Church.  That means we would be the most powerful force on earth; through Jesus Christ.

When you have grace working in you  through  Jesus Christ you will be the better for it, and the world will benefit from it.  Grace works everyday in the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ.  Let each of us submit to the work of grace and the Spirit of God every day.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Confronting The Culture

Confronting The Culture
Acts 17:15-34

The apostle Paul has been to Thessalonica, and forced to leave there due to those who were trying to kill him, basically the Jewish people, as he taught them in their synagogue.  He then goes to Berea, and the Jews of Berea are much more “noble” because they search the Scriptures to see if what Paul is teachiing them is true.  In Berea, though, Jews from Thessalonica come to bring ill to Paul, and the message of the Gospel.

The apostle is then forced to leave Berea, sent to Athens, and there he discovers a mission field ripe for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE CITY OF ATHENS IS WHOLLY GIVEN TO IDOLATRY (vv. 15-16).  The world in which Christians live today is much like Athens of Paul’s day.  The United States itself, is made up of many religions.  Though it was originally built upon Judeo/Christian principles taken from the Bible there are many parts of the culture who want nothing to do with Christ, Christianity, and some do not even want God in the picture of their lives, or this country.

We have already had prayer removed from our Public Schools, and in order for “unity” which is basically “uniformity” we must not pray in public meetings, as Christians, in the name of “Jesus” any longer; we might offend someone.  It is best in those situations not to mention the cross or resurrection of Jesus Christ.  However, it is okay for the muslim to pray and use the name of Allah, the moon god, one name of many gods which Mohammed originally worshipped.  It is okay for the Buddhist to mention Buddha, and all the religions can mention their deity.

Idolatry permeates our land.  It begins with the god of Greed.  Greed rules through the hearts of men and women of all ages, and in business galore.  If more wealth is all that is in your heart and life, then you are certainly full of the god “Greed”.  He controls your thoughts, your heart to the point that your family is neglected, and most of all, God is out of the picture.  For some Science is the answer to all our ills, and the drive of some to conquer space and inner space.  Technology is also the answer for getting further into outer space, searching the galaxies, stars and planets for other life.  It also seems to be the answer to greater mobilization, and better sources of knowledge (science).

Mankind himself has become a god of sorts.  It is after all our knowledge that has made such strides in medicine, science and technology, and gains of great wealth.  It is us who has done it.  Arrogance, pride, and rebellion against holy God is what that is and it will not stand forever.

As Christians we must shun falling prey the lies of the false prophets and teachers who tell us that we are our own source of prosperity, health, technology and science.  The culture may be wholly given to idolatry, however, as Christians we have the message that can change the world, and that message is the gospel of Jesus Christ; that He died for our sins, according to Scripture; and that He was buried; and the the third day rose from the grave bodily and was witnessed by more than five hundred witnesses; and that all who will come humbly before Him confessing their sin, repenting, and calling on His name shall be saved – receiving eternal life with Him.  Anything short of Jesus Christ is pure idolatry.

THE APOSTLE’S DISPUTATIONS WITH THE JEWS AND GENTILES (vv. 17-18).  Even in Athens Paul goes to the synagogue.  He wants his brethren “according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-5) to come to faith in Christ.  He longs for them to repent and believe.

It is quite evident by the apostle’s preaching and teaching that the gospel is meant for all who will hear it and believe.  We may curse the fact that our country [the United States of America] is being filled with people from other parts of the world.  It shows me that others are desperately wanting to come to a nation which is free from tyranny, free from communism, and free from a state religion which tells its people how to live their lives, how to dress, and kills them, or takes their property when they convert to Christianity [so far].

We should be thankful for the numbers who are coming to America seeking these things.  The greatest gift the United States has to give these people is the message of Jesus Christ, and the freedom from sin and its condemnation.

A NEW DOCTRINE NEEDED A NEW HEARING (vv. 19-21).  The people of Athens were curious about this new doctrine of a crucified, buried, and resurrected man.  The Athenians were debaters, disputers, and philosophers.  They enjoyed hearing new things, then disputing them with the promoters of that teaching.

We live in a time when people are moved by debate, apologetics, and arguments.  Everyone has an opinion, and no one’s opinion is better than any other, except the ones you agree with.  That is the philosophies of men.  However, the message of the apostle Paul, and any messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not debatable, because it is the truth.  Others may dispute it, despise it, disdain it; but that doesn’t affect that it is still the truth.

It is surprising and almost shocking to realize that there are still people, even in the United States of America who have not heard of the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I found that out a few years ago while I was attending Boyce Bible School in Louisville, Kentucky.  While working part time at a Townhouse, and Condominium living area as a gardener the chief gardener ask what Baptists believed and I told him the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His response was, “I have never heard that before”.  He told me that he was Catholic, so I understood.  It still surprised me to know that there were people in the USA who had never heard the true message of Jesus.

With the many beliefs in our nation today, there are probably many more who have never heard, but would be curious, should they ever hear even a smidgen of the truth.

THE MESSAGE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL (vv. 22-31).  With the many idols which Paul saw in Athens he marvelled that there was a place [an altar] “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD”.  It is as though, they had erected an altar to all the gods/idols they could imagine, or think of; and just in case they might have missed one who might happen to be the one true God; they erect an altar to Him.

These were a very religious people.  The KJV says “superstitious” which fits as well.  When people are unsure of a deity or deities, they will be very superstitious.  That is when you have them going to horoscopes, reading tea leaves, turning to nature worship [pantheism], black arts (such as witchcraft), and old nature religions (including druidism); the worship, or dependence upon any image of man is idol worship; the worship of any of God’s creation is also idolatry.  Paul likens such worship as the “worship of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:20-21).

Paul did not present it so bluntly, nor did he even mention the worship of demons to them, but he  did make it quite plain that there was only one God who was worthy of worship, and by whom He will judge,” by that man whom he hath ordained” (v. 31) ,and His name is Jesus Christ.  He is the resurrected One, and He ever lives and is seated at the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3, 13: 8:1; 10:12: 12:2;  1 Peter 3:22).

A DIVIDED CROWD WITH A DIVIDED RESPONSE (vv. 32-34).  When the gospel of Jesus Christ, ie.; the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins, His burial – carrying our sins away never to be judged  by them again once they have been confessed and there has been repentance, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the grave, appearing to over 500 witnesses during the forty days before He ascended into heaven; is preached there will continue to be various responses.  There was in Paul’s day; there is in our day.

In the 17th chapter of Acts we can see varied responses to the gospel as Paul went and preached in the synagogues and other places.  Many of the Jewish leaders resisted the gospel, the Word of God (vv. 1-9); Some of them heard and believed including  Jews and Gentiles (vv. 10, 15); Then, in these verses there were those who ridiculed the gospel of Christ Jesus, and some of these believed it.

In this message Paul told the people of Athens of the “Greatness of God” – He is Creator (vv. 24-25).  He tells them of the “Goodness of God” – He is Provider (vv. 25b-26).  The apostle tells them of the “Government of God” – He is Sovereign (vv. 27-31a).  He does not end with that, however, and concludes telling them of the “Grace of God” – He is Savior (v. 31b)

The opinions and philosophies of men are just that opinions and philosophies, which have no power, little lone saving power.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is the “power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes” (Romans 1:16).  It is the position of the man and woman of God to preach the gospel, to proclaim the gospel; it is the power of God to save people through the gospel.  We have no power to save, only God does.

Some of these in Athens heard Paul and rejected the message, and some said, “We will hear you again on this matter”; and others received it and followed Paul.

The important thing is what will you do with the message of the gospel.  If you hear it and believe, and call on the name of the Lord Jesus for salvation, you can be saved.  If you reject it, and die you will go to eternal judgment.  The choice is yours when you have heard the word of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Until Jesus Returns

Acts 1:1-26

1. PROCLAIM THE CONVINCING PROOFS OF OUR LORD’S PASSION (vv. 1-4).

Luke, our writer and historian of the Christ who was born in Bethlehem’s manger, gives us thorough details of the birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord.  You can read these details in the gospel of Luke.  The book of Acts is a continued bit of history of Christ, His Holy Spirit at work in the Apostles in the early church.

The Gospel written by Luke is the “former treatise” which he had written to Theophilus.  Luke, beginning the gospel, writes,

“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,  Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”  Luke 1:1-4 (KJV)

He writes to an individual who must be of royal or noble family.  The term, “Most excellent Theophilus” seems to be an indication of this.  Luke sees it very important to record the documentation of the eyewitness accounts, and the preachers of the word.  He also records it for the benefit of Theophilus, that he “…might know the certainty of those things…”.

The title “Most excellent” is dropped in the writing of Acts.  It could be that Theophilus has become a believer in Jesus.  Luke writes of the resurrection as those “to whom also He showed Himself alive” (v. 3).  That is speaking of the apostles, and there were many more.

There are many atheist, doubters and sceptics who try and tell us that there is little to no evidence for the virgin conception, and virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and some who even deny He ever lived.  What evidence can there be of the virgin birth?  We have the testimony of Mary, Joseph, and best of all we have the testimony of Scriptures.  The life of Jesus Himself shows us that He was not just another man, born by the seed of man, but by the seed of God.

Luke writes of the “passion” of Christ.  Do you know that Jesus had a desire to go to Jerusalem that final time.  Jesus had His mind set for Jerusalem.  He had His mind set on obtaining the redemption of mankind.  He had His mind set on paying the sin debt owed by all men and women.  If we only had the passion for Christ He has for us; what could be done in this world for His glory.

2. WALK IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT AND GO INTO ALL THE WORLD (vv. 5-8).

The disciples had seen Jesus tried, convicted, and nailed to the cruel old wooden cross.  At that time they had been fearful, and fled for their lives.  Jesus speaks to us of leaving with us a “Comforter” in John, chapters fourteen and sixteen.  We also have Jesus’s words that He is going away for a time, and then will return, and Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit [the Comforter] is an “Earnest” payment for the security and guarantee of His return.

Were these words, “but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence…” meant only for the disciples present at that time, or do they have application for His followers today?  Yes and No!  For the disciples then, they did need to do as Jesus had said, and wait for the promise of the baptism of the Spirit.  He had not descended.  For the follower of Jesus Christ today, you and I were baptized in the Spirit of Jesus Christ the day we prayed to receive His free gift of salvation and He saved us.  There are times, however, where the follower of Jesus Christ today, needs to wait and make sure all things are right with and God, and that there are no hindrances to the work of God in our hearts and lives.

Every Christian has been given the power of Christ.  The power to live a life that will glorify Jesus.  The power to be a witness for Him in all our lives and life’s activities.  The power of faith that will move mountains and cast sycamine trees into the sea.  I have not seen any Christian who has that kind of faith today, however.  Oh, that we would just believe God and His Word and trust the work  and power of His Spirit in our lives.

We have been given the “Great Commission” of Christ Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, and He gives it again before He ascends into the heavens.  He tells the disciples then, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come on you…”  It was yet a future event for them.  It is an instantaneous event for the man, woman, boy or girl who calls on the name of Jesus for salvation today.  You and I hear things about “Change” today.  There is only one power that can change this world into a better world, and better men, women, boys, and girls; and that is the power of the Spirit of God in His people.

The hope of the world cannot be found in the political arena.  It cannot be found in any political figure, or political promise.  When we put our faith in the promises of men or women, we are bound to failure, and disappointment.  The only hope for individuals, kings, commoners; rich or poor; is the Lord Jesus Christ, and as Christian disciples/followers we have not only been commissioned by our Lord to go and make disciples; He has given us the power to go and do it.

If you want true change in the United States or the world it will come only through the crucified, buried, risen and coming again Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

“It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8 (KJV)

3. BE BUSY IN GROWING AND PRACTICE OF FAITH AND IN PRAYER (vv. 9-14).

Those of us who believe that the second coming of Jesus are often accused of having our head in the stars or the sand, and not dealing with the things which really affect mankind.  I would agree that there are factions who claim to believe in the second coming of Jesus, but I have a question, “What Jesus do they believe in?”  Do they believe in the Jesus who said, “I will come again”, but later He said, “No man knows the day or the hour”? or do they believe in the one who professes to have a secret knowledge of God and Jesus, and they know when He is coming?  They might even say, “I am the one who is coming”.

We are told in Scripture, the words of Jesus to “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13).  Though the preceding was spoken from a parable, it still has the intensity of the call Jesus has for us.  He is telling His followers to keep at the tasks you have to do, maintain your lives, live and be faithful to the teachings of God’s word and all that He has taught us.  He has not told us to give away all our possessions, sell our homes and go to a mountain top and wait for His return.

I would imagine that as Jesus was speaking to the disciples, and they seeing Him ascend into the coulds would have been standing there in awe of what they had just seen.  For a while they would have put the words Jesus had just spoken to them out of their minds.  WOW! Was probably what they were thinking.  This was men who had seem Him walk on water, calm the storms, cast out demons, heal the sick, make the lame walk, heal the lepers, and raise the dead.  And now, they see Him in a living body of flesh ascend out of their sight, and into the Father’s glory.

“Two men” probably angels confronted their awestruck eyes and minds, with the words we all need to hear, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? 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 (KJV)  The disciples followed the instructions of the men/angels, went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, to the upper room and there they prayed, probably unlike any other time they had prayed.  You will notice all the disciples were present with the exception of Judas who killed himself by hanging, and plunging to the bottom of a cliff.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”  Acts 1:14 (KJV)

They had not yet received the Holy Spirit for power, witness and living.  They were to wait for the promise, and the promise came.

Continuing prayer is prayer that abides, prayer that is unceasing, prayer that is diligent, faithful, and trusting and believing, that God will accomplish what He pleases, in His time and in His way.  Those praying in the upper room numbered one hundred and twenty.  Of those who were there, other than the disciples/apostles, were Mary the mother of Jesus, and the brothers of Jesus – James and Jude (not the apostles by the same name) – and the women who had faithfully trusted in, and ministered to Jesus.

4. KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THAT NO ONE IS INDISPENSIBLE (vv. 15-25).

In a lot of areas of life, work, and society and culture there are some who feel they are indispensible.  They are badly mistaken, and sadly deceived.  That may have been the heart of Judas, the betrayer, as he went to betray our Lord.  He was in fact fulfilling a role in prophecy.  Nevertheless guilty of sin, of unbelief, of betrayal.

It was Peter who stood up to make the leadership decision of replacing Judas.  The question could be asked and I am asking it; “Why did they need to replace Judas?”.  Maybe “Replace” is not the right term to use, because no one is really replaced.  Someone that would have been a witness of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was required.

Peter saw that Judas and his acts, and the end of his life were a fulfillment of Scripture.  David had written about this in the Psalms.  See Psalms 69:25 and 109:8.  There have been many people  who have written of Judas’s; of which I have only heard and not read.  I know there are some who with great assumption consider Judas to have been a genuine saved, follower of Jesus Christ, and that he lost his salvation; however, the losing of one’s salvation just does not fit with all of Scripture.  Judas was just a man who never did see Jesus for who he really was, but was only his meal ticket and possible means of obtaining a high position in an earthly rule.  In verse 25, it reads, “that he might go to his own place”; which seems to be meaning that  he had his own eternal abode.

Now it is time to have someone fill his position with the twelve.  It seems that there has been some debate over whether this was really necessary or not.  There are probably a lot of reasons that could be given to support their installing a twelfth apostle, and I would think that to be to keep the order of twelve.  There are twelve tribes of Israel.  Twelve may be a symbol of a completed rule of government, and when Jesus returns to set up His earthly kingdom, these twelve and those who have believed because of their preaching and teaching will rule and reign with Him.

Each individual is unique within the kingdom of heaven, and the future kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth.  There is, however, no one who is indispensable.  Pride is the only thing that would cause anyone to usurp the authority of their own life over the rule of Jesus Christ, and the Father.  That was so with Judas.

The eleven disciples take a vote [cast lots], and the lot fell to Matthais.

5. LET GOD LEAD AND PROVIDE OUR LEADERS (v. 26).

Both of the men which they must choose from were witnesses of the Lord Jesus, and His resurrection.  That was a qualification of an apostle.  Their life was one of following Jesus, and faithfulness.  These were both well qualified men, but only one would be able to serve as apostles.

It would seem that all 120 people in the upper room had part in making this decision.  Some may argue and say, “Well they should have waited because Paul should have been the twelfth apostle”, but that could not be.  There must be one who was sent to the gentiles, and that was Paul who made a thirteenth apostle.

In the direction of choosing kings, presidents, premiers, and apostles and pastors we must let God lead and direct in that choosing.  He has His way in the ballots, and the lots which are cast.

God places leaders of churches, communities, States and Nations as it pleases Him; and all for His glory.  Trust Him.  He knows what He is doing.  He sees the total picture, and you and I only have a very small view, called today.  Today is the day of salvation.  Tomorrow may not come for you or me.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are study notes for a sermon I preached September 14, 2008.

Spirit Bearing Witness

Romans 9:1-5

A burden is a heavy thing to bear.  As we begin reading this “parenthesis” in the letter of Romans we find Paul with a heavy heart.  What has grieved his heart?  What is this burden?  It is the weight of the state of anathema which is on his countrymen – brethren – the Israelites.

A question could be asked why are they in such a curse?  Due to their unbelief at the coming of Messiah.  Their crucifixion, and putting to death the One who was foretold by the prophets, and the Law.

Another question comes to my mind;  Am I, would I be willing to be accursed that another might be saved from that curse?  Let us keep in mind this is a nation of people who have received many a blessing from the One whom they crucified.  Those blessings are listed in verses four and five; and those are not exhaustive.

This “parenthesis” covers chapters nine through eleven.  The ninth chapter shows us how God has dealt with Israel in the past; up to and including the time of Jesus Christ.  The tenth chapter shows us how God is working with them in our current age – the Church age.  The eleventh chapter shows us God restoring Israel in His future work with them.

I was once asked, “Why is this a parenthetical statement?”  My answer is that Paul has through chapter eight been dealing with the sins of mankind (chapters 1-3); the wonderful work of the grace of God (chapters 4-8); and then in chapters 9-11 he begins dealing specifically with the nation of Israel.  Then in chapter twelve he begins dealing with the fruits of grace in the believer’s life.  I hope that explains it.

It seems to me that this parenthesis is used by the apostle to show quite clearly, that since God gave many unconditional promises to Israel, and His will to fulfill them; He gives His body – the Church – evidence that He doesn’t quit, or give up on His people.  I like that kind of assurance.  Israel is evidence of God’s fulfilling His Word.

OUTLINE –

I.  THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD (v. 1).

II.  THE GRIEF, AND SORROW OF HEART FOR THE PEOPLE (vv. 2-3).

III.  THE BLESSINGS OF A CONDEMNED PEOPLE (v. 4).

IV.  THE ONE’S THROUGH WHOM CHRIST HAS COME INTO THE WORLD (v. 5).

THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD (v. 1).  Paul seems to have been quite aware of the problems of relying on conscience alone to make right and godly choices.

The conscience of an individual can be shaped and molded to reflect one’s culture; and not necessarily what is right and wrong according to Scripture or Christ.  The conscience which is subject to the Spirit of God, and the Word of God will make Biblical, conscientious, godly decisions; and if they don’t the conscience will be burdened with guilt, until the transgression has been forgiven.

Paul’s conscience and the Spirit of God bore witness that he had a heavy burden for Israel concerning their curse.

The reason some people can make evil choices concerning right and wrong, or godly and ungodly decisions is because their conscience is not in tune with God or His Word.

Paul’s conscience was clear.  He was burdened for his nation of people.  They are his brethren “after the flesh” – meaning these are the people he was born into.  What the apostle is about to say is one of the most profound statements he will ever make.  This is the most Christlike statement anyone could make.  It is even more Christlike to show it, and Paul demonstrates it quite vividly in the book of Acts when he is willing to give his life to be sure the people of Jerusalem hear the message of their Messiah.

THE GRIEF, AND SORROW OF HEART FOR THE PEOPLE (vv. 2-3).  It is certain that from this statement that Paul knows of the curse on the nation due to their unbelief and rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.  This word [accursed] is the word “Anathema”, and it conveys to us the most horrible and vile of cursing.

The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note states,

“9:3 accursed. The Gr. word is anathema, which means ‘to devote to destruction in eternal hell’ (cf. 1 Cor.12:3; 16:22; Gal.1:8,9).  Although Paul understood the exchange he was suggesting was impossible (8:38,39; John 10:28), it was the sincere expression of his deep love for his fellow Jews (cf. Ex. 32:32).”

Paul knew that he himself was not spotless, holy, undefiled to be that sacrifice, and that the sacrifice had, indeed, already been given by Jesus Himself.  The only spotless Lamb to ever be offered for the sins of man, and complete the offering was the offering of the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36).

Could I love so deeply that I would be willing to take another’s  place in hell?  In the love of Christ I can.  Isn’t that the essence of the love of Jesus Christ?  To be willing to give one’s life that another might live.  As Isaac was led by his father up the mountain, he went faithfully.  When he arrived he allowed Abraham to bind him, and lay him on the altar.  He had given his life for his father, and seemingly without any explanation; just trusting the father (Genesis 22).  Three of King David’s chief men, went through enemy lines, hazarding their lives so their king could receive a drink of water from Bethlehem’s well –

“And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.  And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it.” 2 Samuel 23:16-17 (KJV)

–  Why not give one’s life for another?

Our lack of love is seen today in that we don’t tell others the gospel of Jesus because we are fearful we may not be accepted, we may not have time.  How much time does that one God gives us opportunity for witness have?.  We may not be popular.  We might even be attacked physically, or at the least verbally.  How is that for loving to give our lives?  I cannot say with Paul, “I would wish myself accursed…”  Even knowing that my “sacrifice” would be of no benefit.  I am unworthy and unable to save myself.  How can I save others, except through giving them the hope that is in Christ Jesus alone.

THE BLESSINGS OF A CONDEMNED PEOPLE (v. 4).  “Israelites” were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and these were children of the promise.  From the fall of Adam and Eve, yea, even from creation, and before in the heart of God there was the nation of God who would be the progenitor of the Savior of the world.  Many nations would come to God, believing Him, calling on His name, worshipping Him, and glorifying His name.

The blessings of Israel were God’s “adoption” of them to be His witness nation to a condemned world.  The Israelites were recipients of the covenants of God, the law of God through Moses, the service of God in the priesthood, the tabernacle furniture, and tools; the pictures and types of the future Messiah – the promises; and they were the one’s by whom came the Blessed One through the virgin Mary.

We must learn from the blessing of Israel as Gentiles who are believers in the Messiah Jesus Christ.  They became hard hearted due to their “security” of the temple, arrogance in having the law, the adoption, the covenants, and believing the blessings were of the flesh, and not of the Spirit of God.  We cannot follow their path to destruction in unbelief.

Followers of Jesus Christ are not to evilly think we have it made because we have earned the  place of forgiveness, love, peace, and grace of God.  We are not any different than any other individual upon this planet.  We have sinned.  We have transgressed the commandments, the laws of God, and He has given us forgiveness and grace through the finished work of His Son.

We are commanded to take this wonderful message of salvation to the world.  When we don’t do that we fail, and become similar to the nation of Israel.  Jesus Christ built, and continues to build His Church upon the confession that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God.  Every confession of faith in Christ adds another living stone to the building of His Church, and nothing can prevail against her.  However, should we become arrogant, disobedient as individual believers or even as a local church; He can, He has, and will raise up another local church or individual to take our place.  We do have His assurance that we are saved; “Yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).

That is not something we should or would look forward to.

THE ONE’S THROUGH WHOM CHRIST HAS COME INTO THE WORLD (v. 5).  Through the mercy of God Mary, a virgin was chosen to bear the Son of God and birth Him into the human race.  This was not an accident, a fluke of nature.  Virgin births, little lone virgin conceptions do not happen by accident.  They can only be planned by God, and that is what makes a miracle. The unnatural, impossible, and glorious happens by the hands of God.  It happened as the fulfillment of His promises to send, this King, this Savior, this Messiah, this Great Physician, this Great High Priest, this Prophet of prophets; this God-man; the incarnate Son of God.

This One was born into this nation who would reject Him, make a false judgment of Him, crucify Him, put Him to death, bury Him in a borrowed tomb, and three days later rise from the grave; conquering sin, hell, death, and the grave.

Paul, here in this fifth verse is affirming the sovereignty, and the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ – “…The eternally blessed God. Amen.” (v. 5).

The Christians of today, the Body of Christ, the Church is the means of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ into the world.  Let us be faithful with the message, the only message that will save and change the world; for the glory of our Lord and God.  I am to be the messenger of the gospel of Christ Jesus that God has called me to be.  I can do no better or worse than my love for Him.  The same is true of all who have been called in Christ Jesus, “saints” (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1).

O for a heart like Jesus who was willing to endure separation from the Father to become sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and to give His righteousness to us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  To have a heart like Paul we must know our Savior as Paul did.

O Lord our God; give us your heart, and a heart like your servant Paul; that souls who are lost might hear of YOUR wonderful grace and mercy displayed on the cross of Calvary.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sensual Division

“Remember the words…by the apostles… How they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.” Jude 18-19 (NKJV).

A continual warning, and caveat’ to stand your ground, be faithful, follow the teachings of the apostles, etc.; is much needed, but too many of our minds can become redundant. We need to be encouraged by the words of Jude and the words of any preacher who is teaching us to stand guard over our heart, and against the teachings and teachers which would lead us away from the truth.

These apostates are actually haters of God; yet use the name of God to have their way in Christian circles. Jude in no way is saying to us that all true teachers of God’s Word are infallible, but that they will be faithful to proclaiming the truth of God. We can all make mistakes. It seems that we, in our humanity are almost prone to make one now and then, just to remind us that we are still, in fact, fallen creatures; who have been redeemed by the perfect Savior.

However, these apostate heretics, are those who purposely teach doctrines contrary to God and His Word to draw a following for themselves, put their fleeced flocks money in their own pockets, and live in lavish homes, and estates. Now, before any one flies off the proverbial handle, let me add that there is nothing wrong with having or gaining wealth; as long as it has been done by hard work and labor; without taking advantage of the weak; and God is given all the glory for it. God gives wealth to enable those with it to be stewards and help the weak; and that includes the widow, the orphan, the poor, and downtrodden. These take no thought of others, however. The lavish homes and estates are almost their personal trademarks.

They are “sensual”, and that can be greedy, filled with lusts; and lusts can be for anything including power, position, popularity, and pomp. When the truth is not proclaimed, the one proclaiming that which is contrary to the truth are the dividers. That is something we always need to remember.

One of the teachings which is popular among many churches and pastors is the teaching about sex, using Scripture, but using the most lewd, crude, and shocking forms of “language” that can be heard today. “It’s part of our culture” those using it say. “They will not listen unless we speak that way”, they continue. We are always to speak the language which will glorify our Lord, and His language is not lewd, crude, or “shock jock” style. The Bible deals with sexual matters many times, but always treating it with respect, and even mystery; and so should those who are supposedly trying to teach people. In many cases using sensual language which inspires lust, rather than genuine love; they destroy the purity of God’s Word and its teaching. These are sensual dividers.

These types of talks draw the crowds; just as motor crosses, NASCAR, boxing, wrestling and the Olympics. Little for the glory of God is done in any of the these events. They are for some to make money, and others to spend and or lose it. It may be popular, but popular does not make it holy or right.

Many times, when the one who comes in exposing the lies for what they are, they are always the one who is accused of causing division. It is the one’s who are teaching and preaching the lies who are the dividers. The division-makers do not have the Spirit of God, and if not dealt with by the truth, and with firmness, will themselves be inhabitants of hell. They must be confronted, and given the opportunity of repentance, and finding genuine peace with God.

Be strong in the faith. Grow in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Confront and hate the evil, and expose it. Love the good, and the godly. Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.

-Tim A. Blankenship

God Speaks Through The Apostles

“But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Jude 17 (NKJV).

After having dealt some very hard words concerning those who have attempted, and at times came into some of the churches with their poisonous words, their deceit, their division, and heresy; Jude now comes back to the one’s he is writing this letter to.

The reader, who is the “beloved” of Jude. The “beloved”, of course, are those who know the Lord Jesus Christ. They have heard the words of the Lord Jesus as spoken by the apostles, and written in their letters. The writings of the apostles are indeed the word of the Lord to His Church.

How important is it that we remember the words spoken by the apostles? It is very important if we are to grow strong in the faith of the Lord. It is very important if we are to know the truth. It is of the utmost importance if there is a false teaching which is infiltrating the Church, and leading the people away from Christ, and into false worship, and into immoral living and immoral lifestyles. In short; the writings of the apostles; such as Peter, James, John, and Paul are the very words of our Lord for knowing the Lord Jesus and growing in Him.

With the apostles writings (Letters) we can know the teachings of Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification. We can know also the teachings of the sinfulness of mankind, and his eternal destiny. We can know what is true from what is false. We can know that there are many Jesus’es in the world, and the one who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, who rose bodily from the grave, and left us the promise of His coming again is the true one. We can know that the one who said, “I and My Father are one”, and “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”, and “Before Abraham was, I am” is the true Jesus Christ. Any other Jesus is not the true one.

We can know that anyone or any group, angel or church, who teaches any other Jesus is not a true worshipping body of Jesus Christ. We can know that there should be shame on anyone calling themselves “Pastor”, “Teacher”, or “Preacher” who will not expose these false teachers and teachings; and is ashamed of the truth, a coward, and most likely does not know Him.

Do not listen to those who tell you, “We cannot know the absolute truth”. The absolute truth is found in the pages of the Word of God. That is the writings of the apostles and the prophets. The Old and the New Testaments are the Word of God. The prophets wrote of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, and they longed to see His day. We have before us the written Word of God which tells us of a day He will come again, and that we will behold Him face to face.

Hear the Word of God. Trust God and His Word. Believe and act according to His Word and will. Glorify the Lord Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship