Seven Letters to Seven Churches-Ephesus Part 10

Today this will be my main post. I really appreciate Brother Wally Fry’s study of the Church at Ephesus. I hope you do too.

Truth in Palmyra

Revelation 2:1-7

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4

Part 10. Wow. I hope readers don’t mind us really taking our time and poking around a bit. Actually, it really doesn’t matter, as that is what I am going to do anyway! Writing blog posts is as much for me as for readers; it is my way of studying. We might say, my blog posts are my study notes. So, part 10 it is.

So, here we are again. Ephesus: hard-working, doctrinally pure, yet they have left their “first love.”

Today, we are going to just poke around very briefly in the language of our verse and talk about the significance of some of it. I have said before, and I will say again; I am not a Greek scholar and have never studied it as a subject. That is great if…

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Triumph in Christ

“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 (KJB)

The thankful apostle which has written this second letter to encourage the Church at Corinth to forgive the sins of their members who had repented of their acts of immorality (1 Corinthians 5); their acts of pride over their spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12-14), and other issues as well.  He is still unable to be with them.

In looking at the above verse we see Paul giving the glory to our Lord.

Any victories we have is due to the victory of Jesus Christ on the cross, His burial, and His triumph over death, and the grave in His resurrection.

“…Having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:15

The Church had much; and presently has much to rejoice in.  Jesus gives us the victory we must walk in it.

Father in Heaven, forgive our sins, our flimsy excuses for our sins. Forgive also our cheapening of grace; which is given us to free us from sin, and is now used as a license for sinning.

May we realize that Jesus died for our sin, in our place, paying the redemption price for our sin. We must turn from our excuses and our sin to triumph in Christ.

Fill us with Your Spirit, for then we will not walk in sin. Draw us nearer You, for then we will see our sinfulness and our greatest need of You.

Glorify Jesus Your Precious, Holy Son. Amen.

Those Christians

“Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.  Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.  For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”  Acts 11:22-26  (KJB)

The word of the Lord, the gospel of Jesus Christ was spreading, growing, lives of Jews and Gentiles alike were being changed by the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).  Some changes were not good for the one’s preaching the gospel; because sometimes hearts grow hard against the gospel, and their lives are darkened with their minds and souls.

When the word of God and the gospel is preached there is always a response.  Some will just say “No! Not now”,  Some will give positive acceptance to Christ with a “Yes! I believe”; then there are those who are angered by it and set out to destroy the messenger.  You will also have the passives who will do nothing with what they hear.

Barnabas was sent to go as far as Antioch.  He saw the grace of God and was glad; that is that the grace of God was working wherever he went on the way.  He must have arrived in Antioch and realized there was so much work to do that he needed help; so he went to find Saul to come and help.

Saul joined with Barnabas and they taught much of the people there.  Some where in the ministry of these two men of God the name “Christian” came to be what they called a follower of Jesus Christ.  Whether it was a derogatory term or just a name that seemed to fit is probably not even needed to know.  The name “Christian” has stuck, and it is a good name. It simply means “Follower of Christ”.

Yes I am a follower of Christ.  I want to pattern my life, my actions, my words, my heart, and my soul to His way.  I am one of those Christians who believes that when you meet Jesus your life is changed.  I am one of those Christians whose whole life is affected by the Spirit of Christ in me.  I still commit sin, but I am ashamed of my sin, repent and He forgives me.

The Christian life is one to live inside the church house, the family house, on the city square, the traffic jammed highways and freeways, grocery check out lines, theme park lines, the voting booth, and as a politician too.

May God give me; may God give us all the strength and boldness to be like Jesus Christ.  Yes, I am one of Those Christians.

The Church at Sardis

THE CHURCH AT SARDIS

Revelation 3:1-6

INTRODUCTION:
I. THE CHURCH WHICH IS BELIEVED TO BE ALIVE; BUT IS DEAD.
II. JESUS IDENTIFIED AS HE WHO HAS THE SEVEN SPIRITS AND SEVEN STARS.
III. JESUS KNOWS THE TRUE STATE OF THE CHURCH.
IV. JESUS CALLS ON THE CHURCH TO WATCH…
V. HOPE FOR THE FEW.
VI. THE BOOK OF LIFE.

I. Note the Perfection of the One who has All Power, is Perfect, and Holds the Messengers in His Hands (v. 1).
A. Speaking of the Fulness of Christ…

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD…” Isaiah 11:1-2

B. The fulness of the Power of God…

“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, ‘This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.'” Zechariah 4:6

II. It is a Sad State to Think you Live, but Really are Dead (v. 1).
A. They evidently had the appearance of life to many within and without.
B. Their works were busy, busy, busy… but not living for and glorifying the Lord.

“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Cor. 3:12-15

III. There is a Calling to Watch, and Strengthen the Things which Remain; and Repent (vv. 2-3).
A. Many times throughout the NT we are commanded to “Watch”.
B. With things which remain we must strengthen them, and then;
C. We must repent – turning our eyes, our hearts, our minds, our very lives back over to the Lord, our Redeemer.

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Rom. 13:11-14

IV. A Few Will Walk With Him in White (v. 4).
A. Another reference to garments…

“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Rev. 16:15

V. White Raiment, Book of Life, and Confessed before the Father and Angels; and the Challenge to Hear (vv. 5-6).
A. The Book of Life is mentioned several times throughout the Bible.

“Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written.” EX. 32:32
“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” PS. 69:28
“And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4:3

Also Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12

B. Another of the books is the Lambs Book of Life.

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Rev. 20:12
“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Rev. 21:27

C. Is your name written in the book of Life, and the Lamb’s book of Life?

The Church at Smyrna

The Church at Smyrna

Text: Revelation 2:8-11
Smyrna means “Myrrh”. A frangrance for kings. One of the gifts to the baby Jesus – “gold, frankencense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, Polycarp, pastor at Smyrna replied, “Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?’ From John Walvoord’s THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.

INTRODUCTION:
I. SMYRNA WAS CONSIDERED THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY OF ASIA.
II. IT WAS DESTROYED IN 580 B.C., AND REBUILT IN 290 B.C. – dead but alive again- AND CONTINUING ALIVE TODAY.
III. WAS A FAITHFUL ALLY OF ROME AND ONE OF THE FIRST TO INITIATE EMPEROR WORSHIP OF CAESAR UNDER; ERECTED A TEMPLE UNDER THE REIGN OF TIBERIAS.
IV. THE CHURCH AT SMYRNA WAS HEAVILY PERSECUTED, LOSING THEIR GOODS AND THEIR PROPERTIES BECAUSE THEY WOULD NOT WORSHIP CAESAR, BUT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ALONE.

I. Jesus Identifies Himself as The Eternal One Who Has Been Dead, but is Now Alive (v. 8)
A. First and Last terms of eternity – His eternalness, beginning and end (Isaiah 44:6; 48:12)

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the First, and I am the Last; and beside me there is no God.” Is. 44:6
“Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the First, I also am the Last.” Is. 48:12

B. He died, and He lives again – never to die again (Heb. 7:23-24).

“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” Heb. 7:22-24

II. Jesus Knows of Their Works, Their Tribulation, and Their Poverty, and Says, “But You are Rich” (v. 9).
A. Living in Smyrna, the seat of emperor worship, they lost all they had materially because of their faithfulness to the way of the Lord Jesus.
B. Some Jewish Zealots were persecuting them – were not believing even the writings of Moses.

“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rom 2:29

1. These “Jews” were not believing God.

C. Riches are more than silver, gold, trinkets, any material thing (Luke 12:15)

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Lk. 12:15

III. Jesus Gives Words of Encouragement, and Strength to Continue in Their Labor and Tribulation (v. 10
A. Fear none of those things – the persecution, the loss of things, death…
B. There will be further tribulation, persecution, pain, and death; however continue to be faithful; even unto death.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

C. The promise of the Crown of Life.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” James 1:12

IV. Jesus Gives the Church at Smyrna the Promise of No Second Death (v. 11).
A. Describe the “second death” – (Rev. 20:12-15)
1. We are all born into this world spiritually dead to God – thus we must be born again.
2. There is physical death – we all experience barring a supernatural miracle.
3. There is the “second death” also called eternal death – eternal separation from all that is God; holiness, righteousness, good and right.

“And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:11-15

B. The Spirit of God; if the churches have ears to hear; will overcome fear of losing, fear of death, and are given the promise of eternal life in the presence of our dear Lord.

CONCLUSION:
1. The One who is Eternal Died for Our Sins, was Buried, and He Rose Again; Because He Lives Now We too Live With Him in Glory.
2. The One who is Eternal Knows our Life Situation, Persecuted, Poverty, Power; and Stands Ready to Aid Us, and to Save Us.
3. The One who is Eternal is Our Encouragement, Our Strength, Our Hope of Eternal life, and the Crown of Life.
4. The One who is Eternal is our Only Source of Eternal Life, and Hope for Missing the Second Death.

The Gifted Believer

Every Believer Gifted

Romans 12:3-8

God has placed each believer in the church to serve Him and other believers. He has not done so, and left us without desires and gifts which enable us to serve.

These gifts are not given for any to boast superiority over another, as has so often been the case with the mystical gifts; such as healing, tongues, miracles; which were reserved for the apostles, as an evidence of their call and appointment by God. These gifts of the Spirit to which we are speaking of in this study are given for the Church to have balanced ministry. No one spiritual gift is of any greater importance than the other.

Since God is the Giver of these “Grace gifts”, there is really no way any one believer has the right to think more “Highly [of himself], than he ought to thing” (v. 3). We are each responsible for the use of the gift(s) God has given us. They are, however, to be used in conjunction with other’s gifts; not separate from them. When believers use their gifts without the balance of the other gifts you have unbalanced churches.

Churches cannot operate properly if everyone is a “Lone Ranger”. Where there is unity of purpose, yet understanding of diversity; with the proper use of spiritual gifts God gives a balanced healthy, growing church.

The gifts Paul mentions in Romans and the ones which are practical for everyday Christian living for today –

1.  Prophecy – This is the “Speaking forth” of the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is its greatest meaning. In the Old Testament even, the prophet was a “Forth-teller” more than a forteller of the future. This gift is abused by taking on oneself more than God has spoken.

2.  Ministry or Serving – This is a ministry given most of the time for deacons, for the deacons of the early church were servants and serving the widows of the church; but it includes being a servant where ever the servant sees the need. One with the servants heart is usually always looking for an opportunity to serve others. Often can become selfish and not letting others help out.

3.  Teaching – This is teaching which goes beyond just a Sunday School teacher, but does include it. The one with this gift enjoys the study of God’s Word just as much or even more than presenting it to others, and is able to present it clearly and understandably to others. Can become full of his/her own knowledge, and become distant from others.

4.  Exhortation – This gift is the gift that is able to show others in a step by step approach ways of correcting wrongs done, or encouragement in right things done, and to do right things. If not cautious can become a “Know it all” even correcting when others don’t want to hear it, nor need to hear it.

5.  Giving – Most of the time people with this gift are usually gifted in making money too, and strongly desires to use their wealth for the glory of the Lord, and the growth of His kingdom. They are also concerned greatly with how God’s money is used or spent. If the heart is not right can become selfish with the wealth, begin to hoard it and not share it with others or give it to the Lord’s work.

6.  Ruler or Leader – The ones with this gift is able to give direction for a group of people and set an example for others to follow. If not controlled by the Spirit of the Lord can become like a dictator rather than a leader pushing.

7.  Mercy – The people with this gift are very kind, non-judgmental, always willing to accept others on their word and testimony, and they can be very gullible, and weak in the discipline department concerning sin.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Victory of the Lord’s Witnesses

“And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”  Revelation 11:7-14

The ministry of these two witnesses will be short. A number of 1,260 days is what they will have. Really, we who are witnesses only have a short time, but most have longer than 3.5 years.

God does not allow them to be harmed until their testimony is finished. The “Beast” (not of those mentioned in 4:6-8) arises to wreak havoc and he has hated these messengers of God. According to 13:3 the “beast” receives a deadly head wound and is healed. This undoubtedly means he is a man struck in the head, is killed, and is raised supernaturally [using means of deceit] by the devil himself – “The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit”. It is he whom, when their mission is finished, God allows to capture and kill them.

Where does this event take place? Their dead bodies are allowed to lay in the streets of this city. Here, God allows spiritualizing, because He does it, “Which spiritually is Sodom and Egypt”. What is this place? It is the city of Jerusalem, “Where…our Lord was crucified”. In verse 2 it is called the “Holy city” now in verse 8 it is called “Spiritually…Sodom and Egypt”. Sodom, a place of depravity and great immoral behavior. Egypt, a place of many gods, which are not gods at all, and the place which hated God’s people. Most of the problems for God’s people come within religion, within the visible Church. We can see that in the death of the two witnesses.

For many days the people “that dwell upon the earth” have been tormented by the prophets of God. The Word of God torments self-serving, evil, God-despising souls.

The Scripture tells us that the dead bodies of the prophets lay in the streets of Jerusalem for the whole world to see. Their depravity is shown in thinking they could be spiteful to an empty human body which lays decaying in the streets.

These are so evil in their hearts, that they rejoice and celebrate over the prophets deaths. Elijah the prophet was asked by King Ahab, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” The king accusing the prophet of the trouble. It was not the prophet who troubled Israel, but the kings vile and wicked ways. There is nothing more wicked, vile and evil than putting on the pretense of worship. Elijah answered back the king saying, “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Kings 18:17-18). When these people see their “troublers” are dead they celebrate, glad because the “beast” has overcome them. What they do not realize is that God had protected them for 3.5 years. The unrighteous are rejoicing today when the righteous fall, or are removed through death or tragedy.

Their celebration is, however, short-lived, for when the 3.5 days have expired the people hear a voice from Heaven. Notice the words used. “Come up hither” the same words used in 4:1. There are similarities in the rapture of the Church and this, but they differ as well. The bodies of these prophets are seen by the world being resurrected and ascending into Heaven.

Probably for the first time in some time they recognize a power even greater than the “beast” and “Great fear fell upon them”.

These people “of the earth” are enemies of the prophets. They were thus the enemies of God but look at God’s mercy. It is shown in His sending the prophets to warn them. The people who are the enemies of the prophets are the enemies of God. Jesus said, “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (Matthew 10:41). If you have a problem getting along with the man of God, you have a problem with God. Certainly, these people “of the earth” had a problem getting along with “God’s men”.

“The same hour” judgment fell upon God’s enemies. At the opening of the sixth seal, there is an earthquake (6:14). At the ending of the sixth trumpet, which is the “second woe” there is another earthquake. This quake destroys one-tenth part of Jerusalem, seven thousand men are slain, and the remainder of those alive are fearful. One almost surprising thing is that those who remain give “glory to the God of Heaven”. Does this mean that they believe God and trust His way of salvation? Some think so. It does not mean that it was glory God received. It probably means, that they saw His power, but not believing Him.

It is sad, even today when the glory of God is seen through His mercy, grace, His people, and in creation, and people still reject Him and His Son Jesus. So sad it is too, to see such power displayed and yet they proceed after their own ways, hardening their hearts to God and His Spirit (Hebrews 3:7-11).  Maybe because they cannot see.

Remember the “woes” are mentioned in 8:13 and begin with the fifth trumpet in 9:1. The first “woe” is past in chapter 9:12 and the second begins. The pronouncement given in 8:13 is warning of the seriousness of these next three trumpet judgments. When this “second woe is past” it is like God is saying, “This was it. Your chance of repentance, of salvation, is past. There will be no more delay. No more prophets” (Amos 3:7). “The third woe cometh quickly” is certain to relay that message.

One great victory for God’s witnesses in any period of time is seeing the word of God, which was spoken, fulfilled.

I Will Come Unto You Quickly

“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: nd 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)

The day in which we live needs the Church to be the Church, and not living to be like the world to win the world. The sheep do not need to put on the wolves clothing. The true Church needs admonishment and encouragement to keep doing the good and the right, with the right motive of loving the One who is our first love, and the One who holds the “Angel/Messengers” in His hand.
This is the beginning letter to the seven churches. These are important letters to the Church of all ages, and especially, I feel for the Church of today.

In the study of the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians Paul commends them for their faith and teaches them who they are in Jesus Christ. They are a vibrant and faithful people and growing in faith and knowledge of Jesus.

Jesus says that something is wrong with the church at Ephesus. They have abandoned their “First love”. If they do not repent their “Candlestick” – the light of His glory – “will be removed”. He gave the light. He can also remove it and give it to another.

He commends them and encourages them to be overcomers to eat of the Tree of Life which can be seen in the “Lampstand” of the tabernacle in the wilderness, of Israel’s wanderings.

Beginning the letter to the church of Ephesus, our Lord reminds the church of who holds the seven stars and walks among the “seven golden lampstands”. Of course, it is the One who is speaking. The One who is the Light Giver.

We are looking at each “angel” as being the messenger, ie. pastor of each local congregation. It would not make sense for an “Angel of Heaven” come and deliver a letter from Jesus. Jesus used John to pen down the letters, John sent them to each of the churches, and the leader, ie. pastor read it to the congregation. That would be so exciting to have an actual letter from Jesus read to us. Wait a minute!!!! WE DO. WOW!!!

Ephesus was a port city. It was the greatest of these seven cities. It was the seat of “Artemis” worship, also known as “Diana” in Acts chapter 19. Paul preached the gospel here for about three years. He built this church and encouraged them in their faith through the letter of Ephesians. It is said that John was in Ephesus for about 30 years.

In this first verse, Jesus gives greeting as He does to the others. He also identifies Himself as the One “That holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”. This is one of the descriptions given in chapter one. The very fact of His walking “In the midst” shows Jesus’ love for the local church, and that His people are to be found in the local church.

The seven golden candlesticks are an Old Testament picture given in Exodus 25:31-37. The priests were to keep the light in the tabernacle burning. There were no means for the natural light of the sun to enter, so there was the need for the “Candlestick” or “Lampstand” for the priests to do the rest of their daily duties. Jesus being our Great High Priest keeps the flames burning the light shining in order that the world might see Him in His Church.

We now enter the “I know” portion of the letter. He is the “All-Knowing” One.
The people of Ephesus Church were a busy people. They were working and laboring to the point of exhaustion. For this devotion Jesus commends them. These were also a people who were sound in doctrine, they hated evil, and they were a discerning people. They could tell the true from the false. The reason they were able to discern so well is, that, they had learned the truth so well.

Jesus commends them for their perseverance (v. 3) in continuing to deal with the false apostles and persevering in faith despite the persecution they had faced.

By all appearances, Ephesus was a good church. They were serving the Lord well. Not many churches today could be so commended.

It seems, according to verse four, however, that the church was laboring with the wrong motives. Jesus commends them for their work but suddenly gives them condemning statements. It was only one thing. It was no small thing.

“Thou hast left thy first love” is one of the most tragic, and probably is the most tragic condemnation Jesus could lay on a church. It is the abandonment of the “first love” that causes all kinds of iniquities, and sin. It may have been that the church had been lured away from loving Jesus by the fulfillment received from performing their duties, or by the allurements of the city and their ways of worship.

The “First love” of every Believer is Jesus. If there is no time for Jesus, for hearing His words, sharing your hearts needs with Him, and practicing His ways, then, you have “Left” or “Abandoned” your “First love”.

This is the only one of the seven churches of which is warned of the removing of the “Candlestick”. Ephesus has no Christian witness to this day. Why? Because they had forsaken their love for Jesus. They were diligent in their work and task, but without a passion for Christ. I just recently heard a television preacher say, “Passion is more important than doctrine”. I do not agree with that. Passion without doctrine will end in emotionalism, an anything goes way of worship, and immorality; and doctrine without Passion will be legalistic and cold. So what is the answer? There is need and room for both, and a correct doctrine with the passion for Christ. It seems the church had good works, good doctrine, but no heart for Christ. The light of Christ has been removed.
Jesus’ condemning statement is followed by a statement of hope and warning (v. 5).

He says, “Remember”. Remember from where you have fallen. They had once been Gentiles without hope and Jesus redeemed them (Ephesians 2:11-13). It always helps to go back and remember what you were before Jesus saved you from the bondage of sin. If there has been no change, no difference then, it will do no good to ‘Remember’. You need a time where change begins. It can be now through faith in Jesus.

He then says, “Repent”. Begin to stir the coals. Put some fuel on them. Fan the flames. Ignite the flames of passion for Jesus that you once had. If there are no coals there, but only ashes…….., then what? Turn away from the pride of your work and your labors – love Jesus. We love Him least when we trust ourselves most; we love Him most when we trust Him most.

One of the first works of one with that “First love” mentality is telling others about His love; His death, burial, and resurrection.

The warning is that He will judge quickly if there is no turning. The judgment would be removing the candlestick. The light of their witness, their testimony, as a body, would be gone. Today Ephesus is an archaeologist’s fantasy land. The church no longer exists, nor does the city. Ichabod has certainly been written on the church of Ephesus. “Ichabod” meaning THE GLORY IS DEPARTED.

Jesus commends them in verse six for their hating the “Deeds of the Nicolaitans”. There is some dispute over who these were. Some take the name to mean “Conquerors of the people” meaning this group was the beginning of the separation of “Clergy” and “Laity”. The placing of a “Priesthood” lording over the people. Others relate the name to a man whose name was Nicolaus who taught that once you were saved you could live in sin and return for forgiveness anytime. NOTE – I wrote “Live in sin” which is continual action. This belief is called “Antinomianism”. I personally see no conflict between these two understandings. The separation of the “Priesthood” from the people lends leniency to immoral living and takes away personal responsibility, for one’s self and others. Though God has set an order for His local church, there is no one person of more importance than another. The pastor is to be the leader but is no more important than the janitor. Each has their God given duty, and each duty is important in God’s church. Jesus is Superior to all. The very fact that there is no description of these “Nicolaitans”, other than these views, seem to add credibility to this.

In the final verse of this important letter, we find an exhortation to hear. It is an exhortation to each individual to hear. The individual is responsible for his/her love for Jesus. Responsible for discerning right from wrong. For repentance when sin is committed. Individuals make up the local church.

The Spirit speaks expressly to the church and the individuals to hear.

To the individual who overcomes he will eat the fruit of the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden to keep them from the Tree. There is a symbol of the Tree of Life in the “Lampstand” of Exodus 25:31-37. It is likened to an almond tree. Jesus is the Caretaker, the Priest. Jesus is the only means for man to partake of the Tree of Life. He is in the midst.

Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). In Ephesus, there was a remnant who departed and went elsewhere. When the “Candlestick” is removed there is no more light, no more witness. As long as there is a remnant there is light and hope.

Maintaining and feeding your love and passion for Jesus assures you of eating from the Tree of Life.

Fellowship Helpers of the Truth

“Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: because that for His name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.” 3 John 1:5-8 (KJV)

John had sent out other ministers of the gospel to this Church.  Gaius had gladly received them, welcoming them into his home and caring for their needs.  This was the normal and regular practice of local churches in the early Church age.

These messengers came back with a good report of Gaius, and John acknowledges his hospitality.  Jesus said, “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (Matthew 10:41).  The reward for receiving the messengers of God is glorious.  Receiving God’s messengers means not only hospitality but also hearing the message by taking it to heart and being obedient to God’s Word.  It also means seeing that the messengers physical, and material needs are met.

It is the church’s responsibility to care for those who are faithful at preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Whether it is a pastor who feeds and leads the local Church, equipping them for ministry, or the evangelist, the prophet, or teacher: the local Church is responsible for their material well being (1 Corinthians 9:7-18).  This writing was certainly not meant to be a defense for material support of pastors and/or preachers, but it does provide the basis for doing so.  The Scriptures do clearly state that the Church is to care for its spiritual leaders (1 Timothy 5:17-18); and it probably should not be above and beyond the average income of the people he leads.  This frees them to pray, study God’s Word, and to be faithful to minister effectively according to God’s plan.

Notice John’s declaration that they – the messengers he had sent – received no support from “The Gentiles”.  If the Church is to preach the gospel powerfully we must not solicit funds or collect them from our lost and unchurched neighbors.  Members of the Church must commit themselves to tithe their income, and above that when possible to support the work and ministries of the Church.  A study of the Old Testament reveals that the tithe went to the Levites for their support while the tabernacle and temple were maintained through special offerings (Exodus 35:4-29;  Numbers 18:24-26).

The personal care that Gaius gave was far and above a tithe of income.  He gave his heart, his home, and his service to aid the messenger of the word of God.  Gaius showed himself to be a fellow helper of the truth.  There was another man who was the opposite of Gaius.  Read the rest of the chapter.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest message the world could ever hear.  The world needs to hear that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and He rose again the third day.  Hear the love of God as Christ Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Through our fellowship with God through Christ Jesus, we are “Fellow helpers” of the truth.

Being Reminded of Purpose

“Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:3-6 (KJV)

The people had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon for the distinct purpose of rebuilding the temple (Ezra 1:1-5).  When we look into the prophecy of Haggai we read that they had become more concerned with building comfortable homes for themselves, more than the house of the LORD.

Now the prophet was not finding fault with them for building their homes, but they were neglecting the temple and its rebuilding.  That was the issue.  They were taking their goods and applying it to their own livelihood rather than to the work of the Lord.

In looking at this prophecy of Haggai there is a word for the people of God in 2017.  What may that be?  We have forgotten our purpose, our calling, and from whence we have been blessed.  I stand guilty.  We live in a nation that spends billions of dollars in the game of golf.  Many more millions are spent on movies; either attending their showing at the theater or buying them for home use.  Understand, I do not condemn these things, lest I condemn myself; but I must ask the question:  Where does God come into these actions?  How much do we give to Him for things that bring honor and glory to His name?

If we are spending more on our entertainment and pleasure and comfort than we return to the Lord, then we have forgotten our purpose.  I am speaking to those who call themselves “Christian”.  We are responsible to God for what we have left over after we give to Him; if we are returning anything to Him what He has blessed us with.

Let us consider our ways.  Let us be faithful with the blessings God has given us.  Give to your local place of worship, your Church, and watch what God can do.  Of course, the first thing you need to give is yourself to attending your local Church.  Be faithful, and remember your purpose is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Unending Journey

In the study of the book of Acts you can see that the early Church grew, and continued to grow.  It grew not because of the men who  had given their lives to following Jesus Christ; but it grew due to the power of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit within and upon them.

One of the chief apostles named in the book of Acts is first introduced in the Acts of the Holy Spirit book.  It is God who increases His Church.  It is God who regenerates those who come to Him.  It is God who keeps the Church growing even in 2017.

After Paul had arrived in Rome many Jews (at Paul’s invitation) came to him to question him concerning the charges against him from Jerusalem.  They wanted to hear what he preached and taught…

“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.” Acts 28:23-24 (KJV)

The apostle spoke clearly of the place of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel from the Law and the Prophets all day long.

Paul believed the gospel.  He lived the gospel,  He proclaimed the gospel and God blessed, and gave results.

Sadly, today’s Church is much weaker in stature, faith, and power with God; yet God is still redeeming souls, regenerating them, and bringing us into His kingdom.

The Church today needs the Spirit of God at work; not entertainment, or showmanship from its pastor, music director, or any other director.  That is fire under the altar (1 Kings 17).  Let us call on the fire of God to come down on us.

We must have the power of God for perseverance.  We need to be servants of God first; then willing to serve others as well.  When we are in the will of God through His Spirit, His word, and in prayer then we will have peace.

The Church today needs to understand that all provisions will come from God for His work and ministry to progress.  In the early Church every member was provided for due to persecution (Christians were losing their employment, their homes, etc.), and those who were able made donations for the cause of helping those who suffered.  God provided the need for the apostle Paul to get to Rome.  He also provided encouragement for Paul by giving him friends.

Too many times the Church today, and their preachers do not challenge the opposition of the gospel.  Paul did.  He called them to come and hear what he had to say, and they came.  Some of them “Believed” and some of them did not.  Are we too afraid of being turned down?  When we present the gospel, and it is rejected it is not us who is being rejected; it is in fact Jesus being resisted.

Now, Church, is not the time to stop preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is time to preach it clearly, with the power of the Spirit unlike any other time.  It is time for Christians to rise up and say in public places “I believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God, and God the Living Son”, then live like we are children of the King of kings.

The preaching of the gospel must continue, be unending until that day when we see Jesus face to face.  Paul could have said, “I am a prisoner. What can I do”, but he did not he preached the gospel.  His heart was set on Jesus, because Jesus was his treasure (Matthew 6:21).  He preached with confidence; not in his own abilities, but with confidence that God fulfilled every word He has ever spoken, and will continue to do so.  Though in prison Paul was free.

Although the book of Acts is a book of history we can also get the way the Lord would have us operated His Church.  To operate any other way would not be a New Testament Church.

The Lord’s way is 1) Jesus is the Head;  2) The Body submits to His Lordship;  3) We are to operate as one even as Jesus and the Father are One;  4) We are to walk in the Spirit of Christ Jesus.

The Saving of Sinners

“And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” Acts 16:5 (KJV)

The early Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is reaching further and further into the then known world.  People are coming to faith in Jesus in notable numbers.  Lives are being changed wonderfully, powerfully, and God is being glorified.

They are being “Established in the faith”,  they are also “Increasing in number daily”.  If we stop to think about it the Church of 2017 is being established in the faith more and more, and increasing in number as well.  We are just not so aware of it; maybe as we ought to be.

In chapter sixteen we have the witness of three individuals being delivered from the power of evil and sin;

  1.   There is Lydia (vv. 14-15) who has been called “A Cultured Sinner”;
  2.   Then, we have the sorceress (vv. 16-24) who has been called “A Captive Sinner”;
  3.   Finally, there is the Philippian Jailer (vv. 25-34) who has been called “A Calloused Sinner”.

As the Christians of that day went about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ many people came to Jesus believing that He alone paid their sin debt.

The Philippian Jailer came asking, “What must I do to be saved?” (v.30).  That is an appropriate answer for all to ask.  You may need to ask that today; and the answer is… “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your house.” (v. 31).  When the jailer believed, then his whole household believed too.

God is still saving souls through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God, God the Living Son.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your house”.

Christmas Day 8

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want all to realize that even though your Church may not be having worship services today due to ice and snow the Lord is still on the throne, worthy of worship; so we must worship Him on this Lord’s Day as well as the other days we live.

God bless you all, and have a great Lord’s Day.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man, that You are mindful of him; and the son of man, that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passes through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:3-9 (KJV)

Christmas Day Seventy and Eight

Blessed Lord’s Day.

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want my heart, soul, mind and body to be prepared to enter the presence of God with the Church in  worshiping our Lord God, and Savior Jesus Christ; and I want the Church to have their like being joining with me in worshiping Him.

He is coming again.  Are you prepared to meet God?

“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:37-39 (KJV)

DANGEROUS BUSINESS

Jack Woodard's Blog

Defile Temple

DANGEROUS BUSINESS
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are”.
[1 Corinthians 3:16,17]

The local Church at Corinth was a troubled Church, about everything that shouldn’t be going on within a local Church was not only going on, but was having a destructive impact upon the Church.

In verses 16 & 17 the Apostle Paul gives a solemn warning to those individuals within the local Church that were literally destroying the Church; God would repay in like kind. If they destroy the Church, which is Holy unto the Lord, God would certainly destroy them in return.

This warning, this threat, this promise from the Lord has not been revoked and is still applicable to those within…

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That the Earth May Know

That The Earth May Know…
1 Kings 8:1-61

“And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying, Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto His people Israel, according to all that He promised: there hath not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised by the hand of Moses His servant. The LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers: let Him not leave us, nor forsake us: that He may incline our hearts unto Him, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and His statutes, and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers. And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that He maintain the cause of His servant, and the cause of His people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: that all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else. Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes, and to keep His commandments, as at this day.” 1 Kings 8:54-61 (KJV)

Prayer was given by Solomon in veres 15-53, a prayer of dedication for the Temple. The above verses are a blessing on the people, and what is required of them.

The ultimate responsibility of the people of God, Israel, is found in verse 6o “….That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.” That is the desire of God through the cross of Jesus Christ and through those who are Christians; through the Church, the Body of Christ on earth.

The Christian’s life lived is to show forth to the world that the LORD is God, and that there is none else. We do that through the Spirit of Christ Jesus who is in us. Our lives are to be a continuing, growing testimony of the glory and power of God. Is it?

When the Church ceases to fear God; we cease to fear sin. When we have ceased to fear sin, then we have adopted the gods of the world around us, and there is no differentiation between the two. Then, the people of the earth have no motivation to fear God, or to know Him.

Words for Christian Living – Personal Cleansing

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  2 Corinthians 7:1 (KJV)

God has given many precious promises to His people.  It is because of God’s promises; His wonderful gifts that we cleanse ourselves.

There are those elements within Christianity that tell us that “We need not worry about living a good clean life.  Just eat, drink, be merry.  God is gracious.”  There is an element of truth to that, however, we are told by God in Scripture to “Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness”.  We need to separate ourselves from those who would live lives of debauchery, iniquity, and filth.  The Christian needs to live in the truth of the word of God, dwell around people of like faith, attend a faithful, Bible believing, Bible preaching, Christ honoring Church faithfully.

John the apostle has written,

 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”  1 John 3:2-3 (KJV)

To be in peace and fellowship with God we must maintain holy lives.

The Preservation of the LORD

For the past six years when our church conducts its monthly Business Meeting I read a portion of Scripture to open our sessions.  This past month I read  Psalm 12; and verse 8 really “Jumped off the page” and into my heart.  It was as though I had never read it before.  I post today Psalm 12:6-8, and pray you will see why.

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.  Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.  The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.” Psalm 12:6-8 (KJV)

The following are the notes from The MacArthur Study Bible:

12:7,8 The hostile realities of v. 8 call for the heavenly resources of v.7.”

-T.A.

When We are Gathered as One

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  Verily I say unto you, ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’  Again I say unto you, ‘That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Matthew 18:15-20 (KJV)

Only those who are in Christ can be one, as we join together in His Spirit and in His Word.  That means we are walking with God, and are in agreement with Him.  As individual Christians we may not always agree with one another, but we must agree with the Living and written Word He has sent us.  When we agree with His Word, and practice it; in faith and forgiveness; then we will be at peace with Him and one another.

-T.A.

Be Fruitful

Be Fruitful

Col 1:10 (KJV).Might be fruitful in every good work…

When a tree matures enough to begin bearing fruit it will bear the fruit it is supposed to bear. An apple tree will bear apples. A peach tree will bear peaches. A thorn tree will bring forth thorns. You get the picture.

People bear fruit as well. When you were a lost sinner you bore fruit which would be compared to a thorn tree – basically useless and certainly not glorifying the Lord. We all were in that “thorny situation” at one time. A sinking ship, that was going down fast.

Now, that we are saved we will bear fruit that is honoring to our Savior, and will glorify Him. What kind of fruit do Christian’s bear? 1) Evidence of a changed life; 2) Telling others about Jesus; 3) Praising God; 4) Living a holy life; 5) Displaying holy attitudes. The Christian, when sin has invaded the heart, is convicted, and immediately upon the conviction by the Spirit of God will seek forgiveness. She/he does not let sin lay around for long, but wants that fellowship with Jesus Christ sweet and glorious.

When we pray for fruitfulness in one another we ourselves will become fruitful.

Last Sunday morning we looked at the first part of the prayer Paul prayed here in the first chapter of Colossians, “…to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;“ Col 1:9 (KJV), and Sunday evening at the second part, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” Col 1:10 (KJV).

Is this prayer important to the life of the church? Is it important that the Christians of today pray a prayer similar to this? I believe so to both of the above questions. It should be every Christian’s desire to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. It should also be our desire to walk worthy of the Lord and be pleasing to Him; glorifying Him. It should also be our desire to see all our brothers and sisters in Christ fulfilling the same. Therefore, we must pray for one another to that very effect.

The desire of Paul’s heart for this part of the prayer is that, “We might be fruitful in every good work”.

Let’s define what ‘Every good work’ is. It would seem to me that every is self explanatory, as is good, and work. Does anyone do “good works” apart from the work of Jesus Christ in us though? It is necessary that on the outward appearance, there are many who do ‘good works’, but what is meant by us being ‘fruitful in every good work’? It would most certainly mean that all the good things we do in the Spirit of God working in us, which brings glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

A quote from John Gill, “being fruitful in every good work; saints are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord; good works are the fruit, which, under the influence of divine grace, they bring forth; and this is not of one sort only, as trees usually do, but of every kind; being ingrafted into Christ the true vine, and deriving life, sap, and nourishment from him, they are filled with the fruits of righteousness by him, which they bring forth and bear, to the glory of his heavenly Father; and being such, they are pleasant plants to him, as fruit bearing trees are to the owner of them: wherefore, in order to the saints walking in their lives and conversations unto all pleasing, or pleasing in all things, the apostle prays they might be fruitful in good works, and that in everyone, in every kind of good works: “ (From John Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible – e-Sword).

We cannot bear fruit except we abide in the vine. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.“ John 15:1-8 (KJV). Part of being in the vine and bearing fruit is getting answers to your prayers. That is seen in the above verse seven.

Let’s look at some of the fruits that we bear when we give ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.

1.  There will be evidence of a changed life, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.“ 1 Cor 6:9-11 (KJV). Note, particularly the last verse. “Such were some of you…”
2.  Telling others of Jesus, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:18 (KJV). This commandment/commission is for all who follow Jesus;
3.  Praising God, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Heb. 13:15 (KJV);
4.  Living a holy life, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Cor. 5:7-8 (KJV);
5.  Displaying the “Fruit of the Spirit”, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” Gal. 5:22-26 (KJV).

This fruit is not the same fruit. It is multiple fruits, and they are the good fruits of the Spirit of God, that works in us to accomplish the will of God and glorify Him.

Without knowledge which we spoke of last time, there would be no fruitfulness. Fruitfulness is a product of righteousness, which is produced through knowledge received by the Spirit of God, working in the mind, accomplishing the will of God in us. Every Christian bears fruit.

Let’s look now at how this fruit it produced.

1.  Comes by union with Christ Jesus, “ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:4-5;
2.  The wisdom of God is needed, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17. John MacArthur writes, “Lack of fruit is directly related to lack of spiritual wisdom”. (From THE MACARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY pg. 32).
3.  As Christians we must make every diligent effort, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sermon notes from a sermon preached at Carr Lane Baptist Church September 17, 2006.

Day 80 – Forgiveness

Yesterday’s post was about “Sin in the Church”.  Looking in First Corinthian at the Corinthians church was not much different than looking into the world; maybe even worse.  The apostle Paul confronted a situation which grieved his heart.  These were his spiritual children, and they were in the midst of tolerating the evil in their midst.

In a letter he confronts them; and tells them they need to deal with it, by putting the man out of the church.  In our day I have heard of lawsuits for such actions.  In my mind and heart the person who would file a lawsuit against the godly actions of a church, particularly if it is done with love and for the correction and return of the believer; that person is an unbeliever, and should be treated as such.

The second letter to Corinth is written on a much more encouraging scale.  It appears that the Corinthians have confronted the sin, and the man has indeed repented, and returned to right fellowship with God and now it is time the church forgave him;

“But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.  For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?  And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.  For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.  But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.  Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.   So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.  For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  2 Corinthians 2:1-11 (KJV)

He reminds them of the first letter, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears…”  They had also disciplined the man, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many” sounds as though the whole congregation, or at least most of them were up to the discipline.  That is a good thing.

Paul also  tells them to “forgive him” and welcome him back into the fellowship.  Forgiveness is awesome.  In John 8 the religious hierarchy catch a woman in the act of adultery and present her to Jesus to see what He would do with her – to condemn Him.  He tells them, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”, that was according to the law for stone throwers; that the witnesses be the first to throw the killing stones.  The accusers all went away, probably a feeling a bit foolish, maybe some a bit ashamed; we would hope.

“Where are your accusers?  Has no man condemned you?” Jesus asked the woman.  “No man , Lord”, she says.  Jesus tells the woman the words every sinner needs to hear, “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.”  Is there forgiveness in those words?  Most certainly.  If Jesus, the only one who could stone her, did not condemn her, then He forgave her.  Note the admonition, “Go, and sin no more”.

“There is therefore, now, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).

-Tim A. Blankenship

B F & M – The Family

This will be the final article on the Articles of our Statement of Faith, called the “Baptist Faith and Message”.

This Article was added to the 1963 version of the BF&M in the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention.  It was a needed article.  It clarifies where we as Southern Baptists stand on family issues.  It does make clear that marriage is to be one man and one woman, thus ruling out homosexual or same sex marriage and/or conduct, and all sexual immorality.

The family is the foundational institution which God created from the beginning.  God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone, and He created the woman from the rib of Adam, making her his wife, friend, confidant, and lover.  The family was instituted before the Church, it was instituted before human government; thus it is an integral part of humanity and godliness.

Here is our Statement of Faith on “The Family”:

“XVIII. The Family

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.

Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15-25; 3:1-20; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 24:15; 1 Samuel 1:26-28; Psalms 51:5; 78:1-8; 127; 128; 139:13-16; Proverbs 1:8; 5:15-20; 6:20-22; 12:4; 13:24; 14:1; 17:6; 18:22; 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 24:3; 29:15,17; 31:10-31; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 9:9; Malachi 2:14-16; Matthew 5:31-32; 18:2-5; 19:3-9; Mark 10:6-12; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy 5:8,14; 2 Timothy 1:3-5; Titus 2:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-7.”

This Article shows the order for the Biblical/Christian family.  If there is to be order in any business, church, government, or organization; there will of necessity be leaders who will be designated to make decisions based on recommendations from others.  The same is true in families.  God has ordained that the man be the “Head of the wife”, as Christ is the “Head of the Church” (Ephesians 5:22-23), and I like the way this is worded in the BF&M statement, “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.”; especially “…to the servant leadership of her husband…”.  Men this is not a matter of having your way.  It is a matter of love, and “Servant leadership”.

This Article also deals with the children, and their discipline.  One of my thoughts on the things we give our children is, and I have often told others; “The best thing we can give our kids, is to let them see Dad loving and cherishing their Mother”.  A marriage should never be divided by the children.  The marriage came first, in the Biblical situation, and you will be living with your spouse for the rest of  your life.  That should not be so of your children.  They are to go out from your home and make a life for themselves.

In the healthy, godly home there will be no abusive situation.

-T.A.

B F & M – Religious Liberty

The freedoms which the United States of America revere and cherish are due to the hearts and minds of godly forefathers who came to this land seeking freedom from government which had become unfriendly to religion.  The Constitution of the United States was written and signed by many men who believed in freedom of religion.  That is “Freedom of religion” not ‘freedom from religion’.

It is written, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.  The government of the USA is never to tell any church what they can do, and it is never to recognize any one denomination over another.  There is to be no State sanctioned religion.

This freedom which we have is endorsed and espoused by Baptists.  We love freedom.  Maybe because it comes from our Creator, and He is the One who gives the true freedom from sin, which is available through His Son Jesus Christ.

Our Statement of Faith on Religious Liberty:

“XVII. Religious Liberty

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

Genesis 1:27; 2:7; Matthew 6:6-7,24; 16:26; 22:21; John 8:36; Acts 4:19-20; Romans 6:1-2; 13:1-7; Galatians 5:1,13; Philippians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; James 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12-17; 3:11-17; 4:12-19.”

Baptist churches are dependent upon the Lord for our support.  We receive tithes and offerings from members of our congregation, and believe that is how the church and its ministries are to be funded.  We are not, nor will not be dependent upon the government for our support.

We believe each Christian is responsible to our government to pay taxes, for the support of law enforcement, and maintaining services available for the benefit of our Nations people.  We are to obey our government when the things required of us do not violate our conscience or God’s Word, which should coincide with one another.  One of our responsibilities as citizens of the United States of America is to go and vote at every opportunity.  In our vote we have a voice, and can change the course of a Nation which is drifting away from God.

We also believe that prayer is the greatest means of changing the way our government operates.  The change of heart in our leaders is the only thing that will turn our Nation back to God.

-T.A.