The Continuing Christian…

For forty days following the ascension of Jesus Christ the disciples waiting in the upper room prayed, waited, and encouraged one another; as they waited for that “power” that they were to receive from God.

As they waited they were in ”one accord” as Luke writes of these wonderful events.  ”One accord” does not mean that the individuals did not have a independent mind, or thought.  It means that they were together for one purpose, and that one purpose was the glory of Jesus Christ.  That glory of Jesus Christ was to be the Holy Spirit of God that was coming  upon them all as they studied, prayed, preached, and read the word, or had it read to them.

Forty day following the ascension of Jesus it happened.  The long awaited event was coming and what an event it was.  The sound of a “Mighty rushing wind”.  That reminds me of a wind from a tornado, a hurricane, or shear winds.  “Cloven tongues of fire” fell upon them, and caused each one to speak in a language that the people there for the feast would hear and understand.  These “cloven tongues” were the sign that the Spirit of God was on them in this place.

We are told that they were “all filled with the Holy Ghost…”  The many languaged people began to hear words from these followers of Jesus, which they had never heard.  Words of life, words of liberty, and words of grace, peace and love.  Some began to accuse these of being drunk.  Being early of the morning was reason enough for Peter to remind them that it was morning, thus they were not drunk with wine from the vine, so to speak.

As a result of this heavenly event at least 3000 souls were saved.  What happens following this wonderful event is the source of our study.

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”  Acts 2:41-47(KJV)

Let’s see if we can find an outline for this text:

  1. BAPTISM FOLLOWS THOSE WHO GLADLY BELIEVE (v. 41).
  2. THEY ARE ONLY COUNTED WITH THE JERUSALEM NUMBER FOLLOWING BAPTISM (v. 41).
  3. NOTE THE FOUR CHARACTERISTICS OF A NEW AND ACTIVE CHURCH (v. 42).
  4. THERE WAS AN AWE OF RESPECT, A FEAR, WHICH SWEPT OVER THE PEOPLE, AND THE ONE’S WHO WERE BELIEVING HAD ALL THINGS COMMON (vv. 43-45).
  5. THE ACTIVITIES OF THE EARLY CHURCH THROUGH THE WEEK (vv. 46-47).

BAPTISM FOLLOWS THOSE WHO GLADLY BELIEVE (v. 41).  Receiving of the Word of God – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – is purely, surely a great joy and a gladness.  When we hear the truth of the Word of God, believe it, and put it to work we have no problem following our Lord’s instruction for growing in faith.

Receiving the word and the gospel is far more than a mere belief in the existence of Jesus Christ, or His death on the cross, or His burial, or His resurrection.  It is in truth the receiving of the Spirit of God into your life, who changes you, and grows in you each and every day for our God’s glory.  It means the thief who believes is no longer a thief.  It means that the murderer is no longer a murderer.  It means the prostitute is no longer a prostitute.  It means the liar is no longer a liar.  Those who have been changed in their hearts now have desire to be more like Jesus Christ and give their lives completely to Him.

Where there had been only 120 Christians in the upper room; we now find that “about three thousand souls” were added to the Jerusalem church that day.

THEY ARE ONLY COUNTED WITH THE JERUSALEM NUMBER FOLLOWING BAPTISM (v. 41).  Is the Point statement made here pertinent for today’s Christian?  I believe it to be very pertinent.  It gives Biblical guidance for local church membership.  These were not or are not counted until we are told that they were baptised, then they are counted as “Members” of the local church.  At that time there was only one local church, and it was the Jerusalem church.

There are some today who do not believe that local church membership is a Biblical idea, or principle.  It seems clear to me, that the Bible says much about it.  The letter to the Romans written by Paul the apostle was written to the church at Rome.  The letter to the Galations was written to the church at Galatia.  The letter to the Ephesians was written to the church at Ephesus.  The letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians were written to the local congregations of those respective cities.  In the Revelation Jesus Christ Himself sent a different letter to seven different churches.  They are local churches.

Understand, none of this negates the fact that we are all part of the one body of Jesus Christ.  Just as the human body has different parts, so too, does the body of Christ.  Each local church has its own parts, and each one in the total Body of Christ has their parts.

We are baptised into the Body of Christ by the baptism of the Spirit of God.  We profess our faith in a local congregation through water baptism.  Water baptism testifies to the death – our not breathing going under the water, meaning immersion; burial – being put under the water; and the resurrection – coming up out of the water.  This way is meaningless through sprinkling or pouring of water upon a participant.

Until a soul has been baptised Scripturally into the local body of Christ they are not qualified to particpate in the Lord’s Supper, are not counted as part of the local body, and have no membership privileges.

NOTE THE FOUR CHARACTERISTICS OF A NEW AND ACTIVE CHURCH (v. 42).  There are four characteristics of this early church.  The first one is that they “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine”.  What is the “apostles’ doctrine”?  The things about Jesus Christ which He taught; the miracles of Jesus, His virgin conception, and virgin birth.  The death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And surely the apostles’ doctrine would include the last day prophecies, and the return of Jesus Christ at His second coming.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive list.  Those are the main things.

The second, fellowship.  Fellowship is much more than sitting around a table sharing a meal together.  It may include the meal, but fellowship is a bonding, a coming together, for the one goal and good of one cause.  It is caring for one another, sharing with one another in the Word of God and material things.  It is a casual sharing of a testimony of God’s grace and goodness in a daily event, or a tragic circumstance or what could have been a tragic circumstance.

The third is, “in breaking bread”.  Now this could definitely be the breaking of the bread representing the body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.  This could also be the sharing of a meal.  We see that this had gotten tangled up with the Corinthian church, and the apostle Paul had to rebuke them (1 Corinthians 11:20-34).  They were not only defying the richness of the Lord’s Supper, but they were rude, unruly, showing partiality, and just plain ole, hypocritical in their behavior.

The fourth is prayer.  Prayer is a very important part of the church.  We go to God in prayer to share our hearts with Him; and we go to His Word so He can share His heart with us.  I know it is much deeper than that.  One thing  being that in prayer, Biblical prayer, we go as an intercessor before the throne of God for others.  We go before the throne to pray His will, not our own will.  Going to the throne of grace we find grace to help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).  Even though our heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask; our asking is a show of subjection, humility, and love to the One who supplies all our need.  When we step out ahead of, or before God leads, or supplies we can get ourselves into very serious trouble.  Most people have credit cards, for example, and will buy things without a thought as to its price; and often it is something they do not need.  After many times and years go by, and they have paid only the minimum payment each month, while continuing to mount up the balance they find themselves in trouble.  Why can we not pray, believe God to supply, instead of trusting in the plastic god?

THERE WAS AN AWE OF RESPECT, A FEAR, WHICH SWEPT OVER THE PEOPLE, AND THE ONE’S WHO WERE BELIEVING HAD ALL THINGS COMMON (vv. 43-45).  As we look at these verses we see that wonderful, and awe-inspiring things took place in city of Jerusalem.  The power of Jesus Christ Himself had come upon all who were in the upper room, ie., the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit who is Christ in those who possess, and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and are possessed by Him.

“Fear” is a God given emotion.  Without fear we would be jumping to our deaths.  We would be touching hot burning stoves.  We would drive insanely speedily on hilly, curvy, terrain.  You should get the picture with those matters.  “Fear” can be a good thing.  In the case of this verse it is a good thing. “And fear came upon every soul…” (v. 43).  When we are before the presence of holy God we will shiver, tremble, and quake because we recognize His presence, person, power, and genuine prestige.  This ‘fear’ is more than simple respect.  It is an awe.  He is more awesome than anything we can ever see.  He is more awesome than any celebrity you will ever meet.  He is more powerful than the President of the United States of America or any other country.  Even the redeemed will bow before Him, and gladly call Him “LORD”.

We must note that this passage points out that it was through the apostles the Lord granted the “signs and wonders“.  Why do people assume that there are apostles in the church today?  There is no evidence of it.  They have not been eyewitnesses of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.  These signs and wonders were given to the apostles as testimony from God of their calling, their witness, and their preaching and teaching of Jesus Christ.

Some would liken the love and generosity of the early church and their sharing of their goods, land and homes as being the first socialistic order.  That is not so.  Socialism confiscates from those who have to give to those who have not.  The order for the early church was that each one gave as they were able, and were blessed by God.  Some of the early church sold their houses and land in order to be better servants to God and His Son Jesus, but no one forced the sale.  It was an act of love not of a dictatorship.  Christians who love the Lord and have burdens for the cause of Christ are still doing this; maybe not on the same scale and maybe to a greater scale.  Every week when believers gather together we receive the tithes and offerings, and those come, sometimes with great sacrifice from the giver or givers.  In most congregationally led churches no one is forced or shamed into giving tithes and offerings; it comes from their hearts most of the time.  These funds were distributed as there was need among the people.

THE ACTIVITIES OF THE EARLY CHURCH THROUGH THE WEEK (vv. 46-47).  The question has been asked, “How often should Christians meet as the Body of Christ?”  There are many answers to that question and some would like to answer it with “Only twice a year.  Easter and Christmas”.  Oh, how far we have fallen.  How often did the early church, the Church of Jerusalem meet?  Look at verse 46, and the first part of 47:

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people.”

Note “…They, continuing daily…” and many professing Christians today have a hard time getting together one worship service per week.  We should feel ashamed for our lack of faith, trust, and commitment to God, His Word, His Son and His Church.  Why is that many Christians want to find an excuse to miss worship services on Sunday?  Why do they want to go to the lake for swimming, water skiing, fishing or boating rather than spend time in the place of worship with brothers and sisters in Christ?  They are missing the heart of worship.  They are missing the very One who gives them that desire, and that drive.  The early Christians loved being together.  Christians today love being together, and seek every opportunity to do so.

The “Breaking bread” referred here has to do with the sharing of daily meals, and provisions.  It was a time of fellowship, worship, praise, and Christian growth.  In their gatherings they not only shared their food, and fellowship; they also shared “gladness and singleness of heart“, and Oh the joy which they had together worshipping, praising God and magnifying the name of Jesus.  Their worship in the gatherings were without hypocrisy, they were genuine, and did not attempt to overshadow anyone else.  They were a simple people with a simple goal; and that goal was to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the concluding part of verse 47 we read:

“And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

There are many attempts today to “grow the church”, “reach people for Christ”, etc. thus we have shows of entertainment, motorcycle jumping and racing, power teams, rock stars, and we get a crowd.  The gospel is preached, and hundreds, maybe in some cases thousands, raise their hands of decision for Christ.  For some it is genuine and they are born again to faith in Jesus Christ.  For the others they go away thinking, “Man, I prayed some words tonight.  I am alright with God.  Let’s party.”  and they are still on the road to destruction due to deception.

Notice who added the people to the church.  It was the Lord who added to the church daily.  It was not the apostles.  It was not the women of the church.  It was not the children of the church.  It was not the men of the church.  They had no programs.  They had no visitation program.  They were, however, faithful in worship, praise, and living a consistent Christian lifestyle which was a testimony of their faith.

It is my belief that when the people of God will get into His Word, read it, study it – pulling out the meaning, the message and power of the text, and apply it to our lives then, we will be more powerful affective witnesses and see multitudes come to faith in Jesus our Lord and Savior.  It is not our doing, our calling to save sinners; that is the work of our Lord.  It is our doing and calling to be faithful witnesses.

Continue Christians in the work of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are my study notes for a sermon I preached at Carr Lane Baptist Church on September 28, 2008

The Death Of Sarah

Abraham and Sarah had came to the land of Canaan about sixty two years previous.  For twenty five of those years they  had waited for the promised son, Isaac.  They had been through much together.

Almost from the first day they arrived in the land a severe drought had struck the land, famine had set in, and they went to Egypt leaving the place of promise which had been given them by God [YHWH].  In Egypt they would have probably “picked up” Hagar, and Egyptian slave girl.  The sovereign hand of God is seen in every element of the decisions which they made together.  The LORD of all has a way of teaching us dependency upon Him.

For sixty plus years they had walked together, suffered doubts and fears together, believed together, grew together, and now with Sarah being one hundred and twenty seven years of age, her aged body dies.

We must remember; death is not a friend; it is the fruit of sin, or its wages as Paul says in Romans 6:23.  Death is the enemy of mankind.  God [YHWH] created us for eternity.  He created us with an eternal soul that yearns for Him.  It is a longing that far too many fight and struggle against by denying the existence of God.  Denying the existence of God is almost like denying yourself.  You exist, and since you exist means that you had a designer, builder, Creator, and His name is Jehovah [YHWH].

“And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.  And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”  Genesis 23:1-2 (KJV)

One of the things which Genesis is clear about is our life and death.  It begins with creation and a garden, and ends with a “coffin in Egypt.”  From creation to the grave.  It is a sad commentary on the beginning and end plight of mankind.  It reminds us that we have an eternal destiny, and that GOD is the one who is in charge, sovereignly guiding, the affairs of all people, and nations.  We see that more clearly through all of Scripture.

Death is not a real pleasant thing to talk about.  With some people you don’t even want to use the word “D-E-A-T-H”.  Let’s be true and faithful about death.  As I have already mentioned it is the enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), and it is the “last enemy” to be destroyed; and that destruction will be by the appearing of Jesus Christ in His glory.

It doesn’t appear that Abraham or Sarah had a fear of death.  The reason for that being their faith in GOD.  It has been through the life, faith, and testimony of Abraham and Sarah that Jesus Christ has come into the world to save condemned, dying sinners from our plight.  We are born spiritually dead – that means no relationship with God and thus no fellowship with God, because of sin.  Because of the work of Jesus Christ, ie., His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection we can be “born again” into relationship, enabling our fellowship with Him; and receiving eternal life,  living for Him now, and eternally with Him.

The follower of Jesus Christ need have no fear of death because of the cross of Jesus Christ, and His resurrection.  The resurrection of Jesus proves without doubt that the enemy of death has been defeated.  All who are in the faith of Jesus Christ will be raised to life.

Even Sarah, Abraham, all the patriarchs; and those who were before them; and all who came after them unto the cross of Christ will be raised to life again.  All those who have believed following the death of Christ on the cross will also be raised to life.  WOW!!! What a glorious day that will be.

It is a wonderful and glorious thing to know that though Genesis ends with that “coffin in Egypt”, the Scriptures end back in a garden, and in the presence of the LORD in glory – Heaven.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost…” Titus 3:5 (KJV)

The faith of Abraham and Sarah was looking to the One who would come, die for the sins of mankind, be buried, and rise again from the grave.  Believe Jesus and be delivered from death, and its fear.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Death Of The King

Just as surely as I post this writing of THE DEATH OF THE KING there will be some who will immediately think that I am writing of Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson.  Not so on my part.  As I thought of this title I was not even thinking of those two but of the One who is the genuine King of all kings; including the king of rock, and of pop as the world has called them.

It is sad that far too many people mourn the lives of two men whose lives were controlled by popularity, power, money, and drugs; and eventually taken possibly by the same things and drugs.  Their lives are sad examples of wasted living, and wasted lives.

Enough about those lives, and on to the One whose life, though short was lived to glorify the Father, and to give His own life for the salvation of sinful men, and women.

It is sad to see a man live His life for good, God, and His glory; and then to have it taken from Him due to sin.  Lust, power, envy, greed, politics, covetousness, popularity, and every sin among men who loved darkness rather than light had this man condemned to die.  The ugliest of mankind was seen on the day or our Lord’s death.

Hear the words of Jesus –

“And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:  And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.”  Matthew 17:22-23 (KJV)

Jesus had just spent time correcting His disciples concerning the reason why they could not cast a demon from a young man.  They had tried and failed.  The father of the boy was frustrated with them, and when Jesus came down from the mountain where He was transfigured before their eyes, took this boy and cast the demon out of him without much thought.

Now, while they are in Galilee Jesus tells them, as He has before of His death which is approaching.  There is much evidence in the Gospels that Jesus’s heart was set on going to Jerusalem for the distinct purpose to die; and to do so for the sins of the world.  And by the hands of sinful men be judged, found guilty (without guilt), beaten and whipped, mocked, be nailed to a cross, and hung on that tree (“Cursed is the man that hangeth on a tree” Galations 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:23), and took the curse that was meant for us all; the curse of sin and death.

It seems that the disciples, as Jesus spoke to them, were not thinking of who He was talking about or something.    It had not sunk into their blind minds of whom He referred.

Of course Jesus was speaking of Himself who would die, and on the “third day rise again”.  It could be too, that they heard the part about His death, but the part of the resurrection was not assimilated into their thinking.  Thus they were sorry for His death.

We have this assurance that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), and there was a multitude of witnesses.

Believe on Jesus Christ, trust your life to His care, and you will be saved for all eternity.  There is no other way but through Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Victory

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (KJV)

Through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have this victory.  Thank you Jesus.

-T.A.

Stand Upon The Rock

“O, that will be glory for me, Glory for me, glory for me.  When by His grace I shall look on His face; that will be glory, be glory for me.”  So goes the words of the song “That Will Be Glory”.  This should be the hearts desire of every child of God; to see the glory of our God.

Peter, James and John witnessed the glory of Jesus when they were on the Mount and Jesus was transfigured before them (Matthew 17:1-11).  We will see the significance of this a little later in this message.

In Exodus 32 Moses had been up on the Mount getting the 10 Commandments on stone tablets,  by God, and the people took it on themselves, using Aaron, to build an idol called the golden calf, to worship.  The people had already heard the commandments (20:1-17),  ”Thou shalt have no other gods,’ and ‘Thou shalt not make any graven image”.   When he returned with the tablets of stone the people had rebelled against the LORD’s commandments and worshipped another god, and built a graven image to worship.

Moses breaks the tablets of stone; the whole law was shattered; ground the calf into powder, poured it into a stream, and made the rebellious ones drink the water (32:20).  Moses also called for those who were on the LORD’s side to come to me (32:26).

The heart of a shepherd/pastor is seen in Moses as he prays, “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Exodus 32:32 (KJV).  Moses spends time setting up a special place outside the camp which represented the place to meet God the “Tabernacle of the congregation” (33:7).  You will notice that everytime Moses went to the tabernacle the men stood at the door of their tents and watched as the “cloudy pillar descended on the door of the tabernacle”.  When they saw this “cloudy pillar” descended to the door “they worshipped (v. 10).

Moses, the man of God, longed for the  abiding presence of the LORD, and sought it diligently.  He prayed to see God in His glory, and that if God was not with him and the people that they would go no farther (vv. 13-15).

OUTLINE OF Exodus 33:21-23 –

I.  THERE IS A PLACE NEAR TO GOD TO WHICH WE ARE CALLED (v. 21).  This is a place that is provided by God.  It is God who provided the rock for Moses, on which to stand.

God desires for all those who know Him to come near to Him.  “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).  God has always provided a place for His people.  He provided a garden for Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:8).  He provided an ark for Noah and His family to escape a flood (Genesis 6-9).  The Lord Jesus Himself said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-3).

II.  WE ARE TO STAND ON THE ROCK, AND HIDE IN THE CLEFT WHICH GOD PROVIDES (vv. 21, 22).  The rock of course represents the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God.  “That Rock was Christ”, says Paul the apostle (1 Corinthians 10:4).  He even says that Rock followed them.

There is no surer foundation than the Rock which is Jesus Christ.  He is the Rock upon which His Church is built (Matthew 16:18), and there is no other foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11).

When we come to the place God has provided for us, He hides us in the cleft of the Rock.  God passed by Moses with His hand over Moses’s eyes protecting him from the glory that would have slain him.

III.  IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK; COVERED BY THE HAND OF GOD (v. 22).  Even though we may be in the place God has placed us we still need His  covering hand to protect us from His glory.  His hand is on display in the person of His Son.  Jesus said to Phillip, “He that has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Jesus Himself was the incarnation of God.  God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14), “(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (KJV).  Jesus came veiled in human flesh, and though a man never sinned, never transgressed the law of God or man, but was obedient to the Father in all points, even unto the cross.

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me; let me hide myself in Thee”.  Hidden from the glory of God that could and would consume us if not in that cleft of the Rock.

IV.  THE GLORY OF GOD FROM THE BACK (v. 23).  We are not given any description of the back of God by Moses.  Therefore we are left to believe that this was completely satisfactory to Moses.  He knew he had been in the presence of holiness, righteousness, and the awesome wonder of His glory.

One day we are promised that we shall behold the face of our Lord.  All will look on Him whom we have  pierced with thorns, nails, spears, and our sins.  When we appear before the throne of Jesus Christ He will see only the garments washed clean by His own blood, and the judgment received will be for our rewards, for good or bad we have done (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 4:12-15).

Where are you standing today?  I pray you stand on the Rock which is Christ, and that you are hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).  When your life is “Hid with Christ  in God” you are Standing On The Rock.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Christian Soldier – Prepared For Battle

Ephesians 6:10-20

PURPOSE: Seeing how we are constantly bombarded with evil in society, which comes from the “evil one’; we Christians must be as soldiers, prepared for the battle of good against evil, the flesh against the Spirit, pride against humility, love against hate, and be equipped by the strength of the Lord, the power of His might and learning to put on, and keeping on the armor of God.

THE FINAL EVIDENCE OF THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT IN THE CHRISTIAN’S LIFE (vv. 5:18, 6:10).  “Finally” concludes the evidences of the filling of the Spirit which the apostle gives from verse eighteen of chapter five and runs through verse eighteen of chapter six.  I am saying that to put on the armor which we are commanded to put on, and the keeping on of that armor are evidences of the “Filling”

Let’s recap what has already been said of the “Filling of the Spirit”.  When you are filled with the Spirit of God:

1. You are controlled by the Spirit of God (v. 5:18);
2. Your life is a musical; your life is filled with song and thanksgiving (vv. 5:19-20);
3. You are submissive to others, or to one another (v. 5:21);
4. The Spirit filled wife is submissive to her husband (vv. 5:22-24);
5. The Spirit filled husband loves his wife sacrificially as “Christ died for the church” (vv. 5:25-31)
6. Spirit filled children will honor their parents (vv. 6:1-3);
7. Spirit filled parents will lovingly teach, discipline, and direct their children in the Lord (v. 4);
8. The Spirit filled laborer/worker/employee will be a diligent, faithful, hard working, unselfish, having high integrity, in the work for Christ sake (vv. 5-8);
9. The Spirit filled boss/manager/supervisor/owner will be well behaved toward his laborers/workers/employees: paying a better than average wage required by government; and see to it that all workers are treated fairly and equally.

The final three chapters of Ephesians are the practical aspects of what the apostle is teaching in the first three chapters.  These are surely practical, and show us how we ought to live personally, toward others, and this final one in the spiritual world as well; which many times, if not all the time; is manifest in the flesh and  blood of humanity.

We live in a desperately wicked world, and as Christians if we are not diligent and  vigilant we can find ourselves living a life of defeat.  Paul encourages us with these great words, Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.  This reminds me of the prophet Zechariah’s inspired words, “Not by might nor by power; but by My Spirit, says the LORD” (Zechariah 4:6).  The only way for us to “be strong” effectively is in the Lord, and that happens as we obey Him and His Word.  The Spirit of God can only work in us for godly living as we obey the Word of God.  The disobedient child of God is not in the will of God, and out of fellowship, out of tune with the leading of the Spirit of God.  No disobedient Christian can faithfully follow the will of God, nor can the disobedient Christian be strong in the Lord, and the power of His might.

The only answer for that is seeking God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9), receiving that forgiveness; then, living faithfully to God, His Word and the direction of His Spirit.  Be strong… in the power of His might.

The Spirit filled Christian will be a good soldier of Christ.

THE COMMAND, THE EQUIPMENT AND THE BATTLE (vv. 11-13).  Imagine if you will you can see the apostle, possibly chained to a Roman soldier, as he is imprisoned in a cold, wet, dark, cell.  He has occassionally caught the look of the armor the soldiers wear, and God has given him this illustration of the Christian’s armor.  You can tell where Paul’s heart is.  It is on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the people who have and who are coming to Christ as their Lord and Savior.  The apostle wants, even desires that his brethren be made strong, protected, powerful, and sturdy in the fight of the faith, and for the faith.

In these verses Paul gives us the command to put on the whole armor of God.  He also gives us the equipment of the armor; which consist of, the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, battle shoes, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and for a weapon, the Sword of the Spirit.  Could there be one more weapon?  I believe there is and it is the weapon of prayer.  It is more powerful than an ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missle), or any other missile for that matter, because it is faster, and hits with much more impact, and only damages evil.

We are told that the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against forces which we cannot see.  Evil is a force (within politics, religion, etc.) of our enemy [the devil] which works deceptively; destroying individuals, marriages, families, towns and cities, State and Federal governments, and the whole world; which the devil uses to try and overthrow the reign of God.  We can see God’s view on this in the Second Psalm:

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Psalms 2:1-3 (KJV)

The battle rages everyday of our lives.  We cannot back down, nor lose hope.  Though the enemy has already been defeated on the cross by our Lord Jesus Christ; he is still a foe that we must deal with in the Spirit of God.  His doom is sure.  His teeth have been shattered, and all he can really do is roar, and make a big stink.  However, the Christian must daily be filled with the Spirit, putting on the whole armor of God to stand, and stand firm against the onslaughts of Satan, that others may come to faith, grow more into the image of Christ our Lord, and be eternally with Him in glory.

The evil day is any time Satan’s attacks are worsening.  It seems to me that they are worsening everyday now.  It is actually speaking of when things in the world are at their worst.  With the economy crumbling and especially with many people’s investments in Wall Street, there is much fear, worry and dread.  May the Spirit filled Christian and her resting in Christ be the cause of peace in many more.  Whent he attacks seem unbearable, even in this can the Christian – Spirit filled – and fully armored, stand.  Praise God!

STANDING, FIGHTING WITH THE ARMOR IN THE STRENGTH AND MIGHT OF OUR LORD (vv. 14-17).  Some years ago there was a song I heard several times with the words, “We are walking into the enemies camp, and laying our weapons down; shedding our armor as we go, and leaving it on the ground.”  I believe this was the chorus of the song.  It did, however, catch my attention.  I think you can see what the writer of that song was saying.

This is not the time for Christians to be laying our armor, nor our weapons down at the feet of the enemy.  This is the time for us to gird up our loins with the belt of truth, taking all those things which hinder us and tucking them away so we can fight.  Why is it that some “Christian” hymnals have taken songs such as “Onward Christian Soldiers” out of the hymnal?  Some have changed to wording of songs so as not to offend the world.  Has any one figured out yet that the gospel message of Jesus Christ, the cross, burial and resurrection offends this world!?  (I guess it would be alright to view the previous sentence as an exclamation or a question).  To put on the belt of truth requires that the Christian spend time daily in the Word of God, hearing God through those things written by the prophets, lawgivers, singers, and historical writers.

The belt of truth is used as the means to hold other pieces of equipment in place.  With it you had a  place to carry the Sword.  The “belt of truth” for the Christian is the “truthfulness” continued, abiding living a committed, dedicated life to the battle for Christ, without hypocrisy, and devoted to victory.

The breastplate of righteousness described by the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE,

“The breastplate was usually a tough, sleeveless piece of leather or heavy material with animal horn or hoof pieces sewn on, covering th soldier’s full torso, protecting his heart and other vital organs.  Because righteousness, or holiness, is such a distinctive characteristic of God Himself, it is not hard to understand why that is the Christian’s chief protection against Satan and  his schemes.  As believers faithfully live in obedience to and communion with Jesus Christ, His own righteousness produces in them the practical, daily righteousness that becomes the spiritual breastplate.  Lack of holiness, on the other hand, leaves them vulnerable to the great enemy of their souls (cf. Is. 59:17;  2 Cor. 7:1;  1 Thess. 5:8).

THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, p. 1815.

Righteousness has been put to our account, because of Jesus’s death on the cross, and in our place.  This breastplate protects the Christian from the frontal assaults of Satan as he bombards with accusation which has been forgiven, insults, defamation and lies.  When we are clothed in the righteousness and armored in the breastplate of righteousness we can rest assured in Christ Jesus and enter the battle with confidence that, “No weapon that is formed against us shall prosper” (Isaiah54:17a).

A good soldier will have on the proper shoe or boot for the journey, and the battles that will be faced.  The shoe will provide good traction, stable footing, a steady foundation.  The feet are our foundation for travelling.  The means of going, and carrying out the mission to which every soldier has been called.  The feet of the Christian soldier is to be ready to share the gospel wherever we may go.  The Christian soldier is assured of eternal salvation, and knows how to share his personal testimony, and give a clear presentation of the message of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15).  His feet are “shod” and, ready to go at a moments notice.

Though most modern troops/soldiers do not carry shields, each soldier knows the value of a shield.  If we have been watching some news clips on television news we have seen some of our soldiers walking beside the hum-vees using them as a shield from the enemy bullets.  We see them hunkered down behind walls as shields as well.  In many cases it would be foolish not to seek a shield for protection.  For the Christian we cannot exist without the shield of faith.

When the enemy come swinging his sword of evil, and shooting his “fiery darts” of hatred; the shield of faith is raised to turn them away.  Sometimes the blows of evil and darts of hate can be felt, but they fall harmlessly to the ground yielding to the raised “shield of faith”;

“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.”  Isaiah 59:19 (KJV)

The enemy will stop at nothing in order to make us stumble in our faith.  The “shield of faith” can only be effective when the “loins are girt about with truth”; when the “breastplate of righteousness” is in place, and our feet are “shod”, and prepared to preach the “foolishness” of the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18).

The helmet of salvation is protection for the head; for if you lose the head you lose your life.  The Roman soldier’s helmet protected him from a simple blow to the head, and from being knocked unconscious from a seemingly minor blow, disabling him from the battle.  When an individual is born again they receive this salvation, as though awakened out of sleep or from death with this helmet.  It is from our head that we have our senses of sight, smell, hearing and taste; and without the head we would have no sense of touch.  The total body is ruled by the head.

It is with salvation one’s eyes are opened to the things of God; that one can begin to tell a spiritual stench from spiritual fragrance; that one begins to hear God’s commands and do what He says, that one can taste the Word of God, and that it is good, in fact DELICIOUS.

The apostle now proceeds to the offensive equipment/weapons.  The first item is the Sword of the Spirit.  The Roman soldier’s main offensive weapon was his sword.  Once trained in its use he could wield his sword with great accuracy and power.

Notice, by the text that this Sword is the “Word of God”.  The power of God’s Spirit in our lives is in the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit of God, who resides, dwells in every believer speaks to and through the one who is familiar with the Word of God.  The Sword would literally be the Word of God present, and at work in the spirit filled soldier of Jesus Christ; not just words on onion paper, and bound in leather; but written in our hearts.  The writer of Hebrews likened the Word to a “two edged sword,” and as  “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  The sword of God’s Word is not only powerful to its handler, but also to anyone within its thrust.

The preacher of God’s Word can stand confidently knowing God’s Word and God’s Spirit work together in power, doing the work for which God intends it.  He can stand with that Bible in his hands and know, that no matter what portion of Scripture he uses; a message from God is being proclaimed.  The “rightly divided” Word.

STANDING WITH GOD IN PRAYER (vv. 18-20).  Not too many see it, but it seems to me that prayer must be the second offensive weapon that we have in Christ.  I wrote earlier that it is more powerful and an ICBM and accomplishes far more in God’s glory.  What could be more important for the soldier of Christ than to kneel before His presence, tell him our hearts fears concerning the battle, receive His encouragements, corrections and rebukes, and also receive His instruction for fighting the battle ahead?

A lot of spiritual warfare is fought on our knees.  As a matter of fact no victory will be secured if prayer is not practiced.  In prayer we find and receive power to do the will of God; we are strengthened and encouraged for the battle(s) ahead.  In prayer we are made alert to the things that are hated by God.  The Christian soldier, when he spends time with his Commander-In-Chief Jesus Christ learns to become like Him.

We pray for others, one another, all saints.  Remember saints are simply called by God out of sin unto faith in Christ Jesus.  We pray “in the Spirit” by praying according to the Spirit and not our own desires.  The Spirit prays in us which glorifies Jesus Christ (John 16:14).

In this text Paul request prayer for himself as well.  We ought always pray for our pastors, teachers, and all who have spiritual authority in the church.  Paul’s request was threefold:

1. That he might experience freedom in his preaching;
2. That he might speak boldly;
3. That he might clearly present the “mystery of the gospel”.

If you want to know how to pray for your pastor, and others who are in authority, biblically, and in the Spirit; here is the answer.

We are all “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20a), therefore, we all need prayer to be bold in our witness, and preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Be a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).  “Put on the whole armor of God,” and wield the “sword of the Spirit” in power; trusting the Lord Jesus Christ to accomplish His work in you; and in His word.  His word will not return unto Him void (Isaiah 55:11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Being Ready In Delay

Matthew 25:1-13

As I have studied the Olivet Discourse there have been several questions which have crossed my mind. Some of those questions I have written down, some I remember without writing them down, and some just continue to come to my mind. There is one thing I want to be sure of and that is that I interpret what Jesus said correctly, and “Rightly divide the word of truth” as Paul taught Timothy.

In studying throughout the Gospel according to Matthew, I am carrying the theme; because I see it in the writing, the genealogy, the tone, etc.; that of JESUS THE KING. There were some who wanted to force Him to be king; however it was not the time. There were some who refused to see Him as the King, and hated Him. The theme, JESUS THE KING, continues throughout this study of the Olivet Discourse.

Some of the questions I have asked myself in this study are obvious to most men who study the Word. First of all, To whom is Jesus speaking? Secondly, what is the Abomination of desolation? Third, when will this take place? Fourth, has it already taken place or is it yet a future event? Those are some of the questions I asked concerning the twenty fourth chapter.

When I came to chapter twenty five I asked some more.

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” Matthew 25:1-4 (KJV)

The first question I asked here is “Who are the ‘ten virgins’?” Secondly, “What are the lamps and what is the oil?” Thirdly, “Where is the Bride?”; “Has the groom already came and taken her to his home, and now has come for the wedding party?” My last question for here, but not exhausted, is “Could these ‘ten virgins’ represent Israel and Judah, and that 50 percent of them will believe Jesus?” Like I said they are only questions. Most of this study is going to come from my own heart, I pray fed by the Word and the Spirit of God, and not from commentaries – though that is not a bad thing – and I pray that there will nothing be written here that will lead any astray from God and His Word.

The last time I presented a study where Jesus had referred to the ‘kingdom of heaven’ was in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. There are about seven parables which Jesus gives, and each of them (except the first) begin with, “The kingdom of heaven…” Luke mentions the “Kingdom of God”, and some ask the question; “Is there a difference between the ‘kingdom of heaven’, and ‘the kingdom of God’?” Of all the explanations I have heard on this; those who say there is a difference, and those who say there is no difference; I find confusing. It seems to me that they are dealing with the same “Kingdom”, and Luke was seeing the kingdom as being overseen by the Father, and Matthew seeing it after “All things were under His feet…”, after the cross and resurrection; and being ruled by our Lord and Savior.

In the first five verses of this chapter we have “ten virgins”. Virgins are seen as a symbol or type of purity. Here they represent what in the modern day wedding would be called bridesmaids. The largest wedding party in which I was a participant, was made of of one bride, one groom, six bridesmaids, and six groomsmen. My brother and I were two of the six groomsmen. The way I have understood the Jewish wedding is like this: The vows have been made a year or so before the consummation of the couple. Time is given for the groom to return to his home, prepare a place for he and his bride to live, and have a means of living the first year together without being apart, in order to get to know one another better, and grow in love with each other. After that year of the groom working, and preparing a home he would return for her at an unappointed time, and she was to be ready; the sound of the herald crying, “The bridegroom is coming, the bridegroom is coming” was all the warning she received. That brings me to the question, “In this picture, where is the bride?” Has she already been taken to the home? and now it is time to bring the wedding party together for the Marriage supper?

Leaving that final question unanswered, for now; I will proceed with the study. The ten virgins representing a people who should be prepared for the coming of the bridegroom; however, only half of them are ready; one half having their lamps and oil with there lamps, and half having the lamps but no oil. In this there is another question: What is this oil? Oil is necessary for the burning of the lamps, needed to provide light should the bridegroom come in the night. Some have said this is the symbol or picture or type of the Spirit of God [Holy Spirit]. If this represents the Holy Spirit does that mean the five lose the presence of the Spirit? Does it mean that the Spirit of God can be purchased since we are told later, “…but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy…”?

It seems to me that this parable likens the ten virgins to the nation of Israel, and/or maybe Israel and the nations. It could be Israel and the nations, since the number 12 seems to always represent Israel alone. In the events of chapter twenty four we looked at those signs and the times as being part of the time of Jacob’s trouble, or what is known to Christians as the Tribulation period. It seems that thought must continue here, and to be near or at the end of the Tribulation. If that is the case, then the bride is in the home of the bridegroom, and he is returning for the prepared wedding party to take them home for the wedding supper.

At any rate, there were five wise and five foolish. Five were prepared and five were unprepared. Could it be that only half of the survivors of the Tribulation will be going to the Wedding/Marriage Supper of the Lamb? What of the other half. I have written on that a little in the previous study (Matthew 24:36-44); ” Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Here is the paragraph where I dealt with that:

“On that day it seems there will be a separation which takes place in that moment; at least in that very day. Two working side by side – one will be left to live on in the kingdom of Jesus because of their faith in Him, and the other will perish. Matthew’s gospel mentions two men in the field, and two women at the mill, and would probably cover every situation of the workers in that time to come. It leaves us to understand that no gender, or workplace, is without the separation. One believes and is left to live on in the Kingdom or our Lord, while the unbelieving perish, and await the final judgment.”

On that day no one will be able to stand before the Lord without being prepared. Prepared in His grace. If the foolish virgins would have been ready they would not have left, and they would not have needed to go seek more oil. When Jesus comes again to this earth, there will be no second chances for being prepared. What happens to the five foolish virgins, or the half who live through the Tribulation yet are not prepared for His coming? They will perish. The believing will continue to live in the Millennial reign of our Lord and Savior.

As Christians today, we must live faithfully, always be ready; for we do not know when our Lord comes. Even when it seems that He has delayed or is not coming; He will come.

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” Matthew 25:5-6 (KJV)

In these two verses we find the five foolish, and five wise virgins sleeping. There is nothing wrong with sleeping in its place. There was one occasion where Jesus chided Peter, James, and John for sleeping when they should have been praying (Matthew 26:36-46). You would think that people who know the coming of the Bridegroom is near would be awake, alert, and waiting in anticipation for His appearing, but that does not seem to be the case here.

There are those who have changed their beliefs due to the fact that Jesus has not returned yet. I am sure most of them would not agree with me on that, but they have grown weary of the wait, and have thus fell asleep, and so they believe now, that the Lord has already returned, and that His kingdom is in charge of the present world administration, economy, and power; or something like that. Or they believe that through God’s kingdom on earth [the Church] things will get better and better, and then Jesus will return. That, it seems to me, to be asleep at the wheel.

The herald of the bridegroom has come with the shout, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh”; He is near even at the door (Matthew 24:33). Waking from their slumber and sleep they are practically stunned to find that the bridegroom is coming. If they weren’t then why were they not prepared. They never believed he was coming. Paul the apostle wrote in Romans 13,

“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.” Romans 13:11-14 (KJV)

The cry of the herald was, “Go out to meet him”. Being unprepared the foolish cannot, therefore leave to find their preparations. While they are away searching, the bridegroom comes and goes home without them. The lesson in this for the Christian of today is don’t be unprepared for the coming of the Lord. Don’t give up on His coming. He said, “I will come again”. Be a part of those who love the appearing of the Lord, and await it with anticipation.

“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 (KJV)

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 (KJV)

The reason for using James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10 is for anticipation of our Lord’s return. Anyone who does not love the coming/appearing of our Lord; most likely does not know Him, is out to sleep and slumber and will be very rudely awakened one day to find themselves without preparation.

“Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.” Matthew 25:7-10 (KJV)

Jesus has said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38 (KJV). The presence and gift of the person and power of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Christian will be like rivers of living water, having an effect in the lives of other people around us. Springs send forth water to the nourishment of the recipients down stream from them. The recipients down stream cannot produce the spring water themselves. The water flows from God through the spring cave, and the only way for the recipients to be producers of this water is to become a spring producing the water, and that can only be done by God.

The foolish virgins ask the wise to share their oil. They cannot share in that sense because it would leave them short. Every believer needs their own oil, their own preparations; their own personal relationship with the Lord, and their own labor of love, or the good works which follow their faith. It will be no different on that last day when the Lord comes again.

If this is reference to the nations of the world and Israel together, as the possible wedding party, then we need to conclude that only half the survivors will enter that Marriage Supper. According to the Revelation, chapter nineteen the “bride has made herself ready”, and he continues, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). Why, Oh why will people not hear the call? Why will people not realize that sin has been dealt a death blow by the cross of Jesus Christ? Why will we Christians not proclaim the coming of the Lord, warning the lost dying world of our coming King to judge and put away sin forever? That day will come and the door will be “shut” forever.

“Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 25:11-13 (KJV)

Could it be that on that day of the “Marriage feast” there will be those survivors show up to say, “Let us in. We too believe. We too survived the tribulation – the time of Jacob’s trouble?” The Lord says, “I know you not”. Jesus has said before, “I never knew you. Depart from Me ye workers of iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23; Luke 13:27).

It is one thing to say, “I know the Lord”. It is quite something else to know and say, “The Lord knows me” and for Him to say, “I know you. Come on in” on that great day when the Lord comes. How do we know we are known by Him. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them” (John 10:27) and He said also, “I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine” (John 10:14). So both knowing Him, and being known by Him is of the utmost importance. You cannot have the one without the other.

Since we do not know the day, or the hour in which Jesus will come again; no matter how slow the approaching may seem to us; we must be ever vigilant to live, work, play, worship and praise in the name of the Lord. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Only those who know Him and are known by Him can do all for His glory. Let’s do it whether, in our thinking He delays His coming, or not; all for His glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship
 
 

 

His Kingdom Coming

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:44-52 (KJV).

We have looked at the beginning of the kingdom of heaven in verses 3 – 23; seen the opposition of the devil within the kingdom in verses 24 – 43; and lastly we will see the finished result of the kingdom in verses 44 – 50. The final thing we will see is the responsibility that those who are in the kingdom have with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The finished result of the kingdom of heaven will be the final putting away of all that is evil and false. The complete redemption of all who are bought and claimed by the Redeemer. All the parables of Matthew 13 give us an outline, together, of the Church Age. First of all in the parable of the “Sower” we see individual’s responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, in the parables of the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven; we see Satan’s opposition to the work of God in His kingdom, and his attacks upon it. Thirdly, we see the results of Judgment upon the “Treasure” [Israel], the Pearl [the Church], and the dragnet [Gentile nations]. This parable shows us that there is evil in the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of Christ while He is not bodily present, and it will progress until He comes again.

In the following parables we see three items; the first being “a hidden treasure”; the second is “a pearl of great price [great value]”, and finally; “a dragnet”. We have mystery, beauty, and “What?”.

For some time and some odd reason many have looked at the parable of the “treasure” and said this treasure is Jesus Christ, and when you find Him you sell all that you have, then take that and buy to obtain Jesus. That may be a great sentiment, but we do not purchase Jesus. He is not for sale. If there is any finding to be done when it comes to the salvation of lost mankind Jesus will do it. Then, just what is the meaning of this parable (v. 44)?

Remember the previous parables. In the parable of the “Wheat and the tares” the field is the world. In this world “a man” is God in the person of His Son, and the “treasure” is true Israel. Hear the words of the Old Testament here: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:” Exodus 19:5 (KJV); another one would be, “For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” Psalms 135:4 (KJV). When God called Israel to be His people and Nation He had a plan for them, and He still does. Warren Wiersbe says, “That nation was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (John 11:51). On the cross, Jesus died for the whole world; but in a special way, He died for Israel (Isaiah 53:8). The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is ‘hidden’ and will be revealed again in glory.” From the Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 47, VOL. 1.

God is the Creator of the world; the Son as the man purchased the world with His own blood redeeming Israel, and all who will receive Him. One day, and it may be sooner than we all think, there will be a manifestation of Jesus Christ in the hearts and souls of the people of the nation of Israel. It will take some time and trial for them to realize their need, and to realize that their Messiah has been here already, but it will come.

Pearls are made through the much tribulation of the oyster. I don’t know all the mechanics behind the making of the pearl, but what we have all heard is that it begins with a grain of sand being on the sensitive part of its body. It senses the irritation, and gives off a substance which surrounds the irritation easing its aggravation, and after several times of this it becomes a pearl; a piece of jewelry which women seem to love and desire.

In the parable of the “pearl of great price” (vv. 45-46), it has seen the similar interpretation as the above “treasure”, the “pearl” being Christ Jesus and those who give up all they have, and purchase the pearl have made a great bargain. Again, there may be great sentiment in this interpretation, but Jesus Christ and His salvation is not for sale, and salvation cost us nothing. Let’s see some Scripture on this matter:

” Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” 1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV).

“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.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV).

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:4-7 (KJV).

“The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalms 14:2-3 (KJV).

In this parable of the precious pearl the “Merchant man” is truly representing Jesus Christ. Jesus saw the Church as being a precious pearl, and gave up the splendors and glory of heaven to come and redeem fallen men to God. If you use the interpretation of the pearl representing Christ then, you have mankind searching for and finding God. That contradicts the rest of Scriptures. In Scripture we always have God seeking for men. He came in the garden seeking for Adam, and it wasn’t or even isn’t that He doesn’t know where we are; it is important that we know where we are in relation to Him. The Bible says, “that no man seeks God” (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:11). It was Jesus who said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). The Merchant man is the one who is searching.

God seeks after men – He is in pursuit of the souls of men. Jesus left it all up that He might purchase with His own blood the “pearl of great price” the pearl is one of great value. Precious means that it is rare. There is no other like it on earth, or anywhere else for that matter. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 (KJV). The price He paid was not only in leaving the immediate presence of the Father, but becoming a lowly servant; taking on Himself the stench, the ugly, the weight, of our sins, and enduring the wrath of His own Father; then giving to us His righteousness

The pearl which the Merchant man seeks is the Church. The Church comes from the realms of mankind. The sea is most usually a picture of mankind. The oyster and the pearl are products of the sea. Read 1 Corinthians 10:32; Ephesians 2:11-13 and 4:4-7 again. The growth of the Church is unseen by the world, just as the pearl within the oyster. It is a unified product – just as the pearl is layered in its production, from beginning to end; so too is the Church.

Jesus once again goes to the sea, only in a bigger way. There are a lot of people who like and even love fishing. We look now at a peculiar catch. Keep in mind that we are to understand that the “kingdom of heaven” contains both the good and the bad [evil]; the true and the false. The good and true are the ones who are genuine believers. The bad and false are the ones in it for the wrong reasons – power, politics prestige; they are the hypocrites. The net is the kingdom and the fish represent people from all nations the Jew and the Gentile (Daniel 7:1-3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).

The time of this judgment is at the end of the age, when God is going to make all things right. Evil will be judged and eventually put away. It will be a time when many will wonder, “What is going on?”, and “Why is this happening to me [us]? The Gentile believers will be separated from the unbelievers. It is not the end of the Church Age, but the end of the age of a “Mixed Multitude”. It will end the time of the tares infiltrating the wheat.

Jesus’s question as to the disciples understanding of the parables was pertinent. They needed to understand that the new thing He was teaching was coming from the old truths of the Old covenant. The new and the old never contradict but complement one another; or complete the other. The new may give fuller, and clearer understanding to the old. Scribes were given the task of writing the laws and preserving them; they, however, became preservers of man’s interpretations of God’s Word and laws, and in many ways fell away from the practice of these laws. The follower of Jesus needed to know and needs to know that there is a time for the study of the Word, and then, God gives us the time to proclaim the Word to those who need to hear.

The reference to the householder is that when he displays or shows the treasures of his house he shows the old and the new. The same is true with those who are followers of Jesus. I think this is Jesus telling us that the Old Testament is needed to be taught and preached as well as the New. Those who neglect the Old are prone to never have a good understanding of the New. Those who would teach only the Old, without the New, will never have a clear understanding of the Old.

“And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:53-58 (KJV)

After Jesus finished teaching these parables He went home to where He had grown up. A question that comes to my mind as I look at verse 54 concerning the phrase, “He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished…” is, “Does the statement mean that He taught them these parables, or is it just that He was teaching the people in the synagogue?? With verse 53 saying what it does, “When Jesus had finished these parables…”, and the and verse 54 adding, “…so that they were astonished…” it almost sounds as though it is speaking of the parables being taught by Jesus, to the people of his home town. It is clear that He “taught them in the synagogue” and in that reference is of the people. There is no doubt about His teaching the people in their synagogue. Therefore, that is probably the better understanding of it. Everything Jesus taught, wherever He was teaching was astonishing. The people of Nazareth did not understand where this young man, who grew up in their midst, could get such wisdom and understanding.

The people of Nazareth only saw Him as being the son of Joseph and Mary. Their eyes had been closed as to His true identity. After all as He was growing up He had brothers and sisters, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, and sisters. These people were offended that He had such a wealth of knowledge of God, Scripture, and wisdom. He hadn’t really even been educated, at least not like the Pharisees, and Sadducees, the knowledgeable elite. It seems that thier offense went something like this, “Who does this guy think He is coming in our synagogue and teaching us?”

I am sure that Jesus’s heart was broken in their rejection of Him. He so desired that all would hear His voice and know Him, but He would not force any to follow. Jesus understood the attitude, and that it was their familiarity with Him growing up in their midst. Because of their rejection and rebellion against Him He could not, nor would not do “many mighty works there because of their unbelief”. Of course, this would be refering to the miracles He performed. It seems that the first miracle He did was in Cana of Galilee (John 2).

It is a sad commentary on a city, county, or country when they will acknowledge their war heroes, veterans, and sports stars, but they do not give any recognition to those who are given to the work of God. It just shows that the people “of the earth” have their hearts in another place.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Get Out of Babylon

Get Out of Babylon

 

There were several Jews who had chosen to remain in the places of their captivity. They had grown comfortable, even complacent, and apathetic. They had made homes for themselves, but were going to be coming under judgment if they did not get out of “Babylon”. God was about to pour out, to rain down His judgment on the nation(s) that had so badly treated His people.

The following verses speak of the then captive people of “Babylon”, but even looks further into the future of the nation of Israel. It is future even of today’s world and time.

Hear the word of the Lord:

“Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,’ says the LORD: ‘for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,’ says the LORD. ‘Up, Zion! Escape you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.’ For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations, which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.’” Zechariah 2:6-9 (NKJV).

There is surely more here in these verses than just a warning to the people in Babylon of Zechariah’s day to flee their current captors. The phrase, “I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven…” seem to imply they are all over the world. Babylon would have been most of the known world of that time. They were, or had been the dominant world power, but that was about to quickly subside. It had already fallen to the Persians, and would soon fall to the Greeks, and then be conquered by the Romans. God’s people were to be back in their homeland before Babylon fell.

The glory of the LORD would be seen in the fall of Babylon. Israel is the “apple of God’s eye”, and to touch His people outside of God’s hand of approval was to bring judgment on themselves. The glory of the LORD was not, or had not been seen in their captivity, but He was about to free them all, send them home, and secure His glory before the eyes of the people of Babylon and the watching world.

In procuring the glory of the LORD, the Babylonians became a spoil to the ones who had formerly been their servants. Remember when Israel left Egypt. The people gave them gold, silver, jewels, and precious gems. They were given much bounty. The same is true as they came out of Babylon.

If we will look at the present state of Jewish people we would see that many are currently in the land of Israel, and almost under duress by the nations of the world. There are also many of the Jewish people who are still all over the world. Many live here in the United States of America, many in Russia, Canada, and other parts of the world. They are “spread abroad like the four winds of heaven…”, but there will come a day, and probably very soon, when God will call them all to return to their promised land. They will receive spoils from those they have served, and then the world will know that the “LORD is God”; or as the prophet Ezekiel says it, “Then they will know that I am the LORD”; written some sixty plus times in Ezekiel’s prophecy.

There is a word from the LORD in these verses for today’s Christian as well. At a time when there seems to be a spirit of mingling with the sins of the world, an evil of co-habitating with wickedness whether it be in couples living together before marriage, or just going along to get along this is an evil that has come into the Christian family, and we do not hear the Word of the LORD, which the apostle Paul has spoken, “Come out from among them, and be separate,,’ saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17). The false teachers are telling us we have to be like the world to win the lost of the world; but that is a lie from hell. Here we are told clearly, specifically to “Come out from among them…”. Hear the Word of the Lord, and “Get Out of Babylon”.

My what a mighty and powerful God we serve. His Word is coming to pass. Will you join Him in it, ie., in His work; or will you bow out? As for me and my house we will join Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Power of the Parables

The Power of the Parables

 

“The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables…” Matthew 13:1-3 (KJV).

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Matthew 13:10-17 (KJV).

“All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”Matthew 13:34-35 (KJV).

In the first three verses of this chapter we see Jesus beginning to teach a multitude in parables. People like stories. Many of us had stories read to us by our parents or guardians, and we loved hearing them. The love for hearing stories is most likely why the popularity of television and movies is so high. We have all heard the story of Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, many stories of King Arthur and his knights of the round table, and Camelot. Many citizens of the United States have heard the American Tall Tales, concerning men like Davy Crockett, Sam Patch, Paul Bunyan, and Pecos Bill, and then there is also John Henry the steel drivin’ man. These are all stories that do not just tell a story, but capture your imagination, and cause you to dream and dream big.

Jesus told His stories with a different purpose, and they were powerful stories that were life changing; if you had the heart to hear them. Someone once defined a parable as “A earthly story with a heavenly meaning”, and I don’t think that is far wrong. These are stories of things most people were familiar with, and so should understand. It seems however, that the religious leaders, being hard of heart, were so set in their ways, and their spiritual understanding that they had no heart for understanding simplicity. There are seven or eight parables in this chapter. That depends on if you consider verses 51-52 a parable or not. It seems to me to be a parable, and may be the hardest to understand of the others.

The power of the parable is to hide the truth from the hard of heart (v. 11). A simple and some would call avoiding answer. The longer answer is that spiritual things are meant for the spiritual. The unspiritual or natural man cannot know the things of God, and Jesus is speaking of the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). The things of God are revealed by the Spirit of God otherwise known as the Holy Spirit. The natural man, unspiritual individual, has no heart for the things of God. The scribes and Pharisees though having a knowledge of God, the Scriptures, and rituals had no heart for God or knowing and doing His will. All they had was merely pretense and hypocrisy.

The things of God are revealed to those who are willing to receive them. Those who are drawn to God’s Son by God’s grace. The hardened heart has little or no understanding of grace, and knows only law and its condemnation. Jesus has warned of casting our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). To continue giving the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God whose heart only grows harder with each word is a waste, and we should leave such individuals to God. When we have presented the truth of the gospel to them we have done what is required of us. I heard someone say, “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, until all have heard it at least once”.

The power of the parable is to teach and grow those who do or will understand (v. 12). In the parable is the power for understanding the simplest of things. Those who are familiar with agriculture, and those to whom Jesus spoke would have been, understood about the soils, the seeds, and the sower. Many of these listeners had probably seen or been involved in the farming process, and knew exactly the picture that was given. Jesus was, however, giving more than an agricultural story; He was applying an area of life to the spirit of men. In this those who would understand would be receiving more than those who just saw or see it as just a story. In the study of these eight parables it is clear to me that they are all related to one basic lesson. I will not reveal that fully now, but will as we go along. One thing I think that should be obvious to us all is that it is related to the “Kingdom of heaven”.

What about these parables? Whoever has understanding will receive more understanding and grow in their knowledge of Christ Jesus, put on the things of Christ, and put away the things of the flesh and evil. This will be dependent upon the Christian’s obedience to what they have already received. If the Christian has heard the Word of the Lord, understanding what has been said, but will not obey, let not that Christian believe that they will receive anything further from the Lord, concerning His will. For example – If you ask God’s will concerning something of a moral issue, you have Scriptural evidence that it is wrong, and you go ahead and commit the sin, want to continue in that sin, though you know it to be sin; until you repent, agreeing with God and His Word that it is sin, you will not be given understanding on much else. Disobedience will bring you loss.

If someone shuns the desire of God they lose even the possibility of knowing Him. They lose any sense of morality through their conscience that they may have had. They lose their ability to think reasonably – think of the plight of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter four, and that is God being merciful. They lose their lives to sins bondage. ” Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:” Romans 1:21-26 (KJV).

Abundance of understanding will be given to those who hear these parables, and not only understand the story, but its heart and spirit. These parables are positive in their meaning, however, they all have a negative aspect to them.

The power of the parable is to fulfill the Word of God spoken by the prophets (vv. 13-15). When we look at the writings of the Old Testament prophets we see that the people of God would not hear and heed the message the messenger brought them. They might listen, and probably did hear, but they usually did not like what they heard, and they would stone, imprison in a dungeon, or a waterless cistern, and sometimes killed the messenger/prophet; almost always shunned by the people. Isaiah the prophet was told when he was called and had surrendered to the call, “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” Isaiah 6:9-13 (KJV). The people would not listen to Isaiah. How long was he to continue to preach without anyone repenting and changing their lives? The basic answer here is “Until the people are gone, and you are gone.” How many preachers do we know who would want a ministry with no converts, no believers repenting, and no changed lives; and God forbid; no baptisms?

There are people who have physical eyes, but cannot see the God of creation in His creation. They, also, can not see Him in His works and/or Word. They are blinded by their own way. They really do not want to see God or His work. It would take too much away from them and their good deeds. They will see the darkness as light. They have ears, but do not hear. The Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ can be clearly presented and all they hear is an argument against their lives. Those type of people rejected the words of the prophets in their days. They had ears, but could not hear. They only loved the sounds of their own voices, their own hearts; wicked though they were. When people are satisfied with their own spirituality they will believe almost anything but the truth. They believe they will succeed and make it to heaven by their good works and deeds, and they have none. The truth of Christ, His cross – death, His burial, and resurrection, ascension and promise of His return will be the very Truth which judges them on judgment day. Jesus will be their Judge, rather than their Savior – What of His mercy then?

The power of the parable is to reveal what the prophets desired to see. In some ways I would have loved to spoken with Elijah, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. I will one day be able to sit down with them in God’s Kingdom. As I read the prophets today I can hear their hearts, there are times I can almost feel their pain because they see a people, who are supposed to be God’s people who will not bow before their God, except in pretense and hypocrisy. You can hear and feel the heart of Jeremiah as he says, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” Jeremiah 9:1. The prophets desired to see the people of God quit their idolatry, their gross rebellion, their pretense and hypocrisy. God has always been a jealous God. Jealous meaning that He is the only one worthy of worship, and that He deserves our complete, total, and whole admiration. The prophets foretold of One who would come to redeem the world, restore Israel to her land, and bring the Gentiles into the promise. They longed to see the “Promised One”. They are now in His presence rejoicing in His glory. We can yet hear their words as we read them. They have been kept and preserved that we may hear and know the one true God, His Son Jesus Christ; hear Him and believe and live forever.

The prophets had a longing heart to see the fulfillment of the Word they had penned down. Jesus Christ Himself is the fulfillment of the prophets messages. The apostle John wrote, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 (KJV). The main focus of that verse which I wanted to point out is that “…for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” All of the prophetic Word is concerning Jesus. Of Jesus, after His bodily resurrection, it is said, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 (KJV). If one wants or desires to understand these and all the parables of Jesus one first needs to know Jesus.

Let’s look at a contrast of hearts:

1. The dull of hearing rebel against the preacher; The Illumined ones hear and support the preacher.

2. The dull of hearing pull away from service and regular worship to the Lord, worship their own way; The Illumined ones desire to be active in solely the worship of the Lord, and with other believers.

3. The dull of hearing increase in hypocrisy by their ritual and tradition; The Illumined ones despise hypocrisy, especially in themselves, and yearn for genuineness.

4. The dull of hearing have a lack of spiritual understanding, often thinking they are the really spiritual, but what spirit are they of; The Illumined ones are enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus Christ.

5. The dull of hearing rationalizes personal sin; The Illumined ones hate personal sin and judge it by the Spirit of God andHisi Word.

6. The dull of hearing lose any understanding they may have when they refuse the truth: The Illumined ones increase in spiritual understanding.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The LORD is In His Temple

The Fifth Promise

“But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20

We have looked at the previous four promises from chapter 1:3; 2:3, 4, 14, and the final one now in 2:20. These are wonderful promises. It is especially wonderful that the final promise is one which gives us assurance that the LORD is in His temple. There is assurance in that, because, that tells us that He is still in control.

From the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE we read, “2:20 holy temple. A reference to heaven, from where the Lord rules (Ps. 11:4) and answers the prayers of those who seek Him (1 Kings 8:28-30: Ps. 73:17).” p. 1321.

It seems that there is something here very personal for the follower of Christ as well. Since the Father who is in His holy temple sent His Son, and His Son died on the cross for our sins, and He rose again; He then sent His Spirit to dwell within all those who are His. “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Romans 8:9a (NKJV). Jesus Christ is in you who know Him and are known by Him. The LORD will not leave His temple.

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV).

When all the earth comes to realize that God is the Supreme Ruler all will be silent before Him. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10. In the New Testament we read, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10-11 (NKJV).

The worship of idols always requires much noise, adulation, because they have nothing to offer. Thus much false fire. The God who made the heavens, the earth and all things in it and on it cries for our silence. Let Him be glorified by His own glory. On Habakkuk 2:20 the CRISWELL STUDY BIBLE states: “2:20 “But” signifies a striking contrast with the nothingness of idols. Jehovah the invisible God is occupying His holy temple, ready to intervene omnipotently for the deliverance and protection of His people and the destruction of their enemies. He inspires solemn adoration and profound silence (cf. Ps.68:5; Zeph. 1:7; Zech. 2:13)” p. 1047 KJV.

Only false gods [idols] require much hoopla, and noise. Our God, Father of Jesus is the light of His own glory. Rest in Him who is in His temple.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Israel’s Backsliding

Israel’s Backsliding

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

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

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

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

They in effect have worshipped demons, rather than God;

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

Paul writing to the Corinthians says,

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

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

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

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

-by Tim A. Blankenship