B F & M – The Church

I heard of a man who walked into the pastor’s office and began telling the pastor that he was a missionary for the “Invisible church”.  He was asking for support in his “Mission work”, to which the pastor of the local church responded, by giving him an invisible check.

Most Baptist believe in the authority of the local church.  The local church is visible congregation.  It has a visible congregation, with officers pastors and deacons, and members who serve the other duties of that congregation.

When you look at the epistles [letters] which Paul the apostle wrote, they were written to local churches.  The letters of Jesus Christ in the Revelation chapters two and three, is addressed to local congregations.  There is much more emphasis put on the local church than on the idea of an “Universal or invisible church”.  The Body of Christ functions in local churches.

The following is our Statement of Faith concerning the church:

“VI. The Church

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.”

As Baptists we do believe that the office of pastor is reserved for men.  There is plenty of Scriptural evidence for this belief.  In First Timothy 3:1-7 the qualifications of the elder/bishop/pastor is related directly to the male gender.  For instance; “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…”.  I have a friend who pointed out, “When a woman can be the husband of one wife, then I can accept her as a pastor”.   I believe he would have meant as long as she met the other qualifications.

The local church was established by the Lord Jesus.  Each local church is made up of born again, baptized believers in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Every member is regenerated by the Spirit of God, reborn in Christ Jesus, and baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and into the local church.

This will be addressed later: Baptism is by immersion, ie., putting under the water.

-T.A.

B F & M – God – The Holy Spirit

There seems to be many professing Christians who are not seeing the Trinity of God in Scriptures.  The teaching is clearly revealed throughout the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit is the one that many want to leave out of the picture.  They only see Him as a power, an influence, but not a person of the Godhead, or the final person of the Trinity.

We Baptists believe in the Trinity, because it is a doctrine of Scripture.  Many will say, “That word ‘trinity’ is nowhere used and the Bible”, and they would be correct, yet the idea is clearly presented as I declared in an earlier post.  The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all at work “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1-3); the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are again clearly seen at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3).

The following is from our Statement of Faith concerning the Holy Spirit:

“C. God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10,12; Luke 1:35; 4:1,18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4,38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8,14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17.”

It was by the Spirit of God, also known as the Holy Spirit, that we have Holy Scripture and by these we can know God, His Son Jesus, and the power of the Spirit.  It is because of the Spirit that we are “Sealed until the day of redemption”,

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”  Ephesians 1:13-14 (NKJV).

Without the Holy Spirit of God moving there is no one who would ever be saved and delivered from sin and its temptations.  Jesus was dependent upon the Holy Spirit.  It was the Spirit who led Him into the wilderness and strengthened Him for those 40 days and nights.  It is by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we know we are the children of God.

“Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”  Romans 8:9b (NKJV).

The Spirit of Christ is, of course, the Holy Spirit.  It is also the Holy Spirit who equips Christians to serve the Lord Jesus.  He points all to Christ, glorifying Him and Him alone.  He does not call attention to Himself, but to Christ.  We can know that anytime anyone is magnifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives they are completely out of line with Scripture, and out of fellowship with God.

We as Baptists have often been accused of neglecting the work of the Holy Spirit, but that is not really the case.  We see Him as being quietly, peaceably, behind the scenes glorifying our Savior, giving us power to live for the honor and glory of Jesus, and calling no attention to ourselves, but Jesus alone.

-T.A.

Friday Baptist 071511

The following are the closing paragraphs of a message by W. A. Criswell titled “The Ableness of God” from Ephesians 3:14-21 from October 25, 1970.

The ableness of God; we never exhaust it.  It’s never beyond what He can do for us—above all we ask or think.  Lord, who would ever have thought the little shepherd boy David would be the king of Israel?  Who would ever have thought Amos the sycamore gatherer would be God’s first great writing prophet?  Who would ever have thought Cephas, the fisherman of such a volatile spirit, would have been Peter at Pentecost?  Who would ever have thought that Saul of Tarsus, persecuting the church, would have been the apostle who kneels down here in prayer.  Who would ever have thought it? Oh, the whole gamut of God’s world is like that.  Who would ever have thought these prison doors open of themselves in the twelfth chapter of Acts?  Who would ever have thought the lions’ mouths would have been stopped or the three would have been delivered out of the fiery furnace?

“Above all that we ask for;” be encouraged, my brethren.  Let’s lift up our spirits and our hearts.  Let’s roll up our sleeves.  Let’s ask God for great things for Jesus.  Let’s ask Him for these families, these homes, these children; these teenagers; these young marrieds.  Let’s ask Him. Let’s ask in faith that God’ll give us their souls, their lives, their children, and then, having found answered prayer, let’s teach them the Word of God.  Let’s just place in their very souls the riches of that glorious revelation. Let’s just spend our days around here praising Jesus, loving God.  I’ve got to quit.  Man, we could just love the Lord forever, couldn’t we?  Just talking about what God can do for us and how we’re going to, in His love and grace, attempt great things for Him.

W. A. Criswell, 1970

-posted by T.A.

Death Grip

Anyone who thinks or believes that living the Christian life is “easy” has not begun to live the Christian life.  Several years ago, I was preaching in a Baptist Church [my conviction] on the difficulties of living the Christian life.  I had a woman who came to me afterwards and said, “I don’t find living the Christian life difficult.”  Now, I don’t know if she quite got a grasp of what I was saying, or if she did not know what the Christian life was about; but living it is difficult; even when we have the Spirit of God living within.

Death Grip is what sin has on those who are human.  The sad part of that is; that even when someone trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we still have a battle with sin’s death grip.  Every Christian struggles with sin.  We will continue to struggle with it until this body, this shell of flesh we live in takes its last breath, and the heart beats its last beat.

That is why as a Christian we are admonished by the Word of God to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11).  The promise of the Word is that we are no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:16-17), as long as long as we “have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you”.  That doctrine, of course, is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yet, we struggle against sin.  Yes!  Christians still commit sin.  Not because we love it, but because of the death grip of sin.  The prophet Isaiah said, “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope…” Isaiah 5:18.  Most of our struggle with sin is due to our own weakness to resist it.  We have the power to resist temptation because of the work of Jesus Christ and His “earnest payment” left us; the Holy Spirit.  Yet we are in that death grip.

Back during the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, AZ.  Dr. Al Mohler upset a lot of our folks by some comments he made using words, such as “Homophobic” and “Choice”.  It was falsely reported by one news agency that the SBC had recanted and changed its view of homosexuality; NOT SO.

Dr. Mohler believes as I do that homosexuality is sin.  Just as adultery is sin, murder is sin, stealing is sin, lust is sin, murderous thinking is sin, disobedience to God and His Word is sin.  Homosexuality, in scripture is called an abomination.

When an individual comes to faith in Christ we are not perfect, but we enter a state of growth where we are growing more into the image of Christ.  That, though, will not be perfected until we see Jesus face to face.

Sin’s Death Grip is like Isaiah’s iniquity, and cart rope; we still drag that sinful flesh along with us.  It is a burden, a drag, yet we desire to be free from it; and one day we will.  Until then, let us put off the works of the flesh, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  When we fall, let us take the hand of our Savior, arise forgiven, cleansed, and continue on the journey.

There is forgiveness for all who will call on the name of Jesus Christ in faith.  Christian remember this, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Daniel 1:17-21

…Giving What You Need For The Task

Daniel 1:17-21

Purpose –  To see and show that when God calls us to certain tasks; even as captives in a foreign land; He provides what we need for those tasks.

OUTLINE –

I.  GOD PROVIDED DANIEL, HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH THE GIFTS THEY NEEDED FOR THE TASKS THEY HAD (v. 17).
II.  GOD PROVIDED THAT THE FOUR HEBREW BOYS FOUND FAVOR WITH THE KING (vv. 18-19).
III.  GOD EVEN PROVIDED THAT THE WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE HE GAVE TO THEM EXCEEDED THAT OF THE OTHERS (v. 20).
IV.  THE TIME OF DANIEL’S SERVICE WAS REWARDED BY ALLOWING HIM TO SEE ISRAELITES RETURNING TO THE PROMISED LAND (.v. 21).

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah had shown themselves faithful to the Lord’s commandments.  They had done so without causing too much of a rift within the court; and they had God’s approval and blessing.  When we honor God, by keeping His word, applying it to our lives on a daily basis, He will also honor us and bless us.  There is, however, no promise of that blessing being immediate; nor, should we be obedient, nor attempting to honor God because we know we will be blessed for it.
We honor and bless and obey the Lord and His Word because He is worthy; and we thank Him for the priviledge of such service.  By the blood of Jesus Christ we have the right to be called “The sons of God” (John 1:12).  It is still a service we thank Him for, because He gifts us for that purpose.

I.  AS GOD EQUIPPED THE FOUR HEBREW BOYS FOR THEIR TIME IN BABYLON; SO GOD HAS EQUIPPED THE CHURCH FOR THE DAYS IN WH ICH WE LIVE (v. 17).
The text we look at tells us that it was God who gave them “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom:”, and we must acknowledge that it comes from no one else except the one who designed and continues to give good minds to those He will.  Even to the astonishment and dismay to the educational elite; God oft times speaks by confounding the “wise”

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”1 Corinthians 1:27 (KJV).

We learn from this that it is God who gave Daniel the power of understanding dreams and visions.  This by itself qualifies Daniel as a prophet of God.

“And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.”  Numbers 12:6 (KJV)

These things which Daniel and His friends learned were not from the Chaldean educational system, nor the education they received.  There were many things they learned which were in grave error; and they knew it to be error.  They learned about astrology, and how it worked; they did not practice it.  Astrology – interpreting the astrological charts, and the zodiac was very familiar to the Babylonian citizens.

The child of God today; the Christian of today needs to be grounded and stable in the riches of the Word of God.  I want to stress that before I say what I’m going to say with some reservation.  You and I need first and foremost to study, hear, practice, and heed the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the whole counsel of God’s Word.  When we are able, then, it would be beneficial in some ways to learn about the deceptions and lies that permeate society; not practicing them in any fashion or form, but learning of them, to know where some of these people are coming from, and to know how to rebuke and rebut them.  Some Christians of our day frown on the though of rebuke or rebutting some other belief system or religion; however, if we are to be salt, light, and an influence in society, then we must correct in love those we see in error with Scripture.

We have also been equipped for service to God in the day in which we live.  The apostle Paul writes,

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”  Ephesians 4:11-15 (KJV)

The above gifting is basically dealing with church leaders, however, every Christian is responsible to use the gift God has given you.  Paul has also written,

“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”  1 Corinthians 12:18 (KJV)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  James 1:17 (KJV)

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”  Romans 11:29 (KJV)

The gifts and calling of God are given to us for the benefit of the day in which you and I live.  We need to rejoice in the gifts of others without desiring their gift or gifts for ourselves.  Every Christian is gifted by God to do the work of ministry.

II.  IT IS GOD WHO BRINGS FAVOR BEFORE THE KINGS AND PRESIDENTS OF THE WORLD (vv. 18-19).
King Nebuchaddnezar was most likely educated in the ways of the “wise men” of Babylon, and could carry on quite a conversation with them, and all the ones who had been educated in the Babylonian institution of learning.  It was after the three years of training was over that the king had them all brought into him.  The king discovered four young men, possibly twenty years of age now; who “…among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (v.19).  These four were chosen to stand in the king’s presence.

Daniel and his friends had spent the past three years learning the ways of Babylon, and remained faithful to the LORD.  They were diligent in the task of living the life which God had given them; and they did it without complaint; and with praise. Even though they were in enemy territory God had given them peace without compromising their beliefs.  Solomon, the writer of Proverbs has written,

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”  Proverbs 16:7 (KJV)

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.”  Proverbs 22:29 (KJV)

Looking at those two verses we can see that, first of all “Peace” is more than the absence of war.  Peace comes from God.  When we are at war with God we will most likely be at war with everyone.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were at peace with God, so God gave them peace with their enemies.  Secondly, they were diligent with God’s business, faithful in obedience to Him and they were the ones who found favor with the king Nebuchadnezzar.

It is said of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He was around twelve years of age, that He was found in “…favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).  Who makes it possible for us to be found in favor with God or kings?  Only God can do that.  God exalts one and brings down another.  In doing so God accomplishes His will and maintains the order of the powers of man.

III.  THERE IS GREAT WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE FOR THOSE WHO WILL TRUST THE LORD IN ALL OF LIFE (v. 20).
There is much learning, knowledge and so called wisdom in our world.  Education is a good thing, when it is guided by a godly heart and life.  When “education” turns hearts away from God, and that is its sole purpose it is evil and and should be avoided at all cost.  Everyone has the right to learn what they want to learn; but they don’t have the right to force me to learn godless evolution, evil monetary practices, and/or evil practices of law.

One man of year gone by made the statement, and I pray I am getting this correctly, or close at least, “Education without justification and sanctification is an abomination”.  He meant by that word “justification” that all sin was paid for in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that all the righteousness of Christ Jesus was ours through Him.

The writer of  Proverbs speaks much of wisdom giving all of two chapters to wisdom, even personifying wisdom.  In chapter eight wisdom is personified, and we can see wisdom in our Lord in His teachings, in His living, in His dying, and in His resurrection.  The ninth chapter deals more with wisdom, and when you read this chapter you see the worth and value of wisdom, ie., godly wisdom versus worldly wisdom.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that these young men were smart, and wise in God.  They could carry on a conversation with the king about the things of  Babylon, and why, what and how he was the king of Babylon.  It is a sad thing, but there are many people who have no care what so ever about “wisdom”.  They speak without thought, act without thought; but merely to circumstances, and the behavior of others.

Who desires wisdom?  The wise.  How do we receive wisdom?

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” Proverbs 9:9 (KJV)

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”  James 1:5 (KJV)

IV.  GOD IS FAITHFUL WHO HAS PROMISED; THERE IS REWARD FOR ALL WHO WILL BELIEVE AND RECEIVE (v. 21).
Though this verse is placed in the beginning of the book of Daniel doesn’t mean that this event tool place here.  We are being told that Daniel was blessed by God and prospered under several kings while a captive.  Daniel even lived to see his people returning to the Promised Land of Israel.  He may have had a part in speaking with Cyrus and his leadership in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem under Ezra’s ministry and work.  We see clearly from Scripture that God is guiding the affairs of His people.

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9 (KJV)

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah could not have planned such lives for themselves.  Neither can you or I.  We can scheme and plot and plan, and many a time those things just don’t work for us.  We must understand that GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU, and He gives us what we need to perform the tasks He has for us to do.

God will never fail to fulfill His plans.  He does have a plan for your life through His Son Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION –

i.  God has equipped us through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit to live for Him, and serve Him in the time which we live;
ii.  When you and I live for the Lord, faithfully serving, praising, thanking Him; then He will give us peace in our hearts, a pure conscience, and raise us in favor with the people of the world to accomplish His purposes;
iii.  Let us be wise to seek godly wisdom; and to seek it from God by asking Him for it, then, use it rightly for His glory;
iv.  You and I must trust the Lord to be faithful in CARING FOR YOU, and you what you need to do His will.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:1-7

I realize I have done a previous study on the prophet Daniel.  However, the following are study notes for a new series of sermons I am preaching at Carr Lane Baptist Church beginning January 03, 2010.  I will include hear a link to my previous study and to only the points on our church site.

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

A STUDY IN DANIEL

Purpose – To unveil and see the sovereign hand of God at work in the history of the nations of mankind, of men, and to know and trust God to be sovereign in directing our individual lives.

When Your World Crumbles Around You

Daniel 1:1-7

Purpose – To know and trust God to care for us even when nations, our own, and others are falling; God will take care of us, and meet our needs.

OUTLINE –
I.  THE FALL OF A NATION (v. 1).
II.  THE CAPTIVITY OF A KING, AND KINGDOM’S RELIGION (v. 2).
III.  THE CAPTORS ATTEMPT TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv. 3-5).
IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).

Isaiah the prophet had prophesied over one hundred years before of the impending doom coming on the nation of Israel.  They had grown rich, soft, comfortable, complacent, and apathetic.  “No harm will come to us.” they would say, “After all we are God’s nation, God’s people.  We have the temple of God”; and oh so foolish in their hearts turning from God.

There is security with the LORD so long as the LORD is honored, revered, trusted and obeyed by His people.  When God’s people forsake Him, He does not forsake His people, however, He will discipline, correct, and rebuke them to get them back under His care.

I.  PEOPLE FALL AWAY FROM GOD (v.1)
Jehoiakim king of Judah was the son of Josiah, who was the son of Amon, the son of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:18-26).  Johoiakim was born Eliakim, but the king of Egypt changed his name to Jehoiakim and appointed him king of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:34).  This falling of the kingdom had begun a few years earlier when the prophet Isaiah was warning of the hard heartedness, and their straying from God.

The reason for the captivity that we are reading about in this text is because of the people’s forsaking God, His Word and His commandments (Ezekiel 20:13, 16; 23:38).

When God had spoken throught he prophet Jeremiah to call the people to go out to Nebuchadnezzar and surrender that was their last opportunity to remain in their land (Jeremiah 27:1-11).

II.  A KING IS TAKEN AND A KINGDOM’S RELIGION IS CAPTURED (v. 2).
This was the first invasion by Nebuchadnezzar.  He took the king from his throne, and to Babylon.  He also took some of the “articles of the house of God”.  It seems to have been a way to imply that the power of the gods of a nation are determined by the conquering nations taking these articles with them, and housing them with their religious articles.  This is seen earlier in the nation of Israel’s history when the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant and put it in the house of Dagon (1 Samuel 4:11; 5:1-9)

One thing we as Christians must know and keep in mind; just because our place of worship may be destroyed, in shambles, and the place of the “Lord’s Supper” be stolen does not mean that God is destroyed or stolen.  He is larger than our pieces of religion which are used to remember Him.  When the world may take the sign of the cross and abuse it, misuse it, and/or mock it that does not deminish the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Several years ago a man, believing he was designing some sort of artistic piece placed a designer cross in a jar of urine, and photographed it.  That did not affect the power of the cross of Jesus one iota.  It was saccreligious.  It caused an outrage among many, and it seemed with some that it was almost the end of the cross of Christ.  Not so however.  The power of the cross of Christ Jesus cannot be captured, destroyed, or diminished.

Religions of men can be captured, destroyed, diminished, and cast out; but the cross of Christ will continue in its power to save and change lives until Jesus Christ returns.

III.  THE WORLD ATTEMPTS TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv.3-5).
In the day of Babylon’s captivity of the Jews and others they would take the captives and change their names, and give them a new diet.  For the Jewish people it would mean eating swine, and other unclean foods for them.  In the eyes of many of the world this rich food would be a “blessing” over what they had been eating.
Ashpenaz, a eunuch for the king, was to pick out choice youth from the kingdoms, including Israel, and give them a new diet, and teach them new things.  Fill their heads with new thoughts, divert them from what they had been taught, and gain their loyalty.

Even in a free country such as the USA our public schools, many colleges, and universities, endeavor to redirect minds from the basics of what they have been taught by their parents, churches, and private schooling; directing them to more liberal thought and leadership styles.  They do these things by calling basic life truths, Bible truths, and moral truths into question, and ridiculing any and all who will stand on those basics.

This thought is seen in the science of the thought of “Global warming”.  When some scientist began questioning the authenticity of the theory and its truth these men and women were called all sorts of insulting names; “Unlearned, ignorant, fools” and not even given a chance to prove their points.  The world is attempting, even now, to control the minds, and beliefs of the people.

IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).
A changing of the names of these Jewish youth.  We are told of only four.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; probably because they were four who stood for what they had been taught, never followed the path of evil in Babylon, and stood their ground.  We do not hear them called by these names until a later chapter.  They are called by their Hebrew names at least 5 times from chapter one through chapter two, and yet most people only know them by their Babylonian names?   God wants us to know them by their names Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  Daniel is referred to as Daniel most of the way through the book; why do we not continue to know Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by their true names?

Daniel means “God is my judge” … Belteshazzar means “the keeper of the treasure of Baal”;  Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious”  …Shadrach means “command of the moon god”; Mishael means “Who is like Jehovah” … Meshech means “the goddess Shach”;  Azariah means “Jehovah is my helper” … Abednego means “the fire god”.

Part of the reason and answer to the question above is that we too have been conditioned by what we have been taught.  Let’s begin retraining our thinking to direct ourselves to the thoughts of godly thinking, and living; and trusting that kings and kingdoms are ordained by God; they rise and fall by His decree; and that no king, kingdom, man or woman can stand without the hand of God ordaining it. “The king’s heart is in thehand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” Proverbs 21:1

APPLICATION-
i.  Let’s stand upon the Word of God; reading, studying, hearing, and applying it to every area of our lives (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Timothy 4:2).
ii.  Putting our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross, and guarding our hearts and minds from religion of men (Psalm 118:8).
iii.  Filling our minds with the things of God, holiness, righteousness, God’s glory, justice, peace, His love, mercy, goodness, bearing the fruits of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16;  Ephesians 5:18; Galations 5:22-23).
iv.  Always keeping in mind the power of the sovereign hand of God over the affairs of men and nations will help us realize everyday, that, God is directing the events and circumstances of  our lives; that, He does not have a plan A and a plan B (Daniel 29, 37, 47).

-Tim A. Blankenshi

You may find my previous study posted on Fire and Hammer and the article on Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and the other Daniel: The Educating Of The Youth.

Grace At Work

Ephesians 4:7-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Abundant Family of God

Ephesians 3:14-21

It has been the will and the plan of God to bring all people into one body, but according to God’s good will; not man’s.  It seems that man has endeavored to come together as one more than once; the first time being at Babel; and look what happened.

God is holy, and all people cannot come to Him in their own merit due to sin.  God loves humanity, and is the offended Deity to whom a price must be paid, and that price is death; the death of every sinner.  Just as sin entered the world and the human race by one man [Adam] so too, by only one man can sin’s debt be paid, and that debt, which was owed to God, has been paid by the death of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-21).

In verses 1-13 of Ephesians 3 Paul has given explanation how that God has displayed His love and grace by the cross of Jesus and has opened the way for the Gentiles (all who are not Jewish).

NAMED FOR THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY (vv. 14-15).  In the first two chapters and the first thirteen verses of this chapter the apostle has dealt with the “mystery of the gospel”, by which the Jew and the Gentile become one through Jesus Christ.  We understand through the previous thirteen verses of this chapter that it has always been God’s plan to bring Jew and Gentile together into one body.  God is sovereign and works all things for his purpose, will and glory.

God the Father is the source of “Fatherhood”.  This is not a verse supporting the heresy of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man”.  God is only the Father of all who have trusted Him through faith in Jesus Christ and the finished work of Christ – His death on the cross, His burial, and His bodily resurrection.  The “whole family in heaven and earth” can only refer to the “saints” both living and dead [bodies sleeping awaiting their day of resurrection].  We are of the family of God, because God in His grace has made it so; without our aid or efforts.

We are of the “Household of faith”, with the name given us by our Father.

BEING FILLED WITH ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD (vv. 16-19).  When the lost man or woman comes to Jesus Christ they receive all of Jesus Christ that they will ever receive.  We are however, at times, very inept in practicing all the fulness of God we have been given.

God said through Zechariah the prophet;

“This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  Zechariah 4:6 (KJV)

The Spirit of God is the person and source of our Fulness of God.  He is the catalyst of our fulness.  In this prayer Paul is asking these things from God for the Ephesians and us, “according to the riches of His glory…”

1.  “To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man”;
2.  “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”;
3.  “being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height…”;
4.  “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…”

It seems by the presence of these that would be having the fulness of God which Paul speaks of.

THE ABUNDANCE OF GOD’S POWER WORKING IN US (v. 20).  It seems as I am studying this I seem a bit unable to describe what this is dealing with.  God’s grace for salvation is more abundant than I can begin to imagine, and His grace for living is just as abundant, and when God says, that He will complete what He began (Philippians 1:6); that is part of that abundance.

God is far more able to do “Exceeding abundantly”, “far more abundantly”, “above and beyond” “all that we ask or think”, that we ought to know that anything God says we can rely on.

All of this accomplished “…according to the power that worketh in us…”.  The power working in us is limited, it seems, only by our faith at work.  Maybe I should say, “Limited only by our faith not working”.  If we are truly walking with God, in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit; then there is nothing that should stand in our way of fulfilling God’s will in our lives; and seeing God’s will accomplished in the lives of others.

We cannot muster up the power in ourselves.  It is through the Spirit of God in the child of God walking by faith in Jesus Christ.

THE CHURCH GIVING GLORY TO THE FATHER FOREVER (v. 21).  The purpose of all creation is to give glory to God, to praise and adore Him.

When sin has wrecked and mauled and destroyed a sinners life God gets no pleasure from his death (Ezekiel 18:32).  When that soul has been saved, set free from sin by God’s free gift of grace God glories in that child’s physical death (Psalm 116:15).  Why deos Scripture tell us this?  Because, it is God who has worked in that saved soul’s life to bring him to Himself.  It is God who works in you (Philippians 2:13) as a child of God to bring you to His glory.

Now, having siad that, it leads us to the Church.  The Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ.  He being “the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).  What glory it brings to God when finally the Church is brought as one into the eternal presence of God.  The Spirit habitating in the life center of every believer is the means  by which we glorify God.  The Holy Spirit is the power of the Church which brings every born again soul to God.  He is glorified because He sees the Church completed already seated with Jesus in heavenly places.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Divine Architect

Ephesians 2:18-22

The chapter begins by the apostles reminder that we were “dead in trespasses and sins”, and gives us good reason for believing it so.  Even more does he remind us that we have been “quickened” or “made alive”, and delivered from the old course we were once walking.

We are also told of God’s rich, marvelous, wonderful and glorious grace and mercy due to His great love for us.  That we have been raised up with Christ to sit with Him in “heavenly places” (v. 6).  Then in verses 8-10 the good and  faithful words, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV).  It does not seem right, nor Biblical, nor even teaching if we do not include verse 10 in there with verses 8 and 9.

The Gentiles of Ephesus, and you and I who are not Jewish, are reminded that we were not or are not of the “common wealth of Israel”; we did not receive the oracles, the Word of God, nor have we ever had the presence of God previous to the birth of the Church.  We were once strangers, separated from any hope, but God sent His Son.  It was like a wall of separation, that now, “through the blood of Christ” are made near, and brought into the Family of God.

THE WALL IS TORN DOWN BY THE DEATH OF JESUS ON THE CROSS (vv. 18-19).  God raised up a nation of people who would follow Him, and be a light to other nations ( ).  The nation of Israel has not been faithful to the LORD’s calling, and were not an obedient people.  However, the LORD still used them to give us His Word; both the written oracles, and the Living Oracle [Jesus Christ].

It was and is the  will of God to bring together in the one body of Christ people from all nations, races, cultures.  With the people of Israel, through the call of Abraham from Ur, to go to a land he knew not of, with Sarah his wife, and to a land yet inhabited, but promised to his people in a future day; God promised to make of him a blessed nation.  God promised to him, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3); and we have with the oracles [Scriptures] which have been written for us. The Law, History, Poetry [Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations], and the Prophets (Major and Minor).

Where all seemed to be specifically for the Jew; now through the cross of Jesus Christ, there is access for all.  When Jesus died on the cross, the veil which separated the holy place in the Temple from the most Holy place was torn from top to bottom; signifying to us that the way was made by God Himself, into the very presence of the throne of God.

Those who come to God through Jesus (which is the exclusive way) become the “…Household of God”.  No longer strangers, no longer aliens, but brothers and sisters, with one Father.

THE DIVINE ARCHITECT’S FOUNDATION AND CORNERSTONE (v. 20).  Before there is a building there must of necessity be a foundation and a cornerstone.  Jesus Christ is that cornerstone.  It is the cornerstone which determines the size, the shape of buildings made of stone.

Hear what God says of this cornerstone:

“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” (Psalm 118:22)

“Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation…” (Isaiah 28:16)

“For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11)

Actually before there was the “foundation of the apostles and prophets”, there was the cornerstone which is the beginning of the foundation.  The “Apostles and prophets” have spoken, and written the words of God for us to hear and read, applying them to life and heart that we through the power of the Holy Spirit, believing would be living stones, added to the “building” of this “household of God”.  Since the “Apostles and prophets” are the foundation, and this is dealing with Scriptures, then, there can be no more apostles and prophets.  They have already spoken and written what God has given us.  Let’s be more diligent by His Spirit to obey what we have received; instead of searching for something new which will most likely be deceptive, and seek to lead astray.

Hear what the apostle Peter has written:

“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” 1 Peter 2:4-8 (KJV)

According to Peter’s inspired words we are, through faith in Jesus Christ, “living [lively] stones, are built up a spiritual house”.  That house is the “household of God”.  It can be called the “Family of God”.

THE DIVINE ARCHITECT FITS ALL WHO BELIEVE INTO THE “BUILDING” AS HE SEES FIT (v. 21).  It is only the Divine Architect who can “organize compactly” all those who are called to fit in just right for His glory.  A stone building designed correctly will have each stone in its proper place, fitting every niche, so that it will sit well with the one below it, beside it and over it.

Think of it this way.  Each part of this “household of God” is placed into this household in its proper time, proper place, and proper service.  It is Jesus Christ who determines this.  It is He who shapes and molds us for that fit that He needs, at that time He places us into His household.

WE HAVE BEEN DESIGNED TO BE THE PLACE OF GOD’S DWELLING ON EARTH (v. 22).  Everyone who is born again is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Together all born again believers are the Temple of God, giving Him even greater glory.

It is a sin against Him when we refuse to join together.  It shames His glory when we have the opportunity of gathering with brothers and sisters, and refuse to because of some carnal mindset, such as hurt feelings, something is not quite the way you like, envy,  jealousy, etc..  What shame.  Glorify God in your body and your bodily presence with the other saints in Christ gathered together for His glory.

Together we are strengthened.  Together we are encouraged.  Together we are empowered to resist sinful desire and temptation.  Together we can assault the gates of hell.  Together we can pray with authority and power.  Together we are the Body of Christ.

You are the place of God’s dwelling.  Let others rejoice with you by joining with other dwellings of God, becoming one with Him.  God does not have any “Only child”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

For The Praise Of His Glory

Ephesians 1:6-14

Three times in verses 6 – 14 we find the phrase, “to the praise of his glory…” and dealing especially with His grace.  First is it is written, “To the praise of the glory of his grace…” (v. 6), then we find; “…we should be to the praise of his glory…” (v. 12); and lastly; “…unto the praise of his glory.” (v. 14).  It should not come as a great surprise to the Christian that we are for the purpose of His glory.

Knowing this should thrill our hearts and souls.  To know that we are for the purpose of His glory ought to cause us, by the power of His Spirit within, to live lives that are scented with the fragrances of heaven.

THE PURPOSE OF OUR CALLING (v. 6; Romans 3:23).  Before there was Jesus Christ on earth as man we were in condemnation.  We were walking in ourselves, self-willed, without self-control, rebellious, and enemies of God.  That’s right!  I said, “Enemies of God” (James 4:4).  That was my estate before Christ, and the estate of everyone before they have faith in Him.

God’s purpose in calling us to Himself is for His glory, and to redeem a people unto Himself.  He loves us, and sent His Son Jesus to be the propitiation – the recipient of God’s wrath in our behalf.  By this one glorious event we now have fellowship, restored likeness with God our Creator.  We are accepted in His sight.  That our lives might be for the purpose of His glory, and the magnification of His grace.

BE THANKFUL FOR YOUR REDEMPTION THAT IS BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS (v. 7).  It is only through the blood of Jesus that we have redemption (1 Peter 1:18-19).  Because of sin the law requires death.  The blood is life for the sacrifice of sin (Leviticus 17:11).

By the shedding of blood God is just in forgiving our sins (Hebrews 9:22).

Slaves were bought and sold by millions in Rome of Paul’s day.  We were slaves of sin.  Jesus purchased us from sin’s bondage, by the shedding of His own blood, and set us free.

This price was not paid because you and I deserve it, but because of the riches of His grace.

THE GRACE AND THE INHERITANCE PROVIDED US THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS (vv. 8-12).  This grace of God is far more abundant than we can ever imagine.  He has over supplied it – (grace abounded) fully supplied – for us in making known to us “the mystery of His will”.  Mystery sometimes excites us.  By something being a mystery does not mean something spooky, eerie, or of which to fear.  Mystery causes mankind to be curious.  The mystery of His will was not fully revealed until Jesus came, died on the cross, was buried carrying the guilt, shame, and condemnation of sin away, was risen, and ascended into the clouds; and through the apostles; including Paul.  It is still mysterious how that God could become man, bleed, die, then rise again bodily from the grave.  Some things God reveals, we must trust rather than understand.

By coming to the Lord Jesus we are place into God’s “Inner circle” and He reveals, to those who are His, His will concerning reconciliation of men to God, man to man, man to creation, Jew to Gentile, and earth to Heaven.

For verse eleven it has been translated to read, “In Him we were also made His inheritance…” (HCSB).  There is no real problem with that since we are told in the Psalms, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”  Psalms 2:8 (KJV).  We Gentiles who are in Christ are His possession, and inheritance in Him.  We have also received our inheritance in Him.  In the gospel of John Jesus mentions, at least six times, “…Those whom You have given Me” (John 17).

For the second time the apostle uses the term predestination.  As God’s children He has completed the work or plan for our lives in His Son Jesus Christ.  He has a predetermined purpose for our lives and brings them about, “after the counsel of His own will”.  We must remember that God does not have one plan for when everything goes well in our lives; and another for when things don’t go so well.  He only has one plan for Christians, and that is a completed salvation.  As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…”  Philippians 1:6 (KJV).  His plan will not fail.

These verses end with doxology.  Words of praise and adoration.  A life lived in praise and adoration of His is what He desires.  This is a great part of our inheritance – to praise, adore, magnify, and glorify our Lord.  By the Holy Spirit within we are equipped to live such a life.

“Who first trusted in Christ” is most likely a reference to the Jews who began the first church of Jerusalem.  No matter to whom it may refer; it is the calling of all followers, believers of Jesus Christ, “To be to the praise of His glory”.

THE SEALING OF THE SPIRIT AND THE EARNEST UNTIL OUR REDEMPTION (vv. 13-14).  Paul has written “…To the Jew first…” meaning that to them the gospel came first of all.  Jews were the first to hear and first to believe; though the numbers were very few.  Now the gospel has come to Ephesus – Gentiles.  This same Jesus of whom a few Jews had trusted was also the One in whom the Ephesians were trusting.

How did this transpire?

1. They heard the gospel which was preached unto them;
2. They believed the gospel – that is they put it to work in their lives;
3. They were then “sealed” or baptized into Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

* Water had nothing to do with this “sealing” nor the “baptism” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

This “sealing” is one that speaks of and guarantees several things.  First, it is a promise, from God, of a finished transaction.  The full price of sin was paid.  When we believe on Christ and His finished work we become Christ’s inheritance and He becomes ours.  It is as good as done.

Secondly, this seal implies ownership.  We are marked by God, bearing His mark on us throughout the rest of our lives and into eternity.  “For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).  He is our owner.  We have no rights of our own.  We are branded/marked by the cross of Jesus Christ.

In the third place, the seal means security and protection.  There is nothing you or I can do to break off this seal.  It is eternal.  We are protected and secured from Satan, and all his forces, as well as protected from ourselves.

Fourthly, the seal is one of authenticity.  It takes more than a profession of the lips, religious activity, good works, etc..  If there is no witness of the Holy Spirit in the professor’s life, that is where Christ is not (Romans 8:9).  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).  The Holy Spirit is the mark of an authentic Christian.

Finally, the seal can be an engagement ring.  The promise of a full and meaningful relationship, in the Christian example, for all eternity.

The Holy Spirit is the guarantee from God to the Christian that God will come and redeem the body of the man as well as his soul.

From verse three through verse fourteen there has been three doxologies.  The first speaks of the Father.  Why has He chosen, adopted and  accepted us?  “To the praise of the glory of His grace” (v. 6).  The second speaks of the Son.  Why has the Son redeemed us, forgiven us, and revealed God’s will to us and blessed us with His inheritance?  “To the praise of His glory” (v. 12).  The third speaks of the Holy Spirit.  Why has God the Spirit sealed us and become the guarantee of future hope and blessing?  “unto the praise of His glory” (v. 14).

In conclusion God has blessed us with “all spiritual blessings… in Christ Jesus”.  The gifts and riches of Christ are far beyond what we deserve.  Yet, they are ours when we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

All of heaven is yours and mine in Christ.  Jesus died, shed his blood, that you might be renewed to the place God intended you to be.  Believe Jesus.  Trust His Word, and you shall be saved eternally.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Who We Are, and Our Blessings In Christ

Ephesians 1:1-5

Purpose of this study:

1. To discover the greatness of being in Christ;
2. To know the richness of His blessings;
3. To know and understand our purpose in Christ;
4. To better understand our calling.

The book of Ephesians was written by Paul the apostle while he was imprisoned in Rome.  Ephesians is known as one of the “prison epistles”, along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

The city of Ephesus was the seat of “Diana” worship (Acts 19 note verse 28).  A goddess worshipped by a superstitious people and profited on by business men and silversmiths.  The preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ caused a great loss of income for these men and their businesses when some of the worshippers of Diana, turned from idolatry to the true God (Acts 19:23-41).  These men would have done almost anything to take away Paul’s and other Christian’s right or freedom to speak.

This church is the same church that would receive a letter from the Lord Jesus Christ a few years later.  It can be read in the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter two, beginning with verse one.

At the time of Paul’s writing, approximately 55 A.D., the church of Ephesus is strong in faith and longing to grow in the Spirit of Christ.  In this letter Paul teaches them two main truths:  1) Who they are [their position] in Christ (chapters 1-3); and  2) How they are to live [their practice] (chapters 4-6).

Knowing who we are in Jesus is still important for Christians.  By knowing our position in Him we are strengthened in faith, and greatly encouraged to live for Him.

If we are to be the Christians God calls us to be we must be discovering the greatness and riches of being in Christ, our calling, the richness of His blessings, and the purpose of our calling.

The term “In Christ” or its equivalent is mentioned at least 34 times in the bood of Ephesians.  Fifteen of those being in the first chapter alone.  So we learn already that it is important for  us to recognize, to know who we are in Jesus Christ.

CALLED OUT AND FAITHFUL (vv. 1-2).  “Set apart”, “called out” and faithful.  Consecrated unto the Lord is the meaning of the word “Saint”.  The Christian has been called out of sin, set apart for the glory of God to be different from the world philosophies, and doctrines.

The Christian understands the problem of sin, and the human heart, as best as can be understood, and that is by the understanding which God gives by His Spirit, His word, and the life of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:10-11 spells it out for us; “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God…”  We are called out of sin, unto faith in Jesus Christ; to live in the Spirit of Christ for the glory of the Father.

The “faithful” are the one’s who dedicated to the work and will of glorifying God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  We glorify Him with a life given to living holy, separated, lives of witness.  The words we speak, our work ethic, our family lives, our church service and our worship of God alone is a witness that other’s will see or won’t see.  Unwavering faith in God, and His Word, and holy desire for His will to be done is shown in faithfulness.  Faithful in belief.  Faithful in and to His Word.

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 (KJV)

THE RICHES OF HIS BLESSING (v. 3;  2:6).  These blessings are not in the material things of this world, although we are told that all things are under His feet.  The blessings of Christ are spiritual, however, they are not limited.  “Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV).  I don’t know if we were meant to understand this whole all thing, but it sounds so full, awesome, and glorious.  Do we put enough emphasis on the spiritual things of Christ?  It doesn’t seem so in my life; and I really doubt it is in most Christian’s lives.

These spiritual blessings are in heavenly places; that is the place where Jesus is.  The blessings that Christian’s have in Christ Jesus cannot be attained through science, technology, knowledge, sorcery, witchcraft, incantations, rituals, liturgy, rites, religion, flagellation, wealth, or fame.  These blessings are all part of the grace given us who are in Christ Jesus through faith in Him by His death on the cross; His carrying our sins away; and the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead.  These are blessings of His grace.

In these spiritual blessings there is cleansing from sin, condemnation and guilt.  There is the personal relationship with holy God reserved only for those who have no sin debt.  We also have the gift of eternal life with Jesus Christ and the Father; and in complete fellowship with Him.

OUR ELECTION AND OUR LIFESTYLE (v. 4).  If a king were to choose you as their son or daughter would you not find it a great privilege, and honor?  If the king were known as a wealthy, and good, and honorable man I think most of us would be honored by the prospect.  This is not likely to happen, of course, so don’t set your sites too high for this; except when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the King of kings.  He will rule with honor, power, and goodness; and He is wealthy.  He has chosen us in Himself.  We are getting into a topic of great controversy, and that is dealing with “Election” and “Predestination”.  There are some “scholars” and preachers/teachers who try to avoid these doctrines.   They are, however, in the Word of God, and need to be dealt with.  I am not sure that I can aid in this or not, but since they are here, I will say this.  When it comes to “Election” we have the clear teaching from the Word that those who are in Christ have been chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.  It is great to know that God chose me, and that He knew me long before I was ever conceived in the womb of my mother.  That is so of all who will come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Dealing with this “Election” of God let us look further into Scripture – “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” Exodus 33:19 (KJV).  As our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Advocate, Judge… He has every right to choose whomever He will, to call to Himself.  Someone may ask, “Doesn’t mankind have a ‘freewill’?”  To that I would readily agree.  The very fact that God placed the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the midst of the garden near the “Tree of Life” tells me that God gave them a choice, thus free will to choose to obey or disobey.  They chose the latter of the two, and sin, death, and misery came into the world.

So how do the teachings of Election, the Sovereignty of God, and man’s free will operate?  I don’t know that I have the answer to that, but these things I do know and believe; and that is that God says that He knew me before the foundation of the world and He chose me; He has enriched me with spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, and that according to His will, the free will of men, and  His Sovereignty somehow work together to fulfill His will and glory.

The greatness of this “Election” is that God chose me before I ever did anything good or bad.  His choosing me was not based on any merit of my own, but solely on the grace of God alone.  Since He chose me before doing anything good or bad, that only means that there is nothing I could do to be plucked from my Father’s hands:

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29 (KJV)

This does not give license to sin.  This does give us freedom from sin to live for Jesus Christ.  Before we came to faith in Jesus Christ we were bound by sin.  In Christ we are free to live for Him, and Him alone. This election is a calling to holiness (2:10;  John 15:16).

OUR PLACEMENT IN THE HEAVENLIES (v. 5).  By the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross we are born into relationship with the Father (John 3:3;  1 Peter 1:23).  By that blood we are legally sons/children, however, there is something else that happens to those who come to faith in Jesus Christ.  We are placed into the position with Christ as legal heirs of all that is His.  That is the “Adoption”.

That is the predetermined plan of God.  That is the “predestinated” will of God.  In John 1:12 we are told this – “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them tht believe on His name.”  Some new translations place children where the KJV uses sons, and that seems to me to be a tragedy, for we miss the greater meaning.  With Christ as our Lord and Savior we are given the same rights as the Elder Son, who is Jesus.  In the Old Testament economy the elder son received a majority of the father’s estate, and was given the responsibility of caring for the parents when they became unable to care for themselves.

Now consider this; since we are born into the family shouldn’t we just receive a minority of the inheritance?  Jesus has paid the price of our sin, making it possible for us to be in God’s family in the first place; He is the One who deserves it all.  By grace He places us with Him as joint heirs (Romans 8:17) with Him.

There is an example of this given in the Law of Moses concerning inheritance, and the daughters of a man who had no sons, and would be left out of the inheritance except for the grace given.  Zelophehad (Numbers 27:1-7) had five daughters, and he would be left out of inheriting any of the promised land, leaving nothing for any sons who might come along later.  Thus, in a since, they are placed in the position of an elder son, inheriting the land that would have been their father’s.

There is such a wealth at the hands and feet of every believer in Jesus Christ.  It is a wealth that is not of this world, however it is accessible in this world; and through it and by it we can live in victory.  The enemy has been defeated.  Let us rejoice.

We are “Predestinated” to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and that is to live in glory.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29 (KJV)

We have yet to “tap into” the wonderful resources that are ours in Christ Jesus.  If we were the people of God in Christ that He has called us to be, walking in the Spirit, walking in the power of His word, there is no attack of the enemy which could stop us, and no human force could stand in our way; and He would be seen and glorified in many hearts and lives.  What God calls “Complete” is complete.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Heavenly Vision

The Heavenly Vision

Acts 26:19-20

The reading of verses 13 – 18 would be a good thing for the study of this passage of Scripture.

Now I think it would be good to see what the writer of the Proverbs says about “vision”.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”  Proverbs 29:18 (KJV).

“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.”  Proverbs 29:18 (NKJV).

It would appear that by looking at the NKJV rendering of the verse that there might be a problem of interpretation and comparison between Paul’s heavenly vision and this revelation but it would not need to be a problem.

Where there is revelation there is hope, and people will follow the revelation of God when they believe it.  Every one needs vision for guidance, and worth-while-ness.

To have Revelation/Vision is a necessity for having a moral and decent society.  The vision Paul has is a life changing vision.  It first changes the heart and mind of Saul when he met Jesus.

The true Revelation/Vision is from God.  Paul’s vision was of Jesus Himself.  When there is no Revelation/Vision from God; people will live without power or authority, and find themselves without direction.   They will not recognize their true enemy; and they will blame others for their own faults, problems, and sins.

THE PURPOSE OF THE REVELATION/VISION (v. 16).  The highest aim or purpose of the Revelation/Vision is to glorify the Father.  The purpose of the Revelation/Vision for Saul was to be called to minister for the cause of Jesus Christ, and to glorify Him.  The minister is a servant to all –

“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered  unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45 (KJV).

The minister of Jesus Christ has no life of his own, but has given it up to the Lord.  Called to be a witness in two ways;  1) To be a faithful witness in the things that are seen:

* The death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ;
* The power of the gospel to change lives

and 2) To be a faithful witness through the revelations Jesus would reveal (John 14:21):

* Paul’s teachings of the pure gospel came by the revelation of Jesus: “For I neither received it of men, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galations 1:12).
* He has more writings in the New Testament than any othe penman – possibly 14;
* We are to bear witness in these two ways;

1. Preaching the gospel and showing forth a changed life;
2. By teaching the revelation of Jesus in all areas of life.

The Scriptures are complete.  Within them we have all the revelation of Jesus Christ and how He wants us to live that God has given us.  We are to learn it and seek His will for our lives.

THE PROMISE OF THE REVELATION/VISION (v. 17).  God never calls anyone to serve Him without Purpose, nor without Promise.  His promises in Revelation/Vision encourages, strengthens, and gives us perseverance.  God’s promises are the Christian’s hope of the future – eternity with God in glory – His glory.  It was God’s promise that motivated Abraham to leave his homeland without knowing where he was going:

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8 (KJV)

He only knew that he was going with God.  He did not know the place on earth.  He has promised to deliver from enemies of the gospel.  There will still be persecution, but the persecutor will not prevail.  Many a persecutor, like Saul of Tarsus, fell under the power and authority of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE POWER OF THE REVELATION/VISION (v. 18).  The power of the revelation/vision is the power of a changed life.  There is no religion that can change a life for eternity.  There are many good ministries which stress self-reformation, and cleaning up your act, but they basically give not power to maintain the life which one ought to live.  Usually if there are any lasting changes the organization gets the credit and the glory, and none goes to the One who created us, and all thing.

Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and you shall be witnesses unto Me; both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the utter most parts of the world.”  (Acts 1:8)  He said in Matthew, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth”  Matthew 28:18 (KJV).  We find also that Jesus said to Peter,  “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 16:17 (KJV).  Peter was only able to know the true identity of Jesus because it was by revelation from God the Father.

The Revelation/Vision of the person of Jesus Christ, when accepted, believed, practiced has the power to change the life of that individual.  Jesus Christ has the power to forgive, remove, cleanse, from all sin.  He has the power to open eyes that they might see the work of God in the world.  He has the power to turn a life of darkness to a life in the Light.

In some cases – many cases – people love darkness rather than light:

“For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20 (KJV)

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Ephesians 2:1-3 (KJV)

If you are in that darkness you can come out by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on Calvary’s cross for you.  The only cleansing and forgiveness is in the Light of Jesus Christ.

In Christ Jesus there is also a wonderful inheritance:

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:17 (KJV)

“And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:15 (KJV)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5 (KJV)

This is an eternal inheritance which has been provided us by the Lord Jesus Christ by His death, burial and resurrection.

THE PERSON OF THE REVELATION/VISION (vv. 13-15).  As Saul/Paul is riding a horse toward Damascus, and for the purpose of taking captive many Christians, and putting them to death; he meets the One whom he is really persecuting.

Saul had seen the Christian message of Jesus Christ as a great and vile threat to his own religion.  That was the Jewish religion he had grown up in, and this Jesus was a rabble rouser, a trouble maker, a deceiver, and they could not have this man upsetting the purity of Judaism.

Saul does, however, find out that he is not persecuting the people who are calling themselves followers of Jesus; but he is actually persecuting Jesus Himself.  He is alive.  Now Saul knows it, and falls on his face before Him, and calls Him “Lord”.

It was upon his meeting Jesus, the Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saul of Tarsus, that he realized the conviction, the torment of soul, the troubled heart and thoughts; his kicking against the pricks (vv. 14; 9:5) finally hit home in his life.

Is there a troubled area of your life where you just can’t find peace?  Maybe it’s your whole life, and you just can’t find peace with yourself, your spouse, your family, or with God.  That maybe your pricks from the Spirit of God and He is calling you to Him.

There is only one true Revelation of God to man (other than creation), and that is His Son Jesus Christ.  He came to earth as a man; to die for the sins of mankind, carry our sins away in burial taking all guilt and shame, and then, He rose agains bodily from the grave.  The bodily resurrection is proof of His revelation of God to man.  It is the divine work of God.  It is not of the flesh, but the Spirit of God.

Salvation is through the Son of the Living God, and His name is Jesus.

THE PERCOLATION OF THE REVELATION/VISION (vv. 19-20).  Percolation is a filtering process by which to arrive at a desired effect or goal.  The Christian with the Revelation/Vision is the instrument of God to reach a lost world.  Disobedience to this vision will do these five things:

* Cause guilt for neglecting those who you leave  untold;
* Cause ineffective ministry and ministries;
* There will be a lack of prayer;
* There will be a lack of time with and/or for God;
* The individual will be in a backsliden condition, slipping ever farther away from God’s loving, protecting hands.
* …This is not an exhausted list.

Obedience to the heavenly vision will give us five things:

* Peace of heart and mind;
* Joy in an of ministry;
* A life of prayer and drawing near to God;
* Takes every opportunity for God;
* Has a growing Christian testimony;
* …This list is not exhausted.

Our Christian lives, lived in the presence of others, will be the only vision of heaven they may ever see.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Put Off, Put On, Put Away

Ephesians 4:20-25

A few years ago a church of  which I was pastor had a Sunday afternoon Nursing Home ministry one Sunday of each month.  There were several who attended the service, and we sung hymns, and I usually preached a short message.

Almost every Sunday we were there I made an attempt to visit a moment with each one, shaking their hand, placing a hand on their hand or shoulder, even kneeling beside them so I could hear what they wanted to say.  One man in particular, which I remember well; and this shows the repulsive side of me; was a man who was pushed in a wheel chair to the service.  This man was unclean, he stank, and it was so bad the flies even noticed.  I tried to give him the same attention I gave all the others.

The first time I met him I am sure I pulled away, but quickly caught my action, and still spoke with him.  That must be a small bit of how God senses our stink of sin.  The odor of sin is more than He in His holiness, righteousness and justice can endure, but in His wondrous grace, and tender mercy He provides cleansing, and new clothing of righteousness which is the righteousness of Christ Jesus.

Would God provide this cleansing, new clothing, and new life to continue living in that stench from which we have been delivered?  By no means.

OUTLINE –

I. THE CHRISTIAN LEARNS CHRIST (v. 20).

II.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS OFF” THE “OLD MAN” (vv. 21-23).

III.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS ON” THE “NEW MAN” (v. 24).

IV.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS AWAY” LYING (v. 25).

THE CHRISTIAN LEARNS CHRIST.  We already know the way we have left behind.  It is time we learn Christ.  This is not learning about Him, but LEARNING CHRIST.  This means a life, road, path of sin, stench, death and destruction is left behind (Ephesians 2:1).  It was a life that knew not that it was enslaved until the Light of Christ broke through.

It is good to learn about Jesus Christ, however the Christian LEARNS CHRIST.  That means we love Him more than anything else; we love and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him.  That means that we walk with Him and He with us (John 14:21, 23-24).  That means to live His life so others see Him within us.

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS OFF” THE “OLD MAN”.  When Jesus delivers us from that life of sins condemnation and its stench the old stinky clothes of sin must be removed; sometimes, however the Christian getting full of themselves rather than full of God, put the old clothes back on.  Delving into the sewage of our sins, the stench hangs around again, and we wonder why God seems so far away, and we have started getting into the old, former way of life.

The people of Ephesus were known to be worshippers of Diana, and this made the Christian life a little difficult, because all the Ephesians were almost expected to be Diana worshippers.    Every culture or society is difficult  for the Christian life.  We say things today like, “It’s hard to be a kid today”.  “Things are different in this day than they have ever been”.  I am one who begs to differ with that.  Someone has said, “The more things change; the more they remain the same”; and that looks right to me.  I read the Bible, and in the prophets I see people who are absolutely no different than the people of today are.  That is why we need the apostle’s inspired words today.

Put them off… that is not what you learned Christ.  That old life of self, sin, and its stench must go.  “Put off” that old garment spotted by the flesh.  Since the apostle is telling us to “put off” that surely means that it is  in our power, through the Spirit of Christ [Holy Spirit] to put it off.  We have the POWER of God to put off the evil.

Then there must be “renewing in the spirit of your mind” as well.  Before we were born of the Spirit of God our spirit was dead to God.  By the power of the Spirit of God our spirit was born of God; we are empowered to overcome all sin; to put off the garment of sin, and put on the “new man”.  The “putting off” comes before the “renewing the mind”.  The old stench of sin on those grave clothes blocks the fragrant scents of heaven and of God’s glorious grace. (Colossians 3:8-9).

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS ON” THE “NEW MAN”.  The “new man” is born of God to be like God in His holiness, and righteousness; through His Son.  We are told by Paul nine times within his epistles to “Put on” something…

1. In Romans 13:12 he writes, “Put on the armour of light…”
2. 1 Corinthians 15: 53 & 54 “Put on  incorruption… ‘put on immortality” twice in these two verses;
3. In Galations 3:27 “put on Christ…”;
4. Ephesians 4:24 “Put on the new man…”
5. Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armour of God…”
6. Colossians 3:10 “put on the new man…”
7. Colossians 3:12 “Put on… bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering”
8. Colossians 3:14 “Put on charity…”

We are to “put on” the life of Jesus Christ.

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS AWAY” LYING.  Lying is a means of deception.  Deception should never be in the heart of the believer; the follower of Jesus Christ.  Deception’s intent is to cover the truth, and reveals nothing except that the one lying, deceiving cannot be trusted.  Deception is a tool of the enemy.

The truth is precious among friends, neighbors, and practiced among them.  Sometimes truth hurts, however, it is a means of great peace, and to great peace.  Truth is the way to the knowing of God, and all knowledge needed knowing.  Truth is the way to strong faith, and new, rewarding fellowship with one another and with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus is the Truth in Person.

Those who do the truth come to Jesus.  “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”  John 3:21 (KJV)
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”  John 3:36 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Spirit Bearing Witness

Romans 9:1-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUTLINE –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note states,

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

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

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

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

–  Why not give one’s life for another?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – The Eternal

There are a lot of voices today saying things concerning Jesus; and many of them don’t know the real Jesus.  To many Jesus was only a good teacher, a prophet, a good man, or a good example to follow.  To others he never really existed; he is kind of like the legend of king Arthur; leaving a question or questions of like, “Did he really exist, or is he just folklore and legend?”

According to many scholars, historians, archeologists and others there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial, and resurrection; than there is for the existence of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America.  The purpose of this message is not to present these evidences, but to just take what John the apostle wrote as fact, and present it as truth, the truth of God; and let God speak for Himself.

Purpose – To introduce Jesus Christ to us in the beginning of John’s Gospel as the Word – to see what God is like; God’s communication of Himself to bring us to Himself.

INTRODUCTION –

The writer of the notes in the PILGRIM STUDY BIBLE says, “Words reveal thoughts and character; and just so the Lord Jesus expressed God’s thought and showed us what God is like.”

Jesus is introduced to us in the beginning of John’s Gospel as the Word.  We are told by John that “the Word became flesh and dwelt amon us…”  In chapter 12:20-21 there were some Greeks who had come to a feast of Israel.  They came to Phillip and said, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”  That is what I pray we get from this message from the Gospel of John.

If the world could get a clear picture of Jesus, and follow Him, it would help us all.  The following story gives us the wisdom of a child;

“One day a father was sitting in his easy chair enjoying reading the daily paper.  His young daughter came up to him saying, ‘Daddy will you play house with me?’  He would say, ‘Not now sweetheart. I am reading the paper rightenow.  Please go a play without me.’  His daughter was persistent, though and kept coming back.  Finally, after seveal  approaches by the girl the father took a page of the peaper with a picture of the world on it, tore it into several pieces and gave it to her saying, ‘Here, see how long it takes you to put the pieces of the world  together like a puzzle.’  She took that page and was gone a very short time, and returned to her father, and said, ‘Daddy, I got it all put together.’  He looked at the page, and asked her, ‘You finished so quickly.  How did you do that?’  Her response  was one that really should have an influence on us all.  ‘Daddy’, she said, ‘There is a picture of Jesus on the back of the page, and when I got Jesus together the world came together too.”

John has some favorite words – “Life”, “love”, “witness”, “believe”, “truth, “know”, “light”, “darkness”, “world”, and “flesh”.  you will notice these words in the reading of the gospel and his other writings.

“Jesus Christ as the Eternal Word is a revelation of God to man.”  KJV BIBLE COMMENTARY

None of the Gospels are more clear on the Deity of Jesus Christ than is John’s Gospel.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”  John 1:1-5 (KJV)

OUTLINE:

I.  JESUS IS THE IMAGE AND REPRESENTATION OF GOD (v. 1;  Hebrews 1:3).

II.  JESUS IS THE FULNESS OF THE GODHEAD (v. 2;  Colossians 2:9).

III.  JESUS IS THE LIFE AND LIGHT OF THE WORLD (v. 3-4,  3:19; Colossians 1:16;  Genesis 1:1-3).

IV.  JESUS IS THAT LIGHT WHICH DISPELLS THE DARKNESS (v. 5; 8:12; 12:46; Ephesians 5:8)

JESUS IS THE IMAGE OF AND REPRESENTATION OF GOD.

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”  Hebrews 1:3 (KJV)

He as the Living Word was creating from the beginning of all things (Genesis 1:1).  A person’s words reveal their character, their hearts, their thoughts.  You can trust God’s Word.  In God’s case His Word is His character.

Jesus as the Living Word is revealed seven times in the first chapter of Genesis.   In verses 3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, and 26 it reads, “And God said…”.  What God said was His Word was going forth creating.  All things that are were made by His Word – the Word who “was made flesh”.

Let’s hear what Jesus said of Himself;

“Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.”  John 8:19 (KJV)

“Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”  John 8:57-58 (KJV),

and who is “I Am”?

“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”  Exodus 3:13-14 (KJV)

JESUS IS THE FULNESS OF ALL THE GODHEAD – SO HE WAS WITH HIM AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN WITH HIM.

“For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9).

The Scriptures tell us that “God is Spirit” meaning, basically, that we cannot see God.  “God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

God in His love revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus who is the Living Word.  When we see Jesus we see the Father.  When we hear the words of Jesus we hear the words of the Father.  When we trust Jesus we trust the Father.

JESUS IS THE LIFE AND LIGHT TO THE WORLD.  The implication is that the world is in darkness and in need of light.  In the beginning God gave light for the earth.  Where did the light come from?  God is the light of the world.  Jesus later said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5)  The light was divided from darkness.  One thing we must realize is, that, where there is light is no darkness at all.

Darkness is a way of hiding all that is evil and evil evidently does not realize that nothing is hid from God.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  John 3:19 (KJV)

Jesus is the light that shines in darkness, and darkness cannot overcome His light.  The world and the devil may think He is defeated.  We hear reports of Christianity slipping in growth, yet those who genuinely trust Jesus Christ are growing and the Body of Christ is still strong, and growing in faith; knowing that the return of Jesus Christ is soon.

The devil, that ole serpent, knows he has been defeated; but has many convinced that the battle has not yet been decided.  Anyone believing that is a fool, and pawn of evil.  The cross of Christ and His resurrection is the sure sign that the battle for the souls of men, has been won, and Jesus Christ is the Victor.  Light has overcome the darkness.

JESUS IS THAT LIGHT WHICH DISPELLS DARKNESS – HE DRIVES IT AWAY.  Who ever follows Jesus will not walk in darkness, but in the light.

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12 (KJV)

People who walk with Jesus will not abide in darkness – we are of the light, because He is the Light.

“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”  John 12:46 (KJV)

When you are trusting Jesus, walking with Him, He drives all the darkness away; or will walk with you through it (Psalm 23:4).  If you are having a dark moment in your life, just look to Jesus, the One who endured the darkness of the cross for all our sin.  Paul tells us to walk as children of the light.

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…”  Ephesians 5:8 (KJV)

SUMMARY –

i.  To see God just look upon Jesus.
ii.  Everything God is; Jesus is:  Everything Jesus is God is.
iii.  Where Jesus is there is no darkness at all.
iv.  In the presence of Jesus there is no need for fear, unless you are on the wrong end of his judgment.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Cause Worth Fighting For

1 Samuel 17:29

There are times we need to heed the wise advice of who ever coined the phrase “Choose your fights”, or maybe you have never heard the phrase before.  That is okay.  The advice is good to heed when it comes to family, friends and neighbors.  You might include in that the people you work with in case some don’t understand the neighbor part.

There are times we must fight when no one else will, and this case in David’s life is a great example.  His brother was willing to start a quarrel with David, but unwilling to face Goliath.

What is there that is worth fighting for; even if it could mean our death?

OUTLINE from 1 Samuel 17:29 –

I.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE IN FEAR (vv. 11, 24).
II.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THERE IS NO FEAR IN THE ENEMY CAMP (vv. 3-10).
III.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE ONE WITH NO FEAR IS CHARGED WITH PRIDE (v. 28).
IV.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE NAME OF GOD, AND HIS ARMY IS DEFIED (v. 10).

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE IN FEAR (vv. 11, 24).  I would imagine that all of us have been intimidated by some one or some thing at some time of other.  Intimidation is fear.  King Saul and his troops were in fear of this behemoth of a man, the soldier of the Philistines who challenged them to send out their best man, and end the battle.

Saul was a king who had allowed pride, and his own personal accomplishments to get between himself and God, and fear was a side product of this.  The Lord Jesus has said,

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 (KJV)

Saul seems to have been more concerned with losing the battle than that the name of God was defied.  Compare the heart of the king with young David, and you see quite the contrast.  David had the heart like what our Lord spoke, believing God would deliver;

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32 (KJV)

The fear in the troops of God was evident for the young David who had a heart for God.

David was angry by the man who defied the armies of God; defying God.  When God’s people see people defying our God; it should cause us to rise up and confront the enemy of God.

Christian, let us maintain our right fellowship with God.  Let us always give Him the glory for any accomplishments.  Let us never fear the flesh of man, but always fear our God, knowing that it is He who raises up kings, and prime ministers,  presidents, and princes.  Christian, always walk in the fear of God and you will fear nothing else.  Paul the apostle has written by the Spirit of God,

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THERE IS NO FEAR IN THE ENEMY CAMP (vv. 3-10).  The words of Goliath continued haunting the host of Israel day after day after day, and no one is doing anything, except shaking in their sandals.  It is a good sign that the people of God are not living by the commandments of God and have fallen away from Him.

It is quite evident by Goliath’s challenge that the Philistines are not shaking in their sandals.  The giant is boastful, arrogant, confident that he can win against any “poor soldier” of Israel.  They have forgotten the power of one man who is right with God.

Saul’s sins are many, but there are two which bear remembering.  The first is his impatience in waiting for Samuel to come and offer sacrifice; so he offers it himself (1 Samuel 13).  The second sin is one of disobedience.  In chapter 15 the LORD sent Samuel to command Saul to destroy the Amalekites, and to leave none living; and to kill all the animals in their possession; to take nothing.  Saul saved many alive, saved some of the animals, and saved king Agag alive; in disobedience to God.  Some of today’s people might call Saul a “Real humanitarian”; however the issue was a commandment of God, he disobeyed, and the issue is obedience, godliness, and righteousness and Saul was none of them.

Due to the sin of Israel, the king and the troops they now live in fear.  Some fear with over coming faith in God can be a powerful thing.  When there is no faith in God, however, it [fear] is crippling.  Such was the case with Saul.  Now because of this there was no fear in the Philistine camp.

Could it be, that the reason there is no fear of God in the enemy camp today [2009] is due to the disobedience of many of God’s people?  The love, power, grace and mercy of God is not seen in our lives.

The cause for the Christian today is to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10), and stand upon the teachings, the death, burial, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the promise of His imminent return for His bride.  To be honest, forthright, just, faithful (first to God, and to one another), loving, generous, kind, having self-control, being filled with joy, peace, and patience (Galations 5:22-23).

When Christians are walking with God the world will respect us, and they will fear YHWH.

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE ONE WITH NO FEAR IS CHARGED WITH PRIDE (v. 28).  You could say that Eliab, David’s brother, was accusing him of “grandstanding”.  That sounds like many who have accused men of God in past generations of Christianity, and not so distant days of “grandstanding”.  It could be called, “Making a spectacle of one’s self”, or using an opportunity to call attention to one’s self as the answer to the problem at hand;  just for selfish cause.

David’s heart went immediately to God when he saw this treacherous event from the Philistines.  He saw a cause in this and he, though just a youth, was willing to give his life in God’s hands and go and conquer this mocker of God.  David did not say, “I think I can conquer this giant”,  he said,

“The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” (v. 37).

There is no question in the mind of David.  God will give him the victory, and he is going to give God the glory.

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE NAME OF GOD, AND HIS ARMY IS DEFIED (v. 10).  This thought is tied very closely with the second thought.  When there is no fear in the heart of the enemy of God, and His people they will defy the name of God, and His people.

To defy is to belittle, mock, to make light of, to accuse of cowardice, or impotence in battle.  John Gill in his commentary wrote;

“1Sa 17:10 – And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day,…. Or “reproach” them; that is, should they not accept his challenge, and send down a man to fight with them, he should then upbraid them with cowardice; and now he disdained them, as if there was not a man among them that dared to encounter with him:

On verse 26 Gill writes;

“for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? there were two things which provoked David, and raised indignation in him against this man; the one was, the character of the person that reproached, a Philistine, an uncircumcised person, a profane man, that had no true religion in him, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger to the covenants of promise; and the other was the persons whom he reproached, the armies of the living God, of the King of kings, and Lord of lords; and which in effect was reproaching the Lord himself, and which David, filled with zeal for God, and for his people, could not bear; and the consideration of these things animated him to engage with him, not doubting of success.”

Back to the thought of fear.  It cripples, it keeps God’s people from the power which God has given us through the seal of the Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).  We begin to fear the shadows of life when we are not walking with God.  We fear physical assaults, we fear every turn of our lives, we fear that our friends are whispering about us behind our backs, plotting to ruin or hurt us in some way, we fear financial ruin, we even begin questioning our salvation, the love of God, and the love others have for us.

When we, like David, are walking in the Spirit, walking with God, then we fear nothing but God Himself.

When God and His army is defied, that should cause His people to rise up, and be brave, bold and beautiful in our Lord.  We are living in a day of darkness.  It is not the time for fear, but faith in God through His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus’s words, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1) were words of assurance, peace and encouragement.  We must live, love, and fight in those words.  When others try to tear you down, the body of Christ down, your church down;  let us stand strong in God; in His Word, in and through the power of His Spirit.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Our Love For Jehovah

OUTLINE for Deuteronomy 5:6-21;

I.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (vv. 6-7).
II.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (vv. 8-10).
III.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (v. 11).
IV.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (vv. 12-15)

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (vv. 6-7).  God [YHWH or YaHWeH] is the One and only One who delivered Israel from Egypt.  Delivered from the house of bondage He calls His delivered people to trust only in Him.

To LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART is to love only Him.  When a man is  in love with a woman, he grows more in love with her with each passing day.  The same is true with knowing and loving God.  In the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy we are told, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart…” (v. 5); and in Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus is quoted saying the same thing (Matthew 22:37;  Mark 12:30;  Luke 10:27).

When God speaks here He is not authorizing us to put Him at the top of the list of gods to worship.  His heart’s command is to worship Him alone, and there is no other.  Would a man tell his wife “As long as you have me at the top of the list, you may see all the other men you want”?  No man in his right mind, and with any moral character would say that.

The heart is the seat of who we are.  The heart of the one who worships God alone will have his/her heart filled with God.

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (vv. 8-10).  Mankind is the only one of God’s creation which is made in His image and after His likeness.  We are told that when God had made Adam, “…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7 (KJV).

When we LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR SOUL we are loving Him from who we really are.  He breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, and that is not said of any other creature of creation, but mankind.

When we worship and love gods of our own making we denigrate ourselves.  Even when we worship self through selfishness, atheism, agnosticism, or in science, technology, or any other means of self worth garbage; we do not lower God we lower ourselves.

It is certain, at least in my mind, that everything which God has made obeys the ordinances and laws of God set down for each of them with the exception of one; and that one is man.  The one made in His image has sinned, rebelled, and seeks other things as their god.  The worship of other gods is demon worship;

“What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” (1 Corinthians 10:19-22).

Man is the only part of God’s creation of which God has said is made in His image and after His likeness. Remember, everytime you look at another human being you are looking at the image of God. Though this image is darkened by sin; there is light for thier soul. To murder the unborn in the womb is to murder the image of God. To curse another human being is to curse the image of God. To lie about another is to lie about the image of God.

The greatest, purest, and clearest Image of God was the One who walked on earth as God’s Son.  His name is Jesus.  He said, “If you have seen Me,  you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (v. 11).  It is certain, at least to me, that many people of our society need a renewed mind. I know that Jesus also said that, “…From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh…” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45), but is it not the mind that gives the mouth the ability to speak. And, we do often “Speak our mind”. We say things like, “…I will give them a piece of my mind…”, and usually when we cannot afford to give them any.

God’s name is often used, even by professing Christians who use His name without thought. It has been said that the Hebrew scribes, when writing the Scriptures would change “pens” to write the name of God. It was so special that the name of God is not even clearly revealed in the original languages. In the Hebrew language all we know of the name God is YHWH. That name has been transliterated to Jehovah or YaHWeH. The best name we have for God is J-E-S-U-S. And, how often we hear His name used vainly.

The heart that is abundant with the things of God and Jesus His Son will speak from that abundance. An abundant heart will have a clear, thinking mind. The abundant heart will speak things which will glorify the Father and the whole God-head. When your heart and soul are filled with God, are you going to speak vainly of God? No way.

There are those who use God’s name in vain by cursing and swearing. What about those who speak God’s name, seemingly in a reverent manner on Sunday at church, but the rest of the week live like the world in the way they speak? It seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy. Not just a hypocritical act but the act of a Hypocrite.

There is nothing that turns off a someone away from God quicker than someone who professes Christianity on Sunday, but imbibes in the world the rest of the week. This is a taking of God’s name in vain as well. God help us to guard our minds, by always speaking reverently of God. “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” (Psalm 111:9).

What about those who do all the churchy, traditional things, but overlook doing right toward their neighbor?

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” (Isaiah 29:13).

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9).

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” (Luke 6:46-48).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (vv. 12-15).  This is the fourth and final commandment having to do with our relationship with God. It is important to have this relationship. We are born into this world with that relationship in deadness. There is no spiritual heart for God. The law is pure evidence that this is so. There is no human being who has obeyed the law of God completely, except the Son of God Himself – Jesus Christ.

In the first place the Sabbath was initiated by God after the sixth day of creation when His work was finished.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3).

In creation God established a work cycle for mankind. Contrary to some beliefs work is not a part of the curse. Laziness is a sin and is a part of the curse. God made it where every hard working person would have a day of rest and worship. It is still necessary to have a day to rest and to worship the Lord our God. It is a shame on our society in which people work seven days a week and never give God a thought. The only god some people worship is the “Greenback” which can do absolutely nothing for peace or joy.

For Israel it was a day for renewing their strength after six days of laboring, and for worshipping God. The Christian is not bound by this commandment. We find our strength and rest in Him. He is in fact our rest and strength. That does not mean that we are to forsake the day of worship. It does mean that our worship is to be everyday, and when we join with our brothers and sisters on Sundays to lift up the name of our Lord and Savior, and God.

The Christian and the Sabbath is shown us in Hebrews 4:1-11. There we are told,

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief…”.

Because Jesus fulfilled this and all the law by His complete and perfect obedience to God, His Father, we are privileged and honored to join together on the first day of the week to do so, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7). “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5-6). The reason we worship on Sunday is because of the fulfillment and completion of the law in Christ Jesus and His resurrection on Sunday morning. The Christian’s rest is in Jesus Christ, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28). Jesus said this before He died and was buried and rose again. That means it was so in the beginning as well.

Our strength is God’s.  He gives every breath we breath.  He gives every beat of our heart.  He gives us every step we take.  Our sole allegiance ought to be to Him and to Him alone.

Loving God We Love Our Neighbor

OUTLINE vv. 16-21

I.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR BEGINS AT HOME (v. 16).
II.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS LOVING AND RESPECTING HUMAN LIFE (v. 17).
III.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS CHERISHING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE (v. 18).
IV.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR RESPECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP (v. 19).
V.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE BEAR WITNESS OF THE TRUTH (v. 20).
VI.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE DESIRE THEM TO BE BLESSED (v. 21).

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR BEGINS AT HOME (v. 16).  Without our mothers and fathers we would not be present in the world.  That should be a good thing for us.  It is a sad thing that many a child grows up never knowing their dad, and sometimes their mom.  One of the most dreadful things is that some of those who do grow up with both parents is the disrespect many have toward them.

Usually, when a child does not honor and respect their parents, they have less respect, if any respect, for law enforcement, and for any in places of authority; thus getting themselves into a multitude of troubles.  God intended children to have their parents.  Mom’s and Dad’s; you are not ordained by God to be a friend to your child; you are called, ordained to be a parent, giving them guidance, correction, love, care, providing for them as they are growing and learning.  Friendship with your son(s) or daughter(s) will come when they are grown, then, you will have a friendship which you will cherish.

This is the only commandment of the ten with a promise.  One reason for the Babylonian exile was Israel’s disrespect for parents;

“In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow”. (Ezekiel 22:7);

“Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee. Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken it, and will do it. And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 22:13-16).

Could it be that many of the problems of the society within the United States is much related to the disrespect of children toward parents, many authority figures, and God Himself?  That may have started with adults having a disrespect for human life.  Which would have began with a turning away from God.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS LOVING AND RESPECTING HUMAN LIFE (v. 17).  This sixth commandment is given to protect life, human life.  We are to cherish, and respect all human life.  The human baby in the womb of his/her mother, or even the embryo in the glass dish, or frozen in storage.  The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER Pocket Dictionary defines “embryo: a living being in the earliest stages of development–”,  and we have “Scientist” who want to cut up and destroy human embryoes for the purpose of “life saving” stem cell research.  These are not “Scientist”; they are butchers.

Let me get one thing straight.  This commandment is a commandment against cold-blooded murder.  Willful, pre-meditated, planned taking of a human life.  It is not commandment against protecting one’s own life.  It is not commandment against the execution of a murderer.  The execution of a murderer is surely the surest form of respect for human life.  Capital punishment of the murderer shows all that every human being is equal before God.  When we allow a convicted murderer to live; we count her/his life more precious than the one they killed.  When we put to death the one who killed maliciously; we  show not only respect for human life, but also show the respect that is due God’s commandments.

Here is some Scripture to reconcile the sixth commandment with capital punishment –

“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’ brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Gen. 9:5-6).

“And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.” (EX. 21:15).

“And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.” (EX. 21:18-19).

Then a New Testament passage,

” Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:1-7).

All human life is precious.  Our neighbor’s life and all in his/her household are precious in the sight of our Lord.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS CHERISHING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE (v. 18).  This commandment, the seventh, is a decree of respect and honor for the marriage of every man and woman.  Marriage is not a right it is an institution of God.  It is decreed by God that “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24), and this definitely means a man and a woman.

The First Institution God Ordained. This first institution is MARRIAGE. This blessed institution is falling by the wayside in our modern society. Our government penalizes married couples by charging them more  taxes in some cases. Elderly couples can receive more Social Security benefits by living together without marrying. This, in essence, is government, our government of the United States; rewarding immoral behavior.

Young couples are living together more and more without marriage. They want to “Test drive” the relationship, similar to test driving a car they want to purchase. This is a relationship not a piece of property. If you test drive a car and buy it there will come a day in a few years, at the most, where you will get rid of that car. If you “Test drive” that relationship, that is what most likely will happen to the relationship too. Why? Because there is need for commitment, and where there is no commitment, there is no power or permanance to the relationship. Either party in the relationship can leave at any time. It is with sadness that I must admit, there are many who enter marriage with this attitude as well. If you are not prepared to spend a lifetime with someone do not marry, but do not make a sham of marriage by living in rebellion to God’s law by cohabitating. There is little to no respect for the institution for marriage, and it seems due to the fact of no respect for God and that which is holy, righteous and good.

Marriage is more than, “Just a sheet of paper…”. It is in fact the bringing together of two – one man and one woman – before God and they two become “One flesh” (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31). It is in fact a life-time commitment with binding vows that promise one another, and God, that whether “…rich or poor, in sickness or in health, loving no other, until death do we part.” That is more than a sheet of paper; it is a “binding contract” with God, and has serious repercussions if the bond is broken any way other than by death.

THERE IS FORGIVENESS (John 8:1-11). In the Bible the penalty for adultery is death. The Scripture given previously to the last sentence shows this was what was in the heart and mind of this woman’s accusers. Quick to pick up the stones of accusation, slow to mercy, slow to forgiveness. With this woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus gives her forgiveness.

Notice Jesus’s words, “…Go, and sin no more”. It was not just a blanket forgiveness without responsibility. She had been forgiven, and now her life would reflect the cleansing and forgiveness she had received. Muse on these questions for awhile. Where was the man who was caught in the act with her? What did Jesus write in the dirt on the ground? Why didn’t they throw the stones?

The only one who could have stoned her forgave her instead. THERE IS FORGIVENESS FOR THE SIN OF ADULTERY. There is forgiveness for all sin, when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR RESPECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP (v. 19).  For some reason there are many  who think society owes them something so they take what they want, when they want it, and often at great cost to someone else.  Some people who work in some business think they have a right to take a little something which belongs to their boss.  It could be “just a box of paper clips”, or only showing one’s self busy when the boss is watching.  It is theft.  It is stealing.

* Of the first seven commandments; death is the penalty for the violation.
* This eighth commandment does not call for the death penalty – it calls, rather for restitution (Ex. 22:1; Luke 19:5-10).
* There is one exception, that is if they “Kidnap” – steal a human being (Ex. 21:16). This called for the death penalty.

If we love God and one another we will not desire what another has, and take and steal. We will practice what Paul taught the Ephesians, rather, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28). There will be no need for gambling, stealing from those who are more needy – doing it legally. When one loves their neighbor there is also a love for God and for being a faithful steward of God’s resources He has put in our trust. Also there will be the need to see that all debts are paid in full, especially the debt to our neighbors that could be the redemption of their souls.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE BEAR WITNESS OF THE TRUTH (v. 20).  This commandment is a decree against lying against your neighbor.  Bearing false witness to condemn, to elevate one’s self, to unjustly bolster one’s self image over another, or to bring condemnation before a court.

The Truth is precious, and we should be truthful with our neighbors, with our families, and most of all with God.  When we love God and our neighbors the truth will be precious to us.

The law of God says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” What exactly does this involve. Is it for the individual who is witnessing in court? Yes! Is it for the individual who is witnessing to a neighbor? Yes! You are witnessing as you share a word of gossip. You are witnessing as you defame the character of someone you do not care for. Is this a good witness? No! This is as true in politics. When one candidate charges the other with things they have heard, but are not proven. When one charges the other with something they know is not true.

J. Vernon McGee writes,

“Did you know that there are more words for breaking this commandment than all the other commandments put together?….some of them – lying, mendacity, prevarication, slander, backbiting, defamation, detraction, belittling, censoriousness, gossip, depreciation, derogation, rumor, vilification, aspersion, forgery, mudslinging, falsehood, guile, hypocrisy, insinuation, innuendo, railing, whispering, talebearing, libel, fib, fable, equivocation, disparagement, fabrication, aberation, deceit, trump up, forswear.” (From LOVE, LIBERATION, & THE LAW by J. Vernon McGee pg. 150).

That is a terribly long list of bad words, which are words in action to destroy another.  Should we not consider that when we are guilty of that it is almost certain that it will not be long and they will come back to get us.

Just a few Scriptures will bear out for us the lies destination.

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” Prov 19:5 (KJV).

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” Prov 19:9 (KJV)

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.” Psalms 101:5 (KJV)

Now look in the New Testament,

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” Rev 21:27 (KJV)

“For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Rev 22:15 (KJV)

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matt 12:36 (KJV)

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE DESIRE THEM TO BE BLESSED (v. 21).  When we have real desire for others [our neighbors] to be blessed we will not have the audacity to desire, lust for, covet the property which belongs to them; or the persons which are in their love and care.

Though this commandment is the final of the ten, it could be the KEY COMMANDMENT.  Think about this; if we disobey this commandment we can very easily and are breaking every one of the other nine.

James tells us, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10 (KJV). Get that, “Guilty of all”. Now that can be said of all the others too, but here, I hope you can see why it is important to realize that covetousness is a seed of evil, that breeds evil, and leads to the decay of the whole law in the hearts of people.

According to the book of Colossians it is Idolatry to covet. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” Col 3:5 (KJV). Even the book of Ephesians backs this up by saying, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Eph 5:5 (KJV). Note that Paul has written there, “Nor covetous man, who is an idolater…” O, the sad thing is there are many, many, too many people who live for the grasping and holding on of things, or people, or positions, or power; do I need to go on. I think you get the point.

The following verses are the words of Jesus:

”Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15 (KJV).

Again Jesus says,

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: ) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matt 6:31-34 (KJV).

Now if this is not a word for those who covet things and such, I am mistaken about the whole issue,

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matt 6:21 (KJV).

If your heart is on the things of the world, that is your treasure. However, if your heart is on the Lord and His righteousness and glory, that is your treasure. If you are going to covet; covet the godly things, that will glorify the Savior.

When our treasure is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, then we have these laws written in our hearts, and our desire is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  No one I know of wants any of these negative acts conducted against them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Celebrate The LORD

Celebrations seem to be reserved for weddings, graduations, promotions, and for whatever one desires to celebrate in our society.  There is one, or more celebrations we should never forget, though, and that is celebrating our LORD God, and the wonderful things and acts He has done for us.

The Hebrew people were given many days of celebration, with seven feast days, then a total of nine.  These begin from the Passover to end with Purim, and they each play a significant part in Judaism.  Celebrations they are, but even more they are worshipping the LORD God who delivered them, provides for them, and reminds them of His merciful, gracious, and awesome acts.

As Christians we can see the Messiah; our Lord Jesus; as He is pictured, typed, and shadowed by these celebrations.  We should celebrate and worship Him everyday of our lives.

In this message I want us to see the need for celebrating Jesus, and these pictures of our Lord in the Old Testament.  We are short on our celebrations and celebrating.  So, let’s celebrate Jesus and worship Him, and by our worship of Him we worship our GOD.

The portraits follow of our Lord Jesus Christ.

THE BLOOD OF THE PASSOVER LAMB IS A PICTURE OF THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST ON THE CROSS (vv. 1–5; Exodus 12:1-14).  By the pronouncement of God’s Word from His messenger Moses the wrath of God was going to fall on the firstborn of every home.  No one was going to be left untouched.  It didn’t matter if one was of Israel or of Egypt.  The destiny of every family was  going to be determined by the actions of each household.  The day of the Passover was to be on the fourteenth day of Abib (Exodus 13:4) also called Nisan, and is from our later days of March through the early days of April.  So, the Passover by our calendar would fall around the 29th of March, though it does come on April 9th for 2009.  I don’t know what the  difference is which causes this variance.

It was necessary if the firstborn of the home was to live, or if they neglected to put the blood on their door; then their firstborn would die.  God had shown Himself faithful to carry out the previous 9 plagues; why should or would He be questioned not?  At least the children of Israel obeyed and the firstborn children of Israel were saved.

This shows us that all are guilty of sin and need the blood of a sacrifice.  For the Passover it was the blood of the lamb which provided propitiation for the believing home.  In this case the “angel of death” passed over that home.  The shed blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, is the only atonement available for the guilt and shame of mankind today.

Jesus said, “This is My blood… which is shed for you” (Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; John 6:56).  These reference verses show the importance Jesus placed on His blood for those who believe in Him.  Jesus is the PASSOVER LAMB of God and when God the Father sees the blood of His Son Jesus He sees our sins cleansed, washed away, forgiven, and us forever in His presence.

THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD GIVES US THE PICTURE OF THE SINLESSNESS OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 6-8; Exodus 12:15-20).  This feast takes place the day following the Passover meal.  It takes place in the month Abib/Nisan as well.  It would be a 7 day feast, and no leaven was allowed in the bread, nor to be in any Hebrews home.

There are far too many who would place Jesus merely in the realm of humanity.  Yes!  He was and is human, but so much more than a man.  Many have no problem seeing Jesus as a prophet, a good teacher or even a good man; however if He was not the Son of God, Divine [God incarnate], and sinless; then He was a sham, a con-artist, and the worst deceiver who ever lived on earth.

While the idea of the “unleavened bread” implies a hasty departure for Israel from Egypt; we can also see the need for the believer’s hasty departure from sin, and sins bondage.  Sin is the master of all unredeemed people (Romans 6:16). Gender or age makes no difference.  All are guilty of sin before Holy God, and require the propitiatory act of the death of the sinless Jesus Christ to stand in the presence of the HOLY ONE.

The sinlessness of Jesus Christ qualifies Him to be our sin-bearer, our Redeemer, our Substitute, our Savior.  Paul the apostle wrote,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

THE FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS GIVES US THE PICTURE OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 9-14).  This is the offering feast of the harvest of the firstfruits of the wheat and the barley, and took place following the seventh day of the FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD.

Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover, taking into account that the Jewish day began after the sun set.  The following day would have started the feast of unleavened bread and continued for a seven day period.  Jesus was laid in a borrowed tomb, definitely dead, prepared for burial, with the tomb sealed, and three days later arose bodily from the grave, early on that Sunday morning (Matthew 28:1-4).

We find “Firstfruits” mentioned in the New Testament by Paul the apostle writing to the church of Corinth;

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”

“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”

1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 (KJV)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ bodily from the grave is the means of the Christians rejoicing.  Our God and Savior Jesus Christ conquered sin, death, hell and the grave and still lives, giving God the glory, and  giving to all who will believe eternal life.

Celebrate Jesus He died, was buried, arose bodily from the grave and is returning some day.

THE FEAST OF WEEKS [PENTECOST] IS THE PICTURE OF THE EVIDENCE OF THE LIVING LORD JESUS; HIS SPIRIT IN US (vv. 15-22).  The celebration was to be counted seven sabbaths from the offering of the first fruits, or 49 days. With celebration of day 50.

Forty days following the resurrection of Jesus, and His appearances to many, in one incident “above five hundred at one time” (1 Corinthians 15:6); Jesus ascended into heaven leaving this promise;

“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” and,

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  Acts 1:5, 8 (KJV)

Ten days following Jesus’s ascension into the heavenlies the Spirit of God came on all in the upper room (Acts 2).  That is the total of 50 days.

This is something the Christian, filled with the Spirit of God and Christ, can celebrate every single day.  We have the very person of Jesus Christ within us.  He is the power of Christ, the presence of Christ, and glory of Christ in us.  He is our “Earnest payment” until Jesus returns (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:14).  This our guarantee that He is returning.

The Spirit of God in us is much more than a guarantee of His return though.  He is the power which changes the heart of a good man into the heart of a godly man.  He is the power that changes a pimp or a prostitute into a vessel which is clean, pure and brings glory to God.  He is the power who can change the child molester into an individual who has the heart of God for children.  He is the power who can change a murderer into someone who loves and cherishes all of life.  When the Spirit of God and Christ enters a man, woman, boy or girl the change that is made is noticed;

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4 (KJV)

Saul of Tarsus, who hated Jesus, His teachings, and all who followed Him became a disciple and an apostle of Jesus Christ when he met Jesus, and was changed by the Spirit of Jesus Christ in him (Acts 9:1-22).  Every one who comes to Jesus receives the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the Holy Spirit), baptized into His body (1 Corinthians  12:13), and is gifted and empowered to live for Him and His glory.

THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS IS THE PICTURE OF CHRIST REGATHERING THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL (vv. 23-25). The Feast of Trumpets took place annually during the month Tishri (September/October). The prophets from Isaiah through Malachi ring with promises of the regathering of Israel as a nation.  Jesus Himself made the promise of such;

“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Mattthew 24:31 (KJV)

There are many Old Testament promises which will yet be fulfilled; some I give you:

“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Isaiah 2:1-5 (KJV)

Isaiah 11:1-16

“Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house. And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me.” Ezekiel 43:1-6 (KJV)

“And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali. It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.” Ezekiel 48:31-35 (KJV)

“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:4-6 (KJV)

On this portion of Matthew (24:31) you may check this out. If you would like to check out my studies of the Olivet Discourse you may click on the link.

Romans chapters 9 – 11 give us more details of God’s promises being fulfilled to the people of Israel, and one day Jesus will regather them to Himself, and this time will be forever.

THE FEAST OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT GIVES US THE PICTURE OF JESUS’S SUBSTITUTIONARY DEATH ON THE CROSS (vv. 26-32).  The day of atonement took place during the month Tishri (September/October).

It was on the day of atonement that we hear of the “Scapegoat” (Leviticus  16).  There were two goats brought to the high priest.  By “lot” one was chosen as the LORD’s and the other lot for the scapegoat.  The LORD’s lot was sacrificed, the other was released, “…to go as a scapegoat into the wilderness.”  There is more sacrifice involved on this day of atonement, but within this scene of the “Scapegoat” we have a beautiful picture of the atoning work of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Jesus, as the sinless, perfect, spotless, blemishless, Lamb of God went to the cross our sacrifice for sin, without sin, became our sin – thus the goat image – bore the wrath of Holy God upon sin, died as the penalty for our sin (Romans 6:23), was buried – thus the image of the scapegoat – carrying our sins, shame, and guilt and condemnation away.  Then, He arose bodily from the grave leaving all that sin, shame, guilt and condemnation cast far, far away (Psalm 103:12).

There is only one payment for sin, and that is provided, and was provided by our God and Savior Jesus Christ, as he bled and died in obedience to His Father, and in His love for you and I He is our Substitute, our only atonement for sin.

THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES IS A PICTURE OF THE REST AND REUNION WE HAVE IN JESUS CHRIST (vv. 33-44).  This feast also took place in the month of Tishri (September/October) on the fifteenth day would be the beginning.  The first day was a Sabbath day, and the eighth day was a Sabbath day for them.  On the first day also they were to make booths (a temporary home) this was a reminder to them of the journey through the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt.

It would seem that the whole month of Tishri is taken  with celebration and worship of the LORD.  The life of the Christian should be a time of celebration/worship of  our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our God.  God saw to it that the people would always have plenty of rest from their labors.  Six days a week they labored, then the sabbath day was a day of rest.  Then on the fourteenth day of the first month until the twentyfirst day they celebrated the Passover, Unleavened bread, and firstfruits; fifty days later they celebrated Pentecost, then in the seventh month of Tishri they celebrated Feast of Trumpets [Rosh Hashanah], Day of Atonement [Yom Kippur], and feast of Tabernacles [Booths of Ingathering].

Today the Hebrews celebrate two other occasions.  Feast of Dedication (John 10:22) [Hanukkah] during the month of December from the miracle of the Menorah in the temple during the of the Maccabees rebellion against Antiochus ephiphines.  The other began in the time of Esther, and is called Purim in the month Adar (February/March).  Purim is remembrance and thanks to God for His deliverance from Haman’s deceptive means to destroy the Jews.

In Jesus Christ our Lord and God we celebrate these every day.  He fulfilled all these.  He is the anti-type.  He is not the shadow of these things; He is the substance.  Jesus is also the Light, and the only means of salvation for the Jew and the Gentile.

Of His Rest and Reunion we read:

“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:11-16 (KJV)

Let’s Celebrate Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Rest Of His Ministry

Luke 21:34-36; 4:18-19

Purpose –  To proclaim the purpose of the second coming of Jesus, why Jesus stopped with, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…”.

In this message I want us to remember the words of Jesus when He appeared in the synagogue, read from Isaiah 61:1 & 2, but stopped short from finishing the text.  Where there were probably many Jewish people expecting a king to come, deliver them from Rome, and set them free; they were not expecting a healer, Lord and Savior.

The proclamation of Isaiah states;

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJV)

You can see by these verses that Jesus never read the whole statement.  Was there an error in His reading by stopping short?  He stopped at the phrase, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” and never continued with, and the day of vengeance of our God…” and the following words of  promise.  So what do we do with this seeming conflict?  Realize there is no conflict, but rather a prophetic word of urgency.

It is as though Jesus was saying, “I am here now to do these things.  When I come again the other, that not yet done, will be done.”

THE MINISTRY OF JESUS AT HIS FIRST COMING (Luke 4:18-19).  We are told by Scripture that Jesus came to do the will of God.  He said, “Know you not that I must be about My Father’s business”  and He also said, “I am come to seek and to save the lost.”  His purpose was not to heal the sick, raise the dead; that was His ministry, but not His purpose for becoming man.

He did not come to be served, but to serve, He said, “and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  We are told that near the end of His ministry on earth He had His “face was as though He would go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).  As you read the gospels Jesus spent His life doing what would please the Father, and accomplish His will, and glory.

In Jesus’s work and ministry He declared this is the time for salvation, “…The acceptable year of the LORD”.  The apostle Paul wrote, “…now is the day of salvation”(2 Corinthians 6:2).

JESUS WARNS OF A TIME OF SPIRITUAL LAXNESS,  DARKNESS, AND WORRIES OF LIFE (v. 34;  1 Timothy 4:1-4).  Can we as people get caught up in our everyday business, life, life pursuits, ballgames, vacations, etc., and not give a care about our spiritual well being?

YES!  We can.  It is often so easy to get engulfed, overwhelmed and busied by life that spending time with God, living for Him by Biblical living, and sharing the gospel is never on our mind.  There may be more to Jesus’s words than just those things though.  The word “surfeiting” expresses along with the word “overcharged” over doing the food and drink; making gluttons and drunkards of one’s self.  The party atmosphere is not the best atmosphere.  It may be fun, and it may be exciting, but what happens after it is over?  If there is overeating, gluttonous eating, then there may be sickness, pain, misery.  If the over indulgence is with drink, and it is alcoholic then there won’t be a whole lot of difference.

Jesus is warning of spiritual darkness that can creep in silently, and take hold of your life, when you least expect it.  I wonder if the apostle Paul did not have Jesus’s words here in mind when he wrote,

“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 (KJV)

Jesus would not want His followers to be in darkness.  He gives us a warning to stay alert at all times, no matter how good or bad the economy, or our health may be.  Jesus also warned of the times being similar to the time of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39).  People simply going about their daily lives, with thier problems, business, and life in particular, as though everything would go on as it is.

THE WHOLE EARTH ENSNARED; NO ONE LEFT UNTOUCHED BY THIS EVIL (v. 35;  Revelation 3:10; 11:10; 13:8 ).  This verse reminds me of these three verses in the Revelation of our Lord which say, “(Them, They, or All)that dwell upon the earth”, and Jesus is giving all plenty of warning of a time coming on earth where the “whole earth” will be ensnared in unrighteous, debauchery, loose living, drunkenness, and gluttonous acts.

“Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Revelation 3:10 (KJV)

“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” Revelation 11:10 (KJV)

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8 (KJV)

Let it be understood that we are all visitors on this earth; meaning by that that we are all only here for a short time.  Some of us have realized that there is another and better place “far away” for which we can go when we are prepared.  We make our home here, see it as only temporary, and live our lives for the One who has sent His Son to redeem us from all our sin.

It seems very real to me, that Jesus is telling all who heard Him speak the words, and all who would read these words in years to come, that only those whose hearts are dwelling on earth, making this a permanent home, are the one’s who will be ensnared.  Trapped by the lies of a deceptive leader who would lead all who follow him to destruction, and eternity in the fire.

BEFORE IT COMES BE SURE YOU ARE COUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE THESE THINGS AND STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN (v. 36).  Jesus’s words “Watch… and pray always”, and then, “…that ye may be accounted worthy of to escape all these things…” implies what I have said above.  There is a way of escaping the traps of what is coming on this world, and that is that we “May be accounted worthy of escape”.

How is one counted worthy of escape?  Is it with good labors?  Good works? The right ritual worship?  The right baptism?  NO!  It is nothing according to the flesh of men that makes one worthy to stand in the presence of the Son of  Man, and accounted by Him fully worthy.  This is the work of God alone.

The Word of God tells us plainly:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)

“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 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; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 (KJV)

No one can be accounted worthy to stand fully righteous and worthy, except by the cross of Jesus Christ; that is His death, His burial and His bodily resurrection from the dead.  He the perfect, sinless, Son of God gave Himself, a sacrifice, that those who would trust in Him might be saved.  Through His sacrifice we are accounted as worthy.  Accounted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass.

The reason for our need to “Watch… and pray” is so that it does not come on us suddenly and we are caught unaware of His taking us out.  This is our means of discerning the times and the seasons of men.  We, as Christians, ought always be looking for the appearing of our Savior, and listening for His shout.

AT THE APPEARING OF JESUS; HIS JUDGMENT; AND FOLLOWING  (Isaiah 61:2-3ff).  When Jesus stood in the synagogue and read from Isaiah 61, and stopped reading at the verse ending with “…the acceptable year of the LORD”, and closed the book He was saying that time had come, the rest would come later.  His first coming was not as the religious leaders had expected, and they refused to accept Jesus because of that they tried to kill Him, then, by throwing Him over a cliff (Luke 4:28-30).

When you continue reading in Isaiah 61 you find;

“To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJV)

“The day of vengeance of our God”, and Jesus never came in His incarnation to bring the wrath and judgment of God on sin.  He came to be the instrument of receiving the wrath and  judgment of God for sin.  He took the wrath that was ours upon Himself, that mankind might have a path, a bridge, a “narrow way” before the very throne, and the very face of God.

If you will take note of verse 3 above, when He comes again to earth, it will be to comfort those who mourn, giving them “beauty for ashes,… oil of joy for mourning,… garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”  His coming again will be to establish the kingdom on earth, and to restore Israel, fulfilling all His promises to them.

Watch and pray that you may be accounted worthy to escape the wrath that is coming upon all who dwell upon the earth.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Scripture, Jesus, And The Christian

Purpose:  As Jesus came to do the Father’s will, fulfilling Scriptures, so too are those who follow Him fulfilling Scripures.

OUTLINE of Luke 4:14-21

I.  JESUS RETURNS TO GALILEE IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT  AND TEACHES (v. 14-15).

II.  JESUS IS FAITHFUL TO ATTEND THE PLACE OF WORSHIP (v. 16).

III.  JESUS PARTICIPATED IN KEEPING THE SCRIPTURES AS CENTRAL TO WORSHIP (v. 17).

IV.  JESUS READ THE SCRIPTURES AND APPLIED THEM TO HIMSELF (vv. 18-19).

V.  JESUS THE FULFILLMENT OF SCRIPTURE (vv. 20-21;  Revelation 19:10).

THE CHRISTIAN’S TIME OF TESTING EQUIPS US TO WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS (vv. 14-15).  Following the baptism of Jesus by John, Jesus was led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness for testing.  Testing is not just to show us, what we have, but to strengthen us for the journey ahead.

The testing which Jesus endured, survived, and defeated the temptations of the enemy were needed by Him, to strengthen Him for the journey which lay ahead; all the way to the cross.  Let’s remember that Luke’s gospel is written concerning the “God-Man” Jesus Christ.  Luke shows the humanity of Jesus more than the other gospel writers.  As Luke emphasizes His humanity he does not degrade, lessen, or violate the Deity of Christ (as written by John); the Royalty of Christ (as written by Matthew), nor the Servanthood of Christ (as written of by Mark).   The four gospels nowhere, and at no place ever contradict one another; they rather complement one another; giving us the fuller story of Jesus Christ.

Jesus stood up in the synagogue to read the portion of Isaiah.  It is noted in Nehemiah that when  the Scriptures were read, “…All the people stood up” (Nehemiah 8:5).  This was done in reverence to God’s Word.  Jesus, and it may be that all who would read Scripture in the synagogue or Temple were to stand.

With the test Jesus passed He was strengthened to face the temptations of the people.  Some wanted Him to be their king, and even came at least once to force Him to be their king (John 6:15).  Surely, this was a temptation for Him; however He would not take a shortcut, nor detour around the destination that was to the cross.

The Christian’s walk in the Spirit of Christ is not one filled with popularity, nor easy shortcuts which can often turn out to be sad mistakes, and even sin.  Christians walking in the Spirit follow the path of the cross.  “Take up the cross and follow Me…” (Mark 8:34, 10:21;  Matthew 16:24;  Luke 9:23; 14:27) Jesus said, and is still calling those who follow Him to die to self, and the world.  There is no walking in the Spirit of Jesus without the cross of the follower.

THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WILL BE FAITHFUL TO SUPPORT THE WORSHIP OF THEIR LOCAL CHURCH (v. 16)  “I am part of the invisible church.”  Have you ever heard such a comment or something similar, and usually added to it is this comment; “I am not a part of any church, I attend all churches, as God leads”.  What they mean is that they are “Church hoppers”.  These types of people go from church to church, and more times than not are a source of contempt, and discontent, first in themselves and then to others.

We see Jesus attending synagogue when He was not in Jerusalem to attend the Temple meetings.  He attended the synagogue of His home town of Nazareth.

Becoming a member of a local church; and this is coming from a Baptist point of view, and I believe a Scriptural one; requires first of all that you be born again, having called on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation, and having been baptized by the Spirit into Christ.  Secondly, that you confess your faith to a local church, requesting water baptism showing the baptism of the Spirit which you have already received – baptism being by immersion (that is putting under the water)- testifying of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Scripture knows nothing of an “Invisible church”.  The letters which the apostle Paul wrote were written to local congregations.  For example, Romans was written to the Christians at Rome.  The Corinthian letters were written to Christians in Corinth.  The Thessalonian letters were written to the Christians in Thessalonica.  The Letters to the Seven Churches which were given by Jesus were to local churches.

Why does the Spirit filled Christian need to be in a local congregation.  First of all because Jesus is.  Secondly, for their spiritual well being; encouragement, solidarity, strength, faithfulness, systematic learning, worship, fellowship, ministry, discipleship, and reaching the lost to bring them in.  Third, a local congregation of God’s people bonding together in Christ can more affectively reach the community in which that local church meats.  I am sure there are more.

THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WILL INCLUDE DEDICATION TO THE PROMINENCE OF THE WORD OF GOD (v. 17).  In recent years it seems that the priority or prominence within the church has become gaining attendance, rather than placing priority, prominence, and authority to the Word of God.  The Christian who is walking in the Spirit of Jesus Christ wants, desires, for the Word of God to grow in prominence within their hearts and lives.

Where should the Bible/Scripture fit into the local church?  Where should it fit into any church which professes to be Christian?  The Word of God should always be front and center.  By front and center I mean that the Word of God is of the utmost priority and prominence, because it is Scripture which lifts up and glorifies Jesus and the Father.  It is Scripture which works by the Spirit to make alive those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).  It is Scripture by which a “…young man cleanse[s] his way…” (Psalm 119:9), by which all can cleanse their way.  The Scriptures, quickened by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, is “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path”  (Psalm 119:105).  In Baptist and some prostestant churches there is some symbolism seen in the way the worship area is designed.  When you enter the “sanctuary” you see the pulpit (as the place where the Word of God is proclaimed) up front, and in the center of the stage or platform, with the organ and piano to the right and left.  Many times the pews or chairs are angled toward the pulpit giving note to the priority of preaching the Scriptures.

Jesus stood showing priority, prominence and respect for reading the Word of God.

Prominence of Scripture must be done more than in a local congregation.  It must be lived out in the hearts and lives of Christians who worship in the local church.  The priority of Scripture must be seen in your life by your devotion to the reading, meditating upon what you have read, hearing what you have read – hearing God in what you have read, then taking it and applying it to your life, giving full priority and prominence to it within your life.

THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WILL SHOW FORTH JESUS AND BE A PART IN THE FULFILLING OF SCRIPTURE (vv. 18-21).  As Jesus read the prophecy of Isaiah, He knew this spoke of Himself, and called on those who could hear Him to receive it, and believe it.   Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2a, cutting it off before, “And the day of  vengeance of our God…”.

Jesus came to these of whom He gives notice.  To preach good tidings to the poor; the heal the broken hearted;  to proclaim liberty to the captives; opening the prison to those who are bound.  Jesus came the first time to save us, to give us hope; and to assure us that there is a day coming when all evil will be dealt an eternal blow, which was initially dealt with on the cross a few years later.

Jesus’s presence with them in the synagogue, at Nazareth was not by accident, but was a clear declaration that Jesus is the God-Man who would do all these things.  With the commission given us by Jesus we are gifted to go and be a light, the salt, and the living word among those who have not heard.

In our obedience to Jesus Christ we fulfill the Scriptures in our own hearts and in the lives of others.  It would be more correct to say that God fulfills Scripture in our obedience to Jesus and His Word.

As Jesus stood to fulfill the reading of the Scriptures, He then sat down, as though to say, “It will be and is as good as done”.  That day all the answers to mankinds ills had made His appearance.  He still calls for people to follow Him.  The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is setting down at the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2;  1 Peter 3:22).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Just A Thought 12/30/08

There are many questions, and at times many accusations, and arguments over the issue of marriage.  Biblically, marriage is between one man, and one woman “until death do we part”.  The issue of same sex or homosexual marriage is playing a large part in that definition today.

As a Christian I take the Biblical view of marriage, and will until the Lord returns to take me home with Him.  A question comes to my mind, however, “Why has marriage been so cheapened, so degraded?”, and I must answer that with this.

The divorce rate is around 50 percent.  That sounds awful to me.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Is that what is meant by that statistic?  If so, that is truly terrible, and a shame to be attached to something that God has ordained. 

There is something that makes the matter even worse to me, and that is the divorce rate among those who profess to be “Christian”.  It is at the same rate, and maybe even higher.  It seems that many Christians have bought into the “Me” lie.  They may not admit it, but live as though their living life is all about “Me”, and there is no surrender, no commitment, no loyalty to the spouse (husband or wife).

Let me ask this question, “Who has really cheapened marriage; those who have no commitment, or the issue of same sex marriage?”  I dare say that had we Christians stood firm on faithful marriages, and committed ourselves to our own wife or husband, then there would not be the issue and debate of same sex marriage.

Here is the Biblical idea for marriage.  “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  When these are followed there will be happiness in the marriage, along with joy and peace.

Just my thoughts for today.

-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

Evidences Of The Filling Of The Spirit

PURPOSE: To show that  by the Christian’s yielding control of life to the Holy Spirit that Christian is filled with the Spirit, making life more heavenly on earth.

OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS 5:18 THROUGH CHAPTER 6: 9:

I.  BE CONTROLLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD (vv. 18-20).

II.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED LIVING IS A LIFE OF SUBMISSION (vv. 21-24).

III.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED HUSBANDS LOVE THEIR WIVES SACRIFICIALLY (vv. 25-33).

IV.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHILDREN OBEY THEIR PARENTS (vv. 6:1-4).

V.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHRISTIANS PRACTICE THEIR GOD GIVE VOCATION (6:5-9).

BE CONTROLLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD (vv. 18-20).  From the beginning we must understand that every born again individual is indwelt by the Spirit of God.  He inhabits your body along with your spirit that has been born anew in Christ Jesus.

Most of us have witnessed the activities of a drunk who was mad drunk by drinking by alcoholic beverage or some other drug legal or illegal.  The man or woman now drunk has become boisterous, knows no fear, will do things they would not normally do when they were sober.  The individual made drunk by this foreign substance, is controlled by another substance which has robbed him of self control.

Paul knew what the excess of wine did to people.  I know what the excess of wine does to people, as I am sure you do as well.  Most drunks believe they can drive, maybe even fly, or do anything.  Paul uses the likeness here in a somewhat analogous way.  Drunks (for the most part) become drunk willingly and by drinking what they know will inebriate them.  The Holy Spirit filled believer becomes Spirit filled willingly.  The drunk knows no fear.  The Spirit filled believer is not fearful.  The drunk does things he/she would not normally do, if sober.  The Spirit filled Christian does things he/she would not normally do, such as one on one witnessing, preaching, serving others, teaching, giving, loving, and living with the fruits of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23) more practical things.

Now here is wheree this analogy breaks down.  The drunk has no self control, while the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Spirit filled Christian, gives each Christian self control.

In verses 19-20 (Colossians 3:15-17) we begin seeing what the life of the Spirit filled person is like.  He/She is in an attitude of worship.  He is at peace with God in his heart, always praising God.  Always a song in the heart and on the lips.  The Spirit filled/controlled Christian will have their lives filled with song and singing.  Always thankful, for all things, and identified in the Lord Jesus.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED LIVING IS A LIFE OF SUBMISSION (vv. 21-24).  Further evidence of Spirit controlled living is submission to one another.  Submission in this event is recognizing God ordained positions and being subject to those who are in those positions as God has designed and led.  For the man; a woman is far superior to the man at being a woman, and all that God has designed for her to be and do.  For the woman; the man is far superior to the woman at being a man, and all that God has designed for him to be and do.  Therefore, there is cause for us to submit to one another.

As members of the Body of Christ [the Church] our Lord and Savior, we are to be first submissive to Him, and if we are genuinely submitted to Hom we will also be to one another.  We will be accountable to each other in our walk with Christ.  When a brother or sister in Christ submits to another Christian it is motivation for Christian living unseen any other way.  We submit one to one, all to one, and one to all.  Husband to wife, wife to husband, and children to parents and parents to children; of course remembering that God has placed some in positions of authority.

Wives are to submit to their husbands [in the Lord] because God ordained it so in the order of creation (1 Timothy 2:11-13).  It was from Adam’s side which God created woman to be his helper.  Believe me ladies; we men need a lot of help. 8)  She is to submit to her husband as to the Lord and for His sake.

The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church…  The head is what keeps the rest functioning properly.  Without direction, vision and leadership from the head the collective body will fail.

In every organization, business, military endeavor, church and home there must be a head who will lead the way.  If all try to lead you have chaos.  Now, we understand as human beings, leadership that is dictatorial is not responsible leadership.  The head, in human affairs, will listen to advice and counsel from others, and make decisions accordingly.

Wives and their husbands should be able to sit down together and make plans and talk things through.  Generals who listen to good advice from privates would be wise Generals indeed.  In many cases it may be that listening to Privates, is part of the reason they made the promotion of General.

The husband is a wise husband, and wise head who will listen to his wife.  The husband as head of the wife and analogous to Christ should also see the picture of sacrifice.  Christ gave Himself for the Church.  If the husband is willing to sacrifice his life for his wife she will have no problem being submissive to him.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED HUSBANDS LOVE THEIR WIVES SACRIFICIALLY (vv. 25-33).  Holy Spirit filled husbands love their wives sacrificially.

As Jesus gave Himself for the Church in order to have a glorious bride the Spirit filled husband voluntarily gives himself to and for his wife.  She is a special and precious treasure.  He will see her as an extension of himself, a partner, a friend, a helper for life.  He cares for her well being; physically, financially and spiritually.  He loves her as he loves himself.  A man will give up almost anything to do what he wants to do – what he REALLY wants to do.  If the husband really loves his wife he will give up anything to show her that love.  Jesus gave up the glory of heaven for a time to show He loves His bride.

No longer under the care of his parents he loves his wife and becomes one with her for the rest  of their lives.  There is no one else by her that he sacrifices for, not even himself.  If husbands want reverence from their wives we must first love them sacrificially, and do so at the expense of our own comfort, pride, and well being.

Here is some other sacrifices husbands can make for their wife’s benefit:

  1. That favorite football team that’s playing the same time your wife wants you to go shopping with her; what will you do?
  2. Her favorite TV show is on the same time as yours; what will you do?
  3. Your home from work for the day, there are things you could be doing that you enjoy, the wife is working, and there are dirty clothes to be washed, and dishes in the kitchen sink; do you wait for her to come home and do them? or will you do them? instead of what you want to do?

The above mentioned things are not giving your life, but merely giving up your wants for what would be good for her.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHILDREN OBEY THEIR PARENTS (vv. 6:1-4).  Obedient children are a blessing to any home.  Children who love our Lord, and are Spirit filled are obedient and hold their parents in honor and respect.

The Christian home should reflect the likeness of Jesus.  Even though He is the Creator of the world He subjected Himself to Joseph and Mary in honor and obedience.  Children who are born again and are controlled by God’s Spirit are an excellent testimony of God’s power to change lives.  Children who live solely for self are not subject to anyone, not even God.  It is a sure sign, that if a child is disobedient and disrespectful to their parents, they are in the same condition with God.

The same can be said of the father who is abusive to his children, and neglects to hear their cries and hurts.  If the father provokes his children, or does not sacrificially love their mother, he is not Spirit filled or controlled.  The Spirit filled – controlled – father teaches, encourages, without downgrading his children.

The care and encouragement in the Lord is what our children need.

Living as Spirit filled Christians is about as close to heaven as we will come in this world; at least until Jesus Comes and makes all things right.  Our God has equipped us, and given us His Spirit to help us in the endeavor of living holy lives.  It is only possible as we yield our selfishness to the control and influence of His Spirit.  Yielding will bring harmony to the church, marriages, parents, and children, and in all realms of living.

The only way to Spirit filled/controlled living is through faith in Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHRISTIANS PRACTICE THEIR GOD GIVE VOCATION (6:5-9).  Remember the Submission part; about submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God… (v. 21).  It is for the place where we are employed as well; or the place where we employ employees – as owners or boss.  When we see ourselves as the servants of Jesus Christ it will not matter what our job, but in the power of God’s Spirit will do our job “as unto the Lord.“

The word servant used here is a reference to “slaves”.  Slavery was a dominant institution during the time of Paul’s writing.  According to some the word is used in referring to involuntary or voluntary slavery.  If this means “slave”, then how can it apply to Twenty first century America?  It applies in the factories, grocery stores, farms, churches, families, government offices, Law offices, Court buildings, Police headquarters, Fire stations, Ambulance services, Hospitals, Highway/Road departments, etc., thus, everyone is an employee somewhere.  An employee must appear at work at a set time, leaves at a set time, is paid on a set day, and must work according to the employers policies; or be fired.  When you are working for someone other than yourself, you are serving someone.  In what is called service oriented businesses; even if you are “working for yourself” you are still serving others.  You may not like the term, but you are a servant to that employment – a slave.

You can talk to just about any one who works for someone else and they will often begin telling you all, or at least some of the problems of their employer.  There are a lot of people who are dissatisfied with their place of employment.  It seems to be human nature to complain, however, it is not God’s nature.

Be obedient… unto Christ (v. 5), could form the entire sentence.  Even when the boss seems to be messing up, if we are to be faithful, Spirit filled Christians we comply with his directions – as long as his directions are not immoral, or physically harmful, and/or violate your conscience.

Spirit filled Christians are different in their labor than are the rest of the laborers.  Where others complain and slack off in their work the Spirit controlled believer is thankful, and works his/her best.  Her single purpose being to glorify Jesus Christ.

The very fact that more is said in these verse cold show who the majority of Christians were in this church.  These words to encourage them in their labor.  It is Jesus for whom we labor.  The Scriptures say nothing of a division of secular and sacred.  For the Spirit filled Christian all things are done, as unto Christ.

The Spirit filled Christian employee will not serve with eyeservice; seeking the approval of the boss only when he is watching.  This term eyeservice implies only doing the work; and maybe even with a little more effort; when being watched.  Many people who are of the world work one way when no one is watching and a completely other way when they know they are being watched.  To please the boss (while he is watching) could mean a promotion, they think.

It is the will of God that Christians do their work heartily as the servants of Christ .  The work of the Christian is not to please men, but to glorify their Lord.  Those Christians who do their work unto the Lord will recrive eternal rewards from Christ (Colossians 3:24).  This is not unto salvation but rewards which glorify our Lord.

Doing a job cheerfully can be contagious.  Others see you working, and enjoying the work of your Lord, and it begins to rub off on others.  What kind of witness is it to be sour and complaining about low pay, no benefits, poor work environment, and whatever other complaints there are?  I heard Elisabeth Elliot say, “If you aren’t doing the work you like, then, like the work you do.”  We  can only learn to like it by seeing that  our true Master is our lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Verse 8 is the link to what has just been said.  If  there is anyone who has doubt that this idea of servanthood is not relevant for our day, Paul includes, “Whether he be bond or free”.  In other wards the principles given are for all Christians, and for all ages.

When we go to a place for employment we are subjecting ourselves to their rule of practice and operation.  We voluntarily become a bond-slave to our employer with the understanding we are being  paid for what we do, and at an agreed upon wage.  However, if we expect to be paid, the employer expects good work.

The good work that Christian employee does, along with a joyful and giving attitude, is a witness to everyone around, including the boss.  God promises reward to those who serve the Lord in this way.

When it is said and done we are all bond-slaves to someone or something.  There are some who are slaves to sin and obey its every craving and desire.  The Christian, however, is free from sin, and is a bond-slave to Christ, because he was redeemed with the purchase price of the shed blood of Jesus (Romans 6:14-18).

The Christianity part does not lay on the employee alone; that is the responsibility of every Christian employee and employer.  We look now at the duties of the Christian employer, Business owner, Supervisor, Boss; let’s also keep in mind 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”  We are all subjects of Christ.

The “master”  is to do service to the servant, “as unto the Lord”.  Paying a wage that enables the servant to have a life supporting his family and providing for their health needs.  This is speaking of the Christian employer.

For the “master” he is to do it as a servant of Christ.  Not beating, nor threatening, but encouraging.  The “master” realizing that he too has a Master “in heaven”.

The Master in heaven has no “respect of persons”, but every one of His children are equal in His sight; receiving from Him according to their need.  The master/employer should  treat his employees equally according to their needs and abilities.

When Christians are filled with the Spirit they will be the best employees an employer can find, for they see that they are servants.  Servants not of their employer, but of Christ, who is Master over all.

The Christian [Spirit controlled] employer will give the best of care to his employees, because he realizes he has a Master, and when the employees are respected and blessed by their employer they will give more of themselves without complaining.

Wouldn’t it be great if employers were always on the look out for Christian employees because every Christian  who cam to work for them was a hard and joyous worker?

Wouldn’t it be great if the Christian employer was gracious and took care of his employees, and his employees loved him and because of his generosity worked their best for him?

We give evidences of the filling of the Spirit of God by these things which the apostle has written.  Husbands and wives submitting to one another, respecting one another’s place filled by God;  Children loving and respecting their parents, obeying them and parents filled with the Spirit correcting their children with love;  Servants/Employees be submitted to their bosses; Christian employers/bosses/business owners submitted to the servant.  As Christians we must remember we are to be submitted one to another.  See the other as better than ourselves and seek others well being.  This is a practicing, active, living Christianity.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Searching In The Fire

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” 1 Peter 1:10-12

The prophets of the Old Testament had spoken and written of this great salvation. Isaiah the eighth century B.C. prophet foretold both the first coming of Jesus in the fifty third chapter of his writings (Isaiah 7:14; 53), and the second coming of Jesus in glory (Isaiah 11). That salvation which was previously mentioned (v. 9) is the salvation which Jesus is working in us, and will complete at His appearing.

By inspiration of the Holy Spirit we see that the prophets inquired and searched diligently into the matter of this glorious salvation. The salvation that was paid for with the blood from the body of God who had become human, that He might die. Did the prophet Isaiah realize he was writing of the death of God become flesh as he penned down Isaiah 53? I have a strange notion that he had a suspicion of it, and this is one of the areas which the prophets searched and inquired.

Some more questions I can think of concerning the search of the apostles: Did they see the types, the shadows, the pictures of their Messiah in the writings of Moses? Did they see Him in the sacrifice God made to clothe Adam and Eve? Did they see Him in the fire that guarded the gate to Eden after the fall? Did they see Him in the genealogy of Seth? What about in the Ark? What about as Abraham went to Moriah to offer Isaac as a burnt offering to God? In the sacrifices of the law of Moses? The sabbaths, and/or the Sabbath? I personally believe many of them did, especially since we are told that they “searched diligently”. A diligent search of Scripture will show us these things.

It seems by looking at verse eleven that they were wondering when these events were going to take place and whom they would be for. We know the answer to this today. He came at the appointed time, to His own people, but was rejected by His own. The person who came was the Messiah/Savior/Lord/God/King to sit on the throne of David for ever and ever.

The prophets wrote of His coming, His suffering and His glory. It is because He came and suffered for us that we have the strength, and power to stand strong and suffer for His name’s sake when we have opportunity. That is right ‘Opportunity’ is the word I used. If the early church people counted it a joy to suffer for His name (Acts 5:41). The suffering Jesus suffered for us is what He came to do. It was His very purpose in coming. To make it clearer; God sent His Son Jesus to become a man, in order to take on Himself all the sins of mankind, lay His life down as a sacrifice for our sins, be judged by the Father Himself, and the Father pouring all His wrath out on His Son, thus judging sin and putting the judgment away forever, never to be done again; the burial of Jesus takes that sin away never to be seen again, and the bodily resurrection is the seal of approval of the putting away of sin, and God’s seal of approval for the work of His Son. By the resurrection of Jesus we have the assurance of eternal life with Him, when we trust the work He accomplished on the cross.

Now, why shouldn’t we count it an opportunity to suffer for the name of Jesus? Not that I am going to go out looking for someone to kick me around, or boot me out a door. The suffering will be there when the time calls for it. When we do suffer for the name of Jesus we will rejoice that we were counted worthy to do so.

We see a second group that is mentioned in this text. That of “Angels”. It must surprise them that God could love us so much; but then again, maybe it doesn’t surprise them, but amazes them. You know “Amazing Grace”. I am not going to get into a long thing concerning angels, but I will say that they do exist. I mean the Bible says so. Angels came and ministered to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane when He had prayed. He mentions that He could call legions of angels to aid Him, yet, He doesn’t.

The prophets realized that Jesus was not coming in their time, but for another time, and that their writings were going to be used to minister to others. The disciples, apostles, the early church, you and me; and all who know Christ Jesus.

The prophets were successful in their search. The Holy Spirit gave them assurance of the completion of it. How else could Isaiah have peace when he is told that the people he is going to preach to will hear but not obey? The Spirit of God confirmed the message. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of Jesus’s coming (Ephesians 1:13-14). He is the power of wisdom. He is the means of knowledge and understanding. He is the means to a holy lifestyle. He is the one who points us to Christ.

Let us; like the prophets of old continue to give diligent search to know this man named Jesus who is the Christ of God, the Son of God, and who died to save us from sin, and to clothe us in the righteousness of God. Because of Jesus God has declared us Just, by his own righteousness.

-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

MESSENGER OF HIS GLORY

MESSENGER OF HIS GLORY

Revelation 10:1-11

Jesus is unveiled as the ruler over the sea and the earth, by a heavenly messenger, and His Word is the source of the message of assurance, forgiveness, and judgment.

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: 2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, 3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. 10:1-3 (KJV).
In this tenth chapter we have another “Rest spot” (between chapters 7 and 14),between the sixth and seventh judgment. The seven seals are divided the first four from the final three and the last three seals divided two and one with an interlude between six and seven. The same is true of the seven trumpets. The first four are judgments upon eht things of earth, sea, man and the celestial creation. The next three are “Woes” pronounced upon wicked men with the first two woes in chapter nine, the interlude between 9:21 and 11:14. The seven vials mentioned later are divided the same with the shortest interlude being between the sixth and seventh vial. They will be discussed later in the study of the Revelation.
This, “Another mighty angel” has been described by some scholars and others as the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ. Since when does scripture call Jesus “Another…”. The thought of this being Jesus just does not fit. Those who equate this to Jesus look at the “Little book” and the slight description given of the angel and compare it to the book mentioned in chapter 5 which has the seven seals. The description does not fit chapter 1:13-16 description of Christ.
We must take Scripture for what it says here – “Another mighty angel…”. This is an angelic being with great rank. He is an angel of brilliant spendor possibly even surpassing the beauty of Lucifer’s original beauty. SEE Ezekiel 28:12.
The “Little book” in his hand is a book of great importance. It is with this book in his hand he sets his right foot upon the sea and his left upon the earth. This seems to imply ownership of all the earth. Remember the seventh trumpet is going to sound, and God is here declaring, that, although He is about to turn the earth over to Satan’s evil rule he (Satan) will still only be allowed to a certain distance and no further.
This angel shouted for some reason and sounded as a lion roaring. It appears to actually be a shout of victory; an assurance to the prophet and the reader that God is victorious.
“Seven thunders” could be connected with the “lightnings and thunderings and voices” mentioned in 4:5.

And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. v. 4 (KJV).
What ever these seven thunders spoke we have no clue. John understood what they said, and was about to write them down, when he was commanded to “Seal them up and write them not”. There is a mystery here. A mystery which only the apostle John heard, and quite possibly so awesome that it could be beyond our understanding. But woe to those who are on earth when their voices are heard.

And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, 6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: 7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. vv. 5-7 (KJV).
There seems to be further evidence that this angel is not the Lord Jesus.
The first thing that tells me it is not, is, that he “Sware to Him that liveth for ever and ever”. The risen glorified Jesus would have no need to do that. He is the “Fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). He is the One who lives “For ever and ever”.
The second reason is that, if it is Jesus He could sware by Himself (Heb. 6:13).
This is simply an angelic messenger of God’s ownership upon His creation. Afterall, all things are under His feet. He can send an angelic messenger if He so chooses.
The fact that the angel is standing on the sea and the earth seems to imply that time is up. This last phrase of verse six is indicative of that. “There will be no more delay” (NIV). “There shall be delay no longer” (NAS). “There should be delay no longer” (NKJV). The verse does not imply no more time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc.); unless it could be applied to repentance; and read, “No more time for man to repent”. The clear implication is that time is up. The full force of God’s wrath is come. Evil will be eternally put away.
Verse seven is a strong affirmation of the above. John speaks of the seventh trump. At the sound of the seventh trump, “The mystery of God should be finished”. What is this mystery? There is much said in the Bible about mystery. Some of these God reveals to His prophets, and has revealed them.
1. The mystery of the Church (Eph. 5:32);
2. The mystery of iniquity (2 Thes. 2:7).
The above are only a sample of mysteries of the Bible. These two probably fit with what John is writing. With the sounding of the seventh trump; the final martyrs will be slain, the gospel ceases and judgment falls on the whole earth. The seventh trump also begins the “seven vials of wrath”. If you will remember the seven seals judgments only affected one fourth, then, the seven trumpets affect one third, but when we get to the seven vials it seems to affect the whole earth, because there is no mention of the amount of earth or population affected.
The work of those who are His on earth is finished. The bondage of, and control of sin on earth is finished as well. Only wrath remains. Mankind has no more time for repentance at the seventh trumpet. Because mankind has rejected God’s atonement for sin through faith in Jesus Christ, the iniquity of mankind and its judgment will be put on the God-haters. God provides the way through the cross of Jesus for man to come to Him and be saved. If we reject that way there is no other, and judgment is imminent.
God warns people through His servants He calls prophets or preachers. God reveals judgment to certain ones and as God’s servants, they warn people of judgment. This shows God’s abundant mercy (Amos 3:7). He owes man nothing, yet His mercy is astounding. One day, though, His mercy will cease. Woe be to those who heed not His warnings.

And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. 9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. vv. 8-9 (KJV).
Now we get back to the “Little book” mentioned in verse 2. Its importance is noted in that it is mentioned in two different segments of this chapter. More attention is given it in the latter part of the chapter.
What the “Little book” is we cannot be certain. However, there are some very likely possibilities.
It is not the same book as mentioned in chapter 5. Notice this “Little book” is open; the book of chapter 5 is sealed and only the Lamb could open the seals. There is also no mention of size of the first book. This one is clearly identified as a “Little book”.
John is commanded to “Take the little book”. No man could take the book of chapter 5.
There is, however, much room for disagreement on this “Little book”, and who this is who is holding it.

And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. 11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. vv. 10-11 (KJV).
John takes the book from the angel. He is then commanded to eat the book. This is a similar experience to what Jeremiah and Ezekiel had. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16 (KJV). “But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee. 9 And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; 10 And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.” Ezekiel 2:8-10 (KJV). “Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. 2 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. 4 And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. Ezekiel 3:1-4 (KJV).
This book must be the written Word the Lord has given to us which we call the Bible. It is the message we are to take to those who know about God, but are separated from Him, and to those who have never heard of Him.
Christian, the Word of God was given to us for spiritual food. We savor it, long for it like a woman in love with a man and the one she loves is away for a period of time, but he sends her letters. She cannot wait to read them. She reads them over and over to get every word and let those words penetrate her soul and feel h im near her heart. The Bible is God’s love letter to His people. If you do not love His Word and “Eat it” you are not His lover.
John was warned that if he ate the book it would be bitter in his belly, but sweet as honey in his mouth. That is how the Word of God is to His people. To “Chew on it” is sweet, but when the Spirit of God begins to brood over us, the Word is swallowed, and is digesting our own sin is revealed to us, the tragedy of sin in others is seen, and just like Ezekiel we are sometimes angered by the bitterness but, “The hand of the LORD is strong upon me [us].” The effect the Word has on us is often bitter, but the outcome is for God’s glory.
John is then told to prophesy [preach] again to many people.
Some people have a problem with this revelation being prophetic and say it is history. “If it is prophetic..” they say, “what good is it for the Church?” It is prophetic for John. We see John as an apostle of the Church and representing the Church throughout the entire Revelation. So what John is told to do the Church is being told to do. That is, until these things are fulfilled the Church [you and I] are to preach the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. You and I are the MESSENGER OF HIS GLORY. This includes the message of warning of coming judgment upon the earth, and for people to prepare to meet God.

GIVER OF THE SPIRIT

GIVER OF THE SPIRIT

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:1-6 (KJV)

In chapter 3:1-6 we will endeavor to show that Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to His Church, that local churches, because they are made up of a “Mixed multitude” (a term from the Exodus), often grieve His Spirit, what happens to the church when He is grieved,a nd the hope of life which only comes by His Spirit.

It appears that complacency is a problem. We get in a place where the temperature is just right, the seats are soft and comfortable, there is no trouble to speak of, and we fall asleep. Suddenly, we awake and we find ourselves plagued with problems, or we may not awake, because the enemy has crept in on us while we were unaware and kills us. If a friend does not wake us up, then, death is inevitable.
That friend of course is Jesus. In this Scripture text He reveals Himself through another one of His characteristics. He had to go away, in the ascension, before he Spirit came. Now the Spirit of God in all His fullness can dwell and habitat in the life of every believer.
Jesus’s message to Sardis is one to “WAKE UP!” to your true situation. There was still hope for Sardis, but it was by the resurrection power of the Spirit. They could have life and power with God in no other way.
Jesus is the “GIVER OF THE SPIRIT” who is the giver of life and power to live a clean, holy and endless life.

In verse 1 we have Jesus revealing Himself to the church of Sardis as the One who has the “Seven Spirits” – indicating the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and the “Seven Stars”. See chapter 1:4, 16.
The Holy Spirit is the source of life for the Church. Without the Spirit there is no life. We notice that Jesus reveals each part of His character as needed by each church. The church of Sardis certainly needed to see Jesus as “THE GIVER OF THE SPIRIT’. In chapter 4:5 we have “Seven burning lamps, which are the seven Spirits of God”. In chapter 5:6 we see “Seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God…”. We have a fullness of light, power, and spiritual enlightenment, which come from the Spirit of God.
The “Seven stars” are the pastors. Jesus places pastors in each of His local bodies as it pleases Him. If the pastor is the source of the church’s problem, then, Jesus will remove him and put in a replacement. It could be the people of Sardis was blaming their pastor. Accusing him of not doing his job, or the church’s lack of growth, its complacency, its dying or death. They could have been saying, “These sermons you have been preaching are irrelevant to our need. There is no threat from without. We are not near dying”. The pastor on the other hand may have just blended in, became one of the neighborhood. “When in Rome do as the Romans do”.
Sardis was a city on a hill. it was protected by cliffs. It was virtually impregnable. However, it was overthrown at least twice by enemies while the guards slept at their post; thinking, “We are impregnable, there is no danger”.
Jesus says that this church has a name of being alive – they still have a name over the door, they are still keeping their programs going, but there is little difference in the practice of the church and the practice of the city – “But you are dead”, says Jesus. It really does not matter what the people in the community say about the church. What really counts is what Jesus says.

In verse two, it would almost seem fitting to say, that, the phrase “Be watchful” could also read “WAKE UP!”.
Consider Paul’s writing to the Romans in chapter 13:11-14. It is time for the Church to “Wake up”. Revival is needed.
Sardis could very well represent the time of the “Reformation” if we were looking at that dispensationally. During the “Dark ages” the professing church had became villianous. Killing, enslaving and conquering of land was the work of a majority of the “church” in this time. The true Church had fallen asleep. The doctrine of the church was to earn your salvation or pay for it with money. You could even pay the “Priests” to pray some poor soul into Heaven. If you could do that, why not pay them to pray an enemy into hell. The church, then, used the name of Jesus, but few within it really knew Him.
Jesus saw the need and He called out brave, and bold men like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox, John Calvin, William Tyndale, and others to raise a mighty voice, to put the Word of God back into the hands of the people. To preach the true gospel of grace. The people began to wake up. The Church began to identified more with Jesus now, and less with the world.
Jesus’s words sound as though there is still hope.
“Strengthen the things that remain” is probably a reference to the small minority who were loving the Lord Jesus. Everytime they tried to work for Jesus the majority would stop it. The works were not perfect or complete in His eyes. Those who loved Jesus were the only possessors of the Spirit. A complacent spirit grieves the Spirit of God. The Spirit keeps us alert and aware. When we pay no attention to Him we grieve Him, and our source of power and strength erodes until ‘rigor mortis’ sets in. The Spirit never leaves the individual true believer, but He does and will leave from empowering a local church.

The only hope (v. 3) for a church in such as the afore mentioned condition is to get back to the basics. “Remember” salvation by grace through faith, hold on to it as though your life depended on it (it does), and repent. Confess your deadness, your complacent spirit, your grieving of the Holy Spirit.
If there is no awakening Jesus warns, that He will come as a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:4). This would, of course, be only upon those who are not “Overcomers” as the next two verses deal with.
A living organism has … growth, repair, reproduction, and power. If these are missing in a local church that church is either dying or dead. The church needs revival. If the believers at Sardis did not obey God Jesus warned He would “Come as a thief”.

In verses 4 and 5 the judgment that awaited a majority of “church members” would be avoided by the “Overcomers”. The “Overcomer” is a saved – born again – individual who is constantly growing in his/her walk with Christ, and by God’s grace is always faithful.
White is a symbol of righteousness, purity, cleanliness. Jesus mentions only a few who “Have not defiled their garments”. Jesus says, “They are worthy”. They have been made worthy because of the Holy Spirit and the “GIVER OF THE SPIRIT” Jesus Christ. The only way of righteousness or being worthy is in His Spirit.
The “Book of Life” is mentioned several times in the Scriptures. Revelation 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; Exodus32:32; Psalm 69:28; Philippians 4:3 just to list a few. Some believe this implies one can be saved and lose it. That would be contrary to God’s grace. If we do nothing to deserve God’s grace, then, how can we presume that we can do something to get out of His grace? The “Book of Life” has had written in it the names of everyone who was ever conceived. When a person died apart from Christ his/her name is “Blotted out of the book of life”. When a person believes and confesses that Jesus is Lord, and believes that God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead, then God writes that person’s name in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27) and his/her name remains in the “Book of Life”.
Jesus says, that He will confess this individual’s name before the Father.
Some points to note about the BOOK OF LIFE:
1. Contains the names of all the living;
2. Revelation 13:8; 17:8 suggest that the names of saints are written in the book from the foundation of the world – before they have done anything good or bad;
3. Chosen in Christ before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 25:34).
4. As unbelievers die their names are removed from the BOOK OF LIFE (Psalm 69:28).

Once again, to the church of Sardis, the message of Jesus is requesting/commanding His people’s hearing (v. 6). It is an invitation to hear the Holy Spirit speak to the heart of the true believer of Jesus. It seems especially appropriate in this letter, because Jesus is showing Himself as the “GIVER OF THE SPIRIT”. Hear His words. Hear Him and believe and do them.

In conclusion, the prophet said, “This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6). If the church is to be the Church it must operate in the presence of God. The Holy Spirit must be a continued welcome and wanted guest within the local church, and the total Body of Christ.
To “Grieve the Spirit” is to make Him an unwanted guest. Unwanted guests do not feel like staying very long, and begin to pull away any influence, and make themselves absent. God gives His people a commandment not to grieve the Spirit; “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit will never leave a born again person, but when we pay Him little or no attention; ignore His teaching, leadership, comfort, convictions, righteousness, and judgment we will certainly be without His powerful influence.
Why do churches die? Because they neglect Jesus and His gift that He has given. He is the GIVER OF THE SPIRIT.
Only those in the local church who heed the warnings of the Spirit and repent of their foolish deeds will overcome. Jesus’s promises to the “Overcomers” are for all those who are repentant.
The church must stop grieving the Holy Spirit; the church must depend on the Spirit, not the promises and promotions of the flesh and man; the church of the 21st century must wake up out of its comfort, and lethargy, and live for God. The church must experience revival.

Edited for tags, spelling corrections 03/26/10

THE JUDGE OF CORRUPTION

THE JUDGE OF CORRUPTION

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 2:18-29 (KJV).

In these verses we will see that Jesus, as the holy and righteous Judge will not tolerate wickedness, corruption in His Church, but that He exposes and judges it, and sets apart those within the body who are not partakers of the vileness.

Jesus introduces Himself to the church of Thyatira as a judge. He is one who exposes unrighteousness in the forms of heresy, idolatry, and all abominable acts.
This church was a corrupt church. Toleration of “Jezebel” is their chief sin. Refusing to confront and judge her themselves Jesus would come and do so Himself.
False teachings still corrupt the church today. There is very little teaching of holiness or righteousness, but much about self-awareness and self-acceptance. There are also teachings of “Anti-nomianism” disguised as freedom in Christ, the priesthood of the believer, and the liberty of the Spirit. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” from the bondage of sin. We are not at liberty to sin, but at liberty to serve and follow Jesus Christ.
There may have been some who tolerated “Jezebel” in order to practice “Church Growth”. There is a “Jezebel spirit” in that area especially. BEWARE!!!

Verse 18 begins the longest letter, and it is addressed to the church of Thyatira.
This letter opens with a word of warning to the unrepentant church member. The way in which Jesus identifies Himself is the warning. “His eyes like unto a flame of fire and His feet are like fine brass” (1:14-15). His eyes are eyes which pierces through the hardest of hearts and determines the motive and sees the sin of every heart. The feet like fine brass. His feet are pure and He is worthy to judge all who fail to give Him place – His rightful place.
Thyatira was a small city approximately 40 miles East of Pergamum. It was know as a city which manufactured purple dye. It is mentioned in the book of Acts 16:14-15. Lydia, a purple merchant, was from Thyatira and very well could have been used by God to start this church.
The people of the church for reasons yet to e mentioned have to be reminded of the deity of Jesus Christ, therefore, in this letter alone does He identify Himself as the Son of God. What tragedy when the Church loses sight of His divinity.

This is a church that is the opposite of the church of Ephesus. It appears their love for Jesus was stronger, their works were not mere religion, but done out of true love for Jesus (v. 19).
The church of Ephesus had the works but not the love; but they hated false teaching and dealt with it. The church of Thyatira had the love, but tolerated false teaching and evil. Both of these are in the extreme on opposite ends. There needs to be both a love for Jesus and hatred for false teaching and evil, and confronting it. This church sounds much like many churches of the 21st century. “You can love the Lord, and other gods and things; we will love you, no matter what; and there will never be any judgment against you. Let’s love and tolerate one another.”
Sin and false teaching must be dealt with.

The condemnation against Thyatira is because of tolerance of evil, deceptive teaching led by a strong, domineering woman who is “Jezebel” in character. “Jezebel” is probably a symbolic character reminding the people of the domineering, deceptive practices of the queen of Israel in 1 Kings 16 and following, who led Israel into Baal worship while pretending to hold on to the worship of YaHWeH (vv. 20 – 23).
This woman may have had a large following because of her strong leadership abilities and her loose morals. She probably was seen by some as a peacemaker, a worker for unity, especially between Christians and the government, and employers who did not want Christians who stood up for their Savior. She was corrupting the Church. This was probably the beginning of Maryolotry. Putting the virgin Mary on equal, if not a greater scale with Jesus.
Jesus gave her time to repent, but she refused. All who yielded to her teachings and practices would be cast into judgment with her. The bed that had been a bed of pleasure, and peace would become a bed of pestilence. “Kill her children with death” is showing pestilence – disease, plague, drought – it would end in death.
By this judgment all the churches will know that Jesus knows the heart, mind, and motives of His people – and of the wicked as well. When these have sown seeds of corruption what is the harvest, except corruption – destruction.
“Jezebel” would be an unredeemed person who crept in by stealth and deceit. Her only purpose is to lead astray, corrupt, and destroy. God’s purpose would be to strengthen the believers.

To those who are pure – have kept themselves from this doctrine of “Jezebel” Jesus’s promise is to put no other burden upon them (vv. 24 – 25).
This is the third letter in which Jesus has mentioned the enemy (satan). To Smyrna, He calls the false Jews, “The synagogue of satan”. To Pergamos, He calls it the place “Where satan’s seat is”, “Where satan dwelleth”, and the of Thyatira, “Those who have not known the depths of satan” – probably referring to indulgence to sinful idol worshipping practices which “Jezebel” practiced along with her followers. “Give in to the world. Be silent about your faith. Do not lose your job because of Jesus, just go along with the crowd”. God forbid that we give up and give in to “The depths of satan”.
Jesus says to those who are faithful, “Hold on to that which you have.” Keep the faith. Be patient, “Until I come”. This is a promise of deliverance to the faithful.

In verses 26 – 28 Jesus mentions the overcomer. The overcomer operates by faith and keeps His works unto the end. He has no other life. He knows no other position, than the one he has in Jesus Christ.
Notice the mention of the Millenial reign of Jesus. Yes, I believe the millenial reign of Christ to be literal. There are hundreds of Old Testament passages having to do with a Kingdom of Christ on earth where the lamb with lie down with the lion and wolf, and children play over the dens of serpents. The “Overcomers” will be given a position of authority in that day. Remember! We are joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) and “All things under His feet” (Ephesians 1:22). This rule will be one of shepherding people who are on earth at that time. When do you see the “Morning star”? At the beginning of a new day. A new day begins in Jesus Christ. He is the Morning Star. The “Overcomer” is one who is a possession of Jesus, and Jesus is their possession.

Verse 29 gives us the call to hear. It is the first of the seven letters that has the invitation to hear on the very end of the letter.
It is on the end of the following three letters as well. Perhaps to let all know, who are reading and hearing these words, and find themselves in a similar predicament. Jesus will be the judge of all sin and sinners who do not repent of their sin. Woe be to the one who does not hear and heed the message to the church of Thyatira.

In conclusion, wickedness abounds in this world. This is not the time for the church to be tolerating evil practices and/or false teachings. When we give allegiance to the world and “Christ” we give no allegiance to Christ.
The world around us is looking for hope and deliverance from all the things which plague our world. The Church has the answer. If we follow the world, who does the world have to follow? We are the light that shines in the darkness. Evil corrupts, but the light will overcome.
Be a source of hope to a dark world by building on the foundation principles of the Word of God and His righteousness in Jesus Christ. Let the world know there is right in the Light.
Jesus, to this very day, is THE JUDGE OF CORRUPTION and He still will not tolerate evil within His Body, which is the Church.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/26/10

THE CUTTING EDGES

THE CUTTING EDGES

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. Revelation 2:12-17 (KJV)

In this we unveil Jesus Christ as One who hates compromise in His people, especially of doctrine and morality, and how He deals with it.

Pergamum was a city of compromise. There were many temples of worship there. From emperor worship, there was also Dionysus, Esculapius (the healing serpent god), and Zeus. These were worshipped as well as others. It was legal to worship anything you please as long as you bowed first to worship the Roman emperor. I you did not bow to the emperor, then, you most likely would die.
Writing of Esculapius, J. Vernon McGee wrote, “Then the other outstanding temple was of the god Asklepios. Down from that great ancient world. It was the Mayo Clinic of that day. It was, first of all, a temple to Asklepios. If you are looking at the Greek god Asklepios, it is a man, but when you see the Anatolian or Oriental Asklepios, it is a serpent. There in Pergamum it was a serpent. I have pictures which I took of that great marble pillar which stands like an obelisk now but apparently was a pillar in the temple of Asklepios. The construction of the temple was unusual in that it was round. There they used every means of healing imaginable. They used both medicine and psychology – and about everything else.
Put yourself in this situation: you go down long tunnels, and above are holes that look like airholes for ventilation but are not. As you walk along these tunnels, sexy voices come down through the holes, saying to you, ‘You are going to get well. You are going to feel better. You are going to be healed.’ (Does that have a modern ring?) You go down to the hot baths where you are given a massage. There is a little theater there where they give plays of healing. If they haven’t healed you by now, as a last resort they put you in that temple at night and turn loose the nonpoisonous snakes which crawl over you. (That is known as the shock treatment in our day!) If they don’t heal you, they will drive you crazy, that’s for sure. They have a back door where they take out the dead. They don’t mention the ones they don’t heal; they speak only ot those who recover.” (From Thru The Bible pg. 908 by J. Vernon McGee).
Warren Wiersbe wrote of this also, “The city aslso had a temple dedicated to Aesculapius, the god of healing, whose insignia was the entwined serpent on the staff.” (BE Commentary vol. 2, pg. 573).
In the church at pergamus some Christians died because they refused to pay homage to the emperor. Some people came in dressed in “Sheeps clothing” saying it was the patriotic and dutiful thing to do. According to this teaching it was okay to bow to another god as long as you continued to worship “god the emperor”. “It is okay to compromise to say your life. After all, how can you be a witness for Jesus when you are dead”.
This is the religious atmosphere the church was in. How tempting it must have been for them to compromise their faith. We will see Jesus hates the sin of compromise.

Jesus once again addresses this letter to the messenger of the local congregation at Pergamos (v. 12).
Jesus is identified here as in verse sixteen of chapter one, as “He which hath the sharp sword with two edges.”
The sword held a special place in Rome of which Pergamos was an active emperor worshipping city. The sword was a symbol of power and authority. Thus, by Jesus being identified this way says to the Christians in this city, “I am mightier than Rome”. Rome will fall. It did. He never will.

Once again we have Jesus’s “I know” statement in verse 13. He knows our works, our location, and our tribulations. He also knows our compromises.
Pergamos was a very pluralistic society, especially when it came to religion. Roman emperor worship being number one, the worship Esculapius, which was the serpent god of healing, Zeus, and Dionysus and others were all worshipped there.
The probable reference to “Satan’s seat” as “Satan’s throne” is to the worship of the Roman emperor. This city was probably one of the strongest advocates of emperor worship. All those other gods could be worshipped freely as long as they would bow and give allegiance to the emperor.
Jesus’s words of commendation are strong. Even though they lived in such a place they were holding fast to the name of Jesus. They were not denying the faith. Jesus then recognizes one martyr who was slain for his faithful testimony of Christ. There is not much said or known about Antipas. Tradition says he was broiled alive inside the carcass of a bull.
When there is such a multiplicity of religion with all bowing to the government, that is certainly the dwelling place of Satan.

There is a strong rebuke for them in verse fourteen. Jesus can use the “Sharp two edged sword” to comfort and encourage. Now He is wielding it in order to warn.
The rebuke is against those that were teaching and following “The doctrine of Balaam”. Balaam was a prophet for profit – a prophet of compromise. He betrayed his calling for a price. In Numbers 22-25 we find the narrative of Balaam.
Balaam was asked by Balak, who was the king of Moab and he greatly feared Israel, to curse this nation of many people. He must have known of Balaam’s tendency. However, God would not let him do it. Remember God’s promise to Abraham, “Whosoever curseth you shall be cursed”.
The “Doctrine of Balaam” is a doctrine of compromise. Just blend in to your environment. Go ahead and bow to the Roman emperor, save your life, and still worship Jesus. After all, is the worship of Jesus worth your life, your possessions, your reputation?
THE WAY OF BALAAM = Ministry for pay.
THE ERROR OF BALAAM = To think God would do the opposite of what He promised.
THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM = Counseling others on how to curse God’s people.
Jesus know and knows that to compromise thus, is to kill the witness, to stop the work of the gospel. Compromise is Satan’s greatest threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Balaam could not curse Israel, but he found them capable of compromise. Numbers 31:16 says, “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague (Numbers 25) among the congregation of the LORD”.
It seems Balaam played “Peacemaker” and Israel compromised the Word of God. Peace at any price is not the right way. It is the way of disobedience and death. The “Stumbling block” was intermarriage with the Midianites and Moabites. The “Stumbling block” for Pergamos was the same teaching; just go along, marry the lost, worship the emperor, even if it is not sincere, do it for the sake of preserving your life.
If you would note Numbers 25 you will see the devastation that came upon Israel because of their treachery of faith. Twenty four thousand Israelites died because of the sin of compromising the Law of God.
Those who have God’s law and keep it will always be at enmity with those who do not (John 14:21). If there is no friction, there is no motion.

Once again we learn of a teaching which was growing and leaching in the early church (v. 15). The teaching of the Nicolaitans fits with the “Doctrine of Balaam”. They fit like a hand in a glove. Jesus says, in verse 6 and 15, this is that “Which I hate”. “Conquer the people” teaches the people to compromise their place as priests. The man appointed priests will pray for them. When they sin come to the priests, confess to them, and they will pray for your forgiveness. You go on and live, do not worry about your sin. Just confess on confession day.
This is the thing Jesus hates. A compromising church who leaves all the work of the ministry in the pastor’s hands. We the people of Jesus Christ are the priests of God. We are individually and daily responsible for confessing our own sins to God, not to a man, unless that man/woman is someone we have offended or sinned against, and it would be proper to do so. We are all responsible for obedience to the Word of God.
If Jesus hates these doctrines we should as well. This was a problem in this church. It was hated by the church of Ephesus, for which Jesus commended them. It is something every church and Christian individual must deal with, and if we come to any conclusion other than that of Jesus, we oppose Him, and choose our own way.

Jesus calls for this church’s repentance (v. 16). Remember repentance is a change of mind, change of direction, a 180 degree turn.
Jesus wants His Church to view compromise and all sin as He does. To repent is to cme to full agreement with Him concerning compromise and all that He has declared to be sin.
Repentance and faith are the ingredients of salvation. Repentance is also the need of Pergamos’ church and of the Church today. If there is no repentance, He says, “I will come quickly”. This has nothing to do with His second coming. If the church refuses His word as the means of detecting evil, false doctrines, and compromise; His own Word will be used to “Fight against them”. The Word of Christ not only convicts and comforts it also condemns when He is not obeyed. “The sword of My mouth” can only have reference to the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword…”. Ephesians 6:17, “And take… the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God”.
Our Lord seems to make a distinction between a remnant of faithful, and those who are the compromisers. His words, “Will fight against them” indicates that if this problem of compromise is not dealt with in a quick and decisive manner, then those, the “Them(s)” will be cut by the cutting edges of the “Two edged sword”. He will take this sword of His Word and cut away all that is unseemly, sinful and compromising, and He will come surely and quickly and do it. A-MEN.

The final verse of this letter is once again addressed to the individual.
We have to remember every one who has their names on the roll of the local church is not an “Overcomer”. The “Overcomer”, Jesus promises they will eat of the “Hidden manna”. There was a bowl of manna hidden within the “Ark of the Covenant”. This manna is revealed in the person of Jesus who is the true manna from Heaven (John 6:31-33). The “Hidden manna” can only be eaten by those for whom the “Holy Ark” is opened through the shed blood, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The only way into the presence of God (which the Ark of the Covenant represents) is through the blood of Jesus.
It is not sure what the “White stone” represents. It is possible it was one of the twelve stones worn by the Levitical priests on their robes. It is also possible it represents a symbol of security.
Your name written in God’s stone is certainly more sure than written on a local church’s membership roll. The question could be asked, “Is your name written on the Rock, or is it written on a roll?” God’s Ten Commandments were written in stone. They abide forever. Maybe, that is true of the ones who receive a “New name written in stone”. Jesus the One, THE CUTTING EDGES.

In conclusion,
Pergamos had one thing going for it. It had some who had been faithful to Christ, even in the face of death. They dared not to compromise.
Fear has a way of causing compromise, and when a smooth talking, charismatic personality comes along saying, “A compromise is alright. You do not have to give up your beliefs. Just go along. It will keep you alive.” That when coupled with the fear makes it all sound pretty good.
However, Jesus says He hates it. Compromise destroys our fellowshp with God and Jesus. It ruins our witness, and it robs us of our peace with God.
There is great blessing for the “Overcomer”. He gets to “Partake of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) of Jesus and live eternally. They also have a “New name” written in stone. One thing is for sure THE CUTTING EDGES of that two edged sword will do what is necessary to make His people holy.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/26/10

THE CARETAKER OF THE LIGHT

THE CARETAKER OF THE LIGHT

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Rev 2:1-7 (KJV).

The day in which we live needs the Church to be the Church, and not trying to be like the world. The sheep do not need to put on the wolves clothing. The true Church needs admonishment and encouragement to keep doing the good and the right, with the right motive of loving the One who is the Caretaker of the Light and the One who holds the “Messengers” in His hand.
This is the beginning letter to the seven churches. These are important letters to the Church of all ages, and especially, I feel for the Church of today.
In the study of the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians Paul commends them for their faith and teaches them who they are in Jesus Christ. They are a vibrant and faithful people, and growing in faith and knowledge of Jesus.
Jesus says that something is wrong with the church at Ephesus. They have abandoned their “First love”. If they do not repent their “Candlestick” – the light of His glory – “will be removed”. He gave the light. He can also remove it and give it to another.
He commends them, and encourages them to be overcomers to eat of the Tree of Life which can be seen in the “Lampstand” of the tabernacle in the wilderness, of Israel’s wanderings.

Beginning the letter to the church of Ephesus, our Lord reminds the church of who holds the seven stars and walks among the “seven golden lampstands”. Of course it is the One who is speaking. The One who is THE CARETAKER OF THE LIGHT.
We are looking at each “angel” as being the messenger, ie. pastor of each local congregation. It would not make sense for an “Angel of Heaven” come and deliver a letter from Jesus. Jesus used John to pen down the letters, John sent them to each of the churches, and the leader, ie. pastor read it to the congregation. That would be so exciting to have an actual letter from Jesus read to us. Wait a minute!!!! WE DO. WOW!!!
Ephesus was a port city. It was the greatest of these seven cities. It was the seat of “Artemis” worship, also known as “Diana” in Acts chapter 19. Paul preached the gospel here for about three years. He built this church and encouraged them in their faith through the letter of Ephesians. It is said that John was in Ephesus for about 30 years.
In this first verse Jesus gives greeting as He does to the others. He also identfies Himself as the One “That holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”. This is one of the descriptions given in chapter one. The very fact of His walking “In the midst” shows Jesus’ love for the local church, and that His people are to be found in the local church.
The seven golden candlesticks are an Old Testament picture given in Exodus 25:31-37. The priests were to keep the light in the tabernacle burning. There was no means for the natural light of the sun to enter, so there was need for the “Candlestick” or “Lampstand” for the priests to do the rest of their daily duties. Jesus being our Great High Priest keeps the flames buring the light shining in order that the world might see Him in His Church.

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

Jesus commends them for their perseverance (v. 3) in continuing to deal with the false apostles, and persevering in faith despite the persecution they had faced.
By all appearances Ephesus was a good church. They were seving the Lord well. Not many churches today could be so commended.

It seems, according to verse four, however, that the church was laboring with the wrong motives. Jesus commends them for their work, but suddenly gives them condemning statements. It was only one thing. It was no small thing.
“Thou hast left thy first love” is one of the most tragic, and probably is the most tragic condemnation Jesus could lay on a church. It is the abandonment of the “first love” that causes all kinds of iniquities, and sin. It may have been that the church had been lured away from loving Jesus by the fulfillment received from performing their duties, or by the alurements of the city and their ways of worship.
The “First love” of every Believer is Jesus. If there is no time for Jesus, for hearing His words, sharing your hearts needs with Him, and practicing His ways, then, you have “Left” or “Abandoned” your “First love”.

This is the only one of the seven churches of which is warned of the removing of the “Candlestick”. Ephesus has no Christian witness to this day. Why? Because they had forsaken their love for Jesus. They were diligent in their work and task, but without a passion for Christ. I just recently heard a television preacher say, “Passion is more important than doctrine”. I do not agree with that. Passion without doctrine will end in emotionalism, an anything goes way of worship,and immorality; and doctrine without Passion will be legalistic and cold. So what is the answer? There is need and room for both, and a correct doctrine with the passion for Christ. It seems the church had good works, good doctrine, but no heart for Christ. The light of Christ has been removed.
Jesus’ condemning statement is followed by a statement of hope and warning (v. 5).
He says, “Remember”. Remember from where you have fallen. They had once been Gentiles without hope and Jesus redeemed them (Ephesians 2:11-13). It always helps to go back and remember what you were before Jesus saved you from the bondage of sin. If there has been no change, no difference then, it will do no good to ‘Remember’. You need a time where change begins. It can be now through faith in Jesus.
He then says, “Repent”. Begin to stir the coals. Put some fuel on them. Fan the flames. Ignite the flames of passion for Jesus that you once had. If there are no coals there, but only ashes…….., then what? Turn away from the pride of your work and your labors – love Jesus. We love Him least when we trust ourselves most; we love Him most when we trust Him most.
One of the first works of one with that “First love” mentality is telling others about His love; His death, burial and resurrection.
The warning is that He will judge quickly if there is no turning. The judgment would be removing the candlestick. The light of their witness, their testimony, as a body, would be gone. Today Ephesus is an archaeologist’s fantasy land. The church no longer exist, nor does the city. Ichabod has certainly been written on the church of Ephesus. “Ichabod” meaning THE GLORY IS DEPARTED.

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

In the final verse of this important letter we find an exhortation to hear. It is an exhortation to each individual to hear. The individual is responsible for his/her love for Jesus. Responsible for discerning right from wrong. For repentance when sin is committed. Individuals make up the local church.
The Spirit speaks expressly to the church and the individuals to hear.
To the individual who overcomes he will eat the fruit of the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden to keep them from the Tree. There is a symbol of the Tree of Life in the “Lampstand” of Exodus 25:31-37. It is likened to an almond tree. Jesus is the Caretaker, the Priest. Jesus is the only means for man to partake of the Tree of Life. He is in the midst.

Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). In Ephesus there was a remnant who departed and went elsewhere. When the “Candlestick” is removed there is no more light, no more witness. As long as there is a remnant there is light and hope.
Maintaining and feeding your love and passion for Jesus assures you of eating from the Tree of Life.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/15/10

LOOK WHO IS SPEAKING

LOOK WHO IS SPEAKING
Revelation 1:9-20

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. 12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (KJV)

This chapter describes John and his exile, who the book is written to, John’s vision of the glorious Christ, a description of Christ’s characteristics as the risen Lord, an outline of the book (v. 19), and explanation of the stars and lampstands, in order that we may know, that it is God’s will that we understand.

The glory of Jesus is certainly seen by John and will eventually be seen by all who believe and are not fearful of this prophecy.
This book is seen clearly in this first chapter as being for the sole purpose of revealing Jesus Christ in His glory. No longer a slaughtered and dead Lamb, but a resurrected Lord, God and Sovereign King.
He is Lord of His Church and He will ultimately be viewed by all people and nations as Lord of all.
Peter Marshall said, “It is better to fail at a task which will ultimately succeed, than to succeed at a task which will ultimately fail.”

As we look at verse nine John identifies himself with those to whom he is writing. He is involved in the same persecutions and trials. He is also one of the kingdom and enduring in the “Patience of Christ”.
John, faithful and powerful preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, was exiled by Domitian to the Isle of Patmos. Patmos was a prison island off the coast of Ephesus. It is said to have been an island where they used these prisoners as slaves for mining the mines on the island. Notice, John is not ashamed to write why he is being persecuted.

In verses ten and eleven we see John hearing from Jesus. John probably took every opportunity to hear God. “In the Spirit” simply means that he was caught up in Him in awe and adoration.
According to John Walvoord, “There is no solid evidence, … , that the expression used by John (The Lord’s Day) was ever intended to refer to the first day of the week. It is rather a reference to the day of the Lord of the Old Testament, an extended period of time in which God deals in judgment and sovereign rule over the earth. The adjectival form can be explained on the ground that in the Old Testament there was no adjectival form for “Lord,” and therefore the noun had to be used. The New Testament term is therefore the equivalent to the Old Testament expression ‘the day of the Lord’.” (From The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John Walvoord). I take it in the same way our brother in the Lord did. Most other times, in the New Testament, when they refer to Sunday, it is called “the first day of the week”. In Ezekiel 30:3 we have an example of “The day of the Lord”, “For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.” John, being in the Spirit was ushered into the future to see the ultimate “day of the Lord” when God’s judgment will flow upon all the world.
This Revelation could have seemed as a nightmare were it not for the appearance of the glorified Jesus. John heard “A great voice, as of a trumpet” (SEE PSALM 29). What a voice he must have heard. One of conficence and power. One of conviction and authority. One in which he found comfort.
The voice spoke of the eternalness of Himself. “The first and the last” the “beginning and the end”. He is everything in between. The A to Z. The voice commands John to write what he sees in a book (biblion GK), and send it to the seven churches of Asia.

John turns to see Him from whom the voice is coming and is overcome by His glory.
John sees seven golden “Lampstands” and standing in their midst was “One like unto the Son of man”. “Son of man” was a favorite title Jesus used for Himself. It was also used by Ezekiel very often. It denotes a prophet called and chosen by God. For Jesus it was title that identified His as being human and subservient to God the Father. John clearly recognizes Him as being the resurrected Jesus.
Jesus in His glorified state. In these descriptions we see the character of Jesus; 1. In the midst of the “lampstands” as a priest (Exodus 28:2), the “golden girdle” showing freedom of movement by tucking up the garment when needed; 2. He is seen as is the “Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:9), He is the wise and eternal God; 3. John then identifies Him as having “Eyes… as a flame of fire” – He is Judge, seeking out the motives and desires of man to judge the righteous judgment; 4. Brass or bronze are seen as symbols of judgment, and they are on His feet. Remember Ephesians 1:22. Look at Daniel 7:9 again; 5. He is Sovereign and authority. His voice was in the creation; 6. He is protector, caretaker, and provider for the “stars”; 7. He is the Giver of the Word of God, Wielder of truth; 8. He is the Light of the world. Look at Ephesians 1:18.

John’s response was to fall down as dead, thus being similar to Daniel’s experience in Daniel 10 (vv. 17 – 18). Daniel declares, “I retained no strength” (Daniel 10:8). The touch of Jesus must have been an inspiring assurance. The very Word of God that brings conviction also brings comfort (v. 17), when there is submission to the conviction of the Word.
Here Jesus is again speaking the words “Fear not” to one of His beloved followers. This is in all probability the first time John has seen Jesus since He ascended into Heaven. To hear those words again. What joy, what peace they must have brought to his heart during this horrible persecution. “John, I am going to work my plan and bring it to pass; fear not”. Those are words of comfort to us as well.
In Matthew 22:31-32 Jesus said, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead…God says, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
Jesus’ words here tell of His life as man, as becoming dead, and rising from the grave living forever more. He lived in eternity past before He became man.
Having the keys is a symbol of authority. Jesus has the keys to eternity. He has the power, the authority to deliver from sins bondage of Hell. There is no death apart from His authority. By His resurrection He took the keys and has them for all eternity

In verses 19 -20 John is commanded to write, once again the things which he has seen. He is also given the outline of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Chapter one is the things which John has seen [past]. “The things which are” [present] are chapters two and three. Chapters four through 22 then are “The things which shall be hereafter [future]. As far as the prophecy of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we are still in the “Present” stage of chapters two and three which is the “Church age”.
In verse twenty Jesus gives us understanding of the “Candlesticks” or “Lampstands” and the “Seven stars”. If the “Lampstands” are the seven churches, then it stands to reason that the “Seven stars” being angels, means the angels to the seven churches are the pastors of each church. “Angel” means ‘Messenger’. The messenger to each church is its God-called pastor. It is the pastor who would stand before his congregation each Sunday morning reading and expounding the Word of God. He would be doing the same with this new letter sent from John. It does not seem at all likely, that an angel of Heaven would be the one reading these words to the local congregation.
Notice, John said earlier that Jesus was in the midst of the “Lampstands”. He is the central character of the Church (Matthew 18:20). He is to be found glorified in His Church.

In conclusion, we can see in the verses of this chapter that Jesus is the glorified One. He is the One who is, and shall be glorified in and through His Body, the Church.
We can see it is also His will that His people [the Church] understand the words of this prophecy. Only the wicked and unbelieving will be and are afraid and tremble before its teaching. It is a prophecy of comfort and encouragement to those who know Jesus.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/15/10