The Good Shepherd

“I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” John 10:11 (KJB)

Today, on this topic of the Good Shepherd I will share with you the thoughts said by brighter minds than my own…

From F. B. Meyer on John 10:7-18:

“He who came in by the door which John the Baptist opened has become the door. It stands open to all comers-if any man. The salvation here mentioned refers to the entire process of soul-health: go in for fellowship; go out for service.
Wherever destruction is uppermost in speech or act, you may detect the presence of the great enemy of souls. Christ is ever constructive, saving, life-giving. Let us not be content until our life has become abundant life. Our life cost the Shepherd’s life. He did not hesitate to interpose Himself between the sheep and the wolf of hell. There is possible between our Lord and ourselves an intimacy of knowledge which can be compared to nothing less than that which subsists between the Father and Himself.
Note how our Lord looked beyond the hurdles of the Jewish fold and thought tenderly of the Gentile sheep that were far away. In the revelation committed to the Apostle Paul He gave vent to His love, and through the succeeding centuries He has ever sought them. There may be many folds, but there can be only one flock. Men die because they cannot help it; Christ was born that He might die; He died because He would.” THROUGH THE BIBLE DAY BY DAY

From John Gill on John 10:11:

I am the good shepherd,…. A shepherd of his Father’s appointing, calling, and sending, to whom the care of all his sheep, or chosen ones, was committed; who was set up as a shepherd over them by him, and was entrusted with them; and who being called, undertook to feed them; and being promised, was sent unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and under the character of a shepherd, died for them, and rose again, and is accountable to his Father for everyone of them; the shepherd, the great and chief shepherd, the famous one, so often spoken and prophesied of, Gen_49:24. And discharging his office aright, he is the good shepherd; as appears in his providing good pasture, and a good fold for his sheep; in protecting them from their enemies; in healing all their diseases; in restoring their souls when strayed from him; in watching over them in the night seasons, lest any hurt them; in searching for them, when they have been driven, or scattered in the dark and cloudy day; in caring for them, so that he lose none of them; and in nothing more than in what follows,
the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep: not only exposes it to danger, as David did his, for the sake of his father’s flock, but gives it away freely and voluntarily, for the sake of the sheep; in their room and stead, as a ransom for them, that they may be delivered from death, and might have eternal life: the Ethiopic version renders it, “the good shepherd gives his life for the redemption of his sheep”; so Nonnus paraphrases it, the “ransom price of his own sheep”: this belongs to Christ’s priestly office, and with the Jews priests were sometimes shepherds hence we read (q) of רועים כהנים, “shepherds that were priests”. Philo the Jew speaks (r) of God as a shepherd and king; and of his setting his word, his firstborn Son, over the holy flock, to take care of it: and a good shepherd is thus described by the (s) Jews;
“as רועה טוב, “a good shepherd”, delivers the flock from the wolf, and from the lions, (see Joh_10:12) so he that leads Israel, if he is good, delivers them from the idolatrous nations, and from judgment below and above, and leads them to the life of the world to come, or eternal life; (see Joh_10:10).”
Which description agrees with Christ, the good shepherd; and so the Lord is said to be רועה טוב, “the good shepherd”, and merciful, and there is none like him (t).” John Gill’s EXPOSITION OF THE WHOLE BIBLE

When We Walk in the Light

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”  1 John 1:1-10

 

REFERENCES:  John 1:1, 9; 17:21; Acts 2:32; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 6:11; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Kings 8:46; Proverbs 20:9; James 3:2; Psalm 32:5

On this Friday which Christians are remembering the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior let us also focus on the fact that in His suffering He won the victory over the devil whose head was crushed that day.  The victories of the cross are expressed in those seven sayings of Christ as He suffered, bled, and died.  He asked the Father to forgive us;  He told the thief “Today you will be with me in paradise; He cared for His mother;  He experienced the hell that should have been ours in the forsaking of His Father and God;  He finished the work He came to do; and lastly, He committed His spirit back to the Father.  His dying on the cross was the greatest of victories.

The devil was defeated His doom is sure.  The resurrection three days later was the proof and evidence of what took place – the victory – on Calvary.

Praise the LORD Jesus is risen.  He is alive.

Who is Jesus Christ?

“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 1:7-9 (KJV)

It does matter how we see Jesus.  If you see Jesus as a good teacher, a prophet, or a good man, and deny His teachings – such as – “My Father and I are One” (John 10:30). Then how do you believe He was a good teacher, a prophet, or a good man?  If He lied about the things He teaches of Himself, then He was a liar.  “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).  If Jesus is the Son of God as He said then He is Divine and is Incarnate God.

There is one thing that identifies the fellowship of Christ from other so called fellowships.  The love that has Jesus Christ as its basis, its standard, and foundation.

Some teachers and teachings declare that Jesus was only a spirit being – similar to the angels that appear as men.  If that was true then there was no actual body that died on the cross, and no resurrection.  The Scriptures say, “… He took not on Him the nature of angels: but He took on Him the seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16).  He became flesh.  To deny Jesus became flesh [God Incarnate] is to deny the truth.

Those who teach a different Jesus are deceivers, even antichrists.  Paul writes, “…Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).  The fact must be stressed over and over again that false teaching is harmful and deadly to the individual Christian, and to the whole body of Christ [the Church] if it is allowed in our churches and lives.

There are many religions that profess to be “Christian”.  If they deny that Jesus Christ is God in flesh they are a deceiver and liars.  If they declare His deity, yet claim that it is something all mankind can attain as well (that is deity, and that we can all become gods), then that robs the glory that belongs only to Jesus, and that is reserved solely for Him; and those who teach such are “antichrist” deceivers.

“The doctrine of Christ” (v. 9) is the pure Bible doctrine [teaching] that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, God become flesh (John 1:1, 14), and God the Son.  Anyone or any group denying this doctrine, or equating Godhood to any other is a liar and antichrist.  He or they are not of God.  They are not to be accepted in the fellowship of Christ or His Church.

In the following verses of 2 John 1:10-11 the apostle John warns followers of Jesus Christ not even to allow the teachers of the antichrist doctrine into their homes; neither to tell them “Goodbye”.  To tell them “Goodbye” is to tell them “Godspeed” or “God bless you”.

It really does make a difference what you believe about Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.

Through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”  1 John 1:1-4 (KJV)

“…From the beginning…” is certainly a reference to the eternality of the Christ.  If He is eternal then He is Deity – He is God – and worthy of worship.

“We”, John says, “have heard and seen the eternal One.”  How could it be possible for the finite to behold the infinite; for the sinner to hear and hold the sinless?  How can flesh hear, see, and hold the Spirit?  There is only one way.  That is for the Spirit to become flesh.  God became flesh (John 1:1, 14).  God is Spirit (John 4:24).  “…The Word was made flesh…” – the very character of God became man.  God revealed Himself to us.  if we have seen Jesus we have seen the Father (John 14:9).

Jesus then, is the revelation of God to man.  He is God manifested to us.  What God did in His Son Jesus was not secretive, but was done openly for the world to see.  His birth was proclaimed by angels to shepherds; was revealed by a “star” leading the “Magi” to follow where the Child would be found.  The works Jesus did loudly proclaim He is who He claimed to be.  His death was no secret.  The Roman government was deeply involved.  One Roman soldier proclaimed while watching Him die, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).  It must have been in the way He died.  There was no spite, but forgiveness in Him as He hung there on that cross.  He showed care for those around Him; He assured a thief of his place in paradise; He made sure His mother would be cared for.  Only the loving God incarnate could keep His mind and do these glorious things while so near to death.

Is it important to truly believe these things about Jesus?  YES! We know Him by believing these things and we believe Him because we know these things, because He has been revealed to us.

There is no fellowship with the holy, righteous, just God and Father except through Jesus His Son.  The only way brothers and sisters in Christ can fellowship is through our fellowship with Jesus and the Father.

In order to bring others into the fellowship, we must declare what we have seen and heard.  We must declare our own personal experience of faith in Christ.

The joy of a Christian is far beyond happiness the world often endorses.  Happiness is fleeting.  It can be here today and gone tomorrow.  Our joy is based on our fellowship with God, and circumstances cannot control it.  There is no possible way for one to have Joy apart from faith in God through His Son Jesus Christ, and fellowship with Him.

 

Heart or Lip?

It is a sad thing when the heart of God’s people grow cold toward Him, His word, His ways, His Son Jesus, and His Spirit.  That was a very prominent thing in the land of Israel and Judah.  They had grown away from God.  Still maintaining their worship ritual, without  heart for God; giving Him only “Lip service”, but their hearts were far from Him.  It would do Christians of 2017 and beyond to hear the prophets of the Old Testament, because these words apply to all God’s people when it comes to our worship, and devotion to Him.  Now, hear the prophet Isaiah…

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: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? And who knoweth us? Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? Isaiah 29:13-16 (KJV)

For Christians one of  the easiest things to do is stray.  Stray away from time with God, and you will begin straying away from fellowship with His people, and worshiping together.  You will stray away from prayer. When that happens you will get into sin, that you thought you would never be part of.  Then, the Lord does a work in your life; you might call it a trouble, trial, even a sorrow so deep it causes grief and pain of heart; God is getting your attention; asking the question, “Whom or what do you trust?”  Sometimes these trials may come when you are walking with God.  Maybe to check your faith.  Remember Job.

Those who pay “Lip service” with out any heart for God are those to whom Jesus spoke of…

Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:21-23

I fear that there are far too many people who are boasting of a relationship with God that they do not have. You may be one.  You claim to be Christian, but you only pick up your Bible on the way out the door for worship or Bible study.  The rest of the week you give no thought to God, His Son or His word.  You live your life, your way, and stomp on all who get in your way.

By the work and grace of God, when you are God’s He will always bring you back to Himself.  To love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love your neighbor as yourself. None of us can love God except through the cross of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.  He is the one who spoke those words in red above, and though not in red, He spoke through the prophet Isaiah the words of Isaiah.

If you call yourself “Christian”, then stop just giving Him “Lip service” and give Him your heart.  Jesus also said,,,

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Matthew 12:34

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:45

What is in your heart?

 

Christmas Day Ninety and Four

What do I want for Christmas today?

I thank the Lord everyday for His blessings; spiritual, physical and material; and what I want today and from this day forward is the heart and mind of wisdom from Him to enjoy what He has blessed me with for good, right, relationship, fellowship, and benefit to others, and to bless the name of the LORD.

What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 363

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the sins of every charlatan Christian leader (especially in the U. S. of A.) to be exposed; their false teachings to be exposed, and the rebellious hearts of all who profess Jesus Christ to be exposed; that God may show Himself strong among those who love Him.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” Ephesians 5:11-13 (NKJV)

Since it is the ministry of every Christian pastor to preach the whole counsel of God’s word; to make God feel good; not themselves, and not any individual but the Lord Jesus Christ.

See also Psalm 119:126.

W4CL – Restore

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galations 6:1 (KJV)

How many times have you without any fault of your own found yourself dealing with a sin?  You found yourself, deceived, believing wrongly, doing wrongly.  You were “overtaken in a fault”.  You have grieved over it.  Then a “Spiritual” brother/sister who is bearing all those fruit of the Spirit comes and ministers to your need.  By the love, compassion, and meekness you are restored to fellowship with God and the Body of Christ.

That is what it means to be a “Spiritual” Christian.  The spiritual Christian does not condemn the fallen brethren, but seeks to restore the one who is grieving in their sin.

The next time you see a brother/sister in Christ overtaken in a fault seek his/her  restoration.  You could find yourself in that situation sometime later.

For further study on Galations 6:1

Words for Christian Living – Commendation

“But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.”  2 Corinthians 10:17-18 (KJV)

Most people are searching for commendation.  Some are satisfied with self-commendation; others desire the commendation of others.  Self-commendation is worthless; but then, so is the commendation of others for the purposes of eternity.

The word “Commendation” means… “Approval; Praise”.  It speaks well of a person when others approve her/him.  However, if someone with an evil heart speaks well of you…  What does that say?

The commendation from God, our Lord, is the better commendation.  Do not rest in peace with what others say of you.  You can rest, and be in peace with what God says of you, commending you.  You will not be commended by God with unrepented sin in your life.  He will commend you when sin is dealt with, and you are in fellowship with Him through the cross of His Son Jesus Christ.

The Work of Thy Hands

As I was reading the Psalms this morning Psalm 143 verse 5 caught my attention in a particular and special way.

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Thy works; I muse on the work of Thy hands.”

The title above is the thought I will endeavor to dwell on in this post.

Do you ever stop to “Think” on the work of God’s hands?  It would do us all great good if we spent more time meditating and thinking on the works of His hands.  We are more often than not “Amused” with things, and people.  We are more often than not, even “Amused” by God and His works.

For those who do not know, “A” on the word means “No” or “Non”.  For those who already knew that I do not mean to be condescending or rude to you.  I pray you see the point I am making.  The word “Muse” means “Think”; and I fear that I sometimes put too little thought into the works of God’s hands; but instead I am amused by them.

There are so many things that could be mentioned that are the work of His hands.  It would include everything, except evil, yet even in evil He still works.  Do you have a problem with that?  It is your problem; not mine.

Let us think [muse] on a couple of things that are the work of His hands.  First, think about the ground upon which you walk or move about.  He created it.  He keeps it.  He keeps everything in its created order.  Secondly, think about you.  You are the crown of His creation.  You are fallen, indeed, and out of fellowship with Him; yet He loves you.  You are fallen, but can be restored through the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

Now, there is something to think [muse] about.

-t.a.

Walking in the Light and Washed in the Blood – Spurgeon

The following is posted by Bible Gateway daily;

Walking in the light and washed in the blood

‘But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.’  1 John 1:7

Suggested Further Reading: John 12:20–36

Whereas there are some who urge you to look to your doctrinal intelligence as a ground of comfort, I beseech you beloved, look only to the blood; whereas there are others who would set up a standard of Christian experience and urge that this is to be the channel of your consolation, I pray you, while you prize both doctrine and experience, rest nowhere your soul’s weight but in the precious blood. Some would lead you to high degrees of fellowship; follow them, but not when they would lead you away from the simple position of a sinner resting upon the blood. There be those who could teach you mysticism, and would have you rejoice in the light within; follow them as far as they have the warrant of God’s Word, but never take your foot from that Rock of Ages, where the only safe standing can be found. Certain of my brethren are very fond of preaching Christ in his second advent—I rejoice wherein they preach the truth concerning Christ glorified, but my beloved, I entreat you to build your hope not on Christ glorified, nor on Christ to come, but on ‘Christ crucified.’ Remember that in the matter of taking away sin, the first thing is not the throne, but the cross, not the reigning Saviour, but the bleeding Saviour, not the King in his glory, but the Redeemer in his shame. Care not to be studying dates of prophecies if burdened with sin, but seek your chief, your best comfort in the blood of Jesus Christ which ‘cleanseth us from all sin.’ Here is the pole star of your salvation; sail by it and you shall reach the port of peace.

For meditation: Blessings spring from our reliance on ‘nothing but the blood of Jesus’—eternal life (John 6:53), propitiation (Romans 3:25), justification (Romans 5:9), redemption and forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14), peace (Colossians 1:20), access (Hebrews 10:19), and cleansing (1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5). Why look elsewhere?

Sermon no. 663
3 December (1865)

Blessed is the People…

The following is the sermon p0ints from the sermon I preached Sunday November 18, 2012.

Blessed is the People…

Psalm 89:15-18

1.  The people who know the joyful sound;
2.  The people who are in fellowship with the LORD;
3.  The people who are in the light of His countenance;
4.  The people rejoice all day;
5.  The people are exalted in His Righteousness;
6.  The people have the LORD as the glory of our strength and power;
7.  The people have the LORD as King and Defender.

-tim

The Christian Walk

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.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.  But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.  Wherefore He saith, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.’  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:5-16 (KJV)

The Christian Walk is similar to Christian Life and Living, and it is also the walk of Enoch of old, Elijah, and others.  That walk is in agreement with GOD, and His Word (Amos 3:3), and there is only one way to walk with GOD, and that is to agree with Him.

The Christian is a changed individual.  She/He will trust the Lord even when darkness seems set on derailing our walk.  We must cherish our walk with God.  Continue in it even when the way is rough, rocky, dark, and lonely.  Walk diligently, circumspectly in the Lord.

-T.A.

Day 5 – Mediator Desired

It seems in the reading in early Genesis that Adam must have had a fellowship with God; walking with Him in the garden on a regular basis; before there was sin in the garden.  After their rebellion and disobedience, God came walking to them, they heard His voice, and they hid themselves.

The voice of God is a fearful thing to sinful man.  Nothing vile, and unclean can stand in His presence, and it seems that is ingrained in every unredeemed heart.  It is seen in Exodus following the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt.  After the powerful and fearful working power of God in the land of Egypt you would almost think that there would be a heart that longed to hear the voice of God, but no, that did not happen.  Hear their voices;

“And they said unto Moses, ‘Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’  And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.  And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.”  Exodus 20:19-21 (KJV)

We can see in this that what the people wanted was actually a Mediator.  Someone to stand between them and God, and someone to speak for God, rather than hear Him themselves.  Moses says to them, “‘Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.”  Another translation says it like this,

 “Don’t be afraid,” Moses said, “for God has come in this way to show you his awesome power. From now on, let your fear of him keep you from sinning!”  Exodus 20:20 (NLT)

It is definite that we do need a Mediator between us and God; and God has provided His Mediator.  That Mediator is Jesus, and makes it so much different.  The apostle Paul has written by the inspiration of the Spirit of God,

“For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”  1 Timothy 2:5-6

We need to see sin as a very fearful, hurtful, destructive, eternally deadly thing in our lives.  We need to see that we need God in our lives, lest we go to death and destruction – eternal death and destruction.  God requires perfection by the law.  The law shows that we are imperfect, and cannot reach God; however God has provided a way; the Mediator who gave Himself a ransom for all who will believe.

Look at the difference the apostle John offers in the New Testament;

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.  And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”  1 John 3:1-3 (KJV)

Those who are redeemed through the blood of Jesus are the “sons of God”, unknown by the world, because it knew and knows not Christ.  The son of God seeks God out; and seeks to be just as pure and holy as He is pure and holy.  No more fear to hear His voice, because of the Mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ and His shed blood on Calvary’s cross.

-Tim A. Blankenship

B F & M – Man

The estate of man is often questioned and discussed.  When it comes to knowing the truth of the matter concerning humankind, there is only one reliable source of information and that is God’s Word – the Bible.  Below you will see the Baptist Faith and Message statement concerning Man:

“III. Man

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.”

Originally, man was created in the state of innocence, with no sin.  God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and made him a living soul.

In our Statement of Faith (BF& M) we say, “endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice”.  Adam, the first man, used that freedom, sinned against God, thus condemning the whole human race – his children, grandchildren; all who would come from his seed.

Man is a totally depraved race.  Without God’s grace we are a condemned race.

-T.A.

Whatever Happened To Shame?

Shame is a word that has almost fallen by the way. Who uses the word “shame” anymore? You don’t hear it much. “You ought to be ashamed” a mother would say to a child who had just kicked a sibling, or a neighbor, or a friend. “Shame on you” some Dad would say to his son when he argued and disobeyed his mother, and then would get a whipping.

Shame? What does it mean? Well, now that you’ve asked let me answer. Shame, according to the Merriam/Webster Dictionary means, “a painful sense of having done something wrong, improper, or immodest 2. DISGRACE, DISHONOR, shameful”.

It seems that in the culture of the day that it is “wrong” to cause someone to feel ashamed. According to some called “experts”, “You ought to be ashamed to make someone aware of their shame.” In the day when you ought to be ashamed of shame, God’s Word still uses the word, and speaks the truth of how people should be ashamed of their actions.

Jeremiah the prophet writes,

“Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 6:15 (KJV)

Of course the prophet is writing of how the people have rebelled against the LORD, turned their backs on Him, rejected His Word and His prophets, and because of this are going to experience cutting off from their land. Were they ashamed? It appears not according to the prophet.

It would seem that as a society gets more affluent, fat, lazy and complacent; they also get the knowledge of Eve when she ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden; and think God is only known in knowing self. However, even Adam and Eve were ashamed when they heard the LORD walking in the garden. That appears to be disappearing from the culture of our day (2009).

Several who profess to have once known God through His Son Jesus Christ, turning their backs on God, His Word, His truth, and His prophets and people have no shame of turning from God.

O, people of God, Christian; when we sin against our God and Savior, let us be ashamed of our sin, confess it and forsake it. Let us be sure to maintain a proper fellowship with our LORD and God. Be ashamed when sin is in your life. Rejoice when it has been cleansed, forgiven and forgotten by our Father through His Son Jesus Christ.

There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), and it seems that shame is our condemnation when we are not walking in Him. Walking in Him is that blessed fellowship we have with Him in obedience which comes from our love for Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Continuing Christian…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the concluding part of verse 47 we read:

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

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

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

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

Continue Christians in the work of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

The Horrible Thing

Being told that the word God gives you is going to be as fire and the people to who you speak as the wood would be a very serious thing.  This is what has happened to Jeremiah.  In verse 14 of chapter five Jeremiah is told just that; “…I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.”

The weeping prophet I am pretty sure would have been weeping, sorrowing over these words.  He had probably been weeping over the spiritual condition of His people.  Their spiritual and moral condition was not good.  They had an impending threat against them which they were oblivious of.

It is amazing how in a blessed society, of any age, or time how people begin wandering away from the One who has blessed them and begin attributing their blessings to human ability, or human achievements, or maybe even a religion of sorts, and their “faithfulness” to perform their rituals at the expense of truth and faithfulness to the One who has called for their faithfulness.  Those things are what had happened in Judah, Jerusalem.

These things have happened in the world today in nations who once knew God, but have turned away from him.  When they have done so they progressively become prone to dismissing evil actions as being good.  Many of them will claim a rich history of faith, but have none now.  It is a very sad thing when our Creator must speak words of judgment against us to call us back to Himself.

Hear the words of God to the prophet –

“Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.  Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.  And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.  Nevertheless in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you.  And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours.  Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying,  Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:  Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?  But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.  Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.  For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.  As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.  They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.  Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?  A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;  The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”  Jeremiah 5:15-31 (KJV)

The LORD will not leave sin in the midst of those who profess His name.  He will deal with those sins that offend Him.  Those things which offend Him seem not to offend wayward people.  Forsaking Him is the one thing that many seem to be doing today.  It is, however, wonderful to know that there are many who are also coming to Him, and many who are faithful to Him.  What is your relationship with the LORD today?  How is your fellowship with the LORD today?

The prophet is being told that an army is coming which will destroy the nation, the temple, the way of life that they have grown so comfortable with, and yet so lax in sin.  They have presented themselves as a godly people without worshipping God.  They have turned their backs on fellowship with God.

Fellowship with God comes through faith in Christ Jesus.  Fellowship with God is walking with Him.  The prophet Amos asked the question, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)  That simply means that to walk with God we must walk in agreement with Him.  You aren’t walking with Him when you aren’t walking obediently.

In the middle of this Scripture we do find a promise. It is this, “Nevertheless, in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you.” (v. 18).  Even with judgment lurking at the door; they have the promise of God that He is not finished with His people.

I have said it before, and believe it to be a quote from Charles H. Spurgeon that, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”.  When we sin against Him the Holy Spirit within us will afflict us, make us very uncomfortable with our sin, and bring us back to Him.  We cannot dwell/live with sin in our lives.  To live with sin in our lives, and remain unconvicted, unrepentant, and unmoved would say quite loudly that we are not His.  When we are His God will do whatever is necessary to bring us back into fellowship with Himself; even to the point of taking our wealth, our health, our family, our friends, or our freedom.

This is how the LORD worked in Judah and Israel.  This is also how He can and does work in the lives of Christians.  He is the One who is holy, righteous, and undefiled; and He will have His people to be holy, righteous and undefiled as well.  When He speaks we better listen and obey.

How did Judah and Jerusalem end up with this looming threat over their heads?  Verses 30 and 31 tell us;  “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, the priest bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”

People turning their backs on God because the prophet (preacher) and the priests (the spiritual leaders) do not proclaim the word of the LORD, but their own visions, dreams, hopes [empty] and desires.  They have wanted a following for themselves rather than a holy people for God.  They have feared the people rather than God.

Within Christianity every child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection; is a priest of God.  We all have access to the very throne of grace, before the face of God.  When we fail to have personal time before the throne we fail God, and the people we are witnesses to.

I wonder sometimes just how many churches and pastors there are in our country and the world who actually proclaims the word of God in the language of the people, from the throne of grace?  By our silence of God’s word we condemn the people. We don’t help them with a message of prosperity, self helps, and or self praise.  The word of God is what is needed in today’s world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Without Fault

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…” Jude 24 (NKJV).

Can you imagine standing in a courtroom, you are the defendant, all the evidence has been given; you are guilty; you did the crime, and you figure that the judge is going to “throw the book” at you; sentencing you to the full extent of the law. You pled guilty, and the judge steps up to the judge’s seat, sits down, looks at his book of evidence; then, he says, “Not guilty, by reason of substitution. Someone else has already paid for the crime.”

Wouldn’t that send a relieving shock through your mind, your heart? It does mine. We are all guilty before the great Judge who is Almighty God, the Creator of all that is. We have sinned – for those who do not understand what sin is; you/we have broken God’s law, we have stepped out of His will to do our own will, and made our own laws for ourselves – we have disobeyed His laws.

God, who is holy, righteous, and just could not fellowship with what was vile, unclean, and unholy, unrighteous, and unjust. Because He loved us so extremely much, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay our sin debt. There on that cross there was a transaction between the Father and Son which we cannot fully understand. The Father poured out all His wrath toward sin, upon that precious Son, and the Son submitted Himself to the Father’s will. Jesus, in fact, “became sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21), and was “wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). The Father, Himself struck His own Son in wrath for my sins and yours. The debt of sin is paid.

Jude tells us, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.“ Not only is He able to keep us, but He is also able to present us before the presence of the glory of the Father “faultless”. We will one day stand before the Judge of all men, women, boys and girls – those who have received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior – and will hear the Judge say, “Not guilty; there is no fault here”, and all because of the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross of calvary.

Those who have not received this gracious gift of God. Have shunned the truth of God’s Word, the gospel of Jesus Christ, will one day stand before this Judge, and will hear Him say, “I never knew you. Depart from me into everlasting judgment.” That is not what you want, and I do not want that for you. If I have any enemy, other than the devil himself, I do not want that for them. Seek the face of God. Turn from your sins to Jesus Christ. There is forgiveness with Him alone. There is Cleansing through Him and only Him. There is eternal life by the power of His resurrection, and it is yours by grace through faith in Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Married to a Backslider

Married To A Backslider

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It doesn’t matter what the child of God has done you have a loving Father who is pleading for you to return to His fellowship and enjoy the peace, comfort, love and joy that is found only in the presence and power of God. Don’t take this wrongly. This is not an invitation to do evil and wrong. We have been freed from such arrogance, and pride. Because we drag the carcass (Isaiah 5:18 ) of the flesh around with us, we have not laid it down yet, it is still a battle we face everyday.

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Living For the King

For the King

“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 10:38-39 (KJV)

Jesus chose His cross for paying the debt of sin for the people of the world. His cross, His life was the only life worth the Father receiving for sins debt to Him. Jesus chose the way of the cross over His life. He chose the way of the cross over the love of the flesh; the desire to survive. The King chose to suffer for the people rather than to allow us to suffer for eternity.

Subjects of the King choose the suffering of Jesus Christ over the short lived pleasures of sin – “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” Hebrews 11:25 (KJV).

Disciples/Subjects of the King rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer for His name – “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” Acts 5:41 (KJV). It was for the joy that was set before Him that He gave His life (Hebrews 12:2). There is a much greater joy than the pleasures of this life.

When we are in Christ Jesus we are desiring to “Conform’ ourselves ‘unto His death”, and to “know the fellowship of His suffering”. This is choosing to no longer live for the flesh, and ourselves but for Jesus and His glory. This is all because of Him, for Him and through Him. In suffering we have a greater fellowship of identity with Him. We learn Him, know Him, and He knows us.

The MacARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY says, “A cross is the willing sacrifice of everything one has, including life, for the sake of Christ. It is something that, like the Lord Himself, a believer must take upon himself when it is thrust upon him by the unbelieving world because of his relationship to God.” Vol. 2, p. 233. Longing to be like Jesus even in His death. Counting this life loss for Jesus’s sake.