The Good Pleasure of The Father

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

Anxiety can be a huge problem for many people.  It is in fact a growing problem with people.

At the beginning of this let me say that planning ahead is not a bad thing. There is much in the Proverbs which we can learn in the matters of planning for our future; but it cannot, should not be done with fear or anxiety.

For the follower of Jesus Christ the words of Luke 12:22-34 are directed toward us. Jesus had just told the parable of the rich man who tore down his “barns” to build greater ones without one thought of God or his soul. He had no sooner completed the planning, and he died (Luke 12:13-21). Wealth without God is a foolish sin, that cost you your eternal soul. Your soul is eternal. Material riches are temporary.

Jesus was sending out His “Little flock” to do ministry; preaching the gospel, repentance, and faith toward God. They; as do we today; need to hear these words, “Fear not”.

We cannot let the cares, the fears, the anxiety of this word weigh on us. It is a load too heavy to bear. Why do we worry about things we have no control over? After all that is what most fear and worry is about.

For those who have been redeemed through the cross of Jesus Christ – His death, burial, and resurrection we are promised the kingdom. The kingdom is His, and we are in fact, “Joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). It is The Good Pleasure of The Father to give the kingdom to His Little Flock. We need always remember also the apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-7.

What He Should Accomplish At Jerusalem

“And, behold, there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spake of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.” Luke 9:30-31 (KJB)

Jerusalem. The city of Peace. The city of David. Sometimes called the city of God. It is also a city of great division, scorn, and evil.

It is the city of great admiration of the people of Israel, and the world. It has been said, “As goes Jerusalem; so goes the world”. David in one of his Psalms tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

Jesus is said to have had His eyes set on Jerusalem (Luke 9:51, 53), and that was due to the calling in His life since before the foundation of the earth was set. In the text before our above verses Jesus is on the Mount speaking with Moses and Elijah about the coming days; and not too far off.

Jerusalem would be the place of His great sacrifice. Jesus would lay down His life for the sins of the whole world; and He would do so because He loved, and revered His Father; and He loved lost, condemned sinners.

In the mind of the ordinary human being, dying does not seem like much to accomplish. Some of the teaching I have heard among the prosperity gospel folks, makes it sound as though Jesus failed in dying on the cross. One of the final statements Jesus made before He died on the cross was, “It is finished” (John 19:30). May I shout with the words…. IT WAS HIS VICTORY… ; and His bodily resurrection is the proof of it (Romans 1:4), and our justification.

Jesus accomplished, at Jerusalem, all that He had came to earth as a man to do. He accomplished in His death all that the Law and the Prophets could not do – the redemption of Israel, and the redemption of all those in the world who will come to Him believing; receiving the blessed gift of His grace.

Call on His name believing. He will hear. He will save.

Pray That the Word May Run

 “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all have not faith.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 (KJV)

When I think about the running of the word, I think of the runners in Old Testament days running to tell the king the outcome of a battle (2 Samuel 18:24-27).

Paul is speaking of the word of the Lord, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Prayer for the word to be spread with haste, with speed, and certainly we need that in 2019.

If any of you are of the type who like to see good in everyone; we need to always keep in mind that there are those who are not in the faith of  our Lord Jesus, and some of these try and twist the word of God to suit their own ends and means.

Christian all we have to stand on is Christ our Rock; and we do that through faith in Him and all that He has said. His word is His way, His law, His commandments, His statutes, His testimonies, His judgments, His  holiness, and His righteousness.

Let us stand upon that Rock or we will be crushed by Him (Matthew 21:44).  Pray for the speed of the work of the word of the Lord.

Nothing Kept Secret

“And He said unto them, ‘Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed?, and not to be set on a candlestick?  For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.  If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.’
And He said unto them, ‘Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.  For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.’” Mark 4:21-25  (KJB)

Since Jesus had just explained the parables mentioned before, now Jesus it telling them the importance of giving these words, telling them to others.  Jesus has revealed to them the light and power of the gospel. Now the apostles have the responsibility to share the gospel with others.

So as we who have believed; because the Spirit of God has opened our understanding, revealed to us the gospel of Christ; so also do we have the power and calling to let it shine and endeavor to give it to others.

Let us take note of the caveat’, “For he that has, to him shall be given: and he that has not, from him shall be taken even that which he has.”  If God gives me the ability to understand, and I share it, I am faithful in giving it away, then He will give me more understanding; but if I keep it all to myself, and do not share it, then He will take away even what I have.

Nothing was held back in giving understanding of the mystery of the gospel; its light, power, and glory; neither did they put it under a bushel to hide it.  Neither should the Christian of today.

If Any Preach any Other Gospel

“Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead;)  and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:  to whom glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But 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.  As we said before, so say I now again, ‘If any preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed.’  For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.  For you have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.  But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.  Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.  But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.  Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.  Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, ‘That he which persecuted us in times past now preaches the faith which once he destroyed.  And they glorified God in me.” Galations 1:1-24

REFERENCES: Acts 2:24; Titus 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:1; 16:22; 1 Samuel 24:7; 1 Timothy 1:13; Jeremiah 9:14; Matthew 16:17; Romans 9:1; 16:7

God Always Causes Us to Triumph in Christ

“Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,  I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.  Now thanks unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place.  For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?  For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”   2 Corinthians 2:12-17  (KJB)

References: 2 Corinthians 7:5, 6; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 15:10; 1 Peter 2:7-8; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14

Grace in Dispute

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

The Unending Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Heavenly Vision

King Agrippa has come into Jerusalem, and now tells the apostle Paul that he may speak for himself.  What a wonderful opportunity to share with a king the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Acts 26:2-23 is Paul’s testimony of what had come into his life, and changed his direction; the cause for his being on trial in the city.

Let us focus on…

“…Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” Acts 26:19-23 (KJV)

In the verses just prior to these we find what happened on the “Road to Damascus” when he came face to face with God in the Person of the resurrected Jesus Christ, Son of God and God the Son.  This is the vision he speaks of in verse 19.

The apostle has not violated the Law of Moses, or the prophets.  He is in fact fulfilling them.  The One who is just, holy and righteous sent His Son to die for the sins of the world [Mankind], He was buried, and He bodily arose and came out alive; and He ever lives as our Advocate, and Redeemer.

Let us, with Paul, say, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision…”  That is it.  That is our life.  That is my vision.  I pray that it is yours as well.

Continuing the Work of the Resisted Cross

The world today needs the cross of Jesus Christ just as the days of the past.  ‘Today is the day of salvation” not tomorrow.  Today.  We as Christians have the most urgent message for people; men, women, children, and their families to get our of their condemnation of sin through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

Today is not the day to cease.  Today is the day of salvation…

“And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22 (KJV)

Christian as we look at the above verses we see the early Christian and their leaders never ceased preaching.  They just moved on.  They moved on to other places, and sometimes they may have stayed where they were.

We read of Paul (who had been Saul who hated the gospel of Christ) being stoned, and they supposed to death, and drug out of the city (14:19-20).  Then, Paul got up and went to another city.  Why did he go to another city?  To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  O for the passion of Paul for Jesus and His love.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s love for us on display at the cross where Jesus bled and died for our sins.  He was buried in a tomb, and three days later arose from that grave alive.

Nothing real good comes without a price.  We are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23).  It cost me nothing.  It cost you nothing.  God paid the price for you; because we do not have the price to pay.  The price for sin is death, and if we were to pay our own sin debt through death, then there would be no eternity except Hell’s fire.

As a Christian today we are called to live the gospel, spread the gospel, share the gospel, preach the gospel.  Where?  Wherever we may be.  What ever we may be doing.

Notice Luke’s words in the verses… “exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”  No one; not even Jesus ever said that the Christian life would be easy, but we are told “Through much tribulation…”  “In the world you will have tribulation”; and “Yea all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (John 16:33;  2 Timothy 3:12).

Just as with the early Church, so too in the Church today, where there is trial, persecution, or tribulation because of the cross of Jesus Christ God will be blessing and increasing the kingdom

On this Valentine’s Day start it off right by loving the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength; because that is how He loves you.

Reverence, Rest and Results

“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” Acts 9:31 (KJV)

Chapter nine begins by telling us of Saul.  He is known as Saul of Tarsus a Pharisee, passionate about the Hebrew religion, and the death of any who spoke of the Christ as the Lord Jesus.

In his endeavors of religious lust he set out to kill, and destroy the Christian faith, and was very aggressive in doing so.  This chapter deals mostly with his glorious conversion to faith in Christ Jesus, believing in His death, burial and resurrection.

The early Church was fearful of Saul.  They fled from Jerusalem because of him; not knowing it was the will of God to scatter the Gospel of Christ into the world.  It is amazing and wonderful and marvelous how the Spirit of the Lord moves and works in our lives.

I have, for many years, found verse 31 of chapter 9 fascinating, and enlightening.  After Saul’s conversion the churches of Judea and Galilee and Samaria experienced “Rest” – the persecution had lightened up.

I want you to notice what happened, and this is a lesson for the Church of all ages;

  1.  They were walking (the Church was walking) in the fear of the Lord;
  2.   They were experiencing the comfort of the Holy Spirit;
  3.   The Church was multiplying in number – people were coming to faith in Jesus.

What does that mean for the Christian Church today?  We must walk in the Spirit of God; that means with reverence, fear of God, His Spirit and His Word; believing His Word, loving His Word, and applying it to our lives, in daily living.

If we are to experience the “Comfort of the Holy Spirit” that comes also loving God, and His Word.  How can a child of God through Jesus Christ grow in faith in Him without a daily diet of God’s Word?  We cannot.  Neither will their be any comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the Christian Church today can only rightly increase in number as people come to Christ, not necessarily “To Church”, but to Christ Jesus through His death, burial and resurrection.

When the Church; which is the Body of Christ – has Reverence and Rest, then there will be Results.

Day Three Hundred Forty and Four

What do I want for Christmas?

Since this is the Lord’s Day, and millions of Christians will be going to their places of worship, and some are choosing to stay home in bed or going to play, or maybe something else:

I want the pastors of churches who have not been preaching the unadulterated word of God, and the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ – His death, burial and resurrection – to begin today preaching it with a heart aflame for Jesus Christ; and that those people who have decided not to attend Bible studies, or church this morning to get up, get dressed and attend worship with an ear ready to hear, a heart ready to receive, and feet and arms ready to do the work of faith for the glory and honor of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:1-2 (NKJV)
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

The Gospel of Hosea

There are some who proclaim that “The God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament.”  “In the Old Testament God is distant, constantly judging His people, and angry.  In the New testament God is loving and kind.”

How many times have you heard such statements of something similar?

Listen to what the LORD spoke to Hosea,

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”  Hosea 2:14-15 (KJV)

In the gospel of Hosea we see GOD who chose a people who were not worthy, because He loved them, and drew them to Himself; and continues to do so.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is such a gospel [Good news] of God becoming flesh alluring people unto Himself, and taking what was a curse, and making them a blessing and glory unto Himself.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

That is why I have sometimes called Hosea  the Old Testament Gospel of John.

-T.A.

Not all the elect will hear

To give some background for the above title I will tell you that my wife, some of our family and I attended an ordination to pastoral ministry in a Primitive Baptist church on Saturday.  It was a blessing to see our son ordained into the ministry with the questions and the pressure that was put on him.

I decided there that I would not be considered a good candidate for the Primitive [Old] Baptist beliefs, or ordination.  My answers to many of those questions would have been rejected flat out.  The questions as to “Who does God love?” and their acceptable answer for that question is “Only the elect”.  According to my Bible we are told that God so love the world, that He gave His only Son.

Any way the thing that really caused me to question is the title statement, “Not all the elect will hear”, and I took that to mean the gospel.  Does that mean the “elect” as they call them will be in heaven anyway?  Again according to Romans, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17); that means they will hear.  God will send a messenger to his “elect” that they might hear.

I do not call myself a “Calvinist”.  I do believe in the sovereignty of God in salvation.  It is solely a work of God; and somehow by grace God gives enlightenment and life for faith, and the faith, to hear, believe and receive eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ.

But “Not all the elect will hear”.  That puzzles me.

-T.A. Blankenship

Five Years Ago

Five years ago when my wife and I were living in Farmington, Missouri and I was pastor of Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church I started Fire and Hammer blog.  It was in January of that year and on Blogger.

I was writing almost everyday and rewriting online things I had written years before.  Studies in Revelation and such.  I also began writing about former pastors and such; then one day I lost everything on the blog; including the blog.  The host was doing some work improving their servers and programs and things like that; and I hit the wrong button; or something.  To this day I have never figured out what happened.  It was gone.

I came over to WordPress and started again.  I have been here ever since.  I am now well into my sixth year blogging here.  Thank you WordPress for allowing myself and others to have a place to leave the message of God’s Word on the web.

I know it is not a real whiz bang blog.  My intentions is not to impress any one or everyone.  My intentions are to get the Word of God out.  I thank God for the privilege of doing so.  I know I am not the only one doing it; and thank God for all who are being faithful in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of God.

To all who are subscribed to this blog, and to all who read the articles.  THANKS and I pray you have been blessed.  God bless you all.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Power On Their Lives – Mark 16:15-20

“And He said unto them, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.’
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”  Mark 16:15-20

Jesus gives us the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and it is longer and more detailed in its application there.  Here, however, we have a simple “Go and preach the gospel to every creature”, and then, what follows are signs, evidence that they are servants of God.  Because of the newness of this message of grace, that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, there must of necessity have been proofs of their words being true.  The gospel is true and powerful to save, but the Scriptures [New Testament] had not yet even started to be written.  Today, we have the completed Scriptures [Old and New Testaments], and we no longer need evidence of the power of the gospel to save.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…” seems like a salvation of works, but any one who comes believing in Jesus will in obedience follow the Lord in water baptism.  It is the “Public confession” of one’s faith in Jesus.   When a person comes to faith in Jesus they have a desire to obey Him in all things.  The first step of obedience, and the believer’s first call is a public testimony, and that is shown in baptism.  Baptism is the testimony of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection, and by baptism you tell the world of your faith in Jesus and that you have died to the old life, been buried putting it all away, and have risen to new life in Him.

According to the apostle John in the gospel he wrote, “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).  You could  ask the question, a fearful question, “What does one have to do to go to Hell?  The answer to that is absolutely nothing.  You can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus, His finished work on the cross and the resurrection, and enjoy the glory of Jesus for all eternity.  You can do absolutely nothing and spend eternity in Hell.  The truth of the matter is we are all condemned, dying, hellbound sinners.  We are born in that condition – separated from God, hating God, loving ourselves, and seeking our own way, and not God’s way.  There are some who believe that once this life is over that is it.  There are even some professing Christians who believe only the saved will have an “Eternal life” while those who do not know God through His Son Jesus will simply go back to the dust, and their “spirits” will cease to exist.  Part of the way that God created us in His image is that He gave us an eternal soul and spirit.  Not “Eternal” in the sense that He is; like “Eternal past”, but an eternal future, and our eternity with Christ actually begins with our faith in Him.  The condemned person’s eternity without Christ begins at the death of the physical body, and it will be an eternity without light, without friends, without satisfaction of desires.  It will be an eternity of torment, or flames, heat, no water, nothing to quench your thirst.  It will be a place without God’s love, only wrath.

These were signs of authentication.  They were evidence of the power of God to save those who believe, and the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.  The first sign Jesus gives is the power to “…Cast out devils [demons]”.  There is evidence of this in Acts with a young girl who is “demon possessed”, and brings great profit to her owner, because she can “Foretell” the future.  Paul was bitten by a poisonous serpent, and without harm (Acts 28).  The apostles Peter and John, on their way to the temple, meet a man who is lame, and by their words, “Rise up and walk” he gets up and walks (Acts 3).  Paul raises a young man named Eutychus from death (Acts 20).  There are many accounts in the book of Acts of the work of the Spirit of God in the lives of the apostles, doing miracles, signs and wonders, to confirm the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the Gospel which is being promoted not the miracles, and we must always remember that.

The changed lives of millions through the years is evidence of the power of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Men and women who have had hate filled, murderous hearts are changed into loving, compassionate, caring individuals who reach out to others with the truth of Christ.  Men and women who have selfishly stolen from others through greed, lust, and larceny are changed into giving, unselfish individuals who love Christ and have given their all for Him.

One sign of the resurrection of Jesus is His ascension into Heaven to His Father’s right hand.  The apostles all witnessed it.  Peter, James and John, Matthew, and all the rest, except Paul for he had not yet come to faith in Jesus.  Jesus fulfilled all the Scriptures concerning the things concerning Himself and His first coming, and He will fulfill all the things concerning His Second coming.

The disciples/apostles were the ones who are responsible, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the beginning of the Church – the Body of Christ.  Without the Holy Spirit confirming their word, there would be no church.

Can we go out in the same power of the Spirit that they did?  Most certainly, and now we have something much better than miracles, signs and wonders.  We have God’s Spirit confirming His written Word.  It is finished.  There is no more being added to it, and anyone that does add to it or take away from it will find the curses of His Word in their lives (Rev. 22:18-19).

There is nothing impossible to those who walk in the Spirit of God.  Praying for the power of the Spirit on Christian lives.

-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 opportuntity. 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 was 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.

-T.A.

Panorama Through the Fire

1 Peter 1:8-9

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (KJV).

A true “Panorama” is an ability to see clearly in every direction. The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER Dictionary – “2. a complete view in every direction”. This would fit with what we have by faith in Jesus our Savior. The One who takes us through the fiery trials of life.

Many of the people to whom Peter is writing have never seen Jesus; and that includes you and I. People were trusting the words of the apostles, and things were many times verified by the Holy Spirit with signs from God. Jesus spoke to Thomas, called the Doubter, “Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:29 (KJV). That same promise is spoken here by Peter. It applies to all people who hear the message of God’s Word/Gospel and believe what He has said.

When you realize what Jesus has done, is doing and will do for us; how can we not love Him. He left the glories of Heaven, laid aside His own glory, became subject to humanity, went willingly to lay down His life on the cross: He endured the ridicule, the beatings, scourgings, the cruel judgments, and died for us. His love motivates love for Him in the hearts of those who can see. Though we cannot see Him we still hear His Word, believe it and trust Him to do His work in us. That faith brings with it that thing that is “Unspeakable” or “Inexpressible”.

There is “Joy unspeakable”, inexpressible, beyond our imaginations, and and “full of glory”. It must be His glory, because you and I have none to glow. He is full of glory. His glory was viewed even before His death and resurrection by Peter, James and John on what has been called the “Mount of Transfiguration” (Matthew 17:1-12). It is great to share in His joy and glory. That is what makes it joyous and glorious.

With the “Joy unspeakable” there is one of the most wondrous things about our salvation. That wondrous thing is that we will be there to see it take place, ie., our completed salvation. Let me assure you, that because, of the promises given us by Jesus and the words of the apostles we are just as assured of Heaven as if we were already there. However, it will not be complete until we are standing face to face, in the very presence of Jesus Christ Himself. There are some who believe that we cannot know that we are saved, and will have to wait until that day. I certainly find no assurance in that. Here is what John the apostle said, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:13 (KJV). Now, that sounds like assurance. Kept by the eternal power of God He sees His work through to completion. To suggest that God fails in what He begins is next door to blasphemy. Here is some more assurance, “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). The “End of your faith” is when our sanctification is done here and we stand face to face with our Savior Jesus Christ. The salvation of our souls is guaranteed by faith in Jesus when we call on Him. The Holy Spirit is the seal of our redemption until we get there, and it is finished when we see Jesus.

Someone put it this way: “We have been saved from the PENALTY of sin; We are being saved from the POWER of sin; and we will be saved from the very PRESENCE OF SIN.”

Salvation is guaranteed by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives; “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:12-14 (KJV). When we are trusting in Jesus we can also trust that He sees the panoramic view of things, and is working all things for our good and His glory. Even in the fires of trials and tribulations.

-T.A.

Observations From Mark – 031311

The reading today is from the Gospel of Mark chapters 1 – 4.

The gospel of Matthew is related to the King and His kingdom.  The gospel of Mark is related to Jesus as a servant.  These characteristics are seen in the Old Testament in the book of the prophet Ezekiel (1:10), and also in the Revelation of Jesus Christ (4:7).  There are four faces mentioned; the face of a lion – the King;  the face of an calf/ox – servant or serving;  the face of a man – humanity;  the face of an eagle.  The Revelation even calls it a “flying eagle”.  I will deal with the significance of the others when we get to their respective gospels.  Right now we will deal with Mark.

Let me make something as plain and clear as I can.  There are not four different gospels.  There are four different points of view so that we may have a more clear, and lovely picture of our Lord.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John though penned from different experiences are just as inspired by God as the other.  They do not contradict but explain, and enhance, and complement one another.

The experience of Mark begins differently than the other three accounts.  Matthew begins with a genealogy of our Lord and His Kingship.  Luke, in chapter 3 has the genealogy from Mary’s side of the family, thus showing his humanity.  John has no genealogy, but rather states quite clearly His deity with the first five verses, with verse 1 saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.

Mark includes no genealogy, because servants  had no genealogy in that day; not publicly recorded.  Looking at the total life of Jesus we see a King, a servant, a man, and His Divinity.

Look with me at the beginning of the gospel;

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.  The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make His paths straight.'” Mark 1:1-3

Mark seems to make the service of Jesus to the Father a point in a greater way than the others do.  Many may frown on the idea of Jesus as a servant, but He said it Himself:

“Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.  But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of 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 10:41-45

The work of Jesus while on earth was to fulfill the Father’s will, not His own.  He was a servant/minister to do the bidding of His Father.  He had come also to serve mankind by giving His life as a ransom for our sin, paying the sin debt which we owed.

Surely the best we have to offer Him is ourselves, believing what He has said, living for Him and His glory.  We need to do as the apostle Paul says, “…Present your bodies a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1-2).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

“And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely. 45 And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him. 46 And they laid their hands on him, and took him. 47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? 49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. 50 And they all forsook him, and fled. 51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: 52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.”  Mark 14:43-52

Judas goes about doing his dirty, dispicable, dastardly deed.  He betrays Jesus with the highest symbol of friendship in that society.  This kiss was the way best of friends greeted one another, but Judas’s was an act of hypocrisy, betrayal.

They come with a large mob, to take the one who offered nothing to them except peace, hope, love, mercy, grace, and joy.  They came as though He were a murderer, or a thief.  The real thief was leading the way, and betraying the Master.

The lowly, miserable, sinful, unclean, wicked, deceitful, betraying, mob took hold of the sinless, perfect, holy, just, righteous, Son of God to take Him to a “trial” and then to take His life.

Peter’s response was to take the sword and attack, which he did and cut off the ear of a servant to the “High priest”.  Other Gospel accounts tell us that Jesus healed this man’s ear (Luke 22:50-51).  Peter was brave, but at a time when it was not necessary to act so brashly and without thought, but then, this was the character of Peter.

Jesus was always for the fulfillment of Scripture.  In order for Him to be the true Christ [Messiah of Israel] all Scripture must be fulfilled.  Not one “jot” or “Tittle” could go unperformed.  God does not leave anything undone which He has spoken, nor will His Son.  Jesus’s life, work, death and resurrection fulfill all Scriptures concerning Him and those events.  Not one thing has been left undone.  Just as the Scriptures had declared, and Jesus had said Himself all the disciples fled for their lives.

There is a young man, who is not identified,  in the garden, and he flees without any garment.  This “Young man” has been thought by some to have been John Mark – the writer of this Gospel.  I see no problem believing that.  Mark not wanting to draw any great attention to himself just identifies himself as a “Young man” who flees from the mob.  He may have been hiding in the trees and rocks, looking onto the events of Jesus and His disciples, and was there when the mob came to take Jesus away.

Do we often try to hide when conflict comes?  Jesus was willing to face the shame of the cross for our sins, and He willingly offered Himself for our sins.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Lamb Of God Celebrating Passover

“And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, His disciples said unto Him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?  13 And He sendeth forth two of His disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. 14 And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with My disciples? 15 And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. 16 And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. 17 And in the evening He cometh with the twelve. 18 And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with Me shall betray Me. 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto Him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? 20 And He answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with Me in the dish. 21 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. 22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is My body. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And He said unto them, This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. 26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.  27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.  28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. 29 But Peter said unto Him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. 30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice. 31 But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”  Mark 14:12-31 (KJV)

Because it is drawing near to the evening of the Passover and feast of unleavened bread Jesus gives direction to two of His disciples on how to search for that place.  Whether the Lord had prearranged the event or not is not the question, though I personally do not believe that Jesus had it prearranged except through the Father.

Everything worked out just as Jesus had said.  Now we have the True Passover Lamb being prepared and preparing His disciples for the hours which lie ahead.  Ever since the deliverance of Israel from Egypt following the night of the Passover this event was prophetic of the True Lamb who would one day come to deliver mankind from sins bondage.  Just as the Passover lamb in Egypt died to deliver Israel from death, so too, the Son of God the Perfect Lamb, must die to deliver us from our sins.  It is quite fitting that it would be on the evening of the annual event remembering the deliverance from the land of bondage.

At this Passover meal Jesus tells His disciples that one of them will betray Him, and they will all flee from Him.  At the Passover meal they wonder, “Who is it?”  They even ask “Is it I?’  Even Judas to cover himself asked the question.  It seems to me that it would be proper to say that Judas was not present when the Lord instituted the “Lord’s Supper”.  According to John’s Gospel there is a place where Jesus said, “What you do do quickly…” and “…having received the sop went immediately out:…” (Read John 13:27-30).  The “Sop” would have been a piece of the unleavened bread from the “Passover meal” not that of what was the “Lord’s Supper”; that came shortly after Judas went to do his devious act of betrayal.

All we know of Judas is what we find of him in the Gospels.  He was the “Treasurer” for Jesus and His disciples (John 12:6).  We know he had equal access to the presence of Jesus as the other disciples.  He could have sought forgiveness for his treachery of betrayal, but instead he went out and hanged himself.  He could have taken part in the Lord’s Supper, but chose rather to go and betray his Master.  He slid into Hell from a church pew.  He did these things on one of the most holy weeks of the year for the Hebrew people.  He chose to betray and kill the only One who gave them hope.  By the death of the Lamb of God there was cleansing, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, and restoration, justification, sanctification, and there will be glorification.

As Jesus and the eleven disciples were on the Mount of Olives he tells them they will all be offended and flee.  Peter says,  “Though all may be offended, yet, I will not be.”  Because of his brash denial of Jesus’s words to all of them Jesus warns Peter that he will deny Him three times.  All of these events happened on Passover evening.  The true Lamb of God [Jesus] is about to be put to the slaughter.

During the time of the Passover meal Jesus prepares His disciples for the hours ahead.  They are yet about unaware of what is to come.

In verse 25 we have Jesus’ promise that He will see the disciples in His Kingdom; showing us that there is a coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  It is a great promise.  Jesus also says, “…After that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee”.  That of course saying that He will not only meet them there, because He would see them before they see Him in Galilee, but He would reveal Himself to a far greater  populace of people, “He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once…” (1 Corinthians 15:6).  We also have His assurace that wherever we go for His glory He will go before us in leading.  If He is not leading the way will not be open.

In having the Passover meal with His disciples Jesus was forming a bond and strength in them to help them through what lay ahead.  Peter would realize that His Lord did not make empty promises or vile statements.  He would learn to keep his mouth shut at His Lord’s word.  Peter would also learn of the Lord’s great forgiveness, and would bow at the Lord’s resurrected feet.

As the first Passover lamb was killed to provide blood for the doorposts and lintels of every home of the Hebrews and deliver them from the “Death angel”, the blood of Jesus Christ delivers all who are under His blood.  Life is in the blood.  The shed blood of Jesus gives life to all who are dead in sin, if they will but look to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

At What Price???

10 And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.

This text goes from one who, “Has done what she could”; to one who “takes all he can”, and gives nothing in return.  The Gospel of John calls him a “Thief” (John 12:6).  It is quite the contrast.  On which side do we stand? On the side of giving all to Jesus; or taking all we can for self.
Notice the path of the betrayer.  It was not an accident it was a planned, purposeful, plot for material gain.  Judas went to the “Chief priests, to betray Him unto them”.  He went to them.  They did not come to him with words of deception, or a scheme to try and trick Judas into betrayal.  It was in Judas’s  heart.  Then after they had received his offer he sought for a way to set it up – “he sought how he might conveniently betray Him.” (v. 11).  Is this the heart of one who really loves Jesus?  Is this the act of one who really believes in Him?  I think not.
Some may think of Peter and his denial of Jesus, but Peter did not plan, or purposely plot to deny Jesus.  When Judas betrayed Jesus did he seek forgiveness and repent of his action?  No!  He was sorry for what he did, but did not seek the cleansing of forgiveness, rather, the Gospel of Matthew and the book of Acts tells us he went and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5;  Acts 1 17-19), and went to his own place.  Peter sought the Lord’s forgiveness for His act.
The woman in verses 3 – 9 sought how best to serve her Lord.  Judas sought how best to serve himself.  Which one sought rightly?  Which one will receive the Lords blessing, and reward?  Which one will spend eternity in Hell?  It is evident to those who know the Lord.

What is the worth of your soul?  What is the worth of Jesus Christ to you?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Do Not Fear; Be Watchful

“And Jesus answering them began to say, ‘Take heed lest any man deceive you: 6 For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. 8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.  9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them. 10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations. 11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. 12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. 13 And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”  Mark 13:5-13 (KJV)

DO NOT FEAR; BE WATCHFUL.

“There will come in the days of the future”, Jesus said, “times of trouble, and many will say ‘I am Christ”.  That will be a day for one to be watchful.  This appears to be a time following the destruction of the temple [which happened in A.D. 70], but the time Jesus is speaking of here seems to apply to another era of time.

Jesus warns the disciples and us of an approaching time when there will be many “anti-christs” who come for no other reason, but to lie and deceive, and to lead followers after them.  Whether it be in the time of the disciples or in our own time; be it 70 A.D. or 2010 the Word is the same, “BEWARE”, “TAKE HEED”.  These false christs are out for their own well being and not for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid even though there will be earthquakes, famine, war, etc.  These are only “birthpangs” showing that the second coming of Jesus is near.  They would begin with less intensity, but as the time of the end draws near they will become more and more intense.

In looking at these things we need to be mindful that there is great reason to believe that Jesus is speaking of His second coming in the “Olivet Discourse” both here and in the gospel of Matthew.  There are some things, that,  we who are looking for the appearance of Jesus in the “clouds”, must learn from these passages of Scripture.  First of all, none of these signs Jesus speaks of has to do with the “rapture of the Church”, all the prophecy of Jesus coming for His Bride [Church] has been fulfilled.  Secondly, We too must be on guard, keeping up the watch, being alert, taking heed.  There are false teachers, false professors of Christ, and some who say they are the Christ.  Anyone who professes to be Christ is a liar.  Everyone will know when Jesus comes again, with the exception of the “Snatching away” of believers of Christ Jesus.  A third thing to learn is, we must always be sure we are ready, and that our friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors are ready to “…Meet thy God”.  We can know we are ready by drawing nearer to Jesus through everyday association with Him in prayer, His Word, and in so doing obedience to His Word.

During the time of what Jeremiah calls, “…The time of Jacob’s trouble…” (Jeremiah 30:7), there will be a persecution of the people of God unlike anything the world, or God’s people have ever known.  Those who believe in Jesus at that time will be put to death by the most horrid means imaginable, and in the last three and one half years of “Jacob’s trouble” the Hebrews will be in great distress, yet protected by God.  “But he who endures to the end shall be saved…” is not speaking of a salvation of works, but of those who already have salvation, and by the grace that saved them showing the power of their faith in God.  God gives grace which keeps us to the end.

We must be strong in our Lord.  No matter what the world may throw at us we must “…keep looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”  Even those of us who are looking for the “Rapture” must “…be ready to always give an answer for the hope that is in us” (1 Peter 3:15).  There is none of us who are immune to persecution. “Yea, and all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).  Live for Jesus Christ; He is coming soon.

-Tim A. Blankenship

I Kept Them In Thy Name

This prayer of Jesus’s  is the most beautiful and majestic of Scriptures.  It must be because it is prayed by our Maker.

Jesus continues praying as though He has finished the task for which He came to do, and that was always to do the Father’s will, and all the way to the cross of His death.  He prays,

“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” John 17:12 (KJV)

Jesus’s prayer is as though His work is finished; past tense.  “While I was with them”, and He has not gone to the cross yet.  He prays as though it was already done.  The gift of salvation, grace, mercy, is as good as finished, because He asked for it.  He has kept and will keep.

There is one exception.  One has been lost, and that is the “son of perdition” – the son of wickedness; the son of the devil.  And, this was so that Scripture might be fulfilled.

You and I can rest assured today that all Scripture either has been fulfilled, is being fulfilled, or will be fulfilled concerning you and me.  We need never fear that anything will ever take us out of the Father’s hands, when we are  in the way of the Lord Jesus Christ, ie., His death, burial and resurrection.

-Tim A. Blankenship