A Tall Order

Shiloah Baptist Church

The Scripture reading for today is 1 Kings 4 – 6…

“And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying, ‘Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in My statutes, and execute My judgments, and keep all My commandments to walk in them; then will I perform My word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: and I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.'” 1 Kings 6:11-13 (KJB)

In our text Solomon and the people were in a large building campaign of building the Temple which had been in King David’s heart to build.  It was not a commandment from God. You see nowhere where David or Solomon are given the design of it from God.  It was David’s design.  God allows its building because it was in David’s heart to always honor the LORD in…

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In a Just Society

“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.
A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.
Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.” Proverbs 28:1-6 (KJV)

Far too often we notice there are not too many “Just Societies”.  Even in the United States of America more often than not, there is injustice.  Money is needed to get a good lawyer to defend oneself from a false charge; or even to be sure one can get a fair trial.  I do believe in our Justice system, but I also see the injustice in it.

A man or woman charged with a crime is supposed to be seen as “Innocent until proven guilty”; but that does not always happen either.  We all too often begin condemning the indicted individual with a guilty verdict long before the trial; even on the streets, and highways and byways of the areas around the case.

The following are thoughts for Proverbs 28:1-28…

Verses 1a, 4, 12, 15, 28 – A look at the wicked. The wicked are those who refuse to recognize the way of God, His Word, and refuse to submit themselves to Him; whether rich, or poor. 1.) The wicked see a conspiracy behind everything that is against them, and flee. 2.) For anyone to turn their backs on righteous laws is to give praise to the wicked who break those laws. 3.) When the wicked rule and are in leadership people tend to hide. 4.) Wicked rulers among poor people are as devastating as an angry growling lion (Job 24:4; Prov. 19:12; 1 Peter 5:8).

Verses 2, 5, 8-9, 11, 16-17, 21-22, 25-26 – A look at the wicked who are wealthy; leadership, rulers. 1.) Many rulers, maybe “Big government” is a result of a wicked nation. 2.) True justice is not understood by the unjust; and that goes along with exhorbitant interest, profits, low wages, etc.. 3.) The unjust will be “cruel oppressors”, and will most likely have “blood on their hands” thus face eternal judgment. 4.) Greed, partiality, will ultimatley bring poverty into the lives of those who practice it – ultimate destruction.

Verses 3, 10a, 13, 24 – The wicked poor. 1.) You would think a poor man would be more understanding of the poor; but the wicked poor will stoop to the lowest degree in order to improve their own situation in life. 2.) Destruction awaits those who would lead an upright individual astray – take Balaam as an example (Numbers 31:8, 16). 3.) It is the tendency of all wicked people to cover their transgressions, and even refuse to believe they have transgressed (v. 24).

Verses 1b, 6-7, 10b, 12a, 14, 18-20, 23, 27 – The way of righteousness. 1.) The righteous have no reason to fear the thing so the world or of man; they have died to the wickedness of the world. 2.) The poor upright are better off, and wise in God. 3.) The Lord will bless those who are upright in the things he/she possesses. 4.) There is glory and happiness in the fear of the LORD (vv. 12, 14). 5.) Salvation, plenty, and blessings are the reward of the righteous. 6.) A just and righteous tongue is favored; and gives to the poor, and shall not lack (vv. 23, 27).

The only way to a just society is through the Lord Jesus Christ.  He has told us…

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20

We can only receive that “Justness” that righteousness through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  Believe Him, trust Him: call on His name (Romans 10:13).

No Yoke

Sometimes there is strife, and arguments in the Church.  Maybe that is whey there are so many different denominations; but I think it probably goes beyond our differences.

Even in the early Church there was conflict.  Since the first members of the first Church were Jewish, having believed the Law, the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature – all of Scripture; then they had to deal with how the Gentiles fit into their beliefs.  That is what the conflict was over in Acts 15.

“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. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” Acts 15:6-12 (KJV)

There were some in the Jerusalem Church who were teaching that the Gentile believers which had believed needed to agree with the law of Moses, and follow Jewish practices.  The verses above are the apostles defense of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone.

The Holy Spirit had been given to the Gentile believers without the Law.  Why would, or why should they be expected to be put under the “Yoke” of the Law, “…Which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear…”.

We must understand, however, that freedom from the “Yoke of the Law” does not mean freedom to sin.  Since Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, was buried carrying sins death, condemnation, guilt, and bondage with Him; then rising from death leaving those things far away; we are free.  It does mean freedom from sin, and its yoke of bondage and death.

It is stated again in the text above.  “…We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they…”  Jews and Gentiles are saved by grace through faith in the work of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day One Hundred Seventy and One

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27 (KJV)

What do I want for Christmas?

I want all those who come to this blog today, and in the days to come to be certain of their eternal destination; and that that destination is to the place where Jesus is; and I want you to know that He has  prepared the way, and the place for you (John 14:1-6), that you can call on Him, He will hear you and deliver you from all your sin, and its shame, guilt, condemnation, and give you eternal life in His presence.

The Burial of Christ

Many years I have heard sermons, Bible lessons, and teachings on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it seems the Bible deals with the death, burial and resurrection; and usually in concert with one another.

Maybe I am off track on this, but I have had this on my heart and mind quite often in the past year or two; so today I write dealing with the subject of “The Burial of Christ”.  The burial of Christ proves that He was dead; not swooning or faking death.  I do believe the Roman guards knew death when they saw it.  Thus, He was buried.

Now reading in 1 Corinthians we read…

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (KJV)

When we read the accounts of the Gospels we read of His burial, not just His death and resurrection.  So why is it so important to remember His burial as part of the presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

It is in its very meaning a necessity of our salvation, our living now, and for eternity.

Here is one place I get my meaning for the need of the burial.  In the book of Leviticus and chapter sixteen is the ceremony on the day of Atonement, and the lesson of the scapegoat.  One goat is taken, the hands of the priest is laid on the goat representing the sins of the people placed on it, then that goat is slain, and its blood is taken and poured on the mercy seat in the tent of meeting.  We must understand that all of Scripture points to Jesus, and that all is saying that there is one way to God, and that is through the blood of His Son Jesus the Christ.

Just for note: I will not cover every detail of the scapegoat ceremony, but the scapegoat is the one which lives; chosen by lot; and then taken, and released in the wilderness, and some believe maybe slain in the desert; never to return again.

Let us for  a moment think on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ like this;  1.  The death of Christ is our past;  2.  the burial of Christ is our present;  and 3.  the resurrection of Christ is our future.

Those who believe in Him are saved from sin, and its eternal torment.  That leads us to the “burial of Christ” and the present.  When Jesus died and was buried He carried all our sins, shames, condemnations, guilt, and death on the cross, and to the grave.  He carried them away; like the scapegoat -into the wilderness; never to be seen again.

He left all that baggage of sin, shame, condemnation, guilt and death in the grave.  He came out alive.

Knowing that He carried all of that away, and left it there should cause us; the Christian; to live without that baggage in our lives – once we have asked for His cleansing and forgiveness.

Because He was buried and risen we need not live in fear of His appearing, but with joy we do look for Him.

 

Egypt and You

The nation of Egypt was at one time a world ruler. In the days before the captivity of Israel in Egypt, and during their captivity there the nation was a world ruler; even believed to have been the ruler of the known world at that time.

What is God’s purpose for Egypt? The answer to that is found in the final portion of our verses for today:

“Yet thus saith the Lord GOD; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered: and I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom. It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations. And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them: but they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 29:13-16 (KJV)

“But they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” Yes! This phrase is one of the most prominent throughout the prophecy of Ezekiel; at least 63 times. It is said of other nations; including Israel. It is said of individuals. The LORD God wants you to know that He is the LORD. One day you will. I only pray that it will not be too late for salvation.

God’s word to Egypt was that they too would go into captivity, that they would one day return to their land, but they would never be a world ruling power again. They went from a world ruling nation; basically to a world ruled nation. God still has great plans for Egypt.

No matter how far you have fallen; there is still hope for you. No matter how much evil may be in your life; Jesus Christ died for you; took your sins, your evil upon Himself, and bled and died so that you might be saved from your sin, guilt, condemnation and death. Know that He is the LORD today.

The Righteous and the Wicked

“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1 (KJV)

The one who is guilty of a crime is constantly looking over their shoulders to check, and see if anyone is pursuing them. That is the wicked. Wickedness goes further, though, than just a guilty conscience. The wicked are haters of God, good, and godliness.

As I read this this morning I asked myself two questions: First, Do the unrighteous always flee in fear? The second: Are the righteous always the bold ones? The answer to those questions is both “NO!”

Let us look at another thought of the “Wicked”. The wicked are not just lawbreakers, they are God-haters. They hate God, His law, His Word, His righteousness, and anyone who is connected to Him. Many of the wicked will say, “I don’t believe in God. How can I hate something I don’t believe in?” See what I mean. The whole creation cries out for the God of the Universe, and you deny He exist; because you hate Him. You hate Him even when the evidence says He is true.

Normally, the wicked flee when no man pursues. Everyday the wicked flee because God is in pursuit of you. Normally, the righteous – the God fearer, the one’s who love God, His Word, His commandments, His law are bold as a lion.

It seems to me sometimes that the wicked are much more bold than the righteous in today’s world. Why would that be? Who are the “Righteous”? Those who have been declared righteous or Just by God Himself (Romans 1:7; 5:1). Of course there are none who are righteous of their own merit, their own goodness, “No not one” (Romans 3:10-11). Righteousness comes through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Why does it seem that the wicked are bold, and the righteous are fleeing? It is because the righteous are not living righteous lives; we are not believing what God’s Word says, we are not believing God, thus we live with fear. We fear offending others, rather than fear offending God.

O LORD God give your people a righteous, healthy fear of YOU; that we might show forth Your righteousness in a lost, dark, and condemned world.

Being Happy

“Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.” Psalm 144:15 (KJV)

Just recently I seen a news item, I believe, was on NBC news doing a study on Happiness, and where to find it. I never watched the series, or the study, but what I heard showed me that there was one item missing. That item was the Person who gives us happiness.

That person is not a wife, or a husband. It is not having the favorite job. It is not a new car, or a new house. It is not even volunteerism where you spend some or much of your time volunteering for a charitable cause. Are you one who is still searching for Happiness?

Your search can end when you have the LORD as your God. He offers you peace through His Son Jesus Christ; and being at peace with God is tremendous happiness just by itself (Romans 5:1-2). When the LORD is your God you have no more condemnation from Him, His Word; and the condemnation of others just will not matter any more (Romans 8:1).

The verses previous to verse 15 tell us of family; sons and daughters who live for and glorify the LORD; that when you are happy in and through the LORD your cattle (livestock) prosper; you prosper. John the apostle wrote, “I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospereth” (3 John 2).

Just a word of caution. You can have happiness now, and that happiness is your prosperity. A note from the Believer’s Bible Commentary says,

“Actually these conditions will not be fully realized until the Lord returns, crushes all rebellion, and establishes His Millennial Reign.” Believer’s Bible Commentary

Until then, trust in the LORD, believe Him. Live for Him trusting His work in you, and He will bring it to pass. Be happy in the LORD.

NOT GUILTY

“If Thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope.” Psalm 130:3-5 (KJV)

Many a human Judge has hammered his/her gavel, and declared “Guilty” as a verdict against a man or woman who has been often proven guilty of some crime they have done. That same Judge has hammered the gavel, and declared “Not guilty”, because the case was not proven against an defendant.

The Psalmist of the above verses knows that if the LORD was to “Mark iniquities”, that is, to observe, give heed to; to charge us, then no one would be able to stand before Him.

Let us make something very clear. God is just, holy, righteous, and He judges with His eyes wide open, not blindly. He knows that we are a sinful, iniquitous people; yet with Him is much forgiveness.

You may be an individual who has never pled guilty, or even realized that you were guilty of anything. You are. You have sinned against holy God. You have lived your life your way, not His way. Yet, God will not “Mark [your] iniquities” when you come to Him for forgiveness.

He has made it possible that all who come to Him, He will in no wise cast out (John 6:37). When you are His, a saint by His declaration, and you sin, you can still go to Him, and He forgives you (1 John 1:9).

The waiting the Psalmist mentions is not for forgiveness, but he knows that he has received forgiveness, and goes on in the work, and service of the LORD. Thus it is ours to do so as well.

When you come to God through His Son Jesus Christ; the gavel of the Great Judge goes down, and the Judge declares “Not guilty”.

They Shall See God

The Be-Attitudes continuing…

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” Matthew 5:8 (KJV).

Purity is such a sweet word. When we think of purity we might think of fresh fallen snow; without any yellow spots, of course. We might even think of a new born baby boy or girl. When it comes to Christianity we should think especially of Jesus Christ, for He is the essence of purity. The word “Pure” according to the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY ‘Unmixed with any other matter: free from taint’ also, ‘Free from moral fault: innocent’. There was/is nothing about Jesus that is tainted. He is fully God and fully man, and free of any mix, and free of any taint; His life is free of any moral fault; He is innocent. He was innocent as He was condemned by men to die. As an innocent man He died for guilty men, that we might be made pure through His own blood.

The only way any other person can be pure of heart, ie., ‘holy’ is by the very holiness of Christ Himself. No one can see God without a pure heart [holiness], “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14 KJV). None can appear before God without a pure [holy] heart – “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” Psalm 24:3-4 (KJV).

There is a pure heart only by looking to Jesus. As you look to Jesus you see God.

Jesus Through the Bible – The Scapegoat

Scapegoat “A person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.”  From Dictionary.com  We hear the word “Scapegoat” many times.  Someone was a scapegoat for an evil political action that was done, or something of that order.  Someone was a scapegoat for a bad business decision, etc.

There is, however, a certain “Scapegoat” mentioned in Scripture.  This scapegoat gives us a picture of Jesus Christ; at least a picture of His work on the cross, and His burial.  In Leviticus we read…

And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.  And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.  But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.”  Leviticus 16:7-10

The first goat was to be a sin offering which would bear the sins of the sins of Aaron and his house (Leviticus 16:6), and they were to “cast lots” to determine which goat was to be the sin offering, and which was to be the scapegoat.  I want us to deal with the scapegoat, though we must understand they are both necessary for this part of redemption.  We do not often picture a goat as having redeeming qualities; but let us see the goat as representing the sin which our Saviour bore on the cross.

The sin offering died, thus through Christ sin was put to death (Also read Romans 6:1-16), it has no more power over those who are the redeemed.  Sin also lays on us death, sin, guilt, condemnation, and O, such sorrows.  The scapegoat was taken alive into the wilderness to never be seen again.

When the child of God has laid on her or him these condemnations; then we must remember that all our sins were laid on Him who died, was buried; and in His burial He carried all our sin, death, shame, guilt and condemnation away, and He arose bodily alive, victorious over all of death’s vices.

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, God incarnate became on the cross the very thing which He and His Father hated: Sin (2 Corinthians 5:21); was judged by the Father; the Father resurrected Him, and by His resurrection we are raised with Him.  Cleansed, forgiven, and in fellowship with God for now and all eternity.

Words for Christian Living 061413

“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’ But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”  Deuteronomy 30:11-14  (KJV)

Remember from yesterdays words; the search is over.  You no longer need to search for the word or will of God.  If you have a Bible you have the word and will of God before you.  You do not need to ascend into heaven.  You do not need to cross the oceans; unless, of course you live somewhere the word is forbidden then, you are most likely not reading this.

God’s will for you today is be saved through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; His burial by which all our sins condemnation, guilt was taken away; His bodily resurrection by which we are justified in the sight of GOD our Creator.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Through the Bible in a Year – 021013

THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR

I Do Not Like the Old Testament, Especially Leviticus

(Reading Exodus 38 – Leviticus 18) Exodus 39:30-32; 40:34-38; Leviticus 13:1-3
I just recently realized that I do not like Leviticus. It is painful to read. It is hard to understand. It is judgmental about human life and living. It condemns me.
Even if I do not like Leviticus there are some things I can learn from it. Then I need to apply that to my life.

1. We are continually reminded that God is Holy, and that He is the LORD.
2. We are reminded again and again that we are unholy and unclean.
3. We are reminded again and again that there must be a sacrifice, or there is no approaching God.
4. We are reminded that that the most basic sacrifice is the blood of a Lamb.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 13 – The Curse of the Tree

In reading Deuteronomy 15 – 28 today I came across these familiar verses,

 “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (KJV)

To hang a man on a tree was a form of what we call “capital punishment”; an offense worthy of death.  A penalty that today is frowned on by many.  The arguments go something like this; “It doesn’t make sense to kill one human being because they killed one.”  or maybe “Violence begetteth violence.”  Some might even say “The death penalty is not for a cultured, modern, educated people.”

When we, however, consider the Word of God and His commands for the death penalty and why we can have no legitimate argument against God for this divine punishment.  God says every human being is made in His image.  There is not one who is more or less in the image of God.  For one to take a human life maliciously, with hatred, and forethought is murder; and God says this requires “Life for life”.  If the murderer is allowed to live it broadcast to the community that this life is of more value than the life that was maliciously taken.

Of course, there is also the requirement of evidence of guilt.  A murderer can only be found guilty by the testimony of at least two witnesses.  We read these things in the reading of God’s laws; as recapped in Deuteronomy, and previously in Exodus and Leviticus.

One of the things we learn from this is that each human life is valuable.  None less and none more so than another.

Now, back to “The curse of the tree”.  This verse is even mentioned in the New Testament from Paul’s epistle to the Galations;

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:'” Galations 3:13

We are all guilty of offending God, His holiness, His righteousness, and His law.  We are guilty and worthy of death.  We are just as cursed as the man who hangs on a tree.  We read, however, that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…”  When Jesus Christ died on that cross [the tree] he became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and because He became the curse of sin for us; we were given His righteousness, thus we now have access to the very throne of God (Hebrews 4:16).

Through His burial the guilt and condemnation of sin was carried away; and by His resurrection He bodily arose victorious over death’s condemnation and overcame the curse of the tree.

Blessed be the name of the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

…Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven

“And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. 54 And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. 55 And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. 56 For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. 57 And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, 58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. 59 But neither so did their witness agree together. 60 And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. 63 Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? 64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. 65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.
66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. 68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. 69 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. 70 And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. 71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. 72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.”  Mark 14:53-72 (KJV)

It was very early in the morning and the “High priest, all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes” were all assembled together and for the distinct purpose of putting Jesus on trial.  It was not the time of week they preferred, but it was the time ordained by God.  It was illegal to hold a trial this early, but there was nothing legal about the arrest of Jesus either.  He was arrested out of pure envy, because of sin in the hearts of wicked men.
We are told by the writer that “Peter followed Him afar off…”.  Peter followed all the way to the home “Palace” of the high priest.  It was there that he sat with the “Servants” and warmed himself at their fire.

These religious leaders sought for testimony against Jesus, and did not find any (v. 55).  There were many who bore “False witness” against Him, but it was not in agreement.  They kept searching until they found two who would agree as to the destroying and rebuilding of the temple.  These “Leaders” were desparate.  This testimony was on Jesus’s statement where He had said, “Destroy this temple [speaking of His own body], and in three days I will raise it again.”  (John 2:19).   There was no accusation against Jesus which would stand in a real court of law where a judge was fair and just.  But, then, all men are liars when compared to the justice of God.

Jesus is asked if He is the Messiah/Christ, and He answers, “I Am…”  He goes on telling of seeing His coming glory (v. 62).  That really upset the high priest to the point of hypocritically ripping his garment.  This was an outward show of grief, despair, even at times repentance – which he certainly needed right now, but even more later.   The sound is more and more the echo of Psalm 2,

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

At the trial before the religious leaders they began to spit on Him and strike him with their hands.  It is a grievous thing to read and think that the God of the universe placed Himself in the hands of sinners; He Himself being sinless, to give His life as the  payment for sin, and giving to those who believe in Him His righteousness.  My what  a Savior.
Peter, the disciple, John MacArthur calls “The disciple with the foot-shaped mouth”.  He has previously said that he would never be offended because of Jesus (vv. 27-30), now denies Him.  In these seven verses (66-72) we have three accounts where he does just that.

At one point he even goes into a “Fit” of cursing; denying that he knows Jesus.  He went out not believing the word of Jesus about “All being offended in Him”, and finds himself doing exactly what Jesus said.  We need not fear that the Word of God and His Son Jesus will be performed.

Peter’s weeping was not the weeping of one who silently sheds tears, but one who “Wailed” loudly where it could have been heard by people around him.  When that rooster crowed the second time Peter saw the eyes of Jesus looking at him (Luke 22:61), and it grieved his heart.

Have I denied Jesus?  Have I betrayed Him?  Do I need to ask?  Yes!  To all three questions.  I must ask for His forgiveness, and He forgives, cleanses and sets me free.

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

Spirit Bearing Witness

Romans 9:1-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUTLINE –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note states,

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

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

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

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

–  Why not give one’s life for another?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Hand Of Love

In previous articles in the fifth chapter we have seen that the prophet has likened the people of Judah to a vineyard that had been planted, and nothing come from it but wild grapes. They have been raised up by God, and they have turned from God, and gone their own way, thus bringing on themselves the six woes that has been pronounced against them.

The judges were guilty of accepting bribes following their heavy drinking, and debauchery; then, allowing the guilty to go free and condemning the just. It sounds somewhat familiar to me. I pray it is not entirely that bad in the United States, but if things continue as they are and the nation continues to drift further and further away from God. That will increase.

Now we look at verses 24 and 25 of chapter five. “Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.  Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” Isaiah 5:24-25 (KJV)

 

The New Testament reminds us of whom the Lord chastises: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards [illegitimate], and not sons.” Hebrews 12:6-8 (KJV) The brackets [] are mine.

The LORD of hosts, the Holy One of Israel is holy indeed. Those two names are mentioned by the prophet to make a clear statement to all who will hear. The statement is clearly that Judah has offended the God of their salvation; their deliverance; by rejecting His law. O, they prided themselves in having the law, and the temple, but by turning from the God of Israel, they rejected the very thing which they held dear.

The LORD God desires that His hand hold, protect, guide, comfort, heal, provide, and encourage; and probably a lot many more pleasant things. In our text we see His hand instead judging. He likens them to fire devouring stubble, dry grass sinking down in the flame; and as rotten roots, that dries up, and any blossom goes like dust to the wind. “He stretched out His hand against them and struck them…” We must realize the Holy One of Israel finds no pleasure in judging His people. God desires to bless His people exceedingly.

 

The last part of verse 25, tells us that God’s anger is not turned away. His anger toward sin in His people cannot be turned away. If the Holy One turned away from judging sin He would no longer be holy. No longer be the Holy One. Because He is holy He judges sin, and especially in those who are His. There are many who profess to be God’s people who choose to live as they please in sin, debauchery, and all forms of wickedness, and enjoy their sin. Their profession is false; unless, their is conviction from the Holy One that makes them miserable in their sin. If they are miserable in sin, then, they are not enjoying the sinful life. A couple of thoughts on this; first, God will do whatever it takes to make His people holy; second, God is pleased to save you where and as you are, but He loves you so much that He will not leave you where and as you are.

The verse tells us that the “mountains quaked” when He struck them, and their “corpses as refuse in the midst of the streets”. How sad that the people of God could end up so judged. His anger is still not turned away. His hand is stretched out still. He is still judging the Nation of Israel. There is further judgment coming.

People who name the Name of Jesus. Look to Him and live. Live for Him and do not be judged. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart”. When you turn from Him you  trust in yourself, and other idols.

 

“Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against His people, and He stretched out His hand against them and struck them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this His anger has not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still.” Isaiah 5:24-25 (ESV).

 

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Sin Unforgivable

The Sin Unforgivable

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Matthew 12:31-32 (KJV).

There are those who are continuing to scatter away from Jesus, and in doing so blaspheme that wonderful name. There are those who speak in the name of Jesus, but do not know Him, nor are they known by Him; and both of those are important points. They blaspheme His name today by speaking words for Him which He has not said. They blaspheme His name by proclaiming miracles which He has not proclaimed. The name of Jesus is the most precious name there is and it should not be blasphemed. Blasphemy is the act of slander against God. To blaspheme the Son is a forgivable offense. The Holy Spirit is the person who reveals the Son. To blaspheme the Spirit of God is unforgivable. This is the only sin mentioned in the Bible for which there can be no forgiveness. If attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil is blaspheming the Holy Spirit; what is it called to attribute the works of the devil to the Holy Spirit. A good example would be calling the “gospel of prosperity” the work of the Holy Spirit, and anyone who knows this message knows that it flat out denies the cross of Jesus, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus; and puts it in the category of a magic wand, a genie in a bottle, or three wishes. The “prosperity gospel” is a lie from the pit of hell, told again and again, as “You shall be like god”.

The guilty Pharisees were blaspheming the Spirit of God; by equating the work of the Spirit of God, in Christ Jesus, to the devil. Therefore, they will be found guilty before the throne of God, and their judgment would be eternal, and separated from the presence of God. To blaspheme the Holy Spirit of God is to deny the final access to the very way of grace. The only way of grace is through the faith of the finished work of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God is the way to the Father through the Son. To deny His work is to deny Christ. To deny Christ is to miss eternity with the Father. To blaspheme the Spirit of God means there is no forgiveness in this life or eternity to come. In rejecting Jesus and the work of the Spirit of God they condemn themselves to be without hope.

The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note of verse 31, “the blasphemy against the Spirit. The sin He was confronting was the Pharissees’ diliberate rejection of that which they knew to be of God (cf. John 11:48: Acts 4:16). They could not deny the reality of what the Holy Spirit had done through Him, so they attributed to Satan a work that they knew was of God (v. 24: Mark 3:22).” p. 1414.

-by Tim A. Blankenship