What To Do When Evil Surrounds Us

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:12-15 (KJB)

Christians who live godly lives will suffer persecution. Have you ever been laughed at because of the simplicity of your faith in  Christ, the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to cleanse, to heal, to redeem, and get us into the presence of Holy God? Have you ever been threatened for your faith in Him? How about beaten and maybe left for dead?

Evil abounds in this world. Anyone who has eyes and ears knows there is evil in this  world; and it is in the hearts of the people who live on this planet.  As Christians we must guard our own hearts and minds through the word of God and prayer.

The Apostle tells us that “Evil men and seducers shall become worse and worse…” The evil ones are not only those who would do us physical harm; but also those who would do us spiritual harm by teaching lies, deceiving, and themselves being deceived.

So what do we do when evil surrounds us?

  1. Remember the things you have been taught from Scripture;
  2. Continue in those things applying them to your life, living for Jesus Christ and standing on His word;
  3. Always remember that those teachings you have learned in the word are the words of wisdom and for your salvation;
  4. There is absolutely no instruction to identify (to participate) with the world around us.

Always remember the gospel – the good news is – that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and He rose again.

The Church at Smyrna

The Church at Smyrna

Text: Revelation 2:8-11
Smyrna means “Myrrh”. A frangrance for kings. One of the gifts to the baby Jesus – “gold, frankencense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, Polycarp, pastor at Smyrna replied, “Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?’ From John Walvoord’s THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.

INTRODUCTION:
I. SMYRNA WAS CONSIDERED THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY OF ASIA.
II. IT WAS DESTROYED IN 580 B.C., AND REBUILT IN 290 B.C. – dead but alive again- AND CONTINUING ALIVE TODAY.
III. WAS A FAITHFUL ALLY OF ROME AND ONE OF THE FIRST TO INITIATE EMPEROR WORSHIP OF CAESAR UNDER; ERECTED A TEMPLE UNDER THE REIGN OF TIBERIAS.
IV. THE CHURCH AT SMYRNA WAS HEAVILY PERSECUTED, LOSING THEIR GOODS AND THEIR PROPERTIES BECAUSE THEY WOULD NOT WORSHIP CAESAR, BUT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ALONE.

I. Jesus Identifies Himself as The Eternal One Who Has Been Dead, but is Now Alive (v. 8)
A. First and Last terms of eternity – His eternalness, beginning and end (Isaiah 44:6; 48:12)

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the First, and I am the Last; and beside me there is no God.” Is. 44:6
“Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the First, I also am the Last.” Is. 48:12

B. He died, and He lives again – never to die again (Heb. 7:23-24).

“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” Heb. 7:22-24

II. Jesus Knows of Their Works, Their Tribulation, and Their Poverty, and Says, “But You are Rich” (v. 9).
A. Living in Smyrna, the seat of emperor worship, they lost all they had materially because of their faithfulness to the way of the Lord Jesus.
B. Some Jewish Zealots were persecuting them – were not believing even the writings of Moses.

“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rom 2:29

1. These “Jews” were not believing God.

C. Riches are more than silver, gold, trinkets, any material thing (Luke 12:15)

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Lk. 12:15

III. Jesus Gives Words of Encouragement, and Strength to Continue in Their Labor and Tribulation (v. 10
A. Fear none of those things – the persecution, the loss of things, death…
B. There will be further tribulation, persecution, pain, and death; however continue to be faithful; even unto death.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

C. The promise of the Crown of Life.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” James 1:12

IV. Jesus Gives the Church at Smyrna the Promise of No Second Death (v. 11).
A. Describe the “second death” – (Rev. 20:12-15)
1. We are all born into this world spiritually dead to God – thus we must be born again.
2. There is physical death – we all experience barring a supernatural miracle.
3. There is the “second death” also called eternal death – eternal separation from all that is God; holiness, righteousness, good and right.

“And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:11-15

B. The Spirit of God; if the churches have ears to hear; will overcome fear of losing, fear of death, and are given the promise of eternal life in the presence of our dear Lord.

CONCLUSION:
1. The One who is Eternal Died for Our Sins, was Buried, and He Rose Again; Because He Lives Now We too Live With Him in Glory.
2. The One who is Eternal Knows our Life Situation, Persecuted, Poverty, Power; and Stands Ready to Aid Us, and to Save Us.
3. The One who is Eternal is Our Encouragement, Our Strength, Our Hope of Eternal life, and the Crown of Life.
4. The One who is Eternal is our Only Source of Eternal Life, and Hope for Missing the Second Death.

…The Hand of the Lord was with Them…

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” Acts 11:19-21 (KJV)

There was a problem with the salvation of the Gentiles, of which we read in chapter 10.  Peter’s defense is read in 11:1-18.  The Jewish apostles, and brethren had that problem.  There was no Biblical difficulty, if they were willing to see it, because God intended that all the nations know “He is the LORD” (a theme mentioned throughout the Old Testament).

Due to the persecution of the Church at Jerusalem the Christian community was spread to other countries, and areas on the map.  It was how the Spirit of God was moving.

Those being persecuted did not cease preaching the gospel; rather they kept on preaching, but only to the Jews, in synagogues as God allowed it.  The gospel was given first to the Jew and also to the Greek [Gentiles] (Romans 1:16; 2:10). The “Grecians” would be the “the Greek speaking non-Jews” MacArthur Study Bible.  That would mean Gentiles.  They too were hearing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ; which God has meant for all to hear.

When “The hand of the Lord was with them” they prospered and grew in great number.  We must be sure when we are seeing a growth that it is of God.  That there are truly regenerated  people coming into our congregations, and not just an entertainment seeking, soft skinned, self made gods, but truly turning to the One who saves us from sin, and gives us eternal life.

Turn to the Lord, and live.  Reject Him and perish.  You reject Him by refusing to believe what He has said.

 

Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day 190

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 (KJV)

This is a continuation from yesterday’s post…

What do I want for Christmas?

Persecution – Christian persecution is not something believers go looking for; but when it comes I want to be able to stand in faith no matter what the enemy of God may hurl at me; and I want all my brothers and sisters in Christ to be faithful to Jesus as well; and let it begin by being faithful to the Lord in the “Little thing” – reading God’s Word, prayer, witness, fruit bearing.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads.

Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day One Hundred Ninety and One

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10 (KJV)

There are millions of Christians around the world suffering persecution for the cause of Christ, and their faith  in Him.  Even in the United States that is increasing, as we steadily lose our freedom of religion.

I know there are some who do not see what I am saying, but it is still in the facts of reported events.

So, What do I want for Christmas?

No matter what may come on us; Christian, I want us all to stand strong on the cross, and faith of Jesus Christ; no matter what a God hating society may hurl at us; let us be strong in the faith of Christ, and grow in His image and likeness; returning the world’s hatred toward us into His love back at them.

Happiness in persecution?  That is right, because we live for Him.

When Will Jesus Return?

Over the many years people and so called prophets, and preachers have predicted and set dates in which our Lord Jesus would come again.  We see that His people are still here and many of the “prophets” have went to eternity; wherever that may be.

The founder of the JW cult predicted that Jesus would return in 1914 or so, and we know that did not happen.  In 1988 there was a booklet that came out called “Eighty Eight Reasons Jesus Will Return in 1988”; and again he has not come.

Jesus Himself said,  “…I will come again, and receive you unto Myself…”  (John 14:3), and we were warned about people saying “…Where is the promise of His coming?…” (2 Peter 3:4).  Jesus Himself said,

“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.” Matthew 25:13 (KJV)

There is our answer to the question.  When will Jesus return?  We do not know.  Even Jesus; the Son of God and God the Son;  while He walked on earth among his fellow man did not know the time of His return (Matthew 24:36).

The reason we do not know is that this way we live in preparation for His coming.  We ought always be ready; bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22), and continually being filled by the Spirit of Christ; being His witnesses in a dark world, and  ”…So much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25).

There are plenty of signs we can see that declares something is about to happen.  The nation of Israel is daily attacked by her enemy, Christians are daily persecuted by beheading, and sale as slaves in some parts of the world.  There is much fear.

Christian!  Lift up your head.  Your redemption draws near.

Christmas Day Two Hundred Twenty and Nine

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to see other people as the Lord Jesus sees people, and to love them as He does also; and to know how to show that love through His Biblical example, and the power of the Holy Spirit within.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  [Jesus Christ Son of God] Matthew 5:43-48 (KJV)

Christian Persecution

There are a few people I know who have jail, and prison ministries. They do it because they believe God has called them to go to the places where men and women are incarcerated for crimes against God and humanity. Yet, these minister to the men and women who are willing to listen to the message of Christ; the hope for all mankind; even the murderers and rapist and child molesters.

The event from Acts which we read today is not of criminals who have violated God’s laws, but violators of men’s laws which are against God. The apostles had preached when they were ordered not to preach in that name of “Jesus”; yet, they did. Hear what they said:

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand, a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” Acts 5:29-32 (KJV)

This takes place following their arrest, and imprisonment. An “Angel of the Lord” has come to them in the “common prison” and opened the doors, and sent them to preach in the temple. They went, and that is where they are found the next morning. Doing as they had been told by God.

When men’s laws are against God’s law, then Christian men and women are to continue their practices of being Christian; obeying God’s Word, His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments. I do not think we Christians should be surprised by persecution in a dark world. We ought rather, be surprised that we are not; because the apostle Paul has written, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV). Now, I do not want to be persecuted, but really, if I am not; am I really living a godly life? The apostles were.

As Peter stated above; “We ought to obey God rather than men”. That begins through our faith; trusting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; obeying Him in our lives; being His witness.

One thing this passage of Scripture teaches is that the freedom of speech is from God, not men; therefore men cannot take it away. Let our speech be always with words that glorify our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Trust

“O LORD my God, in Thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:” Psalm 7:1 (KJV)

We people put our trust in things and people everyday.  Every time we sit in a chair we are trusting that the chair will not fall or break in pieces.  We get in our cars, and trust that it will start (of course sometimes they do not). We do those things without so much as a second thought most of the time.

Is it not amazing that we can put so much trust in things made and built by human kind, but when it comes to God we cannot trust Him to the same extent.

The Psalmist did.  God is more trust worthy than any object made by man.  He may not always deliver us from our situation, tragedy, or circumstance in life; as we ask Him to, but trust goes much further than deliverance from situations.  With God it goes to His character, and who He is.

There is a question which has been asked:  “If God never answered another one of your prayers would you still trust Him?”

My answer to that question is Yes.  He is still God.  He still loves me.  I can still trust Him for my future, and for today.  He knows what is best for you and me.

Be as the Psalmist.  Put your trust in the LORD God through the death, burial and bodily resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.

Theirs Is the Kingdom

Matthew 5:1-12 conclusion…

 

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12 (KJV).

These two have the tendency and practicality of standing together, so I will include them together. What is your position in relation to persecution? If you are a normal, red blooded American, then you probably don’t like it, won’t tolerate it, and would despise wherever it came from. Nobody likes persecution, and most people would seek means of staying away from it. There are however, reasons to stand your ground, and face the trials of persecution. The best reason of all is for the person of Jesus Christ. When you are living by faith in Christ you will suffer persecution; “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12 (KJV).

Anyone who has heard of “The Voice of the Martyrs” knows that there are many cases of persecution going on in the world today. There are many instances of Christians suffering because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Many of them have turned from Islam to face angry parents, employers, city leaders, and supposed defenders of peace and placed on trial, rejected by their families, fired from their jobs, and treated ruthlessly by the police. Let me be clear that it is not only Islam which persecutes those who turn to Christ. It is also Hindus, and various other religions of men. Stand firm in the faith; stand firm.

The “Blessed(s)” in these two statements are not just toward anyone who stands firm in what they believe. The object of their belief is of utmost importance. If one is to receive these “Blessed”, then it will be because of their stand for “Righteousness” and that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness – simply put; means being right with God. No one – man, woman, boy or girl; and no matter what the color of their skin – is right with God except through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If you are being persecuted because of your faith in Jesus, then, be assured that there will be a day of reward in Heaven. You are in good company. They also persecuted the prophets. Jeremiah was thrown into a pit; he was beaten and mocked by his own people. It is said by tradition that it was Isaiah the prophet who is mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews as being “Sawn asunder”, and some say it was while he was stuffed into a hollowed out tree. When it comes to Jesus Christ; in Him alone you have reason to “Rejoice and be exceeding glad”, but also in knowing that you are in a great company of others who suffered for righteousness sake through Jesus.

After looking at these “Beatitudes” can you see that this is not a thing attainable by human desire? There is deffinitely fulfillment in the lives of those who live the life of the “Beatitudes”, but it is only possible by grace through faith in Jesus.

You Are of More Value

“But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come.  The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?  Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.  What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven.  But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.”  ~Jesus (Matthew 10:23-33)

From George Orwell’s “1984”

Power & Tyranny—George Orwell (1903 – 1950)

Following World War II, persons on both sides of the Atlantic were doing a good bit of soul-searching. The “war to end all wars” (World War I) had been nothing of the sort, and in many ways set a trajectory for World War II. British intellectual George Orwell wrote poignantly about the nature of power, particularly the danger of centralized power.

In the following quotation, taken from Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, penned in 1949, the hero, Winston Smith, is being interrogated and tortured by the epitome of government power and tyranny, O’Brien. Throughout the book Winston has been able to avoid punishment, even though he has “come alive” and has realized that something is radically amiss with his culture and with the all-knowing and all-powerful “Big Brother.” He has sought to live a somewhat independent life, ignoring at least some of the dictates of the tyranny under which he lives. But he eventually is caught, and O’Brien, in the midst of torturing him, explains to Winston something of the nature of political tyranny and power. Though not a Christian, Orwell’s insights are bracing.

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness; only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?1

Footnotes:
1 George Orwell, 1984 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1949; New York: New American Library, 1984), 217. Citations are to the New American Library edition.

Through the Bible in a Year – 090113

A Token of God’s Righteous Judgment
2 Thessalonians 1:3-10

1.  THANKFULNESS FOR THE WORK OF OTHERS (v. 3).

2.  A GROWING FAITH (v. 3).

3.  PATIENT FAITH IN PERSECUTION AND TRIALS (vv. 4-5).

4.  THE VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS (vv. 6-10).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Chief of Sinners

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.  Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  1 Timothy 1:12-17 (KJV)

It is quite often we make judgments about other people’s sins.  There is a time and place for doing so, and that is after we have first examined our own lives; to be sure we are not guilty of sin; the same sin as the one we accuse.  We also need to know “I am a sinner” too, and be gracious and merciful in our judgment.

I heard the story of a preacher who had been experiencing great trouble in the church congregation.  Accusations of others sins; bitterness, and anger against others.  It had not bee too pleasant for any in that church; then, one morning following his sermon, the preacher announced, “In this evening’s service I am going to declare the greatest sinner  in this church, and the biggest problem of this congregation.  The people passed the day with anticipation.  They were eager to return to evening service that night.  “Who could it be?” was the chief thing on their mind.  “Who would the preacher declare to be the greatest offense to this church?”  It came time for the meeting, all eyes were looking elsewhere with questioning eyes, asking, “Is it my neighbor?”, “Is it the deacon?”, “Is it… ___________?”  The preacher stepped into the pulpit, began his sermon; and when he ended the message he ended by saying,  “I promised to tell you who the greatest sinner was this evening, and I will.  It is me.”

Paul the apostle saw himself as the chief of sinners.  That is how every Christian should view sin.  I have no right to condemn my brother, sister, or my lost neighbor.  We are to see ourselves as the greatest offense, the greatest sinner around.  When we see ourselves in the light as sinners having received mercy and grace, then we too can be merciful and gracious.

Just so some will know.  I am not advocating not making wise judgments, but doing so with mercy and grace.  “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

-T.A.

 

God’s Word Today 081612

When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days; then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, ‘Is there any word from the LORD?’ And Jeremiah said, ‘There is: for,’ said he, ‘thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.’  Moreover Jeremiah said unto king Zedekiah, ‘What have I offended against thee, or against thy servants, or against this people, that ye have put me in prison?  Where are now your prophets which prophesied unto you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon shall not come against you, nor against this land?”  Jeremiah 37:16-19

Just a short note.

The word of God is not always pleasant nor easy to receive.  It is however always the truth, and what you do with it is a determining factor concerning your future.

T.A.

Persecution of Iraqi Christians

I just received this email and wanted to let you all know about it.  Please join me in praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq.

Hello,

 

I wanted to let you know about Chuck Colson’s BreakPoint commentary about the plight of Iraqi Christians, which aired last week (see transcriptclick here for audio). 

 

Persecution has escalated recently and threatens the existence of Iraq’s non-Muslim minorities now more than ever.  More than 15,000 Iraqi Christians have been forced by Islamic terrorists to flee Mosul for refuge in neighboring states in October.  Many of those who remain in Iraq are internally displaced.  The response of the American government and the Iraqi authorities has been grossly inadequate.  But we will continue to speak out on behalf of the victims and provide emergency food aid.

 

Would you consider letting your blog readers know about the troubles facing Christians in Iraq and encourage them to sign a petition asking the U.S. government to help Save Iraqi Christians

 

Also, join our Save Iraqi Christians Facebook cause, and for photos and video links visit SaveIraqiChristians.com.

 

Thank you,

Dr. John Eibner

Christian Solidarity International
SaveIraqiChristians.com

 

Thanks.  Let’s pray for all our brothers and sisters in other lands where they are not free to practice their faith.  We should remember that our freedoms here in the States are not guaranteed.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Our Conduct In The Fire

In this first chapter of First Peter we looked last at being holy. It is God’s command that His people, even Christians, and maybe should say, especially Christians be holy. We are called apart, set apart, so we are to be apart from the wiles, wickedness, and ways of worldliness.

Looking now at verses seventeen through twenty one we see what is required of us to be holy:

“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” 1 Peter 1:17-21 (NKJV).

To be holy is to be set apart from the society in which we live. Not as monks, or as though in a world of our own, but apart in the sense of not participating in the world system of greed, debauchery, lust, uniformity, etc..

Being holy, and since we as Christians call on the Father on a quite regular basis we also know that He is One who judges us justly, and fairly according to our works, and knowing that we will conduct ourselves with the utmost respect of Him who holds our hearts and each breath we breath in His hands. We will live with the fear, knowing that the time of our lives is in His hand.

Knowing the Father as we do; we also know that we have not been redeemed with material things. Our redemption is not founded on how much gold or silver we possess, or how much we give away. It is not based on any form of material wealth. It is not gifts given for the fulfillment of the traditions of men. Our redemption is not dependent upon someone else paying our way out of a fictitious purgatory. The price of our redemption was paid to God our Father by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Our sin debt was owed to God.

Jesus Christ, the precious lamb of God, paid our sin debt to the Father for us. The price of our redemption was His life. He laid it down, and no man took it from Him. As a matter of fact; the Father took His life (Read Isaiah 53:4). Jesus was that sacrificial Lamb who was without spot, and without blemish. There was no sin in the life of Jesus Christ, but He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and the wrath of Almighty God was poured out to the max upon Him.

This was “foreordained” even before the foundations of the earth were laid, and it was fulfilled in that day when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. It is only because of this wondrous gift than anyone can call on the name of the Father, and He will hear us, save us, and give us life eternal. No one can come to God except it be given of the Father, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus from death He has been restored to the glory He had with the Father from the beginning. His glory renewed we can now have faith and hope in God. Without this there would not be much of a point in our brothers and sisters; or any  in Christ suffering for His name. Because He lives we live. Because He died for us, we can die for His name’s sake, and give Him the glory.

May God bless our brothers and sisters who are suffering for the name of Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Suffering King and His Subjects

 It is good to be back, and I had a great break away from blogging, but I am also glad to be back.  I will probably be posting writing from the Gospel of Matthew one week, then Genesis the following week, and posting other articles dealing with life, family, morality, legalism and such.  There will also be articles concerning Israel.  I had a dear friend who is with the Lord now who always said, “Keep your eyes on Israel”, and I have believed that too.

Jesus even told us, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28).  The Middle East is a place of war, and it mostly involves the nation of Israel.  Let’s be aware of what is going on there.

Now the message from Matthew’s Gospel:

King – Master, and Disciples

“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” Matthew 10:24-26 (KJV).

Jesus hid nothing from His disciples. He let them know “right up front”, that the life of a disciple, a follower of Himself would suffer persecution. It is important that the disciple strive to be like his/her Lord and Master. It would be somewhat foolish of us to think that we could follow this One who gave His life for us, suffering for our sins, and us not suffer with Him or like Him.

It is good for the disciple to suffer like His Lord – “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:17 (KJV). If we were to assume that our Christian life is to be without persecution it would be an insult to the ministry of Jesus.

When the disciple of Jesus follows Him all the way to the cross there is nothing to fear, or dread. When they have called Him who is the essence of holiness, the embodiment of God who is Righteous, Just, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Immutable; Beelzebub, ie. the devil; then we can know too that we can be called that or worse. It does not matter what the enemy of God says about those who follow His Son. The truth will be revealed in the end, and those who hate the Truth will be seen.

Just as it will be revealed that Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel; it will also be revealed who is vile, evil, and the God deniers, and God haters.

Jesus loves you and has shown that love by dying for your sins; and He desires that you come to Him, and receive eternal life.

The King…and His Coming

The King, Persecution, and His Coming

“And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” Matthew 10:21-23 (KJV)

These verses seem to allude to an eschatological meaning. Especially with the last part of the twenty third verse saying, “till the Son of man be come”. He is the one saying it, so must surely be speaking of His “coming again”, because while He speaks it His presence is without question. So in these times called the “latter times” or “Last days” we again must be diligent, and vigilant about living the gospel and proclaiming the gospel in our everyday lives.

When brothers, fathers, parents turn against us and our faith in Christ we must remain firm in Christ. It is hard to imagine but there are many stories of individuals who have been saved out of Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam, only to be shunned by their family, lose their jobs, even stoned by family members. This form of persecution is happening today in many parts of the world. A Christian brother by the name of Salim suffered rejection from his family after he received Jesus Christ as his savior, and he and his wife have been persecuted by beatings. Family members turning against their child because they have chosen to love Jesus.

MacArthur Study Bible on:

  • 24:13 endure to the end…be saved. Cf. 10:22. The ones who persevere are the same ones who are saved –not the ones whose love grows cold (v. 12). This does not suggest that our perseverance secures our salvation. Scripture everywhere teaches precisely the opposite: God, as part of His saving work, secures our perseverance. True believers are “are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation” (1 Peter 1:5)”

We have tended to get a little ahead of ourselves in some missions causes. We are sending missionaries to hostile lands, and I am not persuaded that that is a good policy. We have Jesus telling us, “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye to another.” I am not certain that my thinking is correct on this, but when we send missionaries into a hostile environment we are violating their laws; and just what does that say to the leaders of that Country? This is something Missions Boards and agencies need to be in earnest prayer about, and the lives of those that we send. Is there an open door if we enter it when they are hostile to what we are proclaiming? Is God really leading us to a place where the message of Christ is not welcomed? That seems to be what Jesus is referring to earlier (Matthew 7:6) about casting pearls before swine, and giving what is holy to dogs.

This calling of being a missionary to go into foreign lands requires much prayer, discernment, dedication and diligence to follow God’s direction. Though this does seem to be linked to the latter days, and the time near the second coming of the Lord Jesus, it is practical advice for the Christian disciple today as well. The time of His coming is near; nearer than ever before. No call to follow Jesus as a disciple should ever be taken lightly. The cost of following Jesus, until He comes, is your life.

The King, His Sheep and the Wolves

The King, His Sheep, and the Wolves

There are brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world today who are suffering beatings, losing their earthly possessions, losing their families, losing their jobs, and losing their lives because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Matthew 10:16-20 (KJV)

It is interesting the way our Lord uses the likenesses of “sheep” and “wolves”. Sheep our weak, always in need of protection, and need of a shepherd to lead them to the right place for grazing, ie. feeding. A flock of sheep without a shepherd will eat in a place until there is nothing left to eat, and then, starve. The wolf, on the other hand is strong and often vicious. The vicious temperment is the thing which Jesus is wanting us to see. They protect themselves, they hunt for food themselves, and in our case sheep is their food.

In our study here the disciples/apostles are the sheep. Those who would follow Jesus are likened to the sheep. It is said that Jesus upon seeing a group of people saw them, “as sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34). Jesus is our Shepherd. He leads us to still waters, green pastures, gives us peace and leads us through valley’s of death. His rod is used for our correction and our comfort. (See Psalm 23).

Anyone who would tell us, “O, the Christian life is a breeze. It is really easy. There is no difficulty in all the world for the Christian” is living in a fantasy land, and is deceived or out and out naive. The reason I included that last statement is because I preached a sermon in a church a few years ago, on the struggles of being a Christian, and following the message and the end of the evening service, one dear lady of the church came up to me, and quickly told me, “I have not found the Christian life to be difficult, but rather fulfilling, and a joy”. I think I told her that I could agree with the latter part of what she said, but that there was still difficult times being a Christian. Jesus is warning us in the text of just that. There are people who are going to hate, and despise us, because they hate and despise our Shepherd.

The wolves of course represent false teachers who would teach things contrary to the gospel of Jesus. They actully seek to destroy those who are true to Christ and the truth, and the Church of the Lord Jesus. They bring in the “damnable heresies” (2 Peter 2:1) which Peter the apostle writes of. These teachers/preachers know that what they say is not in keeping with Biblical/orthodox Christian teaching. At the least they have themselves been deceived by the enemy of Christ. This is why the true followers of Jesus Christ must be vigilant to present the gospel and the whole counsel of the Word of God (Acts 20:27).

When we are treated with such vehement hatred, and disdain we are to respond as Jesus would and did. Jesus tells us, “Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”. As for the wisdom of serpents they do not seek the attention of men; but rather are prone to avoid attention. The following is commentary from John Gill from the e-Sword version of his commentary:

  • The serpent is a very sharp sighted, cunning creature, and uses various arts and stratagems for its own preservation, and especially of its head; and is so far to be imitated by the followers of Christ, as to make use of all proper methods to preserve themselves from the insults and rage of men, and not expose themselves to unnecessary dangers: and, as much as in them lies, they should be careful to give no just occasion of offence, or irritate, and provoke them to use them ill, and to avoid all snares and traps that are laid for them; and, at the same time, maintain the innocence and harmlessness of the dove, being free from all wicked cunning and craftiness, without rancour, malice, and wrath; not meditating and seeking revenge, but meek and humble in their deportment, leading inoffensive lives, and proceeding in the course of their calling, though liable to many insults, and much oppression.

When we look at a dove we see a bird which is so quiet, peaceful, and genteel. The dove as most people know is recognized as the symbol for peace all over the world. For the Christian the dove is a symbol of the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who is to rule our hearts, even when we are being persecuted.

There will be times that we will be delivered to the judges, and we should trust the Lord to give us the words to say. Trust Him completely, and not be worried about what the world says as we go about doing the will of our Lord and God. All Christians should count it a joy to be brought before kings and governors, because they need Jesus as Lord and Savior too. The Holy Spirit speaking through us does not come without us working at studying, reading, and applying the written Word of God in our lives. When the Word of God is needing spoken it will be there in our hearts and minds, only if we have hidden it there (Psalm 119:11).