The People in Expectation

“And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.’
And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.”   Luke 3:15-18  (KJB)

In the days preceding the days of the appearance of the Christ there was a longing, a strong desire and passion for the coming of Messiah.  The prophet John the Baptist was to be the last of the Old Testament prophets.

A new Man was coming on the scene.  People and things were about to change.

I do not know about you, but I can almost see and hear these words the people said, and asked.  Maybe some were direct and asked, “John, are you the Messiah?”  There was much chatter.  There were probably many questions.

The prophet John, like the prophets before him were preachers, forth tellers of the word of God.  They said what God put in their hearts and minds to say, by the power of the Spirit of God.  They spoke without fear or favor of men.  Like those prophets he spoke of another mightier than himself.

The people were in expectation.  They were looking for hope, for deliverance, for salvation from the Roman conquerors, their accusers and abusers.  That is not unlike people of 2019.

Many of us are looking again for the reappearing of our Lord and Savior. He is the One whom John preached about.  He is the One whom John said,

“…One mightier than I comes, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.”

John spoke of Jesus, the Christ.  He was about to appear.  We as Christians today are to be proclaiming the coming of our Lord.  We are to watch and pray and preach; preach Jesus.  Preach the death of Jesus on the cross to redeem us from our sins.  Preach that He was buried and carried our sins away, leaving them in the depths of the earth never to be held captive by them again; and that He rose again from death and the grave; and that He is alive.

He is coming.  He said He would (John 14:1-3).

Take It By Force

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12 (KJB)

I am going to let the exposition of John Gill give you an explanation of the above verse.

From John Gills Exposition of the Bible…
And from the days of John the Baptist until now,…. From the time that he began to preach, to the then present time,
the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel, and the ministry of it, first by John, then by Christ and his apostles,
suffereth violence; or “comes with force”, and power upon the souls of men: it was attended with the demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; as appeared by its being the means of quickening persons that were dead in trespasses and sins; enlightening the blind; causing the deaf to hear; melting and softening hearts of stone; making, of enemies, friends to God and Christ; turning men from the power of Satan unto God; setting at liberty such as were slaves and vassals to their own corruptions; and, in a word, in being the power of God unto salvation, to many souls: and which was further seen, in the manner it did all this; suddenly, secretly, powerfully, and effectually, and yet not against the wills of men; and by such instruments as the apostles were, poor, sinful, mortal men; despised by the world, and attended with opposition and persecution: or “suffers violence”; which may be understood, either of the vast numbers, that pressed and crowded to hear the Gospel preached: great numbers followed John, when he first began to preach, and baptize: still a greater number followed Christ, some to hear his doctrine, others to see his miracles, others to behold his person, others out of selfish ends; and some behaved rudely and indecently: or of the ardour and fervency of spirit, which appeared in some, to the ministry of John and Christ, and in their desires and expectations of the kingdom of the Messiah: or of the Gospel’s suffering violence by the persecutions of its enemies opposing and contradicting it, reproaching it, intimidating the professors of it, and seeking to take away the life of Christ, the great subject of it:
and the violent take it by force; meaning either publicans, and harlots, and Gentile sinners; who might be thought to be a sort of intruders: or rather the same persons, as being powerfully wrought upon under the ministry of the Gospel; who were under violent apprehensions of wrath and vengeance, of their lost and undone state and condition by nature; were violently in love with Christ, and eagerly desirous of salvation by him, and communion with him; and had their affections set upon the things of another world: these having the Gospel preached to them, which is a declaration of God’s love to sinners, a proclamation of peace and pardon, and a publication of righteousness and life by Christ, they greedily catched at it, and embraced it.

Saved by grace, through faith, that works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The Good News For All Who Will Hear

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, ‘Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God the Judge of quick and dead. To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.’
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. Acts 10:34-44

The Kingdom of God

“And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided Him. And He said unto them, ‘Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.’” Luke 16:14-17  (KJB)

Be blessed today reading God’s Holy Bible, His Word to us today; which shows the way to Himself, and to life eternal.

Pastors and Preaching the Word

The Bible says, or ‘Thus saith the LORD’,

“Preach the Word; be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teaches, having itching ears.” 2 Timothy 4:2-3

Paul said,

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:27

Having read these passages of Scripture, the ‘Thus saith the Lord’ how, in the name of God and His Son Jesus, can a pastor dare stand in the pulpit every Sunday, and preach nothing but words which comfort and encourage people.  We definitely are to preach Jesus, His death, His burial, and His resurrection.  There was a reason for His death, burial and resurrection, and that was that we are sinners, God in His love and grace desired to save us, in order that we might glorify His name.

A pastor/preacher who never confronts the sins of his people, or the sins of our society or culture is no man of God at all.  He is either a puppet of the people he professes to serve, or he is a man after the devil’s heart.  A few years ago I was told of a pastor, whom I  knew, who was asked about the stem cell issue by one of the members of his congregation, and his answer was, as it was told to me, “There are two sides to this issue…”  The all around implication was “I am not going take a stand on this issue”.  Is that the attitude of a pastor or a coward who is posing as a preacher?  I will say that he did later come to a change of mind.

There are other issues in 2018 we need to speak of, and the Biblical declaration for and against a thing.  God’s word never changes.  If it was declared sin by God; it is still sin.

Our churches, our people, the States we live in and serve, and our Country needs men of God who will without fear or favor to men, stand in the pulpit with God’s Word in their hand and on their heart, speak the Word as clearly, distinctly, with conviction, boldness and courage that the people will know they have heard the Word of God.

The man of God will preach the Word of God to get conviction in the hearts of the people.  There must be a conviction of sin in God’s people.  If God’s people will not be convicted of sin, how do we expect to ever see anyone be saved.  Why would we even pray for anyone to be saved since we have no conviction of sin, thus no need for salvation.

Wake up pastors, Preach the Word.  It is not a time for slacking in the Word.  It is time to preach for conviction.  It is time to preach holiness, righteousness, and judgment.  Let the people see the plight of sin, and the blight of sin.

Preachers and pastors – PREACH THE WORD, not comfort.  Now is the time to be uncomfortable.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Salvation Preaching, Hearing, and Unbelief

Salvation, Preaching, and Unbelief

Romans 10:9-21

The leaders of Israel had been so blinded by their religion that they missed the very one for whom their Scriptures had foretold. It seems they had been searching, searching, looking in the stars, over the seas, over lands, and in their own righteousness, but to no avail. Paul tell them and us that it is near, “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;“ v. 8 ; Deut. 30:12-13 (KJV). Jesus even told them, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.  And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” John 5:39-40 (KJV). They had the truth of Jesus before their faces and missed it.

SO WHAT IS NEEDED FOR SALVATION?

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-11 (KJV).

Confession – this includes an admission of one’s sins; it also includes confession of God,

“…a deep personal conviction, without reservation, that Jesus is that person’s own master or sovereign. This phrase includes the repenting from sin, trusting in Jesus for salvation, and submitting to Him as Lord.” The MACARTHUR Study Bible pg. 1712 study notes.

Believe the resurrection as the validation of the ministry of Jesus Christ; it proves beyond doubt that Jesus is all and everything He claimed to be.

For those who will confess and believe there is no shame.

All who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

THE NEED FOR PREACHING.

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:14-17 (KJV)

If we are going to preach we must be sure of the message we proclaim.

Those who know the truth of the Gospel have a responsibility to proclaim it.

God has called every saved individual to live as a witness, and proclaim the Gospel to the people they know and come in contact with.

Those who hear the Word and believe have received faith by grace through hearing the Word of God.

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” v. 17.

THE PERIL OF UNBELIEF

“But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.  But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.  But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.  But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” Romans 10:18-21 (KJV)

Israel was a Nation who had been born under the message of their Messiah, yet when He came they would not believe Him. They had Moses telling them (Deut.32:21), and the prophets; Isaiah which is mentioned by Paul here (Isaiah 65:1).

God’s patience with Israel is not without notice.

Because of their blindness their hearts have been hardened

Unbelief is a peril that leads to darkness.

Page after page of the Old Testament is filled with His patient call to return. His promise of sustenance for them. His promises of returning them to their land. Yet, they harden their hearts. God has always had a remnant.

No Christian can or will abide in unbelief.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Ready to Preach the Gospel

Romans 1:8 – 15

Praying for others is an expression of concern for them, and of trusting them to His care. It is first of all, for God’s guidance, providence, and personal spiritual growth. Secondly, that their witness [ good witness] may be seen and spoken of by all.

Prayer lets others know you are praying for them. We encourage others in the faith for the believer, and lets the lost know you are concerned for their eternal well being. It bonds the people with one another and to the one praying for them. In the Latter (above): it give strength for greater service.

In prayer we accept God’s grace toward all (v. 12). Our faith is mutual – no one is greater than the other. The faith that saves me is the faith that saves you – the faith from God.

In prayer we acquire a desire for spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit characterize the Spirit-led believer. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galations 5:22-23. Righteous actions. ” For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. ” Philippians 4:16-17. ” By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Hebrews 13:15. We desire to see people come to Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. These fruits will be seen, known and recognized by others.

We have a glorious message to proclaim (vv. 14-15). To the Greeks – these were considered the civilized and wise. To the barbarians – considered unwise because they could not speak the Greek language nor were they assimilated to Greek culture. The message of the gospel is for the “Wise” and for the “Unwise” – the culturally correct and incorrect – the rich and the poor. We ought always: by prayer, supplication, and the study of God’s Word, be ready to preach the gospel wherever God may call us.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Preacher for the People

Let me say this up front, then, you can and will decide if you want to finish reading this or not.  The preacher who preaches to please the people, the largest groups, does not please God.  The Preacher of God; the prophet of God preaches what God says, not what men say.  Having said that hear the prophet Micah…

“Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the LORD straitened? Are these His doings? Do not My words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Even of late My people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war. The women of My people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away My glory for ever. Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” Micah 2:6-11 (KJV)

Micah lived during some of, if not most of the time of Isaiah (See Isaiah 1:1 and Micah 1:1); they were in the era of the same kings.  Isaiah had told the people…

Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceit… Isaiah 30:10

I have always heard that you can catch more flies with honey. I have always wondered why you would want to ruin good honey by catching flies in it.  Besides I am offended at the thought that a human being is thought of as a fly.  People with a mind, who can think.  People can see the peril they are headed toward if they are warned of it; and that is what a prophet/preacher of God actually does.  Remember this; God’s warnings are also God’s promises.  He does fulfill every word He speaks – the negative and the positive.

Let me give you a study note from the MacArthur Study Bible then I will close this lesson…

2:6-11  False prophets, commanding Micah to cease prophesying, would certainly not prophesy against the people’s evil doings; they would not confront them with the divine standard of holiness.  Rather their false message (v. 7) had stopped the mouths of the true prophets and had permitted the rulers to engage  in social atrocities (vv. 8,9), leading the people to destruction (v. 10).  They didn’t want true prophecies; therefore, they got what they wanted (cf. Is. 30:10). It is best to understand that Micah speaks in v. 6 and God in vv. 7-11.

Who will you listen to?

If you truly love Jesus the one who died for your sins, was buried and rose again; then you will listen to His words.  “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15

Christmas Day Forty Three

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want for this Lord’s Day to be a day the people appear in their Sunday morning Bible Studies, Worship and evening Worship to only sing, pray, praise, preach and glorify Jesus Christ; to be prepared for the week ahead, to be the witnesses of Christ, filled with His Spirit, walking with Him; so that others might desire to know Him.

“For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 2:5-6 (KJV)

Day Three Hundred Thirty and One

What Do I Want For Christmas?

I want to see people responding to the preaching of the word of God in faith, and salvation, life changing and eternal preparation for the eternal presence of God.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 3:16-18 (NKJV)

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: 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, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

The Danger of Preaching the Truth

“Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.” Jeremiah 26:8 (KJV)

Jeremiah was not the only prophet of Judah or Jerusalem. There were others. There were others who were preaching the truth, just not as recognized as Jeremiah. There were also those who were popular with the people and the evil priests who were forsaking God, His word and the temple; but were ignorant of their peril.

These priests and people believed the temple was secure in God, that it would never be destroyed, and that Jerusalem would never fall. They believed that they could live any way they wanted to; going after the gods of the surrounding nations, with pagan temples, temple prostitution, and worship that caused the people to stray from God.

The prophet Jeremiah gave them the word of God, and did not hold back one word (26:2). He did it knowing it would not be popular. He preached because God called him to preach, not because momma called him. He preached because it was a fire in his heart, and he could not keep it back. He preached because he first of all loved God and His Word; secondly because he loved his people, and wanted them to be right with God; and he loved his country, and wanted the country to be delivered from its evil ways.

When a preacher preaches the word of God he will not always be popular. He will not always fill churches, or temples. He will most likely; especially when sin is running rampant around the world will be called a “Nut case”, laughed at, mocked, and even have his life threatened. Like Jeremiah, though, he will be faithful to the LORD and His Word.

Preacher, if God called you; and not your momma; not your career; but God called you, then you have one obligation, and that is to proclaim the Word of God; even if it hurts. Part of that obligation is to live that same word you preach. It can be hazardous. But you do it because of God, and His Son Jesus Christ.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:2

The Word of God at Work

“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: and Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” Nehemiah 8:5-8 (KJV)

The book Nehemiah speaks of in the verses is the Word of God, the law, the commandments. Of course it was in the form of a scroll. When he opened the book in the sight of the people, they stood to their feet. It was a matter of respect for God and His Word. They were believing it. God had told them through the prophets that they would go into captivity, and then return after 70 years. Thus, they had indeed.

The temple had been rebuilt. The wall around Jerusalem was restored. They would worship, and glorify the LORD.

There is much need today for the people of God to believe the Book; the Word of God. We need for the people of God to respect the Book. We ought to stand when it is read. Even more importantly we need to hear what is read, and apply it to our daily lives. It is the Word of God that gives us life. It is by the Word of God that we are to live.

Notice that the spiritual leaders read “distinctly” = clarify; “gave a sense” = explaining the meaning; and “caused them to understand”. These are matters of responsibility of every pastor and preacher of the Word of the LORD. And to teach the people to do so too.

Hide the word of God in your heart that you might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

The Preacher and His Preaching

I am thankful for the pastors/preachers who faithfully stand in their places of preaching and deliver the word of God to the people God has  placed in their charge.  Elijah felt he was all alone, that there was no one else who was faithful in all of Israel.  Man of God never feel that way.  You are not alone.

However, there are pastors who want to leave their people feeling good, encouraged, and entertained.  Most of the “feeling good” is about themselves; and the preacher neglects to preach for the glory  of the Lord, the correction of sin.  We must preach the word of the LORD.  There is nothing else to preach.

Jeremiah was evidently called as a young man, and from a family of priests.  When God came to him he was uncertain, calls himself a child, and unable to speak.  However, notice what GOD says to him…

“Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.’ But the LORD said unto me, ‘Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee,’ saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”  Jeremiah 1:6-10 (KJV)

The preacher must be faithful to preach the word.  Rightly divide or interpret the word, and according to the whole of the word of God.  No verse of Scripture stands alone; it must me interpreted in the light of all other Scripture.  We cannot interpret Scripture according culture; culture must be understood and interpreted by Scripture.  When culture, society, government, human law, or science contradict Scripture; Scripture is right and true.  If the preacher does not believe that or practice that then repent, or get out of the pulpit, and quit deceiving the people with your lies.

The prophet/preacher is a messenger of God.  Called by God we must speak what God says.  We must preach it without fear or favor of men or women.  We must preach it if it means our lives, our homes, friends, our employment or acceptance of other people.

The main message of the Word of God is the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christ died for ours sins, was buried, and He bodily arose from the grave three days later.  He took the wrath of sin that was deserved by us, suffered the judgment of our sin from His Father, becoming sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  The Righteous Son of God was made unrighteous; that the unrighteous might be made Righteous.  In His resurrection Jesus overcame the power of sin, death (which is the penalty for sin) and hell (eternal condemnation).  When you preach Jesus and the cross, the burial and bodily resurrection you preach the word of God.

Where is the prophet to preach?  Where ever God opens the door of opportunity.  If that means a church with small number of people to the sidewalk in front of the White House, or the steps of the United Nations building on the U.S. Supreme Court; or front of an idol in a foreign land.  God gives the words when the man of God is faithful to His Word.  Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-4).

GOD Will Rise

PLEASE NOTE:  The following article was posted January 18, 2008.  My prayer is for God’s people to hear God’s Word and repent.

Can you imagine being born into a family of priests. Can you imagine even more, that after you have grown to be a man, that you receive a call from God to be His prophet. You are told that you will be a prophet to the people of God, that you will be a prophet to the nations. You are also told that you will speak whatever God puts in your mouth.

“The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.”  Jeremiah 1:1-3 (KJV)

The name Jeremiah means, “Jah will rise” and “Jah” is short for “Jehovah”. That name is given to us in one of the Psalms. In Psalm 68:4 it is written, “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name YAH [Jah], and rejoice before Him.” The use of the name Jeremiah and of JAH seems to be that even though the Nation has fallen into ill will with God, that He is raised, He is exalted, and He will be praised by His people.

Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry takes place during some of the roughest of times, especially for a prophet. The people were so secure in their beliefs, that they were living under falsehood. They were thinking that because the temple was present in Jerusalem, then they would never fall.

The task of a true prophet of God would have been quite difficult for Jeremiah, as he was also a priest, and being from a family of priests, that would mean confronting some of the sins and discrepancies of the priesthood. Because of this he would not be very popular. But then, no prophet is ever popular, or well thought of while they are living.

Jeremiah probably prophesied during the latter years of king Josiah’s rule in Judah. Josiah was a good king, who brought reform that could even be called a revival to the nation. It is said of king Josiah, “He did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD” 2 Chronicles 34:2; but it was only shortlived so it was only temporary reform, which grieved the heart of this prophet of God.

When the people only put on a temporary change, because it has been legislated, rather than having a personal relationship with God, and a change of heart, it should grieve the hearts of those who know God.

This heart for God from this prophet would bring much sorrow, pain, and persecution from his family, friends, and the people. There seems to be only one who is faithful to Jeremiah and the Lord throughout this prophecy, and his name is Baruch (Chapter 45). We are each called, as a child of God, to be faithful to God, and support all those who are also faithful to God in proclaiming His Word.

God will rise and be exalted.

Words for Christian Living – Jealousy

“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”  2 Corinthians 11:1-4 (KJV)

We would not in a normal sense think of “Jealousy” as being a good thing.  However, the apostle is dealing with a people who are not strong on the doctrine of Jesus Christ alone for salvation.  We are servants of the Jealous God (Exodus 20:5; 34:14;  Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9; 6:15).  Jealousy from God should be expected.  He created all that is.  It is proper of Him to desire the worship and adoration of His creation.

Christians should be jealous for Him.  Christian pastors and preachers ought always “defend the faith” because there is not other to worship.  We ought to be jealous for God.

Contrary to what Oprah may have said concerning the jealousy of God.  He is still a jealous God.  He alone is worthy of worship, adoration and praise.  He alone is worthy of our jealousy for His worship.  When others proclaim “Another Jesus” which is not the Jesus who died on the cross, was buried and bodily arose from the grave; and is eternally seated at God the Fathers right hand; we must speak out vehemently against that “Jesus”.  That “Jesus” is not the Jesus of grace and mercy, but another of deception.

Christian, be “Jealous” for Christ Jesus.

Unsecured Testimony

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

Sad to say that there are many who call themselves “Christian” calling Him “Lord, Lord”, but are not known by Him.  Our security rest in His knowing us

-T.A.

From a Facebook Friend

The following was posted on Facebook by a brother preacher,

H-E-L-L FIRE and D-A-M-N-A-T-I-O-N PREACHERS

Someone asked me yesterday;”Why are all of you Baptist Preachers H-E-L-L FIRE and D-A-M-N-A-T-I-O-N Preachers?”

Well, I didn’t know that there were that many that still were doing so, but for those of us that do, we do it for the same reason our cities have Tornado Sirens, we do it for the same reason that the Railroad puts Gates and Bells at its busiest and most dangerous crossings, we do it for the same reason that cities put up Signal Lights at their Intersections. We all do what we do to warn everyone that there is real danger approaching and that appropriate action needs to be taken in time to avoid sure disaster.
My friend, the Authoritative, Infallible Word of God tells all of us that all who are without Christ Jesus are:
1. Guilty Sinners – [Romans 3:23]
2. Condemned Sinners – [John 3:18; Romans 6:23a]
3. Loved Sinners – [John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 2Peter 3:9]
4. Wooed Sinners – [Matthew 28:19;Romans 10:14; 2Corinthians 5:20]
All Preacher’s and Christian’s are called of the Lord to woo and warn the Christ-less Sinner to come to Christ alone for salvation before it is too late and you go out into eternity to spend it in a Devil’s H-E-L-L, that is why we preach H-E-L-L- Fire and D-A-M-N-A-T-I-O-N, to warn you to flee from the wrath to come.

Would the same people who wished we would stop preaching H-e-l-l and D-a-m-n-a-t-i-o-n want their cities to pull down their Signal Lights, would they want the Railroad to remove their gates and bells at the dangerous crossings, would they want their cities to turn off all of the Tornado Sirens during the Tornado Season? I believe the answer is obvious, of course they would not. Yet H-E-L-L is a more CERTAIN and AWFUL reality than those possible events just mentioned. We dare not cease to warn the sinner. Preacher; PREACH IT, that is your calling, not to be popular or even liked, but to be Faithful.
~Jack Woodard

Thank you Brother Jack for preaching God’s Word. Jack also has a blog that would be a blessing to you.

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Day 56 – Diminish Not a Word

The prophecy of Jeremiah the prophet to Judah and Israel was a hard word to preach.  It was especially so for a man who loved his people, and his nation; however, it was the word of the LORD, and Jeremiah was going to proclaim it, and it would be better for the people to have listened.  It is still so in the 21st century among God’s people; good to listen to the Word of the LORD.

Just as the LORD told Jeremiah,

“Thus saith the LORD; ‘Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: if so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent Me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.”  Jeremiah 26:2-3 (KJV)

He was also to never cut short or lessen the words of promise given by the LORD.  This prophecy is full of promises from God as well as warnings.  There are so many who lessen the promises of God to Israel.  Make them only good for them as long as the nation believes like they think they ought to believe; lives as they think they ought to live.

Let us look at some of those promises.  My reading this morning took me from chapter 25 – 38.

The nation had forsaken the LORD and His Word refusing to hear the words of the prophets, including the warnings of Jeremiah; and they would suffer for it by going into Babylonian captivity, Jerusalem being burned to the ground, the temple being destroyed, and defiled.  It happened just as Jeremiah, by the Word of the LORD, said it would.

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, ‘that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.  And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD.'” 31:27-28

Despite the fact that God was going to judge them, He wanted to assure them, that just as surely as He was going to tear down, He would also bring them back,and build them up again.  He goes on and says in verse 34, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Just how good, how strong, how enduring is the covenant of God with Israel/Judah?

“Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: if those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the LORD, ‘then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever.’  Thus saith the LORD; ‘If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done,’ saith the LORD.” 31:35-37

And the prophet by the Word of the LORD says again,

“And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying,  ‘Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break My covenant of the day, and My covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, My ministers.  As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David My servant, and the Levites that minister unto Me.” 33:19-22

Just as the Word of the LORD for punishment, chastisement cannot be diminished so too is it true of His promises.  Hear again,

“Thus saith the LORD; ‘If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.'” 33:25-26

The Word of the LORD is sure, it is true, it is eternal; and not one word shall be diminished.  The LORD will accomplish every word of it.  He will be glorified, and all the world shall know that He is GOD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 55 – The Unsocial Prophet

“The preacher who does not mix with people will never make much of a preacher;” at least that has been said or thought by many.  One thing needs to be understood by many preachers of the 21st century; if a preacher has been called by God to preach the Word of God, then we just do not make our lives, or build our lives around social activities, nor what the people may expect of us.  The preacher is God’s preacher, not man’s smooth talking, easy listening, socially active, friend to everybody servant.

Rantings of a mad preacher?  Maybe.  My reading today was from Jeremiah 11 – 24, and I guess I noticed some things that got a fire burning.  Jeremiah is one of my favorite Prophets of the Old Testament to read, study, and I have rarely preached from the book.

In my title I call it “The Unsocial Prophet” for a couple of reasons.  Jeremiah was a man called by God from a family of priest to be a prophet to the nation of Judah; during the days when Josiah was king, then his son Jehoiakim, and finally the king Zedekiah when Jerusalem was carried away captive by Babylon.

Why I call him “The Unsocial Prophet”.  One of the things God says to Jeremiah is “Do not pray for this people”.

“For thus saith the LORD, ‘Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away My peace from this people,’ saith the LORD, ‘even lovingkindness and mercies.'”  Jeremiah 16:5 (KJV)

The  people of Judah have refused to listen to the Word of the LORD through the prophets He has sent; they have violated the land in not giving them their sabbath rests every seven years, they have violated the weekly sabbaths by continuing to do business, conducting deals and selling as on the other six days, and they have brought idols into their worship, and continue to act in worship to Jehovah/YHWH.

The prophet is sad concerning the plight of his people (9:1), however, his sadness is because they have forsaken the LORD.  He knows that God’s plan for them is the best plan for them.  He is even attacked and hated by his own family, and people.  Another reason I call him “The Unsocial Prophet” is;

“Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink.  For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; ‘Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.'” 16:8

The prophet is to be an influence to the people; not letting the people influence him.  He is to be led by the Spirit of God, His Word, and not the social activities of the day.

Let me give a clear Biblical definition of a “Prophet”.  The prophet of God is a preacher, an expositor of God’s Word.  He is first and foremost a student of Scripture; a man of prayer; an obedient servant of God.  He proclaims what God declares to Him, and then proclaims it to the people.  That in itself can make him an enemy to the people.  Who is going to invite a guy like this to their parties, or even to preach their funerals, or invite him to mourn with them?  In the last verse above we see that God tells Jeremiah that joy and gladness will cease.

Men and women are so deceived today.  Even professing Christians live as though any belief is okay as long as you believe something; have faith in something; as though “faith” is all you need.  There is only one way to approach God according to His Word, but the heart of men have devised alternative ways which lead to death and destruction.  These are other gods, false gods, which lead to death.

God spoke to Jeremiah saying,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” 17:9

You can continue believing as you believe, contrary to God and His Word, and you will receive the just judgment of God. “According to the fruit of his [your] doings” you will receive all that you have coming to you.

Many of the people of Anathoth hated Jeremiah because of his preaching.  They plotted against him to do him harm, but God’s hand of protection was on him (1:19);

“Then said they, ‘Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.'” 18:18

Jeremiah even says that the problem of Judah is due to the smooth talking false prophets who had the hearts of the people;

“Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; ‘Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.'” 23:15

Pastors and preachers of today need to hear the Word of the Lord. Stand and preach the word, not the desires of the hearts of the people.  It is not a popular opinion that matters to the preacher of God, but rather a saved, cleansed, pure live that will glorify God.  God is the center of the preacher’s preaching.  Are you afraid of being called “unsociable”?  Would it not be better to be deemed “unsociable” by the masses than to be deemed an unholy, false preacher by God? And receive the judgment that comes from God for such activities?

Most of this post today seems somewhat negative, but I pray instructive, correcting, and guiding to many who read it.  There is hope and encouragement within what I read today.  Hear the encouragement of God’s Word –

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.  In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  23:5-6
“For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.  And I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart.” 24:6-7

The hope for Judah and Israel is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS; and that is none other than the Messiah who was to come, and give His life a ransom for many, and then return one day and establish His eternal kingdom.  The people of Judah will return to the LORD with their whole heart.  Because of Jesus their is hope for all have a “wicked heart”, and that is all of us.  “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10)  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  However Christ died for our sins.  Trust Him, and believe.

-Tim A. Blankenship

What the Preacher Says

There are some who have much to say but say little biblically.  There are some who build up the hearts of men with their words, but build not up the heart of God with His Word.  Then, there are those who are like Jeremiah who heard the LORD speak,

“Say not, I am a child:  for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.”  Jeremiah 1:7

Consider this before you enter the sacred desk next time.

What does the preacher have to say?  Only the Word of God; nothing else.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Promoting the Damnation of your Children?

The following is a quote from a sermon preached by the late Jonathan Edwards.  I copied it from Kairos.

FROM KAIROS [family] “Promoting the Damnation of Your Children?—Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758)

In 1738, Jonathan Edwards published Discourses on Various Important Subjects, a collection of the sermons he preached during the Connecticut River Valley Awakening. One of these discourses, “The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners,” was described by Edwards as the most successful evangelistic sermon he ever preached.1 The sermon is startling in the preciseness of the preacher’s examination of human sin; he does not offer vague generalities but rather heart-piercing application. When he turns to parents the modern reader should still appreciate his solemn explanation of the dangers of parental neglect in spiritual matters.

“‘Consider how you have promoted others’ damnation. Many of you by the bad examples you have set, by corrupting the minds of others, by your sinful conversation, by leading them into sin, or strengthening them in sin, and by the mischief you have done in humane society other ways that might be mentioned, have been guilty of those things that have tended to others’ damnation. You have heretofore appeared on the side of sin and Satan . . .

There are many that contribute to their own children’s damnation, by neglecting their education and setting them bad examples, and bringing them up in sinful ways: they take care of their bodies, but take but little care of their poor souls; they provide for them bread to eat, but deny them the bread of life that their famishing souls stand in need of. And are there no such parents here that have thus treated their children? If their children be not gone to hell, ’tis no thanks to them; ’tis not because they have not done what has tended to their destruction. Seeing therefore you have had no more regard to others’ salvation, and have promoted their damnation, how justly might God leave you to perish yourself?”  Kairos [Family]

It would do our Country [USA] and the world much good to give heed to the advice of this man of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Power On Their Lives – Mark 16:15-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Judges – 041111

The book of Judges is about the grace of God toward Israel.  They have come into the Promised Land which was given them by GOD, with instructions and laws to follow and to be obedient.  As long as they obey God’s commandments they will be prosperous and own the land, but they begin to practice worshipping other god’s; the gods of the surrounding people, whom they are supposed to drive out and destroy.  This is part of their disobedience.

GOD is longsuffering and merciful.  We find these words in chapter six,

“And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, ‘Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land; and I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed My voice.'”  Judges 6:7-10 (KJV)

One thing we can observe in Judges and throughout the whole of the Old Testament is that God sends His prophets before He sends judgment.  The prophet Amos spoke by the leadership of God’s Spirit saying,

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  Amos 3:7

We can rest assured that before God does anything He sends His preachers to warn and instruct of what is going to come.  For Israel in that day it was “fear not the gods of the Amorites…” but they did not obey.  The people had cried out to the LORD, and He sent a prophet.

Not only that the LORD Himself came down as we read in verses 11-23.

The Lord Himself has came down, in the person of His only Son, given His life on the cross, was raised from death, hell and the grave; and by Him we have eternal life.

Believe Him and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

And There shall Come Forth a Rod…

This and future articles on Isaiah will be posted here at Fire and Hammer.    On Sunday evenings at Carr Lane Baptist Church I am preaching through the book of Isaiah, only in a “survey” type fashion.  I pray the Lord’s Spirit will guide you in the study of His Word.

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD…”  Isaiah 11:1-2 (KJV)

If we take a moment and consider the title of this post we might take a thought toward created things; and that would not be wrong to do.  It is however necessary that we see the Creator becomes a created being in the “stem of Jesse”, “a Branch” and later on in the chapter (v. 10) “root of Jesse”
What we see of this one who will come from “the stem of Jesse” is that He is “a rod”, and “a Branch” shall grow out of His roots.  This is a deep rooted prophecy of the coming of the Messiah of Israel.  It speaks of His humanity.  It speaks of His humility, and from whence He comes.
His life is lived in the “Spirit of the LORD” and that Spirit rest upon Him and I don’t believe it to be wrong to say, here, even within Him.  Holy wisdom, spiritual understanding, and divine counsel and power comes only from the Spirit of God.  When we have a good and healthy relationship and fellowship with the LORD, then there will also be a right reverent fear of the LORD as well.
In verse 4 we find that this Individual will, “with righteousness” judge the poor.  Could this be the “Poor in spirit to which Jesus refers in Matthew 5:3?  He will destroy the wicked with “the breath of His lips” (Revelation 1:16; 19:15).
In the future kingdom of this King there will be peace throughout the whole earth; even within the animal kingdom (vv. 6-9), and such knowledge increasing unlike anything we have ever known (v. 9).
This “root of Jesse” is an ensign or banner to the nations that are on earth.  They will seek Him and find Him, and all His people [Israel] will come to Him from the ends of the earth (vv. 10-12).  The return of Israel to the LORD will be even greater, more spectacular than was the first exodus from Egypt.
Be ready for our LORDs return.  Jesus is coming soon.
-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Numbers – 021611

Reading from Numbers 22-24.

The reading today deals with the prophetic work of one of the prophets of the Old Testament.  This is a prophet who was in the “ministry” for a profit.  He was in it to make all he could.

The Moabite people were fearful of this massive group of people who were traveling across their part of the wilderness.  The king of Moab, Balak, calls for Balaam the prophet of whom we speak.  The comment of Scripture says,

“And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.” 22:3

Let’s first examine who the people called the Moabites are; just to keep it in mind.  Moab was one of the sons of Lot by the eldest daughter (Genesis 19:37).  So by this we can see a kinship between these two people – Moab and Israel.  Of course, many years have passed, more than four hundred at least.

Balak calls for the prophet Balaam, and seeks him so that he may curse Israel.  Israel is a nation blessed by GOD.  Called out of Egypt by GOD.  Led by GOD.  A questions should enter our minds upon reading this, “How can a prophet of GOD even consider taking Moab up on this thought.  They have promised him great reward.

The prophet is blind to the ways of God.  God tells Balaam, after he has already turned down Balak’s first request to come, and he sends a second group of messengers,

“And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, ‘If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.'” 22:20

Here is Balaam’s fault.  If you will note what God says; Balaam is to not go with the men unless they come to call him; yet Balaam arises and goes to them.  He is eager to go and curse Israel, yet says, “All that the LORD speaketh, that I must do.” 23:26.

In the process of all this we find that his eyes are not open as he says in 24:3, but that they are set on deception, and the receiving of blessing for himself and funds for his pocket.  His ride has more spiritual perception than Balaam does (22:22-35).

By the end of chapter 24 we see Balaam speaking prophetic words of blessing upon Israel.  Yet, be warned Balaam is still a prophet of the worst sort.  We are warned of his work and “ministry” in the New Testament:

“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.”  2 Peter 2:15-16″Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”  Jude v. 11

“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”  Revelation 2:14

Later on in the daily readings we will see that the prophet finally succeeded in gaining what he wanted, yet failed GOD and His people greatly.

Remember to read Numbers 22 – 24 for today’s reading.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Words Without Profit/Prophet

The business man; no certain one, no certain company; or even a preacher or pastor tells their people, “All is well.  The business is growing”.  What is not mentioned is that decay, death, despair is all around.
For a business that may mean the ruin of that company.  Layoffs, closing the plant, or the whole company, bankruptcy.  For a church – closing the doors because the church never saw the Light of the Lord but listened to the lying words of their “pastor”.

The words of Jeremiah the prophet speak loudly to us today.

“Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.  Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;  And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations.”  Jeremiah 7:8-10 (KJV)

The life of knowing the LORD has no part in turning from Him.  We grow in Him – in Christ Jesus the Son of the Living God who died for our sins, was buried and rose; and He forever lives.  Because He lives we live, therefore our lives are to show forth His life.

The life of Jesus Christ is a life without sin, obedience to God the Father, glorifying our Creator in what we say and do.  When the Bible teacher focuses on living your life now and telling how good human kind is [self] then that is “lying words” and the prophet says, “…that cannot profit”.  It is as though mixing muddy water with clean to clean it up.  All you have is muddy water; or an ungodly life which takes the glory that belongs only to God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 2:24-49

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU…
1 Peter 5:7

…In The Rule, And Fall Of The Kingdom’s Of Men

Daniel 2:24-49

purpose – To show the peril and fallacious thinking in putting confidence in the rule of man; and the wisdom in putting your confidence in God and the rule of God.

“The reason we have democracy is because we don’t have righteous-rule monarchy. We need some kind of checks and balances, which is why our government is established as it is.” Dr. David Jeremiah THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL pg. 62.

The following  is a quote from Professor Alexander Tyler which he wrote concerning the fall of the Athenian republic which fell over a thousand years ago. He said,

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.” IBID. pg. 62.

One of the things we can see from the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and its interpretation is that man’s kingdoms are not eternal, they will fall; and that those who believe God and live for Him are promised a future eternal kingdom.  God’s King will overthrow the kingdoms of this world.  Now, for those who are “inhabiters of this world”, ie., those who love this world; they will be angry at our King, however,  their anger will go to naught.

INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE –

I.  DANIEL WAS A MAN WITH A HEART FOR OTHERS, AND A HEART FOR GOD (vv. 24-30).
II.  DANIEL WAS THE REVEALER GOD CHOSE TO REVEAL THE SECRETS OF THE KINGS MIND (vv. 31-35).
III.  DANIEL WAS GIVEN THE SECRET OF THE DREAMS INTERPRETATION (vv. 36-45).
IV.  DANIEL WAS THOUGHTFUL OF HIS FRIENDS AND WAS REWARDED (vv. 46-49).

During the rule and fall of the kingdom’s of men we must follow the heart of our Savior and Lord.  It was also the heart of Daniel.

I.  AS CHRISTIANS WE HAVE THE ANSWER FOR MANKIND’S PROBLEMS; WE MUST  BE LOVING TOWARD OTHERS (vv. 24-30).
The answer to governments who rule, and don’t rule well is Jesus Christ.  The answer for an empty bank account, is to trust the Lord.  These answers may not put food on the table or money in the bank, but it is the answer to peace of mind and heart.  Jesus saving the soul of troubled people changes the minds and hearts of government, eventually, Jesus will rule and reign on the earth.  Peace of mind, and especially “peace with God” is the greatest thing in this world to possess.

Do we sincerely believe that Jesus is the means of mankind’s salvation?  Do we sincerely believe that He [Jesus Christ] died on a cross, was buried, and three days later came out of that grave alive?  Christian, if you sincerely believe that then we need to be sharing that message.  Daniel had the answer for the king, but when he received the answer his immediate response wasn’t to run in declaring, “I have the interpretation.  I know the dream and its interpretation.”   His immediate response was for the lives of the “wise men”.  We live under the governments of men; which at any time could turn on its people and declare anything unlawful, and with a mad ruler could declare “Christians are unfit to live.  We declare it just and legal to kill anyone who calls themselves ‘Christian'”.  Let’s pray that doesn’t happen; but it could.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”  Acts 4:12 (KJV)

When Arioch hears of Daniel’s revelation he immediately tells the king, “I have found a man…”.  It seems as though he is trying to assume at least part of the responsiblity for discovering the secret.  I guess we all want some approval for what we do.

As Daniel we to should not take credit for what God has done.  We must give Him the glory for the answer for our hearts problems, and fears, and declare along with Daniel, “There is a God in heaven…”, and this is as opposed to statues, cash, bank accounts, health care, investments, bonds, any material possession; even family; which are temporary.  There is a God in heaven who has made all things, holds them together, and saves His prized creation from the death brought on by our sin.

We cannot avoid the issue of the “Latter days”.  What days is Daniel speaking of.  It seems that those latter days which the Old Testament speaks of is those days which referr to the coming of Jesus Christ; and beginning with His first coming where He died for our sins and rose from the dead, until the time He returns and sets up His kingdom upon earth; ruling and reigning from Jerusalem.  We are in those latter days.  If people don’t know Jesus Christ trusting Him for their eternity and life, then, they will be part of those who are crushed by the “stone cut out without hands”.

II.  WHEN UNGODLY RULERS SEE THE GREAT IMAGE, CHRISTIANS SEE THE GREAT MOUNTAIN (vv. 31-45).

“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”  Habakkuk 2:14 (KJV)

When Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed of this great image, which may be the inspiration for the design of the image he erects in his own honor in chapter three; we find that Daniel sees these things as “Beasts” in chapter seven when he begins to dream of these things.  We will cover this more when we get to chapter seven, however, the beasts which Daniel sees are devouring beasts, and that is how governments of men behave.  Not only do they devour people, but they devour people’s goods and gold.  Ruling men often see their empires as “great images” to pattern others by; God sees them as devouring beasts.

Rulers often see their kingdoms brightly arrayed, and glorious; and Daniel was respectful.  Nebuchadnezzar was a proud man, and “pride goes before destruction”.  How long will it take for wicked rulers to realize that their kingdoms cannot defeat the power and authority of God?  Only until Jesus comes again and defeats wicked men’s hearts will they continue on their slippery slope to destruction.

You will notice in the interpretation of the dream that the metals become less and less precious; less and less valuable.  The most valuable being gold down to the feet which are “iron mixed with clay”.  The kingdoms become more and more inferior.  John Calvin in his commentary of Daniel writing of the kings following writes,

“We see then that his kingdom is not called inferior through having less splendour or opulence in human estimation, but because the general condition of the world was worse under the second monarchy, as men’s vices and corruptions increase more and more.”  John Calvin Commentary pg. 173 Daniel 2:39

If this be the case and I believe that it is then, how far have we slid since then?  Kings and kingdoms seem even more set on setting themselves over all men and over all the earth and over God’s Word and will.

In the dream Nebuchadnezzar saw an image with a head of gold; arms and chest of silver; belly and thighs of brass [bronze]; legs of iron; and feet of iron mixed with clay.  These are representative of five nations which succeed one from the other, having great power, but deteriorating in moral strength and character.  The head of gold is representative of Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar; the arms and chest of silver represent the Medo-Persian empire; the belly and thighs of brass represent Greece; the legs of iron represent Rome; and the feet of iron and clay represent the future  new world order.

It is a wonderful and gracious thing to have the assurance, that all the kingdoms of this world are under the authoritative hand of Almighty God.  The world and her “rulers” may see an “great and awesome” image, but in the eyes of the Almighty they are devouring beasts.  Sounds like Jesus’s description of the “thief”,

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10 (KJV)

The Psalmist tells us where we are not to put our trust; and that is in the princes of this world; including the “prince of darkness”,

“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.”  Psalms 146:3 (KJV)

There is no help in man or beasts.  Our help and our hope is in the Lord God Almighty.

III.  THERE IS REWARD AWAITING THE FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN IN THE KINGDOM OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 46-49).
Jesus said, “Great is your reward in heaven” when referring to the blessed who are persecuted in Matthew 5:12.  There are other places He mentions reward; having “their own reward”, or not receiving “reward” because it was already received.  (See Matthew 5:46; 6:1-18;  10:41-42; 16:27).  God will always honor faithfulness to Himself and His Word.  He has promised rewards to the faitful.  The greatest reward is not escaping hell, death, punishment; not walking on “streets of gold” or through “gates of pearl”, or living in a “mansion” in heaven;  the greatest reward will be beholding the face of our Lord who bled, died, was buried, and rose again that we might be saved.

There is nothing wrong with expecting reward for faithfulness in ministry.  It is wrong if that is the only reason, or the main reason for doing the ministry.  The main reason for serving the Lord in ministry is loving Him, and giving the opportunity to others to love Him.  Remember we can only love Him, because He first loved us;

“We love Him, because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19.

Loving Him can stand alone; even with no other reward; because we cannot love Him, except we first realize His great love for us in dying on the cross for our sin, being buried, then rising again from the grave paying the debt that was ours to pay.

God loves you and me enough to send the very best; His Son.  He loves you so much to save us as we are; He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

There is fear and dread in the rule of the kings and kingdom’s of men.  However, there is peace in knowing that God rules in the political, economical, social, and national affairs of kings.  The King of all kings reigns supremely.

application –

i.  Christians love others through Christ Jesus, and stand for their rights and their lives.
ii.  Christians are committed to the King of kings, and will loyally serve the kings of earth, in Christ.
iii.  Christians serve the Lord; the King of kings; because of love for Him, and are expecting the rewards He has promised.
iv.  Christians, by faith, know and believe that all things are in the hands of the Almighty God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:8-16

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
1 Peter 5:7

When You Purposely Stand For Him

Daniel 1:8-16

Purpose – To see by faith, that God cares for His people when we must take a purposeful stand to forward His name and His faith.

OUTLINE –
I.  DANIEL TOOK A PURPOSEFUL STAND NOT TO EAT OF THE KING’S PROVISIONS (v. 8).
II.  DANIEL IS REMINDED OF THE POSSIBLE COST OF TAKING THIS STAND – ESPECIALLY FOR HIS FRIEND (vv. 9-10).
III.  DANIEL IS NOT STANDING ALONE – HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH ARE STANDING WITH HIM (vv. 10-13).
IV.  GOD BLESSES THEIR FAITH AND THEIR STAND (vv. 14-16).

We must all consider the fact, as Christians, that we are strangers in a foreign land.  Some may not like, nor appreciate that statement, but if our citizenship is in heaven, and with God, then, we are indeed strangers in this land.  It matters not what nation we live in; we are strangers in a foreign land.  We are even “captives”, yet ambassadors in this foreign land, until the Lord returns to call us home to be with Him.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were ambassadors of God in Babylon.  It seems, that they were about the only godly witness there.  That is not so however.  There was Ezekiel the prophet; and Esther and Mordecai [evidently cousins] (Esther 2:5-7).  These were captives in Babylon, and there could have been many more.  We have the four teenage boys taking a stand which was probably unheard of.  It is a very encourageing thing to see teenagers take a stand for their godly convictions; not in rebellion, but in obedience to God.

I.  THERE ARE TIMES AND SOME THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THIS WORLD THAT CALL US TO PURPOSELY STAND FOR GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 8 ).
In Daniel’s and his friend’s world it doesn’t seem that there were too many who were seeing a problem with eating the “king’s meat”.  There were other youth who evidently took and enjoyed the lush, and rich foods they were not accustomed to.  These young men had been brought up in the Hebrew culture with strict meat restrictions; this mean certain bleeding principles which would drain the dead animal of all its blood.  They were not to eat blood (Leviticus 17:10-16) .  They were not to eat meat that had been offered to idols. Read Leviticus 11.  To receive this meat was the same for them as recognizing the idols as deities.

You can notice that Daniel did not reject this food by a callous, and stubborn refusal; disrespectful of his caregiver.  As Daniel had a plan in taking a stand there are also ways Christians can take a stand and not be offensive.  We can stand with our lives everyday.  Let the light of Jesus Christ shine forth from our lives by developing friendships (as much as is possible) with the people you are around.  As Daniel had developed a good relationship with the melzar [the steward].  (Rather than being a proper name “melzar” is probably a title such as servant or steward; one appointed by the chief eunuch to care for the Hebrew youths.)

II.  IT IS GOD WHO BRINGS HIS PEOPLE INTO GOOD FAVOR WITH OTHERS, AND WE SHOULD BE LIVING TO GIVE THEM CAUSE TO SUPPORT OUR STAND (vv. 9-10).
Matthew Henry has written of verses eight and nine, “Whoever are in favour, it is God that has brought them into favour; and it is by Him that they find good understanding.  Herein was again verified that word (Ps. cvi. 46), ‘He made them to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.’  Let young ones know that the way to be acceptable is to be tractable and dutiful” MATTHEW HENRY’S COMMENTARY Vol IV. pg 1019.  “When a man’s ways please the LORD He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7).

If we are going to stand and we live in a condition where what we do may harm another it seems that we better have their permission before we proceed.  Daniel and his friends not only had permission, but he provided their veggies for this ten day period.  Of course, we need to be in good terms with them for God to direct their paths too.  That is not to say that should Daniel have been refused in this matter that he shouldn’t have did something, but he did what was necessary and God gave him close communion with a man in charge who was, himself, willing to take the risk along side Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

There are times to stand when no one will help you.  No one will stand beside you.  You may have plenty that will say, “I am [We are} behind you all the way.”  Those who stand behind you can “stab you in the back”.  That may sound suspicious, un-nerving, un-trusting, and/or negative.  It is, however, the truth.  In most cases, those who will walk beside you, can be trusted.

You will notice that there is an early reference to all Daniel’s friends with him in verse ten, “…why should he see your faces”.  So Daniel had at least Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah standing with him in this faith experience.

III.  LIKE THE CONVICTIONS OF DANIEL AND HIS FRIENDS TRUE CONVICTIONS CANNOT BE LAID ASIDE (vv. 10-13).
Daniel had the convictions that should they eat the “king’s meat” they would be sinning against God, thus he, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah chose to refrain from eating the king’s dainties.

Matthew Henry write again, “Perhaps it was not in itself  unlawful for them to eat of the king’s meat or to drink of his wine.  But, 1.  They wer scrupulous concerning the meat, lest it should be sinful.”  MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY  Vol. IV pg. 1020.  They were wise to seek to be kept from even the temptation of the food.  “How far can you go until it is sin?”  is a question often asked.  The answer to that is “If you have to ask that you have probably already sinned”.

What many people call convictions are often on preferences.  A conviction is something you will die for, and maybe even another’s life.  A preference is nothing to die for.  Let me give you an idea of what a preference is.  I prefer to drive Ford trucks and cars, but I wouldn’t fight you over it.  I could drive a Chevrolet, Buick, Toyota, etc., if I had no other choice.  My conviction is that God’s Word, the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, God breathed word of God; and that is something I will give my life for and that my Savior Jesus Christ is the God/Man, incarnate Son of God, died on the cross for my sins and the sins of the world, that Jesus is the only way to God and to heaven, and Jesus is coming back one day to call his children home to be with Himself.  Those are my convictions, some of them, and I will hold them until I draw my last breath;  with the power and strength of God.

It is great knowing that we have family, friends, other relatives, and neighbors world wide who hold these convictions and have found that “Hill on which to die”, and land in which to live.  As it is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).

IV.  GOD PROVES OUR FAITH WHEN WE ARE FAITHFUL (vv. 14-16).
Remember Daniel and his friends were in a three year program (v. 5) for training and the food regimen.  All Daniel was asking for was a ten day trial period to prove that the vegetables, etc., was better for them in their appearance and probably their minds too.  Maybe there is something we could learn from following such a diet; but is anyone among us interested?

The faith they express in God is astounding, and God honors and proves their faith.  Faith is not something we boast of; it is what we live, how we speak, where we go, what we do, and how we live.  Faith is not just believing God when things are going good, but keeping on believing Him even when He doesn’t seem to hear.

It seems that the utmost goal of Daniel’s heart was that God be glorified in the king of Babylon, and the people of Babylon.  His heart was set on obedience to the word of the LORD; and even if the cost was his life.  God came through for Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; proving that their obedience was blessed by the God of Israel and all that is.  “And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.”  Daniel 1:15 (KJV)

The LORD honored Enoch’s faith, by translating him; He honored Joseph’s faith by making him a ruler in Egypt; He honored Moses’ faith by leading the children of Israel out of Egypt; and many more in the Old Testament.  The LORD honored Peter’s faith when he walked on the water with the LORD;  He honored John’s faith by giving him the letters of the revelation and the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  God will honor the faith of all who will give their all to the Lord Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION –
i.  Take a purposeful stand for God and all that is godly and righteous in the world, even if no one else does.
ii.  Take a purposeful stand and trust the LORD for the good favor of others.
iii.  Take a purposeful stand all the time on your convictions; and stand when they are being attacked as well.
iv.  When we take that purposeful stand trust that the LORD will reward the faith of the faithful – I suppose that is what Paul; inspired by God; meant when he wrote, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Prophecy Of Our Lord’s Birth

The following is an outline of a sermon I preached in December of 2006, and posted at Wings As Eagles on December 11, 2006.  I repost it here for this season of remembering His birth.

THE BIRTH FORETOLD

Isaiah 7:1-14

OUTLINE –

I. JUDAH/JERUSALEM WAS UNDER SEIGE, AND GREAT THREAT FROM THE SYRIANS WITH SUPPORT FROM EPHRAIM/ISRAEL (vv. 1-2)

II. GOD SENT ISAIAH TO AHAZ, THE GRANDSON OF UZZIAH TO COMFORT AND ENCOURAGE HIM CONCERNING THE TERRORISM AT THEIR GATES (vv. 3-7).

III. GOD’S WORDS CONCERNING THOSE WHO RISE UP AGAINST THE RIGHTEOUS REMNANT (vv. 8-9).

IV. GOD GIVES A SIGN, DESPITE THE ARROGANCE AND UNWILLINGNESS TO OBEY FROM AHAZ; OF THE GOD-MAN WHO WOULD COME BY WAY OF A VIRGIN (vv. 10-16).

INTRODUCTION –

I. Living In An Affluent Society As We Do; We Often Do Not Realize The Fears and Battles Which Others In the World Are Going Through; Yet, There Are Many In Our Own Country Which Suffer Due To Hideous Things, Threats, Sickness, and Other Things.

II. Some People Are Asking “Why Doesn’t God Intervene?”, and The Answer To That Is; He Has and Presently Is.

III. The Word Of God Gives Us The Way Of Life and the Way Of Faith, Comfort, Encouragement, and We All Need It In Our Lives.

IV. God Came Down and Dwelt Among Us, and He Is Still With Us.

Even though this is the Christmas season; the season, the time of the year when we remember our Lord’s birth. Those who are not suffering from delusion will readily admit that these are not pleasant times, but let’s not be disheartened, discouraged or downheartedd. Remember, Jesus, the one whose birth we celebrate is Lord over all.

Christmas is about God. It is about God sending His Son, born of a virgin, born to die for the sins of the world.

I. THESE MAY BE DAYS OF SEIGE FROM THE ENEMY AND DARK FORCES FROM EVERY SIDE, AND THESE CAN CAUSE GREAT FEAR (vv. 1-2).

A. Ahaz was surrounded by the trouble of his Sister Nation, and the Syrians, so we may be as well, surrounded by an enemy who is set to destroy us and our testimony for Christ.

B. When we are not right with God we will be fearful; if we are right with God, having our sins confessed and obeying His call and direction for our lives, then, we need not fear, nor will we be fearful.

Someone once said, “If we fear God; we need fear nothing else”.

II. GOD HAS SENT HIS MESSENGER TO GIVE US COMFORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT FOR FACING THE ENEMY WHICH TRIES SO HARD TO DETRACT US AND GET US AWAY FROM GOD AND HIS PLAN FOR OUR LIVES (vv. 3-7).

A. Every time we are afraid God sends a messenger by way of the Holy Spirit; the message is found in God’s Word.

B. God’s messenger will speak a relevant message for the time and place.

1. Notice, that God sent ‘Shearjashub’ with Isaiah as a message of comfort – his name means, “A remnant shall return”.

2. The land of Judah would not be forgotten by God – that promise is true of all those who are in the faith of the Lord Jesus.

C. The greatest messenger of all is God’s Son Jesus Christ.

The Psalmist has written, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” (Ps. 56:3). And, in verse eleven he wrote, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”

D. Be assured; the enemy of our peace shall not prevail – Jesus Christ won the victory.

1. These “Smoking firebrands” may be hot, but they are going to burn out and burn up, and be nothing but ash.

III. GOD’S WORD IS HERE FOR OUR INSTRUCTION, REBUKE, CORRECTION, INSPIRATION, AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH TO MATURITY IN JESUS CHRIST (vv. 8-9).

A. God is in control of the matters of our lives; so let’s not let our troubles detract us from the will of God.

B. God’s Word is the means by which we can resist the lies, snares, pits, and deceit of the enemy.

1. The Word of God, with the Spirit of God gets us to the place God wants us when we hear and obey.

2. By the Word of God we know the afflictions are often, if not always, for our benefit.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word” (Ps. 119:67).

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes” (Ps. 119:71).

C. Those who will not take heed to God and His Word will certainly be without help (v. 9b).

IV. FOR US GOD HAS GIVEN US THE SIGN OF THE GOD-MAN WHO WAS BORN OF A VIRGIN IN THE STABLE OF BETHLEHEM (vv. 10 – 16).

A. Like Ahaz, some do not want a sign from God, because it would humble them, and cause them to realize their weaknesses, and God’s strength.

B. Despite the unwillingness of some to request a sign, God has given us one anyway.

1. That sign is the birth of the God-man Jesus Christ to the virgin mother who was willing to risk her reputation, and future marriage, and possibly her own life, to bring the Son of God to earth to pay the price for the sins of mankind, and redeem us unto God.

2. That sign, even now, causes controversy in the hearts of many who profess Christ as their Savior.

C. The unwillingness does not negate the fact, though, it strengthens it.

1. He was born of the woman – a virgin – who had no seed.

2. He could not have had a human father, the sinful seed comes from the man.

3. He was born of the seed of God, thus, having no sin, and fully qualified to die for mankind’s sin and bring reconciliation between God and mankind.

D. This prophecy was fulfilled in the following verses,

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS” Matthew 1:18-25

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7.

SUMMARY –

I. LOOK TO THE MESSENGER OF GOD’S WORD – AS JEREMIAH SAID, ‘THERE IS A WORD FROM THE LORD”.

II. LOOK TO THE SIGN WHICH HAS BEEN GIVEN US – THE SIGN OF HIS VIRGIN BIRTH AND THE SIGN OF HIS CROSS.

III. TRUST GOD’S WORD WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD TO GUIDE YOU, SECURE YOU, GIVE YOU PEACE IN THE MIDST OF ATTACKS AND AFFLICTION.

IV. THERE ARE ACTUALLY THREE SIGNS GOD HAS GIVEN US FOR ASSURANCE AND PEACE – 1) THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST; 2) CHRIST’S DEATH ON THE CROSS; 3) AND THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD.

V. CAN YOU TRUST SUCH A ONE AS THIS JESUS? DEFFINITELY.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Five Qualities Of The Believer’s Hope

Five Qualities Of The Believer’s Hope

1 John 2:28 – 3:3

It needs to be understood at the beginning of this message that none are perfect nor can we be perfect in this life.  Our Lord is working in us toward perfection when we shall see Him face to face.  However, we must, by the Holy Spirit within us who know personally the Lord Jesus as Lord and Savior have Christ as the central being of our lives.

As a Christian we have new hope and desires; the first of which is seeing  Him one day; and seeing Him face to face.  We also desire to one day be like Him, and as verse three of chapter 3 tells us; “We shall see Him as He is”.  What a glorious day that will be.

In this message we will look at FIVE QUALITIES OF THE BELIEVER’S HOPE.

I.  A LONGING FOR – A DESIRING FOR THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST (v. 2:28).

A.  A longing for the appearing will motivate the believer to “abide in Him”.

1. It is like the  branch abides in the vine (John 15:1-11).
2. It is similar to your home – the place you live.

a.  You may leave it to go to work, on vacation, etc., but you know there is no place like home – you return.

b.  It is the place where you receive nourishment, and love.

B.  This abiding ‘in Him’ keeps us from being ashamed when he returns.

1. When we ‘abide in Him’ we keep His commandments;
2. When we ‘abide in Him’ we have the anointing –

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”  1 John 2:20 (KJV)

II.  KNOWING JESUS IS RIGHTEOUS – THOSE BORN OF HIM PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 2:29).

A.  Jesus is righteous – He is Deity [God].

1. He is righteous as the Christ;
2. He is righteous as the sin-bearer;
3. He is righteous as the resurrected One.

B.  Those who do righteousness are born of Him.

1. Doing what is right in one’s life;
2. Doing what is right according to God’s law;
3. Doing what is right to others.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  Matthew 7:12 (KJV)

III.  ENAMORED, AWED, AND STRENGTHENED BY HIS GLORIOUS SALVATION (v. 3:1).

A.  Nothing in this world is comparable to the love of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:35-39 (KJV)

1. Love ‘bestowed upon us’ by our benevolent, loving Father through His precious loving Son.
2. John seems to be awe-struck with the thought Himself.

B.  Love so great we are called ‘the sons of God’.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  John 1:12-13 (KJV)

C.  The ‘Inhabiters of earth’ are so enamored with the world, they miss God.

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

“And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”  Revelation 6:10 (KJV)

“And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!”  Revelation 8:13 (KJV)

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

“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”  Revelation 12:12 (KJV)

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
“And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”
” And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.”  Revelation 13:8, 12, 14 (KJV)

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people…”  Revelation 14:6 (KJV)

“The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”  Revelation 17:8 (KJV)

IV.  EXPECTANT OF BEING CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST – NOT CHRIST, BUT LIKE HIM (v. 3:2).

A.  In moral character.

1. Not Christ, not deity, but of His character and love for the Father and one another.

B.  Now the ‘Sons of God’.

1. That means living like ’sons of God’ – Kings and priests.
2. Living right in the present time unto the day of His appearing.

C.  We will see Jesus as He is.

V.  KEEPING THEMSELVES READY FOR HIS APPEARING (v. 3:3).

A.  The hope and promise of His appearing is the greatest hope of mankind.

1. His appearing otherwise known as Second Coming is a grand promise of change according to the Scriptures;
2. It will mean the change in ge0logy (Zechariah 14), environment, government and most of all in the hearts and lives of mankind;
3. It will also means change in the animals of the earth as well.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”  Isaiah 11:6-9 (KJV)

B.  Those who are prepared for His coming will be keeping themselves ready.

1. The presence and  gift of His Spirit within directs us to preparation.
2. There is a place being prepared for the prepared.
3. We must fight the good fight – there is a war going on daily in our lives.

“1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  John 14:1-3 (KJV)

“7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”  2 Timothy 4:7-8 (KJV)

C.  Let’s keep ourselves pure – as much as Christ is in us.

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”
2 Corinthians 7:1 (KJV)

1. Because of Jesus’s wonderful gift;
2. Because of these precious promises;
3. Because we are the ’sons of God’.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Full Joy

Full Joy

1 John 1:1-4

OUTLINE –
I.  THAT WHICH WAS FROM THE BEGINNING (v. 1).
II.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE HEARD (v. 1).
III.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE SEEN  (v. 1).
IV.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE HANDLED (vv. 1-3).
V.  WRITTEN THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL (v. 4).

The time of John’s  epistle was probably at or near the beginning of the influences of the Gnostics who appeared to have a “deeper understanding” of God and spiritual things.  At least they thought they did.  Their “deeper understanding” even exceeded that of the prophets and apostles; so they stressed.
These Gnostics, however, equated the physical as being evil, and God as good, thus God and evil, ie., the physical were not compatible; thus, God could not dwell in the flesh.  This denied the physical body of Jesus.
John does not deal directly with this by naming, however, he does approach it from his own experiences with Jesus and by the Holy Spirit.  The apostle is one who gives us quite clearly, in John’s gospel, that Jesus is God incarnate (John 1:1, 14).
John deals with the evil gnostics by calling the churches to remember the things written, and other, concerning the Christ called Jesus:

I.  THAT WHICH WAS FROM THE BEGINNING (v. 1).
A.  In the beginning God created… (Genesis 1:1).
B.  In the beginning was the Word… (John 1:1).
C.  …And the Word was made flesh… (John 1:14).

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”  Gen 1:1 (KJV)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  John 1:1 (KJV)
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14 (KJV)

II.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE HEARD (vv. 1, 3).
A.  His sheep “hear His voice” (John 10:3).

  1. His sheep know His voice (10:4).
  2. His sheep follow Him (10:4).

B.  His sheep will not follow a stranger (10:5).

  1. They “know not the voice of strangers” (10:5).

C.  He knows those who know His voice (10:27).

  1. They follow Him (10:27-28).
  2. No one is able to pluck them from the Father’s hand (10:29).

D.  Those who love Him hear and keep His words (John 14:21-24).

“3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”  John 10:3-5 (KJV)

“27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”  John 10:27-29 (KJV)

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”  John 14:21-24 (KJV)

III.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE SEEN (v. 1).
A.  Jesus knowing Nathanael before meeting Him (John 1:43-51).
B.  Jesus cleansing the temple (John 2:13-17;  Matthew 21:12-13;  Mark 11:15-19) two times.
C.  Calming storms on the sea; as well as Peter walking on the water (Matthew 8:23-27; 14:22-33).
D.  Jesus turning water into wine (John 2:1-11).
E.  Jesus feeding thousands (John 6:5-14).
F.  Jesus gives them transportation (John 6:16-21).

“And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, 17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. 18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. 19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. 21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.”  John 6:16-21 (KJV)

IV.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE HANDLED (vv. 1-3).
A.  John could have Thomas’ experience in mind (John 20:24-29).
B.  Peter’s experience of walking on the water, beginning to sink, and the Lord taking his hand (Matthew 14:31).
C.  The woman with the impurity for 12 years reached out and touched [handled] His garment (Mark 5:25-34).
D.  Holding fast the faithful Word… Word of life (Titus 1:9;  Philippians 2:16).

“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”  Matthew 14:31 (KJV)

“Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”  Titus 1:9 (KJV)
“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”  Philippians 2:16 (KJV)

V.  THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL (v. 4).
A.  Real Joy is only with the Father.

  1. Joy which no one takes from you (John 16:22).
  2. Joy which is full [complete] (John 16:24).

B.  According to Nehemiah  “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
C.  Found only in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross (John 6:29).
D.  Freedom is related to Joy; Joy is related to freedom – Freedom’s Joy is through Jesus Christ (John 8:36).
E.  Full Joy comes when we see God and His Son Jesus for who they fully are.

“And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”  John 16:22 (KJV)
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”  John 16:24 (KJV)
“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”  John 6:29 (KJV)
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  John 8:36 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Will You Hear???

It would seem that people are looking for information. Information is available in about any form which you want. It is available online, on television, on radio, in movies or documentaries; and various other ways; even across the neighborhood fence.

Many people will listen to just about any form of info which they can find or hear. When it comes to spiritual information, and the matter of the truth they want their own form of the truth; even if it has no foundation. That is many people do. Thankfully not all.

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day he preached, and proclaimed the word of the LORD; and some listened; or seemed to listen, but then would do nothing with what they heard.

“To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.” Jeremiah 6:10 (KJV)

The prophet had been given a message to deliver to the people of Judah concerning repentance, faith, and hearing the Word of the LORD, and they had no respect for God or His Word. It was a “reproach” to them. According to the MERRIAM/WEBSTER Dictionary -Reproach means “1. a cause or occasion to blame or disgrace 2. DISGRACE, DISCREDIT 3 the act of reproaching; rebuke” In short for the prophet to say “the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach” was that they were ashamed of it; they had no respect for God or His Word.

Of all the sources of info we have today the Word of God is neglected by the majority, and rejected by them. Their rejection does not negate the fact of the truth. The truth is all that God has said will come to pass. Much of it has. All of it will. And of what then, will you be ashamed? Who will you hear today?

-Tim A. Blankenship

2 Peter 3:1-18

The Second Coming Of Jesus – A Certain Event

In second Peter we see Peter writing to encourage and motivate the followers of Christ – Christians – toward developing a Christ like character (chapter 1);  We see then Peter warns of the dangers, and deception of false teachers and their demise (chapter 2); and in chapter three we see that he gives us some reasons for what seems as delay of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

The first reason Peter gives seems to be that there will be scoffers.  Scoffers speak of the delay as evidence that the Lord is not coming.  Some of these scoffers are those who improvise there teaching to fit with the delay they envision.

2 Peter 1-10

THE STIRRING OF THE PROPHET’S AND APOSTLES WRITINGS (vv. 1-2).  I mentioned a few weeks ago in a sermon at Carr Lane Baptist Church that this “stirring” is similar to taking a pot of soup which needs stirred up to bring all the settled foods into balance with the rest of the ingredients.  When you do that to a bowl of stew or soup you have a much better soup for your bowl.

This is somewhat similar to what Peter is stirring up for the followers of Jesus when he writes of stirring.  There are many people, pastors and preachers who are getting away from the teachings of the prophets, prophecy, and the coming of the Lord teachings.  Peter was stirring it up reminding us of His soon appearing.  Are we failing our Lord and His calling in our lives if we shun to proclaim the prophecy of Scripture of the second coming of Jesus.  Is it relevant for our day?  Most certainly it is.  Peter considered it relevant.

We should shun the words of the scoffers who will proclaim to us that “the second coming is when someone gets saved”; or ” the second coming is when a believer dies and Jesus comes to escort them home”; or “the second coming is only a spiritual metaphor for the church overcoming the world”.  Anyway you get the idea.  The second coming is in fact the bodily appearance of Jesus coming back with His saints, to Jerusalem, and setting up His kingdom;  ruling and reigning on earth as King of kings, and Lord of lords.

THERE WILL BE THOSE WHO SCOFF AT THE PROMISE (vv. 3-7).  Some scoffers are just out and out haters of the second coming idea.  “It’s been said and taught for two thousand years.  If it was going to happen it would have happened by now” is the thoughts and idea of many an unbeliever.  Is that form of “scoffing any different that that the professing Christian may use when teaching the ideas presented in the above paragraph?  The above Ideas only present a “christianized” thought of the scoffers.

“Where is the promise of His coming?”  The promise is sure.  It is my conviction, and one backed up by Scripture that just as surely as the first coming of Jesus was fulfilled and happened just as promised; so too will the second coming of Jesus be fulfilled just as promised.  Just as Jesus came the first time born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), and is recorded in the New Testament as being fulfilled (Matthew 1:18-2:23); He will return with His saints to Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-5), and reign on the earth.  It will happen in God’s good timing and fulfill His purposes and glory; not ours.

Just as Noah; while he was building the ark (Genesis 6:9-22); was preaching and warning of coming judgment by the flood.  The many prophets warning Israel of God’s wrath upon sin should they refuse to turn from sin would surely come.  So will the coming destruction by fire come about in God’s timing and for His glory.  The world, the earth is being “Kept in store” for that great day, then the world “Will know that I am the LORD”, says our God.

THE LORD IS NOT SLACK IN HIS PROMISE AND CALLS FOR REPENTANCE (vv. 8-9).  One thing we need to realize is that God is not delaying the return of His Son.  He is not slack concerning His promise, the promise of Jesus “I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” (John 14:3) will be fulfilled just as He has promised.

God says “It will come”  it is assured us, so we best be calling many to repentance and faith in Christ.  This idea that is being presented by the Oprahites that God is in all people, we make our own destiny, life and such is a lie from hell.  The only way to life, and life eternal is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I guess you could say that another reason for the seeming delay is God’s “longsuffering” or patience.  He is waiting for that moment in time when that final individual will be saved completing the Church.  We do not know what day that will be, but we can know that it will be one great triumphant day.  When it happens the events which take place in this world will be horrific, for those who are “earth dwellers”; loving the world and all that is in it.  He is giving all who live and breath today a chance to repent, and be saved.  He is not required to and does only because of His grace and mercy.  All are in His hands of justice, righteousness, and holiness.

THE THIEF AND THE “DAY OF THE LORD”.  “The day of the Lord” will be a day that will make the flood appear as a small and forgetful thing in comparison.  It will be a day when the world will know that God is the LORD of all the earth and of all creation.  The evolutionist will be in awe, and in their pride, unless they repent and believe, will be stricken and die in their rebellion.

We must remember, be reminded, that “the day of the Lord” is not restricted to a twenty four hour period but is  most likely a time of judgment, and is probably equivalent to about 7 years.  What ever length of time; whether it be 3.5 years or less; it will be sufficient time to rid the world of the leadership of Satan, his followers, and all evil.

The thief will come when no one is suspecting it.  The thief will come when the lights are out most times.  He/she may come when you are asleep.  There are many sleeping today, unaware and unprepared for the coming of Jesus Christ.  I have even heard some young believers say things like, “I don’t want Jesus to come yet.  I want to have children and watch them grow up”.  I am afraid that some with attitude either don’t know what they are saying, or don’t love the “appearing of our Lord”.  Nothing can take the place of the coming of the Lord

Getting Ready/Being Ready For The Second Coming

In this final part of chapter two we see the need for preparing, being ready for when the Lord returns.  Some accuse those of us who will teach and preach the second coming of Jesus as being relevant for the times.  There could actually be nothing more relevant than getting people prepared for when Jesus comes again.  The world is full of troubles and strife.  People need to know Jesus; the end of troubles and strife for the world.  He changes hearts and lives, strengthens us for the troubles we face on earth, and prepares us for eternity.

2 Peter 3:11-18)

KEEP LOOKING FOR THE NEW (vv. 11-13).  In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new”.  Verse 10 above speaks of “elements melting with fervent heat” and things “dissolving”.  That is the purpose of making all things new.

Individuals do not need to wait until the cosmos is changed.  You and I can be changed by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ by our faith in Him, today.  Yes!  We look for that day when all things are made new in this world.  However, when we have been made new through our faith in Jesus Christ the world takes on a different hue in our view anyway.  We are changed.  We are made new, then one day when Jesus comes again the world, the cosmos will also be changed and made new.

Note Peters question which is also a very clear statement as well.  “What manner of persons ought ye to be…?  This is Peter’s words for getting our lives on the “straight and narrow” and keeping them in the way; being prepared for the coming of Christ.  Living so that others may see Him living within for His glory.  The new heavens and new earth will be a place where there will be nothing but righteousness.

MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO BE AT PEACE WITH GOD (vv. 14-16).  God has made the way for us to be at peace with Him.  “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Romans 5:1).  Our justification comes from God through the cross.  He has made us just.  Being just we have peace with God.  Nothing takes that justness or peace away, however, when we get away from daily committing ourselves to God in His Word, and prayer we stand to lose the peace of mind that only He gives.

Keep in the peace that He gives by daily committing to the reading and study of His Word.  Spend time in prayer, praising and adoring the One who died for your sins and His Father.  “The peace of God which passes understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)

Be at peace with the Word of God.  When you twist it as those Peter writes about you cannot have peace with God.  They and you twist it to your own destruction.  The sad part about it is that others may follow your teaching and twisting.  Any teaching that takes away from Jesus and glorifies man or his teaching is from hell.

STAND AGAINST ERROR (v. 17).  There are many false teachers in the world today.  Some of those profess Jesus Christ with their lips, but their lives and teaching show something completely different.  Professing Jesus Christ these will give credibility to other beliefs for the access of heaven and God.  Do they understand the atonement of Jesus Christ; His death, burial and resurrection?  It really doesn’t seem likely that they do.  They teach error, and those who fall for their lies will find themselves in hell on judgment day.

Those who teach anything other than Christ Jesus and Him crucified are deceiving the people.  I mean this in the matter of salvation.  Any who teach or preach apart from the Scriptures/the Bible are out of God’s will and not worthy of being heard.

THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF HIM FOR HIS GLORY (v. 18).  It was the hearts desire for Peter that the followers of Jesus Christ grow in grace and knowledge of Him.  When a baby is born we expect that baby to mature and grow.  I have heard parents or some grandparents say things so silly sometimes like, “It’s too bad that they grow up”.  They really don’t mean it; not if they stop to really think about what they said.  A healthy baby will grow, and mature into an adult; and that is as it should be.

Peter, nor any pastor who is worth their salt, wants those who come to faith in Christ desire for them to stay an “infant” of faith.  That is the reason for preaching and teaching.  To motivate, encourage, feed, strengthen, and guide them into the proper food and eating for the life they live and for what is ahead for their lives.

The Lord’s “tarrying” in His coming is for our growth, and knowledge as well.  He knows the right time, and I believe that time is set, and has been for all time and eternity.  He knows the time, the day and the hour.  Our task in life is to preach, teach, learn, grow, and be prepared, be ready; for the coming of the Lord is nearer than when we first believed.

The time and day will come, and He will come fulfilling  His promise.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are sermon study notes I will be preaching at Carr Lane Baptist Church on Sunday October 18, 2009 morning and evening services.

Grace At Work

Ephesians 4:7-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Abundant Family of God

Ephesians 3:14-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God said through Zechariah the prophet;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Divine Architect

Ephesians 2:18-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hear what God says of this cornerstone:

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

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

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

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

Hear what the apostle Peter has written:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Who We Are, and Our Blessings In Christ

Ephesians 1:1-5

Purpose of this study:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Heavenly Vision

The Heavenly Vision

Acts 26:19-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ Jesus there is also a wonderful inheritance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obedience to the heavenly vision will give us five things:

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Confronting The Culture

Confronting The Culture
Acts 17:15-34

The apostle Paul has been to Thessalonica, and forced to leave there due to those who were trying to kill him, basically the Jewish people, as he taught them in their synagogue.  He then goes to Berea, and the Jews of Berea are much more “noble” because they search the Scriptures to see if what Paul is teachiing them is true.  In Berea, though, Jews from Thessalonica come to bring ill to Paul, and the message of the Gospel.

The apostle is then forced to leave Berea, sent to Athens, and there he discovers a mission field ripe for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE CITY OF ATHENS IS WHOLLY GIVEN TO IDOLATRY (vv. 15-16).  The world in which Christians live today is much like Athens of Paul’s day.  The United States itself, is made up of many religions.  Though it was originally built upon Judeo/Christian principles taken from the Bible there are many parts of the culture who want nothing to do with Christ, Christianity, and some do not even want God in the picture of their lives, or this country.

We have already had prayer removed from our Public Schools, and in order for “unity” which is basically “uniformity” we must not pray in public meetings, as Christians, in the name of “Jesus” any longer; we might offend someone.  It is best in those situations not to mention the cross or resurrection of Jesus Christ.  However, it is okay for the muslim to pray and use the name of Allah, the moon god, one name of many gods which Mohammed originally worshipped.  It is okay for the Buddhist to mention Buddha, and all the religions can mention their deity.

Idolatry permeates our land.  It begins with the god of Greed.  Greed rules through the hearts of men and women of all ages, and in business galore.  If more wealth is all that is in your heart and life, then you are certainly full of the god “Greed”.  He controls your thoughts, your heart to the point that your family is neglected, and most of all, God is out of the picture.  For some Science is the answer to all our ills, and the drive of some to conquer space and inner space.  Technology is also the answer for getting further into outer space, searching the galaxies, stars and planets for other life.  It also seems to be the answer to greater mobilization, and better sources of knowledge (science).

Mankind himself has become a god of sorts.  It is after all our knowledge that has made such strides in medicine, science and technology, and gains of great wealth.  It is us who has done it.  Arrogance, pride, and rebellion against holy God is what that is and it will not stand forever.

As Christians we must shun falling prey the lies of the false prophets and teachers who tell us that we are our own source of prosperity, health, technology and science.  The culture may be wholly given to idolatry, however, as Christians we have the message that can change the world, and that message is the gospel of Jesus Christ; that He died for our sins, according to Scripture; and that He was buried; and the the third day rose from the grave bodily and was witnessed by more than five hundred witnesses; and that all who will come humbly before Him confessing their sin, repenting, and calling on His name shall be saved – receiving eternal life with Him.  Anything short of Jesus Christ is pure idolatry.

THE APOSTLE’S DISPUTATIONS WITH THE JEWS AND GENTILES (vv. 17-18).  Even in Athens Paul goes to the synagogue.  He wants his brethren “according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-5) to come to faith in Christ.  He longs for them to repent and believe.

It is quite evident by the apostle’s preaching and teaching that the gospel is meant for all who will hear it and believe.  We may curse the fact that our country [the United States of America] is being filled with people from other parts of the world.  It shows me that others are desperately wanting to come to a nation which is free from tyranny, free from communism, and free from a state religion which tells its people how to live their lives, how to dress, and kills them, or takes their property when they convert to Christianity [so far].

We should be thankful for the numbers who are coming to America seeking these things.  The greatest gift the United States has to give these people is the message of Jesus Christ, and the freedom from sin and its condemnation.

A NEW DOCTRINE NEEDED A NEW HEARING (vv. 19-21).  The people of Athens were curious about this new doctrine of a crucified, buried, and resurrected man.  The Athenians were debaters, disputers, and philosophers.  They enjoyed hearing new things, then disputing them with the promoters of that teaching.

We live in a time when people are moved by debate, apologetics, and arguments.  Everyone has an opinion, and no one’s opinion is better than any other, except the ones you agree with.  That is the philosophies of men.  However, the message of the apostle Paul, and any messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not debatable, because it is the truth.  Others may dispute it, despise it, disdain it; but that doesn’t affect that it is still the truth.

It is surprising and almost shocking to realize that there are still people, even in the United States of America who have not heard of the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I found that out a few years ago while I was attending Boyce Bible School in Louisville, Kentucky.  While working part time at a Townhouse, and Condominium living area as a gardener the chief gardener ask what Baptists believed and I told him the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His response was, “I have never heard that before”.  He told me that he was Catholic, so I understood.  It still surprised me to know that there were people in the USA who had never heard the true message of Jesus.

With the many beliefs in our nation today, there are probably many more who have never heard, but would be curious, should they ever hear even a smidgen of the truth.

THE MESSAGE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL (vv. 22-31).  With the many idols which Paul saw in Athens he marvelled that there was a place [an altar] “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD”.  It is as though, they had erected an altar to all the gods/idols they could imagine, or think of; and just in case they might have missed one who might happen to be the one true God; they erect an altar to Him.

These were a very religious people.  The KJV says “superstitious” which fits as well.  When people are unsure of a deity or deities, they will be very superstitious.  That is when you have them going to horoscopes, reading tea leaves, turning to nature worship [pantheism], black arts (such as witchcraft), and old nature religions (including druidism); the worship, or dependence upon any image of man is idol worship; the worship of any of God’s creation is also idolatry.  Paul likens such worship as the “worship of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:20-21).

Paul did not present it so bluntly, nor did he even mention the worship of demons to them, but he  did make it quite plain that there was only one God who was worthy of worship, and by whom He will judge,” by that man whom he hath ordained” (v. 31) ,and His name is Jesus Christ.  He is the resurrected One, and He ever lives and is seated at the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3, 13: 8:1; 10:12: 12:2;  1 Peter 3:22).

A DIVIDED CROWD WITH A DIVIDED RESPONSE (vv. 32-34).  When the gospel of Jesus Christ, ie.; the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins, His burial – carrying our sins away never to be judged  by them again once they have been confessed and there has been repentance, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the grave, appearing to over 500 witnesses during the forty days before He ascended into heaven; is preached there will continue to be various responses.  There was in Paul’s day; there is in our day.

In the 17th chapter of Acts we can see varied responses to the gospel as Paul went and preached in the synagogues and other places.  Many of the Jewish leaders resisted the gospel, the Word of God (vv. 1-9); Some of them heard and believed including  Jews and Gentiles (vv. 10, 15); Then, in these verses there were those who ridiculed the gospel of Christ Jesus, and some of these believed it.

In this message Paul told the people of Athens of the “Greatness of God” – He is Creator (vv. 24-25).  He tells them of the “Goodness of God” – He is Provider (vv. 25b-26).  The apostle tells them of the “Government of God” – He is Sovereign (vv. 27-31a).  He does not end with that, however, and concludes telling them of the “Grace of God” – He is Savior (v. 31b)

The opinions and philosophies of men are just that opinions and philosophies, which have no power, little lone saving power.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is the “power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes” (Romans 1:16).  It is the position of the man and woman of God to preach the gospel, to proclaim the gospel; it is the power of God to save people through the gospel.  We have no power to save, only God does.

Some of these in Athens heard Paul and rejected the message, and some said, “We will hear you again on this matter”; and others received it and followed Paul.

The important thing is what will you do with the message of the gospel.  If you hear it and believe, and call on the name of the Lord Jesus for salvation, you can be saved.  If you reject it, and die you will go to eternal judgment.  The choice is yours when you have heard the word of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Slain By The Spirit

Acts 5:1-11

There had been a great generous spirit within the early church which supported the people and the work of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Some may in fact have given out of jealousy and envy; like the ones we see in chapter 5 (4:32-37).

TWO IN THE CHURCH SOLD A POSSESSION OF LAND, THEN LIED ABOUT THE AMOUNT (Acts 5:1-2).  There was no pressure for anyone to give.  Barnabas one who sold all he had and gave to the Church was blessed by the Lord for doing so, but that was not his reason for giving.  I am sure he had a pure motive, which would and did glorify God.

The only pressure which Ananias and Sapphira experienced was the pressure of envy, or jealousy.  These two things can bring ruin into a life and a church.  It can also be the ruin of many a family, a business, a city, or any other government.  The attitude of these two was probably “Keeping up with the Joneses” as is the problem with people of two thousand and eight.

This couple had saw an opportunity to express themselves, receive a few accolades from the others, and keep back part of the proceeds from the sale for themselves; maybe put it back for gaining interests, or a rough, rainy period or something like that.  There was nothing wrong with the only giving a portion of the proceeds to the church; what was wrong was their deceit in the giving, and declaring that they were giving it all to the church; when they did not.  They, Ananias first, lied to the Spirit of God.

SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT THROUGH THE APOSTLE PETER CONFRONTS THE SINNING ANANIAS (vv. 3-4).  Spiritual discernment is greatly needed in our postmodern era.  We have lying teachers and “prophets” and I use the term “prophets” loosely.  These are ‘prophets’ of doom in the future, leading people into the fires of eternal torment.

We are not told what gave Peter a clue to the lie.  It was by the Spirit  of God definitely, however, there are sometimes clues people give to telling lies, if we have the discernment to make that determination.  Have you ever been told, “You’re not even a good liar”?  That is really a compliment.  That would be something someone says to you after you have made a statement in jest, or “Pulling the leg” as I have often heard said.  I am not questioning whether the Spirit of God was the discerner of the eventful lies, but wondering what Ananias did that gave Peter a heads up.

It would seem that Peter is wondering how a man can lie to God, and think that God would not know.  One thing is for certain, we see that the Spirit of God is upon and within Peter and all the apostles through this event.

Every Christian is to use the gift of discernment.  We can discern whether a word is from God.  We can discern whether the words a man or woman speaks is from God or the contents of their own thoughts and heart.  We can discern whether seeming miraculous events are of God or manipulations of things, thoughts, and torments of men.  We must practice spending time with God in His written Word, in prayer and when God leads in fasting.  We must also practice the principles of godliness, holiness, righteousness in life.  When one is saved these things become the desires of our hearts.

Spiritual discernment does no good if it does not confront that which is wrong and evil.  That is what Peter did on this day which would change the Church for years to come.  What if Peter, even though the Spirit had revealed this sin of Ananias to him, would have overlooked the sin, received the gift, and never said a word to Ananias?  Don’t you love “What ifs”?  Peter did confront it.  He didn’t have any other choice before God.  It was not Peter who struck him down.  It was in fact the power of the Spirit of God.

UPON HEARING HIS SECRET WAS OUT, REVEALED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, ANANIAS DIES A SPEEDY DEATH IS CARRIED AWAY AND BURIED (vv. 5-6).  Something we might very well consider at this point is that the Church being new, had much to learn, concerning sin in their lives.  Lying is not good, and never is when you lie to God.  There are other times in the Bible where God judges immediately due to sinful behavior.  Take these for example:  the sons of Aaron – Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3); then you have Ahio escorting the Ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem who was slain on the spot for touching the Ark (2 Samuel 6:1-10).  Both of these events were the beginning of a new era; a new time of hope.  During those times God’s people still must learn to remember that you cannot violate the holiness or the law of God.  The message concerning Ananias and Sapphira is the same.  Just because we are in the New Testament does not negate God’s wrath upon disobedience to His Law, nor His holiness.

THE CONSPIRIACY OF THE LIE IN SAPPHIRA IS DISCOVERED AND JUDGED (vv. 7-10).  There was a deliberate act to deceive.  There was a conspiracy between a husband and wife, and that conspiracy was against God.  Who would dare conspire against God?  A hypocrite.  Do you think that God does not know your heart and mind?  He knows, O, man the very hairs of your head.  He knows, O, woman every thought that you think no one else knows.  God knows.

This is clearly a planned act to deceive.  It is clearly a planned act to lie and conspire against the Church, the apostles, and especially against God.  I wonder how far they really thought they would get with this “little lie”.  Who will it hurt if we keep part of it for ourselves?  Will it hurt anyone?  Yes!  It will hurt someone.  It will, first of all, hurt the liar.  It will hurt their fellowship with God, with the church family, it will hurt the ministry of the church, and repercussions will go on and on.  God will judge sin.  As Moses has written, “Be sure your sin will find you out”

AN EARLY JUDGMENT IN THE CHURCH LETS US KNOW THAT GOD WILL STILL JUDGE SIN (v. 11).  It is written elsewhere is the New Testament, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31), and “For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29).

Those who can read the New Testament and come away with the idea of God being only a god of love without wrath, comes away with a false deity who is powerless, and unworthy of worship.  It is in the gospels we learn of His great love and His wrath.  It is through His divine Son Jesus Christ we learn of that love and wrath.

It was Jesus who bore His wrath for our redemption.  He paid the price that should have been ours to pay.  Our paying the price of our sin would have meant eternal torment, eternal separation from the Creator, eternal wrath by His own hands.

These early believers had on display the wrath of God against lying to Him.  Though the two liars thought they were just deceiving the church, they were in fact lying to God, and He took vengeance on them,  and it brought the “fear of God” on the church.  Do churches do themselves, the people who sin, or God any favor by refusing to deal with sinful behavior by those who are members of their church?  It really only continues to invite sinful behavior within the church.  It is a sin for the church, the pastor and congregation not to deal with, and discipline for confession, repentance and restoration of that member.

It is still a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  He is still a consuming fire.   Maybe this early judgment upon members of the church is only unique to remind us of God’s holiness and power; and that we cannot fool Him.  Maybe it should cause us to realize that even if we are His, He will not let us get away with sin.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are study notes for a sermon preached at Carr Lane Baptist Church on October 19, 2008.