Praying and a Safe Church

The following is a quote from E. M. Bounds; from a chapter titled “Praying Men and Personal Purity”;

“Praying men keep the church safe from the materialism that is affecting all its plans and policies, and that is hardening its lifeblood.  By this I mean that the secret and poisonous insinuation circulates, that he church is not so dependent on purely spiritual forces as it used to be–that changed times and changed conditions have brought it out of its spiritual straits and dependencies and put it where other forces can bear it to its climax.”

Men, Pastors, Evangelists, Preachers we ought always to pray, and not faint (Luke 18:1).

-T.A.

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

Preachers; Particularly Baptist Preachers

Be careful not to water down the word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The same blood of Jesus that was shed on His cross, that saved then, still saves today.  The Gospel, nor the Word of God has changed one dot or tittle since the day it was given.

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

-T.A.

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

Psalm of the Creator

Psalm of the Creator

Psalm 104:1-35 (1-23)

Colossians 1:16;  John 1:1-3

I.  THE CREATOR OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH (vv. 1-9; Genesis 1:1-8).

II.  THE CREATOR MEETS THE NEEDS OF HIS CREATURES (vv. 10-18; Genesis 1:11-13).

III.  THE CREATOR PROVIDES THE LIGHTS OF NIGHT AND DAY (vv. 19-23; Genesis 1:14-19).

part 2 –

Psalm of the Creator

Psalm 104:1-35 (24-35);  Genesis 1: 20-31

IV. THE CREATOR MADE THE SEA AND OCEANS OF THE WORLD (vv. 24-26; Genesis 1:20-23).

V.  THE CREATOR CARES FOR HIS CREATION (vv. 27-30;  Genesis 1:24-31).

VI.  PRAISE AND BENEDICTION TO OUR CREATOR (vv. 31-35; Revelation 21:22)

-T.A.

These are sermon points from the sermons preached at Carr Lane Baptist Church on Sunday August 28, 2011.

Limiting God

Limiting God

Psalm 78:41

1.  A maschil of Asaph – a song/poem of instruction.
2.  The people had flattered God with their mouth and lied to Him (v. 36)
3.  Yet the Lord is gracious to them (v. 38).
4.  The people provoke the LORD (v. 40).

 

I.  TURNING BACK FROM THEIR GOD GIVEN DESTINATION – TO EGYPTIAN’S WAYS.

II.  TO TEMPT GOD IS TO DO THE THING YOU KNOW IS CONTRARY TO THE WILL OF GOD.

III.  DOUBTING THE POWER AND ABILITY OF GOD TO PERFORM WHAT HE SAYS HE WILL DO.
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:5
“Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”  Matthew 4:7

IV.  WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL – GOD, CREATOR, SUSTAINER, ALMIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE.

Summary –

i.  We all need the instruction of the word of God in song/Psalms, hymn, and/or the Written Word;
ii.  We tempt God by our lack of obedience and choosing our way rather than His way.
iii.  “‘And limited the Holy One of Israel,’ Doubted his power and so limited him, dictated to his wisdom and so did the same. To chalk out a path for God is arrogant impiety.  The Holy One must do right, the covenant God of Israel must be true, it is profanity itself to say unto him thou shalt do this or that, or otherwise I will not worship thee. Not thus is the Eternal God to be led by a string by his impotent creature. He is the Lord and he will do as seemeth him good.”  From Treasury of David e-Sword edition

-T.A.

These are sermon points of a message preached by Tim A. Blankenship at Carr Lane Baptist Church on 08/21/11 morning worship.

Baptist Friday 070811

The following is yesterday’s e-devotional from Turning Point by Dr. David Jeremiah.

Friends for the Journey

Two are better than one…. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion….
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Recommended Reading
Romans 15: 4-7

In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is blessed with two friends for his journey to the Celestial City: Faithful and Hopeful. At one point in the story, Christian and Hopeful are captured by Giant Despair and locked away in Doubting Castle. The symbolic names give wise counsel. Faith and hope are key companions when we encounter the twin destroyers of doubt and despair–especially in these desperate days of economic catastrophes and natural disasters.

Bunyan’s allegory of the believer’s struggle through life toward heaven poignantly illustrates the difficult journey we face. But the indispensable lesson of faith and hope through Pilgrim’s traveling companions reminds believers of another important truth: We need friends along life’s path to pick us up when we fall, encouraging us to keep on keeping on.

No burden is too great to carry with the heavenly promise of our Lord (John 14:1-2) and encouraging friends who help turn our despair into joy and doubt into a stronger faith and hope. Look around your path today. There is probably someone not too far from you who needs your encouragement.

‘A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.’
Arnold Glasow

-posted by T.A.

Power On Their Lives – Mark 16:15-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Searching in the Fire

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” 1 Peter 1:10-12

The prophets of the Old Testament had spoken and written of this great salvation. Isaiah the eighth century B.C. prophet foretold both the first coming of Jesus in the fifty third chapter of his writings (Isaiah 7:14; 53), and the second coming of Jesus in glory (Isaiah 11). That salvation which was previously mentioned (v. 9) is the salvation which Jesus is working in us, and will complete at His appearing.

By inspiration of the Holy Spirit we see that the prophets inquired and searched diligently into the matter of this glorious salvation. The salvation that was paid for with the blood from the body of God who had become human, that He might die. Did the prophet Isaiah realize he was writing of the death of God become flesh as he penned down Isaiah 53? I have a strange notion that he had a suspicion of it, and this is one of the areas which the prophets searched and inquired.

Some more questions I can think of concerning the search of the apostles: Did they see the types, the shadows, the pictures of their Messiah in the writings of Moses? Did they see Him in the sacrifice God made to clothe Adam and Eve? Did they see Him in the fire that guarded the gate to Eden after the fall? Did they see Him in the genealogy of Seth? What about in the Ark? What about as Abraham went to Moriah to offer Isaac as a burnt offering to God? In the sacrifices of the law of Moses? The sabbaths, and/or the Sabbath? I personally believe many of them did, especially since we are told that they “searched diligently”. A diligent search of Scripture will show us these things.

It seems by looking at verse eleven that they were wondering when these events were going to take place and whom they would be for. We know the answer to this today. He came at the appointed time, to His own people, but was rejected by His own. The person who came was the Messiah/Savior/Lord/God/King to sit on the throne of David for ever and ever.

The prophets wrote of His coming, His suffering and His glory. It is because He came and suffered for us that we have the strength, and power to stand strong and suffer for His name’s sake when we have opportuntity. That is right ‘Opportunity’ is the word I used. If the early church people counted it a joy to suffer for His name (Acts 5:41). The suffering Jesus suffered for us is what He came to do. It was His very purpose in coming. To make it clearer; God sent His Son Jesus to become a man, in order to take on Himself all the sins of mankind, lay His life down as a sacrifice for our sins, be judged by the Father Himself, and the Father pouring all His wrath out on His Son, thus judging sin and putting the judgment away forever, never to be done again; the burial of Jesus takes that sin away never to be seen again, and the bodily resurrection is the seal of approval of the putting away of sin, and God’s seal of approval for the work of His Son. By the resurrection of Jesus we have the assurance of eternal life with Him, when we trust the work He accomplished on the cross.

Now, why shouldn’t we count it an opportunity to suffer for the name of Jesus? Not that I am going to go out looking for someone to kick me around, or boot me out a door. The suffering will be there when the time calls for it. When we do suffer for the name of Jesus we will rejoice that we were counted worthy to do so.

We see a second group that is mentioned in this text. That of “Angels”. It must surprise them that God could love us so much; but then again, maybe it doesn’t surprise them, but amazes them. You know “Amazing Grace”. I am not going to get into a long thing concerning angels, but I will say that they do exist. I mean the Bible says so. Angels came and ministered to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane when He had prayed. He mentions that He could call legions of angels to aid Him, yet, He doesn’t.

The prophets realized that Jesus was not coming in their time, but for another time, and that their writings was going to be used to minister to others. The disciples, apostles, the early church, you and me; and all who know Christ Jesus.

The prophets were successful in their search. The Holy Spirit gave them assurance of the completion of it. How else could Isaiah have peace when he is told that the people he is going to preach to will hear but not obey? The Spirit of God confirmed the message. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of Jesus’s coming (Ephesians 1:13-14). He is the power of wisdom. He is the means of knowledge and understanding. He is the means to a holy lifestyle. He is the one who points us to Christ.

Let us; like the prophets of old continue to give diligent search to know this man named Jesus who is the Christ of God, the Son of God, and who died to save us from sin, and to clothe us in the righteousness of God. Because of Jesus God has declared us Just, by his own righteousness.

-T.A.

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.

A Journey To Rest

Acts 9:26-31

It was at Saul’s feet the stoners of Stephen laid down their garments.  I suppose he was responsible for caring for their clothing while they stoned a man to death.  That sounds so heartless, because it is, and it was, however; at least it seems to have been this event; his hearing the word from Stephen, seeing and hearing his dying testimony; which had an impact on Saul coming to faith.

When Jesus confronts Saul as he is traveling to Damascus to capture, persecute, and jail Christians; Jesus says to Saul, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Acts 9:4-5 (KJV).  His “kick against the pricks” is evidence that before the Lord confronted him he was deeply under the convicting power of the Spirit of God.  Saul met Jesus Christ on that day, and he has been a blessing to Christians, the Church and the world ever since; because of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE CONVERSION OF SAUL, AND THE CHURCHES REACTION (v. 26).  Upon his salvation Saul is led to a man named Ananias, who shows Saul the way he is to go for the Lord.  He is received by the disciples of Damascus.  Saul had spent time in Damascus preaching the gospel.  He was new to it for sure, but he started in faith and kept on faithfully until the day he died by losing his head at the hands of Rome.

The church of Jerusalem was reluctant to receive him into their midst.  He had been their persecutor, he had shown them nothing but hate, and now he’s wanting to come into our fellowship.  Can you understand their doubtful thinking about him?  I can.  He had received orders from the religious establishment of Jerusalem, and it was in Jerusalem where most of the persecution was still going on, and Saul had been the chief persecutor.

The Jerusalem church could not believe that their chief persecutor was now one with them.  The disciples there – not the apostles – were afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple of Jesus now.

It is an awesome thing when one who has been against the church of Jesus Christ is changed and begins to walk, live, serve and glorify our Lord.  Their testimony will be one of glorious change and the glory will belong to Jesus Christ.  The glory will not return upon the professing individual, but go to the Lord.

BARNABAS RECEIVES SAUL, AND ENCOURAGES HIM AND THE CHURCH, AND THEY WALK AND WORK TOGETHER (vv, 27-28).  Barnabas sees the rejection Saul experiences, sees a life who has been changed by the blood of Jesus Christ and takes Saul and makes him his disciple.  The call of the great commission of Jesus Christ is to “Go and make disciples” there are more than twelve disciples; there are only twelve apostles; thirteen counting Saul – who later became Paul.  We are not commanded to “make apostles” but disciples which is a “follower of Jesus Christ”

Known as an “encourager” Barnabas walks along side Saul when no one else will.  He even takes him to see the apostles, and Saul shares with them his testimony of how he met the Lord on the road to Damascus, and they are told of his bold preaching in Damascus.  After his visit with the apostles he is then seen leaving and entering the city with the apostles; they have received him as one of themselves.

The work of an encourager is a great work, and is much needed in the work of Christ and His Church.  We all need someone to come alongside us, to pick us up when we are down on occasions.  There are also occasions where we need to be the encourager, and pick up a friend, family member, church member, or a neighbor who needs to just get things clicking and right between them and the Lord.

SAUL’S PREACHING IN JERUSALEM IS BOLD, AND HE IS RUSHED OUT OF TOWN TO HIS OWN TOWN (vv. 29-30).   Why is it a lot of preachers think they are called to popularity.  Jesus was popular while He did His miracles, but when He got bloody and doctrinal concerning His body and the blood many of “His disciples left Him” (John 6:60-68).  If popularity, or drawing a crowd, was the agenda of our Lord, the message would not be so hard and difficult for people to hear and believe.  The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the simplest message ever proclaimed, yet people do not want to hear it.

Have you ever been run out of town for your preaching?  I have not, but there are some places I have not been asked to return.  I am grateful for the church where I am currently pastor.  The Carr Lane Baptist Church maybe small in number, but we are big in heart for hearing the word of the Lord.  When a preacher can stand in the pulpit week after week, Sunday after Sunday, and preach expository messages straight from Scripture, and you hear no negative comment, and you hear an “Amen” ever once in awhile you just got to know that they are hearing God, and not you.

The preacher when he is preaching the word of the Lord can boldly proclaim the message of God without fear or favor to those who are listening; and will glorify the Lord in the preaching.  An Old Testament Prophet name of Jeremiah was one who convinced me that I needed to come out of my shell, preach the word and be faithful to the Lord.  Jeremiah says, “Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.”  Jeremiah 1:17 (KJV).  When you know you are delivering the word of God you have nothing to fear.  Be bold, proclaim from the rooftops what God says in His Word.

Though Saul did get rushed out of town it was for a greater purpose.  He would return to Jerusalem at a later time, and then be shipped to Rome.  Saul’s/Paul’s message of Jesus Christ was not loved nor appreciated.  Check your message; if you have crowds following you; change your message to the message of Jesus and Saul.

THE CHURCHES OF JERUSALEM THEN, HAD REST (v. 31)  It was because of the change in Saul’s life that there was rest in the Jerusalem churches.  The persecutor of persecutors was now one of them and being persecuted.

A few years ago I took the thirty first verse, disected, prayed, and developed a sermon, and called it  THE THREE R’s FOR THE CHURCH getting the idea from what used to be the words for education Reading, ‘Riting’ and ‘Rithmetic; but changing that to be Reverence, Rest, and Results, as three points for the sermon.  You can see the Reverence, “walking in the fear of the Lord”; the Rest in, “Then had the churches rest…” and the Results, “in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”  Acts 9:31 (KJV).

There is little fear of God, even in church these days we live in.  There is more talk of “perfect love casts out fear”, so we don’t fear God.  NOT!  John’s writing has absolutely nothing to do with the reverence and fear of God.  It does have to do with the condemnation of our sins, the lies of the devil, the lies of friends and family.  It has to do with everyday events of life.  Someone has said, “When we fear God; we need to fear nothing else.”  If there is no fear of God, there will be fear of all else.  Paranoia, schizoprenia, trouble and danger lurking behind every closed door, fear of darkness, fear of storms, fear of failure, fear of bankruptcy, fear of world financial failure.  When even the child of God is not right with Him, out of His fellowship, we too can be fearful of these things.

Rest has come to the Jerusalem churches because the one who pursued them unto death was now one of them.  He now was being persecuted.  He had been pushed out of town; but unto a great endeavor of preaching the Word elsewhere; to his own home of Tarsus.

Results, come when the Christian and the church practice their faith, and live by that faith through their everyday lives.  We have seen examples of this multiplication earlier in the book – 3000 saved on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), more were saved according to Acts 4:4.  It seems that people were being saved everyday in the early church.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to baptize at least one every Sunday during a worship service, maybe even more?  Remembering it is the Lord who adds daily to His church.  It is not programs, or money, but by and through the faithful witness of the Spirit of God through His faithful witnesses.

The rest you need can be found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.  You may despise the gospel right now but realize, as did Saul, that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again the third day that we all who call on His name have eternal life with Him.  Call on His name believing Him, and trusting Him with all your life, confessing your sins and repenting of them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

This is the study notes for a sermon preached in the morning worship at Carr Lane Baptist Church on October 12, 2008.

Discipleship – The Pursuit Of Godliness

Hebrews 12:14-17

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”  Hebrews 12:14-17 (KJV)

OUTLINE –
I.  A PURSUIT OF PEACE AND HOLINESS (v. 14).
II.  TAKING OVERSIGHT OVER ONE’S LIFE IN MATTERS OF GRACE (v15).
III.  BE AWARE – BE WARNED OF THE “ROOT OF BITTERNESS” WHICH IS PUFFED UP TROUBLING YOU (v. 15). Deut. 29:18
IV.  THE EXAMPLE OF ESAU/EDOM DESIRING GOD’S BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 16).
V.  THE TRAGEDY OF BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 17).

In previous verses of Hebrews 12 we are told not “to despise the chastening of the Lord”.  The chastening of the Lord could be called His discipline, correction, or discipling.  After reading something I believe was Charles H. Spurgeon saying, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”, that has been in my mind from the day I read it.  I believe it to be a true saying.  Though you will not find those words spoken or written that way in Scripture; it does seem that the principle of that is spoken of in the verses we look at today, and those few preceding them.

A brother in Christ has called it “God’s Discipleship” when he is making us holy, and pursuing peace.  One great achievment or failure to succeed in the Christian life would be to fail at sin.  Now, wouldn’t that be a great achievement as a child of God?

People are pursuing all sorts of things.  Success in employment, success on the job, a bank account with money left over after the bills are paid, health, personal recognition, popularity, prestige, power… you get the idea.  Godliness is not so much sought after, even by those who profess to be Christians.

A PURSUIT OF PEACE AND HOLINESS (v. 14).  Peace is a topic of much talk, and use of many words; however it doesn’t seem real close in the realm of the political world, and at times the religious world.  One thing I think I know and that is those who know the Prince of peace – Jesus Christ are at peace with God, and one another.  It is the “peace that passes all understanding” which “Keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 KJV).

“G1515
εἰρήνη
eirēnē
i-rah’-nay
Probably from a primary verb εἴρω eirō (to join); peace (literally or figuratively); by implication prosperity: – one, peace, quietness, rest, + set     at one again.” From e-Sword Strongs

Being at peace with God, “at one” with God, “walking with God”, in agreement with Him (Amos 3:3) is the greatest and best thing that has ever happened to mankind.  Anyone who has not made peace with God will not be at peace with anyone else.  That tells us much about ourselves. Doesn’t it?  “Turning the other cheek” can only come from an individual at peace with God.  Loving the unlovable comes from a heart at peace with Jehovah.  Those who are truly merciful, and have obtained mercy have the peace of God.

It is because one has been “Justified by faith” that one can “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).  This peace will also lead us into holiness; and the penman of the Hebrews Letter tells us “without which no one shall see the Lord”.  The word “Holy” is given this meaning in Strongs

“G38
ἁγιασμός
hagiasmos
hag-ee-as-mos’
From G37; properly purification, that is, (the state) purity; concretely (by Hebraism) a purifier: – holiness, sanctification.”
From e-Sword Strongs

Peace and holiness are God’s to give.  They come from the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ; paying the price for our sins Himself, taking their guilt, condemnation, and power away; rising to life victorious over them, declaring Himself to be whom He said He was and is; the Great I am.

TAKING OVERSIGHT OVER ONE’S LIFE IN MATTERS OF GRACE (v. 15). We are living in a day very much in need of personal oversight.  Many not wanting to take personal responsibility for their actions, behavior, words, or otherwise.  Those who are Christian need very much to be leaders in this matter.  Taking the oversight in matters of grace.  Lest we be the cause, or a catalyst of others falling.

The duty of the Christian; leader, teacher, person in the pew; is to be on watch, guarding one’s own heart and life, and the lives of others.  Part of “shepherding” is to keep the younger from straying, and going over the edge endangering their lives and/or the lives of others.

If we see any of the brethren straying we can, should, and will guide them back to the straight and narrow path that is the right one.  The path is not without effort, nor pain, but it is a path with destination and that destination is into the presence of God for all eternity.

“G1983
ἐπισκοπέω
episkopeō
ep-ee-skop-eh’-o
From G1909 and G4648; to oversee; by implication to beware: – look diligently, take the oversight.”  e-Sword

BE AWARE – BE WARNED OF THE “ROOT OF BITTERNESS” WHICH IS PUFFED UP TROUBLING YOU (v. 15).  Moses wrote by the Spirit of God on this same matter when he penned, “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood…”  Deuteronomy 29:18 (KJV)

I grew up around trees.  We have had trees all around us.  Oak trees (of various kinds), cedar trees, maple trees, apple trees, peach trees, Walnut trees, Hickory trees, Ash and elm trees, and if I could name them all I probably would.  The thing I want to illustrate here is the root system.  In many cases these trees have more of what cannot be seen under the ground, supporting through the feeding, providing foundation, and strength against strong winds; than that which can be seen above ground.  What the writer of Hebrews and Moses of Deuteronomy is warning about is that which cannot be seen if in bitterness is very destructive.

This “root of bitterness” is a poison which can suddenly come to the surface and ruin you.  If the root of a tree gets something poisonous it will kill the tree.  This bitterness, this bane can lead to all kinds of immorality and evil in one’s life.  Evidently that is what the writer is saying concerning Esau.

“All it takes for a grudge to grow is for the one who is holding it to keep nursing it.”  I am not sure that this is a correct quotation, or who said it, but it is still the truth.  Bitterness is the root of evil, and for evil grudges to grow they must be nursed.  Feeding, coddling, cherishing those bitter feelings.  Saying things like, “I can never forgive that person”.  Anyone who has ever said that was mistaken, and/or have never been forgiven.

This “bitter root” nursed, and cherished by its holder will one day have this poisonous root spring, explode onto the scene, and it will not be a pleasant scene for the holder of that grude.  As long as that grudge is nursed, cherished, coddled like one’s baby there will be no relief from guilt, sin, shame, or anger, and destruction.

THE EXAMPLE OF ESAU/EDOM DESIRING GOD’S BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 16).  Esau, the first born son of Isaac was a man with a bitter root, and he never let it die.  It was passed on to his children (Genesis 36:8, 19).  How do we know this?  Because of Edom.  Edom  hated the children of Israel (Numbers 20:17-21).  Where did this innate bitterness, anger, envy, and hatred come from?  There is one conclusion to that; and that is from their father; Esau.

Esau had not only given up his birthright for a “bowl of beans”, but he had evidently been a very immoral rascal.  Giving himself to various immoral activities with the women of foreign tribes whom his people had been forbidden to have relations with.  John Gill wrote this concerning Esau,

“Heb 12:16 – Lest there be any fornicator or profane person,…. The first of these is guilty of a sin against the second table of the law, as well as against his own body; and which is opposed to the holiness the apostle had before exhorted to; such who are guilty of it, are not to be continued in the communion of the church; and it is a sin, which, lived in not repented of, excludes from the kingdom of heaven: the latter is one who is a transgressor of the first table of the law; who is an idolater, a swearer, a despiser of public worship and ordinances, and who behaves irreverently in divine service, and mocks at the future state, as Esau; to whom both these characters seem to belong: and this agrees with what the Jews say concerning him: they have a tradition (w), that he committed five transgressions on the day he came out of the field weary.

“He committed idolatry: he shed innocent blood; and lay with a virgin betrothed; and denied the life of the world to come (or a future state); and despised his birthright.”

It is elsewhere (x) a little differently expressed.

“Esau, the wicked, committed five transgressions on that day: he lay with a virgin betrothed; and killed a person; and denied the resurrection of the dead; and denied the root, or foundation, (i.e. that there is a God,) and despised his birthright; and besides, he desired his father’s death, and sought to slay his brother.”

It is common for them to say of him, that he was an ungodly man; and particularly, that he was a murderer, a robber, ונואף, “and an adulterer” ”
The (w) being (“Targum Jon. ben Uzziel in Gen. xxv. 29.”), and the (x) being (Shemot Rabba, sect. I. fol. 89. 3. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 16. 2.). From e-Sword Commentary by John Gill.

THE TRAGEDY OF BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 17).  Esau lived on in immoral conduct.  He had sought forgiveness from his father Isaac for his selling of the birthright, and with tears, but to no avail (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).  His “repentance” was not a real repentance which would get forgiveness, but only sorry he got caught with his “hands in the cookie jar, and still wanted the cookie”.  He wanted the blessing of God without wanting God.  That is typical of many who profess Jesus as Savior today and probably in any era of time since the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  As long as things go well; as long as the blessings pour in; as long as there is good health; as long as there is wealth at their disposal; and no sorrow, then all is well with the “faith”.

Because of the sin of Edom, Edom has no place in the future (Ezekiel 32:29;  Joel 3:19).  That is not the desire of God’s heart to have His children pass along the envy, hatred, bitterness, and anger to our children and/or to the rest of the world that is already perishing.

SUMMARY –

i.  The pursuit of peace and holiness is the pursuit of all Christians, and one obtained only through faith in Christ the Lord.

ii.  Those in pursuit of peace and holiness will take oversight of their behavior, words, actions; and feed themselves daily in the word of God, prayer, and holy life pursuits.

iii.  The ones in pursuit of peace and godliness will be aware of the root of bitterness, guard against bitterness, and its poisonous, disastrous, death which it brings with it where ever it springs up.

iv.  Peace and holiness leads to peace and life; and makes for peace with all people (Proverbs 16:17).

-Tim A. Blankenship

This is the my study notes for the message for Sunday morning September 13, 2009

The Early Church and the Testimony of Scripture

Acts 7:1-60

Stephen, a spirit filled deacon, a servant of the early church, and serving tables; had stood up and preached the message of Jesus Christ, and was being called a “blasphemer”.  In Acts 6:8-15 we see the beginning of chapter seven and Stephen’s sermon of the testimony of Scripture and the history of the Jewish people.

The charge of “blasphemy” is a serious charge, especially in Israel, during these early days.  In some countries it is still a serious charge and often paid with the death of the accused or guilty.  Blasphemy is the calling someone God who would be human, or using the name of God to proclaim a message that was not of God.  In Stephen’s case all he had apparently done was quote the words Moses had written concerning the Prophet who was coming, and proclaimed Jesus as the Prophet, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the true gospel of Jesus is preached it reveals Him in His true character, ie., God-man.  How could a man stop storms, walk on water, raise the dead?  No mere man would willingly go to a cross of death in the place of a sinful world; Jesus did.  No mere man has ever been raised to life in His own power; Jesus has.  To these Jewish leaders Stephen was a blasphemer, because He had proclaimed Jesus as deity – the God-man.  Thus, they sought to put Stephen on trial.

In verse eleven of chapter six we find them bringing in false witnesses against him.  Sound familiar?

THE TESTIMONY OF ABRAHAM AND THE PATRIARCHS (vv. 1-8).  Stephen, filled with the Spirit of God confronts them with their own Scriptures and history.

The history of Abraham is one of the nation of Israel.  Without Abraham there would be no Israel.  Abraham is the man whom God chose to use to birth the nation.  He was a man of faith, and his faith grew.

Called out of Ur of the Chaldeans he left the life he knew to go to a land he had never seen, and did not go where he was going.  All he knew was that he had met God, and God told him to “Get”, and he got going.

Stephen is not answering to the charge of blasphemy; he just gets into the Scriptures proclaiming to them, what they probably do not want to hear.  He gives it to them anyway.  Some preacher I once heard made this statement after telling about being caught in a mob, “When you have an angry crowd, and they are trying to do you bad; then preach”, at least something along that line.  I would not say that is what Stephen is doing, but even if he is, it does not negate the message.

The land was promised to Abraham and he never so much as received one acre of it; with the exception of a tomb for Sarah, and himself (Genesis 23).  Yet, he still believed, trusted the Lord and is an example of great faith to all followers of Jesus Christ today.

Isaac was/is the promised son of Abraham’s faith.  Isaac also received the promise of the land, and of being a great nation; as did his son Jacob as well.

The message of Abraham is faith.  The history of Abraham is faith.  He left all to go where he knew not where.  He faced famine in that land almost immediately upon arriving, yet even though he left the land, he returned and is called the “friend of God”.  The ultimate test of his faith was when God called on him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and in that he was faithful.

THE TESTIMONY OF THE PATRIARCH’S ENVY, JOSEPH, AND EGYPT (vv. 9-16).  When we find that Abraham was counted righteous by God, according to Scripture, we also find that God gave Abraham a bit of prophetic knowledge.  In Genesis 15 we read,

“And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”  Genesis 15:13-14 (KJV)

In verse 6 of Genesis fifteen we find these words,

“And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

He was not counted or reckoned “righteous” because of his good works, or for anything he had done, but because God had spoke and he acted on it believing God.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, the first born son of Rachel; Jacob’s beloved wife; was a dreamer of dreams.  These dreams were not brought on by eating too much pizza, or from some dose of crazy weed, but they were from God.  As a dreamer of God dreams he also had an understanding of dreams.  Because of some of his dreams the other brothers got jealous of him.  According to his dreams the brothers and the whole family would one day bow at his feet.

Joseph may not have realized the significance of his dreams.  The significance was that what he was dreaming was going to be the fulfillment of God’s promise/prophecy to Abraham in bringing a nation out of Egypt.  The significance was that God was working through the evil conduct of his brothers.  You may flinch at that thought, but God is sovereign over all things, and so don’t think for a minute that evil thwarts the will of God; in fact He uses it to accomplish His purposes and will.  That in no way means He approves it, causes it, or empowers it; it only means that man has a freewill, and God uses man’s freewill to accomplish His own.

The Psalmist wrote of Joseph:

“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” Psalm 105:17-19 (KJV)

Verse 19 in particular is the one we need to see.  “Until the time that his word came the word of the LORD tried him.”  From the time Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, into Egypt, to Potiphar, then to prison, then freed; there was probably a total of about twenty years.  Do you think Joseph had ever dreamed that he would go through all these trials?  I really doubt it.  Joseph, however, remained ever faithful.  There appears to be no doubts, no complaints, no anger toward God, no heart of vengeance against his brothers (though some may want to disagree with that when he comes face to face with his brothers).  All the time Joseph was waiting for the word of the LORD to come to pass.  Oh, how the Christian today needs that type of faith; that “waiting faith”; that faith that waits on God, and His time and place.

THE TESTIMONY OF MOSES, THE RED SEA, AND THE WILDERNESS (vv. 17-36).  The time between the last verse of Genesis and the birth of Moses, recorded in Exodus 2 is near to 400 years; nearing the promise and prophecy of God to Abraham in Genesis 15.

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have grown to quite a large number in those 400 years.  They have become so numerous that the Pharoah who rules at the time of Moses’s birth is a tyrant toward Israel, has no memory of Joseph, and doesn’t care for the people at all; but fears their numbers.  This tyrant Pharoah orders the death of all baby boys born to the Hebrews.  The mother and father of Moses hid him for a period of three months, and then finally put him in a “ark of bulrushes” placed it in the Nile River, along the shore, and floating down near the place where the princess of Egypt bathed; was found and adopted by her.  Only the sovereign LORD could work something like that out.

The Hebrew people were enslaved, and treated like livestock or worse.  They were not allowed to worship God; and maybe only a few really knew about YHWH [YaHWeH].  We know that they did have homes to live in, though what condition we are not aware.

Moses was taken out of the water of the Nile and named Moses by the daughter of Pharoah.  “Drawn out” is the meaning of his name and it is a perfect fit for him.  We see him all his life being “drawn out”.  He was “drawn out” of the water.  He was “drawn out” to his own people.  He was “drawn out” to the desert/wilderness.  He was “drawn out” to serve Jethro for forty years.

For forty years Moses was in Egypt learning the ways of Egypt.  For forty years he was in the desert with Jethro learning the ways of the desert/wilderness.  After delivering the children of Israel from Egypt he spent forty more years in the wilderness preparing  them for life in the Promised Land.

We complain if we must wait a minute or two at a traffic light.  Lord help us.  How we need to learn to wait, and trust the LORD with His word, His church and His people.  Moses had to learn the lesson of waiting on God.  He supposed that when he killed the Egyptian that the people would know that he was God’s deliverer, but it was not the time, and Moses had to leave Egypt to be prepared.

A THOUGHT:  Joseph, by God’s providence, was in Egypt to prepare Egypt for the world famine, and to prepare Israel to become a nation.  Moses fled from Egypt to be prepared to return to Egypt, and deliver the people from the world.

In the wilderness the new nation saw the mighty hand of God the LORD.  When they did not see a way God made a way across the Red Sea.  The LORD delivered them from their enemies by causing the Sea to collapse in upon the soldiers of Egypt, killing them all.  The Almighty provided them water, meat to eat and He provided them with bread from heaven – “Manna” meaning “What is it?”

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION, REBELLION, AND CAPTIVITIES (vv. 37-50).  Moses testified of One who would come, a Prophet, the Prophet of prophets.  Stephen reminds his listeners, persecutors of the prophecy of Moses and his teachings.  Hear the words of the prophet Moses concerning the Prophet;

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken…” Deuteronomy 18:15 (KJV).

While Moses was in the wilderness with the people we find them many times rejecting his leadership, such as while he went up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord.  They built a golden calf to worship in the place of God.  Our impatience is somewhat astonishing.  God says something and we do the opposite.

We Christians have been accused by some who refer to themselves as atheist or agnostic of being “makers of our own god”, and they mean that of the world religions as well.  With the latter I would agree.  The God of Creation who created all that is is not a god of man’s own making, however.  No man has ever imagined a god who is Almighty, All-Knowing, All-Present, All-Powerful, and Immutable.  No man has ever invented a god who condemns sin and wickedness, and provides a means of fellowship, relationship, justification, sanctification, and  being glorified together with him in an eternal home.  No man has ever created a god that would send his only son to die for the sins of the world.  The God of Christianity is the Creator of the universe, and all that is in it; and He loved us so much He did send His Son to die on a cross for our sins, was buried, and He rose again bodily from the grave and was witnessed by over 500 eyewitnesses.

All the gods of man’s creation allow them to behave and act any way they choose.  The god’s of men cause the immorality of all the world.  The god’s of men’s own making is what causes wars and strife.  Every individual without Jesus Christ is their own god; and will one day crumble, fall at the feet of Jesus, and be cast from His presence into eternal fire.

The “golden calf” for those people of Israel was a reminder of their lives back in Egypt.  They had been freed from its bondage, yet they still cling to it, even to the point of desiring to return and continue as slaves.  Even the gods people worship today, the images, are images which puts no guilt on them, or would make them question their actions.  The world hates any guilt, or shame.  That is one of the things, however, which is needed in the world; ie., guilt and shame. It can be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and turn them toward the only One who can cleanse them and forgive all their sin.

When people turn to Wall Street, Dow, or other stocks and bonds, etc. for their security; then they have turned their back on God.  Christian we may be in a financial crisis in this nation [USA], however, there is a greater crisis that many do not even realize.  That crisis is a Spiritual crisis.  With greed ruling the day through the lies of satan; there is a genuine spiritual need for God.  Whether it is believed or not; there is only one way to God and heaven, and that is the way He has provided; and that way is by way of the cross of Jesus Christ, his burial and resurrection.

Oh, how we need to understand the fulness, power, vastness, and glory of our God.  The nation of Israel is still in rejection of their God, His Son and their future foretold by God.

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION OF JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT (vv. 51-54).  These men to whom Stephen was speaking were just as the prophets which foretold the coming of the Prophet, the Messiah, their Deliverer.  “Stiffnecked and uncircumcised heart” shows a rebellious attitude and an unclean heart of these people.

All Stephen did was proclaim to them the truth of their own history, confront them with Jesus, their betrayal of him, and how they had “murdered him” (v. 52).

THE TESTIMONY OF STEPHEN A PERSECUTED, MARTYRED SOUL FOR JESUS CHRIST (vv. 55-60).  When the angry men heard the message delivered by faithful Stephen they proceeded to kill him.

The Word of God works as a sword, a “twoedged sword”.  In the book of Hebrews we read,

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)

In other words; that means God will make things uncomfortable  for you until He gets you where He desires you to be; if you are His own.  When you are God’s He will not allow you to remain in sinful behavior.

These men hated Stephen and his words that he spoke, then, they proceeded to kill him.

The deacon never sought to strike back.  His last words before his dying breath was, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”, and then he “fell asleep”.  The stones which were hurled at Stephen, hitting his body, were stones of identity.  It is not without merit to mention that in the Revelation is mentioned a stone,

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:17

Stephen had his stones, and they were stones of blessing because as he was dying he looked into heaven and could see glory;

“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

O, for the passion of our people like Stephen had.  For a fire to burn in our hearts for people who are bound in religion, but hate Jesus Christ, and refuse His death, burial and resurrection, by continually trying to earn their way to God’s presence and favor.  Preaching to the religious may not get you any popular vote, but you will see God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are the study notes for a sermon preached on October 05, 2008.

The Continuing Christian…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the concluding part of verse 47 we read:

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

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

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

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

Continue Christians in the work of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

Until Jesus Returns

Acts 1:1-26

1. PROCLAIM THE CONVINCING PROOFS OF OUR LORD’S PASSION (vv. 1-4).

Luke, our writer and historian of the Christ who was born in Bethlehem’s manger, gives us thorough details of the birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord.  You can read these details in the gospel of Luke.  The book of Acts is a continued bit of history of Christ, His Holy Spirit at work in the Apostles in the early church.

The Gospel written by Luke is the “former treatise” which he had written to Theophilus.  Luke, beginning the gospel, writes,

“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,  Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”  Luke 1:1-4 (KJV)

He writes to an individual who must be of royal or noble family.  The term, “Most excellent Theophilus” seems to be an indication of this.  Luke sees it very important to record the documentation of the eyewitness accounts, and the preachers of the word.  He also records it for the benefit of Theophilus, that he “…might know the certainty of those things…”.

The title “Most excellent” is dropped in the writing of Acts.  It could be that Theophilus has become a believer in Jesus.  Luke writes of the resurrection as those “to whom also He showed Himself alive” (v. 3).  That is speaking of the apostles, and there were many more.

There are many atheist, doubters and sceptics who try and tell us that there is little to no evidence for the virgin conception, and virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and some who even deny He ever lived.  What evidence can there be of the virgin birth?  We have the testimony of Mary, Joseph, and best of all we have the testimony of Scriptures.  The life of Jesus Himself shows us that He was not just another man, born by the seed of man, but by the seed of God.

Luke writes of the “passion” of Christ.  Do you know that Jesus had a desire to go to Jerusalem that final time.  Jesus had His mind set for Jerusalem.  He had His mind set on obtaining the redemption of mankind.  He had His mind set on paying the sin debt owed by all men and women.  If we only had the passion for Christ He has for us; what could be done in this world for His glory.

2. WALK IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT AND GO INTO ALL THE WORLD (vv. 5-8).

The disciples had seen Jesus tried, convicted, and nailed to the cruel old wooden cross.  At that time they had been fearful, and fled for their lives.  Jesus speaks to us of leaving with us a “Comforter” in John, chapters fourteen and sixteen.  We also have Jesus’s words that He is going away for a time, and then will return, and Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit [the Comforter] is an “Earnest” payment for the security and guarantee of His return.

Were these words, “but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence…” meant only for the disciples present at that time, or do they have application for His followers today?  Yes and No!  For the disciples then, they did need to do as Jesus had said, and wait for the promise of the baptism of the Spirit.  He had not descended.  For the follower of Jesus Christ today, you and I were baptized in the Spirit of Jesus Christ the day we prayed to receive His free gift of salvation and He saved us.  There are times, however, where the follower of Jesus Christ today, needs to wait and make sure all things are right with and God, and that there are no hindrances to the work of God in our hearts and lives.

Every Christian has been given the power of Christ.  The power to live a life that will glorify Jesus.  The power to be a witness for Him in all our lives and life’s activities.  The power of faith that will move mountains and cast sycamine trees into the sea.  I have not seen any Christian who has that kind of faith today, however.  Oh, that we would just believe God and His Word and trust the work  and power of His Spirit in our lives.

We have been given the “Great Commission” of Christ Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, and He gives it again before He ascends into the heavens.  He tells the disciples then, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come on you…”  It was yet a future event for them.  It is an instantaneous event for the man, woman, boy or girl who calls on the name of Jesus for salvation today.  You and I hear things about “Change” today.  There is only one power that can change this world into a better world, and better men, women, boys, and girls; and that is the power of the Spirit of God in His people.

The hope of the world cannot be found in the political arena.  It cannot be found in any political figure, or political promise.  When we put our faith in the promises of men or women, we are bound to failure, and disappointment.  The only hope for individuals, kings, commoners; rich or poor; is the Lord Jesus Christ, and as Christian disciples/followers we have not only been commissioned by our Lord to go and make disciples; He has given us the power to go and do it.

If you want true change in the United States or the world it will come only through the crucified, buried, risen and coming again Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

“It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8 (KJV)

3. BE BUSY IN GROWING AND PRACTICE OF FAITH AND IN PRAYER (vv. 9-14).

Those of us who believe that the second coming of Jesus are often accused of having our head in the stars or the sand, and not dealing with the things which really affect mankind.  I would agree that there are factions who claim to believe in the second coming of Jesus, but I have a question, “What Jesus do they believe in?”  Do they believe in the Jesus who said, “I will come again”, but later He said, “No man knows the day or the hour”? or do they believe in the one who professes to have a secret knowledge of God and Jesus, and they know when He is coming?  They might even say, “I am the one who is coming”.

We are told in Scripture, the words of Jesus to “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13).  Though the preceding was spoken from a parable, it still has the intensity of the call Jesus has for us.  He is telling His followers to keep at the tasks you have to do, maintain your lives, live and be faithful to the teachings of God’s word and all that He has taught us.  He has not told us to give away all our possessions, sell our homes and go to a mountain top and wait for His return.

I would imagine that as Jesus was speaking to the disciples, and they seeing Him ascend into the coulds would have been standing there in awe of what they had just seen.  For a while they would have put the words Jesus had just spoken to them out of their minds.  WOW! Was probably what they were thinking.  This was men who had seem Him walk on water, calm the storms, cast out demons, heal the sick, make the lame walk, heal the lepers, and raise the dead.  And now, they see Him in a living body of flesh ascend out of their sight, and into the Father’s glory.

“Two men” probably angels confronted their awestruck eyes and minds, with the words we all need to hear, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:11 (KJV)  The disciples followed the instructions of the men/angels, went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, to the upper room and there they prayed, probably unlike any other time they had prayed.  You will notice all the disciples were present with the exception of Judas who killed himself by hanging, and plunging to the bottom of a cliff.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”  Acts 1:14 (KJV)

They had not yet received the Holy Spirit for power, witness and living.  They were to wait for the promise, and the promise came.

Continuing prayer is prayer that abides, prayer that is unceasing, prayer that is diligent, faithful, and trusting and believing, that God will accomplish what He pleases, in His time and in His way.  Those praying in the upper room numbered one hundred and twenty.  Of those who were there, other than the disciples/apostles, were Mary the mother of Jesus, and the brothers of Jesus – James and Jude (not the apostles by the same name) – and the women who had faithfully trusted in, and ministered to Jesus.

4. KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THAT NO ONE IS INDISPENSIBLE (vv. 15-25).

In a lot of areas of life, work, and society and culture there are some who feel they are indispensible.  They are badly mistaken, and sadly deceived.  That may have been the heart of Judas, the betrayer, as he went to betray our Lord.  He was in fact fulfilling a role in prophecy.  Nevertheless guilty of sin, of unbelief, of betrayal.

It was Peter who stood up to make the leadership decision of replacing Judas.  The question could be asked and I am asking it; “Why did they need to replace Judas?”.  Maybe “Replace” is not the right term to use, because no one is really replaced.  Someone that would have been a witness of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was required.

Peter saw that Judas and his acts, and the end of his life were a fulfillment of Scripture.  David had written about this in the Psalms.  See Psalms 69:25 and 109:8.  There have been many people  who have written of Judas’s; of which I have only heard and not read.  I know there are some who with great assumption consider Judas to have been a genuine saved, follower of Jesus Christ, and that he lost his salvation; however, the losing of one’s salvation just does not fit with all of Scripture.  Judas was just a man who never did see Jesus for who he really was, but was only his meal ticket and possible means of obtaining a high position in an earthly rule.  In verse 25, it reads, “that he might go to his own place”; which seems to be meaning that  he had his own eternal abode.

Now it is time to have someone fill his position with the twelve.  It seems that there has been some debate over whether this was really necessary or not.  There are probably a lot of reasons that could be given to support their installing a twelfth apostle, and I would think that to be to keep the order of twelve.  There are twelve tribes of Israel.  Twelve may be a symbol of a completed rule of government, and when Jesus returns to set up His earthly kingdom, these twelve and those who have believed because of their preaching and teaching will rule and reign with Him.

Each individual is unique within the kingdom of heaven, and the future kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth.  There is, however, no one who is indispensable.  Pride is the only thing that would cause anyone to usurp the authority of their own life over the rule of Jesus Christ, and the Father.  That was so with Judas.

The eleven disciples take a vote [cast lots], and the lot fell to Matthais.

5. LET GOD LEAD AND PROVIDE OUR LEADERS (v. 26).

Both of the men which they must choose from were witnesses of the Lord Jesus, and His resurrection.  That was a qualification of an apostle.  Their life was one of following Jesus, and faithfulness.  These were both well qualified men, but only one would be able to serve as apostles.

It would seem that all 120 people in the upper room had part in making this decision.  Some may argue and say, “Well they should have waited because Paul should have been the twelfth apostle”, but that could not be.  There must be one who was sent to the gentiles, and that was Paul who made a thirteenth apostle.

In the direction of choosing kings, presidents, premiers, and apostles and pastors we must let God lead and direct in that choosing.  He has His way in the ballots, and the lots which are cast.

God places leaders of churches, communities, States and Nations as it pleases Him; and all for His glory.  Trust Him.  He knows what He is doing.  He sees the total picture, and you and I only have a very small view, called today.  Today is the day of salvation.  Tomorrow may not come for you or me.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are study notes for a sermon I preached September 14, 2008.

Preach The Word

“And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.  And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,  And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:  And Simon he surnamed Peter;  And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:  And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,  And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.”  Mark 3:13-19 (KJV)

Jesus called these twelve men “Apostles” and gave them authority to heal the sick, cast out demons, and to preach the Word of the kingdom.  The twelve men are mentioned by name even to the one who would ultimately betray Jesus, and point Him out to be crucified.  Simon [called Peter] would also deny Him and would be very grievous concerning the denial.

The authority Jesus gave to the apostles is given to the church today.  The signs and wonders given to the apostles were necessary to give evidence and proof that these men were speaking the truth of God.  We do not need the proof.  The written Word of God is all the evidence and proof that we need.  We only need to read it, study it, apply it, and hide it in our hearts to show the world that Jesus Christ does make a difference.  Because He lives.

Called out, set apart for the purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ, and bringing all who will hear to the place of joyfully bowing before Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Put Off, Put On, Put Away

Ephesians 4:20-25

A few years ago a church of  which I was pastor had a Sunday afternoon Nursing Home ministry one Sunday of each month.  There were several who attended the service, and we sung hymns, and I usually preached a short message.

Almost every Sunday we were there I made an attempt to visit a moment with each one, shaking their hand, placing a hand on their hand or shoulder, even kneeling beside them so I could hear what they wanted to say.  One man in particular, which I remember well; and this shows the repulsive side of me; was a man who was pushed in a wheel chair to the service.  This man was unclean, he stank, and it was so bad the flies even noticed.  I tried to give him the same attention I gave all the others.

The first time I met him I am sure I pulled away, but quickly caught my action, and still spoke with him.  That must be a small bit of how God senses our stink of sin.  The odor of sin is more than He in His holiness, righteousness and justice can endure, but in His wondrous grace, and tender mercy He provides cleansing, and new clothing of righteousness which is the righteousness of Christ Jesus.

Would God provide this cleansing, new clothing, and new life to continue living in that stench from which we have been delivered?  By no means.

OUTLINE –

I. THE CHRISTIAN LEARNS CHRIST (v. 20).

II.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS OFF” THE “OLD MAN” (vv. 21-23).

III.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS ON” THE “NEW MAN” (v. 24).

IV.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS AWAY” LYING (v. 25).

THE CHRISTIAN LEARNS CHRIST.  We already know the way we have left behind.  It is time we learn Christ.  This is not learning about Him, but LEARNING CHRIST.  This means a life, road, path of sin, stench, death and destruction is left behind (Ephesians 2:1).  It was a life that knew not that it was enslaved until the Light of Christ broke through.

It is good to learn about Jesus Christ, however the Christian LEARNS CHRIST.  That means we love Him more than anything else; we love and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him.  That means that we walk with Him and He with us (John 14:21, 23-24).  That means to live His life so others see Him within us.

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS OFF” THE “OLD MAN”.  When Jesus delivers us from that life of sins condemnation and its stench the old stinky clothes of sin must be removed; sometimes, however the Christian getting full of themselves rather than full of God, put the old clothes back on.  Delving into the sewage of our sins, the stench hangs around again, and we wonder why God seems so far away, and we have started getting into the old, former way of life.

The people of Ephesus were known to be worshippers of Diana, and this made the Christian life a little difficult, because all the Ephesians were almost expected to be Diana worshippers.    Every culture or society is difficult  for the Christian life.  We say things today like, “It’s hard to be a kid today”.  “Things are different in this day than they have ever been”.  I am one who begs to differ with that.  Someone has said, “The more things change; the more they remain the same”; and that looks right to me.  I read the Bible, and in the prophets I see people who are absolutely no different than the people of today are.  That is why we need the apostle’s inspired words today.

Put them off… that is not what you learned Christ.  That old life of self, sin, and its stench must go.  “Put off” that old garment spotted by the flesh.  Since the apostle is telling us to “put off” that surely means that it is  in our power, through the Spirit of Christ [Holy Spirit] to put it off.  We have the POWER of God to put off the evil.

Then there must be “renewing in the spirit of your mind” as well.  Before we were born of the Spirit of God our spirit was dead to God.  By the power of the Spirit of God our spirit was born of God; we are empowered to overcome all sin; to put off the garment of sin, and put on the “new man”.  The “putting off” comes before the “renewing the mind”.  The old stench of sin on those grave clothes blocks the fragrant scents of heaven and of God’s glorious grace. (Colossians 3:8-9).

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS ON” THE “NEW MAN”.  The “new man” is born of God to be like God in His holiness, and righteousness; through His Son.  We are told by Paul nine times within his epistles to “Put on” something…

1. In Romans 13:12 he writes, “Put on the armour of light…”
2. 1 Corinthians 15: 53 & 54 “Put on  incorruption… ‘put on immortality” twice in these two verses;
3. In Galations 3:27 “put on Christ…”;
4. Ephesians 4:24 “Put on the new man…”
5. Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armour of God…”
6. Colossians 3:10 “put on the new man…”
7. Colossians 3:12 “Put on… bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering”
8. Colossians 3:14 “Put on charity…”

We are to “put on” the life of Jesus Christ.

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS AWAY” LYING.  Lying is a means of deception.  Deception should never be in the heart of the believer; the follower of Jesus Christ.  Deception’s intent is to cover the truth, and reveals nothing except that the one lying, deceiving cannot be trusted.  Deception is a tool of the enemy.

The truth is precious among friends, neighbors, and practiced among them.  Sometimes truth hurts, however, it is a means of great peace, and to great peace.  Truth is the way to the knowing of God, and all knowledge needed knowing.  Truth is the way to strong faith, and new, rewarding fellowship with one another and with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus is the Truth in Person.

Those who do the truth come to Jesus.  “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”  John 3:21 (KJV)
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”  John 3:36 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Spirit Of The Family

Galations 6:1

OUTLINE –

I.  BRETHREN ACCORDING TO THE FAITH.

II.  OUR RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD BRETHREN CAUGHT IN TRANSGRESSION.

III.  THE TRANSGRESSION IS AN ACT AGAINST GOD AND HIS LAW.

IV.  A WORD FOR THE SPIRITUALLY MATURE.

V.  RESTORATION IS THE GOAL OF CORRECTION.

VI.  SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS AT THE HEART OF CORRECTION/RESTORATION.

VII.  LOOKING ATTENTIVELY AT ONE’S SELF IN CORRECTING/RESTORING A FALLEN BROTHER.

VIII.  BEWARE, LEST YOU ALSO BE TEMPTED.

I refer to the family of God.  Those who are in the faith of Jesus Christ.

Families have problems.  Marriages of Biblical as well as non-biblical couples have problems, yet many times work things out or learn to live with each other in love.  The same is also true within the church – the Body of Christ.  Sadly some cannot, or don’t want to work things out.

The Christian family cannot do anything except love one another, as we have been given commandment; by our Lord Himself (John 13:34-35).

The Spirit of God’s family is His Spirit.  His Spirit gives live, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness (Keep an eye on this word), temperance…  How God’s family treats one another goes a long way in the way we deal with our neighbor, work associates, or ones we might consider “enemy”.  We have no enemy but Satan, and he is the enemy of every human being.

BRETHREN ACCORDING TO THE FAITH.  There are three ways in which humanity can be called brethren.  The first is by being a part of creation some have a tendency of calling us all brethren because we are of the human race; but if that were the case, then we not be “brethren” with all created things.  That would be okay with the pantheists I guess.  Secondly, we are brethren with those who are born into our physical family.  Thirdly we are brethren when we are born again in faith through Jesus Christ.  Now there are probably other ways to be called “brethren”, but I will not consider any of those.

As brethren/family through Christ we have been born again.  Raised from death in sin to life in the crucified, buried, and risen Christ.  Called to be the brethren of Jesus Christ Himself.  He being our Elder Brother (Hebrews 2:11-13).

OUR RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD BRETHREN CAUGHT IN TRANSGRESSION.  Every Christian has died to sin and its power; but none are sinless in this world.  The seed of Christ in us never sins (1 John 3:9-10).  The flesh in which we labor to overcome sins, must be forgiven and cleansed, changed through the sanctification of God’s Spirit.  We experience sin through the “lust of the flesh’, ‘lust of the eyes’, and ‘ the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

This must be dealing with sin which has trapped, and holds the brethren, as he lingers within it.  A follower of Jesus Christ can become blinded by rationalizing.  It is often because we get away from daily prayer, daily Bible study and reading, church attendance/worship and living in the disobedience of it all; stuck in the mud pits of sin.

We must all be aware of sins entrapment.  It can grab, and hold you by a lingering, overbearing doubt, fear, lust.  It can bite or sting you through a simple luxury.  It can be as subtle as a slithering serpent.

THE TRANSGRESSION IS AN ACT AGAINST GOD.  Sin is transgression of God’s Law (1 John 3:4).  The law is a “schoolmaster” to bring us to Christ (3:24).  By the law we learn we transgress God’s law – we are incapable of obedience to it for the glorifying of God – thus “falling short of the glory of God”.

All mankind has transgressed the law of God making us sinners – transgressors.  Unworthy of God’s love, mercy and grace.

It is sad to say, but sometimes, even the Christian willfully transgresses the law of God, and by their sin offend others.  This is probably the “fault” or transgression of which Paul refers.  O, God be merciful to the child which willfully disobeys and send a loving member of the family for correction and restoration.

A WORD FOR THE SPIRITUALLY MATURE.  Shows there are levels of Christian growth.  The apostle speaks to this when he says to the Corinthian church, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1).  The apostle Peter even addresses this when he states, “…As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).

We cannot and should not expect new born Christians to suddenly become mature.  Growing is a process, and is a good and godly thing.  It will require prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and witness.  It will also involve trials, suffering, testing – and none that are really pleasant to prove their faith.

RESTORATION IS THE GOAL OF CORRECTION.  How a piece of wood furniture is restored.  First of all it is taken apart piece by piece; then each part is sanded and prepared for finishing; then if needed new bolts, screws, biscuits replace the old; and last new varnish, laquer, or other finish is brushed or rolled onto the wood restoring and renewing the surface.

Sometimes a fallen brother or sister needs the loving, mentoring/discipling of another brother or sister to guide them back into fellowship with the church.  It is tough love that corrects and restores one loved.  It is not love at all to let a brother or sister continue in sin without correction; anymore than it would be for a parent to allow a child to continue doing something that would hurt them.

SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS AT THE HEART OF CORRECTION/RESTORATION.  Jesus spoke of meekness, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).  Meekness is not weakness – it is strength or power, authority under control.  Two of the meekest men who ever lived are Jesus and Moses (Matthew 11:29;  Numbers 12:3).

As one who knows and is aware of the weakness of the flesh; meekness serves as a means of godly wisdom with understanding of one’s own redemption story.  One’s knowing from whence he/she came.  Pulled, snatched from the burning, the cesspools, pits of fear, despair, doubt, destruction, sin and condemnation.

Meekness can be seen in Presidents, kings, potentates, teachers, pastors, preachers, or leaders from most walks of life; as they take off their “garments” of leadership, and put on a tool belt: for more than political promoting picture ops.  Simply remembering our “roots”.  Putting ourselves on equal/level ground with the “overtaken” brethren.

LOOKING ATTENTIVELY AT ONE’S SELF IN CORRECTING/RESTORING A FALLEN BROTHER.  Knowing your own weakness to sin will help you to mercifully deal with brethren.  The Christian who says, “This would never happen to me”, is in for a big disappointment somewhere down the road of their lives.

Correcting is showing/teaching the errors or wrong as well as teaching the right, and without further condemnation.  Usually, the fallen brethren are feeling guilt, shame, and don’t quite know how to deal with what they have done, or are still doing.  A loving example, “considering yourself”, in their presence could be all that is necessary to bring them back.

BEWARE, LEST YOU ALSO BE TEMPTED.  Jesus was tempted, but not unto sin.  Temptation is not sin.  James writes, “…Every man[everyone] is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15).  We are drawn away by our lust, our ungodly desire.  Temptation only becomes sin if it is not quickly dealt with and terminated.

Temptation can be so subtle, quiet, and deceptive.  “I am not happy in my current marriage” says a wife and mother to her friend, “so, I am leaving my husband for Joe who I am happy being around”.  “God wants me to be happy”.  Temptation comes in the form of obtaining happiness, wealth, things, even health outside God’s law, grace and provisions.

It helps each of us to know and confess our own weaknesses.  It could be a proclivity toward lying.  It could also be love for the luxurious.  It could be an almost overbearing desire for wealth; or the sin of greed.  What about gossip, talebearing, or a froward (trouble making) attitude and lifestyle.  There are so many; far too many, but each individual must deal with them accurately and adequately.

All sins were dealt with by Jesus and the Father on His cross.  The Spirit of the Family is the Spirit of God given to all who believe that Jesus is the Christ Son of the Living God.  Believing that Jesus is God [Immanuel] come in flesh.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Please note:  This message will be preached in Carr Lane Baptist Church in two parts – Sunday morning and Sunday evening.

Spirit Bearing Witness

Romans 9:1-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUTLINE –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note states,

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

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

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

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

–  Why not give one’s life for another?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Message Of Jesus – Still Needed

“And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.  And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.”  Mark 2:1-2 (KJV)

“They crowded to hear Him, as we read in this passage, “until there was no room about the door.” They were amazed. They were astonished. They were filled with wonder at His mighty works. But they were not converted. They lived in the full noon-tide blaze of the Sun of Righteousness, and yet their hearts remained hard. And they drew from our Lord the heaviest condemnation that He ever pronounced against any place, except Jerusalem–“And you people of Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today. I assure you, Sodom will be better off on the judgment day than you.” (Matt. 11:23, 24)”  From J. C. Ryle Commentary

There is a need for humanity to hear the words of Jesus.  It is a necessity of human beings; if we are to be eternally saved; to hear and heed His Word.  The  earthquake (December 26, 2004) which caused the tsunami in the Indian Ocean; and various other earthquakes, storms, and wars; should be a wake up cry to the world.  God is still in charge of the world.  The death toll has been staggering – to say the least – reaching into the hundreds of thousands, and many of those going into eternal fires of torment.

There is sin still in our world.  Every one of us born of man is born into sin.  We are sinners by birth and sinners by choice.  It is because of sin that there is sickness, disease, death, tsunami, tornado, earthquake, storms, etc..

People will often gather; as they did for Jesus on the day we read here; to hear a great speaker, because of what they might see, receive, or to be entertained.  The people of Capernaum were awed by Jesus, and the words He spoke, but they would not take heed to His words.

There are people who are asking, “If God is omnipotent and omniscient, then why did He not prevent this horrible disaster in the Indian Ocean?”,  “Why did He not prevent the destruction of this tornado, earthquake, the death of my son or daughter; husband or wife?”  God is Omnipotent [All-Powerful] and Omniscient [All-Knowing], and yes He could have prevented the disaster, but because of the fall “Nature” just as sin is allowed to run its course.  We had just as well ask, “Why did my Dad die?” or “Why is there death in the world?”  Most Christians would agree that death is the result of sin, because we know those verses that tell us “death came into the world because of sin” (Rom. 5:12-21).

The world needs to hear the words and message of Jesus because there is coming a judgment upon the world unlike which the world has never seen.  It seems to me that God is screaming for mankind’s attention.  Still there are those who keep asserting that “…these things are only a thing of nature, there is no God, and this tragedy only proves it.”

In stark reality it seems to me to show that God is truly gracious; for if He were to take His hand completely away from His creation; the universe and the  world on which we live, and all that is in it would come to an abrupt end.  And He would be completely just in doing so.

People in Ezekiel’s day would gather to hear a preacher preach, but not do according to his teaching (Ezekiel 33:30-33).  Jesus said, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not what I say?”  Good question.  We as God’s people need to hear what God says and take heed to what He says.  The people of the world need to hear what God says, they need to hear what He says about repentance and faith, about His Son Jesus and the way to eternal life through Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – The Eternal

There are a lot of voices today saying things concerning Jesus; and many of them don’t know the real Jesus.  To many Jesus was only a good teacher, a prophet, a good man, or a good example to follow.  To others he never really existed; he is kind of like the legend of king Arthur; leaving a question or questions of like, “Did he really exist, or is he just folklore and legend?”

According to many scholars, historians, archeologists and others there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial, and resurrection; than there is for the existence of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America.  The purpose of this message is not to present these evidences, but to just take what John the apostle wrote as fact, and present it as truth, the truth of God; and let God speak for Himself.

Purpose – To introduce Jesus Christ to us in the beginning of John’s Gospel as the Word – to see what God is like; God’s communication of Himself to bring us to Himself.

INTRODUCTION –

The writer of the notes in the PILGRIM STUDY BIBLE says, “Words reveal thoughts and character; and just so the Lord Jesus expressed God’s thought and showed us what God is like.”

Jesus is introduced to us in the beginning of John’s Gospel as the Word.  We are told by John that “the Word became flesh and dwelt amon us…”  In chapter 12:20-21 there were some Greeks who had come to a feast of Israel.  They came to Phillip and said, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”  That is what I pray we get from this message from the Gospel of John.

If the world could get a clear picture of Jesus, and follow Him, it would help us all.  The following story gives us the wisdom of a child;

“One day a father was sitting in his easy chair enjoying reading the daily paper.  His young daughter came up to him saying, ‘Daddy will you play house with me?’  He would say, ‘Not now sweetheart. I am reading the paper rightenow.  Please go a play without me.’  His daughter was persistent, though and kept coming back.  Finally, after seveal  approaches by the girl the father took a page of the peaper with a picture of the world on it, tore it into several pieces and gave it to her saying, ‘Here, see how long it takes you to put the pieces of the world  together like a puzzle.’  She took that page and was gone a very short time, and returned to her father, and said, ‘Daddy, I got it all put together.’  He looked at the page, and asked her, ‘You finished so quickly.  How did you do that?’  Her response  was one that really should have an influence on us all.  ‘Daddy’, she said, ‘There is a picture of Jesus on the back of the page, and when I got Jesus together the world came together too.”

John has some favorite words – “Life”, “love”, “witness”, “believe”, “truth, “know”, “light”, “darkness”, “world”, and “flesh”.  you will notice these words in the reading of the gospel and his other writings.

“Jesus Christ as the Eternal Word is a revelation of God to man.”  KJV BIBLE COMMENTARY

None of the Gospels are more clear on the Deity of Jesus Christ than is John’s Gospel.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”  John 1:1-5 (KJV)

OUTLINE:

I.  JESUS IS THE IMAGE AND REPRESENTATION OF GOD (v. 1;  Hebrews 1:3).

II.  JESUS IS THE FULNESS OF THE GODHEAD (v. 2;  Colossians 2:9).

III.  JESUS IS THE LIFE AND LIGHT OF THE WORLD (v. 3-4,  3:19; Colossians 1:16;  Genesis 1:1-3).

IV.  JESUS IS THAT LIGHT WHICH DISPELLS THE DARKNESS (v. 5; 8:12; 12:46; Ephesians 5:8)

JESUS IS THE IMAGE OF AND REPRESENTATION OF GOD.

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”  Hebrews 1:3 (KJV)

He as the Living Word was creating from the beginning of all things (Genesis 1:1).  A person’s words reveal their character, their hearts, their thoughts.  You can trust God’s Word.  In God’s case His Word is His character.

Jesus as the Living Word is revealed seven times in the first chapter of Genesis.   In verses 3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, and 26 it reads, “And God said…”.  What God said was His Word was going forth creating.  All things that are were made by His Word – the Word who “was made flesh”.

Let’s hear what Jesus said of Himself;

“Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.”  John 8:19 (KJV)

“Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”  John 8:57-58 (KJV),

and who is “I Am”?

“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”  Exodus 3:13-14 (KJV)

JESUS IS THE FULNESS OF ALL THE GODHEAD – SO HE WAS WITH HIM AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN WITH HIM.

“For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9).

The Scriptures tell us that “God is Spirit” meaning, basically, that we cannot see God.  “God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

God in His love revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus who is the Living Word.  When we see Jesus we see the Father.  When we hear the words of Jesus we hear the words of the Father.  When we trust Jesus we trust the Father.

JESUS IS THE LIFE AND LIGHT TO THE WORLD.  The implication is that the world is in darkness and in need of light.  In the beginning God gave light for the earth.  Where did the light come from?  God is the light of the world.  Jesus later said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5)  The light was divided from darkness.  One thing we must realize is, that, where there is light is no darkness at all.

Darkness is a way of hiding all that is evil and evil evidently does not realize that nothing is hid from God.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  John 3:19 (KJV)

Jesus is the light that shines in darkness, and darkness cannot overcome His light.  The world and the devil may think He is defeated.  We hear reports of Christianity slipping in growth, yet those who genuinely trust Jesus Christ are growing and the Body of Christ is still strong, and growing in faith; knowing that the return of Jesus Christ is soon.

The devil, that ole serpent, knows he has been defeated; but has many convinced that the battle has not yet been decided.  Anyone believing that is a fool, and pawn of evil.  The cross of Christ and His resurrection is the sure sign that the battle for the souls of men, has been won, and Jesus Christ is the Victor.  Light has overcome the darkness.

JESUS IS THAT LIGHT WHICH DISPELLS DARKNESS – HE DRIVES IT AWAY.  Who ever follows Jesus will not walk in darkness, but in the light.

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12 (KJV)

People who walk with Jesus will not abide in darkness – we are of the light, because He is the Light.

“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”  John 12:46 (KJV)

When you are trusting Jesus, walking with Him, He drives all the darkness away; or will walk with you through it (Psalm 23:4).  If you are having a dark moment in your life, just look to Jesus, the One who endured the darkness of the cross for all our sin.  Paul tells us to walk as children of the light.

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…”  Ephesians 5:8 (KJV)

SUMMARY –

i.  To see God just look upon Jesus.
ii.  Everything God is; Jesus is:  Everything Jesus is God is.
iii.  Where Jesus is there is no darkness at all.
iv.  In the presence of Jesus there is no need for fear, unless you are on the wrong end of his judgment.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – Ministry

The Gospel of Mark has for a theme, “I came not to be ministered [served]; unto, but to minister and give My life a ransom for many” and that is what Jesus did all of His three years of ministry.  Jesus defines service, by His life, and work.

Mark 1:21-45

VV. 21 – 34  —   PROOFS AND EVIDENCE OF THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF OUR LORD.

In these verses we find religious leaders who are amazed and the people who are amazed by the teachings of Jesus.  He did not teach theories, and philosophy.  He taught the teachings and Word of God like He knew it.  He was the One who had spoken the world into existence, and hung the stars and planets in place and gave them order in their revolutions.  No one can speak the Word of God with authority except they have received it from God and His Son.

We see the uselessness of intellectual knowledge in religion.  The demons cry out to Jesus in recognition of who He is.  Jesus commands their silence.  Someone so holy can not be rightly announced by what is unholy.  Satan, the enemy of God and man – especially saved men and women – know who Jesus is, but they are not redeemed.   The demons  “Believe and tremble” (James 2:19), so when a man or woman say they believe in God, they are doing no more than the demons.  It does not mean they have been redeemed by the life blood of Jesus Christ.  You would not ever find a more “religious” lot than the demon lot condemned to Hell.  Knowledge of who Jesus Christ does not save.  Without trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord of one’s life you stand condemned.

Jesus commanded this “unclean spirit” to come out and he came out.  This man who was possessed by this “demon” was brought to the right person.  Have you ever asked yourself why a demon possessed man was at the synagogue in the first place.  Could it be that the man still had some sense of the need of deliverance, and the providence of God put him there that very day for his deliverance and salvation?  Could be.

The Lord provides complete and perfect cure when He heals Simon’s [Peter’s] mother in law.  As soon as she is raised from her sickness she is in full health, and goes to serving the guests.  Jesus has a heart for serving the people and giving them health.  The most important health He provides and gives is spiritual/soul health.  There is no better health than a healthy soul, and heart that is in tune with Jesus.

Jesus went about after these things and healed the sick and delivered captured souls.  What a wonderful Servant/Savior we have.

VV. 35 – 39  —   LOOK AT OUR LORD’S PRAYER LIFE.

To look at His prayer life is to get a perfect example of what a prayer life ought to be.  First of all,

“His very perfection was a perfection kept through the exercise of prayer”. J. C. Ryle study of Mark’s Gospel

We ought to learn from that and realize that if we would pray we would become stronger against Satan and sin, and temptation.  Secondly,

“To be prayerless is to be Christless, Godless, and in the high road to destruction”. J. C. Ryle study of Mark’s Gospel

It is by God’s Word that we can keep from sin through the power of prayer.  The Word of God, hidden in our heart, and the commitment of prayer will strengthen us against sin.

The Lord came into this world to ultimately provide salvation for sinners by dying for mankind’s sin on the cross, being buried, and rising  from the dead.  He came to minister by preaching the truth of God.   The Lord Jesus would have been the greatest preacher to ever live.  He gave honor to the position of the preacher.  It is sad that there are some who cause that honor to stink, and then it is no more honor.  Our Lord was a preacher, and that gives it the highest honor possible, no matter what some may do.

VV. 40 – 45  —   JESUS CARES FOR THE UNCLEAN.

The disease of leprosy was a dreaded, even feared disease.  It would cause sores on the body, and the skin and flesh would rot on the body.  The Old Testament condemns them as “unclean”.  The person who had leprosy was not allowed to live with his or her family, they became “outcast”.  Of course, family often cared for them, without getting near them; providing them food, and probably clothing and needed items.  Here Jesus does something that was ceremonially forbidden.  He touched the “Unclean”.  Jesus was guilty.  He was guilty of loving and giving His life.  That is what He was guilty of.

As soon as Jesus touched the leper, and said, “I will; be thou clean”, the leprosy was gone and he was clean.  The power of Jesus’ healing is wondrous, it is Almighty.  It is great knowing that such a Man even cares for those who are “Unclean”.  We were unclean by sin.  We were as the leper.  We were vile, desparate, and in need of healing, then Jesus came and He touched us, healed us and cleansed us.  Notice, the leper came to Him.  He was drawn by what he had heard.  He was delivered by faith in the Lord, not by any work he had done.  It was the Lord who touched him, and He was clean.  He was healed.  He was made whole.  What a Savior.  What a Great Physician.

When Jesus had healed and cleansed the leprous man, He told him to be silent about what had taken place in his life.  Rather than being silent about it, though, he went and told every one he saw.  Doing this crippled the ministry of Jesus to the people.  There is a time for silence.  Since the resurrection of Jesus we have been commanded to go and tell all that we have seen and heard of Jesus.  The day of silence is over when it comes to talking about Jesus.  There are still times we should remain silent.  Jesus even told us not to cast our pearls before swine.  Would that not be giving the gospel to those who do not want to hear it?  Those who are imprisoned in self-righteousness?  Those who are enamored in their own goodness, thinking God will have a scale and weigh their good deeds against their bad deeds, and the good will out weigh the bad?  Those who are enjoying their wickedness are not ready for the truth of God’s Word, nor the gospel. These are the people who bask in their self righteousness.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus, God-Man, Servant

The gospels have been identified as being written identifying Christ from four different perspectives.  First, Matthew shows Jesus as the King of the Jews;  Mark shows Him as a servant – there is no genealogy showing His  heritage in birth;  Luke shows him as man – in fact the God-man;  and John shows Him as deity – fully God and fully man, and makes quite clear (to all who can see and understand) that He is Deity.

This picture is even seen in the book of Ezekiel 1:4-14, and verse 10 shows us the faces of the gospel.  The lion would represent royalty – the King;  the ox face would represent service – the Servant;  the man’s face would represent the man – the God-man;  and the eagle represents majesty/deity – the God who became flesh and dwelt among us.  In the Revelation 4:7 the Apostle John even list them in the same order as the gospels are in.

“And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” Revelation 4:7 (KJV)

Study of Mark 1:1-20:

VV. 1 – 8  —   THE COMING OF THE ONE WHO CARES PROCLAIMED BY THE PROPHET.

The dignity of Jesus is full proclaimed by the messenger who was His fore runner preparing the way for Him – basically preparing the hearts of men to receive Him.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ was a fulfillment of prophecy – a fulfillment of Scripture.

The ministry of John the Baptist produced, for a time, a great effect upon the Jewish nation.

John’s doctrine of Christ was clear and characterized his own preaching – John knows that the one who is coming is mightier than he.  The One coming will not baptize you with water, but with fire.  He will change your life; cleanse you and make you whole.

VV. 9 – 20  —   THE COMMITMENT AND AUTHENTICATION OF JESUS AND HIS MINISTRY.

Jesus, being totally committed to His Father’s direction and plan for His life shows the commitment by following the ordinance of the law, and identifying Himself with mankind in baptism.  The Father confirmed Him by speaking from Heaven as an authentication of who He genuinely was/is.

Jesus was then placed under temptation without sinning to show Himself without sin to man, and as proof of His power to conquer sin and death.

The nature of our Lord’s preaching is similar to John’s in that He was calling sinners to repentance, and different in that He called for obedience to the gospel.  Now; just what is the gospel?  It is a word which means, “Good News”.

Jesus calls two men as He is walking on the sea shore – Simon and Andrew – and calls them to follow Him, and He will make them “Fishers of men”.  They would no longer be fishing for fish, but they would be “fishing” for the souls of men.   According to John’s Gospel chapter 1 and verses 40 – 42 Andrew is one who brought Simon [Peter] to Christ.

“One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.  And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.”John 1:40-42 (KJV)

That is an amazing thing for a brother to do.  There is no contradiction here only further clarification.  When you put the four gospels together you have a full story, not complete, but the story as the writers witnessed it.

These men were called to the office of a preacher.  Not everyone considers the office a great one, but Jesus was a Preacher – a Preacher of preachers – if you will.  Jesus was committed to the work which He came to do.  In the beginning of His ministry it was to preach, and glorify His Father;

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”Luke 4:18-19 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship