Dealing with the Heretic and Heresy in the Church

“A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” Titus 3:10-11 (KJB)

Let me leave you with John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible…

A man that is an heretic,…. An heretic, according to the notation of the word, is either one that makes choice of an opinion upon his own judgment, contrary to the generally received sense of the churches of Christ, and prefers it to theirs, and obstinately persists in it; separates from them, forms a party, and sets himself at the head of them, whom he has drawn into the same way of thinking with himself: or he is one that removes and takes away a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, which affects particularly the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity, and personality of Father, Son, and Spirit, and especially the doctrines relating to the person, office, and grace of Christ; one that brings in, or receives damnable doctrines; speaks or professes perverse things, and draws away disciples after him; or is among such disciples: for though schism and heresy do differ, and every schismatic may not be an heretic, yet every heretic is a schismatic; he makes a rent in the doctrine of Christ, and makes parties and divisions in his church; and such are not always to be contended and disputed with, but to be avoided and rejected:

after the first and second admonition reject; have nothing to do with him; have no society with him; admit him not to private conversation; and eject him from church communion, after he has been publicly admonished twice by the order of the church; for this is not to be understood of private admonition, by a particular person or persons; as in the case of private offences, Mat_18:15 but of public admonition, in the name of the church. An admonition with the Jews did not continue less than seven days (a); some say (b) thirty; that is, there were so many days before it was out, or between one and another.

(a) T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 16. 1. (b) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 33. fol. 28. 3.”

And verse 11…

Knowing that he that is such is subverted,…. Or overturned and demolished; he is like an edifice, that is not only decaying, and falling, but is entirely everted, and pulled down; so that there is no hopes of a restoration or recovery; he is in a desperate condition, having opposed the person, or office, or sacrifice of Christ; having either trodden the Son of God underfoot, or counted his blood common, or done despite unto the spirit of grace; in either of which cases there is no more sacrifice for sin:

and sinneth; not practically, but doctrinally, and wilfully after he has received the knowledge of the truth; by denying the truth he received, in which he continues, notwithstanding the evidence of the word of God is against him; and; notwithstanding the arguments taken from it by the ministers of the Gospel, to convince him; and notwithstanding the admonitions of the church to recover him out of the snare of the devil:

being condemned of himself; not that an heretic is one that is convinced in his own conscience that he is in an error, and that that is a truth which he opposes; and yet he obstinately persists in the one, and continues to set himself against the other; for then, none but an hypocrite, that conceals his true sentiment, can be an heretic; nor can any man be known to be one unless he accuses himself; since no man can know the heart of another; and it would be impracticable in a church to deal with heretics, or reject and excommunicate them: but either the meaning is, that he is such an one, who by his own practice has condemned himself; for whereas he has separated himself not only from the faith of the church, but from the church itself; by so doing he practically condemns himself, or judges himself unworthy of the communion of the church, and so justifies the church in their rejection and exclusion of him: or rather, an heretic is one who having professed Christianity, and received the Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice, and still professes to abide by the same, and that all doctrine is to be tried by them, and to be approved or condemned as that agrees or disagrees with them, stands condemned by those Scriptures, which he himself allows to be the rule of decision and determination; and so may be said to be self-condemned.” John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.

 

The Best Gifts

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. 1Corinthians 12:31
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (KJB)

The Corinthian Church was laden with Christians who were competing for who they considered the best preacher, teacher, and the best spiritual gifts.  One gift in particular was one that was causing the greatest stir.

Corinth was a troubled Church.  The apostle Paul sent this letter, because he was not able to come and see them.  The purpose of the letter is to address and endeavor to correct the problems of jealousy, envy, immoral conduct, and selfishness.

The apostle had dealt with the issue of tongues.  It was a sign gift, probably for the unbelieving Jews to see the Old Testament fulfillment, but they would not understand (Isaiah 28:11; 1 Corinthians 14:22).  Now that I have dealt with that let us consider the best gifts.

The best gifts are those that edifies the Church.  They build up, they encourage, they motivate the Church; and lead the Church in building up the name of Jesus Christ.

The greatest thing to have is love; it is the “more excellent way” as Paul describes godly love in chapter 13.  Many people, Christian and non-christian knows of 1 Corinthians 13, but know little or nothing of the chapters preceding it, or the three chapters following.

Spiritual gifts are good, even great; but if you do not have love you are empty.  The love spoken of by the apostle is not the feel  good love many think of.  It is love that acts when a wrong is witnessed, or a need is seen as one drives by a neighbor’s home, and you stop to help.  It is the love that acts without thought of recovering the cost of the effort.

There is also faith and hope and love, Paul says, “but the greatest of these is love”.

Father in Heaven fill me with Your Spirit so that I might love like You do.  That I might love my neighbor as I love myself.

Just a Thought from December 30, 2008

There are many questions, and at times many accusations, and arguments over the issue of marriage.  Biblically, marriage is between one man, and one woman “until death do we part”.  The issue of same sex or homosexual marriage is playing a large part in that definition today.

As a Christian I take the Biblical view of marriage, and will until the Lord returns to take me home with Him.  A question comes to my mind, however, “Why has marriage been so cheapened, so degraded?”, and I must answer that with this.

The divorce rate is around 50 percent.  That sounds awful to me.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Is that what is meant by that statistic?  If so, that is truly terrible, and a shame to be attached to something that God has ordained.

There is something that makes the matter even worse to me, and that is the divorce rate among those who profess to be “Christian”.  It is at the same rate, and maybe even higher.  It seems that many Christians have bought into the “Me” lie.  They may not admit it, but live as though their living life is all about “Me”, and there is no surrender, no commitment, no loyalty to the spouse (husband or wife).

Let me ask this question, “Who has really cheapened marriage; those who have no commitment, or the issue of same sex marriage?”  I dare say that had we Christians stood firm on faithful marriages, and committed ourselves to our own wife or husband, then there would not be the issue and debate of same sex marriage.

Here is the Biblical idea for marriage.  “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  When these are followed there will be happiness in the marriage, along with joy and peace.

Just my thoughts for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

He Is Before All Things

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated into the kingdom of His dear Son: in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.
And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all He might have the preeminence.”  Colossians 1:9-18

REFERENCES: Romans 12:2; Acts 5:41; 26:18, 23; Ephesians 1:7; 6:12; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 1:5; 3:14; John 1:1

O, The Blessings We Have in Jesus Christ

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly in Christ: according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the Beloved.  In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; in Him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.  In whom you also, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set at His own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and has put all under His feet, and gave Him the head over all to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.  Ephesians 1:1-23

REFERENCES: Romans 1:7; Galatians 1:3; Exodus 33:19; Matthew 3:17; 1 Peter 1:18; Acts 20:28; Colossians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 3:22; Isaiah 46:10; James 1:18; John 1:17; Luke 21:28; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:4

His Kingdom Coming

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” 
Matthew 13:44-50 (KJB)

The finished result of the kingdom of heaven will be the final putting away of all that is evil and false. The complete redemption of all who are bought and claimed by the Redeemer. All the parables of Matthew 13 give us an outline, together, of the Church Age. First of all in the parable of the “Sower” we see individual’s responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, in the parables of the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven; we see Satan’s opposition to the work of God in His kingdom, and his attacks upon it. Thirdly, we see the results of Judgment upon the “Treasure” [Israel], the Pearl [the Church], and the dragnet [Gentile nations]. This parable shows us that there is evil in the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of Christ while He is not bodily present, and it will progress until He comes again.

I. In the parable of the “Wheat and the tares” the field is the world (v. 44).

* + In this world “a man” is God in the person of His Son, and the “treasure” is true Israel.
* + When God called Israel to be His people and Nation He had a plan for them, and He still does.

Warren Wiersbe says, “That nation was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (John 11:51). On the cross, Jesus died for the whole world; but in a special way, He died for Israel (Isaiah 53:8). The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is ‘hidden’ and will be revealed again in glory.” From the Bible Exposition Commentary by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 47, VOL. 1.

II. Pearls are made through the much tribulation of the oyster (vv. 45-46).

* + I don’t know all the mechanics behind the making of the pearl, but what we have all heard is that it begins with a grain of sand being on the sensitive part of its body.
* + In the parable of the “pearl of great price” (vv. 45-46), it has seen the similar interpretation as the above “treasure”, the “pearl” being Christ Jesus and those who give up all they have, and purchase the pearl have made a great bargain.

” Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” 1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV). “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV). “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:4-7 (KJV). “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalms 14:2-3 (KJV).

III. In this parable of the precious pearl the “Merchant man” is surely representing Jesus Christ (vv. 45-46).

* + Jesus saw the Church as being a precious pearl, and gave up the splendors and glory of heaven to come and redeem fallen men to God.
* + In Scripture we always have God seeking for men.
* It was Jesus who said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10).
* + The pearl which the Merchant man seeks is the Church.
* + The growth of the Church is unseen by the world, just as the pearl within the oyster.

IV. Jesus once again goes to the sea, only in a bigger way (vv. 47-50).

* + Keep in mind that we are to understand that the “kingdom of heaven” contains both the good and the bad [evil]; the true and the false.
* + The good and true ae the ones who are genuine believers.
*  (Daniel 7:1-3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).
* + The time of this judgment is at the end of the age, when God is going to make all things right.
* It is not the end of the Church Age, but the end of the age of a “Mixed Multitude”.

-by Tim A. Blankenship
For further study and reading

Not Forsaken; Not Forgotten

Set Aside; But Not Forgotten

Romans 11:1-6

Paul has now pointed out clearly Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah. Israel is a very religious people, but lost as a nation. Is this not enough evidence to prove to us that the rejection of Jesus is also rejecting God and His righteousness. It should be enough.

In this portion of this study of chapter eleven we learn that God has not forsaken, or cast away Israel. Paul, an Israelite, is evidence of that, along with Peter, James, John, Matthew… They are part of the remnant to which Paul is referring.

CAN GOD BE TRUSTED TO FULFILL HIS WORD TO HIS PEOPLE (v. 1)?

“I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.“ Romans 11:1 (KJV).

‘Cast away’ – the meaning is to be cast out to never be blessed with God’s presence again. The idea is presented by some that God is finished with Israel for all time. That the only hope for Israel is to come into the Church, and of course that would be ideal. That is the purpose of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection; however, the house of Israel rejected Jesus, but they will, one day look on Him whom they pierced.

‘I also am an Israelite’ – The fact of Paul’s presence in salvation through faith in Christ is promise to the Jewish people, that a remnant of them will be saved. Paul’s conversion is evidence that Israel is not forsaken. God still desires the whole Nation of Israel to trust His Son Jesus.

WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY OF ELIJAH (v. 2).

“ God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,…” Romans 11:2 (KJV).

Elijah was praying against the nation of Israel. He was grieved by their rejection of God and how they had turned to Baal (Read 1 Kings 19:10-18). Elijah following the victory on Mount Carmel ran for his life from the queen [Jezebel], and believed himself to be the only true follower of Jehovah. Even prophets can allow the flesh to intervene and ruin their lives, but God will set them straight; just as He did Elijah.

‘God has not cast away His people’ – There is not much clearer statement in all Scripture that God will fulfill His Word and save His people.

THERE ARE MANY WHOM GOD HAS RESERVED, AND KEPT AS WORSHIPPERS OF MESSIAH (vv. 3-4).

“Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down Thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.  But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” Romans 11:3-4 (KJV).

‘Killed Thy prophets…’ – It had been the order of queen Jezebel to kill the prophets of Jehovah, God of Israel, thus many of the men of God had died. There were also many who were hiding out in some of the caves. Obadiah a servant to king Ahab was a God-fearing man, knew the treachery of Jezebel – that she had killed many prophets – thus, he hid a hundred in two different caves and fed them (See 1 Kings 18:1-4).

‘Digged down Thine Altars’ – It was Jezebel’s intent to destroy the worship of Jehovah. She loved her pleasure, power and pomp. She was the one who ruled the throne of Israel – the Northern Kingdom. Everywhere there was an altar to Jehovah it was torn down, but she could not control the hearts of Elijah, nor the other prophets being hid, nor the 7,000 who had bowed their knee to Baal – Jezebel.

ACCORDING TO THE ELECTION OF GRACE (vv. 5-6).

“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Romans 11:5-6 (KJV).

‘At this present time’ – During the days of Paul. Paul and the other Jews who had been saved are evidences of the grace of God.

‘There is a remnant’ – Just as God had a remnant who believed Him in Elijah’s day He had one for the days following the resurrection of Jesus, and He has a remnant for the return of Jesus. The remnant are “Children of the seed” or of ‘the Promise’(9:6-7). God’s children became God’s children by God’s promise. It was not by their own efforts. Is a baby born by his/her own choosing? NO! Is it born by God’s choice? YES! No one, who is physically born had a choice in the matter. It was determined by an act of the mother, the father and the sovereignty of God. The Scofield Study Bible defines “Remnant” as ‘A spiritual Israel within the national Israel” (p. 1205).

‘No more of works’ – We often say that we are saved by grace alone. Sometimes we say, or at least I do, that “We are saved by grace alone, plus nothing, minus nothing”. Since we are saved by “Grace alone” there can be no works which redeem us. If we are saved by grace, we are kept by grace, grow by grace, and appear before Jesus by grace.

‘No more grace’ – If we attribute any part of the saving work of Christ to our works, then, there is no more grace. Grace cancels out works, and/or works cancels out grace. The two are exclusive. You can be saved only by works alone, or by Grace alone. We are saved by grace alone. There is no other way of being right with God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Reverence, Rest and Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ministry Led By the Holy Spirit

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4 (KJV)

In chapter six there was some contention over the neglect of some of the Grecians because their widows were not being cared for; at least the way the families thought they ought to be.

The Church in Jerusalem was growing.  People were being delivered from sin and condemnation.  The apostles were loaded with many responsibilities, thus the accusations of neglect.

The apostles were chosen by the Spirit of God to be preachers of the gospel; so in that they would, and should give themselves to the ministry of prayer, and the preaching of the word.  O that the preachers of God’s word today would get that burden; for if we are not in the word of God and prayer we will be powerless, and find ourselves struggling with emptiness of heart and soul, wondering about if we are doing what we are called to do or not.

It is not that the apostles, or the preacher today would be neglecting their duties of service, and ministry; they are rather giving themselves to the greater responsibility of calling people to Christ, and His work in and through them.

With every Christian gifted by the Spirit of God to serve one another, the Church is blessed and it grows as God blesses and leads.  See Romans 12:3-15;  1 Corinthians 12.

The Church chose seven men.  The most remembered one is Stephen.  These seven men were full of the Spirit of God, they did the work they were chosen to do, and the apostles were able to do the work they were called and chosen to do, and the Church was blessed…

“…Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:6-7

You will note also, that, many priests of the Hebrews became believers as well.  Is God good, great, marvelous or what? He is.  He is indeed.

Great Fear on the Church

“And great fear came upon all the Church, and upon as many as heard these things.” Acts 5:11 (KJV)

When you read verses 1- 10 of chapter five you will understand why “Great fear came upon all the Church, and upon as many as heard these things.”  It would certainly cause me to set up and notice, but then I pray today that there was such fear for the Church  of God, and His people.

It all began (in this chapter) with a couple name of Ananias and Sapphira who were Christians in the new Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  There was such a move of the Spirit of God that many of the congregation had sold all that they owned and given the whole amount of the sale to the Church to support one another and the missions of that congregation.

This couple took it upon themselves to sell what they owned, keep back part for themselves; and there would have been nothing wrong with that; except they told the apostles – thus telling the Spirit of God – that they were giving all that they had received for the property; lying to them.  Therefore the wrath of God fell on them, they died for their lies to the Lord, initiating the fear that we read of in verse 11.

Would to God that there was more slaying by the Spirit of those who hope to gain personally from the work of God in our churches. Is it any wonder that there is no fear of God, nor His people in the world today.  That is due, at least in part, to the allowance of the world and its ways in the Church across our Nation.

May God help us and forgive us and lead us in His Spirit to be the catalyst of His great salvation once again.

Maybe if the Lord would do that again in His Church people would quit coming into worship the Lord with the attitude of “What can I get our of attending Church today?”, and start thinking with an attitude of gratitude of what the Lord  has already done for us on the cross, and what He does for us daily in our lives; happy to be in the presence of the Lord… no matter what we get out of “Church”.  It does need to be a matter of us dying to self, being crucified with Christ (Galations 2:20), and Christ living in us.

Turn to Jesus Christ today, and watch the power of God in you start to work.

 

Jesus Christ – Our Sufficiency (2)

Colossians 2:16-23

 OUTLINE –

I. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE THINGS THAT WERE SHADOWS (vv. 16-17).

II. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE WHO HAVE PUFFY MINDS (v. 18).

III. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE TO GROW IN FAITH (v. 19).

IV. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THE LEGALISTS, THE MYSTICS, AND THE ASCETICS WHO PROJECT THEMSELVES AS BEING CLOSER TO GOD (vv. 20-23).

It seems as we get deeper into the teachings of the apostle Paul to the Church at Colossae that we find how relevant the teaching is for Christians and local churches in our day.

People can get hung up on “Days”, “Moons”, and “Sabbaths”, as though that were the thing to gain one’s favor with God. There can also be a problem with legalism among Christians of our day. There is a growing problem of the “Mysticism” within many of our modern churches which call themselves Christians, who put as great an emphasis; or greater; on their experience as upon the Scriptures. When will Christians learn that Jesus is enough? He is all we need. There is enough of Him to go around, and at the cross where He died the ground is level.

Then, there are those who want to “Do without” to appear holy. They will fast, and let everyone know they are doing so. They will speak lowly of themselves before other people, but yet are very full of themselves; priding themselves in their “Humility”. These have not come to the place of humbling themselves before the God of Heaven and earth. They have not met this personal, merciful, loving God. When one meets God you fall on your face before Him and you are humbled by His presence and glory.

In the church at Colossae, these who were “Holy” and above others, by their own behavior; were even worshipping angels. It was the apostle John who fell down on his face before an angel, and the angel demanded that John arise, “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” Rev. 22:9. They were or soon would be leading the church at Colossae, and Laodicea astray from the worship of God. Don’t you suppose that the reason Paul wrote to the Galations, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9) was partly for this reason.

JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE THINGS THAT WERE SHADOWS (vv. 16-17). Jesus – the One who casts the shadows. This ought to be particularly meaningful for the time of year we are in. Our annual celebration of the Nativity – the Birth of Jesus Christ – or Christmas as we have all become accustomed to calling it.

It is almost a sin in some people’s eyes if you do not send out cards. It is a sin to not buy anyone Christmas gifts. God forbid if you do not spend enough on . Whose Birthday are we celebrating?, and who gets gifts at their birthday? It is Jesus’s Birthday, and He is the one who should get the gifts. Right or wrong?

In my thinking Easter is the most meaningful, because He died and rose again, and that is how we readily remember Him. Of course, some will say, “Well He had to be born, before He could die for our sins”, and I would agree with that. Why was He born? He was born to die. Die for the sins of mankind.

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with remembering the birth of our Savior. We do need to remember, that, we do not really know what day He was born, but it is my belief that it would have been Spring or Summer, maybe closer to the day of “Passover”. My reason for believing that is that the shepherds were in the fields watching their sheep. It is not likely that they would have been out on a Winter’s evening. It makes little to no difference as long as we give Him the worship and glory in this day; that we should every other day.

Paul tells the people, “Be satisfied in Jesus – He is your sufficiency”, and “Do not let these others judge you”. The days, the feast, the moons Paul speaks of were shadows of Christ Jesus. We do not need shadows any longer. We have the very substance.

JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE WHO HAVE PUFFY MINDS (v. 18). “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind…” We can see by this verse that the Gnostics who were the mystics, the “Righteous”, and “Closest to God” were really not righteous at all, were teaching lies to lead Christians away from true doctrine; especially the doctrine of Christ as God in flesh.

These “Know-It-Alls” prided themselves in their “Humility”. They made little of themselves; may have said things like, “O I am nothing”, yet exhibited great pride over their humility. It is surely a good saying, “Humility is a funny thing, when you think you have it; you don’t”. I do not remember where I first heard that, but it is true. We are not to make little of ourselves. We are to make much of our God and Savior. Look what Jesus has done for us. Think of the cross. Think of His burial. Think of His resurrection. Think of Him as who He is – our Creator. Before Him we all pail in comparison. We have no need of tearing ourselves down, but we do have need of building Him up.

I have heard Christians, both preachers and others who are speaking publicly say, “I am nothing. I do not deserve to be here”. My thoughts when I here that is, ‘No! You don’t, and I don’t either, but get on to the One you are here to talk about. He is worthy”. For some reason we spend too much time belittling ourselves, and not enough time lifting Him up. Could it be that in our ‘False humility’ we are seeking the approval of others? That was the goal of the Gnostic – mystics, and such.

Jesus is our sufficiency over puffed up minds.

JESUS IS SUFFICIENT FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE TO GROW IN FAITH (v. 19). “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God”. There is a right way to grow in faith of the Lord Jesus. It is not through mystic experiences, public self humiliation, or in ‘legalism’ which is basically the use of the law to gain salvation, or for the keeping of one’s salvation.

It is God’s calling that every Christian grow in faith, and knowledge of Him in the right way. John MacArthur writes, “We, like the Colossians, must not be intimidated by those who would make something other than knowing Christ through His Word a requirement for spiritual maturity. Christ is all sufficient, ‘seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence’ (2 Peter 1:3)”. From The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Colossians pg. 122.

JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THE LEGALISTS, THE MYSTICS, AND THE ASCETICS WHO PROJECT THEMSELVES AS BEING CLOSER TO GOD (vv. 20-23). “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,  (Touch not; taste not; handle not;  Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?  Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh”. The life of the Christian is free from the ordinances, and manmade rules that so quickly bind, and enslave those who practice them.

By the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross, all the things that were shadows of Jesus became meaningless. Jesus was/is the real thing. He is the reality of the photograph. Anyone who would honor the ordinances, laws, days, and Sabbaths over the fulfillment is floating in the wrong boat, without motor or paddle, headed over a waterfall to destruction. Those who are trusting their own experience over the truth of God’s Word is deceived, deceptive, and living toward destruction. Those who are dependent upon their own “Humility”, their asceticism, are beating themselves to death for no reason.

Jesus is sufficient – He fulfilled the Law. Jesus is sufficient – the Word of God tells us about Him, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10b). How can there be any more? Jesus is sufficient – There is no need of false piety, false humility, and depriving one’s self to gain the honor of men. Jesus is the One who deserves all the honor, glory and praise.

Just as the Gnostics tried to lord over the churches by trying to appear more ‘spiritual’ so there are those in churches today who say they have ‘spiritual’ experiences which draw many people’s attention. Who is getting the attention? He or she is usually oooohed and aaaaahed and counted as being really spiritual. Who is getting the glory?

JESUS CHRIST IS OUR SUFFICIENCY. In Him we must glory. We must count our life’s gain but loss. We count Christ everything. Quoting the nineteenth century Scottish preacher Alexander McClaren, John MacArthur writes, “Any asceticism is a great deal more to men’s taste than abandoning self. They will rather stick hooks in their backs and do the ‘swinging poojah’ than give up their sins and yield up their wills. There is only one thing that will put the collar on the neck of the animal within us and that is the power of the indwelling Christ. Ascetic religion is godless, for its practitioners essentially worship themselves. As such, we are not to be intimidated by it.” IBID.

These things, are perversions of the truth. They replace Christ with self. JESUS CHRIST – OUR SUFFICIENCY.

Blessed New Year 2016

I am writing this on January 01, 2015.  I am trying something new.  I have no guarantee that I am even alive at the time this  becomes a live post.  I also have no guarantee that the Lord Jesus has not come again for His Church in the rapture.

If you are reading this and 2015 has been a year when a cataclysmic event happened with millions of missing people, then you need to know that  you missed it.  You are now in the time of “Jacob’s trouble” or also called the Tribulation.  What ever you do find a copy of the Bible God’s Holy Word, read the Gospel of Matthew, John, and the Revelation; follow Jesus, and do not believe anything the new government says.  Do not trust them.  Trust the LORD Jesus Christ.

At the time of this writing. Barrack Obama is President of the United States of America, the world is at war with ISIS, a gross terrorist organization of radical muslim extremist.  Their intent is to destroy Israel and the U. S. of A., and take over the world and Sheriah Law rules.  A new Republican majority was voted into the Senate.  How have things gone since then.  The last I noticed the Stock Market was at or near 18,000.

I pray now, that if you did not know Jesus on January 01, 2015 you do now.  Whether the rapture of the Church has occurred or not you still need to know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.

The City Shall Be Built to the LORD

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.” Jeremiah 31:38-40 (KJV)

The Lord of all the earth has made a new covenant with Israel. Jeremiah has spoken it in the previous verses. If we apply these verses to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, then we spiritualize the text, and rob God of the promise He made; and make the promise of no affect to Israel, or the Church.

Of course the city was rebuilt following the return; after 70 total years in Babylon; and the city was destroyed again about 70 A.D. This does not mean that God broke the covenant. This is speaking of a day when all the previous things Jeremiah has spoken in this chapter have come to pass; and that is when Jesus returns in power and great glory and basically rebuilds it Himself.

The people of Israel will see their Messiah Jesus and will believe; and their hearts and minds will be changed by His grace, power and glory. God will not allow one single word He has spoken to fall to the ground void or empty.

Christian this is the evidence we can trust God with our salvation through the cross of Jesus. If He will not keep His covenant with Israel there can be no assurance of our salvation. Look unto Jesus Christ and live forever.

W4CL – Power

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21 (KJV)

The human race is consumed by power.  People who want to have control over others; many of them are called politicians who are out to get all the power they can.  Many are preachers and pastors who desire to rule the Church they lead – sadly.

There is something the Christian must realize and that is that all power belongs to the Creator.  It is wonderful for the Christian to daily focus, fellowship with, and have faith in the One who is All-Powerful (Omnipotent).  It is a glorious thing to know that we have the One who empowered the life of Jesus as He walked on earth living within us too.  “…The power that worketh in us…”

How much power do we have?  All that is His; is ours.  Let us walk with Him, and it will be used rightly.

Words for Christian Living – Speech that Edifies

“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.”  1 Corinthians 14:1-5 (KJV)

Someone once said, “It is better to be thought a fool; than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

In Paul’s writing above he speaks of the spiritual gift of “Tongues” and “Prophecy”.  One of the things I have noticed is that many of  those who claim the “Gift of tongues” want to make it a requirement for the “Baptism of the Spirit”.  Now I am not going to get into that; just saying.  Those may have a bigger problem controlling the tongue, speaking for the glory of God, rather than cursing.

At any rate Paul says Prophesy or Preaching the Word of God for building up, calling for a decision, and comfort is something that will “Edify” the Church; while “Tongues” edifies self.  That is plenty clear to me.

As Christians our speech – the use of our tongues – is to glorify God, build up and encourage, strengthen – by calling for commitment, decision, and trust in the Lord – and comfort the Body of Christ.  Also see James 3:1-12.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 83 – Living, Until Jesus Comes Again

Most of us can say we enjoy living.  Though Christians have a longing to see Jesus face to face, and that would mean leaving this life; the life we live in the here and now; we  too have a joy for living in this world and life.  That is as it should be.  My reading this morning was Colossians 1-4; 1 Thessalonians 1-5, and 2 Thessalonians 1-3.

There are many who are believing that the freedoms we have in Jesus Christ means there are no laws or rules we must obey.  What it really means to be free in Christ is that we have even greater responsibility to live right, just and holy in this world for the glory of Christ our Lord and Saviour.  We have living within us the presence of the Holy Spirit; which is Christ in us.  He lives in us to make us more like Jesus.  We are no longer free to sin; we are, however, free from sin.

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power…”  Colossians 2:8-10 (KJV)

The world we presently live in is out to pervert the gospel of Christ through the teachings of men [philosophy].  Christianity is not a philosophy; it is a life to live; a life to give; a fellowship with the One who gave His life for us.  Our lives are not our own.  Christ Jesus is the “Fulness of the Godhead bodily”.  Remember what Jesus said to Philip, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians was one about living in this world too.  In the Thessalonian letters he does address the second coming of Christ, even the rapture of the church; which I know some Christians do not believe in, or believe that Jesus has already returned; but so did some of the Thessalonians.

There are five chapters in the first letter addressed to the Church of Thessolonica.  Each chapter ends with a mention of the return of Jesus Christ,

“And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”  1 Thessalonians 1:10 (KJV)

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For ye are our glory and joy.”  2:19-20

“Now God Himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”  3:11-13

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”  4:14-18

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”  5:23-24

In each of these letters Paul admonishes believers to live faithfully in this world.  He even addresses the issue of not working.  It would appear that some Thessalonian Christians had quit their jobs, because “Jesus was on His way” and they did not need to work anymore – so they thought.  The apostle has written,

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.   And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  2 Thessalonians 3:10-15 (KJV)

How should we live until Christ comes?  As though His coming might be today; yet living in this world, working, faithful toward God, as though it might be a thousand years away.  Jesus’s words, were “Occupy til I come” (Luke 19:13).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Power On Their Lives – Mark 16:15-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 2:1-23

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

…When The Challenge Seems Impossible

Daniel 2:1-23

purpose – To display the need for Christians to be sober, courageous, and bold enough to seek the Lord’s guidance, and information from Him in difficult situations and circumstances.

In this the second chapter of Daniel we find that Nebuchadnezzar is a man of troubled dreams.  What we will find later, by the power of God, through the prophet Daniel is that this is a dream related to the history of the Gentile nations throughout human history from Nebuchadnezzar until the appearing of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lord.

In this first message from chapter two we will see an enormous requirement put on the “wisemen” of Babylon.  It is so impossible it leads the Chaldeans to respond that no one can give the dream, “…except the gods”.  The enormous task was that, before they could interpret his dream they had to first, tell him his dream, and then he would know they were being truthful about its interpretation.  Pretty smart of the king; at least I think so.

INTRODUCTION OUTLINE –

I.  THE KING IS TROUBLED BY DREAMS (v. 1).
II.  THE KING ASK FOR THE “WISEMEN” TO TELL HIM HIS DREAM THAT HE HAD DREAMED (vv. 2-9).
III.  THE KING SENDS OUT A DECREE TO KILL ALL THE ‘WISEMEN’ (vv. 10-13).
IV.  THE MAN OF GOD (DANIEL) SEEKS THE KINGS DELAY WHILE HE AND OTHERS PRAY (vv. 14-18).
V.  GOD REVEALS THE DREAM AND ITS INTERPRETATION TO DANIEL (vv. 19-23).

I.  TROUBLING DREAMS, FEARING WHAT MAY BE AHEAD (v. 1).
With a world in economic, political, and moral failure there are many who are having troubling dreams, even fearing what may lie ahead.  Many of us may have dreams while sleeping that we don’t even remember, and some we do, however, Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by his dream.  His dream was one that God had given him.

There should be no trouble in understanding the meaning of “the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign”, and the three years of training for the Hebrew children; as it is possible to have three years involved in two years of reign.  In some reckonings of time a part of a year is counted as a year.  In school years of out time we have one school year taking place in two parts of different years.  You have a school year beginning in August 2009, ending in May 2010; another schoold year beginning in 2010 and ending in 2011; then, another school year beginning in 2011, and you have three years.  I think that is enough to give some understanding in this matter.

In the commentary by his name Matthew Henry writes of Nebuchadnezzar, “Nebuchadnezzar was a troubler of God’s Israel, but God here troubled him; for He that made the soul can make His sword to approach to it”  If there is ever a proof of the love of God it is or should be seen in the trials everyone endures; if indeed they endure them.  Maybe it should be said every trial we go through.  Can we not see the wondrous love of God?

In history we can learn from our mistakes; but looking ahead to trouble is only anguish.  Learning from history is great; if indeed we learn, and then don’t repeat the past.  Looking ahead in faith is not troubling, but peaceful.  When you know who holds tomorrow, and leave the outcome to the One who is in charge you will have peace with the past and the future.  No matter what dreams you dream.

“For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.”  Ecclesiastes 5:7 (KJV)

II.  WHEN THE SEEMING IMPOSSIBLE REQUIRES TRUSTWORTHY PEOPLE (vv. 2-13).
The supposed wisemen of Babylon were wise in the ways of the worship of demons; yet not knowing they worshipped demons (1 Corinthians 10:19-21).  Thus the wisdom of the world has no power but will be pulled down by the mighty power of  Almighty God.

The challenge which went out to the magicians, sorcerers, Chaldeans; and whatever else they were called was one they nor any other Gentile sorcerer had been asked before.  “Tell me my dream”.  Who can tell another man what they dreamed?  No man can.  Only the God of all creation; the God of the universe; the God of all the things; who holds the worlds in His hands.  Only He can tell a man what He has dreamed.

It is my belief that the king lies about not remembering the dream only to check out the response of the “wisemen”.  It is a thing of God to elevate His man to the position to bring glory to Himself.  The king is dependent still upon the old witchcraft, and demonism of the day; and God is preparing Him to hear from God, drawing the king to Himself.

Matthew Henry writes concerning the Chaldeans, The “…confession of the divine omniscience is here extorted from these idolaters, to the honour of God and their own condemnation, who though they knew there is a God in heaven, ‘to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secret is hid,’ yet offered up their prayers and praises to dumb idols, that ‘have eyes and see not, ears and hear not.”

The Chaldeans; which probably includes all these titles referred to in the text could not believe the king would ask such a thing and even confess “There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.  And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”  vv.10-11 (KJV).  The king is furious and he seeks to have all these people killed; and do away with any who are connected with this lying sect.

The king was angry with a “trusted” group of men who were being tested for their honesty, and not proving worthy of trust.  He understood that if anyone could tell him what he had dreamed they would actually be able to give him its true interpretation.  However, he was hasty in ordering the destruction of this sect of people.  He had either forgotten about Daniel and his friends or it didn’t really matter to him.

By this hasty decree the lives of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were threatened as well; but by the sovereign hand of God He worked and got the attention of the king; and the king gave Daniel time to consult with the King of kings.

“For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.”  Amos 4:13 (KJV)

“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.”  Psalms 139:2 (KJV)

III.  THE TRUSTWORTHY ARE PEOPLE OF GOD AND ARE PRAYING PEOPLE, AND DEPEND ON ONE ANOTHERS BACKING (VV. 14-18).
It is certain that the Chaldeans were “praying” and “praising” in the wrong heart, the wrong way, and wrong place.  There is one correct way of worship; true worship; and that is through the Son of God, God become flesh, whose precious blood was shed for our salvation.  Daniel asked the king’s captain who was sent to kill them, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” (v. 15)  This is one example of “haste making waste”; because it would have been waste to kill Daniel and his friends; and it was a waste of the time already put into the effort.

Daniel shows character and goes directly before the king.  He asks the king for time to pray and seek the face and will of God concerning the king’s dream; and the king gives it.  Would to God that God’s people; Christians; of the day were so bold as to approach the king concerning the matters of life and death.  Concerning the matters of morality.  We must, however, have the integrity and character of Daniel, and his prayer life.

Just as Daniel did not approach this matter alone, but went to his friends; Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; and asked them to pray with him; so to must we realize that we must pray together. Daniel asks, “…that they might seek the mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret”, knowing the message would be coming from Him.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)

One of the things we must learn from Daniel is the power of prayer.  Do you have something that may seem like a trite matter, a small matter in your heart yet it troubles you?  Then go to God in prayer, seeking His face and His will in the matter.  Another thing; get others to join you in praying about the matter.  Of course this was a life and death situation for Daniel, his friends and many others too.

In the time which we live with  the rapture of the church, and  the second coming of Christ drawing nearer with every minute we must be walking with God, praying, praying, and praying even more.  We must be praying for our walk with God to be ever closer; for the witness of Christians; for the life changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed with the power and authority of God and His Word; and the drawing power of His Spirit to work gloriously.  We don’t need mushy stories, with heart breaking effort; we need Holy Spirit conviction convicting men and women and boys and girls of their sins to the point of repentance and belief in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross proven by the resurrection from the dead.

If we want to see the power of God to affect change in our life, church, community, State, and federal governments; then, we must pray, work and witness in the power of the Spirit depending on the Spirit to convict of sin and convince of the power of God to save.

IV.  GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE REVEALS HIS SECRETS TO THOSE WHO LOVE HIM (vv. 19-23)

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

The prophets of God knew that they knew nothing but what God revealed it to them.  There was and still is no message from God if He does not reveal it.  When God is silent His prophets are silent as well.  God was not silent in the days of Daniel.  He spoke through Daniel and His friends and He still speaks through them.  Do you hear Him?

The LORD  asked Jeremiah the prophet, “Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 (KJV)  What seems impossible to the human eye is possible with God.  When the situation seems hopeless and all seems lost; God, the LORD, who holds the universe in His hands can do what we cannot do; “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), and He will do it for His own glory; not any glory of any human or humanity.

God revealed the secret to Daniel.  It is not of man’s invention or intervention to tell other men their dreams.  In a world filled with those who want to tell you your future there is only One who can.  His name is Jehovah -YHWH.  He reveals Himself to us through His Word, the Bible, and through His Son Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection.

“But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.  Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.  He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.”  Jeremiah 10:10-12 (KJV)

Do you know the God of the impossible?  The One who knows your thoughts and dreams?  He does know you.  Four times in the gospels Jesus used the phrase, “all things are possible” twice “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26;  Mark 10:27); and He uses it two other times, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”  Mark 9:23 (KJV); and “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”  Mark 14:36 (KJV)

Magnify the LORD.  Lift up the name of the LORD.

Application –

i.  Know that the LORD is Lord of all dreams and knows your heart and your fears and dreads.
ii.  Believe the LORD when it seems as though the task, or challenge ahead of you seems impossible, and know that God takes care of you.
iii.  When you are having trouble pray and ask others to join you in prayer; know also that when your community or nation is in dire straits that prayer is a cry to God for His action.
iv.  Know that what lies ahead is revealed to us by God in His written Word through faith in His Living Word, and Holy Son Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Marriage Of Isaac

It is seen in the study of Genesis that Isaac is the promised son of Abraham and Sarah,  according to the Word of God.  In this study I want us to see the picture of the Christ and His Church which is found in Genesis chapter 24.

I did a short study on this in 2006, and posted it here on Fire and Hammer.  I will repost it here.

We must remember the apostle Paul’s words when he wrote, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Romans 9:7) quoting Genesis 21:12.  We are not wrong in seeing an allegory of the Church in Rebekkah, nor of seeing Isaac as a picture of  Jesus Christ.

“1And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. 5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? 6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. 7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. 8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.” Genesis 24:1-9 (KJV).

I will not post all 67 verses, but I will put the verse numbers for your reference to check out.

There is a wedding which is going to be celebrated, in what I believe to be the not too distant future. Here in the Old Testament book of Genesis is a picture of the bringing together of the bride and the Bridegroom.

Jesus promised that after His ascension into Heaven He would send a Comforter. This comforter would guide into all truth. He would draw people to Jesus Christ.

In our text we have an unnamed servant of Abraham who is sent to find a bride for his son. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit inspired the writings of Scripture in the way He has here showing forth the glory of God, and His work bringing the lost to Jesus.

The servant went to the assigned place to seek a bride for Isaac. Rebekah was that chosen bride. This bride 1). “Believed a man she had never met before, 2). was asked to go to a land from which she was never to return, 3). was asked to marry a man whom she as yet had never seen.” M. R. DeHaan. The journey was about 600 miles on the back of a camel.

When the servant chose Rebekah it was then, a decision for her to make. The decision was one that could not wait (vv. 55-58). So Rebekah chose to go on a journey over hard country – a barren, dry and dangerous country.

When Rebekah saw Isaac for the first time he was coming from Lahairoi, which means, “The well of a Living One”. This is the first appearance of Isaac since the altar of Mount Moriah. Jesus will one day appear to take His bride who has been chosen by the Holy Spirit.

Let’s look at four of the characters in this text, and we will try and focus the picture on the One who is True.

First of all, look at the father. He loved Isaac and wanted a bride for him. He believed that God was faithful and would keep His promise and provide the bride. The bride could not be an outsider. The Father getting a bride for His Son, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”. John 6:44 (KJV).

The next character we see in the text is the servant. He is a model servant. He does not go unsent (vv. 2-9), he goes where he is sent (vv. 4-10), he does nothing else, is prayerful and thankful (vv. 12-14, 26-27), he is wise to win (vv.17, 21), he speaks not of himself, but of his master’s riches, and Isaac’s heirship (vv. 34-36; Acts 1:8), he presents the true issue, and requires a clear decision (v. 49).

The work of the Spirit of God is the True: the antitype. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” John 15:26 (KJV). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:13-14 (KJV).

The third character is the chosen bride herself. She welcomed a stranger, whom she had never seen. This servant came to the well, seeking God’s direction, and Rebekah came and fulfilled the needs of this servants prayer (vv. 18-20, 24, 25). She accepted the servants invitation (vv. 55-58). The invitation was that she return to Canaan to be the wife of Isaac and receive the blessings of what he would inherit. Rebekah and the servant must have spoken much on the journey to meet the Bridegroom. She learned more about Isaac (v. 65) and more as she saw him and was getting nearer to him. She went over hard country in the care of the servant. This “Hard country” is the hardships, trials, and tribulations of living and growing in the Christian life. M. R. DeHaan said, “Rebekah was asked to believe a man she had never met before, to go to a land from which she was never to return, and to marry a man whom she as yet had never seen.”

The final character, but certainly not the least of the four is the son, in particular; his wedding. Weddings are most always a joyous event. It was for Isaac, and it was for Rebekah. When Rebekah came riding up on the camel with the servant she leaped off the camel. It does not say what she did when she leaped off the camel, but I just suppose that she ran to meet him, and their hearts became as one. In leaping off the camel Rebekah had left the last of her worldly possessions behind. Her journey is complete.

When Jesus and His Bride are joined together at last, they will never part, because it will be for all eternity.

The invitation is still extended. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17 (KJV).

If we have “Eyes to see, and ears to hear” we can see quite clearly the picture the Master has painted for us. We can see Jesus’ death in Isaac at the altar, we see His resurrection and ascension in that Isaac came from the “Well of the Living One”. We can see the work of the Holy Spirit in Abraham’s servant as he sought a bride for Isaac.

God is so good He paints us such beautiful pictures to show us how He is working throughout all of time to draw us to Himself. The Antitype is even more beautiful.

“1And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:5-10 (KJV).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The following is a link to more of Jesus In Genesis.

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 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

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.

How Are We Doing?

In the past thirty years or so it would appear to me that Christians have fallen away from the idea of evangelism.  We have turned to the political arena, and there have been some good things happen from going to the polls and letting “our vote count”, and we must continue to do that.  However, dependence upon the political to legislate change, moral change in particular has given us government out of control.  We are gradually losing our freedom of speech, and will eventually lose it entirely.

The power of changing lives of individuals is solely in the hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Forcing moral change through law has never worked, and never will.  Paul the apostle wrote many years ago –

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”  Romans 1:16 (KJV)

It would appear that we [Christians] have stopped believing in the power of the gospel of Christ.  We place more hope in our government than in Christ.  We have more confidence in the power of the president’s pen, than in the quiet, soft voice of the Spirit of God.  We have more faith in the politicians power than the power of the Word of God.

Why do I say these things?  We will strongly urge everyone, “Go and vote on election day”, but rarely do we say something like, “Be sure and tell someone about Jesus today, or this week”.

Let me give you a personal example.  I am often asked, “What do ya know?”; and my answer is always disappointing to me.  “Not much”.  Though the question is often asked as a means of getting a conversation going it should give me the chance to tell what I do know about Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial, resurrection; and His second coming.  Boy!!! would that be a conversation grabber.  Now I know that everytime someone asks me “What do ya know?” they don’t really want to know what I know, but I should and could share with them anyway.  I have responded a time or two, “Do really want to know?”

At any rate the hope of this world is not power, popularity, politics, or prestige.  The hope of this world is Christ Jesus.  Paul said he was not ashamed.  No Christian will be ashamed of the very one who delivered and delivers us from our sin and eternal destruction.

Someone gave an acrostic for GOSPEL  as God Offers Sinful People Eternal Life.  That is what Jesus has done for us on His cross, and proved the power of the cross by the resurrection.  He lives, and because He lives we live.

There is no power greater than the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He possesses the power to change a murderer into one who loves life – his own and others lives.  He empowers the child molestor to become a man or woman who loves children, and would never do anything to harm, molest, or torment them.  He empowers the sexual deviant to become one who is moral, and respects his/her gender and the opposite gender in the correct, moral and Biblical manner.  He empowers the sinner to become a lover of God, His Son, His Spirit and His Word; and live according to the directives of His Spirit and Word.

We must never forget that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.  That means me, and that means you.  That means all with one exception, and His name is Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God.

Let’s be faithful in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ; “it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes”; and it matters not what sin they have sinned.  Legislate morality all you want, still lives are not changed until we meet Jesus, surrender our wills to His, and then we are changed with the desire to be like Him.

In answer to the question, “How Are We Doing?”  It does not seem too well.  We can do better.  I can do better.  God has not failed us. He will never fail us.  As the Lord has told us in His Word,

“The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Perfection is only through His Son Jesus.  Believe on Him and live.

-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, 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

Blossoming Light

The people of Israel, including the Southern kingdom of Judah and Zebulun, Naphtali, and Galilee were a people who had been given great light.  The light had shined brightly upon them when they were delivered from Egypt.  They walked out of their captivity with great wealth given to them by their captors practically begging them to leave, and they left with payment for the 430 years of labor they had performed for the nation in which they had once found solace, food, and a home.

After their departure from Egypt they found themselves wandering in the desert, guided by the Pillar of Cloud by day, and the Pillar of Fire by night; which was the LORD God.  There were times that the Fire took up the rear guard, and protected them from enemy assault.  They had witnessed the power of God parting the Red Sea, and they crossed over it on dry land, and after safely crossing the walls of water came together crushing the Egyptian army which was pursuing them through the divide.  After questioning God’s provision of the Promised Land, and its being the land of milk and honey, they took the advice of 10 men they had sent to survey the land, and had told them, “We can’t do it.  There are giants in the land, and we are as grasshoppers in their sight” (Read Numbers 13).  Then, because of their unbelief the whole nation, is condemned to wander through the desert for 40 years.  Why?  God had delivered the children of Israel from Egypt in a matter of a few days; He would take forty years to get Egypt out of Israel.

When the forty years were accomplished, they then, stood on the banks of the Jordan River, crossed over just as God told them, trusted the LORD God, and He gave them the land.  However, their faith was not perfect.  After many years of failing, and trusting; and trusting and failing, they found themselves separated from the land, and in the throes of enemy bondage, and that is the place they really find themselves to this day having never fully returned to their God given lands.  Yes!  There is a nation of Israel, but they are still dominated by Gentile rule (United Nations, and the United States of America).

They are a people to whom God gave a great light, and that light went dim, and even went out, at the least, covered  by the ashes of the fire.  Underneath there is a hot coal, waiting for the fuel to spring to life.  O, how sad it is for a people who had light to find themselves in darkness.  There is hope for the nation.

Hear the Word of God through the prophet Isaiah –

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”  Isaiah 9:2 (KJV)

Back in the land following the return from Babylonian captivity to the Roman invasion, they are a land still in darkness until One who came gave them the Light.  The Light shined so brightly that they were blinded by His glory.  It was one of those cases where they “could not see the forest for the trees.”  All they had to do was listen, and receive the message which He proclaimed, but many refused, and even crucified the Light; thinking they had done God a service.  Thus the nation remained and still remains in darkness.

Isaiah presents this prophecy as though it has already happened.  Why does he do this?  First of all because what ever God says will happen; will happen just as He has said, and in the way He has said.  Not one word He has spoken will return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11).  He will accomplish what He pleases.  The prophet has not only given promise of the Savior coming, but there is promise of Him coming again in the verses which follow.

Matthew quotes these verses (1 & 2) as being prophecies of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:13-15.

With the power of Christ waning in many professing the name of Jesus would it not be a safe say that the power is fading because the light that shines is growing dim.  Jesus told the Church at Ephesus, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”  Revelation 2:5 (KJV)  Any church or professing Christian leader needs desperately to stand and demonstrate their love for Jesus Christ, His Word, His Church, and the Gospel of Christ.

We have been given great Light.  However, if we give in to our culture, its pluralism, and begin speaking politically correct to win the hearts of the enemy of God, then, we become Biblically corrupt; and spiritually bankrupt, with no message that will convert a condemned people.  When we do that the light has gone out.  The salt is good for nothing but to be trampled under the feet of men (Matthew 5:13)

We were in darkness at one time, but we have the great Light of Christ.  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”, Jesus said.  We are told to let the light shine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that multitudes are going to notice, and surrender to God’s will for their lives.

The way the light continues to burn is by continually adding good fuel to the fire.  The fuel is works of the Spirit of God — the reading and diligent study of God’s Word, fervent prayer, and an obedient life committed to the way of the Lord; done through the faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

Today is the greatest day to let your light shine, and the Light of Jesus Christ in us is the Light in the darkness of this world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Descending The Mount

A few hours had been spent on the “Mount of Transfiguration” – the name for which the place has been called – and now they were descending.  Having taken place with the glory of Jesus being revealed to Peter, James and John; and they seeing Moses and Elijah with Jesus in His glory.

When Moses and Elijah depart; in verse 8; we have the words: “…they saw no man, save Jesus only”.  That implies clearly that the law and the prophets declare, reveal, and glorify the Lord Jesus.  It goes along with what the apostle John wrote in the Revelation 19:10 “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  The law and the prophets cannot make man righteous before God; only Jesus can.

Now, we come to the descent from the mount of Jesus with His disciples:

“And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.  And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.  But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.  Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.”  Matthew 17:9-13 (KJV)

What the three disciples had witnessed was not to be told until the resurrection of Jesus had taken place.  It is almost certain that these three did not yet understand what He was even talking about – Resurrection – “Yeah!  Sure!”  Their thoughts were still on the idea of Jesus being their reigning King in a few days; and not crucifixion.  God forbid that their King hang on a tree.

They are probably thinking of the prophet’s writing,

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”  Malachi 4:5-6 (KJV)

Their thinking is needing to be set in order.  They are thinking of a different day than what is going to happen.  “The great and dreadful day of the LORD…” is when the Lord comes and pours His wrath out on an unbelieving and godless world.  At this time God is going to pour His wrath out upon His Son for the atonement of the sins of mankind.

The disciples had partially discerned rightly concerning the prophecy of Scripture; however, it was not until Jesus gave the word, that they realized that John the Baptist was a fulfillment of the prophecy, but unrecognized by the religious leaders, and “royalty”, and they put John to death.  John the Baptist came in the Spirit and power of Elijah.  There is no idea of “reincarnation” given here.  John the Baptist is John the Baptist, not reincarnated Elijah.

John Baptist came having the same type ministry of Elijah.  A bold and fiery message of repentance; calling the people of God to prepare their hearts for the coming of the LORD.

Jesus also informed the three that the “Son of man” would suffer by the hands of those same people.

It would do the disciples of Jesus Christ in the world of 2009 to hear the message of God’s servants; preachers who preach the inerrant, infallible, literal, and living word of God;  Sunday School teachers who present the word without favor or fear; Deacons who honor the word of God with their lives in witness, work and service.  We dishonor our Lord when we fail to listen to God through His servants who proclaim the Word and “diminish not a word” of it.

Do we really understand the impact of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the word proclaimed and taught without “shunning to declare the whole counsel of God”?  Are we prepared, willing and able to give our lives for the preaching of the Word of God to a world who hates God?  It is time to think about this and ponder it in our prayer life; and all of life.

When we are descending  our “Mount” of joy, encouragement, let not forget that it is Jesus who remains with us.

-Tim A. Blankenship

In The Love Of God

“…Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Jude 21 (NKJV).

We are continuing with the theme of personal and individual Christian responsibility. It is our personal responsibility, led by the Spirit of God, God’s Word, and through praying in the Spirit to build up our faith (v. 20). It is also the personal responsibility of every Christian to keep themselves “in the love of God”.

That “keep yourselves in the love of God” is accomplished much like “building your faith”, and that is through the power of God in us; given us at our new birth. That power is the presence of the Spirit of God. Paul wrote to the Romans, and one of the things he was inspired by the Spirit of God to write was, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9b). The “Spirit of Christ” is the same Holy Spirit who lives in all believers/followers of Christ Jesus. That Spirit is the same Holy Spirit who lived and abided in Jesus as He lived and ministered walking on earth.

The love of God cannot be taken from us. We have this promise of God from another of the apostle Pauls writings, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 8:38-39, NKJV). The love of God is immeasurable. It is wonderful. It is powerful. The love of God is really beyond the common man’s grasp; anyone’s grasp. It can only be received as a gift, a gift from the giver of love.

“Keeping ourselves in the love of God” is done through persevering in the faith. Ministering to others in love, expecting nothing in return. To be always faithful in obedience and faithful in living out the salvation which has been so freely given to us.

We are to always be “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” by the expectant heart for the return of Jesus Christ. That will be the fulfillment of His mercy. That should be the expectation of the heart of every believer. Looking for the return of Christ Jesus. Jude was looking for that day. That will be the day of mercy, unlike any other day we have seen. It was so good and wonderful and gracious of the Lord to give us assurance of salvation, grace and mercy on that day we knelt before Him acknowledging Him as Lord, and receiving Him as our Savior, by His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection; and put within the heart of every follower of Jesus Christ is the desire to see Him face to face.

Remain in the place of obedience. The MacArthur Study Bible note for this verse notes, “It means to remain in the place of obedience where God’s love is poured out on His children, as opposed to being disobedient and incurring His chastening (cf. 1 Cor. 11:27-31; Heb. 12:5-11). Keeping ourselves in the “love of God” is done through an obedient love for God. It is not a task or a burden. It is really a joy for the true child of God to live in and keep the love of God. It is also a joy to live for and expect that day when Jesus comes and takes us to be forever with Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Conspiracy Theorists

Prophets were often accused of conspiring with enemy forces. Isaiah was no different. Isaiah was involved in a conspiracy, but not with the enemy of Israel or Judah. He was in a conspiracy with the LORD of hosts. That is “The Conspiracy” I write of in this article. If preachers are to be the men of God we have been called to be we will be accused at times of conspiring against our church, our people, and sometimes even accused of going against tradition, when we really are not.

The prophet Isaiah is told by God, “not to walk in the way of this people”. When our people are going astray, when they are living out of the will of the LORD, when they are in feuds with one another, when they are charging the preacher of conspiracy, then is the time for that preacher to stand and preach like he has never preached the Word before. It is not the time to back down.

Hear the Word of the LORD spoken to Isaiah:

“For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,  Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.  Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.  And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” Isaiah 8:11-15 (KJV)

The prophet is being directed by the LORD to have no walk in the way of his people. They were actually accusing this man of God of conspiring with the enemy, and they wanted to pronounce judgment upon this man Isaiah.

As I look as this passage of Scripture I find myself wondering, “What did they fear?”, “What did they dread?” Were they fearing the dreaded enemy that they had heard was coming? It seems to me that they were probably fearing the failure of the economy. The failure of their insurance policies, ie., their walls. They may have been more fearful of their health failing them as well. What ever they feared Isaiah is told not to fear the same things, but rather to “Regard as holy” Him who is speaking to the prophet. He is assured that God will be his sanctuary – a place of protection and solitude.

The prophet is also told “Let Him (ie., God) be your fear, and let Him be your dread”. The only hope anyone has is in the LORD. It does no one any good whatsoever to fear and dread anything that is human, or thing, or thought, or act of another. We have absolutely no control over other’s lives; but God does.

We can stand assured by God and His Word that those who stand against God, His Word, and His men will find a Rock of offense, they will stumble, they shall fall, and be broken. If there is a conspiracy among the men of God; let “The Conspiracy” be that we are faithful to God, His Word, and His way. Let us be faithful in proclaiming the Word, warning the people, encouraging the people who are weary, “comforting the afflicted; and afflicting the comfortable.”

-Tim A. Blankenship

G. Campbell Morgan – Golgotha

The following are excerpts from his sermon “The Darkness of Golgotha” which I used in a message a few years ago, in a message I titled “The Darkness of the Cross”; dealing with those three hours Jesus and the world spent in darkness during the crucifixion.  Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:33-34;  Luke 23:44-46

“From the very beginning of the shining of that Light, focused in history by the Incarnation, the one supreme purpose of the enemy was to….put it out. And in these three hours of darkness we are brought face to face with the time when all the force of evil was brought to bear on the soul of the Son of God, and all the unutterable intent and purpose of evil wrapped Him about in darkness that is beyond our comprehension.” .

“…He died, not of a broken heart, not of human brutality, not of murder by human hands; but by His own volition He yielded up the Ghost, and His spirit, commended to God passed to God. The death that saves was not that physical dissolution, but the infinite spiritual mystery of the three hours and the darkness, which being passed, He Himself did say, ‘It is finished’”.

“That does not answer the inquiry as to what happened. I have no answer for that. Only this I know, that in that hour of darkness He passed into the place of the ultimate wrestling of evil in actual experience. There is light as I hear the final word, ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit’ (Luke 23:46), for the word is a word which declares that whatever the transaction was, it was accomplished; that whatever the dying indicated, it was done.”

“Someone may say to me, ‘Cannot God forgive out of pure love?’ I shall answer, ‘If He can, I cannot.’ If He could forgive me for the wrongs of which I am conscious, and that have left behind them their stain and pollution – If He could forgive my sins by simply saying, ‘Never mind them’, then I cannot so forgive myself. My conscience cries for a cleansing that is more than a sentiment of pity. Somehow, somewhere, in order that I may have forgiveness, there must be tragedy, something mightier than devilish sin.”

“I do not know what happened in the darkness, but this I know, that as I have come to the cross and received the suggestions of the material unveiling, I have found my heart, my spirit, my life brought into a realm of healing spices, to the consciousness of the forgiveness of sins. And there is no other gospel of forgiveness.”

These excerpts are taken from a sermon preached by G. Campbell Morgan, titled THE DARKNESS OF GOLGOTHA.

Have a great Resurrection Sunday.  Remember as Christians we really celebrate His Resurrection every week of the year.

T.A.

God Speaks Through The Apostles

“But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Jude 17 (NKJV).

After having dealt some very hard words concerning those who have attempted, and at times came into some of the churches with their poisonous words, their deceit, their division, and heresy; Jude now comes back to the one’s he is writing this letter to.

The reader, who is the “beloved” of Jude. The “beloved”, of course, are those who know the Lord Jesus Christ. They have heard the words of the Lord Jesus as spoken by the apostles, and written in their letters. The writings of the apostles are indeed the word of the Lord to His Church.

How important is it that we remember the words spoken by the apostles? It is very important if we are to grow strong in the faith of the Lord. It is very important if we are to know the truth. It is of the utmost importance if there is a false teaching which is infiltrating the Church, and leading the people away from Christ, and into false worship, and into immoral living and immoral lifestyles. In short; the writings of the apostles; such as Peter, James, John, and Paul are the very words of our Lord for knowing the Lord Jesus and growing in Him.

With the apostles writings (Letters) we can know the teachings of Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification. We can know also the teachings of the sinfulness of mankind, and his eternal destiny. We can know what is true from what is false. We can know that there are many Jesus’es in the world, and the one who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, who rose bodily from the grave, and left us the promise of His coming again is the true one. We can know that the one who said, “I and My Father are one”, and “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”, and “Before Abraham was, I am” is the true Jesus Christ. Any other Jesus is not the true one.

We can know that anyone or any group, angel or church, who teaches any other Jesus is not a true worshipping body of Jesus Christ. We can know that there should be shame on anyone calling themselves “Pastor”, “Teacher”, or “Preacher” who will not expose these false teachers and teachings; and is ashamed of the truth, a coward, and most likely does not know Him.

Do not listen to those who tell you, “We cannot know the absolute truth”. The absolute truth is found in the pages of the Word of God. That is the writings of the apostles and the prophets. The Old and the New Testaments are the Word of God. The prophets wrote of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, and they longed to see His day. We have before us the written Word of God which tells us of a day He will come again, and that we will behold Him face to face.

Hear the Word of God. Trust God and His Word. Believe and act according to His Word and will. Glorify the Lord Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Enoch Prophesied

“Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” Jude 14-15 (NKJV).

As the verse above notes Enoch was the seventh from Adam, and that is according to the Biblical genealogy of Genesis 5, and 1 Chronicles 1:1-3. Of Enoch we are not told much. However, according to Jude, and the inspiration of the Spirit of God we know more than is given us in the rest of Scripture.

According to the account of Enoch in the Genesis account he was the son of Jared and the father of Methuselah. Something evidently happened in the life of Enoch which inspired him to become a prophet. He was sixty five years of age when Methuselah was born to him, and for three hundred years Enoch walked with God. According to Jude he was a prophet who preached the judgment of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

By the birth of Methuselah Enoch was revealed a coming judgment of God on the earth. The name “Methuselah” means “Judgment” and even, “When he is dead it shall be sent”. The preaching of Enoch was evidently not necessarily dealing with the coming flood judgment on the whole earth, because Jude mentions the “Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints…”, and that is surely a description of the second coming of Jesus Christ. That is how Jude takes it.

Enoch was warning of these apostates who were coming in. The ungodly, morally perverted, denying Christ, defiling the flesh, Rebellious, revilers of holy angels, filthy dreamers, ignorant, corrupted, grumblers, fault finders, self seeking, arrogant speakers, flatterers, mockers, cause of discord among brethren, worldly minded, and without the Spirit of God. These are the type of people Enoch warned about, and the coming judgment of Christ coming with His saints, including the angels of heaven.

We are being told by the culture of our day that to be exclusive with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not popular, and we will drive people away. Better to drive people away than to deceive, lie, and not give them the true message of Christ Jesus, and His cross. Yes, the cross may offend, but it is also the only means of salvation. The cross of Jesus Christ has always been an offense to the mind of the world. However, it is the glory of God.

Preach the cross. Preach Jesus Christ and His cross. Preach repentance. Repentance being the turning away from sin to Christ. Will that offend? Most likely. Is it the truth? Most definitely. Preach it to the death if need be. Thank God for those preachers of the gospel who put their lives, and the lives of their family on the line every day. God bless them each and every one.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Baptists Distinctives

The following is from the teaching of John A. Broadus concerning Baptists Distinctives.  Baptists have always been accused of being different, and these distinctives are what sets us apart from others.

It may be well to state briefly what I understand to be the leading distinctive views of the Baptist churches. The fact that certain of these are more or less shared by others will be remarked upon afterward.

(1) We hold that the Bible alone is a religious authority; and in regard to Christian institutions the direct authority is of course the New Testament.

 

(2) We hold that a Christian Church ought to consist only of persons making a credible profession of conversion, of faith in Christ. These may include children, even comparatively young children, for God be thanked that these do often give credible evidence of faith in Christ! But in the very nature of the case they cannot include infants. The notion that infants may be church-members because their parents are seems to us utterly alien to the genius of Christianity, not only unsupported by the New Testament, but in conflict with its essential principles; and we are not surprised to observe that our Christian brethren among whom that theory obtains are unable to carry it out consistently — unable to decide in what sense the so-called “children of the church” are really members of the church and subject to its discipline. The other notion, that infants may be church-members because so-called “sponsors” make professions and promises for them, seems to us a mere legal fiction, devised to give some basis for a practice which rose on quite other grounds. Maintaining that none should be received as church-members unless they give credible evidence of conversion, we also hold in theory that none should be retained in membership who do not lead a godly life; that if a man fails to show his faith by works, he should cease to make profession of faith. Some of our own people appear at times to forget that strict church discipline is a necessary part of the Baptist view as to church-membership.

From The Duty of Baptists To Teach Their Distinctive Views by John A. Broadus, and from the section Distinctive Views of Baptist Churches # 1 & 2

You may read this whole study at Baptists Distinctives.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Flame Of The LORD

The story that is told in chapter 11 is often one of David’s sin; after all he is the character, the king, of whom much is written, and to whom many promises have been made by God.  Of his throne having no end, and having an everlasting kingdom.

King David, however, is not the intent of this message.  There is a man in this story who received a bum deal, from the man in whom he had placed his life, the lives of the people in the city of Jerusalem, including his own wife.  This man is none other than Uriah, called, “the Hittite”.  Being a Hitite would have made him not only a foreigner to Israel, but he would have previously been an enemy of Israel.

In this story of the fall of king David is also the story of a man who was faithful, to God, to his wife, to his country and to his king.  In this event in the life of David, Uriah is a contrast to David, and gives those of us who aren’t born into a godly home, or godly atmosphere some hope.

It is very likely that Uriah, being a Hittite; had come to believe and trust in the God of Israel and David; and  had given himself to the service of God, the people and the king.  His name means, “Flame of Jah”, thus the title to the message being “Flame Of The LORD”.  Oh, that the Christian of today had the fire of Uriah.

OUTLINE 2 Samuel 11:6-13 –

I.  URIAH WAS FAITHFUL BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHERE HE WAS (vv. 3, 6).

II.  URIAH WAS OBEDIENT TO THE KING’S COMMANDMENT TO RETURN HOME (v. 7).

III.  URIAH WAS LOYAL TO THE KING AND ALL THE OTHER SOLDIERS WHO WERE FAITHFULLY FIGHTING THE BATTLES (vv. 8-13).

IV.  URIAH IS FAITHFUL TO GOD, HIS WIFE, HIS COUNTRY AND HIS KING EVEN UNTO DEATH – CARRYING HIS OWN DEATH WARRANT (vv. 14-17).

URIAH WAS FAITHFUL BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHERE HE WAS (vv. 3, 6).  “It is 10-O-Clock.  Do you know where your children are?”  This was a question posed on a television commercial a few years ago.  It was asked to draw attention to parents and children, that parents are responsible for their children and need to know where they are.

One of the signs of faithfulness is that people who know you will be knowing what you are doing, when you are doing it, and where you are.  You can and are depended upon for your faithfulness.  Uriah was that faithful man; faithful soldier; faithful husband; faithful to God and king.

Uriah was known as a good soldier, even a “mighty” soldier (23:39).  He is called one of Davids “thirty mighty men” (23:8-39).  Would to God that Christians would be good soldiers for the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord.

God is faithful; He will always be faithful to His Word, His will, His children and His promises.  He calls us to faithfulness, and to be diligent, and vigilant to the task to which we have been called.

“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (KJV)

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck…” 1 Timothy 1:18-19 (KJV)

Many Christians were not of the “Household of faith” concerning Judaism, and faith in God.  However, because of the grace of God in His Son Jesus Christ anyone from any race, or religion, can come to God through Jesus Christ’s death, burial and bodily resurrection.  Through Jesus Christ alone now Jew and Gentile have a way to the throne of God.  Uriah found that way through faith in God, through the promises of God’s Word.

Where are you concerning God and faith in Him?  Where are you in your walk with God?  Where are you in regards to your faithfulness to Him?

URIAH WAS OBEDIENT TO THE KING’S COMMANDMENT TO RETURN HOME (v. 7).  Uriah was probably wondering about the purpose of his being called back to Jerusalem.  He is one of David’s “thirty mighty men”, as has already been noted.  He may have thought, “The king desires that I get some rest and relaxation”, but his heart had no desire for it.

Uriah was obedient to the king’s call.  He returned to Jerusalem just as the king requested.  He would not, however, go to his home, rest, and relax while his fellow soldiers were fighting out on the battlefield.

Christian, let us who have been called by our King,  hear His voice, do His bidding and when He calls us home do so with the earnestness of this hero of Jerusalem, Israel and Judah.  We can rest assured that when our King Jesus calls us to His home He will not have some devious intent in His  heart and mind.

URIAH WAS LOYAL TO THE KING AND ALL THE OTHER SOLDIERS WHO WERE FAITHFULLY FIGHTING THE BATTLES (vv. 8-13).  The loyalty of Uriah is clearly seen.  He is not only loyal to his king, but loyal and faithful to the other soldiers who are not getting the call from the king that he received.  Uriah would have made a good United States Marine Corp Officer or soldier.  “Semper Fi” or “Always Faithful” is the motto of the Marine Corp, and that seems to have been Uriah’s creed as well.

Remember king David had an ulterior motive for Uriah going home.  However, Uriah would not go home to his wife, his heart was on the welfare of the king and his troops on the field.  The good soldier is thinking about the safety of the others, and their leader and nation.  The heart of Uriah at this point in time puts the heart of king David to shame.

David jumped headlong into this adulterous relationship with Uriah’s wife, because he was not doing what he should have been doing.  The first verse of chapter eleven includes the following words, “at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.”

David was so desperate to get Uriah home he gave him fermitted beverage to make him drunk to maybe get him home to be with Bathsheba, to cover his own sin.  Even in his drunken state Uriah still had the mind and heart to be faithful to God, king, and country.

URIAH IS FAITHFUL TO GOD, HIS WIFE, HIS COUNTRY AND HIS KING EVEN UNTO DEATH – CARRYING HIS OWN DEATH WARRANT (vv. 14-17).  King David upon realization that he would not convince Uriah to get home anytime soon; sent a death warrant by Uriah’s own hand to the General in the field – Joab.  Unknowingly, most likely, Uriah takes the hand written message written by the hand of the king that would cause him to die.

We could say, “Like a lamb to the slaughter”.  The meaning of that is somewhat obvious, but let me give some explanation.  The lamb is trusting, dependent upon its shepherd, and sometimes the shepherd leads a lamb to be slaughtered for the meat.

We have a Savior who was faithful to His Father; all the way to Jerusalem; all the way to Calvary; all the way to the cross; all the way to the tomb; and all the way to His glory which He had with the Father from the beginning (John 17:5).  We by faith in Him and His finished work on the cross put on His righteousness, His garments, and take on the characteristics which led Him to the obedient, faithful, loving life that led to His cross; His place of death and dying for the sins of the world.

Uriah means “Flame of Jah” or “Flame of the Lord”, and surely he was the flame of God burning in Israel when the “man after God’s own heart” had plunged into darkness of sin.

Oh, Christian when we see a brother or sister in Christ; who has plunged headlong into sin; whether they be a church leader, leader’s wife, or the man or woman in the pew; that is the time to be the “Flame of the LORD”, stand as an example of faith and light, be faithful to God, and don’t let the darkness of sin pull you in and down.

Jesus said, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?”  Luke 12:49 (KJV).  His Holy Spirit within His followers are the possessors of that Fire; and that Fire possesses us as well.  Let us walk in the light of that flame.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Cross

There is something special about the makeup of mankind’s heart and life.  First of all it is patterned after our Creator.  He made us in His image, though that image be marred by sin. 

The way in which it is special is that we are most at peace when we are most like Him.  That is; peaceful, loving, kind, faithful, gracious, merciful, joyful, serving, patient, gentle, and having self-control.  There are some who try and be the opposite of these things, and live in abject misery; yet thinking, “Now this is the life!”

There is only one way to be as our Creator would have us, and that is to follow His Son Jesus Christ.  He said,

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 (KJV)

Jesus’s own words are “If you will follow Me…”  Following Him is to be like Him and His life.  He sacrificed His time, His life in ministry to help people and minister to them.  He was never distracted from His reason for coming, and that was to die on His cross for the sins of all mankind; His destiny in this life was to give His life as the payment for our sins.  With Him; in His mind and heart; that was as good as already done when He was speaking to His disciples at this point in time.

In the verses above He calls for all who would follow Him to take up their own cross and follow.  What is our cross, if we are to follow Him?  The cross in that day was an object of death.  It was a tool of the Roman government to punish capital criminals, and put them to death.  So when Jesus speaks of “taking up your cross” He is meaning the laying down of our lives.

No woman or man can be a true follower of Jesus Christ who has not given up their very lives to do so.  To not lay one’s life down for Christ and His gospel is to lose your life.  To lay down your life for Christ is to gain your life, and eternity with Him.

Paul the apostle probably had these words in His mind when he wrote:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galations 2:20 (KJV)

To have the fruits of the Spirit of Christ, ie., “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance…” Galations 5:22-23 (KJV), we must like Paul, the other disciples of Jesus Christ, lay down our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and showing forth the honors and glory of our Lord and Savior.

Refusing to give your all for Jesus Christ may just gain you the world, and all it possesses, but you lose your soul, your very life; and eternal peace and joy will never be yours.

The King’s Cross is the way to blessing, peace, joy, love, contentment, and eternity with our King.  The King of all kings; and Lord of all lords.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Hope Without Hope; Clouds Without Water

“These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Jude 12-13 (NKJV).

In the same verses that we looked at previously we find that these apostates of which Jude writes were likened to “clouds without water, carried about by the winds”. In droughted areas where they are dependent on the rains and much of it, waterless clouds are sometimes very disappointing. In this day of bank failures, job losses, and many an economic worry we need the truth and hope that only Jesus Christ gives. “Our hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

In the Midwest United States and the Southern States, we are all dependent upon rainfall. Most of the United States is dependent upon rainfall, as a matter of fact. The only place that might not be is some parts of California where they use irrigation year round to grow their crops.

These “clouds without water” offer hope, but give nothing. The apostates teaching heresy offered much spiritual growth, but there was none. They told lies, and their lives were deceptions. They are full of themselves and have nothing of God. The true shepherd of God, and shepherd of the people do not “shun to declare the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27); were Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders. Some of the “Pastors” of what has been called “Mega-churches”, and some small churches are ‘clouds without water’, because they fail to expound and reveal the dangers of sin, and the glory of Christ power over sin.

They, the apostates, seek a following for themselves in the name of Christ, but do not preach what Jesus preached. What did Jesus preach? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17). If you are not preaching what Jesus preached and taught, then you preach contrary to Him. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

If there is any preacher reading this right now who has been preaching those easy, encouraging, non condemning things, and leaving out repentance – turning from sin to Jesus Christ – then you aren’t preaching what Jesus preached. You are those “clouds without water”. You need to repent. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

May God bless you today by your turning from your sins, believing Jesus, preaching Jesus crucified, buried, resurrected, and coming again.

-Tim A. Blankenship