Hope In The End

“Thus saith the LORD; ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.’

Thus saith the LORD; ‘Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.’ ” Jeremiah 31:15-17 (KJB)

The prophecy of Jeremiah of the children after the birth of the Messiah, the Christ; and according to Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 2:16-18) is verse 15. It also may have been of near events of the prophecy as the taking of the young to Babylon, and the slaughter of innocents.  Consider Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; and probably others.

There is a promise that these children would come again to their own borders.  The borders of the land of Judah and Israel. The borders of their tribes.  At any rate to the borders God would give them.  They would return.

We are all expected to have an end. This life is only temporary.  There is, however, much hope for those who are in Christ Jesus. This hope is built not upon wishful thinking, positive thinking, or the dreams of dreamers.

This hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and His righteousness.  He died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and He rose again.  Because of this marvelous gift of God we now have access to the very throne of God. We are redeemed, bought with a price. We are promised eternal life by grace through faith in Him.

It has been said, “All good things must come to an end”; but eternity never ends. The promises of God have no end. They are eternal. Be a part of the promises of God by coming to Him through Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Take It By Force

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

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

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

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

Envy, Evil, and Poverty

“Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.  For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.  For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.
Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.
He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.  The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.  If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it, and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: so shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.
Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: for a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.”  Proverbs 24:1-18  (KJB)

Envy, Evil, and Poverty – Proverbs 24:1-34

VERSES 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 19-20, 24 –  The evil and the wicked.  The wise are instructed to not envy the evil.  The devices of the evil and the wicked are contrary to God, and the wise.
Those who are just and righteous (v. 16) when they are knocked down, will get back up; but he wicked “shal fall into mischief”.

“Candle of the wicked” (v. 20) probably refers to the spirit within every man, which is the door way to knowing God. Look at these verses… Job 21:17;  Psalm 18:28;  Proverbs 20:27.
To call the wicked “righteous” is to bring a curse on the one who does it (v. 24).

VERSES 3 – 7, 27 –   Wisdom is needed in building a house and a home; in filling that home with material blessings as well as true riches.
The foolish man does not know what to speak when it is time for good judgment (v. 7).
There is wisdom in being prepared before one builds a home (v. 27).

VERSES 10 -14 –  Wisdom leads to strength to stand in times of adversity.  Understanding will help us make the right decision at important, difficult times; for ourselves and others (vv. 11-12).
On verses 13-14  –  The ESV Study Bible notes state… “Prov. 24:13–14…  …Just as honey is sweet to the taste and good for the body, so wisdom is pleasant to the soul that feeds on it, fostering a secure hope (cf. v. 20; see notes on 23:17–18; Ps. 37:9).”

VERSES 17 – 18 –  It is not wise to rejoice when we see an enemy, or a foolish individual fall.

Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; for there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: for their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?
These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.  He that saith unto the wicked, ‘Thou art righteous;’ him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: but to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.  Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.
Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.
Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.  Say not, ‘I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.’
I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.  Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.  Proverbs 24:19-34

VERSES 28 – 34 –  We ought always to refuse to return evil for evil (vv. 28-29; Romans 12:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:15;  1 Peter 3:9).  The wise man or woman will not allow themselves to grow slack in following that which is good.

One thing to keep in mind the poor are just as prone to greed and lust for more; as are the rich.

My Father and I Work

It was a constant battle which Jesus fought.  Accusations of blasphemy by saying things which, according to the religious leaders made Himself equal with God.  Jesus constantly confirmed in His own words that He was indeed what He claimed, and that He and His Father worked together; that He did not do anything except what the Father did. Hear the following words…

But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.’
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will shew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him. John 5:17-24  (KJB)

Let me leave you with these thoughts from others.

First from the Geneva Bible Translation notes:

“The work of God was never the breach of the sabbath, and the works of Christ are the works of the Father, both because they are one God, and also because the Father does not work except in the Son.” From the Geneva Bible Translation notes on John 5:17

Finally from the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary:

My Father worketh hitherto and I work — The “I” is emphatic; “The creative and conservative activity of My Father has known no sabbath-cessation from the beginning until now, and that is the law of My working.”” From the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary

To honor the Son [Jesus Christ] is to honor the Father too.  To honor the Father is to honor the Son.

God of Our Hope

The God of Hope

Romans 15:1-33

The chapter begins with summing up of the previous teaching of considering others in our demeanor, actions, and deportment. We need to act in accordance with what will glorify our Lord, and keep our brother or sister in Christ from falling.

Paul even means that we go much further than tolerating a brother’s weakness, but rather do all possible to strengthen them in faith. Carry their load. Carry them when necessary.

We are to see to it that we with one mind and one mouth glorify God together, “even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Having the heart, mind, and mouth like unto that of Jesus Himself. Being likeminded together, with Him (vv. 1-7).

Paul was obviously a believer in God’s promises. He understood that Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises of God, and their confirmation.

1. The Confirmation of the Promises came by Jesus Christ (v. 8). The Old Testament is full of promises. Promises of the coming One. A Deliverer. The Messiah. A Savior who will save the people from their sins.

In Jesus’s birth He confirmed Scripture. Born a Jew. Born in Bethlehem. Called a Nazarene. He fulfilled the law.

He was a healer; healing the lame, and the blind. Lepers were freed from their sores, the dead were raised to life. He walked on the water, stilled storms, fed multitudes, and cast our demons

Only few followed Him, and still chose to go to the cross and die for our sins as the suffering servant (Isaiah 53).

2. Jesus Confirmed the Promises by Opening the Gate for all people. Paul reminds his readers that God’s plan has always been to include all people no matter what their race or nationality or culture (vv. 9-13).

“Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.” Psalms 18:49 (KJV) v. 9.

(v. 10) “Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.” Deut 32:43 (KJV).

(v. 11) “O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.” Psalms 117:1 (KJV).

(v. 12) “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:” and “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:1, 10 (KJV)

All our hope and power is from the Spirit of God; the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

3. Something in which to Boast (vv. 14-21). When is it right to boast? We can boast of the faith, work, patience, boldness, and goodness that others do through Christ Jesus.

We can boast of the goodness of God, and what He has done in us, and through us.

To boast of anything concerning Jesus’s mighty deeds is a good boast.

4. Through Prayer for the Sovereign Leadership of the Lord in our lives and other’s lives we can grow in trusting The God of Hope (vv. 22-33). The following was the desire of Paul’s heart, and his requests from the Roman Christians.

To be delivered from the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem;

That his work and ministry for Jerusalem would be accepted by the believers;

That he would be able to visit them – at Rome – in the will of God and be “refreshed” = renewing joy, peace and rest; with them.

God is the sovereign One. He directs the affairs of all people in all lands. His will will be done despite our arrogant, self-styled, self-willed disobedience.

At Home and At Work

At Home And Work

Colossians 3:18 – 4:1

There is much sorrow in our world. There are wars in other countries of the world. Our own nation is involved in one which has been called World War Three, because other countries of the world are involved in it. There is a war going on in politics in our country; it may not be with guns, bullets and bombs, but war, none the less. There are battles raging in the homes of American citizens. Sibling rivalry; husbands and wives in constant feud with one another, and it is not in non-Christian homes alone; it is in many professing Christian homes too.

The reason these battles rage is due to several different problems. The first one is a lack of morality within much of society. The second is due to a lack of people understanding who they are, and the third is being shut out from others and God. We could look at these in reverse and find the answer for them all. God has called us to Himself – let’s believe Him and trust His Son Jesus. When we have trusted Jesus as our personal Savior we find out and understand who we are. When we are right with God, understanding who we are in Him, then, we will, by His grace grow into the kind of living and morality that will glorify Him.

Here is a possible outline for this study –

OUTLINE –

I. WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST THERE WILL BE A SUBMISSIVE WIFE AT HOME (v. 18).
II. WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST THE HUSBAND WILL LOVE HIS WIFE, AS CHRIST LOVES THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR HER (v. 19; Eph 5:25).
III. WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST CHILDREN WILL OBEY THERE PARENTS (v. 20).
IV. WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST FATHERS WILL DO RIGHT IN THE DISCIPLINE OF THEIR CHILDREN (v. 21).
V. WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST THE SLAVE/EMPLOYEE WILL OBEY THE MASTER/EMPLOYER (vv. 22-25).
VI. WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST THE MASTER/EMPLOYER WILL OBEY HIS MASTER CONCERNING SLAVES/EMPLOYEES (v. 4:1).

First of all let’s look at the idea of the SUBMISSIVE WIFE (v. 18). Now that term “Submissive” causes a stir among some women. There are many professing Christian women who will say, “Well that was for Paul’s day and the society he lived in. It is not for today”. They might even go on and say, “These words of Paul are not inspired of God, therefore non-binding for women today”. And I suppose you are inspired by God to pick out those spots that are not inspired by God. Thank you, but no thanks.

There are some things that need to be considered. The first thing to consider is that when Jesus came down and became a man, though equal with the Father He was submissive to the Father. His submission made Him no less equal with the Father. The idea of submission does not make one unequal with the one to whom they are submissive. When an individual receives employment from a business he/she becomes submissive to that employer. If not, you are fired. The idea of submitting as the wife is a basic recognition that there is a head/leader within the home. As Sarah was submissive to Abraham so too, are wives of all ages to be submissive.

A word to husbands. This is not a command for you to give. This is not an expectation you are to have of your wife. It is a blessing of the Lord you will receive when you are the husband God has commanded you to be.

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” Eph. 5:25-27 (Also verse 19, of our text.) (KJV).

So says Paul in the previous book. When Christ is first in the life of the husband he will love his wife as Jesus did for the Church, and give his life for his wife. The man who loves the Lord Jesus will sacrificially love the wife God has blessed him with. That even means he will love her when she is not being lovable. That is what Jesus has done for you and I. Jesus Christ loved us even while we were yet His enemies (See Romans 5:8-10). You love her when she will not love you back, and this love is not talking about what is supposed to be the intimate “marital relationship”. It is a simple love that expects nothing in return.

“Do not be bitter toward them” infers the thought of ‘stop being bitter toward them’. We must admit there are times we can become bitter toward or wives, and Peter gives us warning concerning these things; “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” 1 Peter 3:7 (KJV).

Have your prayers been hindered lately? Maybe you have not been treating your wife rightly, and harboring bitterness toward her. God has blessed you with a beautiful vessel of more value than anything you possess. Thank God for her, and love her.

Children are a blessing to a home. There is a commandment given especially to the children, and that is,

“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” Exodus 20:12 (KJV).

Paul reminds us of this in Ephesians,

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” Eph. 6:1-3 (KJV).

Paul mentions in this verse that this commandment has a promise attached to it. He says it is the ‘First commandment with promise’, and it is the only one with promise. The promise is long life for those children who obey and honor their mother and father. My, how this needs to get into the hearts of children of today. I have heard children say, “I would respect them if they would respect me”, but there is no commandment for parents to respect their children. Parents are the preventative measure to keep the children from danger, and out of trouble.

I do not think some parents realize that sometimes when your child comes asking permission to do something, they are really wanting you to say “No!”, because they know it will not be a good thing for them, or they just simply do not want to participate. When it is a godly church activity always say, “Yes!” Children will honor you when you have their best intent for them. Not what you want for them, but what they need.

When God has blessed a home with children we are so ill equipped for it. We learn how to be parents, then, by the time they are grown we do not need the skills. Is that right? We do need them, because most of the time there will be grandchildren coming.

WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST, FATHERS WILL DO RIGHT IN THE DISCIPLINE OF THEIR CHILDREN.

When raising children it is sometimes frustrating to see them make some of the same mistakes we made. We need to realize that every individual, even our children, must learn from their own mistakes. We make a big mistake when we become so aggravated with them that we begin to belittle them, calling them names, such as, ‘Stupid’, calling a son ‘Sissy’ or ‘Baby’. Our children are very precious, and we must learn to praise them for their achievements and lessen their failures, but encourage them in the failures, of their own worth.

To call them the names mentioned above, and belittle them provokes them to feeling worthless, unappreciated, and unloved. You do not want your children or grandchildren feeling that way. If you want to lose your children just practice name calling, belittling, and leave out encouragement. They will leave your house, and live lives of discouragement, and torment.

I have reached the conclusion that one of the best things a man can give his sons and daughters is for them to see that he loves their mother. Another of the best things a man can give his sons and daughters is for them to be able to see that he loves the Word of God, and the Lord God too – they can see this by the time you spend in the Word, and the time of day in which you spend it. Your children know when you are real and when you are being phony.

Now, let’s go outside the home to the workplace. There are some who disagree with the thought of the slave and master relationship being a teaching for the employee and employer relationship. In our day this is the only thing that relates to it, and it must. A slave of Paul’s day was working for his/her master to meet a debt owed, or to fulfill an obligation of some sort. Maybe the slave was purchased for a price, and was actually owned by the master. There is a picture of the employee and employer present.

When you are employed by a factory to work on their assembly line, haul materials to the others who are assembling, preparing boxes for shipping or whatever you do there has been an agreement between them for payment of services rendered from the employer to the employ, and the employ gives services for payment. In the slave and master deal there is little difference.

Notice the term, “Not with eye service, as men-pleasers…”. This is speaking of only working heartily when the boss/master is looking, but as soon as he leaves going back to the slackard, slothful, loafing mode.

WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST THE SLAVE/EMPLOYEE WILL OBEY THE MASTER/EMPLOYER even when she/he is not watching. The Christian should be the best employ on the floor or in the field; in any situation, and without complaint.

The Christian employee must always keep in mind that he/she is working for the Master. The life you live will either exemplify the Savior as a life changing Savior or will show Him as an excuse for poor work efforts. We work as unto the Lord. Live for His glory.

WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST THE MASTER/EMPLOYER WILL OBEY HIS MASTER CONCERNING SLAVES/EMPLOYEES and treat them with love, respect, fairness, and justness. There will be a fair wage paid in order that the family of the employ may be cared for properly. When the employer treats his/her employees justly, they might just be surprised to find out how hard they will work, and how loyal they will be to the business.

If places such as WalMart would treat their employees with a good wage, insurance, and fairness they would be a much better organization.

The Christian master/employer will treat his people fairly, justly and see that they are paid enough to live.

SUMMARY –

I. WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST IN THE HOME THERE WILL BE A HAPPY MARRIAGE AND RESPECTING CHILDREN.
II. WHEN CHRIST IS FIRST IN THE HOME PARENTS WILL BE ENCOURAGEMENT TO THEIR CHILDREN.
III. WHEN CHRIST IS IN THE HOME THE CHRISTIAN ADULTS WILL BE THE BEST EMPLOY AT THE FACTORY OR IN THE FIELD.
IV. WHEN CHRIST IS IN THE HOME THE CHRISTIAN MASTER/EMPLOYER WILL BE FAIR AND JUST TO HIS SLAVES/EMPLOYEES.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Bold Request

Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in my integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.”  Psalm 26:1-2 (KJB)

It is a bold request indeed to ask God first “Judge me”, then to request, “Examine me…”  It is a needed thing to do that.  Do I do that?  I have.  Even to pray, “Lord, whatever it takes to make me like Jesus; do it.”  That is a bold request which will definitely put you to a test.

It is GOD who knows us best, yet He loves us most, and desires to work in our lives to accomplish His will and purposes to bring us to Himself, and His glory.  He also will use us to bring others to Himself, and do the same in them.

The apostle Paul has written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”  2 Corinthians 13:5

The LORD will do in our lives whatever it takes to get us where He wants us to be.  Be prepared.  Draw near to God.

I Trust in You LORD

Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You: let me not be ashamed, let not my enemies triumph over me.”  Psalm 25:1-2 (KJB)

This is the 25th day of writing through the Psalms again.  I know that I missed yesterday, yet this is still the 25th day of Psalms. I appreciate all who take your valuable time to come here to read these studies, and I do pray that when you do God blesses you abundantly with His Spirit to enlighten your understanding of God, His Word, and His Spirit; and His work in you.

The Psalmist (David) is declaring the LORD as his God.  He also declares, “I trust in You.”  That ought always to be the heart of the believer who has given heart, soul, body, and mind to Him.

When we give our life to God through His Son Jesus Christ there is no room for shame, but praise, love, joy, peace, and a life filled with the love of God in us for others, and mostly for Him who loved us that He gave His only Son to die on the cross for our sins.

Do we have enemies?  Most definitely.  Those who hate God, and work against His word, His will, and His way are His enemies; they are my enemies and if you love God; they are your enemies as well.  We have a promise from God that has been given to all God’s people down through the ages…

“So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.”  Isaiah 59:19

 

Precious Faith

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:1-4 (KJV)

Simon Peter a very close friend of the Lord Jesus Christ as He walked, worked, and lived and died on the cross is the Spirit-inspired writer of both First and Second Peter.  He is one of the apostles of Christ.  At one time he was influenced by the devil when he told Jesus that He would not die (Matthew 16:23;  Mark 8:33).

Peter writes of the Precious Faith that we receive “through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ”; so then we must know that “Faith” also is the “Gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).  The work of faith and salvation are the gift of God.  They are in fact the same.  When you have faith in Him then you are saved.  When you are saved, then you have faith in Him.  It is the gift of God.

Paul the apostle wrote in Romans 3 that “…All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23), but in Christ Jesus, we have been called into that glory and the virtue of it.  We are no longer separated from God, and even more, because we are in Christ we are recipients of the “exceeding great and precious promises… that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature.”  Having the “divine nature” means that we have been given the heart and mind of Christ. The will to think, to act, to live like Christ.  That means we no longer have the heart of sin, but we hate sin just as Jesus does, and we love righteousness, holiness, and righteousness.

We are delivered from the corruption that is in the world, and our desires are what God desires for us.

If you are still desiring to live in your sinful passions and lust, you enjoy living in sin, then you have not been delivered from the corruption of this wicked world.  You are still bound in sin and death, and you are on the road to eternal destruction and hell.  You need to call on the name of Jesus who died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and He rose again.  One day He will come again just as He said He would (John 14:1-3).  Call on Him today, even now.

Before the Foundation of the World

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

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

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

Knowing the Father as we do; we also know that we have not been redeemed by material things. Our redemption is not founded on how much gold or silver we possess, or how much we give away. It is not based on any form of material wealth. It is not gifts given for the fulfillment of the traditions of men, such as Old Testament ceremonial laws, and forms. Our redemption is not dependent upon someone else paying our way out of a fictitious purgatory. The price of our redemption was paid to God our Father by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Our sin debt was owed to God.  God owes us nothing; not even a chance of salvation.

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

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

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

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

The Working Faith

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:14-19 (KJV)

A thought: “You can believe without doing, but you will not, or cannot do without believing.”  What do you think?  I got that thought while thinking of the above verses.

There is much thought about “Faith”.  Much of what I hear concerning faith is that you must believe, and there is no stipulation as to what you believe or have faith in.  My thought I gave is based on the saving faith that comes through Christ Jesus and His death on the cross, His burial, and resurrection.

According to James if we have faith we will do something with it.  In this case, the doing is for others we might see in need.  If we are the true believer, then we will act on our faith and help a brother and/or sister in Christ who is in need of food, clothing, shelter; not just a kind word when we have the means to help.

There are many who claim to believe in Jesus, God and even the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, but have not given themselves totally to the life of living for Christ.  I can practically guarantee that the devil and his demons believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again.  They know it first hand, but they are not redeemed, neither will they ever be a part of the redeemed of God.  That is why James says, “…The devils also believe, and tremble”.

If you have not surrendered your life to Christ Jesus you can believe all you want to, but if you do not act, then you will perish in your sins.  Christian, your true faith will lead you to act when you see needs, as God gives you the means to do so.  When we have the means we had better act on those needs, and glorify our God and a Savior Jesus Christ.

Commended for Wisdom

Our words, our work, and our way is the testimony of our lives and our wisdom; or the lack of wisdom.

“A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised. He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread. A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.” Proverbs 12:8-11 (KJV)

From verse 8 we can see… Acting and/or speaking with wisdom gains the respect of others.

From the study Bible of the English Standard Version we read…

“Prov. 12:9–11 These are sayings about ordinary workers that illustrate either the “good sense” or the “twisted mind” of v. 8. Lack bread (end of v. 9) is paralleled by lacks sense (end of v. 11), and both verses speak of the importance of prudent labor in order to provide enough to eat. The point of the whole is that the righteous person cares even for his animals (v. 10a) and provides for his household by a sensible perspective on life (v. 9a) and sensible labors (v. 11a). By contrast, he who follows worthless pursuits (v. 11; such as get-rich-quick schemes, gambling, or lotteries, in a modern context) lacks sense and, by contrast with the first half of the verse, will probably live in poverty as well (cf. 28:19).” ESV Study Bible

Let us who know Jesus practice wisdom through the words we speak the way we walk, and work.

No Yoke

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

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

“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” Acts 15:6-12 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

Camp Delight – Christmas Day Two Hundred and Eight

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the Camp Cooks, Bible Teachers and CGL’s [Cabin Group Leaders] to dedicate themselves to the work of the Lord, work for Him and to be the witnesses of Jesus Christ that we should be.

Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”  [Jesus Christ] Luke 24:46-49 (KJV)

Day 282

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to be on the roads, and highways where everyone is paying attention to their driving; aware and awake to all that is around us; and in that I am speaking of driving ahead of yourself.  You cannot do that with your eyes on a cell phone, texting, and sometimes even in talking on one, finishing your face prep for work, reading a paper online or otherwise; etc..

I want to be a better, safer driver, so that others can be safe and get home whole and sound of mind.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” Proverbs 4:25 (KJV)

That verse is true for all of life; including driving.

Day Two Hundred Eighty and Three

What do I want for Christmas?

Many of you who read this blog knows that I drive a School Bus as well as being a pastor of a Country Church.  I have a pet peeve that really bothers me while I am driving the bus, and our own vehicles so my “want” for today is because of that “Pet peeve”.

I want people who are out driving in the early morning, just before sunrise, to drive with your headlights on.  Do you realize that you are not visible at times, and a good driver makes herself/himself as visible as possible. I want  you to be visible, be seen, in order that you and others might make it to work, and then home again in one piece.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (KJV)

Even Jesus said “Let your light so shine”.

Day Three Hundred Twenty and Two

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to see God work in a powerful, glorious way that all the world will have no excuse to refuse Him, or deny that He is.

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”” John 6:28-29 (NKJV)

An Unpleasant Threshing

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” Isaiah 27:12-13 (KJV)

The title of this lesson comes from “The LORD shall beat off…” in verse 12. It is dealing with the chastisement of Israel over many years of time in the Assyrian, and Babylonian captivities.

The prophet Jeremiah calls it “The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7); and it deals with much more than the discipline through Assyria and Babylon. It has to do with a yet future time when judgment will come upon all the world, for the purpose of bringing Israel to the faith of Christ Jesus as their Messiah.

I can remember hearing parents say to their children, “You’re going to get a threshing, if you do not straighten up”. Threshing was a process that was used after bringing in the grain along with the stalks. They would bring it to a threshing floor, then take instruments for beating the grain stalks; then taking a rake, tossing the stalk and all into the air. On a good day the wind, or a breeze would blow the chaff (the straw, and junk) away leaving the grain.

The discipline of God for His children is like that. It is not without love, or thought. Just as the threshing of the grain brought forth the worth of the work, and the grain; so too does God’s discipline bring forth the good produce of a disciplined life.

The verses for today are God’s promise that “In that day” Israel will come out of the places of their exile; Assyria and Egypt, and will worship in Jerusalem again.

In that last day the people of Israel will “Look upon Him whom they have pierced” and bow before Him as their Lord and Messiah (Zechariah 12:10;  John 19:37). This is speaking of the One who died on the cross, was buried and rose again. The One is coming again. Jesus the Christ Son of the Living God, God the Son.

The Conclusion of the Matter

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

In reading the book of Ecclesiastes we find that the life of every individual has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The body of our lives includes many plots and sub-plots, and climaxes. Those climaxes are not the end, or conclusion of life. They are just another peak reached, then we do something different, more, or less adventure, etc..

From seeing things as vain in life; “vanity of vanities all is vanity” were Solomon’s words as he writes of his life’s adventure. He reaches the conclusion of the matter.

That conclusion is that only with God does life even matter.

The sole duty of man is not to live for oneself, but for God, and to glorify Him; to enjoy Him forever. He alone has made that possible.

We must remember that there is nothing hidden from God. In our era of time there are so many frightened that the government(s) of men have so much observation of our personal lives by means of video, video cameras, and satellite and by our computers. I think of that this way; I already have Someone who sees all that I do. He knows every thought I think. He sees everything I do. There is nothing that I do, no secret thing, that gets past Him; He is God. What do I have to fear from a government that is run amuck from God.

Jesus said,

“For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.” Mark 4:22

We can be certain that nothing we do gets around God. We can also be certain that there is nothing that happens which surprises Him. The conclusion of the matter of life is found in knowing God and being known by Him.

When we have both, then we are assured of an eternal home with Him. That is made possible through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ God’s only begotten Son.

The Time for God to Work

“It is time for Thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void Thy law. Therefore I love Thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” Psalm 119:126-128 (KJV)

The heart of the Psalmist is for the LORD to work His work. To show Himself strong in the behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). We too need to see the LORD do His work.

Who are the “They” the one’s who “have made void” the law of GOD? They are the one’s who toss out the word, the law, the precepts, testimonies, commandments, judgments, and ordinances of God; and counted them product of antiquity, no longer relevant for life, culture or society.

The Psalmist says, “I love Thy commandments above gold… fine gold”. He holds them in great respect, esteem, highly regard the word of the LORD. He sees them as being right, correct in every way, and because of that he hates every false way.

It is my heart that I will love what God loves, and hate everything God hates. He does hate some things; and He loves the people of the world. He has loved so much that He gave His only begotten, holy, righteous, undefiled Son to die for our sins on the cross, was buried to carry all our sin, shame, guilt, death, and condemnation away; then He arose bodily from that grave conquering all those things that we might fellowship with Him.

How Are Your Thoughts and Attitude?

“Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: Thou hast declared Thy strength among the people. Thou hast with Thine arm redeemed Thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.” Psalm 77:13-15 (KJV)

This Psalmist, Asaph, has begun the Psalm feeling a bit sorry for himself. His thoughts are on his own life situation, and he is addressing the LORD, but only about his aches and pains of heart and soul. That is the place we all need to take them; but when we have encountered God those thoughts, attitudes will perish.

You alone are in charge of your attitude. It begins with your thoughts. If you are driving to work on one of these busy freeways in the cities, and someone rudely cuts you off; when the traffic is moving quite well; you say, “That affects my attitude”; but does it? It can. It is however your personal responsibility to redirect your thinking toward a different attitude.

The Psalmist began with sorrow, and basically a pity party with God; but he ended up focusing on the LORD; and he saw things completely different.

Asaph began to focus his thoughts on the strength of God; His deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea; and he saw the awesome, power and glory of God. In the verses ending this Psalm, the Psalmist describes the sea as being fearful of the LORD and parting at His appearance. He describes thunder, lightening, and trembling and shaking of the earth.

Oh my; when we see the power and glory of God all our problems melt away. Our thinking and our attitudes will reflect the glory of the LORD. All this begins with having a personal encounter with God through His Son Jesus. There is no other way (John 14:6). There is only one cross, one Saviour, one resurrected Lord, and one returning Lord of lords and King of kings. His name is Jesus.

So what is your problem today?

Wicked Workers, and the Work of the LORD

“Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert. Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of His hands, He shall destroy them, and not build them up.” Psalm 28:3-5 (KJV)

To be drawn away with the wicked, with the workers of iniquity would be drawing the Psalmist into the pits of hell. That was not his heart, nor his destiny.

The heart of the Psalmist is already established in the LORD. He calls the LORD “my Rock” his faith is in Him, and in no other.

The “wicked” are those who are deceived by their own lust, they are morally corrupt, they are ungodly, wicked, and condemned. These are they who speak well of their neighbors to their face, but will destroy them with an opportunity to prosper at their expense.

The “workers of iniquity” are the wicked. Their endeavors and their words condemn them. They have no regard for God. When the rain falls they are unthankful to the One who alone gives the rain. Of the “Operation of His hands” Spurgeon in the Treasury of David has written,

God works in creation – nature teems with proofs of his wisdom and goodness, yet purblind atheists refuse to see him: he works in providence, ruling and overruling and his hand is very manifest in human history, yet the infidel will not discern him: he works in grace – remarkable conversions are still met with on all hands, yet the ungodly refuse to see the operations of the Lord.

His hands, and His operations are great. He is Awesome and glorious in all His ways. He is in the operations of the universe. He holds the earth on her axis, and the planets and stars in their place. If He were to remove His hands everything would fly apart, and explode into pieces. Do you O sinner not see His mercy? Do you not see His grace given in the sending of Jesus Christ His holy and blessed Son; dying on the cross for our sin debt? O condemned one you need not be “drawn away” with the wicked. Through Jesus Christ He will give you a new heart, and a new life.

Will You Live Again?

“If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands.” Job 14:14-15 (KJV)

As I was reading Job 11 – 14 I found myself laughing. Laughing at the way Job uses sarcasm to rebuke his friends (12:2-3), and tells them that he would have been better off if they would have kept their mouths shut (13:4, 5, and 13).

Then I was brought to tears. Mostly tears of joy due to Job’s faith, as he states, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him”, and again in the above verses of our text.

It can be seen that he looks at the created order of things, and realizes that a tree can be cut down, and it sprouts again to life. Is it not amazing how God has built into the creation the hope of resurrection; living again. Job, may have very well been thinking that the tree had more hope than he did; but then, he states the above.

“All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” What change? The change of the resurrection of the body.

The whole created order of things is a testimony of God, and His promises to fulfill all His word.

The greatest hope ever given was when Jesus became our sin on the cross; was judged for our sin, put to death; and then bodily arose from the grave to show that the cross was the place of defeat for sin, death, hell, the grave, and the devil. The Courts of heaven, by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ rules today. By His resurrection there is a resurrection to life in His presence for all eternity.

When GOD Gives an Invitation

When GOD Gives an Invitation

 

Exodus 24:1-18

In the Scriptures the LORD gives many invitations. We see one extended to the leadership of Israel; including Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s two sons Nadab and Abihu; to come and worship.

The events that follow are guidlines for people today.

1. When GOD said Come; They Went (vv. 1-2).

2. It is Necessary for the People of GOD to Commit themselves to the Work and Word of the LORD (vv.3-8).

3. When We are Faithful We too Will See the LORD (vv. 9-11).

4. We Will See GOD as a Devouring Fire, Consuming Fire (vv. 12-18; Hebrews12:29).

Those Doing the Will of God

There came then His brethren and His mother, and, standing without, sent unto Him, calling him.  And the multitude sat about Him, and they said unto him, ‘Behold, Thy mother and Thy brethren without seek for Thee.’  And He answered them, saying, ‘Who is My mother, or My brethren?’  And He looked round about on them which sat about Him, and said, ‘Behold My mother and My brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother.'”  Mark 3:31-35

Working and Eating

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.  For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.  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.”  2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 (KJV)

The apostle considers it to be a disorderly thing for people to eat without having worked for it.  Read the above passage.  We here in the U. S. of A. and many parts of the world have many people who think everyone is owed a meal; even if they do nothing to contribute to the home, neighborhood, State or Country.

Now, let me try and clear something up.  There are many people today unemployed by no fault of their own and are in need of financial assistance, some in need of food assistance, and that is well and good; however, there are many who who have been dependent upon the aid most of their lives, have never learned to work, contribute a thing to society or their own home.

It has been said, “God helps those who help themselves”, and there is much that could be said of that statement, but it is not in the Bible; as some purport.  It could be understood to be taught by “If any would not work, neither should he eat”, but that applies only for the work ethic.

Some will say,  “Well I can’t find work”.  Have you looked?  Have you noticed that there are many things you could be doing?  If you are getting a government handout; do something in return.  If you are getting food from a food bank; do something for that food bank.  You might just find yourself feeling worthwhile for a change; or again.

-T.A.

The Living, Efficient Word of God

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”  1 Thessalonians 2:13 (KJV)

In recent years there have been many in the political realm who claim that the Constitution of the United States is a “living document”.  My understanding of their meaning is that the document is always changing with the culture and the times, which I believe to be completely false.

There is only one Living document which has been given to man, and that is the Word of God, with 66 books we call the Bible.  When we speak of the Bible as a living document we do not mean that it is always changing with the times and/or culture.  We mean that it lives to make changes in the people whose lives God touches in and through His Word.

In the above verse of the Bible the people of Thessalonica received the message of God’s Word from Paul, as though it came from God Himself; and Paul the apostle noticed that it was a powerful, living word; because he saw change in the people.

The author of Hebrews says, “The Word of God is quick [living] and powerful…” (Hebrews 4:12) and it surely is.

-T.A.

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