Blessed That Man That Makes The LORD His Trust

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
Blessed that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
Many, O LORD my God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto Thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required.” Psalm 40:1-6 (KJB)

In Jesus’ Name

Too many times young people in the faith jump to conclusions about the following words of Jesus, and assume that we can ask for anything we want, and God is obligated to give it. First, let me say this; God is obligated to no one. Now to the verses for today.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do.”
John 14:12-14 (KJB)

Now I leave with you the last points of an exposition delivered by Alexander MacLaren…

From Alexander MacLaren’s EXPOSITION OF HOLY SCRIPTURE:

“These are two, faith and prayer.
‘He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also.’ Faith, the simple act of loving trust in Jesus Christ, opens the door of our hearts and natures for the entrance of all His solemn Omnipotence, and makes us possessors of it. It is the condition, and the only condition, and plainly the indispensable condition, of possessing this divine Christ’s power, that we should trust ourselves to Him that gives it. And if we do, then we shall not trust in vain, but to us there will come power that will surpass our desire, and fill us with its own rejoicing and pure energy. Faith will make us like Christ. Faith is intensely practical. ‘He that believeth shall do.’ It is no mere cold assent to a creed which is utterly impotent to operate upon men’s acts, no mere hysterical emotion which is utterly impotent to energise into nobilities of service and miracles of consecration, but it is the affiance of the whole nature which spreads itself before Him and prays, ‘Fill my emptiness and vitalise me with Thine own Spirit.’ That is the faith which is ever answered by the inrush of the divine power, and the measure of our capacity of receiving is the measure of His gift to us.
So if Christian individuals and Christian communities are impotent, or all but impotent, there is no difficulty in understanding why. They have cut the connection, they have shut the tap. They lack faith; and so their power is weakness. ‘Why could we not cast him out?’ said they, perplexed when they had no need to be. ‘Why could you not cast him out? Because you do not believe that I, working in you, can cast him out. That is why; and the only why.’ Let us learn that the secret of Christians’ weakness is the weakness of their Christian faith.
And the other condition is prayer. ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name I will do it,’ and He repeats it, for confirmation and for greater emphasis. ‘If ye shall ask anything in My name,’ or, as perhaps that clause ought to be read with some versions, ‘If ye shall ask Me anything in My name I will do it.’
Three points may be named here. Our power depends upon our prayer. God’s and Christ’s fullness and willingness to communicate do not depend upon our prayer. But our capacity to receive of that fullness, and so the possibility of its communication to us, do depend upon our prayer. ‘We have not because we ask not.’
The power of our prayer depends upon our conscious oneness with the revealed Christ. ‘If ye shall ask in My name,’ says He. And people think they have fulfilled the condition when, in a mechanical and external manner, they say, as a formula at the end of petitions that have been all stuffed full of self-will and selfishness, ‘for Christ’s sake. Amen!’ and then they wonder they do not get them answered! Is that asking in Christ’s name?
Christ’s name is the revelation of Christ’s character, and to do a thing in the name of another person is to do it as His representative, and as realising that in some deep and real sense-for the present purpose at all events-we are one with Him. And it is when we know ourselves to be united to Christ and one with Him, and representative in a true fashion of Himself, as well as when, in humble reliance on His work for us and His loving heart, we draw near, that our prayer has power, as the old divines used to say, ‘to move the Hand that moves the world,’ and to bring down a rush of blessing upon our heads. Prayer in the name of Christ is hard to offer. It needs much discipline and watchfulness; it excludes all self-will and selfishness. And if, as my text tells us, the end of the Son’s working is the glory of the Father, that same end, and not our own ease or comfort, must be the end and object of all prayer which is offered in His name. When we so pray we get an answer. And the reason why such multitudes of prayers never travel higher than the roof, and bring no blessings to him who prays, is because they are not prayers in Christ’s name.
Prayer in His name will pass into prayer to Him. As He not obscurely teaches us here (if we adopt the reading to which I have already referred), He has an ear to hear such requests, and He wields divine power to answer. Surely it was not blasphemy nor any diversion of the worship due to God alone, when the dying martyr outside the city wall cried and said, ‘Lord Jesus! receive my spirit.’ Nor is it any departure from the solemnest obligations laid upon us by the unity of the divine nature, nor are we bringing idolatrous petitions to another than the Father, when we draw near to Christ and ask Him to give us that which He gives as the Father’s gift, and to work on us that which the Father that dwelleth in Him works through Him for us.
Trust yourselves to Christ, and let your desires be stilled, to listen to His voice in you, and let that voice speak. And then, dear brethren, we shall be lifted above ourselves, and strength will flow into us, and we shall be able to say, ‘I can do all things, through the Christ that dwells in me and makes me strong.’ And just as the glad, sunny waters of the incoming tide fill the empty places of some oozy harbour, where all the ships are lying as if dead, and the mud is festering in the sunshine, so into the slimy emptiness of our corrupt hearts there will pour the flashing sunlit wave, the ever fresh rush of His power; and ‘everything will live whithersoever it cometh,’ and we shall be able to say in all humility, and yet in glad recognition of Christ’s faithfulness to this, His transcendent promise, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ ‘because the life which I live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God.’ “

Justification By Faith and The Law

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31 (KJB)

Since people are justified by faith without the law does that void the law? Paul says, “NO!” The law was given to show mankind his condemnation; to cause him to fall on his knees before our righteous and holy God in repentance, calling on Him by faith.

In the work of Jesus Christ on the cross the demands of the law were fulfilled, thus, by faith it is possible for a sinner to be made righteous before God; not on his own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection.

In Christ the holiness and righteousness of God toward sin is intact. His love for His enemies is shown. All who believe Him are declared righteous. That is an amazing salvation.

Actually the law is firmly established. All God desired is accomplished. Sinners; by God’s declaration; become saints.

When a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ the desire of their heart is to be with Him; to be like Him; to serve Him whenever and however possible. We desire to learn more about Him. We desire to be around others who love Him. We grieve over our sins and seek forgiveness quickly and diligently. We grieve over lost sinners who are condemned and pray for them, witness to them, and lead them to personal faith in Jesus. We seek to worship God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That certainly sounds like the establishment/fulfillment of the law.

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:16

What About the Place, the City, the Country Where I Live?

“Then began He to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not:
‘Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.’
”  Matthew 11:20-24  (KJB)

I have read this passage of Scripture, the words of Jesus here many times, and never has it caused me to ask the above question of today.  The work and presence of the Spirit of God has been at work in this land for centuries now.  Our country is not, neither has it ever been a land of perfection.  No man or woman is perfect.  We are all evil at heart.

We have witnessed the power of God in our Nation (United States of America), our States (my State of Missouri and the forty nine others), and in my home town of Jenkins.  I have seen the work of God in my own family and my life.  What about the place I live?

Will you ask that question with me?  Have you rejected power of God?  Have you rejected the work He has don in the place where you live?  There are places; cities and countries which will be and are condemned because they have rejected the work of Christ Jesus.

Let us not hear the “Woes” of Jesus upon our townships, towns, cities, States and countries.

May God forgive our sloth, slack, and attitudes of rejection of His power and works among us.

We All Have a Master

RECOGNIZING YOUR MASTER

Romans 6:1-23

OUTLINE –

I. LIKENESS OF HIS DEATH; LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION (vv. 1 – 10).

II. TAKING AUTHORITY OVER SIN IN OUR LIVES (vv. 11 – 13).

III. SERVING THE ONE WHOM WE OBEY (vv. 14 – 22).

IV. WAGES OF SIN; AND THE GIFT OF GOD (v. 23)

Does grace give a license to sin? That was the basic question Paul had to answer from his critics – the critics of the true gospel of grace. Does a dead person sin? Not any longer. They are free from sin, but not necessarily from sins wages.

If grace abounds ‘much more’ because of sins intensity, brought about by the law, then, does it not seem that to willfully and deliberately sin would be good? However, for one to be made alive in Christ there must be death and resurrection. This death is the putting away of sin (Col. 3:5). The resurrection is the ‘newness of life’ that only happens through faith in Jesus.

Paul has revealed to us that all people are sinners; “There is none righteous…”, “There is none who seeketh after God…”. He then tells us that the only way for us to please God is by grace through faith. By grace, God declares righteous [right with Himself], those who believe in His Son Jesus. Now, in chapter six Paul turns to the continuing work of God’s grace in those who believe. The Word is sanctification. To be sanctified is a process, a daily process, by which God works in the believer’s life to make us in ‘the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).

If a person is still controlled by sin that individual has not yet died, nor been resurrected to life by power of Jesus’s resurrection. Before resurrection there must be death. The question we must ask is, “WHO IS YOUR MASTER”?

Is there anything which you desire/crave more than anything else which is not a necessity for living and life? Are you addicted to it? If it is something that causes you to become irritable, rude, obnoxious and angry to be without, then, it is probably something that controls you. “WHO IS YOUR MASTER?”

IN THE LIKENESS OF HIS DEATH, AND THE LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION (vv. 1 – 10).

“Where do my good deeds fit into the scale for salvation?” Do they fit into salvation at all? Here is what Paul has previously said, “If it is of works, it is no more by grace; God becomes indebted to us” (Paraphrased from Rom. 4:4).

By faith the believer trusts God for their salvation, and not their own works. Good works, for the glory of God are a by-product of our faith. God produces fruits in us as we root ourselves in Him.

Trusting Him completely; means that we die to ourselves, and our own believed abilities to

earn God’s favor. There must be a death to self rule in order for God to rule in peace and harmony.

“Baptized into Jesus” is speaking of becoming immersed in Him. By faith we are baptized into Jesus. The word ‘Baptized’ means to immerse – to put under. We have all probably heard the expression, “He is immersed in his work”, meaning, of course, that he is totally given to his job or enterprise. When we are ‘Baptized/Immersed into Jesus’ it means we are totally given to Him.

There is death that has taken place. A separation of the spirit and soul from the body of sin. Notice I say, “From the body of sin”, not from the body of flesh. The ‘Body of sin’ is really the old Adamic nature. It, by faith, has been crucified with Jesus Christ in His death on the cross.

The ordinance of water baptism every obedient Christian practices is a public confession, and testimony by symbol of the actual event that has already taken place in the believer’s life.

This baptism into Jesus is “Reckoning” of ourselves dead in His crucifixion, and raised with Him by His resurrection. To be “Crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) is to put to death everything that is an abomination to God and take away its power to condemn (John 3:18); Rom. 8:1). By His resurrection we are “Raised up” to “Walk in newness of life”. It is a “New life”, not the old life warmed over. In God’s work of “Sanctification” He makes us holy. There are no left-over’s.

If we have died with Jesus we will also live with Him. If death has no more dominion over Him, it does not have dominion over those who believe. Death is an enemy, but is not to be feared by saints of God. It is inevitable that we will die, but death has no holding power. Being dead to sin we are no longer the servants/slaves of sin.

TAKING AUTHORITY OVER SIN IN OUR LIVES (vv. 11 – 13).

There is a continual struggle with sin, and we have been given the means of having victory over it. Within these three verses we have the answer to the question of why we struggle with sin, even after we have, by faith received God’s gracious gift of salvation. Within these same verses we have the answer of how we can have victory over sin.

Even before Jesus physically died on the cross He knew that His very purpose in being the incarnate Son of God was to become sin for us, receive judgment for our sin, to pour out His life’s blood for our redemption and do it to fulfill the demands of the holy law of God, and for His glory. He, while living for the glory of His Father, had already “Reckoned” Himself dead. Do you know what happened when He “Reckoned” Himself dead for the cause of His Father? He was able to fulfill all His Father’s will in His life.

The very reason people get out of the will of God is because we do not “Reckon” ourselves dead in Christ, and we are alive for ourselves.

The best life that we could live is lived through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Even after a person has received Jesus as Lord and Savior there is still sin in the world. Its temptations are strong; and often much stronger than we are – physically speaking. “Do not let sin…reign in your mortal body…” is speaking of the physical body. By the Spirit of Jesus in us we are to take control of physical appetites that cause us to sin. Some of these appetites are natural – we were created with them – but if left uncontrolled they become perverted and sinful.

One example is our strong desire to eat food, especially when we are hungry, but unless we control our appetite we will become “Gluttons”, make ourselves sick, and become overweight. We must eat to survive, but we must control the eating, and not let the eating control us. Someone has said, “Eat to live, not live to eat”. Everything must come under the reign of our own will as it has been changed by the “Newness of life” in Christ Jesus.

Notice these commands – “Reckon…yourselves…dead”, “Do not let sin reign your mortal body”. These are two directives given to aid us in living in victory over sin. There is a third one, “…Yield yourselves unto God…”. If we continue to desire to do our own thing we have not yet yielded to God’s will. We are still in rebellion against Him.

The very reason sin continues to reign in many professing Christians is because of this very thing. Jesus is not Lord. He is merely a “Life insurance policy”, or “Fire insurance policy”, only to call on in a time of great need and emergency. Like a spare tire. GOD IN A BOX.

Once again we can ask the question, “Who is your master?”

SERVING THE ONE WHOM WE OBEY (vv. 14 – 22).

The law condemns us. It offers us nothing in the way of escaping the wrath of God. It clearly shows us we are sinners unable to please God. As long as anyone is dependent upon the works of the law for the favor of God, they are under the dominion of the law, and are condemned.

Since, by faith, the believer is under grace and not the law we are no longer under the laws condemnation. Under grace we no longer desire to rebel against God. We desire to grow closer to Him, and become more like Jesus in our commitments, and living. As was previously stated, we are dead to sin (v. 11). Why would anyone who has experienced God’s grace, and newness of life in Jesus, desire to continue in sin?

You will, however, give yourself to whomever is your master. If your master is sin, then, you are a slave to sin and death is the continuing and end result. When Jesus is your Master, and in His righteousness, there is continuing growth in Him, and at the end of your physical life eternal life continues with Him.

At one time everyone who is a Christian – born again – was a servant/slave to sin. When the Spirit of God called we heard and obeyed, “That form of doctrine”, which is the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, being made free from sin we are the servants of righteousness. We can only be servants of righteousness as we yield to the One who is the embodiment of Righteousness, and that is Jesus.

The fruit of being a slave of sin is death and shame. “Being made free from sin”, the fruit is holiness. God will do whatever it takes to make us holy. Holiness is accomplished by the work of God, through sanctification. I believe that every event, every test, every trial, and every temptation of every day is a work of sanctification, and we are being made holy for God and His glory. Just as salvation is a work of God’s grace, so too is the work of sanctification a daily grace of God. “Who Is Your Master?”

WAGES OF SIN; AND THE GIFT OF GOD (v. 23).

This verse has long been one within the passages of Scriptures which are used in what has been called “THE ROMAN ROAD” for leading others to faith in Jesus.

We hear of “Wages” in every day living. If one has a job, vocation, avocation, or occupation, they know what ‘wages’ are. Wages are given for what has been earned and deserved. Humanity without God is a dying race. There is no life for we humans apart from God. Even physical life, as short as it is, is given by Him. He gives life and He takes it away.

Every one of the members of the human race is born in a condemned state – apart from God and is dying. God offers us a personal relationship with Him in order that we might glorify Him, and live. If we reject God’s free gift of grace we only get what we were born deserving – death; eternal separation from God, and Hell.

There are two absolutes given in this verse. 1) If you continue in your sin, and rebellion against God; death awaits you; 2) If you receive, by faith, Jesus Christ, believing He died and rose again for the glory of the Father, and has declared you justified and righteous by God, you have eternal life.

WHO IS YOUR MASTER?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Unique Saving Faith

This began our study of Romans chapter four.  We covered the first four verses.

Unique – Saving Faith

The Outline is for Romans 4:1-25

OUTLINE –

I. AN EXAMPLE OF A UNIQUE SAVING FAITH (vv. 1-4).
II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF A CREDITED ACCOUNT (vv. 5-8).
III. THE CREDITED ACCOUNT IS NOT DUE TO WHAT WE HAVE INVESTED OR PUT TO THE ACCOUNT (vv. 9-12).
IV. THIS RECKONING OF JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD FOR ALL THROUGH FAITH ALONE (vv. 13-17).
V. IT IS THE RECKONING OF GOD HIMSELF; NO HUMAN WORKS ARE CALLED FOR (vv. 18-25).

It was, and probably still is, a popular belief among Jews of Paul’s day and Jews and non-Jews of our day to believe that Abraham was declared righteous by God due to his obedience. Paul puts the record straight.

How were people of the Old Testament saved? Was it by complete obedience to God’s law? Was it by the sacrifice of bulls, goats, lambs, etc.? What do the Scriptures say?

“By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20).

“Abraham believed God…” (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6-9).

No one has ever been saved by keeping the law, no one will ever be saved by keeping the law. To see that it is by faith in God alone that saves, God gives us ample Scriptures to prove it. For example Psalm 32:1-2; and Hebrews 11.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, David, Solomon, etc. are all evidences of justification by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. They believing what would be; we believing what has been and shall be.

There are three words in this study which stand out as a theme. The first word is ‘Reckoned’ found in verses 4, 9, and 10. The second word is ‘Impute’, is used six times, in verses 6, 8, 11, 22, 23, and 24. The third word is ‘counted’, it is used only twice. They all come from the same Greek word logizomai – log-id’-zom-ahee – of these words are terms for accounting. God’s declaring us righteous, and justified.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE UNIQUE SAVING FAITH (vv. 1-4).

Salvation by grace through faith is unique – one of a kind. There is nothing like it in religion. Grace is not possible by work. If it is not by faith it is not grace.

Since many of the Jews believed that Abraham was justified by works Paul realized that this fallacy needed correction. If Abraham was justified (declared righteous by God) by his works he would then have a reason to boast. His boasting, of course, would have to be before men. He would not glory before God. God’s glory is a glory of its own. Man’s glory cannot match the glory of God.

God delights in those who believe in Him. Those who realize they are weak and helpless to save themselves. Those who have no one else in which to turn, but Him. Those whose hearts are broken and shattered because they realize there is no other hope by Him. Those who have reached the bottom of the bottom, the lowest low. These realize then, God is my hope, my strength, song, salvation, my very source of peace, life and joy.

“A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

When God called Abraham to leave his native land he obeyed, and left. Now understand, Abraham was at that time what the Jews would call a Gentile – there were no Jews. In his culture they worshiped idols, and were despicable in their behavior. Somehow in the midst of all this darkness God shined brightly His light into the life of Abraham, he saw, he heard, and he left this land of despicable sin and shame – the Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31). He even came out with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and his wife Sarah as well as others who are unnamed.

If you heard God speak for the first time would you get up and leave your home, friends, ownership of your land, business, etc. to obey God? Many will not do that whose lives they say belong to Him. Abraham did. How did he do it? He believed God, then he put one foot in front of the other; over and over again. Faith is the end of any attempt to gain God’s favor on any personal merit. If you could gain God’s favor by personal merit it would be by works not grace, therefore, if the works ceased, so too would the favor of God.

When a man or woman takes on a job (work) he/she expects to be paid. The employer is indebted to the employee until the employee receives his/her wages. In like fashion if we worked for our salvation God would be indebted to us until the debt was paid. God is indebted to no one. He did not, nor does not even owe us the possibility of salvation. In His grace He paid our sin debt, and then, when we believe He declares us righteous. What wonderful grace.

“Wonderful grace of Jesus; greater than all my sin. How can my tongue describe it? Where shall my praise begin?”

-Tim A. Blankenship

Salvation Through Works

Romans 1:1 – 7

Romans – God’s Gospel of Grace

OUTLINE OF ROMANS –
I. Introduction (vv. 1:1 – 17).
II. The sinfulness of man (vv. 1:18 – 3:20).
III. Salvation – Justification throught the righteousness of Christ (3:21 – 5:11).
IV. Death and Life with Christ and walking in the Spirit (5:12 – 8:13).
V. The fulness of the Blessing of the Gospel (8:14-39).
VI. Covenant promises of Israel are secure (Chapters 9 – 11).
VII. The life of Christian living and service (12:1 – 15:33).
VIII. Christian love in overflow (16:1-27). In verses 1 – 7 we see several things concerning the apostle Paul and our own calling.

Verse 1 – Paul was a willful slave/servant. He was appointed by God as an apostle of Jesus Christ to proclaim the gospel. He could do no other thing
To proclaim the goodness of Christ he was “Separated” unto Him for a lifetime of faithfulness and blessing.

Verse 2 – The promise of the gospel was given by all the prophets. They all foretold of a Deliverer who would come, and deliver them from their captors, but ultimately from the sin which called them into captivity.
The law would be “written in their hearts” and put in the “inward parts”. See Jeremiah 31:33-34. The gospel is also a call to all people of the earth to repent and turn to Christ (Joel 2:32).

Verse 3 – God’s Son was made flesh. Made in the likeness of men, yet without any sin. He always did those things which pleased His Father, even to the death on the cross.

Verse 4 – Jesus’s life was lived in wisdom and grace. His words were spoken from the heart of God. His miracles were done by the power of God. There was no life which came into contact with Him who was not touched in some way or other.
He spoke of His death; His disciples did not want to hear that. He said, “Destroy this temple [speaking of His body] and in three days I will rise again.” He promised He would come again. Just as He came the first time He will come again. How can we know this to be true?
By His resurrection from the dead. This confirmed every word He had spoken. The resurrection confirmed the works which He did. The power of the resurrection proved beyond any doubt for those who have eyes to see, that this is the Son of God, and glory belongs to Him alone.

Verse 5 – It is by Jesus – His death, burial and resurrection that we have received grace and calling. You are called to Him. You are called “saint” – not by some religious heirarchy, but by the God of creation Himself. It is solely by His grace we have this calling. It is by this grace alone we are called to service.

Verse 6 – You and I may not be an apostle like Paul, but we are still called by Christ Jesus to faith and eternal life, and all the blessings and spiritual gifts that go with it. Think of all that we have in Jesus. Peace with God, joy, love, patience, self control, daily filling of the Spirit of God is available for all of us; another thing is that we have the power to say “NO!” to sin, and “YES” to Christ.

Verse 7 – Remember you are called “Saint” by God Himself. Not for any good you have done, but because of the righteousness of Jesus.

Grow in this wonderful grace of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

May God bless you richly.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Hold Fast, and Repent

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:1-6 (KJV)

In chapter 3:1-6 we will endeavor to show that Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to His Church, that local churches, because they are made up of a “Mixed multitude” (a term from the Exodus), often grieve His Spirit, what happens to the church when He is grieved, and the hope of life which only comes by His Spirit.

It appears that complacency is a problem. We get in a place where the temperature is just right, the seats are soft and comfortable, there is no trouble to speak of, and we fall asleep. Suddenly, we awake and we find ourselves plagued with problems, or we may not awake because the enemy has crept in on us while we were unaware and kills us. If a friend does not wake us up, then, death is inevitable.

That friend, of course, is Jesus. In this Scripture text, He reveals Himself through another one of His characteristics. He had to go away, in the ascension, before the Spirit came. Now the Spirit of God in all His fullness can dwell and habitat in the life of every believer.

Jesus’s message to Sardis is one to “WAKE UP!” to your true situation. There was still hope for Sardis, but it was by the resurrection power of the Spirit. They could have life and power with God in no other way.

Jesus is the One who gives the Spirit, who is the giver of life and power to live a clean, holy and endless life.

In verse 1 we have Jesus revealing Himself to the church of Sardis as the One who has the “Seven Spirits” – indicating the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and the “Seven Stars”. See chapter 1:4, 16.
The Holy Spirit is the source of life for the Church. Without the Spirit, there is no life. We notice that Jesus reveals each part of His character as needed by each church. The church of Sardis certainly needed to see Jesus as the One who gives the Holy Spirit. In chapter 4:5 we have “Seven burning lamps, which are the seven Spirits of God”. In chapter 5:6 we see “Seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God…”. We have a fullness of light, power, and spiritual enlightenment, which come from the Spirit of God.

The “Seven stars” are the pastors. Jesus places pastors in each of His local bodies as it pleases Him. If the pastor is the source of the church’s problem, then, Jesus will remove him and put in a replacement. It could be the people of Sardis was blaming their pastor. Accusing him of not doing his job, or the church’s lack of growth, its complacency, its dying or death. They could have been saying, “These sermons you have been preaching are irrelevant to our need. There is no threat from without. We are not near dying”. The pastor, on the other hand, may have just blended in, became one of the neighborhood. “When in Rome do as the Romans do”.

Sardis was a city on a hill. it was protected by cliffs. It was virtually impregnable. However, it was overthrown at least twice by enemies while the guards slept at their post; thinking, “We are impregnable, there is no danger”.

Jesus says that this church has a name of being alive – they still have a name over the door, they are still keeping their programs going, but there is little difference in the practice of the church and the practice of the city – “But you are dead”, says Jesus. It really does not matter what the people in the community say about the church. What really counts is what Jesus says.

In verse two, it would almost seem fitting to say, that, the phrase “Be watchful” could also read “WAKE UP!”.

Consider Paul’s writing to the Romans in chapter 13:11-14. It is time for the Church to “Wake up”. Revival is needed.

Sardis could very well represent the time of the “Reformation” if we were looking at that dispensationally. During the “Dark ages” the professing church had become villainous. Killing, enslaving and conquering of land was the work of a majority of the “church” of this time. The true Church had fallen asleep. The doctrine of the church was to earn your salvation or pay for it with money. You could even pay the “Priests” to pray some poor soul into Heaven. If you could do that, why not pay them to pray an enemy into hell. The church, then, used the name of Jesus, but few within it really knew Him.

Jesus saw the need and He called out brave, and bold men like Martin Luther, Ulrich, Zwingli, John Knox, John Calvin, William Tyndale, and others to raise a mighty voice, to put the Word of God back into the hands of the people. To preach the true gospel of grace. The people began to wake up. The Church began to identify more with Jesus now, and less with the world.

Jesus’s words sound as though there is still hope.

“Strengthen the things that remain” is probably a reference to the small minority who were loving the Lord Jesus. Every time they tried to work for Jesus, the majority would stop it. The works were not perfect or complete in His eyes. Those who loved Jesus were the only possessors of the Spirit. A complacent spirit grieves the Spirit of God. The Spirit keeps us alert and aware. When we pay no attention to Him we grieve Him, and our source of power and strength erodes until ‘rigor mortis’ sets in. The Spirit never leaves the individual true believer, but He does and will leave from empowering a local church.

The only hope (v. 3) for a church in such as the aforementioned condition, is to get back to the basics. “Remember” salvation by grace through faith, hold on to it as though your life depended on it (it does), and repent. Confess your deadness, your complacent spirit, your grieving of the Holy Spirit.

If there is no awakening Jesus warns, that He will come as a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:4). This would, of course, be only upon those who are not “Overcomers” as the next two verses deal with.  A living organism has … growth, repair, reproduction, and power. If these are missing in a local church that church is either dying or dead. The church needs revival. If the believers at Sardis did not obey God Jesus warned He would “Come as a thief”.

In verses 4 and 5 the judgment that awaited a majority of “church members” would be avoided by the “Overcomers”. The “Overcomer” is a saved – born again – individual who is constantly growing in his/her walk with Christ, and by God’s grace is always faithful.

White is a symbol of righteousness, purity, cleanliness. Jesus mentions only a few who “Have not defiled their garments”. Jesus says, “They are worthy”. They have been made worthy because of the Holy Spirit and the One who gives the Spirit, Jesus Christ. The only way of righteousness or being worthy is in His Spirit.

The “Book of Life” is mentioned several times in the Scriptures. Revelation 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; Exodus32:32; Psalm 69:28; Philippians 4:3 just to list a few. Some believe this implies one can be saved and lose it. That would be contrary to God’s grace. If we do nothing to deserve God’s grace, then, how can we presume that we can do something to get out of His grace? The “Book of Life” has had written in it the names of everyone who was ever conceived. When a person died apart from Christ his/her name is “Blotted out of the book of life”. When a person believes and confesses that Jesus is Lord, and believes that God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead, then God writes that person’s name in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27) and his/her name remains in the “Book of Life”.

Jesus says, that He will confess this individual’s name before the Father.

Some points to note about the BOOK OF LIFE:
1. Contains the names of all the living;
2. Revelation 13:8; 17:8 suggest that the names of saints are written in the book from the foundation of the world – before they have done anything good or bad;
3. Chosen in Christ before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 25:34).
4. As unbelievers die their names are removed from the BOOK OF LIFE (Psalm 69:28).

Once again, to the church of Sardis, the message of Jesus is commanding His people’s hearing (v. 6). It is an invitation to hear the Holy Spirit speak to the heart of the true believer of Jesus. It seems especially appropriate in this letter because Jesus is showing Himself as the One who gives the Spirit. Hear His words. Hear Him and believe and do them.

In conclusion, the prophet said, “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). If the church is to be the Church it must operate in the presence of God. The Holy Spirit must be a continued welcome and wanted guest within the local church, and the total Body of Christ.

To “Grieve the Spirit” is to make Him an unwanted guest. Unwanted guests do not feel like staying very long and begin to pull away any influence and make themselves absent. God gives His people a commandment not to grieve the Spirit; “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit will never leave a born again person, but when we pay Him little or no attention; ignore His teaching, leadership, comfort, convictions, righteousness, and judgment we will certainly be without His powerful influence.

Why do churches die? Because they neglect Jesus and His gift that He has given. That is the person of the Holy Spirit, which is Christ within us.  And to think that there are some who profess to know Christ as Savior and believe that they now have the “Liberty” to live as they please.  The Spirit of Christ in you leads you to live the life that He pleases.

Only those in the local church who heed the warnings of the Spirit and repent of their foolish deeds will overcome. Jesus’s promises to the “Overcomers” are for all those who are repentant.
The church must stop grieving the Holy Spirit; the church must depend on the Spirit, not the promises and promotions of the flesh and man; the church of the 21st century must wake up out of its comfort, and lethargy, and live for God. The church must experience revival.  Every believer must Hold Fast to the words of Jesus and to Him, and Repent of all our sins; disobedience, rebellion, and unbelief.

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.

Our Fruit; Our Judgment

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  Galations 5:19-23 (KJV)

Today I will have no commentary.  I am just going to let the Scriptures speak the words of Jesus…

“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:16-20

Christmas Day Fifty and Four

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want my life to bear the fruits of the Spirit of God, and the word of God working effectively in me that others might come to faith in Jesus Christ for the honor and glory of God.

“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV)

Shutting Up the Kingdom of Heaven

There is something about the gospel of Christ that the worldly man, even some of the spiritual elite who hate it. Some people want, desire people to follow them, their teachings, their philosophies, and when the true gospel of Christ Jesus is presented; the death, burial and resurrection of Christ they stand against it.

One of the Communist leaders of the past said, “Religion is an opiate of the people” or something very similar to that. Sad part about that statement is is that it is mostly a true statement. Religion blinds minds, cripples thinking, and makes captives of a people who ought to be free.

Something many people need to realize is that true Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship with Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ came into the world to free us from our sin, and its condemnation; our captivity to fear. There were those in the days of Jesus Christ who would not believe the message of Christ, because it freed the people from the binding message of their religion.

Jesus said,

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13 (KJV)

This is the beginning of seven woes announced, by Jesus, against the scribes who were teachers of the law, and the Pharisees who were a religious sect of the day. During the days of Jesus it would seem that their duty, and work was to keep people from the kingdom of God and heaven. In essence to keep their followers from following Jesus Christ.

These woes are announcements against them. They are working ruin. Religion for the most part is against Christ. Religion is the attempts of men, women, and children to try to gain God’s favor their own way; in their own personal labors. Faith in Christ Jesus is coming to God His Way trusting only in the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is for the grace of God. Grace is shown to us through the cross of Jesus. God putting on His Son all the unrighteousness, all the filth of sin, and its condemnation; and pouring His wrath on His only begotten Son. Then, when you or I look to Jesus God places on us all the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Now, all those who receive this precious, eternal gift, have eternal life with Jesus forever. Do not let the teaching of men and religion that is false keep you from the kingdom. The kingdom is Jesus Christ Himself.

The Righteous Cannot be Saved

Many religions place importance on doing something to gain God’s favor. Let me at the beginning just say; there is nothing you or I can do to gain God’s favor. There is no sacrifice, there is no sacrament, there is no good deed to your neighbor or the world which will gain you or me eternal life and/or the favor of Holy God.

This very mentality is what Jesus is addressing in the following verses:

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:10-13 (KJV)

When Jesus was ministering to the publicans (tax collectors) and sinners the religious leaders began questioning Jesus’s purpose, power, and ministry. “What kind of man would sit with tax collectors and sinners?” they were asking themselves, and the disciples.

There is only one sacrifice which God the Father accepts; and that is the sacrifice, the death of His only begotten Son. Still the religious; the self-righteous try to gain the favor; the grace; of God through sacrifice and sacrament.

God shows grace and mercy to the sinner who will come to Him through the cross of His Son Jesus with a repentant heart. Through the act of repentance on the part of the sinner, trusting Christ Jesus, God clothes the sinner in the righteousness of God the Son.

You may be a righteous person today. You cannot be saved. Until you see yourself as the sinner your really are you will remain lost, condemned, dying, guilty, and spiritually dead.

Come to the Father through the cross of Jesus. Sinner hear Him and be saved. He came to save the sinner.

Seeking His Work

“The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honourable and glorious: and His righteousness endureth for ever. He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.” Psalm 111:2-4 (KJV)

The Psalmist magnifies the Lord, His work and His righteousness. All are great. It is GOD who makes them great. There is nothing He does that we would not see as great, working doing His will; and I should say Him working through us.

As I look at these verses I think of Jesus’s words, “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29), and “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29).

In the chaos of man’s sin, shame, unbelief, and wretchedness; God loved the world and sent a Saviour; His only begotten Son; to die on the cross for our sins. He died that we all might have fellowship, love, and grace with the Father. Have it for all eternity.

The compassion of the LORD is seen in that He struck His own Son in our place, and through His Son Jesus Christ we are made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“The works of the LORD are great” and they are “sought out of all them that have pleasure therein”.

The Goodness of the LORD

“For the word of the LORD is right; and all His works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” Psalm 33:4-6 (KJV)

The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. Maybe you can see it. Maybe you cannot. It makes no difference; except for your salvation.

We have all heard statements similar to this: “If God is so good, then why do good people suffer?” or maybe this: “Where was God when that happened?” Usually those comments or questions are made by people who do not know God; and many who do not want to know Him. I could be wrong about that.

In the first question their is a large assumption that people are good; or that there are good people. My first thought on that is: according to whose judgment?

God is good, and there is no other who is good, but Him. Note: “The word of the LORD is right…” The One who speaks right words, does right, and His works are done in truth.

He also loves righteousness and judgment. He is the righteous Judge in the earth. He is the One who has made all things. It is His declarations that are true. If you doubt Him, and choose your own way; then, you will perish, and spend eternity in flames of liquid fire (Revelation 20:14-15).

This One who has made all things is the Lord Jesus Christ. “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3). He also died for your sins was buried and He rose again. He is returning one day to rid the world of all sin and evil for eternity.

Believe Him. Trust Him.

When We Pray in the Name of Jesus

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.  And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it.”  ~Jesus (John 14:12-14)

The Relationship of Jesus and The Father

“Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, ‘Shew us the Father’?  Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.  Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake.”  ~Jesus (John 14:9-11)

Caught Unaware???

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; ‘These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.  Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.  He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.'”  Revelation 3:1-6 (KJV)

If you would like you may click on this link and read GIVER OF THE SPIRIT.

-T.A.

The Love Left

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; ‘These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  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.  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”  Revelation 2:1-7 (KJV)

For further reading and study on these verses go read The Caretaker of the Light.

-T.A.

Unsecured Testimony

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

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

-T.A.