2 Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε, ἀδελφοί μου, ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις, 3 γινώσκοντες ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως κατεργάζεται ὑπομονήν. 4 ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ ἔργον τέλειον ἐχέτω, ἵνα ἦτε τέλειοι καὶ ὁλόκληροι ἐν μηδενὶ λειπόμενοι. (James 1:2-4 NA28)
2 Consider it all joy my brothers whenever you fall into various trials 3 knowing that the testing of your faith works endurance; 4 let endurance work to fulfillment, that you be mature and complete lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The word joy in my translation is the Greek noun χαρὰν, which is the Accusative, Singular of χαρά or chara, “is an antonym of grief and sorrow. It denotes ‘joy, happiness, and gladness.’” In other words, James, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is telling Christians to not grieve or be sorrowful, but to be glad and full of joy when they “fall into various trials.” The words “you fall” translates the verb περιπέσητε, which is the Aorist tense, Subjunctive mood, and Active voice of περιπίπτω or peripiptō, which is a compound of περί or peri, “properly through (all over), that is, around” and πίπτω or piptō, “fail, fall (down), light on” with the result coming to mean, “to fall into something that is all around, that is, light among or upon, be surrounded with: – fall among (into).” Doesn’t that “figuratively” describe how we so often have found ourselves in the midst of something that seems “overwhelming?” The word trials translates the noun πειρασμοῖς, which is the Dative, Plural of πειρασμός or peirasmos, “refers either to a testing or a temptation to do something wrong.”
45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:45-46 NASB)
In the passage above, John 1:45-46, we see two of our Lord’s future Apostles, Philip and Nathanael, conversing. Philip finds his friend Nathanael and tells him that he and other friends have found “Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote.” This is, of course, the Messiah. Then he tells him who he is, “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” What was Nathanael’s response? He asked a rhetorical question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” What was Philip’s answer? It was the one we must all take to heart and make the foundation of how we approach both evangelism and apologetics. He said, “Come and see.”
32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They *said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. (John 11:32-35 NASB)
As we stand firm against the onslaught of false teachers and heretics attacking the modern church, we can wear ourselves out at times seeking every nuance of what they are saying and doing. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. However, most of the time, the very best way to stand against what is false is to teach God’s Truth clearly to all who will hear. When heretics attack the veracity of the Gospel from every angle or those sold out to the Purpose Driven paradigm dumming it down so that it is no longer recognizable, they do these things from a point of motivation. There is a reason or goal in mind. Mostly, it is to simply appear to be non-offensive to people, to be man-pleasers, to attract as many people as possible to come under their Big Tent where all forms of theology are welcome, that is, all forms except the one we hold to here. No Exclusivity is allowed. No Five Solas are allowed. No Sovereignty of God! No Justification by grace through faith ALONE! No, there can be none of that for then others would be offended and there would go their artificial unity. Of course, in the make-believe-Christendom they have created, they have a made-up Jesus. He is not Jesus Christ of the Bible, the Son of God. No, because He is the one who said that No One comes to the Father except through Him, and that would be offensive so they have their own Jesus who just loves everyone and died on the Cross either to save everyone or just to show everyone a better way.
63 τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν τὸ ζῳοποιοῦν, ἡ σὰρξ οὐκ ὠφελεῖ οὐδέν· τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἐγὼ λελάληκα ὑμῖν πνεῦμά ἐστιν καὶ ζωή ἐστιν. (John 6:63 NA28)
63 The Spirit is who makes alive. The flesh does not profit anything. The words which I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life. (John 6:63 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Apart from my normal preparations and Bible study to put these devotions and articles together, I also do a systematic read through of the Bible every year. Recently I read 2 Kings 12-16 and John 6, which, on Saturdays, I usually do from my 1560 Edition of the Geneva Bible. The rampant apostasy in both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah was horrifying to read. King Ahaz of Judah actually sacrificed his own son(s) to idols. I am sure things were just as bad, if not worse, in the Northern Kingdom. It was almost with relief that I came to the end of 2 Kings 16 and went to the New Testament. However, the Apostle John is someone I can identify with very well. I have been accused by many who know me well of not being able to compromise at all. I have no grey areas. Things are either right or wrong. I agree with that assessment to a point and I see the same sort of view of non-compromising adherence to the truth with the Apostle John. However, let us not forget that what he wrote for us in God’s Word is that very thing. We are reading the inspired Word of God and in John 6, the very words of our Lord are, for the most part, in response to His critics who were in the darkness of unbelief.
33 ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ εἰρήνην ἔχητε. ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ θλῖψιν ἔχετε· ἀλλὰ θαρσεῖτε, ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον. (John 16:33 NA28)
33 These things I have spoken to you that in Me you have peace. In the world you have affliction, but be cheerful, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
God is Sovereign and Jesus Christ, the son of man, is the Son of God. Our Lord came to reveal the Father and through His perfect life become the propitiation for those He came to save. Through His death, as He willingly laid His life down, He purchased a people for Himself who are all those who believe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are justified by grace through faith alone as a gift from God. These are given to the Son by God the Father. Those of us who remain alive in this world who are part of His Church often wonder why we were left here in this evil place. Sadly, many professing Christians are quite at home here.
9 “I kept looking
Until thrones were set up,
And the Ancient of Days took His seat;
His vesture was like white snow
And the hair of His head like pure wool.
His throne was ablaze with flames,
Its wheels were a burning fire.
10 “A river of fire was flowing
And coming out from before Him;
Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,
And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;
The court sat,
And the books were opened. (Daniel 7:9,10 NASB)
Before we look at Revelation 20:11-15, take a moment to reflect on the carnage being wrought upon the visible church in our time by the very men who, by their own positions, should be shepherding the sheep. Instead, they are actually doing the very things to bring about the famine of hearing the Word of God and, hence, spiritual darkness seems to be all around us right in the midst of the “Church.” Mysticism in the guise of Spiritual Formation is being flim-flamed off on the unsuspecting as if it is another form of Christian prayer. We have rock-star pastors who measure their success by how many books they sell and how many branch churches they have who watch them preach via satellite. Of course, if you measure the content of their sermons by the Word of God, what you have is simply man-centered propaganda meant to appease, tease, and keep people coming through the front door instead of confronting them with their sin and need of a Saviour. Now, as you reflect on that, consider what awaits those whose names are not found written in the book of life.
After the massacre in Orlando by the lone, self-proclaimed, Islamic Terrorist, many Christians I have encountered seem confused about how to respond to it. I know of some who want to declare war on all Muslims. I know of others who say that the people who were killed at the Gay nightclub were under the judgment of God and got what they deserved. However, being one who takes responses to secular events like these and filters them through God’s truth in light of the Cross, I have struggled going beyond viewing the whole thing as tragic, murder, and further encroachment of darkness enveloping our society. However on Monday, June 20th, I received an email from Ligonier Ministries where R.C. Sproul does a fine job of addressing the Christian’s response to terrorism. Enjoy and be blessed my brethren.
14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. (John 1:14 NA28)
14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
One of my favorite passages in Sacred Scripture is Psalms 23. One part of that really speaks to me is v3 where David wrote about God saying, “He restores my soul;” There are many times where I find myself in a place where I desperately need for God to do for me what David describes in this Psalm.
1 The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalms 23:1-6 NASB)
I write this motivated from my Lord’s own work in my heart over the past several days as God has indeed “restored my soul.” The battle against apostasy and seeing how the visible church is becoming more and more symbolic and less and less genuinely focused on what the Apostle John calls “Spirit and Truth” has caused me to become susceptible to attacks from the enemy all designed to discourage and distract. However, God allows us to be attacked like that. He allows us to be taken into the valley of the shadow of death and so be tested that we may become more and more reliant on God’s grace and less and less on ourselves. After these trials, he will take us to a quiet place of restoration and recovery, and, for me, that is to dig into and exegete His Word for His glory and the edification of the Body of Christ. Hence, we will look at John 1:1-18 and the Word that became flesh or “the Incarnate Word.”
18 Ὁ λόγος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία ἐστίν, τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις ἡμῖν δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν. 19 γέγραπται γάρ·
ἀπολῶ τὴν σοφίαν τῶν σοφῶν
καὶ τὴν σύνεσιν τῶν συνετῶν ἀθετήσω. (1 Corinthians 1:18-19 NA28)
18 For the word of the cross to those perishing is senseless, but to us being saved, it is the power of God 19 for it has been written,
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise ones
and the understanding of the intelligent I will set aside.’ (1 Corinthians 1:18-19 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Look at those man-focused, pragmatic, seeker-sensitive “churches” seemingly all around us in our time. They may vary in many ways, but there is a commonality that marks them all as products of the spirit of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) rather than the spirit of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). That commonality is seen in the passage I placed at the top of this post. It is what makes them of the spirit of Laodicea. They are structured and operate according to the wisdom of men. Their very way of handling the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ depletes the cross of its power. What do I mean? When the “so-called gospel” that is “preached” is given in a way that intentionally removes its offense and an attempt is made to make it sensible to the lost and dying world by removing the blood and removing the necessity of our Lord’s death for those who owed a debt to God they could never pay, well, what is given is more of a sales pitch and self-help remedy. All this does is create a body of people who are neither cold nor hot. No, they believe they have everything and are right with God, but are in reality, wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked who are simply ready for the next deceiver to come along.
11 Ἀναχθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ Τρῳάδος εὐθυδρομήσαμεν εἰς Σαμοθρᾴκην, τῇ δὲ ἐπιούσῃ εἰς Νέαν πόλιν 12 κἀκεῖθεν εἰς Φιλίππους, ἥτις ἐστὶν πρώτη [ς] μερίδος τῆς Μακεδονίας πόλις, κολωνία. Ἦμεν δὲ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ πόλει διατρίβοντες ἡμέρας τινάς. (Acts 16:11-12 NA28)
11 And having set sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the next day to Nepalis 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a prominent city of the District of Macedonia, a colony, and we stayed in this city some days. (Acts 16:11-12 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Paul’s friend and companion Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts in the New Testament. In Acts 16:10, we read that after Paul and seen the vision to leave Asia and come to Europe after seeking the will of God for the next focus of his missionary journey, Luke includes himself in the narrative as an eyewitness, therefore, his account of what happened to Paul and Silas in Philippi are given as one who was there.
3 Συγκακοπάθησον ὡς καλὸς στρατιώτης Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. (2 Timothy 2:3 NA28)
3 Take your part in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:3 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Over the last few years I have been sorely tempted by our enemy into despairing of this ministry. Why? This happens as my focus goes inward and with that always comes a sense of my sinfulness and unworthiness to even be called a Christian. I look at those whom God uses to feed me spiritually and I see how small I am. How can God use one such as me? What have I done in the past to help me through these times? I look at the biographies of men such as William Tyndale and John Bunyan. Bunyan is a great role model for us. As we read of Bunyan’s early Christian walk, it soon becomes apparent that there are some parallels with how God uses not only me, but many others like me in these dark times. The well educated and those with large ministries are more often then not the ones who are on the road to apostasy just as in Bunyan’s day. Bunyan was barely educated and his only education in theology was from the Word of God and sitting at the feet of his pastor. God raised him up to do a mighty work in the Church, but it was one that involved much suffering.
31 νῦν κρίσις ἐστὶν τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, νῦν ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἐκβληθήσεται ἔξω· 32 κἀγὼ ἐὰν ὑψωθῶ ἐκ τῆς γῆς, πάντας ἑλκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτόν. 33 τοῦτο δὲ ἔλεγεν σημαίνων ποίῳ θανάτῳ ἤμελλεν ἀποθνῄσκειν. (John 12:31-33 NA28)
31 “Now is the judgment of this world. The ruler of this world will be cast out 32 when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.” 33 And in this saying, He was signifying by what kind of death He was about to die. (John 12:31-33 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In this passage (John 12:12-50) we are in that six-day period leading up to our Lord’s last Passover feast. Of course, we know that He was also crucified just prior to the Sabbath of this week so in these last few days our Lord is done with the confrontational stands against the Jewish religious leaders. Now, He is preparing His disciples for what is coming. They still do not get it. Remember, we look at our Lord’s words of His sovereignty, His deity, and joyful submission to the authority to the Father who, in turn, joyfully gives Him all authority throughout creation because of His obedience. Yes, we see this, but remember, He had not yet gone to the Cross nor had He been resurrected. What is so puzzling to those of us who take God’s good doctrines to heart and defend His Gospel with our all is why there are so many wolves in sheep’s clothing in our time with their huge churches running amuck in the visible church causing, seemingly, much damage. What we must never forget my brethren is that this is nothing new and our Lord has all this under control. We must stay the course in our obedience and submission to the Lordship of Christ in all things. Those who are in our Lord’s sheepfold are in no danger of being snatched away. Those falling away into apostasy were never in His sheepfold to begin with.
9 Ἔγνω οὖν [ὁ] ὄχλος πολὺς ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ὅτι ἐκεῖ ἐστιν καὶ ἦλθον οὐ διὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον ἴδωσιν ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν. 10 ἐβουλεύσαντο δὲ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς ἵνα καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον ἀποκτείνωσιν, 11 ὅτι πολλοὶ διʼ αὐτὸν ὑπῆγον τῶν Ἰουδαίων καὶ ἐπίστευον εἰς τὸν Ἰησοῦν. (John 12:9-11 NA28)
9 Therefore, when the great crowd of Jews knew that Jesus was there, they came not because of Him only, but also because of Lazarus that they may see whom He raised from the dead. 10 But the Chief Priests took counsel that they might kill Lazarus also, 11 because of him many were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The hard heart that is in the darkness of unbelief simply will not believe even when given irrefutable evidence. That is what the earthly ministry of our Lord was. He fulfilled those prophecies of the Messiah exactly that were given by those Old Testament prophets that the fathers of these very men also persecuted and killed. John made it clear in the dialogues and the examples of miracles by our Lord in the face of the opposition by these men that they were without excuse. The same is true today. Christianity is not a religion based on feelings or liver shivers or whatever. No, it is based on clear, irrefutable historical evidence of what our Lord did and said. Those who hated Him killed Him, but He was resurrected on the third day and Ascended into Heaven 10 days before Pentecost. All of this was witnessed by multitudes of people and no one has ever been able to prove any of it wrong. The evidences of the truth were all from eyewitnesses. The evidences of naysayers are all from people who hate the truth who were not even there. In any case, in this post we will look at some of the events that took place in the last few days before our Lord’s arrest and crucifixion as recorded in John 11:45-12:11.
25 εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή· ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ κἂν ἀποθάνῃ ζήσεται, 26 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. πιστεύεις τοῦτο; (John 11:25-26 NA28)
25 Jesus said to her, “I am The Resurrection and The Life; the one believing in Me, even if he should die will live, 26 and everyone living and believing in Me never dies into the age. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In this post we will look out our Lord’s final and ultimate messianic sign. John also bluntly contrasted our Lord’s spectacular, uncontested miracle with the evil intent of the Jewish religious leaders who resolved to arrest Jesus and kill not only Him, but Lazarus whom our Lord raised from the dead. John also reveals their self-centered motivations for this later in John 11:45-57. In this post we will look at John 11:1-44.
1 When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. (Mark 2:1-2 NASB)
A few weeks ago a friend contacted me with a question that came up because of a theological disagreement between him and his pastor. The disagreement centered on the necessity of repentance as part of our salvation and as the discussion continued the pastor insisted that Jesus never taught that nor did he preach the gospel because He had not yet gone to the cross. Here is part of the quote from our conversation.
“He asserted that he (Jesus) did not preach the gospel because he had not yet died or had been raised from the dead so therefore there was no gospel to preach at that point. I then asked him from what then and why did Jesus asked them to repent and why and what did he ask them to believe in. He did not really answer this question but went on another line of thought.
He is heavily influenced by the writings and teaching of Tim Keller and NT Wright CS Lewis. He told me to reread the gospel and that I would never witness Jesus preaching the gospel.”
I must admit that this took me by surprise so I am sure my response was not adequate for my friend. However, this has been bothering me since then. Today at church our interim pastor preached on Mark 2:1-12 and he actually spent some time on v2 which is what this post is going to be about.
1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4 ESV)
When I went off to Oklahoma State University in the Fall of 1969 after graduating from High School just three months earlier things were philosophically very different in the world than what we have now. That is, on the surface they are different. My professors in college and many of my former teachers in High School were assured that Christianity and all organized religion was a bunch of nonsense, that it would soon be proven through Science that Natural Selection produced everything living, and that the Universe was created through natural processes. I even had a Roman Catholic Nun as Biological Sciences Lab instructor at OSU that enthusiastically supported Darwinism. However, things have not turned out as these people planned at all. If anything, the world has grown even more religious than it was back then. On the other hand, I would put the Bible knowledge of many of my Grandparents’ generation up against that of most professing Christians in our time and it would be absolutely embarrassing how shallow theological knowledge and understanding within the visible church has become.
24 Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ· εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. 25 ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι ἀπολέσει αὐτήν· ὃς δʼ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εὑρήσει αὐτήν. (Matthew 16:24-25 NA28)
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If someone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, 25 for whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a message given to be passed on as “Good News” of the completed work of Christ on behalf of those he came to save. The message is about his incarnation, his perfect life, his death on the cross, his three days and nights in the tomb, and his resurrection. All of these things were attested to by witnesses. The resurrection is the proof that our Lord is God and that the work of the Atonement is complete. Those who hear the Gospel, believe it, receive it by grace through faith and repent as they turn to Christ as Lord and Saviour. As is made clear in Ephesians 2:1-10, there is no one is able to do this on their own, God must intervene making then alive in Christ who were once dead in their sins so they could believe and be saved.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB)
As many of you know, I grew up as a Southern Baptist. After God saved me in 1986 I was a Southern Baptist until 2006 when our former church was overtaken by the Purpose Driven paradigm. I was bitter about that for a while. I and many of you found common ground having had our churches ripped away from us and in many cases finding it nearly impossible to find a good Biblical local church remaining in our area after the Seeker-Sensitive tsunamis had moved through devastating what were once good churches, leaving behind man-centered, store fronts for Rick Warren’s brand of man-focused religiosity. However, God is good and through this devastation and some personal fiery trials, which actually began in 2004, He has worked in me to grow me up into a more mature Christian, stronger in the Word of God than ever, more knowledgeable in Biblical Greek, and deeper in the more cerebral areas of our faith that are sorely needed in our day such as apologetics. When I was a Deacon teaching Sunday school at our local SBC church, I was extremely mediocre in most of that and hardly knowledgeable at all in the area of apologetics. Why? I was serving and operating from within a mindset that was extremely immature spiritually compared to today. My understanding of the Gospel and theology was probably deeper than most of my peers at that time, but compared to now, it was probably surface level at best.
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3 NASB)
The fallen nature of man does not understand death. Depending on culture, some fight to stay alive with their all. The correct understanding of death comes to us from God’s Word. The word death is used in three different ways in Sacred Scripture. The first is spiritual death, which is separation from God (Ephesians 2:1,1). Then, of course, there is physical death (Hebrews 9:27). Then there is eternal death, which is referred to as “the second death” in Revelation 20:11-15). While many would consider the topic of death to be a subject to be avoided, it is vital for us to have a clear understanding of all three manifestations in biblical terminology so that we will have a better foundation for sharing the Good News.
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. (1 Corinthians 4:14-16 NASB)
The visible church is flesh driven and, therefore, full of darkness. Evangelicalism is corrupt because of the very same thing. I visit both large and small churches. It seems that in many cases, the larger the church, the more geared the leadership is there to appealing to the flesh to attract and keep the crowds large and entertained. When I enter the physical buildings of these large churches I look around and take a visible inventory of the clues given of how focused the leadership there is to being “in tune” with culture in how church is done, how the music is done, how convicting the message from the Word of God is in all of this and how central that is to the life of that local body of believers. Forget those that have their own television networks or shows or whatever. They have sold out a long time ago to contextualization of the truth in order to keep the money coming in.
6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “ God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NASB)
Despite what those say who insist that the only attribute of God that ever comes into play is His Love, the only ray of hope in man’s spiritual darkness is His sovereign grace. It alone can rescue man from his propensity to lust for evil things. The passage above (James 4:6) tells us that God gives “more grace.” What does this mean? It shows that His grace is greater than the power of sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan (cf. Romans 5:20). Who obtains God’s grace? Do the proud?
1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ ἀξίως περιπατῆσαι τῆς κλήσεως ἧς ἐκλήθητε, 2 μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος, μετὰ μακροθυμίας, ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν ἀγάπῃ, 3 σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης· (Ephesians 4:1-3 NA28)
1 Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, encourage you to walk worthy of the calling by which you were called, 2 with all humility of mind and meekness with long-suffering forbearing one another in love, 3 being eager to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Please read Ephesians 4:1-3, which I placed at the top of this post. What is to be our demeanor in how we deal with each other as fellow believers? Paul starts out by reminding the Ephesians that he is writing the epistle from prison and that he is in prison because of his ministry. That means that the faithful Christian walk can be costly and that, like him, we can pay a considerable personal price if we remain faithful to our Lord in the face of persecution. From that “reminder,” Paul encourages us all to walk our Christian walk “worthy of the calling by which we were called…” What does that mean? Our “walk” refers to our daily conduct. Paul is calling for all believers to “walk” in such a way their lives match their position in Christ which is the outcome of the effectual “calling” by God himself. No one comes to Christ unless effectually called by God: Romans 1:18; 11:29; 1 Corinthians 1:26; Philippians 3:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1.
1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NASB)
Martin Luther is considered the “Lighting rod of the Protestant Reformation.” It was through his battle with the Roman Catholic Church that the doctrine of salvation through Justification by Grace through Faith alone was recovered and from that, many Christian martyrs went to their deaths refusing to compromise their faith by denying the truth of knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified based not upon the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. So much of the pressure being brought to bear upon Christians in our time is to not be so precise in our theology, but be more willing to “compromise” along doctrinal grounds for the sake of “unity.” The “mega-church” model is based precisely upon never offending anyone, but being non-threatening and willing to be all things to all people in order to attract everyone, but to what?
16 ἐξομολογεῖσθε οὖν ἀλλήλοις τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ὅπως ἰαθῆτε. Πολὺ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη. (James 5:16 NA28)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray on behalf of one another so that you may be cured. The petition of the righteous, being effective, has great power. (James 5:16 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
My ability to serve God in this ministry is now, and has always been, within a very specific framework. Whether I am working on apologetics or discernment or a Bible Study, or anything else, it must be for God’s glory alone and for the edification of the Body of Christ. I can only do these things if it is God’s will for me to them and as my will to do them is lined up with His in this regard. Out side of this framework, it would be like chasing after the wind. It would be me motivated according to the ways of the world with the flesh in view, would not bring glory to God, and would only cause confusion and who needs that? Therefore, before I write these posts, what must I do?
12 “For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. (1 Peter 3:12-17 NASB)
I remember when I first began this ministry at Possessing the Treasure that there would be times when the ugliness of the attacks from those who opposed God’s Truth that we presented here would cause me a level of anguish that seemed to be about to overwhelm me. The very fact that a group of people was bound and determined to shut this blog down and silence me would nearly paralyze me. However, as God taught me, over time, how to work through these things in total dependence on Him, I was able to see that the anguish or fear or whatever it was, was really part of the attack coming from our enemy. When I would tell the truth then endure the attacks the fear would always be part of that. However, when I went through them while being led by the Spirit in total dependence on my Lord for His wisdom and discernment in the midst of the fiery trial, I was able to then look back on those events after the fact and wonder at why I was so fearful. It was then that God gave me the wisdom to see that everything was being blown out of proportion the more I was focused on me and what the outcome would be for me and this ministry, but when I was focused on His Truth and the fact that what I was doing was for His glory alone the attacks became meaningless to me. I was willing to endure anything for my Lord’s glory and was able to bear it all in the power of the Holy Spirit.