8 Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· 9 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται. 10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NA28)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is God’s gift; 9 not by works lest any should boast. 10 For we are his masterpiece having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God previously prepared that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
What do we mean when we teach about “Christian Authenticity?” The genuine Christian is a new creation. He or she will not be the same after regeneration as they were before. Before regeneration they were children of wrath and conformed to this world. After regeneration they are adopted children of God who, from an eternal perspective, are Holy, justified, sanctified, and glorified in Christ. However, from a temporal perspective they are in the process of sanctification that God uses to conform His children unto the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The unregenerate may suffer. They may have a large number of problems. However the suffering of Christians is different. God uses suffering, tests, and trials in the lives of His children to build humility and uproot pride in their hearts.
33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth.” John 18:33-38 NASB
In the passage above we see where Jesus, as He was being questioned by Pilate, made the statement that He came into the world to testify to the truth. Then He made the following statement, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Of course Pilate made the following sarcastic response, “What is truth?”
34 “ Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set A man against his father, and A daughter against her mother, and A daughter- in- law against her mother- in- law; 36 and A man’s enemies will be the members of his household. Matthew 10:34-36 NASB
The number one accusation against those who proclaim the truth from God’s Word in the face of apostasy is that they are being divisive. I believe we should seek to have peace with all men, but we must be prepared to encounter conflict with those who refuse to submit to God’s truth. We are never called to be at peace with false teachers or false prophets or apostates. From Jesus’ own teachings we learn that the cost of being His disciple is very high. Grace is free, but becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ costs us everything. We are told that no one is worthy of the Kingdom of God who is in love with this world. We cannot serve God correctly if we love our own life more than Him. We cannot love our families more than Him. We cannot love possessions more than Him. We are called to be the interim or peacemaker between those whom we love and God. We are to be the one God uses to bring them into the Kingdom. However, we are also called to not waiver and turn our backs on God and His ways because pressure is put on us to compromise our walk with God for the sake of peace.
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:1-4 NASB
I am sure when our Lord told His disciples on the Mount of Olives Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven…” that there were some who were getting the idea that the way of our Lord was some form of works righteousness that was at a higher, but better level than that of the Scribes and Pharisees who were all about legalism. Some today still have that idea. However, He followed that statement with this one in vv 17-20, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” So, what was our Lord teaching here? He wasn’t teaching us to follow legalism, that is, that our righteousness is somehow obtained by a strict adherence to the Law of Moses was He? Paul was very clear in the book of Galatians that no one ever obtained the righteousness of God that way.
1 Συμεὼν Πέτρος δοῦλος καὶ ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῖς ἰσότιμον ἡμῖν λαχοῦσιν πίστιν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη ἐν ἐπιγνώσει τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. (2 Peter 1:1-2 NA28)
1 Symeon Peter slave and apostle of Jesus Christ to those equal in standing to us having obtained faith in righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 may grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:1-2 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
God is good. When I look at how well I keep the commandments like “Love your neighbor as yourself” I know that I am a selfish, self-centered, prideful, self-loving person who is a total failure at this. I have never kept this commandment by trying to do so. The only time I have ever done so is as I have humbled myself before my Lord as He worked through me as I served in ministry and I found myself loving and serving people in ways that I cannot do no matter how hard I try. On the other hand, as I walk (and drive) through each day with me in control with my focus on me and what I want, that is most certainly not the case.
10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. 2 Peter 1:10-11 NASB
Some “evangelical leaders” in our time will tell you that transformation is actually part of the gospel and that the evidence of salvation is how busy a person is in “working in church ministry.” No where in God’s Word is transformation given as part of the Gospel. The Gospel is based in who Jesus Christ is and what He has done to be the propitiation for the elect. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, including the elect. No one is able to do any work of any kind to deserve or earn salvation, that is, justification. However in Ephesians 1:3-23; Ephesians 2:1-10, the Apostle Paul gives us God’s solution. Notice that nowhere in these passages is the transformed life mentioned as part of being justified. Yes, Paul mentioned in Ephesians 2 that Faith was a gift and that tells us that it is a product of regeneration, and that God saves us unto good works, but that is not the same thing. Paul tells us more about the transformed life in Romans 12. Notice that this is talking about spiritual growth after salvation and is not part of our justification at all, but is part of our sanctification process. Notice also who is in control of this process. Is it a local church or a ministry or is it God?
8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. Galatians 5:8-10 NASB
One of the first things lost when apostasy sets in is adherence to the genuine Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as the one and only way God has provided to save people from their sins, bringing them into an eternal relationship with Him through their propititiation, the Lord Jesus Christ. In our time, with Relationship Theology having come to the fore, it has become akin to a ‘sin unto death’ to cause grief or hurt feelings in some one else by daring to explicitly give them the truth of the doctrine of Total Depravity and their need of a Saviour. The ‘sin of hurting someone’s feelings’ has become the primary issue in our time. Things have been turned upside down.
17 Καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ νύμφη λέγουσιν· ἔρχου. καὶ ὁ ἀκούων εἰπάτω· ἔρχου. καὶ ὁ διψῶν ἐρχέσθω, ὁ θέλων λαβέτω ὕδωρ ζωῆς δωρεάν. (Revelation 22:17 NA28)
17 And the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And the one hearing let him say, “Come.” And the one thirsting let him come; let the one desiring take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The Reformed Doctrine of Definite Redemption is also called “The Doctrine of Particular Redemption” and, historically, “The Doctrine of Limited Atonement.” This doctrine speaks about the intention of the triune God in the death of Jesus Christ. Without questioning the infinite worth of Christ’s sacrifice or genuiness of God’s sincere invitation to all who hear the gospel (Revelation 22:17 above), this doctrine states that Christ in dying intended to accomplish exactly what he did accomplish, that is, to take away the sins of God’s elect, and to ensure that they would all be brought to faith through regeneration and preserved through faith for glory. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not intend to die in this efficacious sense for everyone. The proof of that, as Sacred Scripture and experience unite to teach us, is revealed very clearly in the fact that not all are saved.
14 Καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, 15 ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐν αὐτῷ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 16 οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλʼ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα κρίνῃ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ. 18 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ κρίνεται· ὁ δὲ μὴ πιστεύων ἤδη κέκριται, ὅτι μὴ πεπίστευκεν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ μονογενοῦς υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ. 19 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος ἢ τὸ φῶς· ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα. 20 πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς καὶ οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ· 21 ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα ὅτι ἐν θεῷ ἐστιν εἰργασμένα. (John 3:14-21 NA28)
14 And as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up 15 that everyone believing in Him may have eternal life.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that everyone believing in him should not perish but have life eternal. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 The one believing in him is not judged, but the one not believing has been judged already because he has not believed in the only name of the Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, light has come into the world and men love the darkness rather than the light for their works were evil. 20 Everyone practicing evil things hates the light and does not come into the light lest his works be exposed, 21 but the one doing the truth comes to the light that it may be manifested that his works have been wrought in God. (John 3:14-21 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
10 ἤδη δὲ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται· πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.
11 Ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν, ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι· αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί· 12 οὗ τὸ πτύον ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ διακαθαριεῖ τὴν ἅλωνα αὐτοῦ καὶ συνάξει τὸν σῖτον αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην, τὸ δὲ ἄχυρον κατακαύσει πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ. (Matthew 3:10-12 NA28)
10 And already the axe is laid at the root of the trees, therefore, every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and is thrown into the fire.
11 I baptize you with water leading to repentance, but the one coming after me is mightier than I of whom I am not worthy to remove his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and Fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clean out his threshing and will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will consume with an inextinguishable fire.” (Matthew 3:10-12 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
This statement by John the Baptist combined our Lord’s first coming as the suffering servant dying for the sins of His people and His second coming when He returns in judgment. If we compare this statement with John 3:14-21 (above) we see that those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire are divided into two groups. Those who believe the Gospel are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9) and the fire cleanses and renews them. On the other hand, those who do not believe the Gospel are condemned already. The baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire in their case will simply be that they will be thrown into the fire in righteous judgment.
35 So Jesus said to them, “ For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”
These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke:“ Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “HE has blinded their eyes and HE hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and heal them.” John 12:35-40 NASB
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand. ’
10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.” Isaiah 6:8-10 NASB
This is the passage that John quoted in John 12:40, which is in context at the top of this post. Notice v39, “For this reason they could not believe…” This is the NASB rendering. The NA28 Greek text for this part of v39 is, “διὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἠδύναντο πιστεύειν.” Here is my rendering, “Through this they were not able to believe.” The word translated here as “not” is οὐκ or ouk, which is an absolute negative. Therefore what it is defining is absolutely negated and that verb is ἠδύναντο, which is the 3rd person, imperfect tense, indicative mood, middle voice form of δύναμαι or dunamai, which means “to be able, either intrinsically and absolutely, which the ordinary signification; or, for specific reasons.” The third part of this is the word “believe” which is a translation of the verb πιστεύειν the present tense, infinitive mood, active voice form of πιστεύω or pisteuō, “to have faith.” The way this is structured my brethren it is plainly a work of God that these people were not able “to have faith.”
5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5 NASB
Until December 2012 I lived in the Kansas City area. In late April 2007 a former employee of a Target store at the Ward Parkway Mall in KC put his plan into action to “shoot up a lot of people” there. That mall is between the Ward Parkway and State Line Boulevard. I remember it like it was yesterday. The killer forced his way into a neighbor’s house, killed her and took her guns and stole her car. Police were notified when the lady who was killed had not been seen and that her car appeared to be stolen. Police found her body and put out a call for the car. A KCMO policeman spotted the car going down a street and pulled it over. The man driving was the person he was looking for. A gun battle ensued. The policeman was shot in the arm, but managed to put a bullet into the driver of the car. Also, he was able to take two pistols away from the shooter. They played a recording of the dispatch of this incident on the local news. You could hear the gunshots as the officer called for assistance. The shooter fled in the stolen car and proceeded to carry out his plan without the two pistols. Police were not aware that he also had a rifle in the car.
He parked the car in the parking lot between two other occupied cars. He shot and killed the man in the car on his left then walked over to the other car on his right and killed the woman in that car. Then he shot up the front of the mall before going inside. His goal was to kill as many people as possible during a very busy time. He shot another person in the mall then proceeded to shoot in every direction at random as he tried to get to the Target store. By this time the KCMO police had arrived then confronted the shooter who did not surrender. The police then used deadly force. The first encounter with the policeman who had pulled him over took much of his firepower away and injured him enough so that he was not as effective with the rifle as he could have been. As my wife and I watched the news breaks as it was happening, we got a call from our son-in-law and daughter in Edmond, Oklahoma. They had already heard of it and were concerned that we might have been involved. Amazing!
If you think back on that time, it was just after the massacre at Virginia Tech earlier that month. It just made no sense. We look at these people who decide in their warped reasoning that it’s the right thing to do to “shoot up a lot of people.” Where does this come from? Also, just a few days earlier, 10 young Turkish men brutally killed a German missionary and two Turkish pastors. The brutality of the killings was staggering.
Just last week there was another senseless shooting in Oregon at a junior college. Some of the survivors have claimed that the killer demanded that each victim admit whether he or she was a Christian or not. If they admitted they were a Christian he shot them in the head. If they did not then he shot them in the legs. Evidence is still coming in, but it appears he was not a Muslim, but in fact, he was simply full of hate.
In all these examples, and I could have named many more, were the people killed by these demon-oppressed people being punished by God for something bad in their lives? What does the Bible tell us?
30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:30 NA28)
30 “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Genuine Christianity, not the false versions of it, is unique when compared to the world’s religions. In fact, those false versions of it are just like the rest of the world’s religions in one regard that makes genuine Christianity absolutely unique. All other “religions” are based upon some form of works based theology and belief system in which some form of justification is made through those works which increase the value of the person in that religion thereby gaining the reward. On the other hand, genuine Christianity is nothing like that at all. Salvation or justification comes as a result of something God has set out to do and has completed. Those who are justified were elected by him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1) based upon no works or deeds or value inherent in them (that none may boast). All of the work to justify these elect was done by God and completed; and he, being sovereign and all-powerful, saves them all as we will see in the short passage we will exegete below. Those who are saved are new creations after their justification because God himself regenerated them so that their dead faith is made alive and they are now able to believe the gospel and be saved (Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:5). Who believes? Who are these Christians?
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well- being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NASB
One of the teachings from the leadership of the Word-Faith movement is that Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross was insufficient to accomplish the salvation of His people. They teach that Jesus then had to go to Hell to suffer as a lost person by being tormented by Satan. If that were true then what did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished”? (John 19:30)
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:12-14 NASB
The older I become as I journey down this narrow way the more what passes for Christianity seems more and more absurd. Why? I suppose it is that I have become very convicted that we are very guilty of taking God for granted. Instead of worshiping Him for who He is, we seem to be totally focused on His works. While we should worship Him for His works with a grateful heart, we are leaving out direct worship of our Wonderful, Awesome, and Majestic God for who He is.
Our salvation is an incredible gift by His grace. That is why it troubles me so when Christian leaders cheapen it with their man-focused, easy-believism. Easy-believism produces professing Christians who believe their salvation came as a result of something they did. I know this because I was one of them for nearly 20 years. If this is our mindset about our salvation, we believe that our walk as Christians is also totally dependent upon our will power. It is as if what the Bible teaches about regeneration is unheard of or at least completely misunderstood. Also, Jesus’ own words about the exclusivity of who are His disciples and who aren’t seems to be in code because few seem to grasp what He is saying.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 NASB
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post my brethren. In love, God predestined believers for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. Our Creator’s great love for us moved Him to call us out of the passion we had for Satan and the kingdom of darkness. Never forget my brethren, all in Christ were predestined for adoption as sons with great affection by God Himself. He took us, who had no legal claim to being a part of God’s family, as His very children, with all the privileges that status entails.
1 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:1-9 NASB
There’s something about Jesus’ parables that has always fascinated me. I have heard “stories” from others that were designed to drive home some relevant point, however, His parables are succinct and not only drive home His point, but reveal mighty truths straight from God to our hearts. That, of course, is the work of the Holy Spirit. The parable of the sower and the soils is not only important and relevant, it is vital for our post-modern Church to understand. Our complacent society has infiltrated the Church. No one seems to have an attention span longer than a few seconds. If some entertainment feature isn’t before our eyes or pounding into our ears, then panic sets in because our hearts are desperate for fulfillment, yet we are lazy and addicted to media, games, or music which tie directly into our flesh bound souls.
42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42 NASB
I know that I am a finite person who is incapable of knowing everything. I know this very well. I also know that it is impossible for any finite individual to possess the knowledge with certainty of future events. I am fully aware of this so I am not making predictions here or saying that I know for certain that eschatological events are going to happen any day now. No, I am not saying that. No, but what I am saying, and have been saying for quite some time, is that unless God grants us a revival, the Church will continue with its tailspin into apostasy and we will be in for a very rough period of spiritual darkness and possible persecution. The move from Christian orthodoxy into the many forms of apostasy we are seeing is not just an American phenomenon, but is worldwide. Religious tolerance is very close to becoming a requirement nearly everywhere. When this happens, there will be no room for the exclusivity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, there will still be the Church and there will still be Christians, but real Christians will be persecuted, underground, and second-class citizens everywhere. This is the reality of enforced religious tolerance.
19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. Philippians 1:19-20 KJV
The ESV translates the passage above as:
19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:19-20 ESV
The NASB translates the passage above as:
19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:19-20 NASB
What is this “help” or “supply” or “provision” Paul is talking about and how can we “tap” into it ourselves as we stand firm in these Laodicean days? Let’s see…
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love(John 15:4-10 ESV)
For the first 20 or so years of this walk I was in a very immature spiritual state. I was utterly convinced during that time that my worth as a disciple depended upon my performance, my learning, my obedience. With that mind-set it was a very horrible experience at times since I was on a roller coaster ride of obedience and backsliding. What amazed me during that period was that I was looked at as one of the more mature believers at our church. I knew better. That all changed in 2004 and 2005 as God drew me into the light and drastically changed that ‘mind-set.’ It was as I learned and held to the truth that our salvation is all according to God’s will not ours that I began to have peace and freedom. He chose us according to the good pleasure of His will, not according to our abilities or any other inherent attribute we may have. With this remaking of my mind-set came the ending of that cycle of obedience and backsliding. It was as if it had been put to death.
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come.” 1 Corinthians 15:35 NASB
Eternity is the true reality, not this physical life in the temporal. At the heart of our Christian faith is our blessed hope of a bodily resurrection. Many mistakenly believe that all Christians who die are given their eternal body right then, but the Bible is clear that our eternal bodies are resurrected by God from our physical bodies that we have now. There will be an interim between our death and the resurrection before we are given our resurrection bodies, but this post is about what will be after our Lord returns in victory and glory.
1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “ Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:1-7 NASB
The Word of God is filled with references to testing and proving. During our Lord’s ministry his enemies asked him tough questions in order to “test” him. Jesus ordered lepers whom He had healed to show themselves to the Priests to “prove” that they were no longer unclean. God puts our Lord’s disciples through fiery trials in order to “test” their faith and “prove” their authenticity. God does not change. He is immutable. His ways do not change either. He still puts those who profess to be Christians to the test. This proving is not for his knowledge however. He knows all already. The proving is for our sake.
1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Leviticus 10:1-2 NASB
9 But you are A chosen race, A royal priesthood, A holy nation, A people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not A people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 NASB
What was Peter talking about in his second epistle where he describes Christians as a royal Priesthood? Since the elect is this Priesthood then each one of us who are in Christ are priests in Him. It would be safe to say that we are witnessing in our day the culmination of a period in which this truth has become distorted within the visible Church. The necessity of personal holiness for each believer has been neglected and discounted by antinomians whose cry is “Free Grace!” On the other hand, legalistic Christians have made the acts of obedience to God’s commands into idols unto themselves. My brethren, both of these extremes are Strange Fire unto the Lord.
12 ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν παρρησίαν καὶ προσαγωγὴν ἐν πεποιθήσει διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ. 13 διὸ αἰτοῦμαι μὴ ἐγκακεῖν ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσίν μου ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ἥτις ἐστὶν δόξα ὑμῶν. (Ephesians 3:12-13 NA28)
12 in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through faith in him . 13 Therefore, I ask you not to despair concerning my afflictions for you, which is for your glory. (Ephesians 3:12-13 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The words “not to despair” above translate μὴ ἐγκακεῖν. Μὴ or mē expresses absolute denial. Paul is expressing his desire to the Ephesians that they DO NOT do something. That something is ἐγκακεῖν that is the Present tense, Infinitive mood, Active voice form of ἐκκακέω or ekkakeō, which literally means, “to turn out to be a coward, to lose one’s courage, to faint or despond in view of trial or to be utterly spiritless.” So perhaps my translation of “not to despair” seems insufficient in light of this, but what we must see is that the verb structure Paul used here is speaking of a way of life not a one-time action.
13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 1 John 3:13 NASB
There are many ministries in our time that are run by people who have either forgotten that friendship with the world is a sin or they are deliberately overlooking it. If a ministry operates in such a way that the world loves it then there is at least one missing component in it. That of course is obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture is clear that Christians cannot be friends of the world. Why? Satan is the one who dominates the evil world system, which is in rebellion against God (John 14:30). Therefore, the world not only hates Jesus, but also those who follow Him. This hatred is also focused toward the Father because He sent Jesus to testify against it. Now, since this is true and clearly taught in Sacred Scripture, what does this say about those ministries who work overtime to accommodate the secular and to appeal to temporal ways and means?
13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.
15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite him saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed themselves to the ground before him. 2 Kings 2:13-15 NASB
As we stand in the thick of the battle, not falling or retreating, it is because we are wearing and using the armor of God. Our God is not a product of man-made religion. He is not created by man in the form of the creature. No, He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, righteous, and just. The great object to be desired is God, YHWH, Elijah’s God. With YHWH all things flourish. His absence is our decline and death.
Before genuine believers can enter into any good work they should seek for the God who was with their predecessors. What a mercy that the God of Elijah is also the God of Elisha! He will also be with us. He will be our guide even unto death. (Psalm 48:14)
The Spirit-filled believer does not need antiquities from the past, nor novelties of the present, nor marvels for the future; he or she only wants the Triune God, Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and they shall then see with them wonders equal to those of Elijah’s age. “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” The old mantle, used with faith in the same God, parted the waters to the one side and to the other. The power is where it used to be.