Friday, October 20, 2017

SEVEN ‘FROM The HEART of JESUS’ LOVE-LETTERS to the SEVEN CHURCHES of REVELATION - To The Church of Pergamos

Church #3 PERGAMOS:
REV 2:12-17
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. 16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 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 hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

The name Pergamos comes from a Greek word which was synonymous with “tower” or “citadel” that was associated with the goddess Roma, or in other cultures as Cybele, whose worshipers were engaged in religious fertility rites that resulted in women getting pregnant due to temple prostitution, and the infants born as a result were offered up as burnt sacrifices to their gods.

Although the majority of Pergamos’ monuments now sit in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum, enough remains of the Acropolis for the visitor to sense the former greatness of the city that once rivaled Alexandria, Ephesus and Antioch in culture and commerce (it was almost as wealthy as Smyrna), and medicine. 
The healing temple of the god, Aesculapius* was located here at Pergamos, where it was believed that serpents held the power to heal;  [and then there is] “Satan’s Throne,” as described by the apostle John of Patmos (REV 2:12-13), which some scholars interpret as referring to the Great Altar of Pergamon, one of the most magnificent surviving structures from the Greco-Roman world. Other temples in the Acropolis are those dedicated to Zeus as well as Athena.

[*- The symbol of Aesculapius was adopted by American Medical Officials and Institutions,
the caduceus (See image at this link) – a rod with two snakes intertwined however this is not the ancient symbol of healing, but the representation of commerce and trade! The actual symbol of the healing arts of Aesculapius is a rod with a single snake (see picture at this link)] 

Given the fact that the city represented the highest and most esteemed example of Hellenistic Greek culture, traditions and religion in both its [beliefs] and its very architecture, early Christians viewed it as a bastion of all that was anathema.
When Cyrus conquered Babylon (539 BC), they founded a new center at Pergamos and that king became the high priest of the pagan system: Pontifex Maximus (Pember).

Both Hislop and Pember trace the subsequent transfer of the cult from Pergamos to Rome, with the appointment of successive Caesars as high priest and ultimately, to that office in 378 A.D. of Damasus, the Bishop of Rome, with the complete and permanent absorption of “Babylonianism” into the Roman Church (re: Thyatira).

Once again, we read how that the LORD identifies Himself with attributes and virtues that the church He is addressing, needs:

12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

Pergamos is known as the compromised church – from Constantine to the time of pre-eminence of the Roman Catholic church; it was a church of ‘mixed multitude’ or literally ‘per’ “mixed or corrupted” and ‘gamy’ marriage: “a mixed marriage” (between the church and the world, much like the children of Israel back in the days of the Exodus); they were a mix of believers and non-believers. 



The LORD is the One with “the sharp sword with two edges” – Who is able to divide (HEB 4:12-13) the true believers from the false.

13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

As we know, the word for martyr in the Greek is martos, and originally it meant someone who was a witness, a person who would testify in court. Yet it came to mean a person who would witness of the truth that is Jesus Christ and the Gospel and was willing, and often was, put to death for it. Antipas was such a witness, and the LORD testifies of him as well as those like him in the church of Pergamos “[His] faithful witness”; the LORD Himself is that faithful witness of the Father, as described in REV 1:5 as well.

The church of Ephesus was representative of the apostolic age of the church; the church of Smyrna represented that time in which the early church had known its most intense period of persecution, where Roman authorities did their best to annihilate them because they refused to worship Caesar, who was heralded as a god (a type of anti-Christ by the way)! That was perceived as not just unpatriotic but treasonous; but the more these Christians were persecuted, the more the church flourished.

The church of Pergamos represents that time-period of history that was a post-persecution time; the emperor Galerius ordered a halt to the persecution of the church, and authorized an Edict of Toleration in 311 AD. Two years later, the next emperor, Constantine issued another edict, the Edict of Milan:

The Edict of Milan gave Christianity a legal status, but did not make Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire; this took place under Emperor Theodosius I in 380 AD. (See the full article on Wikipedia here.)

Constantine, it is said, became a Christian, but this is doubtful – In 312 A.D., Constantine set out to defeat the forces of Maxentius, his rival, for supreme power in the empire. Constantine’s father, it is said, had prospered when he had prayed to the God of the Christians, and so he in his desperation and near-defeat by Maxentius, resorted to the same action.

The next day he said he saw a shining cross in the sky with an inscription above it: in hoc signo vinces. “In this sign you shalt conquer.” He defeated Maxentius and immediately declared his ‘conversion to Christianity’. He assumed headship of the church, repealed the persecution edicts of Diocletian, and advanced Christians to high office in the state.

His primary goal was to unite the empire by way of compromise, and bring an end of the multitude of factions between all the various pagan belief systems as well as the Christian church that was growing at an alarming rate.

Heathenism was then Christianized; pagan temples became Christian Churches; heathen festivals were converted into Christian holidays; pagan gods became venerable saints who had passed away, pagan priests slipped into office as Christian priests. But the changes were mostly in name only.
This eventually led to the Roman Catholic institution, but even in its earliest days, it didn’t quite resemble Romanism as we know it today.

And for all the mixture of hedonism, paganism and religious prostitution, the LORD still had faithful martyrs like the bishop of Pergamos, Antipas,who were killed for their witness of the truth amid the city of Pergamos.



And despite all of this, there were those among this mixed multitude, those faithful ones who did NOT deny the Name of the LORD, and who remained FAITHFUL – they did “not deny My faith” the LORD said – that is, they held to their biblical integrity, holding on to and following the Word of God, rather than the philosophies and beliefs that were precious to the citizens of pagan Pergamos.

Vs. 14-15 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.”

Two false doctrines that the LORD spoke out against at Pergamos were: the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes (which the LORD Jesus still hates): remember in Ephesus, it was the deeds of the Nicolaitanes. What was a practice performed in Ephesus became official church dogma (doctrine) in Pergamos – scholars agree that these deeds and that doctrine was an ecclesial priesthood that held authority over the churches.

This is unbiblical as all true disciples of Christ, according to 1 PETER 2:9, are already a “royal priesthood”. To have a priesthood in the church of Jesus Christ, other than the priesthood of all believers is to establish mediators between God and the church – and we know Scripture teaches that there is only ONE mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 TIM 2:5). 

A man-made priesthood only puts a distance between the LORD Jesus – Who is the Head of the Church and His body – they are guilty of a kind of ‘spiritual decapitation’ of the body of Christ, separating the Head.

What is the doctrine of Balaam? We read about the false way of Balaam in 2 PET 2 (see vs. 1-3, 14-15) and his greed in JUDE :8-16
Balaam taught King Balak of Moab, an enemy of Israel, to allow the women of his kingdom to seduce the men of Israel, and while they were ‘in the act’ of fornication, the women would bring out the idols of their false gods to worship them. Note the word “taught” – which is what doctrine is all about – it is instruction on how to perform something, and just as Balaam taught Balak how to lure God’s people astray and fall into sin, so too the clergy of Pergamos held doctrine that would lead the church there into sin!

So, in this compromised church of Pergamos, members would be persuaded to worship the false gods of the pagan society that was all around them, thinly disguised as saints to be venerated. Because it was now popular to be a ‘Christian’ – times were good, the church began to prosper, and money began to flow freely – from the pockets of the people into the hands of the priests! The positions of priesthood and bishops promised a lavish life of ease and prosperity, because the church now had friendship with the world and Pergamos’ wealth was substantial.

JAMES 4:3-6
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Here the LORD is calling on the saints at the church at Pergamos to repent of their affiliation with these ungodly and pagan practices, and to not follow those that taught these things. He specifically states that if they do not, then He will fight “against them” – those that taught these things, with the sword of His mouth. Judgment would not be delayed, as He said that “[He] will come to [them] quickly”.

17 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 hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

The “hidden manna” that the LORD is offering is Himself (JOHN 6:31-35, 48-51, 58); the true spiritual nourishment that brings health, wholeness and healing – as opposed to the mystical and oft-times occult methods of the pagan practice of healing at the Aesculapius. 

It is hidden in the sense that only those who know and love the truth will be able to partake of it. Those who hold on to ungodly, corrupt belief systems – as did the church leadership and their followers at Pergamos, would not know where to find it. Those that stood apart from these were faithful to the LORD, held onto the hidden manna of His Word – not denying “His faith”.

The white stone represents a judicious decision: in court trials, when a verdict was being rendered on the accused, if the juror believed they were innocent, they would drop a white stone into a bag. Others who believed they were guilty would drop a black stone in that bag, and once all the jurors rendered their decision, the stones were counted, and the decision of the court was made based on the majority decision.


Here the LORD is saying, that the overcomer is the one who will receive a “not guilty” verdict from the Judge of all the world (JOHN 5:22; ROM 8:1-2).

The next church to be examined in this series is church #4 - Thyatira. Until then, the LORD be with you all!

Monday, October 9, 2017

SEVEN ‘FROM The HEART of JESUS’ LOVE-LETTERS to the SEVEN CHURCHES of REVELATION - To The Church of Smyrna

CHURCH #2 SMYRNA

REV 1:8-11
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

The name Smyrna comes from the "myrrh," which is a resin and is a critical ingredient used to embalm dead bodies because one of its major properties was its ability to slow down the putrefaction of dead flesh. This type of embalming was used in Egypt and Judea. Myrrh is often remembered as one of the three gifts the Magi gave to Jesus after he was born (gold – speaks of the Deity of Christ; frankincense – His priesthood; myrrh – his sacrificial death).

Smyrna was a port city with a good harbor about thirty-five miles northwest of Ephesus and was known for its schools of science and medicine. It boasted of, on the slope of Mount Pagus, a theater that could hold 20,000 spectators, where they celebrated Olympian games. Smyrna (located at modern-day Izmir, Turkey) laid claim on its coins to being the "first city of Asia in size and beauty" (Ramsay 1904:255), and it was indeed a city of great natural beauty. Smyrna had also a long history of loyalty to Rome, having dedicated a temple to the goddess Roma as early as 195 B.C. (Tacitus Annals 4.56).

There is no record of how Christianity came to Smyrna. Like the other Asian cities, Smyrna was probably reached as a result of Paul's ministry in Ephesus (ACTS 19:10). The message to Smyrna accents the contrast between the wealthy Roman city and the poverty-stricken congregation of Christians who lived there (yet had its own kind of riches (v. 9)). If the city was crowned "with porticoes and pictures, or even with gold in excess of what they needed," the angel of the church in Smyrna was promised the crown of life (v. 10); the "life that God has promised to those who love him" (JAMES 1:12).

By the early second century (a decade or two after John's visions), the congregation at Smyrna had a bishop named Polycarp who was martyred in Smyrna in the year 156 AD. Nowhere were the words be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life, more aptly fulfilled than in the life and death of Polycarp, There is the story of the centurion who escorted him to his execution, and on their journey, Polycarp won him over with his tender disposition and love as he shared the Gospel; the Roman was converted, and when they arrived at the place of Polycarp’s execution, laid his own head down to be beheaded for his new found faith in Christ.

The message to Smyrna assumes that the congregation will soon face an outbreak of persecution, linked to a group labeled a synagogue of Satan (v. 9) and composed of those who say they are Jews and are not. Like the "false apostles" who had come to Ephesus, these false Jews are liars (REV 3:9) in claiming to be something other than what they are. Most commentators (for example, Beasley-Murray 1974:82; Wall 1991:73) identify this group as actual Jews in Smyrna who refused to accept Jesus as Messiah (compare Paul's distinction between those who are Jews "outwardly" and those who are Jews "inwardly . . . by the Spirit, not by the written Law," ROM 2:28-29).

The LORD dictated eleven verses in His letter to Ephesus; to Smyrna – the suffering church, He gives them only four verses. Let us bear in mind, that in times of sorrow and suffering, fewer words of comfort are often better than many words of counsel.

REV 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

This church, whose city is based on the word myrrh – as we saw, used for embalming the dead, is given the revelation of the LORD as He Who is the First and the Last, the Alpha and Omega, the One Who dwells outside of time, and in eternity (ISAIAH 57:15). He Who was dead, but is alive with victorious resurrection power – we see this in all of the letters to these seven churches – where the LORD introduces Himself as the One Who can meet their needs; as the One Who is LORD over all of life’s problems, struggles and situations, oppositions and obstacles.

For this church that is suffering and enduring persecution and death, He is the Eternal One, the Resurrection and the Life (
JOHN 11:25)!

REV 2:9a I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) . . .”

Again, the LORD knows their works – these works that they are doing for the service of the LORD and in His Name. So often in times of suffering and heartache and tribulation, our attention draws inwardly. We desire, with our focus on ourselves, to be ministered to, rather than looking outwardly, to minister to others.

Yet not so with Smyrna – despite the severe persecution that is promised, as well as the tribulation that they are experiencing, they are working for the LORD; their focus is on Him, not their circumstances – awesome!

Amid the lavish wealth among the citizens of Smyrna, the church was dirt poor – not just poor enough so that they had food, water and barely having any more finances beyond that; this was abject poverty where even the basic necessities of life was beyond them! This was the same degree of destitution that Christ experienced – for our sakes He became poor so that we would be rich (2 COR 8:9) – and Smyrna was so declared rich by our LORD! Rich in the blessedness of the indwelling Spirit of God, the grace of God, His agape love, His depthless joy, His insurmountable peace, His Almighty patience – THESE are the true riches, NOT the prosperity Gospel junk that Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar preaches!!

REV 2:9a “… and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

This synagogue was in all likelihood, members of the Jewish religion that refused Jesus as the Messiah, and severely persecuted the church, in hand with the Roman government – these say that they are Jews, and are not – Paul addresses this issue of true Jews and false:

ROMANS 2:28-29
28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

This is religious externalism; it’s all for show – dead works done in a vain attempt to ‘look good’ and find approval from God – and FAILING! because there is no genuine change of the heart, which is in need of ‘spiritual circumcision’ that is, a conversion by the Spirit of grace as a result of believing the Gospel, as Abraham did!

ROMANS 4:11-13
11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. 13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith
.

ROMANS 10:2-4
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth
.

Going about to establish a righteousness by religious means (Jewish, Hindu, Islamic, etc.), apart from repentance, the atonement of sin through the Lamb of God and indwelling of the Holy Spirit is satanic – thus the persecutors of Smyrna are indeed “of the synagogue of Satan”. ‘Satan’ means adversary, and so these religious Jews were enemies that opposed the Gospel (ROM 11:28).
But we love the Jewish people and pray for them, because they are the elect for the sake of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; they have a destiny ordained by God, that if they receive the Messiah, they too will be converted and no longer laboring in “dead works” in a vain attempt to find approval from God (HEB 6:1; 9:14).

REV 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

What word appears three times in vs. 10? It is the word “shall (shalt)” – the same word that appears in:

2 TIM 3:12
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution
.

This is not a “maybe” or “perhaps” or even “probably” – this is a certainty that the LORD is alerting the church of Smyrna to.

JOHN 15:19
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you

The world hates the church of the LORD Jesus Christ, because His Light exposes their evil deeds, and that same Light shines from the church (JOHN 3:19-20).
From the very beginning of human history – the righteous followers of the LORD were always persecution by the religious and proud people of this world!

And yet the flip side of the world’s hatred, we have the LORD’s love for us:

JOHN 13:1
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end
.

The LORD could easily spare the church the suffering and persecution that the world has threatened and committed against the saints – He could stop the enemy from doing this to us; so, why doesn’t He?

It is the harshness and brutality of persecution, suffering, hardships that works in us the same way that a forge purifies iron ore. Iron is strong when it is pure, but when it’s first dug up, there are all kinds of impurities in it that must be burned away.

It’s the same with us – the LORD uses suffering as a means to an end: to bring to our attention the impurities of sin that resides in us; this “furnace of affliction” (ISAIAH 48:10) refines the saint, burning away the ‘dross’ that keeps us spiritually weak. When we allow these trials to do their work, accept them as from the LORD, together with His Empowering Spirit of grace – these trials make us better, not bitter.

For those who refuse the furnace, that fight the LORD and rebel against the work He seeks to accomplish in their lives, these trials will make them bitter, not better.

This is the way of the Cross (MATT 16:24: “…if any man come after me…”) and “…the fellowship of His sufferings…” (PHIL 3:10), that brings death to the sinful self, allows Christ to manifest His Light and Love in our lives and convicts the Lost of their sin. There is a depth to the saint that is long suffering in trials; they have a sweet fellowship with the LORD that the rest of us cannot know, apart from trials.

The LORD tells the saints of Smyrna that the devil is going to cast some (not many or most) of them into prison to be tried (“trial by fire” as it were) – this demonstrates God’s sovereignty: how He can even use Satan for His own purposes (Consider the first two chapters of Job!). Those that are accounted worthy to suffer for His Name’s sake (See MATT 5:11-13; ACTS 5:41). These saints, the “some” mentioned here, will attain to a better resurrection!

HEB 11:35b-38
…others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 
(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

The promise of persecution shall last ten days; for the saints at Smyrna, this very well could have been for a literal ten days; historically however, during the time of the church when persecution escalated dramatically – it was a time of extreme suffering that lasted through the administration of 10 Caesars …. Interesting. These who were promised persecution looked toward to two things: suffering and death, and a crown of life if proven faithful.

Vs. 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Again, we see the LORD making provision for the situation that each of these seven churches find themselves in; for the suffering church of Smyrna, the LORD declares Himself as the Resurrected One, and for those who overcome, while they may experience pain, suffering and physical death, they shall not be hurt of the second death (spiritual separation from God) which they who reject Christ will suffer.

Next time, we will look at the Love Letter from Jesus to the church of Pergamos! Until then, Keep Your Eyes On the Skies and Don't Believe the Lies - The LORD Jesus Christ Returns Soon From On High!


Sunday, October 8, 2017

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: JESUS DECLARES HIS DEITY - JOHN 4:25-26

The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints.

We will focus on the relevance of vs. 25 and 26, but let's first read this in context . . .

JOHN 4:19-26
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

The title of this post is "JESUS Declares His DEITY" but anyone reading this passage of Scripture above will not find any such statement from the LORD. He never claimed to be God anywhere in these verses. He did elsewhere however:

JOHN 8:58
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am
.

JOHN 10:30-33

30 I and my Father are one.
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

In our present text, He and the Samaritan woman are discussing spiritual matters when the LORD suddenly shows insight into this woman's life, whom He had never met before. She then realized that Jesus must be a prophet and so, engages in these spiritual matters. 
The LORD's response to her question regarding the authorized place of worship (Jerusalem or Mt. Gerizim) is something vital to us Christians and must be understood: That those who worship the Father must do so in Spirit and in Truth! The Father actively seeks out those who will worship Him accordingly.

The Samaritan woman seems resigned in being able to solve this question and states that when the Messiah comes, He will reveal the answers to all such questions. That was something that both Jew and Samaritan agreed upon.

The very Scripture that is anointed of God would be rightly and thoroughly interpreted by the "anointed One" or Messiah of Israel. He will bring light and understanding to every verse of Scripture as these are those that testify of He, Himself: The LORD Jesus the Christ ("Messiah"):

JOHN 5:39
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me
.


Some might see the verses quoted above where Jesus claims Deity to be a bit obscure, but here He emphatically declares that He is indeed the Messiah (JOHN 4:26)! He made the same clear and bold declaration before:

MATT 16:15-17
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

So what does His claiming to be the Messiah have anything to do with His claiming to be Deity - God, that is?

A thorough examination and understanding of Old Testament Scripture in its portrayal of the Person of the Messiah will in fact, reveal that the Word testifies of His Deity. Rather than go into all of the details of that here, may I encourage you to read this series on The TRUTH Under FIRE, "JESUS is GOD".


I pray that this will greatly bless you, and also those that you may know, who don't believe this truth; whether they are atheist, agnostic, Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, New Spirituality adherents, etc. perhaps they will come to understand this, after reviewing this series . . .

JESUS is GOD - PART One

JESUS is GOD - PART Two

JESUS is GOD - PART Three

JESUS is GOD - PART Four

JESUS is GOD - PART Five

For more about the historicity of the authentic person of Jesus of Nazareth and biblical testimony that He is indeed the Christ, God manifested in the flesh, read this article (which is loaded with links to other articles!) by COLD CASE CHRISTIANITY:

The Case for the Historicity and Deity of Jesus (Free Bible Insert)

MAY THE LORD BLESS AND KEEP US, HIS SAINTS, HIS CHILDREN, HIS INHERITANCE UNTIL THE DAY OF HIS SOON RETURN!

Next time we will go over JOHN 4:32-38 "MEAT and GREET"

Thursday, September 28, 2017

SEVEN ‘FROM The HEART of JESUS’ LOVE-LETTERS to the SEVEN CHURCHES of REVELATION - To The Church of Ephesus

So now that we have had an introduction and preliminary observations from Chapter One, we will get into each of these seven churches in Chapters 2 and 3 and learn of the LORD's counsels, corrections, and commendations:

Church #1 EPHESUS:

REV 2:1-7
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 Nicolaitanes, 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.

In the time of the Romans, Ephesus bore the title of "the first and greatest metropolis of Asia." It was distinguished for the Temple of Diana (q.v.), who there had her chief shrine; and for its theatre, which was the largest in the world, capable of containing 50,000 spectators. Dozens of gold covered colonnades shown brilliantly in the morning sunlight. Statues exulting in the goddess Diana were purchased by devotees far and wide and then placed in the Temple. It was known as one of the seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

In this city, the seeds of the gospel were sown immediately after Pentecost (ACTS 2:96:9). At the close of his second missionary journey (about A.D. 51), when Paul was returning from Greece to Syria (ACTS 18:18-21), he first visited this city. He remained, however, for only a short time, as he was hastening to keep the feast, probably of Pentecost, at Jerusalem; but he left Aquila and Priscilla behind him to carry on the work of spreading the gospel.
During his third missionary journey Paul reached Ephesus from the "upper coasts" (ACTS 19:1), i.e., from the inland parts of Asia Minor, and tarried here for about three years; and so successful and abundant were his labors that "all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks" (ACTS 19:10). Probably during this period, the seven churches of the Apocalypse were founded, for the most part, not by Paul's personal labors, but by missionaries whom he may have sent out from Ephesus, and by the influence of converts returning to their homes.

REV 1:1
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;

The angel is the messenger – the one that delivers the Word of the LORD to the church, in this case, it’s not an angel, but a man, a pastor – and he is to deliver this Word to the LORD’s flock.

The LORD holds the seven stars in His right hand – these are all the seven angels, messengers – pastors that He holds: in His right hand – they are in a place of honor and favor, and are provided His grace and strength (REV 1:20). 

He walks in their midst. Any time you have a congregation of saints, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, even if they are just two or three – that comprises a body, an assembly, a church of sorts: the LORD is in their midst (MATT 18:20), just as the LORD is in the midst of these candlesticks, symbolic of the churches (or more accurately, lamp stands, full of oil (the Holy Spirit) and shining brightly with the LIGHT of the LORD in this dark world (MATT 5:14).

On his return from that third missionary journey, Paul touched at Miletus, some 30 miles south of Ephesus (ACTS 20:15), and sending for the elders of Ephesus to meet him there, he delivered to them that touching farewell charge which is recorded in ACTS 20:18-35.

ACTS 20:28-31
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears
.

So, the church at Ephesus was extremely careful in watching out for false teachers, false apostles, wolves and those from within the church that sought to leads God’s saints astray. Jesus says to them, “I know your works” – something that He says to every one of these seven churches. But to Ephesus He declares that for His name’s sake they have labored and not fainted – they were diligent, industrious, so very busy on their ministry for the King – that they had no time for the King!

REV 2:2-3
 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: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

He tells them, “thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not,” – they had discernment by the Spirit and found the falseness of these so-called apostles. They rejoiced in the Truth of God’s Word and used it to prove who the false apostles were. They had been commended for their patience – the word “patience” is used twice, in verse 2 and 3.
The saints here labored and produced works for His Name’s sake and were faithful – they fainted not. They patiently endured, they continued, they were steadfast, they didn’t give up. They persisted.

How many churches today, which were once faithful, and since have fainted – quit, given up, ceased in their faithfulness to the LORD and the truth of His Word, and the Spirit of Truth. This is the day of apostasy – but devotional prayer will keep us from fainting (LUKE 18:1), and receiving mercy and grace from the LORD, we are enabled to keep going (2 COR 4:1, 15-16); we must encourage ourselves in the LORD (PSALM 42:5,11) and remember that in due season, we shall reap what has been sown into our lives: “if we faint not” (GAL 6:9). 

They are not like those who were mere professors, and claimed to have done so many works for the LORD – of these, the LORD said, “I never knew you” (MATT 7:23). He never says that of this church of Ephesus; He knows them, knows their work. He knows that they didn’t tolerate those who “are evil” – what about some churches today, and what they tolerate ‘in the name of love’ – things that are evil, that Ephesus never put up with.

Then, after all of His commendation, the LORD says, “Nevertheless . . .”
Suppose you’re up for your annual review at work; your sitting across from your boss’ desk as he rattles off all of your awesome accomplishments, comments that you did really good, but then you hear him say,

“Nevertheless . . .” How does that make you feel? What do you suspect is coming – a pink slip maybe??

REV 2:4-5
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 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.

The LORD tells them that they have left their first love – not only first as in ‘number one’ but also ‘the best’ – though Ephesus was His darling, greatly beloved, they did not reciprocate. They left their intimate relationship with the LORD, the fervency, the longing and yearning, the expectation of meeting – they were just too busy.

The LORD poured out all of His strength, all of His soul and heart, all of His will and passion, and His blood in the holy and consecrated act of the Cross – all so that we would be redeemed, be washed in His blood, obtain right standing before God the Father, receive adoption as His beloved children – for His glory and His purpose, in having fellowship – a love relationship with us. Such is the tender-heartedness of the LORD our God. He loved us with all of His heart and soul and mind and strength, and desires that we should love Him the same way.

DEUT 6:4-5
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might
.

Yet too often, especially in today’s world – we Christians don’t have time; we are so busy, and if the LORD gets any of our time, it’s what’s left over after we are done doing everything else.

Let us change this (if we find this to be necessary): let’s offer the LORD the first fruits of our time, beginning the day with Him, lavishing upon Him the love that He so richly deserves!

The Ephesians didn’t realize their condition; it took the LORD to expose it to them. He admonishes them to remember where they once stood, where they had fallen. To repent of their neglect of their Beloved Savior, “and do the first works” – again, ‘the best’ works – which would be to labor to enter into the rest of the LORD (HEB 4:11), to rest from their own works and find satisfaction in the only One Who can bring such satisfaction (JOHN 7:37).

In a world of deceitful, sinful and empty mirages, amidst the barren bleak deserts of parched souls, there is an O.A.S.I.S.!"
Only the Almighty Savior Immanuel Satisfies! 

If the Ephesian church did not remember from where they had fallen, and repent, then the LORD would remove their candlestick – their witness as a church – the light that they had shown before this darkened world would be removed, and the church in Ephesus would be no more. History shows us that this was in fact, the case.

REV 2:6
But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate
.

What are the Nicolaitanes? The word is not absolutely understood, but some believe that the meaning of this word is “ruling over the people”: Nico – to conquer, to experience victory, to have the rule over, and laity – the people. The “deeds” – the conduct, actions, toil in relation to the people by assuming rule over them. Some scholars suggest that this is where the idea of a New Testament priesthood came into being, apart from the priesthood that all Christians are already a part of in Christ, Who is our high priest, after the order of Melchizedek (1 PET 2:9; HEB 6:20).

This false priesthood dominated the Christians and was probably the makings of the Roman Catholic priesthood that came into being centuries later. The deeds developed into the practice (or doctrine) of the Nicolaitanes in Pergamos (vs. 15). Having an ‘upper class’ of Christian rulers, compared to the ‘lower class’ that were kept distant from Christ, is the thing He hates.

REV 2:7
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
.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear…” We read this phrase in MARK 4:9 and LUKE 8:8, both having to do with the parable of the sower of the seed. What is the connection between this parable and what the LORD tells these seven churches?
Something for you to pray about; seek the LORD on this and see what He shows you!

To those who are the overcomers – and if we are overcomers, it is because (1) we are born of God and (2) have exercised our faith in the LORD Jesus to overcome (1 JOHN 5:4). The overcomers are blessed in partaking of the tree of Life that is in the midst of the paradise of God (REV 22:2,14).

That life that is eternal is in knowing God the Father and God the Son (JOHN 17:3) – it wasn’t contained in knowing the doctrines of Scripture (JOHN 5:39Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life. . .”). The Tree of Life is entwined in the personal knowledge and relationship with God, in a love for God.

Jesus in vs. 1 that He “… walks in the midst of the seven candlesticks…” – the churches; He isn’t remote or distant, or in a place that’s difficult for us to reach; He is in our midst, and He is accessible to us, who are born of His Spirit, and we can spend time in getting to know and love Him.

Let’s not fail the LORD on this point as Ephesus failed – let us hold fast to our first and best love: the LORD Jesus Christ Himself – experience His love for us, to study His Word devotionally as well as practically, and as we bask in His love, we return that love in response to Him, and this is the best and only motivator where works done in His Name are accomplished!

Next time, we will look at the Love Letter from Jesus to the church of Smyrna! Until then, Keep Your Eyes On the Skies and Don't Believe the Lies - The LORD Jesus Christ Returns Soon From On High!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

ARE YOU ON F.I.R.E. for JESUS?

I was born again at this point in time (AUG of '80) for about two months. Up until then, I had been to a few different kinds of Bible studies; they were all good to one degree or another - some were based on a lot of history; others invited the perspectives of the Christians gathered together as they expressed what they thought on any given verse.

Other studies were centered around the Bible directly, and the verses changed every week, but it was always the Gospel message, given to those who had already received it.

Then I arrived at this point in time, two months into my salvation, I entered into this house in my neighborhood where I heard they had really awesome Bible study - I descended the stairs into the basement and found a few people gathered there. I saw this blond haired lady with glasses and a guitar resting on her lap. Across from her was a tall, dark haired man - her husband.

When I introduced myself, she repeated my name, "Jim Fire? Are you on fire for the LORD?"
I beamed, nodded and gave a resounding "Amen!"
I then sat down and listened to my first message by pastor Chuck Smith, on the Beatitudes - and that began my life long journey in the Word of God. And I must say, those first few years were foundational and grounded me on the Rock. I went home after every visit to that house, having received anywhere from 3 to 5 cassette tapes at a time and devoured them, writing notes down, underlining passages in my Bible, and returning the tapes with a number of questions directed at my spiritual parents in the faith.

That flame of the Word has kept me through the years and is a testament to its ability to keep a saint on FIRE for the LORD!
In this article, I want to talk about what it takes to be on F.I.R.E. for Jesus:

F.ERVENCY I.NDWELLING R.IGHTEOUS E.VERLASTING


From the IN CHRIST BIBLE STUDY website (note: this author does not necessarily endorse everything as taught on this site) we have the following on: 

FERVENCY -

ROMANS 12:9-12
9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

(NKJV)
"not lagging in diligence, FERVENT in spirit, serving the Lord"
FERVENT —Greek: zeo  (dzeh'-o) - verb
MICKELSON’S ENHANCED STRONG'S DICTIONARIES:
to be hot; (of liquids) to boil; (of solids) to glow; (figuratively) to be fervent (earnest)
THAYER'S GREEK DEFINITIONS:
 used of boiling anger, love, zeal, for what is good or bad etc. fervent in spirit, said of zeal for what is good
ULTIMATE WORD STUDY DICTIONARY:
To seethe, bubble, boil, from the sound of boiling water. In the NT, only applied spiritually, meaning to be fervent (ACTS 18:25; ROMANS 12:11).

JOHN GILL - EXPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE:
Fervent in spirit; in their own spirits, for the glory of God, the honour of Christ, and the cause of religion, in imitation of Christ himself, and as Phinehas and Elijah were; which fervency of spirit is opposed to that lukewarmness of soul, REV 3:16, that coldness of affection, and leaving of the first love, so much complained of, and resented by Christ in his people: or else in the Spirit of God; for there may be fervency in men's spirits, which comes not from the Spirit of God, as in the Jews, and particularly Saul, before his conversion, who had "a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge", ROM 10:2; but when "the love of God is shed abroad in the heart" by the Spirit of God, ROM 5:5, this will make a man's spirit fervent in the service of God, for which the apostle would have these believers concerned.

A disciple of the wise men among the Jews is said to be, "fervent", because the law is as a boiling pot unto him; much more should a disciple of Christ be fervent, who has the Gospel of Christ, the love of God, and the grace of the Spirit to inflame his soul with true zeal and fervour.

What makes water boil but heat, typically by means of fire? - And is not our God a consuming fire (HEB 12:29)?, So to be fervent, zealous, 'on fire' for the LORD is to abandon oneself into the very Spirit of God, much as Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were fully abandoned to the fiery furnace that Nebuchadnessar consigned them to (DAN 3). It was in this place that they themselves were unharmed, but those things that bound them (their ropes) were burned away.
Likewise, as we surrender ourselves to the LORD and allow His Holy Fire to consume our sinful ways, we find that our flesh binds and hinders us less and less - enabling ourselves to grow closer to the LORD in love, worship, revelation of the deeper things of God.


Steel will glow when super-heated by flame - and likewise, the light of the LORD will shine as we surrender ourselves to refining, the burning away of our sinful ways, so as to not pollute the name of the LORD, but instead honor and glorify Him!

Just as a sword will endure the forge and as a result, the metal is tested and strengthened, having all of the impurities burned away, likewise the saint that endures affliction, trials and suffering at the hand of God, will become strengthened and an able weapon in His Majesty's Sacred Service!

Both water and steel will require time in the flame - the water doesn't boil automatically; the steel does not become molten in a moment. So too with our trials and hardships -under the watchful eye of the Master Smith, He extends our time in the flame just long enough to accomplish His glorious purposes.

ISAIAH 48:10-11
10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. 11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

Fervency is the opposite of calloused, cold apathy and hypocrisy; it is a condition of the heart that yearns for the LORD, and having received of Him His graces and gifts is at the same time satisfied and also hungering for more. It is an unquenchable passion that is dissatisfied with any of the lures this world will provide, and focused on JESUS - caring for the things that are on His Heart, engaged in His mission, desirous to get involved in His plans, exalting His Word, glorifying His name, and blessed when He is the center of attention - not oneself.

INDWELLING

EPHESIANS 5:18
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

ROMANS 8:9,11
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you
.


Being 'on fire' can be the result of religious fervency as was noted previously (ROM 10:2). However such fervent attributes are of human manufacture (or even demonically inspired), and not of the LORD, and thus ultimately impotent.


What sets apart godly fervency apart from its cheap, religious imitation is God; specifically God indwelling the heart of a human being. As we know, the heart is a wicked, devastatingly, incurably wicked thing that God cannot even think to inhabit (JER 17:9); this is why we need and why God provides for us, a new heart, miraculously generated by His Spirit (EZEK 36:26; JOHN 1:12-13; 3:3-5); and this happens every time a sinner repents before the LORD, and receives His salvation by faith, believing the Gospel of Christ Jesus!


By the indwelling Spirit of God, being on fire for JESUS is not dependent on our mood or emotions, or our will power, or determination - it is the power of God manifest in us; even when against all odds, when all the forces of hell and earth are arrayed against us and attempting to cause us to submit to their ungodly ways - the Spirit of the LORD rises up in us, empowering us to not bend the knee to the god of this world (2 COR 4:4). It is the indwelling Christ that brings the Christian to spiritual victory and allows us to overcome all the world by faith (1 JOHN 5:4).

In all reality, every single born-again Christian is a living Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 COR 6:19-20) - that is mind boggling when you think of it! The Eternal, Almighty, Omni-present and Holy God lives inside of our hearts! That single truth, when pondered upon, will rouse up the sleepiest saint from their lethargy, and when brought together with a feasting of the Word Inspired, with reverent worship of God, with a life committed to the Gospel - will ensure that the saint's inspiring inferno for Immanuel Who indwells His people shall endure! 

This indwelling Spirit of God has been mentioned in Scripture as the "earnest" or down payment (2 COR 1:22; 5:5; EPH 1:14) that God has laid down for us who are the redeemed, until the time comes for the redemption of our entire being (body, soul and spirit - our heart (or spirit) is indwelt by the Spirit of God, our soul/mind is in process of redemption (ROM 12:1-2), via sanctification, and one day, these corruptible bodies shall put on incorruption, themselves being redeemed at the rapture/resurrection of the church (ROM 8:23). 

In the references cited above from CORINTHIANS and EPHESIANS, the word "sealed" is used, which in the Greek is sprigizo, meaning "to stamp with a signet or private mark - (such as Pilate used to seal the tomb of Jesus; such a seal cannot be broken except by the one whose stamp made it) for security or preservation; to attest to, to set one's seal upon. It indicates security and permanency; of the certain doom of Satan [who cannot escape judgment]. It refers to ownership, the thing being stamped as owned by the one whose signet stamped them, as were slaves in ancient cultures. It stresses the sacred formalities of the transaction and guarantee of the full complement of the content. For the believer, so sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, this refers to the idea of destination as something certain - "unto the day of redemption". 

Both PHIL 1:6 and HEB 13:5 indicate that the LORD will complete the work that He began - that this is a promise and a certainty because of His power and foreknowledge: He is both able to complete and shall indeed complete the work of salvation in the life of the genuine believer. He will not leave nor forsake us, it says in HEBREWS. Since God knows all things, He knows who among the many professing believers are actually saved, and of these, He has sealed them with the Spirit, promising with this 'down payment' that He will complete His work.
If such a one were to fall away, such a down payment would never be made, as He would know that they would do so. What we may conclude from this is that the genuine believer is secured, permanently in their salvation by the earnest of the indwelling Spirit.

Such a comfort and security in the heart of the true child of God would never entice them to letting sin to continue, that grace may abound (ROM 6:1), but have the blessed peace and knowledge that He that began the work of grace and salvation, will see to it Himself, that we are completed in Him! This in turn will well up in the heart of the genuine believer such a fervor, such a joy, such a peace that can never be quenched or dis-annulled by any trials, circumstances, lapses of faith or anyone or anything else that would seek to separate us from the love of Christ (ROM 8:35)!


RIGHTEOUS

What hope does this world ever have to know the true and living God, when we are a race of fallen humanity (1 TIM 6:15-16; ROM 7:10-14)? How can we have fellowship with God when our very nature is unrighteous and therefore unacceptable to a Holy God, whose holiness is beyond the scope of human understanding?

It is because of Christ and Christ alone that we have atonement for our sin, as well as the righteousness of Christ imputed ("charged to our account") to us (ROM 3:22; 5:17) so that we may have every confidence in approaching the very throne of God in our prayer, and interaction with our Creator God (HEB 4:16), without fear of wrath or rejection from He Who is now Someone we cry out to as "Abba, Father" (GAL 4:6).

This is a joy beyond compare - that we are not only accounted righteous by the vicarious work of Christ's crucifixion, death and resurrection, but also by the Spirit enabled to grow in righteous conduct that is pleasing to our Father. Any born again believer will tell you that "it's good to be good!" And we have our LORD to thank for that!

1 TIM 1:5
5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:


This is not a righteousness that belongs to an exclusive society - but the righteousness which is the very quality of God's holy character - and available to all who want it (MATT 5:10)! Amazing! No religion can produce this, no philosophy can ever conceive of it, no morality can ever come close to it (ISAIAH 64:6) - and yet by the whispered prayer of a broken and contrite heart, God 'sits up and takes notice' and responds with His grace and mercy (PSALM 51:17)!

Before I was saved, before understood what the Cross and salvation was really all about, I was plagued by the questions, "How can I prove myself to be righteous before the LORD? What must I do to be accepted by Him?"
Those questions were summarily answered by the LORD Jesus Christ in His WORD, when I read for the first time ROMANS 4, and this led me to my salvation!

Being on FIRE for JESUS is being so in love with Him, because of His great love with which He ably demonstrated His heart to and for us, that the fire is not seen at all as something radical, but reasonable! We saints are made acceptable in the beloved (EPH 1:6-7). We are His sons and daughters, adopted and brought into the household of God (EPH 2:19). It is no wonder that we may become so on fire for the LORD, with every good reason to be so ignited!

PSALM 9:7-8
7 But the Lord shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.

The ONLY ones who will not only survive, but THRIVE under the scrutiny of God's Holy Eyes in Judgment are the saints that are granted the righteousness of Christ - the exact same quality of righteousness with which He will judge the world (and our sins were judged at the cross already - we will only be judged at the Bema seat of Christ - not for our sins, but for our works done in Christ's Name - whether they were truly of Christ or our own work (2 COR 5:10).

EVERLASTING

We are partakes of the Everlasting Covenant; we are the object of Everlasting Love; we are the beneficiaries of Everlasting Grace and infused with Everlasting Life; we are strengthened and equipped by the Everlasting arms!

HEBREWS 13:19-2119 But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Some covenants, like the Mosaic and the Land covenants were conditional; that is, God promised to do certain things for Israel if they were faithful to do their part. Other covenants, like the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants were unconditional, which meant that the burden of fulfilling them was on God alone - regardless of what Israel would or would not do. The everlasting covenant was likewise an unconditional covenant in that it rested solely upon the shed blood of the LORD Jesus Christ; the significance of this everlasting covenant was in that fact - that the new testament was sealed and legitimized by the death of the testator (HEB 9:16) - and His blood being shed for our sins. The faithfulness of the LORD in securing for us this everlasting covenant - for Israel as well as us Gentiles - is something that can ensure that the flames of our passion and love for Him remains fiery!

JEREMIAH 31:3-4
3 The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

The love of the LORD is an everlasting love - not fickle or uncertain; His love as is His grace is unconditional (DEUT 7:6-8) . Whereas our own love is human, prone to failure, tepid in its potency compared with that of the Almighty's - His is stalwart and infinite. He is Himself the very personification of love: agape love in the Greek, which means that the one who does the loving is focused solely on the one who is loved, concerned with their needs and fulfillment, with no regard whatsoever to one's own needs or costs in providing that love.
Considering how much God loved this world, without regard for what it would cost Him - the death of His own beloved and only begotten Son - how profound and deep is this love (JOHN 3:16; 1 JOHN 4:10)! Partaking of such love - and receiving freely through the knowledge of His Word ("a love letter penned over thousands of years, written in the blood of His dear Son") and by His Spirit (ROM 15:30) is something that will ensure that we stay "on fire for JESUS!" Let us never be so busy that we ignore our relationship with the LORD, and neglect His love for us. This was the LORD's charge against Ephesus in His letter, written in the book of REVELATION 2:1-5.

1 PET 5:10
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you
.


PSALM 100:5
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations
.


"Grace and mercy" are often spoken of as the 'Siamese twins' of the Scriptures - you seldom see one without the other, and grace always precedes mercy - grammatically in the verses of Scripture as well as doctrinally. His mercies are everlasting, thus we recognize that grace is likewise. The God of - not some, many or most but - "all grace" - Who has called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus is the One from Whom we receive these vast treasure troves of beneficent blessings (EPH 1:7; 2:7). The reservoir of God''s riches in grace will never run dry - any more than the most expansive and deepest lake in the world run dry because a sparrow desires to take a drink from it (HEB 4:16). Having provided such grace for us, we may rest assured that by such enabling virtue, we can persevere in the passionate fire for Jesus all the days of our lives!
DEUT 33:26-28
26 There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.
27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

Consider Who it is that brings us every necessary provision, every stalwart defense, every Word of encouragement, wisdom and peace, Who alone brings us salvation - and who can prevent His delivery of these precious commodities? NO ONE! His strength under girds us, His protection surrounds us, His benefits overshadows us; and they arrive in God's divine sense of punctuality. While we are yet speaking, He answers (ISAIAH 65:24). We need not wait for His help to arrive - as we would for the police if we report a break-in, or a child who is ailing in bed calling out to their parents - He is ever-present, and ever ready to bring us the aid that we need, when we need it (PSALM 46:1).
With such resources as these, brought to us by His everlasting arms - His mere hand measures the heavens (ISAIAH 48:13)! - we may be assured that such passionate zeal and love for Him is not in vain. His faithfulness indeed endures to all generations.

Let us take these valuable truths as found in God's Word, and stoke our hearts with them, and pray that the LORD enflames us to such intensity, that we will never be snuffed out by the smothering influences of this world or the darkness that rules it!

PSALM 89:1-5
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
2 For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.
3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,
4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.