Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Another Smoke Signal: ESCAPE FROM GRAY WORLD

GENESIS 1:1-4
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

The LORD God created all things, and made the Earth from its prior condition of formlessness and darkness. He began with the introduction of light, which in His eyes was good. Light is always good and useful, particularly where darkness reigns. It reveals, exposes, illuminates and dispels the unknown, the mysterious, the unfathomable and brings clarity and understanding. Light enables discernment.

God then divided the light from the darkness; these were distinct from one another, in complete contrast, without similarities or commonalities at all.

The same can be applied to the spiritual dimension as with the physical dimension. It is the light of God's Word that brings clarity (EPH 5:13), understanding and discernment (HEB 4:12; HEB 5:12,14). If any claim to have these things, but denies God's Word, they truly have no light in them whatsoever:

ISAIAH 8:19-20
19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them
.


We live in a GRAY WORLD, but truth be told, this condition of 'grayness' began ever since Satan challenged the plain and abundantly clear Word of God. God told Adam that the day that they ate of the forbidden fruit, in that day they would surely die.
Yet Satan opposed that directive from Deity and deceived them by saying "you shall NOT surely die."

He proved himself to be a menace by muddying up the crystal clear water of God's Word. The distinction between truth and lies has been obfuscated ever since those early days and today we can find little evidence in society of stark, bold, clean-cut and objective, absolute truth. Such things are frowned upon, considered "politically incorrect" and "objectionable".

Ecumenical and Emergent proponents view absolute and objective truth as a misnomer for aggressive and close-minded arrogance which is promoted by 'bibliolaters' or those who, they claim, place too high a regard on the Bible and revere this book to the point of worship.

Ecumenism has absorbed some form of Christianity (with just a trace of biblical truth, albeit twisted) to create a world without clarity, without absolutes or certainty, a world of polite, political correctness, where the objective is a kind of spiritual/religious uniformitarianism - a palatable blandness that is heavy on the experiential and light on objective truth.

And anyones experience is just as valid as any other - as are perspectives of such that hold to this uniformitarianism. Everyone is right and no one is wrong (except those who believe in absolutes); all is truth (except for THE Truth, JOHN 14:6) and nothing is wrong. Thus in this GRAY WORLD, it's impossible to make any mistakes, to say nothing of committing 'sin'.

By diluting the Word of God with more and more modern translations, and even more so, these perilous paraphrases of the Bible, people are being weaned from the truth of the Scriptures. And they are gleaning spiritual 'truths' from novels and films, rather than from the pages of Holy Writ!
By the Emergence Movement, people are being taught to question the authoritative, inspired Scripture and persuaded that truth is indeed relative. Thus this world is getting more and more gray all the time.


The Hegelian dialectic is a process being used by the forces of this world to take polar opposites (thesis and anti-thesis) and bringing them together and fusing them into a paren-thesis - from light and dark - to become gray.

The other factor being added into the mix is pantheism - the idea that "all is God, and God is all" and so we merely have to identify with the Deity already within us. Such a view is Eastern in its philosophy and religious persuasion, but it has found its way into the West via Yoga, TM, and more recently, contemplative spirituality. 


In this Gray World, there are no clear compass directions - "north" may not be north. "Can we really understand what it means to head south"? In this world, to be lost and asking questions with an air of blatant uncertainty is something to be admired. To express certitude to tantamount to blasphemy and something to be shunned; certainly disapproved of. 

Where truth is sacrificed, justice will soon be placed on the same altar of relativism.

Truth is not something to be possessed, but to be sought after as we 'spiritually evolve' to higher understanding of the vulgar expressions that the prophets of the Bible declared - these 'gray people' genuinely believe that they have greater and deeper understanding than any prophet or apostle - even the LORD Jesus Himself - because in this spiritual evolution which enables them to comprehend more than all previous generations. Yet in their eyes, this spiritual evolution will continue but never enable them to come to the full knowledge of anything remotely identifiable as absolute truth:

2 TIM 3:5-8
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

Such grayness will make truth that is meant to be seen and understood anemic, tepid, ineffectual at leading people to the Author of Truth - and rather, this 'anything goes' grayness will lead to, and in fact already has led to spiritual anarchy, iniquity, lawlessness:

2 THESS 2:7
7 For the mystery of iniquity [lawlessness] doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.


The only way to escape this GRAY WORLD is by cleaving tenaciously to the inspired Word of God, to know the truth it teaches, and most of all, its Author - the LORD Jesus Christ.

For more on this and closely related issues, I recommend this video entitled, The CHAIR (about 76 mins total time) by Frank Peretti, well known for his novels such as these two books, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness:






Thursday, March 30, 2017

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: The ENCOUNTER with CHRIST - JOHN 4:1-6

 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.

JOHN 4:1-6
1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
4 And he must needs go through Samaria.
5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

See now how the LORD is a meek and lowly LORD - though He is LORD of all, Creator God and the Word Incarnate - He conducts Himself in such humble fashion. He understood that because His fame was quickly outgrowing that of His predecessor, John the Baptist, He didn't capitalize on it. Instead, He left Judea and returned to Galilee, far away.

Yet no matter where He went, the LORD was always making disciples - and we dare not forget who we are: we are NOT disciples of a church, we are NOT disciples of our pastors, we are NOT disciples of elder saints who have known the LORD far longer than we . . .
We are disciples, followers, students of the LORD Jesus Christ.
We follow Him to His cross where we learn of His supreme sacrifice.

We follow Him where He leads us to our own crosses and learn to deny self.
We follow Him where He lays upon us His yoke which He bears Himself, and we learn of Him the King of Kings, the Supreme Servant, the I AM That I AM, the LORD and Redeemer.

The LORD's objective was never to acquire fame, or prestige. He was on a mission from the Father and was intent on fulfilling His will. We must always bear this in mind, should the LORD prosper our ministry and we begin to gain a following whose numbers begin to swell to an incalculable degree. Followers in those kinds of numbers can potentially sway us - intentionally or not - in directions that are not the Father's will. This is in essence the difference between those who please God and those who become people-pleasers.


And besides all of that potential drama that the LORD left behind, He had an appointment in Samaria.

This entire scenario is being staged beforehand by the LORD; He prepared the way for the encounter, first of all, with this Samaritan woman, and then with the entire village.


Long before we knew Christ our LORD, before we had any desire for Him or inclination towards repentance, He prepared the way for us, because He had foreknown us: there is nothing our Sovereign God does not know about us: every trait in us, every habit, every decision and choice, every path and tributary we take, every response and reaction.

He knows already who will receive Him, and who will not, based upon their response to the beckoning of the Holy Spirit of sinners to come unto Jesus for salvation.

He travels with inspired intent towards the city of Sychar - a place whose name many have identified as meaning, "abode of liars or idolaters and drunks".
See the Holy, sinless, spotless Lamb of God intentionally zeroing in on this city of Sychar. He would no doubt say to anyone who would be indignant at such a meeting, the same thing He said to the Pharisees who found fault with Him because He kept company with sinners:

MARK 2:17
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance
.


It was imperative for Jesus to get to Sychar - and meet with this people group that the Jews (His own people) despised - and that feeling was mutual among the Samaritans as well!
Yet the LORD was breaking down social and cultural barriers and doing the unthinkable - reaching out with His message to those that most Jews would never have bothered to give the time of day to!
There have been many that I have known personally who either live in their own 'Sychar' or worse, once tasted of the good things of the LORD, but then turned back to that sin-city. And I have prayed earnestly that the LORD "must needs" go to their 'Sychar' and have an encounter with them, bringing to them the "living water" that only He can provide!

And now the LORD is at the end of this long journey - He finally arrives and finds Himself weary with His travels. He sits down at the well that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph and rests. Here is God, weary in His humanity, needing rest and refreshment from that well. I can well imagine the noon-time sun beating down upon His sweat drenched brow - when a Samaritan woman approaches.

Divine appointments indeed! We shall continue this next time, and in the meanwhile, let us pray for some divine appointments of those loved ones who are still lost in this world of sin and in dire need of an encounter with the Messiah of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth, Whom God has made "...both LORD and Christ..."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A LETTER To The CHURCH-WOUNDED In “EXILE”

A Special and Timely Message by Gregory Reid: This is a very sensitive message, one I hope to convey with a heart of humility and grace, one I pray will bring a little healing to those who are hurting for reasons beyond your control or choosing. 

There are many who have passed through the fires of being “wounded in the house of a friend,” of being on the receiving end of rejection, misunderstanding and sometimes even dismissal or exile due to rancorous and painful church circumstances and dealings.

Few dare to speak of it, for fear of being viewed as a malcontent, a bitter soul, a troublemaker or worse. But truth be known, there are multitudes, both people and pastors, sheep and shepherds, who have been mangled by the machinery of church professional business dealings and decisions, especially in our purpose-driven and megachurch age.  

For both leader and member, nothing stings more than realizing you have suddenly lost your place, your purpose, your “church family.” Yet for the sake of unity, God requires that you bear the pain of it and say not a word, though you be wronged, though your heart cries for understanding, though your flesh longs to lash out and wound those who have wounded you. 

Many remain church-less, or without a pulpit, afraid to try again. Many have tried other churches – knowing they need to be in fellowship – only to find a church driven by the same machinery and business dealings that broke their lives and their hearts. 
Many, though they would be too proud to admit it, still wait for a call, a text, something from someone in their former fellowship that says,

You still matter. We miss you. We’re sorry if we hurt you.”

But the call rarely if ever comes. It is a desolate thing to be “cut off from the life of the church,” even though you are not cut off from the life of Jesus. One can feel as alone and desolate as Joseph who was sent away by his own family to a house of unfamiliar faces and to obscurity and an unknown future and calling. 

My heart especially hurts for former or current pastors, youth pastors or church leaders and elders who were deemed too old-fashioned, too “Word-based,” not relevant enough, or young enough, exciting enough, etc. and found themselves given the “left foot of fellowship” – often with a smile, a wave and a parting gift (or not!) simply because PROGRESS must be made, and the new paradigm fairly demands that the old guard get off the stage.

After all, we were told by the father of purpose-driven, “What do pillars do? They hold things up…”

The sting when you realize it really is not personal, it is just a business decision “for the sake of the church” can be excruciating, indeed. You realize you were simply a broken cog in an apparatus, easily replaced. As I heard a pastor say after hosting a concert by a formerly sought-after Christian artist who now only saw small crowds, “Look what we have done to our treasures. Shame on us.” 

If you have felt this – experienced this – if you have had to depart from a fellowship because of these changes, or for any reason that you did not foresee or even want – if you are in this Joseph-like place, few words can comfort, though Joseph’s story surely will. Still, this morning, FB Meyer’s words speak deeply: 

“Though stripped of his coat, he had not been stripped of his character. See to it that no one rob you of that! Everything else may be replaced but that!” 

God sees your heart, and your hurt. But as with Joseph, God’s main concern is not what was done to you but HOW YOU RESPOND. Though you may have lost your coat (place) never lose your character! Stay sweet. Refuse bitterness. Love and pray for those you no longer are able to even be with. As in Gene Edward’s A Tale of Three Kings, David said, “In my youth…I was David. In my old age, I will be David still. Even if it costs me a throne, a kingdom.” 

Many have left fellowships under painful circumstances and leave bitter and angry, taking many with them, and starting a new fellowship (which rarely last long.) I do not believe this is God’s way, ever. If you have left, God requires the hardest thing – that you do so quietly and remain in love, in forgiveness, and in Jesus-like character.

That is the coat of character no hard and painful circumstance can take away. Yield that coat and take on the mantle of bitterness, coldness, and anger, and all God was planning for you is at stake. Do not become an Absalom seeking a throne or a Saul seeking to throw spears. Remain a David, even in exile. Does not God surely have an unstoppable plan for you yet? 

Joseph – alone, abandoned by all but God, remained Joseph – a sweet, godly young man even under unbearable grief, rejection, loss, and misunderstanding. And in the end – oh, in the end! God gave Joseph a coat of authority and purpose that only his humble, God-tested character could wear. 

And in the end, even the injuries were made right, because he saw, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…” (GENESIS 50:20

I write this to those who may have or are feeling the “pain of exile” from a church or even family. God knows your heart. His plan for you has never changed.

May God bless you with a new and precious fellowship with believers for whom the words “church family” are not just words but a way of life. May he grant you grace to forgive those you left behind who may indeed miss you, but who are so caught up in the busy work of church activity that they simply become swept up in the “out of sight, out of mind” way of such things.

Forgive those who injured, especially those who felt it was justified to do so. That may be the hardest. God requires it nonetheless. Wait…heal…trust…

If, after years of faithful service, you find yourself without a place, these words again from A Tale of Three Kings speak:

“But today I shall give ample space for this untelling God of ours to show us His will. I know of no other way to bring about such an extraordinary event except by doing NOTHING! The throne is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect, and not to keep.” 

All things – and you, dear friend, are in His loving care. Wait…pray…heal...and hang on to the character of Jesus through it ALL. God is not through with you yet. The best is yet to be! 

With Jesus’ grace and care, 
Gregory R Gregory Reid

Sunday, March 19, 2017

ONCE A SLAVE, ALWAYS A SLAVE

SLAVERY. The very word produces images of chains, whips, abject conditions of poverty and near starvation.

Our own American history is stained with deplorable treatment of Africans who were brought to our shores and suffered bondage for generations. They were deemed ignorant and inferior and thus, suitable for nothing else but slavery.

We like to think that here in the 21st century that we are more sophisticated and have higher sensibilities, but the fact of the matter is that slavery is still very much a reality. Enlistment into slavery of 'infidels' is still deemed a right by the Quran and the followers of Mohammad. Also, vast networks of illegal human trafficking that induct people into slavery (which according to statistics, as of 2014 included 21 million victims worldwide) is happening all around us!!

In REV 18:13 it mentions,
And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

And also:
REV 13:16
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: (see also REV 6:15).

So Scripture states that even in the last days, slavery will be a fact of life; certainly the aforementioned statistics indicates such an increasing trend.

This post is about the slavery of the worst kind - slavery into sin. Slavery into sin takes on many forms - including various addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling and others.

In AA and similar groups, it is stated that once you develop any such addiction, it is with you for the rest of your life. You can never be free of such things, but always - as long as you don't succumb to it - "in a state of recovery".

Biblically speaking, it is true that a sinner will always be prone to and enslaved by sin. There is no hope that they will be set free of such slavery by any ability of their own. It is an inescapable inherent nature brought to the human race by the fall of Adam. 

ROMANS 6:16a
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death
. . . 


ROMANS 5:12-14
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

But this is not at all to say that we sinners can never be free of the sins and addictions that enslave us. The LORD Jesus said:

LUKE 4:18
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised
,


JOHN 8:36
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed
.


As saints, born of the Spirit of God, we are free from the law of sin and death:

ROMANS 8:1-2

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

And we are to stand fast in the freedom and liberty that Christ won for us by His own blood and atoning sacrifice on the Cross:

GAL 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage
 (See also REV 5:9).


As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we need not ever experience bondage to sin and death; this is not to say that as God's children, who bear the nature of Christ within, that we do not still have a sin nature: this is the essence of what our fallen bodies are about.
We are absolutely the redeemed of the LORD, whose hearts are redeemed and sanctified; our minds are likewise in the process of being redeemed and sanctified daily as we renew them by the power of God's grace (ROM 12:1-2). Our bodies have not yet been redeemed (but they will be! ROM 8:22-24) and that is why there is an ongoing war against our flesh and the Spirit of God (GAL 5:16-17).


But we have the comfort of knowing that as long as we are walking in the Spirit (basically that's living our lives in following Christ's example) we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (GAL 5:16), and we are free of getting entangled in any besetting sins.

WE ARE NO LONGER SLAVES - OR ARE WE?

The concept of a slave in one sense is that of a person bound in chains and misery, suffering indignities and oppression. 
Certainly anyone who is bound to sin as its slave (and without the Spirit of Christ) won't see it that way - at least not at first; they can have their fill of "sex and drugs and rock 'n roll" and all the pleasures of this world - and not for a moment think that they are a slave but living 'the high life'.

Until their choice of recreational drug becomes so addictive, that they live only to feed that addiction - even if it means stealing to get it. Until they contract a venereal disease that ruins their lives. Until after years of 'party hearty' it takes its toll on their body. Until their associations and friendships (based on the gang-kind of lifestyle for example) abandon them when serious trouble falls.

ROM 6:23a
The wages of sin is death
. . . 


And that can mean the death of a marriage or other relationship, the death of family ties, the death of financial security, the death of social standing, the death of health - or just plain death. Ultimately it will mean spiritual death (what the Bible calls "the second death" (REV 20:14).) and that is the ultimate fruit of sin.

But there is another kind of slavery, that of servanthood: In the Law given to Israel, anytime someone became indebted to another and had no money to pay the debt, they would lend their services to them. Once they worked long enough, they were freed from service. But there were times when the servant realized that life was better serving their master than it was when they were out on their own. They loved their master, and his family; they were contend with their lodgings and the allotment of food and clothing they were given.

They would commit themselves to their master as a life-long servant. This was known as a bond servant or a doulos. They would pierce their ear and place a gold earring in it, and that was an emblem that everyone understood: this was a person wholly devoted to their master - to ever and always fulfill their will and not their own will (EXOD 21:5-6).

'Slavery in Christ' is nothing like slavery to sin; it is a satisfying, albeit challenging life which is ultimately blessed in both the fruit borne of the Spirit as well as in the relationship of every saint who so pledges themselves to the LORD God and Jesus Christ. We are yoked together with Christ and thereby learn of Him (MATT 11:28-30).


Being a slave of Christ means that I am "dead" to myself: my desires, my objectives, my ambitions and plans, my loves and affections - and I am alive to Christ and find that His desires, objectives, ambitions, plans, loves and affections are growing in my life. And THIS is life more abundant (JOHN 10:10)!

We are in a spiritual sense, "dead men walking - in the Spirit" - dead to self and alive to God, "perfecting holiness" (ROM 6:11; 2 COR 7:1
GAL 2:20).

It's very much like Bob Dylan sang, "Ya gotta serve somebody" - and we will either serve sin, being intent on 'doing our own thing' and thereby denying God as our Creator His purpose for our lives - or serve the LORD.

It's just a matter of determining whose slave you are; but a slave you are and always will be: either Christ's or sin's.
So whose slave are YOU?

For more on this, watch this teaching on ROMANS 6:

DEAD MEN WALKING - IN THE SPIRIT



May the LORD bless you all, the saints of the living God, way too much!!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: YOU ARE MY SON, SHINE! - JOHN 3:34-36

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.

JOHN 3:34-36
34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

"For he whom God hath sent..."

God the Father sent His Son to this fallen world. I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like for the LORD Jesus - to leave the holy atmosphere of Heaven, with all of its purity, glory and goodness and come to this dank, depressing, lost world reeking with putrid sin and corruption. Nevertheless, He came and willingly so, out of a heart of love for us!

He came not in His own Name, but in the Name of the Father (JOHN 5:43) and sent by His authority. The LORD Jesus is The Apostle (HEB 3:1) and as we know, the word 'apostle' means 'sent one', that is, 'one who is sent on some mission or purpose'.

The LORD Jesus Himself appointed His apostles, and these were witnesses of His life, including His teachings and miracles, His character and holy nature, as well as His death and His resurrection - just as the LORD Jesus was the witness of God the Father to this blind world.

We saints, members of His body, are in a sense, apostles - or more specifically, have an apostolic calling in whatever ministry He has us serving Him in - because we are sent by the LORD for that purpose or mission in ministry and are His witnesses to the Truth of His Word and His Gospel.


"God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him..." 

Upon the LORD Jesus, the Father gave an unmeasured anointing of the Holy Spirit (LUKE 4:18) - that is, our Savior was granted the 'full-to-overflowing' measure of the Holy Spirit. There is much talk about being 'Spirit-filled' particularly among neo-Pentecostals, and they attribute their often bizarre actions and behavior 'to the work of the Spirit', but if one wants to know what being 'Spirit-filled' looks like, one needn't go anywhere else than to our example of Jesus! Amen?

And He used the power of the Spirit, not to accomplish things for His own selfish interests or promotion (as is too, too often the case with those who claim to be 'Spirit-filled') but to "preach the gospel to the poor;. . . to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord"

"he ... speaketh the words of God..."

The anointing of the Spirit will not provide for us 'new revelation' which those leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation movement claim (for an excellent article explaining this cult, click on this preceding link!).
If we are truly led of the Spirit, then we will speak God's own words (1 COR 14:36-37), as recorded in Holy Scripture; the exclusive truth-source of God's entire revelation to us (JOHN 17:17). Any supposed prophecy or declaration that any would claim is from God must be compared to the holy Word of the Bible and if it doesn't line up, it must be rejected as false!


"The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand..."

Just as the Father has given all things into the nail-pierced hands of His Son, the LORD Jesus - the LORD Himself will give us our inheritance through His atoning justification of our souls, out of His heart of love! AMAZING (ROM 8:17)! The Father has granted all judgment of all creation - man and angel alike - to the LORD (JOHN 5:22-23) and likewise, the LORD will grant to us His church the position of judging alongside with Him (1 COR 6:2-3; REV 2:26-27)!

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life..."

"Believ[ing] on the Son" is far more than mere intellectual agreement and assent to doctrinal truth - it is a matter of genuine faith and trust in the Person of Jesus Christ for the saving of the soul - it is an implicit offering of oneself to the LORD with a heart of repentance, yearning, devotion, submission and obedience that is the first step to a living, vital relationship with Jesus as LORD and Savior. For those who express such faith, they are recipients of the Spirit of God and thus "everlasting life" as reborn children of God (JOHN 3:3; 1 PETER 1:23).

None of us are children of God inherently at our natural birth; we must be born a second time, spiritually to become God's children (JOHN 1:12-13). To neglect to do so, means that one remains in the natural state of sinfulness, due to being a child of Adam - who fell into sin at the beginning and thereby brought the curse of sin and death upon the entirety of humanity (ROM 5:12).


"...he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him..."

The offer of salvation through the LORD Jesus Christ and His redemption as our Kinsman-Redeemer still stands. He offers His salvation in extending that nail-pierced Hand of His.
If one rejects this offer to the end (whether that is the end of one's own physical life in this world or the end of this age of the church when we that belong to the LORD are raptured out from this planet and go Home; 1 THESS 4:16-18; 1 COR 15:52-54), then that soul will continue uninterrupted, unimpeded on their course to eternal destruction in hell where "the wrath of God [will] abide upon [them]".


May those of us who have indeed expressed such living faith (JAMES 2:18) that is evidenced by a life of Spirit-produced fruit (JOHN 15:4-5) rejoice in that we have everlasting life, destined for the glories of heaven that revolves solely around the Person of our Precious LORD Jesus Christ! Such everlasting life is beyond our full experience and comprehension in our present state, but we shall know the fulsome and profound love, joy and peace once we step out of this temporal world of sin and decay and step into the kingdom of heaven, "and forever shall we be with the LORD" (1 THESS 4:17)!

Monday, September 5, 2016

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: TESTIMONY TIME! - JOHN 3:31-33

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.

JOHN 3:31-33
31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

We returned to Jerusalem and listened to the conversation between the LORD Jesus and Nicodemus, in the stillness of that night, the last time. And now John the apostle adds some Holy Spirit inspired commentary in the remainder of this chapter. The youngest of His followers, that "disciple whom Jesus loved" speaks of the One Who came down from above...

This is the One Who is "above all" - He is LORD of all; LORD over creation, over the human and angelic races, over all atomic material in the microscopic realm and over all of celestial bodies in the macro-cosmic realm. And since He is LORD and Creator GOD, He justly deploys His Holy Law. He is the Ultimate and Final Authority, incontestable and resolute regarding truth and grace, as well as His eternal domain.

This is contrasted with those who are of the Earth - we who are formed from the clay of the earth, "earthly" who speaks of matters of this world. Any of us are qualified to speak of the things of Earth, since we live here and experience life here on a daily basis.

1 CORINTHIANS 13:45-47

45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.

That which He has seen - in the Holy Halls of Heaven - and heard there - the voice of the Father, the incessant worship of glorious angels, prostrate before the very Throne of their Creator; knowing that domain of Deity, as He is Himself the fullness of the Godhead (COL 2:9-10) - He testifies to the truth of all of it before the human race - and yet His testimony is not received!

To testify is to bear witness; the prefix of testimony as well as testament (MATT 26:28; 1 COR 11:25) means (Latin: testari): ". . . bear witness. Do not confuse this root test with the word which means examination. It is true that when you take an examination you are a witness for your own knowledge and, unless you cheat, you are showing what you do or don’t know. However, here the word means a solemn telling of the truth of what you know, bearing witness for truth’s sake." 

The LORD knows all things, most especially is His knowledge of that which is most bereft in ourselves: true spiritual knowledge (as opposed to mystical/demonic knowledge - occult knowledge). The LORD told Nicodemus so earlier in the chapter: 

JOHN 3:11-13
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

If I were to plan a trip to a far off exotic land that I've never visited before, and much to my astounded pleasure, encounter a citizen of that land before my departure, I would avidly listen to everything they could tell me about that place - acknowledging them as an authority. Yet the LORD of Heaven is given little heed about that glorious domain and how to get there (JOHN 3:3,5;14:6).

While most did not receive His testimony, there were some blessed exceptions (JOHN 1:11-13) - those of His disciples who were truly converted, testifying themselves of Christ (ACTS 1:8): some from their own crosses (MATT 23:24)!

This is the case where religion contends and strives against the righteous truth; the LORD Jesus faithfully testified of the Kingdom of heaven and the Holy Scriptures, and without exception, the religious leadership contested with Him - not receiving, but rejecting His witness as well as His Gospel.

Today it is no different: no higher authority can one possibly appeal to than the very Word of God; the Author of Truth - and yet never before perhaps in all history have the Scriptures been more heinously disparaged than in today's ecumenically correct, post-modernist, and emergent church-promotional world!

How terribly offensive it must be to the Person of Truth, the very embodiment of Truth to be rejected and not believed; whose very words are looked upon as deception! It is the very rebellious spirit of Babylon reborn, in which people began to speak out against the Name of the LORD! 

There is coming a day however, when the LORD, the JUDGE of the Earth, shall offer up testimony to the Truth, laying charges against this Rebel Planet and meting out justice, where He was once willing to bestow grace (JOHN 1:14).

May we likewise bear testimony to the Truth of the Gospel and of the coming Judgment (JOHN 3:18-20) as faithful witnesses of and for our LORD!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: The INVERSION PRINCIPLE - JOHN 3:25-30

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.


JOHN 3:25-30
25 Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.
26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

Well it certainly has been a very long time since I visited with you all here! I have been extraordinarily busy with various studies and teachings at church, and this had consumed much of my time.
I am glad to be here among you once again and am thankful for your attendance.


Let us continue now in this series of devotional exhortations and teachings!

We see here before us the disciples of John the Baptist and the Jews arguing about the rite of purification. Today we see something similar among churches regarding baptism (full immersion vs. sprinkling for example). This turned to the subject of Jesus and how He was actually baptizing more people than the Baptist (though He Himself didn't baptize, but His own disciples).

The Baptist's reply is quite compelling and worthy of meditation:

"A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven". He rightly recognized that anything we receive, are granted, and allocated is given by the authority of heaven, sent forth from the very throne of God, the Ruler of all!

JAMES 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Now sometimes "good gifts" come in such a way that will not be immediately apparent; sometimes we are struck with trials and tribulations that can frankly leave us reeling from their impact, and we wonder how such things we receive from heaven can ever be considered "good". Yet these fiery trials have the express purpose of purifying us, drawing out our sins and imperfections so that our GOD, like the Divine Goldsmith that He is can purge these things that make us spiritually weak, resulting in holy resolve and might and a likeness of Jesus that can be accomplished no other way (See ROM 8:28; PHIL 4:6; COL 2:7; 1 THESS 5:18; JAMES 1:1-4; 1 PET 4:12-13).

Any ministry, any holy task, any God given duty that we may be assigned could be a life-long experience - or it may be for only a season in our lives. It's important that we hold those things that God gives us with an open hand, rather than clenched tightly in our fist - "it will hurt less when He takes it back!", as Corrie Ten Boom said.
Also, in conjunction with such ministry, we also realize that we can accomplish nothing, except by the grace of God is given to us from heaven. We are mere clay vessels and the best we can do is simply rest, relax and trust Him as we yield to the LORD, believing that He will accomplish His awesome work through (and IN!) us!

It is an unfortunate reality that some who have received a legitimate ministry from the LORD, and have been faithful in it, don't realize that - at times - such ministry is short-lived, only for a season, because God intends something else for them down the road. And they persist in something that should be left behind, as God has accomplished through us all that He intended.
We try to sustain such a ministry, to bring new life and vitality and begin to resort to our own efforts to keep it going. This will result in our frustration and fatigue; it's been wisely said before: "What I strive to attain, I must strive to maintain."

Not so with John the Baptist and all humble servants of the LORD. He, like all saints who love the LORD, acknowledges that "It's not about us! It's all about JESUS our LORD and HIS Kingdom, HIS purposes, HIS agenda".

EPH 1:7-11
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (See also EPH 3:10-12).

Just as the Holy Spirit never draws attention to Himself, but is intent on witnessing to and glorifying the LORD Jesus (JOHN 16:13-14), so too John the Baptist: it is his JOY to witness of the LORD, to see the Bridegroom receive His due glory and worship. He willingly takes the lower seat, that the LORD may be exalted. And so shall we gladly point to the LORD, seeking His glory and expect no attention for ourselves.

This is the great and profound truth that we all as Christians acknowledge and endeavor to practice in our daily lives:

"He must increase, I must decrease"! By allowing the LORD to do His work of sanctification in us just as we received His work of justification, we gain a greater likeness of Christ by His empowering Spirit of grace - He increases in His likeness in our lives and the likeness of our "old man (our sinful nature; see ROM 6:6) decreases.

Think of a glass that you begin to fill with water: as the amount of water increases, the amount of air decreases; once that glass is entirely full of water, there is no more room for air. The glass is completely full.

Charles Spurgeon spoke of the two aspects of a Christian: the first being mortification - that is, the putting to death of the flesh, the sinful self by the Cross of Christ; also of vivification - that is, the bringing of new and holy life in Christ by the power of His resurrection!

Will we ever be fully conformed to Christ, and attain perfect holiness in a practical sense in this life? Paul the apostle admitted that he had not yet attained such a level of holiness:

PHIL 3:12-14
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

And yet, like the apostle Paul, we ought to "press" and "[reach] forth" for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and this is possible ONLY by the grace of God which enables us to be conformed to Christ:

ROMANS 8:29-30
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

PHIL 3:10 
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

May we decrease by dying to self, and may the LORD Jesus Christ increase with resurrection power as He lives His Life through us, His beloved!