Grace & Peace


Monday, January 8, 2024

Christian - Rest begins in your thought life!


We must be a doer of the Word and the next step after believing the Word of God is to let or allow the Word to capture your mind, thought life, and your imagination. The enemy knows if he can capture your thought life, he has won a great victory. You cannot keep thoughts from coming to your mind, but you can keep them from staying there. You can't stop someone from knocking on your door, but you can decide who you  want to let in. And so, dealing with the devil and his thoughts and suggestions, we must do it right when they come to our mind, whether it's doubt, whether it's fear, or lack, whether it's strife or unforgiveness. Whatever it is, whether it's sin (misbehavior) or disobedience; whatever it is, you deal with it right there at the door, and you have authority. In other words, as a believer, if you don't exercise your authority in your thought life, you'll never exercise your authority in your outward life. 

"Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowlege of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" 2 Cor. 10:5 KJV  

It's the anointing that destroys the yolk of bondage; in other words, any kind of bondage. So when you meditate on the Word, the anointing comes up into your soul (your mind, will and emotions) and destroys bad imaginations, it destroys old thought patterns and attitudes, so that the new creature (creation) and the reality of what has been done for you in Christ now -comes up and gets on your soul and then that overflows into your body. And so, when you meditate on the Word of God, you're taking spiritual realities from the Word of God and you're allowing that to capture your imagination. (Above quoted from Mark Hankins Ministry)

"And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."  Gen. 4:6-7 KJV

Cain didn't do a very good job of dealing with what lieth at his door. He bought the lie and the very next verse tells us that Cain rose up against his brother and slew him. (ref. Gen. 4:8) Cain also didn't deal well in his response to the Lord's question of 'Where is Abel thy brother?' He (Cain) said, 'I know not: am I my brother's keeper?' (ref. vs. 9) The answer to Cain's question is yes, you are your brothers keeper. 

The Hebrews who came out of Egypt were at the door of the Promise Land and their ticket in was faith; the only trouble was, so few of them had one. Faith has a faith object and most of them had a dim view of theirs. When faith is missing, the only thing left to fill in the void is doubt and unbelief. Scripture tells us, "He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel." Ps. 103:7 KJV  The NLT translation reads, "He revealed his character to Moses, and his deeds to the people of Israel." The aspersions and murmurings cast against God's character went something like this. 

"And ye murmured in your tents, and said, 'Because the Lord hated us, he hath brought us forth out of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us." Deut. 1:27 KJV  Also, as found in Exodus, "And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, oh Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Ex. 32:4 KJV

God said, "Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I swear in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest. Heb. 3:10-11 KJV 

Stephen, the first recorded martyr for Christ, said in speaking of the Israelites exiting Egypt, "To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what has become of him." Acts 7:39-40 KJV

We, as Christians, can find ourselves wanting to turn back. We, too, like the Hebrews coming out of Egypt, have been set free. They were delivered and set free from the cruel Egyptian task masters who held them in the bondage of slavery, externally forcing them against their will to do their dictates. The Hebrews were not their own to do as they would, but were property owned by someone else. Moses wrote, "And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers." Deut. 6:23 KJV  Biblically speaking, Egypt represents sin and bondage. "But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?" Gal. 4:9 KJV  

The law is an external dictate and doesn't win the will of the heart; a dictator forces submission on you from without, but someone you love captures your heart and will from within. Paul writes, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Rom. 8:14-16 KJV "Wherefore thou art no more a servant (slave), but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." Gal. 4:7 

We've gone from dictator to Father, from slave to son. Bondage to lusts and additive habits are the results of a deceptive lure and enticement to turn back to sin (Egypt), but perhaps the most deceptive is religious bondage (legalism), a striving to earn your acceptance with God. Our rest is in knowing we are accepted and approved (in right-standing with God) all through the finished work of the cross, a complete work of grace. "For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his." Heb. 4:10 KJV  It's His righteousness we adorn.

When we rehearse the righteous acts of God, we willingly submit. This truth is found in the song of Deborah. (Read Judges 5:1-31 for the entire account) "Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves." Judg. 5:2 KJV "The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel. They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel? My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the Lord. Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way. They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates." Judg. 5:7-11 KJV

Lets examine two scripture verses that really bring the song of Deborah to life. The first is found in the 28th chapter of Isaiah, as follows, "In that day the LORD Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of His people. He will be a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate." (Isaiah 28:5-6 NIV, emphasis mine) The second verse is found in the 12th chapter of Isaiah: "And in THAT day you will say: "OH LORD, I will praise You; Though you were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song, He also has become my salvation. Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." (Isa. 12:1-3 NKJV, emphasis mine)  God's anger is turned away. Deborah states at the beginning of her song that when the people of Israel chose new gods, war was at the gates and the people of Israel were unwilling to fight, but when they rehearsed the righteous acts of the LORD the people willingly went and contended with the war at the gates.

Gates and doors are entrance points that allow access in or out. Again, the Lord said unto Cain, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." Gen. 4:7 KJV  We, as born-again Christians are accepted of God and we do well to rest in this truth, to rejoice in this truth and deny access to the door of our heart anything that speaks otherwise. (ref. Isa. 54:17) "For we which have believed do enter into rest," Hebrews  4:3a KJV  Most of the Hebrews who came out of Egypt stalled in the wilderness and could not move forward to claim the promises. "For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." Hebrews 4:2 KJV

We, too, can have a time of testing in the wilderness, let us do as Jesus did in His wilderness temptations. He knew and spoke the truth to overcome the temptations of the enemy; we also believe and therefore speak. (ref. 2 Cor. 4:13) He knew He was and is the beloved Son of God and didn't have to prove it to satan. We can overcome these trials in faith and be assured of the victory, but most importantly, rest. It's from this position of rest that we obtain the promises. We are to enter into His rest, ":although the works were finished from the foundation of the world." (ref. Heb. 4:1,3b) 

This is referring to what's stated primarily in the first three verses of Genesis chapter two, "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made and God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." Gen. 2:1-3 KJV  This is not referring to God resting as though He were tired, like we get tired physically or emotionally, etc., but that His work of creation was complete. You can liken it unto an artist painting a picture or a sculptor creating a sculpture. When he or she finishes it, it's perfect and complete. One more brush stroke or one more chiseled piece removed is not needed, so the artist sets the brush or chisel down and rests from their creative work. So He, (God) rested on the seventh day and God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. 

The book of Exodus tells us, ":wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Ex. 20:11b KJV (hallowed means to make it holy) We too, as Christians have been made holy-we've received the Holy Spirit and are now saints. We've been sanctified and set apart for His special purposes; we are complete in Christ. (ref. Col. 2:10) He, (Christ) is our sabbath rest. We were made this way the moment we became born again. It's all grace. "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God." Heb. 7:19 KJV  

Our rest, as Christians, is a spiritual rest that we are meant to enter into continually. (ref. Col. 2:6) Jesus said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Mat. 11:28-30 KJV  Our rest is achieved by our remembrance that we are complete in Him, all by grace and faith in His blood. (ref. Heb. 13:9, 20, Rom. 3:25) The Apostle Peter wrote, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:"  "Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 1 Pet. 13-14, 22 KJV

And yes, be your brother's keeper. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

 The Nativity in Bethlehem

I love the Christmas season and the chance of seeing a nativity scene set up in someone's yard or some other outdoor setting. Perhaps you've had the good fortune to attend a live nativity using real animals. Whether an outdoor nativity scene or a smaller scaled model inside someone's home, it provokes wonder as to how the real scene in Bethlehem with the Christ Child must have been. 

In Hebrew, the city's name is pronounced, "Beit-lehem." "Beit" means house and "Lechem" means bread - together being "house of bread." Jesus said, at one point, "I am the Bread of life" (ref. John 6:35; 48) and "I am the manna that came down out of heaven..." (John 6:31) 

Nativity is described in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as: The place of origin. Jesus came down from heaven and took on a body of flesh. Jesus grew to physical maturity in that body. His spirit was from above. Jesus said to a group of Pharisees, "Ye are from beneath; I am from above: Ye are of this world; I am not of this world." (John 8:23b KJV) Jesus said we too must be born from above; this is the only way we can see or enter the kingdom of God. (ref. John 3:3) 

The word 'nature' is a root word of 'nativity'-implying that our nature is a derivative of where or who we are from. A born-again believer, or a born-from-above believer, is one spirit with God and he is also a new creation (ref. 1 Cor. 6:17, 2 Cor. 5:17) 

John the Baptist speaking, said, "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." (John 3:31 KJV) 

The difference between someone born from above (born-again) who has God as his Father and someone who is not born from above, is profound. 'Jesus said unto them, if God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do ye not understand My speech? even because ye cannot hear My word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.' (John 8:42-44 KJV) "I speak that which I have seen with My Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father." (John 8:38 KJV) 

We, as born-again (born from above) Christians, can speak from our place of heavenly origin and heavenly nature, in contrast to an unbeliever who cannot. This is not to say someone who is not born-from-above, or born again, goes about always telling lies. But, it is to say the person who is born-from-above now has as their place of origin, heaven (ref. Eph. 2:6) and our identity in the truth of who we are is who we are in Christ. If we go by our five senses or our circumstances as to who we are, we are not seeing with the eyes of faith. We are not speaking the truth of the reality of our heavenly position or our place of origin.  We are not speaking or acting according to our new nature. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7 KJV)

The entire third chapter of the book of James is well worth reading to bear this out. The book of James says, "But if ye have bitter envy and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish." (James 3:14-15 KJV) The entire third chapter of the book of James has much to say about our tongue speaking earthly wisdom and the wisdom which descends from above, but ends with the final three verses, saying, "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But, the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." (James 3:16-17 KJV)

When we, as born-from-above believers speak or act against the truth of who we now are in our new spirit and nature, we are lying against the truth of our true origin. This is not to say we are to now become police monitors of all action and speech, for that is an exterior bandaid leading to bondage. The final verse in James chapter three concludes, "And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." (James 3:18 KJV) Righteousness is an inward transformation and one which we have been made. (ref. 2 Cor. 5:21) It (righteousness or our right-standing with God) is not a result of our effort or performance, but of faith placed in Christ's finished work; it is a gift. We have been made new creations. (ref. 2 Cor. 5:17) This brings a rest, a peace. When you see a nativity scene this Christmas season, let it speak to you of our heavenly origin and our heavenly nature, and remember our native language of where and Whose we are from. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Possess your Promise Land

"The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." Ps. 119:130 KJV

The Apostle Peter rose up and said, "Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe."
Acts 15:7b KJV

The Apostle Paul's writing goes on to say, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. 4:3-4, 6 KJV

Earlier Paul wrote, "And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished. But their minds were blinded; for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (their heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 2 Cor. 3:13-17 KJV (parentheses mine)

"For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness therof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God." Heb. 7:18-19 KJV

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Rom. 3:31 KJV

As Christians, we still read and learn from the Old Testament, but we must know how to rightly divide the word of truth, (ref. 2 Tim. 2:15) For as further stated in 2 Timothy, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" 2 Tim. 3:16 KJV

Again, the Apostle Peter rose up and said, "that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel ,and believe." Acts 15:7b KJV

The veil that is over one's heart by the law is taken away by faith in Christ. "But that no man is justified (declared righteous) by the law in the sight of God; it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith:" Gal. 3:11-12a KJV (parentheses mine)

At this point, it might serve us well to examine what the law can do and what it cannot do; what the law is and what it is not.

The law is a standard that must be fully met if you want to attempt to use it to gain your own righteousness (right-standing with God) by your merit or human effort. For as found in the book of James, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Jam. 2:10 KJV, (ref. Heb. 7:19) (parentheses mine)

The law is holy, just and good, but it cannot make us holy, just or good. (ref. Gal. 2:16, 3:10-14, Rom. 3:20, 8:3)

The law cannot give us life or make us righteous. (make us to have right-standing with God) (ref. Gal. 3:21-22)

The law was given so that every mouth would be silenced - if you thought or said you could attain your own righteousness (right-standing with God) by your own merit, actions or human effort. "Now we know that what things so ever the law saith, it sayeth to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." Rom. 3:19 KJV

The law makes us conscious of sin. When we look at the law, we become aware of our faults and short-comings. (ref. Rom. 3:20, Heb. 9:14)

The law is the tool God uses to expose our short-comings and our inability to achieve God's standard by our own merit, actions or human effort. The law demands perfection. (ref. Jam. 2:10)

The law is the strength (or power) of sin. (ref. 1 Cor. 15:56)

The law stirs up sin. (ref. Rom. 7:5)

The law is the ministration of death. (ref. 2 Cor. 3:7, Rom. 8:2)

The law is the ministration of condemnation. (ref. 2 Cor. 3:9)

"But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, (slavery) for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust." 1 Tim. 1:8-11 KJV (parentheses mine)

The law was given to lead us to Christ that we might be justified (declared righteous) by faith. (ref. Gal. 3:24)  "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us," Rom. 8:3-4a KJV

"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." Rom. 10:4 KJV

Again, the Apostle Peter rose up and said, "that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe." Acts 15:7b KJV

"Consequently faith comes from hearing the message, (the gospel) and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Rom. 10:17 NIV (parentheses mine) Some Bible translations say that the message is heard through the word of 'God'. Now we know that Jesus is God, but if you use the word 'God' in this passage of scripture, that would encompass the entire Bible, including the Old Testament law with its curses. And we know the law is not of faith, but the message of the gospel, the hearing of Christ, brings faith. (See Gal. 3:12)

Further, it's stated in the book of Hebrews, "For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith." Heb. 4:2 NIV

The gospel message was made of no value (or did not profit them) for many of the people who were led out of Egypt by Moses. (ref. Heb. 3:16-19) These people in a prideful or self-righteous statement said they could do (by their own merit and human effort), all that the Lord commanded. Shortly thereafter God gave them the Ten Commandments and all the subsequent laws along with them. (ref. Exod. 19:7-8, ch. 20) They agreed to a covenant whereby they said their righteousness or right-standing with God would be determined by their ability, strength and merit (human effort), to keep all of the righteous requirements of the law - to maintain the perfect standard that the law demanded. As stated in the book of Deuteronomy, "And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He hath commanded us." Deut. 6:25 KJV (ref. Rom. 8:4)

Remember the law was given that every mouth would be silenced (to silence our mouths) if we thought or said we could keep it apart from faith in Christ.

Many of the children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses had a draconian mind set - and although they witnessed God's goodness and faithfulness as God honored the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to deliver Abraham's descendents, (ref. Gen. 15:13-16) their thoughts and beliefs in their hearts of God towards them and of them toward God were very twisted and misconstrued. Of the twelve men whom Moses sent in to spy out the Promise Land, only two returned with a good report. The remaining ten spies who returned saw themselves as grasshoppers in their own site, as they looked upon the sons of A'-nak which come of the giants. The law will always make you look at yourself; your own ability and your short-comings, whereas faith puts the promise between us and our circumstance; doubt or unbelief puts the circumstance between us and the promise.

Scripture tells us that only two from that generation came into the Promise Land with the younger generation. Now remember, as discussed earlier, these people chose to put themselves under the Old Covenant of law. They chose to enter into agreement with God, saying in their pride that they could keep all the law. (see Exod. 19:7-8) And their words and actions, which maligned God's character, further revealed the condition of their hearts, saying such things as are found in Deuteronomy, "And ye murmured in your tents, and said, 'Because the Lord hated us, He hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us." Deut. 1:27 KJV Also, as found in Exodus, "And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, 'These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.'" Exod. 32:4 KJV

These people were delivered from Egypt (which represents sin) by the placing of blood on their doorposts. They put faith in the blood. (that blood foreshadowed Christ's blood) They were delivered from Pharoah and his army. (Pharoah was a cruel task-master) "And Moses said unto the people, 'Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.' And the Lord said unto Moses, wherefor criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:" Exod. 14:13-15 KJV

We too, as believers, have been delivered from sin (ref. Rom. 6:11), we continually put faith in the blood, (ref. Rom. 3:25) and we have been delivered from a cruel task-master which is the law. (ref. Rom. 7:4, Gal. 4:5) We've been delivered from the power of darkness. (ref. Col. 1:13) God broke the power of the enemy over us by "blotting out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it (the law written on stone tablets by the finger of God) to His cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it." Col. 2:14-15 KJV We likewise have seen the salvation of the Lord.

Again, Moses said, "For the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." Exod. 14:13b-14 KJV It's difficult for us as Christians to hold our peace if we don't believe we've been delivered from the law, (a cruel task-master) which God took away - and we shall see no more forever. It's difficult to go forward and claim the promises if you think that God is a cruel task-master.

Scripture tells us, "but without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Heb. 11:6 KJV

In the wilderness, they saw how the Lord God carried them as a father carries his son, yet many did not trust in the Lord. (ref. Deut. 1:29-31) God's word says, "And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers." Deut. 6:23 KJV  This is God's heart. It's difficult to have faith in your faith object (Christ) if you believe God hates you and is wrathful and harsh toward you. This is why scripture states -

"Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression." Rom. 4:15 KJV

"And the law is not of faith:" Gal. 3:12a KJV

"Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." Gal. 3:21-22 KJV

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified (declared righteous) in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe:" Rom. 3:20-22a KJV (parentheses mine)

Again, we find in Hebrews, "For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." Heb. 4:2 KJV

Faith in Christ's finished work is what allows us to claim the promises. We must be trained to know the truth of our faith object, His character and nature, for after all, it is the nature of the One who made the promise which gives the promise its validity. "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." 2 Cor. 1:20 NIV

Again, Joshua, and Caleb, were the only two out of the twelve who spied out the Promise Land to return and give a good report. They were the only two, along with the younger generation, allowed to eventually enter the Promise Land. The other ten spies discouraged the hearts of the people upon returning. It's recorded in scripture "Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them." Num. 14:6-9 NIV

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, scripture tells us, "It came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, 'Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.'" Luke 3:21b-22 KJV  If you are born again, then you are one with Christ and He (God) is well pleased with you - and you are well able to take the land!

Faith without works is dead, but also, works without faith are dead. (ref. Jam. 2:17-18, Heb. 6:1)  Faith in the One who made the promises is what gives us the boldness to claim our inheritance. The Apostle Paul wrote, "We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;" 2 Cor. 4:13 KJV

We find in scripture, "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. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:" Rom. 4:13-14 KJV  If it was by the law - which would make it our own merit, performance or human effort - why would we need a Savior?

The gospel is a revelation of God's righteousness because it brings hope, (I don't have to rely on my own strengths and I am not hindered by my short-comings) but I can rest in Christ's strength, which I do. It (the gospel) reveals the righteousness (our right-standing with God) God provides through the work of the cross, this is the righteousness we are to seek after and it is the righteousness you found (and continually possess) if you're in Christ. (ref. Mat. 6:33, Col. 1:13) This is the righteousness we were made when we were born again through faith in Christ's finished work as stated in Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth ,"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:21 KJV Four verses earlier from the previous verse we are told, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ; he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." 2 Cor. 5:17 NIV This is the righteousness we were created in and we're told to put on (in our mindset or attitude of our minds) spoken of by Paul, "to be made new in the attitude of your minds; (spirit of your minds) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Eph. 4:23 NIV, vs. 24 KJV (parentheses mine) This is the righteousness that the gospel reveals. (ref. Rom. 1:16-17)

As found in Colossians, "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel:" Col. 1:5 KJV

The book of Acts tells us that the Apostle Paul speaking to a group at Antioch in Pisidia declared, "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses." Acts 13:37-38 KJV

The gospel work is boldly proclaimed by the writer of Hebrews, saying, "Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in My covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people: For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Heb. 8:9-10, 12 KJV

The Apostle Paul writes, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father." Gal. 4:4-6 KJV

The law works for us, as children, in a practical sense to govern our behavior through the fear of punishment. As an infant child or toddler, we cannot reason the necessity of avoiding putting a screwdriver into an electrical outlet, but we shortly come to understand attempting to do so brings an urgent spanking. Scripture states, "Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, (slave) though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:" Gal. 4:1-3 KJV

A law system is for behavior modification. The only thing a law system can do is judge and condemn, but it cannot transform. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what transforms from within.

We as believers are now led or governed from within, by the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit, not by an external code of laws. Conforming to rules comes from without; transformation comes from within. (ref. Rom. 12:2) "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 2 Cor. 3:17 KJV  "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Rom. 8:2 KJV

Again, the law works for us, as children, in a practical sense to govern our behavior through the fear of punishment. The law curbs the behavior of unruly kids and an unruly society, yet it is not God's true heart. It's not God's desire to control from without like a dictator or despot; they never win the heart of the people. He wants us to follow Him willingly, led from within by the Holy Spirit. He wants us to have faith and not fear, (fear of punishment) and have the relationship with Him that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit brings. When one's heart turns toward Him the veil is lifted.

God's kingdom has a King and He's a good King with a kind and merciful heart. As born-again Christians our hearts now say Abba Father and we are sons and daughters, no longer slaves. (ref. Gal. 4:6-7) The law is cold and it desires no relationship, and if a person is prideful and thinks he can earn his way to heaven by his own merit or performance, then he is not looking to the One who did it for him. God rules our hearts by love. The law demands whereas grace imparts in us a desire to live a godly life. (ref. Titus 2:12)

Scripture tells us, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, (people who aren't delivered from the law or don't realize they have been, believe God is angry with them, for by the law is the fear of wrath) yet now hath he reconciled, In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which ye have heard," Col.1:21-23a KJV (parentheses mine)

Jesus fulfilled the law. Jesus went to the cross fully man and fully God. He bore our punishment that the law demanded.

Scripture now tells us to "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Gal. 6:2 KJV

Also we find, "Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, THOU SHALT NOT KILL, THOU SHALT NOT STEAL, THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, THOU SHALT NOT COVET; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Rom. 13:8-10 KJV

We are told in the book of James, "Confess your faults one to another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (a man in right-standing with God - a man who realizes he's in right-standing with God, which is faith) availeth much." Jam. 5:16 KJV (parentheses mine) People are at liberty to confess their faults in a nonjudgmental atmosphere and the body of Christ is free to minister as we express the unconditional love of God that we have received when we truly understand that we are not under the condemnation of the law. (ref. Rom. 8:1)

Scripture also states, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Gal. 5:14 KJV

Our faith and patience grow for us and others as we come to know and believe the love God has toward us. (ref. 1 John 4:16) This faith allows us to move boldly toward the promises. God's unconditional love toward us is what allows us to be accepted just as we are. We will truly find ourselves behaving better after we have received his unconditional love, yet God's unconditional love is so foreign to this world. The world's system we have been brought up in (before becoming born again) is mostly conditional and in some cases has to be or else society wouldn't function properly. (traffic laws, etc.) The world's system is to compare one to another. (ref. 2 Cor. 10:12) We're okay as long as we are better than that other person, yet the law is an impossible standard. God said, "Be ye perfect as I am perfect." (ref. Mat. 5:48) Again, Jesus Christ is the only One to have been born on Earth as a man, (fully man and fully God) to have kept that standard. Again, He fulfilled the law (ref. Rom. 10:4) and through faith in Him, the righteous requirements of the law are fully met in us. (ref. Rom. 8:3-4, Col. 1:1)

As stated above, Father God said to Jesus, "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." Luke 3:22b KJV  The Apostle Paul writes in his epistle to the Ephesians, "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." Eph.1:6 KJV

Jesus is the beloved Son of God - in Whom God is well pleased, and we are accepted in the Beloved, and God is well pleased with us.

We find in scripture, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." Rom. 8:8-9a KJV

The only qualification here to be in the Spirit is to have the Spirit of God dwelling in you. If you are born again then you have the Spirit of God dwelling in you and God is pleased with you.

We also find in scripture, "giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." Col. 1:12 NIV

God qualified us through His Son Jesus.  We can agree with Joshua's good report that if the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into the land, and He is pleased with us. We can also agree with scripture which declares, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Rom. 8:2 KJV

Now God bless and go take the Promise Land!

Monday, January 6, 2020

God Closed up the Breaches (revised)

Almost every book or epistle written by the Apostle Paul has at some point, in its opening introduction, the statement, 'Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,' or perhaps it will say, 'Grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.' Although this may seem to be a casual greeting used by the Apostle Paul, it goes to the heart of humanity's deepest need. It appears that the first couple in the garden of Eden surrendered their peace and the only way it could be found again is by grace through faith. (ref. Eph. 2: 8-9) Covering their bodies with fig leaves was man's first attempt to cover or hide their nakedness and shame. (ref. Gen. 3:7)  God Himself made coats of skins for them instead; many believe this was God's way of initiating the first blood sacrifice as an acceptable way to approach Him. (ref. Gen. 3:21, Mat. 26:28, Heb.9:22 and Lev. 17:11) Future offerings by Adam and Eve's first two sons further attested to God having a chosen way for them to be accepted. (ref. Gen. 4:7) God's mercy and grace were extended to mankind immediately after the fall, as His plan of redemption was revealed.

God said, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Gen. 3:15, KJV) This spoke of the seed of the woman who would come and crush, or bruise, satan's head. This also spoke of the acquittal God would provide for humanity through the seed of the woman. (Christ)

The definition of the word acquittal is : ac-quit-tal  1 The act of setting free or the state of being set free by legal process.
2 The performance of a duty.
: a setting free from the charge of an offense by verdict, sentence, or other legal process.

The New Webster's Concise Dictionary and

About the time of the birth of one of Adam and Eve's grandsons, the Bible states that men began to call upon the name of the Lord. (ref. Gen. 4:26)

The flood of Noah's day left only eight people on the earth to begin anew. The word of God declares, "And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread." Gen. 9:18-19 KJV  The Bible further speaks of the generations born to the sons of Noah, "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations." Gen. 10:5 KJV

At this point, the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. (ref. Gen.11:1) The account of the people at this time reads as follows, "And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, 'Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly.' And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, 'Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.' And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, 'Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they began to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.' So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth." Gen. 11: 2-9 KJV

Under the Mosaic law, which would come forth many years later, God stated, "An altar of earth thou shalt make unto Me, and shall sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep and thine oxen: in all places where I record My name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make Me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon." Ex. 20:24-26 KJV  Such was the plight of unsaved man in the account of the tower of Babel. (ref. Ezekiel 16:22) In their pride, they thought they could build their way to heaven and also make a name for themselves. These self-made bricks represented man's effort to reach heaven. It was a polluted effort and their nakedness was exposed. God thought it best to confound their language and scatter them.

Pride says, 'I did it; I made it happen.' Pride assumes a name for oneself. Pride is really the opposite of faith. Our faith has a faith object and it's not us. The Gospel of Luke proclaims "He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts." Luke 1:51 KJV

Scripture tells us, "Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Rom. 4:3 KJV (Righteousness means right-standing with God) Righteousness also means "righteous" 1: acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin  2 a : morally right or justifiable // a righteous decision. 1 Morally right and just. 2 Virtuous; blameless: a righteous man. 3 Justifiable; defensible:

God said to Abram, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Gen. 12: 1-3 KJV Scripture says the law is not of faith, because the law is man's effort to be right with God. The law brought a curse, but faith brought a blessing. (ref. Gal. 3:9,13), (Note, the law is holy, just and good but it could not make us holy, just or good because of the weakness of our flesh.) (ref. Rom. 7:12, 8:3) Scripture states, "And the law is not of faith: but, THE MAN THAT DOETH THEM SHALL LIVE IN THEM. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Gen. 3: 12-14 KJV "So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." Gal. 3:9 Abraham found a way to be at peace with God, to be accepted by God (made righteous), to be a friend with God and to be blessed by God, and this was all by grace through faith. This is why we find God's words written by the Apostle Paul, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, Not of works, lest any man should boast."  Eph. 2:8-9 KJV

Paul's writings also verified this in the book of Romans, saying, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness," Rom. 1:16-18 NIV  Adam and Eve attempted to cover their shame and nakedness with fig leaves, but God revealed the way to be accepted.

The tabernacle in the wilderness, the tabernacle of Shiloh-(the tent), King David's tent, and the permanent-structure temples which were built by the Israelites, all foreshadowed our bodies as believers, which are now the temple of God, indwelled by the Holy Spirit. God said through Moses, "But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go." Deut. 12:5 NKJV "In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you." Ex. 20:24b NKJV The tabernacle in the wilderness and the permanent-structure temples built by hand, as well as King David's tent, which he erected and the tabernacle of Shiloh - (the tent)(ref.Ps.78:60) all housed the ark of the covenant at times. Here God would meet with the children of Israel from on the mercy seat between the two cherubim. (ref. Exodus 25:22) Moses was given explicit instructions on the building of the original tabernacle, the ark, the altar and all the other furnishings housed in the tabernacle when he received the Ten Commandments from God. (ref. Exodus 25:8) They (the tabernacles and temples) were all subject to breaches breaking out. (ref. 1 Chron. 15:13)

The definition of the word 'breach' goes as follows:

1: Infraction or violation of a law, obligation, tie or standard // a breach of trust // sued them for a breach of contract

2a: a broken, ruptured, or torn condition or area.

b: a gap (as in a wall) made by battering

3a: a break in accustomed, friendly relations

b: a temporary gap in continuity

The Israelites who came out of Egypt, led by Moses, agreed to an impossible standard, which their pride led them to believe they could keep, when they answered together and said, 'All that the Lord has spoken - we will do.' (ref. Exodus 19:7-8, 24:3) Shortly after this statement, God gave them the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. Pride is the opposite of faith and with time, many breaches in their agreement would break out.

One of their sources of mercy, or partial mercy, for the Israelite people was the mercy seat on top of the ark of the covenant. Once again, it was the shedding of animal blood which would make an atonement for them. (ref. Lev. 17:11) (This would foreshadow Christ's shed blood on the cross) But, as would sometimes happen throughout Israel's history, the ark could be stolen or left unattended. (ref. 1 Sam. 4:1-11, 7:2, 1 Chron. 13:3, and Ezek. 7:22) Failure to live up to the covenant made on Mt. Sinai meant a breach would break out. Much harm could and would come to the nation and people of Israel. Everything from a divided kingdom, to its going into banishment of exile in foreign nations. This was where their pride got them. God, in His mercy, would always bring a remnant back and is still today gathering the Jewish people back to Israel because He is honoring the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; (long before the covenant made at Mt. Sinai.)

As stated in Galatians, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. and this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God, in Christ, the law, which was 430 years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of non-effect." Gal. 3:16-17 KJV

It's recorded of Jesus upon the triumphal entry, found in Luke's gospel, "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, 'If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." Luke 19:41-44 KJV

We as believers now know the things which make for our peace, as stated in the following scriptures: "therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" Rom. 5:1 KJV (to be Justified means to be made or declared righteous) "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:" Rom. 3:21-22 KJV

"Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, BLESSED ARE THEY WHOSE INIQUITIES ARE FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS ARE COVERED, BLESSED IS THE MAN TO WHOM THE LORD WILL NOT IMPUTE SIN." Rom. 4:6-8 KJV  "for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5b KJV  "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Col. 3:15 KJV

We find in the book of Amos, "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:" Amos 9:11 KJV, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name, declares the Lord, who will do these things." Amos 9:12 NIV  This was repeated by James in the book of Acts as such, "After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things that have been known for ages." Acts 15:16-18 NIV  God has closed up the breaches of David's fallen tent.

Abraham himself was called out of a Gentile nation and found God faithful. We as believers, along with believing Abraham, now bear God's name. Shortly after King David placed the ark in the tent that he had erected, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord. The name of the Lord is more than just a moniker that we as Christians loosely use. Perhaps its deepest meaning can be found in the priestly blessing in the book of Numbers: "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them." Nu. 6:22-27 KJV  God said this is how they will put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.

With this blessing, His face would shine upon them. His face would be toward them. But, this blessing under the law was contingent on meeting certain stipulations. It was a conditional blessing. (ref. Deut.31:17-18, Ezek. 39:23-24, Isa. 59:2, 2 Chron. 30:9) As stated previously, in Exodus and Deuteronomy, "But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go." Deut. 12:5 NKJV  "In every place where I record my name, I will come to you, and I will bless you." Ex. 20:24b NKJV  The process and place of God's way to be accepted and blessed was a progression that started in Genesis and continued with the tabernacle in the wilderness, the tabernacle of Shiloh-(the tent), David's tent and the permanent-structure temples. All of these were the place of God's presence (Spirit), blessing and place of mercy, if they sought Him after the due order. (ref. 1 Chron. 15:13, Romans 1:5, Ps. 50:23)

Once again, we know that our bodies, as believers, are the temples of God. In the books of Ezekiel and Isaiah, the prophets speak of a coming time when God's face would be turned towards us continually.  "In a little wrath I hid MY face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." Isa. 54:8 KJV  "Neither will I hide My face any more from them: for I have poured out My Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God." Ezek. 39:29 KJV We are now in that dispensation of grace and God has poured out His Spirit on all flesh - as spoken of by the prophet Joel, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh:" Acts 2:17a  (ref. also Acts 2:17b and 15:8) In this time, as a believer, His face is continually towards us and all the promises of God in Him (Christ) are yes and in Him A-men unto the glory of God by us. (ref. 2 Corinthians 1:20)

Once again, we as believers are the temple of God and we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Jesus has made peace for us through the blood of His cross. (ref. Colossians 1:20) We bear His name and we are that place that is BLESSED! (ref. Ex. 20:24b, Deut. 12:5, Acts 15:17)

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ:"  Eph. 1:3 KJV

As stated earlier, the acquittal provided through the seed of the woman (Christ), although a work of grace, satisfied a legal process.

Once again, the definition of the word acquittal is : ac-quit-tal
1The act of setting free or the state of being set free by legal process.
2 The performance of a duty : a setting free from the charge of an offence by verdict, sentence or other legal process.
The New Webster's Concise Dictionary 2003 Edition and Merriam -

Christ's death and resurrection as a man and as the Son of God, (fully man and fully God) (ref. Rom.5:15, Matthew 1:23) meant Jesus fulfilled the law. (ref. Matthew 5:17-18, Rom. 10:4) And we are found righteous through faith provided by His act of grace. He performed the work of the cross and our work is to believe it. (ref. John 6:29, Rom. 4:5) As believers (born-again) the righteousness demanded by the law is now fulfilled in us. (ref. Rom. 8:4) And now as Christians what was written of Abraham can be written of us "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he (Christ) had promised, he was able to perform." Rom. 4:20-21 KJV   He has performed it!

"The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts." Haggai 2:9  If you're in Christ - then you're in that place!

"Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Col.1:2b

Friday, May 31, 2019

Repentance - No Gamble

 (Note: This post pertains to believers) 

   Due to the significance of and the confusion in the church surrounding the word "repentance," I chose to include this chapter to help clarify some of the misunderstandings surrounding this topic.

I believe Jesus Himself offered one of the best definitions of the word "repentance" when He stated in Matthew 12:41 that the men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah. I grew up in a denomination that loosely taught that the prophet Jonah went in and told the people of Ninevah to repent. In this famous Bible story, a big fish swallows Jonah and later deposits him alive on the shore. Perhaps, as a young person, you heard the story explained this way, too. When Jesus said the men of Ninevah repented at the preaching of Jonah, we must ask ourselves, what exactly did the prophet Jonah preach to them and how did the people of Ninevah respond?

This story is revealed in the book of Jonah, found in the Old Testament. It's a short book, only four chapters in length, yet it has much to say concerning many topics. The book of Jonah describes the city of Ninevah as having more than one hundred and twenty thousand people who could not tell their right hand from their left (see Jonah 4:11). God had told the prophet Jonah to "go to the great city of Ninevah and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." (Jonah 1:2 NIV)  The reluctancy of the prophet Jonah to heed God's request to go to the people of Ninevah is a fascinating study, but I wish to focus on what took place when he (Jonah) finally did obey God's request and how the people of Ninevah responded.

The Bible tells us, "Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, 'Go to the great city of Ninevah and proclaim to it the message I give you.'" (Jonah 3:1-2 NIV)  The city of Ninevah was of such a size that it required three days for the prophet Jonah to traverse it. As he did, the message of God Jonah proclaimed to the people of Ninevah was simply this, "Forty more days and Ninevah will be overturned." (Jonah 3:4b NIV) When Jesus said that the men of Ninevah repented at the preaching of Jonah, this is what the people heard; "Forty more days and Ninevah will be overturned."  We are then told in the verse that follows, "The Ninevites believed God."  (Jonah 3:5a NIV) 

Trusting God to be Merciful

What this scripture is saying is that the people of Ninevah believed that what the prophet Jonah was speaking to them were, in fact, God's words. This belief on the part of the king of Ninevah moved the king to decree a time of fasting and a time of calling out to God for all of Ninevah's people. What was spoken by the king of Ninevah in the entirety of this decree reveals his uncertainty of God's character. The king went on to say, "Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from His fierce anger so that we will not perish." (Jonah 3:8b-9 NIV) 

The king, in doing and saying this, took a chance on God's mercy. Perhaps some fled the city. The word of God does not tell us if this was so, but the king could have chosen to flee if he had wanted to. In the king's uncertainty, he took a gamble on God's character, which ultimately revealed a merciful God. Repenting, for the king and the people of Ninevah, did not mean coming to God and confessing all their evil behavior, but relying on God's merciful character and nature. Relying on God, or looking to the faithfulness of God's character, is putting your hope and trust in God and believing in His inherent goodness. (see Heb. 3:12, Rom. 2:4) 

The prophet Jonah was an Old Testament prophet, which meant he was under the Old Covenant law; yet God's nature never changes. The difference for us now is that we are under the New Covenant, and the work of the cross has delivered us from the law and the penalty of breaking the law. God's mercy is extended toward all who rely on Him. This is the certainty we have in Christ. 

It's interesting to note that even God repented in the story of Jonah (remember, repentance means to change the direction of your thinking). Scripture tells us, "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He has threatened." (Jonah 3:10 NIV) God had relented as the king of Ninevah had hoped. He (God) changed the direction of His thinking, yet the whole time God was without sin. 

So it is for us who are born-again. We are the righteousness of God and God is no longer holding our sin against us. We've received an imputed righteousness or a right-standing with God that is apart from the works of the law or our own merit and human effort. As born-again saints, we are no longer under the condemnation of the law, and if we fail, we are free from the punishment of the law that the Old Testament Hebrews were under. Our consciences remain clean. This is the glorious liberty we have been delivered into. 

Hebrews 3:12 (KJV) says, "Take heed. brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." 

Romans 2:4 (NKJV) says, "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" 

*This is an excerpt from my book, Gates: Thanksgiving Papers, chapter 4. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Excuse Me? Christian, What Are You Thinking?

The standard of the law is perfection (by your own merit or human effort) if you want to try and keep it apart from faith in Christ. Just look at the Ten Commandments and realize the only man or person who ever walked the earth and kept them all is Jesus. Jesus is fully man and fully God. So, all humanity would need a Savior. That's why in Galatians, it states, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Gal. 4:4-6 KJV)

You might be saying, that's all fine, but I'm not an Old Testament Hebrew or Israelite, born under the law. Well, think about this, you have standards you live by and place on others and others place on you, that if not met, judgment comes. That's all a law system can do is judge and condemn. Now we do need societal laws and order (structure) in our households, etc. or society wouldn't function properly. But make no mistake about it, the world operates in large part under a law system which is conditional-opposite of the unconditional love of God.

Scripture tells us that through the law we become conscious of sin (see Rom. 3:20). The word "con-science" means: con [with]-science [knowledge], so people living under the law are knowledgeable about their sin. It could be said they're sin-conscious and along with that comes the fear of punishment. (See Hebrews 2:15, Rom. 4:15) This mentality affected the Hebrew people and it affects people today, if they allow themselves to be put under the law.

The Apostle Paul writes in his epistle to the Romans, "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another; In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Rom. 2:14-16 KJV)

When the Apostle John said in his epistle, "there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love," (1 John 4:18 NIV)  The fear that he is referring to is the penalty of wrath one fears from being under the law, but now (as born-again believers) we have been released from the law. (See Rom. 4:14-15, 7:4-6)  The devil has been stripped of his power. His power has been broken because he used the law to condemn us. He took advantage, and still tries to use the opportunity afforded him by the weakness of our flesh, to accuse us every time we fail, but we have been released from the law and the condemnation we suffered while under the law, for scripture refers to the Old Covenant law as the ministration [or ministry] of death, written and engraven on stones. Further on, it is referred to as the ministration of condemnation. (ref. 2 Cor. 3:6-12)

Scripture tells us satan is referred to as the 'accuser of the brethren'. (ref. Rev. 12:10) The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to Colosse how satan was disarmed by the work of the cross "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it." (Col. 2:14-15 KJV) This work of Jesus on the cross is where He fulfilled the law as God and Man and through faith in His finished work it is fulfilled in us as well. (ref. Rom.8:4 and 10:4)

The law does serve a purpose, and that is to reveal mankind's guilt and depravity and point them to the Savior as the Apostle Paul writes in his epistle to the Galatians "But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." (ref.Gal.3:22-25)

Through faith in Jesus Christ we are found worthy and not guilty. There is no condemnation for the believer; this is not so for those who are not born again. (ref. Rom.8:1, 2:1-5; John 3:16-18, John 5:24)

Once again as stated in Paul's epistle to the Romans, "Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." (Rom.2:15-16 KJV)

In John's gospel Jesus states "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust." (John 5;45 KJV) Jesus represents and is grace and truth, but Moses represents the law.

Once again, Jesus says don't even think it!  (ref. John 5:45)