Teach Me

Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. … Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments … Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me Your judgments. (Psalm 119:12,26,33,64,66,68,108,124,135,171)

Teach Me

The giving of knowledge and the acceptance of that knowledge have always measured the relationship between God and man. Adam and Eve were given all they needed to know concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil, yet they chose to ignore the command. God spoke to ancient men to know His word, and the world turned away. Noah was told to build an ark. He obeyed. Abraham left his homeland at the word of the Lord. Moses wrote the Law for the people to read and understand the statutes and divine judgments. Christ came as the living word dwelling among men, showing God’s power. The world killed Him. In the first century, disciples learned the divine will of Christ, writing letters to one another, which became the divine canon. God has never left men without His will. The challenge has been whether the human heart is willing to learn from the holy word.

Psalm 119 is a powerful testimony to the word of God. The writer extols the virtue of knowledge that comes from the Lord. God’s word is likened to a path to walk, seeking the ways of the Lord. There is no lacking for the word of the Lord but what is lacking is the heart desiring to learn more about the will of God. Ten times in Psalm 119, the writer seeks the wisdom of God to teach him the holy statutes, what is good judgment and knowledge, and to understand the divine judgments. There was a deep longing to know God, learn of His will, seek His paths, and be taught by the mercy and grace of a benevolent Father.

“Teach me” is a plea to ask God’s blessings upon the individual. The statutes or laws of God must be learned. There is also an expectation of obedience. Learning the statutes of God comes from a heart wanting to please the Father. In keeping the statutes of God, the writer promises to keep God’s word to the end. There is much in the world to seek, but there is only one prized glory that is eternal: the statutes of God. Knowing the law of God requires having good judgment. The word of God must be understood to apply knowledge and believe in the commandments of the holy word.

God is good, and He does good. Seeking the Lord desires to find that goodness and make it a part of life. Being taught the word of God finds its full expression in worship when free will offerings are given for God’s glory. Forgiveness comes from the Lord upon those taught by God’s word. The greatest joy a man can experience is when the face of the Lord shines upon him, and he knows the will of the Father. As a result of this learning, the lips will sing praise to God for such knowledge.

There are many things to ask of God. The greatest joy comes when the prayerful heart asks God to teach them to know His statutes, judgments, and knowledge. Bible study is vital to that growth, but it can only come from hearts that desire divine guidance. The Christian is a disciple of Jesus, seeking to know more and more each day. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Pray God – teach me.

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There Will Always Be

For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. (Mark 14:7)

There Will Always Be

The world has existed for thousands of years, and one thing has remained a constant from the day Adam and Eve walked out of the garden. Generations change, nations rise and fall, and technology advances, but there will always be parts of life that remain unchanged. Jesus said the poor will always be a part of the fabric of life. There are movements in every aspect of history where men seek to end poverty, but it always is found in the world in one form or another. Henry IV of France promised his citizens a chicken in their pots every Sunday. In 1928, the Republican party seeking to elect Herbert Hoover to office promised a chicken in every pot and a car in every backyard. About ten percent of the world lives in poverty.

There will always be wars and rumors of wars. World War I was supposed to be the war that ended all wars, but twenty-one years after the first world war, a second and much larger world war gripped the world for six years. And wars continued in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. There will always be despots who have no conscience of killing others and taking their lands, and there is nothing the United Nations can do to stop wars. In communities around the globe, crime is an individual war against neighbors. There are many programs seeking to mitigate criminal behavior, but there will always be drugs, prostitution, pornography, rape, murder, abuse, and child neglect; to name a few. Law enforcement agencies will continue to monitor and seek to control the flow of crime, and courts will fill with defendants charged with crimes. It will never end.

Sickness grips the world. Advances in medical science have changed the course of many diseases, but there will always be illness and death. Some illnesses can be treated and almost eradicated. The common cold still seeks a cure. Many forms of cancer are treatable, but cancer still kills thousands. The disorders of the body bring about dementia, coronary disease, blindness, COVID, diabetes, and a host of medical conditions, but sickness will always be a part of life. The common denominator that every person on earth shares in common is the reality of death. There is nothing man can do to stop death. He can lengthen life by a short span, but he will never be able to prevent death. Cemeteries are vacant appointments waiting to be filled.

There will never be peace on earth, but it is possible to have peace on earth. The world is unchanged from the day sin entered the world. God created a world of perfect harmony without sickness, war, hatred, immorality, and death. Sin changed that. The cause of the problems of humanity comes from the consequence of sin. Death comes to all men because the tree of life given in the garden of Eden was taken away. Sin corrupted the hearts of men to kill one another. The first man born in the world killed his brother. In the days of Noah, the world was so evil God killed all life except eight souls and a barge full of animals. The flood did not stop sin or alleviate the problems of men. History continued to tell stories of famine, wars, and murder.

Jesus Christ did not come into the world to take away poverty, sickness, and wars. He came into the world to take away the pain of sin and bring peace to a troubled world. Men still die, but now they die with hope. Wars still scorch the landscape, and in Christ, joy is found in the promises of the King of Kings. Sickness remains a constant in life. Through prayer and the joy of salvation, death is faced with courage, faith, and hope. Only in Jesus Christ can the trials of life be recognized for what they are, and the heavenly wisdom directs the soul of man to live in the hope of eternal life. There will always be, but one day there will come a time when all those unchangeable parts of life will go away. Jesus Christ will come to take His saints home as the world comes to an end. There will be no more wars. The plague of sickness will end. Joy will fill the hearts of the redeemed. And there we will always be with the Lord.

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When Sunday Becomes An Option

Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. (Acts 20:7)

When Sunday Becomes An Option

The early disciples did not have two thousand years of history to understand the pattern of the church. They were blessed to live at the same time as Jesus Christ, with many of the saints eyewitnesses to the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of God’s Son. When the church began at Pentecost, what did the saints do? Luke writes that the first Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer. There was no question in the minds of the first disciples about what they must do and when they must do it. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church began to meet on the first day of the week to worship in accordance with God’s divine plan. Throughout the acts of the apostles, the pattern of the New Testament church revealed itself in a specific pattern and design. The focal point of the worship was the first day of the week.

Troas, a city located on the coast of Mysia, was a regular port of call on coasting voyages between Macedonia and Asia. Paul visited the city often and, on his third mission work, arrived in the city to meet with the brethren on the first day of the week. The disciples gathered to break bread and to hear a sermon by Paul. This was a regular pattern for the saints at Troas, as it was with all the saints who met in churches throughout the world.

One of the early characteristics of the disciples of Christ was the frequency of gathering on the first day of the week. This was not culture or tradition but a command of God. When Jesus instituted the supper, He gave the early church a memorial commemorating the day He would rise from the dead. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Under the Law of Moses, the seventh day of the week was a holy day God gave as a day of remembrance. The Law was taken away (including the Sabbath) and the Lord’s Day became the first day of the week. In the modern era, the first day of the week is Sunday. This is the day God ordained as a day of remembrance and memorial to the sacrifice of His Son.

There are numerous references to the early saints meeting on the first day of the week. The first Christians were Jews, but they learned the new covenant was now the first day rather than the seventh day. There does not seem to be any confusion or dissension about the day that now must be celebrated. Later, the writer of Hebrews would exhort those saints not to forsake the assembly with reference to the first day of the week. When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he upbraided their abuse of the Lord’s Supper in how they abused the memorial. He reminded them that when they came together, it was for the wrong reasons, and they needed to see the warning from God to ignore the memorial feast of Jesus Christ. There were penalties attached to taking the supper in an unworthy manner; consider the penalty for not being present to take the supper.

The church has celebrated the Lord’s Supper for two thousand years and will continue to do so every first day of the week until the Lord returns. Authority establishes the purpose of the supper and the frequency. To deny the Lord’s Supper is to deny the will of God. The church has constantly been challenged by the unfaithful who deny the relevance and importance of the first day of the week. Some in the body of Christ feel satisfied to miss the services of God’s people on the first day of the week for many reasons. Almost any excuse will keep people at home. Monday morning, they will be at work with headaches and body aches but not so on the Lord’s day.

Faith is marginalized when the first day of the week becomes an option. How can a child of God view Sunday as an option? There were no options given under the Law of Moses for the Sabbath. On one occasion, a man was stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. How much worse punishment for those who ignore the first day of the week with excuses, complaints, and blatant disregard? COVID did not change the mind of God to allow His children to “worship” at home as an act of convenience. Jesus died a horrible death. Is the least we can do found on the first day of the week?

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The Holy Spirit And The Christian

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:37-39)

The Holy Spirit And The Christian

When God gave the world His Son, He also gave the world a gift that would last until the end of time. It was not a one-time gift or an obscure offering. There are many questions about the mechanics of the gift in how it manifests itself, but one thing is certain from scripture: the gift of the Holy Spirit is a blessing given to the people of God. The Holy Spirit and the Christian generate more questions left unanswered than most subjects of holy writ. There are many false views about the relationship, but sometimes in defense of the truth, the blessing of the gift of God is cast out as the baby with the bathwater. One extreme view of the Christian and interaction with the Spirit has deluded the reality of the truth of a deep and abiding (personal) connection with the Holy Spirit. An examination of the scriptures will not support some mystic better felt than told experience. All of the first century Christians experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit. For all those who make a covenant with God, the gift of the Holy Spirit is a promise.

The relationship of the Spirit with the Christian is harmonious with the teachings of scripture. As a part of the revelation of the gospel, the Spirit completes the work of God in the heart of His children. Sometimes terminologies confuse the issue when the heart is prejudiced towards a false doctrine. Saying there is such a thing as the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” does not, by definition, teach false doctrine. The word of God is abundant in statements of the indwelling. Because false doctrines mistakenly use the terms to define an experience outside the authority of the word as the indwelling, many shrink away from using terms defined by the Spirit.

On the day of Pentecost, the twelve apostles preached the gospel of a resurrected Jesus to an audience of devout Jews. The Holy Spirit was not a new doctrine to the Jews, and they would have been quite familiar with the Spirit. David expressed a strong desire for God not to take away the Spirit from him when he pled his repentance for the sin with Bathsheba. The Holy Spirit was not absent in the Old Testament. He was active in the lives of God’s people. When the Jews responded to the preaching of Peter and the eleven, they begged Peter to tell them what they must do. The apostle told them to repent and be baptized. Obedience would wash away their sins, and by the grace of God, they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Emphasis is always given to repentance and baptism (and rightfully so), but when three thousand Jews repented and accepted baptism to wash away their sins, did they ignore the part of Peter’s reply about receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit? If the Holy Spirit was such a new doctrine to these devout Jews, why would they accept the statement of Peter without confirmation? In whatever form they knew the Holy Spirit, they also accepted the gift of God to receive the Holy Spirit as part of their salvation.

Peter promised that all who repented and were baptized for the remission of sins would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Three thousand people received the gift of the Holy Spirit. They did not begin to roll around on the floor or speak in an unknown language or gibberish. Hearing the word of the gospel, their hearts were pricked with guilt, and they sought salvation. In their obedience, God washed away their sins, and the Holy Spirit began to dwell within their hearts through faith. The gift of the Holy Spirit was not dependent on the words of the New Testament – it had not been written yet. What the three thousand received on that day was a gift of God to dwell in a spiritual union with the Father. The Spirit is not the same as the word. The first Christians received something apart from the word of the New Testament. God gives the Holy Spirit to all who obey Him.

The apostle Paul would write extensively about the Holy Spirit. In writing to the Roman Christians, Paul established a clear thesis of the relationship between the Christian and the Holy Spirit as an indwelling. Living according to the Spirit is a personal experience shared between the child of God and the Spirit. As the Spirit stands before the Father, He testifies to the individual’s covenant as a child of God. The Holy Spirit is a helper seeking to increase the faith and help the Christian overcome weaknesses. There is a relationship between the Christian and Spirit the world can never understand. The influence of the Spirit is measured by the same influence as the Father and Son. God could make a man do something without his control, but He does not. Jesus can influence a man to speak in tongues, but He does not. If the Father and the Son will not overpower a man in some charismatic and powerful way, why would anyone expect the Holy Spirit to do what God and Jesus will not do? He dwells in the Christian, but the will of the man measures the work of the Spirit in his life.

Christians are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Established by Jesus Christ, anointed by God, and sealed by the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee is the greatest gift of salvation. This all comes about by hearing the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and having believed, are sealed with the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit is an earnest pledge of the promise of God. As the song repeats, “A foretaste of what is to come.” The Holy Spirit helps with the infirmities of the Christian, giving life to the body in the resurrection, and filling the heart with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If you live in the Spirit – walk in the Spirit.

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The Hireling Christian

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. (John 10:11-13)

The Hireling Christian

Sheep require constant care under the watchful eye of a shepherd who depends on his flock for many of life’s needs. Keeping sheep was not a hobby for those in Biblical times but a daily need of caring, tending, protecting, and leading to green pastures and still water. The life of a shepherd was hard. Constant threats of bears and lions keep the shepherd on guard. Every sheep was important to the family’s income, and if one sheep was lost, it was a tragedy. A good shepherd would do everything in his power to protect his flock. King David kept his father’s sheep when he was a boy. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, David would go after it and strike it on the head to deliver it. If the bear rose up against David, he would grab it by its beard, strike, and kill it. There was no fear of the young shepherd boy to give his life for his father’s flock.

On occasion, a family would hire a man to keep the sheep. He was called a hireling, which means he was hired to watch over the sheep. His job was to be employed for a limited time and receive a payment at the end of the watch. He had little concern for the sheep as his job was a paid observation of a flock that was not his own. The only thing he considered necessary was what he got out of the employment. If a wolf came up against the flock, he would not give his life for something he had no commitment or reward for and would flee. The wolf would take whatever he wanted, and the flock would be scattered. Hirelings are not devoted to the work. Unlike the shepherd, who is committed to the protection and care of the flock, the hireling is just a temporary part of the work with little or no interest in the outcome.

Jesus explained to the Pharisees that He was a good shepherd willing to give His life for the flock. The purpose of the Son of God coming to earth was to give His life as a ransom for all. Jesus was willing to die for the flock. He died on the cross for every man because He was the good shepherd who gave His life without compulsion. No one forced Jesus to die. He gave His life of His own accord. Unlike David, who took the bear by the beard and killed him, Jesus took the beard of Satan and died. But God had a greater plan to raise His Son from the dead to destroy the works of the devil and accomplish salvation for all those who would come to Him. Jesus gave a full sacrifice as the good shepherd.

The Christian is a disciple or follower of Jesus. Like the good shepherd, the child of God is to be committed fully to the work of the Lord. This requires a heart willing to give time, energy, and devotion to the work of the Lord. God desires to have shepherd Christians dedicated to the kingdom’s work without reservation. Hireling Christians are half-hearted in their desire to grow, encourage, share the gospel, and become better kingdom citizens. There is a sense of doing as little as required and less if expected. Hireling Christians never reach the point of dedication to Christ. Their hearts are just not in it. They attend sporadically, if much at all. The Bible is never opened, and prayer is never a part of life. Life for the hireling Christian is doing as little as possible.

Jesus was the good shepherd leaving an example for the Christian to become a shepherd Christian. When the ewe lamb is born, he must learn to trust in the good shepherd’s voice. As he grows in Christ, the lamb becomes a shepherd in the kingdom of God, looking out for others and doing the will of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Hirelings are not committed and run at the first sign of danger. Shepherd Christians are willing to lay down their lives for the work of the kingdom.

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Blessings Come From How Many Vessels You Have

A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.” So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” (2 Kings 4:1-4)

Blessings Come From How Many Vessels You Have

The northern kingdom of Israel never had a righteous king. From Jeroboam to the final king, Hoshea, the land of Israel was filled with evil, ungodliness, immorality, human sacrifice, and all the trappings of idolatry. God sent His prophets to warn the people of His wrath if they did not repent. Two of the great prophets of the northern kingdom were Elijah and Elisha. During great times of world conflict, the Lord would send His messengers with the power of the Holy Spirit to work miracles and signs among the people showing His judgment on sin. Elisha was a prophet sent by God to show the people the way of truth.

There was a widow in the land who, like many of the day, suffered under the hand of God’s judgment on the wicked nation. The widow was left destitute when her husband died with two sons to raise. Evil men did not pity the widow, declaring her sons would become enslaved to pay the debt she owed. Pleading to Elisha for help, she asked for blessings on the sons of her husband, a prophet. All the widow had to sustain her was a jar of oil. Elisha could have made money appear, or he could have persuaded the creditors to leave her family alone. There were many things the prophet could have done to alleviate the woman’s plight. He tells her to gather as many vessels as possible from friends and neighbors. Elisha exhorts her to gather many vessels and not just a few. The widow follows the prophet’s instructions with little idea of how that would help her cause.

Elisha instructs the widow to gather all the vessels in the room and shut the door. She is to take the one jar of oil and begin pouring it into all the empty vessels until they are full and set them aside. Pouring the oil into the vessels, she fills all the containers until there are no more jars to fill, and the oil ceases. The widow takes some of the oil, pays her creditors, and uses the remaining oil to live on. Elisha instructed the widow to gather as many vessels as she could. The amount of her blessings was dependent on how many vessels she could secure. If she had gathered a few, her blessings would have been few. Collecting as much as she could, her blessings abounded.

The story of the widow’s oil is a story about the blessings of God. All men are impoverished and subject to the slavery of sin. Jesus came to give the abundant life, but the blessings can only be measured by how much a man is willing to seek the blessings of God. Too often, only a few vessels are gathered or none at all. So many blessings are waiting for the child of God that go unused and unasked for. The storehouse of God’s blessings is endless, and all a man has to do is to gather all the vessels of his life he can find and ask God to fill them. And the Lord will fill them. Seeking the blessings of God is where the joy of the Christian life is.

God is willing and able to fill the vessels of life with the abundance of heavenly oil. He could give His blessings without any effort on our part, but we have to gather those vessels. Proportionate to our seeking vessels to fill is where our blessings come. If we gather little, we are blessed little. When we gather much, we are blessed much. Examine how often you seek the empty vessels of life for God to fill. Those vessels represent our faith, our marriages, our families, our jobs, and the work of sharing the gospel with others. Jesus said those who seek, find, and those who ask, receive. How many vessels do you have?

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I Love Money

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

I Love Money

The need for currency has always moved the world in commerce and economic growth. There have been many versions of how the exchange was represented, whether by barter, coins, oil, paper, or land, but the outcome was the same. Transactions between parties were sealed in one form or another. The token used as money served as a legal tender that an item had exchanged hands. Early man worked in metallurgy which, from the beginning of time, established the use of coins as money. The Chinese introduced paper as a means of money. Modern technologies introduced electronic versions of currency in different forms. The mechanism of currency has changed since the beginning of time, but one thing has remained a constant: covetousness and greed.

Man is the only creature that will kill another over a coin or piece of paper. A bear will walk along a river seeking food and stumble across vast amounts of gold but will pay no heed or concern to the glittering mineral shining in the water. He only wants to find his next meal. A man will walk the same river and discover gold, and his life will change. The heart fills with a strong desire to find more and more, consuming the man with a feverous passion. He will guard his stake with all of his life. How many men have been killed over the possession of money? Lotteries are heralded as opportunities to have instant wealth in the millions of dollars, reaching as high as $1.586 billion. Money is not the evil no more than gold in a river. The love man places on currency is where sin and degradation begin.

Paul warns the people of God to refrain from the desire and love of money. The Holy Spirit never condemns wealth. Many of God’s greatest servants were very wealthy. Abraham, Job, Solomon, Matthew, and probably Paul himself before he became a Christian. Money is a necessary part of life that allows a man to work and provide for his family. In the early church, the disciples helped one another in need. Collections were taken up weekly to help support the work of the church. The desire to be rich comes from a heart filled with covetousness. God wants His people to be content with what they have. Desiring to have wealth can destroy a soul. Loving money takes away the heart of love devoted to God. Because of the love of material things, children of God have abandoned their faith and worshiped the dollar more than the Lord.

Loving money is misusing the blessings given by God. Currency is a form of exchange to provide for a family and to help others. The Christian works to provide for his own and seek opportunities to share what he has with those in need. Jesus told the story of a rich man that was blessed beyond measure seeking to store his crops in new barns. The failure of the man’s heart was his unwillingness to share with others. God called him a fool. Anyone seeking money is a fool because money has no value to a dead man. The wealthiest man in the world will die and take nothing with him. Sadly, many Christians waste their lives seeking after the wealth of the world rather than the riches of eternal life. Loving money invites disaster. Allowing the love of money to consume the heart will lead to all things unholy. Love God. Use His blessings to glorify Him.

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The Holy Spirit In Conversion

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-3)

The Holy Spirit In Conversion

When God created Adam and Eve, He instilled in them the quality of moral choice to make judgments and decisions. Created in the image of the Divine, Adam and Eve were not like animals with no eternal nature and could not make moral choices. God placed the man and woman in the garden with instructions to care for the garden and eat any fruit found in abundance. The only exception was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden for them to eat. It was in the midst of the garden, placed next to the tree of life. Adam and Eve understood the Lord’s word to eat all of the fruit of the garden (including the tree of life) but not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Satan knew he must find a way to win over the creation of God. He began with the woman convincing her the limitations of God were unfair and that she had the moral choice to do as she desired. When Eve looked at the fruit that was something to make her wise, good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, she took of the fruit. Adam also took the fruit as a free moral agent to choose what he could and could not do. Immediately, the eyes of both of them were open, and they knew they were naked. Their choice had opened the doors of sin to enter the world. Satan never touched Adam and Eve. He did not force them to make a choice. All that Satan did was whisper in the ear of Eve the lie, causing the woman’s moral compass to focus on her wants and needs. Adam followed suit.

When God told Noah the world would be destroyed with a great flood and all of humanity would be destroyed except his family, the Lord was reacting to the moral corruption of the heart of men. After Adam and Eve were cast from the garden, men continued to have the ability of moral choice. Because of the overpowering influence of sin, the heart of mankind grew so wicked they could only imagine evil and wickedness. God did not destroy the world because men were without excuse. The righteousness of the Creator killed everyone save the eight in the ark because the world had chosen to rebel against the word of the Lord. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord through faith measured by the mercy of God. The salvation of Noah was his faith, moving him with godly fear to obey the word of the Lord. God did not force the people to sin nor force Noah to be saved.

Conversion is to change a thing or person into something else. Corn can be turned into many wonderful foods. A tree is cut down and becomes paper through an extensive process. Converting the corn and the tree is a process of change for something of greater value. From the beginning, men have converted their lives into the image of the Father. In a Biblical sense, conversion is when a man uses his moral compass to make a moral decision to accept the word of the Lord. Noah was converted to the truth of God sometime in his life. Living in such a wicked world highlights the incredible nature of Noah’s conversion and would be true of his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law. Conversion is found in the faithful Israelites who believed in God’s word and obeyed God’s commands. David was a believer in the power of God, and at one point in his life, he changed his heart to be fully devoted to God.

In the New Testament, conversion is characterized by those who hear the gospel of Christ, believe it, and obey the message of grace. The Holy Spirit is a vital part of that conversion, as He was with Noah, David, and all those in the Old Testament. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born of the Spirit and the water showing the relationship of the Holy Spirit to conversion. There is nothing miraculous about conversion. God never forces someone to obey him or reject Him. The Holy Spirit is the agency in which the word of God works in the heart of the lost to show them the light of Jesus Christ. False doctrines assume the Holy Spirit forces His will on men – that is impossible because God will never allow such. Man is a free moral agent responsible for his decisions – good or bad.

Ferrell Jenkins points out that conversion is experienced in the new birth when one is washed in regeneration, made alive in Christ, and obedient to the word of God (faith). There must be purification of the heart by faith, a change of life by repentance, and a change of state or relationship by baptism. All of these are accomplished through the individual’s moral choice to accept the word of God. The Holy Spirit works as the means through which the grace of God is made possible for those facing God’s wrath to be saved. Jenkins illustrates: a man is drowning. A man on shore throws a rope to save the man. The drowning man grabs the rope and is pulled to shore. What saved him? The man casting the rope? The rope itself? The man taking hold of the rope? All had a part! The Holy Spirit convicts and converts, but He acts through the agency or instrumentality of divine truth. There is no difference in how God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son work in the conversion of the lost.

Conversion is a choice made by a man through the agency of the working of the Holy Spirit. If a man does not obey the gospel, the Holy Spirit cannot be blamed. When a man does accept the teaching of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit helps to guide and instruct when the will of the man humbles itself to the will of the Father. Peter told those gathered on Pentecost to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. He also told them they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is not a miraculous gift or manifestation. It is the blessing of God through the Holy Spirit that a man becomes a child of God, cleansed and purified to walk with the Father. Thank you, Holy Spirit.

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Sacrifice Is Worship

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:1-5)

Sacrifice Is Worship

The testing of Abraham highlighted the confidence God had in His servant and the trust and faith Abraham had in his Lord. When men are tested, they face overwhelming odds in many ways. The testing of physical strength requires men of robust character to win the prize. Testing one for knowledge can task the mind beyond comprehension. The spiritual challenge from the devil is a constant source of affliction. Little in life does not present itself as a test of the will of the human spirit.

Abraham had incredible faith. At the age of seventy-five, he obeyed God when he was told to leave his family and go to a place that God would show him. He obeyed, not knowing where he was going. The Lord promised Abraham a son. In the days of Abraham, men of seventy-five and above would not be considered candidates for fathering a child. God told Abraham he would have a son by his wife, Sarah, who was ten years younger. The fulfillment of that promise came when Abraham was one hundred years of age. Sarah gave birth to a healthy baby boy when she was ninety. Only by the power of God could the joy of birth be shared by two people beyond the age of childbearing. Abraham did not waver. He believed in the promise of God.

It is uncertain how old Isaac was when the Lord came to Abraham and gave him the greatest test of his life. Isaac was not an infant, and while the age is not given, Abraham calls him a lad. God told Abraham to go to the land of Moriah and offer his only begotten son as a burnt offering to the Lord. Early the following day, Abraham takes Isaac and two servants and begins the journey to Moriah. It takes three days to complete the trip. Abraham knew for three days what he would do with his beloved son. There would be a natural affinity for a man to cherish a son that was a miracle birth. As Abraham watched Isaac grow from infancy to adolescence, his heart filled with love and joy. There was a special bond between the aged parents of the young child. But God demanded a burnt offering, and that sacrifice was the son of Abraham.

The man of God thought of what needed to be done to sacrifice Isaac. The two of them would ascend the mountain told them by God. They would carry the wood and the fire to prepare the offering. Using rocks and sticks from the mountain, Abraham and Isaac would build an altar to the Lord. Abraham knew Isaac would ask what the purpose of the journey was and, when it came time to sacrifice, where they would get the offering. God told Abraham to offer Isaac, and Abraham fully planned to bind his son, put him on the altar, and kill him. After killing his son, Abraham would set the wood on fire and watch the flames consume his only begotten son. While his heart grieved at the sight of his dead son burning, he would not waver in his obedience.

When Abraham ascended the mountain, he told his servants he and Isaac were going to worship the Lord, and they would return. Abraham knew what was going to happen. He would kill his son, offer him as a burnt offering, and the Lord would raise his son from the dead. Then, he and Isaac would come down from the mountain and return home. In the mind of Abraham, that was worship. Worship was not a casual experience of a bored mind going through rituals long held by traditional culture. Abraham was obedient to the word of the Lord in his willingness to kill his son, believing in the power of God to raise him from the dead. The Lord did not permit Abraham to kill Isaac and offered another sacrifice. Worship is God giving His only begotten Son to die so that you and I would not suffer. Our worship is the faith of Abraham. We believe we will ascend the mountain and give everything to the Lord we love and serve with all our hearts. Until that heart is created in the mind of the child of God, worship is empty. Worship is obedience, and obedience manifests our worship of the Lord God Almighty.

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He Was Famous

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:23-25)

He Was Famous

The beginning of the ministry of Jesus was remarkable. His preaching was filled with authority, grace, love, sternness, and wisdom. Multitudes in the thousands flocked to Him on the mountain, by the sea, and in many homes. The people had not heard the preaching the man from Nazareth brought to their synagogues. His style was appealing. The Jewish leaders were astonished a man of low upbringing was so wise. Great multitudes followed Jesus from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. Everyone wanted to hear what the man from Nazareth said.

Not only did Jesus teach the gospel of the kingdom in the synagogues, but He also healed all kinds of sickness and disease among the people. Blind men received their sight. Women with life-threatening infirmities found immediate relief. Young children crippled by disease were made whole again. Lepers were released from the bondage of a crippling illness. There was nothing Jesus of Nazareth could not heal as the multitudes crowded around Him for healing. Dead were raised. All who came to Jesus found relief through His healing hand. During the ministry of Jesus, men and women suffered the cruel hand of demon possession. Jesus cast out the demons. Epileptics found relief in the hand of Jesus. Paralytics received strength in their bodies to be whole again. Jesus healed them. The fame of the Healer spread throughout the land, with thousands coming to Him.

It could be said there was no one as famous as Jesus of Nazareth. The power of God was evident in the ministry of Jesus, and the people looked to Him with eyes of fame. Everyone knew the name of Jesus. He was a teacher and a healer. Thousands walked away from Jesus, fully healed of any disease returning home to the surprise of family and friends. The fame of Jesus reached the ears of the Jewish leaders and the Roman governors. Jesus of Nazareth was an anomaly that was worthy of investigation. The early days of Jesus were filled with fame that propelled Him to the front page of every city and town. There was confusion about how a man from Nazareth could be such a learned man exhibiting such great power, but there was never a doubt about the miracles, and no one could refute His teaching. For a brief time, Jesus was famous. And then they killed Him.

Fame is as fleeting as water spilled on the ground. Jesus did not seek fame, and it was not His mission to be received by the people as a person of historical importance as men seek fame. His purpose was not to take away disease and sickness. It was not the will of the Father that Jesus was raised up as a deliverer from the bondage of the Romans. There would be no awards or commendations for the man from Nazareth. No one would raise a statue in His name in the city square of Nazareth. The teacher from Galilee who enjoyed a brief time of fame was killed as a criminal at the insistence of His own people. A handful of disciples mourned his death. Few people paid attention when Jesus of Nazareth died on a hill outside Jerusalem. Two wealthy men buried the criminal in a tomb. The world took no notice of the once famous man who was now nothing but a passing notation of a failed life. And then Sunday came.

The fame of Jesus was in response to the fickle notions of human frivolity that lifted a man up for a moment and then destroyed Him. Jesus came to die. It was not His intent to be famous but to be found. Disease, sickness, and wars have continued for two thousand years, but the teachings of Jesus remain as the testimony to His purpose in coming to earth. He came to bring the gospel of salvation to heal the souls of men. There is no fame in being a servant. Accolades will not come from a cruel world objecting to the gospel. Men who seek fame in this life will not be found in eternal life. Those who seek mercy in the gospel of Christ find peace. Jesus was famous, but that is not what He wanted. The Lord desires a heart that is open to the Word and a spirit that is willing to obey. What will it profit a man if he gains all the glory of the world and loses his soul?

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The Holy Spirit And His Gifts

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

The Holy Spirit And His Gifts

The building blocks of the early church are made up of the necessary ingredients for the expansion and growth of the church. Jesus gave the apostles the commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel of Christ. Considering the magnitude of their work, the twelve men could not have accomplished much without divine help. On the night He was betrayed, Jesus spoke to eleven of His apostles about a Helper He would send to guide them and instruct them concerning the kingdom of God. These words were hollow at first, as the eleven could not imagine what would happen to Jesus. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the eleven and spent forty days with them. During that time, He gave them the Holy Spirit to forgive sins. On the day of Pentecost, after a twelfth apostle was chosen, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles with manifold power from on high. It was so unusual; it startled the thousands of people assembled as they witnessed the power of God on twelve men from Galilee.

Early church growth was necessary for the survival of the church. God did not leave the twelve without the power to spread the gospel quickly from Jerusalem, Judea, and the uttermost parts of the earth. Paul would later declare in his letter to Colosse the gospel had gone into all the world. This was not by accident or chance. It was the work of the Holy Spirit through the agency of disciples. The tools at the disposal of the early church prolificated the message of salvation to Jews and Gentiles. What is remarkable about the gifts of the Holy Spirit is how effectively the signs, wonders, and miracles confirmed the word, which in turn helped lost souls find Christ.

Jesus sent the disciples to teach the word, and through the accompanying signs, the word would be confirmed that it was from God. The signs were to accompany those who believed, and the Lord worked with them, confirming the word. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, the special gifts were given to men to possess knowledge, wisdom, and faith. Healings of all kinds (without limitation) would be shown through the hands of those given the gifts. Miracles accompanied the word showing the speaker was declaring the divine truth. Prophecies and discerning of spirits helped to mold and confirmed the word.

One of the significant challenges facing twelve Jewish men was to carry the gospel to a world filled with many different languages. On the day of Pentecost, there were people from Parthia, including the Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs. Twelve Jewish preachers could not possess the knowledge or ability to speak in so many languages. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Matthew could speak any language he came upon. Imagine the ability to spread the gospel throughout the Roman Empire unhindered by the many national languages the disciples would face.

The Holy Spirit gave gifts to the early church as scaffolding is used to build a building. When the church matured with the complete revelation of God’s will in written form, there was no need for the spiritual gifts. Paul reminded the saints at Corinth that the work of the Holy Spirit was limited. When the fully revealed word of God was given, the gifts of the Holy Spirit would cease. There was no longer a need for signs, wonders, and miracles. The Bible is now the perfect gift of the Holy Spirit that any person in any language can read and understand the fellowship of the mystery now revealed by the Father. God revealed Himself as the prominent part of the Godhead in the Old Testament. Jesus fully revealed Himself in the gospels declaring His deity. Finally, the Holy Spirit imprinted His image on the hearts of the early church through the pages of the epistles and John’s revelation. The Holy Spirit moved and shaped the course of the church as we know it today.

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Voices From The Past

My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life. (Proverbs 6:20-23)

Voices From The Past

According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest recorded human voice is a ten-second fragment of the French folk song ‘Au Clair de la Lune.’ It was recorded on 9 April 1860 by inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (France). Technology has advanced in light years from that simple recording to a time when the video is broadcast immediately from any place on the earth and occasionally from outer space. The marvel of the spoken word no longer enthralls its listeners. Smartphones have made the ability to record and listen to others as a social media platform an everyday occurrence.

Thousands of years were silent in the ability to hear voices from the past. Manuscripts, monuments, books, and thousands of written forms have been preserved but have no voice. Imagine what it would be like to hear the voices of Abraham, David, Amos, John the Baptist, the apostles, and of course, Jesus Christ. The inflections of the voice would be heard for the first time. It would be impossible for most to understand the dialect or language as humanity has developed through the eons of time. There would be a special fascination in hearing the many voices of those in the past. In the past century, many notable people have been preserved through sound and video. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s stirring speech declared war after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Winston Churchill’s resounding words of courage in the face of the Nazi blitz. History preserved.

The wise man, Solomon, spoke of a voice he heard in his life that molded him and guided him. It was not a recording of a scratching cassette tape or video of a family member. Solomon reminded the wise son to keep his father’s commands and not forsake his mother’s law. He exhorts young people to bind upon the heart and tie around the neck the words of righteous parents. The voice may lay silent in the grave, but the words of godly advice continually guide the spirit. There are many dangers in the world, and often the only barrier between truth and folly is the voice of a parent speaking words of God to guide the heart. Binding the words of God upon the heart will guide a man’s life no matter how old he becomes. The joy of godly example is the power of persuasion throughout life.

Parents leave a legacy to their children, good or bad. It is incumbent upon the father and mother to leave a clear pathway for the child to follow that leads them to heaven. This will be the voice that transcends the years of time guiding that child’s heart. The voice may never be heard with the human ear. Listening to parents who love the Lord will always resonate in the tender hearts of those whose that voice has trained. Having voices from the past filled with the love of God will be a blessing for the next generation. Make certain the voice you leave will lead people to heaven. Especially make sure your children are guided by your voice to seek eternal life. Leave a legacy. Give them the voice of God.

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The Fickle Crowd

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” (Mark 10:47-49)

The Fickle Crowd

Jericho was about nineteen miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jesus has spent time there and is making His way to Jerusalem, where He will soon be arrested and crucified. He knows His hour has come and begins preparing for the journey to His death. On the way, He interacts with a blind man named Bartimaeus. When Bartimaeus heard Jesus coming down the road, he cried out to the Lord for mercy. By unseen faith, the blind man believed Jesus of Nazareth could heal his blindness. The faith of Bartimaeus was remarkable for the power of healing he believed could be imparted by the man from Nazareth. As he called out to Jesus, the crowd warned him to be quiet. He persisted and refused to stop calling out to Jesus. The only one who could see the power of Jesus was the blind man as the crowds sought to crush his faith.

When Jesus called for Bartimaeus to come to Him, the crowd encouraged the blind man to be happy and go to Jesus. They were excited. Jesus stopped to speak to the blind man. Seeing Jesus’ interest in the man by the road, the multitudes changed their minds and urged the man to go and see Jesus. Bartimaeus arose and went to Jesus. Seeking the grace of healing from the man from Nazareth, Bartimaeus received his sight. As Jesus turned toward Jerusalem, Bartimaeus followed Him. Tragically, the healer of the blind man would be murdered by a crowd blind to the power of the Son of God shortly after that. How did Bartimaeus take the death of Jesus? The Holy Spirit does not reveal, but it must have been a devastating blow.

As Bartimaeus called out to Jesus, the crowd sought to scold him. They must have tried to dissuade the blind man from bothering Jesus. If Bartimaeus had listened to the multitude and given in to their warnings, Jesus would have passed by, the blind man would remain blind, and Jesus would never come that way again. Listening to the crowd is a great temptation. If everyone were yelling to be quiet and not to bother the man from Nazareth, it would be easy to be swayed by the fickle nature of their taunting. Within moments of ridiculing the man, the crowd becomes a great swelling audience of encouragement. They changed their tune from rebuking to exhorting. That is the way human nature works. One moment, the crowd is putting a man down, and the next, they are seeking to be part of the joy.

Human wisdom is indecisive because of the erratic way it seeks to solve the problem. God created man to be a needy creature that cannot care for itself. Often throughout scripture, human nature is related to the character of a sheep. The sheep are indefensible, incapable of caring for themselves, and helpless. It is not in man to know how to walk with direction. In the story of Bartimaeus is found the fickle reality of human wisdom cannot be trusted. Thankfully, the blind man did not listen to the crowd. He believed with all his heart; Jesus could heal him of blindness. No one and nothing would hinder him from what he believed – including the multitudes who told him to be quiet. Here is the takeaway: do not listen to the crowd. Believe in the power of God to heal you and cleanse you. Do not let anyone keep you from believing what the Lord has given in His word. Your eternal life will depend on it.

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Wrong Views Of God

So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.” (Exodus 5:22-23)

Wrong Views Of God

The folly of human wisdom does not determine the will and work of the Lord. What God thinks and the purpose of His will is so far above the imagination of anything the greatest minds among men can understand. At the age of eighty years, Moses was called by the Lord to return to Egypt and lead them out of bondage. The Lord brings the brother of Moses, Aaron, to accompany him to Pharoah, demanding the Hebrews to be released. Moses and Aaron demanded that the king of Egypt let the people go. Pharaoh scoffs at the request with contempt. Angered by the action of Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh made the labor of the Hebrews more difficult. The Egyptians supplied the Hebrews with straw to make bricks, but now they must find their own straw without diminishing the required quotas. Moses and Aaron had made the plight of the Hebrews much harder.

Moses was the Hebrew prince of Egypt. Forty years earlier, he had killed a man for beating a fellow Hebrew. Moses thought the Lord had sent him to deliver his people by his hand, but the people did not understand. Fear for his life, Moses fled to Midian, where he remained forty years. Many years later, he returned to free the people, but his actions created more hardship for them, and they resented him. The officers of the children of Israel pleaded with Pharoah to change his command, but there was no relief. As they left the audience with Pharaoh, the Hebrew leaders blamed Moses and Aaron for making the people abhorrent in the land. They told Moses he had put a sword in the hands of the Egyptians to kill the people of Israel. Moses was devastated.

Reacting to the anger of the Hebrew leaders, Moses comes to the Lord, blaming Him for the trouble brought on by Pharaoh. He thought his mission was a ‘one-and-done,’ and Pharoah would immediately let the people go; Moses would be a great hero, and he would lead the people out with great power. It did not happen. He had argued with the Lord at the burning bush, but God insisted on sending him. Why had he sent him? The plan to give his fellow Hebrews had backfired, and now the people were in worse condition than before, and God was to be blamed. Moses blames God for not delivering His people as He said he would.

The problem facing Moses was he had a wrong view of God. He had a preconceived idea about how things would work, and for some reason, the Lord did not follow his plan. From the perspective of Moses, the Lord did not know what He was doing. It would take ten plagues to convince Moses and the people of the power of the Lord God. The challenge of faith would continue to plague the Hebrews even after the crossing of the Red Sea, the victories over the enemies, the fierceness of Mount Sinai, and all the miracles in the wilderness. True to form, the human mind has always failed to understand that God knows exactly what He is doing, and His will is not determined by the will of men.

David thought it would be a good idea to build the Lord a temple. He was wrong. Elijah thought there were no more faithful people in the land but his righteous self. He was wrong. Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about dying. He was wrong. Time and time again, the kernel of human wisdom is pitted against the vast universe of the might and power of God. His will is done without the efforts of what men think. The challenge has always been not to blame God but to accept the word of the Lord by faith and walk in obedience with a heart of submission. Did Noah understand what the flood meant? Abraham did not waver when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. The view we have of God will determine the reason we obey Him.

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The Old Man That Became A Young Man

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24)

The Old Man That Became A Young Man

Nature is specific in the aging process and unchangeable. Life begins when a child is born, then matures through many years of aging until the difficult days of old age infirm the body, and eventually, death comes. There is no changing this. Billions of dollars are spent each year trying to keep the body and mind full of youth, but all is in vain as old men and women trying to look like energetic youth become old and die. There is nothing man can do to reverse aging. Everyone dies. Men enter the world as babies and leave the world as old people.

There is an exception to the aging process found in the family of God. Paul describes the Christian life not as an aging process leading to death but as a new birth leading to life. The child of God begins with what Jesus describes as being born again. Before the waters of baptism wash away the sins of a man’s past, they serve an old man corrupt with the filth of sinful rebellion. Everyone is in bondage to the corruption of sin. Learning about Jesus and the will of the Father through the teaching of the Son of God, truth changes the heart of sin to the grace of God. The Christian begins the process of removing the stain of the old man to become a new man in Christ. Baptism creates a new life, but the heart must grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus to become a new man. Sadly, some who are born again return to the life of the old man and die spiritually.

In Jesus Christ, an old man can become a new man. The wrinkles of the former conduct (the old man) will bring corruption according to the sinful nature and former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. In Christ, the old man becomes a new man created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. The amazing grace of God removes the shackles of sin. As the heart of the child of God grows in the knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit, a new creation transforms an old man of sin into a new man of righteousness. Instead of age destroying the spirit of the Christian, the older a person remains in the word of God, the younger they become.

The outward body will perish, and nothing can reverse this. In Christ, the inward man is renewed daily, making a ninety-year-old man full of joy, youthful vigor, and happiness. His body is wracked with the infirmities of old age, but his spirit is smiling through with God’s grace. If people would expend as much energy on their spiritual life to become young as they do for their physical bodies, what a transformation the church would experience. The fountain of youth is found in Christ. Old men and women become young men and women by God’s grace. When John saw the final revelation of the heavenly picture, he beheld a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Drinking this water will bring life and make one young. Do you want to feel young again? Come to the fountain. Old becomes new.

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The Holy Spirit And The Apostles

And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45-49)

The Holy Spirit And The Apostles

The work of the Holy Spirit began at creation when Moses described Him hovering over the face of the waters. Through the agency of God’s design, the Holy Spirit formed a world of beauty, majesty, and the hallmark of the Father’s eternal design. There is order to creation established by the purpose of God, by the authority of the Son of God, and the hand of the Holy Spirit. From the beginning of time, the Holy Spirit was an active participant in the history of God’s people. In the days of Noah, the Godhead determined the end of the world, bringing a flood and killing all but eight souls in the ark. The Holy Spirit was that agency. When Moses combated the Egyptian magicians and challenged the authority of the Pharaoh, it was the Holy Spirit that manifested the power of God through miracles and signs. Mount Sinai burned with the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Finger of God wrote the commandments for the Hebrews upon stone. During the time of miracles in the wilderness, the Holy Spirit was active in carrying out the will of the Father with blessings and curses.

When Jesus came to earth, He acknowledged His power was by the Finger of God, the Holy Spirit. Twelve men were chosen to be His apostles, and He gave them the power to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. Like Jesus, the twelve had been given the power of the Holy Spirit. Their greatest work was yet to come. Jesus knew His life was short, and the fulfillment of the Father’s plan was determined. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus spoke to the eleven remaining apostles with words of assurance and hope on a dark night when the world would change as never before. Judas was preparing a mob to arrest Jesus, and the Son of God was preparing His beloved disciples to go into all the world to preach the gospel. He knew He must return to the Father. The eleven were unaware of what Jesus was about to bear.

Jesus makes a promise to the eleven that after He is gone, a Helper or Comforter would come to guide them, instruct them, bring to their remembrance things said and done, and manifest the will of the Father to them. The apostles (later including Matthias and Paul) would be the ambassadors of Christ to the world, showing the power of the word through the power of the Holy Spirit. While Jesus was on earth, the apostles could perform miracles tempered by the authority of Jesus. When Jesus died and returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit would take the role of authority to manifest His power through the apostles. During the forty days Jesus spent with the eleven after His resurrection, He gave them the Holy Spirit to forgive sins. The full outpouring of the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost when the twelve apostles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the twelve could dispense the power of God to men. Before returning to the Father, Jesus explained the purpose of miracles was to confirm the word.

The day of Pentecost was when the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached to the world. Without a divine manifestation of God’s approval, men would not accept the gospel of Christ. A miracle or miracles often confirmed the preaching of the word. This would show to all men the word spoken by men was not human wisdom but divine law. The Holy Spirit worked through the apostles and those given the power of God to establish the word of God for all ages. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, the apostles were guided into all truth and declared things to come, such as coming apostasies, persecution, and the promise of the second coming of Christ. The Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He would bear witness and testify to the glory of the Father. The fingerprints of the Holy Spirit cover the New Testament as He worked among the saints of the first century to establish the church.

Jesus came to earth for a specific reason and for a short time. When His work was completed, He returned to the Father. The Holy Spirit came to earth for a specific reason and a short time. His work revealed the plan of redemption to all men, and when that work was complete, He also returned to the Father. The work of the Holy Spirit and the apostles was short-lived. When the word of God was established through the writings of men like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude, the work of the Holy Spirit was finished. The work of the Holy Spirit was only the parts coming together to form that which was perfect and what would become known as the Bible. There is no longer a need for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in a miraculous manner. All that man needs to know about salvation is found in the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. He authored the Bible by the authority of the Father and the sacrifice of the Son. The Bible is the grace of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

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Imitate God

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (Ephesians 5:1)

Imitate God

To imitate God is to be a follower of God in how He Himself reveals His character to the world. When a man obeys the gospel of Christ, he becomes a child of God. As a child, the person begins to take on the characteristics of the Father who bore him into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The imitation of God is a learned experience as the old man of sin is removed with the new man created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. There are many traits of God that are replicated in the life of the Christian. These qualities identify the man as being like God the Father as he takes on his heavenly Father’s personality, thoughts, and expression.

There are many characteristics of God that identify His eternal glory and power. God does not lie. He gets angry, but it is righteous anger. There will never be any corrupt speech from the mouth of God. The Father does not possess bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, or evil speaking. God is full of kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness. These attributes are to be imitated in the life of the Christian so they will be like their Father. God is full of love, and He abhors evil. The Father is full of light as His Son is the light of the world. The wisdom of God is eternal. All of these things are to be imitated in the life of the child of God.

Walking like God is to learn to imitate Him so the world will no longer see self but the image of the Father. There are many traits that people possess that identify them as members of a family. Sons will take on the persona of their fathers, and daughters will grow to look and behave like their mothers. This is a natural evolution of family traits shared by parents and children. The more the Christian spends in the word of God, the more they learn how to imprint the image of God on their hearts. Imitating God becomes who a person is. When the world looks at the individual, they see the glory of the heavenly Father in kindness, forgiveness, and holiness. Sadly, the world looks like the Father of lies, imitating the character of Satan. All men are children. The question is: who do you imitate? The glory of the Father will bring eternal life. Imitate God as dear children.

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The Rapture Is Real

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

The Rapture Is Real

One of the popular doctrines in recent history is the teaching of a rapture where saints of God mysteriously disappear without warning. The rapture precedes a seven-year habitation of the righteous with Christ, followed by a battle of Armageddon and Jesus establishing a kingdom to reign for a thousand years. This doctrine is credited to being authored by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), a 19th-century theologian. Darby was an influential member of the Plymouth Brethren and founder of the Exclusive Brethren.   Hal Lindsey’s book The Late Great Planet Earth became a textbook in the 1970s on the doctrine of premillennialism, and the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye helped the teaching become entrenched in the minds of many in the religious world. In the early 20th century, the doctrine became the basis of the Schofield Reference Bible.

The rapture is real fiction. Of the many doctrines created by the imagination of human wisdom, the teaching of a rapture is nowhere found in scripture in any form or suggestion. Honest students of scripture recognize when a doctrine is not found in the Bible, it is false – without question. The word rapture is never found in the word of God. There is nothing more clearly defined than the absence of the rapture. Remarkably, the proof text often presented as evidence of a rapture shows it cannot be a quiet disappearance of the saints.

Paul encouraged the saints in Thessalonica to comfort one another with the knowledge of Christ’s return. The early Christians believed strongly in the return of Jesus Christ, as if it could happen at any moment. Many first-century disciples did not understand death and resurrection and became concerned about what would happen to those who had died when Jesus returned. They were afraid the dead would not enjoy the fruits of the coming of Jesus. Paul assured them there was nothing to be concerned about. Jesus would return to earth, and those who had fallen asleep in Jesus (died) would not be left behind.

The coming of the Lord would be a very loud and visible event. Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout. This does not suggest a quiet, invisible appearance of the Lord to a select few. A heavenly shout is something heard worldwide at the same time. Those in Kansas would hear the shout as those in New Zealand would also hear the sound of heaven burst forth. In addition, the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God would be heard. It is unclear what the voice of an archangel sounds like and how loud God’s trumpet will be, but there is no doubt it will be the most deafening sound human ears have ever heard. The followers of the rapture say there will be no sound which means the rapture is real fiction.

There is nothing further from the truth than the Left Behind dogma of a rapture. Jesus Christ will return for only a second time, and the world will be destroyed. He will never set up a kingdom on earth because He is reigning at the right hand of God as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The dead in Christ will rise first, and then in the twinkling of an eye, those who are alive and remain will be caught up together with all the saved in the clouds (not earth) to meet the Lord in the air (not the earth). The good news of grace is this is how the saints will always be – with the Lord.

The rapture is real fiction and a fairytale that will deceive the hearts and minds of those who refuse to be honest with the Bible. Nothing in the Bible suggests a rapture. This false doctrine is only the imagination of human wisdom. Be honest and be true. Do not accept or believe such a thing will take place. Jesus will return to earth again, and no further work will be done. His return will bring a final end to creation and then the judgment. Forget the rapture – are you ready for final judgment?

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The Six Companions Of Baptism

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

The Six Companions Of Baptism

One of the most prolific doctrines changing the plan of salvation is the denial of the necessity of baptism. Satan has crafted a specific part of God’s will to ensure the destruction of those who believe they are saved; when they are not. In the Garden of Eden, the devil deceived Eve with great subtlety. He continues his onslaught against the pattern of salvation. Most religious groups who say they follow Christ deny that baptism is necessary for salvation. Salvation by faith only is a significant doctrine fortified by the belief in a sinners’ prayer for salvation. The idea of salvation through grace alone removes any notion of the necessity of baptism as nothing more than a work. Do the scriptures teach baptism as a requirement for salvation?

Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus is a declaration of the eternal purpose of the church. He emphasizes the character of faith and the immeasurable joy of grace. Ephesians is a letter filled with faith and grace. Paul unveils the eternal purpose of God of things planned before the foundation of the world. Redemption would come through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God’s grace. The word of truth is central to the gospel of salvation and the necessity of belief. Part of the eternal plan was the church showing the manifold wisdom of God. Jesus Christ is the head of the church, which Paul calls the body. The elements of redemption are found in the teachings of blood, peace, faith, grace, and the church, highlighted throughout Ephesians.

Paul appeals to the saints to find the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace by acknowledging the seven pillars of truth in the grace of God. There is one body, and as he declared earlier, the body is the church showing there is one church. Everyone would agree there is one Holy Spirit. Through the grace of God, there is only one hope for the future. Jesus declared He was the only way, truth, and life to the Father. Paul affirmed there is only one Lord.

Contrary to the worldview of religion, there is only one faith. Coexisting is impossible for those who follow Jesus Christ because there is no other faith. True believers accept there is only one God. Accepting other gods is vain worship and an abomination to the one true God. Almost all who follow Jesus Christ and identify as a ‘church’ that abides by the teaching of Christ would accept and agree to the above six pillars of truth. All of these are necessary for salvation. It is impossible to be saved without the body, the Spirit, the hope, the Lord, the faith, and the one God outlined by Paul.

The sixth pillar of unity is baptism. If baptism is not necessary for salvation, why did the Holy Spirit, through the pen of the apostle Paul, declare there is one baptism? To deny baptism as essential for salvation is to deny the other pillars of unity. In fact, refusing to accept water baptism as the means of salvation denies the Godhead: the Holy Spirit, the Lord (Jesus Christ), and God (Father of all, who is above all, and through all). The early church taught the necessity of baptism. There is only one baptism because there is only one Lord. Paul included faith and grace earlier in his letter. Water baptism does not deny faith and grace but expresses the obedience of a heart filled with faith in Jesus Christ and the amazing grace of the Father. Paul wrote what Jesus said – anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.

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Learning About Jesus

But you have not so learned Christ. (Ephesians 4:20)

Learning About Jesus

Osmosis is the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of facts over time. There is little effort on the part of the individual to gain knowledge but rather a natural accumulation of information. Children learn to speak their native tongue by association with the family. Customs often are part of the fabric of life rooted in everyday life. Some things in life just come naturally. The knowledge of Jesus Christ does not come through passive effort or a process of familial osmosis just because one is brought up in the surroundings of the Bible. When children go to school, they learn through activity, effort, exercise, and study. Sitting in the school room will not give them the knowledge required to graduate. Those students who fail to apply knowledge will not be able to complete their education. This is understood in the public realm of seeking a higher education, but it seems many in the Lord’s church believe knowing Jesus comes simply by association.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The nature of a higher being can be learned through the agency of natural revelation, as seen in the creation, but it is impossible to learn about Jesus through nature. Creation testifies to the handiwork of the Divine. Revelation declares the story of Jesus through the written word. Examining the world through a microscope opens the revelations of God’s creative hand in forming a perfect world. Peering into the depths of space with all its grandeur will not testify to the existence of the Son of God. To know Jesus demands learning. Understanding who He is, where He came, why He emptied Himself, and how He will save can only come through the rigors of learning. The amount of effort will determine the level of knowledge. Learning about Jesus takes time – a lifetime. Understanding His character requires opening the Bible and plumbing the depths of the written word to see the grace of God’s Son. The less time spent learning about Jesus lessens the faith in the Son of God.

There will never be enough lifetimes to learn all there is to know about Jesus, but one life spent in devotion to a study of the life of Jesus will answer all the questions that trouble man. To know Jesus is to know the Book. Like all things worth seeking, hard work demands time spent studying God’s word to know everything about Jesus. God has blessed mankind with a written testimony of His mind to reveal to the world, Jesus Christ. There has never been a time in the history of man the word of God is so readily available through print and electronic revelation; yet, it seems to be the least-read message in the world. The Bible is the most prolific book published, but it will have little value if it is not read and studied. Paul reminded the saints at Ephesus they had learned Jesus and exhorted them to use that learning to renew the spirit of their minds. New men in Christ come from those who renew their hearts to read and study the life of Jesus and the story of Jesus. The Bible is the testimony of Jesus. Read it to be wise. Learn about Jesus. Don’t just read the words. Allow the life of Jesus to change your life. Learn.

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The Holy Spirit And Jesus

But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:17-20)

The Holy Spirit and Jesus

The story of the Holy Spirit cannot be known without understanding the relationship between the Spirit and the Son. Jesus did not consider it beneath Him to come to earth and take on the form of fleshly man. As God, He emptied Himself of the divine to share in the mortal. The transition of God to man was the work of the Holy Spirit. From the writings of Moses through all the prophets, the Spirit spoke longingly about the revelation of the life of Christ. He affirmed thousands of years before the birth of Jesus that a child would be born that would bring redemption to all men. In the Garden of Eden, the promise of the Seed was made. Abraham was promised to be the father of the faithful. The Law of Moses was given to protect and guide the seed promise through nearly fourteen hundred years of history.

When the time came for Jesus to come to earth, a maiden named Mary was chosen to be the carrier of the Divine. Matthew records that Mary was with child by the Holy Spirit. An angel told Joseph the Child conceived in his wife’s womb was of the Holy Spirit. This was not the first time the Spirit and God’s Son had a part in the scheme of redemption. At creation, the Holy Spirit hovered over the face of the waters, and as part of the Godhead, Jesus was the Creator and Maker of the world. Now the plan to redeem man demanded the Son to leave the glory of the Father and dwell among men. The Holy Spirit was the agency to carry out the divine plan. Mary was a virgin through whom the Spirit would conceive the seed of God’s Son to be born as all men in her womb. Like all men, Jesus was born of a woman.

At the age of thirty, Jesus began His ministry. John the Baptist preceded Jesus to prepare the way for God’s Son. Jesus came to John to be baptized and rising from the waters, the Holy Spirit descended as a dove upon Him. The voice of the Father clearly spoke of His approval of the ministry of Jesus. The Godhead was found at the baptism of Jesus, with all three members of the Divine blessing the baptism. Later, John would declare he saw the Spirit upon Jesus, affirming He was the Son of God. When Peter preached to Cornelius and his household, he told them God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power. The ministry of Jesus was a manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called the “Finger of God,” as the Father worked through the Son. Shortly after His baptism, Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Following the temptation, Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit in power, affirming His divinity. God put the Spirit upon Jesus to manifest His glory and fulfill the prophets’ words. Jesus never did any miracles before His baptism as He was endued with power from high only from the affirmation of the Father at His baptism. Casting out demons, healing the sick, changing the natural elements of the world, and raising the dead was accomplished by the power of the Spirit. Like in Creation, the Son and the Spirit worked in tandem to show the power of God to the world.

On the night of His betrayal, Jesus assured the eleven they would not be left without a Helper. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles and help them remember what He had taught them. The eleven were told to remain in Jerusalem when the power from the Father would be put upon them through the Holy Spirit. When the work of Jesus was completed on earth, the Holy Spirit began His active work of the continued revelation of God’s plan to redeem men. The baptism of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles began the establishment of the New Testament church, spreading throughout the world. Through the teaching of the gospel, the name of Jesus was preached to every soul under heaven through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. The will of the Father was accomplished through His Son, Jesus Christ, and could not have been completed without the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is incomplete without the Holy Spirit.

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The Personality And Deity Of The Holy Spirit

Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:11-14)

The Personality And Deity Of The Holy Spirit

To possess a personality is to have the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. This is especially true in the quality of being a person distinct from a thing or an animal. To have a personality suggests a set of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns from the nature of the individual. This is found in the myriad ways human beings differ from one another, defining who they are as individuals with specific characteristics that distinguish them. Among the earth’s six billion inhabitants, six billion personalities are possessed by every man, woman, and child. Still, they share the common denominator of being created in the image of God. One humanity with unlimited personalities.

The character of the Godhead is united under the identification of being God. Yet, each person of the Divine Nature possesses individual traits identifying them as a part of the same. The Father has His identifying marks that make Him Lord God and Father, while Jesus is shown to be the only begotten Son of the Father. Completing the triad of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit, who also possesses personalities and identifying markers showing Him to be God and yet distinct in His own right. He has much the same attributes as the Father and Son. The Holy Spirit utters speech communicating the will of the Father. As a witness, He testifies as the Spirit of truth. Through the word, the Holy Spirit teaches and reminds men of the plan of the Father. Jesus said the Helper (Holy Spirit) would guide men into all truth as the Father directs him. The scriptures show the Holy Spirit guiding men in the work of the kingdom and, on occasion forbidding the plans of men to be carried out. Paul and Silas wanted to preach the gospel in Asia, but the Holy Spirit did not allow them. Paul often spoke of the Holy Spirit and, in his letter to Rome, outlined the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people.

It is clear the Holy Spirit is a personal being who has a mind, seeking the completion of the work of God, possessing knowledge, and showing love. He is not just an entity that is abstract and mindless. The Holy Spirit is a person of the Godhead sharing in the emotional makeup of a personality. Everything about Him is divine, like the Father and the Son. Like the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit experiences men’s positive or negative responses. It is possible for men to grieve the Holy Spirit and to despise Him. In the days of Jesus, the religious leaders blasphemed the Holy Spirit bringing the wrath of God upon them. Peter rebuked Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit, and Stephen charged the Jewish council with resisting the Spirit. A personal being can only experience these emotions.

The nature of the Holy Spirit is like that of the Father and the Son. When God created the heavens and the earth, the Holy Spirit was an active agent of creation. John baptized Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove while the Father spoke His approval of His Son. The Spirit carries the identifying marks of a divine personality as one who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit and called the Son of God. Worshiping the Father without showing honor to the Son and the Holy Spirit is impossible. The Spirit bears witness with the spirits of those who are saved; they are the children of God. His role in salvation is secured in the ages as a vital part of the Godhead made up of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. To deny the essential part of the Holy Spirit to the divine revelation of God is to deny the authenticity of the Bible. Knowing the personality of the Father can only come from the reading of the word of God. The Holy Spirit manifested the personal character of the Creator on the pages of the Bible. Without the completed revelation by the Spirit, man would not know God. Reading the Bible reveals the Godhead as complete and whole yet individual and responsive to the needs of men. Thank God for the Holy Spirit.

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The Most Important Election In History

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10-11)

The Most Important Election In History

One of the great freedoms enjoyed by citizens of the United States of America is the opportunity to vote for those who lead the nation. Not everyone votes and the numbers can be very low in some years. There is a lot of rhetoric about the coming election as the most important in the country’s history. That would be true with each election, with exceptions of historical significance having a greater impact than others. One of the apparent realities of each election year is that (by God’s grace) the sun rises on the day after the election, and life continues. Arguments are made about whether the election was fair and whether the elected official had a right to be chosen by the populace. Those who lose will argue foul, and the political intrigue and backbiting will continue. The election process is not a pure science, and there will always be some level of corruption and deceit.

Many countries do not afford their citizens the right to vote. Some leaders will allow elections to take place, but these elections are nothing more than screens of deceit to appease the conscience of the citizens with the outcome predetermined. Corruption is rampant as men of less quality are positioned in seats of power to rule over their nations as despots. The election laws of corrupt nations do not look out for the good of the people. There is no truth in the process of human wisdom seeking the exaltation of self, and it is the innocent people who suffer. Democracy is a fickle mistress that allows the allurement of corruption to taint the election process. When the election is over, truth has often suffered more than anything that is won. Human wisdom exalts itself on the deceptive notion of honesty and truthfulness. But there is an election that is beyond the reach of the corruption of man, and that is the spiritual election of salvation.

Before the world was created, God had a plan to elect His creation to salvation. Promised through Jesus Christ, the need for salvation found its worth at Calvary when human wisdom killed the Son of God. Obedience to the will of the Father removed the wrath of God as the blood of Christ washed away sin. Faith alone could not save, and the heart of man learned to follow the pattern of obedience to salvation. No clearer demonstration of that can be found than the admonition of Peter to the pilgrims of the Dispersion of his day. Certain traits are necessary for salvation, including faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. All of these are tempered by diligence to add these graces to the heart of the obedient servant. If a man adds these to his life, he will enjoy the greatest election in the history of man.

There is a powerful statement by Peter to give assurance to the saints of God. If a man employs the graces of God in his life, he will not be unfruitful or barren in the knowledge of Christ. Allowing the heavenly elements of grace to fill the heart, the soul can make its calling and election sure – to confirm a man’s calling and election. There is no corruption in this promise. God has promised the hope of eternal life to all who seek His will and follow the patterns of grace. The election of the saint is the greatest election a man can experience. Those who seek public office gain a moment’s glory in the twilight of human wisdom, but those who seek election in Christ will reign throughout eternity at the feet of the heavenly Father.

The greatest election in history is when a man is saved in the blood of Christ. Not everyone will be elected because few men accept the terms of election. The terms of eternal election cannot be corrupted. Only those who follow the laws established by God will be saved. There will be no one in heaven who has not been elected by the will of the Father. Many will believe they are chosen, but because they corrupted the process of God’s word, they will be lost. The final realization of the eternal election is realized when all who are saved know the grace of God saves them; those who are lost will agree with the righteousness of God they deserve to be denied eternal life. No one will argue about the results. All will agree. Eternal election is in Jesus Christ.

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Touching Jesus

Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” (Luke 8:43-46)

Touching Jesus

It was not uncommon for multitudes to throng around Jesus. During His days of popularity, thousands would come to hear him preach. Five thousand men (not counting women and children) came from surrounding cities to listen to the words of the man from Nazareth. When Jesus returned from the country of the Gadarenes, a great multitude gathered to Him by the seashore. A ruler of the synagogue met Jesus, begging Him to heal his dying daughter. Jesus followed Jairus to his home as crowds thronged Jesus. The people were so thick around Jesus that they pressed Him so that He could hardly move. Everyone was touching Jesus. As Jesus walked, He felt the power of the Holy Spirit leave Him, and Jesus demanded to know who had touched Him. It was puzzling as Peter said to Jesus that everyone was touching Him. The apostle could not imagine what Jesus was asking as the crowds pressed so tightly around Jesus.

A lone figure was standing outside the thronging crowd that no one noticed. A woman who had suffered from a blood condition for twelve long years watched the crowds press around Jesus. She had spent all her livelihood seeking a cure but found no relief. Hearing Jesus of Nazareth was nearby; the unnamed woman took a leap of faith. She believed if she was able but to touch the garments of Jesus without Him or anyone knowing; she would be healed. According to the law, she was an unclean woman, and anyone she touched would be unclean. This presented a conflict with her decision to touch the garments of Jesus. The crowd was so tightly surrounding Jesus she would have to nearly fight her way through the crowd to reach Jesus, touching many people in her pursuit of healing. Nothing would deter her from seeking relief. Her faith moved her with great courage to ignore the crowd and seek only to touch the clothing of Jesus.

The faith of the woman did not ask for a private audience with Jesus so that she could explain her condition. She did not wait until a more convenient time. Her courage moved her to make a bold and decisive decision to accept the impossible. Medical knowledge at that time had failed to heal her, and there was no answer to her condition. Jesus was in the midst of a thronging crowd, and the woman believed the power of God was so great she would have only to touch the garment of Jesus to be healed. Casting aside her fears of retribution by those she touched along the way, the Holy Spirit watched her weave through the crowd and steal a touch from the garment of Jesus. Immediately she was healed. God blessed her body with immediate relief, and she could feel the healing – and so did Jesus.

There were many people thronging Jesus so tightly He could hardly move. It is likely among all those touching Jesus; there were people with various degrees of physical sickness and disease, some known and some unknown. Out of all the crowd, none were healed but the woman with an issue of blood. Was the woman healed because she touched Jesus? No, she was healed because she believed in what the touch of Jesus would do for her life, and she acted on that faith. Touching Jesus (characterized by the crowd) did not save. Obedient faith with courage is how the woman was healed. Many people today thronging Jesus tightly have never enjoyed the healing power of faith and obedience. The only person healed that day was the woman who acted on her faith and, through courage, denied herself and the world to accept the impossible. That is true healing today. When a person’s heart acts on their faith with courage and determination to seek the power of Jesus to change their lives.

The woman who touched Jesus suffered from a blood disorder but what people need to see today is the disorder of sin. Touching Jesus will not take away sin. Coming to Jesus believing that only He can take away sin and facing the pressure of the world with courage in obedience is where healing comes. There are many obstacles between the woman and Jesus. She overcame, ignored, and conquered those obstacles and found relief in obedient faith. Sin will never leave those who press in on Jesus but have no faith in how He can change their lives. They remain as they are. Those who come to Jesus with obedient faith will find healing.

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Willing Obedience In The Face Of Great Pain

So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son, was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very same day Abraham was circumcised, and his son Ishmael; and all the men of his house, born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him. (Genesis 17:23-27)

Willing Obedience In The Face Of Great Pain

At the age of seventy-five, Abraham had been called by God to leave his family and go to a land shown to him by God that he would never possess. The Lord promised to make Abraham a great nation, and he would never see its fulfillment. Like a vagabond wandering the earth, Abraham moved from place to place, never having a permanent home for his family. Twenty-four years after God called him, Abraham was faced with a command from God. The Lord’s covenant with Abraham involves great pain for himself and his family. Thirteen years earlier, he had a son by his wife’s handmaiden. Now God requires Abraham to circumcise himself, Ishmael, and all the males in his tribe, including servants. Abraham had been through a lot in obedience to the Lord for the past twenty-four years. The promise of a son by Sarah seemed remote and impossible at best. Abraham had given up so much for his faith in God, and now he must physically injure himself and all in his family to serve the Lord.

The promise of a son through Sarah caused Abraham to laugh because he would be one hundred years of age and Sarah ninety. He thought Ishmael would be a suitable answer to the promise of God. The Lord affirmed to Abraham that Sarah would have a son and that the covenant would be established through Isaac. God promised Abraham that all He had said would come true. A ninety-year-old woman couldn’t have a child as it was equally impossible for a man of one hundred to impregnate a woman. Everything God told Abraham was impossible! There was nothing to base his decision on but the faith he had in the promises of God. What the Lord demanded of Abraham was a very painful surgery and would take time to heal with great discomfort. His thirteen-year-old son would also have to suffer under the knife. Every male in his household would need to be circumcised. Why would God require such a cost for obedience? In human wisdom, it was a high price to pay for faith.

After God left Abraham, there was no hesitation to obey the word of the Lord. At the age of ninety-nine, Abraham was circumcised. Ishmael and all who were born in the house of Abraham were circumcised. The faith of Abraham was on full display as an excruciating act was done in accordance with the word of the Lord. Abraham did not hesitate. He did not argue with God about the painful reality of cutting off the foreskin. No words were pleading for another way. Obedience did not come by faith alone. Abraham never argued with God to accept him as a good man and allow grace to be given without the painful consequence of circumcision. The word of the Lord required circumcision, and Abraham did not hesitate.

It is fair to place the story of Abraham in a modern context with how people react to the word of God. If many people today are put in the situation of Abraham, they will refuse to obey. The word of the Lord requires baptism for salvation – a very pain-free act – yet so many people argue, fuss, debate, and deny the need. They decry baptism as a work and believe they can be saved through faith alone. It was clear in the mind of God that Abraham was a man of faith, but that would not save him. He was told to mutilate himself physically, and Abraham did not hesitate. The pain of circumcision did not dissuade Abraham. He obeyed God unconditionally. So many people today would have refused circumcision. The apostle Paul told the saints at Colosse that baptism is a spiritual circumcision, but the difference is baptism is painless; still, people refuse. Be honest with yourself. If you do not believe baptism is essential for salvation, it is clear you would have refused what God commanded Abraham. No circumcision – no covenant – no salvation. No baptism – no covenant – no salvation.

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The Holy Spirit A Member Of The Godhead

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)

The Holy Spirit: A Member Of The Godhead

The Bible is the mind of God, revealing the goodness and severity of the Lord. It begins with declaring God as the Creator and ends with the promise of seeing God face to face. Jesus said the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and Psalms declared His glory, and man finds in the new revelation the life of Jesus, the propagation of His teachings, and the applications of God’s law in the hearts of believers. God and Jesus are central characters of the Bible from Genesis to the Revelation. Lost in the shuffle of truth seekers is the other part of the divine nature known as the Holy Spirit.

Moses begins the creation story with the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters. The Holy Spirit continues to hover over the message of God’s word throughout the Old Testament and is fully revealed in the New Testament. Denying the story of the Spirit of God neglects the greater part of the divine Revelation. A student of scripture cannot understand God the Father and Jesus the Son without knowing the one Jesus called the “Finger of God.” The Holy Spirit is as much a vital part of Revelation as the Father and the Son. He has His place in the divine record to glory the Father as Jesus glorified the Father.

The Holy Spirit is not just an influence or impersonal power or emanation. He is alive and divine and powerful and full of personality. Possessing attributes of divinity, the Holy Spirit is an essential part of man’s salvation. His place in the scheme of redemption is preserved throughout scripture as the agency of the revelation and the incarnation of God’s Son on earth. Jesus and the Holy Spirit shared a special bond in their work of the earthly mission of the Christ. When the church was established, it began with the Holy Spirit. As the church spread throughout the world in the early days, the Holy Spirit was the fuel driving the engine of God’s divine will. Through His special gifts given to men, the Holy Spirit affirmed and confirmed the word of God as true. The joy of the Christian was found in the gift of the Holy Spirit shared by all those who were baptized into the body of Christ. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, the divine word could not have been completed. The work of the Holy Spirit continues today. He is the way to spiritual fulfillment for those who come to the blood of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the scriptures, God the Father is always magnified as the one true God. Jesus was also God but He was not the Father. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit is God but not the Father nor the Son. He has His own divine attributes that show Him to be divine but separate from the Father and Son. The Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead or the Divine Nature. Paul refers to the Godhead in his sermon to the Athenians (Acts 17:29) and in two of his epistles (Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9). The Greek words “theotes” and “theiotes” translate “Godhead” as being “deity, the state of being God; divinity; the divine nature or essence.” Moses begins Genesis with God (Elohim) in the plural, yet it is used in the singular (Genesis 1:1). When God makes man in His image, He declares a plurality in the Godhead when He says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

There are three persons identified who possess the divine nature or deity and constitute the plurality of the Godhead. The three were present at creation (Genesis 1) and the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17). Matthew records the words of Jesus that all men should be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20). On the night Jesus was betrayed, He tells the eleven the Father will send the Comforter after He (Jesus) leaves (John 14:16-18; 15:26; 17:3-5). Peter said in his sermon to the household of Cornelius that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:28). Paul mentions the Godhead in Romans 15:30, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 2 Corinthians 13:14, and Ephesians 2:18; 4:4-6.

The relationship of the Godhead is seen when the nature of God is viewed as divine. God the Father is divine, but He is not the Son nor the Holy Spirit. Jesus is divine, but He is not the Father nor the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also divine but is not the Father nor the Son. Each one of the Godhead is divine (deity, God) but possesses personalities that distinguish them one from another. The Holy Spirit is vital to the Godhead, a divine being. Throughout Biblical history, his work is essential to God’s eternal plan. Get to know the Holy Spirit.

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Justice, Mercy, And Faith

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (Matthew 23:23-24)

Justice, Mercy, And Faith

The professor presents a large glass jar before his class. He fills the jar with large rocks until there is no more room for the rocks. He asks the class if the jar is full, and they reply that it is. He then pulls out a jar with gravel and begins pouring the gravel into the jar. After he puts in all the gravel he can, he asks the class if the jar is full. Again, they say the jar is full. Finally, the professor brings out a jar of fine sand and begins pouring the sand into the jar containing the large rocks and gravel. When the jar is full of fine sand, the class responds the class is full.

The lesson the professor impresses upon the students is there are things in life that are essential before other things begin to clutter up life. If the fine sand had been poured in first, there would have been no room for the rocks or gravel. Pouring in the gravel at the wrong time would have hindered the rocks from being included. The rocks represent the important things in life: family, friendship, and relationships. The gravel is those essential things that will help in life, like jobs, homes, possessions, etc. Putting the fine sand represents all the things of life that are good to have but not as necessary. The order of importance is what will make the difference.

Jesus used a similar illustration when He rebuked the religious leaders for spending so much time on the small matters of life while neglecting the weightier matters of the law. Under the law, there were tithing requirements. The Pharisees had become so strict in keeping with the law that they gathered the tenth sprig of every garden herb and presented it to the priest. Jesus did not condemn them for this but highlighted their hypocrisy in neglecting matters of the law with greater consequences. The need for justice, mercy, and faith were the large rocks in the jar of the professor: they must be done first! Treating their fellow man with justice was more important than a sprig of mint. When the Pharisees gave alms, they made a great noise of trumpets blaring while showing no mercy to the needy. Their faith was not towards God but their self-righteousness.

Many things in life are essential to the character of the Christian. Going to worship services, attending Bible classes, reading the Bible, and such things are vital ingredients to a healthy and prosperous spiritual life. When these matters begin to overshadow the relationship of justice, mercy, and truth toward others and God, the sacrifices become invalid. Someone may ask if a brother or sister is faithful. Unconsciously, the answer is that, yes, that brother is faithful; the reason that conclusion is given is that they attend all the church services. Faithfulness is not determined by sitting on a pew. The Jews were very particular about making sure the correct amount of mint, anise, and cummin, were measured correctly and presented in accordance with the law. At the same time, they treated their brethren with contempt, disregard, and prejudice. As Jesus would tell them, they strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel.

The weightier matters of the law must be placed in their proper order. Justice, mercy, and faith must come before all things and exercise in the life of the Christian with priority. Too many of God’s people live on mint, anise, and cummin and neglect what God wants out of their lives. They live unproductive, unloving, and fruitless lives. The Christian must seek the higher things in their duty toward God. Showing justice to the needy, having mercy on the downtrodden, and trusting in the will of God is where true worship comes. Be careful of the gnats, and don’t let the camels choke your life to no value.

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