Tue, Aug 31st - 1:32PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knows; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.
And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.
And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD.
And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision. Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.
And he said, What is the thing that the LORD has said unto you? I pray you hide it not from me: God do so to you, and more also, if you hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto you.
And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seems good to Him.
And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
And all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD(3:13-20).
Samuel was deeply troubled by what God had revealed to him. The boy was loyal to Eli and did not wish to hurt him. But Eli makes him tell him all that God had said, and then releases the boy from any guilt by telling him that it is God and there is nothing to do but to let Him do what seems good to Him. I believe Eli had finally reached the place of resignation, where he had accepted the fact that he had screwed up concerning his two sons and that now it was time to pay the price.
What is important here in this passage is that all of the people in the nation could observe that God was with Samuel. In contrast, everyone knew that Eli's two sons were not godly men and were wicked men. This simply points out the importance of paying attention to our actions and words at all times. Long before Samuel actually became a walking, talking prophet of the LORD, everyone knew that he would be one. It would be really nice if people could tell that about believers today, that they were going to be preacher-prpphets of God before they actually did become one.
Well, that is all of the time that I have today, beloved. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all.
Mon, Aug 30th - 3:42PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
Samuel did not know the Lord. God was calling him to salvation, and to deeper service. What is the age of accountability? Whatever it is, Samuel had obviously reached it, and God is now going to hold him reponsible. Samuel was somewhere around twelve years of age.
God may call many times, but apparantly there does come a day when a man's heart is hardened. Proverbs 29:1 says, "He, that being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." Does God withdraw His grace after a certain point of steady refusal to hear His call? No, this does not happen. But man can resist and rebel and reject His call until his conscience becomes seared as with a red hot iron. Past this point it becomes highly unlikely that people will repent, they have sealed themselves off from hearing God.
And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for you did call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child.
Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He call you, that you shall say, Speak, LORD; for Your servant hears. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for Your servant hears(3:8-10).
Here we see the calls of Samuel to service. Old highpriest Eli finally figures out what is going on and gives the boy sound advice. Today believers must be listening for the call of God in their lives and respond properly so that they may receive the knowledge required to fulfill the call.
And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that hears it shall tingle.
In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end(3:11-12).
In the Old Testament there is what is called "prophetic tense." It is a past tense, but it speaks of the future. God speaks of things that have not yet happened as if they had already taken place. When God says something is going to happen, it is going to happen. God tells Samuel that all that He previously had spoken of doing to Eli's house is now to happen.
That is all for today, beloved. More will follow tomorrow. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.
Fri, Aug 27th - 12:20PM
3 JOHN STUDY
"Christ in you, the hope of glory." I'm not afraind of the devil. The devil can handle me---he's got judo I never heard of. But he can't handle the One to whom I'm joined; he can't handle the One to whom I'm united; he can't handle the One whose nature dwells in my nature."
~A. W. Tozer
"A man who has not learned to say, "No"---who is not resolved that he will take God's way, in spite of every dog that can bay or bark at him, in spite of every silvery voice that woos him aside---will be a weak and a wretched man till he dies."
Just a couple of quotes for today. 3 John study to continue later today! See you then!
We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth(3 John 8).
In the second epistle we were warned not to accept into our homes apostates, false teachers. For if we do this then we become partners with them in their evil deeds. Now, we are being told to receive gladly those who teach the truth. We are to open our homes to them and to provide for their needs as best we can. So, those who are walking in the light, walking in love, and have the life of God within them, we should lovingly receive them with joy.
Today we may know more Bible than the members of the early church, but I think that they had the better spiritual discernment. They could easily tell who was speaking by the Holy Spirit whereas many of us today have absolutely no clue what that even means. But when a man is distinguished as being a man of God who is doing God's work, he ought to be supported. This is what Gaius was doing on a regular basis back in John's day.
I wrote to the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, received us not(3 John 9).
Not all of the men in the early church were like Gaius. John wrote five books in the New Testament: a gospel, Revelation, and three epistles. By the time he wrote these three epistles he was a very old man. Very many wonderful believers had been brought into the truth and the church. But were all of the people who were brought into the church paragons of virtue? Did they all embrace the doctrine of Christ? Were they all outstanding disciples of Christ? No! We have an example of a man, in Diotrephes, who obviously did not embrace the commandments of Christ. Diotrephes in all reality was a dictator. He opposed the apostle John. Can you imagine such a thing? John wished to send Demetrius to preach but this man would not allow it. Diotrephes was going to have his own way, and it did not matter what the result might happen to be.
Diotrephes was a man who was pretentious and vainglorious. He had an oversupply of ambition. He desired to be the first one greeted, the first one sought out, and assumed authority that he never truly should have had. Can you recognize this sort of person in your congregation today? Or perhaps a congregation that you used to belong to? They are laypeople who have a strong desire to run the church. They may form a small clique and try to exert influence whenever possible during meetings. They do not desire God's will be done, only that their will be done. It is an unChristian attitude that can ruin an entire congregation, and whenever discovered it must be dealt with directly.
Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words: and not content thererwith, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and forbids them that would, and casts them out of the church(3 John 10).
John intended to go to this local church. God's will might circumvent his intentions, but he made them plain to all who read this verse. John lays out a list of this man's deeds which are to be addressed. (1) He must occupy the leading place in the church; (2) He actually refused to receive John; (3) He made malicious statements against the apostles; (4) He refused to entertain the missionaries, the ones who spoke and taught the various congregations; (5) He excommunicated those who did entertain the missionaries. Diotrephes wanted to be the first exalted ruler of the church. What a thought! Quite obviously he did not have the truth of God, he did not practice love of the brethren, and did not love Christ.
This is the sad state of affairs in too many churches just in America! Alleged believers who refuse preachers of the truth to come and teach at their church. And, if any of their members happen to contact the preacher of truth and ask him to come visit them at their home/s the leaders will kick them out of body of believers. It is shocking, and it is wrong. John intended to deal with Diotrephes and put an end to this state of affairs. Churches today need to clean house as necessary when detrimental behavior is ruining the church from the inside out.
That is all for today, beloved. My apologies for not posting this Friday night as promised, but I was extremely tired. Seems I have picked up some sort of intestinal bug that is finally running its course. Hopefully Monday will see a return to normal! May the grace of Christ our Lord and Savior be with you all.
Fri, Aug 27th - 6:32AM
I SAMUEL STUDY
In chapter three we find God's calling of Samuel. This marks a great transition period in the Bible, the change from theocracy to monarchy, from priest to king. And this is a huge change, for the people had allowed God to lead them previously but now they clamored for a king. So God began to provide that which would be needed in order that the people of Israel could have a king rule over them.
And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision(3:1).
By this point in time Samuel was around twelve years old. In his culture he was on the brink of early manhood. We also see in this verse that since God was not revealing Himself to very many people that His words were precious, scarce. God was not speaking directly to Eli anymore, nor to his two sons. He had spoken previously to each of the Judges who had been "leaders" of Israel, but now He was silent, until He began calling Samuel.
And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;
And before the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep(3:2-3).
It was one of the priestly duties to take care of this lamp in the tabernacle. It was to be refilled with oil before it went out, it must burn continually. But Eli was old, his eyesight going, and now the lamp was going out.
That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for you called me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.
And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for you did call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him(3:4-7).
What things revealed in these few verses! Eli was slow to realize what was happening. Samuel did not know the LORD at this point in his young life. This could be a picture of salvation today, beloved. God calling out to people by name, repeatedly. It is up to the individual to hear and respond to the call, saying, "Here am I!" Samuel had not even had the word of God revealed to him yet.
That is all for this morning, beloved. Next we shall see the completion of God's calling of Samuel and the judgment of Eli and his sons. Until then, may the grace of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior be with you all!
Wed, Aug 25th - 6:30AM
III JOHN STUDY
"What think ye of Christ? is the test. To try both your state and your scheme. You cannot be right in the rest, unless you think rightly of Him."
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth(3 John 4).
This is a comfort to believers, when those they have helped to find Christ, walk in truth. It brings joy to my heart to hear my son is going to church, listening to pastors on his MP3 player, and has greater peace in his life.
John had been pastor of the church in Ephesus, had led many to the Lord. "Walking in truth" once more means walking in right doctrine and in love for the brethren.
Beloved, you do faithfully whatsoever you do to the brethren, and to strangers(3 John 5).
Gaius would seem to have been one of John's many converts. His daily conduct conformed to his doctrine, and that was solidly based in Christ's truth.
We see here the contrast with what John had to say about offering hospitality to false teachers. Here John encourages believers to receive true brethren of Christ. We may be disappointed from time to time with false brethren, but it ought not to deter us from supporting that which we believe is of the Lord.
Since we have been warned about the fact that many false teachers have gone out into the world, why not develop some discernment? Do not support any congregation until you know for a fact that they give out the Word of God. Be sure that they love the brethren. This is where the rubber meets the road, very practical advice.
Which have borne witness of your charity before the church: whom if you bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, you shall do well(3 John 6).
After people visit your congregation they ought to be able to go to other congregations and give a glowing report of your faith, your walk, and your love of the brethren. Here also is encouragement to assist true believers on their journey as they serve the Lord.
Because that for His name's sake they went out, taking nothing of the Gentiles(3 John 7).
Missionaries go out into our world at great sacrifice. They do not receive a salary, usually they raise enough support to allow them to live among the people they are trying to spread God's Word to. They go out trusting in Christ.
This verse also highlights the fact that if a church appears to be wishing to get everybody to donate money to their cause then that church may just be a religious racket for getting rich quick at someone else's expense. True believers do not seek to take money from unbelievers.
Well, I have run out of time, beloved! Next time, God willing, I shall pick up at verse eight. May the grace of Christ our Lord be with you all.
Tue, Aug 24th - 8:10PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said to him, Thus says the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of your father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house?
And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer upon My altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before Me? and did I give to the house of your father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?
Wherefore kick you at My sacrifice and at Mine offering, which I have commanded in My habitation; and honor your sons above Me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel My people(2:27-29)?
Didn't God send a prophet to confront Eli and deliver a personal message to Eli from God. God at this point in history is moving towards being finished with the priesthood. God was in the process of raising up a priest-prophet, Samuel. We can apply this to ourselves today. God has chosen us, picked us, to be His children of faith. If we act like Eli we are going to open ourselves up to be severely disciplined by God. We need to always act with the mind of Christ and to serve Him wholeheartedly.
Wherefore the LORD God of Israel says, I said indeed that your house, and the house of your father, should walk before Me for ever: but now the LORD says, Be it far from Me; for them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed(2:30).
God always honors those who honor Him. Do not honor God, despise Him, and you will not be highly regarded by God. It was true back in Eli's day, and it remains true today. The redeemed of Christ need to be voicing honor of God each day, not just on Sundays.
Behold, the days come, that I will cut off your arm, and the arm of your father's house, that there shall not be an old man in your house.
And you shall see an enemy in My habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in your house for ever.
And the man of yours, whom I shall not cut off from My altar, shall be to consume your eyes, and to grieve your heart: and all the increase of your house shall die in the flower of their age.
And this shall be a sign to you, that shall come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall both die(2:31-34).
This prophet of God laid some old fashioned truth on Eli. Consequences of his actions, and non actions, were finally coming home to roost upon his shoulders. God was not going to allow Eli's lineage to continue into the future, both of his sons would die on the same day.
And I will raise Me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in My heart and in My mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before My anointed for ever.
Mon, Aug 23rd - 11:36AM
I SAMUEL STUDY
Some quotes for this day; study to come later today.
"The diamond cannot be polished without friction, nor the man perfected without trials."
"A Christian is like a teabag---he's not worth much until he's been through some hot water."
"To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing."
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.
Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice(2:18-19).
Samuel may be growing up under the influence of Eli's two dishonest sons, but his mother does not forget her son. Hannah continues to love her boy. Each year she made a new coat and gave it to Samuel when they came to give sacrifice.
And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give you seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went to their own home.
And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD(2:20-21).
God didn't forget Hannah. God blessed her with five more children. And yet she did not forget about Samuel and brought him a new coat each year. And Samuel served God and grew before the LORD despite the wicked situation that existed within the tabernacle. This is something which we can take home with us from reading these verses. We remain faithful in serving God, no matter the situation in which we find ourselves, and He will reward us and allow us to grow spiritually.
Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation(2:22).
Eli indulged his sons, he did not discipline them and he did not raise them up in the way that they ought to go. He closed his eyes, turned his head, to the sins of his sons. We see their gross immorality within the tabernacle. They slept with the women who collected at the door of the tabernacle looking for favors. Today we keep hearing about the "new morality" which is actually the old immorality.
And he said to them, Why do you such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people(2:23).
The actions of the sons of Eli were an open scandal in all Israel. Eli did not take effective action to put an end to their behavior.
Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: you make the LORD's people to transgress(2:24).
The people were doing what they saw the priests doing. Why not? They were the ones serving God! We must be careful in our behavior within the realm of serving Christ so that people do not get the wrong impression of what is acceptable behavior in serving God.
If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the LORD, and also with men(2:25-26).
Samuel continued to flourish as he chose to serve God in truth. The LORD favored him as did the people who could see his behavior. He is dedicated to God and God is going to use him. This is what God desires in each believer today, that we would dedicate ourselves to Him and allow Him to use us.
That is all for tonight, beloved. May the grace of Christ be with you all.
Sun, Aug 22nd - 5:01PM
III JOHN STUDY
It is believed that all three of these epistles were written after John wrote the Book of Revelation. They were therefore written very close to the end of the first century and all were probably written fairly close together in time.
In the first epistle John stressed the fact that the family of God is held together by love and that believers are to love one another. In the second epistle John stressed that there are very many deceivers, antichrists, out in the world and that believers are not to love them. We are not to entertain them in our homes. We are to give them the gospel message, but we are not to be concerned with their welfare. We are not to support their causes. Truth is vital to knowing who to love fully and who to refrain from having contact.
This third epistle of John's is similar to his second in character, and it contains the same theme of truth. Walking in truth is all important. But this epistle also differs from the second in some ways. In the second epistle John said that truth was worth standing up for. Now he will state that the truth is worth working for. So this epistle will deal with my life for God, and it will have to do with walking and working in the truth. Love by itself can become extremely sloppy; it can easily be misdirected, and it can be misunderstood if it is not being expressed within the confines of truth.
The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth(3 John 1).
John simply utilizes his position as an elder within the church as he addresses this epistle to Gaius. Gaius is a brother in Christ and he is also a friend of John's. Four times John calls Gaius "beloved" in this epistle, rather pointedly letting us know how close these two men were. This is one reason why I refer to those who are reading my posts as "beloved." If you are Christ's then you are a beloved person in my mind and in my heart. I do not think that this word gets used often enough in today's congregations. It ought to be heard in every worship service, every bible study, every communion meal.
Gaius was a man who stood in the truth. He accepted the deity of Christ and not only stood for the truth but he also worked for the truth. That is another thing which is sorely lacking in too many congregations around America, working for the truth. Jonathan Falwell this morning pointed out that for us to have the heart of God means that we can't sit in our living rooms and not do anything to reach out to people who do not know about Christ. We must go. We must do the work of God, just as Jesus said that He must be about His Father's business, so to we ought to be about our Father's business. That is how we are able to redeem the time. The harvest is white, where are the workers to bring it in? Sitting at home watching TV, out golfing, out water skiing. I am as guilty as the next person in regards to this. We all must get energized and get busy, for the day is coming when we will not be able to do anything anymore to change people's lives. Today is the day!
Beloved, I wish above all things that you might prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers(3 John 2).
John clearly desires Gaius to prosper financially as well as he had prospered spiritually. Perhaps Gaius had some health issues? John wanted him to regain healthiness in order to continue to serve God. John expected that Gaius would continue to grow spiritually and wished him to prosper financially alongside that spiritual maturity.
Today we find very many Christians who are sick spiritually. They have excellent physical health, but they have lousy spiritual health. Good physical health is never appreciated until it is lost. I know, I just had my appendix removed and the two weeks of inactivity have affected me physically. I have lost some fitness due to inactivity. It will take some weeks to rebuild that loss to get back to where I was before the surgery. I more fully appreciate good physical health. But it is even more important to have good spiritual health. What physical health is to our bodies, holiness is to the spiritual life of a believer. To be healthy spiritually is holiness and it is growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.
Gaius opened up his home to the various missionaries who were working in his area and provided for their needs. Despite his health being less than great, he worked hospitality on a regular basis.
For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, even as you walk in the truth(3 John 3).
Evidently many of the traveling missionaries and preachers had reported to John about Gaius' love for the brethren. They reported how he stood up for the truth and did not compromise his faith in Christ. This brought immense joy to John when he heard about it. Back then there were no Motel 8's, Ramada Inns, Days Inns, or anything remotely like them. So, believers housed the missionaries and preachers.
And this is what believers need to be doing today. Not necessarily housing them, but most certainly paying for them to stay at a motel or hotel is alright. We need to honor and bless these people and support them for all that they do in service to Christ.
That is all for today, beloved. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus be with you all.
Sat, Aug 21st - 3:27PM
II JOHN STUDY
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward(1:8).
Having fellowship with the wrong people does not cost you your salvation. It will place you in some dangerous waters where temptations will be numerous. We can lose rewards that have been reserved for us up in heaven. We can easily lose the power of our testimony before the lost of this world.
Each believer ought to be striving for a reward in order to hear one day, "Well done, you good and faithful servant(Matthew 25:21)." The apostle Paul, at the end of his life, could say that he had fought a good fight, that he had finished the race, kept the faith and therefore had a crown of righteousness laid up for him in heaven. During his life Paul wasn't always 100% sure of this, for he had been a very wicked man prior to meeting Christ and accepting Him as his Lord and Savior. But at the end of his life Paul was very sure.
Whosoever transgresses, and remains not in lthe doctrine of Christ, has not God. He that remains in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son(1:9).
The Greek word for transgresses is "proago." It means to go before or to go ahead. Thus the meaning here is to go farther than is right. This addresses going to extremes. When we take certain doctrines and take them to the extreme, then we are no longer remaining in the doctrine of Christ but have gone farther than is right. This the error of the Gnostics, they feel that they have some superior knowledge which none of us have access to. I understand that many atheists feel that that is how Christians come across to them, we think that we have superior knowledge that they do not have. I think it has more to do with our finding truth rather than our obtaining superior knowledge.
If you and I remain in the doctrine of Christ then we have both the Father and the Son. We have access to the Father through the Son due to His infinite grace, if we remain in the doctrine of Christ. For any of us to be accused of being old-fashioned and of not having changed in several years is a compliment! It means that we are remaining in Christ's doctrine as we ought to.
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed(1:10).
Can there be any stronger statement made about unbelievers coming into your home? If people claim to be Christians but do not bring this doctrine with them, then do not fellowship with them. Cult members ought not be allowed to enter into your home according to John here. The Gnostics used to infiltrate the first century church and attempt to teach their beliefs which did not remain in the doctrine of Christ. Error was introduced into the family of God in this manner and was propagated. It has led to the extremely high number of factions in the Christian community today. Apostates are not to be entertained by believers.
For he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds(1:11).
Do not accept people at face value. They must be checked out to be sure that they are not false teachers. Televangelists ask for your money, do not give it until you thoroughly check out who they are and what they believe in. To give them money and then find out that they do not even believe in Christ is to be aiding and abetting the enemy of God.
There are many clever people out in our world today who are trying to make a fast buck. They wish to get rich and retire at a very early age. They do not care about anyone else, just themselves and accumulating wealth as quickly as they possibly can. Are we moved by pictures of orphans in foreign lands? Or perhaps you are easily snared by pictures of abused pets? But do you know for a fact that your money is actually making it to these causes? Or is the majority of your money directed into "administrative expenses?" Believers must smarten up and not get taken in by ungodly causes.
Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen(1:12-13).
John knows that what he has to say to these brethren will be better expressed in person than via writing about them on paper. John was desiring, and expecting, to meet with them in person soon. He ends this brief epistle with mention of the children of this woman's elect sister greeting her. I will remain with the thought that this was a sister church which sent its greetings back to the church in Philippi.
Obviously John wished to engage in fellowship with the believers in Philippi and to speak more on these matters. Isn't this how we ought to feel towards our own congregations? We should yearn to come face to face with each other and exchange thoughts and experiences from our walk with Christ. Rather than this being viewed as a time of criticism, it should be seen as an opportunity to be blessed and to be a blessing to others.
That is all for today, beloved. Tomorrow I shall begin III John as we continue our studies in the New Testament. May the grace of Christ our Lord be with you all.
Fri, Aug 20th - 9:58PM
II JOHN STUDY
And this is love, that we walk after His commandments. This is the commandment, That as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it(1:6).
How to show love of God? It is to walk after His commandments(John 14:15). These commandments are much more than the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament. Those ten are basic to government and basic to civilization, but the Christian is called to a higher level where he/she is to produce in his/her life by the Holy Spirit love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc.. If these things are in us and remain in us, we are walking after Christ's commandments.
Love is not made in the bedroom, but in the kitchen and the laundry room. Does she cook meals for the family, wash clothes for the family? Does he bring home his paycheck for the family, does he support his family? Love in the family must be expressed through actions and not only words. This is also how love in the church is expressed. We must have a concern for others and express it through actions.
We must remember that John and Paul wrote to people who lived in the Roman world. The emperor was Nero during Paul's time. John witnessed more than one emperor rise and fall. Beginning with Titus, the Roman general who destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the persecution was severe. The Roman empire might have been civilization as such, but it was a brutal, cruel world nonetheless. And yet, here were people who walked down Roman streets, living in pagan cities, and they walked after the commandments of Christ. The gospel became alive to them. This is what is desperately needed in our world today, especially here in America.
John says that what we have heard from the beginning must not be set up high on a shelf for safe keeping. Christ taught this, We must get busy and and walk in it each day.
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist(1:7).
Here we see the polarization of Christian life. Love is on one end, and the truth is on the other. Truth can't be sacrificed for the sake of loving others. The spirit of antichrist has been loosed in our world for several centuries now, and it always seeks to deny the reality of Christ, the deity of Christ, or that Christ came in the flesh. It is a spirit which questions everything about Him. It questions His words, His actions, His motivations, His birth, His death, and His resurrection.
The trend through history is towards the spirit of antichrist becoming centered upon two men. In Revelation 13 we can find two men described; one is a great political ruler and the other is a religious ruler who will imitate Christ and cause the world to worship the political ruler. This is still in our future, moving ever closer to its appointed time of happening. It will be a time of one world government, one world religion. The world will be ready to accept them. The political ruler will promise peace in the entire world, and for three and one-half years he will do just that. These events simply precede a catastrophe that is ushered in by the war of Armageddon which would appear to last for about three and one-half years. It will end when Christ sets foot upon the earth once more.
Gnosticism ran rampant in John's day. Everywhere the gospel has gone, the cults have followed upon its heels. The "isms" always follow the preaching of the gospel, they never go before it. Back in John's time there were the Cerinthian Gnostics who followed a teacher by the name of Cerinthus. These people taught that Jesus and Christ were two different entities completely and that the divine came upon Jesus at His baptism and left Him at the cross. There were also the Doecetic Gnostics who denied the reality of the physical body of Christ. They said that the apostles thought they saw Jesus, but He actually was not a real person; He was just an appearance. Today we have groups which still teach these beliefs.
There were also Jewish sects at that time which picked up some teachings of Christ down in the Qumran and Masada areas who had twisted and warped conceptions of who Christ was. These have also filtered down to our own day.
These points do not say that I can't hold a different view from another believer, on say, election. But on the basic doctrines of the faith there can be no variance from the truth. Everything else is up for discussion and debate, if so desired. John Wesley and John Calvin held different opinions of election but both believed in the deity of Jesus Christ and thus they were brothers in Christ.
The risk of becoming a truth fundamentalist is that you are devoid of love to temper what you think and say. There is error in thinking that to have the right doctrine is the most important thing. This approach to Christianity leads to judgmentalism, legalism, harshness and bitterness of heart towards those who do not believe exactly like you do.
We are to be aware of those who are not believers, the deceivers who deny the deity of Christ. They may be religious but they are not Christians. Anyone who does not follow Christ and His commandments is an unbeliever. This is true of every denomination within Christianity. Believers must live according to I John 3:10.
That is all for tonight, beloved. The grace of Christ our Lord be with you all.
Thu, Aug 19th - 6:07PM
II JOHN STUDY
Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love(1:3).
Here are three words whose meaning must be clear in our minds. They all apply to the same thing and yet there are differences in meaning. The three words are love, mercy, and grace. What is the difference between them? In Ephesians 2:4-5 we read, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us. Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;)." The apostle Paul says that God is rich with mercy and that combined with His great love for us leads Him to save us by grace. The love of God comes from out of His attributes, He is love. Before anything was created, God was love. How could it possibly be since there was nothing and no one to love? There always is the Trinity of the Godhead and we know that love exists between God the Father and God the Son from other passages in the New Testament Gospels. Without love there never would have been a care to exercise mercy or grace towards us. But notice, love does not save. It caused God to move in the direction of mercy and grace; it caused Him to exercise mercy and grace.
Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer explains mercy and grace like this: "Mercy is that in God which duly provided for the need of sinful man. Grace is that in Him which acts freely to save because all the demands of holiness have been satisfied." God is free to act in grace. Mercifully, God provided mankind with the means to meet all of the demands of God's holiness. Through grace, as each person accepts/trusts the name of Christ Jesus, God redeems them from the wages of sin. Jesus has that which satisfies the requirements of His holiness and so we must identify ourselves with Jesus in order to become redeemed and reconciled with God. "By grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God(Ephesians 2:8)."
Are their fine distinctions amongst the three words? Most assuredly. Salvation all originates from the love of God, but God does not save by His love or His mercy. Our God is a holy God, and the Bible does say, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son...(John 3:16)" God so loved the world that by His infinite mercy He provided a Savior for the entire world, and now He can save them by grace.
Salvation is also an expression of the justice and righteousness of God. As much as we need John 3:16 we also need Romans 3:26, "To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus." In order to justify you and I when we trust Christ, God must be righteous and holy and just. You and I are not fit for heaven. We are alienated from God. We have no fellowship with God. That communication broke down completely back in the Garden of Eden. God is the one who has renewed it. Since He is just and righteous, His mercy provided a Savior, and it was because He loves us.
Mercy, by necessity, must come first to the sinner before grace can enter into the picture. Once a person, through God's mercy, has found grace then the doors are flung wide open to the discovery of peace. Peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Peace comes from the fact that you and God are reconciled with one another, there are no more open hostilities. Instead of standing against you, God is now on your side. Peace comes to the heart and mind since the person now has unchanging truth to hold onto. In an ever changing world this is immensely important to people. God becomes your anchor in turbulent times. He becomes your friend, your comforter, your teacher, your mentor. Because you now are at peace with God you can also begin to be at peace with those around you.
We need to notice that truth comes before love in the last phrase of this verse. Love must operate from within the boundaries of truth otherwise it will become misdirected, or abused. Am I being dogmatic? Yes, I am. Intentionally so. This is how God operates and it is how He desires us to operate. To properly love anyone, we must do so from a position of knowing what the truth is.
I rejoiced greatly that I found of your children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father(1:4).
We probably see a reference to both a single woman's children and the members of the local congregation. "Walking in truth" means the manner of life, walking in obedience to Christ. It is an indescribable feeling to see your children walk in such a manner. It is also a wonderful feeling to see the members of your spiritual family walk this way as well. The commandment received from God is that we walk in the light as He is in the light, that we organize our lives by the Word of God.
And now I beseech you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another(1:5).
"The beginning" refers to the start of the ministry of Christ in His incarnation. This verse refers to such passages as John 14:15 and John 13:35. From the very start, Christ taught that believers are to love one another.
Here we have the progression: walking in truth and loving one another. This balance is extremely important within the church today. Too much love and not enough truth and we become lopsided. All of the apostles stressed that we are to walk in love. But it must come out of our knowledge of truth.
There is a certain polarity to the Christian faith and life. John stressed love in his first epistle, but he also said that that love is for the brethren, it is for believers, for those who are in Christ. As soon as anyone says that we are to love everyone, they have watered down the truth from God. It is impossible to love everyone as God has loved everyone. But we most certainly can love those people who have the same spirit within themselves as is within us. God has told us how to love the world: take my Gospel out to the lost. But love cannot be placed above truth for then you have sacrificed truth and without truth we are utterly lost.
That is all for today, beloved. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Wed, Aug 18th - 4:31PM
II JOHN STUDY
And now we move on into II John, a brief letter by most standards. This letter is similar to Philemon in that it is a personal letter. Everything that John has written has been in the context of the family of God. Paul wrote of the church of God, while Peter wrote of the government of God.
Apparently there was a particular woman who was extending hospitality to all those who claimed to be brethren of Christ. John utilizes this opportunity to illuminate their minds to the fact that when love and truth come into conflict, truth is the one that is to have dominance; it has top priority.
Truth always is worth contending for. I believe that the truth in the Word of God is worth contending for, and when I say truth, I mean that which is basic to the fact that the Bible is the Word of God. Another essential basic is the deity of Christ and His work upon the cross for us. If you and I agree on those two basics, we can disagree on a bunch of non-essential items and still remain friends.
What is our relationship with the lost sinner? In the Gospel of John we are told that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for them. We are to love them to the extent that we bring that message to them. We are not to embrace them and their sins and welcome them on into our personal lives. We are to befriend them, help them, and share our faith with them lovingly.
What is our relationship to false teachers, to those who deny the deity of Christ? John will make it very plain in this next letter of his that it is something of which we must be aware. We can't love everybody, there are some whom we are warned against even associating with. Our love in action is in taking the Gospel to the lost people of this world, of demonstating truth and the love of Christ.
John emphasized love in his first letter, but now he switches to truth. When love and truth lock horns, which one is to prevail? The so-called "apostle of love" states that in these situations it is truth that comes first. Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He did not say that He was love. You have to come to the Father through Jesus the Christ, there is no other way. Beloved, love can be exressed only within the limitations and boundaries that Scripture sets.
The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth(1:1).
"Presbuteros" here means an elder of the church, and perhaps it also has some age-related connotations attached to it. John was somewhere in the nineties age-wise. He did not mention his office as an apostle. There was no need to wield that title as the person to whom he wrote accepted his authority within the church.
"Electa" in Greek can mean the name of an important woman in the church, or it could be the local church itself. "Her children" could either be the physical children of the woman or the spiritual children of the church. I will lean towards it being the church. This is not a leaning towards one denomination over another, or one local congregation over another. It is thinking in terms of the big picture: global church of Christ. I take this stance since John said not only he loved her in truth but also "all they that have known the truth." That phrase flings the doors open wide to inclusivity of all believers of Christ everywhere. This is what makes this brief letter so very relevant to believers today. It is written to the "church" which Christ began.
"Whom I love in the truth" strikes us quickly in verse one. This helps us all to keep clarity in our definition of what love is. Christian love can only be expressed in the bounds of the family of God, those who have the truth. This isn't about elitism, it is about what is true and what is not. "The truth" is the Word of God, it is also the One who is revealed in the Word. John essentially is saying here two things: (1) That the object of his love must be another believer in Christ, a genuine believer; and (2) that he is genuine in asserting this, that expressing his love is not just a pious platitude.
For the truth's sake, which dwells in us, and shall be with us for ever(1:2).
This first phrase means a defense of the truth. Truth must be defended when it is assaulted by unbelief. We must be willing to stand up and defend the walls of our homes against false ideas, false beliefs, false doctrines, and the wiles of Satan. Too many conservatives today have achieved a compromise between truth and expediency. They are unwilling to stand against the ungodly, to say "no!" They would rather protect their self-interests rather than serve God's interests. I would say to the Republican Party in America: stop compromising and stand up for the truth! Stop accepting special interest money, stop greasing the palms behind closed doors in order to get legislation to pass. Get back to governing from a position of strength, of inner integrity, become a person of ethics and moral high standing. Stop spending more money than the government is bringing in! For the sake of truth! Shrink the government if you have to, but get the budget balanced, fast! Time is running out! Enough, I now step down from off of my soapbox.
Thank God we will have the truth with us for ever! Today, when we can not believe politicians, you can't believe the college professors, you can't believe the scientists, and you can't believe the military leadership, it is comforting to know that there is someone in whom you can trust and believe. Christ Jesus's Spirit of truth dwells inside of each believer and He does not change over time. The truth is the same today as it was two thousand years ago.
That is all for today, beloved. Tomorrow I shall continue on with the next three or four verses at least, they will introduce three words to us that we need to understand. Until then, grace and peace be with you all.
Tue, Aug 17th - 10:03AM
I JOHN STUDY
If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it(5:16).
"Death" here refers to physical death. This has no reference at all to spiritual death for the child of God has eternal life. John says that believers can commit a sin for which God will call them home; He will remove them from this life physically, perhaps because they are disgracing Him in public.
Who in the Bible committed such sins? Moses and Aaron committed a sin unto death. Remember how Moses got angry when the children of Israel kept begging him for water and, instead of speaking to the rock as God commanded him, he smote the rock two times. Disobedience. Moses ought not to have even touched the rock. It had been struck before and did not require any further physical contact. The rock was to be an example and a type of Christ. Paul wrote, "And the children of Israel did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ(I Corinthians 10:4)." Christ died only once, and Moses spoiled the example by striking the rock twice. "And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, Because you did not believe Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them(Numbers 20:12)." Moses ended up being restored to his position of leadership, but he would not be allowed to enter into the Promised Land. He pleaded with God but God told him "ain't happening." Moses and Aaron had sinned a sin unto physical death.
In the New Testament we have the example of Ananias and Sapphira. They were a part of the early church, and they were guilty of a lie(Acts 5:1-11). They had willingly given a false impression to the early church; they were willing to lie, and to live a lie. They could have openly kept a portion of the proceeds of selling their property, but they chose to lie. Because of that, God removed them from this life.
You may ask, "What is a sin unto death?" This is not an unpardonable sin. What I am talking about is a sin that causes physical death for God will decide to call that person home. This always concerns believers and never lost sinners; God does not whip Satan's children. God chastens His children.
This sin for Moses and Aaron was anger which led them into disobedience of God. Ananias and Sapphira lied and were willing to live as hypocrites. Also, in the city of Corinth there were believers who were getting drunk and disorderly while at the Lord's Table for communion. So a sin unto death is no one specific thing. It can vary from believer to believer. This does not mean that every Christian who dies has committed the sin unto death.
All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death(5:17).
Believers who are alive today have all sinned, but we haven't sinned a sin unto death. We did something that was wrong, said something that was wrong, it was unrighteousness, but God didn't take us home, He did not yank us off of the playground.
We know that whosoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one does not touch him(5:18).
As has been revealed through this epistle, you and I have two natures: an old nature and a new nature. The new nature will not sin. It never sins but has a desire for God and for the things of God. That old nature will sin, and it is because of it that a believer does sin.
This verse suggests that no child of God can be demon possessed. Christians can get to a place where they are oppressed by demons, their lives being messed up and suffering from feelings of despondency. At these times they must get into God's Word and into serious prayer to discover what is out of balance in their spiritual life. Correction must be done in their life in order to drive off Satan's demonic influence.
And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness(5:19).
Here we have revealed to us that Satan has the entire world duped, stupified, conned, into believing that spirituality is a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. The entire world sleeps in wickedness while the children of God remain awake and aware of reality. Satan does not want any Christian attempting to waken any slumbering person on this planet. He desires everyone to remain unaware of his existence until he decides otherwise. He wishes people to continue to attend weekly church services and not deal with their sins. The world is in the arms of Satan and he rocks all of them alseep with his lullabye.
And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life(5:20).
Christianity is not a religion, despite what people may say, or claim. It is a Person, and that Person is Christ. If you have Him you have salvation and you are in truth, it is all about relationship.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen(5:21).
Anything and everything which stands between you and Christ is an idol. Keep yourself from the things of this world, keep yourself unentangled, so that your mind remains dedicated to serving God. People worship many wicked things in this wicked world. The internet has been a Pandora's Box in this regard and needs to be regulated by authorities much, much better. Individuals must take greater personal ethical, moral, responsibility in what sites they visit.
This is the completion of I John. Tomorrow I will begin the second epistle of John which has themes of love expressed in the boundary of truth, life is an expression of the doctrine of Christ, and finally, a personal greeting.
May you have the grace of Christ in your hearts, and may His peace fill your life each and every day.
Mon, Aug 16th - 11:20AM
I JOHN STUDY
These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of of the Son of God(5:13).
John states a dual purpose for writing this epistle: (1) "that you may believe on the name of the Son of God"; that is salvation, and (2) "that you may know that you have eternal life"; knowledge of having life through Christ. Many people today say that that they just want to believe that they have eternal life. The question is: Whom do you believe? Not what do you believe, but in whom do you believe? Do you believe God and the record that He gave?
John said in his gospel account that "these things were written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name(John 20:30-31)." Upon gaining knowledge of Jesus being the Christ believers then must know that they have eternal life through Christ Jesus by believing on the name of Jesus.
If you have the Son, you have life, and John wants all of us to know that. This is not about how much faith you have, it is whether or not you trust Christ.
And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us(5:14)."
This confidence is closely related to "boldness." Here is a transition into prayer. Our assurance through knowledge moves us to boldly ask any thing according to God's will. The key word is "according" since if we ask selfish stuff from out of our desires they will be denied by God. We must therefore learn as much as possible about what God has revealed to us about His will. Then we may pray to Him, ask freely according to His will and He will hear and honor those requrests. Will He answer them quickly? That is up to God to decide, not you and I.
George Muller put it like this: "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness." It is not about trying to get God to do something which He is reluctant to do, but prayer is to be our thinking His thoughts after Him.
God hears the prayers of His children but will not always answer them by giving them what they asked for. God will provide what what was needed to fulfill the prayer properly.
And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him(5:15).
See, if we know that God hears our prayers then if follows that He will fulfill them. When we fall out of fellowship with Christ and other believers then our prayerlife will suffer for God will not hear our petitions. If I have active sin in my life then my prayers will fall upon deaf ears in heaven. I must first resolve the sin, repent of it, and re-establish my relationship with Christ. It is akin to losing DSL signal. I can connect to the internet via DSL signal as long as that signal remains strong. When it weakens and frays due to static noise, or if the physical connection is broken, then I am unable to communicate with the internet. Repair must be made. Correction must be done. Only then can I relink with the internet. Similarly with God, if I have a strong connection with God due to no sin in my life, seeking out His will in my life, serving others, studying His Word then my prayers will be heard and answered as I will be asking them in terms of His will and not my own. But if I begin to slip up and allow temptation to lead me into a sin then my connection with God begins to unravel a bit. If I lie to cover up my sin then there is even more unraveling occuring. "Static noise" from the sin in my life will prevent me from ever hearing God's voice, and the sin will stop God from hearing my petition/s. This requires me to repent of the sin, erradicate it from my life, ask God to forgive my weakness, and begin the process of healing up the wounds to my fellowship with God. Then, over time, God will begin to hear my prayers once more.
If we are in fellowship with with God, we are not sinning in our lives, we are not harboring grudges against others, we are going to pray unselfishly for others. When we are walking in agreement with Christ we will ask for that which Christ would be pleased to provide for us. We are not to come before God in mistrust, or as beggars, or filled with doubt. We are to come in prayer and boldly ask that God's will be done.
That is all for today, beloved. Tomorrow, God willing, I will work toward finishing up this chapter. May you all have abundant life today through Christ! Grace and peace be yours!
Sun, Aug 15th - 5:48PM
I JOHN STUDY
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son(5:9).
Have you reached a point yet where there are certain news commentators, or even entire networks, which you refuse to listen to since they do not report facts but simply opinions? What they report is biased, prejudiced, unsubstantiated, and generally one faceted. They do not seek out both sides to a story and report them. They are willing to misinform you, and they are willing to withhold certain facts to gain their overall goal in their agenda. It makes for highly unethical practices in the news media.
Most people do accept the witness of men and they are taken in by it. It is how scam artists separate people from their money. Very many people also believe what is said on television, newsprint, and the internet without question. But they refuse to believe in the witness of God.
God does not give out news on every topic today. Some people expect that He ought to do so since He knows everything. God's news is good, very good. It is about His Son who died for us on the cross on Calvary. But people are not always happy to hear about Jesus for they think it means that they must sacrifice everything that they have.
He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that does not believe God has made Him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave of His Son(5:10).
God provided a solid record of His Son, Jesus Christ. The fulfilled prophecies, the miracles, the death by crucifixion, the burial, and the resurrection all are testified to by God's Holy Spirit within each believer. When a person does not believe God, they add to their other sins by implying that God is a liar. God says, "Trust Christ, and I'll save you." If you say, "I don't need Christ to be saved," then you are saying God lies.
"Because he does not believe the record that God gave..." What is this "record?" John is going to give it to us right now.
And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son(5:11).
The record is that God gave us eternal life through Jesus His Son. Have Jesus, have eternal life. Don't have Jesus, you don't have eternal life. You might have something else, but it it not eternal life in heaven.
He that has the Son has life; and he that does not have the Son of God does not have life(5:12).
John didn't say here that he who belongs to the church has life. Or, that he who gets baptized has life. Or, that he who is born into a Christian family has life. None of those things matter when it comes down to you having eternal life. One must have Christ as their Lord and Savior. If you have not come to that point in your life, beloved, then you have come nowhere. To have Christ means to trust Him which means that you accept His shed blood in payment for your sins which means that you are born again. Christ is our lifeboat, He is our lifeline. We are lost without Him, powerless without Him.
Can it be any clearer? Forget about religion. Forget about all of these denominations. Forget about all of the rituals and ceremonies. Forget about seminary. It is all vanity! The important thing is: Do you have Christ? Is He your Savior?
I can't distill this down more, do you believe God, or don't you? God makes no allowances for fence-sitters. Pick a side, and hop on down.
Beloved, next time I shall move along with the next three or four verses and show the confidence that can be had in Christ. I hope and pray that God is alive in your lives each and every day! I know that my God is alive in mine! Grace and peace of Christ be yours.
Sat, Aug 14th - 5:59PM
I JOHN STUDY
I am back! I had to have my appendix removed this past Monday and did not get released from the hospital until yesterday morning. I am now in recuperation mode. Let's get to our I John study, shall we?
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one(5:7).
If, there are three that bare record in heaven what do you think Satan has to reflect that down here on earth? He himself desires to be God, and the Book of Revelation reveals that there will come a time when Satan shall raise up two other individuals who are to bare record of things here on earth. Satan shall offer up a counterfeit Messiah at the proper time for his plans and there will be all of the required miracles and so forth that goes with it. To anyone who is spiritually ignorant it will appear quite genuine. To those who have learned the signs, it will signify that the End Times are truly here.
It is important to realize that everything that happens gets recorded in heaven. God accounts for everything, nothing slips by His notice. The other important point to this verse is that it points out the factuality of the trinitarian nature of God. The Bible may not offer up the term "trinity" but to me, three has always meant triple, or trine, or triad or any other one you can can conjure up; but it still boils down to three in one when talking about God's nature. There simply isn't three of em up there in heaven, there are three that are one. And that is important to keep straight in our minds.
And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one((5:8).
What is the agreement which these three witnesses have? They agree in one purpose, the purpose of presenting Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world who shed His blood upon Calvary and paid the penalty for our sins.
The Holy Spirit will take the Word of God and apply it to our hearts. The Holy Spirit likely is here as I type these words and guides what I do, and do not write. Each time that someone clicks on this blog to read something He will be here to take His Word and apply it to that person's heart. He bears record, He is a witness to perhaps you coming to know Jesus for the very first time in your life or to making a decision to make further changes in your faith walk and gain a deeper relationship with God.
The blood of Christ delivers us from the penalty of sin. The Word of God delivers us from the defilement of sin in the world today. And so I have basically adopted a one tune lineup: deliver the good news of Jesus Christ to people. That means delivering God's Word for that is where the salvation message of Jesus can be found...
We live in a time where we are constantly told to about proper cleanliness in order to avoid exposure to contagion and diseases. This mantra has contributed to the creation of "super bugs" which are tolerant of antibiotic medicines. Of course, the major cog in that scenario is that doctors took it upon themselves to prescribe antibiotics for all sorts of things and people would not finish taking all of their dosages. The germs became stronger and stronger each time until now we have strains of germs which require brand new drugs to kill them off.
The only miracle cleansing agent in the entire world, of course, is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. To discover why that fact is, a person must be given God's Word. Then upon accepting Christ as one's Savior they can experience the effects of said blood's application upon them. Saul of Tarsus had very much blood of the saints of Christ upon his hands for he persecuted them relentlesly, and yet Jesus reached out and changed him on that road to Damascus. Saul became Paul, went from being blood-stained through his sins to being cleansed by Christ's blood, and went from wearing graves' clothes to that of white linen. It is the beauty of the hymnal where it asks, "What can wash away your sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!"
Lastly, God's Word can keep us clean after salvation from all of the "dirtiness" of our world through which we are forced to move daily.
Well, this is about as long as I can sit upright in a chair today. I hope that you all return tomorrow as I will attempt to continue this study at that time. Grace and peace be yours all of this wonderful day!
Fri, Aug 6th - 12:55PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"Respect of persons is inconsistent with God's grace. It is inconsistent with God's law. In fact, respect of persons is an act of sin. Racial discrimination and racism are an insult to God."
"America is said to have the highest per capita boredom of any spot on earth! We know that because we have the greatest number of artificial amusements of any country. People have become so empty that they can't even entertain themselves. They have to pay other people to amuse them, to make them laugh, to try to make them feel warm and happy and comfortable for a few minutes, to try to lose that awful, frightening, hollow feeling---that terrible, dreaded feeling of being lost and alone."
Now, let's delve back into what the priests were doing in the tabernacle while supposedly serving God.
And the priest's custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;
And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh, unto all the Israelites that came hither.
Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of you, but raw.
And if any man said to him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as your soul desires; then he would answer him, Nay; but you shall give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force(2:13-16).
These priests were being completely dishonest in doing the Lord's work. They were, in effect, running a religious scam. They were acting like the Mafia.
Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD(2:17).
Their utter dishonesty caused many people to turn away from God. Why not? The priests were using strongarmed tactics to get the choicest meat portions for themselves. The people could see what Eli's sons were doing within the tabernacle and they were driven away in either fear or disgust. This is why today we must be very careful about how we are living our lives and how we run our congregations. We can't simply close our eyes to sin that is happening within our congregation. To do so ultimately drives people away, and destines the congregation to dissolve. This is one of the big reasons why young people refuse to attend any church. They observe that hypocrisy exists and is swept under the carpet by those who lead. Or they observe the respect of certain people over others. These things ought not to be present in our church. Hypocrisy may very well exist, but it must be dealt with effectively and biblically. This aspect of the organized church has not changed over the centuries, it persists unless we are aware and alert to its existance.
That is all for today in this study, beloved. I think the Billy Graham quote above is very accurate today. America requires, more and more, to be entertained. It has wormed into our worship services and has influenced worship leaders into compromising their musical selections and the content of the service so that people will be "entertained" and come back for more. We need to move away from this growing trend and get back to doing things the way God leads us to do them.
Thu, Aug 5th - 6:59PM
Study in I John
Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God(5:5)?
It is quite plain that to overcome the world one must believe that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God. Acceptance of that fact empowers one through Christ through faith in Him. Everyone who denies that Christ is God, and denies that Christ is the Lamb of God come to save everyone from their sins, they can't overcome the world for the world overcomes them through their rejection of God.
This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that bears witness, because the Spirit is truth(5:6).
You may remember that at the crucifixion of Jesus His bones were not broken in fulfillment of Scripture prophecy. To hasten death the Roman soldiers sometimes broke the legs of those hanging upon the cross. But they did not do this to Jesus for one of them stopped and pierced His side with a spear. Out came water and blood. God's Spirit witnessed this, and bares record to every believer of this fact. This can be found in John 19:33-35. John himself witnessed this happening for he was present at the cross the entire time.
John emphasized this in his gospel, and now in this letter he comes back to it again. Water speaks of the Word of God. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "...Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God(John 3:5)." Water is the living Word applied by the Spirit of God. Blood refers to the death of Christ.
God's Spirit is fully able to testify truthfully of all of these things for He was present in all of them. Jesus told His disciples that between His death, resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost they were not to attempt to preach anything and to remain in Jerusalem. Why? Because they would not be able to effectively witness to anyone without the Holy Spirit. Both the redemptive death of Christ and the work of His Holy Spirit in hearts of people is necessary for salvation to take place.
That is all for today, beloved. May Christ's grace and peace flood your soul today! May you walk in the light and actively work at pushing the darkness back into the corners of your part of this world. Lead your children into the light and into reconciliation with God. Teach them the commandments of Christ. Raise them up in the way that they ought to go, not the way that you think they ought to go, or the way that they feel like going. They are a gift from God to you.
Thu, Aug 5th - 1:20PM
Some thoughts to ponder today:
"The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."
~William Jennings Bryan
Hope you all have a wonderful day, and survive any thunderstorms that may happen to pass over you!
Wed, Aug 4th - 8:35PM
I JOHN STUDY
I would say that the child of God should know that he/she is not to look for someone to do something for him/her. They ought to be expressing love in action and genuine concern for others. The yoke of Christ is a very heavy one if you do not have a real love for God and for His other children in Christ. Church work and service through ministry to others will be a real burden to you and you will eventually turn away from doing it.
I suppose it depends upon what you are looking for in life. Are we concerned about God's work today? Are you concerned about getting the Word of God out to people? Some people will say that not much progress is being made in this regard. A person must be where the action is though, for the Word of God is going out, and it is having its effect upon the hearts and lives of real people all over the earth.
For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith(5:4).
We do hear much about living a victorious life today. But the "victory" word appears rarely in the New Testament. What overcomes the world? It is nothing but our faith in Christ. We are born into the family of God through our faith in Christ.
John has spoken previously about the enemy which we all have. Back in I John 2:15 he said to not love the world nor the things that are in the world. The world is full of fleshly things that are of Satan. We are in the world, but we are not to be of the world. Don't be caught up in the world's activities.
In the Old Testament we can find an illustration which can be quite helpful in understanding this point. It is the account of Joshua and the children of Israel entering the Promised Land. The Promised Land is not a figure of heaven. According to the Word of God, Canaan represents a condition in which believers ought to be living down here on earth. We can either live out in the wilderness, or we can live in Canaan. There are a lot of wilderness believers today. There's no fun out in the wilderness. But the land of Canaan is where we are blessed with all spiritual blessings. Canaan was a land of milk and honey, a picture for us of what awaits us as believers.
When Joshua entered the land, it was not given to him on a silver platter. Likewise, if we are to experience the joys of our spiritual blessings we need to recognize that we have a battle to fight; Satan holds the territory, and he is not going to allow us any sort of deliverance or victory without a battle. When Joshua entered the land there were three enemies that stood in front of him. He could not enter and take the land for his own until he overcame them.
The first enemy was Jericho, and it represents the world. Strategically Joshua was attempting to split the land into two pieces and then take one at a time. the second enemy was small Ai which represents the flesh. Joshua sent a small group of soldiers thinking that due to its size it would be easy to conquer. He received a stunning defeat and this is exactly where believers struggle as well. Most saints of Christ overcome the world but are then overcome themselves by their flesh. Too many saints today indulge the flesh; they gossip, they doubt, they fear others. They blew the trumpets around "Jericho" but they don't blow anything around "Ai." Then finally there were the Gibeonites who represent Satan. They deceived Joshua. Satan was a liar from the very beginning. He still deceives people today.
In reference to Jericho, verse 4 tells us that we shall overcome the world(Jericho). We shall overcome the world, not by fighting it, but by our faith in Christ. Joshua took what God said to him by faith and the Israelites took the city.
Lost people will brace themselves when they see you coming, expecting a frontal onslaught. But they will be won over by your faith. Instead of us doing the fighting, we are to allow God do it for us. In Joshua's case God showed Himself in the guise of a solitary man at the edge of their encampment with a drawn sword. Joshua challenged the man, but when the man turned toward him Joshua realized that he was facing a supernatural being. This could have been an instance of the preincarnate Christ. Joshua fell down at this man's feet, realizing that he was not in charge of this battle, God was. We need to have the same understanding in our daily lives when conflicts arise, when battles arise between us and the world.
Joshua obeyed orders, did not draw swords, and faithfully had his people follow the orders of God. He remained obedient. He believed the captain of the host of God. In Hebrews 11:30 we are told that the walls of Jericho fell by faith.
So we are not to engage in social reform movements. As Dr. McGee once said, "God told me to fish in the fishpond, He did not instruct me to clean it up." Our business is to fish for men's souls, not get all involved in cleaning up the places in which they are found. Through the change in men's hearts all of these things eventually could get better, but we are not to lose sight of what God wants us to be doing down here. We are to give out the Word of God, teach the saints how to live godly lives, and let God do the rest.
That is all for tonight since severe thunderstorms are fast approaching. Grace and peace be yours.
Wed, Aug 4th - 1:01PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"What a vast distance there is between knowing God and loving Him!"
The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall He thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and He shall give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed(2:10).
The word anointed is the Hebrew Messiah. It is translated as Christos in the Greek New Testament and comes to us as "Christ" in English. So this is a great verse from out of the Old Testament for it trumpets the first coming of Christ into our world. Here is the title given to Jesus. He is the Messiah, the anointed one, the king sent by God to rule over all of us. Here in I Samuel God is preparing to set up a physical kingdom in Israel. Israel rejected the theocracy and so God appoints unto them a king so that they can feel like they fit in with all of their neighbors. We also find in this verse that it is declared the coming judgment of the entire earth by God.
And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest(2:11).
Doesn't this sound like Samuel is left in a nice safe place in which to grow up? Serving God before the eyes of the high priest. The tabernacle should have been a safe haven, but unfortunately it was not at this particular time.
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they didn't know the LORD(2:12).
Eli's sons were sons of Satan. Spiritually they did not love God, they loved to please themselves. Here we have a picture of a spirutally minded person with children. The parent serves in the House of God, holds the highest position there outside of the king. And yet, his two sons did not come to know God as they should have. Eli was at fault here for not being the kind of father he ought to have been, but these two sons of his have exercised their free will and have chosen to not follow after God's ways. Eli ought to have noticed this about his boys, but he did not.
This is why Christian parents may send their child to a Christian school but there is no guarentee that that child will come to know Christ. Each person must freely choose God, or Satan. The problem today is that there are so many people who no longer understand that to choose to satisfy oneself and to please oneself is to serve Satan.
Perhaps Eli stopped praying for his boys before they became adults. Maybe he felt that once they became priests in the tabernacle that they had straightened out. Why are there Catholic priests who commit crimes? Because someone assumed that once they shouldered the responsibilities of a priest that they were no longer a danger to anyone. Wrong! The same holds true with any pastor, deacon, elder, or bishop. Those sorts of assumptions lead to vast amounts of tragedy. If the person has not accepted Jesus Christ as LORD, if they do not love other saints of Christ, then they ought not to be placed in positions where their failure to avoid the temptation of sin affects the lives of innocents.
Beloved, Satan attends our churches. He comes and visits regularly. Is he afraid of the presence of Christ? Was he not there in the Upper Room and entered into Judas Iscariot? Our children need our prayers each and every day, no matter that they go to church, Sunday school, or Christian school.
So young Samuel is in a dangerous place and does not know it. But that is all for today my friends. Grace and peace be yours today! Walk in the light and not in the dark.
Tue, Aug 3rd - 8:34PM
I JOHN STUDY
In this fifth chapter of I John is to be found themes about God is life, victory over the world, and assurances of salvation.
Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loves Him that begat loves Him also that is begotten of Him(5:1).
Here we can see that Jesus has a title, "the Christ." Here is given to us the method by which one is born again into eternal life in heaven. John is very consistent in his message for it is the same as at the beginning of his gospel account. Trust in Jesus means to also trust in who He is. It was not an ordinary man who died for the sins of the world because an ordinary man is sinful also. Faith in Jesus the Christ is what produces the new birth spiritually. Not good works, or being a good person, or being born into a Christian family.
Being born again means that God becomes your heavenly Father. Therefore you will love Him. The expression "born of God" is very important. It does not involve joining a church , joining a denomination, or participating in certain ritual ordinances of your congregation. Born of God means that you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. He begot us and we are going to love His other children. This can't be restricted to any denomination or church congregation, it is universal.
In review of evidences of our being a child of God:
(1) "If you know that He is righteous, you know that every one that does righteousness is born of Him(I John 2:29)." Children of God practice righteousness in their lives. It means that righteousness is not unusual or rare, it is to be the normal practice of your life. There may be slips and falls from time to time, but righteousness will be predominant in your life.
(2) "Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed remains in him: and he can't sin, because he is born of God(I John 3:9)." A child of God will not practice sin. They will not live in it, revel in it, or take pleasure out of it. The life-style of a sinner is sin; he/she lives in sin continually.
(3) "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God(I John 4:7)." A child of God will love other Christians. This gives assurance of salvation.
(4) "For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith(I John 5:4)." A child of God will overcome the world.
(5) "We know that whosoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one does not touch him(I John 5:18)." A child of God keeps himself from Satan. He/she does not flirt with danger and/or temptation. They try to avoid all appearance of sinful behavior.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments(5:2).
What is meant here by "His commandments?" Is this the Ten Commandments, as some claim? Is it only those found in the Old Testament? Or are they those things commanded by Jesus Christ in the New Testament? If it is the latter, then we find around 22 such commands in the fifth chapter of I Thessalonians alone. It is puzzling in that unbelievers neglect to quote any of these when attacking God's commandments. They always focus upon what is found in the Old Testament and avoid what is found in the New Testament. But these commandments of Christ are what we are to obey and keep.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous(5:3).
Some translations of the Bible use the word "burdensome" in place of "grievous." There is no problem doing so, but the literal translation comes out to be "heavy." This means that you will not find God's commandments to be difficult to keep and obey, there will be no burden put to your account. Obeying His commands is something the child of God wants to do. He might not have wanted to before accepting Christ, but he sure wants to afterwards. Our brothers and sisters in faith pose no burden on us for we are keeping them through love.
That is all for today, beloved. I pray that the grace and peace of Christ flows in your life this day!
Mon, Aug 2nd - 8:14PM
I JOHN STUDY
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world(4:14).
Here is the gospel witness. Here is the message which we must give to the world around us. Here is the purpose of our love. Christian love is not sentimental, or sexual; it is not social.
People have difficulty understanding this sort of love. Missionaries most of the time love the people to whom they have gone to help, even if those people are not lovely. They serve those people and then share Christ with them. Once those missionaries got there and began serving the people their love shown through to everyone who saw them.
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God(4:15).
Here is the gospel given again in I Corinthians 15:3-4; "...how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures." Beloved, if Christ is not who He said He was, His death and resurrection are absolutely meaningless; in fact, He was not raised from the dead if He is not who He said He was. But the evidence is all on the side that He did rise from the tomb, and the proof of it is that He was virgin born.
Jesus made direct claim to being God. "Whatever God does, I do." Whatever Christ saw the Father do He did also. Christ will one day raise the dead, judge all mankind. This is why He can save you if you hear His voice and believe on Him.
And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him(4:16).
These ideas are so intertwined with each other that it makes it impossible to claim to love God and not to love other believers in Christ down here on earth. To not love all of the apostles of the New Testament is to not love God.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world(4:17).
Our love being made "perfect" means that it is complete. In this way we will have no need to fear the day of judgment which is coming ever closer. We are just as He is. He is risen in newness of life, and so are we. We are in Christ, and He is at the right hand of God in heaven.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love(4:18).
To live your life always in fear of something is a miserable existence. The child of God does not need to fear any judgment which is coming nor need fear anything which any man may devise to do to him. If we remain fearful we can't enjoy our salvation in Christ. Joy stems from love, and if you have love for Christ, for God, and for the brethren, then fear has no place in you.
We love Him, because He first loved us.
If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen(4:19-20)?
Christ loved us before we ever were close to being lovable. God is worthy of loving, the Lamb is worthy of all of our love and devotion, all of our service. John says that if you say you love God yet hate your brother, you are a liar. Even among the fundamental churches there is too much hypocrisy evident today.
And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loves God love his brother also(4:21).
Here is a commandment. God does not ask us if we feel like it or if we want to. This is what He commands us to do without question. Love must be demonstrated in our lives and in our service to others.
That is all for now, beloved. Next time, God willing, I will begin chapter five of this book. May Christ light your path and order your footsteps through your life.
Sun, Aug 1st - 11:38AM
I JOHN STUDY
Hereby we know that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit(4:13).
The love of which we are to love others with is not a human love. It comes through the Holy Spirit of God. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us this also as it lists all of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Love is at the head of this list. Upon reading I Corinthians 13 it is almost inevitable to conclude that joy comes out of love and peace comes out of love. Here is an incident recorded by Dr. Ironside in his The Epistles of John concerning Chiang Kai-shek at the time that he was ruling mainland China.
"We all noticed a short time ago the account of the professed conversion of the President of China. We hope there has been a real work in his soul, but time will tell. I was reading how he came to his Christian wife who was saved long before he made a profession, and said, "I can't understand these Christians; why, they have been treated most abominably here, they have been robbed, beaten, many of them killed, they have been persecuted fearfully, and yet I never find one of them retaliating, and any time they can do anything for China, for our people, they are ready to do it; I do not understand them." "Well," said his wife, "that, you see, is the very essence of Christianity. They do that because they are Christians."
I think that we need more of that attitude in Christianity today. No retaliation, always ready to help others, even those who persecute us. A great many lost people in our world need to see more of this type of attitude, of this kind of love for others, on the part of Christians everywhere. This teaching is neglected too often in our churches today. Too many times our selfishness reigns supreme and we only wish to look out for ourselves and our families.
When the love of God is active in a home no one need worry about the wife's place and whether she is to obey her husband or whether the husband is to be the head of the house. Paul wrote addressing this issue in Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it." If he loves her, if she is a woman whom he would lay down his life, if the wife can say that she loves him with all of her heart and would do anything for him, then there won't be the need for a bunch of little rules to run their lives by.
You and I are indwelt by the Spirit of God, and he can produce this kind of love in our hearts. You and I can't produce this sort of love. I know that I can't love like this. My natural reaction is that when someone hits me, I strike back in "self-defense." But if I am filled with the Holy Spirit I am going to manifest this love of others and not retaliate in kind. It is a daunting thing to consider, without a doubt.
That is all for today, beloved. I pray that each of you are able to show this kind of love to the world around you. It goes far in persuading others about the reality of Christ and His love. Until next time, grace and peace.
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