Friday, August 1, 2014

THE FUNCTIONING OF THE CHURCH

Ephesians 4:1-3, the Apostle Paul is speaking to born again believers, and begins with making sure you and I know where we fit in, when it comes to the Church.  We are to live our lives in such a way, as to bring honor to God.  We are to have servant hearts.  We are to prefer others before ourselves.  We are to make every effort to maintain peace, and to display Christian unity. 

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

He then goes on, in verses 4-6, to present God's organization known as the Church.  Its founder and leader, is the Triune God.
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

Paul then explains in verses 7-10, that every born again believer has a role to play in the functioning of the church, and that God has given us the ability to do our part.

"But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things)."

Paul then informs us that God chose some men as leaders, and explains their role in shepherding God's flock (verses 11-16).

"And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."

Notice that the leaders focus is on protecting and preparing God's sheep, and that it is the sheep who are to do the work of the ministry (serving, soul-winning, financial support, etc.).


Are you a child of God?  If so, you have work to do!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

THE GOOD NEWS IS FOR EVERYONE

The Gospel Message
 
"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16).
 
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, 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" (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
 
The Gospel Mission
 
"And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in ALL the world for a witness unto ALL nations; and then shall the end come" (Mt. 24:14).

"And He said unto them, Go ye into ALL the world, and preach the Gospel to EVERY creature" (Mk. 16:15).

"For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the Word of the truth of the Gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in ALL the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth" (Col. 1:5-6).

Conclusion

If we are to proclaim the Gospel to EVERYONE (Mt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:45-47; Jn. 1:11-13; Jn. 3:14-17; Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9-11; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Jn. 2:2), and the Gospel states that Jesus died for ALL those who hear the Gospel (Isa. 53:6; Jn. 1:29; Jn. 12:32; Rom. 5:18; 1 Tim. 2:6; 1 Tim. 4:10; Heb. 2:9; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 Jn. 2:2), then Jesus must have died for ALL of mankind.
 

This is what the Word says, and it also says, "Let God be true, but every man a liar!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

CALLED AND CHOSEN

Twice in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus used parables to teach the difference between one being called, and one being chosen.  In Matthew 20:1-6, Jesus used the "Parable of the Vineyard," and in Matthew 22:1-14, He used the "Parable of the Marriage Feast," to illustrate His point. 

"So the last shall be first, and the first last:
for many be called, but few chosen" (20:14)

In the "Parable of the Vineyard," the focus is man's reward for his works.  The owner hires four times throughout the day.  The first group, I like to call the union workers because they wanted an agreed upon wage, worked from early morning until the evening.  The second, third, and fourth groups trusted the owner to be fair, and at the end of the day, they received the same wages as the "union workers."  It is funny that the second and third groups did not complain when they received the same amount as the fourth group, but the first group was outraged.  The owner told them he could do what he wished with his money.  He ended his answer to them by declaring the last to be hired as his laborers would be paid first, and the first would be paid last.

This is my interpretation of the "Parable of the Vineyard."  God is the owner.  Throughout its history, He has covenanted with Israel to reward their works with earthly reward.  Once their eyes are opened, Israel will be surprised to learn that God will have rewarded the works of the Gentiles, as well.  He blesses those who bless Israel (Gen. 12:1-2)! 

"For many are called, but few are chosen" (22:14).

In the "Parable of the Marriage Feast," the focus is man being the recipient of grace.  The King sent "his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come" (v. 3).  He sent more of his servants, and while it was bad enough that none came, some of them even killed the servants (v. 4-6)!  The King's reaction was to send an army to destroy them and their city, calling them unworthy (v. 7-8).  Again, he sent his servants to gather guests, both good and bad (they too were unworthy), and the marriage feast was full (v. 9-10).  Apparently, the King's servants provided wedding garments for all the guests, but one refused to wear it.  The King had him removed, and then made the statement:   "For many are called, but few are chosen" (v. 14).

My interpretation of the "Parable of the Marriage Feast," is that the King is God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus, will be wed to His bride (the Church - Mk. 2:18-20; Jn. 3:29; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-33; etc.). The "wedding garment" is the gracious gift of the "righteousness of Christ" (Rom. 5:17-19; 2 Cor. 5:21; etc.).  The one who refused "Christ's righteousness," attempted to be a part of the celebration, wearing his own "righteousness"; compared to Christ's, ours is but filthy rags (Isa. 64:6)!


God has chosen Israel, but He has called "whomsoever will!"    

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

MY UNDERSTANDING OF THE FINAL JUDGMENT

"And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it.... And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of  Life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.... And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:11-15).

First, notice that the Great White Throne Judgment is a judgment of the dead!  It occurs at the end of the Millennial Reign of Jesus, when there will be only one group of people remaining upon earth:  the living saints within the Lord's camp (the rest of the world's population, who will have been gathered to war against Jesus, will ALL have been killed - Rev. 20:9).  "Saints" are those who have been sanctified IN Christ, and though they will not be a part of the Church, I believe they will be born again (1 Cor. 1:2).  The Church will have been removed from earth one thousand seven years earlier (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Th. 4:16-17; Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24:1-29; Rev. 6 - 18; etc.)!

Now notice the outcome of the Great White Throne Judgment is based upon what is written in books.  There are two theories as to the meaning of "the books":  1)  the Word of God, and 2)  a biographical history of the one being judged.  Either way, the person facing "his Maker," will be found guilty of sin!  And, the sentence for sin is death (Rom. 6:23a).  In other words, EVERYONE will be deserve God's eternal punishment. 

Having been found guilty, before God pronounces His sentence, another book, the Lamb's Book of Life, will be consulted (Phil. 4:3, and seven references from Revelation:  3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; and 22:19).  I believe the book, based upon God's foreknowledge, contains the names of ALL the souls who will have trusted in God.  Those who rejected the Lord's offer of salvation, will, by this time, be both physically and spiritually dead!  They will then experience the "second death" (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).
 
Think of the Lamb's Book of Life as the Lord's last will and testament.
It contains His provision for all of His children after His death.



  



Monday, July 28, 2014

THE MARK OF THE BEAST

The "mark of the beast" has long been debated, and many students of Bible prophecy believe it will either be a computer chip implanted in the forehead, or in the hand; or that it will be a tattooed bar-code for a scanner to read.  The word "mark" (Rev. 13:16, 17; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4) is translated as such from the Greek χάραγμα (charagma), which, according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, means "a stamp, an imprinted mark, similar to the brand on horses; a thing carved, sculpture, graven work of idolatrous images."  Young's Analytical Concordance defines it as "an impressed mark, or engraving."  The only other time χάραγμα appears in the Word of God, is in Acts 17:29, where it is translated "graven."  Luke wrote:  "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device."

Another issue, when it comes to knowing exactly what John meant, is the fact that it is not defined by him!  He wrote:  "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Rev. 13:17).  According to this verse, the "mark" could be one of three things:  an identifying mark, the name of the Antichrist, or a number which represents his name.  That number, of course, is six-six-six; "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six" (Rev. 13:18).  That number in Latin, is "DCVI."  In Greek, it is "chi-xi-stigma."  In Hebrew, (reading backwards) it is "Vav-Mem-Resh-Tav."  Many have pointed out that when it is written as "666," the Hebrew is "vav-vav-vav," which in modern day Hebrew, is "WWW."  While it might be tempting to declare the World-Wide Web as being the Antichrist, the Word of God is clear that he is an individual, a human being.

Putting this all together (I am not exactly sure how this even works), the "mark of the beast," could be a brand on the forehead or hand, that is either the name of the Antichrist spelled out (not sure which language would be used), and the letters of his name would equal six hundred, three score, and six, in that language.  OR, it could be all that data within a computer chip.  I do not know, and unless you are the Antichrist or his False Prophet, I suspect you do not know either!
 
Regardless of what it is, born again believers will not be here to receive it!
Praise God!

    

Sunday, July 27, 2014

FOR WHOM DID JESUS DIE?

Let the Word of God be true, and every man a liar!

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of US ALL" (Isa. 53:6).

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of THE WORLD" (Jn. 1:29).

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL MEN unto Me" (Jn.12:32).

"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for THE UNGODLY" (Rom. 5:6).  NOTE:  ALL have sinned; there is NONE righteous; ALL are ungodly!

"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon ALL MEN unto justification of life" (Rom. 5:18).

"Who gave Himself a ransom FOR ALL, to be testified in due time" (1 Tim. 2:6).

"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of ALL MEN, specially of those that believe" (1 Tim. 4:10).

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for EVERY MAN" (Heb. 2:9).

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, EVEN DENYING THE LORD THAT BOUGHT THEM, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet. 2:1).  NOTE:  He even died for those who deny Him!

"And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD" (1 Jn. 2:2).
 
 
Calvin's "limited atonement" is a heresy!


 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

HIS OFFER IS TO EVERYONE

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Mt. 28:18-20).

"And He said unto them, Go ye into ALL the world, and preach the Gospel to EVERY creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:15-16).

"Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among ALL nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Lk. 24:45-47).

"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But AS MANY AS received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn. 1:11-13).

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so LOVED THE WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that THE WORLD THROUGH HIM MIGHT BE SAVED" (Jn. 3:14-17).

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized EVERY ONE OF YOU in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, WHOSOEVER believeth on Him shall not be ashamed" (Rom. 10:9-11).

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH, BUT THAT ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE" (2 Pet. 3:9).

"And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also FOR THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD" (1 Jn. 2:2).