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“The Kingdom Of Christ, Of God, Of Heaven” – Displays Of His Ruling Authority Throughout Time

SIH STSTA ICON

 

 

To begin our study we need to understand what the Bible means when it speaks of a “kingdom”.  The word translated Kingdom in the NT is the Greek word “basileia”.  This word has two basic ideas behind it:

  1. The first idea is the AUTHORITY to rule that a King possesses (Luke 1:33, Luke 17:20-21, Matt 12:28 etc)
  2. The second idea is the REALM that is ruled over by a King. WhenBasileia is used in this way it can speak of either:
    1. the land area and physical possessions that a King rules over (Mat 4:8, Mark 6:23,  Heb 11:33 etc)
    2. the group of people over which a king rules. (Rev 1:9, Col 1:13, 2 Pet 1:11, etc)

Based upon the above Scriptures we can see that these three titles are describing the same event and will be used as such in this study.

Although we cannot visibly see His authority, we certainly can see His authority at work in the world around us.  By His grace, He has displayed for us His authority, throughout the Scriptures, in many different ways.

Let’s take a look and see the God’s authority to rule displayed for all to see throughout the Bible…  

 

THE SCRIPTURES:

The Kingdom of Christ:

Eph 5:5,

 

The Kingdom of God:

Matt 6:33, 12:28, 19:24, 21:31, 21:43;

Mark 1:14, 1:15, 4:11, 4:26, 4:30, 9:1, 9:47, 10:14, 10:15, 10:23, 10:24, 10:25, 12:34, 14:25, 15:43;

Luke 4:43, 6:20, 7:28, 8:1, 8:10, 9:2, 9:11, 9:27, 9:60, 9:62, 10:9, 10:11, 10:20, 12:31, 13:18, 13:20, 13:28, 13:29, 14:15, 16:16, 17:20, 17:21, 18:16, 18:17, 18:24, 18:25, 18:29, 19:11, 21:31, 22:16, 22:18, 23:51;

John 3:3, 3:5;

Acts 1:3, 8:12, 14:22, 19:8, 20:25, 28:23, 28:31;

Roms 14:17;

1 Cor 4:20, 6:9, 6:10, 15:50;

Gal 5:21;

Col 4:11;

2 Thess 1:5.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven:

Matt 3:2, 4:17, 5:3, 5:10, 5:19, 5:20, 7:21, 8:11, 10:7, 11:11, 11:12, 13:11, 13:24, 13:31, 13:33, 13:44, 13:45, 13:47, 13:52, 16:19, 18:1, 18:3, 18:4, 18:23, 19:12, 19:14, 19:23, 20:1, 22:2, 23:13, 25:1, 25:14

 

In the NT the Bible describes the Kingdom of the Lord using three different descriptive phrases, “The Kingdom of Christ”, “the Kingdom Of God”, and “the Kingdom of Heaven”.  All three of these titles are describing the same Kingdom.

Please note:

The Kingdom of Christ is only used in Ephesians 5:5 and is clearly speaking of the perfect reign of Christ that will take place throughout eternity.  In this text, it is equated with the Kingdom of God because both Christ and the Father will be reigning throughout eternity. (Rev 22:3-5; see also Rev 21:7-8, Rev 21:24-27)

Also “the Kingdom of God” and “the Kingdom of Heaven” are equated as well.  Please note the following references which show that, in many cases, these titles are used synonymously…

Matt 4:17 – Mark 1:15;

Matt 5:3,10- Luke 6:20-22; Matt 8:11-Luke 13:28;

Matt 10:7-Luke 9:60;

Matt 11:11-Luke 7:28;

Matt 11:12-Luke 16:16;

Matt 13:11-Mark 4:11;

Matt 13:31-Mark 4:30-31; Matt 13:33 – Luke 13:20-21; Matt 19:14-Mark 10:14;

Matt 19:23-Mark 10:23;

Matt 25:14-Luke 19:11-13.

 

THE STUDY: 

It is important for us to understand that the Lord displays His authority to rule in different ways that will vary throughout time.

In the Old Testament, some of the major ways He displayed His authority to rule was in:

  1. His sovereign rulership over creation (including mankind)…

And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom [is] from generation to generation:  And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”   (Daniel 4:34-35)

 

  1. His rulership over the fledgling nation of physical Israel during the times of the judges…

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 

And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.  But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 

And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.  According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.  Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.”  (1 Samuel 8:4-9)

 

  1. His rulership over the unified and divided nation of physical Israel during the times of the Kings…

Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed [be] thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.

Thine, O LORD, [is] the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all [that is] in the heaven and in the earth [is thine]; thine [is] the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.  Both riches and honour [come] of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand [is] power and might; and in thine hand [it is] to make great, and to give strength unto all.

Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.”  (1 Chronicles 29:10-13)

 

  1. His rulership in the heart of the Old Testament saints, which included both Jews and Gentiles (the spiritual nation of Israel)…

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart.”  (Psalms 40:8)

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.”   (Haggai 1:12)

 

 

In New Testament times, He displayed His authority to rule in very similar ways….

  1. His sovereign rulership over His creation (including mankind)…

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”  (Acts 17:24-28)

 

  1. His rulership in the heart of the lives of the New Testament saints, which included both Jews and Gentiles (the spiritual nation of Israel)…

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 

[Whereof] the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,  This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 

Now where remission of these [is, there is] no more offering for sin.”   (Hebrews 10:14-18)

 

  1. His rule over His local assemblies…

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:  In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.

For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell;  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.”   (Colossians 1:13-20)

 

Into eternity future, the Lord’s ruling authority will be shown. The following is an incomplete list of His sovereignty on display during the end-time events…

  1. His taking of His saints…

For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.  Then [cometh] the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.  The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death.  For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under [him, it is] manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”  (1 Corinthians 15:21-28)

 

  1. His punishment of the powers of darkness of this world…

And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;  That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all [men, both] free and bond, both small and great.

And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.  And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.  And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”  (Revelation 19:17-21)

 

  1. His millennial reign (the first part of His eternal reign)…

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”  (Revelation 20:4) 

 

  1. The final judgment…

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 the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”  (Revelation 20:12-15)

 

 

  1. His rulership throughout eternity…

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations.

And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:  And they shall see his face; and his name [shall be] in their foreheads.

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”   (Revelation 22:2-5)

 

As you can see, throughout history from eternity past and proceeding into eternity present, we find the Lord consistently revealing to mankind…

The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.”  (Exodus 15:18)

 

In the NT the Bible describes the Kingdom of the Lord using three different descriptive phrases, The Kingdom of Christ, the Kingdom Of God, and the Kingdom of Heaven.  All three of these titles are describing the same Kingdom.

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: 

What a wonderful blessing it is to be able to know that our Lord truly reigns over all things.  Without His wondrous displays of sovereignty, we would live in doubt about His control over all, but because of His many displays of rulership we can say as the Psalmist…

“But our God [is] in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”   (Psalms 115:3)

Because of this, there is no reason for worry or fright… no matter what may take place in this life, OUR GOD IS IN CONTROL!  And we have a consistent source of proofs that this is so!

To Love As Jesus Loved: “Charity Hopeth All Things”

SIH TOTT ICON“And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away…  
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.
(1 Corinthians 13:3-8, 13)

 

As we continue looking at events in the life of Christ that set a wonderful example for us of Scriptural love. In this devotional, Christ’s great love is shown to us as He sees beyond a woman’s sin and saw her repentant heart of submission and love…

 

Christ’s Life:

 

The Characteristic of Scriptural Love: Thinks And Sees The Best In Others

 

And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.
And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that [Jesus] sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,And stood at his feet behind [him] weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe [them] with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed [them] with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw [it], he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman [this is] that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?Simon answered and said, I suppose that [he], to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped [them] with the hairs of her head.Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, [the same] loveth little.
And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:36-50)

 

In this event in the life of Christ, we have clearly displayed a tale of two opposites…

 

First of all, on the one extreme, we see the attitude of the Pharisee. It was a fault-finding critical attitude that centered on the past sinful acts of this woman… “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman [this is] that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

 

On the other hand, we find Christ who, looking beyond her past failures, responds to her heart that was filled with love for Him. Notice what He says… “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much:

Christ, being God, could see the contents of her heart. We can see the depth of her submission and love to Christ through her outward actions…

 

1. brought an alabaster box of ointment,– she willingly gave to Him what she valued greatly
2. stood at his feet behind [him] weeping, – she was sorry for the sins she had committed against Him
3. began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe [them] with the hairs of her head,– she humbly served Him
4. and kissed his feet,– she loved Him and would do anything for Him
5. and anointed [them] with the ointment– she actively worked for His benefit

 

These all point to this woman’s possession of a true, deep love for her Lord and Savior.

 

Our Lesson To Be Learned:

 

The apostle Paul helps us to understand the great need for us to show our love for the Lord and others by having tender hearts of forgiveness, looking past the sins of others and showing kindness to them instead.

 

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.(Ephesians 4:31-32)

 

This is another way that we can love others and follow the example Christ has set for us…

 

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.

(Colossians 3:12-13)

 

 

 

 

 

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Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 1)

SIH TOA ICONIntroduction:

“Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

 

In our previous studies we have seen that there are three basic types of Accrediting Gifts which include several gifts under each type. In the above passage, we find each type of Accrediting Gift is represented by one gift from each type …

 

Type Of Accrediting Gift Gifts Included In This Type Representative Gift Mentioned In

1 Cor 13:8

Supernatural Revelation Of The Truth The Word Of Wisdom, The Word of Knowledge Word of Knowledge (or Knowledge)
Supernatural Indicators Of The Truth Faith, Gifts Of Healing, Working Of Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning Of Spirits Prophecy (or Prophecies)
Supernatural Proclamation Of The Truth Divers Kinds Of Tongues, Interpretation Of Tongues Diverse Types Of Tongues (or Tongues)

 

Please note the above verse (1 Cor 13:8), which includes one representative gift from each group, makes it plain that each type of Accrediting Gift will come to an end at some point in time. We now will turn our attention to the question at what point in time will these gifts go out of existence?

In this study, we will see that this question is answered by the Word of God using several different lines of teaching which all present the same answer for us. This will be the lines of teaching that we will be studying:
I.        The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”
II.        The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span
III.        The Death Of The Apostles
IV.        The Supernatural Beginning / Natural Perpetuation Of God’s Workings
V.        The Prophecies of False Miracles In The “Last Days”

 

 

 

Lesson:


The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”

Our text for this lesson is found in 1 Corinthians 13:.

1) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2) And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4) Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8) Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

 

Here is a short outline of the entire chapter…
1)    The Definition and Indicators Of Biblical Love  vs 1-7
2)    Partial Versus Complete Knowledge   vs 8-10
3)    Illustrations of Partiality versus Completeness   vs 11-12
4)    Superiority Of Biblical Love vs 13

 

 

 

For this part of our study, we will be looking at verses 8-13….

 

8) Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Here, Paul makes it very plain that love is the only gift of the four divine gifts (love, prophecy, tongues, knowledge) that will exist eternally.   In our previous studies, we explained that knowledge prophecy and tongues were related to the divine inspiration and accreditation of Scripture (along with the accreditation of the local church).

 

(Please note it is crucial to understand the meaning of the phrases “shall fail”, “shall cease”, and “shall vanish away”)…

  1. “shall cease”
  2. is the Greek word – “pauo” – it means “to stop”, “to be made complete” and “to end”.
  3. is in the middle voice, meaning the subject of the verb is acting upon itself.  In other words, tongues would “stop by themselves” or “would be ended in and of themselves”
  4. “shall fail” and “shall vanish away”
  5. Both of these phrases are the same Greek word “katargeo” which means “to be made inoperative, to cease to work, to cease to exercise, to render useless, to vanish”
  6. Both of these are in the passive voice meaning the subject of the verb receives the action.  In other words, our verse is saying that “the perfect thing” (vs 10) will cause both knowledge and prophecy to “no longer be exercised”, or “to vanish away”

 

9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

Out of the four previously mentioned gifts from God… knowledge and prophecy are set apart by being described as “in part”.  What does “in part” mean?  This phrase is referring to the nature of divinely inspired revelation to man.  Keep in mind, as God handed down His word to mankind, he did it over many years and many different men.  He gave it a part at time, not all at once.   (Isa 28:9-13)

 

The gifts of prophecy and knowledge were “in part” which teaches us that… as each prophecy came from God (as each bit of knowledge came to man) they were “one part” of the whole of divine revelation to man.  Until the final revelation from God was received by John on the Isle of Patmos (the book of Revelation), both knowledge and prophecy received by man was only a piece of His Word.  At the end of the message given to John on Patmos, the word was finally completed.  It was only then that mankind had the prophecy and knowledge God had chosen to give to man was made complete.

 

Love exists eternally, knowledge, prophesying and the gift of tongues will definitely come to an end, making love a much more valuable gift from God.

 

 

10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Paul describes what causes prophecy and knowledge to vanish away.  He describes it as “that which is perfect.  To help us understand what Paul is referring to, we need to recognize a few important points in our study…
a)    Remember, in the previous verse of our study we saw that the gifts that were “in part” were the gifts of prophecy and knowledge.
b)    Also, we saw that the ending of these gifts were described by the Greek word “katargeo” which means “to be made inoperative, to cease to work, to cease to exercise, to render useless, to vanish”
c)     Thirdly, we learned that based on the Greek passive voice, something must act upon the knowledge and prophecy “to render it useless” or “to cause it to vanish away.”

 

What has acted on the gift of prophecy and knowledge rendering them worthless and causing them to vanish away?

It is the completed revelation from God… Once God had given to man all of His Word, there was no need for prophecy or knowledge gifts any longer… they were now useless, ineffective and worthless because the Lord was not going to add to the Word He had given to men. In other words, divine inspiration ceased and with it, the gifts linked directly to it…. prophecy and knowledge.

a)    Remember, the Lord has made it plain that the Word He has given to us is now complete. We will be receiving no additional inspired truth from Him.  (Rev 22:18, Heb 1:1-2)
b)    We know it is His Word that is “perfect” based on the Greek word for “perfect”… The word for perfect is “telios” – which means “complete”, “finished”, “brought to completion”.  “Telios” refers to the Word of God in James 1:25.  Contextually, based on the subject matter of prophecy and knowledge and the inspiration of the Word, it makes sense that the Word is what is being described as “perfect”…

 

Please note: Not once in Scripture does the word telios refer to sinlessness. Here is every use of the word “telion” in the Bible. Every time it is used it is linked to the completed Word and Spiritual Maturity.  

  1. The Word Of God
    1. James 1:25 – telion speaks of Bible perfect replacing imperfect.
  2. Spiritual Maturity Brought About Through The Word
    1. Eph 4:11-13 – telion speaks of mature man based upon receipt of knowledge resulting in unity
    2. Hebrews 9:11 – telion is speaking of new tabernacle compared to old. Completed NT revelation revealing Christ as completed Messiah prophecy
    3. Hebrews 8:13 – when the NT was complete the OT was thrown down and perfect (Word revealing Christ) has replaced imperfect
    4. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebs 5:12-6:5 – Bible brings men to maturity
  3. Marks Of Spiritual Maturity
    1. Love – matt 5:44-48, Luke 6:36
    2. Dedication to lord – matt 19:21
    3. Spiritual discernment – 1 cor 2:6,14, hebs 5:14
    4. Attitudes – 1 cor 14:20
    5. Truth of gospel salvation, perfect not sinless – phil 3:15
    6. Unity w lord – col 1:28
    7. Faithful to lord – col 4:12
    8. Patience – James 1:4
    9. The gifts of the Lord – James 1:17
    10. Faith/works – James 2:22

(Please note that in Matthew 5:44-48 – “telion” does refer to the Lord. However, in the context, it is not speaking of the Lord’s sinlessness, it is speaking of the spiritual maturity that He displays as He shows unconditional love to those who are around Him. No place in Scripture does the word “telios” mean sinlessly perfect.)

 

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that the term “perfect” does not refer to the completed Word of God. Instead, let’s assume that “perfect” in our text refers to the Lord at His second coming or the eternal sinless state. We have already seen that this “perfect thing” that is coming must act on the gifts of prophecy and knowledge rendering them useless.

If this is so then…
a)    We have to say that the Lord is continually revealing His inspired word to man throughout the ages. In other words, His word is not in completed form, but He is continually adding to His revealed Word to man. This revealing of the Word will only stop at His second coming.
b)    If this is so, we should be continually adding to the Scriptures.  Every new revelation God gives to man should be added to the Scriptures.  This principle does away with the warning given throughout God’s Word to not add to the Scriptures (Revelation 22:18-19, Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6).
c)    And also the fullness and completeness of God’s Word for us to use is done away with.  Therefore, we cannot count on His Word being the complete set of instructions for us to live by. (2 Tim 3:16-17)  In this hypothetical scenario, we may face situations that the Word cannot equip us to face.  What happens if the part of the Word we need now, will not be revealed to man for another 25 years?  Our entire view of the Scriptures must change if this is the case.

However, the Bible clearly tells us otherwise…
a)    The Word of God has been given to us resulting in us being given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3)
b)    We are told that it is through the Word that we can know fully (Ephesians 3:3-5, Romans 16:25-27). These imply we have no need of other revelation than found in His Word.
c)     In Jude 1:3 we read that the truth was “once” delivered unto the saints. The term “once” is translated from a Greek word that means “once and for all”. In other words, the truth of God was revealed to us through His Word, and at its completion, no other revelation would be needed or given. This is exactly the point of our 1 Corinthians 13 passage.
d)    Also in Ephesians 2:20, we find that the teachings of the Christ, the Apostles, and the Prophets make up the foundation of the Lord’s local churches. This clearly implies the Scriptures would be completed during the founding years of the local assemblies. How can His churches be founded upon something which would not be completed for many years to come? It would be impossible. The very illustration of a foundation teaches us that the Word (just like the foundation) must be completed before the local assembly can be established (like the house that will be framed, roofed and then brought to completion FOLLOWING the completion of its foundation).  A foundation is never completed during or after the completion of the house which stands upon it.

The Word of God is clear that it is a completed document that can be relied upon to meet our every need. Again, keeping all of this in mind helps us to understand that the Word is complete and then it follows that the gifts related to the inspiration of His Word are no longer necessary.

 

11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

 

Paul now uses the example of the maturing of the process of understanding is used to picture the process of God’s revealed Word being brought to completion.  Just as Paul’s growth allowed him to come to a more mature and full understanding of life, so too, as God’s Word is brought to completion, it brings to us a fuller understanding of our Lord and our responsibilities as servants.

Based on the Word being brought to completion during the age of the Corinthian church. It was time for them to “grow up” and become mature as well. It would only be at that time that they could use the wonderful blessing of His completed Word to help them to correct the many errors in their assembly.

 

12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Paul now compares our knowledge of God in our sinful flesh with mankind’s knowledge of God with only a portion of His Word given to them.  In both cases, an incomplete view of God is had by man.

  1. Paul describes a time when God cannot be seen clearly
  2. Paul describes our life in our sinful flesh as seeing our Lord “through a glass darkly”.
  3. Paul then compares this to mankind trying to see a full picture of Christ with only a portion of God’s Word given to man. “now I know in part”.
  4. Paul next describes when we can receive a fuller knowledge of Christ
  5. When we go home to be with the Lord in heaven, it is seeing Him “face to face”, this will result in seeing Him much more clearly than while in our sinful flesh.
  6. Paul then compares this to receiving His completed Word which gives us a much more full revelation of the Lord.  “ then shall I know even as also I am known” .

 

In other words, God bringing His Word to completion gives us a much greater knowledge of who He is and what He has done for us. This is being related to man who while in his fallen, fleshly body is greatly limited in knowledge about Him. But when we receive glorified bodies in our eternal state, we will see Him much more clearly.

 

Also, keep in mind, both of these illustrations are illustrations CONCERNING AMOUNT OF KNOWLEDGE AND KNOWLEDGE INCREASING to a state of completeness. This is another point that cannot be ignored.

 

To say “that which is perfect” is speaking of spiritual maturity, the second coming of Christ, or the eternal state does not jive with these two illustrations when they are taken together. One illustration could be said to be speaking of spiritual maturity (vs 11) and other one could be said to be about His second coming and the future state (vs 12).

 

However, the only principle that is being brought out in both illustrations is the principle of incomplete knowledge and understanding being brought to a finished or completed state. Again pointing us back directly to His Word being brought from a state of being “in part” to a finished state of completion.

 

 

13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

 

After telling us about the Word and it’s soon completion, Paul now brings us back to the original thought… love is even greater than our three existing gifts of faith, hope and love.

 

Why didn’t Paul mention prophecy or knowledge as abiding (to continue on for extended period of time, to endure to limit)? We have already seen they would end within a short period of time from the writing of 1 Corinthians when Word was brought to completion (about 20 years).  So he didn’t include these on our list.

 

But why didn’t he include the gift of tongues… when did they cease to exist?  Tongues ceased to exist, around the same time as knowledge and prophecy.  Tongues were one of several “sign gifts” that God gave to mankind. The gift of tongues were handed down through the laying on of the Apostles hands. At the death of the last Apostle, the gift of tongues would no longer be able to be passed down and, therefore, died “in and of themselves” (“they shall cease” – vs 8).

 

Keep in mind, the last Apostle living was the Apostle John. John penned the last book of the Bible (Revelation) in approximately 97 AD and died approximately 100 AD. Following his death tongues could no longer be handed down and went out of existence soon afterward, well within the time frame of this study. We will look at the ending of tongues in great detail in a later portion of this study.

 

Putting all of this together, it is easy to see why only faith, hope and charity are said to “abide” (to stay in place for an extended period of time).  The gifts of prophecy, knowledge and tongues would go out of existence within a few years after Paul’s ministry would be complete.

 

But not so with faith, hope and love.  They would continue on until the second coming of Christ.  When Christ comes back we will have no need of faith nor hope…. As we begin, our eternity with Him, we will begin the process of receiving all His promises to us.  Faith and hope will no longer be needed, we will be experiencing all He has for us.

 

At that point, faith and hope will no longer be in existence, but only love will continue on to eternity.  Thus making “love” the greatest gift of all that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:.

  • Gifts are temporary but love is eternal
  • Gifts are elementary but love is mature
  • Gifts are partial but love is complete

 

 

Based upon our study, we have seen that the gifts involving the Supernatural Revelation Of The Truth (Knowledge) and the Supernatural Indicators Of The Truth (Prophecy) came to an end with the completion of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, in approximately 97 AD. We also saw that the gifts involving the Supernatural Proclamation Of The Truth (Tongues) came to an end within one generation following the death of John in 100 AD.

 

In our next lesson, we will see that the end of the Accrediting gifts can be understood by examining the 70 year time frame that the Lord uses to accredit His Word and the places of worship He has established.

 

 

 

 

Additional Information:

The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”

Deu 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

 

Pro 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

 

Isa 28:9-13 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
(10) For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
(11) For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
(12) To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
(13) But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

 

Mat 5:44-48 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
(45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
(46) For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
(47) And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
(48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

 

Mat 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

 

Luk 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

 

Rom 16:25-27 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
(26) But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
(27) To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea.

 

1Co 2:6-14 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
(7) But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
(8) Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
(9) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
(10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
(11) For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
(12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
(13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

 

1Co 13:8-13 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
(9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
(10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
(11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
(12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
(13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

 

1Co 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

 

Eph 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
(20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

 

Eph 3:3-5 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
(4) Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
(5) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

 

Eph 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
(12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
(13) 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:

 

Php 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

 

Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

 

2Ti 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
(17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

 

Heb 1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
(2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

 

Heb 5:12-6:5 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
(13) For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
(14) But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
(1) Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
(2) Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
(3) And this will we do, if God permit.
(4) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
(5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

 

Heb 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

 

Heb 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Jas 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

 

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

 

Jas 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

 

Jas 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

 

Jud 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

 

Rev 22:18-20 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
(19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
(20) He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

The Church Universal, Local, Or Both? #4

SIH STSTA ICONNow unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

(Please note: I apologize for the length and detail of this series, and to be honest, I realize it will not be easily consumed by some of its readers.  I normally do not post articles of this length or depth, but I feel obligated to write this posting based upon feedback I have received from the Importance Of The Local Assembly series that was recently published.  So for the many who have shown interest and/or curiosity on this subject, here is the information you have requested.  My apology to those who lack interest or the time to read this study.  It is understandable.)

Facts about the word “church” as used in the King James Version of the Bible….

1.  The word “church” is not used in the Old Testament.

2.  The word “church”  is used in 111 verses in the New Testament.

3.  Every occurrence of the word “church” is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia”  in the NT.

In this study, I would like to study the definition and contextual usage of this Greek word “ekklesia”, with the intent of answering the following questions…

“When the Bible speaks of a “church” is it referring to an invisible, universal assembly made up of all believers in Christ;…. or, is it referring to visible, local assembly whose membership is limited to baptized believers;…. or, does the Bible speak of both types of “churches” that are differentiated by the context in which they are used?”

Let us all ask the Lord for grace, a spirit open to truth, clarity of thought, and accuracy as we work our way through the Holy Scriptures…

THE SCRIPTURES:

A.   (Matthew 16:16-20);

B.   (Act 2:42-47); (Act 7:37-41); (Act 12:1-4); (Act 15:1-4); (Act 19:29-34); (Act 19:35-41); (Act 20:17-28)

C.   (Romans 16:21-24)

D.   (1 Corinth 6:1-5); (1 Corinth 10:24-33); (1 Corinth 11:19-24); (1 Corinth 12:27-31); (1 Corinth 15:1-11)

E.   (Galatians 1:11-13)

F.   (Ephesians 1:16-23); (Ephesians 3:8-12); (Ephesians 3:14-21); (Ephesians 5:22-33)

G.   (Philippians 3:4-6)

H.   (Colossians 1:14-29)

I.   (1 Timothy 3:14-16); (1 Timothy 5:9-16)

J.   (Hebrews 2:10-13)

K.   (James 5:12-18)

L.   (3 John 1:5-10)

 

THE STUDY:

A basic principle used in this study:

You must take the normal, usual usage and meaning of a word unless the context CLEARLY DICTATES ANOTHER MEANING is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

This is the core principle upon which this study is based.  Both the details, and conclusion, of this study rest heavily upon this principle. We will be finding the common, basic usage and definition of “ekklesia” as found in the Scriptures, and then attempt to consistently apply that meaning to each text.

The common definition of the word “ekklesia”:

The basic meaning of “ekklesia” is “called out from”, or “to separate by summons”.

Therefore, based upon the definition of “ekklesia”, we find no indication of which type of assembly we are speaking of whenever we find the word being used.

However, this is only half of our “equation”.  Next we have to look at the USAGE of the word “ekklesia” in the Holy Bible.

The common usage of the word “ekklesia”:

I am forced to conclude that the common usage of the term in the NT is “local visible assembly”.  This definition clearly applies in at least 80 verses (that’s over 70 percent of the time) the word is used.  There was only, at the most, 32 verses that it could mean a invisible, universal assembly (that’s less than 30%).

Therefore, for this study, we will be using THE COMMON DEFINITION OF “EKKLESIA” WILL BE “A LOCAL VISIBLE ASSEMBLY”.

Based upon our earlier discussion under the heading “A basic principle used in this study”   This will be our process…

1.  We will look at the context of each of the 32 Scriptures where “ekklesia” could mean an “invisible universal assembly”.

2.  We will see if each one could allow us to use our common definition a “local visible assembly” .

3.  If the context allows “ekklesia” to hold to its common definition, that will be the definition we assign to that text.

4.  If the context forbids that the common definition of ekklesia can be used, we will then attempt to determine the definition of “ekklesia” for that text.

For more detailed information on the above sections, please see part one of our study…

A verse by verse study of the “questionable” texts that use the word “ekklesia”:

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,  And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places],  Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church,  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”   (Ephesians 1:16-23)

 

The exposition:

Paul is describing his prayerful desires for the local church at Ephesus. Some of those desires include understanding: the truth of His Word, their calling, what eternity holds for them, His great attributes, and the exalted position of Christ.  This exalted position includes: being placed above all worldly powers, all creation, and being placed as Head of the local assembly.

Christ’s exaltation over the local assembly is described as being made “head” over the “body”, the church.

(For further details on this phraseology please refer to our prior study of the 1 Corinthians 12 passage.) Paul then continues by explaining that it is within the confines of the local assembly that Jesus will meet with His people in His fullness.

This is supported by Matthew 18:20 –

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” 

This text is speaking about the meeting of God’s people in a local church assembly (Matt 18:15-19).

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

The local church is clearly described as the Lord’s body as already seen in our study.  The entire context clearly fits the description of a local assembly.  No need to look further.

 

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;  And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,   According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:  In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.  (Ephesians 3:8-12)

 

The exposition:

The reason that Paul acted as a missionary, being instrumental in the founding and instruction of the first local churches, was so that these churches could present Christ and His Word to both men and angels.

This section of Scripture presents the same truth as the account of the Great Commission found in Mark… 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.   (Mark 16:15-16)

When the gospel is preached by the local assembly, all of creation, including the angels of God learn of the wisdom of God.  Keep in mind, we are told that angels attend the meeting of local churches and learn from the preaching of the Word. (1 Cor 11:10, 1 Pet 1:10-12)

The use of local assemblies to proclaim truth about Christ and His work on our behalf is a part of His eternal plan.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Here, the preaching of the Word by the local church, and the benefits of that preaching extend to both men and angels and is supported by a variety of Scriptures.  The local church can easily be understood in this passage.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.   (Ephesians 3:14-21)

 

The exposition:

Paul’s prayerful desires for the local church at Ephesus is explained in detail… receipt of His eternal riches, His strength through the Spirit, salvation from sins, a foundation of love, an understanding of the love of Christ, filled with the fullness of God.

Paul then explains the obligation of the church to glorify God for granting them these blessings.  God is to be glorified by the local assembly through the work and intervention of Christ in their personal lives and worship services, until the end of the age.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Paul is addressing the local assembly, explaining to them the blessings of God that can be received by them and their obligation to praise Him for those blessings. Clearly, in the context, this is speaking of a local assembly.

 

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.   For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband.”   (Ephesians 5:22-33)

 

The exposition:

Here we find Christ’s relationship with His local assemblies being likened to the relationship between a husband and a wife.  Some of these likenesses include: the church’s need of submission to Christ as their head (1 Cor 12:12-31); the husband’s need to sacrifice himself for the wife, always putting her welfare above his own, motivated by love (Acts 20:28); the very special intimate union that takes place between Christ and the local assembly (Matt 18:20, Rev 1:13-20).

The usage of “ekklesia”

The word “church” is used in the generalized sense. The concept of a local assembly fits very nicely in the context. No need to look further.

 

“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:  Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”   (Philippians 3:4-6)

The exposition:

Paul speaking of the persecution of the local assembly at Jerusalem of which he has spoken earlier. See 1 Cor 15:1-11 and Galatians 1:11-13)

The usage of “ekklesia”

Church refers to the local assembly at Jerusalem.

 

In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.

For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell;  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled  In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;  Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:  Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;  [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:  To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:  Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.   (Colossians 1:14-29)

The exposition:

Christ’s (who was God Himself) great work, power and authority being described.  Because of His faithfulness to the calling of His Father to give His life, Jesus is exalted as head of the local assembly.  Christ’s work involved making a sacrifice for our sins.  He did this so that we might serve Him.

Our faithful service to Him is our supreme call to holiness and spirituality.  Because of his desire to keep this calling, Paul is thankful for the privilege of being persecuted, which allows him to have be a living sacrifice for the Lord.  He is making this sacrifice to be of benefit to the local assemblies to whom he is ministering.

The local assemblies benefit from his ministry by receiving his teachings on the mystery of Christ, His person, work, and the eternity He has prepared for us.  Paul’s great desire is that the local church might learn from his teachings, then fulfill their commission to indoctrinate their members so that they might grow in grace and knowledge and win others to Christ.

The usage of “ekklesia”

The “church” is used in the generalized sense. It is referring to any local assembly to whom Paul has ministered.  The local assembly can easily fit this context, therefore no need to look further.

We will continue our study of the questionable texts in our next posting.

 

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May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The Importance Of The Local Church -12 “The Metaphors Describing The Assembly”

SIH STSTA ICON“…The house of God, which is the church of the living God,

the pillar and ground of the truth.”   (1 Timothy 3:15)

In this twelfth lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the metaphors used in the Bible to describe the Lord’s assembly. By studying these metaphors we will be seeing another aspect of the importance of the Lord’s assembly for every Christian.

Basically, a metaphor is used to describe a likeness that exists between two unrelated things.

An example of this is when Christ said “I am the door” in John 10:9.  Although Christ is totally unrelated to a literal door, He uses this metaphor to describe the idea that it is through Him that we can receive access to eternal life (just like a door gives access to a room).

 

THE STUDY:

Here is a listing and short descriptions of the main metaphors used in God’s Word to reveal truths about His local assembly.

1. “The Pillar and Ground Of The Truth”

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”   (1 Timothy 3:15)
The local assembly holds up (pillar) and supports (foundation) the truths of God’s Word.  It is through the ministry of the local assembly that the truths of God are published and defended.

 

2. “The House Of God”

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”  (1 Timothy 3:15)
The church is a meeting place for the Lord and His family.  It is within the confines of the assembly of God that the Lord meets with His people in a very special way. As they worship, seek His face,and desire to serve Him; He, in turn, speaks to them through His Word.

 

3. “The Flock Of God”

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”   (Acts 20:28)

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  Neither as being lords over [God’s] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”   (1 Peter 5:1-4)
The metaphor of the flock teaches us many truths about the Lord’s relation to His local assembly. Here, the Lord is pictured as the “chief Shepherd” while His assembly is pictured as a flock of sheep:
1. The Lord feeds His assembly, as a shepherd feeds his sheep. – The church is to look to Him for their spiritual strength and nourishment.
2. The Lord leads His assembly, as a shepherd leads his sheep – The church is to follow the Lord and His will for their lives
3. The Lord protects His assembly, as a shepherd protects his sheep – The church is to rely upon Him for their spiritual warfare, realizing they are defenseless without Him.
4. The Lord died for His assembly, as a shepherd gives his life to protect his sheep. This allows the forgiveness of sins of the individuals within the assembly, as well as, the sins committed by the church as a local assembly.  – Now we, as individual members and an assembly, should be committed to serve Him with all our beings, as living sacrifices for Him.
5.  Human pastors are given the responsibility to watch over the Lord’s assemblies in His absence, and empowered and led by the Spirit are to feed, lead and protect the assembly.

Not only did Christ die for the individual members of a local church, but also He died for the church as an assembly. (see more about this under metaphor #6, Eph 5:22-31)

 

4. “The Body Of Christ”

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”  (Romans 12:3-5)

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?  But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.  For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:  That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another.  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”   (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
Although the church membership is made up of individual members, we are to remember there is a unity that exists between those members, therefore we are to treat each other with respect and a willingness to minister to each other.

The individual members of the local assembly have specific tasks to fulfill within that assembly.  When each of the members is submitted to fulfill the specific role each has been given, the church is a healthy church which will work together in unity for the cause of Christ.  Every member is brought into the local body to contribute to the functioning of that body with the specific gifts and ministries that they have been given.

And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church,

Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”  (Ephesians 1:22-23)
Christ possesses the authority to rule over all, including His local assembly on earth. The church is to be in submission to Him.  Christ, fills the assembly revealing Himself to the local church as they worship Him in spirit and in truth.

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:”  (Ephesians 4:11-15)
The offices of the local church were established for the strengthening, maturing and enabling of the members of the assembly.  This spiritual growth of the assembly allows them to recognize and refute false teaching as well as become more holy as an assembly and individual Christians in that assembly.

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;  Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:  Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;  [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:”   (Colossians 1:23-26)
The church’s role is to proclaim the truths of the gospel message which will result in affliction and persecution of the assembly.  This persecution should be accepted with joy realizing that Christ suffered for us as individuals and the assembly as a whole.

5. “A Candlestick”

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one] like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and [his] hairs [were] white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes [were] as a flame of fire;  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance [was] as the sun shineth in his strength.”   (Revelation 1:12-16)

Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;  The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”   (Revelation 1:19-20)
Here we see a vision John received in vs 12-16 and the interpretation of that vision in vs 19-20.  In the interpretation, we find that the candlesticks in his vision represent the local assemblies of the Lord.  Why is the assembly pictured as a candlestick?  Because it holds forth the light of God’s Word in the midst of a sin darkened world around us.  Also note the close relationship that Christ shares with His assemblies.  They all surround Him picturing subjects who have entered the presence of a king awaiting His commands.

 

6. Every Local Assembly Will Someday Be A Part Of The “Bride Of Christ”

Would to God ye could bear with me a little in [my] folly: and indeed bear with me.  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him].”  (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)
Paul, as missionary, played a very important role in the founding of the church at Corinth.  Here, he is telling the church that he has labored to given the church the truths of God so that they might remain faithful to the Lord.  This would result in them standing before the Lord on the last day as a faithful bride awaiting to partake of a new level of communion with the Lord throughout eternity.  Much like a bride on her wedding day is prepared to experience new forms of intimacy with her husband…

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed [are] they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”   (Revelation 19:7-9)
This takes place when all of the saints gather and commune with the Lord.  At this future event, they will be a local assembled body of believers (in other words, a local assembly located in heaven).  They will stand before Him, ready to be united with Him to enjoy a new level of communion, worship and service to Him…

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,”  (Hebrews 12:22-23)

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”  (Ephesians 5:22-31)
Here, the Lord’s leadership and authority over the local church is in view.  The church should be in submission to the leadership of Christ, serving Him as His helpmeet.  This is compared to the wife in a marriage being in submission to her husband as he leads the family to obey Christ above all else and then making decisions that put her needs and desires before his own as he loves her as Christ loves the assembly.

Note in this text we clearly see the purpose of Christ’s death for His assemblies described…

”even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
in other words, it is through His death that the church assembly can receive the forgiveness of the sins of the assembly and be sanctified and prepared for His use and to be spotless before Him on the last day.  ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS THAT COME UPON INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIANS, AND LOCAL ASSEMBLIES, COME THROUGH THE WORK OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS.  The cross of Christ is the channel through which all blessings flow.    

 

THE SUMMARY:

In this lesson we have seen several truths about the Lord’s local assemblies presented to us:

It is the:

1.  “The Pillar and Ground Of The Truth” – The local assembly holds up (pillar) and supports (foundation) the truths of God’s Word.
2.  “The House Of God” – The church is a meeting place for the Lord and His family.
3.  “The Flock Of God” – The Lord leads, feeds and protects His assembly and the Lord died for His assembly.
4.  “The Body Of Christ” – A unity exists between the individual members of the assembly, arising from a joint need one of another. The church is to follow the directions of the Lord.
5.  “A Candlestick” – The assembly holds forth the light of God’s Word in the midst of a sin darkened world around us and enjoys a close relationship with Christ.
6.  “The Bride Of Christ” – The final gathering of believers before the Lord will be like a faithful bride awaiting to partake of a new level of communion with her spouse (the Lord).  The Lord died so that the church could be sanctified and stand before Him spotless upon entrance into eternity with Him.

Why should we join with and support a local assembly of believers?  Because of its close intimate relation with Christ and its six-fold unique role of service to the Lord.

May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.

For a free study guide for this series in .pdf format:

Click to access lordsassemblyprotected.pdf

For a free study guide for this series in .docx format:
https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lordsassemblyprotected.docx

 

 

The Importance Of The Local Church -9 “The Blessings Of Church Membership”

SIH TOA ICON

“…The house of God, which is the church of the living God,

the pillar and ground of the truth.”   (1 Timothy 3:15)

In this ninth lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the many blessings that can be had by those who join the membership of a local assembly…

 

THE STUDY:

Blessings Of Spiritual Growth:

1.  Receive the Teachings Of God’s Word
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.”   (Ephesians 4:11-16)

As the saints are instructed in the Word, they gain….

2.  Spiritual Maturity & Strengthening
For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.  Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:  If so be ye have tasted that the Lord [is] gracious.”   (1 Peter 1:24-2:3)

 

Blessings Of Opportunities Of Ministry:

1.  Build A Good Testimony
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;  Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.  For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;  That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.´  (Romans 1:8-14)

The Christian is able to build up their personal testimony through faithful attendance and increased opportunities of service, but also they are able to build a better testimony being members of a faithful church that is known publically for their faith in service.

2.  Increased Opportunities of Service
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?  But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.

And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.”   (1 Corinthians 12:18-23)

 
With increased opportunities of service also comes increased rewards when the service is completed faithfully…

3. Rewards For Obedience
And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;  Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”   (Colossians 3:23-25)

Blessings Of Community:

1.  Encouragement
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”   (Hebrews 10:22-25)

As saints see faithfulness in the lives of other saints, it encourages them to be faithful as well.

2.  Fellowship
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”   (Acts 2:41-42)

3.  Separation from Sinful World To Worship
And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.  And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.  And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.”   (Mark 6:30-32)

Just as Christ called the first church to separation from the world for a period of rest and refreshment, so too, every time the saint attends the meeting of the church, they can get their minds off of the sinful world in which they live.  They can do this by concentrating more fully on the Lord through communal worship.

4.  Care From Others
And all that believed were together, and had all things common;  And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all [men], as every man had need.  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”   (Acts 2:44-47)

5.  Lord’s Presence and the Joy That Follows
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  (Matthew 18:20)
The Lord promises showing a special presence to those who join together with others to worship Him.  A result of His enhanced presence the saint also experiences increased joy….

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.”   (Psalms 16:11)

6.  Spiritual Protection
It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.  And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.  For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, [concerning] him that hath so done this deed,  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,  To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”   (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)
 

Here, we can see that church membership affords added protection from the powerful intervention of Satan in our lives.  In this text we can see that when an individuals are removed from church membership due to unrepentant sin, they are left exposed to greater Satanic influence in their lives.  This was done to show them their sinful condition and bring them back to repentance once their sinful stubborn flesh was overcome through the affliction of Satan.

 
THE SUMMARY:

What are the blessings of church membership that are available to all of her members?
1. Blessings Of Spiritual Growth
2. Blessings Of Opportunities Of Ministry
3. Blessings Of Community:
Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church?  There are many varied blessings that will be received as faithful members of His churches.
May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.

 

For a free study guide for this series in .pdf format:

Click to access lordsassemblyprotected.pdf

For a free study guide for this series in .docx format:
https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lordsassemblyprotected.docx

 

 

The Meaning Of Our Life

SIH STSTA ICONHave you ever asked yourself  “What is the purpose of my life?”  or perhaps, “How can I best use the time I have been given to live life on earth?”  For some, these questions are unanswerable… they struggle their entire lives trying to come to the true meaning and purpose of the life which we have been given.

Solomon was a great example of this type of person.  King Solomon lived his life in pursuit of the answers to these questions.  It was only in his old age, just prior to his death, that he came to an understanding of his purpose in life.  You can read about his pursuit for these answers in the book of Ecclesiastes.

However, for others, these answers are known from a young age… Solomon’s father, King David is an example of this type of person.

Do you desire to know the purpose of your life?  Do you want to know the most fulfilling way to live your life on earth?  Let’s spend some time to look at events in the lives of King Solomon and King David that will clearly explain these most sought after answers.

And then, finally, lets look at the writings of the Apostle Paul on the subject of the meaning of our lives.

THE SCRIPTURES:

Eccl 12:13-14 (KJV) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil.

1Sam 17:45-47 (KJV)  Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.  This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.  And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle [is] the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.

Col 3:4 (KJV)   When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

THE STUDY:

In our quest to find the true meaning of our lives, we will begin by studying the conclusion that Solomon drew from his life-long pursuit to find the purpose of his existence.

In the book of Ecclesiates, we find that Solomon, throughout his life, tried many different pursuits in an attempt to find self-satisfaction and contentment and purpose for his life.  He tried everything from the carnal pleasures of this world to wealth, education, the arts, political power, and other selfish pursuits, all to no avail.

Finally, in his old age, after living a wasted life seeking the truth, he finally came to an understanding of his life purpose.  Listen to what he came to in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14…

13) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.

14)For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil.

The second example we will look at is King Solomon’s father, King David… David is described as a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) and we see him living out his calling as a very young man facing the giant Goliath (1 Sam 17:).

It is of utmost importance that we understand the motive behind David’s actions in the Goliath incident.  Why did David choose to face Goliath when no one else in Israel was willing to face the giant?   For David it was an issue of God’s glory….

1 Samuel 17:45-47

45) Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

46) This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

47) And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle [is] the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.

David did not desire the praise of men, nor did he stand against Goliath to receive worldly wealth or power.  He only did it to honor, glorify, and obey his heavenly Father.  Bringing honor and glory to God was the purpose of David’s existence on earth.  He was simply doing what he had been called to do.  He was fulfilling God’s purpose for his life.

Just as his son Solomon, David came to the conclusion that putting His God’s will above his own, by seeking God’s will and glory in all things, was the reason he was living on earth.

Finally, let’s look at one verse that the Apostle Paul gives us in Colossians 3:4…

4) When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

In this verse Paul makes 3 very important “points to ponder” in our pursuit of the the true meaning of our lives….

Point #1 –  “When Christ, who is our life” – We owe Christ our lives.

Paul here clearly declares that Christ, as God, is everything to us.  He is our Creator, our Savior and our Sustainer (Acts 17:28).  Without Him we truly are nothing (John 15:5).  We owe Him our very existence and both the physical and spiritual life that we possess.  This is why Paul affirms that living our lives for Him is simply our “reasonable service”, that we owe Him (Roms 12:1)

Point #2 – When Christ… shall appear” – Christ is coming again.

Paul is stating that we can be assured Christ will come back someday.  We are simply left on earth to “occupy” until He comes again.   What does it mean to “occupy” ?  Very simply we are to faithfully use the graces, gifts, talents and opportunities the Lord gives to us during our life on earth.  All of us must realize that we all will stand before the Lord someday and give an account of how we lived our lives on earth.  (Luke 19:12-27).

Point #3 – “ then shall ye also appear with him in glory. “ – If we are followers of Christ, we can be assured of spending our eternity with Him.

As we seek to fulfill our calling in life, by serving Him, we can rest assured that we have an eternity awaiting us.  Living a life that centers upon Christ, is one of the greatest proofs that we have truly been saved by His grace.

Remember, anyone who has been forgiven of their sins has become a “new creature in Christ”.  By this we mean that we have a new motive for living, a new set of desires within us and a new eternity awaiting us.

Realizing that the trials of this world are only for a fleeting moment is a great blessing to us all.   As we serve Him on earth, we are to always keep in mind we will be spending an eternity with Him.  What a glorious  promise this is to all of us….

John 14:1-3 (KJV)

1) Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

2) In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

In our study of the true purpose and meaning to life a few things becomes crystal clear… first, our purpose in life is to glorify and honor our Lord by living a life in submission to His will and ways.  Secondly, our Lord is coming again, to take an account of our life and the many opportunities and gifts He has given to us.  And finally, if Christ has become the Lord of our life, through our salvation, we can rest assured we will spend eternity in His presence.

For those who are saved, let us be encouraged as we study, understand, and act upon the knowledge we have been given of the purpose of our lives on earth.

For those who have never experienced His grace in their lives, let them come to a knowledge of the importance of submitting to His will and relying upon Christ for their salvation…  living a life apart from this is living a wasted, fruitless, and meaningless existence on earth.

If you have any questions about salvation, I have a tab available on my blog that gives in depth information on what salvation is and what you must do to be saved.  Please click on this link for more information about salvation.

If you continue to have questions or concerns about your salvation, find a Bible-believing church in your area.  The Pastor would be glad to share Christ and the way of salvation with you.   If you feel more comfortable communicating through email, you are always welcome to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

————————————————————————

My Main Blog “Settled In Heaven” (updated twice weekly) – https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

The following are other places you can find “Settled In Heaven” blog (updated once per month):

www.settledinheavenbibleblog.posterous.com

www.settledinheavenblog.blogspot.com

To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The God of the Ages

SIH STSTA ICONOn a recent broadcast of the “In Touch” TV program (www.intouch.org), I heard a song entitled “God Of The Ages”.   It is a beautiful, Scriptural song (it is based upon Colossians 1:13-20) declaring our Lord as the God of the Ages.

Let’s take a few minutes to see what these verses of Scripture teach us about our wonderful Lord and Savior!

THE SCRIPTURES:

Col 1:13-20 (KJV)

13) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14) In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins: 15) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17) And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18) And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence. 19) For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell; 20) And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.

THE STUDY:

 IN CONTEXT, PAUL IS SPEAKING OF THE SON OF GOD, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

  13) … his dear Son:

“dear” – agape – beloved, self-sac love

Christ is described here as the Son, who was loved with a self-sacrificing love by the Father.  We should be loving and sacrifice for Him as well.

Matt 10:37-39 –  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

The following verses explain the Son’s work and person, helping us to see the need to love Him sacrificially as well.

Why should we love and place him first in our lives?

1.  HE IS THE REDEEMER…

14) In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:

“redemption” – ransom, price of deliverance;      “forgiveness” –  freedom, deliverance

It is through this Son of God that we can deliverance from the penalty and dominance of sin in our lives.  Once we are delivered from sins dominance, we experience a new freedom to serve and glorify Him in our lives.

2.  HE THE REVELATION OF GOD…

 15a) Who is the image of the invisible God,

“image” – representative, reflection;       “invisible”- unable to be seen;                            “God” – One deserving  our worship;

This same Jesus is both the representative and reflection of God given to mankind.  This Great God that we cannot see with our eyes, can be clearly seen in the person of the Lord Jesus.

3. HE IS THE CREATOR/SUSTAINER AND, THEREFORE LORD OVER ALL…

15b – 18) the firstborn of every creature:  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.

“firstborn” – Preeminent One brought forth, Honored One;     “creature” – created One;  “thrones” – sovereign, kingly power;       “dominions” –  governrnents;                   “principalities”- chief in rank;        “powers”- any controlling force;                             “consist”- set together, put on exhibit, arranged and displayed;                                         “head” – to seize, to control;           “body” –  from “saved”, healed, whole, sound;     “church” –  called out assembly;         “beginning” – first in rank, place or order;  “firstborn”- first, foremost One that is brought forth, honored;                         “preeminence”- first in place, One with most influence;

The Son of God is described as the “firstborn” meaning He is One that proceeded from the Father as the One with a position of existence, privilege and authority over all creation.  He is the One to be honored and the One holding a special position with God the Father as the very Son of God.

He is the Creator of all things in heaven and earth, those we can see and those that are spiritual in nature.

With being Creator comes authority… and example of this is when my wife paints a picture.  She is the creator of that picture, therefore she has authority over it.  She can do with it as she pleases.  She can hang it, sell it, hide it, or destroy it.  She, as Creator has the ultimate authority over it.

In this same way, as Creator Christ is the ultimate authority over all authorities in this world… the sovereign reign of kings; all other human governments;  those holding the highest positions in military; government; social and business areas; and finally, any controlling force in the world is under the control and authority of Christ.

All creation was formed by Christ for the use, control, pleasure, and glory of Christ.

Christ existed before all created things, has set all things in order, holds all things in order and has put it on display for His honor and glory.

He is the One with absolute authority over all believers and His local assemblies.  He is the first One in order and the One from who all creation comes.  He was placed in this very honored position with the express purpose of ruling over all.

4.  HE IS THE ONLY TRUE GOD….

19) For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell;

“fullness”- totality, completeness

To avoid any confusion, God has made it plain that Christ was not simply another created being that was placed over all creation.  Christ is God Himself, and this is why He has the ultimate authority over all things.

In Christ we have the totality, or the completeness of God.  Christ is God Himself, come to earth to save His people from their sins.

5.  HE IS THE SAVIOR/PEACEMAKER…

20) And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.

“peace” – harmony, tranquility;         “reconcile”- to bring to same level, to bring into agreement

At the beginning of this text, we saw that Christ was the Redeemer and Liberator of sinful mankind.  Here we are brought full circle.

Christ is pictured as the Savior and Peacemaker of sinful man which is the direct result of His ministry as Redeemer.  Christ, who is God Himself, came to the earth and died on the cross.  His payment made on the cross was the basis of the redemption that He gives to His people.  Once the payment is applied, the sinful man experiences forgiveness, liberation and peace.

Paul began with the teaching that we are to love and sacrifice for Christ based upon His work of redemption on our behalf, we now are reminded of this once again…

So why are we to love Him and place Him first in our lives?

  1. He is the Redeemer
  2. He is the Revelation of God
  3. He is the Creator/Sustainer and Lord over All
  4. He is the Only True God
  5. He is the Savior and Peacemaker

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who have received the Lord’s gracious offer of salvation, let us serve Him with our whole heart realizing what a great Lord we serve.

Now that we have seen how our Great Lord has made the way for the salvation of sinful mankind…. Our need is to accept this message by faith and turn to the Lord to receive forgiveness and spiritual life.

If you have any questions about salvation, I have a tab available on my blog that gives in depth information on what salvation is and what you must do to be saved.  Please click on this link for more information about salvation.

If you continue to have questions or concerns about your salvation, find a Bible-believing church in your area.  The Pastor would be glad to share Christ and the way of salvation with you.   If you feel more comfortable communicating through email, you are always welcome to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

Please visit the “Settled In Heaven Ministries” homepage –

http://www.settledinheaven.org

My Main Blog “Settled In Heaven” (updated twice weekly) – https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

The following are other places you can find “Settled In Heaven” blog (updated once per month):

www.settledinheavenblog.blogspot.com

http://sih.posterous.com/

To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

 

Are You An Encourager?

SIH STSTA ICONBarnabas, the missionary companion of the Apostle Paul, is found mentioned throughout the pages of the New Testament Scripture.  Although Barnabas is mentioned several times, little is known about this man and his service to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Barnabas, and his service to Christ, are overlooked subjects lost within the pages of the Word.

The name Barnabas means “son of prophecy”; “son of inspiration”; “son of consolation” or “son of encouragement”.  This name for Barnabas was not his given name, it was applied to him later in life as a description of his life and ministry (Acts 4:36).  Barnabas was a master at giving strength to those who were weary; he helped give hope to the hopeless and accompaniment to the lonely. Barnabas was, truly, an “encourager” above all fallen humans.

By studying the life of Barnabas we will be placing before us the prime Biblical example of giving encouragement to those who struggle in their service to Christ.  Would to God we all could become the “Barnabas” of our day…

THE SCRIPTURES:

Col 1:9-13; Luke 22:31-33; 2Cor 1:3-6; Acts 4:32-37; Acts 9:23-28; Acts 11:19-24; Acts 11:25-26; Acts 11:27-30; Acts 13:3-5; Acts 14:14; Acts 14:11-12; Gal 2:8-13

THE STUDY:

As we study the life of Barnabas, we find several events in his life that help us to understand important aspects of being an encourager…

Event #1 –

The first mention of the events in Barnabas’s life is in found in Acts 4:32-37… here, we find the gifts of sympathy for others in need and a willingness to sacrifice himself for the welfare of others…..

A time of great need had come upon the church members at Jerusalem.  Barnabas, realizing the people’s need, was willing to sell personal property to help the poverty stricken church members…

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any [of them] that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.  Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid [them] down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.  And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, [and] of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold [it], and brought the money, and laid [it] at the apostles’ feet.”

 Event #2 –

The another event in the life of Barnabas displays his willingness to accept those rejected by others.  Also, he made honest, spiritual judgments not being influenced by the judgments made by others.

Here, we find Barnabas willing to stand with the newly converted Saul of Tarsus.  This same Saul was the one guilty of persecuting and murdering Christians in Jerusalem. Barnabas’ trust in Saul, and his conversion experience, can only be explained as a divine act of grace.

Acts 9:23-28 – “And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.  Then the disciples took him by night, and let [him] down by the wall in a basket.  And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him, and brought [him] to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.  And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.”

 Event #3

 In Acts 11:19-24, we see that Barnabas was selected to represent the church at Jerusalem as he visited the newly formed church at Antioch.  This tells us he was a very responsible man who could be trusted in difficult situations.  This speaks volumes about the person of Barnabas. Note how he was described in the later verses of this section of Scripture…

He is described as a “good man” and “full of the Holy Ghost and faith”.  In other words, an Godly encourager must be one that spent his life being beneficial to others; he allowed the Holy Spirit and trust in the Lord to control every aspect of his life.

Also, as we see his actions with the Antioch Christians … he was sensitive to the workings of God in the lives of others, he was joyful to see God at work in  their lives, and he called them to action by standing with them. 

Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.  And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.  And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.  Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.  Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.  For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.”

Event #4

Barnabas shows his humility by recognizing the need for Paul’s ministry at Antioch. There was no room for puffed up pride in his life.  He recognized that, for the Antioch church’s good, Paul need to minister to them as well as he.

Acts 11:25-26 – “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:  And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

Event #5

 Barnabas was used as a courier/representative by taking offerings from the church at Antioch and delivering it to the Judaean Christians.  This showed his trustworthiness, and willingness to serve in any capacity where needed to help others.

Acts 11:27-30 – And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.  And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Event #6

Barnabas, along with Saul, was recognized as having the calling of God upon him.  This calling of Barnabus, in context, was to a ministry of missions… however, this calling included the  exercise of encouragement during the course of his missionary ministry.

(This is why Barnabas is said to be an Apostle of God in Acts 14:14.  Barnabas never held the office of apostle, however, a wider meaning of “Apostle” is “one called of God to be a delegate or ambassador” or “one called to do the bidding of another”.)

Also, please note that Barnabas was a willing servant of the Lord, willing to do whatever he was called to do.

Acts 13:2-5 – “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.  And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away.  So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.  And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to [their] minister.”

Event #7

As before in event #4, we see the humility of Barnabas, who was willing to take a back seat to the ministry of Paul.  Please recognize, the ministry of Barnabas was JUST AS IMPORTANT as the ministry of Paul. However, Paul’s ministry was a more public ministry that was recognized by many more individuals (“he was the chief speaker” of the two.)

Acts 14:11-12 – “And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.”

 Event #8

 Here we find, perhaps the greatest exhibition of encouragement in the life of Barnabas.  Previously, John Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys.  John Mark, unexpectedly leaves them at Pamphylia.  As time passes, John Mark desires to rejoin Paul and Barnabas as they begin another missionary journey.  Paul is not willing to take John Mark for fear of him leaving the group again.  Barnabas is willing to give John Mark a second chance at service to the Lord.

Here, we see Barnabas exhibiting forgiveness, the willingness to give second chances, the  recognition that no one is perfect, and the desire to accompany those struggling to serve the Lord.

Acts 15:36-41 – “And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, [and see] how they do.  And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.  But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;  And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.  And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.”

 As time passes, we find that Barnabas made the right decision in trusting John Mark.  We find Paul, in later years, desiring to have John Mark present with him because John Mark had proven himself faithful to the Lord once again…

 2Tim 4:11 – Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Event #9

 Encouragers are not always perfect… their ministry calls them to make judgments about others all the time.  At times, they can make wrong judgments about those they are trying to help… in spite of their imperfections and misjudgments, they continue to serve the Lord and attempt to encourage those who are trying to serve God.

 In this case, Barnabas mistakenly encouraging Peter to bend his beliefs to please other men.  In the context, there erupts a disagreement between Paul and Peter concerning the gospel going to the Gentiles.  At one point, Peter joins with John and James in agreeing with Paul that the gospel should go to the Gentiles… based upon this belief, Peter began to associate freely with Gentiles.  However, when Peter enters into the presence of other physical Jews who disagreed with his beliefs, he compromises his stand and separates himself from the Gentiles in an effort to please the Jews.  This was a horrible display of hypocrisy.  Unfortunately, Barnabas fell into the trap of compromise as well, following the example of Peter.  In doing so, Barnabas wrongly encouraged Peter by following his lead.

Gal 2:8-13 – “(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only [they would] that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.  But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.  For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.  And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.”

Here are a few more points about being encouragers ….

Additional Point #1

 Godly encouragers point others to the ultimate source of encouragement and strength, The Lord Jesus Christ

Col 1:9-13 – “For this cause we also, since the day we heard [it], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;  That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;  Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:”

Additional Point #2

 Godly encouragers recognize the role of their life experiences in their ministry. They also recognize the importance of their ministry in the plan of God and the lives of God’s servants.

 Luke 22:31-33 – And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat:  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.  And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.

2Cor 1:3-6 – “Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation.”

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved…

Let us all be thankful to the Lord for the encouragers who have aided us throughout our lifetime of service to the Lord.  Also, let us take seriously, the opportunities the Lord opens to us to be an encouragement to others.  Let us always be watchful for those opportunities and be thankful when we are allowed to help others who are striving to serve the Lord.

For those who have never come to a saving knowledge of Christ…

Do you find yourself in need of encouragement?  Do you miss having someone who will always accompany and strengthen you throughout your walk on this earth?  Then look to the Lord for the forgiveness of your sins and an everlasting presence in your life.

I have a tab available on my blog that gives in depth information on what salvation is and what you must do to be saved.  Please click on this link for more information about salvation.

If you have any questions or concerns about your salvation, find a Bible-believing church in your area.  The Pastor would be glad to share Christ and the way of salvaiton with you.   If you feel more comfortable communicating through email, you are always welcome to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

————————————————————————

SIH Ministries Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org

My Main Blog “Settled In Heaven” (updated twice weekly) – https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

The following are other places you can find “Settled In Heaven” blog (updated once per month):

www.settledinheavenbibleblog.posterous.com

www.settledinheavenblog.blogspot.com

To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Finding God’s Will For Our Lives Part # 5

SIH STSTA ICON“Open and shut doors…”

 

Prov 3:6 – “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

 

In this short 12 word verse, we find one of the most precious promises of the Bible… the promise for the Lord’s leadership and guidance in our lives.   But in this same verse, we find one of the most difficult aspects of the Christians life… following the path the Lord desires for our life.

One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve been asked is “How can I find God’s will for my life?”

In the next 6 blog entries we will be seeing what God’s word teaches us about this important subject…

    1. What is God’s will ?
    2. Not my will, but thine be done.
    3. Thus saith the Lord
    4. Oh what a feeling
    5. Open and shut doors
    6. Summary of the study

    In part number 5 of our study lets study… “Open and shut doors…”

    THE SCRIPTURE:

    1Cor 16:8-9 (KJV) But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and [there are] many adversaries.

    2Cor 2:12-13 (KJV) Furthermore, when I came to Troas to [preach] Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.

     Gal 6:9-10 (KJV)And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

    Phil 4:10 (KJV) But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

    Col 4:2-3 (KJV) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

    THE STUDY:

    In our previous studies, as we search for God’s will for our lives (part #1), our attitude should be one of placing the Lord’s will above any, and all, of our personal desires (part #2).  We’ve also seen that knowledge and application of God’s Word is of ultimate importance (part #3).

    In our last blog entry, we saw that we cannot rely on our thoughts, conscience, emotions and desires to reveal the Lord’s will to us.  We must put all of these “to the test” by comparing them to the Scriptures.  If they align with the principles of God’s Word then we can follow these impressions, knowing we are walking within the confines of God’s Word.  If they oppose His Word, we then must recognize them as coming from our sinful flesh, worldly influences, or perhaps, even demonic influences.  In any case these type of impressions must never be followed, no matter how desirable they may appear to us. (part #4)

    If, after applying God’s Word to our situation and our impressions, we are still uncertain as to the path that He would have us to take, we need to also be observant towards recognizing open and closed doors of opportunity, signs of the Lord’s workings and the area of greatest need which help us determine His will for our lives.

    In several places in Scripture, Paul explains how he decided upon different paths of service for Christ…

    1. Doors of opportunity
      1. Col 4:2-3 – Here, Paul asked for the prayers of others.  What did he ask for?  Not for prayers of deliverance from prison, but prayers that the Lord would open opportunities for Him to proclaim the gospel to the lost around him.
      2. Phil 4:10 – But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

    i.        In this verse, Paul recognized that the church at Phillippi was unable to continue to support him, when the opportunity to do so had closed.  Paul knew that we can only serve the Lord when the opportunity is open to us.

    ii.        Paul describes this idea as “redeeming the time” (Eph 5:15-17, Col 4:5-6)

    iii.        The Lord Himself recognized that there will come a time when we will no longer be able to serve the Lord on earth.  We need to take advantage of the opportunity while it is open to us. (John 9:4)

    iv.        King Solomon knew this principle as well.  (Eccl 9:10)

      1. Gal 6:9-10 – In this section of Scripture, Paul encourages all of us, that when possible, we are to take advantage of every opportunity of service that the Lord opens to us.
    1. Doors of opportunity and seeing the Lord’s blessings in a particular ministry.
      1. 1 Cor 16:8-9 – Paul decided to stay and continue to minister at Ephesus, instead of moving on to another region.  Why?  A “great door” of opportunity was open to him
      2. He had seen the Lord working among the people as he ministered to them.  His ministry, through the power of the Lord, was having great effect (effectual) among the people.
      3. Please notice that Paul was able to discern the difference between “opposition” and a “closed door”.  Paul knew that even though there was opposition to a his ministry the Lord was still allowing him to minister and to show His power.
    2. Paul choose to go to area of his greatest burden when more than one door was opened to him.
      1. 2Cor 2:12-13 – In this case, Paul had at least two doors of service opened to him. One was to continue to minister to the people of Troas, another to search for his friend Titus who had turned up missing.   In this case, Paul chose to look for Titus, perhaps he was thinking that the Lord burdened his heart about the situation.  Maybe, Paul felt as if he would be best used by the Lord to find his brother than to continue ministering to the people of Troas.
      2. If Paul made the correct choice then we can see that when we have more than one option open to us, we should ask “How can I be used the greatest in the Lord’s service?” and also “Where is the need to minister the greatest?”   Paul had made the determination that Titus needed him at that time more that the people of Troas.
      3. There is some question as to whether Paul had done what was pleasing to the Lord by leaving to find Titus.  After all, he made it plain that “ a door was opened unto me of the Lord”.  Would the Lord continue to keep a door open when He did not intend for Paul to stay?
      4. We will never know for sure if the judgment Paul made was the correct one or not.

    The one thing we can know is this… we must use great care in making our decisions based upon “open and closed doors” of opportunity.  They can, at times, be difficult choices due to our emotions and fallen nature.   Also, we need to see that  no one is perfect.  Even if Paul did make a misjudgment as to God’s will, it only shows that he was a part of fallen mankind.  Even those who are the most spiritual will make mistakes in discerning His will from time to time.

     

    THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

    For those who are saved…

    We must be alert to the events surrounding us.  Many times, we overlook opportunities of service that our Lord has opened to us.  Also, when we are confronted with trying to discern His will concerning any given choice we are facing, we should be watching the events take place around us.  It is very possible, that through the events the Lord will be eliminating, or  confirming choices that will help us to see the path He would have us to take.

    In our search for God’s Will to be shown to us in our lives….

    Prayer Principle #5 –  We must pray for the Lord’s intervention in the circumstances of our lives, using open and closed doors to help us discern His will for our lives.

    For those who have never trusted in Christ…

    Just as the Lord opens opportunities to serve Him for His followers, so too, the Lord has opened opportunities to become a follower of Christ.  The Lord never promised how long the opportunity to trust in Him would last, but He did make it plain that the opportunity to trust in Him would end someday…

    John 12:35 (KJV)

    Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

    None of us know what tomorrow will hold.  A car accident, sickness or other tragedy could bring an end to the opportunity we’ve been given to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.  That’s why anyone who has not trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ should seek His face NOW.  We have no promise of a tomorrow.  We need to be ready to face eternity while we can.

    If you have questions about the gracious salvation that our Lord offers to us, please feel free to refer to my blog page entitled “How to have a relationship with God” .  Or, you can find any Bible teaching church, I’m sure anyone there would be glad to answer your questions about having a relationship with Almighty God.

    ———————————————————————

    To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

    If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

    Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

    Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

    May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

    —————————————————————

    What Must We Do To Be Saved? Part 4 – What About Good Works?

    SIH STSTA ICONTHE most important question that anyone can ask is the question posed by the keeper of the prison in Acts 16:30… “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”.

    The answer to this question is more valuable than gold, silver and all the wealth this world has to offer.  This answer will reveal to us the path that leads to the forgiveness of our sins, the receipt of the indwelling Holy Spirit, fellowship with the Only True and Living Creator, and eternity in paradise with God Himself.  Our very spiritual life and  eternal destiny rely upon finding the answer to this question.

    This question is of such importance we will be taking several blog entries to carefully  answer this question…

    Blog Entry #1 Salvation

    Blog Entry #2 Repentance

    Blog Entry #3 Faith / Belief

    Blog Entry #4 What about good works?

    Blog Entry #5 What about baptism?

    Blog Entry #6 What about the Lord’s Supper?

    Blog Entry #7 What about church membership?

    We now begin our study with blog entry #4…. What about good works? ….

    THE SCRIPTURES:

    Rom 3:19-27 (KJV)

    19) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

    20) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.

    21) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

    22) Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

    23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

    24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

    25) Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

    26) To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

    27) Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

    28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Titus 3:1-8 (KJV)

    1) Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

    2) To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, [but] gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

    3) For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another.

    4) But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

    5) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

    6) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

    7) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    8) [This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

    Titus 3:12-14 (KJV)

    12) When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.

    13) Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.

    14) And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

    Titus 2:11-14 (KJV)

    11) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

    12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

    13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

    14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

    Col 1:9-14 (KJV)

    9) For this cause we also, since the day we heard [it], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

    10) That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

    11) Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

    12) Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

    13) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:

    14)            In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:

    Jas 2:14-26 (KJV)

    14) What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

    15) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

    16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit?

    17) Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

    18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

    19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

    20) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

    21) Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

    22) Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

    23) And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

    24) Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    25) Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent [them] out another way?

    26) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    Gal 5:19-26 (KJV)

    19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

    20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

    21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

    23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

    24) And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

    25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

    26) Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

    Rom 5:17-6:11 (KJV)

    17) For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

    18) 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.

    19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

    20) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

    21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Rom 6

    1) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

    2) God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

    3)  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

    4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

    5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:

    6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

    7) For he that is dead is freed from sin.

    8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

    9) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

    10) For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

    11) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    THE STUDY:

    Salvation cannot be merited through the keeping of God’s laws… the laws were given to show us our sinful condition.

    Rom 3:19-27 (KJV) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;  To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Salvation is based upon the work of Christ upon the cross… not our good works.  Notice in this text that Paul first acknowleges the universal sinfulness of mankind.  He then speaks of the work of Christ on behalf of His people, doing the work of salvation for them.  Paul then emphasizes that, because Christ has done all the work for our salvation, we cannot in any way boast or glory in it.  He them summarizes by teaching us, in no uncertain terms, that “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

    If man is either saved by his works, or keeps himself saved by his works, then there is room for he sinner to boast.  After all, not only did Christ do His work on the cross on the sinners behalf, but also the sinner, through his own labors either brought salvation to himself, or kept himself saved.  According to Paul, this cannot be.

    A Christian’s good works are done to glorify and honor our Lord in the eyes of others…   

    Titus 3:1-8 (KJV) Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, [but] gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.  For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another.  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  [This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

    Titus 2:11-14 (KJV) – For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

    If a Christian does not perform good works to gain or keep salvation, why should He strive to live a life pleasing to God?  In Titus 2:11-14, we are told that a Christian’s good works are motivated out of appreciation for what He has done for us.  He has given us the blessed hope of eternity with Him and He has redeemed us from our sin through His death on the cross.

    We find another motive for living a Godly life in Titus 3:1-8, here Paul explains to us that the production of good works in the life of a Christian is “good and profitable unto men.”  Good works aid others, they show the wonderful change that takes place in the life of one who has trusted in Christ.  Also, living a godly life of good works reveals Christ to others.

    By bearing spiritual fruit…

    Titus 3:12-14 (KJV) – When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come

    unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.  Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.  And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

    Col 1:9-14 (KJV) – For this cause we also, since the day we heard [it], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:  In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:

    Gal 5:19-26 (KJV)  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

    Bearing spiritual fruit is another way of describing good works in the life of a Christian.  Once again Paul  emphasizes the need for good works in the above verses by stating, “And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful”; “ That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God”; and finally, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

    Why do these things? Well, in the above verses Paul tells us in Titus 3:12-14 because it is “necessary” in the proclaimation of the gospel. In Col 1:9-14, we are told to bear fruit out of a heart of appreciation considering all He has done for us.   In Gals 5:19-26, we are to bear fruit because it is proof of a genuine salvation experience/.  Paul also tells us in Gals 5: that the furit bearing that takes place in a Christian’s life is the result of the enabling and leadership of the indwelling Spirit of God.

    And by visibly declaring our faith to others.

    Jas 2:14-26 (KJV) – What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit?  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.  Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent [them] out another way?  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    Here James helps us to understand the importance of good works in the life of a Christian.  James argument is this… It is an easy thing to say “I love Jesus”, “ I am a follower of Christ”… etc etc. Many who have never trusted in Christ can make these statements.  It is only when we see good works resulting from their conversion that we can begin to believe their confession of faith is sincere.

    James makes these statements:

    “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit?  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

    It is an issue of sincerity.  If someone wishes peace, warmth and being filled upon one who is in need, can he be sincere if he doesn’t do anything to help the needy individual?  Likewise, works shows to others we have experienced a sincere trusting in Christ as our Savior.

    “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

    Here, James points out that works are absolutely necessary to declare our faith to others.  Without good works, we can say we have trusted in Christ, but there is no proof in our life that we have experienced conversion.

    James immediately follows these verses with a description of the type of belief that demons possess.  Here, he makes it plain that demons do have a sincere belief in God.  It is so sincere they actually tremble at the thought of God.  However, this is not the type of belief that brings salvation…. DEMONS ARE NOT SAVED!   How do we know this?  They lack the good works that prove their belief is a saving faith that produces change in the heart of the believer.

    James follows this teaching using the lives of Abraham and Rahab.  In both cases, his teaching is that because their life had changed and they began performing good works, their faith is not in question.  They proved through their lives that their salvation was genuine.

    Finally, James closes with “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  Based upon the previous verses leading to this this statement it is plain to see what James meant.  He is saying that if any type of faith that does not cause a change of lifestyle is a dead faith (ie a faith that is of no benefit, it is only a hollow worthless profession)

    What type of “change in lifestyle” does a genuine faith produce?  It is a lifestyle of good works, turning from past sins to a position of submission to the desires of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Although obtaining and keeping salvation is entirely of grace without good works, we can not use this teaching to justify living an ungodly life…

     Rom 5:17-6:11 (KJV)  For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 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. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.  Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:  That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

    What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:  Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Paul answers a question that has been asked throughout the ages and continues to be asked even to this day… “If salvation is truly by grace, and if I cannot loose my salvation, doesn’t that give the Christian allowance to live a life of rampant sin?

    Paul answer is plainly stated in the above passage… “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin”

    In other words, Paul is saying, “How can I person who has trusted in Christ, and received a new life, continue to live in sin.  How can someone who has publicly declared his relationship to Christ via the ordinance of baptism, now choose to live a sinful life of dishonor to the very Lord who saved you?   A Christian needs to understand that it was our sins that sent Christ to the cross… if we believe that how could we blatantly commit sin and not be sorrowful and concerned about it’s presence in our life?”

    Based upon our study today, the answer to our question, “If salvation is truly by grace, and if I cannot loose my salvation, doesn’t that give the Christian allowance to live a life of rampant sin?”

    NO, the teaching of salvation by grace, apart from ANY works of man, does not justify living a sinful life after salvation… A)  A true salvation experience results in a changed life  B) Out of concern for the glory of Christ and the need of those who are lost around us, we are to live sinless lives.  C)  Lives of good works contradict the very salvation we claim to possess.  We say we are sorry for our sins, how can we live in them.  We say we believe that Christ died on the cross for our sins, how can we continue to commit them without concern or sorrow?

    1Pet 1:13-16 (KJV)

    13) Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

    14) As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

    15) But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

    16) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

    In this blog entry we have seen the clear Scriptural declaration that salvation is by God’s grace without the performance of good works to either obtain or keep our salvation…. In the following blog entries we will continue to study, in detail, the answer to the question “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

    If you have any questions about your condition or the salvation that the Lord so graciously offers,  you can look to several sources for further information:  A local Bible-teaching church in your area, or you are welcome to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com, or you can refer to my blog page entitled “How to have a relationship with God” for more teachings on the subject of salvation.

     May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

     ————————————————————————

    My Main Blog “Settled In Heaven” (updated twice weekly) – https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

    The following are other places you can find “Settled In Heaven” blog (updated once per month):

    www.settledinheavenbibleblog.posterous.com

    www.settledinheavenblog.blogspot.com

    To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

    If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

    Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

    Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

    May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

    I’m Late I’m Late for a Very Important Da…errr… Discovery! (Part #1)

    SIH STSTA ICONThe contents of the Word of God never cease to astound me.  I’ll never forget one of the first times this ever happened to me…  I was a young guy in Lexington Baptist College doing an assignment for a class.

    This assignment led me to read Isaiah 40:22 – “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, …(Isa 40:22)

    “Whoa, wait a minute”, I mentally said to myself.  Here, the Bible is making a very plain statement of fact that the earth is a globe and not flat.   No big deal, right?  We all know this is true.

    But there was one big problem with this…. Isaiah 40 was written 2700 years ago in approximately 700 – 750 BC (give or take a few years).  The first recorded teachings (apart from the Bible) that THEORIZED the earth was round were written by Greek philosophers over 200 years later.   The roundness of the earth was not PROVEN until Magellan’s voyages in 1500 AD.   So in other words, what the Bible stated as fact in 700 BC; man did not prove until over 2000 years later.

    This is one event that solidified my reliance on Holy Scripture as truly being the very Words of God.  How could any man know this long before mankind had discovered it?   The answer was very plain… no man could know this…. only God could have revealed it to mankind.   Truly, the Bible is God’s Word!!!

    The following is a list of other scientific “discoveries” first stated as fact in the Bible.  Please note that in each case, science did not theorize, nor prove these truths, for many years after God had already revealed them to mankind in His Word…

    1. Job 26:7 – the earth is suspended in the heavens by gravity.  It is not resting on the back of a turtle, elephant or other animal.  This was stated 2800 years before gravity was discovered.
    2. Gen 7:1 – fountains, springs, or wells exist on the ocean’s bottom.  The first of these were discovered in 1977.
    3. Eccl 1:6 – the existence of the trade winds.  Most people believe was first discovered by mankind in 1840s
    4. Isa 45:12 – the universe is constantly being “stretched out” (expanding) – First theorized in the 1960s and 1970s
    5. 2 Sam 22:16 – there are “channels” (valleys) in the bottom of the ocean – First proven in the early to mid 1900s.
    6. Psa 8:8 there are ocean “paths” (currents) under the surface of the ocean – First discovered in the 1800’s
    7. Job 36:27-28 – the water cycle exists in nature – discovered by man 300 years ago.

    These are just a few of the many different scientific truths that our great God choose to reveal to mankind.  Do a google search of “scientific discoveries in the Bible” to get much more information about the above discoveries and many, many more.

    All of these discoveries are examples of science’s “coming late to the ball”.  Kinda like the white rabbit of Alice In Wonderland fame; the worldly scientists of today are always late for the discovery of important events, so they run around like chickens with their heads cut off!  (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDO5ea8MwgY).

    THE SCRIPTURE:

    That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col 2:2-3)

    THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

    After looking at the different scientific truths revealed in the Bible, the truthfulness of Col 2:2-3 is clearly displayed.   Our God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge.

    Just think, we have the precious Word of God that comes from a God that knows all things!!   What a wonderful blessing it is to know we have the ultimate source of wisdom and knowledge at our finger tips.   We should take His Word very seriously and spend time reading and studying it!  (Psa 40:8, Psa 19:8-11, Pro 2:1-5)

    For those who are saved, His Word is a guide book for us to aid us in our daily walk of life. (Psa 119:105)

    For those who have never received God’s gracious salvation, the Word is the only source of life for a sin sick soul. (John 6:62-71)

    (Please note: in our next blog installment, we’ll be looking at two scientific truths the Bible reveals that many scientists still do not accept as truth. We will also study the result of their denial of these truths on all mankind.)

    If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

    May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

    Forgiveness

    SIH STSTA ICONA note from the author:  The following Bible study should be read with a Bible close at hand for two reasons…

     First, due to lack of space, I had to place many references in the text of this lesson without displaying the entire Bible passage.  Reading these passages will add more information that can be used by the reader.

     Secondly, please keep in mind, that the importance of this Bible Study cannot be underestimated, therefore, it is vital that we look to the Bible for all of our beliefs on this subject.  I have tried to diligently declare only what the Bible says on the subject of forgiveness, however, for the reader’s benefit, an open Bible used alongside this study make certain this study contains only Biblical truth.

     May the Lord Jesus be glorified in this study,  Rob Barkman

    Have you ever lived with dread, knowing that you have wronged someone severely and there was nothing you could do to “take it back” or “undo it”?  Do you avoid the person you have wronged, knowing every time you see them you are reminded, and guilt stricken, at what you have done?  Do you ever wish you could start all over and be freed from this burden of guilt and shame? Thanks to a small, eleven letter word we can begin again, freed from the awesome weight of our guilt.

    That word is “forgiveness”.  Although a small word, “forgiveness” has a very huge meaning…. “to release, to let go, to send away.”  Forgiveness is saying that we no longer hold the offense against the offender, instead it will be put away; we no longer desire retribution for the offender’s actions, but now seek a restored relationship with them.

    What would life be like without forgiveness? Forgiveness is the only thing that can restore broken relationships and allow healing to begin.  Forgiveness is one of the greatest virtues that man can possess.  With forgiveness, the broken can be fixed and the crooked can be made straight once again.

    The Word of God presents to us many different types of forgiveness… from one-time forgiveness for the smallest of infractions (Lk 11:4), to the need for multiple acts of forgiveness for great offenses (Matt 18:21-22), the Bible presents to us the necessity of forgiveness in our day to day walk of life.

    But beyond human forgiveness, the Word speaks of a special type of forgiveness that is given by God to man through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is the forgiveness that is given by God for offenses we have committed against Him….

    “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Col 1:12-14)

    From these three verses we can learn much about God’s forgiveness and it’s results in our lives:

    1.  Giving thanks unto the Father” – If we are forgiven by God, we are thankful!

    No one can begin to describe the awesome sense of relief, and gratitude, we possess when we receive the forgiveness of our many sins!  Just having the knowledge that we will never face an eternal judgment for our sins, but instead eternal paradise with our Lord, results in eternal gratefulness for His forgiveness…

    “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.” (Psa 107:21-22)

    2.  “which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” – If we are forgiven by God, we have a new inheritance from Him!

    Just think of it… once our sins are forgiven, the Lord promises us an eternal dwelling place where God Himself will be present with us.  And beyond that, we will have an eternal life freed from pain, sorrow, and sickness and, most importantly, sin!

    “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. “ (Rev 21:1-4)

    3.   “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” – If we are forgiven by God, we are no longer the servants of sin, but now the servants of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Before our salvation, the Bible described all of us as being the “servants of sin”.  This is because following the original fall of man in the Garden of Eden, a sin nature began to exist in all of mankind.  Because of that sin nature, all humans are born separated from God, the servants of sin, and facing both physical and spiritual death.  (Rom 5:12-14, Rom 6:23, Ezek 18:4, 1 Cor 15:21)

    The phrase “physical death” is speaking of the soul/spirit being separated from the body.  This is the death we read about in the papers everyday; this is the death that separates a loved one from this earthly family and friends.  (1 Cor 15:55-56)

    The phrase “spiritual death” is used to describe a different type of separation.  It is not separation of the body from the soul/spirit, it is the separation of an individual from God.  As sinners, our relationship with God has been ruptured by our sin.  (Psa 66:18,  Prov 15:29,  Isa 1:15,  John 9:31)  Being spiritually dead, results in eternal punishment and separation from God in a place called hell, the lake of fire and everlasting fire (Luk 16:21-31, 12:4-5, Rev 20:13-14, Mat 25:41)

    The physical and spiritual death that we face, due to our sin, is devastating; devastating to our life on earth, and devastating to our eternal existence; as well as devastating to our loved ones and the world as a whole.  But, through the work of Christ, we can be delivered from our sin and changed to servants of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Where we once were bound in death to sin, we are now alive to serve our Lord Jesus.  (Rom 6:11-12)

    What a magnificent work of God in our lives!  To take us, as a member of rebellious, sinful mankind, wanting nothing to do with Him; and, then, making us a part of His privileged family, given an eternal inheritance and blessings beyond number!

    “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”   (Rom 6:17-18)

    4.   “In whom we have redemption through his blood” – If we are forgiven by God, we have been purchased by Christ through His death on the cross!

    The most important question we should ask is “Now what?”  What do we do now that we see our horrible straits? How do we receive the blessings that are awaiting us?  Christ, through His life, death, resurrection, and ascension has given us the perfect answer to this very perplexing problem.

    Christ, during His life on earth, made it very plain what we must do to have our sin problem taken away.   We must look to Him in faith, trusting Him as our Deliverer and Lord of our life. In doing so, we will be trusting Him, and His work, while turning from our sins (repentance) to serve Him as Lord.  (Rom 3:21-26,  Gal 2:16, Eph 2:5-10, Heb 6:1)

    Christ, through His shed blood on the cross, took the punishment of the sin of His people upon Himself so that we would not have to be punished. (1 Pet 3:18)

    Christ, through His resurrection, declared to everyone that He had successfully paid the sin debt of His people and was the God He had claimed to be. (1 Cor 15:12-28)

    Christ, after His resurrection to heaven, is now standing, pleading our case on our behalf to God the Father… he is ever living to declare our justified standing to God (Heb 7:23-28)

    “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. “ (1Pe 1:18-21)

    5. “even the forgiveness of sins” – If we are forgiven by God, we have been released from the shame, guilt and punishment for our sins!

    As we trust in Christ, we find that we are justified (declared innocent) of all the sins that we have committed.   No longer do we have to labor under our sin debt, nor do we need to be concerned about our future.  (Rom 5:1-2)  We can know that Christ, as the indwelling spirit, is with us helping us in this life and securing our future with Him.   (Col 1:27, John 14:16-17, 1 Cor 1:20-22, Eph 1:13-14)

    “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1Jn 1:5-10)

    May we all praise the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all he has done for us….

    “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. “  (Php 2:5-11)

    If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

    May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

    Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”