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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!

Spiritual Gifts: Gifted Men (Part #2)

Spiritual Gifts: What Types Of Gifts Are There? Gifted Men

SIH TOA ICON

Introduction:

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.”  (1 Corinthians 12:4)

 

After coming to an understanding of the basic definition of a “spiritual gift”, we now need to examine each of the different types of spiritual gifts that God has given to man.

There are three basic types of spiritual gifts given to the Lord’s local churches:

1. Gifted Men – These are men, used by God to serve the Lord as a part of the ministry of His local assemblies.

2. Accrediting Gifts – These are the gifts whose main purpose is to establish and accredit His Word and place of worship. A secondary purpose of these gifts is to minister to others within the context of local church ministries.

3. Ministering Gifts – These are the gifts whose main purpose is to testify of Christ and His Word through the ministries of His local        assemblies.

We will begin studying the differing types of spiritual gifts by studying the “Gifted Men” the Lord has given us.

Lesson:

Gifted Men

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”   (1 Corinthians 12:27-31)

 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)

In the above texts, not only do we find a listing of the gifted men that the Lord has given to us (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor/teachers), but also we can learn several principles that apply to all of these gifted men…

1.  “God hath set some in the church  –  These men have been placed within local churches to exercise their gifts as a part of the church’s varied ministries.

2. “[Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers?  – Not all the members of the local assembly are these gifted men.  The gifts given to local church members vary based upon the individuals needs of the assembly.

3. “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” –  These gifted men are to be zealous to exercise their gifts appropriately, in a way that best benefits the local assembly.  They are to use their gifts for the benefit of the assembly not for their own selfish personal gain.

4. “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” – The three-fold purpose of the Lord giving these gifted men to His assemblies is….
a. To completely furnish the saints for spiritual warfare
b. To serve the Lord and meet the needs of the saved and lost alike
c. To build-up, strengthen and bring to spiritual maturity the saints

5. “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:– The work of gifted men will be completed when…
a.  Every saint comes into an understanding and acceptance of the doctrinal truths found in the Word of God
b.  Every lost person comes to repentance and belief that Jesus is the True Messiah, Savior, and Son of God
c.  Every saint enters into spiritual maturity and is completely equipped for the service of Christ
d.  Every saint will perfectly conform to the image of Christ

In other words, when Christ returns and gives to us our new glorified bodies.  It is only then that we will become perfect in His sight and no longer be in the need of gifted men.

6.  “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:”  – The end result  of the gifted men’s ministry is…
a.   Every saint recognizes and rejects all false teaching
b.   Every saint overcomes the efforts of the powers of darkness to overtake them
c.   Every saint proclaims the truths of the Lord in a spirit of love and compassion
d.   Every saint is spiritually mature in every area being perfectly submitted to Christ

These are the basic principles that apply to the Lord’s giving gifted men to minister to His assembly and those without the assembly.

Let’s begin to look at each of these four types of gifted men.  As we will soon see, for each of these gifted men there is not simply a TYPE OF SERVICE (MINISTRY) but it can also describe a specific OFFICE that is associated with each gifted man.

Apostles

The word translated “apostle” in these texts is the Greek word “apostolos”.  This word carries with it the idea of…
1.  “to represent”
2.  “to be sent with authority”
3.  “to be an ambassador”
4.  “to be sent on a mission on behalf of another”

The Office of Apostle  – The qualifications of the office of Apostle are given to us in Acts 1:21-22.  To hold the office of Apostle a man must:

1.  Accompany Christ for His entire public ministry (His baptism by John the Baptist until His ascension to be with His Father) – Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,  Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us,

2.  Must have been a personal witness to the resurrected Christ prior to His ascension – must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” 

The 14 men who are said to be holding the office of Apostle:

The Original 12 (Luke 6:13-16)…

1. Peter;  2. Andrew;  3. James;  4. John;  5. Philip;  6. Bartholomew;  7. Matthew;  8. Thomas;  9. James;  10. Simon;  11. Judas  12. Judas Iscariot.

The Chosen Replacement For Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:25-26)…

13. Matthias

Note: Matthias was chosen by the local church at Jerusalem to replace Judas Iscariot who had betrayed the Lord and then committed suicide.

The Apostle without the proper qualifications (1 Cor 15:8-10)…

14.  Paul

Note: In 1 Corinthians 15:8-10 – Paul describes himself as “one born out of due timeand “the least of the apostles”.  Both of these descriptions signify that the Lord had graciously placed him in the Office of Apostle without properly qualifying for the office. (He had not accompanied Christ during His earthly ministry, nor had he seen the resurrected Christ PRIOR TO HIS ASCENSION.  However, he did see the resurrected Christ following His ascension during the Damascus road experience (Acts 22:6-10).)

One born out of due time” (to be born prematurely) is a wonderful picture of him being born into the office of Apostle without the normal prerequisites, just like a baby who is born prematurely does not experience the normal 9 months in his mother’s womb. Likewise, the title “the least of the apostles reflects Paul’s acknowledgement that, although he held the office of Apostle, he looked upon himself as deficient based upon his past life of rebellion against the Lord and, perhaps, his lack of qualifications as well.

The two main missions of the Apostolic Office were

1. to hand down the inspired Scriptures to man which became the foundation of the teachings of the local assembly. (Ephesians 2:19-21)

2. to perform miracles and wonders used to accredit the New Testament Scriptures and the local assembly as the Lord’s place of worship. (Acts 5:12)

Those Who Performed The Ministry Of Apostle – These are men who were “sent with authority” but not holders of the office of Apostle

The men who performed this ministry:
1.  Christ – Hebrews 3:1, John 17:3;
2.  Barnabas – Acts 14:14;
3.  Andronicus – Romans 16:7;
4.  Junia – Romans 16:7;
5.  Apostles Of The Churches – 2 Corinthians 8:23;
6.  Epaphroditus – Philippians 2:25;
7.  Silas 1 Thessalonians 2:6;
8.  Timothy – 1 Thessalonians 2:6

The Office Of Apostle has come to an end at the completion of God’s Word.  We will look at this in much more detail in the section of our study entitled “When did gifts given to establish the Word and the Local Church come to an end?”

Prophets

The word translated “prophet” in these texts is the Greek word “prophetes”.  This word carries with it the idea of…
1.  “to tell beforehand”
2.  “to reveal the mind of”
3.  “an inspired speaker”

The Office of Prophet  – The most basic definition of a Prophetic office holder is “one who is inspired to speak forth the mind of God”.

The men who are said to be holding the Office of Prophet in the New Testament scriptures:

1. Christ – Acts 3:22, Matthew 21:11
2. John The Baptist – Luke 1:76
3. Zacharias – Luke 1:67
4. Anna – Luke 2:36
5. The Old Testament Prophets – Luke 24:27

The main mission of the Prophetic Office was

1. to hand down the inspired Scriptures to man which became the foundation of the teachings of the local assembly. (Ephesians 2:19-21)

 

Those Who Performed The Ministry Of Prophet – These were men who “spoke the mind of God” but not the inspired holders of the office of Apostle.  In other words, they taught the existing Word of God without being used to reveal new portions of the Word through divine inspiration.

The men who performed this ministry:

1.  OT Messengers of Word – Romans 11:3
2.  Daughters Of Philip – Acts 21:9
3.  Barnabus – Acts 13:1
4.  Simeon – Acts 13:1
5.  Lucius – Acts 13:1
6.  Manaen – Acts 13:1
7.  Judas – Acts 15:32
8.  Silas – Acts 15:32

The Office Of Prophet has come to an end at the completion of God’s Word.  We will look at this in much more detail in the section of our study entitled “When did gifts given to establish the Word and the Local Church come to an end?”

Evangelists

The word translated “evangelist” in these texts is the Greek word “euaggelistes”.  This word carries with it the idea of…
1.  “to bring the good news”
2.  “to proclaim the good news”
3.  “to share the gospel message”

The Office of Evangelist  – The Office Of Evangelist is commonly referred to as “Missionary”.  What is a missionary?  It is a person who shares the gospel with the lost and establishes local churches with those who are converted to Christ.

The men who are said to be holding the Office of Evangelist in the New Testament scriptures:

1. Philip – Acts 21:8

The main mission of the Evangelist is:

1. to share the gospel of Christ to a lost and dying world. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and [then] cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”  (John 4:35)

 

Those Who Performed The Ministry Of Evangelist – Others who shared the gospel of Christ but did not hold the office of evangelist.

The men who performed this ministry:

1.  Timothy – 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Pastor/Teachers

In the phraseand some, pastors and teachers;there is no Greek article prior to “teachers” helping us to understand we are talking about one office and not two separate offices.  The office we will be looking at is the office of “Pastor/Teacher”.

The word translated “pastor” in these texts is the Greek word “poimen”.  This word carries with it the idea of…
1.  “a shepherd”
2.  “one who cares for flock”

The word translated “teacher” in these texts is the Greek word “didaskalos”.  This word carries with it the idea of…
1.  “instructor”
2.  “master”
3.  “to teach students”

Please note: In the Bible this office is described by differing terms:

1. Bishop (1 Timothy 3:1)– Describes the position of the P/T – “An Overseer”, one who is given the watch care of the Lord’s local assembly

2. Elder (Acts 14:23) – Describes the character of the P/T – “An Aged One”, one who is spiritually mature, spiritually wise

3. Pastor/Teacher (Ephesians 4:11) – Describes the work of the P/T – “A Shepherd”, one who leads, feeds and protects the saints by instructing them in the Word of God.

The Office of Pastor/Teacher  – The qualifications of the office of Pastor/Teacher are given to us in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.  They include:

1. “blameless” – no public lawlessness

2. “the husband of one wife” – a “one woman man” ie faithful to his marital covenant
3. “vigilant” – watchful
4. “sober” – self-controlled
5. “of good behaviour” – orderly
6. “given to hospitality” – lover of guests
7. “apt to teach” – able to instruct clearly
8. “Not given to wine” – does not “stay near the wine”
9. “no striker” – does not strike others
10.”not greedy of filthy lucre” – does not get unlawful profit
11. “patient” – to bear under load without rebellion
12. “not a brawler” – does not love to argue or be disagreeable
13. “not covetous” – does not envy others
14. “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity” – leads house in way pleasing to the Lord and has submissive, honest children
15. “Not a novice” – experienced
16. “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without” – possess a good testimony among lost acquaintances
17. “having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.” – reliable children who are spoken of highly by others
18. “not selfwilled – not stubborn
19  “not soon angry  – patience and even tempered
20. “a lover of good men” – one who loves lawful men
21. “just” – keeps the laws of God
22. “holy” – separated from habitual, lifestyle of sin to service of God
23. “temperate”- keeping lusts under his control
24. “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught” – Hold tightly the truths of the Word he had been previously taught.

The Men Who Are Said To Be Pastor/Teacher:

1.  Elders of Ephesian Church (Acts 20:17-28)
2.  Elders of Dispersed Jews (1 Peter 5:1-4)
3.  Peter (1 Peter 5:1)

Those Who Performed The Ministry Of Pastor/Teacher – Others who were “teachers” but not holders of the office of Pastor/Teacher

The men who performed this ministry:

1.  Nicodemus – John 3:10
2.  Teachers Of The Churches (Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen) – Acts 13:1
3.  Paul – 1 Timothy 2:7

Note: Although the Pastor of the local church holds the singular office of Pastor/Teacher they can fulfill the ministry of all four types of men….

1.  Ministry of apostle – the pastor of the church, by their ordination, is sent out to be representative of Christ and the local church

2.  Ministry of prophet – the pastor of the church is to reveal the mind of God to the assembly by teaching from the completed Word

3.  Ministry of evangelist – the pastor of the church should always be ready to share the gospel message with the lost

4.  Ministry of pastor/teacher – the pastor is to lead, feed and protect the church of the Lord through the teaching of His Word

Likewise, as Christians, each one of us can do the work associated with these men without holding any specific office.  We can do this by:

1. We all can be an “apostle for Christ” by representing Christ by fulfilling the ministry He has given to us.

2. We all can be a “prophet of Christ” by teaching the completed Word to others

3. We all can be an “evangelist” by sharing the gospel message with the lost around us

4. We all can be an “shepherd” by caring for and watching over those who are spiritually weaker than ourselves.

In our next study we will continue to look at the spiritual gifts that God has given to His local churches.

Additional Information (Verses Referred To In This Study):

Gifted Men

Apostles

 “And when it was day, he called [unto him] his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;  Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,  Matthew and Thomas, James the [son] of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,  And Judas [the brother] of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.”  (Luke 6:13-16)

 

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”   (John 17:3)

 

For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.  Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,  Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.  And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.  And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all [men], shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,  That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”  (Acts 1:20-26)

 

And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people;…”   (Acts 5:12)

 

[Which] when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard [of], they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,”  (Acts 14:14)

 

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”   (Romans 16:7)

 

“And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace [which was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”   (1 Corinthians 15:8-10)

 

Whether [any do enquire] of Titus, [he is] my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren [be enquired of, they are] the messengers of the churches, [and] the glory of Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 8:23)

 

 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone];  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:”   (Ephesians 2:19-21)

 

Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.”   (Philippians 2:25)

 

Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor [yet] of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.”   (1 Thessalonians 2:6)

 

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;”   (Hebrews 3:1)

 

Prophets

And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.”  (Matthew 21:11)

 

And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,”  (Luke 1:67)

 

And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;”  (Luke 1:76)       

 

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;”  (Luke 2:36)

 

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”  (Luke 24:27)

 

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.”  (Acts 3:22)

 

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”  (Acts 13:1)

 

And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed [them].”  (Acts 15:32)

 

And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.”  (Acts 21:9)

 

Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.”   (Romans 11:3)

 

Evangelist

And the next [day] we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was [one] of the seven; and abode with him.”   (Acts 21:8)

 

I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”   (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

 

Pastor/Teacher

Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?  Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?”  (John 3:9-10)

 

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”   (Acts 13:1)

 

And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”   (Acts 14:23)

 

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.  And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,  Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:  [And] how I kept back nothing that was profitable [unto you], but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,  Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.  And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:  Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.  But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.   And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.  Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I [am] pure from the blood of all [men].  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel 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 20:17-28)

 

And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.  And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.  And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.  And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.”   (Acts 22:6-10)

 

Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, [and] lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”  (1 Timothy 2:7)

 

This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”  (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

 

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.  For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;  But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”  (Titus 1:6-9)

 

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 God of Of Salvation, The Lord Of Death”

SIH STSTA ICONThroughout this text, we will see that different aspects of the physical and spiritual realms of existence will be discussed.  We need to recognize that our lives here on earth are not affected by only the events that take place in this physical world.  There is also a sphere of influence in our lives that is best described as a spiritual realm.  The determination of our eternal abode and our service to the Lord are both effected by the events and characters found in this realm.

In our text for today, we find one verse that clearly declares to us that our Lord is in control of both realms of existence…

 

THE SCRIPTURES:

20) [He that is] our God [is] the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord [belong] the issues from death.   (Psalms 68:20)

 

THE STUDY:

[He that is] our God

The deity that we will be discussing in today’s text is the God of both the physical and spiritual nations of Israel:

1.  Please keep in mind, King David was addressing the physical nation of Israel.  They were brought into existence by the Lord and used by Him to give us the truths of His Word and to bring the Messiah into this world.

2.  The spiritual nation of Israel contains all of God’s people who have been saved, and will be saved throughout history.  Paul refers to this group of Jewish and Gentile believers as “The Israel of God” in Gals 4:13-16.

Both the physical and spiritual nation of Israel can claim a special relationship with the True God, Jehovah.  Therefore, we can truly say ….”Jehovah, is OUR GOD”!

The term translated “God” in this phrase is the Hebrew word “El”.   This word refers to the supreme strength and ability that Jehovah possesses.

[is] the God of salvation;

The God that we can call our own, is “the God of salvation” or, in other words, He is “the Mighty One that controls the deliverance of His people.”  Here, once again we can see a physical and spiritual aspect to this text…

1.  In this physical world, God acts on behalf of His people to deliver them from many of the ills that this world offers. Whenever the Lord delivers His people from a physical threat of harm, He is displaying to us that He is the God of “physical” salvation.  War, governmental oppression, natural disasters, persecution, etc etc.  the list is endless.

2.  However, His greater work is that of a spiritual nature.  It is our God, Jehovah, that delivers His people from the evils of the penalty, power and, eventually, the presence of sin. He saves us from eternal punishment from God which takes place in the Lake of Fire. This is the spiritual aspect of the salvation that He graciously gives to His spiritual Jewish people.

The same Hebrew word translated “God” in the previous phrase (El) is, once again, translated “God” in this phrase.  Remember, it  carries with it the idea of the “Mighty One with all ability”.  This helps us to understand that Jehovah is mighty over salvation and absolutely capable to save His people.  He can do what no other man or false God can do for us.  He is able to do for us what we cannot even do for ourselves, save us from this world’s evils and the evils that await sinful man in the world to come.

and unto GOD the Lord 

This same God, who is the Strong One, is given a new set of titles here.  God is now called by the names “GOD”  and “Lord” which come from two different Hebrew words:

1.  The name “God” is the Hebrew word “Jehovah” which carries with it the idea of the “One that Exists”.  This personal title for God helps us to understand that He is the One True God.  In actuality, He exists, while all the other false gods of this world do not.  He is the only God that is in existence, all others are human, sinful, replacements and, in actuality, are the figments of lost mankind’s imaginations.

2. The title “Lord” is the Hebrew word “Adonai” which teaches us that the Lord is the One who is the Master, Owner, or Originator of all things:

He is the One who brought physical Israel into existence, He is the One that owns Israel, and He is that is her Master.

The same can be said about His relationship with the spiritual nation of Israel.  It is He is formed her, it is He that owns her, and it is He that rules over her.  Spiritual Israel is His spiritual kingdom that submits to His Lordship as He rules in the heart of her citizens.

[belong] the issues from death.   

Jehovah, the Originator, Master and Ruler of the two Israels, possess the “issues of death”.  In other words, death flows forth under His divine control.  He is the One that controls the “flow of death”.  It is Jehovah the Master that delays, restrains, and restricts and destroys both physical and spiritual death:

1. The phrase physical death is describing the condition whereby our spirit is separated from our body.  By His control over physical death, we are speaking of the Lord’s governance of the length of our physical lives, the resurrection of our bodies which will rescue the physical body from death, and the total elimination of physical death for those who are alive when He comes back again.

2.  The phrase “spiritual death” is describing the condition whereby, due to our sins, we are separated from God.  This separation is displayed by a lack of communion, alienation from His family and kingdom and estrangement from God throughout eternity.  This spiritual death can only be overcome through the gracious intervention of Almighty God whereby, through the work of Christ, our communion between God and His people is restored.  This results in renewed fellowship with God through prayer and the Word, the Spirit’s indwelling, and an eternity living in the very presence of God.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

It is from the Lord that we receive eternal spiritual life which transcends all other aspects of our existence on earth.  With the possession of spiritual life comes security, peace, and communion with Almighty God.  What a blessing it is to know that … “[He that is] our God [is] the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord [belong] the issues from death

O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory?  The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law.  But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”   (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)

Won’t you look to the Lord Jesus Christ, in faith, trusting Him as your Lord and Savior before it is too late?

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

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Settled In Heaven Ministries Home On The Web: http://www.settledinheaven.org

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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.”

Cremation Or Burial: What Does The Bible Say? (2)

SIH STSTA ICONThe necessity of the death of our body, and its use to honor and glorify the Lord, is an issue for which we all should be prepared.  This would include the testimony that we display during our actual passing, as well as the funeral service and disposal of our body   After all, our physical bodies are a wonderful gift from the Lord of which we are to use for His glory in every way possible…

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I have said this to simply explain the importance of the issue we will be studying today.  It is the issue of the burial of our body versus the cremation of our body.  Do either of these dishonor our Lord or harm our testimony before Him?

 

THE STUDY:

In my way of thinking, one reason why there is so many questions about cremation versus burial of the body is because there is no “thus saith the Lord”.  To my knowledge the Bible does not clearly address the issue.  It is an issue that will have to be decided based upon a variety of Biblical principles instead of a clear Biblical declaration.

Keeping that in mind, I would like us to look at some Biblical principles that we can prayerfully consider…
1. The Stewardship Principle (see lesson #1)
2. The Example Of Honored Bible Characters
3.  The Symbolism Of Fire And Burial

The Example Of Honored Bible Characters

The most common way the deceased body was cared for throughout the Scriptures is through the act of a burial.  Normally, this “burial” was not underground in today’s time but in tombs, or sepulchers, made from caves covered by a huge rock:  Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah (Gen 49:29-31); Lazarus (Mark 15:45-46); Christ Himself (Mark 15:45-47) to name a few.

However, there is, at least, one cremation of an honored character that took place, and it was for the Lords glory…

And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;  All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.  And they took their bones, and buried [them] under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.”   (1 Samuel 31:11-13)

In this case, the bodies of Saul and his sons were burned to make certain the Philistines would not be able to reclaim the bodies and, once again, put them on public display, bringing shame to the land of Israel.  This was not done to dishonor Saul and his sons, who were revered by Israel, it was done to retain the honor of Israel and her God, Jehovah.  In this case, the burning of the bodies was done to preserve respect for the Lord, not take away from it.

Another example of a Godly use of cremation is found in Amos…

Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.  The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.  And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.  And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that [is] by the sides of the house, [Is there] yet [any] with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.  For, behold, the LORD commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.”   (Amos 6:7-11)

In this case, we have cremations taking place to stop a communicable plague from spreading throughout the land.

Also, we have to think about all the other honorable servants of the Lord whose body did not receive a proper burial.  In Hebrews 11: we find listed, in general terms, the types of death, and lack of burial many experienced…

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae; [of] David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets:  Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,  Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:  And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:  God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.  (Hebrews 11:32-40)

Throughout the ages, the bodies of the people of God have suffered greatly at the hands of their enemies.  Some of the types of death relevant to our study include…. burning at the stake, being sawn asunder, eaten by wild animals, cast into the sea, torn apart on the rack etc etc etc.   All of these examples help us to understand that, in some instances, the lack of a burial actually glorifies God in great ways depending on the situation in which they occur.  Paul understood this principle when he actually offered for his body to be abused for the resultant glory of the Lord….

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.”  (1 Corinthians 13:3)

Of course, Paul is not referring to a cremation here, but a death by fire (aka being burned to death) which has a secondary result of destruction of the body.

Based upon the examples of the honored Bible characters, it seems as if the norm was definitely a proper burial of a prepared body, but it certain instances, cremation or the lack of a proper burial was used by the Lord for His honor and glory.    This must be determined based upon the motive behind the action and the circumstances surrounding it.

The Symbolism Involved

The final area that we need to look at is the area of symbolism… what does burial symbolize, if anything; and what does cremation of the deceased body symbolize, if anything?  To help us understand this we need to see what these two acts are related to in the Bible….

First let’s look at the symbolism of application of fire ….
Many times, the application of fire is symbolic of the falling of God’s judgment.

How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?   (Psalms 89:46)

And [when] the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard [it]; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed [them that were] in the uttermost parts of the camp.  And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched.  And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them.   (Numbers 11:1-3)

 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:  But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, [and] with the sound of the trumpet:  And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD.  (Amos 2:1-3)

In all the above three texts, which is only a sample of the many times fire is used by God to judge those who were rebellious, we can see that the application of fire was related to God’s anger and wrath being poured out upon the sinful.

However in our last text, Amos 2:1-3, it is interesting for us to notice WHY Moab was being punished by God.  It is described as “because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime”.  Was the Lord calling the act of cremation a sin?  If so, this would make our study much simpler.  There are those who say that is exactly what is being said, and therefore, we can know with certainty that the cremation of a body is an act of sinfulness.

However, from my perspective, I do believe this verse is better understood to be describing the horrible cruelty of Moab that was shown by his burning up the bodies of his enemies until the bones turned to small pieces with which he then plastered his palace.  He was a nice guy huh? (Because this information is based on human historians who were not inspired by God, this information cannot be relied upon with absolute certainty.  Therefore I am just sharing this alternate view with you.)

The reason why I do not think it is speaking of all types of cremation is because, we just saw in a previous examples where the act of cremation was not sinful but done as an act to glorify and honor the Lord.  I do not believe the act of cremation is not sinful in and of itself, but the purpose behind the cremation, and the circumstances surrounding it, must be taken into account as well.

From this standpoint, a usage of fire to cremate a body would be a symbolic picture of the body being used to dishonor the Lord, and as a result the body receiving judgment at the hand of the Lord.

Not only is the application of fire is symbolic of the falling of God’s judgment, but at other times, the application of fire was used by the Lord to accept an offering made to Him…

And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people.  And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: [which] when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.   (Leviticus 9:23-24)

And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought [it] out unto him under the oak, and presented [it].  And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay [them] upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.  Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that [was] in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight. And when Gideon perceived that he [was] an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.  And the LORD said unto him, Peace [be] unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.  Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it [is] yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”   (Judges 6:19-24)

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD [be] God, follow him: but if Baal, [then] follow him. And the people answered him not a word.  Then said Elijah unto the people, I, [even] I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets [are] four hundred and fifty men.

Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay [it] on wood, and put no fire [under]: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay [it] on wood, and put no fire [under]:  And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.  And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress [it] first; for ye [are] many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire [under].  And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed [it], and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But [there was] no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.  And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he [is] a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, [or] peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.  And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.  And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the [time] of the offering of the [evening] sacrifice, that [there was] neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.  And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD [that was] broken down.  And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:  And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.  And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid [him] on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour [it] on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.  And he said, Do [it] the second time. And they did [it] the second time. And he said, Do [it] the third time. And they did [it] the third time.  And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.  And it came to pass at [the time of] the offering of the [evening] sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou [art] God in Israel, and [that] I [am] thy servant, and [that] I have done all these things at thy word.  Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou [art] the LORD God, and [that] thou hast turned their heart back again.  Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that [was] in the trench.  And when all the people saw [it], they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he [is] the God; the LORD, he [is] the God.  And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.   (1 Kings 18:21-40)

In the above texts, and in several others, we can see that many times the Lord declared His acceptance of an offering through the use of fire coming down upon the offerings and consuming them.

Under this basic usage, the cremation of a body could be seen as a body being offered for the Lord’s use (during its lifetime on earth) and that offering being found pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.

Now, let’s begin looking at the symbolism involved with the act of burial of a body…

The act of burial pictures the state of the saints dead body as it awaits the final resurrection.

But some [man] will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?  [Thou] fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:  And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other [grain]: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.  All flesh [is] not the same flesh: but [there is] one [kind of] flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, [and] another of birds.  [There are] also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial [is] one, and the [glory] of the terrestrial [is] another.  [There is] one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for [one] star differeth from [another] star in glory.  So also [is] the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit.  Howbeit that [was] not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.  The first man [is] of the earth, earthy: the second man [is] the Lord from heaven.  As [is] the earthy, such [are] they also that are earthy: and as [is] the heavenly, such [are] they also that are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  (1 Corinthians 15:35-49)

In the above text, we can see that the body of those who are passed away is pictured by a seed that is sown.  The resurrection of that body is pictured by the seed then sprouting and growing with a new type of life.  Therefore it only makes sense that this seed that is “buried” and the sprout that arises with new life is the perfect illustration of dead body that is buried in the ground and the coming resurrection to a new type of life when the body comes forth from the grave.

The act of burial pictures Christ’s burial

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;  (Hebrews 2:14)

But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept.   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.  (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.  (Philippians 3:20-21)

Christ went before His people setting the perfect example for us to follow in all aspects of His life. The example He has set for us even extends to the burial and resurrection of His body.  Christ’s body was buried in a tomb and then three days later at His resurrection, He exited that tomb proving to all that He was the true God and Redeemer of His people.   The burial of the believer’s body is one way, among many, that we can follow His great example that was set for us.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

To summarize our completed study…

In the first study…
1.  We have come to recognize the importance of using our physical bodies for the glory and honor of God as stewards of these wonderful dwelling places for the Holy Ghost.  This principle even applies to our bodies following our death.
2.  We saw that the burial of the body was following the example set for us by our Lord, and in and of itself, was an act that brought glory and honor of Him.
3.  In our previous study, we also saw that the Bible gives us a clear recognition that the burial of a body is a very acceptable way to dispose of the body following death. It is through the use of burials that a body is protected for the destructive forces found in nature and shows great respect for the deceased.
4.  In our first study we also saw that the use of cremation to dispose of the dead body, may be considered using a force of nature to destroy it.  If that is the case, then this would be an act of dishonor for the deceased and abuse of the dead body.
5.  Also, in several cases, cremation was used to destroy those who are enemies of the Lord and foreigners from the nation of Israel.  Again, this would seem to teach us the need to refrain from the use of fire to dispose of the dead body.

In this, our final study…
6.  We saw that most of the honored servants of God had their bodies placed in a tomb for their burial.
7.  There were only two types of exceptions to the burial of God’s people…  The martyred servants of the Lord, who then had their dead bodies treated abusively by the enemies of the Lord; and, a few other cases, where cremation was used motivated out of desires to honor the Lord and protect His people from harm and shame.
8.  In this lesson, we also saw that cremation could be looked at as symbolic of the Lord’s rejection and punishment of the body of the deceased.  However, we also saw that this same cremation could picture the Lord’s acceptance of the service that was once performed in the body.  To my way of thinking the symbolism of fire is a wash, since it could be looked at either way.
9.  Based upon the spiritual lesson learned from a burial, we saw that a burial was symbolized by a sown seed waiting to receive new life and sprout.  This being a picture of a saint’s body sleeping awaiting a future resurrection.
10.  We also saw that a burial was also a public declaration of what our Lord has done for us by dying on the cross and experiencing a resurrection with a glorified body.

I believe the overwhelming evidence of the Scriptures is for the burial of the body of the saint who has passed before us.  It is clearly and acceptable way to dispose of the dead body picturing what Christ has done for us (as well as following His example and the example of saints who have gone before us). It is a proper way of protecting the body from abuse by nature, as well as a picture of the saint’s sleeping body.

When it comes to cremation, this is a much more questionable method of disposal of the body.  It could be abusing a body using a force of nature, and is associated with the death of those who are enemies of the Lord and it also is missing an opportunity to picture the Lord’s burial, following the example He has set for us.  Finally, it lacks in it declaring that the saint’s body is “asleep” and awaiting a future resurrection.  When we look at all these issues we can see that the weight of evidence makes cremation a questionable practice.  However, we should never forget that the Bible does give examples of cremation being used in God glorifying ways. Therefore we cannot say that in every case cremation is a sinful act or displeasing to God.

My thoughts are that … Biblically, confidence can be found in the burial of the saint’s body.  It is clearly an acceptable, God honoring way to dispose of the believer’s body.   However, cremation is a much more questionable method of disposal of the body. Therefore, it must be selected with great care, prayer and consideration of the motives behind that decision.

The greatest consideration for us all is not the condition of our bodies following our death, but the condition of our souls now.  Keep in mind, one of the supreme goals of a Christian’s service to the Lord is to see the salvation of those who are lost.  For the Christian, are we certain our hearts are right with the Lord?  Likewise, are we living a life that glorifies and honors Christ?   Furthermore, are we using the opportunities the Lord has given to us to witness to and pray for the lost around us?  All of these things are of utmost importance.

For those who are lost, have you ever experienced the Lord’s saving grace in your life?  Have you ever seen that you have sinned against the Lord and, apart from His gracious intervention in your life, you can do nothing to gain forgiveness from Him?  Have you come before Him humbly, turning form those sins and trusting in Him to save you from those sins?  Have you ever experienced a change within you that results in recognizing Christ as your Lord and seeking to live your life for Him?

These are the marks of genuine salvation and the most important consideration that lies before us…

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:  Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.   (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)

May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek His truth.

 

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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.”

Phil Robertson, Sin and The Christmas Season

SIH STSTA ICON(Before we begin our study, let me quickly explain that, although I agree with the main thrust of Phil Robertson’s message, I am sorrowful that he presented his message using some crude language that was unnecessary to say the least and harmful to the cause of Christ.

Without knowing the man and his personal life, it is impossible for me to make a judgment about the intent and motivation behind the inappropriate phrases. Based upon his personal testimony, I am trusting that they are the result of his upbringing and environment and not an indication of any malice in his heart towards those of whom he spoke.

Who among us can say that we have never said things that have harmed the cause of Christ and brought sorrow to our hearts?  However I do want to take a look at the Biblical principles he was presenting in the interview and the importance of recognizing their application to our nation and world today.)

 (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which is] planted; He hath made every [thing] beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

The past few days has given us living proof of the truthfulness of this wonderful text of Scripture.  How true it is that our Sovereign Lord is in control of the events that take place among men and that He brings these events to pass in His perfect timing, while accomplishing the goals for which they were determined.

The Bible also speaks of this principle in…

(Daniel 2:20-23)Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:  And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:  He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what [is] in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.  I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast [now] made known unto us the king’s matter.

Here, we see that our Lord uses the timing of the events of mankind to teach us many of the deep, secret things about Himself and our condition before Him.  In other words, He shows us, through His control of the events of mankind, many truths that are very difficult for us to understand and accept as truth.

This principle has come to light this past week as our nation, in the midst of the Christmas season, has witnessed the events surrounding Phil Robertson, A & E network and the world’s response to both of them.  I would like us to take a few moments and try to take a Scriptural look at what we can learn from this week’s series of events, and come to understand that these events were perfectly timed by the Lord.

 

THE STUDY:

First, the Lord has clearly presented to us the truth of the existence and results of sin in our world.  

The most controversial of Robertson’s statements involved various types of sin that exist in our world today.  The teachings of the Bible confirm the existence of sin, and give us a list of the individual sins that were mentioned by Robertson….

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11)Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

 

Secondly, we have clearly displayed the lost world’s blindness to their own sin and the truths of the Word.

As Robertson gave his listing of sins, the appropriate response was for the world to acknowledge that sin exists and be motivated from a Godly sorrow to confess and repent of their sins.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  Instead, we find them denying the existence of some of those sins, justifying their commission and, in doing so, rising up in opposition to these truths of the Word.

(Isaiah 5:20-24)Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  Woe unto [them that are] wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!Woe unto [them that are] mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:  Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!  Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, [so] their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

(2 Timothy 3:13-15)But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them];  And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

(Just a side note: this very principle should bring out a spirit of gratitude and praise from the heart of all who have been brought to a Scriptural repentance and trust in Christ.  We were all in this condition of spiritual blindness and apart from the gracious intervention of Christ in our lives, we would also be in denial of these truths of God.)

 

Thirdly, we have presented to us the solution to sin and its effects in the world.

Here is where we begin to see the wonderful timing of our Lord.   Although Phil Robertson presented the need for repentance and faith in Christ, it was not included in most of the news accounts of the interview with him.  But the Lord has a way of overcoming any obstacle that opposes His will.

What better time for our nation to be presented with its sinfulness and need of repentance than the Christmas season when all mankind have their thoughts pointed towards the coming of Christ to the earth to save lost mankind from the very sins of which Robertson had spoken.

In direct response to the sin of this world we read that ….

(Matthew 1:20-25)But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.  Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.  Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

(1 John 4:14)And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son [to be] the Saviour of the world. 

(John 3:16-17)For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

It is only during the Christmas season that the lost world has their minds pointed to the truth that God sent His only begotten Son to save His people from their sins.  Just as the new reports of Robertson’s interview reveal to the world their sinful condition, so too, the Christmas season is placing on display the One who was given by God to save the world from their sins.

How is this salvation received?  It is by placing faith in the person and work of the One who was born in Bethlehem.  It is by placing our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who was God manifest in the flesh…

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Jesus is the One who came to this world and died on the cross bearing the sins of His people.  His body was buried for three days and three nights in the tomb and then He rose again the third day, proving to us all that His payment for sin on the cross was accepted by His Father in heaven…

(1 Corinthians 15:1-4)Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

As a matter of fact, Christ came and died on the cross to save people from the exact same sins that Robertson was talking about.  Notice in the 1 Corinthians 6: passage that gave us a list of the sins Robertson mentioned, we find the concluding verse that says ..  “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Christ came to save those who have committed homosexual acts, adulterous acts, and other immoral, perverse acts…. There is no sin so great for which the grace of God cannot grant forgiveness and cleansing.

But if we read this verse closely we find that those of us who have been saved were guilty of these same offenses as well…  “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Therefore there is no room for feeling of superiority on our part, nor is there room for boasting.  Folks, we were in the very same “boat” as the unsaved that are around us.  Apart from God’s grace, we would still be facing an eternity of separation from Him in the Lake of Fire having committed the same sins as they.

That is why we are to use this holiday season (and every season of the year) to humbly share Christ and the forgiveness He offers to the sinful world around us.   Let us put down the carnal aspects of the Christmas season and use it as the perfect opportunity to share Christ with those who are in desperate need of Him.

The Lord has graciously given to each one of us the perfect opportunity to address the sinful state of the world and their need of Christ through the use of the news stories about Robertson’s interview and the Christmas season that is upon us.

May we all use these events to bring honor and glory to His name.

For more information about the Bible’s teachings on homosexual relationships:  http://wp.me/pU88A-nE

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The Church Universal, Local, Or Both? #3

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”:

 

Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.  I Tertius, who wrote [this] epistle, salute you in the Lord.  Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you all. Amen.

(Romans 16:21-24)

 

The exposition:

Paul is writing on behalf on several different Christians (Timotheus, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Tertius (as penman), Gaius, Erastus, and Quartus.  Paul goes further and speaks on behalf of the local assembly at Corinth.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Could Paul speak on behalf of all the believers everywhere on earth?  I think not.   Note the phrase “whole church” is used elsewhere to describe local assemblies (Acts 15:22 – at Jerusalem; 1 Cor 14:23 – at Corinth)

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?  Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.  I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?”   (1 Corinthians 6:1-5)

 

The exposition:

Paul, here is encouraging believers who are involved in a dispute to allow the local assembly to make a judgment and not to rely upon the world’s judicial system.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Would it be possible for the universal, invisible church to make a judgment about saints’ disagreements?  I don’t know how that could ever be done.  Would Christians be able to bring their disputes before a local assembly for judgment…. Absolutely.  It could be easily done.

Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s [wealth].  Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, [that] eat, asking no question for conscience sake:  For the earth [is] the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.  If any of them that believe not bid you [to a feast], and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.  But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth [is] the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:  Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another [man’s] conscience?  For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:  Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:24-33)

 

The exposition:

Paul gives a listing or areas of concern for the Christian desiring to possess a proper public testimony for Christ. This involves care concerning covetousness, eating habits, hospitality and social behaviors, limiting our Christian liberties for the sake of others, honoring God in all things that are done, then he makes the statement…

Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.

In other words, we are to take care not to offend those around us.  This includes being a good testimony to both Jew and Gentile.  Also, it includes being in proper submission to the local assembly and not offend them, it is the local church whose responsibility it is to take the gospel to the lost world.

Whatever church we are a member of, we should be in submission to their authority helping them to fulfill the Great Commission through our life testimony.

By doing all of these things, we are exhibiting a humble attitude of a life lived in ministry for the good of others.

The usage of “ekklesia”

Church is used in the generalized sense.  Whatever church we are a member of, we should be in submission to their authority which enhances our testimony and the unity of the church as it takes the gospel to the world.Again, this makes perfect sense, and therefore we have no need to seek another definition.

 

For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.  When ye come together therefore into one place, [this] is not to eat the Lord’s supper.  For in eating every one taketh before [other] his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.  What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise [you] not.  For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread:  And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

 (1 Corinthians 11:19-24)

The exposition:

Here, Paul is giving the local church at Corinth instructions on how to observe the church ordinance of communion.  By partaking of the supper in a selfish fashion the church member is despising the local assembly who holds authority over the ordinance.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Contextually, it is quite clear Paul is instructing a local assembly that has the authority to observe the Lord’s Supper.

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.  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

 (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

The exposition:

Paul is addressing the local assembly at Corinth.  He is describing them as the “body of Christ”.  This teaches us that the local church although made up of many different members is to work together in harmony to do the bidding of its head, Jesus Christ.   Paul describes the offices of the local assembly and some of the gifts the Lord placed within that assembly for its spiritual growth and accrediting. Finally, to emphasize the need for selflessness and unity, he reminds them to earnestly desire to exercise the “best gifts”… ie the gifts most needed by the assembly.

 

Also, if you notice in vs 13 membership in this assembly is gained by the Holy Spirit leading us to be baptized in water. (The word translated “by” is also translated “through” in Greek).  This is saying that…

“Through (the leadership of) the Spirit, we are all baptized into one type of body.” (It is a local assembly that declares God’s truths and fulfills the Great Commission.)

This membership is offered to both Jew and Gentile, slave or master.  There is no difference between a local church filled with Gentiles and a local church filled with Jews. Nor is there a difference between the membership of the rich and the membership of the slave. They hold to the same set of doctrines and have the same mission…. The Great Commission.  No matter what their nationality and social standing each member has the same privileges and responsibilities of membership.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

The church is being described in the generalized sense here.  Only a local assembly could accomplish what Paul is describing in vs 13-31.  It is impossible for members of an invisible worldwide body of believers to work together in harmony and meet each other’s needs as being described in these verses.

Once again, as in every text so far, there is nothing in this text to dictate that the “church” that is mentioned cannot be a local assembly.  Therefore, there is no need to search for another meaning.

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:  And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace [which was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.  Therefore whether [it were] I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

 (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

 

11) But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12) For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13) For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

 (Galatians 1:11-13)

 

 

The exposition:

Here, Paul is sharing the details of the gospel message, in the context of his personal testimony to the local church at Corinth, and the local church at Galatia.  He is emphasizing proofs that the gospel message is true, the great number of witnesses to the resurrection and the changed life he experienced after his receipt of the gospel by faith.

As a part of his testimony, Paul describes his past life (prior to his salvation) which included the persecution of members of the local church at Jerusalem.  This is described in Acts 7:54-8:5 – this account includes the martyrdom of Stephen, and other believers living in the confines of Jerusalem.  There is no reason to believe these were not members of the local church at Jerusalem)

 

The usage of “ekklesia”
There is no reason why the “church” mentioned in Paul’s testimony was not the local church at Jerusalem.  No need to look further.

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

 

Please visit…

Settled In Heaven Ministries Home On The Web: http://www.settledinheaven.org

Settled In Heaven Ministries Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Settled In Heaven Ministries Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven

Email Us At: settledinheaven@gmail.com

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 -6 “The Mission Of The Church: Evangelize The Lost”

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 sixth lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the first responsibility given to the church in the Great Commission.  This is the responsibility to take the gospel message to a lost and dying world….

THE STUDY:

The First Responsibility Found In The Great Commission: Evangelize The Lost.

1. What Is The Gospel Message:

The clearest definition of the four parts of the gospel message is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain….”

 

Part #1 Christ’s Death

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

Part #2 Christ’s Burial

And that he was buried,

 

Part #3 Christ’s Resurrection

and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

 

Part #4 The Witnesses To The Resurrection

And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.   After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

 

2. The Responsibility to take the gospel to the lost is given to the Lord’s local assemblies in:

Matthew 28:18-20: To Make Disciples, or Students, Of Christ

 

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,…”

Taking the gospel to the lost is described as “teaching” in the above text.  The Greek word that is translated “teach” means to “to make a disciple, follower or student”.   In other words, the local church is to take the gospel message that is able to transform the lost into a disciple, or follower, of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The church is responsible to take the gospel message into all areas of the globe.  This is done through the support of missionaries and other ministries (print, radio, tv, internet ministries) that take the gospel worldwide.

 

 Mark 16:14-18: To Declare The Good News Of Christ

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. 

The command to take the gospel to the lost is “preach the gospel “ in the gospel of Mark.  The Greek meaning of this phrase is “to declare publically the good news”.  The local assembly is to take the good news of Christ, His coming and His work and declare it to the public.

The gospel is not a message to be kept within the walls of the church but is to be taken out into the public arena sharing Christ with those who do not know Him.  In both Matthew and Mark, the church is told to “GO”, again teaching us to take the gospel into the world, not wait for the world to enter into the church.

The church services are meant to instruct and strengthen the members of the church so they can then declare the gospel to the world when they leave the assembly and live their lives among their lost family, friends, acquaintances and anyone they may come in contact with.

(Please note: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”… this phrase is teaching us that, although belief is Christ is the only prerequisite to salvation, a willingness to be baptized is a strong indication that genuine belief has taken place in the heart of man.   If a person claims to believe in Christ, but is not willing to publically declare that faith by baptism, the authenticity of his faith must be questioned.  That’s why Christ is saying that the local church can give assurance of salvation to those “that believeth and is baptized”.  For those who lack a willingness to be baptized, great care must be exercised in giving them confidence in their salvation experience.)

 

 

Luke 24:33-50: To reveal man’s responsibility to receive the gospel message

And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And ye are witnesses of these things.

Along with proclaiming the gospel message, the church is to proclaim man’s responsibility to receive the message by faith.  This is described by the phrase “repentance and remission of sins”.  As members of the local assembly were to tell others about Christ and His work, they are to also teach them their need of “repentance”.

The Greek word translated “repentance” means “to change the mind or attitude”.  The lost individual, as they hear the gospel, must change their attitude about Christ and His Work… instead of ignoring it, they must take it seriously; instead of rejecting it, they must accept it as truth; instead of laying it aside, they must apply it to their lives.  This change in attitude about Christ and His work will result in them turning from their sin to Christ, believing on Him as their Lord and Savior.  As this genuine repentance leads to belief in Him…. this then leads to the pardoning and freedom from the bondage of sin and its punishment.

Also, please note the local assembly is to begin by giving out the gospel to the area where it is located. in this case, Jerusalem and work outward taking the gospel worldwide.  The first priority of a local assembly should be its home area.  As the church grows in membership and financial ability it should then gradually increase its missionary outreach to all areas of the globe.

 

John 20:19-25: To be sent as Jesus was sent

as [my] Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 

The church being sent in to the world is now favorably compared to Christ being sent into the world.  In many ways the two sending are similar.  Some of these similarities are:

1. Being sent under Divine authority as ambassadors of a life giving message (John 3:17)

2. Being sent to reveal God’s Word to a lost and dying world (Hebs 1:1-2)

3. Seeking to do only those things that please our Lord (John 8:29)

The list is endless…

 

Acts 1:2-9: To Share our experience of Christ with others

 ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Declaring the gospel is described here as being “witnesses”.  The idea of a witness is “one that declares that which he has experienced”.  Especially this word is describing a “martyr” or one that is willing to given his all for the sake of proclaiming his message.  This helps the local church to understand both the content and importance of taking the gospel to the lost.

The content…The members of the church are to declare to others what they have seen and experienced in their relationship to Christ.  Many times people are timid to share Christ with others out of fear they do not have the right words to say.  When really all the Lord asks of us is to tell others about our experience with Christ.  Just tell others what He has done for us.  It is truly as simple as that.

The importance… as members of His local church, we are to be willing to give our all for the sake of the declaration of our wonderful experience with Christ.   As He has given His life for His church, so too it’s members are to give their lives for Him. (Eph 5:25)

Here in Acts, once again, we find the prioritization of the delivery of the gospel message in detail. The church is to begin in their local area and gradually move farther out as God supplies the ability.  Note the listing given with an example to be applied in our day and age… Jerusalem, the CITY where the church is located; Judaea, equivalent to the state in which the church is located; Samaria, the other states that make up the nation where the church is located; uttermost parts of the world, the other nations of the world.

THE SUMMARY:

As we studied the local churches commission we have seen:

1.    That great commission was always given to the assembled Apostles that made up the first local church (church at Jerusalem).  (Please note the exception: In John, we saw that Thomas was missing but the rest of the eleven were present.)

2.  There are three basic responsibilities involved with the Great Commission:

To evangelize the lost; to baptize into the assembly those who profess faith in Christ; to indoctrinate church members to equip them for the service of Christ.

As we studied the first part of the Great Commission that is given to His assemblies we have seen:

1.  The content of the gospel message:

Christ’s Death; Christ’s Burial; Christ’s Resurrection; The Witnesses To The Resurrection

2. The Responsibility to take the gospel to the lost is given to the Lord’s local assemblies is described as:

To make students Of Christ; To declare the good news of Christ; To reveal man’s responsibility to receive the gospel message; To be sent as Jesus was sent; To share our experience of Christ with others

3.  The priority of taking the Gospel into the world

Jerusalem, the CITY where the church is located; Judaea, equivalent to the state in which the church is located; Samaria, the other states that make up the nation where the church is located; uttermost parts of the world, the other nations of the world.

Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church?  It is the ONLY organization that has been given the responsibility to take the gospel into a lost and dying world.  It is through the local church that we are prepared to go, given the authority to go, and given ongoing support to go.

May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.

 

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

https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lordsassemblyprotected.pdf

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

https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lordsassemblyprotected.docx

Death: Lost Man’s Victorious Enemy… The Christian’s Defeated Foe (Part #2)

SIH STSTA ICONThe Bible’s usage of the term “death” involves the basic foundational principle of separation.  There are three different types of death that are described in God’s Word:

1. Physical death – this is the condition of the spirit when it is separated from the body

2. Spiritual death – this is the condition of the spirit when it is separated from God hereby it is lacking acceptance by, communion and accompaniment with God

3. Eternal Death – this is the permanent condition of the spirit when it is separated from the presence of God for an eternity while suffering torment in the Lake of Fire.

As you can see from the above, there is no aspect of death that is friendly to mankind.  This is why death is said to “sting” us bringing about harm and pain upon each one of us.

In our study for today, we will be looking at how our Lord Jesus Christ has won the victory over the physical death of His people and through His work offers to us eternal life.

THE SCRIPTURES:

51) Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.

54) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55) O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory?

56)  The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law.

57) But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

 (1 Corinthians 15:51-58)

 

THE STUDY:

Do you remember the three different types of “death” found in the Bible?

Once again, they are:

1. Physical death – this is the condition of the spirit when it is separated from the body

2. Spiritual death – this is the condition of the spirit when it is separated from God hereby it is lacking acceptance by, communion and accompaniment with God

3. Eternal Death – this is the permanent condition of the spirit when it is separated from the presence of God for an eternity while suffering torment in the Lake of Fire.

 

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has gotten the victory over all three types of death…

1. Physical death – this is the condition of the spirit when it is separated from the body

In 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, we find that Christ has won, for us, the final victory over physical death….

51) Behold, I shew you a mystery;

What is a mystery?  It is a secret that is known by a few but unknown to most.  What Paul is about to tell us is known only by those who have experienced the Lord’s gracious intervention in their lives.  It is a “mystery” to all others.

We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

At the time of His coming, all of those who have been saved by His grace can be divided into two distinct groups, those who are living and those who have died.

Those who have died are described as “sleeping” because, for the Christians’ bodies that lie in the tomb,  PHYSICAL death is much like sleep. While the Christians’ spirits are in heaven with Christ, their physical bodies are laid in the grave, much like they are sleeping.  But someday the bodies of the Chrsitians will arise again, just like they are awakened from that sleep….

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised

This rising of the believer’s body from the grave will take place “in the twinkling of an eye”.  In other words, it will take place quickly, instantaneously with the second coming of Christ.

The second coming of Jesus is described as taking place “at the last trump”.  And then, it goes further “the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible:”…what a wonderful way to express the calling of the saints’ bodies from the graves!  This is a picture of using a trumpet to call a great army or nation to gather at the call of its leader.  In this case, it is God’s spiritual nation being called forth to gather to their great Lord and King, Jesus Christ.

incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.

When the saint’s body is raised it will be changed into an “incorruptible” body.  In other words, it is a body that will be incapable of decay or entering into a worse condition.  Also it will be raised an “immortal” body, which is incapable of dying again.

These two changes will equip the believers’ bodies to an eternal existence with the Lord in the New Jerusalem on the New Earth (Rev 21-22)

 

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

When the saint’s body is arisen and changed, at that instant, the final manifestation of Christ’s victory over death will be completed.  At that point, it will be proven to all that when Christ died on the cross and arose again, that He won the victory over all the physical aspect of the death of His people. At the moment the Christians’ spirits reenters their resurrected body, never to be separated again, physical death will be shown to be defeated. The bodily resurrection of the saints will clearly display that fact to all.

 

O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory?

Paul now asks a rhetorical question, done to mock the seeming control that death has held over God’s people… After this clear display of Christ’s victory, where is your sting, death, and grave, where is the victory you have claimed over God’s people?

 

The sting of death [is] sin;

What is it that brings the pain and harm to those who are facing death?  It is the sin that is in their life, their sin nature and their sinful intents and actions….

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.  I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins.”   (John 8:23-24)

 

and the strength of sin [is] the law.

The proof that sin exists and is present in all of our lives is found in the law of God which applies to all individuals of all time.  The laws of God, which is found in both Testaments, when compared to a person’s thoughts and actions, clearly display the existence of sin in the life of all mankind…

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.”   (Romans 3:19-20)

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.”   (1 John 1:8-10)

For [there is] not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”   (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? (Psalms 130:3)

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

The final two verses of our text is a fitting conclusion to this lesson….

But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Based on the fact that we all are fallen, sinful, spiritually dead creatures, we are to appreciate the great victory that was won by Christ on the cross.  That appreciation is to translate into a life lived for His glory and honor….

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.  He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, [and] established my goings.  And he hath put a new song in my mouth, [even] praise unto our God: many shall see [it], and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.  Blessed [is] that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.  Many, O LORD my God, [are] thy wonderful works [which] thou hast done, and thy thoughts [which are] to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: [if] I would declare and speak [of them], they are more than can be numbered.”   (Psalms 40:1-5)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Our service is to be:

“steadfast” – to be well grounded – understanding what we are to do and why we are to do it, understanding what we believe and why we believe and share it

“unmoveable” – unswaying – determined to do what we are commanded by Him;

“always abounding” – always overflowing in our service to Him.

We know that, through our verbal and lifestyle testimony of His Word, He will use it to show others the way to be removed from the horrible condition of spiritual death and be given the ability to look ahead to eternal life with the Lord.

Let us all live our lives for the Lord knowing all that He has done for us by dying on the cross bringing to us deliverance from death to new life in Him.  This is the very truth that Paul emphasized to us in Phil 1:21…  “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

For those who have never trusted in Him, see your need to turn to Christ in repentance and belief. It is in Him alone that we can find forgiveness, peace with God and life everlasting.

In our last part to this series we will see how Christ has won for us the victory over spiritual and eternal death.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

Please visit…

Settled In Heaven Ministries Home On The Web: http://www.settledinheaven.org

Settled In Heaven Ministries Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Settled In Heaven Ministries Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven

Email Us At: settledinheaven@gmail.com

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.”

SIH’s Think On These Things: 1 Cor 15:24-26

1 Cor 15:24-26  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.

Paul now moves our attention from the resurrection of Christ (at His first coming) to the final resurrection of both believers and the lost (at His second coming).

At the second coming of Christ, His position as Sovereign Lord over all will be revealed. One of the ways His sovereignty will be made known is by the final resurrection.  The final resurrection will prove that He holds the authority over both spiritual and physical death.

Christ won the victory over death at His first coming.  His crucifixion and His resurrection are the basis for that victory.  But at the final resurrection, He will clearly display His victory over death.  This will take place in two ways:

  1. When the believer’s body will be raised, glorified and enter eternal existence with God, the world will acknowledge He is Victor over both spiritual and physical death.
  2. Likewise, when those who have not trusted in Him will be resurrected and consigned    to eternal existence in the Lake of Fire will also prove He has won the victory over death.

As we think about our coming resurrection and the blessings connected to it, let’s also keep in mind that it is only because He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords that we can receive these future blessings!

May the Lord bless each one of us as we “Think On These Things”.

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

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/

SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: 1 Cor 15:20-23

1 Cor 15:20-23 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.  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.

Paul uses two examples (firstfruits and death) to help us understand that the resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of our future resurrection.

When Paul describes Christ as the “firstfruits” he is teaching us that Christ’s resurrection is the first of many to come. In the OT, the Israelites were required to give the first portion of their crops back to the Lord.  They then could keep the remaining portion of the harvest that followed.  Just as the firstfruits of the harvest was the first part of the harvest, so too the resurrection of Christ .  His resurrection took place first, with more resurrections (all believers) to follow at His second coming.

Paul also uses the fall of mankind to explain our assurance of a future resurrection.  Here, Paul explains that the action of one affects many.  When Adam fell, his fall brought spiritual and physical death upon all of mankind.  So, too, the resurrection of Christ.  Christ’s resurrection and everything it implies (satisfaction of the sin debt of His people, the successful accomplishment of the Father’s will etc etc) brings about the believer’s spiritual quickening (receipt of life) and future resurrection, glorification and eternity with the Lord.

How wonderful it is to know that because He arose we can be absolutely certain we will arise to eternity with Him!

May the Lord bless each one of us as we “Think On These Things”.

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

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/

SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: 1 Cor 15:16-19

1Co 15:16-19  For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Paul continues to give us a list of the consequences of denying the existence of the physical resurrection of the dead…

  1. If there is no resurrection of the dead; then Christ is not risen from the dead.
  2. If Christ be not risen from the dead; then our faith is vain (worthless) and we are under the bondage of our sins, facing eternal punishment.
  3. If mankind is still under sin’s bondage and punishment then those who have died in Christ are perished (to be destroyed with no hope of deliverance).
  4. If our hope of salvation in Christ only applies to this temporal world then as Christians, we are more miserable than anyone else in this world.

Why, as Christians, do we set apart one day a week to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection? Every Sunday, when we gather together to worship our Lord, we are celebrating His life, His work and His resurrection which is the foundation of all of our future hopes and beliefs.  Christ’s resurrection makes certain our future with Him.

Let’s thank our Lord for the truth of His resurrection and for the blessing of assurance of our salvation past, present and future.

May the Lord bless each one of us as we “Think On These Things”.

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

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/

SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: 1 Cor 15:12-15

1Co 15:12-15  Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  (13)  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:  (14)  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.  (15)  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

One of the popular teachers of the day were the Sadducees.  They denied the existence of life after death and all other related teachings such as resurrection of the body, and eternal rewards etc etc.  Apparently this doctrine had slipped into the Corinth church.

Paul, in opposition to this false teaching reminds the Corinth church of the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection.  He makes the argument that if there is no life after death, followed by a bodily resurrection then, logically, there would be great repercussions to our entire belief system.  Here is Paul’s reasoning:

  1. If there is no resurrection of the dead; then Christ is not risen from the dead.
  2. If Christ be not risen from the dead; then the gospel that we preach is worthless.
  3. If the gospel we preach is worthless; then our faith in Christ and His work is worthless and we are liars.

Let’s thank our Lord that His resurrection IS THE TRUTH!  Our faith is not vain, we are speaking the truth!

May the Lord bless each one of us as we “Think On These Things”.

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

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/

SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: 1 Cor 15:9-11

1 Cor 15: 9-11  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.  Therefore, whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

Paul tells us of the nature of his revolt against God (and the people of God) which took place before his salvation.   He was guilty of committing the murder of God’s people (Acts 8:1, 9:1-19, 22:4, 22:20).  These outward acts of rebellion were a display of his heart’s hatred against God.

In spite of Paul’s pre-salvation hateful actions of murder, he was still used greatly by the Lord.  How could this be?  Paul plainly declares that it was an act of God’s grace!  It was entirely of God’s grace that brought Paul to Christ, changed Paul’s rebellious heart, forgave Paul of his sin, and equipped Paul for servant-hood.

If you are like me, we look back at our lives with regret knowing that, in many cases, we have horribly failed our Lord by rebelliously going apart from His desires for us.  In some cases, we may feel as if we have totally ruined our lives and disqualified ourselves from future service for Him. If this takes place… just take a moment to think of Paul and the supremacy of God’s grace!

May the Lord bless each one of us as we “Think On These Things”.

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

SIH’s Think On These Things: 1 Cor 15:3-8

1Co 15:3-8  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

The gospel is the “good news” about the Messiah and what He has done for us.  Paul gives us a listing of the very basics of the gospel message:

  1. The gospel is a message originating with God and handed down to mankind.
  2. It includes a three-fold  fulfillment of OT prophecies and teachings: Christ’s death, burial and  resurrection.
  3. The gospel message also  includes the unquestionable proof of its reliability found in its many,  varied eye-witnesses.

Paul says this message was “delivered” to the Corinthian church members.  The Greek term translated “delivered” is an interesting word.  It combines at least two ideas.  It involves “handing over” and “entrusting for safekeeping”.  In other words… it was “handed” it to them for their personal salvation, as well as “entrusted” to them to minister to others.

As we relate the gospel message to others, let’s be sure we relate it a clear, concise and caring way.  Not only are we affecting the lives of those to whom we are speaking; but, following their salvation, we are also affecting the lives of all with whom they may share the message.

May the Lord bless each one of us as we “Think On These Things”.

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

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/

SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: 1 Cor 15:1-2

1 Cor 15:1-2 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

This morning we are beginning a new devotion series from the “resurrection chapter” of the Bible … 1 Cor 15:

In vs 1-2, Paul emphasizes the gospel’s entrance into to the lives of the Christians in the Corinthian church.  First of all, it was PROCLAIMED to them. Next, it was ACCEPTED as truth by them.  And thirdly, it became the FOUNDATION upon which they stood.

It is this same gospel message that brought them into a saving relationship with Christ.  Their salvation experience was proved to be genuine if they consistently lived their life reflecting its importance and ratifying it in the eyes of others.

To make our calling and election sure (2 Pet 1:10), each of us should ask ourselves this question….  If we were on trial, accused of being Christians, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

May the Lord bless each one of us as we “Think On These Things”.

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

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/

SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

Easter Week Devotion: The Importance of the Resurrection

SIH STSTA ICONThe resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is one of many miraculous aspects to our Lord’s life on earth during His first coming. From His virgin birth to His ascension following His crucifixion, death and resurrection; the life of Christ was filled with miraculous events indeed.

The life of Christ on earth is undoubtedly the most important series of events to ever take place in world history. Among the many events that took place during His first coming, the resurrection of Christ is of utmost importance.

Why is the resurrection so important? The Word of God gives us a clear answer to this question…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Cor 15:12-23 (KJV)

12) Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13) But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

14) And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain.

15) Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

16) For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins.

18) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21) For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead.

22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

23) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

THE STUDY:

In 1Cor 15:12-20, we read of the importance of the resurrection. The Apostle Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit gave us several reasons why the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ took place and what it should mean to those of us who have trusted in Christ as our Savior…

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

12) Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13) But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

There were some professing believers in the Church at Corinth who believed the resurrection of the dead was impossible. Paul here, is arguing that is there was no such thing as resurrection then Christ’s resurrection must be a fallacy as well.

Paul then begins to explain to them the horrible results of a denial of Christ’s resurrection.

14) And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain.

Result #1 – The preaching of the gospel of Christ is empty and worthless.

Result #2 – Placing our trust in Christ as our Savior is empty and worthless as well

15) Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

Result #3 – It makes those who proclaimed the gospel of Christ liars

16) For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins.

Result #4 – Everyone is still in their sin. In other words, they owe the penalty of their sin, they are still dominated by their sin, and have no promise of future deliverance from the presence of sin.

18) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

Result #5 – Believers who had passed away, were not enjoying eternity with the Lord, but instead were brought to ruin, just as those who were non believers.

19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Result #6 – If Christ is not risen (and therefore all the above 5 results are true) then believers are the most miserable of all mankind. We had hope that Christ would deliver us from sin’s punishment eternally. However, when eternity comes we will be enter into eternal damnation and ruin.

20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Paul then assures the Corinth Church, and all of us, that the resurrection of Christ did take place. His resurrection is the first fruits. (The first fruits of a harvest were the first portion of the crop that was harvested and given back to God; then the remaining harvest of the field was taken).

In other words, the resurrection of Christ was the first resurrection of the dead resulting in a glorified body. Christ’s resurrection will be followed by the resurrection of the saved at His coming. In this sense, Christ was the first fruits of all believers who have passed away.

21) For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead.

Paul now explains the 2 great impacts of the resurrection for Christ, His work, and His followers.

Impact #1 – The resurrection proves that Christ has gotten the victory over sin and death.

Sin entered the world at the hands of Adam… as sin was passed to all mankind through Adam, so too, the passage of death. Sin’s result, both spiritual and physical death, is now a part of all mankind.

Christ, based upon the payment that He made on the cross, has defeated both sin and death. What proof do we have that this is so? It is His resurrection. When Christ walked out of the tomb it was absolute proof He had obtained victory over death. The only possible way death could be rendered powerless was by rendering sin powerless as well.

22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

23) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

Impact #2 – Because Christ arose from the dead, believers can rest assured they, too, have spiritual life and an assurance of a physical resurrection and glorified body (at His second coming).

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved …

For those of us who are saved… His resurrection is our assurance of our salvation and eternal future with Him… let us praise and honor our Lord for the display of His defeat over sin and death.

For those who have yet to be saved…

This account as written in God’s Word is the only trustworthy and reliable account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This resurrection is absolute proof that Jesus was who He claimed to be, The Savior of the World who has brought salvation to His people….

Matt 1:21 (KJV) – And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Such a miraculous event is bound to work up doubts in any of our minds. As we have seen, even His followers, in the early hours of that Sunday morning had many doubts about what had actually taken place. But thanks be to our Lord for He had allowed MANY witnesses to see Him following His resurrection. Many witnesses saw Him to prove beyond doubt that He had arisen and His work of redemption on the cross has been brought to completion…

1Cor 15:4-8 (KJV)

4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7) After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8) And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Christ’s resurrection is the assurance He gives us that He is victor over sin and death. Do you recognize you have sinned against Almighty God? Do you see that you owe Him a debt of sin that you can never pay? Are you willing to forsake your sin and turn to Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so, you can share in His victory over sin and death.

Turn from your sin to the Lord Jesus Christ. Come before Him realizing that He alone can save you from your sins. Believe that He died upon the cross bearing your sin. And then rest in the knowledge that He arose from the dead, to prove all of this is true.

If you have any further questions about the salvation that our Lord so graciously gives, please feel free to read my blog page… “How to have a relationship with God”. Otherwise, you can contact a Biblke based church, they will be glad to answer any of your questions about salvation that you may have. Or, you are welcome to contact me via a blog comment or email, it will be my privilege to answer any questions you may have about salvation and the work of Christ.

May the Lord bless you with His salvation.

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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.”

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