Settled In Heaven Blog

Category Archives: James

“Sins Of The Eyes And Heart”

SIH STSTA ICONTHE INTRODUCTION:

There is a clear relationship between what we see with our eyes, what we sinfully desire in our hearts, and the fallen outward actions that we commit.  Our Lord, Himself, addressed this relationship in Matthew 5:27-28 when He said…

 

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

This is a very important issue that we need to understand clearly. In this study we will seek to come to an understanding of the Lord’s teachings (and other related verses) on the relationship of our eyes, heart (desires) and the acts of sin we commit.

 

THE SCRIPTURES:

Job 31:1-8

(1)  I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

(2)  For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high?

(3)  Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?

(4)  Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?

(5)  If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit;

(6)  Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.

(7)  If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands;

(8)  Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.

 

 

Pro 23:7

(7)  For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

 

Mat 5:27-28

(27)  Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

(28)  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

 

Jas 1:13-16

(13)  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

(14)  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

(15)  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

(16)  Do not err, my beloved brethren.

 

 

THE STUDY:

 

Mat 5:27-28 – Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

In our Lord’s teachings found in Matt 5:27-28, we are taught that sin can occur within the heart (desires) of a man.  Please notice that “lusting after her” is counted as committing the sin of adultery “in his heart”.  In other words, possessing sinful lusts is one type of sin that can be committed by man.

This also helps us to understand that there are two different ways that any sin can be committed:

  1. First of all, sin can be committed in the heart when we hold burning desires to perform an act of sin.  In the case of Jesus’ teaching, the desire to commit the act of adultery, is, in and of itself, counted as a sin.
  2. Secondly, sin can involve the outward act of the sin.  In Christ’s teaching this would be the physical act of adultery being committed with the woman after whom the inward lust is being committed.

Please note that both the sin of the heart and the actual commission of that sin are recognized as two separate sins. To lust in the heart is sinful, to go farther and actually commit the physical sin of adultery is recognized as a second commission of sin.  We should never think that if we commit sin in our hearts we had “might as well do the act”.  This is a lie that comes from Satan himself, being told to us in an effort to increase our guilt and the sin that abides in our lives.

 

Jas 1:13-16 – Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.   Do not err, my beloved brethren.

In the above verse, James explains to us the steps that produce acts of sin in our lives.  James teachings helps us to better understand the relationship between our eyes, heart and the outward performance of sin.

Every commission of sin begins as a temptation.  These temptations are wholly based upon the desires that we hold within us.  Notice what James says… “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away OF HIS OWN LUST and enticed.”  Folks, anytime an opportunity to sin arises, but we have no desire to commit that sin, it is not a temptation to us.

A very simple example is a person who is on a diet and HATES vanilla ice cream.  I can offer that person vanilla ice cream over and over again and they will never be “tempted” to eat it and break their diet.  Why?  Because they have no desire to eat the vanilla ice cream.   However, if the same person LOVES chocolate ice cream, the moment I offer it to them, the offer becomes a “temptation” to them to break their diet.  Because they desire it, the opportunity to partake of it becomes a temptation to them.

James then goes further and explains that when the person recognizes the opportunity to sin is open to them (they are enticed by it), the sinful lust in their heart then gives birth to the outward act of sin which leads to their death.

WOW!  What a horrible chain of events that leads to all men’s downfall, reminds us of a fish that is caught by a fisherman…

  1. The bait is seen by the fish (using its eyes)
  2. The bait attracts the fish because it is hungry (its desires)
  3. The bait is taken by the fish (the outward act of taking that which is sinfully desired)
  4. The fish is killed by the fisherman (death occurs as the direct result of sin)

The commission of sin takes place in the same way…

  1. We see an opportunity to sin (we place our eyes on it)
  2. We then take advantage of that opportunity (because we desire to commit that sin)
  3. The natural result of the commission of that sin is physical and spiritual death.

 

 

Job 31:1-8 – I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high?  Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?  Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?  If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit;  Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.  If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands;  Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.

Job understood the two types of sin when he said… “If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes”.

  1. Job described the outward acts of sin as “If my step turned out of the way”
  2. Job described the role of inward sinful desires as “mine heart walked after mine eyes”.

 

Job also understood how sin develops in our lives:

  1. He was describing his sinful desires being fulfilled following the seeing an opportunity to sin… “mine heart walked after mine eyes”:
  2. This results in the outward commission of that sin “If my step hath turned out of the way”.

 

Because of Job’s knowledge of these truths, he was able to successfully avoid sin in his life.  This is why he was able to boldly ask the Lord to look at his life and see that his life was dedicated to pleasing Him.  So what is the secret to Job’s success?…

“I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”

 

He saw the need to control what his eyes looked upon to avoid these times of temptation that so easily come upon all mankind.  he understood that, due to our fallen, sinful natures we all possess sinful desires.  The one of the most effective ways to avoid cultivating and fulfilling those desires was by controlling his eyes…

“I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”

 

In other words, if Job avoided the opportunity to sin, he would not be feeding his sinful desires nor would he be bringing them to fruition.  What a very important lesson for us all.  By controlling what our eyes look upon we can keep our sinful desires at bay and not “live them out” in our actions!

Job said that the result of this covenant he made with his eyes, he was able to sincerely invite the Lord to examine his life without guilt or hesitation… “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity”

 

CONCLUSION:

Do we attempt to control our eyes and avoid temptations whenever we possibly can?  The answer to this question speaks volumes about our character, the person we are within.

King Solomon understood this principle when he wrote in Proverbs 23:7 … “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he;”

In response to Solomon’s writing, lets close by asking ourselves this simple question … “Who are we?”  The answer can be found in our attempts to rule over our eyes and the desires that dwell in our hearts.

 

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

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/

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

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com 

“Temptation Or Testing?”

SIH STSTA ICONTHE INTRODUCTION:

Many times the Hebrew and Greek words translated “temptation” are also translated “test” or “trial”.

In the KJV the two Hebrew words which are most often translated temptation or test are ‘bahan’ and ‘nasa’.  The two Greek words translated similarly are the words ‘dokimazo’ and ‘peirazo’.  The folllowing table better explains the relationship of these words to one another…

 

Hebrew Greek Hebrew and Greek Translation in KJV:
bahan dokimazo examine, prove, assay, try, allow, discern, like
nasa peirazo tempt, try, prove, examine, assay, adventure, go about

 

As you can see from the above table, all 4 words carry with them the ideas of attempting (Deut 4:34, Acts 9:26), testing (Job 23:10, 1 John 4:1), discerning (Gen 38:25, Luke 12:56), and/or tempting (Isa 7:12, Matt 4:1).

In all of the above usages the principle of “testing or attempting something resulting in a conclusion being drawn” is present.  So why would this term be used to describe a temptation taking place?  In this study we will being seeing that the temptations we face are all trials that reveal truths about us.

 

THE SCRIPTURES:

Jas 1:12 – Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Rev 3:10 – Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

 

 

THE STUDY:

Just as King Nebuchadnezzar came to understand, we all understand that the Lord is truly in control of   every event that takes place in our lives…

Dan 4:34-36 – “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?  At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.”

 

 

This principle not only applies to the blessed times of our lives, but even the more difficult, trying times  are under God’s control and allowed into our lives for a purpose. Remember, the Lord never brings temptation upon us ….

Jas 1:13 – “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:”

 

 

But He allows the powers of darkness, the fallen world, and our flesh to tempt us.  The story of Job clearly presents this truth to us…

Job 1:6-12 – “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.  And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.   And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?  Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?  Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.  But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.  And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.”

 

 

Also as Christians, we are also familiar with God’s promise that He never allows anything in our lives that does not eventually work for our good and His glory…

Rom 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

 

 

When we put all of these Biblical principles together, we can see that the Lord controls our temptations and allows temptations to come upon us for our good and His glory.  But how does this all work?  How does the Lord allow temptations to enter our life and how do we benefit from them?

This is where our word study comes into play.  Our word study gives us one of the great reasons why God allows temptations to come upon us…   Every temptation is used by the Lord as a time of testing that teaches us something about ourselves.

 

This principle is repeatedly brought out in Scripture.  Two such texts are:

Jas 1:12 – Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Rev 3:10 – Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

(Please note in both James 1:12 and Revelation 3:10, temptations are described as trials (testings) that are faced by man.)

That is why the words translated “tempt” or “temptation” carry with them the idea of “testing or attempting something resulting in a conclusion being drawn”.  In other words when we are tempted, we are being tested.  This test, and how we respond to it, can teach us much about our Lord, Satan and, especially, ourselves.

When we are tempted, we can learn about the Lord’s enabling grace, His patience and His forgiveness; we can learn about Satan’s methodology, his strength and his limitations as he attempts to bring the Christian to failure; and we can learn about ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses, and our need of Christ enabling for our day to day walk.

 

CONCLUSION:

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, gives us one practical application for our lesson this morning.

2Co 12:7-10 – “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

 

In this text, Paul lists many testings he faced in life (his “thorn in the flesh”, other “infirmities”, “reproaches”, “necessities”, “persecutions”, “distresses”)…  Please note all these testings were actually temptations that sought to hinder Paul and his ministry for Christ.

Paul came to recognize that even these testings (or temptations) were something that brought him pleasure because they taught him about Christ’s enabling grace and his great need of Christ on a daily basis which kept him close to Christ.

 

Folks, we should never underestimate the importance of using times of temptation for our benefit and the Lord’s glory…

May we learn of Christ’s great enabling grace that allows us to remain faithful to Him even during the heaviest times of temptation in our lives.

Through this may we also learn of our daily need of Christ’s grace in our lives.

And finally, when we fail him during times of temptation, may we immediately seek His forgiveness, allow this to reveal our weak areas, our need to avoid these areas of temptation whenever possible, and finally, may we work to strengthen ourselves in these areas through Bible study, prayer and seeking a close walk with Christ.

 

 

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

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/

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

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com 

“For We Are But Of Yesterday”

SIH STSTA ICON(The SIH 2016 New Year’s Devotional)

With the coming of each New Year, we are reminded of the quickly passing time and shortness of the physical life that we possess.

For some, the concept of a short lifespan on earth is a thing of dread and fear. They possess dread because they know that the pleasures, possessions and relationships of this world will quickly pass away; and fear, due to confusion and uncertainty about, and an unpreparedness for, a coming afterlife.

However, in comparison, there are those who recognize that life is only temporal and will be followed by an eternal existence that will offer a much better existence. These have prepared for its coming and joyously await its arrival.

As we come face to face with another New Year, I just wanted to take a few moments to review the Biblical teachings on the temporal nature of life on earth and the great need to prepare for a coming afterlife while the opportunity still exists for each one of us.

THE SCRIPTURE:

(For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow:) (Job 8:9 KJV)

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (Jas 4:14 KJV)

THE STUDY:

Job, in our text, describes the quickness of the passing of our life as “we are but of yesterday”. In other words, Job is simply saying that, as we look back to the past events of our life, from birth onward, they seem to have just taken place “yesterday”. How very true this is!

On this New Year’s Day, stop and think about the past events of the previous year. For most of us, these events seem like they took place just yesterday.

Now, stop and think about some of your major life events that have taken place throughout your lifetime: births and deaths; sicknesses; new jobs and residences; anniversaries and graduations; and, for the Christian, the moment the Lord brought you unto Himself, trusting in Him for salvation. As you think about all these events, do they not seem to have taken place just a short while ago? For many of us, even the events of life that took place 30, 40, or even 50 years ago, now seem to be fresh in our minds and hearts, as if only a few days have passed.

Job even goes further in emphasizing the brevity of life when he says… “our days upon earth are a shadow”. See also: (Job 7:6, 9:25, 14:2; Psa 78:39, 89:47, 102:11; Isa 40:6).

Understanding the two basic characteristics of a shadow help us to understand what Job was trying to teach us. First of all, a shadow lasts only a short period of time, much like our life in comparison with the eternity that is to follow. Secondly, a shadow is constantly changing (due to movement of the person casting the shadow and the orbiting of the sun)… this pictures for us our temporal life and the many changes that take place on a day by day basis.

Job is bringing to our minds a very basic principle of living that we experience with every new day… Because our lives are uncertain and experience changes every single day, we do not know what each new day will hold for us. James even implies that because our lives are brief, uncertain, and changing, we cannot be sure if we will live yet another day…

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (Jas 4:14 KJV) see also (Proverbs 27:1, 1 Sam 20:3)

Folks, looking back over this last year, we all know people who have passed on unexpectedly. Whether it be by accident, sickness, or the actions of another, every day people pass on before us suddenly with absolutely no prior warning. Perhaps, they expected to celebrate the coming of this New Year along with us but, sadly, they are no longer with us. In this fallen, sinful world unexpected deaths are a very common occurrence.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

With the passing of this, and every New Year, we are reminded of the changing, fleeting nature of our lives. The most important aspect of these life principles is the need to take advantage of the time we have been given on earth and use it wisely.

What is the wisest possible use of our time? It is living our lives in preparation for the eternity that is to come. Because our physical lives and the world in which we live are temporal in nature, only that which is done for eternity’s sake will be of lasting value…
“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1Jn 2:17 KJV)

So how do we live for eternity? For the lost it means by coming to an understanding of the true God, our condition before Him, and our need of faith in Him, and the eternal blessings that await the people of God:

1. The Lord Jehovah is the true God over all men. God the Son, Jesus, is the only One through whom we can gain access to God the Father. (Psa 83:18, John 14:6; 1 John 5:20)

2. All men have committed sin and stand before God as guilty, unable to save themselves through their works of righteousness. (Rom 3:23, Rom 3:19, Titus 3:5)

3. It is by grace through the God-given gifts of repentance and faith that a sinful man can receive forgiveness and salvation from the punishment of their sins (Acts 3:19, Acts 11:18, Eph 2:5-8. 1 Thess 1:10).

4. The newly forgiven individual is adopted into God’s family, made a citizen of the eternal, spiritual nation of Israel, and made heirs of an eternal existence with God. This forgiveness, and the blessings that accompany forgiveness, are eternal in nature, can never be lost, based upon the completed work of Christ on the cross (Gals 4:5, Eph 2:19, Roms 8:16-17, Heb 10:10).

For the saved, it means to take advantage of the opportunities we have to show Christ to others around us, by living a Christ-like life through our words, actions, and lifestyles. (Roms 8:28-30, Eph 1:4)

http://www.settledinheaven.org
http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com
http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

The Precious Human Life #3: God’s “Image” and “Likeness”

SIH TOTT ICON

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

 

This is part of a series that is looking at the preciousness of life and the need for a more serious examination of the Scriptural validity of taking a human life under any circumstance.  Folks, our world has devalued the taking of human life to the point the loss of human life is “no big deal” and “JUST a part of the world in which we live.”

By God’s grace, as we continue through this series, my prayer is that the Lord would open all of our spiritual eyes and come to a more complete realization of the great value of human life.  Also, we need to carefully consider the results of our actions, and the circumstances surrounding the taking of human life, making sure that in each situation, the taking of life is Biblically justifiable and absolutely necessary.

Our devotional series will contain six daily devotions, all of which will emphasize the wondrous nature of the human creation and the loss inflicted upon mankind when a human life is taken from their midst…

  1. Thou Shalt Not Kill (Exo 20:13)
  2. The Glory and Honor Of Man (Psa 8:4-6)
  3. God’s Image & Likeness (Gen 1:26-27)
  4. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (Psa 139:14-16)
  5. The Minister and Witness Of These Things (Acts 26:16-17)
  6. Prepare To Meet Thy God (Amos 4:12)

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

God’s Image & Likeness (Gen 1:26-27, 5:1, 1 Cor 11:7, James 3:9)

Genesis 1:26-27 KJV –
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Genesis 5:1 KJV –
“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;”

1 Corinthians 11:7 KJV –
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”

James 3:9 KJV –
“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.”

In the above verses, we are told that man was made in God’s “image” and “likeness” and “similitude”.   This helps us to understand that man reveals God, His character and His nature.

 

  1. Man made in God’s “Image”

In the Old Testament man is said to be made in the “image” of God, the Bible is telling us that man was formed by God as a “resemblance” or a “representative figure”.  The New Testament reaffirms this principle when it states that man was made “after the similitude of God”. By “Similitude” is meant “a favorable comparison” or “a similarity”.

Both statements simply teach us that Man resembles God.  Man was made to resemble God and therefore, be a representation of God in the midst of God’s creation.

 

  1. Man made in God’s “Likeness”

The Bible goes further and helps us to understand the way in which man resembles God in the midst of creation.  “Likeness” comes from a Hebrew word that means “to be shaped like”, “to be a model of”.   God formed, shaped, or modeled, man after Himself.   Mankind was meant to be a model of God in the midst of His creation.  Much like looking at a model reflects truths about the subject of the original, so too man reveals much about the God who made all creation.

In what ways is man a model of God?  Man resembles God (as a model of God) in many, many ways.  A few of these include:

  1. Man has three parts (body, soul, and spirit) this mirrors the three persons of the Godhead.
  2. Man is an everlasting being (one who will never go out of existence), God is also eternal (having no beginning and no ending).
  3. Man is possesses and exercises delegated dominion over creation, God holds the ultimate dominion over all creation
  4. Man is a moral being capable of understanding and choosing right and wrong. God is the Supreme moral being, Who developed and produced the perfect standard of morality based upon his very being.
  5. Man if saved, at the receipt of the “new man”, exhibits righteousness and holiness following the character of the perfectly righteous and holy God.

I am sure there exists many other ways that the being of man models truths about God.  The revelation of God found in mankind’s model of God far excels any the revelation of God that we might find in other parts of nature.

 

Please note, based on the above list, that even a very wicked man can, in many ways, present truths about God to the world.  EVERY human life is precious and valuable as a model of truths concerning God to the world.  There is no excuse for the dismissive taking of human life simply because the one who is killed was a “bad man” or “a trouble maker”.

 

Certainly, death is an appropriate punishment for grave sins that are specifically listed in the Bible, however then it is to be done under the authority of the human government following an exhaustive investigation and ample proof of the guilt of the one being put to death.   Just because a man is found to be an habitual law breaker does it give the executive branches of government, or other groups, or individuals, the allowance to take life without the proper Biblical prerequisites.

Man being made by God the “image” (“similitude”) and “likeness” of Him is another reason why the taking of human life is such a very sobering act.  When a man’s life is taken, an image of God given to mankind is silenced and, in actuality, destroyed.  

 

The casual taking of physical life can be an act of rebellion against the Lord, and a reflection of mankind’s attitudes towards the Lord (His person and His characteristics).  In some cases, men are reminded (through man’s existence) about a God that they hate. It can be much like looking at a picture of one that is hated.  What is a natural response to seeing the picture of the hated one?  Simply taking the picture and breaking it.

These are all reasons why the taking of human life is defined as a very grave in God’s eyes and is one of the very few sins that are punishable by death in the Bible…

Genesis 9:6 KJV –  “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

 

In our next devotional, we will be being looking at the preciousness of human life by examining man, who was fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

 

Homepage…  http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog…  http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

The Precious Human Life #1: “Thou shalt not kill”

SIH TOTT ICONINTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

The taking of precious human life, whether justified or not,  is a very important action that should never be taken lightly. Yet sadly in today’s society, human life seems to be becoming an expendable commodity, where life is taken very quickly without much, if any, consideration of the severity of the action about to be performed.

Just turn on the news and you will see beheadings; snipers being honored for killing enemies of war; drone attacks killing their targets and innocent bystanders; putting criminals to death by capital punishment; policemen killing armed and unarmed citizens during attempted arrests; the taking of lives of many innocent men, women and children during mass slayings in schools, theaters etc; the daily taking of life while yet in the womb; acts of ethnic cleansing, etc etc etc. The list is seemingly endless.

Please understand, I am not saying all the above are acts of murder, nor am I saying all the acts above are justifiable killings. As a matter of fact, on purpose, I tried to mix what I believe are both types of killings together on purpose. That is because this devotional series is not meant to define what is and isn’t justifiable killings. To do so, would take away from the intent and subject of the series

{For the record: I personally believe that the Bible teaches the existence of both murder and, with very specific limitations, justifiable killings. In my mind, based on my studies justifiable killings would include self-defense, defense of family, governmental punishment for wrongdoing, loss of life due to accidents, and wars to stop the abuse of others.

Unfortunately I believe many of the wars we enter into are not justifiable. They are motivated by political or economic motives and not sincerely being started out of a heart of love wanting to help those who are abused and mistreated. We go to war in places where we have “national interests”, while we allow abuse and killings to take place in other countries that are labeled as containing “no national interests” without lifting a finger to help the abused and murdered. These things ought not so to be.

This is all I am going to say on this subject for this series. The detailed study on this subject is for a later time. The last thing I want during this series is to get sidetracked with debates about what is and isn’t justifiable killing. In my experience, normally more heat than light comes from this type of debate and it will take our attention off the subject of this devotion series.}

This series is about emphasizing the preciousness of ALL human life and the impact of taking ANY human life, REGARDLESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES surrounding the act. Because of the great impact of the killing of man upon mankind, we are to very seriously, carefully use the revelation of Scripture consider our actions before any life is taken. And yet, in today’s time it seems to be taken so easily, without due consideration to what is actually taking place when a life is taken.

The Bible clearly presents the need to realize that the taking of any human life, without regard to the circumstances of the killing, is a very weighty act that holds eternal repercussions, not only for the one killed but for mankind and society as a whole. The basis of this teaching is found in the wondrous nature, purpose and need of mankind.

Our devotional series will contain six daily devotions, all of which will emphasize the wondrous nature of the human creation and the loss inflicted upon mankind when a human life is taken from their midst…

1. Thou Shalt Not Kill (Exo 20:13)
2. The Glory and Honor Of Man (Psa 8:4-6)
3. God’s Image & Likeness (Gen 1:26-27)
4. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (Psa 139:14-16)
5. The Minister and Witness Of These Things (Acts 26:16-17)
6. Prepare To Meet Thy God (Amos 4:12)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

“Thou Shalt Not Kill” (Exo 20:13, James 2:11, 1 John 3:12-15)

In both OT and NT, we find the clear prohibition to the purposeful taking of human life for unjustifiable reasons (aka murder):

1. MURDER CLEARLY PROHIBITED…

Exodus 20:13 KJV – “Thou shalt not kill.”

2. MURDER IS DEFINED AS TRANSGRESSING (VIOLATING, STEPPING OVER THE BOUNDS OF) THE LAW OF GOD…

James 2:11 KJV – “For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.”

3. HATRED OF HEART LEADING TO MURDER, AND THE ACT OF MURDER ITSELF, SHOWS A MAN TO BE WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT, ALIENATED FROM CHRIST, AND LACKING ETERNAL LIFE…

1 John 3:12-15 KJV – “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

Folks based upon these three texts, and many others found throughout the Bible, we need to see that MURDER IS PROHIBITED BY GOD and is such a heinous act that it is the mark of an unregenerate man. These principles alone cry out for us to seriously consider our actions before we choose to willfully take the life of any other human being, our physical brother, based upon our creation….

Malachi 2:10 KJV – “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?”

May we all come to understand the devastating effects of taking human life and the need for an intense detailed examination of the Scripture for every circumstance where the willful taking of physical life is a possibility.

In our next devotional, we will be being looking at the preciousness of human life by examining man, who is given glory and honor by God.

Homepage…  http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog…  http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

“What Is Your Life?”

SIH STSTA ICON(SIH Ministries 5th Anniversary)

 Today is the 5th anniversary of Settled In Heaven Ministries.  Tomorrow, SIH will begin its 6th year of service to Christ, ministering Him to others.  Looking back over the past 5 years, I can see the grace of God being shown to the ministry every step of the way.

The desire of my heart is to praise and honor my Lord Jesus Christ for the many gracious blessings He has shown to my family, SIH, and myself, throughout the years.  Truly without Christ, SIH would not, and could not, bring praise to Christ in any way.

Anything that has been accomplished through the ministry of SIH is entirely of His grace, for which He deserves all the glory.  I am pointing out this anniversary to simply declare how good and wonderful the Lord has been to me, my wonderful wife and the ministry here.  I am blessed being imagination.

Now that a milestone in time has been reached, my tendency is to begin looking ahead and planning new outreach ministries for SIH.  Planning for the future and preparing for the times ahead, in and of itself, can be a very wise course of action for us all.  However, the act of planning ahead can also lead to pitfalls and shipwreck in our service to Him.

In this lesson I would like to remind myself, and perhaps you as well, of the importance of relying upon the leadership and the gracious intervention of Christ in our lives to enable us to   face, and successfully plan for, the times which lie ahead…

 

 

THE SCRIPTURES:

Jas 4:13-17 KJV –

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

 

THE STUDY:

Jas 4:13-17 KJV

 

Go to now,

First, James calls his listeners to “take action” on what he is about to say.  He is telling them to “Go do as I say!”

Why does James do this?  It is because he knows how important this issue is for our lives.  Making future plans without the consideration of the Lord, our need of Him, and His desires for our lives, will cause many, many Christians to fall by the wayside and become shipwrecked in our service to Him.  This is why James emphasizes the need to take action on this subject.

 

ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

James now identifies to whom he is speaking.  He is speaking to Christians who are making future plans for their lives in the following areas:

1.  “we will go into such a city” – the places they will enter into, the areas their lives will touch
(where they would live, work, worship and minister for Christ, vacation etc )
2.  “we will continue there a year” – the time frame of their actions and accomplishments
(when and how long they would do a specific act)
3.  “we will buy and sell and get gain” – the activities of their lives
(ministry for Christ, vocation, marriage, children, education, shopping, house work, etc)
As we look at this list, we can see that this basic list covers almost every aspect of our lives.

 

 

These Christians were trying to plan ahead and be prepared for the future, however, they had forgotten one the most important aspect of their plans… the sovereignty and will of God….

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.

Why is planning for the future a vain pursuit when the Lord is left out of the plans?  The Lord alone knows what tomorrow will bring for us.  All the planning in the world can be undone in one fleeting instant when an unplanned event enters into our lives.  A car accident, sickness, death, loss of employment, natural disaster or other tragedy can quickly unravel all of our plans for the future.

How foolish it is for us to plan for the future without recognizing the Lord is in control of our future.

 

For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

James, now directs our attention to one example of an area of life that is under the Lord’s control… the length of our lives.  Stop and think about it.  Out life is just like a vapor that appears and then very quickly vanishes away, many times without any prior notice.

How can anyone be so prideful as to make plans for the future when they cannot know for certain that they will even be alive tomorrow?   This is the point that James is making for us all.

 

For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

However, we must include the Lord’s will into our plans, and submit to Him as the Ultimate Controller of the events of our lives (past, present, and future).   When we make our future plans we make them with an attitude that recognizes that our plans can change at any moment based upon the Lord’s workings in our lives.

So, it is just as James tells us… “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that“

 

 

But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

Instead of planning their futures by possessing humble spirits of reliance upon the Lord in the midst of the planning process, these Christians were making plans with an attitude of self-importance.  They were thinking their plans will most certainly take place, because they are in control of the future events of their lives, or wise enough to think of every possible event that would take place in the days to come.

This was a lack of faith, clearly boasting of pride, self-importance, and superiority.  In other words, it was attitude that was wicked in the eyes of God, basically placing their selves in God’s place and becoming guilty of idolatry.  How can this be idolatry?  They became their own idols as they attributed to themselves abilities that only belonged to their God.

 

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

These Christians had now been taught the truth and given a grave responsibility… make all their future plans humbly with attention given to the sovereignty of God and His future will for their lives.

Prior to this, being ignorant of their sin, they were not convicted by their conscience nor the Holy Spirit.   Although they were committing sin it was being done in ignorance with no conviction or discipline being handed down by the Lord.

But now, they were now aware of the evil attitude in their lives.  To them, their attitudes were now had become sinful. In other words…

to him (the Christian with sinful attitudes) it (the prideful attitude) is (now recognized as) sin.

 

“him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not”…

They had been warned. If they chose to ignore this warning, and continue on this path, they would now be left to the work of their conscience and the Holy Spirit’s conviction.

They would now become increasingly aware of their sinful attitudes and bear a growing burden for their willful rebellion against God.  They could expect their guilt to only intensify and God’s chastening hand to be active upon them.

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION/SUMMARY:

Folks, may we all make the Lord the center of all our future plans.  He is the Only One who knows what tomorrow holds.  He is the Only One that is control of every situation that comes our way.  Understanding this, how can we begin to ignore Him and keep Him out of our plans?

Pro 3:5-8 KJV

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.  It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

 

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

 

I would just like to thank all of you who have so faithfully taken part in the ministries here at SIH…. Thanks to the followers, commenters, likers, visitors, readers, rebloggers and social site sharers.  Believe me, you all have been a great human encouragement as we have sought to faithfully post on a daily basis.

Also, please be in prayer for the ministries here at SIH.  By God’s grace, over the years we have tried to be constantly adding to our ministries in an attempt to reach the most number of people with His Word.

 

To date, in addition to our internet homepage ( http://www.settledinheaven.org/ ), Settled In Heaven can be found on the following websites:

WordPress (https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/ )

YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/SettledInHeaven )

 

Also, you can follow SIH on the following social sites:

FaceBook (https://www.facebook.com/settledinheaven )

Google+ (https://plus.google.com/109554571051856737762/ )

Twitter (https://twitter.com/settledinheaven )

Tumblr (http://settledinheaven.tumblr.com/ )

LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/pub/robbarkman/47/819/4a4 )

Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/settledinheaven/ )

GodInterest (http://godinterest.com/profile/136480 )

 

Lord willing, within the next year, SIH will be greatly expanding our ministries on:

GodTube (http://www.godtube.com/settledinheaven/ )

LiveJournal (http://settledinheaven.livejournal.com/ )

 

“If you love… you will hate” Or “Why do married couples fight so much?”

SIH STSTA ICON(Valentine’s Day devotional 2015)

 

 

 

“Fighting is good for your marriage, it helps to get everything out of your system”…
“Fighting in a marriage is a sign of a very strong, healthy, and passionate love for one another”…
“All couples fight… if they tell you otherwise, they are lying”…
“We fight a lot because making up is so much fun.”

Huh? ….

All of these statements are made by those who desire to justify anger and fighting in the marriage relationship… but can anger and fighting in a marriage really be justified?

Is fighting in a marriage a good thing?  Is fighting a sign of a true deep passionate love for one another?  Is fighting a “normal” activity in a marriage?  Does a great makeup session justify getting angry at one another?

In this Valentine’s Day devotional, we will be looking at the interrelationship of self-sacrificial love, and anger within the marital union, but first, we will look at how each should manifest itself within the marital union…

 

 

THE SCRIPTURES:

Psa 97:10 KJV – Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.

1Co 13:4-7 KJV – Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Jas 4:1-3 KJV – From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

 

THE STUDY:

Before we begin our study I would like to include a very important definition.  For today’s devotional “fighting” does not mean “disagreeing”…

Disagreements in marriage are inevitable due to our sinful natures.  None of us perfectly understand God’s Word, therefore none of us perfectly understand His will for our lives.  Because of this, there are times that couples will disagree on the issues of life.  These disagreements should be resolved through self-sacrificial spirits and/or compromise.

By “fighting” we mean to become angry at our spouse, to hit our spouse, to yell at our spouse, to call our spouse names, to say hurtful things to our spouse, to speak ill of our spouse to others, to give our spouse the silent treatment, etc etc etc.

We all understand the difference.  Please keep this in mind as we proceed with our study.

 

How love should manifest itself within the marital union…

1Co 13:4-7 KJV

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Here, we find how love exhibits itself.  Some of the most basic ways that a Godly love is shown to others are in acts of patience, kindness, humility and a self-sacrificial desire for the good of the one that is loved.

No place in this list do we find anger, selfishness, nor fighting on the list; nor is it implied.  As a matter of fact, the root cause for fighting is actually rejected.  Folks, when we love others we will not seek our own but give sacrificially for the good of others.  It will result in us acting kindly, with a spirit willing to give for the other, not being easily provoked nor behaving ourselves in ugly, distasteful ways that will take place during fights.

The Bible is clear, based upon this passage and many others, fighting should have no place among those who love one another. Period.

 

So why do we fight?…

Jas 4:1-3 KJV

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Just as the Bible is clear that fighting has no place in the marital union, so too, it speaks clearly about why fighting takes place.  Here, we are told that the root of all fighting is the selfish lusts that lie within us.  Instead of working through our disagreements in a spirit of love, compromise and self-sacrifice, many times we allow our selfishness to rule over us.  This results in us doing “whatever is necessary” to “win” the argument, “the gloves come off” and the “games begin”!    All because we want to selfishly get our way and, in effect, force our spouse to fulfill our desires and submit to our wishes.

 

So what about the title of this devotional “If you love, you will hate”?

This is the key principle that lies behind all that we are looking at in this devotional.  If we love our spouse, we will hate anything that harms or wrongs them.  Please note this verse…

Psa 97:10 KJV

Ye that love the LORD, hate evil:…

Here, we see that if we love the Lord, we are to hate evil… Why?

We hate evil because it harms our Lord, it displeases Him, it hurts Him to see us commit it, it takes away from His glory, He suffered because of it on the cross, it opposes His work etc. etc.

In other words, if we love the Lord, we will not want to see Him abused, mistreated, blasphemed, or opposed in any way.  When we sin, or are accepting of the sin around us, we are doing all this to Him and more.  This is why when we love our Lord we will hate sin and its effects on Him.

This same attitude should hold true in our marital relationship.  If we love our spouse as we should, we would never want to see our spouse hurt, abused, harmed or saddened in any way.  Sadly some, if not all, of these things are normal results of fighting and conflict in our home.

Truly “if you love, you will hate” anything that harms or saddens the one you love.. this includes fighting with them.

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION/SUMMARY:

Folks, when we see ourselves fighting with our spouse, it is a clear indication that our love is not what it should be.  Something is wrong.

Sadly, for there to be peace in the family it takes two.  If only one spouse is committed to loving in a Biblical way, the other spouse can take advantage of them, selfishly abuse them, and always get “their way”.  In these cases, the abused, unloved spouse many times will enter into arguments out of desperation, simply wanting the abuse and mistreatment to stop.

The spouse who is not committed to loving as Christ loved His church, clearly carries the greater load of guilt, knowingly disobeying their Lord. They will give an account to God for their lack of love and selfish abuse of their loved one suffering great loss of reward.  Not only are they committing sin by not loving their spouse as they should, but they are also a contributing factor in the sinful actions of their spouse.  Their actions are practically begging their spouse to sinfully rise up against them in desperation and self-defense.  They are laying a stumbling block which causes their spouse to fall. These are serious issues indeed.

If both spouses are committed to loving one another with a Biblical love, it is very easy to live in peace.  Both spouses work for the good of the other and place their spouse’s needs above their own.  When they do this, it makes disagreements in the decision making very easy to reconcile.  When both are committed to this, they will not allow themselves to take advantage and selfishly gain from their spouse’s desire for peace.

Can living in peace really be accomplished ?  Absolutely, I saw this attitude in my parent’s marriage, I lived at home for 20+ years, and I can truly say I cannot remember ever seeing them fight. They did disagree at times, but they always worked it out through unselfish compromise seeking the good of the other and the family as a whole. It is one of the many things that I have learned to appreciate about my parents and the living example they had so graciously set for me.

I can say the same for myself and Eva.  During our 15 years of marriage, we have rarely disagreed, but when we do, we simply put the other first and work things out.  We have never fought.

Eva’s saying is “We have only been given a fixed amount of time to be together here on earth, we don’t have the time to waste fighting”.     All I can say is “AMEN” to that.

 

 

(I know this may seem to be a very unusual, and perhaps inappropriate, subject to be addressed in a Valentine’s Day devotional.  And I admit it may be.   However, I truly believe this is a greatly needed devotional.  For those who are struggling with this issue in their marriage, by faithfully applying the principles of God’s Word that have been presented, our marriages will never be the same.  And this will become the most precious Valentine’s Day that we have ever experienced. )

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

Visit our internet home page: http://www.settledinheaven.org

Visit our text blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Visit our video blog: http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

The Worm, The Hook, The Great Deception

SIH STSTA ICONFor any of you who have ever fished, you probably know how Bill Dance feels in this video compilation of some of his greatest bloopers…. You’ll love it!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_BLggf-mqs

The Bible addresses the issue of temptation, by picturing it as a fisherman attempting to catch a fish.  Unfortunately, in this scenario, temptation is the fisherman (empowered by Satan, our flesh and the world) and we are the fish.  What is the purpose of temptation? To bring misery and death to those who choose to take the bait and be reeled in by the sinful forces of this world.

Here is what the Bible has to say about temptation and it’s results…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (Jas 1:13-15)

THE STUDY:

In our first text, we find the steps of progression from temptation to the actual act of sin:

Step 1:  he is drawn away of his own lust  We come into contact with something that appeals to our desires.  Much like a fish is attracted to the bait, due to its hunger.

Step 2:  and enticed.  Enticed means to deceive, mislead.  Much like the fish, after being attracted, does recognize the hook; but believes that the bait is harmless.

Step 3:  Then when lust hath conceived  the idea of conceived means to grasp or take.  Once the fish takes the bait, sealing his fate.

Step 4:  it bringeth forth sin  By acting to satisfy the lists within us, we now commit the sin and, of course, bring an act of sin into our lives.  The result of this sin? Death.  Much like the fish that now has taken the bait is reeled to its awaiting death.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

To avoid the commission of sin we need to derail the temptation to sin process anyway we can.

Here are ways to derail the process at each of the first three steps of the four step process:

Step #1 – If we deal with our lusts properly… our sinful desires will be weakened and the opportunity to full those desires will be lessened.

We will be avoiding as many opportunities to fulfill our sinful lusts as possible.

An example: If our lusts lead us to easily abuse alcohol, we should avoid going into bars or restaurants that serve alcohol.

Or, we can think refuse to dwell mentally on our lust and its fulfillment, weakening our lusts by starving them.

An example: Do our lusts trouble us in the area of coveting the possessions of others?  If we see something we desire that is owned by another, we should not continue to think on the items.  This stirs up our lusts and opens the door to covetousness.

Step #2 – We need to stop and think about the true results of the sin we are about to commit.  We will not see the bait as harmless but as something that will work death to us.

An example: How will this action affect me tomorrow, or next week, or next year?  How will it affect those around me?  What will it do to my testimony?

Step #3 – We need to seek the wisdom of God before we commit to actions we are unsure about.  Ny doing this, we will be directed away from committing sin and resolving to do what is honoring to God.

An example:  Before we commit to an action, we should seek out God’s Word and/or the Godly counsel of others, asking the question “What saith the Lord?”.

By derailing the process before the sin is actually committed, we will be avoiding future pain for ourselves and others around us; while pleasing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Before you can begin to win the victory over temptation in your life, you must first submit your life and desires to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This submission is an absolute necessity for the forgiveness of your sins and living a new life of victory over sin and death.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.(Jas 4:7-8)

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

(Rom 6:16-18)

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

SIH TOA ICONIntroduction:

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

 

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

 

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

1 Cor 13:8

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

Lesson:


The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Additional Information:

The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Eph 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
(12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
(13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

The Church Universal, Local, Or Both? #5

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”:

These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:  But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”  (1 Timothy 3:14-16)

The exposition:

Paul is instructing Timothy, the young pastor of a local church. He is explaining to Timothy the importance of teaching the truth to the members of the assembly.  The local assembly is the storehouse of the truths of God in New Testament times.  Here, the local assembly is described as: the “house of God”, it is where God’s people meet for intimate worship, communion and nourishment from His Word; and the “pillar and ground of the truth”, the assembly that has been authorized to “hold up the truth for all to see” and “defend the truth so it cannot be moved, nor go out of existence”.

The usage of “ekklesia”

The local church easily fits the context here. No need to look further.

 

Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,  Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.  But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;  Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.  And withal they learn [to be] idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.  I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.  For some are already turned aside after Satan.  If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.”  (1 Timothy 5:9-16)

The exposition:

Paul is instructing Timothy on the proper administration of permanent church aid to widows within the local assembly. They were to only aid those who were 60 years old and faithful to Christ.  He warns that, at times, younger widows can turn from the service of Christ and live carnal lives characterized by fleshly pursuits.  Paul says, instead of receiving younger widows into the group receiving permanent church support, they should remarry, be supported by their new husband, and raise children that honor God. Also, those widows with Christian families still living are to look to them for financial aid, apart from aid from the local assembly.

The usage of “ekklesia”

The local assembly is clearly in view here, based upon the nature of the instructions given to Timothy.  Timothy has absolutely no authority over a universal, invisible assembly of believers and also it is impossible for a universal assembly, as a body, to support anyone.  The local assembly easily fits in this context.

For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.  For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified [are] all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,  Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.  And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.”   (Hebrews 2:10-13)

The exposition:

Christ’s exultation following His perfect obedience on the cross is being described.  His death on the cross resulted in our sanctification and adoption into His family.  The local church membership is made up of individuals who have adopted into the family of God, His brethren.

A prophecy found in Psalm 22:22 promises that Christ would sing praises to His Father in the midst of the assembly.  These praises were another act of Christ’s submission and obedience.  He chose to glorify and honor His Father in heaven, instead of praising Himself through song.  This prophecy was fulfilled when Christ sang during the local church meeting that was called to observe the Lord’s supper…

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed [it], and brake [it], and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.  And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

(Matthew 26:26-30)

The usage of “ekklesia”

Clearly, the singing of Christ was performed during a local church assembly.  No need to look further.

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.  Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.  Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.  Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.  (James 5:12-18)

The exposition:

We have described instructions for Christians touching upon many different life situations:  Do not swear nor take oaths, simply speak honestly and cultivate and honest testimony among all; when afflicted, seek the Lord’s grace and intervention through prayer; when merry, show your joy to others through songs that honor the Lord; when sick, call the elders of the local assembly and receive their prayers and application of oil (commonly used for symbolic anointing and medication); when committed sin has become public, publically confess the sin and ask for prayer of other members of the local assembly.  Why do all this? Because prayer is a powerful thing, especially when the prayer is performed in the context of a local church meeting….

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”   (Matthew 18:19-20)

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

The word “church” used in the generalized sense.  In other words… “whatever local church of which you are a member”.

The above actions can only be performed in the context of a local assembly of believers.  Who would the elders of a universal church be? How can the elders of a universal church all meet in one place? How can we confess our public sins to the universal church? Etc etc…  Obviously, this is a local assembly being talked about.

Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;  Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:  Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.  We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.  I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.  Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth [them] out of the church.”  (3 John 1:5-10)

The exposition:

Here John is addressing Gaius, who faithfully ministered to others.  John reviews the faithful acts of Gaius. Firstly,  he reminded Gaius of his faithful ministering to his family and spiritual brothers and also to strangers.  Those he had helped had then gone before the local assembly and told of his charitable deeds.

John encourages Gaius to continue to help other Christians whom may come his way during their travels.  By helping those Christians, he shares in the ministry they are performing.

John had written to the local church to encourage them to help the traveling Christians, but Diotrephes, due to his desire for attention, did not receive the travelers.  But instead, he forbad the other members of the local assembly to help these traveling ones.  If a member chose to help the travelers, he would cast them out of the local assembly.  John says that when he arrives at this church he would deal with the situation.

The usage of “ekklesia”

Easily, we can see a local church must be being talked about.  A letter cannot be sent to an invisible world-wide assembly.  Christians cannot come before a universal assembly and speak of blessings they had received, they cannot be cast out of a universal assembly, nor can one person forbid all living Christians to do anything.  Obviously this speaks of the local assembly in Gaius’ area.

Please take notice:

Any text that you do not see listed (unless I misread it) clearly indicate the word church is a local assembly.  For example the phrase “church at Jerusalem” clearly is referring to the local church at Jerusalem.   Also there may be a few instances where the context clearly indicated a local assembly was in view like “the church that is in thy house” which clearly disallows the universal church usage.  I saw no reason to include these types of texts in the discussion we are having.

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

As you can see, based upon my understanding of these Scriptures, there is not one text found in the Bible that dictates we must view the Biblical concept of a church as “an invisible universal assembly”.

Certainly we know that all who are saved make up “the family of God”, “the kingdom of God”, and “the saints”, however, the more I look into this subject, I am hesitant to refer to all who are saved as “the church of God”.

Why is this an important issue?  I believe there is much to be learned about a local assembly that previously have been missed by attributing various texts to all who are saved, when they correctly apply to local assemblies.

The role and importance of the local assembly is enhanced through this understanding of the meaning of the word “church” as found in the New Testament Scriptures.  As a matter of fact, the local assembly when viewed from this perspective, becomes the supreme instrument of the Lord in the proclamation, retention and defense of the truth of the Word.

There is no other organization on the face of the planet earth that comes close to holding the authority, purpose and value to the cause of Christ than His local churches on earth.  How can we begin to take the local assembly so lightly?

Let me remind you that I have tried to find every section of Scripture where the word “church” could be referring to an invisible assembly.  If, during your studies, you find any other text that could refer to a universal church.  Please let me know.  For my own use, and the benefit of those who read this study, I would like this study to be as complete as possible.  

Also, if you see things in the context of the above passages that you believe absolutely disallow the local assembly definition of “church” please let me know by comment or email. Again, I certainly am a fallen, sinful, human who is capable of misunderstanding a context or entirely missing it, therefore it is very possible I have missed something in this study.  Please point it out to me so I can study and,  hopefully, come to an understanding of the issue and then address it in a future comment.

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.”

The Importance Of The Local Church -13 “Summary Of Our Study”

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 final lesson of our study let’s quickly review all that we have looked at and attempt to apply these truths to our lives in a practical way.

THE STUDY:

Here is a listing of all the main truths we have learned in this study on the Lord’s local assemblies…
1.     The Nature Of The Assembly
a.    The Local, Visible, Called Out Assembly
b.    The Benefits Of The Assembly
c.    The Existence Of The Assembly
d.    The Foundation Of The Assembly

2.    The Mission Of The Assembly
a.    The Great Commission
b.    Evangelizing The Lost
c.    Baptizing The New Believer
d.    Instructing The Membership

3.    The Other Truths About The Assembly
a.    The Blessings Of The Assembly
b.    The Accrediting Of The Assembly
c.    The Attendance Of The Assembly
d.    The Metaphors Of The Assembly

In all of these areas one basic principle was seen repeatedly… The local assembly of the Lord, His church, is THE distinctive assembly that was created and authorized to bring honor and glory to God through our Lord Jesus Christ…

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

Even beyond that, our study has shown us that, due to the unique nature and authority of the Lord’s assembly, it enjoys a very special, intimate relationship with Christ…

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”   (Matthew 18:20)

What a wonderful promise the Lord gives to those who are members of His assembly.  It doesn’t matter how large or small the assembly, when God’s people gather to worship Him in spirit and in truth, He promises to meet with them in a very special, intimate way.  He does this in the person of the Holy Spirit that not only indwells the body of the individual believer, but also indwells the assembly as the body of Christ.

It is very important to notice three basic principles in this text:

1.  First of all, this is describing those who are “gathered together”.  If we study this phrase, we find it is translated from a Greek word that means “to be led, or brought, together”.  This isn’t simply a group of Christians that are meeting together.  It is clearly saying that these Christians are led, or drawn, by the leadership of the Spirit to this meeting.

2.  Secondly, when it speaks of the Lord being in “the midst” of them.  This phrase is teaching us that, when God’s people are led by the Holy Spirit to meet together, He will be “right in the middle of things”.  He will be actively involved in all that is taking place, working in a way that supercedes His normal workings in the world around us.

3.  Thirdly, this gathering is in “the name” of Christ.  This phrase is speaking to us about the motivation behind this assembly.  These saints, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, are meeting in alignment with Christ’s will with a desire to honor, glorify, and worship God.  It is not to promote nor exalt themselves, nor their assembly, but it is a meeting that is centered on bringing to God all the glory, honor and praise.

One more important point that is normally missed concerns the nature of the assembly that is being described.  Normally, we have a tendency to apply this text to all believers who meet together to worship or serve Him in any way.  In the mind of many, this is not limited to a local church assembly of members.

Please keep in mind:

1.  first of all, we have already seen that this gathering must take place as the result of following the leading of the Holy Spirit of God, motivated to glorify God alone.  It is not just a random assemblage of Christians.

2.  more importantly, we must note the context of this passage to properly understand the assembly of which this speaks.

In the context (Matt 18:15-17) the subject of local church discipline is being addressed.  It speaks of two disagreeing individuals, who are both under the authority of the local church.  This text is explaining the process where their differences are to be resolved, or if not resolved, the local church discipline that should be enacted….

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican…

In the very near context the authority of the local assembly is affirmed.  Not only does the local church have the authority to discipline its members, but also to discern the will of God and powerfully intercede according to His will, is confirmed in (Matt 18:18-19)…

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

Then, the source of the great authority of the local church assembly is described as the special presence of the Lord.  As the Lord uniquely meets with His people, they are enabled to perceive His will as an assembly, and then act according to that will in worship, prayer and at times, unfortunately, the exercise of disciplinary proceedings (Matthew 18:20)…

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

THE SUMMARY:

In this 13 part study, we have attempted to look at a few of the reasons why a Christian should seek out and join an assembly of the Lord when it is possible to do so.  In the midst of all the previous reasons we have listed, the greatest reason of all is found in our study today…

We, as Christians, are to join and actively support the ministry of the local church of the Lord because of the church’s ONE OF A KIND, intimate relationship with its Founder, Sustainer and Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Nowhere else on earth can this profound connection with Jesus Christ be found…

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. DRAW NIGH TO GOD, AND HE WILL DRAW NIGH TO YOU.”   (James 4:7-8)

May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.

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

Click to access lordsassemblyprotected.pdf

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

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

 

The Importance Of The Local Church -11 “The Membership and Attendance Of The Assembly”

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 eleventh lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the teachings of the Bible concerning the importance of church attendance.

We will be looking at this subject from three different standpoints:
1.  The command to attend the assembly
2.  The examples to attend the assembly
3.  Our responsibility to others to attend the assembly

THE STUDY:

The command to attend the assembly

Perhaps Hebrews 10:25 is a command for every believer to join, and faithfully attend the Lord’s local assembly… “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” 

Here, the Christian is exhorted to not “abandon” or “permanently walk away” from the assembly of believers.  This can hold one of two meanings:

1.  This is speaking of the assembly of believers in the Lord’s church.

In this case, this text explains the need for Christians to not abandon the attendance of a local assembly where God’s people meet.  It seems to go further and explain that as the second coming of Christ draws nearer, the need for faithful attendance to the assembly will increase.

This interpretation is the historical interpretation that is held by most Godly men of the past.  Also, it seems to apply in today’s time that we see more and more Christians forsaking the assembly. This could be why we are told to attend so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Could this be said because, in the latter days, there would be a forsaking of His assembly?

If someone does walk away with no intention of every returning to the place of worship, prayer, praise and fellowship there is a real question as to whether his faith is a persevering, genuine faith.  This is the point John made in 1 John 2:19 – They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

However, there is another possible interpretation of this text as well…

2.  This could be telling the followers of Christ to not forsake belief, nor concentration, on His second coming when He will “assemble” His people to Himself. 

A true genuine faith will not lose hope in the second coming of Christ and the entrance of His saints to glory.  Col 1:27-29 makes it plain that the indwelling Spirit and His second coming are inseparably linked and a source of great encouragement for the people of God… To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:  Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

 

Why do many believe this is the interpretation of this text?

The phrase “assembling together” comes from one Greek word “episunagoge” it carries with it the idea of “a gathering from all areas” or “a complete gathering”.  This same word is only used one other time in the Scriptures in 2 Thess 2:1 where it is speaking of the assembling of God’s people at the second coming of Christ.  This word for assembly NEVER spoke of God’s people assembling in a church meeting. There is another Greek word “ecclesia” that is normally used to describe that type of assembly.

Lastly, Peter related a denial of His second coming to lost mankind in the days before His coming in 2 Pet 3:3-4…. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

 

This can explain the phrase so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

These are the basic reasons why some believe this text is speaking of not forsaking a belief in His second coming and the deliverance of His people from a sinful world.  But to further explain the confusion on this text….

3. Could this text be referring to the assembling of believers in BOTH ways we have previously described?

We need to study the root word from which we get “episunagoge” which comes from the Greek word “Episunago”  this root word is used as follows:
1. Christ gathering Jerusalem like a mother hen to protect them – Matt 23:37, Luke 13:34
2. Christ gathering His people at His second coming – Matt 24:31, Mark 13:27
3. Citizens of a city gathered to see miracles of Christ – Mark 1:33
4. Multitudes following Christ to hear His teachings – Luke 12:1

In EVERY case the Greek word “episunago” and it’s derivative “episunagoge” is used to described people gathered TO CHRIST.  There is no exception to this.   This is a very important point.

In Hebrews 10:25, a way to transliterate this verse would be “Not abandoning the assembling ourselves to Christ, as the manner of some is…”

If this is the case, then either event could apply to this text…
1.  You see, when God’s people meet to worship Him, He promises to be in their “midst” in the person of the Holy Spirit.  (Matt 18:18-20, 1 Cor 5:4).
2.  And as we have seen previously, we will all be gathered together to be with Him at His second coming. (1 Thess 4:13-18).
Could it be, that this verse is written on purpose to be vague, and both ways of understanding it are in alignment with God’s Word?  We have seen in this short section, Scriptural foundation laid that support both views.  In my own personal studies, I believe this dual-view of the text is the closest interpretation to its intended meaning.

4. Basic Principle Summarized…
To summarize this verse… Whatever was meant by the phrase “assembly” the principle is basically the same.  To encourage (exhort) other believers, and ourselves, we need to be sure we are living out our beliefs.  This can be done by not forsaking church membership and by not forsaking our hope in the second coming of Christ.  This is the last great sign of a living faith that will affect the lives of others.

 

The examples of attendance of the assembly

 
Here are a few, of many texts, that set a clear example for believers to join and attend the local assembly…

1.And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”   (Luke 4:16)

Jesus set the example for us by consistently (“as his custom was”) attending the place of worship chosen by God. (Which was during the first stages of His ministry, the synagogue).

 

2.  “Now the first [day] of the [feast of] unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?  And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.  And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.  Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.  And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.  And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?  And he answered and said, He that dippeth [his] hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.  The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.  Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.  And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed [it], and brake [it], and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.   And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.”   (Matthew 26:17-30)

Here Jesus met with the first church members (His apostles) as they met to observe the Lord’s Supper PRIOR TO His death.  This is one of many examples showing us that Jesus continued to set the example for us of attendance to the new place of worship, the local assembly.

 

3.  “Then the same day at evening, being the first [day] of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you.  And when he had so said, he shewed unto them [his] hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace [be] unto you: as [my] Father hath sent me, even so send I you.  And when he had said this, he breathed on [them], and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:  Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; [and] whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained.  (John 20:19-23)

Following Christ’s death we find the church continues to meet on the first day of the week.  Again, this is setting the example for us.

 

4.  “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.”   (Acts 2:41-43)

Following Christ’s ascension, the Lord’s church continued to meet on a regular basis.  This can be seen throughout the book of Acts and the Pauline epistles.

These verses, and others, clearly establish that the followers of Christ joined together forming an assembly and then continued to meet together for instruction, encouragement, and fellowship.

Our responsibility to others to attend the assembly

There are many texts that help us to understand that all of us have a responsibility to join a local assembly, and by doing so, show our love to our brethren (John 13:34-35).  This is done by giving them support, encouragement and strength.

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

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

As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”   (1 Peter 4:10)

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”   (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.  Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”   (James 5:14-18)

When we come to understand the role that we can play in the lives of our brethren within the context of local assembly, we can see it is our duty to join the assembly for the sake of our love to them.

 

THE SUMMARY:

Through these verses we are given an understanding of the importance of membership and attendance in the Lord’s local assembly.  May we all remember the Lord’s command, His example, the example of other New Testament believers, and the great opportunities that await us to show our love for others, to motivate us to find a local assembly of the Lord, enter into its membership, and serve Him among our brethren.

Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church?  It is an act of obedience to the Lord, and it is an act of love towards the other spiritual brethren in your area.

Just a quick note…  Please keep in mind, this study as all the rest of the studies, is only speaking about our responsibility to the Lord’s local churches that exist throughout the earth.  These principles do not apply to other houses of worship that hold to false doctrine and are not sanctioned by Christ.  The idea that “it is better to attend a false church than no church at all” is unscriptural and can actually harm a child of God’s testimony, growth and communion with the Lord.

What happens if there is no church of the Lord in my area?  The best way to handle this situation is to find the closest church of the Lord and explain your situation and your desire for an assembly in your area.  They will then examine your particular situation and find the best remedy for you.  Normally, most church will accept your membership under these conditions, minister to you through the mail or internet and also seek to establish a sound body that you are able to attend.

May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.
 

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

Click to access lordsassemblyprotected.pdf


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

 

 

Why Does Evil Exist? (Part #3)

SIH STSTA ICON“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, The Earth Is Filled With Thy Glory”

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things].(Isaiah 45:7)

[Thou art] of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:…” (Habakkuk 1:13) 

 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  (James 1:13)

In above set of Scriptures, we find one of the supposedly contradictory texts of the Scriptures.  On one hand, from the lips of the Lord Himself, He clearly states that “I create evil”.  Then later in the Scriptures we find Habakkuk, as he speaks concerning the Lord, says [Thou art] of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:  then, to add confusion to our subject, James states clearly that God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

In this series of lessons, we will be looking into two basic questions, first, “What Is God’s Role In The Existence of Evil ?” and, secondly, “What Is The Purpose Behind The Existence Of Evil ?”

 

THE STUDY:

Before we begin this portion of our study, let’s pick up with the summary from our studies so far …
1.  “Evil” describes something that causes harm or injury
2.  “Evil” can be referring to harm that is so severe, that it causes total destruction or uselessness
3.  “Evil” can, but not necessarily, involves moral wickedness
4.  “Evil” can describe sin or it can describe the results of sin
5.  “Evil” can describe the direct results of sin
6.  “Evil” can describe the indirect results of sin
7.  “Evil” can describe an act that is morally wicked
8.  “Evil” can describe, not the act, but the result of moral wickedness
9.  Evil is “the condition/act of sin, OR the direct or indirect results of sin, that are harmful, and potentially ruinous, to any part of God’s creation.”  
10.  Our Lord is in absolute control of all things, this principle is clearly presented throughout the Bible
11.  It is only because the Lord is in control of all things that we can place our unwavering faith in Him
12.  The Sovereignty Of God affects: His ability to aid us, His answering our prayers, His ability to save, His prophecies to use
13. The Lord is in control of Satan himself, who can do nothing apart from the Lord’s allowance

We will now attempt to come to an understanding about the holiness of God and the origin of evil in this world….

Our Lord Is Perfectly Holy (Separated From Sin) 

When we speak of the holiness of God, we are simply saying that God is completely separated from sin.  He is absolutely pure in character, motives, thoughts and deeds.   His holiness was made manifest to the prophet Isaiah in Isa 6:…
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory.  And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.  Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”   (Isaiah 6:1-5)

Notice the effects of Isaiah’s recognition of the holiness of God… “Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 

The holiness of God is one of His attributes that clearly sets Him above all of creation.  Sin has affected every area of creation, however when Isaiah saw this vision of God he was humbled.  Why? It wasn’t God’s great power or His great majesty that brought Isaiah to his knees… it was the recognition of his absolute sinfulness in the face of the holiness of God.

The attributes of God that Isaiah recognized in his vision were also recognized by the Israelites when they were delivered from bondage in the land of Egypt…
Who [is] like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who [is] like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful [in] praises, doing wonders?”   (Exodus 15:11)

Again, we find the holiness of God being one of the main attributes that were recognized by the humbled nation of Israel.  Please note His holiness is so extraordinary, He is described as being “glorious in holiness.”  In other words, His holiness makes Him deserving of our worship, honor, reverence and submission.  It sets Him apart from all of the idolatrous gods of man and makes Him “shine” in comparison to them.

As a matter of fact, His holiness is so extraordinary that we find He cannot accept sin in His presence…
[Thou art] of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:(Habakkuk 1:13) 

In the New Testament we have testimony of the Lord’s holiness as well…
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  (1 John 1:5)

Note how John emphasized the complete, absolute holiness of God… “in him is no darkness at all”.  The illustration that John uses is an interesting one indeed.  He uses the picture of light to describe the holiness of God, in comparison to darkness that represents sin (Acts 26:18).  Just as darkness CANNOT dwell in the presence of light, so too, sin CANNOT dwell in the person of God (2 Cor 6:14).

The holiness of God is not limited to the Father but is also exhibited in the person of Christ….
For such an high priest became us, [who is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;”   (Hebrews 7:26)

What a blessing it is to know that the Lord that we serve is absolutely separated from sin.  He cannot do wrong, He cannot make “mistakes”, He cannot lie, nor can He treat anyone justly.

But also, getting back to our study, sin can in no way come from our God.  He cannot create it, nor can He be held responsible for its existence among man…
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.  Do not err, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”   (James 1:13-17)

James makes it crystal clear to us that, although the Lord is absolutely sovereign, He cannot be held accountable for the sinful actions of man. This is expressed in the first part of our above text…
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

But James goes farther and teaches us that the Lord cannot be held accountable for the origination of sin when he says …
Do not err, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James helps us to understand that the ONLY type of gifts that proceed from God are “good” and “perfect” gifts.  These descriptions totally eliminate for us the possibility of sin proceeding from God.  To cover all the bases, James then reminds us that this holy God will continue to be absolutely holy throughout eternity…. Therefore, sin will never proceed from Him, nor will He ever be the author of it.

Folks, it is our great responsibility to recognize that, although the Lord included sin in His sovereign plan, and allows the occurrence of sin on a daily basis, He cannot be held accountable for that sin.  The responsibility for the existence of sin must be placed at the doorstep of Satan…
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”   (1 John 3:8)

 “Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”   (John 8:44)

Not only do we know that Satan is the originator of sin and a causative force for it in this world, we also find that the Bible teaches us that the responsibility for sin’s entrance into this world must be shared with Adam….
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:  (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.  But not as the offence, so also [is] the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, [which is] by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.  And not as [it was] by one that sinned, [so is] the gift: for the judgment [was] by one to condemnation, but the free gift [is] of many offences unto justification.  For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)  Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”   (Romans 5:12-19)

 

In our study so far, we have now seen that the Lord is in control of all things.  Because we know He is sovereign we must come to an understanding that the sins He has included in His sovereign plan He allows to take place, all other sins He restrains.

We have also come to understand that, due to His absolute holiness, sin cannot proceed from God in any way.  Therefore, He cannot be the author, nor the originator of sin.  Although He has included sin in His plan for mankind, Satan and Adam are the ones responsible for the entrance of sin into God’s creation.

In our next lesson we will be answering the question… “If God, due to His holiness, cannot be the author of sin then what did He mean when He said “I create evil”?”

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

What we have seen in our study so far….

We have attempted to come to a very basic understanding of the term “evil” as used in the Bible.  We have come to see that:
1.  “Evil” describes something that causes harm or injury
2.  “Evil” can be referring to harm that is so severe, that it causes total destruction or uselessness
3.  “Evil” can, but not necessarily, involves moral wickedness
4.  “Evil” can describe sin or it can describe the results of sin
5.  “Evil” can describe the direct results of sin
6.  “Evil” can describe the indirect results of sin
7.  “Evil” can describe an act that is morally wicked
8.  “Evil” can describe, not the act, but the result of moral wickedness
9.  Evil is “the condition/act of sin, OR the direct or indirect results of sin, that are harmful, and potentially ruinous, to any part of God’s creation.”  
10.  Our Lord is in absolute control of all things, this principle is clearly presented throughout the Bible
11.  It is only because the Lord is in control of all things that we can place our unwavering faith in Him
12.  The Sovereignty Of God affects: His ability to aid us, His answering our prayers, His ability to save, His prophecies to use
13. The Lord is in control of Satan himself, who can do nothing apart from the Lord’s allowance
14. The Lord is perfectly holy and separate from sin.
15. Satan and Adam are the ones who are responsible for sin’s existence and entrance into this world

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

For The Free Study Guide For This Series:  .pdf format    .docx format

 

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.”

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

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

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

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

Blog Entry #1 Salvation

Blog Entry #2 Repentance

Blog Entry #3 Faith / Belief

Blog Entry #4 What about good works?

Blog Entry #5 What about baptism?

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

Blog Entry #7 What about church membership?

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

THE SCRIPTURES:

Rom 3:19-27 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Titus 3:1-8 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Titus 3:12-14 (KJV)

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

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

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

Titus 2:11-14 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

Col 1:9-14 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jas 2:14-26 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gal 5:19-26 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rom 5:17-6:11 (KJV)

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

18) Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life.

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

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

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

Rom 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE STUDY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By bearing spiritual fruit…

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

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

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

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

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

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

And by visibly declaring our faith to others.

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

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

James makes these statements:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1Pet 1:13-16 (KJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

 ————————————————————————

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

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

www.settledinheavenbibleblog.posterous.com

www.settledinheavenblog.blogspot.com

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

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

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

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

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

Magic Mirror on the Wall

SIH STSTA ICONWe all remember the scene from Snow White.The Evil Queen stands in front of the mirror and says “Magic Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” When the mirror replies that she is no longer the fairest in the kingdom that’s when all the trouble starts for poor Snow White.(Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-i8zKJaHMA&feature=related to refresh your memory).

You’ve got to hand it to the Queen, at least she knew where to go to evaluate her appearance.She knew the mirror would reveal what she needed to know about herself.

Likewise with us, as Christians, our Lord gives us a “mirror” that we are to use for our self-examination.Unlike the magic mirror of Snow White, this “mirror” reveals our life’s condition in the eyes of God.It is a very powerful, valuable tool that is far too often overlooked.

What is this tool?How often should we use it?We’ll answer these questions in today’s blog…

THE SCRIPTURE:

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (Jas 1:22-25)

THE STUDY:

In our text, we can see that the mirror God has given to His people is the Bible, His Word.When we read the Bible and compare it to our lives, we receive an image of what our life looks like in the sight of God.

If you notice also in our text this powerful tool can be misused.Instead of leading us to a more Christ-like life, it can be misused causing self-deceit.If we go to God’s Word, receive its truth but then forget what we have read, we have just deceived ourselves.We are thinking, “Boy, I have really pleased the Lord today, I read His Word! (but then forgot it)”; but, in reality, we have not pleased Him at all.

It is clear to see in our text, that the Lord meant for His Word to be read AND APPLIED.To read His Word without application is like buying a gallon of paint but never putting it on the wall.It is purchased, but it’s not put to use.Likewise, reading His Word.Reading His Word takes an investment of time and energy (in a sense “purchasing it”), but if we never apply it, the Word’s usefulness is ignored.

Notice that our text finishes with a promise of a blessing to those who read and apply His Word.This is incredible display of His grace to us.Don’t we deserve a blessing when we use His Word wisely? Let’s stop and think of some basic truths for just a minute:

Firstly, when God created man, He was NOT obligated to give us His Word to direct our lives.After creation and the fall, He could have just as easily left sinful mankind to go his own way. This would have led mankind into an eternity in the lake of fire. But He didn’t do this. He gave us His Word to lead us to Christ.

Secondly, once again, as newly saved Christians, we did not deserve His Word.But He gave us His Word for the Spirit to use to guide us as we live our life.Please notice, in both cases, He gave to us what we did not deserve; He did it simply because He loved us!

Now to take it a step further, the Lord promises to bless those of us who not only read, but, apply His Word to our lives.This, after he graciously gave us His Word and His Spirit to lead and guide us!!!Now, He rewards us for what is our duty to do (Luke 17:10).We owe it to Him to apply His Word; we are not doing Him any favors when we use His Word in the way it was intended.What an absolutely incredible display of His mercy and kindness to us.This is amazing grace!

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those of us who are forgiven of our sins…

If we understand how good God has been in giving us His Word, how can we waste this blessing by not applying it to our lives?I am the first to admit, at times, reading His Word and applying it to my life hurts.It’s not easy to see my faults.It’s even harder to overcome them through the power of the Spirit.It’s not easy, it’s painful, but it’s a necessity.We owe it to our Lord.Praise Him, He promises to bless us when we use His Word wisely!

For those who have not come to faith in Christ…

Please remember, one of the greatest reasons the Lord has given His Word to the world is to show mankind its need to be saved from their sin. Also, His Word tells us the way of salvation, placing our God-given faith in Christ.What is your first step to coming to faith in Christ.Look into His Word, see what your condition is and what can be done to remedy that condition.One place you might begin is Ephesians chapter 2.If you have any questions, or you would like to talk to someone about your spiritual condition, feel free to email me or get in contact with any Bible-believing church in your area.

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

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”

“The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike”

http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

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

 

The Worm, The Hook, The Great Deception

SIH STSTA ICONFor any of you who have ever fished, you probably know how Bill Dance feels in this video compilation of some of his greatest bloopers…. You’ll love it!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_BLggf-mqs

The Bible addresses the issue of temptation, by picturing it as a fisherman attempting to catch a fish.  Unfortunately, in this scenario, temptation is the fisherman (empowered by Satan, our flesh and the world) and we are the fish.  What is the purpose of temptation? To bring misery and death to those who choose to take the bait and be reeled in by the sinful forces of this world.

Here is what the Bible has to say about temptation and it’s results…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (Jas 1:13-15)

THE STUDY:

In our first text, we find the steps of progression from temptation to the actual act of sin:

Step 1:  he is drawn away of his own lust  We come into contact with something that appeals to our desires.  Much like a fish is attracted to the bait, due to its hunger.

Step 2:  and enticed.  Enticed means to deceive, mislead.  Much like the fish, after being attracted, does recognize the hook; but believes that the bait is harmless.

Step 3:  Then when lust hath conceived  the idea of conceived means to grasp or take.  Once the fish takes the bait, sealing his fate.

Step 4:  it bringeth forth sin  By acting to satisfy the lists within us, we now commit the sin and, of course, bring an act of sin into our lives.  The result of this sin? Death.  Much like the fish that now has taken the bait is reeled to its awaiting death.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

To avoid the commission of sin we need to derail the temptation to sin process anyway we can.

Here are ways to derail the process at each of the first three steps of the four step process:

Step #1 – If we deal with our lusts properly… our sinful desires will be weakened and the opportunity to full those desires will be lessened.

We will be avoiding as many opportunities to fulfill our sinful lusts as possible.

An example: If our lusts lead us to easily abuse alcohol, we should avoid going into bars or restaurants that serve alcohol.

Or, we can think refuse to dwell mentally on our lust and its fulfillment, weakening our lusts by starving them.

An example: Do our lusts trouble us in the area of coveting the possessions of others?  If we see something we desire that is owned by another, we should not continue to think on the items.  This stirs up our lusts and opens the door to covetousness.

Step #2 – We need to stop and think about the true results of the sin we are about to commit.  We will not see the bait as harmless but as something that will work death to us.

An example: How will this action affect me tomorrow, or next week, or next year?  How will it affect those around me?  What will it do to my testimony?

Step #3 – We need to seek the wisdom of God before we commit to actions we are unsure about.  Ny doing this, we will be directed away from committing sin and resolving to do what is honoring to God.

An example:  Before we commit to an action, we should seek out God’s Word and/or the Godly counsel of others, asking the question “What saith the Lord?”.

By derailing the process before the sin is actually committed, we will be avoiding future pain for ourselves and others around us; while pleasing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Before you can begin to win the victory over temptation in your life, you must first submit your life and desires to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This submission is an absolute necessity for the forgiveness of your sins and living a new life of victory over sin and death.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.(Jas 4:7-8)

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

(Rom 6:16-18)

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

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

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

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

Halloween Part #5 – The Series Summary

With the Halloween holiday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take time to study the history and characters surrounding the holiday.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to…

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:21-22)

So with this as our motive and the desire of our hearts, let’s end our 5 part series on Halloween:

  1. A Study of The Halloween Celebration (All Hallows Eve)
  2. A Study of The Death Symbols – Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Frankenstein, Vampires, and Bats
  3. A Study of The Sorcery Symbols – Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons
  4. A Study of The Necromancy Symbols – Séances and Ouija Boards
  5. A Summary of Our Study On Halloween

May the Lord be glorified in our study….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2Co 6:14-18)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:1-2)

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  (Jas 1:27)

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1Pe 1:13-16)

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (1Co 8:7-13)

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. (1Co 10:31-33)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Php 4:6-9)

THE STUDY:

In our previous studies we have seen 4 basic principles concerning the Halloween festival:

  1. The festival of Halloween’s history is connected with the belief that the spirits of dead men walk the earth, it was observed in preparation for the worship of “the Lord of Darkness”,  it was held to appease and secure peace with these spirits for the upcoming year.
  2. The death symbols of Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Vampires, and Bats all were connected to the spirits of the dead which did not immediately go to their eternal state, but were able to dwell on the earth, avoiding the judgment they were facing and wreaking havoc among earthly beings.
  3. The sorcery symbols of Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons were related to  the casting of magical spells and incantations that affect mankind.   Also, the worship of false gods through idols derived from God’s creation (moon, planets, etc) was associated with these symbols.
  4. The necromancy symbols of Séances and Ouija Boards has the purpose of communicating with the spirits of the dead.

 

The Halloween festival, its related characters, and their connection to the occult, are very important considerations in the examination of our level of participation in the holiday.

Some areas of our examination should include:

  1. Are we properly separating ourselves from the sin of this world by participating in the Halloween festival?  (2Co 6:14-18)
  2. Is our level of involvement in Halloween considered “conforming” (molded into the shape of) or “fashioned” to this world? (Rom 12:1-2)  (1Pe 1:13-16)
  3. Is the Halloween celebration “spotting” our testimony for the Lord? (Jas 1:27)
  4. Is our participation in Halloween causing our weaker brothers to “stumble” in their walk for Christ?  In other words, are they encouraged to make bad life choices based on the example we are setting? (1Co 8:7-13)
  5. Can our participation in Halloween be done for the Lord’s glory? (1Co 10:31-33)
  6. When we are participating in this celebration can we be having our minds on that which is true, honest, just etc.? (Php 4:6-9)

Over the years, I have seen four basic “levels” of participation in Halloween by God’s people:

  1. A total participation which involved decorating and dressing up with any of the symbols our study has examined. Along with participation in trick or treating and other exclusively Halloween activities.
  2. A participation that involves decorating and dressing up but avoiding demonic images and using only more benign symbols like princesses, cowboys etc. while still participating in trick or treating etc.
  3. A participation in “Harvest” or “Fall” parties on a date other than Oct 31st that totally exclude the Halloween title and avoid all aspects of the holiday (no trick or treat, no costume wearing etc.)
  4. No celebration of any type.  No decorating, no costumes, no parties. They treat the holiday just like any other day.

Which do I believe is the proper approach?

  1. First, let me emphasize that every Christian must decide for him/her self as to the level of participation in Halloween activities.  There is no ‘thus saith the Lord’ on the subject.
  2. Remember, participation in Halloween is NOT participation in the sins it represents.  In other words, you can participate in Halloween and not be guilty of the sins of necromancy, the casting of spells etc.
  3. The question for the believer is … by participating am I appearing to condone these activities that Halloween symbolizes?  Am I placing upon myself the appearance of approval or indifference to those activities? By participating am I saying…. “Hey its no big deal” ?
  4. So what do I think?
    1. Please remember, it really doesn’t matter at all what I think, all that matters is what God’s Word says.  However, for the sake of you who are reading this, I need to take the time to explain what I believe…I think a full participation in Halloween, with costumes and decorations that include the occult symbols is a very questionable stand for a Christian to take.  My feeling when it comes to my service to the Lord is …”it is always better to be safe than sorry”.  If you have a question about an action.  Don’t do it!
    2. By removing the occult symbols out of the Halloween celebration is certainly a big step in the right direction. “The appearance of evil” is basically being removed from the issue. However, the activity of trick or treating and wearing of any costume does have less obvious occult implications.  But certainly, this is a far better than our first option. Also, by participating in trick or treat, it opens the opportunity for witnessing by distributing tracts and pocket sized Bibles with the candy that is passed out to children who come to your door.  The Christian considering this option will have to weigh the gospel going out against the indirect occult association of Halloween.  For me, this is a very difficult decision to make.  I can easily see both sides of this option.
    3. I see no problem at all with the last two options of a harvest party or no celebration at all. Both are totally benign options that have no occult connections whatsoever.

If you would like to have more information about the proper Christian role in Halloween please take a look at: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/1126.  This is a link from Bro John McArthur’s website and well worth our time to read it. (A special thanks to Sharon A. for sending me this link, it’s a good one!  It is much appreciated.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

So let me end this study as I began this study by saying can we, as Christians, say our participation in Halloween aligns itself with (1Th 5:21-22) “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

May the Lord lead each of us to an understanding of His will and an attitude of understanding and temperance towards other Christians.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

The greatest need that we all face in our lives is the need for the forgiveness of our sins.  We all have sinned and come short of our Lord’s expectations for us.  If you have never been saved, Halloween should not be your main concern, but concern about your sinful condition should take priority.  How do we find forgiveness of our sins and peace with our Lord?

The Lord gives us clear teaching on the way of salvation:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (Joh 14:6)

 

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Act 4:10-12)

 

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1Pe 3:18)

 

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (Rom 5:1-2)

Turn from your sins and come before the Lord, and trust only in Him for your salvation.

If you would like further information about salvation please refer to the page on my blog entitled “How to have a relationship with God”.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————————————————————————————————-

I’m Saved! In Church I Walked Down The Aisle and Said A Prayer…

SIH STSTA ICONAs a Pastor of 15 years, I used to ask the question, “Have you ever been saved from your sins?”.  I have received many different responses to this question.  Here are a few of them…

“Of course, I was baptized as a baby in (church name)”;

“Yes, I am saved, I am a member of (church name)”;

“Yes, I have kept all the sacraments of my church”;

“Yes, I was born into a Christian family, we’ve been Christians for at least four generations”;

“Why yes, thank you for asking, I walked down the aisle of (church name) and said the sinners prayer back in September of 2001”;

and many, many more.

It has broken my heart to hear responses like this coming from those for whom I care.  If you notice, in every case, the above responses imply that our salvation is based on something we have done.  The Bible makes it plain that our salvation does not lie in what we have done, but what the Lord has done in us.  (John 6:44-45, 6:63-66, Eph 2:8-10, Php 2:12-13, Col 1:25-29, Titus 3:4-5)

So where did we get the idea that salvation is based on something that we have done?  Sad to say, in many cases, the churches of today must take responsibility for fostering this false belief.  Since I am a Baptist pastor, I will use Baptist churches for my example… my heart aches when I see other Baptist pastors, at the close of the service, beg and plead for people to “come down the aisle and be saved” or “repeat the sinners prayer after me and be saved”.

In many cases, this is done by well-meaning pastors who are trying to encourage those in attendance to make a commitment to Christ.   But, instead of bringing about commitment, they are encouraging others to trust in a work for their salvation.

Please remember, a person can be saved just as easily standing in the pew, or sitting in a chair, or lying in a bed etc etc.  The Lord can work in the heart at anytime and any place, not just at the altar in the front of the church.  Likewise, salvation comes through Christ creating faith into the heart of the faithless, not by us saying any prayer.

Whenever the gospel message is given out in the Bible, it is never accompanied with the instructions to walk an aisle, or say a “sinner’s prayer” (the same can be said for baptism, church membership, keeping the sacraments, or being born into a Christian family).   The gospel message, when given in the Bible, is accompanied with the instructions to trust in Christ and His work. (Acts 16:30-31, John 3:15-16 etc etc)

The only way we can be certain we are saved is by knowing the Lord has worked in our lives.  How can we know this for sure?  The Bible makes it plain….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. … For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2Co 5:17-21)

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

THE STUDY:

In the Bible, a true salvation experience brings about change in the life of the believer.  When God intervenes in the life of a sinner and brings him to salvation, the newly saved person becomes a new creation in Christ. (2 Cor 5:17-21)  This “new creation” involves a new attitude about the Lord and sin.  (Eph  4:22-24)  The newly saved now sees Christ as their Lord and despises the sin in their life.  This new attitude then motivates the Christian to begin a life of service to their Lord and Savior.  This service is described as fruit bearing. (John 15:1-5, Gals 5:19-26)  This changed life is one of the reasons why God has saved us (Eph 2:8-10).

Also, this changed life is what gives us the ultimate assurance that the Lord has worked a work of saving grace in our lives. James clearly presented this principle in James chapter 2.  In verses 14-26, James refers to “dead” faith as opposed to a Godly saving faith.  How can we tell the difference?  James tells us the works that we perform will reveal the true nature of the faith we have within us.   The lack of a changed life shows us that the faith we possess is not of God but simply a work that we performed in and of ourselves (a dead faith).  A changed life brought about by our faith, shows us that our faith is a work of God in our heart. (Please read James 2:14-26 in it’s entirety to come to a full understanding of James’ teachings.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

So let me rephrase my original question, “Have you ever exercised faith in Christ?  If so, has this faith produced a changed life within you?  Do you now love the Lord and seek to please Him with your life.  Do you now hate sin and strive to rid it from your life?”  These questions get to the heart of our spiritual condition.

If you can say, “yes” to all three, you can be assured that you have been forgiven of your sins and are a part of God’s family.  If you must say “no” to any, or all, of these then you must come to the realization you are yet in your sins.  If you are yet in your sins, please follow the dictates of God’s Word….

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”(1Jn 5:11-13)

If you would like more information about salvation, please refer to my blog page entitled “forgiveness”.

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

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

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

The Secret Millionaires

SIH STSTA ICONWho would not like to trade places with John Carpenter, the first million dollar winner on the TV show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTLnTK8qanw

Winning a game show or a lottery is the dream of a lifetime for many people.  The desire for huge amounts of money is a desire most of us have at one time or another.

Ironically, this dream of earthly wealth is a desire for fleeting value.  If we received a huge amount of money how long can we enjoy and use this wealth?  Only for the length of our lifetime (maybe 50, 60, or 70 years max).

Sadly, there are possessions of much greater, eternal value that we choose to ignore.  What is of greater value to us than money?  What can we truly “take with us” after we pass away?    We will see what this eternal wealth is in today’s study…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:5)

THE STUDY:

In the book of James, the apostle writes to Jews who had fled from their homeland due to persecution by the Roman Empire.   They were a discouraged, broken and POOR people.  In most cases, they departed with nothing more than the clothes on their back. They had lost their home, their livestock, their social standing, their savings, everything. This is the context of James’ message, he desired to encourage those who had lost all this world had to offer.  So what can you say to those who had “lost it all”?

First, he reminds them that they are loved by God… “My beloved brethren.”  The love of our God is of far greater value than any riches this world has to offer.  It is because of God the Father’s love for us that He was willing to send His Son to die.  It was because of God the Son’s love for us that He was willing to bear our sin and die on the cross.  It is because of God the Spirit’s love that He lives within us, accompanying us and guiding us as we walk through this life.  If we only have God’s love, we are very wealthy indeed. (See John 3:16, 1 John 3:16 John 14:23)  But the results of His love for us do not stop there. Actually what He does for us cannot begin to be listed, the list would be endless.

In our verse, James gives us two other products of God’s love… being “rich in faith” and “heirs of the kingdom that he hath promised”.   Both of these are eternal in nature… they will exist long after we have departed from this earth.  (1 Cor 2:9)

The value of faith cannot be underemphasized. It is directed to past, present and future time frames. God-given faith in Christ and His work, is an absolute requirement for God’s forgiveness and our salvation from sin (past).  (Please refer to 1 Pet 1:5-9)  Once saved, we continue to exercise faith in Him on a daily basis, looking to Him in all our decision making (present).  Also it is through faith, that we receive all of His future promises to us (future).

This brings us to the second great product of God’s love to us, the heirship of the kingdom that he has awaiting for us.  His kingdom, refers to all that He controls throughout eternity.   A heavenly home, living in His presence, rewards for our obedience, and the authority to rule with Him over the new earth are all a part of the life awaiting us.

The results of our heirship go beyond our earthly understanding. In Revelation 21:-22: John gives us a limited glimpse of the greatness of our eternity awaiting us.  Beginning with personally walking with God, to living a life where pain, sorrow, and sickness no longer exist, ending with a dwelling place of pure gold, his account of our eternity is clearly beyond our understanding.  Our eternity is so great… it cannot be valued, nor understood, with our human reasoning (see 1 Cor 2:9).

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

There is no doubt that God’s love to us, far outweighs the fleeting riches of this world. For the saved, every second we live, every breath we take, is filled with His gracious presence, protection and sealing, giving us peace that we are one of His and heaven bound!   This is the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” Peter talks about in 1 Pet 1:8.  It is a joy that should constantly exist in our lives no matter what circumstances we are facing.  God’s love should motivate the Christian to have a continually thankful joyous heart for all He has done, and will do for us.

For those of us who have not experienced the grace of God in our hearts, there is a void that cannot be filled apart from the love and joy only God gives.   Do you have that feeling of emptiness within you?  Have you been searching for that certain “something” that will make you feel whole and at peace?   Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can fill that void.  By trusting in Him and His work on the cross; by accepting Him as the Lord of your life and committing your life to Him, you will find forgiveness, peace, and eternal love and the fulfillment.

In other words, to become a secret millionaire all we must do is… look to Jesus and live…

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Heb 9:27-28)

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.”