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Ground Hog Day Devotional

SIH STSTA ICON“Are We Spiritual Groundhogs?”
(GroundHog Day Devotional 2016)

Our modern day Groundhog Day observance is a tradition that has existed, in several different forms, throughout several centuries.

Many people believe that Groundhog Day finds its roots in an observance called “the Feast of Lights” which was celebrated in the beginning of February centuries before Christ. It was a day set aside by pagans (probably the druids originated it) to worship of the sun which would begin to gain strength and warm the earth in the Spring and Summer seasons.

As time progressed, The Feast of Lights was gradually brought into the Catholic church and celebrated under the title Candlemas Day. The candle is the chief point that unified the two observances. Candles are used by Catholics to picture Christ as the light of the world, whereas to those who were pagan, the lit candle can represent the light and heat of the sun.

The Catholic holiday of the Candlemas is observed on February 2nd. It is set aside to celebrate Mary’s purification at the temple following Christ’s birth. In this celebration, many candles are lit and used during the worship service. In prior times, Candlemas also was believed to predict the coming weather. If the day of Candlemas was a bright sun shiny day, it was believed that more winter was yet to come. However, if the day was overcast it was believed that Spring was just around the corner.

This celebration of the Candlemas was brought into the secular world as Groundhog Day. Our modern day tradition holds that on February 2nd the groundhog arises from its winter hibernation, comes out of its hole and looks for his shadow.

If it is a sunny day and he sees his shadow, he believes it is an indication there will be six more weeks of winter weather and so he proceeds back down his hole to continue his time of slumber. However if, on a cloudy day, he doesn’t see his shadow he then believes that spring weather has arrived and comes out of his hole and prepares to enjoy the mild weather that will come to pass.

For much more information about the origin and observance of GroundHog Day please see the following links:
http://www.groundhog.org/about/history/
http://projectbritain.com/year/candlemas.html
http://wildhunt.org/2015/02/earthspirits-a-feast-of-lights-aims-to-drive-the-winter-away.html

For the Christian, we all should recognize the heathen origin of the celebration, but also recognize the great opportunity it gives us to share Christ with others. As Christians who possess the truths of God, we have the privilege, and responsibility, to use this worldly celebration as an opportunity to bring honor and glory to our Lord. How can we do this? We do this by using the public attention placed on this day, as a tool to present the truths of God’s Word to the celebrants without believing in, or partaking in, the pagan worship surrounding it.

That is what this devotional is all about. It is using a secular celebration as an opportunity to present God’s Word to a lost and dying world…

 

THE SCRIPTURE:

Joh 8:12 – “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

2Co 4:6 – ”For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

THE STUDY:

The Groundhog Day celebration centers on the groundhog’s reaction to the sunlight. The tradition says, if the sun is shining brightly the groundhog’s shadow will appear and the groundhog will go back into his hole for another six weeks. However, if it is a cloudy day blocking the sun, then the groundhog will remain above ground and enjoy the spring season that has begun.

Much like the groundhog who comes into contact with the sun, most of us have come into contact with God’s Word which clearly reveals to us the light of knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…

2Co 4:6 – ”For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

The question that lies before us is “How do we react in the presence of the light of Christ that has shined upon us?

The Word of God directly addresses the consequences of embracing the light of Christ and making it a living part of our lives…

Joh 8:12 – “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Let’s take a very quick look at what this passage teaches to us about our reaction to the light of the knowledge of Christ that we have received…

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me…

If we chose to follow Christ, the light of the world, we will gain two wonderful gifts that are worth more than all the world’s riches put together.

he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,

First of all, by stepping into the light of Christ, we will receive liberation from the bondage of sin in our life.

Christ is the One who has died on the cross to secure our forgiveness and deliverance from our sins. As we submit to Christ as Lord of our life, and turn from our sins and place our faith in Him, we will “not walk in darkness”. This means that we will no longer live a lifestyle that is dominated by sin and rebellion against Him. He will grant us liberation from sin’s power in our life. Someday, He will deliver us from the presence of sin in our life by taking us home to be with Him at our death or His second coming.

he that followeth me… shall have the light of life.

The second blessing we will receive is the blessing of spiritual life in Him. Folks, as a part of fallen, sinful mankind, due to our sinful condition, we are born in a state of alienation from God. The Bible describes this as being “spiritually dead”. When we willingly turn from our sins and turn to Jesus, by faith, He promises to spiritual life which includes being brought into fellowship with God and knowing we will spend an eternity in His presence this is possessing Christ, the “light of life”.

The question before us is this… what is our reaction to this light of the knowledge of Christ that we receive?

Will we act like the groundhog and run from the light, hurrying back down into the “hole” of sin’s bondage? Will we deny our need of salvation from our sins to continue in spiritual sleep of death?

Or, will we step into the light of the knowledge of Christ by embracing it? Will we turn from a life of disobedience and sinful darkness, to a new life in the light of Christ by placing our trust in Him and His work and submitting to Him as Lord of our life?

How we react to the light of Christ is by far the most important decision we have, or will ever make… for it holds eternal consequences for us.

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions? Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

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Galatians 6:15b : A New Creature

SIH TOTT ICON

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

 

 

In this devotional we will be looking at the glorious message found in Gals 6:14-15…

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.   For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”  (Galatians 6:14-15 KJV)

Our devotionals will be looking at:

  1. Glorying In The Cross (Gal 6:14a)
  2. The Dual Crucifixion (Gal 6:14b)
  3. Circumcision To No Avail (Gal 6:15a)
  4. A New Creature (Gal 6:15b)

In each of these devotionals our prevailing topic will be the sufficiency of Christ and the insufficiency of man to bring about the transformation of an individual’s life.

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Galatians 6:15  “… But a new creature”

In the context of this phrase the Bible is comparing the reason why we are to glory only in the cross of Christ for our salvation.  We are told in the preceding phrase that circumcision (representative of human lineage and good works) will not secure salvation for us.  What is key to our attaining salvation and a new life in Christ? …

 

But a new creature

Salvation comes to us as we are made into a new creation through the intervention of Christ.   If a person has not become a new creation, they are not saved.  There are no exceptions to this.

In what way(s) are we made new?  In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are told that…

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

The  Christian is made new in EVERY way.  But how can this be?  The key to understanding this passage is to understand the change of heart (love and desires) that takes place at our salvation.   When a Christian is saved they are giving a heart of love for their Lord and a desire to put Him first in EVERY aspect of their life.  This changes everything for the Christian.

When we love the Lord above all others, our attitudes about sin, loving and helping others, the importance of Scripture, our quality of work at the workplace, leading our families all change…  the list is endless.

When we begin to put the Lord first in every aspect of our life it changes us in every area of our existence.  We manifest our love for our Lord in our thinking, motivations, and actions.   We truly become new creatures in Him as every aspect of our life changes.

 

“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”    (Ephesians 4:22-24)

This does not mean that we never sin, it simply means that when we sin, we regret it, abhor it, repent of it and seek to rid it from our lives, instead of enjoying it and not caring about retaining it in our lives.

 

Summary Of Our Study

So when we recognize the great change that has taken place within us, why do we glory in the cross of Christ instead of glorying in our physical lineage or works?   It is because that great change has ONLY taken place through the gracious intercession of the Lord Jesus into our lives.

When we didn’t want Him, He lovingly brought us to Himself.

When we didn’t see our great need, He mercifully opened our eyes to the horrible condition we were in.

When we couldn’t repent nor believe in Him, He graciously gave us these wondrous gifts.

Even now following our salvation, any good thing that we do for Him is only due to the enabling of His Spirit which He has placed in each one of us.

This is why we can only boast in Christ for the great change that has taken place in our lives!

 

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A New Year… A New Beginning

SIH STSTA ICON“The Former Things Are Passed Away… I Make All Things New”

 

 

 

A new beginning.  For many of us, this is one of the greatest desires in our lives.  We look back and see mistakes that were made; sins that were committed; and hurt, pain, and loss that cannot be undone. Our only hope is for a new beginning.

But for many of us, apart from Christ, there is no real hope for a new beginning.  We understand that the effects things we have done, and things that were done to us, will continue to affect us as long as we are alive. And then, once our life comes to an end, there is absolutely no reason to believe that our condition will improve in anyway.

If we believe the record of the Bible, those without Christ can only expect a much worse experience after death than what was experienced here on earth.   Ephesians 2:12 summarizes their condition in a very concise way when it says that a person without Christ is “having no hope, and without God in the world”.

But the story does not end there, all who have Christ, have the hope of a new beginning.  A new beginning while yet on the earth, and a new beginning that will begin, and last, throughout eternity. What a wonderful blessing that the Lord has given to each one of us… the ability to have a totally new beginning that will remake us, lead us from the error of our ways, and erase all our regrets and sufferings for an eternity!

 

THE SCRIPTURES:

2 Corinthians 5:17 & Revelation 21:3-5

 

THE STUDY:

In the following texts, we can see the promise of a new beginning given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our first text addresses a new beginning that can be had while yet on the earth.  In our second text, we can see a new beginning that will be received, and will last, throughout eternity.  In both of these texts one principle is constant, the presence of Christ in the life of the recipient… 

 

 

2Co 5:17 KJV

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are told that “if any man be IN CHRIST”…. he has a new beginning: he HAS BECOME A NEW CREATURE while yet on earth…. 

In other words, a man has Christ is given a new existence while yet on earth.  He is given spiritual life and renewal, a new source of strength, a new set of desires, and a new heart of love for His Lord and others around him.

Although he will still feel the past effects of sin in his life, now he has One upon which he can lean, One upon which he can receive guidance, and One by which he can be comforted.  He truly has become a new creature in Christ, eternally loved by his Heavenly Father, forgiven through the shed blood of Christ, possessing a life revolutionized by the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Rev 21:3-5 KJV

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

In Revelation 21:3-5, we are told that the people of God… they have a new beginning: they WILL POSSESS A NEW EXISTENCE throughout eternity. 

In other words, those who have Christ experience a new type of existence that far surpasses anything they have experienced on this sinful world.  They will enjoy the physical presence of their Lord, they will have all causes of sorrow, pain, suffering, and death taken away, they will enjoy a new heavens and new earth that has not been touched by sin, nor corrupted by the workings of Satan.

 

 

THE SUMMARY: 

As the Old Year passes away and the New Year begins, may it be a reminder of the new beginning that is promised to those who are in Christ.  Just as the Old Year is gone, never to be revisited… so too, the portion of our life that has been lived never to be changed.  Just as the New Year has arrived, awaiting us with open arms … so too, we have received an invitation to begin a new life in Christ.

By forsaking our past sins, failures, and rebellion and turning to Christ accepting Him as Lord and Savior by faith, accepting Him as our Lord and Savior, any one of us can receive a new beginning now, and throughout eternity.  This is the key to living a life that is filled with joy and glory now, and throughout eternity!

 

1Pe 1:3-8 KJV –
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:”

 

 

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

 

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

Christ Knew No Sin So That He Might Be The Sinless Substitute For His People!

 

“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.”

(2 Corinthians 5:21)

To Love As Jesus Loved: Summary Of Our Study

SIH TOTT ICON“And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

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

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

(1 Corinthians 13:3-8, 13)

 

We have come to an end of our devotional series “To Love As Jesus Loved”. During this series, we have seen an incredible display of love in the life of Christ. Christ’s love for His Father, and for those who were given to Him by His Father, was put on display for all of us to recognize, learn of and imitate.

Keep in mind, the outstanding characteristic of Godly love is a willingness to sacrifice oneself for the beloved. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this basic principle in Galatians 2:19-20…

 

For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

Through the testimony of the law, the lost individual sees their need of a Savior. As the lost one comes to Christ, he is made dead to the law (no longer under the penalty of the law) and given a new life of service to God.

 

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:

The newly saved individual has been transformed. They have been made dead to the old way of living under the domination of their fleshly desires.

They now are alive to Christ, living a new lifestyle of obedience to Christ. The new believer has been given a new standing before God, a new set of desires, new responsibilities and a new eternal home in the presence of God. This is what is meant by the believer being made “a new creature” in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Paul reminds us that another aspect of our new lifestyle is the empowerment we receive through the sanctifying power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  It is only by Christ’s grace shown to us through the indwelling Spirit that we can live transformed lifestyles of service to Him.

 

and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Paul, now emphasizes that living obediently is trusting the Lord day by day. The faith that believers exercise on a daily basis is a gift that comes from Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The same Lord that gave us a new lifestyle and enabled us to serve is the same Lord that loved us and exhibited that love for us by giving His life for us.

 

 

Our Lesson To Be Learned:

May we all follow His great example of love by giving of ourselves for Him and those who are around us. be willing to give of ourselves for our Lord and those around us, motivated by the love of Christ in our hearts. In doing so, we will be living lives that are pleasing and acceptable to God…

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

 

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Spiritual Gifts: Criteria For Trying The Spirits

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 In1 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”
VII.   The Criteria For Testing The Spirits

 

Lesson:

The Criteria For TheTesting Of The Spirits:

Please keep in mind, we have already seen that one of the principle tools used by false teachers to mislead others are false accrediting miracles. This can be clearly seen in 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 and Matthew 24:23-24…

But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

 

In 1 John 4:1-8, the Apostle John gives us a listing of criteria that is to be used when we “try the spirits” (ie putting ministers “to the test” to discern whether they are Godly ministers of the truth or false ministers of error.)…

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.   Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

 

Let’s take a look at the 1 John 4:1-8 passage and find out what five criteria we are to use as we put all teachers of the Word “to the test”…

 

Criteria For Testing The Spirits:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  

Here, John is affirming the existence of false prophets and teachers that seek to mislead others from the truths of Christ. Based upon their existence, John then explains the importance of putting professing ministers of the Word “to the test”. By doing so, we are discerning the motives of their ministry and the spiritual powers that lie behind their ministry.

 

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God:

John now gives us a listing of outstanding characteristics of true ministers of Jehovah God:

 

1. Christ as the central theme of their ministry

Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

The first basis of our judgment involves the presentation of Christ as the central theme of their ministry. The central theme of the Word of God is Christ (John 5:39). The testimony of Jesus is the theme of all Scriptural prophecy (Revelation 19:10). Therefore, any Godly ministry will hold Christ as its central, main theme.

Does their ministry center upon Christ above all other men, deities, and persons of the Godhead?

Does their ministry present the Scriptural truths about the person and work of Christ?

Is the central theme of their ministry the presentation of Christ and Him alone?

Does their ministry result in greater sorrow for sins, commitment for service and appreciation for Christ and His works?

 

2. Upholds Godly Living

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

John now points our attention to the victory that Christ gives over worldliness and the kingdom of Satan.   The Word of God clearly explains the “fruit” that is borne by followers of Christ in comparison to those who are in darkness (Galatians 5:19-23). The ministry of one that is genuinely of the Lord, is a ministry that will uphold Godly living in the midst of a sinful world (1 John 2:15-17).

Does their ministry appeal to the spirit of the regenerate man?

Does their ministry refrain from using motives, methods and means that appeal to the inward lusts of fallen man?

Does their ministry motivate others to live lifestyles characterized by Godliness and separation from the sinful aspects of the world?

 

3. Appeals to Saved Individuals and Is Opposed By The Lost

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us.

The presentation of God’s Word results in two opposite reactions. For those who are saved, the truths of God are welcomed, accepted as truth and applied to the life (John 10:25-28). For those who are unsaved, it is rejected and actively opposed. Why is this? The teaching of Biblical truth involves the presentation of the existence of sin and it’s results upon mankind, mankind’s need of salvation, and man’s inability to gain this salvation of their own merit. All of these are themes that are unappealing and detestable to fallen man (John 3:18-21).

Does their ministry include speaking of man’s sins, need of salvation and inability to save themselves?

Does their ministry present clear teachings that come directly from God’s Word?

Does their ministry appeal to the saved by working revival in the heart through sorrow for, and repentance of, daily sin?

Does their ministry face rejection and opposition from the fallen world?

Does their ministry include warning, correction, exhortation and Scriptural discipline?

Does their ministry refrain from “entertainment” that appeals to the world, but centers on “worship” that only appeals to the saved?

 

4. Presents The Scriptural Truths of God Exclusively

Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

The Spirit of Truth will lead men to the truths of God and the proclamation of the entire counsel of God’s Word (John 16:12-15). The spirit of error will mislead men to pervert the truths of God and present a false message of salvation which appeals to the fleshly nature of man (2 Tim 4:3-4).

Does their ministry encourage personal Bible study and the use of other sound Christian literature?

Does their ministry use open Bibles during services and give Biblical references for all their major points?

Do all aspects of their ministry seek to present the Bible using Biblical methods and motivations?

Does their ministry teach against the false teachings of the world?

Does their ministry refrain from modern psychological theories and motivational methods?

Does their ministry use music that is Scriptural and Christ-centered?

 

5. Does their ministry exhibit and encourage a motivation of love for God and others?

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

A Godly ministry will display a heart of love towards all to whom they minister (Matthew 5:43-48). Their ministry will be characterized by a spirit of self-sacrifice, mercy, forgiveness and patience towards all to whom they minister. (1 Corinthians 13:4-12).   One of their chief goals will be to encourage and cultivate love toward God and others in the hearts of those to whom they minister (1 John 4:9-21).

Does their ministry exhibit a spirit of self-sacrifice for those to whom they minister?

Do they “practice with they preach” motivated by concern for the well being of those to whom they minister?

Does their ministry reach out to those who cannot give back to them?

Does their ministry refrain from favoring those who are powerful, wealthy and physically appealing?

 

 

May the Lord grace each of us as we seek to put all professing teachers of the Word to the test.

 

Additional Information verses mentioned in this study:

The Criteria For TheTesting Of The Spirits:

43) Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44) 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.

(Matthew 5:43-48)

 

23) Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not.

24) For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

(Matthew 24:23-24)

 

18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

(John 3:18-21)

 

39) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

(John 5:39)

25) Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.

26) But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.

(John 10:25-28)

 

12) I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

13) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

14) He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.

15) All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.

(John 16:12-15)

 

12) But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

13) For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

15) Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

(2 Corinthians 11:12-15)

 

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.

(Galatians 5:19-23)

 

3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4) And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

(2 Timothy 4:3-4)

 

15) Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16) For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

(1 John 2:15-17)

 

1) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

3) And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

4) Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

5) They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

6) We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

7) Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

(1 John 4:1-8)

 

9) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

12) No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

13) Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

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

15) Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

16) And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

17) Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

18) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

19) We love him, because he first loved us.

20) If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

21) And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

(1 John 4:9-21)

 

10) And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

(Revelation 19:10)

 

Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 5)

 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 In1 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 Prophecies Of False Miracles In The “Last Days”:

Please note MANY PASSAGES will be referred to in this lesson. As in all the lessons, the KJV text of each passage can be found at the end of this study. Please take the time to refer to them to come to a more clear understanding on the biblical teachings on these things.
As Christians, it is of utmost importance that we familiarize ourselves with Satan’s deceptive practices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Satan, the father of lies (John 8:43-45), uses deception as a chief tool to mislead people from the truths of God’s Word (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; 2 Corinthians 11:13-14). When we understand how Satan works we can more successfully guard against falling for His lies and counterfeit gospel message.
Let’s take a very quick look at some of the ways that Satan opposes Christ’s workings in the days in which we are living.

The Bible makes it very plain that in the time period described as the “last days” false accrediting miracles will be used by Satan to mislead many from the Biblical gospel message (Matthew 24:23-24; Mark 13:21-23; 2 Corinthians 11:13-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; 2 Timothy 3:1-8; Revelation 13:11-14; 16:13-15; 19:20).
These false miracles are very effective tools of deception for Satan, This is because of man’s fallen, carnal nature which is not satisfied with the exercise of faith in the Lord and His Word, but is only satisfied by witnessing supernatural miracles being performed (Matthew 16:3-4). This attitude flies in the face of true Scriptural faith that rests in “the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1-3).
Please note that… The “last days” is the time period in which we live today. It finds its beginning with the first coming of Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3).   Knowing that the “last days” began with the first coming of Christ, we can know with certainty that the existence of false deceptive teachings, and false accrediting miracles, existed since the days of Christ on earth and will continue to exist until He comes back again at His second coming.

This is why John teaches us that antichrists existed in his day as well as would exist in today’s time (1 John 2:18-19)

Folks, the existence of false miracles is not something new, but has existed for many, many years. We find the exercise of false miracles periodically performed throughout New Testament church history.

The most important aspect of this teaching, for this study, is that these deceptive practices exist in today’s time. Because of this, we must take these prophecies seriously and always put the current day “miracles” to the test of God’s Word (Isaiah 8:18-20; Matthew 7: 15-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 John 4:1-3]. There is no excuse for a Bible believing Christian to not seek out the truth concerning these practices. To naively accept modern day miracles as being of God is to show a lack of understanding of clear Scriptural prophetic warnings from God Himself.

We should all be like the Berean Christians who, after receiving teaching from God’s Word, took the time to check it’s accuracy by comparing it with the Word of God (Acts 17:10-12).  This same principles applies to the modern day accrediting miracles that are taking place around us. That is the purpose of this entire series of studies, to help us to clearly understand the teaching of God’s Word concerning spiritual gifts. This will give us the foundational information we need to properly judge that which is taking place around us.

False teaching and the use of false accrediting miracles is a big deal in the eyes of the Lord. It is such a heinous sin that, in the Old Testament scriptures these practices are deserving of death (Deuteronomy 13:1-8) and at the final judgment will result, apart from the Lord’s gracious forgiveness, in eternal death (Matthew 7:21-23; Revelation 19:20) . It is easy for us to understand why this is such a horrible practice… it is misleading many to eternal destruction and separation from God. And that is why there is such a grave need for all of us to take it upon ourselves to judge the validity of these practices.

You might be wondering why I have included this section under the heading of “When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence?”. My thoughts centered on the need for us to understand that false miracles do exist in today’s time. There are those who argue that simply seeing these things take place proves that the Biblical accrediting miracles are still taking place in todays’ time and, therefore, they have not yet gone out of existence. My answer to them is this lesson.

Just because supposed miracles are taking place around us, there is NO SCRIPTURAL reason to assume that they are divinely originated, nor that they are of the same type of gifts as the accrediting miracles that were performed by the Apostles and other local church members of the New Testament accounts. There is another very Scriptural and plausible answer to these things…. they are simply the deceptive workings of Satan that the Bible clearly teaches will exist in our day and age.

Yes, I believe that all of the false accrediting miracles fall into three basic groups which all find their source in Satan and his workings…

1. If they are miracles that actually take place and supercede the natural laws of nature, then I believe they are the result of demonic enabling and oppression (or perhaps, possession). (Mark 5:3-4)

2. In many cases, I believe they are, in actuality, not genuine miracles at all, but simply illusions that are performed (much like that of a magician) purposefully to mislead others. If that is the case, they find their origin in Satanic workings. They are the result of Satan blinding and twisting the minds of the illusionist seducing them with the promises of fame and the riches of this world. (2 Tim 3:1-8)

3. Finally, there are some “miracles” that are performed by those who are misled, sincere in their beliefs and caught up in their emotions. But once again, these find their ultimate origin in Satan, who has kept them from the truths of the Word and is actively at work in their mind and psyche. It is this group of people that “two-fold more the child of hell” misled and unknowingly headed for the Lake of Fire, while believing they are secure in Christ. (Matt 23:15)

May the Lord graciously protect us from these workings of Satan as he lies in wait to make merchandise of our very souls through counterfeit teaching and miracles (2 Peter 2:1-3; Rev 18:12-13)

I would like to close this section of our study with two very sobering texts. They are found in Matthew 7:21-23 and Revelation 19:20…

Mat 7:21-23 KJV

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

In this text we see that there will be those who stand before the Lord at the final judgment making an argument for their acquittal. Their three part argument goes something like this… “But Lord, we HAVE DONE the will of your Father, and we can prove it! …
1. have we not prophesied in thy name? – we delivered a Scriptural message
2. and in thy name have cast out devils? – we successfully opposed Satan and His workings among men
3. and in thy name done many wonderful works? – we performed miracles that prove we were doing the work of God

Although all of these 3 areas of ministry appeared to prove their ministry was of the Father, in actuality they were lost individuals who would be cast into the Lake of Fire as rebellious, disobedient, lying, ministers of Satan. By God’s grace may He allow us to escape such an end.

 

Rev 19:20 KJV

“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

In this text we find the beast (ungodly political powers of the world) and the false prophet (false religious powers of the world) are facing their final judgment. Note how the false religions of the world are said to work miracles which deceived the nations. Once again, these miracles are proven to be counterfeit miracles that only add to their eternal condemnation (as those responsible for misleading multitudes of people).

In our next lesson we will take a look at several Scriptural principles to apply as we seek to judge the messages and miracles being performed by those who claim to be followers of Christ.

 

Additional Information(Verses Mentioned In This Study):

The Prophecies Of False Miracles In The “Last Days”:

Deu 13:1-8 KJV

(1) If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

(2) And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

(3) Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

(4) Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

(5) And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

(6) If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

(7) Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

(8) Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

 

Psa 119:11 KJV

(11) Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

 

Psa 119:105 KJV

(105) NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

 

Isa 8:18-20 KJV

(18) Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.

(19) And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?

(20) To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

 

Mat 7:15-20 KJV

(15) Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

(16) Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

(17) Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

(18) A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

(19) Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

(20) Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

 

Mat 7:21-23

(21) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

(22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

(23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 

Mat 16:3-4 KJV

(3) And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

(4) A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

 

Mat 23:15 KJV

15) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

 

Mat 24:23-24

(23) Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

(24) For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

 

Mar 5:3-4

3) Who had [his] dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

4) Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any [man] tame him.

 

Mar 13:21-23

(21) And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:

(22) For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

(23) But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

 

Joh 8:43-45 KJV

(43) Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

(44) 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.

(45) And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

 

Joh 17:14-17 KJV

(14) I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

(15) I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

(16) They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

(17) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

 

Act 17:10-12 KJV

(10) And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

(11) These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

(12) Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

 

2Co 2:9-11 KJV

(9) For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

(10) To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

(11) Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

 

2Co 11:13-14 KJV

(13) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

(14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

 

1Th 5:20-21 KJV

(20) Despise not prophesyings.

(21) Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

 

2Th 2:8-12

(8) And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

(9) Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

(10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

(11) And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

(12) That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

 

2Ti 3:1-8 KJV

(1) This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

(2) For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

(3) Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

(4) Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

(5) Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

(6) For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

(7) Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

(8) Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16) 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 1:1-3 KJV

(1) 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;

(3) Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

 

Heb 11:1-3

1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

2) For by it the elders obtained a good report.

3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

 

1Jn 2:18 KJV

(18) Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

 

1Jn 4:1-3 KJV

(1) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

(2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

(3) And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

 

Rev 13:11-14 KJV

(11) And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

(12) And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

(13) And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

(14) And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

 

Rev 16:13-15 KJV

(13) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

(14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

(15) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

 

Rev 19:20 KJV

(20) And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 3)

SIH TOA ICON
Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 3)

 

 

Introduction:

“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 In1 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 Death of the Apostles:

Our texts for this lesson are:

1) And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3) And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

 

14) Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15) Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16) (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17) Then laid they [their] hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18) And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19) Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
20) But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21) Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22) Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23) For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and [in] the bond of iniquity.
24) Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
25) And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. (Acts 8:14-25)

 

44) While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45) And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46) For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47) Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48) And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
(Acts 10:44-48)

 

1) And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2) He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3) And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
4) Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5) When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6) And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
7) And all the men were about twelve. (Acts 19:1-7)

 

To begin this part of our study, I would like us to notice how the spiritual gifts were received based upon the historical accounts found in the Bible:

 

Text Description Manner of Receipt of Gifts
Acts 2:1-4 Jewish Church at Jerusalem (Pentecost) Baptism of Local Church In Holy Spirit By Christ
Acts 8:14-25 Jewish/Gentile Church at Samaria Laying On Of Apostle’s Hands
Acts 10:44-48 Gentile Church In Cornelius House Baptism of Local Church In Holy Spirit By Christ
Acts 19:1-7 Gentile Church at Ephesus Laying On Of Apostle’s Hands

 

Based upon the above breakdown of events, we can see several things:

1. Spiritual gifts were never given to a single individual, but only to local assemblies of believers

2. There were two ways that spiritual gifts were received by a local assembly:
a. Sovereign act of Christ (assembly baptized in Spirit)
b. Act of Christ through human instrument (Apostle’s hands laid upon assembly)

3. Christ baptized His assemblies in the Holy Spirit only twice (once to accredit Jewish assembly, once to accredit Gentile assembly)

4. The Apostles laid their hands on assemblies several times (two are recorded but others implied in Rom 1:10-12, 2 Cor 12:11-12 etc)

 

If the Lord accredited a Jewish assembly once (Jerusalem at Pentecost), and a Gentile assembly once (Cornelius church) why would the apostles continue to grant these gifts via laying on of hands? They did it to “establish” the ministries of the local assemblies (Romans 1:10-12). This involved two different aspects:

 

1. They did it to grant the individual churches the gifts of the Spirit which they could use to effectively fulfill their individual ministries.

 

2. They did it to give the assemblies’ proof of that their ministry was valid in God’s sight. Remember, at this point in time, the NT was not yet completed and there was still great disagreement concerning:
a. the local church as the house of God
b. the inclusion of Gentiles in the worship of Jehovah

By giving these gifts to the individual assemblies it would help to silence any question of their validity. I believe this is why the Apostle Paul so greatly desired to impart these gifts to other assemblies through the laying on of his hands (Romans 1:10-12)

(Please note: with the completion of the New Testament scriptures and the record of these events, churches no longer need these gifts for accreditation. Local churches are now clearly understood to be the place of worship for Christians of both Jewish and Gentile lineage based upon the preserved New Testament record.)

 

 

We have two final Scriptures that we need to examine closely…

 

1. The issue of 2 Corinthians 12:11-12…
Please notice that the ability to grant the spiritual gifts with the laying on of hands was exclusively given to those who help the office of Apostle. In 2 Corinthians 12:11-12, he explains to church at Corinth that he was to be considered among the “chiefest of apostles” because when he was visiting with the Corinth church that “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
Now, if we take a minute to think about what Paul was saying, it holds a very important point for all of us.   Based upon the historical accounts that we have listed above (Acts 2:,8:,10:,19:), we can see that the exercise of patience, signs, wonders, and mighty deeds were not limited to the office of Apostle. In several of these events, it is clear to see that the entire assembly of believers shared in the exercise of these gifts. These gifts WERE NOT exclusive to the office of Apostle.
So how could these gifts distinguish Paul unquestioningly as “among the chiefest of apostles”?   I believe it was his ability to give these gifts to the assembly through the laying on of his hands. What he was saying was this…. When you see yourselves exercising patience, signs, wonders and mighty deeds, it is proof an Apostle was among you. The laying on of a genuine Apostle’s hands must have taken place for you to be able to do these great works of God.   No counterfeit Apostle had this ability.

 

 

2. The issue of 2 Timothy 1:6-7
In this text, Paul describes the “the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands”. Here the “gift of God” Paul is describing is Timothy’s call to the ministry; the “putting on of my hands” of which Paul speaks is describing Timothy’s ordination.
Paul is not describing Timothy’s receipt of the spiritual gifts as an individual (remember the spiritual gifts are exclusively given to local assemblies, never to a single individual), but he is referring to Timothy’s calling of God and his ordination (his public separation to the gospel ministry). If we read further Paul makes it plain that, based upon the calling that was upon Timothy, Timothy was to faithfully minister the truths of God to those put under his watchcare (vs 8-12). In the context, nothing is said about the exercise of the accrediting gifts of God.

 

 

Our conclusion…
The Lord has only sovereignly baptized local assemblies in the Holy Spirit twice, once to accredit Jewish assemblies, once to accredit Gentile assemblies. There is no reason for Him to repeat this action. Nor do we find any Biblical accounts of Him repeating this.

 

The only other way that spiritual gifts could be received by local assemblies was through the laying on of hands of Apostolic office holders.  If this is the case, as the Apostolic office holders “died off” no one was left to continue to pass these gifts on to other assemblies. Following the death of the final Apostle the only ones who exercised these gifts would be church members who had received this gift prior to the Apostle’s deaths. Once the church members “died off” the spiritual gifts would cease to exist.
So now we come to the great question…. When did the final Apostle die? Based upon human historical records the Apostle John was probably the last Apostle to die in approximately 100 AD.   So, at the very latest, the deaths of the adult generation living in 100 AD would bring an end to these gifts (probably around 150 AD?). But that is assuming that the Apostles were continually granting these gifts to the assemblies until their death.
If we look closely at the Biblical text we find that the latest mention of spiritual gifts being given or exercised is found in 1 Peter which was written probably in 63 AD. If this is the case and no other gifts were granted after this timeframe, then the probable date of the end of the existence of spiritual gifts would probably be closer to 100-110 AD. So therefore, it is very highly probable the gifts ceased to exist sometime between 100 and 150 AD.

THE 100 – 150 AD TIMEFRAME FITS PERFECTLY WITH OUR PREVIOUS STUDIES ON THIS SUBJECT: “The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect” AND “The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span”.

Additional Information (Bible Scrioptures Referenced In This Study:

The Death Of The Apostles:

10) Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

11) For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

12) That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

(Romans 1:10-12)

 

 

11) I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

12) Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

(2 Corinthians 12:11-12)

 

6) Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

7) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

8) Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

9) Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

12) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

(2 Timothy 1:6-12)

 

 

Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 2)

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 In1 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 70 Year Accreditation Time Span:

Our texts for this lesson are:

Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, andthere is nothing too hard for thee: (Jer 32:17)

I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. (Job 42:2)

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you…And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; … And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. … And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. (Exo 3:14, 4:1-8)

God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Heb 2:4)

To begin our look at the Scriptures, I would like us to quickly summarize the above passages in the context of our subject “Can the miracles of the Bible be believed?” Basically, we can draw from the verses above the following truths:

1. Our God is able to do all things…. This includes giving His followers the ability to perform miracles, as a sign of their ministries authenticity (1 Corinthians 12:8-11). If it is His will…. He can do these things! (Jeremiah 32:17, Job 42:2, Hebrews 2:4)

2. Both in the Old and the New Testaments, God’s motive for bestowing this miracle working power upon His followers was to accredit their message and the place of worship He had established. This is why these types of miracles are called “sign gifts” or “accrediting gifts” from God (Exodus 3:14, 4:1-8).

Over the years, studying the sign gifts of the Bible, I have noticed something very interesting. It seems as if these sign miracles of God were basically performed in three “groups” throughout Biblical history. Please notice the following basic, generalized table to help explain my point:

Miracle Workers Moses, Joshua Elijah, Elisha Christ, Apostles
Message Accredited Law Prophets New Testament
Worship Place Accredited Tabernacle Temple Church
Time Span*Dates Are Based Upon Martin Anstey’s Chronology 1530 BC – 1460 BC 835 BC – 765 BC 30 AD – 100 AD

It has been so interesting for me to come to an understanding of the Lord’s motives in these sign miracles that were performed. Note that the Lord, through divine miracles, accredited the messenger, as well as the section of Scripture written, and the worship place used at that time. In each case, the “sign miracles” were in existance for approximately 70 years. In each case, a “silent time” existed after each group of miracles, where no sign miracles and few, if any, other miracles were performed. Why? Once God established the validity of each of the above segments, there was no need for miracles until another segment was about to take place.

For example, following the accreditation of the tabernacle and the message of the law, there was no reason to accredit anything, or anyone, until the temple and the prophets came on the scene. Likewise, there was an extended period of “miracle silence” after the completion of the Old Testament. It was only when Christ came on the scene that we have a period of sign miracles taking place to validate the message of the New Testament and the church as the new place of worship for God’s people.

We have seen the end of the last period of miracles being described in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10…

“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. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. “(1Corinthians 13:8-10)

This verse is teaching us that the miraculous gifts of prophecies, tongues, and knowledge, shall come to an end. At the time of Paul’s writing this letter, the NT was not yet completed. This is why he makes the statement that “we know in part and we prophesy in part”. However, when the New Testament reached completion, bringing about the completed Bible (that which is perfect) then the revelation of His Word, bit by bit, (that which is in part) would be finished and no longer needed. The completion of the Word acted upon the sign gifts of prophecies and knowledge, immediately bringing them to an end. (Note:The sign gift of tongues died out as that generation of gifted men died and went home to their Lord, shortly thereafter.)

Also remember, prior to the Word’s completion, the church had already been established in Jerusalem as the worship place of the True God, through the sign miracles of tongues and healings etc.

This fits perfectly with the other times of accreditation that the Lord used. It was 70 years long followed by a period of silence. Since the completion of the Word and the accreditation of the local church (30 AD-100 AD), we find that there existed another time of “miracle silence” that continues on today.

Accepting the fact that the New Testament and the local assembly are established by God is now simply an issue of faith in His Word. In our day, we need no sign miracles to accredit anything… we have the Word that has recorded these previous accreditations for us to rely on today. In the last days, the working of counterfeit miracles will be on the increase, empowered by Satan, performed to mislead even God’s elect (if it were possible). (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Matthew 12:38-39)

Does the Lord still perform miracles? Absolutely everyday, spiritual and physical healing is common place in today’s time.

Does the Lord still give men the ability to perform the “sign gifts” listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11? Absolutely not. He used the sign gifts to accredit the ministries He had ordained. There is no longer a need for these gifts to be exercised by men. We have a written record in His Word of the accreditation of these ministries.

In our next study, we will be examining the times of the Apostles’ deaths and how that affects the ending of the accrediting gifts of the Spirit.

Additional Information (Verses Referred To In This Study):

The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span:

Exo 3:14

(14) And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Exo 4:1-8

(1) And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.

(2) And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.

(3) And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.

(4) And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:

(5) That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.

(6) And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.

(7) And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.

(8) And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.

Job 42:2

(2) I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

Jer 32:17

(17) Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:

Mat 12:38-39

(38) Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

(39) But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

1Co 12:8-11

(8) For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

(9) To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

(10) To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

(11) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

2Co 11:13-15

(13) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

(14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

(15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

2Th 2:7-10

(7) For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

(8) And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

(9) Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

(10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

Heb 2:4

(4) God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Gifts: What Types Of Gifts Are There? Accrediting Gifts (Part 4)

SIH TOA ICONIntroduction:

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

We will continue our study of the accrediting gifts by looking at begin studying the Accrediting Gifts that involve SUPERNATURAL PROCLAMATION OF THE TRUTH.

Lesson:

Accrediting Gifts (Sign Gifts)

In our last lesson we began to take a look at the gift of “diverse kinds of tongues” that are found in the division of accrediting gifts involving the SUPERNATURAL PROCLAMATION OF THE TRUTH.  In particular, we looked at the first time that the gift of tongues was exercised on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:1-24…

1.  The gift was given to the local church at Jerusalem, not to believers in general (vs 1)
2.  The gift was given following the local assembly being baptized IN the Spirit (not BY the Spirit) (vs 2)
3.  The gift was given following the Spirit filling the church members (vs 4)
4.  The gift had a visible manifestation: tongues of fire sitting on their heads (vs 3);
5.  The gift had an audible manifestation: speaking in other human languages that were unknown to the speakers but known to the hearers (vs 4-11)
6.  The Word of God was used to clearly explain what had taken place amid the confusion (vs 12-21)
7.  The message proclaimed through the gift of tongues was proclaiming the wonderful works of their God…. His message of salvation and all that He had done for them. (vs 11-24)

Following this event, when the Bible speaks of the gift of tongues, it simply mentions the gift without a lengthy description of what we have just learned.  This principle can be used with many different teachings of the Bible. This principle of Biblical interpretation is described as “The Law Of First Mention”.  This principle states that “the very first time a word, doctrine or other teaching is mentioned in the Bible, usually, the Scriptures gives that word, doctrine or teaching its most complete description and meaning.”  This is the case with the gift of tongues.  This first reference to it has given us the detailed description of the gift which is to be applied throughout all of the other Biblical mentions of the gift.

The “Gift Of Diverse Kinds Of Tongues” Resulting From Laying On Of Apostles’ Hands: The Church At Ephesus; The Samaritan Church

Not only did the gift of tongues take place following the baptism in the Spirit of the church at Jerusalem (Jewish local assembly) and the church in the house of Cornelius (Gentile local assembly), but it also given to local assemblies through the laying on of the apostles’ hands.  We can see this taking place in Acts 19:1-7 (Ephesus local assembly) and also it is implied to have taken place in Acts 8:14-25 (local assembly at Samaria).

This will be our study for this lesson (Acts 19:1-7 and 8:14-25)…

ACTS 19:

Vs 1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 

During Paul’s travels, he arrives at Ephesus and finds those who were followers of Jesus.

 

Vs 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

Paul then asked them if they had “received the Holy Ghost” since they believed.  By this question, Paul was not asking them if they had been indwelled by the Holy Ghost.  Every believer in Christ receives the indwelling Spirit AT SALVATION (Romans 8:9, Ephesians 1:13-14).  Keep in mind, Paul said “since you believed”. This tells us Paul recognized them as true believers and, therefore, he recognized they had already received the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Paul’s question was referring to them receiving the empowering ministry of the Holy Ghost in the midst of their group.    They answered that they had not even heard of the existence of the Holy Ghost.  (The implied answer to Paul’s question was “No, we have not received the empowering ministry of the Holy Ghost among us.)  This implied to Paul that they had not yet been formed into a local assembly.

 

Vs 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

Paul’s next question involved their baptism.  Keep in mind their baptism, would be the first step to them entering into a local assembly.  If their baptism was not Scriptural, or if it was non-existent, they would not be a legitimate local assembly.

They responded that their baptism was “unto John’s baptism”.  In other words, they had experienced a legitimate baptism that was administered by John the Baptist.  We know John’s baptism was a Scriptural baptism because we are told he was “sent by God” (John 1:6) and Jesus, Himself, submitted to his baptism (Matthew 3:13-17).  If John’s baptism was not valid, Christ would have never submitted to it.

Vs 4-5 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.  When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Paul then recounts for them the nature of the Scriptural baptism that they had received.  This would reinforce in their minds that they were legitimately baptized in the name of Christ.

Paul’s two sentence quote begins with “John verily baptized …” and ends with “…they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus”.  This is a very important point:

When we are told “When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”…

1.  IT IS NOT SAYING THAT THE BELIEVERS AT EPHESUS WERE RE-BAPTIZED BY PAUL.

2.  This sentence is continuation of the quotation of Paul.  In this second sentence of his teaching, he is recounting to the Ephesus believers that those who received John’s baptism were baptized in the name of Jesus.  In other words, he was reaffirming the validity of John’s baptism which they had previously received.

 

Vs 6-7  And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.  And all the men were about twelve.

Once Paul had affirmed the validity of their baptism, he then recognized that they were prepared to become a local church.  He then forms them into a church by the laying on his hands.  This resulted in the Holy Ghost being given to empower their assembly. The receipt of the Holy Spirit by their assembly was shown by the exercise of the gift of tongues (both the visible and audible aspects as seen in Acts 2:) and the gift of prophesy.  Both of these not only enabled the local assembly to minister but it also accredited their assembly as an authorized assembly for worship and a container of divine truth.

 

In our next example of the laying on of the Apostles’ hands resulting in tongues speaking, the tongues speaking is implied not actually stated…

Acts 8:

Vs 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

When the Apostles heard that Samaria had heard the Word and accepted the message by faith, they sent to Samaria two Apostles to continue their instruction and establish a local assembly there.

 

Vs 15-16 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

The two visiting Apostles prayed for this group of believers that they might “receive the Holy Ghost” (empowered by the Spirit as an assembly) see Acts 19:2 for more details about this phrase.

(Up to this point in time, the Holy Spirit had not “fallen upon” their assembly (speaking of the Spirit coming upon them displayed by tongues of fire as in Acts 2:).

Why did they pray for this?  The Apostles recognized that these believers were properly prepared for church membership… they had been baptized in water in the name of Christ which, along with salvation, is the prerequisite needed for church formation and membership.   Once the Apostles established that these believers had been properly prepared for to become a local assembly, they prayed for the assembly to be established and empowered.

 

Vs 17 Then laid they [their] hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

The Apostles then laid their hands upon the group of believers bringing the assembly into existence.  This resulted in the empowering of the assembly by the Holy Ghost which came upon them (implied is the indication of this coming by tongues of fire and speaking of tongues.)  Clearly, what took place in this assembly is the same type of manifestation as that of the Ephesian assembly that we have just seen in Acts 19:.   Both of these accounts (Acts 19: and Acts 8: align themselves with the demonstration of the Spirit’s presence and empowering as seen in the Acts 2: Pentecost event.)

 

Vs 18-19  And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,  Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

When Simon visibly saw … the Greek word translated “ saw” speaks of visibly examining closely. In other words, Simon studied with his eyes the visible proof of the Spirit coming upon the members of the assembly (the tongues of fire).

When he saw this display of the Spirit’s power, he offered to pay money for the ability to bestow this miraculous gift upon others.

Simon desired the ability to bestow this gift upon others for his own personal benefit.  Perhaps he desired it to gain fame and recognition or, perhaps, for financial benefit.  Also his thinking that this ability could be purchased with money, demeaned the very spiritual nature and divine purpose of the gift, making it a simple carnal, business venture.

These two issues clearly showed the nature of his request and the intent of his heart in this matter.  It was obvious that Simon’s fleshly desire for the gift flowed from spiritual blindness, selfishness and greed.

 

Vs 20-23 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.  Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.  For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and [in] the bond of iniquity.

Peter then addresses this request made by Simon.  Based upon Simon’s request, through the gift of discerning of spirits, Peter perceived that:

1.  “Thy money perish with thee” – Simon was headed for total ruin and ultimate destruction

2.  “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter:”  – Simon had no claim upon this ability for three reasons:
a. this ability was only possessed by those who held the office of Apostle.
b. Simon’s motives were sinful.
c. Simon as a lost individual who was not the servant of the Lord, nor member of his church.

3.  “for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”  – His motives were sinful.

4.  “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness,”  – He was in dire need of repentance – this sin that could easily snowball and grow worse

5.  “and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” – He needed to pray for forgiveness from the Lord

6.  “I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness” – He was a lost man drowning in poisonous acid of sin

7.  “and [in] the bond of iniquity.” – He was a slave in servitude of injustice and wickedness

 

Vs 24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

At this point, Simon appears to heed the warnings given to him by Peter and asks for Peter to prayerfully intervene on his behalf.  We are not told of his conversion, nor of any fruits of repentance being shown by him.

Perhaps he was genuinely saved and the Bible simply does not record the event, or perhaps he is only showing a worldly, carnal type of repentance that did not result in salvation nor a changed life (2 Corinthians 7:9-11).   One point that brings his desire for prayer to be questioned is the motive for his request… “that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.”  It appears that he only wanted to escape the punishment of his sin, with no sorrow that he has sinned against the Lord and His local church.  This would seem to imply a carnal type of repentance.

Vs 25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

The Apostles continue to teach the Word of the Lord to this newly formed church and then preached the Word to many villages on the way back to Jerusalem.

We now must take a quick look at Acts 9:10-19 …

10) And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I [am here], Lord.

11) And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for [one] called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

12) And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting [his] hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

13) Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

14) And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

15) But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

16) For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

17) And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

18) And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

19) And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

This event is not the same type of event as we were looking at in Acts 19: and Acts 8:.  Please note the following comparison:

TEXT THE BESTOWER THE RECIPIENT THE RESULT PURPOSE
NOTE  THE SIMILARITIES… APOSTLES… LOCAL ASSEMBLIES… RECEPTION AND MANIFESTATION… TO ESTABLISH AND EMPOWER…
Acts 19:1-7 Paul Church at Ephesus Reception: Of SpiritManifestation: Tongues & Prophecy To establish / empower local church
Acts 8:14-25 John and Peter Church at Samaria Reception: Of SpiritManifestation: Tongues To establish / empower local church
COMPARE TO… NOT APOSTLES… NOT LOCAL ASSEMBLIES… NO RECEPTION NOR MANIFESTATION… NO ESTABLISHING NOR EMPOWERING …
Acts 9:10-19 Ananias, a disciple Saul (Paul), an individual Restoration Of Health“Filling” Of The Spirit To physically heal & prepare Saul for great service and suffering.

(Notes On Above Table: 

1.  As you can clearly see, in every category there are distinct similarities between the events found in Acts 19: and Acts 8: and distinct differences with the event found in Acts 9:.   Acts 9: cannot be equated with the events of Acts 19: and 8:. 

2.  The meaning of the phrase “Filling of the Spirit” will be covered in great detail later in our study.  But for now, the basic idea of Spirit “filling” is the Lord taking control of every aspect of one’s being.  This is a far cry from a local assembly “receiving” the Spirit to establish and empower the assembly.)

3. Many times those “filled with the Spirit” did not speak in tongues – Lk 1:15, 1:67, 4:1, Acts 4:8, 4:31, 7:55, 11:24

Please notice with the completion of this study in Acts 19: and Acts 8:, we have now seen every time in the Bible that the gift of tongues is exercised…

Please notice that in both the above events (Acts 19: and Acts 8:)

1. The receipt of the Holy Spirit was to a local church to empower them for ministry, NOT TO AN INDIVIDUAL

2. The receipt of the Holy Spirit resulted from the laying on of the hands of the Apostles.

3. The 2 aspects (tongues of fire and speaking in unknown human tongues) of the gift of tongues were present in both cases, specifically mentioned in one and implied in the other.

When we put this together with our previous studies when tongues were exercised (Acts 2:, Acts 10:-11:) please notice that:

1.  The receipt of the Holy Spirit only applies to the local assemblies.  NEVER an individual.

2.  The receipt of the Holy Spirit can take place following:

a. the local assembly being baptized in the Holy Spirit or

b. the laying on of hands of the Apostles.

NEVER are they received by individuals, nor part from baptism in the Spirit or laying on of hands of Apostles.

3.  The gift of tongues always includes:

a. both the visual aspect (tongues of fire) and

b. the audible aspect (speaking in human tongues unknown to the speaker)

Is this the “gift” of tongues that we see being exercised in today’s time?  None of the above three basic principles are seen in today’s “tongues gift”.

In our next study, we will look at Paul’s instructions on how the gift of tongues should be exercised in the Lord’s local churches.

Additional Information:

Accrediting Gifts (Sign Gifts) 

Act 2:1-24

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.   Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.   And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?  Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,  Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,  Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.  And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?  Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.  But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:  For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.  But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;  And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:  And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:  Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

The “Gift Of Diverse Kinds Of Tongues” Received By the laying on of the Apostles hands.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  (Romans 8:9)

In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.  (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.  But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?  And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer [it to be so] now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.  And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  (Matthew 3:13-17)

There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John.  (John 1:6)

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.  For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.  For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, [what] clearing of yourselves, yea, [what] indignation, yea, [what] fear, yea, [what] vehement desire, yea, [what] zeal, yea, [what] revenge! In all [things] ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.  (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)

Spiritual Gifts: What Is A Spiritual Gift? (Part #1)

SIH TOA ICONThe Spirit’s Workings Among Men

Spiritual Gifts: What Is A Spiritual Gift? (Part #1)

Introduction:

“Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.”  (1 Corinthians 12:1)

This verse is the beginning of a three chapter section of Scripture that addresses the subject of “spiritual gifts”.  Why does Paul write at such length concerning this subject?  It is obvious from what is written that the church at Corinth had many misunderstandings about spiritual gifts which led to their misuse.

In spite of these many misunderstandings, Paul’s clearly explains that concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.  He was determined to give the church at Corinth much needed information clearly explaining the identity, purpose and longevity of these gifts.  In doing so, he was giving to the Corinth church the opportunity to be educated in these gifts which would allow them to exercise their God-given gifts in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord.

There can be much fault found with the church at Corinth which was, probably, the most carnal church in existence at that time.  But one thing we must always remember…  It is because of the church’s ignorant abuse of these gifts that we have these wonderful teachings concerning spiritual gifts which can be used for our edification.  Our Lord is so great He was able to turn their ignorance and misuse of gifts for our good and His glory.

Much, but not all, of our study on spiritual gifts will be derived from these three chapters in the book of 1 Corinthians.  Not only will we be sharing the teachings of Paul and others on this subject, but we will also share his motive for this study…. Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.   Our greatest desire for this study is that we all may come to a better understanding of spiritual gifts and their proper place in the local assembly before, and after, the completion of the Word of God.

 

Lesson:

A Spiritual Gift Defined

Throughout this study the word commonly translated “gift” is the Greek word “charisma”.  It is from this word that we get the phrase “charismatic”.  So what is the definition of “charisma”?

“Charisma” refers to:

1.  a “free gift”

2. an “undeserved gift”

3.  a “gift of grace”

4.  a “gift given out of kindness and mercy”

The idea behind “charisma” is God giving us a gift that we DO NOT DESERVE, and WE CANNOT GAIN OF OUR OWN MERIT OR EFFORTS.  It is given to us as a favor, or as an act of mercy done on behalf of the unworthy.

n 2 Corinthians 8:4-6, we find a clear reference to this principle…

Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and [take upon us] the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.  And [this they did], not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.  Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.”  (2 Corinthians 8:4-6)

 Here, we find the word “charis” (the root of charisma) translated in two different ways.  In verse 4, we find it translated by the word “gift”, while in vs 6, we find it translated by the word “grace”.   In the context of these passages, we find Paul speaking of love offerings received from the churches at Macedonia to be distributed by the Apostles to the poor of Jerusalem.  These love offerings were gifts given as an act of grace.  The churches at Macedonia were not obligated to give them, and the poor of Jerusalem did not deserve them.  They truly were “gifts of grace” bestowed upon the poor from the churches of Macedonia.

We Are Not To Seek To Obtain A Specific Spiritual Gift

Please note in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11:

1.  The Lord exercises His power in many different ways –

And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  (“operations” – mighty workings)

2.  The Lord has different areas of service in which we are to serve Him –

And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.”  (“administrations” – service, waiting on tables)

3.  The Lord sovereignly dispenses to His servants differing gifts to enable them to fulfill their calling –

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.(to profit withal” –  to benefit collectively – to profit entire local church not just gifted person)

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (“severally as he will” – individually as he decides.)

From all of this, we learn that a spiritual gift is nothing that can be earned, nor gained by our efforts.  It is not a matter of “becoming good enough” to receive any specific gift.  They are sovereignly distributed by the Lord for the good of the local assembly in which they were to be exercised.    These gifts are given by grace to those who do not deserve them, nor can be gained through any effort of man.  It is not in our place to attempt to dictate to the Lord what gift is best for us to possess.  It is totally up to Him based upon the needs of the assembly.  Therefore we are not to seek to obtain any specific gift.  We are to be content with whatever gift(s) He chooses to graciously bestow upon us.

However, in 1 Corinthians 12:31, 1 Corinthians 14:1, and 1 Corinthians 14:12 the terms “covet earnestly”, “desire” and “zealous” are used to describe the attitude Christians should possess concerning spiritual gifts. Each of these phrases/words are translated from the same Greek root word “zelos”.   What does “zelos’ mean in these passages?  To understand one of the usages of “zelos” in God’s Word we need to look at two other passages where its meaning is made clear…

 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.”   (Acts 18:25)

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;”   (Romans 12:11)

In these verses, “zelos” is translated by the term “fervent” and, in both cases, it is not speaking of a desire to OBTAIN but it is speaking of a desire to USE what is previously received from the Lord.

We can see that the word “zelos” can be describing what our attitude should be concerning a gift we have already received.  It is a desire to use the best gift to profit the local assembly for any given situation.

For example:

1.  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”  (1 Corinthians 12:31)

We are being told that when the local church has a specific spiritual need, we are to look at the gifts we have been given by God and seek to use the gift that will meet the current needs of the assembly.   All of God’s gifts are equally good but each is “best” to be exercised when it is the gift needed the most by the local assembly.

2.  “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.”  (1 Corinthians 14:1)… 

1 Corinthians 14:1, in the current condition of the Corinth church, they could best benefit from the gift of prophecy to  instruct them more fully in the ways of the Lord.  In this instance, the use of the other spiritual gifts would not be as much of a benefit to them  (1 Corinthians 14:1-5).  Therefore, they were to desire for the proper gift to be exercised in the assembly, which, in this case, was the gift of prophecy.

3.  Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.”  (1 Corinthians 14:12)

This verse clearly explains that the gift they should desire to exercise should be the gift that will give the most benefit to the local church at Corinth.  These gifts are not given to bring attention to oneself, nor for other personal gain. The Christian is to always exercise his God-given gifts with a spirit of selflessness exercising his gifts for the good of the assembly.

Every Gift is Meant To Be Exercised Within A Local Assembly

Various gifts of the Spirit were included in the context of the Great Commission, which is a set of responsibilities that the Lord has given to His local assemblies…

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”   (Mark 16:15-18)

This helps us to understand that the exercise of these gifts were a responsibility of members of the local assembly and were given to them for their benefit.  All of the spiritual gifts are given to us for the purpose of use and edification of the local assemblies which are, individually, the body of Christ…

…  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 God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”   (1 Corinthians 12:12-31; see also Romans 12:3-8 and Ephesians 4:10-16)

If we do not recognize the needs of our local assembly (and therefore do not exercise our gifts when needed) or, if we are not a member of the assembly that the Lord would have us to join, the assembly is harmed through our lack of action.  Also, if we selfishly exercise gifts that are not needed by the assembly, the assembly is harmed as well.

Possession of our gift(s) is a great blessing, but along with it comes a great responsibility of stewardship as well.

The Difference Between Talents, Fruits and Gifts Of The Spirit:

The following table helps us to understand the difference between the talents, fruits and gifts we are given by God through the Spirit’s intervention…

Type Of Gift Texts Gifted Person Evidenced From Nature Of Gift Types Received
Physical Talent Matthew 4:18-20 Mankind Physical Birth Natural (Physical) Various(Lord’s Discretion)
Fruit Of The Spirit Galatians 5:22-24 Saved Spiritual Birth Natural (Spiritual) All
Spiritual Gift (Charisma) Romans 12:4-81 Corinthians 12:8-11Ephesians 4:11-121 Peter 4:8-9   etc. Saved Lord’s  Intervention Supernatural (Spiritual) Various(Lord’s Discretion)

Notes on above chart:

This chart is given to quickly illustrate there is a distinct difference between the “Spiritual Gifts”, which is the theme of this Bible study, and the “Fruits of the Spirit” and “Physical Talents” all of which are given by God to man.  The individual points in this outline will be covered in much greater detail during the course of our studies.

At this stage of our study, please simply understand that when we speak of the “Spiritual Gifts” they differ greatly in many areas from “Fruits of The Spirit” or “Talents”.  These three are not to be confused.  (Note: One area of similarity between the three is that all three are given through God’s grace and all three are to be used in our service to Him.)

In our next study, we will begin to look at the different types of Spiritual Gifts given to man.

Additional Information (Verses Referred To In This Study):

 

 

A Spiritual Gift Defined

We Are Not To Seek To Obtain A Specific Spiritual Gift

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:  But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.  (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.  For he that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [him]; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.  But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men [to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort.  He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.  I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater [is] he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.”  (1 Corinthians 14:1-5)

 

Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.”   (1 Corinthians 14:12)

Every Gift is Meant To Be Exercised Within A Local Assembly

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?   And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?  But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.  For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:  That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

 

 

 

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.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;  Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

(Romans 12:3-8)

 

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)   And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”   (Ephesians 4:7-16)

The Difference Between Talents, Fruits and Gifts Of The Spirit:

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left [their] nets, and followed him.”   (Matthew 4:18-20)

 

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.”   (Galatians 5:22-24)

 

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.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;  Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”   (Romans 12:4-8)

 

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;  To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:  But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”   (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

 

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

 

As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.   If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister, [let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”  (1 Peter 4:10-11)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE STUDY:

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

1. “The Pillar and Ground Of The Truth”

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

 

2. “The House Of God”

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

 

3. “The Flock Of God”

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

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

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

 

4. “The Body Of Christ”

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

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

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

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

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

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:”  (Ephesians 4:11-15)
The offices of the local church were established for the strengthening, maturing and enabling of the members of the assembly.  This spiritual growth of the assembly allows them to recognize and refute false teaching as well as become more holy as an assembly and individual Christians in that assembly.

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

5. “A Candlestick”

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE SUMMARY:

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

It is the:

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

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

May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.

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

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

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

 

 

Personal Experience Or God’s Word, Which Is Our Standard? #2

SIH STSTA ICONShould we trust the Word instead of our life experiences?

Throughout our lifetime, we are called upon to choose between trusting the revelation of God’s Word or placing our faith in our life experiences. Phrased another way, are we to make our life decisions based upon what our senses have revealed to us, or do we look to God’s Word as the only unquestionable standard by which our life is to be directed?

This is study I would like us to come to an understanding of God’s will on this all important issue. There will be three parts to our study for us:

1. Should we trust the Word when we lack life experiences?
2. Should we trust the Word instead of our life experiences?
3. Should we trust the Word based upon Biblical revelation?

THE SCRIPTURES: 

And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast [it] before Pharaoh, [and] it shall become a serpent. And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. (Exodus 7:8-13)

Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, [there is] a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me [him] up, whom I shall name unto thee. And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die? And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, [As] the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing. Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou [art] Saul. And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. And he said unto her, What form [is] he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he [is] covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it [was] Samuel, and he stooped with [his] face to the ground, and bowed himself. (1 Samuel 28:7-14)

The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, [It will be] fair weather: for the sky is red.
And in the morning, [It will be] foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O [ye] hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not [discern] the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. (Matthew 16:1-4)

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. (Matthew 24:21-28)

And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. (Mark 8:10-13)

For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-15)

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-14)

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all [men], as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of [them] all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:1-17)

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

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6)

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.
(Jude 1:3)

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

THE STUDY: 

Can our senses, and the events that take place in the physical world around us, be reliable sources to discern, and validate the will of God? This is a very important question that deserves a careful, comprehensive study of the Word of God for its answer.

With the establishment of the Lord’s churches on earth came the clear declaration of the existence of false teaching and purposeful attempts to deceive God’s people….

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:… That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;… (Ephesians 4:11-15)

We must pay attention to  the descriptive phrases that are used in this passage to describe the attempts that are used by Satan to deceive the people of God. For it is in these phrases we can clearly see willful intent, the motive of this deception, and the basic way in which the deception is brought upon Christians.  Please notice:

1. “sleight of men” – this phrase refers to seducing those who are unskillful. It was a term used to describe the experienced taking advantage of naive youths in games of chance.
2. “cunning craftiness” – this phrase refers to trickery, or cleverness, that misleads. It is speaking of the ability to lay plans ahead of time to mislead and take advantage of others.
3. “lie in wait to deceive” – to stay among travelers, or a well-traveled path, for the purpose of taking advantage of the travelers. It is describing something like a lion, who crouches along a much-used path waiting for an innocent animal to appear.

In the above, we can see the nature of Satan’s workings as he makes plans to use trickery and deceit to mislead the people of God. What was God’s remedy that He supplies to us? He graciously has given us the different offices of teachers that will share His Word, whose principles give us the ability to discern and resist Satan’s attempts at misleading us. These offices are listed in this text, “apostles” , “prophets”, “evangelists”, pastors and teachers”

So from this text we learn two very important truths…

First, as Christians, Satan is out to deceive us during our physical walk on earth. He will try to deceive us using various tricks and false teachings.

Secondly, the Lord has given us His Word, and those who minister His Word, both past (Apostles and Prophets who gave us the completed Word) and present (Evangelists and Pastor/Teachers who now minister that completed Word), to us to enable us to overcome the trickery of Satan.

In this text, He establishes the principle that His Word, when used as our standard for living, will thwart any deceitful plans of Satan that are sent our way in an attempt to mislead us. This principle is also presented in 1 John 4:1-6…

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world… Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:1-6)

Please notice that Satan’s use of false teaching (and false teachers) is emphasized. We are told in this passage that we must “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:” How are we to try the spirits? We do this by comparing the truth of God with the teachings that come our way. This is presented to us in this text in two different ways:

First, teachings concerning the person of Christ are used as the basis of recognition of the deceitful teaching of Satan, “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” This tells us that we need to compare the teachings of man with the truthful and reliable truths of Christ found in the Word.

Secondly, please note the closing sentence of this text, “Hereby know we the SPIRIT OF TRUTH, and the SPIRIT OF ERROR.”  What is the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error?
This is further explained in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15…

“For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

In this passage we see emphasized the deceitful nature of Satan’s plan. His teachers claim to be sent by Christ. They claim to be doing the works of Christ and they even appear to our senses to be the servants of the Most High.   In these two texts, Satan uses the proclamation of error through false teachers, false prophets etc. in an attempt to deceive the people of God. This is the “SPIRIT OF ERROR”.

In the 1 John 4:1-6 passage, the term “truth” refers to that which is genuine, actual to fact, verifiable truth. It is this very body of truth that is contained in God’s Word. The Word is the only source of absolute truth that is available to man…

“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.”
(Jude 1:3)

Here we find the need to stand fast and defend the set of doctrinal truth (or “the faith”) God has given to man is found in His Word.  This is the “SPIRIT Of TRUTH”.

Notice what is said about “the faith”…
1. it was “once delivered” – in the original language this phrase means “to be delivered in its entirety once and for all”. This clearly refers to the Word of God, once handed down and brought to completion in about 100 AD.
2. it was delivered “unto the saints” – it was given to those He had selected to be the writers of His Word…. the OT prophets and NT apostles, and their associates. These men were inspired by God to write down the very Word of God recorded in the Bible, which now makes up “the truth” and “the faith” that upon which we base our entire system of beliefs and teachings.

It is this “SPRIT OF TRUTH” that is in a constant spiritual struggle with the “SPIRIT OF ERROR” we have previously seen.

But the Bible goes farther.  As it looks ahead in time, we find that we are told that this struggle will increase and be brought to fruition as the last days draw closer…

… Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

… Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. (Matthew 24:21-28)

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come… Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all [men], as theirs also was…. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:1-17)

… And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:19-21)

In the last three passages, please notice that Satan’s attempts to deceive the people of God are not limited to the use of false teachers and error filled teaching.  We see also the usage of “great signs and wonders” (Matt 24:); misleading miracles, “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth:” (2 Tim 3: and Exod 7:8-13); “wrought miracles” (Rev 19:).

Both in the days in which we are living, and in the days which must yet come, we can see the Bible is warning us about Satanic use of “miracles” and “signs and wonders” which will be used in an attempt to mislead God’s people.

Think about it, our physical senses observe that these false teachers are able to perform great acts that mirror the acts of the Godly men in the days of old. Based upon our senses, we are tempted to accept Satanic teachers based upon their display of “supernatural powers”. Then on top of it all, we hear with our ears messages that scratch “our itching ears” (2 Tim 4:), in other words, the messages are be pleasing to us and bring satisfaction to our sinful, fleshly, nature.

In these life experiences, our senses will certainly be working hard to mislead and deceive us. The only hope for us is clearly presented in the 2 Tim 3: passage, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

It is only through the use of the completed, inspired Word of God, that we can possess a standard to compare all teachings and workings of man.

In closing let’s notice a few things about the Word of God from the 2 Tim 3: passage:

1. The Word is what we have “learned” – to come to acknowledge and understand as genuine truth
2. The Word is what we have “been assured of” – to be trustworthy
3. The Word is “known of whom we have learned” – Godly, reliable men have given us this Word.
4. The Word is “able to make thee wise unto salvation” – was applied to our heart when we were saved.
5. The Word is “given by inspiration of God” – spoken by God Himself, it is “breathed out” by God
6. The Word is “profitable for doctrine” – it benefits us by supplying the truths of God
7. The Word is “profitable for reproof” – it benefits us by supplying warnings from God
8. The Word is “profitable for correction” – it supplies direction on how to correct error in our life
9. The Word is “profitable for instruction in righteousness” – it supplies truths on how to live a Godly life
10. The Word causes us to be “perfect” – it supplies what we need to be spiritually mature
11. The Word causes us to be “throughly furnished unto all good works” – it is ALL WE NEED to be furnished to please God in every aspect of our life.

The above description of God’s Word reveals several important facts to us about the Word. Of these facts let me emphasize four of them:

Notice we have learned it is trustworthy… our physical senses, which are touched by sin, are not trustworthy witnesses of that which is Godly and that which is against God. But the Word can be relied upon to reveal the true nature of what we may experience in this life.

We also saw that it was the Word that has revealed the way of salvation to us. If we can trust this Word to give us reliable discernment that affects our eternal destiny, surely we can trust it to give us Godly discernment our experiences in life.

The Word through its own testimony, and the examination of men for over two centuries, has been proven to be perfect, without error, and absolutely trustworthy. Surely, we can continue to rely totally upon this Word to lead us from error as we seek to serve the Lord.

Finally, in the last sentence of 2 Tim 3:, we are told that the Word is ALL THAT WE NEED to become spiritually mature and to perform “all good works” that we are called upon to do. This statement confirms for us the need to rely totally on the Word of God to discern to true nature of our life experiences. We do not need our life experiences, apart from the Scriptures, to show us the will of God. But we need the Scriptures for Godly discernment of all that our senses perceive as we experience life on earth

The revealed Word, as found in the Holy Scriptures is all we need and ALL WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN by God to give us a standard for comparison of all teachings and works of the men that minister unto us.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Getting to the heart of our study for today…

The Word is our completed guidebook for Godly discernment and leadership as we seek to serve our Lord on earth. If we rely upon our physical senses and physical experiences alone to discern the Lord’ will for our lives, we are headed for doom.

How does this apply to us in a practical way? Here are just a few examples….
1. When we hear teaching on spiritual things we must run to the Word and compare its teachings with the teachings we have heard. Any teachings that are in alignment with the Word we can cling to as much fine gold, and any teachings we hear that are in opposition to the Word we must cast aside as chaff.
2. When we see works performed by those who claim to be God’s messengers, we are to grasp our “gold standard” of the Word to see if these works will stand up against its teachings. Does God say that these works will be used by His ministers? Does God say these works will be done during the time in which we are living, or have they fulfilled their purpose and no longer exist? Are the works accomplishing the proper end? Etc etc
3. When we see methods being employed by churches and ministers we must not be caught up in the idea that “the end justifies the means”. Just because a certain method APPEARS to have great results for Christ, it does not justify their use. We are to take the Word, and see if the methods being used are glorifying to the Lord and sanctioned in the Word.

It is these type of issues that Satan uses to reap havoc and chaos among God’s people. It is only through the use of God’s Word as our final authority concerning the teachings, works, and methods of ministry that we can see the true nature of the ministries and ministers that may come our way.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth concerning this very important subject.

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

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The Importance Of The Local Church -1: “The Nature Of The Church: A Local Visible 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)

As we begin our study of the importance of the Lord’s local assemblies.  It is vital that we understand what we mean by the title “the Lord’s church”.  In this first installment of our study, we will be examining the words translated “church” in the KJV Bible to come to a definition of “the Lord’s church”.

 

 

THE STUDY:

To begin our study of the Lord’s church it is important that we understand the meaning of the word ”church” as found in the KJV of the Holy Bible.

The word “church” is not found in the Old Testament Scriptures.  However, it is found over 100 times in the New Testament and, every time, is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia”.

The usage of “Ekklesia”

“Ekklesia” is translated into English using the terms “church” or “assembly”.  The word is used in several differing contexts with one basic similarity.  “Ekklesia” always refers to a visible assembly of people.  The different assemblies described by the term “ekklesia” (with one example of each usage) are:

1.  A political assembly of people in Acts 19:32,39,41;
31) And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring [him] that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
32) Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
33) And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.
34) But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great [is] Diana of the Ephesians.
35) And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, [Ye] men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the [image] which fell down from Jupiter?
36) Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
37) For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
38) Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.
39) But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
40) For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
41) And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.
(Acts 19:31-41)

2.  The physical nation of Israel in the wilderness in the OT in Acts 7:38;
37) This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
38) This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
39) To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust [him] from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
40) Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for [as for] this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
41) And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
 (Acts 7:37-41)

3.  Local assemblies of worship on earth – Acts 8:1,3;
1) And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2) And devout men carried Stephen [to his burial], and made great lamentation over him.
3) As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed [them] to prison.
 (Acts 8:1-3)

4.  The assembly of saints gathered in Heavenly Jerusalem throughout eternity – Hebs 12:23
22) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23) To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24) And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.
 (Hebrews 12:22-24)

By seeing the contextual usage of “ekklesia” we can see that IT ALWAYS SPEAKS OF A LOCAL, VISIBLE ASSEMBLY (more on this in later sections of our study).

1.  As a local assembly, the church was created to especially minister to those who are around us.  It is local in nature, each one established in a different area of the globe to minister to those in their geographic area.

46) And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47) And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48) And ye are witnesses of these things.
49) And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50) And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51) And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
(Luke 24:46-51)

2.  As a visible assembly, we can see that the Lord’s church was formed to be a public, visible display of His love, care and grace towards those in that local community.  The community would be watching the church as an assembly and individual members to see if they “practiced what they preached”.

10) Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12) For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13) Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for [your] liberal distribution unto them, and unto all [men];
14) And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
15)  Thanks [be] unto God for his unspeakable gift.
 (2 Corinthians 9:10-15)

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

Please Note: The testimony of a local church is so important, the Lord has given clear instructions for disciplining those who are members of His assembly that are living in habitual sin….

15) 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.
16) 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.
17) 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.
 (Matthew 18:15-17)

The of definition of “ekklesia”

The Greek word “ekklesia” contains two basic parts:

1.  The first part is the prefix “ek” which means “from” or “out of”.
2.  The second part is the root word “kaleo” which means “to call”, “to summon”, “to urge”, or “to incite”

The definition of “ekklesia” teaches us that the church is a group that has been “summoned out” or an assembly that has been “called out”.

This calling out from the world is a call to holiness.  Our Lord’s church should be a holy body that is dedicated to glorifying God through submission to His ways and declaration of His truths…

13) Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14) Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:13-16)

Putting the principles of the usage and definition of “ekklesia” together, we can see that:

The church of the Lord is A LOCAL, VISIBLE ASSEMBLY OF SAINTS THAT HAS BEEN SUMMONED BY GOD, MAKING IT UNIQUE FROM ALL OTHERS ASSEMBLIES IN THIS WORLD.

Its uniqueness is displayed in four ways: its founding, its purpose, its benefits and its accreditation. We will be looking at all four of these areas of uniqueness in later segments of our study.

THE SUMMARY:

Based on our studies so far we can see that the nature of the Lord’s church includes:
1.  An assembly of individuals
2.  A local assembly
3.  A visible assembly
4.  A called our assembly
5.  A unique assembly

Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church?  It is an assembly personally called out by God which separates it from all other assemblies on earth.

May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.

 

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

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

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

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

 

“He Died For Us That We Might Live For Him”

SIH STSTA ICON“Why did Christ die for us?” is a very simple 6 word question that yields many Scriptural answers for us…
1.  To Become Sin For Us (2 Cor 5:21)
2.  To Please His Heavenly Father (Isa 53:10)
3.  To Show The Father’s Love For Us (1 John 5:8)
4.  To Set The Perfect Example of Self Sacrifice (1 Peter 2:21)
5.  To Give Us Eternal Spiritual Life (Jon 20:31)
6.  To Show His Love For Us (Eph 5:2)
7.  To Liberate Us From Our Sin (Rom 6:22-23)
8.  To Give Us Peace With God (Rom 5:1-2)
9.  To Bring Us To God (1 Pet 3:18)
10.  To Fulfill The OT Law (Matt 5:17)

… the  list goes on and on

In this study, we will be looking at another reason why the Lord died for us…. so that we might live for Him…

THE SCRIPTURES:

2 Corinthians 5:14-17

THE STUDY:

14) For the love of Christ constraineth us;
The sacrificial love that compelled Christ to give His life for us, now works in our life as a controlling force that surrounds and restrains us.

because we thus judge, 
Why does Christ’s love affect us in such ways?  We examine His love thoroughly and make judgments based upon it:

that if one died for all, then were all dead:
Judgment #1
If Christ died for all His people, that is proof that all His people were fallen, sinful, spiritually dead individuals.  His death on the cross establishes that those for whom He died were spiritually dead and in need of a substitutionary sacrifice to escape the wrath of God.  If we were not all dead in sins, then it would have been unnecessary for Him to die for us.   Surely, choosing to die such a heinous death for His people proves their lost condition and desperate need of a Savior.

15) And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Judgment #2
If Christ died for all His people, His people are then indebted to give their lives for Him.  Instead of continuing on the path of selfish living that characterized their life prior to salvation, those for whom He died are to live their lives as “living sacrifices” for His glory.  It only makes sense, if He gave His life for us, do we not owe Him our lives in return?

One aspect of His death and resurrection is the visual example that He set for us.  He pictured our change of lifestyle by His death, which pictured our selfish rebellious life being put to death, while His resurrection pictured our new life of sacrificial service for Him.

16) Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more.
Judgment #3
After recognizing our need to give our all for Christ, we now can make our final determination… No longer can we look at other men dwelling on earth as our final, ultimate authority to obey.  Christ now comes first and our obedience to other earthly authorities must take a back seat to Christ’s will for our lives.

As Paul says this he recognizes that in the past, Christ dwelled on the earth in His flesh, however, He no longer does so.  This does not affect our need to place Him first in our lives.  His departure from the earth does not minimize our need to obey Him, instead it now emphasizes it for us, because He is now at the right hand of God the Father, ruling over all.

17) Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Based upon our recognition that:
1.  Christ died for us when we were in desperate need of a Savior.
2.  Since Christ died for us, we are indebted to be living sacrifices for Him.
3.  Although He is no longer with us on earth, we are to place Him first in our lives, He is reigning over all at the right hand of God in heaven.

…we are driven to the conclusion, that if we are the recipients of His gracious salvation and united with Christ by faith, we have become freshly created by Him (given a new nature).   The new nature that God’s people receive causes their old lifestyle of sin and rebellion to be neglected and relinquished; while a new lifestyle is developed that is now characterized by righteousness.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Why did the Lord die for us?  So that we might recognize our desperate condition, our indebtedness to Him, His position over us as our Lord and Savior, and our receipt of a new nature, which allows us to joyfully choose to live a new lifestyle in Him.

May we all take time to consider all that He has done for us, and choose to publically declare we are new creatures in Him through a lifestyle of submission to His will for our lives.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

http://www.settledinheaven.org

https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Are You An Encourager?

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

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

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

THE SCRIPTURES:

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

THE STUDY:

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

Event #1 –

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

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

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

 Event #2 –

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

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

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

 Event #3

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

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

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

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

Event #4

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

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

Event #5

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

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

Event #6

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

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

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

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

Event #7

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

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

 Event #8

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

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

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

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

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

Event #9

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

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

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

Here are a few more points about being encouragers ….

Additional Point #1

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

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

Additional Point #2

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

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

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

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved…

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

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

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

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

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

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

————————————————————————

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

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

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

www.settledinheavenbibleblog.posterous.com

www.settledinheavenblog.blogspot.com

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

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

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

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

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

Spirits Among Us – What Are They?

SIH STSTA ICONThe belief in the existence of ghosts is on the rise, and no wonder… in today’s world the subject of ghosts has flooded the TV screen. A few of the TV shows that have ghosts as a central theme are: “Ghost Whisperer”, “Ghost Hunters”, “Ghost Stories”, “Ghosts Lab”, “American Paranormal”, “A Haunting”, “Celebrity Ghost Stories”, “Being Human” the list goes on and on.  One list I found said there are 50 shows currently on TV centering on ghosts.  If you would like to see the list just click here: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110628172308AA4hkzC

With the existence of ghosts a major subject in today’s entertainment world, I thought it would be good to look at the truth about ghosts.  The Word of God is the final authority on all issues of life here on earth and in the spirit world.  Let’s take some time to examine the truth about ghosts.

THE SCRIPTURES:

Eph 6:10-12; Rom 8:38; 2 Cor 4:3-4; Acts 26:17-18; Mark 1:23-27; 1 Sam 28:11-20; 2 Cor 11:13-15; Mat 17:1-9;

THE STUDY:

In part #1 of our study we have seen that the Bible clearly tells us that the spirits of those who have died DO NOT return to earth and live among us.   If this is the case, does this mean that the only living beings on earth are human, embodied beings?  Absolutely not!

The Word of God tells us that there is a spirit realm that does exist on earth.  This spirit realm includes Satan and others who oppose the things of God. Also, there are angels that exist to aid and protect God’s people.

First let’s look at those spirit beings that oppose the cause of Christ….

(Eph 6:10-12) – Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

(Rom 8:38) – For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(2Co 4:3-4) – But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

(Act 26:17-18) – Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

(Job 1:7) – 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.

(1 Peter 1:5) – Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

 As we can see, it is obvious that Satan and other fallen angels are present among us seeking to hinder the Christian’s walk with Christ and keep blinded the eyes of the lost world.

Keep in mind angels are spirit beings (do not have fleshly bodies)…

(Heb 1:13-14) – But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

(Psa 104:4) – Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

(Job 4:15-21)  Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:  It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying,  Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?  Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly:  How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?  They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for ever without any regarding it.  Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die, even without wisdom.

Based on the above we can see that elect and fallen angels (including Satan himself) are spirits that are present on the earth with us.  The existence and ministry of these beings explain many of the references to “angels”, “spirits”, “ghosts” and “demons” that we find in the Bible….

(Mat 14:24-27) – But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

(Luk 24:36-40) – And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.  And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?  Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

Note in the above references, the followers of Christ understand that spirit beings (fallen angels) do exist on the earth… Christ Himself affirms it by saying “for a spirit has not flesh and bones” .  he did not say, “there is no such things as spirits on the earth.”

Here are a few other, among many, verses that speak of fallen angels being active among mankind on earth…

(Jdg 9:23) – Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:

(Mat 10:1) – And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

(Mar 1:23-27) – And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.  And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.  And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.  And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.

There are two events in the Bible that seem to teach that the spirits of dead men did appear to those still living on the earth…

(1Sa 28:11-20) – Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.  And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.  And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.  And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.  And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.  Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?  And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:  Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.  Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.  Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.

Did Saul actually see Samuel or a demon masquerading as Samuel?  To answer this question we should turn to ….

(2Co 11:13-15) – For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

The Lord would not have blessed the sinful efforts of King Saul by sending the genuine Samuel to deliver the message from the Lord.  This is simply a demon masquerading as Samuel to deceive Saul.  For an in-depth study of this Biblical event please look at my blog entry located at: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/halloween-part-4-%e2%80%93-the-necromancy-symbols/

Finally, the transfiguration of Christ is brought up as proof that spirits of dead men live among us…

(Mat 17:1-9) – And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.  Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.  And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.  And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah was a “vision” that Peter, James and John saw.   The spirits of Moses and Elijah were not on earth in actuality… they were simply a part of a vision that helped Peter, James and John see:

1. the importance of the OT law and prophets

2. Christ was the fulfillment of the law and prophets (ie He was the True Messiah)

3. a glimpse into what eternity will be like for all who have trusted in Christ.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who have trusted in Christ.

We must realize that those who have died do not return and live among mankind on earth.  We should also understand that spirit beings do exist among us in the persons of elect and fallen angels (called spirits, demons, angels etc.)  We are in a spiritual war and must be certain we are prepared on a daily basis wearing the armor of God that He has graciously given to us. (Eph 6:11-18)

For those who have never trusted in Christ.

There are spiritual powers that exist in this world that incredibly dangerous to man.  To dabble in the spirit realm through channelers, Ouija boards, Satanism, Spiritism etc. is incredibly dangerous for Christian and non-Christian alike.

It is only through looking to the Lord Jesus Christ can we find protection and safety from the spiritual powers of darkness that are around us.  Look to Christ for salvation, protection and eternal security in Him.  (1 John 4:4)

If you have any questions concerning the way of salvation please feel free to visit or call a Bible teaching church in your area.  They will be happy to speak to you about the Lord Jesus and the salvation He graciously gives.

Or, if you would rather, feel welcome to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.  I’ll be more than happy to answer any question you may have.

Also, if you look at my blog page “How To Have A Relationship With God”.  On this page you will find several blog entries explaining the way of salvation.

Please visit the “Settled In Heaven Ministries” homepage –

http://www.settledinheaven.org

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

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

www.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.”

Spirits Among Us – Do Ghosts Exist?

SIH STSTA ICONThe belief in the existence of ghosts is on the rise, and no wonder… in today’s world the subject of ghosts has flooded the TV screen. A few of the TV shows that have ghosts as a central theme are: “Ghost Whisperer”, “Ghost Hunters”, “Ghost Stories”, “Ghosts Lab”, “American Paranormal”, “A Haunting”, “Celebrity Ghost Stories”, “Being Human” the list goes on and on.  One list I found said there are 50 shows currently on TV centering on ghosts.  If you would like to see the list just click here: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110628172308AA4hkzC

With the existence of ghosts a major subject in today’s entertainment world I thought it would be good to look at the truth about ghosts.  The Word of God is the final authority on all issues of life here on earth and in the spirit world.  Let’s take some time to examine the truth about ghosts.

THE SCRIPTURES:

Acts 7:58-60; Luke 23:39-43; 2 Cor 5:1-9; Phil 1:23-26; Psa 88:9-12; Eccl 9:10;

Heb 9:27-28; Luke 16:19-31; Luke 8:51-56;

THE STUDY:

To begin our study, it is very important to define what we mean by a “ghost”.  “ A ghost”, for this study, refers to the disembodied spirit of a dead person that dwells among the living on earth.  This is the definition we will be using for this study.

The Bible teaches us that once a person dies they immediately depart from this world: 

(Act 7:58-60) And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.   And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.   And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

(Luk 23:39-43) And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

(2Co 5:1-9)   For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:  If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.   For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.  Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.  Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.  Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

(Php 1:23-26)  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.  And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;  That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

This is why the Word makes it plain that once we are dead we can no longer praise the Lord or serve Him on earth…

(Psa 88:9-12) Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.  Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.  Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?  Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

 (Ecc 9:10) Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Also, the writer of Hebrews understands that, once we die there is no longer any opportunity to receive forgiveness of our sins…. We are given this warning to motivate us to be sure we have received forgiveness in this lifetime…

(Heb 9:27-28) 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.

The account of the rich man and Lazarus gives us a clear understanding of what takes place following the death of both God’s people and those who have never been forgiven of their sins…

(Luk 16:19-31) There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.  But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.  Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:  For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Notice in this account several interesting points:

  1.  Immediately upon death both saved and unsaved leave earth and enter the eternal state (saved into “Abraham’s bosom” – another name for God’s presence; unsaved into “hell” another name for eternal torment – or “prison” in 1Pet 3:19)
  2. They are recipients of the justice of God based upon their deeds on earth during their lifetime.  “he is comforted, and thou art tormented”
  3. Their eternal state cannot be changed.  There is a division between the two that cannot be spanned. “there is a great gulf fixed, so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”
  4. When there is a suggestion of sending one from the dead back to earth, it is assumed there would be a resurrection from the dead.  There is no other option even discussed…  “though one rose from the dead”.  When Christ resurrected someone from the dead, their spirit re-entered their physical body, and then walked among men on earth…

(Luk 8:51-56) – And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.  And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.  And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.  And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.  And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.  And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.

After studying all the above verses, it is quite obvious that the spirits of those who have died DO NOT return to the earth as disembodied spirits. 

If this is the case, does this mean that the only living beings on earth are human embodied beings?  Absolutely not!

In our next blog posting, we will examine what spirit beings exist among us and how they affect our lives…

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who have trusted in Christ.

Let’s be careful to not get “caught up” with the modern day “ghost fever” running rampant around us.  Let’s always keep in mind, the final authority on the spirit world is our Lord and His Word.  Keeping in mind that departed loved ones will not return to the earth as a spirit, helps us to understand the tremendous responsibility to be a witness to those around us before it is eternally too late. (Matt 9:36-38)

For those who have never trusted in Christ.

The Lord, the Creator of all things (including the spirits of men) has clearly told us in His Word that the dead do not return to earth and dwell among us as spirit beings.  Knowing this should motivate us to seek the Lord while we yet have our physical life.  Once, we are dead, we no longer have the opportunity to come to Christ, nor can we avoid eternal punishment by simply returning to the earth as spirits and dwelling among the living.  (Jer 8:20)

If you have any questions concerning the way of salvation please feel free to visit or call a Bible teaching church in your area.  They will be happy to speak to you about the Lord Jesus and the salvation He graciously gives.

Or, if you would rather, feel welcome to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.  I’ll be more than happy to answer any question you may have.

Also, if you look at my blog page “How To Have A Relationship With God”.  On this page you will find several blog entries explaining the way of salvation.

Please visit the “Settled In Heaven Ministries” homepage – http://www.settledinheaven.org

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

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

www.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.”

Biblical Soberness

SIH STSTA ICONAlcohol abuse affects approximately 14 million Americans.  This represents approximately 5% of our population.    The effects of alcohol abuse in our country is clearly on display… 20 % of suicide victims are alcoholic, alcoholism is the third leading cause of preventable death in the US, over 2 million people drive under the influence in the US per year.  These and many other statistics can be found at http://www.alcoholics-info.com/Statistics_on_Alcoholics.html.

After getting  just a glimpse of the effects of alcohol on theUSpopulation, it becomes easy to understand while there is a consistent, steady call for “soberness” in our society.  In today’s society the idea of “soberness” involves abstinence from intoxication, or in many cases, the complete abstinence from alcohol. “Soberness” is almost always used in the context of alcohol usage and abuse.

However, in the Word of God, the idea of “soberness” carries with it a slightly different meaning.  In the New Testament to be “sober” is not used exclusively in relation to alcohol but it is used in many aspects of our lives.  Also, the original language of the New Testament (Greek) being “sober” carries with it a variety of ideas:

  1. One of the Greek words for sober is a word that carries with it the ideas of “self control”  and “moderation.”
  2. The other Greek word translated “sober” means “to be sensible”, “to be aware”, and “to be watchful”

Let’s see how the idea of being sober is explained to us in the Word of God.

THE SCRIPTURES:

2Cor 5:12-13; 1Thess 5:6-10; Titus 2:2-6; 1Pet 1:10-16; 1Pet 5:8-9

THE STUDY:

Being sober is referred to in five different texts in the New Testament.

In the first text, 2 Cor 5:12-13, we find this idea, “sober” is referring to a sound, self-controlled mind…

For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to [answer] them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

Here, we find that Paul and the other ministers of the gospel did not try to defend themselves by explaining their sincerity and motives to the Church at Corinth.  Instead, they chose to allow their life and message to speak for itself.  Paul and the others allowed the church to decide on their own about the motives of Paul’s ministry.

For whether we be beside ourselves, [it is] to God: or whether we be sober, [it is] for your cause.

Paul then continued, if the ministers of Christ were accused of being out of their mind (“besides themselves” – Acts 26:24), they put up with this false accusation for God’s glory.  Or, of people recognized that they were really of sound, controlled mind (sober) they were ministering out of a heart of concern and love for the church’s wellbeing

In this second text, 1 Thess 5:6-10, we find “sober” referring to the need for Christians to be watchful and alert.

Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

In the context, the Lord’s second coming is in view (1 Thess 5:1-5) Here we are told of the Christians need to be watchful (alert) against the sin and darkness of this world and to be watchful (alert) for the coming of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul uses two examples of being unprepared and unsuspecting, sleep and drunkenness.  In both cases, you have individuals who do not have keen senses, nor are they in full control of their actions, thoughts, and speech.

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

How does a Christian accomplish this responsibility of watchfulness and alertness?  By putting on the spiritual armor of God that enables us to remain faithful to the Lord while in the midst of a sin darkened world.  It is this same armor that gives us the ability to be consistently watching for Him to come at the second coming.  What is the driving motive for our watchfulness?  Christ’s death on the cross for us and His promise of an eternity with Him.

In Titus 2:2-6, we find that to be sober presents the need to be sensible or serious.

The idea of being sensible and serious about our lives touches every age group and gender…

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

Old men are to be keenly aware of their influence on the lives of others.  As older men, who are held up as the wisest in society, they were to be to sensible about their outward testimony and take it very seriously.

Note all the other aspects of their testimony being described is outward in nature…

Grave – honest

Temperate – self-controlled

Sound in faith – doctrinally sound in teachings and beliefs

Charity – self-sacrifice for others, servant spirit

Patience – willing to suffer long for the sake of another

The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach

Just as older men must sensibly take their testimony seriously; so too, aged women are to do likewise.  Also, their outward actions are being emphasized in Paul’s instructions:

Becometh holiness – to be attractive based upon morality and separate from sin

False accusers – not to deceitfully defame others

Not give to much wine – No alcohol abuse leading to uncontrolled behavior, no drunkenness

Teachers of good things – Instructors of things pleasing to the Lord.

The older women were to teach the young women through their actions and words…

the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.  

The younger women were to take their testimony seriously as well.  They may not be as influential in general society due to their lack of maturity; however, they are extremely influential in the lives of their families (husband and children).  This is why they are to…

Love husbands/children – be willing to sacrifice themselves for their husbands and children.

Discreet – self controlled in mind and actions

Chaste – modest

Keepers at home – to guard, watch over, rule home

Good – morally upright and pleasing to God

Obedient to husband –  to recognize and submit to husband’s authority/responsibility to God.

By doing all of these, the young woman isn’t the cause of the Word being spoken against or defamed

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

After listing several times, the basic issues involved with being sensible and serious minded about our testimonies; the younger men are now instructed to follow the same basic principles that we have seen in the preceding teachings.

In our fourth text, 1 Pet 1:13-16, we find watchfulness and preparedness being a key aspect to being sober.

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;

In the previous context, the person and work of Christ was clearly revealed in Old Testament prophesies.  Based upon these miraculous OT revelations of Christ, the Christian responsibility is two fold:

Firstly, we are to serve Him in the midst of this sinful world.  To do this we are to strengthen our weak and vulnerable areas and be watchful and alert to the temptations and workings of Satan  in our lives.

Secondly, we are to be alert and watchful, as well as retain our confidence about the future promises He has given to us.

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.

By being watchful and prepared for service and His second coming we are children that are pleasing to Him.  Also  we are separating ourselves from this sinful world for His use.  By doing this we can follow His example and strive for consistent holiness in all areas of our lives.

Finally, in 1Pet 5:8-9 we find being sober is referring to being sensible and controlled.

Be sober, be vigilant;

Here, the responsibility handed to the Christian involves being”

Sober – sensible, serious and self controlled

Vigilant – to be on guard and expectant

As Christians, we are to be sensible, serious, controlled and on guard because…

because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Satan is “out to get us” and destroy our testimony and service to the Lord. He is searching with care and deception trying to bring us to ruin.

Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

This is why we must solidly stand against him.  We are to realize we are not alone in this fight, but Christians everywhere are being tempted and opposed in their service as well.

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved …

In our study we have seen the importance of living sober lives, which involves:

  1. Living controlled lives of moderation by…
    1. Keeping our minds and desires under control as we serve Him.
    2. Be serious and sensible about our testimonies for Him.  We can do this by taking care to live Godly lives which include, but is not limited to, no drunkenness; it also includes honesty, love, patience, doctrinal soundness, modesty, and spiritual alertness, among others.
    3. Taking the threat of Satan and His workings seriously.  He is out to destroy us we are to recognize His workings and affects in our lives and the lives of others.
  2. Living watchful, and alert lives that are…
    1. Against the sin and temptation of this world through the use of spiritual armor given to us by the Lord.
    2. Focused on and confident of the second coming of Christ.

Are you living a sober life of service to our Lord?

For those who have yet to be saved…

As you can see from our study, the only way to live a spiritually sober life is through the divine intervention of Christ alone.  Without His presence in your life and His intervention through the indwelling Holy Spirit, none of us can lead a spiritually sober life.  Do you desire His presence and intervention?  Realize you have failed Him, and your sin is a great offense against Him, turn from your sin and turn to Him in faith, believing He will save you from your sins and submit to His Lordship for your life…

Matt 11:28-30 (KJV)

28) Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30) For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.

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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.”

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The Religions of The World

SIH STSTA ICONCurrently there are approximately 40 major religions that exist in the world today. You can see a listing and description of forty of them at http://www.religionfacts.com/

The some of the largest religions include… Christianity , Islam, Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist, Hinduism, Chinese traditional religion, Buddhism, primal-indigenous, African Traditional & Diasporic, Sikhism, Juche, Spiritism, Judaism, Baha’I, Jainism, Shinto, Cao Dai, Zoroastrianism, Tenrikyo, Neo-Paganism, Unitarian-Universalism, Rastafarianism, and Scientology.

One thing we can know for sure, each of these religions vary in doctrine and practices.  Their teachings range from Atheism that denies the existence of god, to the Wicca religion that teaches many gods exist.  There are similar irreconcilable discrepancies between the religions in the area of man’s condition, salvation, the afterlife, and their founders.

As you study the basic differences between the beliefs of these religions, one thing becomes very clear… these religions contradict each other in almost all areas of their teachings.  This establishes the fact that all but one of these religions must be based upon error.

Why do so many various religions exist?  The Bible helps us to understand why these varied belief systems exist.

THE SCRIPTURES:

 

2Tim 4

1) I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4) And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

 

1Tim 4

1) Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

2) Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

3) Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

2Cor 11

1) Would to God ye could bear with me a little in [my] folly: and indeed bear with me.

2) For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.

3) But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

4) For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him]….

13) For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

15) Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

 

THE STUDY:

False religions have been with us from the beginning of time.  In the very beginning, Adam and Eve were called upon to choose which set of spiritual truths they were to embrace and follow with their lives.  Would they accept the truths that had been given to them from God or the lies that were told to them by Satan?  We are all familiar with the choice that they had made and the affects of that choice upon all mankind.

Adam and Eve choose to submit to the teachings and desires of Satan. This represents the first act of human belief in a false religion….

2 Cor 11:3-4, 13-15

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him]……  For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Since false religions have been with us from the Garden of Eden, as Christians, what are we to do?  By remembering Adam and Eve’s sin, and its results, we are reminded of the devastating effects of following a false religion.

In 2nd Timothy 4:1-4, Paul writing to the young pastor, Timothy, gives timeless insight into false teachings and the religions that oppose the truth of the gospel of Christ.   Paul’s instructions are so important for us all…

 

I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ,

Remember, as Christians, we are given the responsibility to remain faithful to the truths of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

This same Lord that we serve, will someday judge both lost and saved, those who will be physically dead and those who will be alive at His coming.  This means that all men will be held accountable for the choice they make concerning which God they will serve.  The choice is plain, follow the teachings of Jehovah God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ; or the teachings of the  many false gods of this world, created, empowered and supported by Satan.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Timothy was to:

  1. proclaim the truth of God’s Word
  2. continue to be faithful in blessed times and in times of trial and heartache
  3. convince others of the truth
  4. correct the errors held by others
  5. encourage others to stand by the truths to which they held
  6. do all the above through the use of patience and the teachings of doctrinal truth.

These responsibilities not only apply to Timothy, nor to pastors in today’s time, but to all who hold to the truths and faith of Christ Jesus.  We are to stand for the truth and work for it’s continuance and growth.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

Why is it so important for Christians to work for the propagation of the truth?

Because due to the sinful desires of mankind, the natural course of the fallen world is to reject the truth and follow after those who teach error.   The doctrines of sin, man’s inability to gain salvation of his own merit, God’s grace, and salvation through Christ’s work alone, are a few of many truths that go against the lusts of the depraved human heart.    

And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

When looked at from the light of God’s Word, fallen mankind is responsible, guilty, shameful, and unable to deliver themselves from their horrible condition.  God’s Word presents a clear view of the wickedness of man contrasted by the love, grace and the ability of Almighty God.   This is why lost mankind, apart from God’s gracious intervention, will reject the truths of His Word at every turn.

It is due to this desire of our fallen natures to hear fables that we have the false teachings of this world flourishing.  It is much more pleasing to a fallen human heart to hear that they are not wicked and separated from a Holy God; or although sinful, they deserve salvation and can attain it through their own good works.   These are the basic messages of the false religions of the day. These are the messages of error, that if followed, will condemn mankind to an eternity of separation from God in the Lake of Fire.

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved …

As the coming of Christ draws near, each of us must be on guard against allowing error to enter into our lives and beliefs.  As Paul stated so clearly in 1 Timothy 4:1-2….

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; …

Turning from the truth to a false religion is proof of an imitation salvation experience and  a mark of an unregenerate nature.  In other words, if we find ourselves turning from the truth of God’s Word to a false religion, we can rest assured that our original salvation experience was a counterfeit.  It only involved a mental acceptance of truth, without ever receiving a changed heart through the gracious workings of Christ.

For those who have yet to be saved…

In this blog posting, you have come face to face with a small portion of the Biblical teachings on the false religions of today.  The motive behind God’s Word and this blog entry is the same.  It is an attempt, motivated by love to warn those who have been deceived by the seducing spirits of this world and the fallen nature within each of us.

Please, look into the Word of the Lord and by faith, accept it’s truths.  Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, who He is and what He has done for His people.  Look to Christ and receive salvation from your sins and eternal life with Him.  If you would like more information about the teachings concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation He so graciously gives you have many options:

  1. Open His Word and read about Him
  2. If you are uncertain where to start in His Word you can take a look at my blog page “All About Salvation” to help get you started
  3. You can look at these links for more information:

http://www.bryanstation.com/articles/a-message-to-the-lost

http://www.intouch.org/resources/content/topic/how_well_do_you_know_god

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/A335

http://www.lwf.org/site/PageNavigator/jesus/who_is_jesus

  1. You can contact a Bible believing church.  They will be glad to help you to understand what Christ has done for you
  2. Or, you are more than welcome to contact me through my email address settledinheaven@gmail.com.  I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for you.

With the multiplicity of false religions, comes proof that the second coming of Christ is coming soon.  Time is short.  No one knows what tomorrow holds.  Look to Jesus know while He is at work in your heart and you still have time.  Don’t say as did the prophet Jeremiah…

Jer 8:20

20) The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

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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.”

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