John 3:16, Part II

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

This is the second part in a two part series. We will only address the meaning of the word believe since it incorporates many ideas that need a concentrated focus.


To Believe


There are two very important questions to ask here. What is the criteria to believe (in Jesus) and what happens if we fail to meet the criteria to believe?

Believe in the Greek – πιστεύω pisteuó (pist-yoo’-o) it is a verb and means to entrust: to think to be true; to be persuaded of; to credit, to place confidence in. Another way of saying it is: everyone who believes, every believing person, or everyone believing;

In this context, it is generally accepted that it is a present active participle and implies the necessity of a continuous action. A continuous, active belief is the condition necessary for us to have eternal life. But what does this mean?

The Short Answer: Believing is putting your faith in the atoning work of Jesus, living for, and growing in God as best as you can in all the light you have: a complete and active commitment, continuing in the righteousness and  Love of God. 


The Long Answer


We know that if we continue in something we get better at it; in short we grow and begin to perfect whatever we are doing. Likewise, God expects your faith and knowledge to grow. So should you.

About the word faith: Many times in scripture “faith” is used interchangeably with the word believe.

So if I say faith or belief/believe/believing, I am referring to the general concept of the continuous act of putting our trust Jesus as noted in John 3:16.


Belief, its Meaning


When we believe in Jesus it is not merely acknowledging His gospel is true. Its putting our faith into action and placing our life into Jesus’ hands. 

In Genesis, God told Abraham to do this exact same thing. Remember, Abraham is the father of the children of promise (those who have been saved). This call of his faith is highly symbolic and applies spiritually to those who receive the promise.


Take your son, your only son,

whom you love, Isaac,

and go to the region of Moriah.

Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering

on a mountain I will show you.

~  Genesis 22:2


The children of the promise are to sacrifice to God those things most sacred to them. We are to even sacrifice our life for Him. Abraham was to sacrifice the most precious fruit of his life by dedicating it (his son) to God.


I beseech you therefore, brethren,

by the mercies of God,

that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,

holy, acceptable unto God,

which is your reasonable service.

~ Romans 12:1


Giving our life to God is considered our reasonable service. This begs the question, what may be considered unreasonable service? The next verse points us in the right direction.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

~ Romans 12:1


Those who choose to believe in Jesus must provide a service that is not conformed to the world, given over to the pleasures it offers. Because when we do, we fail to remain obedient to our calling and fall into sins of disobedience. The Apostle John explains this more concisely: 


My dear children,

I am writing this to you

so that you will not sin.

But those who obey God’s word

truly show how completely they love him.

That is how we know we are living in him.

Those who say they live in God

should live their lives as Jesus did.

Do not love this world

nor the things it offers you,

for when you love the world,

you do not have the love of the Father in you.

For the world offers only a craving

for physical pleasure,

a craving for everything we see,

and pride in our achievements and possessions.

These are not from the Father,

but are from this world.

So you must remain faithful

to what you have been taught from the beginning.  

~ 1 John 2:1, 5-6, 15-16, 24


Jesus’ Clear Examples


Jesus showed us four examples of the gospel’s effect on people’s lives. We will look closely at each one in order to understand what can happen to those who hear the gospel and fail to believe, those who believe for while yet do not remain faithful as John (and other apostles) warned, and those who continuously believe, building their faith through active trust and obedience.


The following are four classes of people and the results of their choices to act upon their belief (or faith). There are 3 possible outcomes for those who hear the word of God.

Let us review Jesus’ words found in Luke Chapter 8 below.


1. The Seed along the Path


A farmer went out to sow his seed.

As he was scattering the seed,

some fell along the path;

it was trampled on,

and the birds ate it up. (verse 5). 

*(A farmer is someone who preaches truth. The seed is the word of God).

Those along the path are the ones who hear,

and then the devil comes

and takes away the word from their hearts,

so that they may not believe and be saved.

(verse 12)


This first group are people who hear God’s word, they may feel moved in their heart, feel the Holy Spirit prompting them, but do not take the step and act to believe in their heart and trust in God’s word.

Many hear the word of God and just like seed on the path, His word is near, waiting to be planted in their hard, world trodden heart, but Satan comes along and steals the word out of their heart. This can happen many ways. Usually current worldly distractions lead them away and through the fruits of their continued sin God’s word and the prompting of the Holy Ghost is washed away. This person will perish in hell never receiving the work of God in their hearts.


2. The Rocky Ground


 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up,

the plants withered because they had no moisture.

(verse 6)

Those on the rocky ground

are the ones who receive the word with joy

when they hear it, but they have no root.

They believe for a while,

but in the time of testing they fall away. 

(verse 13)


This second group are people who hear the word of God. They are convicted of sin, repent, and receive God into their hearts.

Their faith was soon tested (as it always is), and rather than being nurtured up developing strength, holiness, and perfection, their faith (or belief) remained in a heart that was fragile, carnal, and undeveloped in the ways of righteousness. Continuing in this heart-state kept them weak and led them away to perdition.

We must take a firm hold of the word of God, growing in grace daily, putting away all things contrary to His nature.

Unfortunately, those who don’t develop the seed God plants in their hearts will believe in vain if they continue in a state that facilitates falling away. 


Now, brothers and sisters,

I want to remind you of the gospel

I preached to you, which you received

and on which you have taken your stand.

By this gospel you are saved,

if you hold firmly to the word

I preached to you.

Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

~ I Corinthians 15:1-2


Paul reinforces this principle about rocky ground, and encourages us to hold firm, to pull out the rocks of the world out of our hearts, in order to nurture our faith until it is strong, tested, and proven.

Those who God considers elect are those who hold firm in what they believe. We must stand firm on all the principles of God’s until the end. When Paul uses the words “you have believed,” it has the same connotation as John 3:16: He wants them to remain in an active and continuous saving belief.

Just prior to this, Paul told the Corinthians that they are saved. Properly, this means that they have been delivered out of danger and into safety. This is principally God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety).

~ HELPS Word-studies

As we actively and faithfully believe, we are being delivered from our previous acts of sin and its wages. Full deliverance is contingent upon our continued obedience until death (or the coming of Jesus).

Remember, if you believe, Jesus is delivering you from the penalty of sin, from having to commit any more sin against Him because it’s sin’s power over us has been vanquished. This is why we must persist, continuing to live out our faith in Him.

No longer are we to sin but to obey the same command that Jesus gave to the forgiven adulteress; Go and sin no more.


We know that our old sinful selves

were crucified with Christ

so that sin might lose its power in our lives.

We are no longer slaves to sin.

For when we died with Christ

we were set free from the power of sin.

And since we died with Christ,

we know we will also live with him.

We are sure of this

because Christ was raised from the dead,

and he will never die again.

Death no longer has any power over him.

When he died,

he died once to break the power of sin.

But now that he lives,

he lives for the glory of God.

So you also should consider yourselves

to be dead to the power of sin

and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

~ Romans 6:6-11 NLT


Once we believe, we begin to grow. We must remain in Him and allow Him to change our rocky soil. No grapes grow where there is no vine or husbandman. No vine grows where there is no nutritious soil. The seed has been planted in many hearts, yet only to whither on the vine.

Sin stops us from growing, destroys our connection to God, and leads to death.


I am the vine; you are the branches.

Whoever abides in me and I in him,

he it is that bears much fruit,

for apart from me you can do nothing.

If anyone does not abide in me

he is thrown away like a branch and withers;

and the branches are gathered,

thrown into the fire, and burned.

~ John 15:5-6

———-

No one who is born of God

will continue to sin,

because God’s seed remains in them;

they cannot go on sinning,

because they have been born of God.

~ 1 John 3:9 NIV

———-

But now you are free from the power of sin

and have become slaves of God.

Now you do those things

that lead to holiness

and result in eternal life.

~ Romans 6:22 NLT


3. The Thorny Ground


 Other seed fell among thorns,

which grew up with it and choked the plants. 

(verse 7)

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear,

but as they go on their way

they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures,

and they do not mature

(verse 14)


This passage is interesting because the words “grew up with it” indicate that the people believed, put their faith in God, and were growing in Christ but they do not mature. At the same time they were believing in Him, they were also engaging in worrying, gaining wealth, and enjoying many forms of worldly pleasures or getting lost in recreational activities. 

This is the most troubling verse of all to me because most of Christianity envelops more time and thought in life’s worldly distractions than consecrating their life as living sacrifices, developing a noble and pure heart, which is the only reasonable service a Christian should do.

Jesus is saying that we need to be single-minded: not divided by a heart partaking in the things of this world and of Christ. A Christian should be markedly different focusing on God in daily living, acting, thinking, and all their intentions.

There is no keeping up with the Jones in the Christian life. We are to be completely free from those things that so easily entangle a carnal heart.


He gave himself for us to set us free

from every kind of lawlessness

and to purify for himself a people

who are truly his, eager to do good.

~ Titus 2:14 NET

———-

Come close to God,

and God will come close to you.

Wash your hands, you sinners;

purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided

between God and the world.

~ James 4:8 NLT

———-


4. The Good Soil


 Still other seed fell on good soil.

It came up and yielded a crop,

a hundred times more than was sown. 

(verse 8)

But the seed on good soil

stands for those with a noble and good heart,

who hear the word, retain it,

and by persevering produce a crop. 

(verse 15)


Who has a noble or worthy and good heart? It is clear from scripture that all have sinned and none are righteous. So, this passage cannot mean the word fell on hearts that are good. Verse 8 is talking about soil: the place and things that nurture the heart.

agathós – means inherently (intrinsically) good; as to the believer, describes what originates from God and is empowered by Him in their life, through faith.

~ HELPS Word-studies

Strongs Concordance describes good as having developed a good constitution or nature: γῆ, Luke 8:8; δένδρον,Matthew 7:18, in sense equivalent to ‘fertile soil,’ ‘a fruitful tree,’ (Xenophon, oec. 16, 7 γῆ ἀγαθή, … γῆ κακῇ, an. 2, 4, 22χώρας πολλῆς καί ἀγαθῆς οὔσης) and that it corresponds to the figurative expression good ground, denoting a soul inclined to goodness, accordingly, eager to learn saving truth, ready to bear the fruits (καρπούς ἀγαθούς, James 3:17) of a Christian life.


Hearts are make noble and good by allowing the living word of Christ to flow freely within and without the whole course of our life.

When we first receive the word, it is clear from the preceding three types of soil and the whole tenure of scripture that all are unrighteous and deserving of death. There is nothing we can do to make our hearts noble or good. 


And to the one who does not work

but believes in him who justifies the ungodly,

his faith is counted as righteousness,

~ Romans 4:5 ESV


After ungodly sinners receive the word, their hearts begin to change. This is an instantaneous gift and yet can be a time consuming process that begins to reveal itself as demonstrated by the love of God emanating from an increasingly growing, consecrated, and submissive heart.

Pauls describes above God’s pardon and crediting our faith as righteousness. Christ justifies us while we are yet ungodly and guilty of sin.

As a result, God cleanses us from guilt of our all our past sin, frees us from the power of sin, and enables us to live a life that is truly righteous. This is a what true pardon means. Not only forgiving us but enabling us to be obedient to Him.


Therefore, my beloved,

as you have always obeyed, so now,

not only as in my presence

but much more in my absence,

work out your own salvation

with fear and trembling,

~ Philippians 2:12 ESV

———–

Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation

in His blood through faith.

This was to demonstrate His righteousness,

because in the forbearance of God

He passed over the sins previously committed.  

~ Romans 3:35 NASB


Faith is Reckoned as Righteous


 When we get saved, God passes over all our previous sins. Our heart has not been made pure yet because the predisposition to sin, to do evil (carnality) still remain. We are pardoned the moment we are saved. 

Our heart still needs to be purified. It still needs to be made noble as grows in that good soil that Jesus is developing.

This is where the act of salvation gets interesting. We have been pardoned. Not by any righteousness in us but by our belief in Jesus. He justifies the ungodly, not doing any work but having a faith (believing) that is counted as righteousness.

Keep in mind scripture does not say we are given Christ’s righteousness. We must always remember that God is just and He judges according to truth. Our salvation is based on faith and faith alone. We are still what we were in mind, body and soul. The work has just begun. He has only begun to make us holy. This is what He wants to finish.

Christ’s righteousness is not imputed to us as our righteousness. This is a common mistake based upon assumption. Scripture states that God reckons our faith as righteousness, which is conditional or us to be united with Christ who was raised for our justification.

Genuine saving faith is transformative and righteous at the outset. Jesus begins by imputing righteousness justifying our faith. Through obedience, our hearts being to filled with His love as He cleanses (purifies) our heart from of all its impurities stemming from sin.

Our imperfections remain since we are still human with limited in knowledge, perspectives, and understanding. It is our sinful character or nature that is being cleansed. Our memories, thinking, and habits remain as they become subject to His image and we become partakers in His nature.


seeing that His divine power has granted to us

everything pertaining to life and godliness,

through the true knowledge of Him

who called us by His own glory and excellence.

For by these He has granted to us

His precious and magnificent promises,

so that by them you

may become partakers of the divine nature,

having escaped the corruption that is in the world

by lust (by our evil desires or sinful nature).

~ Peter 1:3b-4


Partaking in His holiness is the natural outcome of continuous, active, saving faith. This can only happen in a consecrated life, undivided in devotion and commitment to Christ. 

He wants to strengthen your faith, conform you to his image, so when He comes (or you die), you can be confident, lacking in nothing with a clear conscious, unblemished, and unblamable in His sight.


May he strengthen your hearts

so that you will be blameless and holy

in the presence of our God and Father

when our Lord Jesus comes

with all his holy ones.

~ 1 Thessalonians 3:13 NIV

———-

Blessed are the pure in heart:

for they shall see God.

~ Matthew 5:8 KJV

———-

The purpose of my instruction is

that all believers would be filled with love

that comes from a pure heart,

a clear conscience, and genuine faith.

~ 1 Timothy 1:5 NLT

———-

For judgment will again be righteous,

And all the upright in heart will follow it.

~ Psalm 94:15 NASB


God wants to purify our hearts: to make it morally upright, noble enough to eschew (to consistently, firmly, and assertively turn away) from all evil and abhor sin (to regard sin as vile and utterly detest it all its forms) from the deepest recesses of your soul.

A christian pastor once tried to correct me and told me that the gospel is not about morality. This could not be further from the truth. From the moment Adam and Eve sinned, their moral compass was skewed and and in need to correction. God wants to restore our moral compass so that we can be with him.

We are given a warning in Hebrews 5:7-14 about falling away and the importance of living a righteous life. Without the moral compass God wants to restore in our heart, we will be unable to distinguish good from evil and will remain in sin.


Conclusion


Therefore, whosover believeth in Him will have transformed nature because they have a continuous and active faith in the only holy, upright, and righteous savior, Jesus Christ.

Love Him with all of your heart. If you cannot truly and completely do this, it is because even a tiny part of your heart is at enmity with God. Ask Him to continue His work of purifying your heart.

He can do anything. Don’t give up.

Through it all: He will perform and do His good pleasure in you . . . if you believe.


 

 

John 3:16, Part I

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

In this two part series, we are going to examine: #1: For God so love the world, #2: that whosoever,

# 3: believeth in Him will be discussed in the second post.

We will not address the nature of Christ, perdition, and eternal life here. Those can and should be addressed separately to my understanding.


This post will review sections #1, 2, & 3, “For God so loved the world, that whosoever

Post two will address # 4, what does it mean to believe in Jesus.


Some of these elements will be broken down into subsections such as “For God” because it addresses a very specific moment in time, a very specific people in the past, and it is applied generally in the future.


For God so Loved


I have always believed that this verse said that God loved all of creation; even the animals, plants, and oceans. Studying this verse more closely, I have learned that this is true. But it means so much more.

In the words “For God, ” we have have a trifold revelation: The first application a very specific span of time and a specific people. The second application is very general, addressing the character of His creation, and the third, His relation to all of mankind.

For” meant: In this manner, in this way or in this fashion, in accordance with this description (corresponding to what follows); in keeping with; along this line, in the manner spoken; In this manner as described in the wilderness, by Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea . . . God provided a way to salvation.

It points to how God loved us while we were yet sinners and sent his Son: in this manner or in this way.


But God demonstrates his own love for us,

in that while we were still sinners,

Christ died for us.

~ Romans 5:8


The First Application of “For


We have to look at the preceding two verse to see the first application showing His love.


As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,

even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 

so that whoever believes  in Him

will have eternal life.

~ John 3:14-15


To the Jews of Jesus’s day, the brazen serpent was considered very highly. It represented a type of resurrection. Because by looking upon it, the dying lived.

When the people in the wilderness cried out for salvation (Numbers 21:4-9), God provided a way for them. He did not take the serpents away when the serpent was lifted up. They remained in the midst of the people.

The serpents represented the immediate consequences for their sin, just like death represents the immediate consequences or wages for our sin. 

Like the serpents in the wilderness, God will not take away death from us. We still have to die. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God expects us to cease from our sinning. Because sin brought forth this judgment.


 

In John 3:7, Jesus saidMarvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Jesus was speaking to Israel through a representative, Nicodemus, a Pharisee. Secondarily, He was speaking to the rest of mankind.

When Jesus said Marvel not that I said untothee, He was speaking to Nicodemus (by the use of thee). When He said Ye must be born again, He was speaking to the whole world because ye is plural. This nuance is lost in the newer versions of the Bible.


The Second Application of “For


The second application is very general and I believe it includes every part of the creation story. God loved Adam and Eve, and during creation He called what He made Good six times.

After He finished His work and looked at the whole, God said it was Very Good!

We know God loved His creation and everything in it. We also know the whole of creation groans, waiting salvation.

For we know that the whole creation

groans and suffers the pains

of childbirth together until now.

~ Romans 8:22


Even creation is waiting its rebirth, both the heavens and the earth. 


See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered,

nor will they come to mind.

~ Isaiah 65:17


The Third Application of “For


Because God loves all of humanity even while we are yet sinners, He devised a plan of pardon for us all.

 

Jesus was lifted up on the cross to atone for our sins. His purpose was to set us free from sin, the power of sin, and the wages of sin, which is not fully consummated until the second death occurs.

Anyone whose name

was not found written in the book of life

was thrown into the lake of fire.

~ Revelation 20:15


Our fall into sin, pointed to the crux of God’s complete plan of salvation: 


The Fall into Sin


God hates all sin and would not make anything sinful. God is not the author of sin. He is holy and only holiness, purity, truth, and justice come from Him.

Nothing wicked or corrupt was ever found in Him or in His immediate creations. His angelic beings, humanity, and creation were all created in righteousness and perfection (in relation to the absence of sin).

The angels and mand sinned after they were created by the perfect hand of God. This shows that the angels and humanity had the ability to choose or the capacity of free will to serve God or to rebel.


Yet this capacity is not fully understood. Nor is the first revelation of sin. This passage describes when sin was found in Lucifer.


Thou wast perfect in thy ways

from the day that thou wast created,

till iniquity was found in thee. 

~ Ezekiel 28:15


When God created Adam and Eve, they were the apex of His creation: created in perfection. Neither was sin found in them until after the the creation.

This passage describes when sin was found in Adam and Eve.


She also gave some to her husband,

who was with her, and he ate it.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened,

and they realized they were naked;

so they sewed fig leaves together

and made coverings for themselves. 

~ Genesis 3:6-7


In the above passage, mankind is described as having their eyes opened. They could discern between good and evil. The discovery of personal sin was realized by the disobedience of God’s will.

Sin brought with it, shame, guilt, and death. It also altered the order of the entire creation. The makeup of the our world was completely stained and spoiled by the works of sin. 


Now, I do not claim to understand how the darkness of sin enters every living soul after Adam and Eve, but I do not ascribe to the concept of original sin as defined by Augustine of Hippo.

Augustine’s attempt to frame the mystery of sin in mankind was built around his earlier influences from Manichaeism, Gnosticism, and Augustine’s own sinful proclivities.

These influences are clearly corruptive in nature. Man’s unscriptural philosophies do not belong in the train of Christian thought for they increasingly distort our understanding of God, create false doctrines, and our understanding of His plan and will for our lives.


Sin in Mankind


God created all of mankind after the likeness of Adam and Eve. Procreation is one of the many ways we are created after God’s image. So is the knowledge of good and evil.


And the LORD God said,

Now that the man has become like one of us,

knowing good and evil,

he must not be allowed to stretch out his hand

and take also from the tree of life and eat,

and live forever.

~ Genesis 3:22


We are conceived by parents who sin and are born into a world full of sin. We have a natural disposition to sin because the corrupted world in which we are conceived demands our corroborative effort in order to exist. 

It is as natural for us to sin as it is to breath. The deeper we go into sin the easier it is to do. Likewise, the deeper we live in God’s righteousness, the easier it is to be righteous.


Little Children


He called a little child to him,

and placed the child among them. 

Truly I tell you,

unless you change

and become like little children,

you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore,

whoever takes the lowly position

of this child is the greatest

in the kingdom of heaven.

And whoever welcomes one

such child in my name welcomes me.

If anyone causes one of these little ones

who believe in me to stumble,

it would be better for them

to have a large millstone hung around their neck

and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 

See that you do not despise

one of these little ones.

For I tell you

that their angels in heaven

always see the face of my Father in heaven.

~ Matthew 10:2, 4-6, 10


Age of Accountability


We are told by Jesus that heaven is filled with the likes of little children. It is clear that children go to heaven because their sin is not counted against them for their capacity of good and evil is not yet developed.

Consider Genesis 3:7 where Adam and Eves eyes were opened and they had an awareness that sin had become a part of who they were. Before that, in a sence, they were like little children who did not comprehend good and evil.

Children eventually reach an age of accountability, when child-like innocence fades and the sinful characteristics that have taken a hold of their life, are awakened by their their consciousness.

Then Jesus goes on to describe the 99 sheep and one that was lost. I believe one application of this parable is linking children as sheep who enter into sin after they have become accountable. Then God goes looking for them.

We all like sheep have gone astray. Since the whole context of Matthew chapter 10 leading up to this parable was in reference to children, this is a likely contextual application.

Like the prodigal son, we fall and utter sinfulness and are accountable to the judgment due if we remain in our sins by disbelief and disobedience.


 The rest of Matthew 18 describes brothers in Christ who sin and servants of God who fall into sin and lose their position with God (lose their salvation because of sin).

There is a clear development of accountability, and increasing levels of responsibility described in this chapter. It is likely Jesus was describing accountability and responsibility in the context of the Jewish life.

And this is why God sent His son to us; To give us the opportunity to correct our sinful disobedience and change our dispositions (our heart) by “believing” in the gospel of His son.

Later we will discuss the key word of the verse, “believing.” It is very important to have a correct understanding of its meaning and application.

I was led astray from the Lord and fell back into the practice of sinning after initial salvation due to a common misunderstanding of the word believe in the church today.

That is why the next section only discusses the concept “to believe.” It is my understanding now that if I died in that state, I would have perished. Thanks be to God’s grace alone I am alive today and believe in Him.


The World


World – κόσμος or kósmos literally means something that is ordered, or more properly it means an ordered system such as the human body, the Earth, our solar system, the universe, even the whole of creation.

Order demands intimate and precise functioning of everything. The English word “cosmetic” comes from kosmos and describes an ensemble or garnishments, which enhances the order and details of the face as a whole.

So God does loves everything that he created and wants to make it all Very Good again. Mankind was creation’s garnishment: the perfect ensemble added completing the magnificent and expansive universe.

It is right to add: God did not create anything that He hates. And we know what God hates. 

God wants not only to restore us but to exalt us to a heavenly nature. Those who serve God are not a partaker of this corrupt world. We live in it but do not ascribe to its characteristics or nature.


If you were of the world,

the world would love its own;

but because you are not of the world,

but I chose you out of the world,

because of this the world hates you.

~ John 15:19

———-

Do not love the world

or anything in the world.

If anyone loves the world,

love for the Father is not in them.

~ I John 2:15

———-

Whereby are given unto us

exceeding great and precious promises:

that by these ye might be

partakers of the divine nature,

having escaped the corruption

that is in the world through lust.

~ 2 Peter 1:14


Whosoever


The word whosover in Greek is (πᾶς) pronounced pas. Literally means all, the whole, every kind ofany, everyone.

The emphasis in the Greek considers the total picture and then focuses on “one piece at a time. The context is the world (the emphasis) and every person in the world (one piece at a time) is the effect.

Since God loves the whole world and everyone and everything He created in it (Satan and the angels are not of this world). 

Whosoever is clearly a call to humanity for we are the only thing in the creation of the universe that is fashioned after His image with moral and intellectual capacity to receive the gift of salvation.

Although the whole creation groans for redemption, man is given the honor to receive Jesus’ act of redemption. As a result, the whole creation will be made anew, perfect in God’s eyes because Jesus gave mankind salvation.


For God did not send the Son

into the world to judge the world,

but that the world might be saved through Him.

~ John 3:17

———-

For we know that the whole creation

groans and suffers the pains of childbirth

together until now.

~ Romans 8:22

———-

But in keeping with his promise

we are looking forward to a new heaven

and a new earth,

where righteousness dwells.

~ II Peter 3:13


In the new heavens and new earth, only the righteousness will dwell: God, His Angels, Humanity, and the rest of living creation living in perfection order with God in glory forever.


In Part II, we will explore the word Believe.

Keep the faith!


Bible Holiness

This post is etched from a paper I am reading about holiness.

It is written by Edgar Painter Ellyson.

My hope is that this will help one of you reading to more completely understand this often misunderstood and neglected core element of Christianity.

Areas Italicized are my attempts to generalize the concepts and to help the reading flow.


But ye have not so learned Christ;

if so be that ye have heard him,

and have been taught by him,

as the truth is in Jesus:

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.

Wherefore putting away lying,

speak every man truth with his neighbour:

for we are members one of another.

Be ye angry, and sin not:

let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

neither give place to the devil.

Let him that stole steal no more:

but rather let him labour,

working with his hands the thing which is good,

that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Let no corrupt communication

proceed out of your mouth,

but that which is good

to the use of edifying,

that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God,

whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger,

and clamour, and evil speaking,

be put away from you, with all malice:

and be ye kind one to another,

tenderhearted, forgiving one another,

even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

~ Ephesians 4:20-32


 The Bible is the book of Christianity. It is God’s revelation of truth to man.

It reveals God to man and man to himself. The Bible makes known to man his true nature, his moral condition and his need as they cannot be known without the Bible.

It reveals the fact of sin and of redemption that is otherwise undiscoverable by man.

It reveals inerrantly “the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation; so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined to the church or faith of believers.

Holiness is the only moral standard held in the Bible. It recognizes the fact of unholiness but gives to this only disapproval and condemnation.

The Bible offers no compromise with sin; its only offer is salvation from sin, and this results in holiness.


All men are religious and there are very many religions in the world. But there is only one true religion; all others are false religions.

These all have their holy places and things and persons, which express devotion to their gods. But a devotement to such gods is far from true holiness.

It may be a deep devotion and be manifested in great sacrifice, but it cannot be true holiness when it is devoted to a false god, to that which is not God.

True holiness is devotement to the true God and to His program. It is a condition of being set apart from the common, the secular, the worldly, the temporal, for the sacred.

One who is holy must still have to do with the temporal and secular but he is no longer of the world; he is in the world but not of it; he does not belong to the common herd.

He has a citizenship at present in this world, but his chief citizenship is in heaven; One is his master, even Christ.


Holiness is a Moral Term


Holiness being devotement to God, and He being a moral person, holiness must have moral values. True holiness is freedom from sin.

Webster’s definition: Spiritually whole or sound; unimpaired innocency and virtue, free from sinful affections, pure in heart, guiltless.


God hath not called us unto uncleanness,

but unto holiness

~ 1 Thessalonians 4:7


Holiness is the absence of moral uncleanness; it is moral purity. True holiness then may be quite simply defined as devotement to God and freedom from sin.

In verse 22 above, true holiness is negative, is subtraction, is elimination, is eradication.


That ye put off concerning the former conversation


Concerning the life you have been living, your natural inherited nature, “the old man,” your inherited Adamic nature, “which is corrupt” through the fall.

This calls for forgiveness and cleansing and a changed moral nature. Sin has once changed this nature from holiness, and grace can change it back again to holiness.


In verses 23, 24, holiness is positive, something received, something that one is really made by divine grace.


Be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

that ye put on the new man,

which after God is created in righteousness,


. . . being born of and baptized with the Holy Spirit. It is the Christlike which is the state of true holiness. It is a state of rightness with God and with man, of purity of heart and of blameless behavior.

It is not faultless, not freedom from temptation or mistake, not perfection of thought and action, but blameless as to motive, and pure in heart.

It is not sinless as judged under the law, but is free from guilt as judged under grace; all guilt and pollution are gone.

Holiness is an inward condition or state which manifests itself in certain characteristics of living so it may be known by its fruit.

In verse 25, they that are holy, “put away lying,” they put away the false, the deceptive, the hypocritical, and . . .


speak every man truth with his neighbour.


They are genuine and dependable. They recognize their membership in the neighborhood group, that “we are members one of another” and must not misrepresent or in any way injure the others by our speaking.

They may sometimes be mistaken and that which they speak may on this account not be the truth, but they do not lie because they are sincere in believing that what they are saying is the truth.

If they discover their mistake they immediately correct it.


In verse 26, holiness destroys none of the normal faculties nor does it interfere with their normal functioning.

These faculties were given to us in the divine creation for our benefit; they are essential to the present life, and their normal and legitimate gratification is helpful to life at its best.

These are all to be used but holiness calls for their functioning without sin.


Be ye angry, and sin not.


Have a keen displeasure and disapproval of evil with no wrong feeling toward the person doing the evil. So are we to have affection and sin not, to have joy and sin not, to serve with our hands and sin not.


Verse 27 states that Satan is opposed to God and to holiness, and he seeks to destroy holiness.

He is the enemy of man’s highest interests and ever seeks to prevent his becoming holy. To become holy and to maintain holiness one must resist all of the attacks of Satan.


Neither give place to the devil.


Resistance is always the attitude of holiness to the temptations from the devil.


In Verse 28, he who is holy will not knowingly take that which does not belong, to him, that to which he has no right.


Let him that stole steal no more.


He will carefully respect the property rights of others. He will not feel that the world owes him a living and must give it to him.

He will not be a beggar or a charity sponge calling for dole. If he is able he will work


with his hands the thing, which is good


 and earn his own honest living, and then go beyond


that he may have to give to him that needeth.


He prefers giving to, rather than receiving from, charity.

In verse 30, the life of holiness must be lived under the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit; no man is sufficient of himself. He is our keeper.

Therefore the one who has been made holy will have great carefulness against displeasing the Holy Spirit and breaking the fellowship with Him.


Grieve not the holy Spirit of God,

whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.


The life of holiness is a life wholly under the mastery of the Spirit, a life of obedience to His leading.


Verses 31, 32 states that holiness calls for right attitudes toward other persons. It feels kindly toward and treats others with consideration.

It holds no grudges and forgives freely


even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.


Holiness is a Religious Term


Holiness has a distinctly religious meaning. Religion is man’s belief in God, his attitude toward and experience of God; it is faith, devotion, worship and service on this level.

Webster defines holiness as, “set apart to the service and worship of God; hallowed; sacred; reserved from the profane to the sacred and to God and His service.”

It is full devotion to God, loving God with all the human powers, life fully devoted to the fellowship and service of God.

True holiness is devotement to the true God and to His program.

It is a condition of being set apart from the common, the secular, the worldly, the temporal, for the sacred.

One who is holy must still have to do with the temporal and secular but he is no longer of the world; he is in the world but not of it; he does not belong to the common herd.

He has a citizenship at present in this world, but his chief citizenship is in heaven; One is his master, even Christ. 


Reading about holiness in the Bible carries my love of God to greater heights.

I hope it does for you too.


Israel’s Faithfulness Recalled


Our God’s Desires Revealed


Shortly before Israel was destroyed and taken captive by King Nebakanezer of Babylon, God wanted to show His people what He really wanted;

their love.


He raised up Jeremiah to go to the people and remind them of His love for them and how His heart was broken.

God wanted Jeremiah to tell the people of Israel that all was not lost in spite of their long history of sin and rebellion.

The first words Jeremiah was given to speak were:


Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem,

saying,

Thus sayeth the Lord;

I remember thee,

the kindness of thy youth,

the love of thine espousals,

when thou wentest after me

in the wilderness,

in a land that was not sewn.

Israel was holiness unto the LORD,

and the firstfruits of his increase:

~ Jeremiah 2:2-3 a


This is one of the most beautiful and sad expressions of God’s love toward us (the children of the promise) ever written.

God also included those who would not inherit the promise because His love extends to all but especially to those who believe.


That is why we labor and strive,

because we have put our hope in the living God,

who is the Savior of all people,

and especially of those who believe.

~ 1 Timothy 4:10


The Lord gave us a rare glimpse into His heart and how we, as His children, hurt Him so, when we chose to walk in sin and rebellion rather than submerge our lives into His waters of refreshing and enduring love.

When we as Christians sin, we grieve the heart of God and trample upon the blood of the Captain of our salvation.

He came to set us free, yet so many of us remain in the bondage of iniquity.

Israel’s glorious deliverance did not last long because they soon fell, in the Wilderness of Sin. It was their unbelief and doubt in the sufficiency of God that caused them to backslide.

Do you believe God can meet all of your needs and keep you from that which separates us from Him? He promises to keep us from falling into temptation that leads to sin if we faithfully believe.

In 1 Corinthians 10, the context of Jeremiah’s message is captured beautifully.
It shows that after repentance, not only are we not to fall back into sin:

but there is also no excuse if we do and we will be subject to the consequences of God not being pleased with us if we continue to do wickedness.

God loves us too much to give His children back over to sin after He died and set them free from it. 


For I do not want you to be unaware,

brethren,

that our fathers were all under the cloud

and all passed through the sea;

and all were baptized into Moses

in the cloud and in the sea;

and all ate the same spiritual food;

and all drank the same spiritual drink,

for they were drinking from a spiritual rock

which followed them;

and the rock was Christ.

Nevertheless,

with most of them God was not well-pleased;

for they were laid low in the wilderness.

Now these things happened

as examples for us,

so that we would not crave

evil things as they also craved.

Do not be idolaters,

as some of them were;

as it is written,

“The PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK,

AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.”

Nor let us act immorally,

as some of them did,

and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.

Nor let us try the Lord,

as some of them did,

and were destroyed by the serpents.

Nor grumble,

as some of them did,

and were destroyed by the destroyer.

Now these things happened to them

as an example,

and they were written for our instruction,

upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Therefore,

let him who thinks he stands

take heed lest he fall.

No temptation has overtaken you

but such as is common to man;

and God is faithful,

who will not allow you to be tempted

beyond what you are able,

but with the temptation

will provide the way of escape,

so that you will be able to endure it.

 Therefore, my beloved,

flee from idolatry.

I speak as to wise men;

you judge what I say.

~ 1 Corinthians 10:1-15


If we are baptized into Jesus’ death and born anew by His life giving Holy Spirit, we are given a way to endure any and all temptation that leads to sin.

We don’t need sin, we need God.


And God is able to bless you abundantly,

so that in all things at all times,

having all that you need,

you will abound in every good work.

~ 2 Corinthians 9:8


We must remain fully consecrated to what God wants to work mightily in us.

It is free and it is real if only we seek and believe with all our heart and DO NOT DOUBT.


if any of you lacks wisdom,

let him ask of God,

who gives to all generously

and without reproach,

and it will be given to him.

But he must ask in faith

without any doubting,

for the one who doubts

is like the surf of the sea,

driven and tossed by the wind.

For that man ought not to expect

that he will receive anything from the Lord,

being a double-minded man,

unstable in all his ways.

~ James 1:5-8


The following is one of the most beautiful of all prayers Paul made for us that describes the power that God wants to imbue in us.


That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of glory,

may give unto you the spirit of wisdom

and revelation

in the knowledge of him:

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened;

that ye may know

what is the hope of his calling,

and what the riches of the glory

of his inheritance in the saints,

And what is the exceeding greatness

of his power to us-ward who believe,

according to the working of his mighty power,

Which he wrought in Christ,

when he raised him from the dead,

and set him at his own right hand

in the heavenly places,

Far above all principality, and power,

and might, and dominion,

and every name that is named,

not only in this world,

but also in that which is to come:

And hath put all things under his feet,

and gave him to be the head

over all things to the church,

Which is his body,

the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

~ Ephesians 1:17-23


Here we are told unequivocally that God can and does give to us all the power we need to serve Him in holiness and righteousness and not in sin.


When considering the our bridegroom, in Jeremiah 2:2-3, and the passages above, we can know and do exactly what He wants.


He wants us to remember the kindness, fidelity, innocence, and beauty that we experienced when we first experienced His wonderful work of salvation.

He wants us to continue to chase after him and grab hold of Him with the love of an innocent child. 


My Prayer for You


 

Let us completely rely on His grace, believing with all our hearts, that drinking in His purifying love will keep us spotless and unblemished, blameless and pure, innocent and whole; through all that parched and dark wilderness this world of sin and death can bring.


Ask God to Help You


He wants us all to be beautiful, enduring, and fruitful branches happily growing out of the riches of His living waters that spring from his Vine of eternal love.

If You Love Me . . . Part 3

The Commandments


The title of this post, makes me think of the 10 commandments found in Exodus 20:2-17. Surely these are implied in the commandments we are supposed to keep according to Jesus.

These commandments have a very specific nature and a new name, which will be discussed at a later point.


If you love me,

keep my commandments.

~ John 14:15


So, how do we show our love for Him?

I am afraid that we have been so indoctrinated with the belief that we are saved by faith through faith alone, to the exclusion of works having no part of our salvific faith. 

This bias against some of scriptural instruction that supports works as part of our faith comes out of the Christian reformation.

Martin Luther was key in helping the church separate from the misuses of scripture that the religious powers of the day propagated. But Martin Luther tried to do some other things as well.

He wanted to remove the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the Bible. His personal view of salvation by faith alone caused disdain for parts of God’s word, forced him to ignore other parts, and attempt to discredit entire sections of the Bible.

Holding to a doctrine that makes one want to omit God’s word speaks volumes. Nowadays we usually just gloss over those verses, say they do not apply, or ignore their exegetical implications.


Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation elaborated many doctrinal principles found in the gospels and the rest of the epistles. As a result many who hold to a view similar to Luther’s use modern hermeneutic principles associated with their doctrine at the expense of exegesis.

I am by no means an expert or even seriously informed in these two disciplines. Neither will we go into the details of hermeneutics or exegesis here.

Let me just say that as we read scripture, we dare not exclude anything that has apparent contradictions with other scripture or complicates our personal doctrine.

That is exactly what Luther was doing when he proclaimed his doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

Everything in scripture is true and in complete agreement with every jot and tittle found in the Bible. That is the only way to interpret scripture although we may come to different conclusions.

My general rule is, that scripture must be interpreted literally and consistently with the whole counsel of scripture and can only be applied allegorically when a literal interpretation is not reasonable.

I like what George Allen Turner says about exegesis: “Theology should be the result of scientific exegesis rather than determining the exegesis.” (via predetermined doctrinal, hermeneutic principles)


What about Old Law?


The first question is, do we have to follow any of the old testament laws, holidays, or ordinances? I have been doing a lot of studying about Halloween, Christmas, and Easter; particularly their origins.

In this research, I came across Gentiles who follow the Torah and believe in Jesus. Their historical information about the Pagan origins of the above mentioned holidays are accurate but their teaching others to follow their instructions does not mesh with scripture.

To teach Gentiles that they are suppose to follow Torah, or Old Testament law in order to be obedient to Jesus’ commands falls into the same category condemned in scripture as quoted below.

We have already observed that Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. But what does this mean?


The early Christians were all Jewish and they religiously practiced O.T. principles such a dietary laws, fasting, feast days, Sabbaths, and sacrificial offerings.

There were basically no Gentiles or Gentile Christian practices in existence until 8 years after the church was born at Pentecost. This caused a problem when the Gentiles entered the church.


Then fourteen years

after I went up again to Jerusalem

with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 

And I went up by revelation,

and communicated unto them that gospel

which I preach among the Gentiles,

but privately to them which were of reputation,

lest by any means I should run,

or had run, in vain. 

But neither Titus, who was with me,

being a Greek,

was compelled to be circumcised:

~ Galatians 2:1-3


This incident shows that the spiritual Jewish believers did not try to make Gentiles follow their laws. Both Barnabas and Titus were accepted as proper and genuine disciples of Christ.

Circumcision was clearly not a requirement. To teach gentiles to do so was severely rebuked.


And certain men which came down from Judaea

taught the brethren, and said,

Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses,

ye cannot be saved.

~ Acts 15:1

————-

Forasmuch as we have heard,

that certain which went out from us

have troubled you with words,

subverting your souls, saying,

Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law:

to whom we gave no such commandment:

~ Acts 15:24

————-

Brothers and sisters,

if I am still preaching circumcision,

why am I still being persecuted?

In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.

~ Galatians 5:11

————-

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh,

they constrain you to be circumcised;

only lest they should suffer persecution

for the cross of Christ.

~ Galatians 6:12


The Jews had not yet begun to be persecuted. They remained privileged in the Roman empire. The Christians on the other hand were being persecuted severely (mostly by the Jews) and some were beginning to follow Jewish ways in order to avoid persecution.

We Christians are called to be persecuted.  This should be expected and received with joy.


Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus

shall suffer persecution.

2 Timothy 3:12

————-

Yet if any man suffer as a Christian,

let him not be ashamed;

but let him glorify God on this behalf.

~ 1 Peter 4:16


If we are not to compromise our faith by accepting traditions or practices of the Jews, is it okay to practice them?

I suppose if a Gentile wanted to practice Jewish ways, they could but I don’t think it is profitable or wise to try to associate oneself with Judaism in the context of a proselyte.

That being said, the law and Jewish practices are invaluable in their intended purpose to point us to Christ but fail completely when used as a part of saving faith.


But before faith came,

we were kept under the law,

shut up unto the faith

which should afterwards be revealed. 

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster

to bring us unto Christ,

that we might be justified by faith. 

But after that faith is come,

we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ

have put on Christ. 

There is neither Jew nor Greek,

there is neither bond nor free,

there is neither male nor female:

for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 

And if ye be Christ’s,

then are ye Abraham’s seed,

and heirs according to the promise.

~ Galatians 3:23-29


What does scripture say about the Law here? That it was a tutor, a school master leading us to Christ. The whole O.T. did this. That is why it is so important to study and know its significance.

I personally think Christians could benefit greatly by learning about and experiencing all of the Jewish feast holidays.

They teach of Christ, and are derived from biblical truths rather than the mixing of pagan elements found in Christian holidays.


There are some O.T. commandments that we are commanded to follow. And if we love Jesus, that is exactly what we will do.


For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost,

and to us,

to lay upon you no greater burden

than these necessary things; 

that ye abstain from meats offered to idols,

and from blood, and from things strangled,

and from fornication:

from which if ye keep yourselves,

ye shall do well.

Fare ye well.

~ Acts 15:28-30


if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.


Acts 15:28 indicates that the Apostles were in agreement and obeying the Holy Spirit. These were the original leaders of the Church. Paul and the Gentile leadership submitted to their authority.

We would be wise to do the same. 

if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.

These O.T. commands are layering upon the words of Jesus found in John 14:15.

Consider this:

If we do not keep ourselves, we shall not do well, we will be disobedient to the Holy Spirit’s instructions and choosing to sin against God. We are commanded to abstain from the things listed above in the N.T.

That is why Christianity should separate its practices from those of the world. For the world cannot keep from disobeying God. It is built upon the foundation of sin.


abstain from meats offered to idols


At the surface, this seems pretty clear but Paul add some clarity to the subject.


But meat commendeth us not to God:

for neither, if we eat, are we the better;

neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. 

But take heed lest by any means

this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock

to them that are weak. 

For if any man see thee which hast knowledge

sit at meat in the idol’s temple,

shall not the conscience of him which is weak

be emboldened to eat those things

which are offered to idols; 

and through thy knowledge

shall the weak brother perish,

for whom Christ died? 

But when ye sin so against the brethren,

and wound their weak conscience,

ye sin against Christ. 

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend,

I will eat no flesh while the world standeth,

lest I make my brother to offend.

~ 1 Corinthians 8:8-13


Here Paul explains the ordinance of abstaining from meat offered to idols. He gives five criteria. Mind you, there is no contradiction between the to sets of instructions from Acts and Corinthians.

  1. Outside its effect on others, the type of food we eat plays no role in our relation to God; to abstain does no harm, to partake gives no advantage.
  2. Even though we have liberty to eat anything, we should not eat or do anything that would cause a weaker brethren to sin.
  3. If through our knowledge we eat, and cause a weaker brother’s conscience to be emboldened to sin, and he goes to hell as a result, his blood is on our hands.

  4. When we do this, we sin against our brethren, wound them, and are sinning against Christ.

  5. If food offered to idols make a brother sin, we should abstain from ever eating it again if it makes a brother to sin.

I would add that this principle should be considered whenever we think, say, or do anything. We do not want to cause another to be emboldened in their conscience to sin against God.

These scriptures use the word brethren indicating a fellow Christian. Think about this, a non-believer today could be a believer tomorrow. So, we really need to be careful with everyone if we are to love our neighbor as our self.

Jesus gives us an even stronger warning against the principle of sinning against God by causing others to fall into stumble because of our actions.


But whoso shall offend

one of these little ones which believe in me,

it were better for him that a millstone

were hanged about his neck,

and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Woe unto the world because of offences! f

or it must needs be that offences come;

but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

~ Matthew 18:6-7


and from blood, and from things strangled,


From blood and things strangled are both related to the consuming of blood and predate the Mosaic law. This prohibition comes from the covenant God made with Noah after the flood.

But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood

~ Genesis 9:4

With this command, we see that the life of the animal is in the blood. According to God, consuming blood is akin to eating an animal alive. The sanctity of life is why this is prohibited.

We are not to consume any type of blood. This command is repeated in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and 3 times in Acts. It is commanded through all three dispensations, Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian.


Therefore I said to the children of Israel,

You shall not eat the blood of any flesh,

for the life of all flesh is its blood.

Whoever eats it shall be cut off.

Leviticus 17:14

————-

Only you shall not eat the blood;

you shall pour it on the earth like water.

~ Deuteronomy 12:16


Eating Habits


 From a practical viewpoint, there are clearly some foods that are forbidden: blood sausage, blood pudding, drinking of blood, or dishes containing significant quantities of blood.

In 1 Corinthians 10:25, Paul says, 


Whatsoever is sold in the shambles,

that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:

for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.

~ 1 Corinthians 10:25


Paul does not mean to purchase blood stained products such as strangled meat. Meat not drained of blood has a distinct and recognizable color and texture.

I know this because I have slaughtered many types of animals and have found parts containing blood that did not drain. This meat also has a distinct taste and cooks differently when saturated with blood.

It is also safe to assume that Paul did not mean to eat rotten meat, or organs containing fecal matter or stomach contents either. His instruction are reasonable and in accordance with the whole counsel of scripture on this subject.

The context appears to apply to purchasing food or eating food provided by others.

According to the FDA, meats sold in America are all drained of blood.


and from fornication:


This instruction is to abstain from sexual immorality. The New Testament provides so much instruction on this subject. Here are three samples. This command also predates mosaic law.

Rampant sexual immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah was one of the reasons they were destroyed in Genesis. God also spoke of it before the flood when the Sons of God took wived of daughters of men.


 I wrote unto you in an epistle

not to company with fornicators: 

yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world,

or with the covetous, or extortioners,

or with idolaters;

for then must ye needs go out of the world. 

But now I have written unto you

not to keep company,

if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator,

or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer,

or a drunkard, or an extortioner;

with such an one no not to eat.

~ 1 Corinthians 5:9-11

————-

 Marriage is honourable in all,

and the bed undefiled:

but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

~ Hebrews 13:4

————

But the fearful, and unbelieving,

and the abominable, and murderers,

and whoremongers, and sorcerers,

and idolaters, and all liars,

shall have their part in the lake

which burneth with fire and brimstone:

which is the second death.

~ Revelation 21:8


There has never been a time when sexual immorality was not considered an exclusionary sin (a sin that causes one to perish). Sexual immorality has always been a part of Gentile or heathen cultures.

We are not to tolerate fornication in in this life. God will not tolerate those who practice it in the next. We are not to have close friends or spend time socializing who fornicators who claim to be Christians.

At the same time we are to love those lost in sin and be light to a dark and dying world.


I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 

but shewed first unto them of Damascus,

and at Jerusalem,

and throughout all the coasts of Judæa,

and then to the Gentiles,

that they should repent and turn to God,

and do works meet for repentance.

~ Acts 26:19-20


We too must not be disobedient to our heavenly calling in Christ and obey His commandments in love. We now understand what carries over from the O.T. and why they are important.

We will discuss further what it means to love Jesus and keep His commandments in the next post.


And the Lord God formed man

of the dust of the ground,

and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;

and man became a living soul.

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden;

and there he put the man whom he had formed.

~ Genesis 2:7-8


 

If you love me (part 1)


If ye love me, keep my commandments.

~ John 14:15


I have found this subject to be so deep, so comprehensive, and so serious that I have been questioning myself whether or not I should write about it.

So much more has come to mind since clicking and saving the first draft. When a scripture moves me as much as this one does, there is no other choice than to explore it.

It is quite possible that this brief but concise statement given by Jesus encapsulates the entire Bible message of God to His children.


Please forgive me if I fall short in my attempt to describe this powerful and important message. Here is the introduction and my understanding why this brief and often overlooked phrase needs much deeper consideration.

Below is one of the many passages that shows why John 14:15 is one of the most critical verses in the Bible. Jesus is telling the Jewish authorities and those willing to listen indirectly why.


Biblical Times


The authorities of Jesus’ day were priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, etc. Like our churches today, they did not agree on application of biblical content.

There are 613 commandments in the Old Testament divided into civil, ceremonial, and moral law. Some overlap but we are speaking generally here. The commandments were also divided into greater and lesser laws.

The authorities were generally in agreement with the divisions of the greater and lesser laws but were divided about what was most important. 

One Pharisee, conversant in the law maliciously attempted to ensnare Jesus in order to discredit Him. He asked:


Master,

which is the great commandment in the law?


Jesus said unto him,

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,

and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it,

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments

hang all the law and the prophets.

~ Matthew 22:36-40


Jesus did not answer the question by telling the crowd which one of the 613 laws was the most important. He answered by giving them two new commandments that encapsulate whole law and all the writings of the prophets.

This addition of two commandments as a clarification of the old laws are given to all who hear. This should speak volumes to us. Jesus was beginning to tell us how to live today. He was beginning to give us His new law the Law of Christ.

He basically told them, ‘the whole Bible is about what I am telling you right now’.  The Jews only had the Old Testament. Today, we have the whole the Bible. This truth of His law should be more clear than ever.

I am afraid that even with the benefits of technology and our ability to decipher scripture and how it all relates: Old Testament to New, in precise detail, we still are falling short.

We are without excuse if we choose to or remain ignorant of what Jesus meant by keeping His commandments. The apostles explained how the church is to function corporately, individually, what the law of Christ is.

Before anyone thinks that, “We are not under the law.” I realize this. I am trying to understand how Jesus, the prophets, and Apostles relate this. Please bare with me as I seek to understand His law and its whole application to our life.

The O.T. supports and provides invaluable details and historical structure to N.T. doctrine. This is why understanding John 14:15 is so important.

It not only speaks of the entire schema* of love as revealed in scripture but specifies what of Jesus’ commandments must be followed in order to demonstrate that love.


The Church Today


We have the same thing happening today that occurred back then. Bishops, pastors, and teachers feed us what they believe is relevant based upon theological frameworks and discredit those who disagree. 

Because of this, some Biblical truths or commands may be glossed over or completely disregarded by many sincere followers of Jesus (examples: Ephesians 4:8).

The Bible says that, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: ~ 2 Timothy 3:16

So we cannot neglect one word. Our biblical goal is unity in love of Jesus and His truth, the entire truth.


Behold, how good and how pleasant it is

for brethren to dwell together in unity!

~ Psalm 133:1


We are not instructed to live in unity with the world but we are instructed to live in unity with the church. This is not an ecumenical bring all denominations together type of unity but a biblical loving our neighbor in Christ type of unity. (more on this later)


I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you that ye walk worthy

of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

with all lowliness and meekness,

with longsuffering,

forbearing one another in love;

endeavouring to keep

the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body, and one Spirit,

even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

~ Ephesians 4:1-4


The church is called to walk worthy of its calling through the biblical definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. There is only only church or body of Christ. It consists of those who love Jesus and keep His commandments.

Unfortunately, I hear it or see daily the disregard of scriptural purity and truth from professing Christians. This was the same thing Jesus dealt with from the heart of a people not perfected in love.

I was guilty of for the longest time (28 years) and am just coming out of it. I passed over this and other passages not deemed valuable or important while looking after the things I was taught or argued with others about.

Jesus taught us that everything in the law and prophets was filtered through His words. Later this included all the Holy Spirit’s teaching through the Apostles.


Nothing is to by left unturned.

Nothing is to be ignored.

Nothing is to be disobeyed.


There are serious warnings when we do this and even greater dangers when we teach others to do the same (more on this later).


For I testify unto every man

that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book,

If any man shall add unto these things,

God shall add unto him the plagues

that are written in this book:

and if any man shall take away

from the words of the book of this prophecy,

God shall take away his part out of the book of life,

and out of the holy city,

and from the things which are written in this book.

~ Revelation 18-19


This is why it is so important to understand exactly what Jesus meant in John 14:15. Every time a pastor enters the pulpit, stage, etc. whether he knows it or not, this is the subject he is preaching about. 

This little phrase should be in the forefront of his mind when he speaks. It should be on his thoughts as he sleeps. He should arise, seeking its fulfillment.

A pastor should also ensure that every member or participant in his church clearly knows what the message means and that they are exhorted to follow his lead.


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:

~ Ephesians 4:11-13


We are to be built up unto a perfect man in the measure and stature of Christ. Once again unity in the church is stressed, not unity of a denomination, only unity of faith and knowledge of Christ

The goal of leadership in church is to bring the flock to faithful perfection in the knowledge of Christ. Our shepherds and sheep need to submit completely to the Spirit’s divine power in order to obey the calling of glory and virtue.

When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, God makes sure that everything else is taken care. We must be single-minded obedience lest the lusts of the world steal us away.


according as his divine power

hath given unto us all things

that pertain unto life and godliness,

through the knowledge of him

that hath called us to glory and virtue: 

whereby are given unto us

exceeding great and precious promises:

that by these ye might be partakers

of the divine nature,

having escaped the corruption

that is in the world through lust.

And beside this, giving all diligence,

add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 

and to knowledge temperance;

and to temperance patience;

and to patience godliness;

 and to godliness brotherly kindness;

and to brotherly kindness charity. 

For if these things be in you, and abound,

they make you that ye shall neither be barren

nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:3-7


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.

 1 John 4:17


We already learned that everything in the Bible substantiates Jesus’ words. One of those events happened in the wilderness over 3,600 years ago; soon after God delivered his people from the sinful oppression of Egypt (the significance of Egypt will be elaborated later).

Before they entered the promised land of Canaan, God gave them a most beautiful commandment that applies to us in the same measure today.


And these words,

which I command thee this day,

shall be in thine heart:

thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,

and shalt talk of them

when thou sittest in thine house,

and when thou walkest by the way,

and when thou liest down,

and when thou risest up.

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand,

and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

And thou shalt write them upon

the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

~ Deuteronomy 6:6-9


This was the second writing of God’s commands to the Israelites and was written after 40 years of wandering aimlessly in the Sinai wilderness.

When the Israelites lost faith and rebelled after following the false reports of the 12 spies who entered Canaan, they were punished and perished in the wilderness.

Only the children under 20 plus faithful Joshua and Caleb (at the time of Kadesh rebellion) were allowed to enter the promised land. They were just east of the River Jordan when God gave them Deuteronomy 6:6-9.

Read the story in Numbers 13:30-14:39 if you like.


The Whole Story is for you and me


In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him;

and without him was not any thing made

that was made. In him was life;

and the life was the light of men.

~ John 1:1-4


God is still giving us this message today. If we are to enter into the promised land, we too must have the Word of God, written in our hearts.

We should teach Him to our children and as we walk in the way. This is the message that must be preached and taught. The message that should be bored deep into our hearts.

Keeping the commandments of the Lord is a preservative against false teachings as we will see in the next post. His word should be a light to our feet and guide each step along His strait and narrow path.


Through thy precepts I get understanding:

therefore I hate every false way.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,

and a light unto my path.

I have sworn, and I will perform it,

that I will keep thy righteous judgments.

~ Psalm 119:104-106


During most of my years professing Christianity, I did not learn what it meant to love Jesus and keep His commandments. This was my fault. Mostly because I did not see the need to attend faithfully and chose churches that tolerated my sins.

I heard about Jesus’ love for us but the message was incomplete. I was not taught that we were to be holy as He was holy and that all our behaviors and thoughts were to be so. Now that Jesus has poured His love in my heart, this truth is becoming a reality.


There is so much material in the Bible covering this subject that a post of this nature can miss important details. I have caught myself missing the point in some of my posts.

Nevertheless, we are commanded by God not to teach others to break the least of Jesus’ commandments. So we must stay on track and correct any errors we may find.


Whosoever therefore shall break

one of these least commandments,

and shall teach men so,

he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:

but whosoever shall do and teach them,

the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

~ Matthew 5:19


I don’t think a post considering the gradations from least to greatest commandments is necessary since we are called unto complete submission to the word of God. This can also lead to the false belief of being under the old law.

But because of the nature of this subject, it will be broken into parts. The first part here being the introduction.

I don’t claim to have a corner on the truth; only to seek Him with all my heart, mind, strength, and soul. Unfortunately, I have heard very little of what John 14:15 means.

Now its time to begin the learning process. So far, it has shown to be very complex and detailed. Breaking this subject into digestible pieces and putting has already shown to help focus my thoughts.

Hebrew and Greek, and Bible (college) study is not feasible right now. Since this subject is so strongly on my heart, this will be a personal study.

May its realization in my heart be true to God’s scriptural counsel. Please feel to correct or clarify any of deficits you may find.

In Christ

~ D


Lay up in your hearts God’s love and preserve it by careful keeping and watching after His holy commandments.

Thereby hoping in eternal, glorious fellowship with the Holy One of Israel.


Next, underlying Greek/Hebrew structure . . .


*Schema: The underlying organizational pattern and conceptual framework which God expresses through the Bible and in our experiences and interactions with Him and the world.

The Obedience of Faith

Paul uses this phrase only twice in scripture; once in Romans 1:5 and once in Romans 16:26.

Reason leads one to believe that he explains the meaning of this phrase on the context of the chapter between these two verses.

This is exactly what he does.


The Two Phrases


By whom we have received grace and apostleship,

for obedience to the faith among all nations,

for his name:

~ Romans 1:5

————-

Now to him that is of power to stablish you

according to my gospel,

and the preaching of Jesus Christ,

according to the revelation of the mystery,

which was kept secret since the world began, 

but now is made manifest,

and by the scriptures of the prophets,

according to the commandment of the everlasting God,

made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

~ Romans 16:25-26


In the Greek (eis hupakoen pisteos) “for obedience of (or ‘to the’) faith” literally means, ‘to the obedience of faith.’

Instead of explaining the context of this holy command (for that would take a small book). I am going to give my heartfelt understanding underlying the motive and the necessity to lay hold of this command and to take it faithfully to the end.


First, let’s discuss a little about Paul’s literary style.

In the first example, Paul writes, ‘By whom we have received grace and apostleship.’

Paul often times uses the word ‘we’ when he is fervently sharing in his blessings, persecutions, or curse.

When Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus, he was given the gift of grace while simultaneously receiving the gift and calling of apostleship. For him they are inseparable.

He was writing to the church in Rome who certainly were not called to be apostles but were given the gift of grace.


Just like God who so loved the world that he not only gave His only begotten son, He also shares with us all the blessings bestowed upon His creation, i.e., rainbows, the Bible, Holy Spirit, etc. God’s grace is so abundant that it overflows everywhere;  pouring out a river of opportunity to any soul who will heed redemption’s call.

Paul’s apostleship and grace are examples of this. He shared with the church throughout the ages the love of God that was unfolded in him to the furtherance and completion of the gospel world-wide the end as written by John in Revelation.

Just like Romans 7 when Paul cried out, ‘O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?’

Here ‘body’ (soma) refers to the sinful nature of self that is sold to, under the sway, and power of sin.

When Paul wrote Romans, he was no longer under sin’s power since he was wholly saved and freed from sin by the power of God. But this was not the case before the precious blood of Jesus cleansed him from sin and guilt.

knowing this,

that our old man is crucified with him,

that the body of sin might be destroyed,

that henceforth we should not serve sin. 

For he that is dead is freed from sin.

~ Romans 6:6-7

In Romans 7, he was sharing his experience of living under the law as a Pharisee, unregenerate, and bound to the law of sin and death. When he wrote this, he was freed from the law of sin and death and was resting in the Grace of God. He was writing to those who know the law and it implications as well as those who have not crucified the flesh through entire sanctification and still struggle when ‘the old man’ rears its head in their heart.

He shared the whole process of realizing God’s holy work when he was suffering under the bondage and power of sin to the road to Damascus and how he would eventually reveal the fact that the ‘old man’ can be completely put to death and crucified in Christ. We must strive to walk in complete obedience of faith lighted by Jesus and pioneered by the apostles.

Then and only then can we be overcomers; truly dead to sin and alive in Christ.

This is how God works: Everywhere the gospel is preached . . . it is preached to those in the bondage of sin. Rarely, are those who preach preaching from a pure heart  free indeed from the reins of sin and bound and yoke of sin.

Throughout the ages this has been Christianity’s dilemma but Paul and a few others have shown us a more excellent way.

He shared in our sin,

so we can share in His suffering.

and rest in the hope,

that one day we’ll be counted worthy,

and join in holy union,

with Him for all eternity.

~ D


This my friend is the big picture of the overflowing, bountiful Love of God through the obedience of faith.

Okay. So, we see what God is sacrificing and sharing with us; He calls us to share with Him and give every bit of our self in obedience to His service.

A God that loves us so much to create a universe, provide a perfect salvation plan in case we mess up His perfect creation: And then, we not only mess up ourselves, we mess up every other creature and plant on the planet, and the very universe in which it exists. All because of our sinful disobedience.

Is it any wonder He commands us to stop (sinning): to cease from all willful transgressions of His law? To live a righteous life, for all unrighteousness is sin: And, to have a simple childlike faith, for anything not done in faith is sin.


There you have in a nutshell. The meaning and importance of ‘our obedience of faith’ is to submit uncompromisingly to the Lordship of Christ. If this is the case in your life; Glory to God! Keep fighting the good fight. Weary not in well doing for great is your reward in heaven.

If this is not the case in your life, then please read my post on ‘Stand in the Ancient Path.’ In it is a story of a Christian, who believing, being baptized, and following after the apostles, who was told by Peter that he would perish in Hell if he did not repent of his sin and get his mind, life, heart and nature right with God.


I apologize if the words in this post seem strong, course, or harsh. They were pulled from my heart in this fashion for a reason I know not of.

They are far from the beauty and sweetness of many who write of the things of God.

On that note, this is what has been singing in my soul all the day long today. May the words ring true in your heart.


’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His Word;

Just to rest upon His promise,

And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

—-

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

—-

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to trust His cleansing blood;

And in simple faith to plunge me

’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

—-

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just from sin and self to cease;

Just from Jesus simply taking

Life and rest, and joy and peace.

—-

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,

Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;

And I know that Thou art with me,

Wilt be with me to the end.


Through preaching and study of the word; the mystery of the ages has been made known to you and me.

God has commanded us to obey the faith He has given us. He is more than able to establish and keep us in this faith. May you learn of Him more dearly; remembering and cherishing His love, wholly unto the end. For it is His love only that we are called to have and obey. 

Compare your life with the life of the believer found in the beatitudes and see how you match up to the obedience that God expects from all who claim His precious name. God would not tell us how to live without providing a way for us to do it. I pray that God provides the grace to enable you to do just as He commands.


I am reminded of a title from one of Chick’s tracts, ‘This was Your Life.’

Jesus said, you are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect. “

Notes from John Fletcher on Christian Perfection


A Servant Should be Like his Master


Now if your Master was tempted

and assaulted to the last;

if to the last he watched and prayed,

using all the means of grace himself,

and enforcing the use of them upon others;

if to the last he fought against the world,

the flesh, and the devil,

and did not “put off the harness” (stop toiling)

till he had put off the body;

think not yourselves above him;

but “go and do likewise.”

If he did not regain paradise,

without going through the most complete

renunciation of all the good things of this world,

and without meekly submitting

to the severe stroke of his last enemy, death,

be content to be “perfect as he was:”

nor fancy that your flesh and blood

can inherit the celestial kingdom of God,

when the flesh and blood which Emmanuel himself

assumed from a pure virgin,

could not inherit it without passing under

the cherub’s flaming sword:

 I mean, without going through the gates of death.


Perfection is not yet Complete in Wisdom


Perfect love does not imply perfect knowledge;

but perfect humility,

and perfect readiness to receive instruction.

Remember, therefore,

that if ever ye show  that ye are above being instructed,

even by a fisherman

who teaches according to the Divine anointing,

ye will show that ye are fallen

from a perfection of humility

into a perfection of pride.


Perfection is not Angelic; it is Perfected in Weakness


Uninterrupted transports of praise,

and ceaseless raptures of joy,

do not belong to Christian, but to angelical perfection.

Our feeble frame can bear but a few drops

of that glorious cup.

In general, that new wine is too strong for our old bottles;

that power is too excellent for our earthen, cracked vessels;

but weak as they are, they can bear a fulness of meekness,

of resignation, of humility,

and of that love which is willing to “obey unto death.”

If God indulge you with ecstacies, and extraordinary revelations,

be thankful for them: but

be “not exalted above measure by them;”

take care lest enthusiastic delusions mix themselves with them;

and remember that your Christian perfection

does not so much consist

in “building a tabernacle” upon Mount Tabor,

to rest and enjoy rare sights there.

as in resolutely taking up the cross,

and following Christ to the palace of a proud Caiaphas,

to the judgment hall of an unjust Pilate,

and to the top of an ignominious Calvary.


Perfection is a Call to Suffering


Ye never read in your Bibles,

“Let that glory be upon you which was also upon St. Stephen,

when he looked up steadfastly into heaven,

and said, Behold! I see the heavens opened,

and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”


But ye have frequently read there,

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,

who made himself of no reputation,

took upon him the form of a servant,

and being found in fashion as a man,

humbled himself,

and became obedient unto death,

even the death of the cross.”


 See him on that ignominious gibbet!

He hangs; abandoned by his friends,

surrounded by his foes, condemned by the rich,

insulted by the poor! He hangs;

a worm and no man, a very scorn of men,

and the outcast of the people!


 All that see him laugh him to scorn!

They shoot out their lips and shake their heads, saying,

He trusted in God, that he would deliver him;

let him deliver him, if he will have him!”

There is none to help him:

one of his apostles denies, another sells him;

and the rest run away.

“Many oxen are come about him:

fat bulls of Bashan close him on every side;

they gape upon him with their mouths

as it were a raging lion; he is poured out like water;

his heart in the midst of his body is like melting wax;

his strength is dried up like a potsherd;

his tongue cleaveth to his gums;

he is going into the dust of death;

many dogs are come about him;

and the counsel of the wicked layeth siege against him;

his hands and feet are pierced; you may tell all his bones;

they stand staring and looking upon him;

they part his garments among them,

and cast lots for the only remains of his property,

his plain, seamless vesture.

Both suns, the visible and the invisible, seem eclisped.

No cheering beam of created light gilds his gloomy prospect.

No smile of his heavenly Father supports his agonizing soul!

No cordial, unless it be vinegar and gall,

revives his sinking spirits!

He has nothing left except his God.


Perfection is Matured by Loving Others


But his God is enough for him.

In his God he has all things.

And though his soul is seized with sorrow, even unto death,

yet it hangs more firmly upon his God by a naked faith,

than his lacerated body does on the cross by the clenched nails.

The perfection of his love shines in all its Christian glory.

He not only forgives his insulting foes

and bloody persecutors, but,

in the highest point of his passion,

he forgets his own wants,

and thirsts after their eternal happiness.

Together with his blood, he pours out his soul for them;

and, excusing them all, he says,

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


O ye adult sons of God,

in this glass behold all with open face

the glory of your Redeemer’s forgiving, praying love;

and, as ye “behold it, be changed

into the same image from glory to glory,

by the loving Spirit of the Lord.” 


Perfection: Humble, Pure, and Honest


“Be therefore clothed with humility,

let it not only fill, but cover you all over.

Let modesty and self diffidence (distrust, doubt)

appear in all your words and actions.

Let all you speak and do show that you are little,

and base, and mean,

and vile in your own eyes.

As one instance of this,

be always ready to own any fault you have been in.

If you have at any time thought,

spoke, or acted wrong,

be not backward to acknowledge it.

Never dream that this will hurt the cause of God:

no, it will farther it.

Be therefore open and frank

when you are taxed with any thing:

let it appear just as it is;

and you will thereby not hinder,

but adorn the Gospel.”

~ John Wesley


Frankly, I am tired of the pigs.

The Prodigal Son

In Luke chapter 15, Jesus tells us a wonderful story. It speaks of God’s patience, His loving kindness, and willingness to allow us learn from our mistakes however bad they may be.

11 “And he said, A certain man had two sons:”

This sentence hints at how God will be revealing a distinction between two of His children.


12 “And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.”


We see one of the sons is younger, which is an indication of immaturity. He has been identified with the father since he was born, so he is not new child. Just like us, we are identified with God when we are born again. This story is about someone who is immature, not unlike immature Christians who are tossed by the passions of their sinful nature, which still holds power over them.

Immature Christians are distinguished from new Christians. Immature Christian are particularly susceptible to the dangers in this story. They have had time to grow, yet have lingered in their faith allowing Satan to get footholds in different areas of their Christian life. As a result, they have allowed stumbling blocks that hinder their maturity. Rather than growing closer to God their compromise places them at risk of growing cold and falling from grace.

New Christians on the other hand are usually on fire, and eager to learn to grow in Christ. Where they end up later in life is up to how they are obedient to Christ. This story is a warning for all that are not mature in Christ.

What defines an mature Christian? Our Heavenly Father has most generously given us grace to grow in Christ. A Christian that has grown through grace has learned how to subject his thoughts, his body, and his time to holy living serving the Lord and hoping in His return. This is what the younger son had not developed. Like most of us, he was mesmerized by his sinful nature and its attraction to the enticements of the world.


Additionally, the son who knew he had an inheritance and decided to take it all and live his life of liberty; or so he thought. Naturally, when we sin, we go to a place far away from our Father’s presence.

God has given us the gift of eternal life. The moment we believe we are His sons and daughters. We are added as royal family members with untold wealth. Dare we squander such a wonderful inheritance? No we shouldn’t but we can, and we can lose it all!

Prodigal means to squander or waste wealth by living and spending money luxuriously. We as Christians do this everyday. It can be reflected in our lifestyle, our choices, and our fruits. If the average American spent time reading the Bible instead of the TV, they could have read it over 22 times in one year, spread the gospel to countless others, served in love (praying, feeding, etc.) rather than wasting our time with worldly and carnal distractions.


He lived riotously and lost everything . . . his entire inheritance! Let that sink in for a moment, everything his father gave him, not only his wealth, his identity, his home, his citizenship. They were all gone! If he would have died there, he would be forever separated from his father even if he was once his child.


 14 “And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.”

When we leave our Father’s presence for the desires of the world we become spiritually poor and the world around us offers nothing in return. Nothing that lasts, nothing that satisfies, nothing but emptiness. If we choose to stay in that land, we will die starving and alone. It istarting to sound kinda like hell to me but through providence the emptiness in our soul, is a calling, a gracious preview of what is to come if we don’t repent and find our way back . . .


 15 “And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.”16 “And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.”

The son abandoned his Father and became a citizen of another country. We are always a servant to someone, either this world unto sin and death or God, unto peace and life. There is no replacement for God. Not only that, but to the Jew; swine are unclean creatures (symbolic of sin). The boy had to feed and care for (the fruits of his sin). Not only had sin become a stumbling block, he now served it. There is one redeeming factor in sin; it shows us of our emptiness and utter need for God’s glorious redemption.


17 “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”

The hollow veil of sin showed the son his destitute nature. He knew his Father was good and hope was refreshed in him. God’s grace is so forgiving. He can make any sinner whole even one who once was a child of God that left his citizenship of heaven for the world. This is the beginning of repentance, salvation, and sanctification: knowing our state as a sinner and a servant of sin.


20 “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.”

The son had to act. He had to ask his Father for forgiveness. What is amazing here is that God knows what we are going to do. Even as we ask for forgiveness, it is already done. Did you notice that the Father ran to him? God wants everyone to be saved (we were all once a part of His family in the garden). God does not just wait for us, he helps us along as we come stumbling, starving, and naked. Oh, how we as prodigal neglect so great a salvation that the second Adam has suffered and died for.


 22 “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:” 23 “And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”

There is great rejoicing when a child of God who lost his inheritance returns! We can be restored. Like David, after committing adultery and murder, he repented and the joy of his salvation was restored.


 25 “Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.”

Those that remain faithful here on Earth can sometimes be troubled when they see those who live riotously seemingly getting away with their sins. Be not deceived, we all get what is due to us. God rewards and judges us according to our works. This is not the same as salvation, which we cannot earn. Works are a result, a condition of saving faith, and is nonetheless critically important as a child of God.


 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.”

The faithful child who does not stray from their salvation may not realize their reward yet. They do things in secret for God, not getting the adoration of man, or immediate gratification. This can try our souls. Grace is suppose to teach us patience and understanding. We all have some maturing to do. That is why we are constantly told to endure, hold fast, and run the race as an athlete trains.


 31 “And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”

As faithful servants, God wants to give all He has to us. He even wants to serve us, forever! Oh, to realize the glory awaiting our weary souls. We will be changed. God is going to give us a new estate, just wait. Nothing in this world even compares.


 32 “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”

God and the angels in Heaven are right to rejoice for it is a miracle when someone who was dead becomes alive. God rejoices especially in this parable because one of his children had become lost and was found. If this child would have died in the foreign country, he would have been lost forever and buried by the swine he fed. There are many examples and warnings against losing what God has given us by forgetting the truth and turning back to sin.

Be not deceived: We need to rightly divide the word of God . . . and live it.

To think that you can live in sin and still be a child of God is a deception from the Devil that began in Genesis. It continues in churches today and is spread by evangelists in huge stadiums all over the world. This other gospel is like a train, nearly impossible to stop and in its wake, demons are dragging souls to Hell. Flee this path, cease from sin, avoid every appearance of evil and walk humbly and in holiness to your Father’s house. This life requires dedication and ceaseless commitment. Fear not, He will dress you, feed you, and keep you if you walk in Him.


I once road on this train and lived in a land far away from my God.

Frankly, I am tired of the pigs.

 

Applying the Law of Christ to the Greatest Commandments

  • The greatest commandments of Christ are found in Matthew 22:36-40: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

The framework to help us follow these commandments are here:

1 Corinthians 6:12, 13 “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.”

and here:

1 Corinthians 10:23, 24 “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.”

The Apostle Paul exhorts us to consider ALL our thoughts and actions in the service of the Lord. The Bible is silent on some things and we need to have Godly principles in order to tread these sometime treacherous waters.

I have not applied these principles very well myself and have seen other Christians do the same causing me to sin because of it. I wonder how many times I have caused others to fall, sin, or reject God. That is a scary thought.

We are commanded to put on the full amour of God to guard against the wiles of the Devil (Ephesians 6:11). We shouldn’t have to keep it on in order to guard against loose Christianity, but we do. Just last Wednesday night, I had to do this in order to avoid a distraction at church (of all places) that could have led to temptation. Thank you Lord for 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Psalms 119:11! I still fall but am diligently pursuing these principles.

These two sections of scripture should straighten our path and draw us closer to God. Unfortunately, they have been used to rationalizing our liberty in Christ and friendship with the world. This is an abuse of God’s grace, love, and disobedience to His commandment to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to Him in the service of others. Below are the four principles described by Paul in the above two passages. These principles describe in part, the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23) .

THE FOUR PRINCIPLES

(1) Is what we are doing expedient? Is it moving us forward and promoting our walk with God?

(2) Does it bring me under its power or influence? Is our bodily or fleshly appetite fed by what we do. It can be something as subtle as rock music on the radio, our desire for certain types of entertainment, or you can just think this: What has power over your desires, wants, and perceived needs when you go about your day?

(3) Does it edify myself or others? Does it it build us up, instructing us in knowledge and character of the Lord?

(4) Does it cause others to stumble? We don’t always realize how we affect others. This requires careful consideration and prayer when choosing how we use our liberty in Christ.

If Christians chose to apply these principles to what we do, many things would change. Our hearts and minds would no longer be subject to certain worldly influences and we would be built up by the wisdom of these decisions. Take this for example: I removed television and most video content out of my life. Recently, I clicked on a link to a video on Facebook that was describing the corruption of a faith movement pastor. My stomach was turned immediately. So much the the filth from my TV days came rushing back in just for a moment, and the moment was not lost. Those images and thoughts reverberated in my mind for days. They are fading now but I am glad I stopped the video after just a few seconds.

We need to be much more careful of even our selection of Christian video sources (Psalm 101:3). Previous experience with radio pastors has already influenced how I use the car radio. We are free to use these mediums but they do come with a price and need to be used according to the guidelines above. I cannot have television without compromising the principles above. Think about your kids. It is impossible to watch television and be able prove all that is acceptable to the Lord before you set their eyes before it. You do not want to lose your children to the world. The price of compromise can be weighed in the loss of souls of loved ones.

One of the best benefits of following these principles is freedom from the bonds of things that have power over us. Brothers and sisters, these principles will help keep us and others from sin.

A POINT OF CLARIFICATION

These questions do not applied to things that are commanded in scripture such as: fornication (1 Cor. 6:16-18; 1 Thess. 4:3-6), holiness vs. uncleanness (1 Thess. 4:7), reproving darkness (Eph. 5:11), being drunk/high vs. filled with the spirit (Eph. 5:18), corrupting language vs. edifying words (Eph. 4:29), filthiness of the flesh or spirit (2 Cor. 7:1), prove all things to abstain from the appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:21-22), lusts of the world (1 John 2:15-17), friendship with world vs. enmity with God (James 4:4), or our physical appearance (1 Tim. 2:9, 1 Corinthians 11:1-15).

I hope no one believes we are free to abuse God’s grace in these areas either. There are sometimes permanent consequences in doing so. God’s judgment is severe. Have you read 1 Corinthians 3:16-17?Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”

Paul was writing to Christians and warning them of God’s destruction of our body and soul because of our choices.

There are sins unto death and sins not unto death (1 John 5:15-17). Nevertheless, we need to prayerfully consider God’s guidance in all we do.